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Tag Archives: media

Government Funding and the Free Press

By Jay Smith  

In the domain of politics and state government, the relationship between media and the state needs to be constantly examined. Journalists in the past have served to both promote politicians and government initiatives while investigating and scrutinising politicians and the government of the state. This relationship between the media and politics has changed over the last decade due to new influences in the form of new advertising and communication mediums. In this piece, I am going to discuss the inadequacy of the free press as a result of changes in the information-seeking behaviour in the new forms of advertising and communication mediums. While in the past the media has looked predominantly to the interests of the public by way of funding and creating quality investigative journalism, media organisations have had to increasingly look towards their own interests to maintain their capacity to function. The result has been the incapacity of the press to adapt and to be able to fund itself and sustain quality unbiased investigative journalism. I will be suggesting a new method by which media organisations can attain funding through assisting government initiatives while remaining neutral in terms of government influence over what the funding is used for and its bias towards or against the government. This method, of course, will require close examination and strong restrictions on government overreach that has yet to be put in place. There are a number of restrictions that need to be put in place to sustain a government-funded free press.

When writing of the concept of a free press it is important to define what a free press is, as all press organisations are ultimately governed by either the interest of the audience, editors, journalists, beneficiaries and advertisers or all of the above. Ultimately if a press organisation is not governed by an audience, beneficiaries or advertiser’s freedom, in general, is not about being able to do as one pleases, freedom is about having as few restrictions as possible where one can do as they please while abiding by those few restrictions. Ultimately a free press is unfiltered by a government organisation. A free press cannot operate under the suspicion of having its funding docked if certain information is published or not published. A free press has a right to protect its sources. However, press is always governed by the prerogative and inflection of the journalists and editors.

It is key to a functional society to have a free and unbiased media in regard to government initiatives. Media organisations have influence over public opinion which allows the media to sway elections and influence the popularity of political parties and government initiatives. A free press serves to without bias investigate politicians and government initiatives. Bias within the media in relation to politics and government initiatives serves to ignore and permit corruption within a government. When a media organisations funding is controlled by government organisation it serves to propagate a government’s message. This commonly is referred to as propaganda. The dangers involved with a society that is seduced by propaganda and a government that coverts corruption can easily be illuminated with a quick history lesson on dictatorial governments. Dictatorial governments in the past century have committed some of the worst atrocities against human rights climate change Governments that only need to pay lip service to the democratic process.

In the current decade privately owned and funded, trustable journalism has suffered from funding cuts. The age of trustable free market news organisations have suffered due to budget cuts resulting from the rise of social media that offers a cost-effective and more efficient advertisement medium to market products, services, and initiatives. Mediums such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become more effective in communicating with an audience and building trust and carrying a brand’s message to an audience. Companies whose advertising funds that once went to the media have become aware of the new trend of information-seeking behaviour. Having become aware of this, companies on a large scale have followed suit in their advertising spending habits. Leaving copious gaps in the funding of free press news organisations.

The creation of reliable and trustworthy news has suffered due to its limited profitability. Media organisations have taken to looking to their own interests in order to function and employ journalists. This has resulted in the rise of trends such as dubious news stories that have been given the name ‘fake news’ additionally advertorials in order for news organisation to function and to gain profit. Becoming a mouthpiece to propagate biased and untrustworthy news. With the advent of dwindling paying subscribers, news organisations have had to rely on the use of the advertorial where articles are written and paid for by companies to favourably promote a brand. I for one assume that all news articles freely acquired contain dubious content or advertorial. For one I believe that all journalists need to and deserve to be paid for their work, however, the process by which the journalist acquires funding needs to be examined thoroughly.

A popular method of subsidising income for news media is that of the advertisement separate from the article. This has been proven to be the most effective way of generating income for news organisations. Additionally, it is the most ethically sound method of news production. However, for those that wish to pursue paper-based news mediums of advertising, online advertising through organisations such as Facebook and Google has by far surpassed as a more effective form of advertising, with the possibility to niche partition an audience, monitor feedback and click through rates and cost per action accountability.

Politicians and governing bodies have in the past used the medium of advertising to promote their interests, political party and affiliations. This particularly is used in the run-up to elections when a politician needs to promote themselves or at the time of a referendum. The money used to purchase these services comes directly out of the taxpayer’s pocket charged to the government to foot the bill. While working for news organisations I handled sales of political advertising during peak and off-peak election seasons. The flow of funds from the government to the media directly for the purchase of advertising. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds are spent on political advertising each election cycle.

Government organisations outside of the promotion of politicians and political parties serve to create policies and initiatives that provide products and services to the people they govern. From healthcare to social welfare, social security to disability support, a government must engage its citizens to promote and markets government subsidised products and services. Government funds are spent to market products and services to see that they are used correctly and reach the right people. The question I considered was is there a more ethical way of governments putting copious amounts of money into media while remaining unbiased as to news content. A way for taxpayer’s funds to be spent on media outlets, while aiding governments in promoting their subsidised products and services.

In 2016, while working as part of the media I developed the basis for a model for news journalism to acquire funding through government initiatives while remaining relatively unrestricted as to government interference. While a news organisation can specialise in the production of news, in order to subsidise funding a news organisation can produce niche market supplementary services to raise revenue. This service can be applied to a limitless range of industries each focused around a common interest or clientele. This can take the form of a directory service supported by advertising and relevant important news and information. The supplementary services are completely separate from the news organisation however aid in funding the operation of the news organisation.

While looking for a potentially profitable niche market to advertise within I was able to gain firsthand access to the roll-out and implementation phase of a new government initiative. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) an Australian government department that provides products and services to support the disabled. The department began a new initiative where for the first time the disabled in the country’s history were able to choose from a range of registered private service providers. The department had a registered list of service providers companies whose operations are subsidised by the government. The capacity for choice allowed for a new competitive market to take place amongst government-funded companies.

The funding model which was implemented was for the media to approach government subsidised companies for advertising opportunities, while assisting in the promotion of a government initiative. This allowed for private companies to choose their prospective advertisers. The key component of choice by private organisations un-interfered with by the government allowed for funds to be channelled to a free press organisation from the government which removed the ability for government to influence the media. This allows for the free journalism to operate outside of the restriction of government interference.

The capacity for the client of government faculties to choose their perspective advertising agent under this model would allow for the associated journalists the freedom to operate within the use of government funding without government interference. This un-interfered operation of the free-market choice would provide a press free from the constraints of the interest of the government, an audience, and beneficiaries. The operation of the press under this model would appear superficially as the best possible outcome for news journalism, the alternative relying on philanthropy. However, the beneficiaries of these organisations that fund a press of this nature would have to be paid attention to.

For the funding model to operate without government interference, restrictions on government overreach need to be put in place. These restrictions will help to safeguard free press media organisations and stop funding from being manipulated by the government.

The free choice of government-subsidised businesses under the free market is key to the success of this model. Any government-subsidised companies that advertise through free press organisations need to be allowed to choose their avenue of advertisement without manipulation. Government interference at this level could allow the government to choose the direction of funding, directing funds to a favoured associated press news organisation. Laws need to be created to stop the restriction on choices by the government on government-subsidised organisation in regard to their choice of advertising service.

To further protect the free presses’ capacity to operate without restriction, more than one if not as many as possible separate free press organisations need to be involved in the assistance of advertising in relation to a single government initiative. The revenue raised from the product of advertising if not governed by the free market needs to be shared equally amongst free press news organisations. The capacity for the government to choose which media organisation to channel its subsidised funding through would allow for bias in regard to funding. Alternatively, if one organisation is to undertake the advertising and marketing of one government initiative the government has the capacity to withdraw channelled funding from unfavoured organisations.

Additionally, for a government-subsidised free press to operate transparency is key. Information is needed to be freely available in regard to details of the companies that are receiving government-subsidised funding. If a media organisation is shut out from accessing the details of a government-subsidised company, then the media organisation will be unable to receive the revenue raised through marketing and advertising the government initiative. This would be an ideal way for a government to manipulate funds and exercise bias. Openly available information is key.

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Should the media act more responsibly?

By Dave Chadwick

The public’s hunger for every image and piece of information about terrorist acts and mass murders does not always need to be sated. I question the effort of the media to feed this hunger with endless detailed national coverage when an attack occurs. Do they not realise that this is the exact reaction the awful perpetrators are hoping for, or are they so greedy for ratings they do not care?  Would a more restrained approach make society even a few percentage points safer?

The valued concept of a free and impartial media to act as the ‘Fourth Estate,’ and hold all three branches of government accountable to their representatives has a long history in democratic theory. The importance of a balanced and independent analysis of national and international affairs is put into stark definition by the blatantly deceptive and obfuscating practices that modern politicians employ. Although its Fourth Estate role is a powerful argument against government interference (which doesn’t seem to bother our current government), it is not a licence for the media to publish and post whatever pleases them. It also charges them with the responsibility of publishing in the public interest.

I’m not an historian or expert in media law, but it seems to me that the media has misinterpreted the idea of public interest.  Public interest here does not necessarily mean what the public is interested in – but what is in the public’s interest to know.

What is in the Public Interest?

I could write a whole article about media outlets’ preoccupation with selling us news stories that are really not in our interest, such as what happened on last night’s episode of the Bachelor (which by the way, I really don’t care), instead of giving us a better understanding of ongoing developments in Ukraine or the South China Sea, but I won’t. I am not really arguing against this (doesn’t mean I like it though), as I realise they have to make a commercial decision about what consumers want and some publications are marketed to a particular type of consumer.

My concern is when the media (and with the advent of online technology, all social media users have the potential to become lay-journalists) publish and share information that is actually against the public interest. Whether through greed or naïveté, media users are unthinking accomplices to the aims of terrorist groups and psychopaths with the incredibly detailed coverage they reward them with. If social media users were more discriminating with what they shared and media outlets were more restrained with their coverage, the payoff these groups and individuals get from their atrocities would be reduced, potentially reducing the likelihood of further atrocities. That sounds like something that would definitely be in the public interest to me.

Only recently, a clearly unwell man acted out his rage in a heinous double murder in Virginia and even went to the trouble of videoing it and posting it to social media. The logical inference of such action is that he wanted to share his actions with the world. How did the media and the rest of the world react? Exactly the way he wanted. Television and print media published articles about every aspect of the attack and his life, while the online community was retweeting and sharing his gruesome posts. News articles even provided screenshots and links to his social media page. I actually saw an article in The Herald Sun that published his final social media posts after describing him as a man who wanted his actions and words to go viral. Nice of them to fulfil his dying wishes. To other unwell, lonely, desperate people, what is the message? The more despicable your actions are, the more attention you will receive.

Now I don’t want to imply any less personal responsibility of the perpetrators of disgusting acts like these, but I do wonder what useful function does the saturation media coverage and vapid online sharing of these types of event serve.  Would most attacks still take place?  Probably, but would all of them?  I’m less sure.

When the first of ISIS’s execution videos was released, like most of us I was saddened for the victim and his loved ones.  I was also horrified and angered at those who would perpetuate such an atrocity and deliberately seek to use it as a political strategy. These feelings of impotent rage returned each time I saw it on TV news bulletins and heard the audio on radio or saw people sharing the video on social media.  That happened an awful lot. It was difficult to avoid for a few days. If the terrorists wanted to bring their message to people around the world, they succeeded.  However they only succeeded because they were allowed to.

The public execution was a propaganda strategy that held no tactical value. If no one watched the videos would there be any reason to make them?  I would contend not. So why are people in the west so helpful in actually facilitating and encouraging it?  I know Tony Abbott liked to see national security headlines on every paper as often as possible, but was it actually in the public interest? It was no surprise to see a string of similar videos released in the following weeks.

