Tony O’Leary is a great spinner

I read with interest your thoughts on Coalition ‘spinners’ and in
particular comments that Tony O’Leary had been a ‘third rate hack’ before joining
the staff of the Prime Minister. You didn’t mention that he was also a senior
producer for the Ten Network before that. I have not always agreed with Tony O’Leary
but I think he has done a first rate job under difficult circumstances in the
Prime Minister’s office. Personally, I ran a country television news network
in the Press Gallery before joining the Coalition to work (for the past seven
years) in politics. Does that make me a regional television journalist even though I have also held several senior positions at every television network in the country as well as the United States and New Zealand over a thirty year period? I
have worked (mainly as a Chief of Staff) for five Minister’s in this
Government and it is, at times, a tough ask, egos and abilities aside. Tony O’Leary has
the toughest media job in Government, he has earnt his stripes by any

Russ Street.

CRIKEY: Can’t say I agree with you Russ. People on the Herald Sun who worked with O’Leary didn’t rate him. People say he has
rat cunning but he has failed to build many bridges with the media and even with Tony Nutt and Petro Georgio spending billions
in government advertising, the government remains unpopluar. The government salesman have not done a good job
and O’Leary leads the charge.

Col Allan a lightweight bully

Just picked up your excellent piece on Col Allan. As someone who worked with him in Murdoch’s london bureau for three years, let me just say that the guy is regarded here as a lightweight bully who couldn’t hack it in Fleet Street. Kelvin Mackenzie was over the road at the time and allan was both terrified of him and awestruck. Of course, Kelvin probably is the best tabloid editor Brit journalism (which means the world) has ever had. Even Rupert treated him with respect. We didn’t take Col seriously in the bureau; he was always trying to steal other people’s stories, for one thing. We regarded him as totally untrustworthy and a chancer. We were certainly not overawed by him. As for being a brilliant journo … forget it. A boozer
and a tosspot, yes. But not much else.


CRIKEY: I reckon this is a bit rough on Col. He is a good tabloid editor when not too drunk or in one of his abuse the power moods.
Then again, he can’t hold a candle to Kelvin MacKenzie.

It’s tough being an inhouse lawyer

The public flap over the postponement of Monday’s intriguing and depressing
4 Corners episode may or may not have been justified. What I found
interesting however was the revelation that Shier was “gunning” for Judith
Walker, the head of the ABC’s Legal Branch.

Speaking as a former govt lawyer I have some sympathy for Judith. There’s
been a real tendency among the new breed of red meat-eating baby boomer
managerialist agency head to denigrate their legal branch. You see,
in-house lawyers have a terrible habit of telling the CEO that the slight of
hand, or cover up, or piece of duplicity they want to inflict on their
staff, Parliament or the public, is, well, illegal. As in against the law.
“That’s not practical” or “the law [ie the lawyer]is an ass” is the usual
retort to such unwelcome advice, followed by “brief it out to [name your top
5 firm, preferably one that makes donations to the Coalition] and see what
they think”.

What’s amazing is the unerring ability of the external firm to give the
advice your CEO wants. But try not to look too hard at the reasoning.

I’m not suggesting this happened in the instance of the recent 4 Corners
episode. On the contrary, it sounds like the external lawyers acted with
some probity (maybe they had not choice, given the public attention), and
the show went to air virtually untouched I believe. But every day,
somewhere in a Commonwealth agency, your managerialist CEO will be putting
the acid on a government lawyer who hasn’t given him the required answer,
and although it keeps the lawyers on their toes, which is a good thing, the
hidden corrosion of accountability should worry everyone.


CRIKEY: Very well said. Anyone on the payroll – lawyers, accountants, auditors, consultants – will try to frame their advice in a way
that pleases the person handing over the cash. It’s just human nature. You need advisers who are not scared of losing their
job and inhouse lawyers with tenure can sometimes do this much better than the external lawyers. Then again, this can work in reverse
if the inhouse lawyer is scared of losing their job. When Today Tonight tried to broadcasting the Kennett share dealing yarn it was
inhouse lawyer who finally pulled it after a host of external lawyers gave it the all clear.

Dems take the cash and then sledge McDonalds

Hi! I’m an active Democrat, and have read your recent articles on the party with interest. There is a point I want to clarify, namely…
Yes, the Democrats did receive $10,000 from McDonalds. What isn’t being reported is that soon afterwards the Democrats issued a press release criticising McDonalds. Democrats policy is made by members – our policy is not there to be bought.

