Author Archives: tonythomas061

The Moscow Circus Comes to Town!

A news editor of Quadrant Online’s acquaintance once told a callow and incompetent cadet how ‘a chimp could write a better story’, the standard formula doing all the work. In 1968, when Tony Thomas visited touring Soviet circus stars, he didn’t monkey around with stock cliches. Fifty years after it was written, his piece remains as vibrant and idiosyncratic as ever

PERTH, February, 1968: Belatedly I got down to see the Moscow Circus people last week. The performers’ enclosure was littered with attractive Russian girls in microscopic bikinis, soaking up the sun. With circus interpreter Vladimir Zharikov, 25, in tow, we called on the silver caravan of director Joseph Dubinsky, grey-haired and with the characteristic Russian row of gold teeth.

He assumed I was avid for statistics and before I could call a halt, I was informed of Russia’s 100 circuses, 9,000 performers, 12 million spectators, tours of 20 countries and 50 new circuses to be built by decision of the government, with 50 new hotels for the cast.

“I’ve noticed a few slips in performances,” I said. “Is this normal?”

(I’d seen one of the Bernadsky girls somersault into the air, not get caught and land on her chin. On Thursday, Nikolay Goncharov aged 15 who is bounced high into the air off a see-saw, failed to land on his chair-on-stilts).

Hal G.P. Colebatch reviews The West: An Insider’s Tales

The director said he didn’t expect perfection. Sometimes electronic robots made mistakes – could more be expected of humans who were so complex? An opera singer who got out of condition could sing less loudly and with less emotion. But circus artists could not slow down as that could involve someone’s life.

“What’s the mortality rate?”

“There occur some casualties. Artists are good at surviving. Irina, from the Sputnik trapeze act, was performing in Tbilisi, Georgia several years ago and fell. She broke every bone. Doctors put every bone together but she was not allowed to move an inch for months. She took a special course of medical exercises and got better.”

The director used to be an actor but broke his left leg and had to go into administrative work.

Strongman Vyachslev Anochin mentioned that another strongman had been killed when one of his heavy juggling balls hit him on the forehead rather than the neck.

The clown Andrei Nikolayev’s arrival from shopping ended the morbidity. He said most people thought a clown was crazy all the time, though he did his best not to look like a clown when he was off-duty. He had a request from a powerful source, namely his wife, not to be so funny. He wanted to get his wife into his act, but would have to wait until she was older and less pretty.

“What’s your theory of humour?” I asked. “Is it that pain gives pleasure to others?”

“That is so in overseas circuses. They have a point of view that the more a clown is beaten, the funnier it is. I don’t agree. In my act, I beat, I am not beaten.”

His tactics were to concentrate on the sourpusses in the audience; the others would laugh anyway. The people who laughed easily did not interest him.

One of the basic features of humour was the unexpected. Most people scratched their right ear with their right hand. He would bring his left hand round his back to do it. He would dust off a chair and sit somewhere else, or walk away from a balloon to aim at it, instead of towards it.

“Part of the soul of each clown is the soul of a child. I still learn from children, like the little girl I saw on the Black Sea, fighting with a plastic crocodile. May I meet only plastic crocodiles in my bath!”

Inevitably, we were drawn to the air-conditioned lair of Ivan Ruban, the animal trainer. Small, mild and wearing a clerkish pair of rimless spectacles, he was exclaiming at the beauty of new hardboard floors just installed in the cages.

He gave his lion, Leo, a caress through the bars, crooning something at it.

His personality guide to his wild beasts was:

Lion: Dignified but as eager for smooching as any cat.

Tiger: Not as strong but could probably outfox a lion in a fight.

Black panther: Temperamental, stubborn and slow to train.

Snow leopard: Reacts immediately if it dislikes something.

Sumatran tiger: Unstable, as likely to bite his hand as lick it.

Brown bears: Deceitful, capable of feigning friendliness in order to attack you. The biggest, the Siberian bear, has a head the size of a 44-gallon drum but it’s so well trained that it carries Ivan’s whip around for him. (Ivan’s whip is more to impress the audience than the bears).

Polar bears: Jealous. It could be fatal to give one of the pair just one lump of sugar extra.

We have entrepreneur Michael Edgley 24, to thank for this 16-week Australian tour. He went through half a dozen circuses in Russia, picking out their best acts for an ensemble. He’s hoping for a million ticket sales to cover costs and make a profit.

The logistics alone are startling. The circus travels via 15 semi-trailers hauling, among other things, the (claimed) world’s biggest tent of one-acre extent. Erected, it’s green on top with red flags flying from four giant mastheads. The sides are red and blue.

This tent involves 4.5 tons of canvas, 2.5 miles of rope and (claimed) ability to withstand gales of 180mph. Now THAT’S a big top.

UPDATE: I can’t let the clown stories pass without adding today the unfunny story of two Moscow clowns Bim and Bom at a performance in 1918. They were prone to making outrageous jokes — like Bom toting portraits of Trotsky and Lenin, and Bim asking what he planned to do. “I’ll hang one and put the other against the wall,” Bom says. Whatever joke they made at this performance, some Cheka (Party police) present weren’t amused and climbed on stage to arrest Bom.

People tittered, thinking it was part of the act. But when Bom fled, the Chekhists began firing their Browning pistols into the air, panicking the audience. Bom hid in the stables behind. Next day they were both interrogated, still in costumes including Bim with a giant chrysanthemum in the buttonhole of his tuxedo. Luckily, they survived their mistake.

The dangerous nature of clowning in Stalin’s time is suggested by this joke: Stalin attends the premiere of a Soviet comedy movie. He laughs and grins throughout the film, but after it ends he says, “Well, I liked the comedy. But that clown had a moustache just like mine. Shoot him.” Everyone is speechless, until someone sheepishly suggests, “Comrade Stalin, maybe the actor shaves off his moustache?” Stalin replies, “Good idea! First shave, then shoot!

Tony Thomas’s book The West: An insider’s tales  is available here


In Praise of Tony Thomas, Journalist

Quadrant Online has been blessed by the curious mind, astute eye and gifted pen of Tony Thomas, who has just published the second volume of his collected essays, investigations and memoirs. When one looks at the sad state of the news business, it can only further darken the mood to realise the unfulfilled need for more like him

The West: An insider’s tales
By Tony Thomas

Connor Court, $29.95

Readers of Quadrant (and there is no excuse for not being one) will know what a splendid writer Tony Thomas is, with a rare blend of graceful style, humor, meticulous research, a steely commitment to the truth with intolerance of fashionable cant, and as indefinable quality that is all his own.

Growing up in a communist family, and for some years as a very young man a party member, he has become a deadly enemy of the left, particularly of fashionable “Green” idiocies and the global warming hoax, though not blind to the less-intelligent aspects of the Righy..

One gathers disillusionment came early. His essay here on Paul Robeson (brought to Australia by the so-called “Peace Council”) is a merciless expose of Robeson’s conscious (not naive) covering-up of Stalin’s murders.

I was a cadet reporter on the West Australian when many of these pieces were written. Tony, working a full shift as a reporter while turning out this seemingly effortless stream of memorable features in addition, was my journalistic hero. I turned the pages of his bulging cuttings books with awe. He took time to help me prepare my first important interviews and showed me how to frame questions so as to elucidate the most newsworthy answers. It was a better training in the craft than I think any latter-day college of media studies could provide. His features, many of them collected here, have not aged. They provide a wonderful and unique picture of Perth in the 1960s and were a local institution. My mother used to cut out some of the best and paste them in a scrap book, partly because she loved good writing but also in case I needed inspiration.

There was no one like Tony, though we did not lack talented reporters. It seemed to me then, as it does now, that if ever there was a natural-born writer, it was he. These pieces read as freshly as when they were written. They provide a wonderful, unique picture of life in Perth at a time when the great mineral developments of the North were turning it from a glorified country town to a city.

This book should provide hours of delight and fascination, but more than entertainment, it is a valid recording of social history, and it should be an enduring one. If in 100 years anyone is writing a history of these days and still reads English, this is one of the books they should turn to,

Some of the stories are tragic, like the tale of the last of the old Chinese market-gardeners, ending in destitute old age after a life-time of toil. When they were evicted from the South Perth foreshore to make way for development, the old “Charlies” cursed the land. Every development project since has failed there. For Wong Chew, the last of them, a collection was taken up so he could go home to Hong Kong to die and be reunited with the wife he had left there a lifetime before.

There were bee-keepers, desperately chasing back and forth across the state for gum-trees in blossom that might provide a “honey-flow.” Writing this involved investigating the bees’ somewhat brutal social life – a bee’s wings wore out in six weeks, after which it was thrown out of the hive to perish.