What if …

What if a law was passed making it illegal to broadcast or forward any vision or audio these crimes?  Or even without legislation, if the media guidelines changed to dramatically reduce the frequency and detail with which they did cover them. Obviously the exception would be for the files to be passed on to DFAT or the AFP so they could take appropriate actions.  A short factual, unsensationalised (I know it’s technically not a word, but its meaning is obvious) report detailing the important facts of the story is all that needs to be made public. The public’s fascination with every aspect of this does not have to be fed, just like six-year old’s love of ice cream doesn’t have to be fed. Is there any other reason people really need to see the video?  I would argue it is hardly in the public interest and would suggest it is actually against it.

I realise this idea may draw some unflattering Orwellian comparisons from civil libertarians. But is this really a slippery slope to the government-controlled media of 1984 (I’m not talking about an actual year that is the title of a book for those to young to have realised)? I don’t think so. You can use a slippery slope argument to predict pretty much anything, but that doesn’t mean your prediction is correct (as Eric Abetz and Corey Bernadi have shown). Increased government regulation of the media and individuals’ online activities may ring some alarm bells, although I believe there are similar laws about child pornography and although it is a significantly different issue, I haven’t heard any complaints about such laws.

The other argument people may raise is that such a law would make people even more beholden to the media and would prevent independent verification of the reporting of these types of events. It is true to an extent, but seeing the video or reading a mass murderer’s life story (as reported in the media) doesn’t solve that anyway. I would agree the potential for media agencies to shape national dialogue with their reporting of an event is already unsettling, but social media provides a counterpoint to this already. I can’t see this change adding much to this situation as there is still much that can be reported and shared. The videos of 9/11 and the moon landing have not stopped the conspiracy theorists on either subject because some people will believe what they want to believe no matter what evidence is- that is why there are still anti-vaccers and climate change deniers in the world.

Is that the answer?

I do like the concept of an independent, uncensored media, free from government and shareholder interference, but Australia seemed to give that up some time ago. The reality is that a lot of news reporting and commentary is filtered by existing beliefs and assumptions of the commentators, even this one (astonishing I know). I have outlined how I believe current media practices around the reporting of terrorist attacks and mass murders, as well as the unthinking actions of social media users, may play a part helping the perpetrators achieve their goals. Political attacks mean very little when their message is contained, after all. I know it wouldn’t stop such actions, but would it make them less attractive to desperate individuals? I think so. As much as governments are often wary of over regulating the media for fear of public backlash, I think it would at least be worth thinking about and discussing?

What do you think?

This article was originally published as Real Agents of the Fourth Estate or just greedy Real Estate Agents on Quietblog.


My Thoughts for the Week That Was

Saturday 10 October

1 The election of Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Government has in my view done the Labor Party an enormous favor. Whereas it might have cruised to a win against Abbott – and the polls suggested so – it now has the opportunity to reform itself into a formidable force. And the signs are there. Thus far it has released policies that suggest it has not been sitting on its backside. Opinions that what Bill Shorten lacks in charisma he makes up for in policy development may prove to be true.

Five prime ministers in as many years and a destructive descent into hyper-polarisation has left a wounded electorate on the rebound as it searches reinstate democracy, trust and meaning. Thursday’s release of Labor’s $10 billion “cement bank” for big public transit, roads and ports projects is a case in point, coming well before any election is likely.

I don’t think it can be properly estimated just how much damage Tony Abbott did to our democracy, the institution of parliament and government in general.

2 “Mutual respect is the glue that binds this very diverse country together,” the PM said.

It was a measured call for calm and national unity against extremism. Somewhat different from the inflammatory language of Abbott.

What he really wanted to talk about was the value of language and his vision of Australia, “the most successful and most harmonious multicultural society in the world”. Tony Abbott also knew the value of language but he just preferred to use it to project a tough-guy image, to offer veiled threats, and to foster division.

The Muslim leadership for its part responded by telling their adherents that if they didn’t like the country they should leave. Strong language that.

3 By contrast Peter Dutton is again hiding behind devious “need to know” language with regard to the rape victim on Nauru and the future of asylum seekers in general. But being of devious character himself I suppose it’s to late for him to change.

4 If it doesn’t rain in October we have a big problem and the economy will take a hit.

5 Treasurer Scott Morrison has responded positively to the Federal Opposition’s proposal to transform Infrastructure Australia into a project facilitator with a $A10 billion budget. Morrison said on 8 October 2015 that the idea has “some merit”. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has rejected the idea because it would be difficult for Infrastructure Australia to have the dual function of an independent assessor and a funding body.

Sunday 11 October

1 This week’s Bludger Track (published by Crikey) combined Polls aggregate has the Coalition leading Labor 52.5/47.5. Labor has some work to do.

2 Listening to Malcolm Turnbull addressing the NSW Liberal Party was rather odd. He mentions Abbott and praises his efforts. Applause follows. He says “We are not a party of factions” to sustained laughter from the audience. He says “We are not be holding to big business or back room deals”. The audience thinks he is a comedian as they laugh and jeer. How humiliating. There is deep resentment of what Turnbull did. Very deep indeed.

3 An interesting insight into the TTP trade deal. The University of Sydney’s Patricia Ranald who has spent 20 years studying international trade deals believes the jobs and economic dividends promised have in the past failed to materialise and the public is not aware of the trade-offs involved. Specifically, she says Robb has focused on delivering for farmers over other sectors of the economy, including the one million-odd people who still work in manufacturing in Australia. “He comes from the sector. He has a background in agriculture and he pays particular attention to it” she tells Fairfax Media.

raceRace Mathews, former right hand man to Gough Whitlam said “If Hilary Clinton can’t get the answers what hope have we? And without them how can we as citizens reach an informed opinion about the issue?”

4 Have you ever thought about what an ideology is? What is Ideology? It’s a word that seems to get tossed around a lot. But what exactly does it mean? Let’s stop for a moment and see if we can’t put some substance to this rhetoric, starting with a few possible definitions:

  1. A. The body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
  2. B. Such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.
  3. C. Philosophy: The study of the nature and origin of ideas.
  4. D. Theorising of a visionary or impractical nature.

cott5 How strange in Bendigo. A ‘’Muslim or an Australian You can’t be both. It’s either or” Mr Cottrell told his supporters. He says he is a patriot but I doubt he is. He acts more like a misguided Nationalist. Using his particular brand of unenlightened intelligence am I to assume that you cannot be a Catholic and an Australian or Jewish, Atheist or . . . the list goes on. You can only be Australian. Heaven forbid, don’t anyone ask him his definition of an Australian. Better to leave him in his own little world.

An observation:

An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

dannyAnd Danny was there. Yes, Danny Nalliah, the fundamentalist Christian Pastor, homophobe and Muslim hater (among other things) who’s only claim to fame is that he is an insult to the faith he represents. “Rise up Australia” he calls his group and reckons he is railing against multiculturalism, (he is Indian) Islam, political correctness and the media. In my innocence I once had the misfortune to shake his hand. He is the very worst kind of Christian.

Sunday 11 October

1 Branch stacking scandal. Fairfax Media reveal that in 2013, gift cards worth thousands of dollars were used to pay Labor memberships of plumber’s union officials and suburban branch members. Bill Shorten involved!

Much the same as what Turnbull did to oust Peter King to gain the seat of Wentworth in the 2004 Election.

2 And the response to his speech at the NSW conference if nothing else illustrates just how deeply and dangerously conservative and extreme the Liberals has become. And of course Liberal members are traditionally more conservative than Liberal voters.

An observation:

Today while walking my dog my thoughts drifted to the state of the world. Now nearly 75 I can only conclude that our inability to resolve the major issues facing mankind can be attributed to three things. The first is religion and the second is a disbelief in science, and the third is that men have never really grown up.

3 Doctors at Melbourne’s Children’s Hospital are refusing to send back asylum seeker children to detention centres amid a showdown with the Immigration Department. News Corp is reporting the doctors are concerned about the welfare of their dozens of patients and say it would be unethical to discharge them to unsafe conditions that could compromise their health. Doctors after all have a duty of care and legally can’t return children to dangerous situations. They’re also legally bound to report child abuse to the police.

It’s difficult to imagine that in a democracy such as Australia we would have federal laws threatening two years’ jail for health workers who speak out against immigration detention centre conditions. Really, what sort of a democracy do we live in?

Monday 12 October

1 Newspoll has Labor and the Coalition level on 50%. My interpretation is that the punters like Turnbull but still dislike the policies.

2 Who said this? “Solar panels are not renewable. The light is lost forever. Much like wind energy just produces used wind. Once it’s used it’s gone forever. Solar panels are wearing the light out”.

3 Even Australian Super chairman Heather Ridout has said the country “will regret” signing away sovereignty over government policy in the Trans-pacific Partnership agreement. In Question Time yesterday after listening to members being so effusive about its benefits to Australia I was forced to ask myself “at whose expense?”

And so mundane was question time. No one got the boot. The questions were routine and got only cursory answers. Turnbull put in a lack luster performance with an appalling answer to a question from Adam Brant on kids in detention. Whatever happened to what, last week, he called emotional intellectualism.

It’s arguable whether the broad Australian public has ever stood up and said it’s “not on” regarding the treatment of asylum seekers, but there are tantalising signs that keeping children in indefinite detention has now become broadly unacceptable.

Having said that, Turnbull has a presence that others don’t.

andrew h4 A new member, Andrew Hastie, was sworn in. We now have another religious zealot.

5 Evidence coming out of the Trade Union Royal Commission from former Theiss John Holland boss Stephen Sasse would suggest that he and Bill Shorten were looking after each other’s interests.

6 The conservative right wing of the Coalition have an ambush waiting for the PM on Thursday. It looks like he will face pressure to reinstate the Coalition’s policy to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act after he previously backed a compromise bill up for debate in the Senate this week. The so-called Day amendment would make it no longer an offence to offend or insult a person on the basis of their race. It would remain unlawful to humiliate or intimidate a person or group of people based on their race or ethnicity. The bill defies Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to adopting more inclusive government rhetoric. He can’t have it both ways.

The difference between insult, offend, humiliate and intimidate is a mystery to me.

An observation.

An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

Tuesday 13 October

cap1 The older I get the less stomach I have for conservative values. Rampart worldwide capitalism is intent on creating more inequality that only results in making the rich richer.

2 My thoughts on Free speech:

The peddlar’s of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate monger’s seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.

The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest. In the United States, the first constitutional amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry.

Contrary to popular belief the Australian constitution does not guarantee free speech. It only implies.

In a democracy the right to free speech in given by the people through the government. Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view. Sadly, this seems to have been forgotten both here and in the United States.

3 A response to my comment on Monday about the Royal Commission into Trade Unions:

“As an ex Union official myself I am starting to become very confused with what the Trade Union Royal Commission is about. A Union official negotiates a deal with a company official, the Union is happy, the company is happy, the workers are happy, The deal is approved by the appropriate bodies. The project is completed on time and under budget, all is good. Years later, we have the deal nit-picked by a biased Royal Commission just so we can demonize the opposition leader. I think Bill Shorten is to be applauded for breaking out of the traditional adversarial work place negotiations and moving to a co-operative approach”.

4 In Question Time the Treasurer said “Australians wanted to see the plan going forward.” Given that the plan seems to nonexistent I am now waiting on the PM to say: “Good Government starts today”.

Wednesday 14 October

1 This week’s Essential Poll has the Coalition in front 51/49. Combined with Newspoll there’s not much in it.

2 The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told Parliament that the Federal Government will examine a range of options for changing the superannuation tax regime. He has signaled that it may even be open to adopting tax reforms proposed by the Opposition. The Treasurer yesterday in QT wasn’t all that sure.

3 Meta Data. The service providers are not sure what the government wants. The Government knows not what to do with it. The answer whenever a problem of terrorism arises is to give the law more power. What’s missing is perspective. In 36 years 113 people have died from terrorism. So this year, yes this year, 730 will die from Domestic Violence and around 2500 will take their own lives.