Many members, myself included, disapprove of the current methods of party fundraising, and are working to improve them. Unfortunately, the way the political system in Australia currently works, a party like the Democrats needs money in order to compete with the Liberals and the ALP, and that money has to come from somewhere.

The solution is either to take donations only from companies with ethical business practices, or, better still, to radically reform the system so that the ability of political parties’ to run winning campaigns is not dependent upon corporate donations.

Yours sincerely, Anna Garrett

CRIKEY: Crikey would never accept money from McDonalds in any circumstances and the Dems should also draw the line. Any publisher has the
same ethical dilemma as a political party. Whose products will they promote for money? We’ll be judged by the quality of people
advertising on our site just as the Dems should be judged and criticised for taking money from the likes of big banks, Packer
and McDonalds.

Why is Crikey so blokey?

Stephen, I’m not sure why women don’t subscribe to crikey. Perhaps it’s because women don’t usually have much of an interest
in current affairs and politics. Perhaps it’s because the left are more adept and giving women the impression that their views are
taken more seriously. And perhaps you need to rethink your own tone occasionally ie. the first paragraph of this email.

The inappropriately jokey tone aside (someone has, after all, been murdered), I need to pick you up on your logic. I don’t know
how you can simultaneously argue that WTO protesters and their ilk have no right to prevent democratically elected people
attending a legal meeting, but that harassing people seeking a legal medical procedure is “pretty harmless”. Harmless to who? Oh,
you of course.

I also thought the protesters at East Melbourne were pretty harmless when I lived around the corner from the clinic. They were
merely a source of amusement. Then I found myself having to go inside the clinic to support a friend and let me assure you, it’s
pretty bloody menacing when you take into account the graphic posters and the fact that patients are emotional anyway.

I even had the pleasure of watching them decend onto a woman arriving alone who could not have been much more than 16 and
looked terrified.

Just the occasional expression of charity and concern from the conservative side would do wonders for their appeal.

Otherwise, thanks for producing such quality stuff.


CRIKEY: Point taken re the East Melbourne comments. I guess that business and politics are
still largely blokey areas and that’s why only 22 per cent of our subscribers are
women. Maybe we need some special features to attract more women readers. Anyone got
any ideas?

Packer promos for digital TV

Did you see the ad on 48 Mins for digital TVs and
their astounding, amazing capabilities? Desperately
trying to run away from the TV on Sunday night, (due
to the trash Ten was chucking at us), I was riveted by
the blatant advertising, scripted incredulity and
basic conflict of interest. But what can we expect
from Packer and his cohorts?

keep up the good work, alan

PS. perhaps Rehame could get you a copy of the tape?

CRIKEY: And isn’t it a shame that hardly anyone is bothering to take it up because of the
complete digital stuff up by Alston on the urging of the free-to-air networks.

Kimberley Kitching is straight

Dear Editor

Congratulations on your generally excellent coverage of the Melbourne City
Council elections. I’ve followed Crikey from the days of and
think it’s getting better all the time.

“S.Gilbert” (understandably reluctant to identify him or herself further)
falsely claims in Yoursay that one of my endorsers – Georgina Weir -endorsed
me because she had or has a planning application before the Council.

What nonsense! The last thing someone wanting to win friends and influence
people on the Council would do is endorse ONE candidate of the one hundred
and thirty five hopefuls.

“S.Gilbert” also falsely states that there will be “shabby deal-making” in
relation to Georgina’s application if I’m elected. Again, nonsense. I’ll
decide each and every issue on its merits, as I do on the boards I’m on.
I’ll never vote on any issue in which I have an interest.

“S.Gilbert’s” suggestion otherwise is the kind of shabby, gutter politics
that led the previous Council into so much trouble. It’s why Melbourne needs
a Fresh Start.

“S.Gilbert,” you feel free to question Georgina’s motivation so let me
question yours, what’s your full name for a start ? Are you involved in any
campaign or do you just enjoy throwing muck from the sidelines? Are you a
voter in the election ?

You don’t question the motivation of the dozens of other endorsees or
endorsers, so I’m puzzled to know why you single out mine.

Crikey believes rightly in full disclosure so let’s hear your story if
you’re courageous enough to tell it. I hope you put up or actively pursue
the alternative.

