Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Anyone wanting to get a grip on what is happening in the world should look at the American,not for profit, Nation of Change-progressive journalism for positive action-website.

Its news coverage and op–ed pieces are a heady breath of fresh air after the distortions, dross, bombast and vicious campaigns which pass for reporting and comment in sections of the Australian media. Recent topics covered include the Durban climate change talks , perfidious actions of US banks, the sick US American health system, the Foxtel "lies" , the economic state of Asia , Julian Assange, the Occupy Wall Street movement which is shaking the multi nationals, the greedy rich and the US power elites. Little Darwin will soon run the profile of one of the Nation of Change's many talented contributors .

Friday, November 25, 2011


As promised, Santa and Little Darwin have a wonderful treat for the Northern Territory in the shape of gift wrapped articles by adventurous architect/cartoonist/author Peter Burleigh, back from an epic journey across the top of Australia-guided by Leunig's direction finding duck , the plump quacker sadly cooked over a campfire in the great outback when Pete's party got lost and ran out of caviar and baked beans. During the trip he reflected on all the name calling in our fair land , especially in parliaments, newspapers and via the irksome shock jocks ; as a result, he came up with some brilliant new nomenclature in this,his first epistle ,surely the start of an award winning series .

Before Australia declares itself to be a republic, there’s something more important to do and that is, rename every one of our States. This may be a pioneering idea but before you conclude I’m a vote short of a quorum I ask you to think about it.

A credible republic must eliminate monarchist names like Queens Land and Victoria. Even worse are the names the Poms used when they couldn’t think of anything – South Australia, Western Australia and especially The Northern Territory. As poetic as mud. You might as well call those places "Down There", "Over There" and "Up There". If you were trying for colourlessness, and if you could spell it, you couldn’t have picked better names. (I don’t know what to say about Tasmania, although "mania" is a good start.)

Canada is an independent Dominion with lots of non-Poms who speak Quebecoise– for example, "le weekend", yet they hang on to names like British Columbia, New Scotland and Northwest Territories. They were nominated for the "Best Blandness" Oscar. Even Holland, one of the more uninspired countries as far as names go, has a state named after Limburg cheese, and Austria is named after Australia*, at least the Americans think so. If our country really is young and free, let’s start the bottle spinning with a few suggestions :

South Australia: Jacob’s Creek (or Tween).
Western Australia: New Broome (or Wazza).
Northern Territory: Norn Terry (or Barraland).
Queens Land: Peanutbutt (or Banananannia).
New South Wales: Nowhere Near Wales
: Even Lower Down (or Maniacs).
ACT: Australian Capital Purgatory.
Victoria: Billabong Flats.

You’ll notice my suggestions aren’t flippant. I could have put in Bob Katter or Kerrie Ann. I’ve seen a W.A. numberplate which said "State of Excitement", so don’t suggest names like State of Denial" or "Grace" or "Hysteria" – we can do better than that. Be proud! Call a State a State. Remember we are part of Asia; maybe we should use Chinese names. You think of some more names while I work on the new State Emblems. The new RepOz (Republic of Australia) will be grateful. All of us could get knighthoods.*And in Norway, "aust" means "east".

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Attending the pre-Christmas sittings of the NT Legislative Assembly has been like a visit to Santa’s Choccywoccydoodah Cave in a cavernous departmental store - without a mob of stressed parents and screaming children in attendance . In fact, this writer was the only person in the public gallery on one occasion , the subject of derisory comment and chuckles .

The jolly Christmas spirit literally kicked off when the Chief Minister,Paul Henderson, described the opposition CLP as gutless wonders and spineless. These festive season compliments failed to draw a reprimand from Madam Speaker, Jane Aagaard , as she seemed pre-occupied, looking at things on her throne, which from a distance seemed to be lists.

In an obvious Christmas frame of mind was Minister Kon Vatskalis, back from another trip to China where he addressed gatherings in Greco-Strine. On entering the chamber he quickly binned four pieces of paper from his desk ; then he began signing a pile of Christmas cards , ticking names off from a long mailing list. Paying no attention to the debate, Vatskalis signed each card with a flourish.

At one stage it looked as if Kon was saving the cost of a stamp and envelope when he passed a card to Marion Scrymgour, sitting behind him. She examined the card closely, smiled, passed it to Karl Hampton , who returned it to Kon . Perhaps it was some kind of new -fangled chain letter Xmas card, a boomerang ? The cards were being churned out in such large numbers that he ran out of ink, and groped around in a pouch for another pen. On the CLP side, Peter Chandler was also into the Chrissy spirit, signing cards and slipping them into envelopes.

While belting the CLP with a spikey holly branch and a stocking filled with sand , the Chief Minister used what could be regarded as an ageist expression -repeated- when he referred to prominent former CLP figures, Marshall Perron and Grant Tambling, as oldtimers . In this politically correct day and age , Santa Claus is not called an oldtimer, even though his bizarre whiskers indicate he is as old as Methuselah, or else the fungus is false- surely not ? Then, like one of those ghosts who used chimneys as a dumb waiter in a TV adaptation of a Chas. Dickens classic , the CM withdrew from vision, walking backwards out a door.

It was then that CLP leader, Terry Mills, had the opportunity to say: Mixed nuts to you, Henderson ! The CM, he said , had been basking in the glory of the US president’s visit the day before. Yet here in the Legislative Assembly, the next day, when Territorians wanted a government to lead and serve them, Mills drew attention to the state of the public gallery. As stated above, I was the Lone Ranger. Stifling the urge to cartwheel along the gallery while juggling three mangoes, I beamed back like a loon, as if the man with the NT Rent-A-Crowd franchise .

While this was going on , Vatskalis , busier than a man in a Nigerian telephone booth signing letters promising to make Aussie suckers filthy rich, was churning out the Chrissy cards . Mills did not mention Santa’s offsiders, the busy little elves. Instead , he scoffed at the "little hollow men, " who plotted things on the fifth floor, obviously responsible for mapping out Santa’s important NT flight plans, delivering toys to kiddies throughout this stateless part of the nation,and somehow avoiding being breathalized.