There were log-choppers and timber-jerkers, construction-workers on the sky-scrapers then going up, and the desperate struggles of the Playhouse Theatre to remain solvent in a community that basically wasn’t interested.

A feature on the West Australian Education Department’s monthly School Papers was particularly memorable for me. I knew the quaint old building where they were produced, and some of the people who wrote them, very well. While most of their content was bland, if informative enough, – “common objects of the seashore” always fascinated me – at school I had childish nightmares over a too-graphically illustrated poem, “Faithless Nellie Gray” by Thomas Hood. How did it get approved?

Tony risked trouble with the West by writing for the little University magazine The Critic on the taboo subject of homosexuality. However, nobody noticed.

Then there was official concern that children, and others, were getting drunk on liqueur chocolates. The Customs Department tried to interview him as to his sources on that one, which of course he refused to divulge. There were the adventures of a private eye before the Family Law Act dried up the business, and the annual burning by the industry of dud movies that could “no longer be sold even to country theatres.”

What gives this book both its historical value and its charm is that somehow Tony Thomas saw what others missed. Only he noticed something bizarre in the fact that Perth’s proud International Airport had kangaroo-paw flowers (a West Australian State emblem) growing in its gardens and a souvenir stall selling the chopped-off paws of real kangaroos made into bottle-openers and the like. He tried to find the supplier, but in this case failed. A truck-load of them arriving at the souvenir factory, he suggested, would have been an interesting subject for Salvador Dali.

These pieces weren’t produced effortlessly of course. Like any technique mastered to such a degree that it looks easy, there was behind them a great deal of hard work as well as an outstanding talent.

Tony was never, however, simply a writer of light features. He investigated the hard, dangerous lives of wood-cutters, and engine-drivers (with unreliable brakes) and other hard workers building, as Kipling put it, “rudely but greatly.” Some of this reminds me of Les Murray’s classic essay about “a working forest.” There were German anthropologists and bearers of theories that North-West Aborigines had borrowed words from early and forgotten European contacts.

Then there is his interview with visiting World Championship wrestlers, rejoicing in names like Gorilla Monsoon and his simian colleagues (actually highly-skilled tumblers, actors and acrobats). There was an interview with the “proud guardian” of the causeway rubbish tip, perpetually at war with “scroungers”.

He surprised many of us when he took the position of economics writer at The Age – it seemed too dry for him. But he had the intelligence to have schooled himself in a real understanding of economics. Coupled with his writing talent, it was a formidable (and rare) combination.

Perhaps every city is unique, but Perth in the 1960s was, if I may put it that way, perhaps more unique than some. Its atmosphere, with the subtle, pervasive influence of the Indian Ocean is captured authentically in these pages. He writes, too, of a skindiver bitten in two by a great white shark. Any deep green advocacy of the need to share the ocean with these purportedly gentle giants would not have got a good hearing then.

The book ends on a rather different note: Tony Thomas left his three-year-old daughter when his first marriage broke up and he took the job in Melbourne. His daughter, Ros Thomas, established herself in Perth as a successful and well-liked columnist and TV journalist. Tony writes frankly of his fraught, eventually successful, efforts to re-establish a relationship with her, not excusing his shortcomings or desertion of her, and she tells her side of the story here. By mutual arrangement, their two stories were published in her column in the West and are reproduced here. She recalls: “I never had a single photo of my dad … Actually, there was one dog-eared snap of us; lost now, but it was only of his hand steadying mine as a laughing toddler in the bath (I held that photo so many times as a kid, I thought if I looked hard enough, I would see love in that hand).” Lacerating.

But at least it seems to have ended happily. Tony says: “Over the last decade we’ve finally got to know a bit about each other … I love our odd new relationship.” To other absent fathers he says, “Stay in touch. Come what may. Keep showing your face. If you’re in another city, it’s harder to keep up the contact. Man up and do your best anyway.”

Great entertainment and a fine showcase of journalism at its best.

Online editor’s note: Many of the pieces referenced above have appeared in Quadrant and Quadrant Online and we would normally have embedded links to those articles. But not today. As Hal writes, the record of this observer’s eye is part of history’s record and they deserve more than the ephemeral attention of pixels flitting across a screen. Instead, buy the book. Tony’s talent deserves an investment in ink and paper, which can be made by following this link.

Never too Young for a Brainwashing

Blocks and finger-painting, that’s what kindergarten was about, but no longer. Today, even before your children have reached primary school, there’s a good chance they have been immersed in the Left’s catechism of injustice and persecution against Aborigines

Child-care centres, playgroups and kindergarten are places where toddlers and little kids play with blocks, hear about the pup called Spot and begin to socialise. Surely then the Brunswick kindergarten in Melbourne’s Greens-voting heartland indoctrinating its mini-clients about open doors for asylum seekers was an anomaly? 

Alas, not so. Reconciliation Australia (RA) is specifically targeting what it calls “our littlest children” in pre-schools for all the current campaigns of  Aboriginal activism. Its goal is to “impact the hearts, minds and actions of early learners.” Target groups include long day care, occasional care, family day care, playgroups, crèches and kindergartens. Close to 700 of these so far have signed on for thorough-going Reconciliation makeovers, starting with a flag out the front and extending to discussion of whether the national anthem is racist. The conditioning from between the ages of three and five softens  up toddlers for RA’s political crusading in primary and high schools.

The  pre-schoolers  are inducted into abstruse “conversations” about a more respectful date than January 26 for Australia Day, and why a treaty and sovereignty  are integral to reconciliation. In delivering a sanitised and tightly-censored version of  Aboriginal culture , RA links reconciliation with the national Early Years Learning Framework where toddlers’ teachers “analyse and discuss with children ways in which texts construct a limited range of identities and reinforce stereotypes”. (My emphasis).

In videos celebrating pre-schools that have won Narragunnawali awards for their teaching plans, toddlers lisp and sing their teachers’ reconciliation slogans. One little girl, aged about four, recites, “Explore & Develop Penrith South [a day care centre] acknowledge the twaditional custodians of this land, the Dharug people and the land we are on today.” (For some sceptical history of the Dharugs, see here.)

Federally-funded Reconciliation Australia ($10.2m in 2017) pumps its material into pre-schools and schools via its “Narragunnawali” offshoot.[1] Among Narragunnawali’s other backers are BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities ($11m over five years from  2017), the green/Left anti-capitalist educators at Cool Australia, run by the Just Jeans founders, the Myer Foundation  and the ABC with its Right Wrongs platform.[2]

Early learning and childcare centres sign on for a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) involving 14 obligatory elements (“RAP Actions”) and 25 optionals. In some Melbourne suburbs, Narragunnawali’s Action Plans (RAPs) have made bigger inroads into child-care centres and preschools than kindergartens and primary schools. Using RA’s  Dashboard, and starting with my own suburb Ascot Vale, I found 18 early-learning places  signed on in eight suburbs, contrasting with only one primary school (St Therese, Essendon). In Balmain , Glebe, Surry Hills and Parramatta, one finds nine affiliated pre-schools and child-cares. The only primary schools with Reconciliation Plans were Glebe Public School and St Oliver’s, Parramatta. The elite SCEGGS Darlinghurst (Anglican Girls)  has a Plan, as does Sydney Boys High School.

The Melbourne sample of Reconciliation Action Plan affiliates is Ascot Vale – Highpoint Kinder Haven, Maribyrnong River Children’s Centre, Only About Children; Essendon – Community Children, St Therese Primary; Brunswick – Dawson St Child Care, Moreland Community Child Care Coop, NW Brunswick Kindergarten; Northcote – Clifton St Children’s Centre, Nicki’s Clever Cookies [childcare/kindergarten]; Melbourne 3000 – Genius Learning [childcare], Little Stars at Bourke Children’s Centre, Melbourne City Childcare and Kindergarten, RMIT City Campus Children’s Centre;  Prahran – Stonnington Children’s Centre, Windsor Community Children’s Centre Coop; Balwyn – 3 Apples Children Centre; North Balwyn – Boroondara Pre-School, Red Apple Early Learning Centre.

For Sydney, the sample was Balmain – Balmain Care for Kids, Phoenix PreSchool; Glebe – Amigoss Pre-School, Glebe Public School, KU Laurel Tree House Children’s Centre; Surry Hills – John I Carroll Pre-School, Only About Children, SCEGGS, Sydney Boys High; Parramatta – Integricare Children’s Centre, Parramatta West Out of School Hours, Reggio Emilia Early Learning and St Oliver’s Primary (Harris Park).

