Crikey is keen to publish more feedback so send them through to [email protected]

I have read numerous stories about the bombing in Bali, which seems to have killed so many Australians. More than one of these reports calls for action of one sort or another. There seems to be critical shots being fired at Australian politians for not doing enough and making sure that Australians are safe. Most of this is, quite plainly, hogwash.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the region would know that Australians have been potential targets for attack since we marched into East Timor. The less literate Indonesians were fed the line that Australia had invaded East Timor. I know that many Aussies, even in Jakarta, would never venture out after dark. To suggest that we [Australia] should hunt down the terrorists is laughable. Do we really think that the Indonesian government control the country ? Do we even think they give two hoots about dead Australians ? Wake up and smell the buffalo dung !

This week it was Bali, next week it could be Spencer Street Railway Station or the underground. Bottom line, nowhere is safe from these terrorist lunatics so accept it and get on with life.

Sincerely,

Haydn Leseberg
Expat in Bangkok

Disapppointed Aussie in DC

Dear Crikey

Read your critique of the Aussie media coverage with interest from here in suburban Washington DC where I’m currently living and working.

When first news of the bombings broke I headed for Newsradio on the web. Their audio streaming works fine, but the content was abysmal. Here was a huge breaking story yet Newsradio were sticking with their standard format as if it was just another Sunday morning, and running all manner of irrelevant international stories and background material. Not to mention the repeated promises by the anchor that despite the breaking Bali story, and the press conference by the Prime Minister, “we will still take you to Washington for All Things Considered from NPR …” Who cares? After a while I gave up, disappointed by Newsradio’s poor effort. Stick with Parliament, fellas.

And what is it with the audio streaming from 2UE and 3AW? Repeated attempts yielded nothing during the hours I was trying.

Well, maybe the much-vaunted cable news industry in the US would come to the rescue? A probable catastrophic terror attack on Westerners in South East Asia would surely have people in the capital of the global campaign against terrorism sitting up and taking notice? Think again. The American media continued throughout the day their obsession with the Washington sniper, who despite not having fired a shot since Friday still dominates hour upon hour of news coverage here. Every pundit, every wannabe profiler, every retired law enforcement hack who can’t get in on the Iraq or al-Qaeda story have found rich pickings with the sniper story. Lots of TV reporters standing around various Washington locations waiting breathlessly for the next hapless victim to be struck down while filling their car at the petrol station. Meantime, endless waffle, and complete ignorance of the breaking story in Bali. (The news anchor who described the shootings in their early stages as “poorly planned! ” because the sniper was only getting one victim at a time is a story for another time.)

CNN to its credit picked up what was happening, but very much through an American lens and there was little mention of the inevitably huge number of Western casualties, including Australians. BBC World News where it was available on public broadcasting stations was predictably thorough.

Yes, the sniper story has been unnerving and disturbing for those who live here in Washington. But so too is the daily diet of violence that occurs otherwise unremarked in this city, particularly in the blighted suburbs of DC. It usually rates a sentence in the local newspaper given that homicide comes with some zip codes as a matter of course. Meanwhile, that lunatic Geraldo Rivera roams the city “at large” reporting on how Washingtonians are gripped by fear and the city is almost at war with an unseen foe. Well, not today they weren’t – it was business as usual, and you stood more risk of being pulverised under the weight of a runaway monster sports utility vehicle (aka Toorak Tractor) on the Beltway than copping one in the neck from a probably angry white man with too many guns and a bad attitude.

Ten out of ten to the local Aussie Embassy too. Within a couple of hours, in my desprate hunt for news about the attacks, I checked their web site. It already had a ticker running on the front page advising phone numbers for family and relatives, including for Canadians, complete with toll free numbers in the US and Canada to call. Plus there was a link to updates from foreign affairs HQ in Canberra which gave a sober account of events to date. Some American media organisations could perhaps take note.

I see some absurdities already appearing in the Aussie media coverage: for instance, John Laws has just interviewed Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector turned Iraqi PR guy on what the Bali attacks mean for the probable war against Iraq. Ritter is now thoroughly and completely discredited and has been laughed out of any respectable media outlets elsewhere in the world.