Gazing down on those below from my lonely post, you could spot Christmas plum puddings in the making . They came in the shape of paunchy pollies. On the government side those obviously carrying weight were the CM , Karl Hampton , and Gerald McCarthy, the latter from a place which used to be called “ Siberia” - now a well- fed gulag - Tennant Creek.

On the Opposition side , Chandler took a drastic step during the year in the battle of the bulge when he had his stomach stapled and will almost certainly not come back for seconds on Christmas Day. Fong Lim flame, yummy flummery and voice thrower , Dave Tollner, now on the front bench, does not require a loudhailer as a Xmas present – his interjections are loud , many and mainly meaningless. Tollner was reprimanded for using unparliamentary language, to wit - "A STUFF. " In all probability, he was , innocently, thinking what the NT Government would do to a large turkey when he made the comment. Like Copernicus, Tollner probably upset the Vatican by loudly proclaiming in Darwin's imitation Chevy Chase National Lampoon Christmas Vacation studio that Triton is a moon, not a planet.

A COOL YULE AND A FRANTIC FIRST. In translation, an early Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to all our Little Darwin blessed bloggers .

Monday, November 21, 2011


Senator Nick Xenophon (Independent, South Australia) has said there should be a “forensic examination” of Qantas management statements about the financial state of the airline. The senator made this statement in parliament when he gave details claiming Qantas is being run down to benefit Jetstar. He believed that inside information from the Qantas Group he raised (see post below QANTAS CREATIVE ACCOUNTING; CAIRNS-DARWIN-SINGAPORE ) required serious scrutiny.

“Qantas should not be allowed to face death by a thousand cutsjob cuts, route cuts, quality cuts, engineering cuts, wage cuts. None of this is acceptable , and it must all be resisted for the sake of the pilots, the crews, the passengers and ultimately the future of our national carrier,” he told Senate.

“ I pay tribute to the 35,000 employees of the Qantas Group. At the forefront of the fight against the strategy of Qantas management have been the Qantas pilots, to whom millions of Australians have literally entrusted their lives. The Australian and International Pilots Association sees Qantas management strategy as a race to the bottom when it comes to service and safety.

“On November 8 last year, QF32 experienced a serious malfunction with the explosion of an engine on an A380 aircraft,” he continued .” In the wrong hands, that plane could have crashed. But it did not, in large part because the Qantas flight crew had been trained to exemplary world-class standards and knew how to cope with such a terrifying reality.”

Senator Xenophon went on to say : “I am deeply concerned that what is being pursued may well cause training levels to fall and as a result safety standards in the Qantas Group may fall as well.” AIPA pilots and the licensed aircraft engineers were not fighting for themselves; they were fighting for the Australian public. That was why he was deeply concerned about any action Qantas management may be considering taking against pilots who speak out in the public interest.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Suspicious looking person on roof of ABC hidden by tree during the President Obama brief visit in which the most powerful man on the globe survived prickly heat and the fine print in his TIO insurance against crocodile attack, on close examination in Bali , was found to be in Chinese, any claim to be paid in the likely new Greek currency .

Saturday, November 19, 2011


* How to junk an Australian airline -Senator explains .

In a powerful speech , Senator Nick Xenophon (South Australia),raised deep concerns about the running of the national carrier , Qantas. At 90, Qantas, he said , was the world's oldest continuously running airline, an iconic Australian company,its story woven into the story of the nation (especially the Northern Territory.)

Qantas , he told parliament , was being deliberately trashed by management in the pursuit of short-term profits and at the expense of its workers and passengers. For a long time, Qantas management had been pushing the line that Qantas international was losing money and that Jetstar was profitable.

It was imperative to expose those claims as misinformation. Qantas had long been used to subsidise Jetstar in order to make Jetstar look profitable and Qantas appear a burden. He spoke of detailed allegations of cost-shifting obtained from within the Qantas Group.These set a pattern that where there was a cost to be paid, Qantas paid it , and when a profit was to be be made, Jetstar made it.

To understand that, the senator said you needed to go back to the days when Qantas was privatised. The Qantas Sale Act 1992 imposed a number of conditions, which in turn created a number of problems for any management group that wanted to "flog off" parts of the business. Basically, Qantas had to maintain its principal place of operations here in Australia, but that did not stop management selling any subsidiaries- hence Jetstar.

Qantas had systematically built up the low-cost carrier at the expense of the parent company. Senator Xenophon continued : “ I have been provided with a significant number of examples where costs which should have been billed back to Jetstar have in fact been paid for by Qantas. These are practices that I believe Qantas and Jetstar management need to explain.

“For example, when Jetstar took over the Cairns-Darwin-Singapore route, replacing Qantas flights, a deal was struck that required Qantas to provide Jetstar with $6 million a year in revenue. Why? Why would one part of the business give up a profitable route like that and then be asked to pay for the privilege?

“ Then there are other subsidies when it comes to freight. On every sector Jetstar operates an A330, Qantas pays $6200 to $6400 for freight space regardless of actual uplift. When you do the calculations, this turns out to be a small fortune. Based on 82 departures a week, that is nearly half-a-million dollars a week or $25½ million a year.

“Then there are the arrangements within the airport gates. In Melbourne, for example, my information from inside the Qantas group is that Jetstar does not pay for any gates, but instead Qantas domestic is charged for the gates. My question for Qantas management is simple: are these arrangements replicated right around Australia and why is Qantas paying Jetstar's bills?

“Why does Qantas lease five check-in counters at Sydney Terminal 2, only to let Jetstar use one for free?” he asked . There were other areas reported to him where Jetstar’s costs “magically” become Qantas's costs, including bearing the legal department costs and Jetstar pocketing rebooking on Qantas flights.

Given these extensive allegations of hidden costs, it would be foolish to take management's word that Qantas international was losing money, he added . To explain why Qantas wanted to make it look like Qantas International was losing money, he recalled the failed 2007 private equity bid by the Allco Finance Group to buy the airline . However, what was happening now effectively a strategy of private equity sell-off by stealth.