RA expects its sub-primary onslaught to be an everyday occasion, with Acknowledgement of Country “a relevant daily routine”. Toddlers are hectored, “Why is it important to think about reconciliation every day? Why is it important to work towards reconciliation every day?”

On big days  — and there’s no shortage of big days — toddlers get multiple doses of RA material. “Although not exhaustive, this list is a good start”, RA advises, going on to list Australia Day, National Apology Day, Close the Gap Day, Sorry Day, 1967 Referendum Day; National Reconciliation Week, Mabo Day, NAIDOC Week, Indigenous Children’s Day, and UN Indigenous Day. RA says,

Reiterate the meaning and purpose of reconciliation through concepts that are accessible to young children such as ‘friendship,’ ‘kindness,’ ‘fairness’ and ‘sharing.’ If you decide to implement something new into your daily routine, acknowledge the everyday significance to reconciliation the first couple of times you conduct the activity. For example, “and today, like every day, is an important day for reconciliation”.

On days of particular national significance, RA instructs “today is a very important day for reconciliation”:

Give the name of that day to the children (for example “Today is not just Monday, it is also Mabo Day, and this is a very important day for reconciliation”) and explain, in simple terms, what the day is all about. You may also wish to stimulate a basic reflective discussion with the children by asking questions such as:

– Why do you think this day is important?
– What do you think this day makes people feel?
– What could we do to help to celebrate and remember this day?

You may wish to consider facilitating some follow-up activities throughout the day based on children’s responses to the final question.” 

The kids are dealt a positive view of 9-year-old non-Indigenous girl Harper Nielsen’s refusal last September to stand for the national anthem at assembly at Kenmore South State School in Queensland. Young Harper claimed that “young” and “fair” demonstrated bias towards white-skinned people. Kids are now being told, “Harper’s silent protest was heard by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, with high profile voices recording messages of support.” There follows “Conversation Starters: Do you think that the national anthem should be more inclusive? If so, in what way?  Why is it important for young people to have a voice in conversations about reconciliation?”

RA thinks toddlers can answer questions such as “What does National Reconciliation Week [NRW] mean to you?”  These are quite difficult questions, RA admits, advising

…you might need to prepare children by providing some context first, and by guiding their responses wherever relevant. Nevertheless, it is also important to encourage children’s independent expressions of their early understandings and ideas. As a group or individually, children can then be assisted to create their own NRW poster based on the theme.

One lesson for Early Learning (sub-primary) “Civics and Citizenship”  involves playing the Paul Kelly/Kev Carmody song From Little Things Big Things Grow. “Children reflect on both socio-economic injustices, and opportunities, faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and businesses.” From the lyrics toddlers learn about the 1960s conflict between 200 striking indigenous stockman, led by Vincent Lingiari, at Wave Hill and “British Lord Vestey” who is “fat with money and muscle”. Toddlers also learn how, after years of Vestey’s roaring and  thundering, “one day a tall stranger [Gough Whitlam]  appeared in the land” with lawyers and great ceremony and delivered land-rights justice to the strikers.  The kids should be given “regular opportunities to listen to and/or learn the lyrics”, a dozen verses no less, plus choruses.

They next get a briefing about “historical and contemporary issues and opportunities involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees/businesses” couched in toddler-friendly concepts like “kindness, fairness and friendship to facilitate this conversation”. Kids are asked, for example, “What makes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people/workers/ businesses special and strong?” Narragunnawali advises, “The overall aim of this activity is to foster opportunities for children to develop an early awareness — even if only subconscious — of the importance of supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, employees and business.” (My emphasis).

The rationale for RA’s intrusion into pre-schools and schools is that Reconciliation is a sanctified and bi-partisan cause, and nothing but good can come of educating kids about it from the earliest age. Kids will acknowledge past and on-going injustices, learn to eschew racism, and respect Aboriginals and their culture.

But RA also has its panoply of political aims, with sovereignty, treaties and implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) at the apex.[3]Those top-tier goals would  structurally transform Australia on race lines.

As RA asks schoolchildren,

  • What is a treaty, and how might treaty-making processes meaningfully support the process of reconciliation in Australia?
  • How might the ratification of a treaty – or treaty – positively change the Australian landscape, and the relationship between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?
  • Why is it important to actively listen to the voices and perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within both treaty-making and reconciliation processes?

Below the apex are a host of contentious claims about alleged Australian racism. Plan-affiliates must agree and teach that   dysfunction in outback communities is from the inter-generational trauma of  white wrong-doings,  which must be atoned for to “heal the wounds”. White/Aboriginal history is of the extreme black-armband kind of genocidal invasion.   Enhanced money-flow is demanded for the salaries and costs of burgeoning reconciliation institutions.[4] Big-ticket compensation claims are pushed for “stolen generations” and historic underpaid wages.[5]

RA demands “respect” for Aboriginal culture and lifestyles but this can be hard to reconcile with the realities of some communities. In late 2017 Roebourne in the Pilbara was dubbed “town of the damned” because of the extent of child sexual abuse, which police described as “staggering”, “a cancer” and “an almost unrecoverable crisis”. Children there were more prone to being raped than almost anywhere else on earth. More than half the population of 1400 is Aboriginal and 80% of residents are on welfare. Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan likened the district to a war zone for little kids, with about 130 men either suspects or accused. The town is also afflicted with drugs, violence, gambling, house break-ins and per capita alcohol consumption three times the State average. Welfare payments not only finance alcohol but have often been used to bribe children for sex.

RA offers some data about a NSW country high school where Aborigines comprise about 100-125 of the 200-plus students. They come from a community afflicted with unemployment, welfare dependence and substance abuse, the site says.  In one year the school enforced about 200 suspensions, with 80% being Aboriginal youths.   Those getting many suspensions in Year 7 continue the pattern  “despite all interventions”. Most suspensions were for disobedience, abuse of staff, refusal to follow instructions, disrupting others, threatening  assault and actual violence.

Among the mandatory Plan elements, for pre-schools and schools alike, are engaging with Aboriginals from the community, training staff for  “cultural competence”, ensuring a “welcome to country” for significant events, and celebrating or running events for National Reconciliation Week (which this year starts a day after National Sorry Day).[6] They must attack racism and 
”Ensure Aboriginal histories and cultures are incorporated in curriculum planning, development and evaluation processes.” Staff must teach about “the concept, history and progress” of Reconciliation, and “explore current affairs and issues” about reconciliation.

RA tells educators to first set up a working group of staff, parents, and community members, then assess the current state of Reconciliation enthusiasm in the school “or early learning service”.  Write out a Vision to communicate to the community  the commitment by school “or early learning service”. Get the principal to sign off on the Plan and forward the Plan to RA “for review”, RA says.

“Reconciliation” for RA also involves criticising the Howard government’s 2007 emergency intervention in the NT after the NT Government’s   Little Children Are Sacred report. That report exposed rampant sexual abuse of NT Aboriginal children and utter dysfunction in NT communities from substance abuse, gambling and  violence against women.

But in a  video on the intervention  an Aboriginal woman says, “We believe this government is using child sexual abuse as a Trojan Horse  to resume total control of our land.”

A caption says, “International human rights are being violated in one of the most developed countries in the world.”

Man: What are my people? Are they human beings? We were rich when we were living alone in our country.

Woman: Why to us Yolngu people — when they did this to us in the first place?

Man: Invade our families, invade our land and tell us how we should live. You just don’t do it!

Caption: Can Australia deliver justice for its first peoples?

Clip of an old woman weeping.

Man: We have to start fighting together.

Closing: Jeff McMullen, TV journalist: The truth in this film is like a red hot poker driven into the conscience of a nation. Are we listening? Will we act?

In detail, the Little Children report said that in every one of the 45 places visited, alcohol was doing extremely significant harm to almost every aspect of community life. This included the safety, feeding, education and welfare of children.  Some could be bribed with alcohol for sex, or their parents were bribed to make kids available. The report also warned that reporting of abuses from community members was constrained by fear of violence and intimidation against informers or their families. The child  victim could be ostracised or “taken” by government. Community members also blamed sorcerers  rather than making the perpetrator accountable.

Nationally, latest data on dysfunction includes a 32 times higher non-fatal hospitalisation rate for female victims of family violence than for non-Indigenes nationally.

RA insists that sexual assault, particularly child sexual assault, forms no part of Indigenous culture – notwithstanding the many horrified observations by early settlers. RA says “it is considered abhorrent by Indigenous men and women of all generations” and, predictably, blames the inter-generational legacy on the colonial experience.

RA’s blaming isn’t getting enough traction. RA’s 2016 poll found 32% of non-Indigenous adults considered Aboriginals responsible for their own disadvantage. An equal number disagreed and 36% were undecided.

