Saturday, April 09, 2011

Former Labor Party leader a likely Soviet spy

But Leftist historians deny it, of course. Calling Robert Manne a conservative historian is a joke. He was Rightish for a while but now leans so far Left it's wonder he doesn't fall over. So I have omitted his and other such judgments below.

Evatt did some good work for Israel in his earler years but did go mad eventually. His Soviet involvement may have been an early sign of his mental deterioration. That such a man could lead the Labor Party for so long is however disquieting. He was even retained as leader after he provoked a breakaway party (the DLP) from the Labor party

ONE of Australia's leading intelligence experts, Des Ball, says newly released MI5 documents have convinced him to express publicly for the first time his belief that former Labor leader Herbert Evatt secretly worked for the Soviet Union against Australian interests.

Dr Ball, a Labor Party supporter, said he had previously held back from expressing his long-held suspicion that Evatt was a Soviet agent.

"But I have got to the point now where I would be surprised if Evatt was not working for the other side," he said yesterday.

The MI5 files that were released in London this week did not include any clear evidence that Evatt was a Soviet agent and most historians say there is no firm proof of the theory, which is one of the longest-running controversies in Australian political history.

But they do reveal that then prime minister Robert Menzies was so concerned Evatt would win the 1958 election he handed top-secret ASIO documents to US and British spy agencies for fear Evatt would destroy them if he won.

Dr Ball, a co-author of Breaking the Codes, a 1998 book on the Venona code-breaking affair, said the documents "show the amazing extent to which Menzies and the people running the intelligence services were utterly convinced that Evatt could not be trusted".

"I think Menzies was clearly being told by ASIO that Evatt was a serious threat and my research has led me to believe now that they were right."

While other historians were sceptical of Dr Ball's claims, he said he had become even more confident of his view after being told by The Weekend Australian that the newly released MI5 files had revealed an unusual last-minute decision by Menzies just before the 1958 federal election.

Spooked by signs that Evatt might win the November 22 election, Menzies secretly ordered ASIO to hand sets of top-secret documents to Britain and the US for safe-keeping because of his fear that Evatt would bury or destroy the material if he became prime minister. Until then the Australian government had refused for four years to give the British and US governments full access to the material, a pile of Russian documents handed over by former KGB man Vladimir Petrov when he defected in 1954.

But two days before the election Menzies suddenly decreed that Britain's spy services MI5 and MI6 should each be given a complete copy of the documents and two more sets should go to the CIA. The originals were held in the PM's office. The copy given to MI5 filled nine envelopes and was among the material released on Monday by the spy service.

"There is some concern that true copies of these documents are preserved as there is no knowing what Evatt would do if he regained the premiership," an MI5 agent reported from Canberra after being briefed by ASIO chief Charles Spry.

Dr Ball said his research on the 1940s spy scandals while writing Breaking the Codes had convinced him that either Evatt or John Burton, Evatt's department chief when he was minister for external affairs, must have supported a group of officials in the department who have since been found to have fed material to the Soviets.

"It was not logistically possible for them to get away with providing the Russians with material every week for several years without somebody at the top providing cover, and the only two possibilities are Evatt or Burton," Dr Ball said. "I don't think there is any question that at least one of them was involved."

Dr Ball said the only previous time he had expressed this view was in a draft of Breaking the Codes, which was published when Burton was still alive, but the reference was removed on legal advice. Burton died last year at the age of 95.

The Australian reported this week that the MI5 files show that just before the 1954 election Spry showed a similar distrust in Evatt by warning MI5 that if Evatt was elected the British "should seriously consider withholding important secrets" from Australia.

The MI5 files show that the KGB defectors Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov and their secret service handlers shared the distrust of Evatt, fearing that if he was elected he would even send them to their deaths in Russia.

In March 1955 during the Petrov Royal Commission, one of the MI5 agents helping to deal with the Petrovs reported to London that "the evident animosity of Dr Evatt is seriously disturbing the Petrovs. He in particular fears for his future if Dr Evatt should ever become PM."

On October 12, 1956 the Petrovs were delighted to become Australian citizens. "This must have come as a great relief to them for now they know that they are safe against arbitrary deportation or extradition to the USSR, even in the event of Dr Evatt being returned to power," the MI5 man wrote to London.

Evatt troubled many Labor Party members with his non-confrontational approach to the Communist Party.

