Stephen Conroy versus seething media convoy

Paying the price for daring to equate media freedom of speech with undue and irresponsible influence of public thinking?
Paying the price for daring to equate media freedom of speech with undue and irresponsible influence of public thinking

20 March 2013

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) proposed legislation 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.

Plibersek lampoons Victoria over “stunts and spin”

Tanya ‘Florence’ Plibersek to the rescue: "The cash injection will be paid directly to local hospital networks ... and will not pass through the hands of the Baillieu government which has proven itself to be a cruel and incompetent manager of the Victorian health system.”
Tanya ‘Florence’ Plibersek to the rescue: “The cash injection will be paid directly to local hospital networks … and will not pass through the hands of the Baillieu government which has proven itself to be a cruel and incompetent manager of the Victorian health system.”

21 February 2013

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.

To the rescue – Tanya Pliberseck, the lady with the lampoon aka Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp:

“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.

Full SMH article including video

Tanya Pliberseck MP Media Release


With apologies to John Wayne
With apologies to John Wayne

25 January 2013

John Wayne often portrayed larger than life cowboy characters who were quintessential heroes in white hats. Wayne was known for his conservative values and repeatedly expressed a personal distaste for homosexuality.

Kind of brings Bob Katter to mind doesn’t it? Although the hero aspect is highly questionable. We can ascribe his larger than life status to his boofhead. “If I wasn’t a boofhead, no one would know who I was” are indeed Katter’s own words as cited in a Sydney Morning Herald column by Phillip Thomson.

In this column, online opinion writer Tory Shepherd is quoted: ”Bob Katter wants a return to some mythical Wild West frontier land where decisions are made at 10 paces, gays are chased out of town with their pants around their ankles, and they kindly let the natives work the plantations”

Kind of reinforces the parallel, doesn’t it?

On 24 January 2013, following comments equating homosexuality with pedophilia made by two dumped Katter’s Australian Party candidates, Bob Katter appeared on Network Ten’s The Project. When pressed by host Charlie Pickering for his views, Katter unskilfully shirked and sidestepped the issues.

The Australian, 25 January, reported on Bob Katter’s appearance on The Project and also gave some Katter background snippets.

Enter John Wayne, aka Rooster Cogburn from the 1969 western film True Grit, with some of his notable quotes from that movie.

Are you ready Rooster? Here we go …

BOB Katter has refused to repudiate comments equating homosexuality with pedophilia made by two dumped Katter’s Australian Party candidates.

The normally outspoken federal MP has refused to say whether he agreed with Bernard Gaynor and Tess Corbett, whose KAP memberships were yesterday suspended for arguing gays should be banned from working with children.

Rooster Cogburn: So I won’t shoot my foot off.

“These issues are not relevant to what I am about in politics,” he told Network Ten’s The Project last night.

Rooster Cogburn: Young fella, if you’re looking for trouble, I’ll accommodate you. Otherwise, leave it alone … you get cross ways of me and you’ll think a thousand of bricks have fell on you!

Mr Katter said “I don’t know and I don’t care” when asked about the future of Mr Gaynor, who was vying for a spot on KAP’s Queensland Senate ticket for this year’s federal election.

Rooster Cogburn: I ought to paddle your rump!

He said he was concerned by the problem of suicide by farmers but clashed with interviewers when he played down the issue of suicide by gay and lesbian Australians.

“I am not aware of a single person of that persuasion committing suicide amongst the people in Queensland,” he said.

(Even Rooster Cogburn would have been speechless at the insensitivity of this.)

At the time he was interviewed, Mr Gaynor’s KAP membership was still current. Victorian candidate Tess Corbett had earlier withdrawn her bid to run in the House of Representatives seat of Wannon.

Rooster Cogburn: By God. She reminds me of me.

The party later issued a statement saying it would not be used by candidates to talk up their “personal preoccupations”.

Rooster Cogburn: I never shot nobody I didn’t have to.

Mr Katter is on record as being anti-gay, once saying he would “walk backwards from Bourke to Brisbane” if a homosexual could be found living in his north Queensland seat of Kennedy.

Rooster Cogburn: Backward. I always go backward when I’m backin’ away.

But he tempered his position last May, telling the Sydney Writers’ Festival that he regretted the KAP had run anti-gay ads during the Queensland election. Mr Katter’s gay half-brother Carl condemned the campaign ads as offensive.

Rooster Cogburn: (Brother), I was born game and I intend to go out that way.

Question: Bob Katter – TRUE GRIT or NITWIT?

Answer: If you live in Katter’s electorate of Kennedy, the answer is apparently: TRUE GRIT


Anthony Albanese: Yabba Dabba Doo To You And You And You!!!

It's all been easy - it's Albanese!
It’s all been easy – it’s Albanese!