It worked this way ... Qantas had to be kept flying to avoid breaching the Qantas Sale Act but that did not stop moving assets out of Qantas and putting them into an airline that you own not controlled by the Qantas Sale Act. Then the figures were worked to make it appear as though the international arm of Qantas was losing money.

This was used to justify the slashing of jobs, maintenance standards and employment of foreign crews and, ultimately, the creation of an entirely new airlines to be based in Asia and which would not be called Qantas. The end result? Technically ,Qantas would still exist, but it would end up a shell of its former self and the Qantas Group would end up with all these subsidiaries it could base overseas using poorly paid foreign crews with engineering and safety standards that do not match Australian standards. In time, if the Qantas Group wanted to make a buck, they could “ flog these subsidiaries off ” for a tidy profit. NOTE : If there are any aviation reporters in Darwin , they could ask Qantas for an explanation about the annual $6million payment Qantas has to make to Jetstar for giving up the Cairns-Darwin-Singapore run. The NT Government should also examine this matter very closely as it has implications for the Territory .

Friday, November 18, 2011


The very day Australia was first attacked by Japanese, the Army News, produced in Darwin to inform all the troops in the Territory, carried the banner headline BATTLE FOR BURMA BEGINS . In modern Darwin, the local media and government are strangely silent over the Inpex partner Total’s involvement with the current murderous Burmese regime and the plight of that country's people. Total,the world's fourth biggest oil company,and a major investor in Burma , has recently been described in the NT News as the Inpex "junior partner. "

After the Chief Minister’s recent trip to Aberdeen and Singapore ,where in the latter Lion City he was hosted by Total, the expectation was that the issue of the company’s involvement with the Burmese military regime would get an in- depth airing by the local media representatives who went along for the ride . But no. Rien. The New Guinea cargo cult attitude towards Inpex and le grande silence over Total continued. Rather than wait to be informed by the Fourth Estate about Total , Little Darwin suggests reasonable minded Territorians wanting to be informed about the issue look at the oil company’s own website

In it Total shows it is not afraid to face criticism of its involvement in Burma ( called Myanmar by the military thugs ), so local journos should be brave and ask meaningful questions of our politicians and company representatives about this very important matter. Total responds to what is identified at the top of its home page as THE CONTROVERSY under the heading The Allegations and Total’s response which covers court cases that include claims that forced labour was used to construct a gas pipeline in Burma , and an interview with the head of Total international PR .

As expected , their case is well crafted, but nevertheless it addresses some of the issues and reveals why Territory politicians , the media and others , if we respect the universal rule of law, democracy , support human rights and know that Burmese refugees are locked up in the Darwin detention centre, many more in Malaysia , where they are hounded by a government backed vigilante group , should be concerned and DOING SOMETHING , apart from being sucked into the well orchestrated and oiled PR machine.

Territory institutions should be airing the plight of the Burmese and using our deep involvement in the proposed INPEX-TOTAL project to try and influence the better treatment of the populace in that beleaguered country . Little Darwin is not for or against the proposed Inpex project at this stage , but does feel the public should be better informed by the media . There are numerous aspects of great importance which have not been touched by what seems to be an obsequious local media.

On the Total website is a now out of date 19 -page REPORT ON A TRIP TO MYANMAR AND DISCOVERY OF A SILENT INDUSTRY (Following the arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi ), compiled by Bernard Kouchner of the French business advice firm , BK Conseil, in September 2003.It makes many surprising and powerful statements relevant to the NT today.

At first glance , the tendency is to suspect that it is going to be a PR whitewash. Then you read that Kouchner , a French politician, diplomat,doctor,co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres and a Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, wrote the foreword to the French edition of Burma :The Next Killing Fields?, by Alan Clements, which included text by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a contribution by the Dalai Lama. ( After the US President, Darwin's Channel 9 has suggested the Dalai Lama could be the next VIP to visit Darwin-would any local reporter ask him about Burma, Tibet -where nuns have been self- immolating of late ?) The situation in Burma was obvious and damning, Kouchner wrote.

From the time in 1990 when the military junta overthrew the democratically elected government , changing the name of the country to Myanmar, the notorious State Law and Order Restitution Council (SLORC)was responsible for repeated massacres , frequent torture ,disappearances and executions . Some 1200 political prisoners were still “rotting” in Myanmar prisons and some of them had been there for years. The generals were accused by specialists of all stripes of trafficking in opium from the Golden Triangle.Collaboration with this type of regime, Kouchner stated, required a political vision that oil companies generally refused to talk about ; this was a mistake. His conclusions included-

• Oil and gas are closely tied to politics - beyond the fact that they are energy resources. Oil companies are constantly in the political pot and there’s no point pretending otherwise.
Total should clearly state the need for democracy ,without provocation,without calling a press conference , without making a lot of noise.

Kouchner said that Total had acted reasonably during the apartheid regime in South Africa . He also gave details of Total supported schemes in Burma designed to benefit sections of the community. Despite the somewhat rosy claim that the political situation was “ evolving favourably,” with Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, again moving “almost freely around the country” statement in the introduction , it is an informative document.

A small item (six paragraphs) in the NT News on July 5, headed Call to help local Burmese, quoted Darwin’s Refugee Action Coalition as saying Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who recently urged the corrupt Burmese regime to release its many political prisoners , should help free refugees languishing in Australian detention centres, including Darwin, some with refugee status waiting up to 20 months for security clearance.

The latest Human Rights Watch report from Bangkok said nothing much had changed in Burma,where the recent election was an obvious sham , designed to perpetuate the iron fisted control of the brutal generals. Large numbers of people, branded “criminals” by the illegal military regime, were being used as pack animals and human shields in minefields.

In the first of her BBC Reith Lectures , the tape smuggled out and played on the ABC, Aung San Suu Kyi, recently called for continued international pressure to help her people obtain democracy. The military had ignored her National League for Democracy (NLD) landslide victory in 1990.It was clear that many countries and people in high places respected power, even if that power was based on corruption and denial of democracy.

