Foreign Interests Are Real Bushfires: A Tragic Tale of the Australian People (III)

Part I:

Part II:

Part III: Foreign Interests Are Real Bushfires: A Tragic Tale of the Australian People

The national narrative is the source of power

What society discusses and the way society speaks about these issues constitutes what could be called the national narrative. The national narrative encapsulates societies shared assumptions, beliefs, and values about people, issues, events, and situations. Consequently there are a number of national narratives that continually run; such as ideas and realities about the society we live in.

The national narrative creates a mental map of our reality. It tells us what is, what should be, what things are like, and what we should value and talk about. The national narrative encapsulates our existence, what is possible and not possible. Narrative tells us how to interpret things and bonds people together in society. Narrative sets our beliefs and values and is a powerful influence upon our actions.

Politics is a set of theatrical narratives. A theatre of people posing a reality that becomes plausible[1]. Well crafted drama signifies that the outside world and all within is well[2]. For example, the narrative of General Westmoreland about body-counts during the Vietnam War gave the impression of the US winning the war and suppressed the human side of the war.

Society has a narrative of freedom, free enterprise, social justice, environmental sustainability, not drinking and driving, smoking is harmful, and the list goes on. Shaping the national narrative is the tool used to install political agenda into society’s narratives by those that rule the country.

To see power one must pay attention to the narratives in society. They come through the media, through political statements, advertising campaigns, films and sitcoms, events, stories, artifacts like community and commercial slogans, thought leaders, and education. Power and who rules can be seen through what conflicts exist in society and who are the perpetrators of these conflicts. Who are for and who are against? Are there coalitions?

The strength of the power of who rules can be seen in their reaction to outcry. For example, governments were not influenced by the mass demonstrations against the Vietnam War during the 1960s, and there is little, if no reform of the financial system in response to the occupy movement.

This indicates entrenched power whereas the Franklin Dam protests during the 1980s in Tasmania, especially before the 1983 election had positive responses from those campaigning to be rulers (the eventual Hawke Government), as he was facing election. Narratives show what current politics are about and who is involved.

Thus the whole political process and who are in position of influence can be seen through the narratives that flow into the public arena and narratives that flow out. Who is setting the national narrative is the same as the one setting the political agenda.

The national narrative rules Australia. So the next question should be “how does the national narrative develop?”  Obviously the Government and media have great influence upon the setting of this narrative. So is it manipulated? Of course. Prime Minister Howard utilized the national narrative to increase gun control after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, look at the Sandy Hook debate about gun control in the US today.

Again Howard used the Tampa affair to rush Border protection legislation through the parliament in 2001[3], and won an election by claiming that asylum seekers had thrown children overboard in an attempt to secure entry into Australia[4].

One could argue that Australia is a conservative society and not as progressive as many other post industrial societies. There were no pioneering attitudes towards same sex marriages, women in the armed forces, migrants, or drugs. The Australian progressive agenda has always tended to follow rather than lead. Some of the values that can be picked up through observation of Australian society might include;

1. A belief in the status quo has served the nation well and shouldn’t be tampered with, i.e., attitudes towards a republic

2. An optimistic belief about the future, i.e., Australians high consumers of debt,

3. A fear of something different imposing change upon society, i.e., support for the “war of  terror”,        

4. A belief in the role of big business as the driver of economic growth and Government as fiscal controller, i.e., peoples tolerance to high bank charges,

5. A belief in economic growth and development, i.e., peoples low scrutiny of mining policies and little public outrage when the “mining super tax” wasn’t introduced,

6. A belief in the US alliance, Australian general support for US bases, US troops on Australian soil and Australia’s participation in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and

7. A belief in acquiring debt to achieve the Australian dream and live through capitalism, i.e., Australian’s high propensity towards debt consumption.

These narratives and the beliefs and values that go along with them often hide the truth from the average Australian. For example, with the belief in capitalism, Australians may believe that to mean the laissez-faire flourishing of small business and entrepreneurial opportunity, hiding the reality that the Australian economy is actually oligoplistic and government protected[5].

But the myth created through the narrative covers the realities of what goes on and eliminates scrutiny. A belief in development and economic growth suppresses questioning about resource depletion of mining and the fact that these resources are not renewable. If this was questioned, public support for the “super tax” on mining may have been too strong for the government to ignore.

The national narrative can also inhibit Australia excelling in new undertakings like the “pivot towards Asia” outlined in Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s “Australia in the Asian Century” white paper. Deep set Australia attitudes may hinder the country’s engagement with the region due to what the author called and ideology of “Austro-centrism”[6]. The national narrative can be a barrier to a change in attitude.

