Greed, lies and theft are to be expected in a convict culture

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1. Lindsay Murdoch, ’Thousands of East Timorese besiege Australian embassy in Dili’The Sydney Morning Herald, 23.03.16

Bangkok: More than 10,000 Timorese besieged the Australian embassy in Dili on Tuesday to protest Australia’s refusal to negotiate with East Timor on a permanent sea boundary in the oil- and gas-rich Timor Sea.

East Timor’s former president and prime minister, Xanana Gusmao, called on Timorese to rope in 10 other people to attend the protest, one of the largest in the waterfront capital since the country voted to break away from Indonesia in 1999.

In a speech on the eve of the protest Mr Xanana, a hero of East Timor’s independence revolution, said Timorese must “stand firm and raise one voice” to demand that Canberra negotiates with East Timor.

East Timor claims it has lost some US$5 billion (nearly $6.6 billion) in royalties and tax revenue in the Timor Sea since independence, enough to fund its entire budget for three years.

The fledgling half-island nation asserts the vast majority of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea – worth about US$40 billion in royalties and tax alone – would lie in its territory if sea borders reflected the norms of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea, a contention Australia rejects.1

Organisers of the protest included student leaders and veterans of East Timor’s long struggle for independence.

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Many former East Timorese activists from Australia have also been involved in planned protests this week in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Jakarta, Manila and Kuala Lumpur to mark the anniversary of the date Australia withdrew its recognition of the maritime boundary jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.

Protesters shouting “hands off Timor oil” and “negotiations now” demanded the case be bought back to the court as Timorese security forces guarded the embassy.

“As a big and powerful country in the region, Australia shouldn’t be using its power to continually steal our future from the Timor Sea,” said Juvinal Dias, a protest organiser from the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea.

“Australia should come to the table with good faith to negotiate with Timor-Leste [East Timor]”.

Protest supporters recalled the sacrifices East Timorese made to help Australia during World War II. “Think about it Australia. Over 40,000 East Timorese died in WWII to help fight the Japanese navy…the East Timorese want nothing more than what’s fair,” Alex Tilman, an official in the office of East Timor’s prime minister, wrote on his Facebook page.

Australia’s Ambassador in Dili, Peter Doyle, said of the protest: “Australia believes in the right to peaceful protest and is confident that the Government of Timor-Leste will ensure the safety and security of the embassy, its staff and any visitors”.

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A complex series of revenue-sharing agreements have allowed some oil and gas developments in the Timor Sea to proceed even though Australia has no settled maritime boundary with East Timor.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month offered to hold “frank and open” discussions with East Timor about the boundary but stopped short of Dili’s request for formal and discrete talks to settle the impasse.

Mr Turnbull said Australia’s long held position was to support treaty arrangements that underpin the current resource sharing in the area and were negotiated in “good faith” and “consistent with international law”.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Tanya Plibersek announced this year that a Labor government would negotiate a new boundary in “good faith” and submit the dispute to international adjudication if bilateral talks failed to produce a result.

Labor’s shift ended a bipartisan consensus on the maritime border issue, a major irritant in Australia’s relations with East Timor.

1. U.S. toady Australia demands that China accepts the same convention with regard to the South China Sea. Australia is one of the richest nations in the world, East Timor one of the poorest. 

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2. Karl Quinn, ’John Cleese may sue Australian company behind “utterly shameless” Fawlty Towers’ rip-off’, The Sydney Morning Herald 23.03.16

John Cleese is threatening to take legal action against an Australian theatre company over claims it has ripped off some of the former Monty Python man’s most famous work.

The Faulty Towers Dining Experience is slated to run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from April 12 at the Aegean restaurant in Fitzroy, as it has in previous seasons of the festival. This version will be just one of nine iterations of the show that are being staged around the world by Interactive Theatre International, a company founded by New Zealander Alison Pollard-Mansergh in Brisbane in 1999.

Tickets to a recent season at the Sydney Opera House cost up to $195 for dinner and show. The London season runs until September, with tickets costing up to £59. But John Cleese and his co-writer on the two seasons of the Fawlty Towers TV series, ex-wife Connie Booth, receive not a penny.

“I had absolutely no idea this was going on until about a year ago,” Cleese told Fairfax on Wednesday from New Zealand. “I think people will find that very hard to believe, but if people don’t tell you, how do you know?”

Cleese said ITI and associated entities had never sought permission to use the characters, situations and name – albeit with marginally different spelling.

“If they’ve been going for 20 years without paying us a penny, they could well owe us a very significant amount,” he said.