24 January 2013

AUSTRALIA must fast-track new roads, railways, bridges and ports to secure prosperity as the mining boom fades, key members of the Reserve Bank have warned
– Courier Mail 24 January 2013

This article introduction inspired this cartoon depicting Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, as Fred Flintstone – from MINING BOOM to NATION BUILDING.

It was impossible to resist!

There is quite a likeness, don’t you think?

Coincidentally, just as Fred Flintstone is an animated and funny character, so too can Anthony Albanese be – as you may well have noticed!

As a prime example, let’s go back to the last day of parliament for 2012, when Albanese rose to his feet to deliver his Christmas Valedictory (Hansard).

The speech did include serious reference to his portfolio, so let’s get that out of the way first:

In my portfolio, this year we got the largest, most significant shipping reform done across the board. We had legislation relating to national regulators for heavy vehicles, maritime and rail. We have continued to roll out the largest Commonwealth investment in infrastructure in Australia’s history, with the doubling of the roads budget, the increase of the rail budget by more than 10 times and a commitment to urban public transport greater than all governments combined in the previous 107 years from Federation up to 2007.

Now for the droll and dry witticisms (with interesting insights) that interspersed the speech:

As much as I would appreciate everyone waiting for my valedictory, there is no need ……

To the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard—as she said, I do like fighting Tories. The Prime Minister and I have worked together on a basis of five or six meetings a day. I thank her for her trust in my judgement. From time to time, that has to happen as Leader of the House ……

To my mate, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, we have a meal together every Sunday night, which probably means I have more dinners with Wayne than I have with my own family on Sunday nights. We have enjoyed a close relationship in portfolio also. I find it is always good to have the Treasurer on side when you are the Minister for Infrastructure ……

To the Chief Government Whip, the member for Hunter, we had a very enjoyable night at the end of the year when I attended the Souths versus Newcastle game with him. It was almost a good night until Greg Inglis took out Uate, and that made sure that the Newcastle home based crowd were disappointed that night ……

To the crossbenchers I say that I spend perhaps more time with them than is healthy for any of us. But the fact is that we have a relationship in which we trust each other’s words ……

To my opposite number, the member for Sturt, I say that I got an email the other week—and I do not know if he got this—that showed us in a photograph being friendly towards each other in spite of the fact that it was taken on a particularly rancorous day in the parliament. The member for Sturt is someone who is of good spirit ……

I wish all the other members of the opposition a good and safe festive season, particularly the Leader of the Nationals, as he is the shadow minister for infrastructure and transport ……

I also thank my branch members, party officials and supporters—in an election year, which is coming up, it is always wise to remember your base …..

In terms of my own family, to my wife, Carmel Tebbutt, and to my son, Nathan … My son starts high school next year. He has had an experience whereby for a majority of his life he has had two parents who are ministers, one in state government and one in federal government … Carmel certainly has a great deal more political support both within and outside the Labor Party. I do not think she has an enemy in politics, which is something I am not in a position to claim ……

I wish the House all the best.

 Yabba Dabba Doo!!!

Hockey loses 20kg – how low can not-so-big Joe go?

With apologies to Leonardo da Vinci
With apologies to Leonardo da Vinci

17 January 2013

Hockey congratulated for belt-tightening (Sydney Morning Herald)

A federal Labor MP has congratulated shadow treasurer Joe Hockey for taking action to reduce his weight ahead of an election year.

Mr Hockey reportedly had gastric bypass surgery over the Christmas break and the procedure, along with dieting and exercise, has cut his weight by 20 kilograms.

”I am shaping up for (Treasurer) Wayne Swan‘s job,” he told The Australian Financial Review on Thursday.

But he said he would not be joining his fitness-fanatic leader Tony Abbott on pre-dawn exercise missions. ”I’m still Joe Hockey but I’m exercising every day, my diet has changed dramatically. I feel pretty good for it but I’m not going to become a pin-up boy for Jenny Craig or anyone else,” Mr Hockey told The Australian Financial Review.

Full SMH article

How low can not-so-big Joe go?

If he loses more weight, could Joe be on his way to resembling the Vitruvian Man depicted in the famous drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, based on the correlations of ideal male human proportions as described by Vitruvius, the ancient Roman architect. It is sometimes referred to as the “perfect man”. Any hope for not-so-big Joe?