The national narrative controls what is “politically correct” and the tolerance levels for alternative views in Australian society. It is very difficult to question the US alliance in Australia and any suggestion of Australia adopting a  Swedish style of neutrality would be scorned[7].

Even the suggestion of scrapping Australia’s compulsory voting requirement in elections met with strong attacks and accusations that the freedom to vote or not would “encourage extremists”[8].The rulers of Australia control through creating, maintaining, manipulating, spinning, and changing the national narrative.

Advance Australia Where?

When Labor was in opposition before 1972 it acted as an umbrella for the synthesis of many different points of view through very powerful policy committees. However many of these policies were not conducive to  a conservative Australian electorate and ignored by parliamentary leaders who adopted conservative and “popularist” approach.

In 1992 Labor’s narratives  disconnected with its traditional constituency (loss of Hawke’s old seat in Wills, centered around Coburg, Melbourne  by the ALP to an independent after he left Parliament), while the ALP moved into the middle ground of conservative Australian politics with an economic rationalist agenda and strong realignment with the US alliance.

This was in stark contrast to former Prime Minister David Lange in New Zealand banning US warships to NZ ports in 1985. Labor had learned from the Whitlam experiment of the 1970s that it will only be able to govern from the centre in line with the national narrative.

Even the Eureka movement in Ballarat during the 1850s was not the radical movement that today’s mythology depicts[9]. The radicalism was a complete myth. When the leaders of the rebellion became members of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, where their voting records show a very conservative stance[10].

One of the leaders Peter Lalor claimed he was never a democrat in the sense of Communism or Republicanism, but just fighting the cause of a tyrannical government[11].

Australians are not liberal innovators in political philosophy. Action, including the Gallipoli landing shows Australians to be accepting of the establishment and conservative, rather than the innovators we have been portrayed to be. This conservatism has been very costly to the real interests of Australia.

Inherited cultural values have disadvantaged Australian’s and prevented adaptation to the hostile environment of Australia when they first settled[12]. Australians allowed themselves to be subjected  to the rivalries of Europe in 1914, the common market in the 70s[13],  and global geopolitics with the ANZUS alliance.

Australian introduced  sheep rather than develop kangaroo as a staple food, introduced European species into the natural environment with catastrophic consequences, and adopted the “level playing field” as an economic philosophy, without really thinking what benefit it had for Australia. Imported ideas over history have only caused problems like the rabbit proof fence[14].

Tax deductions for clearing land and phosphate bounty only assisting in degrading Australia’s natural environment[15]. All these have been great tragedies for Australia.

The rhetoric of the rulers doesn’t meet the reality. The great myth is that Australia is a competitive economy. Most of Australia’s largest companies have either monopolies or exercise some form of oligopoly. For example;

  • BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Woodside Petroleum, Newcrest Minerals, Fortescue Mining and Origin Energy all have monopoly control over the resources they exploit,
  • The four major banks exercise almost 90% control over all transactions in the economy and the smaller banks have the same shareholding as the ‘big four” as well,
  • News Corporation controls over 80% of all metropolitan newspapers in Australia,
  • Westfarmers operate Coles, Bunnings, Target, Kmart, Officeworks in duopoly markets,
  • Telstra has a near monopoly,
  • Woolworths operates in a duopoly with Coles.
  • Westfield group operates a unique group of shopping centres without competition, and
  • CSL has an almost complete monopoly on all blood products.



The top businesses in Australia do not exist within competitive environments and are able to earn above average profits. The reality of Australia itself has become a lie and cover-up. No such environment could have been created without collusion, corruption, and cover-up, unless it was stupidity.

British ownership in Australia has always been high and considered friendly. Australians have tended to assume that the banks and big business were primarily owned by superannuation funds investing on behalf of average Australians. This belief gave credibility to the banks where there huge profits are palatable to the Australian public.

But this is a myth. Shareholding records show equity funds in positions of great influence in banking, business, mining, and media. Equity funds are designed where they are managed by HSBC or JP Morgan Nominees, where through cross equities, mergers, and acquisitions these firms are part of the “25” who own a great proportion of the world’s banking and finance business.

The procedures and rules for selecting directors with an array of cooperation and collaboration could give strong influence, if not control to these firms in almost every aspect of Australian’s life. We have seen the large extent of cross directorships that are people selected from a very narrow group of professional people with career connections to the big names in the financial world.

A large matrix of cross ownership also occurs and we have seen only a little of the extent they are used to circumvent national rules and taxes in the media. However we cannot know for sure the true situation as determining who truly owns these corporations is virtually impossible.