On pre-school courses, teachers are warned that the resources they use must be vettedagainst “negative stereotypes and misinformation”. If teachers have any doubt, they should offer local Aborigines right of veto. Fearful of committing a cultural faux pas, teachers must accept whatever a local Elder or activist might tell them. Here’s a play for students crafted for a Queensland school by a local Aboriginal:

There was once an old Goanna Lady who was a healer. She moved from tribe to tribe using her medicine to help people. By making her way between nations she brought the people together and gave them a common connection. When she died a medicine tree grew in the place where she was buried. The Goanna lady’s tree continued to bring together the nations and provided a place of healing. [7]

This is of course a politicised fantasy (e.g. “nations”) with Western echoes dating to Boccaccio’s Decameron of 1350. Such tales are at odds with traditional Aboriginal cultures of girls promised from birth to polygamous old men, and endless payback killings and warfare against outsider clans arising from women-stealing and sorcery. Only five years ago near Alice Springs, six family members ‘hunted like a kangaroo’ a man as payback for allegedly killing  a woman relative. They abducted him, poured petrol on his genitals and lit it, and clubbed and stabbed him to death – although he had been in gaol at the time  the woman was killed.[8]

RA urges a “truth and justice process for Australia”. This is to combat public scepticism about Aboriginal causes such as the “Stolen Generation” which 32% of Australians as a whole don’t accept.

Concerning truth, an example of surprising claims about victimhood arose from an address to a party of WA University students by Noongar elders at a beach at Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) in 1998. Speaking of its native prison history from 1838-1931, the elders claimed that during the term of superintendent Henry Vincent “a guillotine was used on the jetty at Wadjemup and an Aboriginal person would sometimes be illegally executed when new prisoners arrived. The new prisoners would then be responsible for burying the body.” An immediate historic problem is that Vincent’s term ended in 1867 and there was no Rottnest jetty until 1906. And the creation of a Rottnest Robespierre is not all. One of the elders told the students

“that when military forces were stationed at the island [during World War 11?], they accidentally uncovered the remains of a number of Aboriginal people. But the remains were not re-buried. Instead they were ground into powder and mixed with mortar used for buildings under construction on the island. This ghoulish act may have obliterated physical evidence of deaths on the island, but it cannot obliterate them from Aboriginal oral history or from the collective Aboriginal memory… Within the very mortar of houses used for accommodation, the ground up desecrated bones of Aboriginal people testify silently to the horrors of the past, their formless eyes now watching those who rejoice within what once were prison walls.”

These accounts are in the WA University’s peer-reviewed Studies in Western Australian History.[9]  From there the claims may already have percolated into “truth-telling” reconciliation lessons for credulous schoolchildren (hopefully not pre-schoolers).

Sir Ronald Wilson and Mick Dodson in their Bringing Them Home report of 1997 published Aborigines’ stories at face value and untested. Here’s an account by “Jennifer”(submission 437) about Cootamundra Girls’ Home, NSW around 1915:

‘Cootamundra in those days was very strict and cruel. The home was overcrowded. Mum remembered once a girl who did not move too quick. She was tied to the old bell post and belted continuously. She died that night, still tied to the post, no girl ever knew what happened to the body or where she was buried.’

The home was bad, but this tale reads more like something from Nazi Germany.

Aboriginal groups like RA do not necessarily speak for their communities. Peter Yu of Broome has been an Aboriginal administrator and advocate locally and nationally for 35 years. In his ANU Reconciliation Address last year he said Reconciliation has lost its moral and political gravitas — “it has become a nebulous and meaningless term and used by anyone as a throwaway concept … part of Australia’s lazy dialogue concerning Indigenous people dominated by symbolism which has little connection with the realities of people’s lives … Throw in recognition of Indigenous people in the Constitution and the potential severing of constitutional links to the British Monarch and what we have in this country is a facile dialogue of disconnected symbols which are supposed to define Australian nationhood.”

He continued that only Aborigines can close the gap concerning prison rates, health, and family and community violence. Gains “can only come from our own determination, our discipline, commitment and leadership at an individual and collective level.” He added that “many conservative Australians of considered opinion are more thoughtful and committed about reconciling Australia than many of those who would describe themselves as belonging to the progressive side of Australian politics.”

Apart from school programs, hundreds of corporates, non-profits, sport bodies and government agencies have also signed on for Plans. The Federal Labor Party signed up after its conference last month. On Australia Day 2016, Google’s front-page “Doodle” (below) showed a weeping Aboriginal mother and her absent stolen children.

As the Reconciliation campaign ramps up, reconciliation heads further into divisiveness. Between RA “Barometer” readings in 2014 and 2016, the proportion of Aborigines wanting wrongs rectified rose from 37% to 44%; those saying that Australia is racist rose from 48% to 57%. Australians generally who agree we are racist have increased from 35% to 39%.

“Wrongs” to be “righted” are flexible, extending for example to the Abbott government’s budget cutbacks to the self-determination-seeking National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (NCAFP) in 2014. The cuts were in a program designed to curb waste and massive duplications in the Aboriginal industry. The Congress at 2017 was still getting $1m from government but board and key management remuneration had subsided from $1.1m in 2015 to $388,000. The Congress had 12 full-time equivalent staff.

The iron grip of the Left on education from primary schools to university is undeniable. But I had never suspected that the authorities had turned over the pre-school and child-care sector to Aboriginal activists, with nary a squeak from conservative politicians. The banner for any pushback against indoctrination should indeed read, “Little children are sacred”.

Tony Thomas’s new book The West: an insider’s tales – a romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ‘6os, is available here


[1] Translated asalive, wellbeing, coming together and peace”.

[2] RA and the ABC misinform children about reconciliation’s history. For example, the ABC’s Right Wrongs peddles the line that because s127 of the original Constitution  said Aborigines were not to be counted, they were treated as non-existent or like flora and fauna. In fact s127 was irrelevant to the states-conducted census but drafted to ensure states did not exaggerate their count of remote Aborigine numbers to entitle them to more federal MPs.

[3] Australia endorsed UNDRIP only in non-legally-binding form

[4] RA accounts give meagre data on executive pay. Key management people were paid a total $1.23m in 2017 but even the number of people concerned is not stated. RA total revenue in 2017 was $13.8m. Payroll costs were up from  $5.34m in 2015 to $6.23m in 2017 for 54 staff.

[5] “For some, the uplifting effect on the nation of the Apology was paired with an ongoing sense of injustice that it was not accompanied with compensation.”

[6] A curiosity is that the slightly out-of-date templates for school welcomes and acknowledgements for each State and nationally refer only to “peoples”. The new politically-correct and absurd term is “nations”, further conditioning children to support nation-to-nation treaty business.

[7] Desmarchelier, Renee. PhD thesis, Whose Knowledge?:  Science Education, Indigenous Knowledges and Teacher Praxis, 2016, p95.

[8] Windschuttle, Keith, The Break-Up of Australia, Quadrant Books, Sydney, 2016,   p95

[9] Kwaymullina, Blaze. Wadjemup, holiday paradise or prison hell-hole [online]. Studies in Western Australian History, No. 22, 2001: 109-119.


  • Sean F

    Gobsmacked…But then I have to ask Tony, your information must go beyond just a well written Quadrant article and become known to the general public and politicians. How is this not any different to Safe Schools? Its Safe Schools on steroids! Pass it on and get this out there…

  • Peter OBrien

    Once upon a time we had affordable pre-school kindergartens or backyard childminding by locally respected neighbours. Kids were allowed to play and develop social skills coupled with some early forays into skills such as reading or drawing etc. Then we got ‘early education’ – a make work scheme for child minders so that they now needed a tertiary qualification and suitably higher pay. Child minding then got unaffordable without government assistance. Now we have brain washing. Sean is right – government should withdraw both funding and accreditation from centres which buy into this pernicious and dangerous nonsense. Thank you, Tony, for bringing this frightening development to our attention

  • Alistair

    Brilliant expose Tony! I found it difficult to read I was so sickened.

    What on earth is Reconciliation Australia’s stated brief?
    From this, RA seems to be promoting:
    • Aboriginal tribes were nations
    • Aboriginal nations should have treaties with Australian governments
    • The Australian constitution should recognize Aboriginal national sovereignties
    • Treaties and constitutional recognition should create Aboriginal national bodies with rights in and to an extent over Australian law
    • Aboriginal people and Aboriginal national bodies should operate under traditional Aboriginal law, which should be recognized in Australian law

    But importantly I would add that its the Liberal Party in Government that is funding RA’s agenda It would appear then that this is all part of Liberal Party policy! That’s PM, Scott Morrison, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Nigel Scullion, and even Special Envoy on Indigenous Affairs, Tony Abbott.
    And its the same crowd that was happy funding the “Safe Schools”, child-grooming, policies!
    Its not a leadership change that the Liberal Party need, Its a top to bottom purge!

