*Pic: Wikipedia here
Who is Andrew Nikolic, Member of Parliament for Bass?
It is difficult to fathom the past of Andrew Nikolic as he is far from disclosing. His military past appears to have been closed by the National Archives (I couldn’t find it) and access to the inquiry into abuse in the armed forces similarly appears to be closed (I couldn’t find it).
Whether or not Andrew Nikolic has an interesting past remains pure conjecture ... but multiple indications of belligerence litter the record.
It is equally difficult to uncover anything of his Serbian background beyond the fact that he was born there in 1961 ( Wikipedia here, Andrew Nikolic’s website here ).
The region has been punctuated by barbarous ethnic conflict, peasant vengeance, feuding and atrocity. Loyalties are absolute and compromise is rare.
It is a pattern of ferocity that reaches well back and one of the most influential manifestations were the Serbian chetchniks. They were re-invented during World War 2 in multiple factions of an old ultra–nationalist, ‘King and Fatherland’ movement. Though a chauvinist nationalist force it vacillated between collaboration and opposition to the German Nazi and Italian fascist occupation
Suppressed in Tito’s post-war Yugoslavia they erupted during the 1990-92 Yugoslav War with renewed savagery, proclaiming the old chetchnik ideology of ethnic cleansing, Muslim massacre and a brutal vision of Greater Serbia.
While it is impossible to pinpoint a chetchnik background in Nikolic, to me, it appears to sit like an obverse cut-out on his character. There is still the ultra-nationalist rhetoric but now it is Gallipoli rather than the historic battle of Kosovo. Mind you it was still against the Turks. There is still the ‘King and Fatherland’ royalist adulation ... except it is now Elizabeth R.
This entire uncompromising warrior persona sits - to me - like a parody on Nikolic with all the clichés of pugnacious determination and paranoid peasant suspicion.
His recent attack on an academic ( TT here, Here, Here, Here, ... and Here, includes links to earlier articles ) by reporting him to his employer for criticising him in a letter was an astonishing misjudgement. His apparently inflated self-importance and inclination towards a bit of petty malice has gone down badly in the public and Party Central has apparently chastised him and urged moderation. It unfortunately has left me the impression this is a normal Liberal tactic; that and suing facetious headlines ...
It appears to me that Andrew Nikolic presents a shell of a personality (rather than a full, rounded one). There seems to be little room for humour; therefore no ability to laugh at himself.
He is a very serious man.
But this narcissistic grandiosity is beginning to open Nikolic MP to ridicule ...
• Canberra Times’ Jenna Price on the meaning of academic freedom, here
*Joe Wotton is known to the Editor
• Pilko, in Comments: To say I am no fan of the member for bass is an understatement. But this is too much. Congratulations “Joe Wotton” & Tasmanian Times for getting down in the gutter. A clumsy character assassination of Andrew Nikolic based on his ethnic background. This is the sort of nationalistic waffle one would expect to see on Lambies Facebook page. Or on a One Nation forum. Right up there with the most bizzare & distasteful twaddle to be published on the Tasmanian Times. Just another example of why good writers have fled this website & TT is now reduced to publishing features by Non de Plumes. All in the name of free speech ay Lindz? Onya.
• Michael Powell, in Comments: While I sympathize with Pilko’s point of view and the thrust of his sentiments, the moral outrage is odd in the present order of Australian politics. Having had Mr Nikolic attempt some ‘clumsy character assassination’ on me I find it difficult to be entirely persuaded. We have had at least 5 years of the most vile character assassination and vilification and while that does not excuse retribution, it leaves some valid questions. Mr Nikolic plays his military background shamelessly as something unquestionable but why the closed records? I have an ethnic background of which I am proud, so why his secrecy. The issue is not one raised by this article but Mr Nikolic’s own actions which pose legitimate questions. Frankly I could not care less about his military career or his ethnicity - he is the one that shrouds it in secrecy otherwise no-one could give a toss.
• Peter Henning, in Comments: #5 Irrespective of your personal position in all of this Mike, please stay focused on the public issues involved here. Your article in the Launceston Examiner was most apposite within the current debate about what happens to tertiary education in north Tasmania if neoliberal dogma is applied to the system. Ironically if you like - albeit a not too humorous kind of irony - Nikolic has inadvertently given you (and surely others in the academy?) the opportunity to wax lyrical about the significance of UTAS in Launceston, if not a case for its expansion… Nikolic’s attack on you was always a dud, so don’t play the same game. That’s nuts, undemocratic and most importantly, distracts attention from the real issues. The key issue is the place of tertiary education in Launceston. Related issues about Nikolic’s response to your criticism of Abbott government policies speak most adequately for themselves. One would hope that the UTAS administration would actively work to convince the voters in Bass of the need for political representation supportive of regional tertiary education and its benefits. The point about Nikolic is not about his birthplace. In fact he has every right to have pride in that, to feel connected with his heritage in a positive way, as we all do. The point about Nikolic is whether he has the capacity to understand in any way at all the notion of local representation of his electorate. The answer to that is overwhelmingly negative. That is the response we should all be taking from the conflict between Nikolic and Powell. It is a matter of issues. Yes?
• Jack Jolly, in Comments: I’m not supporting an attack upon anyone based upon their ethnicity and this is a straw man made of poor quality hay if that is indeed what has been implied. The message I was attempting to convey was that we are all influenced by our cultural baggage and history. Our cultural mythology, values and bigotry is very often conveyed via our family and does not get left at the border on the hook provided when we immigrate. How naive and quaint to think otherwise. The process of cultural inertia in new immigrant families is a recognised phenomenon. I include myself and my family in that observation. It is absolutely a first hand account that I offer in the face of the flames of outrage and catapult of hysterical hyperbole. … Perhaps in Neverland it is appropriate to ignore such things whist going round in circles on the coloured merry-go-round of wishful thinking? But discussion and honesty are the two most powerful disinfectants for this type of prejudice, not PC drivel dressed as wisdom. It’s a real issue, not a self satisfying artefact of hubris found at the bottom of a wine glass. … All Andrew Nikolic has to do, like any politician might, is to describe what his values are. Are we no longer willing or able to ask? Is it so easy to represent the Australian people these days that ‘the party’ will paper over who you are and what you stand for?