4 I have always been of the view that Tony Abbott is the greatest liar Australian Politics has ever seen but the prize for the single biggest lie remains with Robert Menzies. I have quoted it many times but I came across it again when I had a preview reading of a remarkable four part series about the Whitlam years soon to be published at The AIMN. More later, but if ever the term “must read” ever applied to a piece, it is this. Here is a short extract:

“But one of the most important moments in the life of Menzies must have been when, on 28 April 1965, he lied to the Australian Parliament and people over an alleged call for assistance from the Saigon Regime of General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu as official head of state and Air Marshall Nguyễn Cao Kỳ as prime minister. The first battalion arrived in Vietnam the following month. After March 1966 National Servicemen were sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army. Some 19,000 conscripts were sent in the following four years. 521 lost their life. The number of Australian invalid and otherwise victims of the war is still uncertain. The document carrying the alleged call was never found”.

Which of course means that on the basis of a lie 521 young men who weren’t even eligible to vote lost their lives.

5 The things that go unnoticed. The Senate on Tuesday forced the Government to table a letter that revealed that as Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull explicitly asked the NBN Company to create information that could help the Coalition make the case that Labor’s Fibre to the Premises model was not worth pursuing. He is as ruthless as he seems reasonable.

6 Labor is on the attack over investments the Turnbull’s have that are registered in the Cayman Islands. It may be all perfectly legal but it’s a poor look for the leader of the nation. President Barack Obama describes the haven as “the biggest tax scam on record”.

Wouldn’t it be great if a leader came along who was squeaky clean?

7 As sure as night follows day the other banks will raise interest rates in line with the CBA making the Reserve Bank obsolete.

8 The conservatives in the Catholic Church are upset with a progressive Pope. Why? Because they would be happy for the institution of the church to survive with fewer adherents than to in any way progress.

Thursday 15 October

An observation:

Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.

1 Good news on the NBN. Jason Clare has indicated Labor will ramp up the number of homes connected using fibre-optic cabling as part of the $56 billion national broadband network if it wins the next federal election.

2 Interesting that the CFMEU were responsible for most of the 948 breaches of workplace laws investigated by the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate. Labor should disassociate themselves from this rogue union.

3 The Senate yesterday passed legislation guaranteeing that private companies with a turnover in excess of $100 million could keep their tax arrangements hidden. They had requested this because they feared family members might be kidnapped. Pull the other leg.

4 More Liberals willing to cross the floor in support of hate speech.

5 In giving the green light to build the massive Carmichael Adani coal mine Greg Hunt has committed a major crime on the environment. Being complicit in the decision, Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that he is captive to the deniers and all those things he said as the Environment was just bullshit. We can only hope that other banks will follow the National and refuse to supply funds. And if they try us on again about 10,000 jobs when the company has said 1500. Well l should be used to it I suppose. It was only a couple of days ago Hunt was encouraging investments in renewables. And of course, how much is the taxpayer putting in?

6 It’s about time a person by the name of Shorten started talking like a man named Sanders. Talk about injustice, inequality and corporate greed. Negative talk about Turnbull’s wealth is just plain stupid.

6 We are now in our fifth week of a Turnbull led Government. Nothing has changed. Sure there is a lot of “we’re looking into that” talk together with a few feel good decisions here and there. But you can hear the thumping heartbeat of a lot of very upset far right conservatives shouting to get their way.

My feeling is that the “looking into it” talk is all about the development of policies for a sooner rather than later election.

7 Extraordinary that you would convene a meeting to discuss radicalisation and terrorism and not invite the very people who might just have the answers. Earlier the PM was talking inclusion but his rhetoric is empty of substance.

Friday 16 October

1 Two things occupy my mind as another week bleeds into the next. Firstly is the need for a national ICAC. One with real teeth able to investigate and prosecute without fear or favor. At the moment we have a Royal Commission into Trade Unions and when corruption rears its head it always seems to be the Unions who are for most in the public mind.

However the history of illegal corporate behavior far outweighs that of the Unions. It is not so long ago that Richard Pratt was formally accused of price fixing, cheating customers and companies out of approximately A$700 million in the nation’s biggest-ever cartel case. After more than a year of denials Pratt subsequently admitted his guilt, acknowledging he and his company, and “rival” company Amcor deliberately broke the law. Not to mention Christopher Skase, Alan Bond and John Elliott to name a few.

2 Secondly, five weeks in, the punters have overwhelmingly endorsed the elevation of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister. The Polls tell us so. He has rid us of distasteful Abbottism, although I believe attached to the endorsement is an expectation that policy change would be a pre-condition of it.

Whilst on the one hand the polls endorse Turnbull’s personal popularity, on the other the “who would you vote for” figures suggest that policy changes are uppermost in people’s minds.

This Turnbull’s dilemma. How does he retain his popularity as a moderate conservative without demonstrating it, whilst at the same time delivering right wing policies for a cabinet whose ideas and demands are so extreme? You can’t satisfy both.

At the moment he is somewhat like the Pope. He says all the right things, makes all the right noises but everything says the same.

the week that was

And that is the week that was.

A final thought:

It is far better to form your own your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others.


The Many Faces of the Australian Shock Jock

“Alan Jones, on your radio program, you often abuse, berate and belittle callers with whom you disagree. On Q&A, you are reasoned and respectful of the people asking questions, to the extent that I sometimes think you’re not as bad as you’d like us to think. Is your radio persona pure entertainment and, if so, who is the real Alan Jones, and do you believe that you are using your platform in a responsible way that encourages constructive debate?” Anthony Johnsen, Q&A 20th July

This thorny bugger of a question was thrown to conservative radio shock jock Alan Jones on Monday night’s Q&A, much to the squeamish displeasure of the recipient. Jones was on the offensive, claiming his trademark fiery exchanges which only occur with politicians, not with listeners. That may be true, but having previously said Julia Gillard’s father “died of shame” and she should be taken out in a body bag and dumped in the ocean, there is little doubt that Jones’ 2GB studio is not a place for “reasoned and respectful” discussion. The former Labor PM is not alone in copping Jones’ abuse, with independent MPs Rob Oakeshott, Andrew Wilkie, Liberal leadership challenger Malcolm Turnbull and even Prime Minister Tony Abbott all copping a verbal bashing.

It has been somewhat of a surprise then that Jones’ appearances on Q&A have shown a different side to the infamous orator, far less “angry old man yelling at cloud” and far more at home aside the more measured voices that the show attracts. The issues he champions on Q&A are also more nuanced and interesting than the grand-stand reading of the Coalition’s briefing notes on 2GB. Furthermore, on all platforms, Jones seems to have complicated his political vision since his days heading up the “Juliar” campaign, from his embrace of same-sex marriage to his campaign against coal-seam gas. So why is he suddenly almost reasonable, or has he always been so underneath his conservative blustering?

The more sceptical observer might call Jones an opportunist, a savvy chameleon giving the audience what they want to hear. On talkback radio they want rage, on the ABC they want rational discussion. Such inconsistency is frequently attributed to fellow conservative kingpin Andrew Bolt. Whilst he is generally as stubbornly right-wing on all platforms nowadays, claims of inconsistency plague his past and cast doubt on the uncompromising caricature he now propagates.

In a scathing portrait of Bolt for The Monthly, Anne Summers presented a convincing argument that Bolt refashioned himself in the 1990s to fill what was then a right-wing void in the op-ed pages. Whilst she doesn’t doubt that Bolt was somewhat conservative, she questions the authenticity of his miraculous transformation from unassuming editor to megaphone commentator. And with due course, given News Corp’s chief Gillard-hater used to work for the ALP in several positions. The nation’s great climate denier also once wrote the “Environs” section in The Age.

Summers quotes a former colleague saying “A big part of me admires Bolt for having built all this out of nothing. But it is so cynical because that is not who he is.” “He obviously saw there was reputation and money to be made from being conservative,” said academic Robert Manne. “He was forceful but he was not as right-wing then or we would not have got on so well,” said journalist Shelley Gare.

This touches upon a deeper point about the now popularized far-right provocateur mould – to what extent do they actually believe what they say? There should be nothing beyond comprehension about adopting a conservative worldview, in fact if one cannot even imagine it then perhaps they are too rigid to engage in a diverse contest of ideas. However, the sheer vociferousness, the attack-dog style, the relentless plundering of issues for literally thousands of media segments and the offensiveness of some dialogue invites the cynical to suggest they are making a calculated decision to feed the desires of a niche audience, to deliberately provoke the mass audience and to stay relevant through remaining controversial.

All which makes the faintly shifting stripes of Alan Jones more interesting. He is no lefty and there is no room for him in the centre. He has fashioned himself as a conservative warrior. There is no popularity or money in providing nuance to an argument in the modern media melee. So Jones ought to be commended for not sticking to the tired old trope of the Andrew Bolt right-winger, and occasionally veering off his ideological course, even if only briefly.

Perhaps he should take a second look at wind farms. Yeah never know, he might be surprised by what he sees.


A Letter to the Editor from Morrie Moneyweather.

I have refrained from writing to this blog for over a year but it has gottin to much for me. Im sick and tied of the constant attacks on the Prime Minister and his cabnet.

I really don’t know where to start. Everyday there is a constant stream of pissweek comantary from writers with little to say and all the time in the world to say it.

Take the attacks on the best Speaker the House of Reps has ever ad. I mean she shows remarkable decorum in the face of so much abuse from Shorten and his mob of fwits. She is always reasonable to the point of being overlyfair. They simply don’t deserve it.

And now they are critising her because she jumps (well not litrally but I bet she could) on a plain for a fund raising event. How bloody stupid is that. How on earth do you expect the best possible government if they don’t have enough money to win elections. Our Bronny deserves a meddle for what she puts up with.

What you people on the left don’t appreciate is that if you want the best educated ministry then someone has to pay.The one we have now is the best ever and it shows in all the ideas and policies it produces. Fairdinkum I was talking to me mate Blind Freddy the other day and he reckoned the country would have gone to the dogs if Abbott wasn’t elected.

Giving the rich discounts on Super was just what was needed to give us more effulence. After all it’s the rich that support the poor. Everyone knows that. That’s Tonies plan. Build up the wealth of those rightfully privalaged and they can then support the poor. We have always done that. They don’t appreciate it though.

Take all the things Joe wants to do for the Country. No one understands his motives. Well Labor doesn’t. All they do is critic. I was talking to my Financial Adviser the other day and he reckons they are all just jealous.I know I inherited mine and I had the best of education. Well all they have to do is get off their collective arses and get a job. God only knows Tony is providing enough of them.

And what about the climate. I mean have we ever had a prime minister so on top of the sciences. While Im at it and this is the mane reason I have written is to comment on the stuppiddy of that fellow John Lord. I told him last time that he needs a manager because hes been handling himself to long. Then he emailed bak to say he was to old to handel anything.

This is what he should have wrote:

Has Australia ever, so wisely, elected a man so positive about the countries future and exprecced it so clearly.? A person with such truth and transparency. So sensitive to those who cannot help themselves. So willing to endorse and foster equality. So knoweggible of technology and science. So aware to the needs of women. That’s why women like his as there minster. So adeptt at policy formation and its implementation. (note the good spelling. That’s what a private education gives you) So on top of good communication. So diplomatic, so ambassadorial, so sensitive, in his attitude toward oth…ers. So accomdating of those who desire equality. And in touch with a modern pluralist society. A man so sophisticated in deep worldly acumen and discernment, yet religiously motivated.

Glad I got that of me chest actually. Might I suggest that the writers on this blog try a bit less bias otherwise they will end up like the ABC. Christ don’t start me on them. I have no malcontent toward anyone. Just try to be more fair and give credit where credits dew. Then we con have some real intercourse.

Thanks again to my son Miles and his mates from Melbourne Gramma year 12 english class for all there help with the composition and proof reading.

