In retrospect: Q&A 14 May 2012 – gay marriage watershed moment
Joe Hockey verbatim: I must confess my views have changed since I’ve had children. I think in this life we’ve got to aspire to give our children what I believe is the very best circumstances, and that’s to have a mother and a father.
Penny Wong acknowledged that comments like Hockey’s were hurtful, and concluded by calmy saying: ”I know what my family is worth.”
In retrospect: What he said and what she might have thought.
It was at Parliament House where Prime Minister Robert Menzies, a devout royalist, was to quote the 17th century words of Thomas Ford: “I did but see her passing by, and yet I love her till I die.”
Sir William Heseltine Private Secretary to HM the Queen 1986-1990: “It was one of the very few occasions I think Sir Robert misjudged his audience. And I can remember that there was a frisson of embarrassment and this was perhaps reflected on the Queen’s own look on that occasion.”
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has pleaded “What, Me Worry” to charges relating to the UK phone hacking scandal.
Looking up from reading a copy of Mad Magazine, the former editor of the now defunct News of the World, indignant at being interrupted, blithely entered pleas of “What, Me Worry” to five charges relating to her time running two national tabloids.
Ms. Brooks then left the court with her spiritual advisor, Alfred E. Neuman, who spoke to the awaiting media throng saying, “What, She Worry? She is planning to move to Australia to take up a prestigious position at the Poowong Post.
I wish to apply for the position of Journalist, as advertised in your esteemed newspaper.
I received a cutting of the advertisement in the mail, sent to me by a former colleague who fled to Australia seeking a better climate. You might know her; she works as a barmaid at your pub and goes by the alias of Sheila.
I am not sure where Poowong is located, but it sounds like a lovely place. According to Sheila, it is in a dairy farming district in Victoria, but I have been unable to ascertain the exact whereabouts because I donated my laptop to the police as a contribution to the Scotland Yard Christmas Raffle. Those police do such a wonderful job protecting we Brits from the low-lives who attempt to undermine the very fabric of our society, so I was more than happy to have it confiscated.
I have had extensive journalistic experience and have even been editor/chief executive of two major British tabloids. In fact, I have become quite a celebrity, but have tired of the limelight. I want to migrate to Australia with my husband to live a simple rural life and slip into obscurity.
That is not to say that being appointed as a journalist with the Poowong Post is slipping into obscurity. I believe it to be a highly prestigious position. I would be delighted to be at the forefront of breaking news in your town.
In fact, Sheila has already given me a few leads. She says that the Easter Billy Cart Derby was fixed by the local s.p. bookie, that judges of the Country Women’s Association annual cake decorating competition were bribed with cases of whisky, and that the prying telephone exchange operator is having an affair with the Catholic priest, who is enjoying three other sexual liaisons.
This presents me with the opportunity to illustrate my extra-journalistic talents and pro-activity, which I am sure you will applaud. I could bribe the phone exchange lady for all the local gossip she eavesdrops on, in return for keeping mum. I could pay the local policeman for inside information; that would be easy because it was his wife who won the CWA cake decorating competition. And as for the local bookie; well, let’s just say I am very handy with secret tape devices and could get some inside running on your next picnic race meeting. And the Catholic priest might be surprised to read transcripts of his expressions of lust, by courtesy of a device hidden under his bed by yours truly. Yes, pressing the flesh is what it is all about.
I will be the biggest thing to happen to Poowong since electricity was connected. You do have electricity don’t you?
I can guarantee that I will quadruple your circulation within a month and even turn the national spotlight on your little backwater which I would turn into a tsunami. The media will swarm like flies to a Poowong cowpat.
However, that brings a minor point to mind. A shy, shrinking violet such as myself does not desire any adulation for stirring up media frenzies. I have had enough of that. I would prefer to go by the nom de plume of Verity Virago, and not be available for any interviews, especially television.
I must stress that you should not fear for your position of editor. I am known for my loyalty and integrity; just ask any of my former employees at the now defunct News of the World.
Do not bother to reply. I will simply assume I have been successful in this application, and will be there in three weeks time to commence duties. If there are any unforseen circumstances, such as bail complications or passport seizure, I will let you know with plenty of advance notice.
Rebekah Brooks pleads not guilty to phone hacking charges
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks has pleaded not guilty to charges relating to the UK phone hacking scandal.