It was an approach that helped to split the ALP and spawn the Democratic Labor Party which helped to keep the conservatives in power until the 1970s.

Evatt courted controversy by defending several of his staff members who were found to have links to Russian agents, and telling parliament that he was sure there were no Russian spies in Australia because he had contacted then Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and asked him.


Air Force cadet who was subjected to a disgusting prank has been attacked for daring to complain

The pranksters should at least be discharged if not prosecuted for rape and acessory to rape. And the culture of coverup makes it all the worse -- with the beetle in charge (Kafer) being part of the problem

AUSTRALIAN Defence Force Academy boss Bruce Kafer sat across from an air force cadet in his office this week.

He is a powerful, decorated, senior military officer. She is a slender young woman, barely 18, who had learned just days before that an army cadet with whom she had slept had broadcast the event via Skype to half a dozen fellow cadets sitting in a nearby room. Pictures snapped by one or more of the voyeurs had been distributed around the ADFA campus.

The news had made her physically sick. Worse was the advice that had come down to her that there was no possibility of police action. The young men would be dealt with at a misdemeanour level, under the low-level catch-all charge of "prejudicial conduct". They would probably be docked a few days' leave.

The cadet, who we have named Kate to protect her identity, chose to go public. She knew no one in the media. She rang and left a message on a general number at the Ten Network. Her motivation, she said, was to try to make sure it wouldn't happen to other women. She never asked for, nor has she been offered, money.

Commodore Kafer assured Kate that she had the support of ADFA staff. Kate nodded. In her meeting with him on Tuesday night, she says, the ADFA boss told her she "needed to think about how (the media exposure) would affect" the young men involved in the Skyping incident.

Kate tells me Commodore Kafer told her that his concern was not just for her welfare but for theirs. Further, Kate maintains that during that conversation, Commodore Kafer said "he'd like me to address my division (of cadets) because they'll be angry". Specifically, she says Commodore Kafer said "it might help if she apologised (to her classmates) for bringing the division into disrepute by going to the media".

She dreaded having to do this but early the following morning, she fronted up before her division. The assembled cadets were first told by an officer present that because of the media attention, journalists would be hanging around outside the academy and they were not to say anything. During this address, one cadet yelled out "name and shame the dirty slut". Other cadets took up the cry, yelling "Do it!" The officer present cancelled Kate's planned address, fearing the cadets' mood was too volatile.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith says he has received advice from Defence that Kate was never ordered to apologise or humiliate herself in front of her peers.

Commodore Kafer was not available to comment yesterday. But Kate thinks she can explain the discrepancy. In telling her that an address to the cadets "might help", Commodore Kafer might have viewed his comments as advice rather than a formal order. However, she says, he is a "one-star" - the equivalent rank to a brigadier - and she felt she had no choice but to comply.

As Kate left Commodore Kafer's office she walked past a sergeant. In a growling sneer, he said, "You've gotta be kidding, don't you?" She'd heard worse. Since going public on Tuesday, Kate had been called to her face a "skank", a "slut", a "dirty whore" and more. The comments came from both male and female cadets.

She no longer felt comfortable sleeping in her room, which had been plastered with shaving foam. She had stopped eating in the mess because she had become the subject of gossip and whispers.

A Defence spokeswoman last night insisted that the welfare of all cadets, male and female, was of utmost concern to Defence. She said all individuals were being provided with full support.

Where had this begun? Kate thought the army cadet she slept with on March 29 was a nice guy. Events suggest he was not a nice guy. He had tipped off his mates, who gathered to enjoy the show. There has been universal revulsion at that betrayal.

Sue McLean, a former police officer with decades of experience investigating sex crimes, says the psychological effect on Kate would have been similar to a serious sexual assault.

The Australian Federal Police now investigating the matter are examining whether the Skyping without her knowledge "negates her consent" to the sex because it amounts to "fraudulent misrepresentation". If so, under the law, it can be treated as rape.

Kate's decision to go public pushed this matter to a new level. Mr Smith was soon directing searching questions to the ADFA commandant via defence force chief Angus Houston. Mr Smith said Defence advice to him was there had been no vilification of Kate. The air force cadet, hearing this, as well as the shouts of some of her colleagues, might reasonably have wondered if her superior officers had any idea of what she was going through.

On Wednesday night, she was moved from the cadets' accommodation to the officers' mess. She says the officers there were "nothing but supportive".