Its testimy of what Commonwealth investment in private schools can achieve.

Morrie Moneyweather. Malvern.

PS Say hello to Kaye. She is the only one at the blog who apprecuates my intellect and ability to see through all the shit.


Calling “Game Over”

Human-induced climate change is real. The risks of inaction are real and mounting.” So Fairfax editorialised in this week’s papers. The gist of the article is that we still have time to mobilise and get our governments and policymakers to take real action on stymieing climate change. It is probably true, as the article claims, that we are witnessing a slowly dawning awareness of the Australian people and by the global economy. But by some measures, this is significantly too little – and way too late.

“Two degrees celsius.” How many times have you heard the “two degrees” target proposed as the benchmark? Almost every popular media outlet, when writing about climate change (when they’re not claiming it isn’t happening or isn’t worth our attention) includes a statement like “We can still keep warming below two degrees, but we have to start now.” So we talk about carbon budgets. We talk about carbon capture and storage. We argue about the merits of a cap-and-trade system, an incentives system, a carbon tax – as if we still have time to compromise, time to experiment and find the ideal balance between maintaining our treasured social systems and the rescue of the global environment.

The current climate change narrative is based on a series of mistruths and falsities. We are told that we still have time to turn the ship around. The truth is that we do not.

We are told that two degrees is a hard and fast target, beyond which everything turns to disaster and before which we will be okay, if slightly uncomfortable. The truth is that there is no safe limit, that two degrees is not a magic number, and that two degrees is likely already beyond our prevention. The truth is that we have already emitted more than enough carbon to take us to two degrees and well beyond, and we’re showing no signs of slowing.

We are told that even if we go beyond two degrees, the disruption that results will come in the form of hurricanes and bushfires and rising tides. The truth is that while increased frequency and severity of hurricanes and bushfires will be a part of the outcomes of climate change, this is the merest tip of the iceberg. These visible disasters can be constrained and understood as freak occurrences that interrupt the status quo and from which we can recover. Less so is the permanent loss of arable land, the global starvation that may result, and potentially the tipping of our environment into a hellish morass incapable of supporting human life. That we are now seeing reputable sources raising the spectre of near-term human extinction in public narratives is telling of both how far the public discourse has gone ahead of public policy, and of the potential import of the fact that we’ve been so slow to act.

Whilst we have seen that the public and the media are far more accepting of the urgency of action on climate change than any of our leaders are willing to countenance, the public narrative is nevertheless generally years behind the science. Science has been telling us for the better part of a decade that two degrees is both insufficient and unattainable. Meanwhile the news media, and through them the general public, have been absorbed by the question of the reality of climate change, a question that climate researchers put to bed decades ago.

Only in the last few months have we started to see the global narrative start to catch up to reality, which is at the same time optimistic and disheartening. The truth that the media are slowly coming to understand is that two degrees might be possible, but not in the world that we know and live in now. As the media have finally started to catch on that yes, climate change is happening; yes, climate change is deadly serious; and no, we have not acted as quickly and as desperately as required; it begs the question. What is the current state of scientific understanding and how long will it take for the world to catch up to that?

An inevitable outcome?

There are reasons for the lag in public understanding. In years to come the placing of blame might become a hobby, but while attributing responsibility to various groups and individuals is easy, it is also simplistic. The long answer is that our inaction on climate change has been driven by the systems within which we work and live. These systems are well designed to order society and to offer freedom and opportunity to some. They are not effective, however, at providing for philanthropy. Our current systems of democracy and capitalism reward selfishness and self-interest and they pander to our genetic weaknesses. And the unstoppable forces of consumerism encourage and reward immediate gratification not only as a personal pleasure but a social good. The system requires us to buy and consume in order to sustain the order of things. More fundamentally, we need to buy and consume in order to feel good, and we are rewarded by a sense of accomplishment, we are rewarded by social approval and we are rewarded by endorphins. The same psychological tendencies that cause us to become fat and unfit also put barriers in our way to accepting bad news.

Bad news is a climate scientist’s stock in trade. Scientists are conservative by nature – they have to be. Crying wolf leads to a loss of respect and credence, and inevitably to a loss of funding. For a scientist or scientific organisation to decry an oncoming disaster, a high level of proof is required, and this takes time. The rumbling on the tracks isn’t enough: they need to be able to see the oncoming train’s lights before they’re willing to commit.

Scientists are not to blame for their reticence. One of the most constant criticisms of the IPCC’s work is not that the work is flawed, but that the resulting reports are universally conservative. They err on the side of caution. IPCC reports contain a range of projections, using a selection of different assumptions and resulting in very different outcomes, but they do not advise on the relative likelihood of being able to meet these curves. The effect is to allow policymakers to treat each projection as equally possible, and when one or more of the scenarios results in a temperature rise under two degrees, the opportunity arises to claim that this is still in reach. Scientists would say that the contents of the reports are reliable as a best-case scenarios, but that’s not how the reports are received in practice. The policy makers who must take IPCC reports into account largely consider them to be worst-case scenarios, and the urgency of the problem is diminished.

Tempting as it may be to do so, politicians also cannot be blamed for their inaction. Politicians are rewarded (in electoral popularity) for populist messages of hope and optimism. Politicians are punished, severely, for being the messenger that tells their people that they will have to make sacrifices (financial, creature comforts, lifestyle changes) for the sake of the public good. Far worse awaits those who attempt to impose these sacrifices. It is entirely reasonable to expect politicians to clutch at any straws offered, be they a possible solution that doesn’t carry electoral cost (e.g. direct action) or a skerrick of doubt about the science. In an environment filled with lobbyists arguing that there will be consequences to climate action, and think tanks and vested interests obscuring the science with manufactured doubt, motivated by a kind of economics that cannot afford to take climate change into account, it takes a special kind of political courage to take a stand. As we saw in the case of the 2013 election, all too often The People will punish such presumption.

We can’t even blame The People. The truth is that our evolution has not equipped us well to handle the kind of challenge that climate change presents. Humans are an immensely adaptable species, and when we cannot adjust our environment to suit our needs, we can adjust our own lifestyle to suit. However, we almost always need to be spurred into action. We evolved from hunter-gatherers who would gorge in the good times, in preparation for the long stretch of privation that would follow. At our core, we’re not prepared to leave the carcass on the ground.

Too little, too late

However it happens, whatever the cause, we are caught by it. Humanity is having a cook-out in a tunnel and we’ve ignored the rumblings underfoot for too long. It’s not until we see the lights of the oncoming train that we even start the engine of our getaway car and there’s no way we’re dodging this express train.

We read that we have, at most ten or fifteen years to turn the ship around. Here’s the thing, though: they told us this ten or fifteen years ago, too. If the problem was that urgent then, if the need for change was so pressing then, how can we still have a decade left to act now? The explanation is that the definition of “action” is changing. Climate scientists, pressured to give an optimistic outcome – to avoid calling “Game Over” – move the goalposts. They adopt increasingly unrealistic assumptions and expectations in their models of climate action. They invent ever more fanciful future technologies – magic bullets, couched in scientific-sounding terminology.

It is finally reaching the point where normal people – journalists, activists, even politicians – are calling them out on it. The likelihood of us being able to meet a trajectory to keep temperature increases below two degrees is presently somewhere between none and laughable. But so long as it is still technically possible to succeed at halting global warming, we keep hearing the “we still have time” message. So let’s have a look at what is actually required to stave off the kind of climate change that runs an even risk of killing every human on the planet.

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/12/two-degrees-will-we-avoid-dangerous-climate-change/ : “In order to get back on track, emissions need to peak and then fall by between 40 and 70 per cent by 2050, the IPCC says, with unabated fossil fuel burning almost entirely phased out by 2100… That would require a never-before seen global effort to be sustained for a generation.”

http://www.vox.com/2015/5/15/8612113/truth-climate-change : “Holding temperature down under 2°C — the widely agreed upon target — would require an utterly unprecedented level of global mobilization and coordination, sustained over decades. There’s no sign of that happening, or reason to think it’s plausible anytime soon.”

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119757/two-degrees-climate-change-no-longer-possible : “To be sure, the IPCC noted, it’s conceivable the world still could stay below that level – but only if governments immediately imposed stringent and internationally uniform carbon limits, and if a host of new low-carbon energy technologies proved able to scale up. Those are massive “ifs,” and though the IPCC wasn’t so impolite as to say so, there’s little to suggest that perfect trajectory will play out.”

In order to achieve the goal, humanity as a species must put aside national partisanship, untrammelled economic growth as a priority, and our current industrial machinery. Advanced economies must immediately and radically decarbonise their economies, at the same time as effectively building first-world economies in less advanced nations who would otherwise strive to catch up to “modern” standards of living via their own industrial revolutions. Humans in the affluent West must accept a curtailing of their profligate lifestyles and their aspirations.

Some have likened the effort required to the mobilization of the West in the early days of World War II, when entire economies were retooled to face an existential threat. But these similes were raised half a decade ago, and the problem has become even more dire since then. We must, as a species, put the good of the planet and the environment ahead of our own short-term interests. This is something that goes against our very nature.

But even our best intentions are not enough. At this point, there is enough carbon in the atmosphere to blow through two degrees and well beyond – potentially setting off the feedback loops and tipping points that bring us to a very final The End. In order to limit temperature rise to two degrees, current models include assumptions about negative carbon emissions – capturing carbon from the atmosphere and putting it into the ground or into trees. This requires either huge swathes of territory to be converted to forests – and only good, arable, important-for-feeding-seven-billion-humans land will do – or the widespread adoption of technology that doesn’t even exist yet.

Is it time yet to call game over?

You can’t get there from here

There are a number of good reasons to declare “Game Over” on climate change.

Because there is a point beyond which hope becomes denial.

We see an example with Australian farmers in northern Queensland. Devastated by crippling floods in early 2013, it did not take long before large portions of Queensland were back in the Long Dry. By March 2014, the State’s largest ever drought had been declared, following the failure of the “wet season”. Drought is a largely artificial definition, designed primarily to enable governments to provide assistance to affected areas, predicated on the understanding that this is a “natural disaster” and will come to an end. The terminology of “drought”, at core, assumes that there is a normal state of being, and the lack of rain is an exception, an aberration, on par with storms or cyclones.

More than a year later, the rains have failed again and the drought has not broken – it has become worse. All this in advance of a predicted severe El Nino. The signs are not looking good for relief for our beleaguered Queensland farmers any time soon. And still we hear politicians State and Federal talking about drought assistance, of getting the farmers through the hard patch before the rains return.

According to my calculations, most of Queensland has been officially in drought for fifteen of the last twenty-five years. An El Nino can run for up to seven years, so we may be in for a significant period before the end of this cycle. If you’re living under drought conditions for more years than under wet conditions, can it really be called a drought any longer? At what point do we bow to the inevitable and admit that, rather than being a drought, this is the new normal? That climate change has made these areas untenable for ongoing agriculture? That continuing to support farmers with “drought assistance” is a never-ending battle that cannot be won?

Admitting defeat would mean the departure of farmers from these lands and force an alteration to the economy and markets of the State. It could be argued that reclassifying land as non-arable will destroy the lives of farmers trying to eke out a living on it, but it could as well be argued that those lives are destroyed anyway and farmers seeking support are modern-day King Canutes who will eventually have to move anyway.

Sometimes, it makes more sense to just admit defeat, rather than throwing good money after bad.

Because denial makes us focus on the actions that we need to take to win, rather than getting started on the actions required upon losing

As long as electors are told that two degrees is possible if only we find the right balance of punitive and reward policies the longer the policy debate remains mired in detail and technicality. It allows governments to hold out policies like Direct Action as a valid approach to climate change. It allows an ETS to include a variety of loopholes and concessions designed to protect vulnerable industries at the expense of the scheme’s effectiveness. This author has been a critic of the Greens’ approach to Labor’s ETS, scuttling a plan that might have gotten a foot in the door because it wasn’t ideal at the outset. But that was then, and this is now. It is far too late for half-measures. Unfortunately, we will never see full-strength climate policies as long as politicians can still argue that all will be well if we just cut our emissions by “five percent over 2000 levels”.