  • Alistair

    As well as a specific political agenda that Reconciliation Australia seems to be promoting, there is the ‘soft’ political agenda, being foist on infants no less:
    • That all problems in Aboriginal society are due to colonization and intergenerational trauma, hence ‘decolonization’ and compensation are the only partial remedies
    • Australia’s whole history as a nation is one of disadvantaging Aboriginal people
    • All Aboriginal assertions as to past practices, white or Aboriginal, must be taken at face value and are not to be questioned
    The latter point is already well-established in the Stolen Generations narrative.
    Where is proper government oversight of any of these bodies that the government sets up and then appears to let loose on society at large?

  • Alice Thermopolis

    An unsettling analysis. Something truly sinister going on here, The author deserves our gratitude for exposing this aspect of the (government-funded) fabrication/propaganda industry.

    As for “big days’, presumably the children are also learning that every day is Pay Day:

    In 2015‑16, total direct government expenditure on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians was estimated to be $33.4 billion, a real increase from $27.0 billion in 2008‑09.

    In 2015‑16, the estimated expenditure per person was $44 886 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, around twice the rate for non‑Indigenous Australians ($22 356); a similar ratio to previous years in this Report 1. The higher per person expenditure (difference of $22 530) reflects the combined effects of:

    greater intensity of service use ($14 349 or 63.7 per cent) — because of greater need, and because of the younger age profile of the population
    higher cost of providing services ($8181 or 36.3 per cent) — for example, because of more remote locations, or because targeted services are provided in addition to mainstream services (for example, Indigenous liaison officers in hospitals).

  • en passant

    54 years ago I met my first aboriginal stock man, a fine old fellow and excellent horseman. As a walked over he extended his hand and said: “Call me Jacky.” Neither of us would survive that introduction today.
    I had several aboriginal soldiers in my unit in Townsville, most of them half European. I asked every one of them why they joined the Army and received a universal replay: “To escape the tribal system” – as it dragged everyone to the lowest level. Rising above your slot in society or questioning the Elders would incur a wrath that Stalin would have recognized.
    It may therefore seem anomalous that I support aboriginal nationhood …
    Give them their land, but first rip down those awful Oz homes, roads, medical centres, Centrelink payments and free Landcruisers and let those that want to return to their mythical Dreamtime.
    My bet is that not one ‘activist’ would abandon the urban gravy train.

  • en passant

    I forgot to mention the final report of my grandson from kindy. It proudly reported that he could recite the ‘apology to the aboriginals for sealing their land and the thank you to them for lettng us use it’.
    He could neither read nor write, or do arithmetic. The National Anthem, Australia Day were unfathomed mysteries as was the Lord’s Prayer, though curiously they explained to him the meaning of Ramadan …

The Very Model of a Global Green Rorter

The Very Model of a Global Green Rorter

That Third World cesspits sent hundreds — nay, thousands — of freeloading delegates to the latest catastrophist gabfest is, sadly, to be expected. But they have something of an excuse: when it comes to living high on the climate dollar, the UN’s Erik Solheim is the gold standard

From top to bottom, things don’t get more disgusting than at the UN Environment Program, which runs the UN’s anti-emissions campaign. Indeed, UNEP under its director Maurice Strong in 1988 co-founded the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In 2005 Strong was caught red-handed at the UN with a $US988,000 cheque from a South Korean business man. Strong fled to the safety of Beijing — China has no extradition treaty with the US — and he lived there, honoured and unprosecuted, until his death in 2015.

Life at the top of UNEP is no longer so spectacular, but its latest director-general, Erik Solheim (above), had to resign last month when an internal audit exposed his rorting of travel and lifestyle costs. While preaching against CO2 emissions, he enjoyed aerial globetrotting for 529 days of 668 days (audited) since getting the job in 2016.

More of Solheim later, but let’s take a look now at the underbelly of UNEP’s COP24 at Katowice, a talkfest for 23,000 designed to save the planet and transfer at least  $US100 billion a year, as of 2020, from the West to African and other Third World basket-cases. Numbers of these countries displayed their integrity by each flying literally hundreds of freeloaders to Poland, their travel and living costs disbursed from UN funds courtesy of UN donors, including Australia.

Resoures-rich Republic of Guinea in general fits the Trump definition of “a shithole country”. It’s 85% Muslim, 96-98% of women suffer genital mutilation, child marriage and illiteracy rates are among the world’s highest, 5% of women can expect death in childbirth, close to 40% of the population suffers malnutrition, and health threats range from HIV/AIDS to malaria and ebola. Only a quarter of the population has electricity, children are trafficked with impunity for sex and slavery, and after nine years, no security forces have been tried for a 2009 pre-election massacre of 156 people and rape of more than 100 women. Need it be said that the government is monstrously corrupt?

But in one respect Guinea is a world champion – the size of its delegations to UN climate change confabs. At COP24 in Katowice this month, freeloaders from Guinea comprised 406 of the 14,000 official delegates, easily outclassing Congo with only 237 and Ivory Coast with 208. Last year at COP23 in Bonn, Guinea sent 355, beaten by Ivory Coast with a stunning 492. At the Paris COP21, Guinea sent 398.

The Guinea total includes politicians, officials, and NGO people. They trooped to a special UN office at Katowice, presented passport and plane tickets, and collected their cash from a nearby bank window. How much allowed? For the minimum stay of 12 days, US2328 or $A3235. Last year in Germany, $A4914.

The mind reels at the delegate numbers: Sudan 172; Senegal 171; Benin 139; Chad 57. Our tiny Pacific neighbors, none of them climate-drowning, weren’t going to miss out: Fiji 60; Tonga 26; Vanuatu 23; Tuvalu 21; Timor Leste 21; PNG 19; Nauru 14. Australia sent 30 – all paid for by the government, not the UN.

Nature guru David Attenborough saw no irony in warning at the opening about “the collapse of civilisations” from too much CO2. Oh, the irony! The Katowice summit was itself estimated to emit an extra 55,000 tonnes of CO2, excluding the formidable emissions from delegates’ junketeering via scheduled flights or celebrity private jet. There was also the cost to Poland  and the atmosphere of building virtually an entire new town for the 30,000 visitors. Those 55,000 tonnes emissions, by the way, equate with the annual emissions of about 8500 homes, 12,000 cars or 728 tanker-truck loads of petrol.

The UN’s face-saver is that it pays for CO2 offsets, in this case for planting 7 million trees in Poland. It also offers free lanyards to visitors who buy CO2 offsets. Good work, UN.

Erik the Rorter pauses between flights to urge reductions in global emissions.

A person might say of Guinea and Benin, “Well, that’s Africa for you.” But the worst cesspit of nation (to use a more genteel turn of phrase than that favoured by Trump) must be Norway, for hypocrisy. Its one-time  (2007-12) environment minister  and Socialist Left/Greens politician Erik Solheim moved in 2016 to run the UN Environment Program (UNEP) with its budget of $US780 million. UNEP operates as the “global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda.”

Solheim quit as executive director last month after being sprung by auditors for massive luxury travel and expense rorting. He totted up $US488,000 ($A 678,000) for 22 months travel, involving 80% of his workdays. There were also 76 days’ worth of unexplained sojourns in Oslo and Paris. On one weekend he flew Washington DC to Paris for a weekend’s relaxation, returning Paris-New York. Who was authorising such trips? One of Solheim’s subordinates – unusual, that.

UNEP headquarters are in Nairobi, but who would want to work there? So Solheim allowed two pet staff unofficial licence to work out of Paris instead, at a cost of $US23,000-plus in extra travel. Other managers told the press that Solheim had been “getting away with murder” with his “haphazard and dictatorial management style”.

A Norwegian company won business from UNEP last April and, shortly after, decided to hire his spouse, Gry Ulverud Solheim. Mr Solheim had to recuse himself from further dealings with the company and, in his official capacity, his missus.

Some US staff considered Solheim had grown far too chummy with China, and they were suspicious of Solheim’s environmental examinations of the Middle Kingdom’s vast Belt and Road project. He also made an unpublicised UNEP $US500,000 donation to the Volvo Ocean Race. At least the public knew where those yachts were going. UN Environment people in general were gadding about a lot, and their destinations and reasons remain something of a mystery. The auditors sought data on 596 staff trips, but 210 trips couldn’t be documented and another 200 had to be hastily documented post-audit. The UN internal preliminary audit was leaked to The Guardian UK. The full report is still not public.