Since the minister became involved things have been much better. She was granted compassionate leave on Thursday and is spending this weekend with family. She is getting counselling and has been buoyed tremendously by support from around the country.

Does she still want a career in the air force despite all this? "Definitely," she says. "Definitely."


An ideology-driven educational systen victimizes teachers as well as students

Teachers often not free to teach

CHRISTOPHER Bantick (Viewpoint, April 1) did a great job summarising and supporting all the false analyses and "solutions" for fixing our dreadful state of education.

He, like others on this particular bandwagon, starts with the explicit premise that the quality of the teacher determines the quality of education and doing something about "poor" teachers will therefore fix the problem.

The implied premise is that principals, parents, students, administrators, bureaucrats, theorists, lecturers, education ministers and everybody else who has any bearing on schools are blameless and helpless victims of teachers and their unions and that all would be well if a way could be found to "fix the teachers". Anybody who has ever worked in a school knows that teachers are at the mercy of just about anyone and everything. The "best" teachers can do next to nothing in a class of unco-operative students and much less when the students don't even attend.

Our failed system has for decades been propped up by spending billions of dollars that should not need spending, by endless propaganda, by bullying and belittling members of the public who question its approaches and results, by denying anything's wrong, by intimidating teachers, by government slogans and by dumping every fad, pointless innovation or ill-fated attempt to deal with system-caused problems on to teachers. The same system has for decades persecuted teachers who tried to resist mindless dictates they knew to be wrong and harmful to children's education.

If the teaching unions were anywhere near as powerful as the Davis Guggenheim thesis in the film Waiting for Superman, as cited by Bantick, makes out, they would be in a position to stop many of the things that turn capable, dedicated teachers into "failures" unrealistic, unnecessary and uncompensated-for workloads constantly being added to an already unmanageable job, lack of support (often outright hostility) from parents and employing authorities, lack of authority commensurate with their responsibilities, insolent children and stress levels that in any other field would have been the subject of a judicial inquiry years ago.

But they aren't. They cannot even protect their members from suffering the worst rates of attrition and early death of any profession.

The true causes of our problems lie in the system itself. Along with the indiscipline of vast numbers of children, its foundational ideologies have given rise to an overcrowded curriculum and a mountain of peripheral activities, an emphasis on process and method over content and achievement, the shunning of the critical fundamentals of learning and the substitution of essential drilling of basics with creativity and fun, all of which have led to an increasing dependence on time-wasting PR to make it seem the school is doing a good job.

Many brighter children have survived this type of schooling, but many more have not. For many who needed remediation, it hasn't worked and the system has never asked itself why.

Teachers can be blamed for this only to the extent that they participate in this regime of system-mandated idiocy.

This is not to deny there are under-performing teachers, or to argue that they should be protected. It is to emphasise that the problem is the system, not the teachers, and that nobody in any job can be said to be below standard if there are no standards, or if they are denied the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability.

Teaching, more than any other profession, suffers this denial of opportunity.

The most glaring flaw in Bantick's argument is that he delimits education to just teachers. But surely any attempt to remove teachers on the basis of quality must apply equally to parents, students and administrators, especially those who undermine the rightful authority of the one who has to teach.

We must never forget that the ideologies responsible for all of this also laid the foundation for the abolition of teacher authority, a social calamity that the bad-teacher thesis bypasses in its entirety.

Would-be reformers need to go back to the 1960s and look at the philosophies and ideologies that, without any consultation or mandate, were injected into our education systems and labelled "progress".


Bureaucrats in charge of mismanaged dam trying to pass the buck

SENIOR engineers in charge of Brisbane's "flood shield", Wivenhoe dam, were instructed by city council officers to cut water releases in the crucial days leading up to January's devastating flooding.

The four supervising engineers acted on the instructions from the Brisbane City Council that they cut back planned discharges from the dam, allowing its capacity to swell further from the saturated catchment, despite the principal hydrologist saying it was the first time he had heard of the lower limit.

The water held back on January 10 and the subsequent massive water releases on the following two days -- which contributed to the inundation of 14,200 Brisbane properties -- will be a key focus of the commission of inquiry into the Queensland floods that opens on Monday.

Late yesterday the Brisbane City Council posted its submission, arguing the communication between council and the flood operations centre showed the protocol was working.

"Council communicated with FOC about a matter which was within its role and responsibility (impacts of flooding in the City)," it said. "It was then a matter for the FOC to consider its own response to this information."