Because reality

If for no other reason, it might be valid to call an end to the charade of climate change action because it’s a colossal waste of time and money on the basis of a lie. It’s a lie, because none of those arguing loudly that we can still save the world are taking the next step and adding “only if we do what the world has never managed to do before and only if all the cards fall our way”. This is a lie of omission, and those telling it are often not even aware of it because they themselves have not been shown the sheer unlikelihood of what they’re proposing. If we reframe the argument in the appropriate terms, at least we can start talking about things with a sense of truth and reality rather than what we hope might be the case.

Reasons not to declare “Game Over”

Because it might not be

There may still be time – if atmospheric sensitivity is lower than modelled, and if we can invent and distribute carbon capture technology, and if the world radically reverses direction. Under the IPCC’s optimistic models, there is still time. Meeting these optimistic assumptions will be a heroic task, but we won’t get there if we don’t try and we won’t try if we’ve already thrown in the towel. An important first step would be the support of research into carbon capture / atmospheric cleaning technologies that will be absolutely fundamental to any kind of success from here.

Because it’s too important

Declaring “game over” sends the message to those who’d be most harmed by climate change that they aren’t worth saving.”  Our mythologies are full of humans in dire circumstances not giving up on hope. If there has ever been a cause around which the world could rally, that has the immediate threat to human survival on a global scale and the fortunes of small groups of people in specific, this is it. To give up on climate action is to give up on a large part of the world, raise the fences around the wagons and wait out the next great Human Extinction. Those most badly affected will be those who contributed to it the least and are least deserving. For the advanced nations to give up while there is still even the ghost of a chance is to add insult to lethal injury.

Because we need the urgency

We need urgency; we need the seriousness. There’s a fine line between panic-inducing immediacy and threat, and inertia-generating fatalism. World War II, in its size and ferocity and its immediacy, was enough to jolt the western world into action. We will see, over the next decade, increasingly dire climate outcomes. At some point, public attitudes and governmental policies will catch up with the exigencies of climate reality. The media and the government may always be a decade behind in understanding the threat, but action taken now on the basis of last decade’s threats will still have a beneficial effect on this decade’s crisis. We don’t know for sure that we can salvage the silverware, but we can be absolutely certain that nothing will survive if we stop fighting for it.

Because game over isn’t necessarily “game over”

We will miss two degrees – but the story doesn’t end there. “Everyone agrees on the general point — risks and damages keep piling up as the world gets hotter. So if the world can’t prevent 2°C of warming, it’s still a good idea to try and avoid 3°C of warming. If we can’t avoid 3°C of warming, it’s still a good idea to avoid 4°C. And so on.” The world doesn’t end at 2 degrees. Tipping points and reinforcing cycles may mean that the world is more fragile than it appears, but every extra degree of warming increases the inhospitability of our future world far more than the degree before it. If we can halt warming at three degrees, it’s still worth doing.

Because victory ain’t what it used to be

In the end, we may be forced to move the goalposts of what constitutes success. The two degrees scenario is aimed at preserving our current civilization. Restrain global warming to two degrees and we may be able to retain our present way of life, our creature comforts, our technology, and our populations. It may be – it probably is – too late for that: our world will change and our way of life must change to suit the new, hotter world we are creating.

But the end of our current, comfortable civilisation does not have to be the end of the human story. If the worst case scenarios are true, then the game is no longer about salvaging a world for our children: it is about salvaging a world for ANY children. If it is too late for current nation-states to survive, it’s not yet too late for modern life somewhere, somehow. If it becomes too late for capitalism as we know it, it’s not yet too late to preserve some kind of civilisation. If it is too late for us, it is not yet too late for humanity. We don’t know where we’ll end up, but however far beyond the point of no return we may have gone, we know that there is more road yet to travel. In the end, the best reason not to call Game Over – not to just stop trying and learn to love the bomb – is that there may yet be time to salvage some kind of future for some of us.

Just probably not all of us.


Jake Bilardi and the Helen Lovejoy Approach to Justifying War

Front page news in todays Herald Sun:


“Jihadi Jake’s plan to attack Melbourne”

The photograph of an eighteen year old boy stares back at us from the right of the headline. The article describes his blog posts, which detailed the boy’s fantasies of bombing Melbourne and carrying out grenade and knife attacks as “chilling”, and states that “chemicals” were found in the boy’s home. Jake Bilardi is now dead, allegedly as part of a suicide bombing which resulted in the deaths of ten or more people.

How hysterical has the media become to trot out this story as if it were proof of an existential threat to Australians everywhere?

In between lazy appeals to the public’s fear of ISIS, the article mentions that Jake Bilardi was intensely interested in world politics, and prior to his ‘radicalisation’ was an atheist. In a blog post Jake penned some weeks before his death, he states that he was “growing tired of the filthiness and corruption of Australian society” and that his research into the war on terror led him to form a “complete hatred and opposition to the entire system Australia and the majority of the world was based upon.”

We can all agree that the path Jake took was not an exemplary one. He chose to side with a group of fascists responsible for horrific crimes against humanity, an act that we must condemn wherever it occurs and whoever it involves.

But why, when context is so key to understanding these complex issues, is the Herald Sun not asking important, difficult questions?

The question we should be asking ourselves as a country is, what could we have done differently to prevent this from happening? We can blame ISIS until we’re blue in the face, the fact of the matter is that in doing so we are accomplishing nothing except for currying a feeling of moral, cultural and nationalistic superiority. Whether this is grounded or not, it confers no benefit to us as a community.

Jake’s mother had died several years prior to his involvement with ISIS, and friends and family point to this as a turning point for the boy, leading an already quiet young man to withdraw even further into himself. Where were the support services this human being needed? Where was the funding that could have provided those services, services which may have prevented his eventual death in a foreign land at the hands of sick old men? It was being spent on fighter jets and defence.

It’s true that we each have personal responsibility for the choices we make, and that as adults we bear the consequences for our actions. But Jake was not an adult. He was eighteen years old, a vulnerable, seemingly confused but intelligent young man looking for a sense of meaning and belonging in a world that had painfully wronged him. Why did we, as a people, not provide that for him? What is it about our culture that makes that search for meaning lead to the ranks of a bizarre quasi-religious militia on the other side of the world?

To use this child’s death as grist for the war mill is despicable behaviour, and the editors of the Herald Sun should be ashamed of the tone of the articles they allowed to be published this morning. We could have used this as an opportunity to ask ourselves what each of us can do to fix the endemic social problems here at home, and in doing so create a society so vastly preferable to religious extremism that it would be next to unthinkable to leave it to engage in such chaotic violence. We could have fostered some empathy with the real victims of this situation, the ten or more innocent human beings who may have lost their lives because of our inability to constructively criticise our own nation and implement support networks for those most in need, or perhaps with his family, who no doubt will experience vilification and hatred from the strikingly ISIS-like neoconservatives calling for a nuclear genocide in the middle east.

Mark Knight’s cartoon depicts Jake at his computer, surrounded by shadowy figures with culturally incorrect facial hair and overemphasised features, disturbingly reminiscent of antisemitic propaganda from the second world war. The caption reads, “you’re never alone on the internet.” A statement that is all too true, but that applies not just to the violent extremists overseas, but equally to their equivalents in our own parliament.

The Herald Sun’s comment:

“President Barack Obama may have to put American boots on the ground to stop the slaughter.”

Are we so afraid of the spectre of terrorism that it has become an acceptable behaviour for the mainstream media to sell war using the death of a child?

Whatever the answer to that question may be, we can be sure of one thing: if Obama puts American boots on the ground, the last thing we’ll see is an end to slaughter.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog, which you can find here.

My Father used to call it “Foot in Mouth Disease”

imageAuthor’s note: I wrote this piece prior to the death of Gough Whitlam and wondered if now was an appropriate time to post it. Then I heard John Howard say:

“A wise man once said that everything should have context”.

What we say with our words and do with our actions defines context and explains the difference between rulers and leaders.

My Father used to call it Foot in Mouth Disease

Last week in Queensland a 17-year-old teenage boy was placed on bail after posting a video of himself racially abusing a train guard. The magistrate praised the dark-skinned guard for his calmness under attack

The boy was obviously intoxicated. Was it the grog talking or did the alcohol just bring out latent racial attitudes the boy had.

My father used to call it ‘foot in mouth disease’. “People open their mouths without thinking”, he would say. A slip of the tongue. I have been guilty of it myself.

Tony Abbott’s ‘suppository of wisdom’ is but one example. He didn’t mean to say it. It just slipped out.

Or Bob Hawke’s ‘no child shall live in poverty’  where he changed a line while reading a speech.

Then there are those like Malcolm Fraser’s ‘life wasn’t meant to be easy’’ where the media deliberately misquoted what he said. What he actually said was ‘’ife wasn’t meant to be easy, but there are times of joyful bliss’. Which of course is a quote of George Bernard Shaw.

But what are we to make of statements that are so palpably bizarre and unequivocally misleading. Statements so lacking in fact that they could only be born of bullshit. Where the contrivance of omission is concealed to fool those less politically knowledgeable.

For example when Joe Hockey was asked about Australia being one the world’s dirtiest greenhouse gas-emitting countries in OECD group of developed countries. He said

“The comment you just made is absolutely ridiculous”.

On the face of it you could only conclude that he was lying. What the political observer must ask is. Is there a pattern.

Bill Clinton said to Romney: “There are real known facts in this world’”.

Let’s look at some recognisable remarks from conservative politicians and see what we can make of them.

Tony Abbott. Prime Minister. “I will shirtfront Putin”. “Coal is good for humanity”.

George Brandis. Attorney General.People have a right to be bigots”.

Eric Abetz Employment Minister. “Abortion causes breast cancer”.

Christopher Pyne. Minister for Education. “Uni fee hikes wont impact women because they don’t study expensive degrees like law or dentistry”.

Mathias Cormann. Finance Minister.Bill Shorten is an economic girlie-man”.

All of these statements are either unambiguously untrue, sexist, confrontational or reek of thuggish authoritarian superiority and have their genesis in far right ideology.

I recently read an article by Miranda Divine titled ‘Why the Libs are Ruddy marvelous’. It outlines the academic qualifications of government members. It is truly impressive. They must be the brainiest bunch to have ever graced our parliament.

“For starters, there are three Rhodes Scholars: Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and Angus Taylor. Two more ministers have degrees from Oxford University: George Brandis QC, and Josh Frydenberg, who has the added distinction of a master’s degree from Harvard. Two other MPs also have master’s degrees from Harvard, among the seven MBAs, two MPAs and four PhDs on the government benches. Two more have masters of philosophy from Cambridge. Fulbright scholar Greg Hunt has an MA from Yale. Former WA treasurer Christian Porter has an impressive four degrees. And he’s a backbencher”.

And it doesn’t end there. Read this. She of course failed to mention that it is essentially a men’s club. Or that Brandis cannot use a computer.

Now let’s look at what a Queens College Oxford education has done for our Prime Minister:

“We just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice”.

“Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia”.

“If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss”.

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons”.

“I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak”.

“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…”

“There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done”

“While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it’s inevitable and I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework.”

“A little bit of body contact never hurt anybody”. “Let’s be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism.

“I find homosexuals confronting”.

At this point I should say that I have only scratched the surface with these comments. I could quote many more but these will suffice for the present. There is even a Facebook page devoted to them every day. And oh my God, I haven’t mentioned Cory Bernardi. The homophobic, Islamophobic, climate change denying free market Christian fundamentalist.

