Friday, March 5, 2010

Stephen Smith

I think I saw Stephen Smith's name in the news the other day. But I forgot what the news article was about. I'm guessing though that maybe he's a Member of Parliament.

Okay. Lord Wiki says he's the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Maybe I read about him in regards to the whole Israeli thing? Well, I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually.

Baby Stephen was born on 12 December 1955. I just got all nostalgic for those days when I provided astrology information.

Smith's place of birth was Narrogin, Western Australia. I'm looking at Google Maps. Narrogin is about three hours south-east of Perth.

Lord Wiki doesn't mention much about Smith's childhood education. We skip ahead to his university days. He attended the University of Western Australia, and the University of London. He studied law.

Before entering politics, Smith was a solicitor. Lord Wiki says he was also a tutor and lecturer. I wonder what kind of tutoring he did. Well, it was probably law stuff.

I guess it was 1983 that Smith entered politics. He became the private secretary for Attorney-General of Western Australia. He did that until 1987. Then he became the State Secretary of the Western Australia Labor Party.

In 1990, he became an adviser to Paul Keating. At first, Smith was an adviser to a treasurer. Then he was adviser to a Prime Minister; Well, because Keating became Prime Minister. Things didn't stay well between the two men though. Lord Wiki says that Smith criticized Keating's budget. Ah. What drama.

From 1996 to 2007, Smith was in the Shadow Ministry. One year he was Shadow Minister for Trade, and then another year he was Shadow Minister for Resources and Energy. He did three years as Shadow Minister for Communication, and two years as Shadow Minister of Health and Ageing.

Oh....this keeps going. Let's just say he was Shadow Minister of many things.

In 2003, there was a leadership issue in the Labor Party. It was between Beazley and Latham. Smith took Beazley's side. I wrote about both of those men. By now, all I really remember is that Latham has that aggressive handshake. Oh, and I remember that Latham wrote his memoirs which dissed a lot of people.

When Rudd became Prime Minister in 2007, Smith was appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It's kind of funny because of all the shadowy jobs he had, Foreign Minister was never one of them. At least, from what I can see.

Lord Wiki says the last Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs was Robert McClelland. He's now the Attorney-General of Australia. Why didn't he take the job of Minister of Foreign Affairs? And since Smith has a law background, why didn't he become Attorney-General? This all bewilders me.

Well, that's it for Lord Wiki. I'll have to go elsewhere now.

Here's Smith's Parliament page.

I'll read his first speech. It was done in May 1993. I was twenty then. This was the year of Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Fugitive, and Schindler's List.   I'm trying to give us a sense of time here.

Smith congratulates the Speaker for his promotion. I guess the Speaker had just become the Speaker. Who was the Speaker?

Lord Wiki says it was Stephen Martin, and he had just become the Speaker two days before.

Smith sure does a lot of congratulating and honoring here.

He was the Member for Perth, and talks about spending his childhood there. So I guess his family had left Narrogin at some point.

There was really not much there that interested me. Sorry.

Here's the Foreign Affairs website. This page has all their media releases. Apparently, the President of Botswana came to visit yesterday. Well, he's probably still there. Who'd fly all the way to Australia for just one day?

Oh, the media release gives his departure. It's 4 March By the time I post this, 4 March will be in the past. President Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama will be back in Botswana, or wherever his travels take him next. Smith talks about how Australia and Botswana have a happy and warm relationship. He says he visited Botswana in January.

Now Smith won't be around for Khama's entire visit. He's going to India on 2 March. That's actually today....well, the day I'm writing this. And actually here, it's 1 March. But there it's 2 March. I wonder what's the time in India.

Anyway, he's spending two days in India. I can't imagine going to India for two days. I'm guessing Ministers of Foreign Affairs have to do a lot of plane trips. It would drive me nuts.

Here's a world time zone website. In my neck of the woods, it's 10:57. In Canberra, it's 3:57 in the morning. In New Delhi, it's 10:57 at night. It's almost 2 March for them.

It's 6:57 in Honolulu. I mention that because we're going there very soon!

This page has a large collection of interview transcripts. I'll read one or two.

Here's a recent interview about the earthquakes in Chile. My family scared me on Saturday night when I arrived for a birthday celebration. They started talking about Tsunami warnings in Australia. I was a little worried, but told myself things would probably be fine. And they were. So that's good. It's not like we can completely stop worrying though, because earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, blizzards, and hurricanes keep happening. Oh and I just thought of it. I think Fort Worth is approaching tornado season again. Great.

As for Chile, Smith talks about how Australians are there, and they want to make sure that they're all safe and accounted for. I think that's sweet. I guess it's nice to know that your government is looking out for you when you're off in a distant country. Well, it would be creepy if they were looking out for you all the time. But it's nice to know they're thinking of you when there's been a disaster.

Smith says there's also concern for Australians who have family in Chile. He's asked whether Australia will assist in immediate relief issues. Smith says it's doubtful, although they're willing and ready. But he says they're more likely to help with later reconstruction stuff.

Here's an interview about the Dubai/Israeli issue. I've tried to read a few articles about this before, and I didn't really get it.

Actually, I think this is more of a response...something he said in Parliament, rather than an interview.

Anyway, from what I understand (which is not much) people assassinated someone from Hamas, and maybe they used Australian passports. So there's issues of passport fraud.

Here's another speech that Smith did regarding the issue.

Smith says, But I made it crystal clear to the Ambassador that if the results of that investigation cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend. We would not regard that as the act of a friend. Australia, of course, is a long-standing friend of Israel.

They don't know yet that the Israeli government supported the illegal use of passports. I think it's going to be hard to find the truth behind that.

So if Israel is guilty, will Australia stop being it's friend. Or can Israel send flowers, and all will be okay again? How does this all work?