In answer to a question about the advantage of tourism to the people of Burma,she said most of the businesses involved were “cronies “ of the junta. (This is the same situation in respect of the Angkor Wat tourist trade in Cambodia , known as Scambodia due to the government corruption). The international community was dragging its feet. She said one of those active in the NLD office today was the elderly, veteran journalist, U Win Tim, who had spent 20 years in gaol. He had written IS THIS A HUMAN HELL ? and still wore the blue prison suit he had when incarcerated by the illegal regime. It was most important that the world be kept aware of what was happening in Burma , she added.

China, with a long track record of little respect for human rights, is extending its involvement in Burma. Incidently,China has a growing involvement in Northern Territory mining ventures. This is an opportunity for the Territory to use suasion not only on a French oil company but China as well, to try and help the long suffering Burmese . So when Health/ Fisheries/Mines Minister Kon Vatskalis makes yet another trip to Beijing flogging off the Territory, it would be nice if he raised the Burmese tragedy with his hosts over the banquet table and , more importantly, stand up in the Legislative Assembly and raise the issue of the oppressed Burmese.

It is not so long ago that Australia became a willing partner with Indonesia in the proposed plunder of East Timor’s oil reserves. Once more, the Territory seems to be turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the cries of a terribly oppressed people in the expectation of a quick buck. FOOTNOTE :Commodore Collins on the above front cover of the wartime paper was the skipper of HMAS Sydney, later sunk off WA by a German raider , the wreck only recently discovered .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


During his stirring Canberra speech before flying off to Darwin, US President, Barack Obama,specifically raised the denial of human rights in Burma. This put the NT Chief Minister, Paul Henderson ,the Darwin media and others in the hotseat. Questions submitted by Little Darwin to Paul Henderson about Burma have gone unanswered. This was the original request sent to the Chief Minister via his staffer, Fred McCue, on October 9:

For the record , has the Chief Minister at any stage discussed with Total , a partner in the proposed Inpex project, the plight of Burma, its people under the brutal control of the illegal, internationally condemned military junta? As you know , Total , with Chevron(US) and PTTEP (Thailand- the Montara spill ) Oil and Gas Enterprise ( the Burmese military ), is involved in the gas pipeline from the Andaman Sea to Thailand,construction of which is said to have involved forced labour,land seizure,oppression of the populace, resulting in international court cases.

Incredibly, the Darwin media has not raised Total’s involvement in Burma when reporting the proposed Inpex project, which seems a gross dereliction of duty and lack of basic journalistic practice.

There are Burmese refugees in Darwin’s immigration detention centre,we have a Burmese community here and there are many Burmese refugees in Malaysia, many of whom could be placed in the Territory, if the Australian government’s offshore processing goes ahead. It would therefore seem even more desirable that the NT Government make an attempt to influence the deplorable situation in Burma.

Aung San Suu Ki,in her recent lectures, stated that support for democracy in Burma by other democracies strengthens democracy globally. A joint statement in the NT Legislative Assembly outlining its concern for the people of Burma and a call for the Inpex partners to use their influence on the Burmese regime to try and improve the lot of the Burmese populace is surely desirable . Is there any chance that such a move will be made by the CM? - Peter Simon.

Despite several requests for a reply, there was none. The grande silence now has a gaseous petite twist,which you will see near the end of this post . The Chief Minister certainly did not take the opportunity to show a skerrick of statesmanship and concern by raising the matter at the last sittings of the Legislative Assembly. Strangely, the Northern Territory News has suddenly started referring to Total as the Inpexjunior partner”. Now that the US president has raised the issue, the local media must ask pertinent,REAL questions of the Chief Minister,other local politicians, and last, but not least , TOTAL and INPEX.


Brilliant cartoonist and wordsmith,Peter Burleigh, is back from a reformed Hemingway-like safari across North Australia , during which he shot no elephants and survived close encounters with UFOs, crocodiles , incredible thirst , dust, flies, bulldust artists galore and swarms of grey nomads. Burleigh has had his talented sketching digits up Darwin way since 1969 when he drew the above cartoon of Australia's frontline defence base , which was regarded as something of a joke in those days . Modern Darwin now bristles with jets, troops, tanks, warships and when they solve the little problem of invading feral wallabies closing the Tindal Air Force runway, no foreign power had better try and make a sneak attack. We are ready-Monday to Fridays ! Now in an amazing stroke of luck for Little Darwin readers across the globe, Burleigh, with media barons clamouring to sign him up, has kindly agreed to supply us with part of his latest grand road trip series - The BULLDUST DIARIES. Readers will recall his recent memorable articles on a night at the Paris Opera and misadventures in a Bedford van on the London to Marrakesh run which nearly sparked several international incidents that could have resulted in the incarceration in a dank dungeon of three of our finest , upstanding (at times) , young Australian brains.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Dragging a spear behind him, American-trained Moroccan monkey scuba diver learning the Australian crawl for manoeuvres in the croc infested Mitchell Street swampy bayou.
WASHINGTON: A top secret American military squad , similar to the famous Navy Seals who knocked off Osama bin Laden , will be based in Darwin to protect the populace from marauding baby crocodiles which terrify the local media . It will consist of at least 2000 Moroccan monkeys armed with spearguns, all wearing Speedo budgie smugglers, like the Mad Monk .

As a member of the coalition of the willing ( and misled) in the Iraq invasion , Morocco , short on firepower , offered President George Dubya Bush the services of a whole troupe of performing monkeys. Fond of animals , the president made the monkeys his pet project , going under the code name Operation Prime Mates . He ordered the monkeys be driven in a fleet of stretch limos to a hush hush military base in North Carolina and armed with spearguns for swinging underwater action.

When Bush visited the base, with six shipping containers of Texan crushed nuts and banana flakes as Thanksgiving gifts , he received some disturbing news. It seems many of the simians , armed with spearguns, had gone AWOL.They were cavorting in nearby forests and breeding like rabbits. Drunk on moonshine they found in illegal stills , they began to terrorise the state

It was thought vice president Dick Cheney would be called in to cull the dangerous monkeys, but he was too busy taking potshots at his close friends with an AK-47.