The former editor of the now defunct News of the World entered pleas of not guilty to five charges relating to her time running two national tabloids.
The 45-year-old is charged with offences including conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The scandal led to the closure of the tabloid, and eventually to the Leveson inquiry into press standards in the UK.
She is due to stand trial in September.
Her husband Charlie Brooks also pleaded not guilty to allegations of covering up evidence.
Other senior staff, including the tabloid’s former managing editor Stuart Kuttner and former assistant news editor James Weatherup, also pleaded not guilty to charges related to phone hacking, while her personal assistant pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice.
Brooks was arrested in July 2011 along with other members of staff over charges related to the unlawful interception of mobile phone messages to generate front page news stories.
The scandal, which prompted the closure of the mass-selling News of the World and a year-long public inquiry, sent shockwaves through the British establishment as it revealed the close ties between the country’s media, police and politicians.
CONSPIRACY THEORY: Kevin Rudd is a cunning character whose game-playing had not been seen through by even his own supporters.
Kevin Rudd‘s sole aim has been to fiendishly plot the ruination of the party that dumped him from the prime ministership – and if his own supporters lose their seats, so be it.
He routinely authorised his supporters to leak damaging stories to the media with the singular purpose of destabilising Prime Minister Julia Gillard. And it worked.
He made many and varied media appearances, clearly designed to bolster his own popularity – as if to be a pretender – in both senses of the word. And the polls had him way ahead of Gillard as preferred prime minister.
He knew that Gillard was becoming increasingly unpopular in her own party and that numbers were shifting his way.
He could see that Labor would be massacred in the September 14 election and that only he, as leader could save the party from that.
He continued to set the trap.
The bitter Gillard/Rudd divisions within Labor were sinking the party and destroying the credibility of both sides.
The Gillard government had become dysfunctional.
And so, as if following Rudd’s script, Labor veteran Simon Crean decided that something had to be done to save his beloved party from ruin.
Crean, a long-time supporter of Gillard had also become disenchanted with her, and could see that Rudd resuming the leadership was the only possible hope.
“Saint” Simon did the honourable thing and called for a leadership spill for the good of the Labor party. He announced his support for Rudd, knowing that he would be sent to the back benches if Rudd lost.
Simon had received assurances from the Rudd camp that Rudd would contest.
But Rudd did not contest!
Because Kevin knew that by not standing, he would throw the party into absolute chaos, making it look an even more farcical shambles with a greater likelihood of being sent into oblivion come September. And it worked!
Rudd’s own supporters are furious with him. Why had they bothered to support someone who would back out of a challenge? Gillard has now relegated them to obscurity.
But Kevin doesn’t care. He never intended to become Labor leader again and has achieved what he set out to do – destroy the whole party.
Now, the even-more-damaged Gillard, who has lost a swag of pro-Rudd talent from her ministry, is looking more vulnerable, no longer from Rudd, but from the electorate which is more than fed up with the dysfunction and bizarre power plays, which are due in part to Rudd himself.
SIMPLE SIMON OR SAINT SIMON?
Saint Simon? The spill was initiated by Simon Crean who was saint-like enough to put himself on the line for the good of the party.
Simple Simon? He was silly to believe Rudd, who he decided to support, and who was delivering directives to him via his supporters.
As it turns out, Crean has done Gillard a huge favour – but he has been sacked by her. As Michael Gordon wrote in The Saturday Age on 23 March 2013:
“The bitter irony of the coup that collapsed is that the man who did Julia Gillard the biggest service pays the heaviest price. Simon Crean has not only removed the threat of Kevin Rudd, he has done more than any other individual to end the destabilisation of Gillard and give her prime ministership a fresh start. Now he’s in exile.
Thanks to Crean, Gillard is more in charge of her destiny than at any point since her 2010 campaign was sabotaged from within and by some poor judgment calls. The upside is that she can govern with more confidence and less concern about being undermined; the consequence is that she will be held singularly responsible for Labor’s performance at the looming election.”
Julie Bishop: He should certainly step down. It is untenable for the Prime Minister to have a Foreign Minister that she cannot trust. Senator Bob Carr was a prominent although covert supporter of the Rudd camp …… If Julia Gillard has a shred of authority left she should sack Senator Bob Carr immediately …… It’s untenable for him to continue as Foreign Minister. There shouldn’t be a slither of light between the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister and yet there’s this yawning chasm and Bob Carr while-ever he remains in that role will be undermining Julia Gillard, she knows it, everybody in Parliament House knows it. He should go.
This painting by Arthur Boyd (1920-99) was commissioned in 1984 by the Parliament House Construction Authority as the design for a tapestry to hang in the Great Hall. Arthur Boyd, one of Australia’s greatest artists, was approached by the Parliament House architects, Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp, to conceive of a work of art for this key position on the south wall of the Great Hall – a space intended for ceremonial and state occasions ….. The architectural vision for the Great Hall was that it would convey a sense of the Australian land, emphasising the importance of the physical environment in shaping Australian values.
Imagine that! Parliament House and “shaping Australian values” – presumably good ones – in the one sentiment!
Imagine even remotely linking parliament with its hatreds, vitriol and duplicity with the spirit of the Australian bush! Banjo would turn in his grave.
What is it about ‘the bush’ that is so special to Australians? The bush has an iconic status in Australian life and features strongly in any debate about national identity, especially as expressed in Australian literature, painting, popular music, films and foods.
The bush was something that was uniquely Australian and very different to the European landscapes familiar to many new immigrants. The bush was revered as a source of national ideals by the likes of Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. Romanticising the bush in this way was a big step forward for Australians in their steps towards self-identity. The legacy is a folklore rich in the spirit of the bush.
And so, with inspiration from Banjo, we have Julie’s poetic take, as she covets Bob’s job:
CLANCY OF THE AFTERGLOW – J.B. “Bishop” Patters-on
I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I saw him in Washington, weeks ago,
He was fraternising when I saw him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just “on spec”, addressed as follows: “Clancy, of The Afterglow”.
And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written in a thumbnail dipped in tar)
‘Twas his secretary who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
“Clancy’s gone to New York crowing, and we don’t know where he are.”
In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-dining “down the UN” where the western delegates go;
As the limos are slowly stringing, Clancy rides with them singing,
For the Senators life has pleasures that the Opposition never know.
And the UN hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the dealings and the shimmer of its brass,
And he sees the vision splendid of the Security Council extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting bars.
I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the chambers tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty polity
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.
And in place of foreign tattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the cameras and the mikes making hurry down the hall,
And the language uninviting of the media scrum fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of gall.
And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For Liberals have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.
And I somehow fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at Foreign Affairs where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the doorstop and the journo –
But I doubt he’d suit the Opposition, Clancy, of “The Afterglow”.
As if re-living the dread of having school assignments returned by the teacher with red-pen-gone-haywire cross-outs, corrections and comments, journalists now fear Stephen Conroy‘s plans to have a government appointed watchman, red pen in hand, overseeing every columnist, commentator, contributor, correspondent and reporter in the country, making sure that nothing disparaging of his government will reach the eyes and/or ears of the sensitive electorate which is so easily influenced by adverse press.
That’s what some sections of the media would have us believe as they rail against this so-called draconian threat to press freedom and freedom of speech.
Senator Conroy, whose proposed media legislation to introduce regulatory powers over the media’s existing independent and self-regulating bodies, has at Julia Gillard’s apparent last-minute instigation, effectively pointed a toy pop gun at the cannon power of the media, News Limited in particular, as if in protest that they are using their heavy artillery to damage the government. Silly sausage Stephen!
One of most vociferous opponents of the legislation has been News Limited’s Sydney Telegraph papers, and if Conroy had his way, the vitriol in the following Sunday Telegraph article (17 March 2013) would have been duly moderated with the proverbial red pen – in the public interest of course!
FEDERAL Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is a(sook). sensitive new age guy.
(In fact, it is you people at the Telegraph who are the sooks because you are upset at the prospect of being forced to moderate your blatant bias against the Gillard government.)
His (attack)proposedlegislation on media freedoms is an emotional reaction to what he perceives as a (section of the media out to get him and the Gillard government). valuable initiative in the public interest. Normally a (dummy spit)bill of this monumental proportion would be nothing more than (a minor amusement). due democratic process. But this is a case of a federal minister (manipulating)enhancing public policy to exact a personal (vendetta). moral and ethical stance.
And that makes him a (sook)nice bloke with a (dangerous) principled agenda.
The government’s drive to introduce regulatory control over our media began with events in the UK. According to Prime Minister Gillard, phone hacking conducted by British papers owned by News Corporation somehow implicated publications in Australia. Gillard said the British breaches caused people to “ask some questions here in our country, some questions about News Ltd here”.
The Prime Minister has never explained what those questions might be. (Isn’t it self evident?) Even this week, Mr Conroy’s office declined to cite examples of media behaviour that supported the move for greater control. , because they were too numerous to detail before the deadline of this article going to print. We would submit, yet again, that phone hacking is a British media phenomenon without local parallel. (I’ll let that one go through to the keeper.)
Following a (pointless)valuable and albeit expensive media inquiry, which Fairfax Media boss Greg Hywood (correctly)incorrectly noted had no reason to exist, the government now (proposes)provides more than 200 pages of legislation to (rule)assist your newspapers and the wider press. Citizens in totalitarian states are familiar with the results of government control over media. (Just as trees are green and the sky is blue.)
Conroy was (upset)amused over last Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph front page humourously linking him to historically oppressive government figures, but he cannot deny the essential truth behind the (potent)tongue-in-cheek image: any level of government control over media represents a diminished level of media freedom. to rightly maintain fairness, accuracy and privacy in reporting, and to preserve the imperatives of balanced and objective journalism. After all, Conroy could see the ironic parallel between historically oppressive government figures and manipulative modern-day media barons.
(As)If media freedoms are diminished, so too are the freedoms of readers and consumers. who deserve to be informed in an honest and objective manner. That is why this issue is so very critical, and why Australia’s collective media organisations are aligned in (opposition)support of Conroy’s proposed legislation. This is not a News Ltd issue, as much as Mr Conroy tried to make it thus. All the media recognises the huge social and democratic importance of its onerous responsibilities. Those few commentators who dismiss the (concerns)support of media organisations over the government’s plans should ask themselves how they might enjoy life under a regulatory-free framework that (interfered)gave them free rein with their own misguided rights to free expression. Such commentators tend to be unfriendly towards the present government, but the true (menace)beauty of media regulation is that it may well not change depending on the government of the day. What is considered acceptable by one government may not be considered so by another. , but the regulator will be impartial.
According to Conroy’s proposed legislation, a Public Interest Media Advocate would be appointed by the government to consider, among other things, the connection between media coverage and as yet undefined “community standards”. The Minister has argued the advocate would be “benign”, which of course immediately begs the question why one (is needed). has not already been appointed. We believe community standards are better judged by the community, who are already able to voice concerns via any number of channels, including media outlets themselves. , however we accept that “community standards” require clarification. Adding a (needless)valuable layer of government (intrusion)involvement would (damage)enhance the relationship between media and the public. Forget Mr Conroy’s tears. of joy. If this legislation is passed, Australians will really have a reason to weep. for those less fortunate countries where the media is more powerful than democratically elected governments, able to bring down governments it disapproves of by indoctrinating its audiences.
Write a piece on the following proposition:
Media freedom of speech is tantamount to freedom to unduly and irresponsibly influence public thinking.
First came the announcement of the Commonwealth’s $107 million cut to Victoria’s health funding this financial year, based on population forecasts. The cut, which coincided with the state government cutting about $123 million a year from its health budget, had caused more than 300 hospital beds to close
After scathing criticisms of the Victorian government’s management of it’s health system – “the Baillieu government which has proven itself to be a cruel and incompetent manager of the Victorian health system … has engaged in a politically-driven campaign of stunts and spin” – Federal Health Minister Tanya Pliberseck has been forced to bail-out Victoria’s hospitals.
“The Victorian Government made some savage cuts to local hospitals in Victoria, and as health minister, I can’t stand by and see patients suffer. So, what we are doing is taking money that would have otherwise have gone to Victorian Treasury for a range of programs and redirecting it directly in to the hands of hospital administrators.”
As the Sydney Morning Herald reported:
Minister considers reversal of fortune for hospitals
The federal government will consider restoring $404 million cut from hospital budgets around Australia this financial year following the reversal of a cut to Victorian funding and threat from the Prime Minister to bypass state governments and fund hospitals directly.
Health minister Tanya Plibersek said Prime Minister Julia Gillard had written to other states to say she would consider restoring funding to hospitals after a readjustment of population forecast figures in October had resulted in a $404 million shortfall this financial year.
The restoration of $107 million in funding to Victoria would be made directly to hospitals, bypassing the Baillieu government.