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Archive for August, 2017

In this post-truth Trumpian world we now all inhabit, public interest in unveiling the falsehoods, falsity, fictions, fabrications, fibs and flim-flams of political discourse seems greatly diminished. Of course Australia has followed the trend, taking mendacious pollie-speak to new heights (depths?) of untruthing. The old expression a ‘trumped-up story’ is somehow prescient.

A prevailing ethos of bald-faced lying means that pollies are encouraged to flagrantly and shamelessly parade their untruths in full view of voting punters. The fourth estate and public opinion rarely bring serious offenders to account.

The latest lying by Australian federal politicians about their dual citizenships and therefore constitutional unfitness for office is an egregious example of decline in political morals.

Matt Canavan, erstwhile coalition minister still literally holding onto his seat, and Malcolm Roberts, One Nation senator, have both gone off to the High Court to defend their parliamentary positions against Section 44 of the constitution. Whereas Canavan was previously unaware that his mum had requested Italian citizenship for him when he was 26 years old, now his barrister says that he was Italian from birth or some such. Let’s not even mention the hapless kiwi Barnaby!

Climate change denialist and serious whacko Roberts, who apparently never had dual citizenship, now says that he renounced his UK citizenship just as he was entering parliament, but isn’t sure if it was accepted by the British government. Or some such. It’s amazing how hiring QCs as barristers in the High Court (acting as Court of Disputed Returns) flipped their stories around.

Puh-lease!  In olden days, MPs would be drummed out of the service for misleading parliament, let alone blatantly lying. Imagine if the High Court could charge the scoundrels (no, the MPs not the lawyers) with criminal lying and put them on the stand with a bible. Or apply the polygraph? Problem is they’ve had so much practice lying they’d probably pass with flying colours.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that immigrants could not lose their citizenship because of lying about ‘irrelevant matters’ in their applications. So maybe it’s ok after all for our pollies to lie too in this 51st of the United States?

Oh, and you’ve gotta admire the chutzpah of our serially-lying erstwhile PM Abbott, who just confessed, eight years later, that he was indeed too drunk to attend parliamentary votes in the house, despite strenuously denying it all this time! This unreconstructed ex apprentice priest is the epitome of deceitful hypocrisy.

lying pollies

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Recently while on assignment in Berlin your KC correspondent tip-toed in his father’s footsteps at Olympia-Stadion, the site of Hitler’s Olympic Games in 1936, which also took place in the first fortnight of August.

John O’Hara was one of three top wrestlers (freestyle) in the thirty-three member Australian team. Their medal hopes were high: light-heavyweight Eddie Scarf had won bronze in 1932 at Los Angeles and lightweight Dick Garrard would go on to win a silver medal in 1948 in London.

Cruelly their chances were spoiled by different European judging rules, resulting in disputed decisions, threats of boycott by other non-European teams and official protests. Nevertheless adverse decisions held and none of the Aussies progressed to the finals. My father’s loss in his third match, to the eventual silver medal winner in the welterweight division, was however considered a fair result.

Since 1936 the Olympic stadium has been substantially upgraded and de-Nazified with removal of offending symbols, but it retains the original stone construction – and is now home to Berlin soccer club Hertha BSC. Standing in his special box we try to imagine the atmosphere of 110,000 spectators saluting Hitler. The Australian team did not give the Nazi salute and were booed by some of that crowd.

The wrestling and boxing were held in the Deutschland Hall, a kilometre or so away. Unfortunately the building was demolished and is now the sight of a fun fair, so no chance of a pilgrimage to the venue of the wrestling contests.

The Australians were billeted in the Olympic village 14 kilometres away. It reverted to the Wehrmacht (German army) after the Games, and then to the Russians after WWII. Their troops left in 1992 and the village was then abandoned and fell into disrepair. I didn’t try to visit it but discovered this Berlin insider website with its story and a news item.

To celebrate our Olympic pilgrimage the KC team did however swim our laps in the rundown original pool, which remains unchanged, with its diving tower and green tiles. Australia did not send swimmers in 1936, as money was tight!

Recommended reading: Dangerous Games: Australia at the 1936 Nazi Olympics” by Larry Writer.

Photo hints: JOH is playfully fitted with the Olympic steward uniform cap in the press cutting – spot him in other photos. In the shot of eight casual training mates, Garrard is 2L and Scarf 4R.

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