They say that if you remember the 1960s you weren’t really there. I remember quite a bit about the 1960s. Who could forget Christine Keeler, Mandy Rice-Davies, British secretary for war, John Profumo, and the Soviet attaché Yevgeny Ivanov in what was known as the Profumo affair. Christine Keeler died on 4 December 2017, a young 75.
Richard Davenport-Hines thinks Keeler did not bed Yevgeny Ivanov, but the Profumo affair did win Harold Wilson the election in 1964 by a mere four seats. A pity, he says, because with Labour then losing four elections in 13 years:
- a coltish version of New Labour would have emerged at a time when Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson were still schoolboys. It was a tragedy for Labour, and a misfortune for the country, that the Profumo affair thus deferred New Labour for 30 years.
He also said (that was back in 2013):
- After half a century, the Profumo affair still resonates with significance. It is a reminder of the continuing contempt for women, especially in high-testosterone newspaper offices. During 1961, Profumo had a brief affair with a girl 27 years his junior, Christine Keeler. To this day, as in 1963, she is called “a prostitute”, “a call girl” and similar epithets. The truth, however, is that she was a sparky and beautiful woman, who made her own sexual choices, had the men she wanted and disdained the fusty morality of pompous traditionalists. To depict her as a sex worker, as commentators continue to do, is revolting stupidity. It reflects an outlook which expects women to be sexually available, but dislikes women showing sexual initiative.
2. Remembering Harold Holt
On December 17, 1967, the then Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt disappeared off Portsea’s Cheviot Beach.
There were many conspiracy theories including:
- suggestions that Holt faked his own death, was assassinated by the CIA, or was collected by a submarine so that he could defect to China.
The rips at Cheviot beach were notorious. A coronial inquest in 2005 returned a verdict of accidental drowning.
When Holt became PM I remember photos like this splashed on the front page of the Adelaide News, owned by a young fella called Rupert Murdoch:
They were Zara Holt’s daughters by a previous marriage.
Holt came and went with high visibility, and the transition to John Gorton as PM generated a headline or two.
Yet I also remember the new student intake at Wattle Park Teachers College in Adelaide being administered a current affairs test early in 1968. From memory around 25% of them thought the PM was Sir Robert Menzies.
3. Trump a strong leader with a global brand
It was interesting to hear Freddy Gray, Deputy Editor of The Spectator tell Amanda Vanstone what a success Trump’s visit to Asia was. Trump, he says, was seen as a strong man with a global brand. hence Asian leaders accorded him respect they never felt for Barack Obama.
I can’t find it now, but someone was telling Phillip Adams recently, perhaps some other program, that in the long haul there would be only one winner in the push for global influence, and it would not be the USA. We would need to get used to doing business with China.
Clive Hamilton recently wrote a book critiquing the amount of influence China exerts in Australia. After legal advice his publishers decided not to publish the book.
Andrew Greene, defence writer for the ABC says Long after Sam Dastyari, China’s rapid rise will be this century’s big story.
- Hugh White argues that Australia has developed the habit of looking at the world through Washington’s eyes, and that we’re failing to navigate the biggest geopolitical power shift in our history.
White says we are acting as though the US has our back. He says this is a big mistake.
4. Turnbull takes it up to China
Turnbull is blaming Labor for introducing China relations to the Bennelong by-election. Turnbull also says that Bennelong is a judgement on his government and there is no doubt he has tweaked China’s nose. So we have:
China lodges official complaint after Malcolm Turnbull’s comments about foreign interference
And plenty more. Bennelong has the highest concentration of Chinese Australians of any electorate in the country. hardly surprising China relations becomes an issue.
However, some articles are appearing like this one in the AFR:
Professor James Laurenceson who is deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute at University of Technology, Sydney points out that:
Australia’s foreign policy rhetoric has been tilting against China all year. But it’s hard to recall anything more extreme than Joe Hockey’s latest comments. Canberra’s man in Washington said that China is a threat to what Australians have “fought and died for”.
We may piss off Chinese politicians, but also at stake are the attitudes of many in the middle and educated classes. Apart from trade in things, there are 131,355 Chinese citizens studying at more than 30 Australian universities, with zero incidents this year. Chinese tourists spent over $11 billion here in the last year. Chinese households might start to find that California wine tastes better than ours and the views at Waikiki eclipse those along the Great Ocean Road.
- Last month’s foreign policy white paper noted that China’s purchasing power is expected to swell by $21 trillion between now and 2030.
During the week before last:
after new foreign interference laws were introduced, the Chinese embassy in Canberra finally let loose. It claimed that some Australian media had “fabricated news stories” while some politicians and bureaucrats had made “irresponsible remarks”. China’s foreign ministry accused Prime Minster Turnbull himself of “poisoning” the relationship.
5. Bennelong showdown
Unsurprisingly, the Chinese Australians in Bennelong are mostly concerned with matters that affect their daily lives, like congestion on the roads, education and health, according to this article. Macquarie University is in the electorate and some are worried about Turnbull’s eagerness to cut university funding.
The SMH finds that Truth has been the first casualty in the Bennelong byelection.
Eddie Obeid was not one of Keneally’s “first picks” for cabinet when she became premier in 2009. Obeid never reappeared in the cabinet after 2003.
On the other hand, Keneally blamed the Coalition for the closure of the Eastwood Medicare office, whereas the decision to close it was made in 2013 when Labor was in power.
This morning Turnbull was saying the future prosperity of Australia hung in the balance in Bennelong. Without John Anderson he could not pursue his economic agenda.
What hangs in the balance is Turnbull’s political skin, and the power to send opposition members to the high court to have their citizenship examined. If he wins three more Labor people, but no more on his side, will be sent there. If he loses, then a bunch from both sides, but not Josh Frydenberg, will get the treatment.
Turnbull’s economic agenda already comes under scrutiny from the crossbench in the senate. There are at least three conservatively oriented on the HoR crossbench, which should not slow him down, unless what he is proposing is actually outrageous.
However, one way or another, Turnbull would do well to think about how relations with China should be conducted.