Are we slowly returning to a bad bygone era in Oz politics?

As a Brisbane teenager in Sir Joh’s stifling, authoritarian, corrupt police state, I’d buy a Nation Review each week to read Mungo on federal politics.

By Margo Kingston

His dark humour grounded in passionate belief gave me a way to see a Queensland politics that had hope in it.

When I mentioned this on Twitter after Mungo died, several Tweeps said yep, that’s what they did and how they felt too.

My big cause now is the urgent need for a strong federal ICAC.

There’s only one way to make it happen, citizens in Coalition seats need to insist their MPs support the bill by Indi independent Helen Haines (now backed by Labor, the Greens and every cross bench Senator and MP except One Nation).

The Fitzgerald Royal Commission delivered Queensland from our Trump, contemptuous of media, promoter of fake cancer-cure gurus, jackbooter of opponents through his police.

His Country Party ruled by outrageous gerrymander for 23 years without any serious impediment to his government’s rampant corruption, law-less police force and stacked judiciary.

Our media was complicit.

My little story: Police misbehaviour became so grotesque Sir Joh set up a Police Complaints Tribunal led by a mate, District Court judge Eric Pratt. He never found a cop guilty and his findings were unreported.

Thanks to a gutsy chief of staff at The Courier Mail I reported a gob-smacking not guilty finding detailed in the Queensland Law Society Journal.

The police reporter’s ‘get off my round’ note landed on my desk.

I reported another gobsmacking innocent finding, and Judge Pratt invited the editor and the police reporter to the Tribunal off ice and, I was told, proved to them there was nothing amiss.

End of coverage.

When the Sir Joh for PM movement took off , The Courier Mail sent reporters all over the State for reaction.

I went to the North Queensland town I grew up in, Mackay, and found that my ballet teacher and the pieman who sold us kids pies ’n peas and a bottle of Coke for lunch at school thought he’d make a good PM.

They knew nothing about the reality. They just liked him.

The paper’s Phil Dickie tried to break open the overt prostitution and illegal gambling rackets operating under police protection in the Valley in Brisbane, but his work was legalled into an incomprehensible mess.

The uber-corrupt “Minister for Everything”, Russ Hinze, said there was no prostitution or illegal gambling in Queensland and that was that.

Sinodinos, Russ Hinze, and Conflict Corruption | Dally Messenger III
Russ Hinze

But when the ABC’s ‘Moonlight State’ documentary definitively proved the big lie, while Sir Joh was overseas, his deputy called the Fitzgerald Royal Commission.

Tony Fitzgerald slowly, transparently opened Queenslanders’ eyes and took us all with him – including my ballet teacher and the pieman – to transform our State electorally, and politically, with a Crime and Misconduct Commission, because he earned our trust and became the most admired man in our State.

He paid the price. Of course he did. He lost his precious privacy, and his destiny, to be a High Court judge, was thwarted owing to National Party animus.

The current federal government is deeply corrupt, and everyone who takes an interest in politics knows it.

Take a look at Scott Morrison’s sorry excuse for a federal ICAC bill, published under extreme pressure from Helen Haines’ campaign late last year.

It’s a protection racket for politicians and public servants, yet another #ScottyfromMarketing scam.

I was going to write about all that, but a day after agreeing to write for The Echo, the world watched the humiliation of America’s deeply corrupt democracy.

I was in our Parliament as a reporter in 1996, when renegade protesters at an ACTU rally forced their way through the front door.

It was frightening – 90 people injured – but they were never a chance to enter the Parliament or MPs’ offices. They didn’t get past the public foyer.

Yet this ‘mob’ from the US – which included GOP state MPs, off duty police officers, defence force veterans and company executives – stopped certification of the presidential elec-tion, trashed the Speaker’s office, occupied the Senate Chamber, and defecated in the seat of power in the world’s most powerful nation.

America was unmasked.

It was one of those days, like 9/11, when you’ll remember where you were when the world changed.

I’m still in shock. America is in free fall as its viciously authoritarian rival for world leadership, China, spreads its wings. Scary times for Australia as we face climate change too.

Queensland had its Trump, and we emerged and thrived owing to the ABC and a Royal Commissioner we trusted and empowered.

We cleaned up our system and became a real, vibrant democracy.

