Williams' Word with Ray Williams | Which foreign influence is worse?


There has been lots of talk lately about China’s influence in Australian politics. It’s a bit of a furphy, really.

Historically it hasn’t been unusual for one country to interfere in the affairs of another country. There have always been spies and purveyors of influence in the political and economic activities of other countries – but it is different these days now that IT has become such an important influence in everyone’s lives.

The big worry these days in Australia should be the Russian influence. Russia has been interfering in world politics for decades and there is a real danger that some foreign country could use its IT skills to even shut down essential services in Australia or any other country by the actions of some smart people in an office in, say, Moscow. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has hit out at what he saw as the Chinese trying to influence Australian politics, but he was really aiming at the Australian Labor Party, which has apparently accepted political donations from that country.

It is a political football but there is something quite unpleasant about the way Russia has used hackers to influence voters in other countries, simply because it can. If it were not so damaging it could be called childish.

China is a different issue. China has been using its great economy to help many smaller countries in building roads, hospitals and such – and no-one would object to these important works. The world could do with more gestures like that.

It was therefore understandable that China expressed concern about our Prime Minister’s statement about a senior Labor figure and that China was seeking to influence voting in our country. 

But what about the USA? America has a direct and powerful influence on Australian politics and decision making and it’s no secret. The largest newspaper chain in Australia is not only controlled by an American but it is blatantly one-sided in reporting political issues. This is the chain that boasted “Kick This Mob Out” in reference to an Australian Labor Government and is blatantly right wing. And that American-based corporation has, according to reports, paid no tax in Australia on its $2.9 billion income while its Australian owned and controlled competition paid $16 million in tax. 

Which country, then, is the one which is exerts too much influence on Australian decision making and Australian politics? 

Sure, America is our friend but this American owned and controlled media also doesn’t report on anything to do with climate change or damage to the Great Barrier Reef, apparently on instructions from its American headquarters.

Which, then, is the country which is trying to influence decision making in Australia? Which of the three hegemons, Russia, China and the USA exerts most influence on Australian decision making?


Acclaimed actor Geoffrey Rush is taking legal action over claims in a newspaper that he has been involved in ‘inappropriate behaviour’.

This is getting ridiculous. It seems that anyone can claim a person has behaved badly. 

There are lots of degrees of inappropriate behaviour. The life of an ordinary man can be permanently damaged by one allegation of ‘inappropriate behaviour’.

Someone needs to clarify any such claim. ‘Inappropriate’ can vary from wearing tennis shoes to a dinner party to telling a joke which might upset one person in the crowd. What can be funny or acceptable with some people, others might consider unacceptable - but these complaints can have a devastating impact on a person’s whole life.

This sort of slur can remain for life.

With most crimes, such as theft or dangerous driving there is an obvious breaking of clearly defined rules – but who is to adjudicate on what is ‘inappropriate’? An individual could be permanently damaged because one person declares certain actions ‘inappropriate’ while others could consider them quite acceptable. Some people might be upset about swearing, for example; others could object to the way some people talk these days, males and females. It is certainly boorish to hear the constant use of ‘inappropriate’ words, such as swear words, – but ‘inappropriate’ to whom?

Take, for example, the claim by one young woman that men told rough stories in her presence but women claimed that they felt excluded when men got together and told jokes among themselves. You can’t win! Maybe some of the ladies might clarify just what is ‘appropriate behaviour’. Clarification might save some reputations.


If only we could choose the sort of gifts our decision makers should receive this Christmas!

Maybe Santa Claus could make a bulk-purchase of science books for all those pollies who can’t (or more particularly don’t want to) understand climate change.

These are the pollies who made great cuts to the CSIRO and can’t see anything wrong with opening up a huge coal mine in Queensland, complete with a railway line and a new shipping port right through the centre of the Great Barrier Reef.

There could also be books or lessons on ethics to all pollies, just so they understand that the big end of town is just as capable of producing crooks as the union movement. It could even lead to the creation of a federal ICAC. That is a simple concept. The NSW Government, years ago, realised that bank robbers were not the only crooks in our society. Some crooks even drove very costly cars but underpaid the staff who worked for them and made them rich.

If a course on ethics were to lead to a federal ICAC it would be a gift for every Australia, at least for every honest Australian.

And that’s it for another year.

Let’s hope that Santa Claus brings you lots of love and cuddles and that our decision-makers suddenly realise that their task is to make this a better world for all Australians and where possible, the people who live beyond our own borders. 

From my mob to your mob – enjoy Christmas and let’s all work for a much calmer and fairer world. 

  • Ray Williams has been a Post columnist since retiring from the newsroom in 1993.


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