Denmark, Sweden, Japan, Belgium and the Netherlands withheld some $US50 million in UNEP funding when they learnt of Solheim’s habits, threatening UNEP with a financial crisis. One wonders why Australia’s UNEP rep made no  overt contribution to the fightback against top-level rorting.

Solheim initially maintained that he couldn’t be treated like at 7am-4pm factory worker and shouldn’t be asked “stupid questions”  about his work arrangements. When the audit came out, Solheim led his top troops on a three-day soul-searching retreat. They just had time to agree on a “commitment to a set of principles to guide the way we work and interact”, before he bugged out of UNEP the next day.

The auditors said Solheim had “no regard for abiding by the set regulations and rules,” noting this was a “reputation risk” for an organisation dedicated to fighting climate change. Solheim’s behavior, they said, was “contrary to the ethos of carbon emission reduction.”  The auditors drew attention to a 2011 policy UN statement that it would set an example of probity, including on environmental sustainability. These UN statements of good intent are a regular affair, just as are the exposures of UN corruption.

Solheim’s farewell:  “As I have maintained throughout this process, I have been and remain committed to doing what I believe to be in the best interest of UN Environment and the mission we are here to achieve.

“For this reason, after deep reflection and in close consultation with the Secretary-General, I am stepping down.”

One would also think the UN Secretary-General António Guterres would be outraged by Solheim’s jet-about rorting. No, no, no. He waved him on his way with praise for the “transformational change needed to make a real difference in the lives of people and promote the cause of the environment.”

“The secretary general is grateful for Mr. Solheim’s service and recognises that he has been a leading voice in drawing the world’s attention to critical environmental challenges, including plastics pollution and circularity; climate action; the rights of environmental defenders; biodiversity; and environmental security,” the Secretary-General said.

Solheim says he will continue to fight for environmental causes. “I am sad to be leaving, as we have achieved so much together,” he told staff in a tweet. “I will continue to champion the cause of the environment!”

Whether it’s African parasites piling onto the annual climate junk-fests or the top UN climate man rorting the system silly, even the most fervent catastrophists must sometimes wonder at the company they keep.

Tony Thomas’s new book The West: an insider’s tales – a romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ‘6os, is available here.

  • Davidovich

    It is doubtful the most fervent catastrophists would waste time being concerned about the company they keep. What is concerning is the apathy and acceptance of our political leaders in tolerating this hypocrisy and rorting.

  • ianl


    [forced by the deliberate removal of the reply nesting]

    >” What is concerning is the apathy and acceptance of our political leaders in tolerating this hypocrisy and rorting.”

    This acceptance is because they themselves expect a rort as payoff when their political time here is up.

    As I’ve noted in an earlier thread, the French yellow vests have shown the only practical way to deal with this corruption – and showed it with exceeding clarity.

Young minds filled with green mush

The original Children’s Crusade, if it actually happened, didn’t end well for the pre-pubescent zealots, who are said to have ended up as slaves. Today’s kids would know as much if their brainwashers, also known as ‘teachers’, focused on fact rather than getting them into the streets to demonstrate against nasty weather

  • Lawrie Ayres

    There are three groups of idiots or fools here; the kids, their teachers and their parents. When there is so much ignorance how can sensible policies ever be developed and implemented. The only saving grace is that not every kid went on strike and as one said ” If the strike was held on Saturday no one would have turned up”. So much for sacrifice. These same cretins will drive or be driven to school, demand the air conditioners be turned on and spend their weekends in front of the big flat screen while mum makes their bed and dad mows the lawn. Reality will strike and for some very soon as the lights go off, the A/C shudders to a stop and the jobs become harder to find.

  • en passant

    In a previous comment I pointed out that I was suffering from an endlessly ‘unprecedented’ cold fortnight in Melbourne in November. At home the heater was on as well as my jumper. At the end I quipped: “But not to worry, after the BoM has tortured and homogenised the data they will declare we have just had the warmest November evaaaa and that I should not believe my frostbitten toes …”

    Sure enough
    Melbourne just had its warmest November evaaaa. I’ll be out there in my Parka and ski gear at the next Children’s Crusade

  • padraic

    You can see why the Greens want to lower the voting age to 16 and stop seniors voting after a certain age. There is an innate connection behind the Greens and the childlike mindset.

  • whitelaughter

    pdraic is correct; and this absurdity will continue until we return the voting age to 21. *If* children had time to shake off their brainwashing before they could vote, it would destroy the motivation to indoctrinate them, and who knows? School might be left to actually teach real subjects.
    Failing that, businesses are going to have to reward kids for leaving school at 16.

    Still, the climate change skeptics here should take heart. The threat of man made climate change worries me, but there’s no point in me doing anything while irresponsible stunts like this are ongoing – having an intelligent public debate on the subject has been rendered impractical by these tantrums. So you lot are going to win the propaganda war simply by your opponents repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot.

  • Greg Williams

    I sent this letter to the local paper here in WA.

    I see that a miniscule percentage of secondary and primary school students skipped school on Friday and turned out to protest on Friday against a perceived lack of action on climate change. I teach in a secondary school and often, in an attempt to get able students to think about what they are learning in their Science and Humanities classes, present what could be taken as a somewhat heretical point of view on what is happening. While the students argue vigourously with what I have to say, I have yet to come across a student who will argue with facts rather than emotion on this issue. When engaged in healthy debate, I always ask the students what the problem is, and always it gets down to carbon pollution, or, in other words, carbon dioxide pollution. I then ask if they know what the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is, and I have yet to come across a student who does know this. After I have informed them that it’s a little above 400 parts per million, or 0.04% of the atmoshere, I ask if they know what is the minimum amount of this gas to enable life to continue on this planet. Again, I have yet to find a student who knows this, so I let them know that it’s a little under 200 parts per million. Then I ask them that if, as they claim, there is too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, how much is just right, so that we can have a perfect, unchanging climate. Again, there has never been a response to this, as no one on the planet knows how much is just right.

    Then, when I ask these fervent adherents of the belief that carbon dioxide produced by humanity is destroying the planet, what they are actually doing to stop this process, it seems they are doing very little. They all dash out to get their drivers’ licenses; they all continue to use their mobiile phones; none of them wants to sacrifice their holiday trips on fossil fuel burning aircraft; they all want the air-conditioning on on hot days, and the heater on on cold days.

    You can rest assured that all of the students protesting on Friday burned a lot of fossil fuel getting to and from their respective protesting points. They are the perfect example of virtue signalling.

    Mind you, after nearly 50 years of teaching secondary students, many think I may be the fossil that needs to be burned!

Spectator: “But does it pass the breath, er, pub test?

Anne Summers in 2011 was named by Voguemagazine as “one of the world’s wisest women”. From her memoir Unfettered and Alive, I’d say she’s feisty and crazy-brave, but wise? No.

In 1994, editing Fairfax’s Good Weekend, she rewarded readers with one of her quirky surprises in the cooking section. Celebrity chef Gay Bilson, egged on by Summers, ran a column “The blood of others” about planning to make sausages for dinner guests from three litres of her own blood. Her guests begged off and readers gagged over the “wonderful piece of writing”. Summers “counted this article as one of those I was most proud to publish”.

Her career nearly collapsed in late1983 during her switch from head of the Fin Review in the press gallery to running Keating’s Office of Status of Women (OSW, initially SOW). Driving home from a late dinner the nascent FAS PM&C refused a breath test and overnighted in a cell. Her rationale was that the Canberra Times reported on drunk drivers, and she’d become a joke and couldn’t advance women’s causes: “No, I couldn’t let that happen.” Her permanent head Geoff Yeend was “soothing” and “gracious”, Labor minister Susan Ryan and ex-Treasurer John Howard vouched for her and the obliging magistrate let her off without a conviction. Claiming victim status, Summers now writes, “The only nastiness was from the media”. Such as? The Melbourne Truth, unlike the press gallery hacks, did its job and reported the charge against the gallery president; one journo tried to blackmail her by demanding leaks. She shows no contrition.


It’s Boxing Day 1997 and one of the world’s wisest women finally gets to meet Germaine Greer at an annual party in Balmain hosted by rugby identity Murray Sime and celebrating Chairman Mao’s birthday. Summers: “I had had too many glasses of Jim Beam, a drink I had never tried before (or since) and, embarrassingly, had thrown up in front of her…Despite our both being champions of feminism, we have never really connected; it was probably our first meeting that saw to that.” Amen. As for rugby, it’s “violent and boorish”.

