From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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Brushtail Graphics

Twelve years is too long

30 August 2010

“Didja see this campaign the Wolli Creek mob are running?” said Joadja, indicating the community noticeboard on the back wall of the Brushtail Café.

I took my cider over for a look. Pinned up there were a couple of striking posters. They featured an angry Wolli Possum, a character that looked not unlike myself, holding up a placard that proclaimed “12 years is too long”. The message was simple: “In 1998 the NSW Government promised to protect the Wolli Creek Valley by making it a regional park … it still hasn’t happened.”

“You’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty inexcusable lapse”, said Joadja. “Just another example of breathtaking incompetence and short attention span. If a week is a long time in politics, twelve years is an eternity. The open space along Wolli Creek is a patchwork of bits of land owned by various government departments, like Sydney Water and the RTA, and a couple of big bits owned by Canterbury City Council. All the government had to do was transfer these parcels of land to the National Parks and Wildlife people, but we’re twelve long years down the track and somehow only half the land has been transferred”.

“Holy Mother of Darwin”, I muttered scanning the posters, “As they point out here, it’s three years longer than it took for the Yanks to put a man on the Moon and four years more than it took to build the Harbour Bridge”.

The other analogy was that of a hypothetical kid called Emily who started primary school in 1998, when Carr promised the regional park. Emily would by now have gone through, primary and high school, graduated from university and started working.

“You’d think the electoral implications alone would have motivated them to sort this out”, said Joadja. “Look what’s at stake. It’s the nearest local bushland for people in Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt’s electorate and she’s definitely in trouble come March next year. The valley is actually in Linda Burney’s electorate and Frank Sartor’s is on the south side of the creek. The Premier’s electorate, Heffron, is just a stone-throw away”.

“It’s all symptomatic of the spin culture”, mused Old Possum, who’d slipped off his stool at the bar to join us. “These people think that once they’ve issued the media release the job’s finished. But government isn’t like that. The whole reason we have governments is to co-ordinate a whole lot of disparate forces so that things actually happen. Time and again they just can’t make it happen, particularly where public transport or green issues are involved. The current light rail extension is a rare exception. That project’s roaring ahead now, but they really had to be bludgeoned into it by the community”.

“But don’t you find it nauseating how Bob Carr – the man who created this government, and whose style runs through all the premiers that followed him – keeps shamelessly popping up on radio and TV and at book launches?” Joadja asked.

“Yeah, he’s suffering from Relevance Deprivation Syndrome. The man would open an envelope if there was a speech and some canapés in it. But you mentioned light rail, and that reminds me: there was another example of Carr saying one thing and doing the opposite. Ten years ago, when he opened the light rail extension to Lilyfield he said ‘I think the revival of light rail will be one of the great themes of living in Sydney over the next few decades’. Of course, that extension had been planned under the previous Liberal government and it was financed by Federal Labor.

“You’ll remember that the light rail was supposed to be extended into the CBD and other routes were planned … but nothing happened. Carr got on with the job of building more motorways – real disasters like the Cross-City and Lane Cove tunnels. The only big rail project they actually started was the Parramatta-Chatswood line and they stuffed that up by dropping the Parramatta-Epping bit and then deciding, inexplicably, to put the line under the Lane Cove River rather than over it. Of course the costs blew out and an important station had to be dropped from the plan. Come the state election in March, it’s going to be hard to spin away stuff like that.”

• You can sign the online petition about Wolli Creek Regional Park at: