Is that 'oui' or 'non'?

I’m currently fascinated by three stories running in the press, all with a characteristically Australian ambiguity with regard to the distinction between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’:

The first is the Norma Khouri saga, which gets stranger and stranger. I heard her publisher at Transworld, an Englishman, say this morning on the radio: You know, if the book is non-fiction, everything within it has to be true. Whereas Norma herself was quoted in yesterday’s press saying that, although her book included inventions, she would never call it a fiction or a novel. There’s a huge area for speculation here. My question is: what does the ‘non’ in non-fiction actually mean? (NB Khouri’s book was withdrawn from sale in Australia; in France, the publishers ordered the printers to prepare another edition.)

The second is the latest twist in the Children Overboard imbroglio, wherein it seems John Howard (aka Little Johnny Jackboot) may finally get some sort of comeuppance for lying to the Australian people in the cause of his re-election in 2001. Photographs of refugees in the water after their ship had sunk were said to be pictures of children thrown overboard from a different ship by other refugees as blackmail for getting entry into Australia. Howard and his cohorts milked this issue for every last vote, despite advice from both military and civil service personnel that the claims were false.

The third is the on-going story of the outback murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio, whose body has never been found. Various people – about ten in all – have claimed to have seen the missing man since the murder. In a section of committal hearing transcript published in today’s NZ Herald a policeman asked a defence counsel if any of these people had also spotted Elvis. We have no reports of Elvis sightings, he replied.

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