If these are the views the best education in the world bequeaths you then it has failed miserably. Attitudes and opinions such as theses surely cannot be representative of the best learning institutions in the world. If so, they have learn t nothing. Is it possible these great places of learning have taught them what to think and not how to.
How men who hold degrees in almost everything could be so lacking a degree in humanity is beyond me.

The well profoundness of life’s experience that develops wisdom seems to have escaped them.

Statements like the aforementioned (often embedded with religious intent)) are devoid of social empathy and are reflective of thinking that has been influenced by notions of dim-witted superiority. They are the words of a ruler not a leader. They are an indictment of both Abbott and his ministry.

They are statements of the uncaring, the intellectually barren, the cerebraly deficient, the privileged and the narcissistic elitist.

Of the born to rule with ideals of grandeur.

My old man also used to say; “Some people might be well-educated but often they haven’t got a bloody brain in their heads. It’s in the minuteness of their thinking that true ignorance can be found”.  He called them professional students.

If humility is the basis for human advancement, then it is truth that enables human progress. We see neither from today’s conservatives. Instead we see an insensitivity to the common good.

These statements are couched in a form of indoctrination calculated to appeal to those who are open to nefarious persuasion. The sort of propaganda designed to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetuated on you.

Just when the small L people of the former ‘’Liberal Party’’ lost out to the conservative hard right is difficult to pin point but they did. Probably during the Howard rein.

What is left is a party of highly educated neo-conservative buffoons with a world view based on master servant principles of a time long past but not forgotten.

Whereas the Left of Australian politics is concerned with those who cannot help themselves the right is concerned with those who can.

We are experiencing something very unique in Australian politics. A belief that lying has approval, that deception and misleading words will and can persuade the electorate to your view. A belief that there are enough people so politically naive that they will believe you. And that’s the majority of Australians.

It’s straight out of the Conservative Tea Party Handbook. This is deliberate ‘’foot in mouth disease’’ with intentional consequences. There is a pattern and they have been persuaded it works.

“Of course I would have read The Gonski Report had the dog not eaten it”.

Christopher Pyne.

Be Alert, Be VERY, VERY Alert! The Person Next You May Have An iPhone.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

“A Man For All Seasons” Robert Bolt


*                    *                    *

Robert Bolt. Mm, I suspect no relation to Andrew, who does a neat little backflip, with a half-pike just so we don’t notice. When commenting on the recent Q&A, he wrote this:

And that goes to the wider issue: how and why did the ABC get together such a collection of Muslim firebrands savaging Australia? How grossly irresponsible to give viewers the impression that every Muslim in our country was like every Muslim on Q&A – militant, damning of Australia and full of excuses for extremists.  How dangerous to give any extremists the idea that their rage against this wicked country was justified.


But it was his neat bit of “framing” his audience to see a conspiracy that most impressed me:

Naturally, host Tony Jones has stacked the panel: two Muslim activists (who do most of the talking), plus one MP each from Labor, the Liberals and Greens.

Stacked the panel. Mm, is he suggesting that they were all lefties apart from the one Liberal? Or is he suggesting that because you have two Muslims to three “Aussies”? (yes, I know there’s no need to comment) Or is it the fact that it’s three men to two women? (Four, if you count Jones). Exactly how was the panel stacked? Because there was nobody from the IPA? Or the Australian Defence League? No Christians?

As for the Muslim activists this is from the bio for one:

Anne-Azza Aly

Dr Anne Aly is a research fellow at Curtin University, Perth, with a focus on radicalisation, counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism.

Anne leads the Countering Online Violent Extremism Research (COVER) Program at the university’s Centre for Culture and Technology. Her research focuses on the use of social media by violent extremists and strategies to interrupt online activities, including understanding of the audience and the role of victims and formers in counter narratives to extremism. She has written over 50 publications on topics ranging from Islamic identity to counter narratives and the policy response to violent extremism. Anne is the author of four books including Terrorism and Global Security: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives– Australia’s first text book on terrorism and security.


The other

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa Abdel-Fattah was born in Sydney in 1979. She is a Muslim of Palestinian and Egyptian heritage. She grew up in Melbourne and attended a Catholic primary school and Islamic secondary college where she obtained an International Baccalaureate…

During university and her role at the ICV, Randa was a passionate human rights advocate and stood in the 1996 federal election as a member of the Unity Party – Say No To Hanson. Randa has also been deeply interested in inter-faith dialogue and has been a member of various inter-faith networks. She also volunteered with different human rights and migrant resource organisations including the Australian Arabic Council, the Victorian Migrant Resource Centre, the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council, the Palestine human rights campaign and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.


Say No To Hanson? We can do without activists like that, thank you very much. Send her back where she came from… Sydney, wherever that is!

*                    *                    *

Last night a man was shot by police. A policeman is in hospital with serious wounds. These events are tragic and I’m not making light of them. The man is alleged to have made threats against the Prime Minister (who is currently out of the country). Whether these threats involved a knife or a chaff bag is unclear at this stage.

My “chaff bag” comment is not meant to be flippant. It just strikes me as inconsistent that we can dismiss a threat to one prime minister as just being “a figure of speech”, but another will be used by many people as justification for a range of measures. And yes, it’s true that this has resulted in a violent altercation.

Of course, I have sufficient respect for the law not to speculate too much about something that is still being investigated. It’s just the inconsistency that troubles me.

But then there’s a lot of inconsistencies that trouble me. A few days ago, the terrorist threat was raised to high, but we were told that there was no particular threat.

Then we had the raids. Which we were told had been part of an investigation which had been going on for months. And that an attack would have been carried out within days. No imminent threat?

We’re told that the PM and Parliament are a potential target for threats. (Hasn’t this always been the case? If you say no, look up the meaning of “potential” or ask yourself why John Howard wore the bullet proof vest when speaking to good, old responsible Aussie gun owners.)

Tony Abbott tells us a few days later that all that’s needed for an attack is “a knife, an iPhone and a victim”, but he adds:

“Terrorists want to scare us out of being ourselves and our best response is to insouciantly be fully Australian, to defy the terrorists by going about our normal business,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Abbott went on to tell us that orders to carry out demonstration executions had been sent to the the “small networks” of followers in Australia and other countries.

So, let’s make sure that those “small networks” didn’t miss the orders by broadcasting them on the nightly news. Let’s tell everyone that how easy it is to become a terrorist – all you need is “a knife, an iPhone and a victim” (an iPhone? Did he get paid for product placement? Can’t you be a terrorist with a Samsung?)

Then say that you need to be “fully Australian” (this is code for trust me, I really have renounced my British citizenship) and just say “She’ll be right, mate” and go off to work.

When I added music to a slide show which I posted on the internet a couple of years ago, it was down within minutes. Yet video posted by ISIL stays there and nobody takes it down. Some sort of perverse respect for freedom of speech?

And it concerns me that the Murdoch media can completely ignore hundreds of thousands (world-wide) marching on climate change, but find it worth writing stories about less than a hundred protesting the building of a mosque.

This Reprehensible Rabble

If anything was patently obvious from the events in Canberra last week, it is that Clive Palmer thinks he is running the country and the media seem to think so too. They are all over him, relegating Tony Abbott to the role of a bit-player. It is also patently obvious that the government’s negotiating skills sit somewhere between pitiable and non-existent.

The repeal of the carbon tax is only the beginning. There are still budget bills to be passed as well as the mining tax and Clive Palmer appears intent on maintaining the chaos. It is conceivable that Tony Abbott will soon be cornered into either giving Palmer everything he asks or calling a double dissolution. At the moment he is vacillating and his weakness on this issue will expose him for what he really is. His pre-election bluff and bluster has dissolved.

Last week’s circus in the senate was inevitable and it will happen again. The closer you get to your enemy, the sharper you need to be. Clive Palmer has been around long enough not to trust anyone and knows since the day Joe Hockey delivered the Budget that the Prime Minister’s word has little or no value.


Image by The Sydney Morning Herald

Palmer probably remembered Abbott’s comments when interviewed by Kerry O Brien a few years back. “The statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth are those carefully prepared scripted remarks,” Abbott said. In that interview Abbott revealed that he sometimes went further than he should when making a promise. I’m sure it was no surprise to Palmer when the wording to the amendment on the bill to repeal the carbon tax wasn’t quite what it was supposed to be.

If the Coalition think for one moment that they can put one over Clive Palmer, they are deluding themselves. But, given Abbott’s penchant for verbal dishonesty they will probably keep trying and in the process, expose themselves for the utterly reprehensible rabble that they are.

That is not to say that Palmer will not acquiesce when it suits him. He is unpredictable and, I suspect, delights in keeping the government, the opposition and the media guessing. But as time passes (and it can’t come too quickly for most of us), the interaction between him and the Prime Minister will further expose Abbott’s difficulty in negotiating to a point where even his most steadfast supporters will have had enough. The government couldn’t even get their amendments right. A double dissolution could see him lose office or at best see his lower house majority whittled down to one or two.

The senate result could be worse with a strong chance that both major parties would lose numbers to the PUP. If for some reason the people go against PUP and vote to restore some sanity the result will likely favour Labor and the Greens. Either way, Abbott is in trouble. Doubtless his party’s electoral engineers are doing their sums and would be weighing up the pros and cons. The advice given to them by outgoing senator Ron Boswell to stand up to Palmer is the right advice but they appear unwilling to take it.


Image by BBC.com

For the electorate, the greater issue here is honesty, or lack of it. The budget exposed the Coalition to be utterly dishonest, something they brought on themselves; an own goal. They can no longer claim the moral high ground. Their claim to have a mandate is, and always was, spurious. There is just too much evidence out there to show that they have treated the electorate as fools. Clive Palmer has realised that as the self-appointed defender of the underdog, his political future has promise. He will not want to betray his image and backtrack on anything he has said to the pensioners and the battlers who have crossed over to his side.

By way of comparison the government is showing signs of cracking under the pressure. Tony Abbott’s speech to the LNP annual state conference in Brisbane on Saturday bordered on the bizarre.“You and we are rescuing our country . . . it is only us who can rescue our country right now,” he said. Rescue from what? His attack on Bill Shorten was equally weird and suggests he is beginning to lose the plot.


Image by news.com

His upbeat display of confidence was in direct contrast to the events in Canberra and the reality of the situation as it unfolded. He referred to the events in the senate as “a lot of colour and movement.” It was chaotic. Under Abbott’s leadership thus far, the Coalition has lost all the support they had at the election and then some. Their only way forward is to replace their leader and try starting again. That is unlikely for now and things are only going to get worse.



A Change in Perspective

Sometimes you need a change of perspective (image by www.billystevens.tv)

Sometimes you need a change of perspective (image by www.billystevens.tv)

Imagine how much better this world would be if we changed our perspective, writes Petar Vodogaz. We live in a world where politics and religion – in the main – are archetypes of violence.

I type this not just as an Australian born man but also as a citizen of this beautiful, blue-green world we call Earth. And I fear for all our futures. I fear for the next generation after my own and I fear for the next generation afterward. I fear for the soul and the integrity of this island nation. This fear I speak of is caused by the polarisation caused by elements of our society that has flourished and like a disease has spread into the different strands of our civilisation.

I love my city of Sydney but I cringe at how uncaring we have become to the plight of our own homeless, when you read some of the cruelest comments in media comment areas after an article. We have stopped to listen to each other. We have stopped to simply this – care. The growing apathy I see on public transport when almost everyone is lost in their own worlds in texts. People it seems for the most part want to recoil from talking to another person and would rather lose themselves in social media.

Our current political system is shambolic. The two party system has run its course. Our politicians, rather than energise and uplift the Australian people with compassionate policy have pandered to the bigoted, to the extremists. Both parties state they “care about our Nation” and yet if they cared for our nation and the people within in it, they would not commit policies of class warfare, of using emotive speech and terminology such as “welfare leaners” and would not use the plight of asylum seekers in such demeaning terms.

