A Gamut of Emotions About Once ‘Honorable’ Peter Reith

Typical of Liberals to say “No!” to Peter Reith,
They should have honored him, not kicked him in the teeth.
A man like him, so deserving of reward,
Instead has been discarded and then thrown overboard.

He more than others deserved the laurel wreath.
Modern Liberal spirit shows how much he has bequeathed.
His party should be grateful for all he’s done,
Not lock him out, reject him by a majority of one.

How must he feel, hounded out by such a pack of dogs!
Does he regret his political life, so full of paradox?
This, a simple tribute, to the patrician Peter Reith,
Hides a depth of feelings and my meaning underneath.

NOTE: Greg Jericho, Grog, recently announced a change of direction in his career. He’ll be spending less time on his blog and focussing instead on writing a book. He’s had lots of tributes from his readers and I’ve written this ‘pome’ as a token parting gift. The other day he begged for someone ‘to throw a wreath to Peter Reith’ which reminded us all of the scandalous role this ‘elder statesman’ of the Liberal party played in all the rabble rousing over the asylum seeker/boat people issue.

It was also a reminder of the quality of the men still running the Liberal Party. Think of the level of support Reith had in his bid this weekend to become its President from three party vice-presidents, including the ‘delightful’ Alexander Downer. He only lost by one vote because Tony Abbott switched his at the last minute. Oh, the power of one! I wonder if Tony Abbott sees the irony in that?

So Grog’s ‘wreath’ reference was for me no simple pun, but a grim reminder of the deaths of so many asylum seekers in the tragedy of SIEV-X, and before that the SIEV-IV incident in 2001 when Reith as Defence Minister released a video which he claimed showed asylum seekers cynically throwing their ‘children overboard’ to pressure coastal patrol boats to rescue them as they scuttled their own boat. That was at the very end of his parliamentary career, and soon to be no longer an ‘honorable’ Member of Parliament. As a politician in opposition and in government he was always a polarizing figure.

In 1988 as Shadow Attorney General Reith played a significant role in successfully promoting the ‘No’ case in the Referendum on electoral reform.

As Minister for Industrial Relations in the Howard Government in 1998 he supported Patrick Corporation in their lock-out of striking workers, using strike breakers at Darling Harbour docks protected by balaclava-clad security guards with attack dogs.

In 2000 he was discredited by disclosure that his government funded phone card bill was some $50,000, much of it from private use, including $1,000 by his son! He decided, very sensibly, not to stand for election in 2001. He was, however, still Defence Minister when the ‘children overboard’ scandal broke, followed by a xenophobic furore which was a major factor in the Liberal party winning that election.

My use of italics in these notes is an effort to link them to my underlying sentiments in my few lines of satire above, the irony if you like, of my real feelings, my meaning underneath! When I have time I’ll learn how to link them appropriately to the original news stories on the internet.


Gravel, 26/06/11, Patricia, I think you mean he’s just been thrown overboard? I got a laugh anyway.

Talk Turkey 27/07/11, I did write a tribute to your pithy pome yesterday, but yet again I did something stupid and Fwt! and I can never recapture the *MAGIC* of the orginal. I think your little nose-thumbing to That Man was superb, and I love the rhymes almost as much as I despise him. He would be charged with a gross perversion of the Electoral Act for his part in the Children Overboard affair if I were dictator.

Some simple rhymes have special charm eh: reward, overboard. and: wreath. bequeathed.

Funny how pairs of rhymes give a sense of completion, finish, gloss, satisfaction, perfection. There is no apparent reason for it, any more than there is a reason we should like music, but it’s a fact even in other languages, people like rhyme and meter.

Thee and me Patricia, we are immeasurably lucky in having English to play in, as indeed do rappers and crooners and greeting card writers, a mixed blessing, but then you get John Lennon who put it all together as never before. I especially and forever dips me lid to him. Wild rhyme and mindblowing thoughts and magic music all in one.

Any way I love this last little effort of yours in particular, partly because of how I feel about Reith. Pome On!


About patriciawa

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