As for it being little known that the people who’ve endorsed me are friends,
that really is an absurdity too. Of course, they are friends. Are friends
disqualified from giving endorsements ? I’d rather have the endorsements of
people who know me well than someone who didn’t. In all three cases, they
are friends who have enough faith in my ability to do the job to publicly
endorse me. I’m honoured they’ve done this and will continue to work hard to
get the chance to prove them right.

Continued success Crikey,

Kimberley Kitching

CRIKEY: Well said Kimberley. It is hard to give too much credibility to someone calling themselves
Gilbert Sullivan but thanks for clearing that up.

Does journos union donate to ALP?

Dear Crikey,

Should it be found that the MEAA has donated to the ALP it is time that
political reporters who are members of this alliance have a disclaimer at
the end of their article, similar to that of those business reporters who
own shares.

Joe Bloggs

CRIKEY: A very good point and we’d be keen to hear from the MEAA on this. I suspect the journalists division does not donate
but the Actors Equity and other wings would have over the years.

Turnbull for NSW Premier

Quite fascinating don’t you think? Turnbull was today appointed deputy treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party. No
doubt his next move will be to gain pre-selection for Vaucluse. The only
question that remains unanswered is, does he achieve election through a
by-election or the next State Election?
Not without it’s irony.
Premier Wran becomes Turnbulls partner.
Citizen Wran’s partner becomes Premier.
The full circle.

Prediction 1: Turnbull will become one of the best Premiers NSW has ever

Prediction 2: Year 2005
Malcolm Turnbull Premier.
Lucy Turnbull Lord Mayoress.
Australia a Republic.

nq…Liberals 4 Ever.

CRIKEY: Plucked this one of a bulletin board. It forgets to mention that Peter Reith will be Premier of NSW by then. The grand plan goes
that the state Libs in NSW and Vic have no potential premiers in their ranks so it will be Malcolm “I’m worth $120 million” Turnbull
for NSW and Peter “ding aling” Reith for Victoria.

Defo battles: Bowles vs Rule

Dear Crikey

Defamation issues aside, Andrew Rule should not bandy around the term hack
too much. His own recent documentary take (ABC? about 2 months ago?) on the
Jennifer Tanner case was replete with lame personal asides. Nor have his
efforts for The Age over the years been without gratuitous atmospherics or
over-hammed prose. I think he was justified in taking Robyn Bowles to task
for faking sources etc. On the other hand nobody scores any palpable hits
trotting out the typo count or twitting the author for sloppy editorial
practice. The whole thing reeks of personal grudges. No doubt Rule is
almighty shat off Bowles wrote the best-sellers after he’d done so much of
the original journalistic follow-through. On pain of giving the impression
his main motivation was personal maybe he should have considered passing on
the review to someone else. All the same Bowles is being a ridiculous drama
queen. (Surely she might have come up with a strongly-worded reply defending
her methods.) The whole spectacle of these two warriors for justice
soldiering even more doggedly for the sake of wounded vanity is, well,
hardly very edifying, is it?

Well-satisfied subscriber, Cameron S

CRIKEY: Jounos suing journos (or authors in this case) is never a very edifying spectacle. Clearly Andrew Rule was best placed to
review the book but the viciousness of the attack would suggest he was also personally motivated. Maybe we’ll find out in court
if a reviewer can be motivated by malice. Remember when Leo Schofield went down for a restaurant review.

Akerman to the right what Halfpenny was to left

Hi Stephen, totally agree with your sentiments on Akerman.

People who were in the ABC in the early ’90s say that their experiences with John Halfpenny are instructive. In various panel
discussions on where-is-Labor-going, and on every area of government policy related (or not) to industrial relations, some bright
spark in the ABC decided to use Halfpenny; indeed he was very available and always ready to sink the boot in to someone or
other. After a while Keating’s office got sick of Halfpenny being the self-appointed conscience of the ALP. Wrists were slapped
within the ABC until even the lowliest producer understood that calling Halfpenny wasn’t worth the grief, even in stories related
directly to Victorian Trades Hall.

In the early ’90s Channel 9 used to use Bruce Ruxton as the face of Australian conservatism, until his profile mysteriously
nose-dived in about ’94.

