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Tag Archives: journalist

Tony Abbott is Prime Minister of Australia – go figure.

Tony Abbott is Prime Minister of Australia. It is one of those things that you know is true but remains incomprehensible. Like the concept of infinity. It’s hard to get your head around.

In most jobs you need to satisfy key criteria to even get an interview. To get a managerial position you must have experience and proven expertise. Along the way your success in meeting key performance indicators will be assessed.

Leaders should be people who inspire others, they should be role models and protectors, they should listen and empower, they should have good people skills and be able to negotiate, they should be trustworthy and able to explain the reasons for their decisions.

Or you can just agree to say climate change is crap, and become the leader of the nation.

But how did Tony even become a contender?

He attended a Catholic boys school where he bemoaned the fact that he was never chosen for the First XV rugby team. Apparently this was not due to a lack of talent but to selectors who did not recognise Tony’s ability.

Tony then went on to study economics/law at Sydney University (for free) even though he never worked in either field and described economics as a boring “dismal science”.

Tony was active in student politics, eventually becoming an unpopular leader of the Student Representative Council.

“During my term, despite my objections, the SRC, continued to give money to feminist, environmental and anti-nuclear groups. I never managed to have the feminist and homosexuals’ slogans on the SRC walls painted over nor to open the ‘Womens’ Room’ to men, nor to make the SRC more accountable by ending compulsory SRC fees.”

Contacts within the Jesuit network secured a Rhodes scholarship for Tony to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford even though he had campaigned fiercely against the Philosophy and Political Economy courses at Sydney University describing them as a waste of resources and a hotbed of Marxist feminists.

The selectors for the Oxford rugby team also failed to appreciate Tony’s talent, dropping him after one game and suggesting that his ability had been overstated.

When he returned to Australia, Tony entered the seminary to train for the priesthood but quickly became disillusioned with a church who had “lost its way” in his opinion.

“Looking back, it seems that I was seeking a spiritual and human excellence to which the Church is no longer sure she aspires. My feeble attempts to recall her to her duty — as I saw it — betrayed a fathomless disappointment at the collapse of a cherished ideal.

In addition, a “cooperative” style of management ran counter to the Church’s age-old hierarchical structure.

The more they played up lay ministry and ecumenism and played down the unique role of the priest in the one true Church, the more the struggle seemed pointless and the more I wanted to participate in worldly activities which were much more to my taste.

l felt “had” by a seminary that so stressed ”empathy” with sinners and “dialogue” with the Church’s enemies that the priesthood seemed to have lost its point.”

Of his time at St Patrick’s seminary, vice-rector Fr Bill Wright wrote of Tony that many found him “just too formidable to talk to unless to agree; overbearing and opiniated”.

“Tony is inclined to score points, to skate over or hold back any reservations he might have about his case.”

Tony had been writing the occasional article for the Catholic Weekly and, when he left the seminary, he began writing for the Packer-owned Bulletin where, interestingly, he instigated strike action over the sacking of photographers.

“When I was at the Bulletin, ACP management one day, quite unilaterally, decided to sack the entire photographic department ….we were all shocked, stunned, dismayed, appalled, flabbergasted – when management just came in and said they were sacking the photographic department. So we immediately had a stop work meeting. There were various appropriately angry speeches made and I moved the resolution to go on strike, which was carried, as far as I can recall, unanimously, and we went on strike for a couple of days.”

Tony only lasted about a year before he was writing to wealthy contacts looking for a job. Through the Jesuit network, he got one managing a concrete plant and very quickly found himself causing a total shutdown through his inept handling of employees.

In a 2001 interview with Workers Online Tony explained what happened. Interestingly, some time between me quoting the article in August and now, it has been removed. I guess we now know what all those people employed to trawl social media are being paid to do – erase history. It is happening to an increasing number of links but it is too late, the information is out there.

“I got to the plant in the morning, marched up and down the line of trucks like a Prussian army officer, telling owner-drivers who had been in the industry for longer than I had been alive, that that truck was too dirty, and that truck was filthy, and that truck had a leaking valve and had to be fixed.

Naturally enough, this wasn’t very popular, and I had been there a couple of months, and a phone call came through one morning from the quarry manager, saying that there was going to be a strike starting at midday.”

Tony then took it upon himself to take delivery and run the conveyer belt on his own.

“A phone call came through at 5.30 the next morning from the senior plant operator saying: “Did you turn the conveyor belt on yesterday?”. I said “Yeh”. He says “Right – nothing moves – this plant’s black – like to see you get yourself out of this little fix Sonny Boy!”

I thought that there’s really only one thing to do, and that’s to beg. So I got over there and I said to the senior plant operator. I said: “Stan I’m sorry. I’m new in this industry. I appreciate that I’ve been a bit of a so-and-so, but you’ve made your point and I will try to be different.”

