Matt Thistlethwaite through a fly's eye

Save the children from the fly’s eyes

Matt Thistlethwaite through a fly's eye
Matt Thistlethwaite through a fly’s eye-digitally altered image

Let me say from the outset that I have no preferences for any of the major parties for this coming Federal Election, rather I am giving my impressions of the local political battle in the seat that encompasses ANZAC Rifle Range, a place dear to my heart and that of many readers. I live in an adjacent electorate to Kingsford Smith.

Warning. Although this article alludes to serious problems in our democracy, it is in parts satirical.



I had the dubious pleasure of attending a community meeting at the Sands Hotel in South Maroubra last Wednesday night, where the local federal political rep and two hopefuls were in attendance. They outlined their parties’ broad policy platforms and what they would do for the electorate of Kingsford Smith, within which sits ANZAC Rifle Range, now hijacked and called Malabar Headland. Then they answered questions from the floor which was enclosed in a room too small for the 100 or so local people jammed in there. The event was hosted by the local paper, The Southern Courier and the Kingsford Chamber of Commerce.


You may be wondering about the title, but it will all make sense in the end.


Well, I saw and heard, at length, three politicians:

  • Labor’s Matt Thistlethwaite ‚Äì the incumbent

  • Liberal Candidate Professor Michael Feneley

  • Greens Candidate James MacDonald


It was an enlightening, but most exasperating experience for this reporter for a few reasons. I like to think that I have become a fairly reasonable judge of a person’s character and motivations when they speak at some length and I will tell you what I think of the three candidates. With my innate biases, I may come out with totally different impressions to others.


First up, Professor Feneley presented as an unpolished but competent political speaker, who answered questions from a

Professor Michael Feneley AM
Professor Michael Feneley AM

largely hostile crowd; I’d guess 80% were Labor Party members or friends of same. His answers were absolutely honest and forthright and he had a good, detailed grasp of his party’s platform in 90% of the areas on which he was questioned. Most particularly on the local health system, for which he gave facts and figures to indicate that Kingsford Smith residents had had much improved hospital service since the Abbott government had been in power, and that it was funded to continue to increase and improve. Where he had no knowledge eg in Maritime employer/employee relations, he said so, despite being loudly and rudely harangued by a MUA heavy in the crowd. If he had a fault, for this crowd, he was too honest and gave them too much information they didn’t want to hear, as it upset their preconceived world view of the proletarian struggle. But his unadorned but impressive bio speaks of a life of serviceto his community.



Next is James MacDonald of The Greens. I don’t know how long ago James graduated from wearing short pants, or indeed whether he has had a life out of university and the party, because he doesn’t have a Wikipedia profile at all ‚Äì that’s possibly because he really hasn’t done that much, apart from talk and make youtube clips. Any web information on him is scant, but he knew who I was. (Gee, I hope I’m getting under their skin). It is suffice to say however, that MacDonald was full of na√Øve motherhood statements, good news about how the Greens would save the planet, education, health, transport and every other hot button issue communities have battled with since moving out of caves.


He talked of how the Greens was a grassroots organisation with broad democratic consultation at its core, government by the people if you like, but knowing that he is closely associated with Lee Rhiannon, I fear this could be a bit of a furphy. If you look into the Greens internal mechanisms for solving conflict a disturbing picture of bullying and totalitarianism is apparent. Their fellow travellers at the ABC are even worried by their “watermelon” nature as evidenced in this recent issue of the 7.30 Report.

James MacDonald stands in front of trees really well.
James MacDonald stands in front of trees really well.


We all know how keen Greens are of spending other people’s money and MacDonald said it himself, when he uttered in effect that Governments should never be out of debt and that governments were about increasing debt and spending as a matter of course to serve community needs. At this, many in the crowd recoiled in gasps of horror. In other words, he let something out that even the Labor apparatchiks did not want to hear. I’d like to see young MacDonald spend six months on Old MacDonald’s farm, doing 12 hour days of backbreaking labour to try and make ends meet for the boss on minimum wages or sign up for the Army for a three year stint. Then start a small business with only his hands and mind and run it for 20 years. Then he can come back and lecture us on how to run the world.