Highly doubtful! But Joe’s personal ‘proportional representation’ makes for interesting observations and questions when examining the Vitruvian ideal ~

  • The length of the outspread arms is equal to the height of a man. So that means that Joe could keep at arms length from questions about policy by lying … err … laying … flat on his back – maybe even playing dead. Is he one for taking it laying down?
  • From the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of the height of a man. Is that when the mouth is closed or in its more usual form?
  • From below the chin to the top of the head is one-eighth of the height of a man. The distance to the top of his head would depend on the state of his ego on the day.
  • From above the chest to the top of the head is one-sixth of the height of a man. That would depend on whether his chest is puffed up and out, as it usually is when the media is about.
  • From above the chest to the hairline is one-seventh of the height of a man. That would depend on whether the media has left, and whether he is frowning from worry that he didn’t puff his chest out enough.
  • The maximum width of the shoulders is a quarter of the height of a man. His shoulders are broader than that – just ask him.
  • From the breasts to the top of the head is a quarter of the height of a man. Joe with breasts! What a titillating thought. Julie Bishop could be jealous.
  • The distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand is a quarter of the height of a man. Should be longer than that – you can’t have a would-be treasurer with short arms and deep pockets … or can you?
  • The distance from the elbow to the armpit is one-eighth of the height of a man. This would be hard to measure when he is up to his armpits in bluff and bluster.
  • The length of the hand is one-tenth of the height of a man. How about a big hand for Joe  – make that one-fifth.
  • The root of the penis is at half the height of a man. “The root of the penis” … mmm … better leave this for Mrs Hockey.
  • The foot is one-seventh of the height of a man. Try one twentieth – how else could he fit his foot in his mouth – unless his mouth is one-seventh of the height of Joe … maybe!
  • From below the foot to below the knee is a quarter of the height of a man. So, when he is brought to his knees by the speaker, he is only three-quarters of a man.
  • From below the knee to the root of the penis is a quarter of the height of a man. Mrs Hockey, what are you doing with that tape measure?
  • The distances from the below the chin to the nose and the eyebrows and the hairline are equal to the ears and to one-third of the face. Not if cartoonists have anything to do with it!

Julia Gillard – prime minister – prime target


11 January 2013

Dear Paddy,

Well here I am in Australia and I must say dat it’s a strange place. Dese Australians confuse da crap out of me. So dat I can explain meself, I’ll tell you about da Prime Minister. Dat’s a portrait of her on da front of dis postcard. She is da first Australian Prime Minister who is a woman.

Her name is Julia Gillard and she is in da Labor Party – dey can’t even spell it properly like we do in Ireland. It’s supposed to be Labuor isn’t it?

I always thought dat Australians liked people who worked hard to get places, but dey don’t seem to think she got to the right place. Being Prime Minister dat is.

I always thought dat Australians believed in a fair go. Boy, dey don’t give her a fair go. Even a Sydney shock jock called Alan Jones reckons she should be put in a chaff bag and dumped at sea. On da internet, people say she should be assassinated.

I always thought dat Australians liked Australian accents because dey were Australians. Well dis lady has one and no-one likes it.

I always thought dat Australians liked strong leaders. Well dis lady is as tough as nails but no-one seems to like dat.

I always thought dat Australians were easy going. I can tell you dey don’t go easy when dey pick on her big nose and her clothes and her big bum.

I always thought dat Australians were broad-minded. Dis lady has never married, has got no kids, lives with her boyfriend and doesn’t believe in God. Guess what – dey don’t like dat either.

I think dat it’s because she is a she. If she was a he, he would be everybody’s mate. I’m sure you’ve heard about da great Australian spirit of mateship.

Seems to me dat when Australia got its first lady PM, Australians became un-Australian. Or maybe da Australian ethos has always been a big fat myth. Dat reminds me of a word dey use … mythogyny or maybe it’s misogyny.

See ya later mate,




Macklin on Newstart $35 a day – what trash!

Has Macklin the Grouch trashed herself? Does living on Easy Street mean living on the footpath?

3 January 2013

Families Minister Jenny Macklin was asked at a press conference, held to explain the federal government’s changes to Newstart, whether she could survive on the $35 a day allowance. Ms Macklin responded, “I could”.

Australians often wonder whether politicians live in the real world and this comment is up there with the greatest dead-give-away gaffes of all time.

“I could” was obviously a stupid thing to say as the whole nation knows and Ms Macklin herself would have to concede. This lady cannot be a complete idiot, so what happened? Maybe she was having a bad day because her designer clothes weren’t returned by her dry cleaner? Maybe her overseas holiday itinerary had been messed up? Maybe her chauffeur had bad breath that morning? Who knows?

But here’s a likely scenario: She knew that if she said she could not survive on the dole, that would be an admission of its inadequacy.

She could have stated that surviving on the dole is very difficult, but that would have sounded condescending and would have begged the embarrassing question of why the government won’t raise it.

Poor old Jenny – locked in a no-win situation – just like single mothers, the unemployed and homeless.

Stupidity aside, Macklin’s comment was blatantly cynical – reminiscent of Oscar the Grouch and his famous quotes: Sit back, relax, and have a rotten time! and There’ll be more trash tomorrow (from politicians).

The lingering questions are:

  • Has Macklin the Grouch trashed herself?
  • Does living on Easy Street mean living on the footpath?