He said to me: “It’s out of my hands. It’s in the hands of the union organiser.” So I said, who’s the union organiser and what’s his number? I rang him and I sort of begged and pleaded. I said, well, look why don’t we put the old final warning. That if I ever do this again, I’ll be run out of the industry. And there was silence on the end of the phone, and after about ten seconds he said: “I’m putting you on a final warning mate, if this ever happens again you will be run out of the industry.”

Abbott soon quit the job as it wasn’t paying enough money and accepted a position with The Australian as a journalist. When they went on strike over pay and conditions, Tony was by now campaigning on the side of management, arguing in front of six to seven hundred people at the lower Trades Hall in Sussex Street that they shouldn’t go on strike. His speech did not meet with a particularly warm reception and the strikes went ahead.

He continued writing at The Australian until John Howard recommended him for a position as the then Federal Liberal leader John Hewson’s press secretary. Tony was responsible for the infamous line in a Hewson speech saying you could tell the rental houses in a street.

Is it any wonder that Hockey thinks that “poor people don’t drive” and Pyne thinks that “women don’t take expensive degrees”?

In 1994 Tony was gifted the safe Liberal seat of Warringah in a by-election and has been skating ever since.

He has changed his mind on innumerable things, lied and contradicted himself countless times, and then denied lying, even changing his words and removing online links.

He is a man whose convictions are dictated to him by polls and focus groups in marginal seats and by marketing teams. Peta Credlin has increasingly centralized control failing to learn the Rudd lesson.

Tony learns his script but does not bother reading actual reports, relying on others to just tell him what to say. His Star Chamber silence dissent, pay hacks to produce reports saying what they want to hear, refuse to release any that may be critical or negative, while arrogantly and blatantly rewarding their political donors.

Tony is not a leader by any stretch of the imagination.

It is not the Labor Party who is stopping this from being a decent government.

Darren Lockyer, the Pope, Tony Abbott and a school boy were all on the same plane when the engine failed and started to plummet towards the Earth.

They all realised that there was four of them and only three parachutes.

Darren Lockyer got up and said, “I am a sporting superstar and must live so that I can please my fans and continue my career to beat the Kiwis and the Poms in the tri-nations series.”

So he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

Then Tony Abbott got up and said, “I am the smartest Prime Minister Australia has ever had and I need to live to continue to govern the nation.”

So he grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane.

Then the Pope said to the school boy, “I am old and have lived my life so you should take the last parachute instead of me.”

The school boy replied, “No, it’s okay, the worlds smartest Prime Minister took my school bag so there’s one for each of us!”

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Trial by media

Image source:

Image source:

In the heart of the nation’s capital, in the heart of its Parliament, we have the Canberra Press Gallery and, in its private alcove, the National Press Club. It appears to be the beating heart of the political news media bias that is driving at least half of the country nuts.

The National Press Club has a Facebook page and when you start looking around you don’t have to go far to see obvious signs of bias.

What’s obvious is a single announcement of guest appearances by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and, on the following day, the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott. Further down the page there’s a separate notice for the appearance of Mr Abbott. No sign of a separate notice for Ms Gillard, so that looks like favouritism.

What’s not so obvious is a complaint by Neil Spencer, on December 16, 2012. Mr Spencer questions the relatively poor coverage of the outcome of a court case which has become known as Ashbygate. The hearing created sensational front page news. The verdict was buried in the back pages.

Instead of replying directly to Mr Spencer’s post, the FB page administrator referred him to another story in The Daily Telegraph relating to action being taken against the former Speaker, Peter Slipper, by the Federal Police. The administrator makes the rather snide remark: “We thought you would appreciate this one.”

Clearly, the administrator is of the same mind as the Opposition Leader, Mr Abbott. In three separate and long-running attacks on the government Mr Abbott has chosen to ignore the rule of law, the assumption of innocence, and demand that the government leap into a guilty verdict that would advantage him politically and damage our legal and parliamentary process severely (see Lies, damned lies and sour grapes

Mr Spencer’s post, the administrator’s response, and my comment appear in full (so far January 18, 2013 12.45 pm) below.

Neil Spencer

To all you journalists please read the following:

I am very disillusioned with the media response to the Slipper/Ashby verdict. The whole issue is being played down by most media outlets. I don’t know why. Here is a story that any investigative journalist would love to get their teeth into. But yet there is this apprehension from the print media and on air media alike. The Daily Telegraph reported the verdict of the case on page 17 on 13th December. That in itself is an admission of reporting bias. [Right-wing News Limited commentator] Chris Kenny stated that [Prime Minister] Julia Gillard shouldn’t get involved in this muck raking. My god. After what she has been subjected to from the Opposition and, in particular Tony Abbott, she has every reason to ask Mr Abbott for a full explanation. The Australian people deserve a full explanation.