A warning went out
to all motorists heading for Disney Land not to stop at any public toilets in the North Carolina bush as they could be attacked by drunken feral monkeys, gorging themselves on bananas and randomly firing spearguns. This caused an outbreak of bladder infections and the Chinese ended up buying Disney Land for a song and a bag of fortune cookies way past their use by date .

On hearing that President Obama was going to visit Down Under Darwin, the terrified governor of North Carolina, with so many spears sticking in him that he looks all the world like a porcupine or a survivor of the Zulu Wars , obtained White House approval for all the dangerous monkeys to be rounded up, sedated and put aboard Air Force 1, disguised as the travelling media circus. They will be left behind in Darwin , go into residence in special cages being built at Robertson Barracks and Coonawarra . Extensive training and underwater mock attacks on made in China blow up crocs will be carried out in the city’s wave pool. All giggling fat ladies who regularly float about on inflated rubber tyres in the wave pool –like those jovial women in old saucy British seaside postcards- have been warned to take up line dancing or macramé once the jibbering Yanks take the plunge .

The monkeys will be under the command of Major Will Ferrell ,who famously carried out secret tests for the US Army on how to become invisible- enabling you to walk through walls- and how to kill goats just by glaring at them. Major Ferrell received 20 Purple Hearts for numerous facial injuries received attempting to dash through brick walls and another high decoration for the loss of three fingers, bitten off by a drunken billgoat who objected to being stared at in a nightclub frequented by Servicemen on R and R . Con the fruiterer has warned that the price of bananas will skyrocket in Darwin due to the huge demand for the fruit by the large American squad .

Saturday, November 12, 2011

TERRITORY'S FIGHTING EDITOR : The "Big Jim"Bowditch Saga,# 11 . By Peter Simon .

The Dutch submarine K14 which took Bowditch from Darwin on a dangerous commando operation; an angry exchange with the skipper of an American PT boat -not JFK-followed and the US gave him a beer and , much later, a Bronze Star .
While resting in Port Moresby, after the fierce fighting with the Japanese at Milne Bay and beyond , Jim Bowditch said the troops, especially those who had fought in the Middle East were battle hardened, but war weary. When volunteers were sought for a special Z Force commando group , many men , Bowditch included, jumped at the opportunity to escape the steamy jungles and get back to Australia.

It was his belief that officers also took the opportunity to “get rid of ” men who bucked authority. Bowditch was selected for Z Force and was flown back to Australia on October 29, 1943. A spot of well earned and much needed leave followed ; then he joined the Z Special Unit on December 17.

Training included a stint on Fraser Island , Queensland, where the unarmed combat instructor , who had fought at Gallipoli and France, would attack at any hour of the day or night to test the readiness of the men. " You would be coming out of your tent first thing in the morning , hear a noise and it was the unarmed combat instructor flying at you feet first,"said Bowditch. " It was like Peter Sellers playing the crazy Inspector Clouseau and his oriental servant ,Cato, who tried to catch him off guard. " This person was a professional wrestler, Major Reg McKissock,who had run a gymnasium in Perth, a bear-sized man weighing nearly 20 stone. In the 1930s , McKissock , a lieutenant at the time , had been connected with weight lifting, boxing and several sports , known as "Mighty Muldoon " at the Perth Golf Club . On Fraser Island, he lived in a tent and there was a sandbagged sandpit nearby in which he plied his trade with great gusto .

A West Australian Z Force member , the late Jack Sue ,told me an amusing anecdote about McKissock. Sue’s cousin, Peter Wong , was on Fraser Island when “mad screaming ” was heard coming from McKissock’s tent. The instructor suddenly came tearing out with a rifle,to which was attached a bayonet , and threw it at Wong. Wong , much smaller than his assailant, but versed in unarmed combat, stepped aside and threw the rifle into the sandpit. At some stage McKissock had Wong in a Boston Crab wrestling hold in the sandpit. He told the surrounding soldiers that when they had “a bastard” down they should rub his head into the sand, and proceeded to do so. Wong had sand in his ears, eyes and nostrils . This caused him to “ do his block ,” and he threw McKissock out of the pit. The instructor said he was delighted to see some spirit from Wong, and rushed back in to grapple with him once more. After the instructor had been thrown out three times , McKissock said, “ Okay, Wong. You are a better man than I am Gunga Din.

Major McKissock newspaper clipping
Bowditch also went to Camp Z, near Sydney ,where emphasis was on weaponry, explosives , navigation , map reading, cliff climbing , long distance running and living off the land , which included eating bats. At the Richmond RAAF base in NSW Bowditch attended the 1 Australia Parachute Training Centre and qualified as a parachutist

After all the training they were sent in groups to be briefed and further evaluated at the Batman Avenue , Melbourne , headquarters of the secret Z Force organisation where he met Major ( later Colonel ) Ivan Lyon , MBE, DSO of the Gordon Highlanders and Lieutenant Davidson, DSO, RNVR, who organised operations in Europe following the Dunkirk catastrophe . Bowditch’s group received a preliminary briefing from Major Lyon for a special behind the enemy lines operation . Both Lyon and Davidson were inspirational men , said Bowditch, who convinced you of your ability to succeed and the importance of your part in the war effort. Both men had led the incredibly successful Operation Jaywick in which a small vessel , Krait, sailed from Perth to Singapore with a raiding party and blew up shipping with limpet mines.

Then , in June 1944 , Bowditch was in a group of six flown to Darwin to the East Arm flying boat base which was used by intelligence groups. After some training in the harbour, they assembled their equipment-folboats ( light, folding , two-man canoes ) , guns , explosives , ammunition, food and radios - which were loaded aboard the Dutch submarine K14. (The submarine was based in Fremantle and had sunk several enemy vessels . Artist Robert Taylor painted an incident in which a Dutch Dornier flying boat had rendezvoused with K14, copies of which were signed by some of the plane's crew and the submariners and sold .) The sub's log records landing five, not six, members of an Australian shore party in which Bowditch was a member.