In her job as Keating advisor, she organised a True Believers’ Victory Dinner for 600 in Parliament’s Great Hall to celebrate Keating’s 1993 electoral win. Labor’s HQ was dubious about the $100 a ticket party ($180 today), but she assured them it would be self-financing with volunteer tradies and free entertainment by Yothu Yindi. At the last minute she discovered that the idle Parliament unions had to be paid off for any work done by others, and Yothu Yindi’s crew also wanted pay. She flung herself on the ALP’s mercy and during the partying “sat on the floor at the back of the room, sobbing with humiliation” while being pestered to sign for more liquor. The bill came in at $35,000 ($64,000 today).

Summers’ peak fame was in New York in 1987-88. She organized with publisher Sandra Yates the purchase of Gloria Steinem’s struggling Ms, first for Fairfax ($US12.5m outlay) and then for themselves (plus teen mag startup Sassy) in a $US20m management buyout in mid-1988. After phase one, Summers found chaos including a Ms staffer shickered every lunchtime, subsiding under her desk and passing out. Most staff were paid a pittance but some at the top were paying themselves “extremely well”. As for feminist icon Steinem: “I’d been horrified by the patronising cruelty she dispensed to women she regarded as unimportant”.



In phase two, there was projected buyout value of $US100m value in five years, or $US40m net for the duo. But in a bare three weeks, their business model turned turtle. They’d mass-mailed a Sassyflier that offended religious conservatives. Six top advertisers withdrew $US25m billings and 53 retail chains de-stocked Sassy, dooming the business by September with a $US1m monthly deficit. Back in Canberra as Keating adviser, and dudded on her $US200,000 final year  Mscontract, she had to couch-surf while dispatching almost her whole $1700 weekly salary to New York at 50c exchange rate to pay her mortgage there.

She bags her breath-test savior John Howard extravagantly. When he inveighed against political correctness in 1996, “Australian politics changed forever that day.” He “literally opened the floodgates (to) astonishingly hateful racist abuse (that) points to a barely concealed violence simmering beneath the surface of our society.”



Her career was in the doldrums by 2011, which she remedied in calculated fashion with a 7000-word hatchet-job on Andrew Boltfor the Monthly.

Her scoops included embittered quotes from Bolt’s early days’ girlfriend/fiancee, sliming of Bolt’s dead mother as raised in the notorious Nazi-led Dutch town of Aalsmeer, and a swipe at Bolt’s wife Sally Morell which required correction and apology. After this triumph the Left crowd snowed her under with requests for speeches and Fairfax exposure. The big one was Newcastle University’s annual Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture. It became her celebrated defence of Julia Gillard, sufferer of obscene internet abuse. Summer’s nose for controversy paid off again, few noticing her correction and “unreserved apology” to   Medibank Private staffers she’d slandered.


Next came her free e-zine Anne Summers Reports (ASR), a bold and classy Left package. The ABC’s Richard Aedy, despite clear ABC guidelines,rattled her can on-airfor donations. Summers’ book claims ASR got ‘rigorous fact checking (and) tough editing’. Maybe not. The August 2015 issue with “a few mistakes” had to be e-pulpedand replaced. Another had a 61 word unproofed parasprayed with 12 typos.


The reports morphed into very successful public “Conversations”. The one with Gillard packed out the Opera House and Melbourne Town Hall. Summers:“She walked out of the darkness towards the love and admiration and the sheer joy of her presence that awaited her that night.” I doubt Summers’ conversations included questions about Gillard’s colorful one-time lover Bruce Wilson.



Alas, by 2016 digital ads remained elusive and donations from her 16,500 subscribers fell short. ASR folded in June 2016 after 13 issues and eight Conversations – notwithstanding the Copyright Agency donating $15,000of authors’ money to the e-zine three months earlier. After the folding, $40,000 more donations came in. But essentially, Summers had overlooked that the Left likes its stuff.


Tony Thomas worked in the Press Gallery from 1971-79.

Unfettered and Alive: A Memoir. Anne Summers, Allen & Unwin. 496pp. $39.99.




Christiana Figueres, the Green Fairy

Ever-polite Stan Grant tried his very best to keep Christiana Figueres drifting off in a cloud of sob-sister vapours to Warmist Land, where only the transfer of vast wealth from the West to Third World kleptocrats can foil global warming. Yes, Stan gave it his best shot, but he never had a chance

christine IILord Tennyson with his “tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean” has been an inspiration to Christiana Figueres (left). She was secretary-general of the top-level UN climate body UNFCCC (2010-16)  and spruiked doom on Stan Grant’s Matter of Fact show on ABC-TV on October 9.

Figueres is billed as the architect of 2015′s Paris Accord which commits China, India, and now the US, to nothing. Meanwhile the West is supposed to transfer  $US100 billion a year to Third World leaders, such as the PNG politicians who’ve just ordered 40 Maseratis and three Bentleys.

The $US100b is actually small change by Figueres’ standards. A year ago she challenged Principles of Responsible Investment signatories, with $US70 trillion under management, to put 1% into renewables by 2020.[1] If I’ve got all the zeroes down pat, she’s talking $US700 billion.

Snuffles and sobs accompany her listing of future climate horrors unless we spend $US38 trillion on renewables during the next 16 years. That’s nearly half of current world GDP. I was disappointed that she stayed dry-eyed during the encounter with the ever-affable Stan Grant while delivering her litany of climate fictions and forecasts. She also accused the commendably sceptical Grant of using “infantile arguments”.

Are any recent graduates of ritzy St Catherine’s in Sydney’s Waverley reading this piece? Girls, remember her addressing your 1000-strong assembly in 2015. She had a box of Kleenex handy, and bare moments into her speech she told you, “I have tissues here because it always pains me … [a pause] to see   [a suppressed sob] … the evidence of what we’ve done.” She explained later to a worshipful SMH reporter, “I always have emotional moments when there are children in front of me…Unfortunately the painful evidence is upon us, there is no country in the world , not one single country, that has not had some extreme weather event that is related to climate change.”

The alarmist Climate Home News has noted, “Her passion for tackling climate change has many times spilled over into tears.” At Cancun in 2010, for example, she dabbed her tissues as she told kids she “had inherited a severely diminished planet [sobs] .. I just can’t look my daughters in the eye and not do what I can [more sobs].” I doubt her two daughters, now aged 30 and 29, will really do it tough. They’re both graduates from top universities (Yale and London School of Economis) and globe-trotting finance/gender/climate consultants.

One  tear-jerking oration involves Figueres in the Costa Rican jungle as a kid to see the golden toad, which from 2004 became the supposed first casualty of climate change. Her two daughters would never see one, she mourned. Nice anecdote except that better research has now attributed the apparent loss of the toads to natural El Nino cycles, not global warming.

Palace-raised Figueres  is from the  ruling  dynasty of Costa Rica (pop. 5m). Her father was president  for three terms and more than 12 years, while her brother, Jose Figueres, was president for four years.[2] Her mother was a parliamentarian and ambassador to Israel and  her half-sister an ambassador to the US. At the UN and later, her politics have been champagne-socialist. She achieved perpetual quotability with this ripper from  February 2015, which I’ve taken from the official UN press release:

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.” 

She views a halt to growth in the West with equanimity. “Industrialised countries must stop growing — that’s fine. But developing countries must continue to grow their economy in order to bring their people out of poverty … We’re saying: “Okay, you guys, you can continue to grow, you can bring your people out of poverty — but you can’t do it with disgusting fossil fuels that those guys use’.”

After the severe flooding in Somerset and on the Thames in 2014, aggravated by maintenance and dredging failures, Figueres tastelessly found a silver lining: “It’s unfortunate that we have to have these weather events, but there is a silver lining if you wish, that they remind us  solving climate change, addressing climate change in a timely way, is not a partisan issue.”

Her ideology was also on view in 2014 when she praised the  Chinese dictatorship for “doing it right” with its can-do approach to climate “because its political system avoids some of the legislative hurdles seen in countries including the U.S.” Representative democracy, it’s such a pain!

A year ago, Scientific American headlined her profile: “The woman who saved the planet”. Sub-head: “By harnessing ‘female energy’,  Christiana Figueres convinced humanity 
to take on climate change.” We also read that she has “warded off global catastrophe” by opening the Paris talks not just to governments but “to the private sector, the spiritual community, the scientists.” (Curious, who she puts last, isn’t it? She should also have mentioned the Paris hordes of green NGOs). She claims she created “a surround-sound effect” so that no matter where governments turned, they heard “a chorus of yes, yes, yes. Yes, we can go forward with ambition, yes, this makes economic sense, yes, the technologies are there, yes, the science is there, yes, the morality is there.”   But no, Ms Figueres, the $US100 billion a year for the Third World isn’t there and the Green Climate Fund meetings have fallen into  farce.