The Australian people deserve to have balanced reporting on all issues, especially those of a political nature. Is there not one journalist out there who is in the MSM who is prepared to investigate the story of possible conspiracy by Brough and other members of the LNP? Are they afraid there might be repercussions from their employer if they did so? If that is the case, then they are being accessories after the fact by assisting in concealing the truth. The employer would not be the type of employer that a professional journalist should be associated with. Regardless of the outcome of investigations our country will be the better for it.

I just don’t know how reputable journalists can be instructed on what they should or should not investigate. If a story comes to light then a journalist should find out the facts by investigating until such time as the story can go no further. Under the present climate of investigation a Watergate could be carried out in this country and the perpetrators would be able to get away with it. God help Australia.

Like · · December 16, 2012 at 8:28pm

National Press Club of Australia

We thought you would appreciate this one:

January 10 at 9:54am · Like

Barry Tucker

Neil Spencer raised a valid point. You didn’t address his complaint. Instead, you referred him to another Telegraph story about Federal Police charging Mr Slipper with fraud (their first attempt to charge him fell through, so they went back further in history to find another one).

Your failure to address Mr Spencer’s complaint is pathetic. Referring him to another story (in which Mr Slipper is a defendant and not proven guilty of anything) is even worse. It is worse because your actions in this matter amount to Trial by Media. Your actions tell me that you believe Mr Slipper is not entitled to natural justice, that in the view of the National Press Club he is guilty and must remain so, regardless of the outcome of the Ashby/Slipper court case and the comments and judgment of Justice Rares.
41 minutes ago · Edited · Like · 1

If there are any further developments, I will add to this article.

Further comment: The Daily Telegraph article that Neil Spencer was referred to was written by News Limited journalists Steve* Lewis and Patrick Lion. Steve Lewis was liaising with James Ashby before he filed his sexual harassment claim against Mr Slipper in the Federal Court. Mr Lewis was summonsed to appear before the court.

[*Steve Lewis was elected to his second term as vice president of the National Press Club in 2009. I did not know that when I wrote this story yesterday.]

The judge ruled that matters related to cab charge documents had nothing to do with the allegations of sexual harassment and were introduced in an attempt to damage Mr Slipper’s character in order to strengthen Mr Ashby’s claim.

The Lewis/Lion story acknowledges Mr Slipper’s court victory. It then refers to Mr Ashby’s allegations re the cabcharge dockets, which the judge has ruled are irrelevant:

The allegations are a major setback for the former speaker, who three weeks ago secured a victory when allegations of sexual harassment were thrown out in the Federal Court. His accuser, former adviser James Ashby, alleged he saw Mr Slipper signing blank Cabcharge dockets on visits to Sydney in early 2012. Those allegations are not the subject of the court action.

Note carefully the last sentence above. If Mr Ashby’s evidence re cabcharge documents has been ruled irrelevant, and “Those allegations are not the subject of the court action.” then what is the point of including the last two sentences in italic above?

In his judgment, Justice Steven Rares said Mr Lewis ”was motivated by the opportunity to obtain newsworthy stories”. He also noted there was ”nothing unusual in a symbiotic relationship between members of the media … and persons involved in politics”.

It may not be obvious to the casual reader, but it is clear to me that Mr Lewis, at least, is continuing his campaign to damage the former Speaker, Mr Slipper — a campaign that began with his liaison with Mr Ashby and is continuing in spite of the Federal Court dismissing the allegations of sexual harassment. Mr Ashby and one of his legal advisors are appealing the judge’s decision and comments on the case.

The judge also was of the opinion that Mr Ashby’s case against Mr Slipper was a conspiracy to bring down the federal Australian government. It has been pointed out by news media commentators and members of the fifth estate (the new, alternative, news media) that while Steve Lewis had his head down feeding stories back to his newspaper he somehow missed one of the biggest political scoops of the past decade.

A story about a conspiracy to bring down the government would not serve the agenda of Mr Lewis’ employer, News Limited, in the same way as a series of stories alleging sexual and other misconduct by Mr Slipper. That’s why this story is being referred to as Ashbygate.

[Additional information, January 19, 2013]

While News Limited media maintains its campaign against the federal government, the Fairfax owned press, notably The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and Melbourne’s The Age, have softened their approach since about the time of the Prime Minister’s so-called “misogyny speech” (see Pennies drop and the balance shifts

SMH columnist Richard Ackland in his column yesterday (January 18, 2013) said the investigative bloodhounds of the press have let “Tony Abbott and other leading Coalition ornaments off the hook”.

“There are still so many loose threads dangling off the James Ashby case it is amazing that those dedicated to holding politicians to account have let this one pass.”

Read Mr Ackland’s column here:

Veteran investigative reporter Margo Kingston (a former SMH journalist) also commented on the sudden lack of interest in the Ashbygate affair in her story for Independent Australia yesterday. See:

Are the actions of Mr Lewis in investigating and reporting the Ashby case as squeaky clean as Justice Rares seems to think they are? Here’s a view by The Global Mail’s Bernard Lagan:

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