The Australian people have either forgotten their government works in their interest or the majority of people simply do not care until their ‘hip pocket’ is affected. The current Coalition Government states they were elected with a mandate and yet we the Australian people did not elect them to keep secrets from us. Operation Sovereign Borders is simply a calculated piece of policy tainted in bigotry and smacks of touches of the White Australia Policy.

The voter’s role does not begin and end at a federal or state election. There has been enough silence as this current Government has sought to divide and use sloganism and being protected by the Rupert Murdoch media empire it has had a voice piece on commercial TV, shock jock right wing radio and tabloids such as The Telegraph.

I have watched enough of Parliament’s Question Time to see that the majority of politicians have lost touch and those few have not and do try to help people are often drowned out by party politics. I was a former ALP voter but I am now forever separated from politics and there is no single party who I feel I can vote for. The Coalition is as bad as the American Tea Party and the ALP have lost their way on many social issues.

I believe Capitalism is a failed system. As I have become more and more observant of our society, I can hear the vast and often cruel cries of a vastly unhappy society pressurized and polarized. Both politics and religion have been used as instruments of pain, manipulation and above all has made people divisive. We decry the violence in our society and yet have fundamentally chosen to be blind to the ideologies that dull the senses and creates problems rather than helps to elevate and propel humanity forward.

Capitalism is simply a monopoly where the Haves increase their share at the offset of the Have Nots.

If a highly advanced space faring alien species visited us tomorrow and observed us and studied our history of our species, it would not be a good read or a good result. If they were to pass judgment on us, it would be severe and cold and callous. Because our history is stained in blood, each page of our past has been about one ideology trumping over another, about a belief that one race is better than another and so on. We say collectively that we have learnt from the world wars of 1914 and 1939 that never again would be spill the blood of so many people and allow hatreds and ideology to drag us into conflict. And yet we must admit to something that ultimately vilifies us; that our race, is aggressive and violent. That we have purged our planet of resources, killed ecosystems and slaughtered animals sometimes just for fun or to put them up on some mantle piece.

This is a gloomy picture, is it not? Am I painting something very forlorn? Is there hope? Have I given up hope? You would not be surprised if I said I had. But alas, no. I have not given up on humanity. And this is why I have not given up hope.

There is something truly deep inside us that is inherently good and that is our temerity to “learn”. Now to fully embrace this, we must view violence in a different light. We must come to terms with our own dark side and choose to change as a collective and this is how I believe it can be done . . .

It starts from you and me. It starts with a smile. It starts with realising each one of us is inter connected with the other. We cannot view ourselves as “lone islands”; we must come to see our love of violence, in movies, media, in militarism and in regalia of the past. All wars kill people, there is no right or wrong “side”. Not just does it kill our own numbers but it taints our planet.

Take for example the senseless story recently of a father who stabbed to death his 3 year old son.  I cannot and would rather not understand this man’s mind for it is rooted in violence.

To start to change society monumental steps must be taken now. First and foremost humankind must see politics and religion as archetypes of violence. The violence of the past and the present can be brought down to a singular form rooted in either manipulative concept. You have the Middle East that has forms of ideology that countless generations believe in and would die for. And if they thought rationally, people would ask themselves “why do we kill and hurt each other for such unseen beings?” And if these ‘gods’ existed and if they were omni-potent and all powerful and caring of humanity, why would they allow all this senseless and cruel pain and violence to continue?

And furthermore the same would be mentioned of politics, where people support a party, sometimes so blindly to believe in some very vile and inhumane policies. Policies that are sugarcoated in nationalism and jingoism.

I call on an old wisdom, Pacifism. And for this to work, the old ‘order’ must fall and this can only fall if humanity or enough people wake up to the fallacies of violence.

You are not a lesser person if you show a softer side.

You are not weak if you don’t anger or show kindness

Turn off the violence. See the beauty of our fellow man and woman by appreciating each other and each moment. For the end of senseless and cruel violence only begins when each of us takes the first steps and the first realisation that for this species to survive each one of us needs a change in perspective. The grand principle of the heavens . . . braces on the razors edge of truth.

From this moment onwards, I simply do not call myself an Australian. I call myself a Citizen of this Earth, a planet we must preserve and live in harmony with.

This is our moment. We deserve better.

Petar Vodogaz (pictured below) is a former ALP member who lost touch with the party after the inhumane policies of re-implementation of the Offshore Detention Policy. Petar has had a change of perspective in relation to a number of social and political issues. A resident of Sydney who has seen the concerning rise of polarisation within our society and believes we must change the way we see and do things before it is too late. He has not given up hope and does believe there is a positive path forward for humanity, only if we choose to adopt new ways of thinking and ways of doing things.


Shush it’s a Secret. “Well that’s what Tony Abbott told me”.

Shush it's an Abbott government secret (Image by sodahead.com)

Shush it’s an Abbott government secret (Image by sodahead.com)

The best governments are those that are open and transparent. Those that realise they have been entrusted with the public’s permission to form government. They govern without secrecy and take the people into their confidence.

But when a political party deliberately, secretly, withholds information the voter needs to reach informed, balanced and reasoned opinions, it is lying by omission. It is destroying the democracy that enables it to exist.

In the first weeks of forming government Tony Abbott made his intentions unambiguously clear. Truth and openness would not be gifted to the people by him or his ministers. Secrecy would trump the public’s right to know. It is normal for Government Departments to release briefing documents when a new government is formed. The wide-ranging, high-level briefings contain the bureaucracy’s assessment of the winning party’s election commitments, and other information designed to allow a smooth transition between governments.

No Government Department has released a brief since the election. Requests to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury and the Attorney-General’s department rejected requests for their briefs. Labor Senator Joe Ludwig lodged FOI requests but was quickly told that a processing charge of $2000 would be applied to each request. Secrecy had begun. They would become the most secret Government in Australia’s history.

Since then Freedom of Information has been subjugated or covered up by the Abbott Government. And it is ongoing. If the Government doesn’t want us to know what we are entitled to know they suppress it, lie about it directly or by exclusion. Everything is a secret.

So frustrated by the secrecy of a new conservative government was the media that it provoked a plethora of commentary from very experienced journalists. From these observations on Independent Australia . . .

James Masola:

‘The new Coalition government has established an early – and unwelcome – habit of shutting down debates it doesn’t want to have.’

Michelle Grattan described the muzzling of ministers by the PMs Department this way:

‘It was the ultimate “get stuffed”.

Annabelle Crabb asked:

‘If a boat is turned around, and nobody is told about it, did it happen at all?’

Lenore Taylor was somewhat annoyed that Treasury would no longer release its advice to the Treasurer:

‘Treasury has advised that the “blue book” – one of two documents prepared during an election campaign by each department for each of its possible incoming ministers – will not be released under freedom of information laws.’

Barry Cassidy observed:

‘How long can the ministerial sound of silence last?’

Sean Parnell suggested that:

‘A new era of government secrecy has been ushered in …’

Laurie Oakes at the time was particularly critical of Scott Morrison’s media diplomacy. Or his ability to say much while saying nothing.

Mark Kenny deplored the Governments cover-up or rorting of travel allowances.

‘It is jarring to see how quickly the public’s reasonable expectation of probity in its political representatives has been superseded by the reflex to secrecy and self-protection in the new political class.’

Mungo MacCallum had this to say:

‘It is now clear that the underlying principle of the Abbott Government is to be ignorance: not only are the masses to be kept as far as possible in the dark, but the Government itself does not want to know.’

Crikey in an editorial said this:

‘… worrying signs of a secretive government.’
It is reasonable to ask what has been going on to make senior political commentators so alarmed about the descent into political darkness.
Since its election the Abbott Government sought to dumb down the Australian community with lies, half-truths and distorted statements designed to create a constant stream of blame for everything on Labor. Budget crisis, debt and deficient etc. etc.

The first step was to limit what Ministers could say by insisting that all public comment go through the Prime Ministers department. A leaked email from Abbott’s press secretary revealed:

‘All media coordination and requests should go through (the PM’s press office). This covers all national media interviews on television, radio and print.’

A veil of secrecy was hung over the media.

As a new Government they further sought to demonise those seeking to escape persecution by creating a perception of national security rather than a humanitarian one. They created “Operation Sovereign Borders” and announced to the Australian people that they didn’t have a right to know anything. And that continues today. It’s a secret. We will determine what you need to know. Secrecy, not in the interest of human morality but for the protection of a political slogan was born.

So secret, so embroiled in underhanded confidentially is everything about this issue that when Abbott says he has stopped the boats, one really wouldn’t know.

When the ABC reported Asylum Seeker claims of mistreatment, the Prime Minister described “Aunty” as unpatriotic. The Foreign Minister followed up with similar remarks and the announcement of a review into funding followed.

Journalists seeking information would, generally speaking, approach a minister or his or her department. If a wall of secrecy was met they could file an FOI request. The Attorney General George Brandis has made the process so difficult, so convoluted, so censored and expensive that it’s hardly worth their time.

A democracy cannot function without scrutiny. To her credit Julia Gillard would stand before journalists and answer questions to the degree that one or the other would reach exhaustion. This Prime Minister is the opposite, usually making a statement then allowing a few questions before walking away when the questions become too probing.

Everything is clouded in secrecy.

This walking away from hard questions does him no credit and only reinforces the secrecy he seeks to perpetuate.

Tony Abbott won the last election for three reasons. Labor’s leadership dysfunction, Murdoch’s support and Abbott’s convincing of the Australian public with shock and awe tactics that everything was a disaster. His secret hidden agenda of lying and deceit has since been uncovered. His first budget has divulged his secret objective. Inequality in all its manifestations. His omission of not telling the people of what he fully intended at the election has manifestly been uncovered. He held in secret his intentions on many policy issues.

Whilst being openly a denier (even if he says otherwise) of climate science the extent and secrecy of his motives was kept hidden from the public only to be later revealed by the scrapping of the ministry of science and other environmental departments. His uttering on this subject have been demonstrably full of secrecy. The hidden agenda was for our country to be dependent on coal.

When, early in his Prime Ministership the issue of “Travel Rorts” raised its head and the public was outraged. Abbott feigned righteous indignation. Secrecy was made the order of the day. Or many days as it turned out.

Mark Kenny said:

‘It is jarring to see how quickly the public’s reasonable expectation of probity in its political representatives has been superseded by the reflex to secrecy and self-protection in the new political class.’

He promised to govern for all Australians but immediately cultivated those who agreed with him, having little time for those who didn’t. He decided to entertain those in the media who had supported him. The guest list included a Who’s Who of locked in Coalition supporters — among them, Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Alan Jones, Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine, Chris Kenny, Daily Telegraph editor Paul Whittaker, News Corp editor Col Allan, Paul Sheehan and Gerard Henderson.

Again Secrecy was the order of the day with guests being asked to keep the evening strictly confidential. So secret was it that we still don’t know who footed the bill.

Secrecy is a natural divider. Those who know and those that don’t. What motivates a Government to lie and be secret about its intentions? It may be the embarrassment of being found to be wrong. Or the fear of losing office. More sinister motives might come into play but essentially it’s about two things. One, the attainment of power and two the retention of it. People wouldn’t vote for them if their secret program was exposed. It’s easier to manipulate society with lies blurred in long term malevolent secrecy, than truth.

By its very nature secrecy corrodes democracy. Power is compromised when the people are exempted from the full knowledge of a party’s motives and actions.

We must guard against the evil that is political secrecy. Unless of course it is in the national interest.

Secrecy and lying are interwoven and history has shown the greater evil they can lead to.

The right of Australian politics should be careful as to where they are leading us.

An excerpt from:
They Thought They Were Free
The Germans, 1933-45
But Then It Was Too Late

“This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must someday lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

You see, one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. In your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things that aren’t there’ or ‘you’re an alarmist.’