On “Malabar Headland” he mentioned that the purpose of a national park was for people to be able to access it to benefit from the wonderful environment and relaxation opportunities they afford. I asked him this question, “What is the primary purpose of national parks? Is it to foster uncontrolled visitation by human beings or is it preservation of habitat, biological diversity and preservation of water catchments?”

He backpeddled and replied along the lines of … of course the latter is important, but people’s recreation in parks is also important. Have a look at the weighting given to these by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.


So, on to Matt Thistlethwaite. May I say that this guy is a consummate politician. That is not a compliment. He can hear a detailed, subtantiated case put to a crowd (like Feneley’s explanation of increased health services in the area, a subject in which he has peerless credentials and knowledge) and then tell the crowd exactly the opposite, right down the railway track of the Labor Party’s Orwellian ‚ÄúGood is Bad‚Äù Newspeak and have his acolytes eating right out of his hand. He has been politically groomed through his whole career in politics with the Labor Party ‚Äì check his profile out and Feneley found it impossible to counter his arguments with facts, because the audience wasn’t listening. Matt is a smoothie, a ‚Äúmachine man‚Äù par excellence and politics to him is a game.


I asked him three ANZAC Rifle Range related questions:


  1. What has changed about the possibility of relocating the NSW Rifle Association from the conditions of the old licence agreement to the new 50-year lease? (Answer is no change at all, but the locals have been led to believe they have been dudded with a dirty deal).

  2. How many days access did the locals legally have to the headland prior to the current 50-year lease agreement and how many days do they have now? (Answer is before they had none, now they have two days a week).

  3. Will you again fill the community with false hope about a premature departure of shooters from ANZAC Rifle Range … and it is correctly referred to as The ANZAC Rifle Range.

He responded with not one answer to my direct questions and started with a monumental soft soaping of shooters, saying they are good people and great sportsmen and that he had attended The Queens Prize shoot and met with the President (sic) of NSW Rifle Association and was on really good terms with them. However, in modern society in an urbanised area undergoing increased development, there simply is no place for a rifle range in the 21st Century. He then recounted his apocryphal tear-jerker of a story to illustrate his point, saying he was playing with his little daughter at Malabar Park when they heard shots coming from the range. His daughter asked him what the noises were and he told her that they were gunshots, She replied, ‚ÄúDaddy, I’m scared‚Äù. The apparatchiks lapped it up. It’s straight out of the ‚Äú1984‚Äù playbook.


Spare me Matt. Using the “Think of the children” argument (a logical fallacy in this case) is akin to introducing Nazis into a

Think of the children - Matt Groenig
Think of the children – Matt Groenig

discourse to try and win an exchange ‚Äì Godwin’s Law of Debating, I believe. Why don’t you demystify guns as tools, not scary objects will an evil will of their own when they’re old enough and stop privately painting shooters as rednecks and potential criminals by tacit agreement with a pre-pubescent child?


If you really want to save the children, maybe you should stop wasting their collective environmental and financial estate by putting up less than a squillion election coreflutes (in about 15 square miles) made of fossil fuels and $$$.


The view a fly would see of one Matt Thistlethwaite corefute - but wait a minute ...
The view a fly would see of one Matt Thistlethwaite corefute – but wait a minute …



When I drove along ANZAC Parade this morning, I thought that I had suddenly grown the compound eyes of a fly,

A Fly's Eye - image Thomas Shahan
A Fly’s Eye – image Thomas Shahan

because there were multiples upon closely-spaced multiples of smiling Matt Thistlethwaites everywhere I looked. I’d vote for you Matt if you cut Government and Labor Party waste in half, but then, that’s really not what you are there for, is it?



You can fool some of the people some of the time, Matt …






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