Cleese told Fairfax that over the years many student and amateur productions had sought and been granted permission to stage Fawlty Towers-inspired shows. However, the fact that one of them was making in the region of £1 million a year put it in a completely different category.

“They didn’t ask our permission and we didn’t know it was happening on this scale,” he said. “If little groups are making some money that’s not a problem, but this is entirely different.”

Ms Pollard-Mensargh, founder and artistic director of Interactive Theatre International, which producesFaulty Towers The Dining Experience, responded to Fairfax’s detailed list of questions on the legal status of her show with a short emailed statement.

“We understand that John Cleese has made a comment to the media concerning dinner theatre,” she said.

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“We do not know if his comments were intended to be directed at our show, which has been running for nearly 20 years. If his comments were directed at us we reject them – they are misleading and inaccurate. We are huge fans of his work and wish him all the best with his new show.”

Cleese said he was considering taking legal action to protect the interests of investors in the stage version of his show, Fawlty Towers Live, which will make its world premiere in Sydney in August.

“Now that Fawlty Towers is about to happen as a proper stage show and producers are investing money in what is a risky enterprise, we certainly don’t want other shows out there confusing people.”

That’s a position the producers of Faulty Towers the Dining Experience should be able to identify with. Their website includes a “legal” page, complete with the following warning:

“[We have] a genuine commercial interest to protect. [We] have successfully taken and will continue to take legal action when or if another company brands a similar show closely styled relative to [our] long-running show in such a way that any innocent party wishing to book/commission [our] services or purchase tickets for a show could be misled into thinking that the two outfits were one and the same.”

This reporter reviewed the Melbourne season of the show two years ago, and judged it to be “impersonation, not re-creation, though there are nods to the show’s most famous scenes”. The three characters in the live show are Basil, Manuel and Sybil, and are all clearly derived from the TV series Fawlty Towers, which first aired on the BBC in two seasons in 1975 and 1979.

“These people are completely brazen, utterly shameless,” said Cleese on Wednesday. “The awful thing about our society is that shameless people get away with things – look at [Donald] Trump.

“They take our concepts, they take our characters, they take our characters’ names and then they change the W to a U and say it’s got nothing to do with our show.”

Despite all that, Cleese was still able to appreciate the irony in the situation.

“These people are shamelessly ripping off Connie Booth and myself, and they are publishing aggressive threats against anyone else who would seek to rip them off in the same way,” he said. “It’s absolutely wonderful!”

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5 thoughts on “Greed, lies and theft are to be expected in a convict culture

    • Hi Yi Ping Wang,

      Cleese is stating a truism. Similarly, I don’t doubt that greed, lies and theft are part of the ‘human condition’ – i.e. to be found in every country.

      My points are that contrary to their cloying belief in their own ‘decency’ and ‘goodness,’ the dominant white majority in this country are at least as self-centred, treacherous, ruthless and thieving as could be found anywhere else.

      And this for a number of reasons, particularly the convict origins of this nation.

      Thieving comes naturally to white Australians – it’s their birthright.

      When they thieve they have no shame about what they have done – ‘It’s a tough world and I’m up to it. And if I can’t thieve it, I’ll stop it or smash it.’

      Or an academic thief ‘I’m an important person therefore the achievements of someone else’s efforts are mine. Besides, the bullshit I’ve been writing and teaching for years because I’ve been too gutless to do otherwise has run out of steam and this is just what I want. And if it amounts to the way forward, then get out of my way.’

      The standard of living in this country not only makes the behaviour of such people all the more reprehensible, the former is directly related to the latter.

      Australia’s utterly ruthless, racist and treacherous behaviour towards the East Timorese is one example of what I criticise.

      The one major resource the Timorese have are their oil and gas reserves and the Ozzies continued gouging this resource from them using every convict lurk even before East Timor was declared a nation.

      Worth looking at is the photo taken in 1989 of the two foreign ministers Evans (now chancellor of the ANU) and Alatas toasting each other in a plane above Timor Gap, having divided up the spoils below.

      Anyone who thinks Australians went to the assistance of the East Timorese out of the goodness of their hearts, just the same as NATO’s ‘assistance’ to the Albanian Kosovars is, at best, a fool.

      Other examples of the reality of the dominant white majority in Australia are their continuing genocide via parliament and bureaucracy of Australia’s indigenous and their behaviour towards asylum seekers and refugees, many escaping from destruction caused by this country on behalf of its master, the rampaging U.S. capitalist class.

      Last year the federal government said they would accept 12,000 refugees (Christians only) from Syria – which nation the Australian military are currently attacking and bombing.