Who would you substitute Akerman with? Miranda Devine? Greg Sheridan? Paul Sheehan? Surely there is some disaffected but
still committed staffer who wants to set up as the next Gerard Henderson or Grahame Morris. Your mate Greg Barns is trying to
depoliticise the republic; he’d look pretty silly if he got all partisan himself. Jeff Kennett should have less and less to occupy his
time these days. Michael Kroger is less accessible than he used to be, and we’ll have to wait until after the election to get Peter
Reith. Maybe it should be that elusive creature, “the right-wing Phillip Adams”.

CRIKEY: And isn’t it ironic that Akerman and Halfpenny went head to head in Victoria for a couple of
years when Piers was running the Herald Sun into the ground and the Halfpenny-Kirner
duo were running Victoria into the ground.

Token lefty claims leftist hegemony


As the “token lefty” on Crikey I beg the chance to remind your readers of a
few facts, seeing as I am sorta marginalised by such a tagline.

By the end of the year Labor will be in power Federally and in every state
in Australia. I hear they are a chance in the MCC too.

Canada has been ruled by the left-of-centre Chretien Liberal Government
since 1993 and they won the 1999 election by a huge margin.

Your man Tony Blair has a massive majority in the UK and doesn’t seem to be
going anywhere soon. While British Labour may not be the red flag waving
outfit it once was, it is hardly Thatcherite, despite what the jealous Right
may allege.

Gerhard Schroeder and his red/green coalition in Germany are finally
managing to get some steam up after years of corruption, mismanagement and
economic decay under Helmut Kohl’s right wing Christian Democrats.

And were it not for some truly questionable antics down Florida way, the US
would have had as left a President as possible in the arsenal of democracy,
Al Gore.

Not only that, the Right seems to be losing its raison d’etre across the
world, especially as every WTO/World Bank/IMF meeting is being met by more
and more protestors determined to take back the power right wing politicians
have sold to business.

The Australian Right is splitting at the seams, the Canadian Right is doing
similar and lets not even mention the UK Tories.

The list goes on and on. In fact, the only places I know of with functioning
right-wing governments are Russia, Afganistan and Zimbabwe.

One more thing, for all the right promotes its economic management skills,
or more, spreads lies that the Left cannot run an economy, who was in power
during the Long Boom of the mid-late ’90’s?

It was left-of-centre (in varying degrees and circumstances) leaders like
Clinton, Blair, Schroeder and so on who managed to create the biggest global
economic expansion in human history.

So perhaps I’m not so much a “token lefty” as the “voice of reason”?

Cheers and remember — LA LOTTA CONTINUA!

Rory Cahill

CRIKEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah Rory. When presented with arguments like this you’ve just got to
remind yourself what Gough did Australia and what Kirner did to Victoria.

Courier, Four Corners and due credit


re: Courier-Mail, Four Corners and due credit.

Memories … I worked at Queensland Newspapers for The Courier-Mail & The
Sunday Mail from 1979 to 1987.

(I remember getting severely told off, when I was a cadet circa 1980-81, by
the CM’s editor for being disrespectful for having the audacity of asking
that nice police commissioner Terry Lewis a blunt question about police
corruption. Lewis – much later jailed for corruption – was giving a guest
speech to Queensland Newspaper cadets about police/journalist relations.)

The Moonlight State was a follow-up on a series of investigative articles
written by Phil Dickie for The Courier-Mail. I can’t see why there should be
any tension about that – publication and broadcast dates could be checked,
showing The Courier-Mail published damning allegations relating to
corruption and organised crime in Queensland well before the Four Corners
report went to air. It was the first and only show of guts I can recall from
during my time at The Courier-Mail, which was appallingly sycophantic
towards the police, state government and the establishment generally.

However, serious allegations of Queensland Government and police corruption
were published much earlier – in 1984 – by election candidate and
shit-stirrer Fast Buck$ (aka Byron Bay local Jon Anderson), in a series of
“Pink pamphlets” (he called “Pinkies”) which I helped distribute. (Fast
Buck$’ running mate, “Sir Peter Livecy”, or some absurd name like that,
stayed at my place in Highgate Hill during that election campaign.)
And informed attacks on the Bjelke-Petersen Government and Queensland
police were aired on Brisbane community radio station 4ZZZ-FM (where I was a
volunteer announcer in the mid-80s) since it began broadcasting in the
mid-70s, in satirical magazine The Cane Toad Times since the early 80s and
throughout the Joh era in student papers such as Semper at Queensland
University and Planet at what was then QIT (now QUT).

regards, anon

CRIKEY: The question of the Courier Mail and Four Corners in relation to the Fitzgerald inquiry is something we are exploring presently.
Chris Masters is still bitter towards the Courier for some reason but a lot of independent observers give Phil Dickie much of the
credit. Strangely, Dickie, who is one of Australia’s most sued journalists with 29 writs and his head held high, appears to have fallen
out with the Courier Mail as well these days whereas Masters is still senior reporter on Four Corners.

