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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The hotelier, the hitman and the shock jock

1 February 2012

They’re letting Andrew Kalajzich out of jail soon. It’s been 25 years since the Manly hotelier, Chamber of Commerce president and Tourism Commission bigshot went down for his part in the 1986 murder of his wife, Megan, who was shot twice in the head as she slept. The big iron door closed on Kalajzich a couple of years later.

The hit itself is a complex tale of pure hubris and dumb lunacy that would  be grimly comic if it wasn’t for the long and, for the taxpayer, very expensive , campaign run by shock jock Alan “The Parrot” Jones to overturn Kalajzich’s conviction.

The very bare bones of the story are that Kalajzich, a womaniser,  had grown tired of his wife. In 1985 he began a none-too discreet search for a hitman to bump her off. His first port of call was his disco manager, Warren James Elkins, who provided the boss with three guns because he felt “threatened”. The tools obtained, Kalajzich told Elkins he wanted somebody bumped off. Elkins, obligingly, asked around, and through a friend came up with Franciscus Wilhelmus (“Bill”) Vandenburg, who asked his mate at Kurri Kurri, who asked around and came up with a reputed hitman, George Canellis (aka Noel Sherry). By now just about every petty crim on the East Coast knew something was afoot.

Canellis agreed to do the hit for $30,0000 ($5000 upfront ) with a $5000 discount if the weapon was provided. All this arranged, Elkins told Kalajzich and Kalajzich revealed that his wife was the target.

Trouble was, Canellis took one look at Megan Kalajzich and decided it was a domestic. Canellis didn’t do domestics. He gave the rifle and silencer back to Vandenburg but kept his deposit. Kalajzich, idiotically, wanted his money back but Vandenburg, who couldn’t pony up five grand and didn’t want to pester Canellis for it decided to do the job himself even though he’d never used a gun in his life.

His first attempt on Megan failed because he didn’t cock the rifle. He bashed her over the head, breaking off the silencer, and fled. Plan B was that Mrs Kalajzich should be shot while she slept next to her husband, who the gunman would fail, accidentally, to kill.  Several attempts to enter the Kalajzich home, arranged by Kalajzich, failed for one reason or another but on the night of 27 January 1986 Vandenburg succeeded.

It was Canellis’s turn to panic. He wondered whether the murder weapon had been the rifle he’d handled and decided to talk to the cops. The whole tragi-comic conspiracy began to fall apart.

1986 was also the year The Parrot pulled out of a Liberal preselection bid for the seat of Wentworth and the year he supported the ludicrous “Joh [Bjelke-Peterson] for PM” campaign – a sort of forerunner of the Pauline Hanson push.

In 1989 Kalajzich wrote to Jones who soon after, with his researcher Tim Barton, visited Kalajzich in jail. In November that year the High Court refused Kalajzich’s application for special leave to appeal. In December he applied to the NSW Supreme Court for a judge to direct an Inquiry but in September 1992 the application was dismissed as “fantasy”.

That was the signal for Jones to start a noisy on-air campaign for a special judicial review of the case. It was full of high-flown sentiment. To hear Jones tell it, his listeners would have thought Kalajzich’s conviction was as dangerous and important an example of state-sanctioned injustice as the celebrated Dreyfus case. “It is much larger than the man Kalazjich. It goes to the very heart of our system of the administration of justice”, the Struggle Street Guru opined. 

In September 1993 Jones – who had by then reached the status of being almost a mini-Murdoch and was widely feared by the political elite – triumphed. The NSW Solicitor-General overrode the Supreme Court and recommends that the Kalajzich case be reviewed.

The exhaustive inquiry, headed up by retired NSW Supreme Court Justice John Slattery QC, ran for a year. In the wash-up, Slattery concluded, from all the material presented – including additional evidence –there was “no doubt” about Kalajezich’s guilt. The whole unnecessary farce cost the taxpayer $5million.