      Yesterday I heard on the ABC that only 26 of these people have been accepted. I heard on the ABC last week that Canada has accepted 25,000 of them. From the UNHCR figures, there are more than 2.7 million in Turkey, more than 1 million in Lebanon, more than 600,000 in Jordan and a quarter of a million in Iraq.

      The standard of living in all of these countries is far below that of Australia, and in the case of Iraq, has been devastated by Australia together with its master and capitalist allies.

      And none of these countries have the geographical good fortune of white Australians which the latter exploit, as they have always done, with absolute determination, in breach of humanitarian and their U.N. obligations.

      Of course, the dirty work continues to be done by their representatives – now against those cruel, selfish, people-smugglers.

      If sanctimonious white Australians aren’t the meanest pack of self-deluded bastards, what are they?

      Particularly since Howard, this country has become increasingly mean, both externally and internally. And the lies justifying this behaviour have multiplied exponentially.

      I have had first-hand experience of the ruthless thieving treachery of the ideologues of the bourgeoisie in this country at UNSW Art and Design and at the University of Sydney.

      In a nation with a small population, these people comprise a layer of care-taking authoritarian ‘experts’ who, with their precious egos, play a crucial role in running the system on behalf of their provincial masters.

      I hope John Cleese sues the shameless thieves who ripped him off (and are threatening legal action against anyone who does the same to them) and wins.

      Best wishes, Phil

      Liked by 1 person

  1. To be honest, I have not experienced as much self-centeredness, treacherousness, ruthlessness and thieving anywhere else in the world than in Australia. Brazen is the perfect word to describe the mentality of many Australians who abuses the positions that they occupy. Their behaviours signal a civilization that is more backward than the Song Dynasty 1000 years ago in China. In the East, benevolence and truthfulness are deemed fundamental to the wellbeing of humanity, and greedy on the expense of social justice is deemed destructive to the wellbeing of humanity. Although self interest is an important part of human nature, the awareness and respect of self interest are essential to the fair distribution of interests to all.

    I feel for the pain that you suffered at the hands of certain authoritative bodies in Australia, as unfortunately many good Australians have been suffering the same, including myself. The goodness in our hearts compels us to fight for the right, to fight and to learn to fight better at every try is what matters in the end. I came across a saying by Mengzi recently, ‘if it is not just to do so, then I would not place anyone at disadvantage, no matter how vulnerable this person is; if it is just to do something, then no one can stop me, no matter how powerful my opponent is’.

    Yes I too hope that John Cleese sues and wins. And thank you for shedding some light into a part of Australian leadership that needs some serious reflection and rectification.

    Best Wishes, Yi Ping.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Yi Ping,

      thank you for your comment.

      I am very conscious of the strength of my views and I continually question both because of their implications for me.

      Last night I listened to Late Night Live on the ABC. The segment was titled ‘Advance Australia Where?’

      Phillip Adams interviewed Bob Brown, Kerry O’Brien and Julian Burnside. All of them, as is the show, are highly respected in bourgeois society.

      Kerry O’Brien said ‘I think we are scared. I think we are a scared culture’ and he spoke of ‘a system that’s lost its way,’ of ‘a country that’s lost its capacity to debate’ and said that he doesn’t see ‘a measured march of enlightenment.’

      Burnside agreed with O’Brien’s point of Australians being scared. He spoke of the intolerance of difference by white Australians and the ongoing hostility towards and victimisation of those perceived to be different (e.g. non-white people, David Hicks).

      Brown described Australians as self-satisfied and smug and said that Australia is a plutocracy run by the venal.

      The overall view from this show of the current state of Australia was very critical.

      Both of us have raised and discussed all of the above points – my difference with their expression in this show is that they are flavoured by euphemism.

      O’Brien’s description of Australians as being ‘scared’ (a concept which fits like a glove with authoritarianism) is one of the reasons I refer to Australian culture as a ‘convict culture.’

      Best regards, Phil

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, fear is a very powerful element in the Australian mentality. To overcome fear, people need to have access to a higher realm of spiritual, intellectual and moral domains. And I found philosophers like Mengzi helpful.

        Mengzi advocated a noble spirit that is ultra vast and ultra strong, and to develop such spirit one need to practice altruistic deeds over and over. It is what I regard an important part of self perfection. And this has to begin with Mengzi’s claim that human hearts are intrinsically good. Humans are social beings who are capable of realizing that selfishness will ultimately destroy the environment that humans rely to survive. The western approach of using fear to enslave people ultimately destroys the spirit and productivity of people. I think that the eastern approach of inspiring the noble part of human hearts is the key to restore wellbeing of humanity.

        Best Wishes
        Yi Ping

        Liked by 1 person

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