I don't think I knew this. The passports belong to Australians who live in Israel. Were their passports stolen? Copied? If they were stolen, did they not realize they were missing?

This is all so confusing.

What I don't know or understand is what do the passports have to do with the murder? Where did they appear in all this? Were they found at the scene?

Smith is answering all these questions, and it seems to me he's just kind of avoiding being clear about anything. For example, someone asks what I'd like to know. They ask if Israel is responsible, how will it effect Australia's relationship with Israel.

Smith says, I'm not going to deal in that hypothetical.

That's annoying. I mean it's SORT of hypothetical. But Smith has already inferred that the friendship between Israel and Australia will be wounded and broken. It's not a question coming out of thin air. There's a chance Israel will be guilty, and what will Australia's response be? I think that's a very fair question.

It reminds me of when I was in high school and the doctors found sugar in my urine. I was asked to come back at a later date for a glucose tolerance test. I was terrified...very distressed and nervous. I'd try to talk to my parents about it, and they'd give me the old let's not worry about it unless it happens. Let's cross the bridge when we come to it. But the bridge was right in front of me. I could see it. I was scared, and I wanted to talk about it. Now if I was being totally hypothetical, I can see that as warranting such a response. What if I get cancer? What if I become epileptic? What if a giant tortoise comes in a spaceship and tries to eat all of us? What if the moon explodes?

If a hypothetical question is based on current evidence or events, I think it deserves an answer...at least a discussion. It shouldn't be just dismissed.

Basically, Smith is being too diplomatic for my tastes. He's avoidant and bullshitting. But maybe that's what you have to do in this situation. I don't know.

Here's an article about the whole passport situation. I want to understand it better.

The murder happened on 19 January. So that's pretty long ago. I thought it was much more recent than that.

This article says the assassins were sent by Mossad. I had thought that wasn't officially determined yet.

There's twenty-six people believed to be involved in the murder. Wow, that's a lot. Three of them had forged Australian passports that had the names of Australian-Israeli citizens.

So, I guess they know for sure that this is a forgery issue, and that the Australian-Israeli's weren't actually involved in the assassination? The article says the three people claim they have no idea how their passports were forged. I guess I can believe that. Identify theft happens all the time.

There were other passports used in the assassination....British, French, German, and Irish.

Here's another article. It says, Israel has not confirmed or denied it played any role but its foreign minister said there was nothing to link it to the killing. What does that mean? They did it, but they're not going to admit it? They don't know if they did it? They know they did it, but they don't know if evidence will link them to it or not?

Is Mossad an official part of the Israeli government?   




Looking that up now....

Okay yeah. I thought so, but I wanted to make sure. They're the intelligence agency of Israel....I guess like America's CIA. What's Australia's called?

Here it is. ASIS. Oh, and Stephen Smith is their overseer. Maybe that's why he's so evasive when he's asked questions.

Lord Wiki says that Mossad is suspected of doing the Dubai killings, but there's no proof yet. Will there ever be firm evidence one way or the other. Or will this just be a play toy for conspiracy theorists?  Some will think that Palestinian-supporters did it to make Israel look bad. Then there's anti-Israeli people who think Mossad is responsible for EVERY bad thing that happens in the world.

This article says that the assassins weren't the only ones using fake passports. The Hamas victim played the same game.

And here we have some indication of the now strained relationship between Israel and Australia. There's something called the Goldstone Report. It's a UN sponsored paper that accuses Israel of war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza. I guess Australia didn't support the paper, but now they do. The article says that Smith claims this is not related to the passport issue. I'm getting that this is a different report from the Goldstone one. I'm a little confused. Anyway, Smith says,
The Australian government always considers UN resolutions on a case-by-case basis and on their merits. Australia abstained on this resolution because, unlike previous resolutions, it did not endorse the Goldstone report.

Actually, I'm reading this more closely. Australia didn't vote against Israel. They abstained from voting. That still is a show of lack of support, but it's less extreme then actually voting against Israel.

Someone from the Department of Foreign Affairs talked to The Sydney Morning Herald, but I guess it's someone that's not Stephen Smith. His name's not given, so I guess that's supposed to be a secret. I wonder if he called up the newspaper and disguised his voice.

Mr. Mystery says that the reason they were more supportive of this UN thing is that America got the Palestinians to soften the wording on the paper. But this guy, unlike Smith, doesn't deny that the passports had anything to do with it. He says, But there is no question that the debacle surrounding our passports being used in Dubai helped to make up the government's mind to abstain.

Anyway, I wish things could become resolved. But I don't think they ever will be.








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5 comments:

Andrew said...

I had no idea Smith was that old. The visit by the President of Botswana was not noted in media that I read, listen to or watch. The media is also quite convinced that the UN vote abstention was a punishment for Israel, but it rather like a beating with a feather.

IWASNTBLOGGEDYESTERDAY said...

quote:Anyway, I wish things could become resolved. But I don't think they ever will be.



you and me both LOL

Dina said...

Andrew: Funny about President of Botswana visit not being in the media. I'm not surprised that the media has taken the beating-with-a-feather opinion.

IWasntBloggedYesterday: Yeah. Sad but true!

Retarius said...

Hmmm...I went to school with Steve...really! That gave me the idea for using his name in my scam on the Nigerian scammers. He was years ahead of me and, although he may have occasionally kicked me out of his way in the playground, I don't believe we ever conversed.

He entered Federal Parliament in the 1993 election and has been my MP ever since.

Steve has a brace of law degrees, including one obtained on a Rhodes scholarship...as far as I know he has never actually practised law!

Dina said...

Retarius,

Awesome about going to school with Smith, but perhaps even more awesome about scamming the scammers. What's that all about? Did it work?

My dad got a law degree, and never practiced....