Among those to give evidence at the inquiry will be Queensland Utilities Minister Stephen Robertson, Environment Department director-general John Bradley, Bureau of Meteorology chief Jim Davidson and SEQWater bosses.

Under Supreme Court judge Cate Holmes, the inquiry has the powers of a royal commission and will conduct hearings across Queensland to determine the state's preparedness for the floods and cyclones, and investigate the adequacy of the dam operations and insurance industry response.

Wivenhoe operations will be the focus of the Brisbane hearings. Southeast Queensland's biggest dam released 645,000 megalitres of water -- more than the volume of Sydney Harbour -- on January 11, as inflows threatened its structural integrity.

Witness statements from the four men who controlled Wivenhoe's operations were released yesterday, revealing the dramatic circumstances within the flood operations centre at the height of the Brisbane flood crisis.

Under the direction of the Wivenhoe operations manual, the engineers and hydrologists implemented the flood-mitigation strategy dubbed W3 from Saturday, January 8.

This dictated that flows were not to exceed 4000m3 per second at the Moggill flood gauge, in the city's west, as any higher would cause damaging flooding in downstream communities.

But when SEQWater principal hydrologist Terrence Malone reported for work on January 10, colleagues John Ruffini and Robert Ayre informed him a council officer said the upper limit was 3500m3 per second. "This was the first time I had heard this suggestion," Mr Malone said.


Gang of 40 bash bystanders in Melbourne

"Of varying nationalities". Is that police code for Sudanese and Somalis? A gang that large would have to be at least largely African

A VIOLENT gang of up to 40 youths bashed at least four people and went on a wrecking spree in the streets of Frankston overnight. A 15-year-old boy and a 42-year-old man were taken to hospital after being beaten by the gang. The man was beaten unconscious and two security guards from a nearby shopping centre were also injured.

Police are still looking for the group who went on the rampage in Wells St about midnight after being kicked out of a McDonald's restaurant.

The youths, mostly wearing hooded tops or caps and described by police as ``of varying nationalities'' damaged several cars parked along the street. They attacked two patrons leaving a pub who suffered facial and head injuries and fled when police arrived.

Police this morning urged anyone with information about the spree or who was assaulted or had their car damaged by the youths to contact them.


The usual Green/Left double standard

They actually have no standards. In a typically psychopathic fashion, they just say what seems convenient at the time

GREENS leader Bob Brown has been accused of double standards after declaring it "undemocratic" to judge politicians on the company they keep at rallies and other public forums.

Opposition frontbencher Andrew Robb yesterday accused Senator Brown of "hypocrisy writ large" over his attack on Tony Abbott's appearance at an anti-carbon tax rally last month, where placards portrayed Julia Gillard as a "witch", a "bitch" and a "frump".

Senator Brown on Thursday defended the actions of Greens senators Sarah Hanson-Young and Scott Ludlam for appearing at rallies in 2009 and last year, respectively, where protesters called on Australia to sever ties with Israel. "If you're saying there that members of parliament should not take the stage or be on a rostrum or be at a rally or go on (television program) Q&A if you are going to be judged by the people you are there with, then we're getting to a very undemocratic path, aren't we," Senator Brown told ABC radio.

Mr Robb yesterday contrasted the comments with Senator Brown's demands last month that Mr Abbott apologise for appearing alongside offensive placards at the March 23 carbon tax rally.

Mr Robb, who is in Jerusalem on a trade mission with the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, said the Greens disliked being exposed to the same level of scrutiny as the major political parties. "We all remember Bob Brown giving sanctimonious lectures and demanding apologies from Tony Abbott just a week or so ago because he addressed a very legitimate demonstration against the carbon tax," Mr Robb said.

"When the boot is on the other foot he gets all defensive about his own senators Hanson-Young and Ludlam addressing protests. "Bob Brown doesn't like being exposed to the same level of scrutiny as the major parties. They do have extreme views on many things and they are pure political opportunists."

The opposition's attack came as environmental lobby groups defended the Greens from criticisms by two of the party's founding fathers, who said it had lost the plot by moving away from its core business of environment.

Cam Walker, from Friends of the Earth, said while the minor party had broadened its focus and strongly pursued other social issues, he did not believe this was being done at the expense of their environmental agenda. "I just don't see that there is any issue there, they work in their core issues and their strong social agenda -- and that is probably what you'd expect from a Greens party," he said.


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