In a famous moment of cricket history, an Australian blasted the English by saying something to the effect that there were two teams out there and only one of them was playing cricket. There is a wide consensus that something similar occurred on Sunday in the World Cup Final. There were two teams out there, but only one side was playing like sportsmen.

The New Zealand team had a great cup and were worthy finalists. They were brilliantly led by Brendan McCullum, and Danny Vettori has about the most respected name in world cricket. These were just two of the champions that we abused in a shameful manner. Sadly, the worst offender was not the pin-up suburban lout David Warner, but Brad Haddin – who is old enough to know better. He was rocketing around in the face of the Blackcaps like an ourangatang with terminal piles. It was disgraceful behaviour that was saddening for Australians to watch – and not least because it was so unnecessary.

Brendan McCullum took out his grief at the death of Phillip Hughes with his bat. It was as if he had been inspired. He and Phillip Hughes showed the good side of cricket. We have now painted the textbook image of the bad side.

The poison of Indian money is now finding its triumph in crass Australian vulgarity. It is awful to behold and God only knows what effects all this will have on the nation’s children. These overpaid entertainers are not sportsmen at all. This is what we have to teach our children. These people are gladiators made and trained and kept for TV. They sit in their multimillion dollar harbourside residences and forget what it is like to be Australians much less sportsmen. Cricket Australia should be told that too many of us want nothing to do with them. If this is what it takes to win   a World Cup, I want none of it. They might well start with Boofhead whose tolerance of the boorish David Warner gives no reason for confidence.

There is in our argot a term for overpaid larrikins. It is Cashed Up Bogans. That is all that these twerps are, and we should send a note of apology across the Tasman. They do things better there – in both rugby and in cricket.

Speaking of bad sports, spare a thought for Ben McDevitt of ASADA. Having fought and lost a contest that has become another national disgrace, but made every day Christmas Day for the lawyers, Mr McDevitt spat the dummy once again and committed an act of murder on the English language. ‘What happened in Essendon in 2012 was, in my opinion, absolutely and utterly disgraceful.’ Why is that we pay a fortune to some public servants to spend a fortune of our money and transfer another fortune to the lawyers so that they can lose their wars and make fools of themselves, and then moralise at our expense?

And, yes, the date was 2012. I wrote the note underneath a year or two ago about that dreadful bullshit about a black day for Australian sport. It looks like the note was written before the last federal election. Since then, it looks like ASADA’s decline has matched that of our cricketers.



In the ‘Circumlocution Office,’ Charles Dickens savagely lampooned bureaucrats. Its sublime function was to show HOW NOT TO DO IT. Now we have the tragic Dickensian farce executed upon us by the AFL and ASADA in the sterile months following their stagey revelation of ‘the blackest day in Australian sport.’

Journalists just love ‘the AFL drugs scandal.’ What scandal?   No one has been charged with breaking the law. No one has even been charged with breaking a rule. There is no charge, and, we infer, no evidence, that any team cheated by obtaining an unfair advantage. There is no evidence that any player suffered harm. There is therefore no scandal – except the Great Vegemite Scandal – how much Vegemite did those flighty Bombers put on their WeetBix?

The only scandal is that confected by the AFL and ASADA by childlike mismanagement and flood-level leakage through tame conduits. They, not Essendon, have trashed all Australian sport. They have harmed sport more than dirty money, botched television interference, the ridiculing of umpires, and screechingly vulgar and corrupting bookies.

The AFL’s first mistake was to get into bed with ASADA. Can you imagine BHP ‘outsourcing’ its ‘governance’, fancy talk for management, on corruption to ASIC? This will remain a classic MBA study in corporate balls-ups for generations.

ASADA take too long. They proceed in secret. They follow the path of the Inquisition. They do not announce their results but clothe them in dark secrecy. Then, when they fail – miserably – to live up to their own political grandstanding, they refuse to take their medicine. They just sulk. They resemble philosophers – blind men in a dark room looking for an absent black cat. Can you think of a better recipe to bring the house down? No one I know has any faith left in either the AFL or ASADA. No one.

ASADA is not made of real coppers. Imagine this. The Fraud Squad gets headlines internationally by saying that there is rampant dishonesty in, say, Myers. After six months’ agony for Myers, the Police say: ‘No one will be charged under the law, but you cannot say that we drew a blank, because this report is just interim, Mate: we could be here for bloody years – and we are handing over a huge dossier of secret nothings so that Myers can nail its own for breaching its Code of Conduct. So, there!’

It is beyond argument that the AFL and ASADA have brought AFL football into disrepute – they jointly blacked football and now they cannot back it up. The AFL blacked itself. They are paradigm scandal-mongers, little boys playing with matches, and caught calling Wolf. AFL, this is your scandal. Will they, then, apologise to Essendon – and to us? Not on your Nelly, Mate.

Now, when Essendon and its people are cleared by ASADA, the AFL charges them with the crime of which they, the AFL, stand guilty. This is Monty Python but it is not funny – real people are getting badly hurt by this arrogant exercise in revenge driven by hellish pride.