If Australians believe democracy is the best way to survive the dangers ahead, we need to clean it up.

We need to elect people to federal, state and local politics who want to serve the public interest, not themselves.

Most importantly we need a federal ICAC led by a person we trust. We need a strong ABC.

Only we can make it happen.

Politics as entertainment is over.

Time to get serious. As Mungo always, always, was.


CCO Editor; And right on cue in regards to the above comes this from the Guardian Australia today;

About the author:

Margo Kingston.

In her own words, ‘[Margo] was a mainstream (MSM) journo, who thrived till she didn’t’. She now describes herself as a ‘citizen journo and climate change activist’.

She is best known for her work at The Sydney Morning Herald and her weblog, Webdiary.

Margo’s 2004 book Not Happy, John was republished and updated in 2007.

It inspired the ‘Not happy, John!’ campaign, of which she was a founding member.


First published at The Byron Bay Echo – Monday 18 January 2021. See;

4 thoughts on “Are we slowly returning to a bad bygone era in Oz politics?

  1. And yet during the 60’s & 70’s Qld was the safest place to be gay. My gay brother moved there just for that reason! Go figure.

  2. Scotty from marketing continues unchallenged, brainwashing the gullible Australian public with his carefully crafted ‘everyman’ persona, ably assisted by his exclusive, taxpayer funded, personal photographer and his almost daily midday press conferences on the ABC, preaching from the official prime-ministerial lectern, seemingly ad infinitum to an equally gullible press corps.

    The feather-dusting by today’s parliamentary press corps in holding politicians to account pales into insignificance when compared to how Margo and Mungo once held the flame to their bellies. I know, I was there.

    What’s being done about the blatant pork barrelling of the ‘sports rorts’ affair, which no doubt played a huge role in delivering government into the hands of the conservatives at the last federal election?

    And what’s being done about the $33million airport land acquired from LNP donors that was later valued at $3million by the Valuer General?

    Then there’s the unlawful and cruel robo debt scheme which it’s claimed innocent people took their own lives due to the pressure they were placed under by Centrelink?

    What’s being done? Sweet bugger-all! They’ve all been quietly swept under the carpet and the caravan moves on.

    Margo’s right. We need a Federal ICAC now!

    1. Hear Hear!

      Barely a week passes now without journalistic reproach of public personal attack or a victim revealing the horrifying pain they suffer from it, being a necessary consequence of the internet, yet the extreme vilification Margo Kingston suffered daily year upon year went, from her, unmentioned. She took it all.

      And in the above piece nary a word telling of her role in bringing about the Fitzgerald inquiry; her tenacious daily focus, unrelenting, ever against treacherous or unfavorable winds until the job was done and justice came.

      Australia lost its innocence during the Howard years, and there was MK fighting against the losses that had stood through the constant filth of anyone’s politics to be then weightily made, losses that affected the Australian citizen without them knowing, and the ones the public did know were horrific.

      If our country had a warrior for democracy, ’twas she.

      Others, too. Tony Stephens. Alan Ramsey. Fifty of them ultimately chucked out by Fairfax in the days its masthead bent then fell. Yet Margo was exceptional, for she knew no self regard.

      You’re right, CLB. We’ve lost the interrogative force in national politics, and while it’s a hothouse still, and dangerous, and salivates for a scalp, the corporate will is no longer there nor the focus of a readership. A long overdue federal ICAC would go a significant way in holding check to the slickened system now running the show.

      Who knows, maybe even the pollie who sets it up might get busted by it! Never happen, would it?

    2. Two P.S’s. “Scotty from marketing” is literary gorgeousness.

      And in mention of revelatory publication, citizen journalism, while we’re at it, let’s please indeed spare a grateful thought for Coffs Coast Outlook.

      May we never lament its loss.

      As a contributor it’s easy to take it for granted, caught up in the hurry to express ourselves for one reason or another, yet after hitting the Post Comment button our every word is read and assessed — a thankless task that has killed off many moderators in this modern publishing world. A task that helps save us from a defamation suit, also, let’s mind.

      Editor; Muchos gracias 40cm.

      Editor; Muchos gracias 40cm.

      This is a public good of excellence and we are extremely fortunate to have the use of it.

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