Sunday 20th of June 2021


Tim Milfull is a freelance writer and critic based in Brisbane. (Tim Milfull)

Sitting with journalist Margo Kingston a few weeks ago, I commented on the skyline of inner-city Brisbane and how, on the Joh Bjelke-Petersen scale of economic success, Queensland must be doing something right with all the cranes dipping and bobbing over constructions sites. Kingston smiled and squirmed hyperactively, her knees jiggling. She escaped Joh

A life changing experience (Tony Ramsden)

It's rare indeed that a book comes along and changes your life. This is such a book. I've never been so energized by anything - ever. Years of apathy have been blasted away by this unforgetable work of courage and love. Margo, you've created something vital here. It should be read by every single Australian. The battle lines are very clear now. This man Howard must be put back in his retrograde, narrow little 50's box until he's learned to treat others with respect and some simple human compassion.

Thank you, Margo for the hard work you've put into this book on our behalf. It won't quickly be forgotten.

Australian Democracy - Use it or Lose it! (Chris Saliba)

I read Not Happy, John in two days. Why? Because it's so much, to use the title of Anthony Trollope's novel on political corruption, The Way We Live Now.

Margo gives us a good memory jolt. There were so many things I'd forgotten that Howard had foisted upon us. Like the disgraceful lockdown of parliament just to let George W. Bush fly in and out again. Something is seriously wrong when citizens are barred from OUR OWN house.

As Margo says, Howard may be the major problem at the moment, but he will be moving on soon enough - whether booted out by Australians at the next election, or 'gracefully' exiting himself. The imperitive is to clean up the mess that's been left behind, to call for more genuine, straightforward democracy.

Mark Latham's words on grassroots democracy ring hollow for me. In his book The Enabling State he wrote: 'I do not share Dick Morris' view that direct democracy will be applied across the board. The Federal parliament

Bloody Good Read (James Woodcock)

Congratulations Margo, what a great book and what a great service to our democracy. I hope this website turns into a rallying point for people who share our values. I am reading NHJ again and going back to the Webdiary Archive to re read the events, opinions and narrative as they were happening in real time. Really powerful stuff and I recommend everyone use NHJ as sort of a guide or executive summary to Webdiary.

One comment: The old leftie in me says Margo's yearning for the old days of our democracy is just a little too nostalgic. Was it ever that good? Hasn't Howard simply made the power structures just more transparent and obvious to what they are anyhow? Having said that, the kind of social and economic change we need will not happen without the reform of political institutions and processes Margo advocates.

Rage/Thanks/empowerment/helplessness (Richard Crane)

A wonderful book. I laughed, I cried, I was apathetic to issues, it lit the fire in me for others. The only criticism I would make of it is that it does not go far enough into the deals etc that currently protect all political parties from citizen scrutiny - I recall a Radio National Background Briefing that covered in detail how the Privacy Act didn't apply to political parties.

Loved it.

Not Happy John, Amanda, Phil and Alex... (Jack H Smit)

Terrific work, Margo. You've created a map for decent Australians who care to read it, to lead them out of the mire of obfuscation, intrigue and lies of 'little johnnie'. I've just put up our (first) page about the book with some of the media coverage of Tony Fitzgerald's speech and the manipulative attempt at rebuttal of his words by Vanstone - see the link.

The current government was not just one with cruel refugee policies since Tampa, it has always been more than the refugee issue. At our first public refugee event in Perth I called Howard's attempt at controlling Australia's directions an intent to establish a 'manipulative dictatorship' in Australia. That was in the presence of Andrew Bartlett and Carmen Lawrence, and my knees were shaking at the time. Your book is another contribution to the growing list of publications exposing the dark shadows in our country, and I thank you.

Our Media ()

I'm Antony Loewenstein, one of the collaborators and contributors to Not Happy John!. It's been a wild couple of weeks, and the response by all you out there to the book and its message has been really encouraging for us all. The media coverage has also been telling. Who's covered it, who's ignored it, who's praised it, who's trashed it and who has simply engaged in personal attacks. It's clearly much easier to hammer the writers and their personalities than actually talk seriously about the issues raised. So be it.

It's times like these, however, when greater media diversity in this country is sorely needed. Packer and Murdoch control a hefty percentage of what we see and hear. And if the Howard Government has its way, we'd soon be watching more Fox News style 'investigation' and less real investigation. I recently read a well-known Aussie blogger once again talking about privatising the ABC. Can you seriously imagine a book like this being covered in an organisation fun

Reclaim our democracy (Cameron Senior)

I cannot thank you enough for the publication of this book.

Whilst I had long believed the Howard governments actions and policies to be detrimental to our own society and international standing, I had not questioned the health of our Democracy to the same extent.

It pains me to realize that we are standing before the abyss, so to speak - with our democratic foundations being cast away for short term political and economic gain. We have lost the feeling of empowerment that comes from being engaged in the democratic process.

Through reading this book, I realised that the danger to our democacy transcends our political differences and leanings. Left-Right, Labour - Liberal - Greens, whereever our political allegiance lies, our common goal must be the democratic health of our nation.

This book has been a call to action for all Australians, building up to a critical mass of public pressure we can change the society we live in.

As a society it is our

Very, very happy, Margo! (Bruce Hornswoggle)

Margo obviously really, really enjoyed writing this book about big, bad, mean John Howard, and I really really enjoyed reading her thoughts on him. Best book I've borrowed in a long time! I heartily recommend it!

Margo's weekend itinerary ()

Hi. MK is running flat-out with NHJ! promotional and media appearances right now. Here are a few upcoming events:

a) she's debated former Liberal Senator and ex-Howard staffer Michael Baume for the SKY News program 'Australian Agenda'. This will run Sunday (4 July) in the morning and the evening slots (7.30 am and 10.30 pm), and Monday (5 July) at 1.30 pm;
b) She's chatting with ABC metropolitan radio's 'Sunday Nights' presenter John Cleary this weekend, from 10 pm;
c) Gerard Henderson's Sydney Institute has also generously invited MK to give an address some time in August, so keep your eyes out on that one; and
d) tomorrow she'll be 'mini-relaunching' Not Happy John! at Bungedore, just north-east of the national capital: Saturday 3 July 2004, Canberra. 12.30pm - A SUITABLE BOOK event, Village Sq

Lack of ethics (Paul Stack)

Now that her extreme whinings have a home on the web other than the woeful Webdiary, when will Margo quit the SMH, as she seems unable to follow the SMH code of ethics.

IMPARTIALITY - Staff will not allow personal interest, or any belief or commitment, to undermine their accuracy, fairness or independence.

PUBLIC ACTIVITIES - Herald staff shall avoid any prominent activity in partisan public causes that compromises, or appears to compromise, the journalist or the newspaper.

Why Do We Read? (Grant Long)

Margo et al, grabbed the book last night and couldn't put it down. Its great to know someone cares about our democracy, our country and its place in the world. So, why do we read? To know we are not alone. (ps. love the thought of independents holding the balance of power in the House of Reps.)

Increase my taxes (Trish Kench)

I've always seen my right to vote as an obligation - a duty of citizenship; the

Margo for president (Bimby Hornswoggle)

Yay, yay, yay.

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