Likewise in foreign policy, Australia has become almost totally subservient to US interests, even at the cost of our own interests in the Asian region. China is our major trading partner and not a military threat as US policy action is making out. Australia viewing its  largest trading partner as a potential threat, is beyond commonsense. The Australian Government has shown great immaturity in this area that has in many ways compromised our neighbors views of Australia as an independent country with its own will[16].

Conservative Australians don’t subscribe very well to conspiracy theories. Whitlam found that out in 1975 when Australians didn’t maintain their rage about his government’s dismissal being more concerned about economic management. Australians like to see and believe, which assisted Howard win the 2001 election over the story of boat people throwing their children overboard.

Australians were equally accepting of the need to invade Vietnam, to stop the red peril, Afghanistan to flush out Osama Bin Laden, and Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein using WMD on the free world. Even today there is little public questioning of these matters unlike the UK where there is an inquiry into Britain’s role in Iraq.

Just like Governor General Ronald Munro-Ferguson using his position to send Australians to the other side of the world for Britain in WWII, Australians needlessly died in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq over another country’s agenda.

As Donald Horne stated in his essay “Who Rules Australia”, “it seems there is little dispute that business interests prevail in Australia”[17]. Business is setting the agenda, not government. Worse still government has become dependent upon business to keep the economy running. The state only helps to manage the economy so that businesses can make profits and continue to administer society so that even more profits can be made.

It is also apparent that businesses now are the group that make decisions about taxes and labor conditions. Business controls the national narrative and the fate of the environment is primarily left up to business, the government can only react, or bring up concepts like “carbon trading schemes” that make government look concerned.

Labor unions have been controlled and industrial democracy in Australia isn’t even a dream, although these concepts are advanced in many other post industrial societies. Politicians are transitory characters upon a stage that pursue an agenda they are allowed. Both the tai-pans of the public service and the leaders of the business sectors see prime ministers come and go.

Probably the biggest “conspiracy” over the people is administrative law at all levels of government with little scrutiny over whether all regulation is constitutionally compliant. Agencies under temporary ministers are taking on an authoritarian demeanor of their own acting outside the real scrutiny of an under resourced parliament .

Australia will very soon see UAVs or drones flying over Melbourne and Sydney suburbs looking for pensioners who have taken a Coles or Woolworths shopping cart home with the groceries to prosecute[18]. All Australian Governments have legalized casinos and allowed massive expansions even at the great social costs to the community in terms of problem gambling, bankruptcies, dumping children, and suicides[19].

Local Governments spend lots of time and money financing entrapment operations against illegal brothels (a victimless crime) on the behest of the large legal operations[20].

Both Government and opposition are often bilateral in many more areas than one thinks. Most of the differences are rhetorical. This has led to cover ups at the highest level of the government machinery, namely the Reserve Bank of Australia by both sides of Australian politics[21]. The media is also complacent in scrutinizing these issues.

Australia is not being ruled for the benefit of Australia, but rather the sectional groups that yield influence over the country running their own agendas. Secretive nominee companies and an anonymous front for overseas investors who are prepared to destroy the environmental and cultural heritage of Broome and the Dampier Peninsula for profit.

Multinationals don’t have to own, they control, and utilize the funds from small investors for gaining control. In this way the small investor is captive to the agendas of the fund managers.

The two party adversarial political system is an advantage for other parties of influence in Australia. When the ruling Government or prime minister doesn’t support a particular agenda, then parties can support and encourage the other party or internal factions within the prime minister’s own party to move and change the policy.

The potential of this was seen in the removal of both Prime Minister Rudd and the Liberal Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull over the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme[22].

Urbanization, overgrazing, depletion of resources, salinity[23], water shortages, bush fires, and droughts lack the attention they need. The issues of poor productive soil and depleting minerals are about future of Australia. Australia lost the eucalypts as an indigenous product and the fisheries are now unproductive.

Australia is much more like Haiti than a first world political and economic institution with well educated people. Just as early settlers stripped the trees in Australia thinking land was fertile once again the land is being stripped without a replacement. The consequences were invisible then and again seem to be now.

The media has failed to provide a platform to promote any visionary thought. The media’s takes a narrow interpretation of what should constitute the national discussion.

What we have seen with the recent HSBC case in the US is that ethics are no longer a consideration for any business it undertakes. So trusting these firms to act in the national interest would be like trusting the goat to look after the cabbage patch.

It is almost impossible to regulate multinationals and there is indeed no show of political will to do so in Australia. The idiom “to big to fail” is now the catch cry when any scandal occurs. Australia is not exempt and public debate to date has not tackled the real issues that survival of the country depends upon.

Boat people and asylum seekers seem to be a convenient issue to waste national emotional energy upon while Australian assets are being stripped before the country’s eyes. So why the parliament and government in all this ill-informed and complacent, a willing collaborator? These are the questions that nobody is asking.