Leader of the operation was Lieutenant V. D . “Dave ” Prentiss who at 6ft 4inches Bowditch felt was too big for paddling a small canoe. Their destination was Batanta Island, Dutch New Guinea, where they were to watch Sorong Harbour, a busy Japanese port, and a nearby airfield where Betty Bombers were based,which could have been used to attack places as far away as Townsville.

As the submarine stealthily approached their destination ,it was forced to spend l8 hours on the bottom in cramped and stifling conditions with enemy patrol vessels travelling overhead. Eventually the submarine surfaced , the canoes were prepared on deck and the commandoes paddled off into the unknown . After three days hard paddling they set up an observation post high on Batanta Island and supplied radio messages about enemy shipping and aircraft movements which were relayed back to Batchelor, near Darwin .

Under the cover of darkness, Bowditch paddled into Sorong Harbour and attached mines to shipping . He heard explosions later but was unable to find out what damage had been done. At night the Japanese often were out patching up the runways which had been bombed ; Jim’s group could hear machinery and pinpoint its location . The information they radioed through enabled further bombing raids . The Japs knew they were there and tried to hunt them down.

At times the commandoes used a heavily wooded island near the airstrip as a daytime resting spot , as much of their work involved exploring at night. The island afforded the opportunity to swim and relax ,while always being on the alert. Bowditch and another operative, Stan Taylor , a house painter from Sydney , paddled to the pleasant island one day and found a slit trench and cans from a Japanese party which had been on patrol.

A supply drop to them included six bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label whisky . The resultant booze up brought some personal tensions to the surface and there were clashes with Captain Prentiss. Bowditch even wrote that he and two others “ nearly shot Captain Prentiss”.

The commandoes were in the area from June 20 to September 28 1944 when they were taken out by PT boats crewed by young, trigger-happy Americans who shot up huts along the way. Bowditch remonstrated with the Americans for strafing the huts saying that they probably belonged to “ natives ” friendly towards the Allies. The skipper of the PT boat on which Bowditch travelled was only 19 years old and when the vessel went aground he cried , but regained his composure when it refloated.

At the American base the party was feted and then flown back to Townsville for debriefing. In December Bowditch was again charged with non-military conduct and his record of service shows that he was “ severely reprimanded ” by the commanding officer . NEXT : More dangerous operations .

Friday, November 11, 2011


Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Dili Massacre, a pivotal event leading to global awareness of the intolerable situation in East Timor under Indonesian occupation. The slaughter of people in the Santa Cruz Cemetery eventually resulted in the UN supervised ballot on August 30th, 1999, with a 75.8 percent vote for independence. As more details of the horrific event came through a rally was held in Darwin, and there was a march on the Indonesian Consulate at Stuart Park. Teenage Timorese girls carrying flowers crossed the road one at a time. Darwin activist,Rob Wesley-Smith, says there were speeches ; a special song for the occasion was sung by June Mills; more than 120 people laid down on the road, above, in a line representing the Santa Cruz victims ; Elder Veronica delivered a haunting wail into a microphone held by Wesley - Smith.


HUNDREDS of unclaimed portraits of World War I Diggers taken in London before they left to fight on the Western Front have been added to the National Archives collection, according to the latest newsletter from the Northern Territory Genealogical Society secretary , June Tomlinson, in the UK doing research . The 500 black and white portraits were found among 1600 photographs of Allied soldiers collected by the Imperial War Museum, London, after the war. The 500 are significant because they are not known to exist anywhere else, mainly because soldiers never returned from battle to collect them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


US General Douglas MacArthur wants to return to Darwin and, to use a shock and awe military expression, kick ass, from the top.

Little Darwin alerted “ government strategist,” Fred McCue , to the fact that Darwin’s War Memorial has glaring errors , and asked what steps the Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, will take to remedy this extremely embarrassing situation. Oddly, there was no response . We asked again . No response . Let it be known that anybody –ANYBODY-including some who seem not to have advanced much beyond writing on slates , that we do not desist.

Apart from US president Obama expected to pay homage to those killed in conflicts when he makes his stopover here in a matter of days , next year will be the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese . These are the memorial errors which should have been picked up years ago : the Philippines is wrongly given as Phillipines ; Netherlands East Indies is incorrectly Netherland’s East Indies and instead of United Nations Peacekeeping , it is United Nation Peacekeeping . If these errors are not corrected by February 19 next year , then Darwin should hang its head in shame-especially the Chief Minister, the Darwin City Council, the RSL, the large committee planning next year’s 70th anniversary, and others.


With the visit of US President Barack Obama to Australia just a week away, one former Magnetic Island resident will picket the visit in a desperate attempt to seek the attention of Obama over the future of her son. She is Christine Assange and her son, WikiLeaks, whistle-blowing website founder, Julian Assange, is now in great danger of being extradited to the United States via Sweden ( see post below ). Christine recently wrote on a placard in front of PM Julia Gillard’s office in Melbourne, “Save Julian Assange from torture in prison, no extradition,” and she is looking for the support of readers to call on the Australian government to defend her son’s rights. More at


John Pilger, Truthout: "It is not the Swedish judicial system that presents a 'grave danger' to Julian Assange, say his lawyers, but a legal device known as a Temporary Surrender, under which he can be sent on from Sweden to the United States secretly and quickly. The founder and editor of WikiLeaks, who published the greatest leak of official documents in history, providing a unique insight into rapacious wars and the lies told by governments, is likely to find himself in a hell hole not dissimilar to the 'torturous' dungeon that held Pvt. Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower." Read the Truthout article,October 8.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


*Another reason why newspaper readership is falling is explained in this unusual 1908 postcard from the Little Darwin collection of oddities . It contains inked in advice not to read papers in the open for all that you see is not real- certainly the case today . Drawn by F. Stone , the postcard was sent from Port Pirie, South Australia , by Dick, who may have worked in the smelter, possibly the engine room, where it was “only 136F ”-141 the day before. Dick was sending some smoked mullet on the midday train to Bill Thompson , Main Street, Petersburg , later changed to Peterborough as a result of the removal of “Hunnish” WW1 names .
The departure of John Hartigan as chairman and CEO of News Limited must heighten the feeling of insecurity in the Australian media. Insiders had been expecting "Harto," the veteran Murdoch hand,to make a career change . He says he has stepped aside for people with new ideas. His replacement , Kim Williams , the Foxtel chief,with"no ink in his blood", will probably cause unease among newspaper footsoldiers.