James Hird is one of best footballers we have seen. He had silky grace and frightening courage. He is also a gentleman. If the AFL were international, Hird would have captained our colours with the full faith and credit of the entire nation. Hird towers above the gnats who now nag him. Who has a good memory of Fitzpatrick or Demetriou in football?

What, then, have we done for James Hird? We have trashed him and bashed him for month after bloody month in a witch-hunt that has become a pogrom. As ever, in this country, mediocrity lashes back.

I am as an Australian appalled and ashamed at what we have done. It just makes it so much worse that the ‘offence’ of which the AFL is guilty and with which James Hird is now charged – ‘bringing disrepute’ or ‘conduct prejudicial’ – is the last resort of the military and the first resort of the fascist.

‘To none will we sell, to none will we deny or delay right or justice.’ Can you imagine a worse denial of due process? ‘No free man is to be taken except by a lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land….nor will we go or send against him.’ The AFL and ASADA and their Myrmidons have gone and sent against the people of Essendon like bad losers intent on giving us all a frightening reminder that all power corrupts. They have done so with all the charm of feudal barons or Mafia dons. The dooms that they have been leaking out remind us that Shostakovich once picked up Pravda and read that ‘this affair could end badly’ – he knew it was written by Stalin

Well, there is nothing new in the bureaucracy being stupid or in the AFL being a bully. Our Circumlocution Office has given taxpayers 404 pages of secret zeroes – HOW NOT TO DO IT. The AFL is tearing itself apart. We Australians have been badly let down and affronted by people who should know better.

This squalid little vendetta should come before somebody who understands due process. The notion that the AFL might sit in judgment on itself is plain silly. They are not just an eminence grise – they are the instigating Inquisitor, prosecutor, star witness, and prime suspect. Neither they, nor Egypt’s army, can just wish away a state of war. And how can footy be good for kids if those running it cannot comprehend a ‘fair go’?

Everyone – everyone – is just sick of all this dark nastiness. The AFL is plainly too big for its boots. The Commission has trashed its own brand and lost the confidence of the community. It should therefore resign. Australians need a Commission untainted by this circus. ASADA should be abolished by statute. The next government could then seek to resurrect Australian sport.

Qantas – Is anyone there?

The other day I booked by phone – at a price for the cheek of wanting to talk to a human being, and possibly even an Australian – flights with Qantas to Darwin and from Broome.  I had to use the phone because this laptop has a virus.  I did not get the promised email confirmation.  The next day the hire car company offered me a real inducement to reverse the air travel and fly to Broome and from Darwin.

Back on the phone.  After about twenty minutes, of waiting while those parroted ads drive you mad in cycles, I put the phone down  – and I lost the connection.  I started again.  At nearly forty minutes, I thought I might explode.  A remarkably sane operative pacified me, and changed the flights.  She said that the previous booking had not been confirmed because it was unworkable, but she said I would shortly get an email confirmation.

That has not arrived.  My unwell computer shows no sign of recent activity on my Frequent Flyer account – except that they recently cancelled 120,000 points without warning to me.  So I look for an address to send a query to.  Not on your Nelly mate.  We are not into talking to people, much less long standing customers.

This confirms my view that if you have any option, you are a mug to fly Qantas.  They must be the most notorious business in the world for abusing their best customers.

I recall that I wrote a note about nasty and incompetent corporates many years ago.  I will try to attach a copy.  Nothing has changed.  I then had to hire a travel agent to do combat with the flaks at Frequent Flyers.  Well, they have now seen to that, and I just have to get ready to give up half an hour or so for aural abuse, and then run smack into a wall of inept silence.

A little bird tells me that management – yes, they do claim that title – are getting ready to get rid of the flak-catchers they have on shore.  Perhaps the Indians are tougher as well as being cheaper.

In the unlikely event that you trip over someone connected with Qantas, could you ask them to let me know about my flights.  They know where I am – which is more than I can say for them.

Further reflections on the decline and fall of courtesy follow.




Human Capital


More than one thousand years ago, our ancestors put money values on human lives. If you killed someone, you had to pay compensation, and the amount of that compensation varied with the standing of the victim – a dead lord cost lots more than a dead serf. The Italian film Human Capital builds a well-constructed drama around this theme. It is a movie about veneers, and how high finance is driven by greed and stupidity. There are three families on different rungs on the ladder. The greed and stupidity are exemplified by the real estate agent on the middle rung who wants to cash in with the hedge fund run by the guy on the top rung, and there is a Romeo and Juliet story about children on the middle and bottom rungs. The men are frightful jerks and the wives are, for better or worse, there for the ride: well, at least the second wife of the agent has a position which leaves her better off than the one at the top who has nothing. All the marriages are broken, and the parents have failed their wilfully spoiled children. Everything screams falsehood – who wants a chauffeur to drive the Maserati? – and when trouble looms, the stampede to the lifeboats is ghastly. The plot revolves around the part played by the spoiled children in a hit and run on a waiter after their school function, and the result is a disturbing insight into just how bad it gets when Mammon becomes God. There is high Italian style about very human failings relieved by some black humour in a movie that will be watched in awed relief by those who have kept their children out of the nut house and the big house. Welcome to the Kingdom of Nothingness.