A lack of vision for Australia by the people and encapsulated by governments is the complacency that allows other interests to come and impose their visions on the country. This is what Donald Horne eluded to with his words “Australia is a lucky country, run by second rate people who share its luck”[24]. Australians are too complacent about the country and have allowed entities with agendas contrary to Australian interests to prevail.

To a great extent our own national mythology has blinded us to the realities of how the country really operates. We like to believe in the myth which prevents us from seeing the reality and worse still inhibits a vision for Australian society. All our narratives are within a narrow arc of what is prescribed for us to believe.

Anybody prescribing anything else differently will attract anyone of the colorful Australian labels to describe a person who doesn’t subscribe to the mediocrity of the Australian dream.

This story above that has unfolded over the years, is not the one of democracy and an egalitarian society that many believe  Australia is, but rather as the country that never gained its real independence.

Perhaps ANZAC Day on 25th April commemorating the slaughter of Australians at Gallipoli Peninsula under British command in Turkey, symbolic  of ‘Australia’s coming of age’ in the national narrative, is also symbolic of Australia not being able to achieve independence and being at the mercy of foreign interests, contrary to those of Australia.

As a concluding remark, what Donald Horne wrote almost 30 years ago seem very apt: “there are ruling interests that seem to prevail at some time of conflict. But these prevailing interests are not in Australia”[25]. Who are the real umpires in Australia?


Prof. Murray Hunter is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.



[1] Mangham, I.L., & Overington, M., A., (1987), Organizations as theater: a social psychology of dramatic appearances, New York, Wiley, P. 49.

[2] Bolman, L., G., & Deal, T., E., (1997), Reframing Organizations: artistry, Choice, and leadership, 2nd Edition, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, P. 237.

[3] David Marr and Diane Wilkinson show Howard’s shameless tactics, the complete lack of independence in the Australian Public Service, and the contemptible weakness of military officers who refused to speak up with ‘frank and fearless’ advice even when they knew the government was lying. The book also demonstrates is the terrifying gap between daily media reports and the reality of what goes on. Marr, D., & Wilkinson, M., (2003), Dark Victory, Crows Nest, Allen & Unwin.

[4] Marr, D., (2006), Truth overboard – the story that won’t go away,,–the-story-that-wont-go-away/2006/02/27/1141020023654.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

[5] Simms, M., (1982), A Liberal Nation, Sydney, Hales & Ironmonger.

[6] Hunter, M., (2012), Australia in “Asian Century” or is It Lost in Asia? China & Us: Australian Dilemma, The 4th Media, 4th November,

[7] Horne, D., (1985), “Who Rules Australia”, P. 186.

[8] Rout, M., (2013), Scrapping compulsory voting would be a boost for extremists, say Joyce, Turnbull, The Australian, 4th January,

[9] Beggs Sunter, A., (2010), The Eureka Stockade and the Australian republic,, 24th November,

[10] Bate, W., (1978), Lucky City: The First generation of Ballarat 1851-1901, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press.

[11] JSH, (1938), Ballarat Revisited: Some Golden Jubilee Recollections, The Worker, Tuesday 10th march, P. 14. {National Library of Australia}

[12] Diamond, J., (2005), Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive, London, Penguin, P. 390.

[13] Diamond, J., (2005), “Collapse”, P. 394.

[14] Diamond, J., (2005), “Collapse”, P. 392.

[15] Diamond, J., (2005), “Collapse”, P. 393.

[16] Hunter, M., (2012), Hillary to Julia “You take India and I’II take Pakistan”, while an ex-Aussie PM says “Enough is enough” with the US”, In2eastafrica, 14th November,

[17] Horne, D., (1985), “Who Rules Australia”, P. 192.

[18] Stewart, C., (2012), Drones, lives and liberties, The Australian, 4th March,

[19] Mickelburough, P., & Buttler, M., (2009), How Steve Bracks saved a suicide jumper on West Gate bridge, Herald Sun, 7th March,, Barry, P., (2010), The Biggest Loser: Harry Kakavas and Problem gamblers, The Monthly, February,

[20] Murphy, P., (2002), licensed brothels call for blitz on illegal sex shops,, 3rd June,

[21] Hunter, M., (2012), Australia “do as I say, Not as I do” – The Ongoing Reserve bank of Australia Bribery Scandal, The 4th media, 7th November,

[22] Rodgers, E., (2009), Senior Liberal desert Turnbull, ABCNEWS, 26th November,

[23] Diamond, J., (2005), “Collapse”, P. 383.

[24] Horne, D., (1964), The Lucky Country, Melbourne, Penguin Books.

[25] Horne, D., (1985), “Who rules Australia?”, P. 195.

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