Give us more spin doctor lists


Your list of current Labor media spinners is commendable. It’s high
time some of those rocks were over-turned to see what lurks beneath.

However, please don’t stop there. Let’s have similar lists covering
all parties.

However, it’s clear from the heavily biased bullshit spouted on the
ABC, in particular, that a list of former ALP media types would be
just as germane. (Am I the only one who believes that loaded terms
like ‘government backflip’ should not have any place in the main news
bulletins of the day on a publicly funded, allegedly ‘independent’
broadcaster? The blatant partisanship of so many ABC news reports and
news commentary is downright disgraceful.)

I don’t think that the leopards change their spots either, and you
only have to watch the body language of the likes of Cassidy, O’Brien,
Negus and other former high-placed ALP staffers to know that their
Labor links are still well-greased and fully functional.

Love the new format, btw.

Mike Burke

CRIKEY: We are working on other lists and would love the complete rundown from someone of the current Howard Government
spinning list. You shouldn’t condemn journalists for political jobs 25 years ago but I agree the ABC has too many of these former
Labor staffers in the big positions.

Leave Paul Keating alone

Where’s the story on the piggery? Not the rather overheated and
flimsy effort by the Packers to ‘do’ PJK. The real story is that
Heffernan (and Baume?) have been exposed.

Rather than do your usually excellent effort in exposing the real
motives of the media (in this case the Packers – who wins, who
loses?), you focus on what remains a dog of a story about
Keating’s supposed misdeeds.

Surely Crikey’s usually excellent Lib/Nat intelligence can ‘decipher’
this one. Get to it, Hillary. Can do better.

CRIKEY: Crikey reckons Paul Keating has been up to a few questionable things and his wealth should be explained. You use the Col Allan
defence of his mate by demanding that the story is Packer’s motivations and not what Al Constantinidis revealed. The fact of the
matter is that Packer did not even know about the story until a few days before it went to air. We should be encouraging more
dirt digging in politics, not less.

Why politics is so blokey

Hi guys,

Was very interested in the letter in yoursay titled “Why is Crikey so

I am not a subscriber, but I am a frequent reader. I actually find crikey
really useful. As a woman in a political party, it is one of my better
sources of political insider info. This is because whilst I may go down to
the pub with the blokes, they change what they talk about because I am
there. It is not a deliberate thing, it is just force of habit on their
part. They don’t talk to women in the same way that they talk to men.

The informal networks that men have are really hard to break in on. I often
find myself in meetings listening to people and thinking “how the hell did
you all know that?”. The answer is, they talk to each other in a way they
don’t talk to me. (Oh, the meetings I go to are usually about 75-80% male,
with the exception of my local branch which has a record current level of
60% male.)

On first read I am sure that this will get a lot of backs up. The men I
work with are NOT sexist, biased or misogynistic. In fact they are some of
the best I have worked with, and are, in the main, great friends of mine as
well. My point is that because of the way we are socialised to relate to
each other as “men” & “women”, women lose out on a hell of a lot of key
information about how to behave & what is going on. It is like playing a
game & finding out the rules one rule at a time. It is really exhausting.
There is a point where you seriously consider giving up, and I think a lot
of women do.

SO, advice for Crikey? Keep doing what you are doing. The problem is that
women don’t know you are here, and don’t know how useful it can be for them.
If you can think of a way of remedying that, you may be on to a winner.

Regards, Rosalyn Pursey

PS The only thing may be that you should stop emphasising the sport
thing, or maybe just include which netball team your candidates support!!

CRIKEY: I reckon membership of political parties would run 80-20 in favour of blokes – about the same ratio as Crikey’s subscribers.
If anyone from the parties has some stats on this I’d love to see them. And if you know any sheilas out there, tell ’em we exist
and the three people who really pull the strings at Crikey are Hillary, Paula and Rose – three luvly lasses.

Peter Fray

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