The golden age of newspapers is well and truly over. Staff are being made redundant in large numbers and some are jumping ship. “News” production is being centralised , homogenised, trivialised, some would say bastardised. The terms and conditions for valued contributors have been slashed, amounting to a 25 percent pay cut, with no certainty that commissioned work they turn in will be run, thus no cash longa finger after much hard work. Which media baron in a lecture spoke out about "bludgers" getting something for nothing ?

Three high flyers at Murdoch’s national, The Australian, have jumped ship and gone over to the “enemy”-the Fairfaxes , which run the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH),The Age in Melbourne and the Australian Financial Review. From time to time there is speculation about the future of the Australia, which has never made a profit , some now saying it could close after the next federal election as News Limited is clearly intent on removing the Gillard Government. Another view is that in the event of Rupert Murdoch’s death, a scalpel would be taken to the entire empire , and anything not making a buck would be given the chop. The Australian recently engaged in an experiment– a three month online pay wall. There are rosy projections that as a digital subscription production it will be a goer-reality may be contrary to what is seen in the shaky newspaper industry as wishful thinking.

In the case of the once influential Sydney Morning Herald, there is speculation that it will also switch to digital weekdays, with a Saturday hard copy run , perhaps at the end of next year. This time frame would enable the SMH to see what happens to the Australian, and hopefully pick up some of its ex- readers in the process.

A longtime reader of the SMH, a professional ,whose diverse business interests bring him to Darwin , says the bulky Saturday edition of the SMH contains about one and a half pages of actual news which he finds worth reading . Instead of reporters going out and getting the facts and actually REPORTING to the public so they could form an opinion , he said this was a thing of the past. Papers were full of op-eds, advertorials, life style drivel , which he did not want to read.

Malcolm Turnbull, about the only reasonable person in the catty, caterwauling Coalition , concurred when he told the ABC's Q &A that there is not a news cycle but an opinion cycle,with no middle, rational , objective reporting. The internet, he opined, was exacerbating the situation, not helping.

A highly respected observer of the media scene told Little Darwin the malaise afflicting Australian newspapers, radio and TV has forced some really top editors to become “f***wits,” just to keep their jobs. The ABC's Media Watch has referred to the dross served up as news .

Here in the Northern Territory, where the Murdoch press has a stranglehold on the print media through the NT News and the suburban Suns ( the latter started to stifle any possible competition), the staff is being whittled back . Recently it was announced that a batch of graphic artists were being moved on to consolidate operations in Brisbane ; this comes after an earlier reduction of seven in the sub editing area. The first lot were given the chop because the Darwin newspaper –Your Voice in the Territory -is now made up at the Adelaide Advertiser .

A joke doing the rounds in Darwin coffee shops is that editorial conferences at the NT News now take place in a telephone booth already occupied by five longgrassers . Just this week , Little Darwin followed a car bearing the News 7 numberplate, a pushbike sticking out the boot ( a Greenie ?), its trafficator continually indicating a left turn, through the CBD, along the Stuart Highway. It seemed to symbolise the confusion and uncertain direction in the Australian media in general .

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

LIFE ON NAURU -A Little Darwin special

Nauru is playing a prominent part in the heated , irrational and sometimes vicious debate about refugees. Darwin resident, Erica McKenna , a New Zealander , was sent to Nauru in 1950 to work as a secretary in the office of the British Phosphate Commission . It was a real adventure for her as she was 21 and Nauru , reached by ship , was regarded as being the middle of nowhere. Photographs from her album provide an insight into island life at the time when it was coming under increasing international scrutiny. Snaps she took include a Nauruan wedding , a group of island women posing in national dress , fishing , mining, phosphate being loaded onto a vessel via a cantilever crane, heavy seas,the main office building and living quarters.
.* Erica is shown, top left , wearing a hat she designed out of cigarette tins for a party . At the time there was a quarantine station , right, on the island where Chinese workers were processed and a United Nations study team ,above , arrived from the Marshall Islands and spent five days there discussing future plans for the Nauruans .

Most of the phosphate commission office staff were from Melbourne and the photographs displayed below show a huge groper caught in the boat harbour , sailfish and phosphate being mined and loaded onto a truck .

Nauru ,23 square kilometres , was settled by Micronesians and Polynesians, annexed by Germany and made into a League of Nations mandated territory after WW1, administered by Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Occupied by the Japanese , the US Army Air Force bombed the island and runway in 1943. Independent in 1968, it became a tax haven, went broke and was forced to sell its one jet and properties in Australia .


Apart from the bombing of Darwin,next year is the 70th anniversary of the attack by three midget submarines on Sydney Harbour. A torpedo hit the converted ferry HMAS Kuttabul at Garden Island and killed 21 men on May 31 . Attempts are being made to contact descendants of those killed for a commemoration ceremony. Anyone with information should contact This writer was living in the harbour suburb of Kirribilli the night of the attack.My mother was out dancing with a seagoing gentleman at the time of the attack and had to dash home on a tram across the Harbour Bridge. A precocious brat, I was home , not alone, but with my French tutor. Some time after the attack, I was taken to see a midget submarine placed on display .