Figueres must stagger under all her honors and awards. They include the  Shackleton Medal, the Grand Medal of the City of Paris, the Legion of Honor, the German Great Cross of Merit, the Guardian Medal of Honor, the 2015 Hero of El Pais award, the Global Thinker Award, Four Freedoms Award and the Solar Champion Award from the woke folk of California. She was No 7 on Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2016, and a Top Five Most Powerful Women in Science last year. Quite a haul for someone who is yet to discover that weather isn’t climate.

Her flagship role today is convenor of the Mission 2020 activist lobby, which in 2017 was claiming humanity had only three years to stop the planet evolving into hothouse earth with “devastating heat extremes and unmanageable sea level rise”.[3] Mission 2020 just wants us to spent $US1 trillion a year by 2020 on renewables and coal phase-outs, thus saving the planet.[4]

Figueres in the run-up to the Queensland election late last year was lobbying against the proposed $1 billion concessional rail loan to Adani for its Carmichael coal project. (Who needs Russians?)  She claimed the loan would trash Australia’s reputation internationally and undermine the Paris Accords, as if China and India aren’t doing a good job of that already.

During the Stan Grant interview, hyperbole was rampant. “We are at the crossroads deciding the future of humanity on this planet,” she said, also posing  three questions, all with false premises:

  • Do you want bushfires raging across the East Coast for six months at a time or do you want a thriving and prosperous agricultural sector?After 1degC of global warming, wildfires are on a falling global trend.[5] Australian wheat exports in 50 years are up from 6.4m tonnes to 16m tonnes, with a record 25m tonnes six years ago.
  •  Do you want to cause geopolitical instability because Pacific nations will not survive (rising seas) and they will have to be simply migrated, or do you want to open up your energy system to be a limitless force from wind and sun and to be a jobs and energy source for the world?Tuvalu’s 101 islands have actually expanded by 3% in area in 40 years. Al Gore falsely claimed in his Inconvenient Truth movie of 2006 — that some island populations had been evacuated, a spurious assertion that has never corrected There are no island refugees from climate change to date. Wind and solar power are unreliable, require subsidies and confer no trade advantage to Australia.  The high cost of renewables has reversed our once-powerful energy competitiveness.
  • Do you want the Great Barrier Reef or do you want the largest aquatic cemetery in the world?The Barrier Reef has survived thousands of years of much hotter climate than today’s or the purported heat  level by 2050. It’s already recovering fast from two years’ bleaching events.

To his credit, Stan Grant kept trying to introduce reality checks such as coal’s status as Australia major energy source and export earner, while Figueres responded with her word salads. “Coal doesn’t have any place in the global energy system anymore … It would be unreasonable to expect Australia would completely demise its coal industry overnight but (it should) smoothly move out of coal energy because you have many other sources of energy and exports…”

She thought replacing coal energy and exports over 10-20 years “should not be that difficult.” Reality check: The anti-coal Coalswarm plant tracker reports that China now has as much new coal-fired capacity under development – 259GW – as the entire US coal-fired power industry – 266GW.

Grant asked why Australia should make sacrifices while China (and India) are unconstrained on emissions.

“That’s a very infantile argument,” she replied, saying that all national commitments were self-determined and voluntary. “It’s a myth that addressing climate change is a huge burden, it’s a huge opportunity. The global economy will grow between 20 and 26 trillion dollars just because we are moving to a new technology creating 65 million new jobs where young people are needing such jobs.”

The supposed “65 million new energy jobs” is a pointer that solar and wind energy is more labor-intensive, hence less productive, than equivalent  coal-fired power stations – even  disregarding renewables’ unreliability. Subsidised jobs are an economic burden, not a benefit.

Last month in another interview she turned the dial up to 11, claiming inter alia that “catastrophic heat waves” have stricken Australia. “After a year of unprecedented wildfires, droughts, floods, and other natural disasters around the worldit is clear that the climate crisis is already upon us,” she claimed. “Without more effective political leadership to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions immediately, the apocalyptic conditions of a warming planet will become the new normal.”

Sorry, no. The new IPCC report once again says that there is little basis for claiming that drought, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes have increased, much less increased due to greenhouse gases.[6]

Figueres’ nickname among sceptics is “Tinkerbell”. If it means she’s divorced from reality, she’s earned it.

Tony Thomas’s new book The West: An insider’s tales – A romping reporter in Perth’s innocent ’60s, can be bought here

[1] Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is UN-linked but claims independence.

[2]  The brother Jose Maria resigned abruptly as CEO of the World Economic Forum in 2004 after confirming that he had pocketed more than $US900,000 consulting fees from Alcatel, contrary to WEF rules. He blamed an oversight.

[3] Among the 60 signatories to the document is Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation and, from 2000-10, president of the ACTU.

[4] Mission 2020  is no relation to the British 10:10 green group which made a film comedy about murdering child sceptics.

[5] “The data available to date do not support a general increase in area burned or in fire severity for many regions of the world. Indeed there is increasing evidence that there is overall less fire in the landscape today than there has been centuries ago, although the magnitude of this reduction still needs to be examined in more detail.”


[6] Drought:           “…low confidence in the sign of drought trends since 1950 at global scale… likely to be trends in some regions of the world, including increases in drought in the Mediterranean and W Africa & decreases in droughts in central N America & NW Australia”

Floods: “There is low confidence due to limited evidence, however, that anthropogenic climate change has affected the frequency and the magnitude of floods. ”



  1. Lawrie Ayres

    Despite her outright lies and ignorance of even basic science this woman continues to be treated as a climate guru by left wing media and politicians. She is a charlatan and the media that fawns over her are even worse.

  2. Greg Williams

    What continues to amaze me is the almost total acceptance of carbon dioxide as a major pollutant. I am a teacher of high school students. I teach at a very good school, where the students are highly motivated, work hard, and achieve excellent results on the way to an almost 100% enrolment at university. I was handing out a booklet I had made up for my Year 8 Maths class today, and the students were complaining that I was killing off the forests. I stopped to point out to them that there was lots of CO2 around these days, so the trees were growing out of control, and that we actually needed to cut some down to make way for all the growth ( tongue in cheek of course). I went on to say how good CO2 was for the environment. Well, there was almost uproar over that. They were all convinced that it was poison. While I would have loved to have spent some time pointing out to them that without CO2 at reasonable levels, we would all be dead, the need to continue on with my Maths programme prevailed and discussion was cut off. The point of this is that of the 25 students in the room, it was pretty clear that all of them, at the tender age of about 13, were convinced that CO2 would be the death of us all. While most of the Science and Humanities teachers at my school treat me as the spawn of Satan when it comes to any discussion on CAGW, one Geography teacher actually asked me to take her Year 11 class one day to present an alternative view. That was pretty well received, but it was obvious that I wasn’t going to change too many opinions of the kids in that particular class. The kids just believe unquestioningly that CO2 and fossil fuels are going to be the death of the planet. Having said that, they all get dropped off to school each morning in their fancy SUVs and head off to Europe for the long vacation we have in our winter here in WA.

    • padraic

      The valid point about SUVs and flights to Europe reminds me of a tongue in cheek definition of toxicological “Risk”. The normal rational definition is “Risk = Hazard + Exposure”, but for the greenies it is “Risk = Hazard + Outrage”.

  3. Alice Thermopolis

    Thanks Tony

    There were tears in Cancun (2010) too, together with blood and sweat.

    Figueres, the new UNFCC executive secretary used her opening statement to urge attendees to embrace the wisdom of Ixchel, an ancient Mayan jaguar (and weather) goddess.

    Ixchel? She was a moon goddess, Figueres explained, “the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving. May she inspire you — because today, you are gathered in Cancun to weave together the elements of a solid response to climate change using both reason and creativity.”

    Ixchel, or Ix Chel, was a winning – or disturbing – choice, depending on your carbon politics and religion. The “high-segment” audience fortunately was spared details of the goddess’s darker – and bloodier – side. Could a formidable old woman with a writhing serpent headdress and crossed bones embroidered on her skirt ever be reasonable?

    She was actually a moody and malevolent goddess, motivated more by divine wrath than reason. As for weaving, Ixchel’s only tapestries were destructive floods and storms.

    Perfect, of course, as the unofficial patron saint for pagan climate alarmists and decarbonistas.

    Also tearful were the delegates who so earnestly wanted to put “the CAN in CANCUN!”

    At UN COPs, sacrificial victims are not laid on a stone slab. They are taken into a room and subject to hand-wringing, mind-bending and heart-rending eco-sentiment about saving the planet.