You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in, could not have imagined.

Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.” (Milton Mayer).

Introducing the new “ABC free” AUSTRALIA … now with extra ignorance, selfishness and cruelty

(Or why we need the ABC)


Since the coalition’s Murdoch lead victory in last September’s federal election there has been a palpable shift in our national narrative. The images of a sun burnt country forged by convict sweat and hard working immigrants is fading fast, and in its wake a new story is being fashion.

It is a tale of well intentioned, hard working corporations, (who really just want to keep us all employed), being squeezed by draconian regulations and pushed offshore by rampant, out of control wages. It’s the chronicle of a government being driven into the red, not by cutting taxes for the wealthy and turning a blind eye to the corporate “offshoring” of profits (read “legal” tax evasion), but by those lazy unemployed/disabled bludgers on welfare, and their “anti business” environmentalist buddies. It’s the saga of nation overrun by so called “illegals” intent on subverting our immigration laws for the sole purpose of suckling endlessly on OUR government teat, (Ironically most of whom are coming here LEGALLY as refugees).

These new LNP/Murdoch sanctioned mantras are repeated so often, and with such earnest conviction it seems people are finding it pretty damn hard not to buy into it. There are even those in the Labor party who seem quite happy to have joined the chorus.

I hear it everywhere I go, everyday Aussies out there parroting the coalition’s vitriolic hatred for anything even vaguely related to the unions, the unemployed, the environment, asylum seekers, disability pensioners, ABC lefties, foreign aid, etc.

So why all the negative jawboning?

Well, if you read the papers Australia has, up until our recent electoral liberation, been a nation under siege by left wing “special interests”! Because of this evil leftist scourge we have been forced to endure such indignities as the 2nd highest standard of living in the world (after Norway), the planets largest houses, one of the worlds best/most affordable health care systems, quality education, disposable incomes such that we can afford to be the be the worlds leading per capita emitters of of CO2, and the dubious privilege of ranking 69th in our per capita refugee intake (49th in overall terms).


When you lay it out like that it’s easy to see why we have all been so unhappy, we have been really suffering! Clearly something had to be done.

But seriously, something has happened to us. If you listen to the rhetoric, it would seem we are no longer a nation that strives for the fair go, but rather one that values our own perceived self interest above all other concerns.

I scratch my head and wonder, how did this happen? When did Australia become a place that embraces the social and political agendas of the most ignorant, selfish and cruel among us?

It wasn’t that long ago that Australian public opinion was DEEPLY CONCERNED with the environmental legacy we are leaving for our children. As recently as last year people seemed happy to talk about the scandal that is corporate tax evasion. There was even a time, in living memory, when refugees that came here by boat were welcomed with a broad smile and a hand up.

So what happened? How did the social and moral imperative get banished from our national narrative? Did it happen by accident, or by design? And if by design, then by who’s hand?

And then there’s the bigger questions. Exactly who’s interests are served by these apparent changes in our attitudes? And is anyone standing against the tide?

The sculpting of public opinion has a long history and there are many tools, such as fear and scapegoating, that have been used to great effect through out the ages. “Group think”, for example is an extraordinarily powerful weapon, (after all who wants to run outside the herd, everyone knows how dangerous that is). The truth however has never been a necessary component when seeking to sway the prevailing sentiments of the masses.

William James, the father of modern Psychology notably once quipped “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will not believe it”. This rather glib observation was most infamously put into practice by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, (a man on whom the power of the press was most certainly not lost), who used the simple “lie, repeat, lie, repeat, lie, repeat” principle to whip up the greatest genocidal frenzy in history.

More recently Goebbel’s philosophical musing “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play” has been turned on it’s head by the irrepressible Rupert Murdoch, our prodigal puppeteer d’jour, who, like some gruesomely wizened “whack a mole” has popped up here again to lead his relentless political cheer squad for which ever side will acquiesce to do his bidding. It would appear that, in spite of his meddling hand being beaten down in UK and much of the USA now being hip to the fact that “FOX NEWS” is an oxymoron, if you hand the old boy a monopoly he’ll show you he’s still got it.


One rather startling revelation that came out of the UK’s recent Levinson enquiry into press standards , was was that Murdoch had actively lobbied former UK prime minister John Major to change the Torries policy on the EU, lest he engage in willfully biased coverage in order to “hand the election” to Blair’s New Labor (a party/man seemingly more willing to do his bidding). Major refused to allow Murdoch to dictate policy and was duly slammed by the Murdoch press, who came out swinging hard for Blair.

So in spite of the Torries having had a clear lead in the polls up until Major’s “disagreement” with Murdoch, the Torries, (much like Gillard), found the power of a vindictive, inflammatory press mobilised against them simply too great to overcome. Blair was elected and the rest, as they say, is history.

While the Brits were duly outraged, you would think something so blatantly corrupt as seeking to dictate government policy in return for favourable press would raise a dubious brow from someone back here in Aus; but much like the “March in March” (a mysteriously unnoticed gathering of over 100,000 Australia wide) somehow it failed to be deemed newsworthy enough to make any significant impression on the Australian mainstream media.

So… If a media baron is dictating government policy in return for press support, but no one ever hears about it, is the political process actually being subverted? Probably, (but then who has time to worry about such things when we are all so busy hating and punishing refugees).

no to refugeesNauru Detention Centre

Or… If a crowd gathers in the city and no one is there to report it, did it really gather? Maybe it did in the hearts and minds of those who were there, but for anyone else, or in the archives of history?… Well maybe not.

march in march

We have been told a lot of things recently, (much of it negative), about everything from the unions to environmentalists, from asylum seekers to the NBN. And while it’s easy to put a question mark over anything a politician might say in an effort to popularise their chosen policy agenda; I can not help but wonder if a press core that is practically a monopoly, (and known to actively pursue it’s owners personal agendas), is actually telling us the whole truth, or even any small part of it?

Like many others I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’re being fed a grab bag of skilfully crafted misinformation, half truths and innuendo designed to direct our hostility toward the poor and disenfranchised, or anyone out there pushing for a fairer, more sustainable policy agenda.

According to the official story, Australians are apparently (on average) far richer than we were 10 years ago… but for some rather opaque reason we just don’t feel it.
I can’t help but wonder why that is?

Is it because we feel more entitled than we used to? (If we don’t have a car, a mobile phone, a laptop, an ipad, a kindle, a 50″ TV, Foxtel, Quickflix, a yearly overseas holiday, and at least 3 restaurant meals a week we think we are suffering an intolerable injustice?).

Is it that we are constantly being assaulted by the relentless negativity of a 24 hour news cycle, telling us that our unfettered access to “more stuff” is being threatened by the poor and disenfranchised?

Or maybe it’s that the wealth is only going to the top end of town, and no one else is reaping the benefit?

It’s perfectly understandable that when we are feeling squeezed we like to have someone to blame, but it is worth asking ourselves, is our anger being misplaced?

Here we are, literally seething with contempt for refugees, single mothers, greenies, protesters, students, socialists, the disabled, lefties, intellectuals and the all those former bank and manufacturing workers that have now joined the ranks of the unemployed. Meanwhile the gap between the haves and have nots is at an all time high. Our trusty government is busy reducing taxes for the top end of town, Corporate profits are breaking records left and right, (but strangely corporate tax receipts are not, Google, for example, had revenue of over $1 billion in Australia in 2012, and yet paid only $74k tax). CEO’s wages and share options continue to defy gravity, and our banks, whilst being incredulously profitable, are shipping jobs off shore faster than you can say “transaction fee”, and so it goes…

*(brings to mind a joke I heard recently: A banker, a Daily Telegraph reader and a refugee are out to lunch. The waiter puts down a plate with twelve biscuits on it; the banker takes eleven, nudges the Telegraph reader and says “hey watch it mate, that refugee wants your biscuit”)

Everyone knows trickle down economics is bunk, and yet we keep buying into the myth, lauding the lords and kicking the powerless. The cognitive dissonance simply staggering!

So my question is this…Who’s interests does this new hateful narrative really serve? Murdoch and his buddies in the 1%, or those of us in the mortgage belt?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not wholly blaming Murdoch. We all lobby for our own interests, and why should he be any different. What I am saying however is that a virtual monopoly concentration of Australia’s media in any ones hands is dangerous. We need visible, diverse mainstream media to give a balanced range of views.

We also need some measure of mainstream media presence that is not driven by profit, or dictated to by advertising revenue and share holder values. We need a media that is prepared to objectively challenge the veracity of the story as told to us by Murdoch, (and given the governments proposed changes to section 18c of the racial vilification act this is now more important than ever).

In short, we need our ABC.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’LetitiaMcQuade’ show_count=’yes’]

Faces in the crowd: Melbourne #MarchinMarch

Photo: Labor View From Bayside

Photo: Labor View From Bayside

The Marches in March continue to glow with controversy. Never did so few gather so many, without engaging the usual suspects of the old media, the political parties, NGOs, the unions and the activist groups. There had to be a dark side to these events. The people can’t have minds of their own! Or if they do they must be warped!

Tim Dunlop has joined the fray with a post at The Drum: Rage against the mainstream

The fact is, the media’s lame response to an estimated 100,000 citizens showing up on the streets around the country is indicative of a deeper malaise: the rules of news have changed, and increasingly legacy media companies have neither the capacity nor the wit to operate in the new environment.

His target was the Sydney Morning Herald’s Jacqueline Maley.

Tim’s piece follows Lyndon Morley spirited offence at Independent Australia in support of his sign RESIGN DICKHEAD! He was replying to Andrew Bolt’s slanted reporting at the Herald Sun. Bolt was comparing the remarks about Abbott with those of Alan Jones about Julia Gillard. As usual he saw red: “But who will apologise for the parade of hatred in today’s March in March?” He found what he was looking for, of course.

I’ll leave jousting with the black knight of bigotry to Lyndon.

Matthew Donovan tackled The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair over what he called “delusions and blind or wilful ignorance” on AIMN on Wednesday. His message: “I will not let you smear the good people who marched”.

I’ll just stick to what I saw and heard in my hometown. To flip the record, I’ve compiled some offcuts that didn’t make my original video piece on the Melbourne #MarchinMarch, not for the signs of the times but for the faces of the people:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK7o7_EgpdI]

One of the more appealing aspects of the Melbourne march was the signs. By and large, they were not offensive. Some seemed to have gone to extremes to be polite:

Kindness matters!

Not Happy Tony.

We Can Do Better!

Cowdy Songs Not Cowboy Govt.

Careful Now!

Wake Up Australia!

In fact most were homemade and some appeared to be the handy work of people more accustomed to writing letters-to-the-editor, pamphleteers rather than sloganeers:

Human Dignity Is Independent of National Borders. We must Always Defend the Interests of the Poor and the Persecuted.

Arbitrary Governments Use Arbitrary Detention.

The longest read:


Many were decidedly to the point:

Tony Abbott Worst PM in Australia’s History.

Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity and Our Planet.

No More Racism, No More Bull, Australia’s Nowhere Near Full!b>Welcome Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

No Justice, No Peace.

Some were a tad obscure:

Viva la Evolucion!

This one had two sides:

Dirty Coal. Clean Wind

Very few signs that I saw were truly offensive or in bad taste. This exception was timeless and certainly open to the charge of not being focussed:

F*ck the Police

It probably wouldn’t resonate with Bolt quite like ‘F*ck Tony Abbott’ T-shirts did.

Monday’s Media Watch looked at a coverage paradox, namely how the old media both ignored and condemned the marches. Paul Barry picked up the threads:

A bevy of right-wing columnists have accused the ABC and Fairfax of failing to condemn some vicious anti-Abbott placards, carried by a handful of marchers.

But it was not just the Right that was unhappy with the way the March in March was covered.

Many protesters felt that 31 marches and tens of thousands of people deserved far more attention.

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