Monday, November 7, 2011


Visit the annual Darwin Show, exhibitions, trade fairs , even funerals , and you can’t help notice the large number of balloons,handed out to children ,or released, which can be seen drifting away in the sky. Pollies hand out balloons like fairy floss . Some of these must end up in the sea. The Turtle Lady of Great Keppel Island , Lindie Malan , has drawn attention to the danger of balloons to sea creatures. In a letter to the Magnetic Times online newspaper , she says turtles who eat balloons and other forms of plastic develop an intestinal blockage which causes the bladder to expand more and more,up to three times the normal. Unable to pee, they flop about in an emaciated state and slowly starve to death. Malan tells of confronting a person in a balloon shop who claimed the ballons were "biodegradable." When asked to eat three of them, the person declined . If Darwin is really fair dinkum about protecting the marine environment and the critters therein, and not engaging in mindless political stunts, then it should take REAL action over the massive release of balloons in the city.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


At long last, a move is afoot to honour the Northern Territory's great crusading editor , James Frederick Bowditch. There used to be an award for print media in Bowditch’s name , but this seems to have disappeared, without explanation. Years ago, it was suggested that an electorate could be named after Bowditch, but it came to nothing. Little Darwin has been running his life story in serial form, another part ready to be posted in the near future.Photo of Big Jim in action by Kerry Byrnes of Arnhem Nursery .

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Electrical wiring in the ceiling of every unit in the Tiwi Gardens villa section of the Masonic Homes retirement village is to be checked . It is understood particular attention will be given to the large number of downlights in each unit , close to 20, which give off considerable heat , and are not considered ideal for tropical areas , electrical storms likely to cause them to blow. Near the end of last year , a resident hired an electrician to do some extension work on his villa and was allegedly told that the wiring was sloppy and "very dangerous, " insulation batts had not been installed correctly and were on top of electrical fittings. As houses had been gutted by fire down south because of this situation, the matter was reported to the Masonic Homes management and has been discussed at several residents’ meetings .

Residents were concerned because a supposed insulation check had been made several months previously. On that occasion two “ French boys,” described by some as backpackers, climbed into ceilings and did something with the batts . In some instances, the batts had not been spread out and were still in wrapping.

Recently there was an incident when part of the wiring in a unit burnt out. An electrician was called and when the power was turned on after repair work , another section burnt out. A handyman ,believed not an electrician, has told residents he got up into the ceiling of a unit and made certain observations which prompted the call for an inspection .

The nearby nursing home had a long period of many night safety lights , costing about $60 each , blowing for no apparent reason. Back in February, Masonic Homes management infrormed residents it had been “ advised that all reports from the builders and contractors used in the complex show that all electrical installations were undertaken to the standard required”. The villas were built by McCracken Homes , of Adelaide.

Considerable Commonwealth and NT Government money was put into the Masonic Home building project . The NT Minister for the Aged , Rob Knight, recently made the Attorney–General as well , is believed not to be aware of this situation, but he is now, and should call for a report about this and other matters concerning residents . Meanwhile , the “ electrical inspection” of villa ceilings will be carried out by Combined Electrical , beginning Monday.

Friday, November 4, 2011


NEW YORK : Wall Street brokers began to jump from skyscrapers when the fearful news spread that the Batchelor butterfly farm has folded its wings . Coming on top of the EU financial imbroglio, it was the last straw for many in the stockmarket - casino industry. Gilt edged butterfly shares like NT Monarch Mirage (No Liability)Nigeria and Berrimah Brown Nose (No Liability ) Somalia plunged as if sprayed by Agent Orange. President Obama held an emergency meeting in the White House rose garden to try and save the global butterfly hedge fund racket. The president is expected to offer the Batchelor farm a Bank of America loan to prevent it from being pinned under glass when he visits Darwin and addresses a gathering of midges in the bug house.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


The sudden death of a man who drove buses between Perth and Darwin raises a public transport safety issue. In his 40s, the man was on a recreation break after driving from WA , walking along the Nightcliff beach, when he dropped dead from a heart attack. It raises the need for drivers of public transport vehicles to be medically fit. Collapsing behind the wheel of a bus on the highway could lead to multiple deaths.


Stunning new uniforms have been designed for Qantas pilots. As from next week, the average dashing airline captain will be decked out in this uplifting clobber,which cleverly captures the current spirit of Australia, especially the future of the nation’s workforce , should voters fall for the squadron of biscuit bombers planning to napalm the wide brown land . The handsome pilot symbolises the rugged Aussie image of a swaggie about to do 40 laps of an outback billabong, humming Waltzing Matilda and Help! , chased by arbitration traps, baying dogs, crocodiles . Each pilot will have a spare boot from the exclusive Tempe Tip Footrot Flats range with which to kick tyres before take off. Red ties are out as the pilot will need several knotted together to keep his trousers up . This flattering publicity shot was taken at the well kept Longreach runway – the historic Qantas launching pad. It shows a happy looking senior pilot with fashionable onion bags slung over his shoulders. Accessories include a blackened billycan and an empty Sunshine powdered milk tin - passed around as a spew bucket during bumpy flights – which adds to the outback ambience . The snazzy uniform - approved by Qantas board member, Biggles, who loops- the -loop on Viagra each leap year -has been designed by the highly paid fashion house , Bog Buddies of Ballykissangel. NEXT: Exclusive photo of new Qantas cabin staff in secret training

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Christmas appears to have come early for Darwin agronomist, Robert Wesley-Smith, probably a big kid at heart, who recently returned from Timor Leste with an unusual hand-made doll. The dolls are sold to visitors to the island of Atauro, reached by ferry and outrigger canoe from Dili . The skirt, he says, is hand woven and must have required much intricate work. Over the years Wes has bought many textiles and the doll has been added to his collection, showcasing the skills of Timor-Leste.

Another item which would make a good Christmas gift : East Timor-From Little Things Big Things Grow, a book produced by the children of the Edmund Rice Primary School , Deleco, Timor-Leste, to be launched in Melbourne and Brisbane next month. In English and Tetum, it tells the school’s story.One of the children involved in the production , Edita de Jesus, will be present at the launches. Proceeds from sale of the book , lavishly illustrated by the children and local artists , will go to the school. Information can be obtained through