Heat by Rob O’Neill

Sitting on the dock of the bay

Wolloomoloo Wharf is the place to be in Sydney. It’s “A-list” paradise, just close enough to the city to be accessible but far enough away and right on the water for a bit of discretion.

Yesterday you would have found talkback jock John Laws at his usual spot in Otto’s, which he partly owns. You would have seen New South Wales Liberal leader John Brogden passing by, with the satisfied look of a man who knows he has the government on the ropes, and if you were a local and knew who the right people were, you’d have probably seen many more.

I’m still not a local, but on a crystalline Sydney winter’s day, with temperatures heading up into the twenties, the sun streaming down and the water lapping along the edge of the wharf as some great Te Mata Sauvignon was consumed, I could almost see myself becoming one. Almost.

The buses were out on strike this morning. The teachers were out a couple of weeks ago. The trains can’t run on time and keep breaking down. The hospitals keep giving people the wrong medication and chopping off the wrong bits. If there was an election today, Carr would be history.

At the Federal level, Latham’s honeymoon is over and it’s going to be a really tight election. Too close to call, but I think there is time for him to rally and he hasn’t revealed a lot of policy so far, so he has ammunition. And there is some weird demographic stuff to consider: a bunch of corporate dropouts going to live along the coast. Nobody knows how these people will vote and in one electorate alone there are 13,000 of the buggers since the last election.

We were at Manta Ray, just along from Otto’s and seemingly not quite as fashionable. The food was, however, exceptional and the service attentive. As to the price? Who cares? I wasn’t paying.

Another bottle of Te Mata? “That will do nicely, thank you,” I reply. “Better make it two.”

It really is hard to believe it’s winter.

Iraq is sovereign, well, as sovereign as any country with 130,000 foreign troops in residence. Democracy is a while off yet. They have a shot at it and that’s something, for sure. I find myself in disagreement with Latham over his plan to withdraw troops. Sorry dude, Australia was part of the invasion and that brings with it a responsibility that can’t be ditched easily.

Dr Allawi, the new Iraqi leader, however, is a terrorist. Or is that a former terrorist? Or is that a freedom fighter? Or is that a CIA stooge? I thought this was supposed to be black and white… Some people believe that once you are a terrorist you are always a terrorist, but for some reason they seem to suspend that view when they talk about Allawi.

Rightist celebration of a drastic reduction in terrorist activity since Bush’s hard-line were premature – the figures have had to be amended and still don’t include any attacks in Iraq. The people give their verdict here with Bush sinking in the polls.

The great news is the US Supreme Court has disagreed with the cranks and upheld the right to a day in court for both American and foreign detainees on US soil and in US jurisdiction at Guantanamo. At last, some much needed push-back, a direct gift from the genius of America’s founders. These decisions weren’t even close from a right-leaning bench.

Here’s a list of stories Chalabi’s crew claims to have planted in the western media. There are a few Australian references in there and clearly they were playing hard on the refugee issue, implying they were terrorist threat. The New York Times recently apologised for running similar stuff.

But to finish on a funny, check out the progress of Gordon King’s petition to bring Fox News to Sky. He has the support of “Hugh G Rection” and “I Love the Fox Blondes”, anyway…