And I see the SMH’s letters columns are already brimming with outraged missives from the armchair lefties saying Bali is the price of Downer and Howard’s war rhetoric. Trust me, their utterances barely create a ripple beyond Lake Burley Griffin and are inaudible to and ignored by most of the rest of the world. I doubt the bombers of hatred and intolerance responsible for Bali are surfing the web or tuning in crackly radio signals in their caves devouring the utterances of our dear leaders as inspiration for their murderous actions.

Just some thoughts from over here. You can publish if you wish.

Yours, Rob

Initial coverage very disappointing

My partner and I were due to leave for Bali in four weeks. We had two friends currently in Bali. I first heard of the events here in Adelaide on the ABC midday bulletin. A major update was promised at 1p.m. it never came, Gardening Australia instead. For several hours I surfed the free to air stations for some in depth coverage. Soccer on SBS, Car Racing on 10, Cricket on 9, Arts on ABC, and a black and white western on 7. I heard the Prime Minister’s press conference via the radio. While all television stations were present none deemed it worthy to broadcast live.
At 5p.m. The 10 news came on, the only Australian official spoken to was Downer; halfway through answering the second question without warning the station cut to a series of commercials, it returned, Downer was gone and the program continued… I changed to 9 after their round up( which failed to mention any bombing at the American consulate in Sanur, 10 failed to mention this as well) the sports presenter Kym Dillon came on, totally insensitive to the events of the day and with a cheeky smile told us about the wonderful day in sport. At the end of his section he tried exchanging jovial banter with the main news reader and broke into laughter about something..sickening.

Compare this coverage to the Thredbo events several years ago. Blanket coverage all weekend.
I regard this coverage as the most shameful and incompetent day in television news coverage I have ever witnessed. Heads should roll.

Name withheld

Amity Oil directors go for broke

Here’s an increase in directors’ fees to bring water to the eyes, courtesy of Amity Oil. Shareholders will be asked at Amity’s AGM on November 7 to approve this and numerous other matters, including the issuing of 1 million options to ex-MD (but still current executive director) Peter Allchurch. To boot, Resolution 10 is retrospective for some reason – I know the AGM is for the 01/02 year, but surely this question should relate to the current or future years? Anyway, don’t expect major shareholders to be too upset – they’re nearly all either directors or have “close working relationships” to some directors. Here it is – Resolution 10:

“Pursuant to clause 13.8 of the Company’s Constitution, to approve and ratify the increase in the total remuneration payable to Directors for their services as Directors from $50,000 per annum to $250,000 per annum with effect from and including the financial year ended 30 June 2002.”

Best wishes, The Gas Guzzler

Crikey :
They join the long list of boards going for big rises this year.


Crikey! Try a little objectivity

Crikey’s a great service to the thinking public, but on the issue of Queensland Liberal Santo Santoro’s Senate nomination, you’re a bit off the mark (and also apparently falling victim to the old orchestrated campaign trick that most media manage to avoid).

The contributions to debate from Charles D. Shavitz and “Charlie” in Yoursay are the same prepared text. Charles and “Charlie” are plainly consanguineous. “Their” prepared text is also wrong.

On point 1: Santoro’s seat of Clayfield was subject to a pre-2001 election redistribution which imported a sizeable bloc of Labor votes into the constituency, which also grew in numerical size. His primary vote was down only marginally – a credit, not a demerit, in the circumstances. The rest was done by Labor Premier Peter Beattie’s cynical destruction of Queensland’s preferential voting system by campaigning on a “just vote one” platform. The figures available from the Electoral Commission Queensland (www.ecq.qld.gov.au) demonstrate this, for anyone prepared to look at them.

Objective Queensland observers also note that the State Labor Government has continuously targeted Santoro even though he’s not in Parliament. It’s doing so because Labor sees Santoro as a high risk to its continued hegemony in Queensland. Note they’re not attacking the present Liberal state parliamentary leadership.

On point 2: Santoro played no role in the Liberal decision in 1998 to direct (some) preferences to the One Nation Party – other than as a Liberal frontbencher and Cabinet Minister, this binding him to the decision announced by the then Liberal Party organizational leadership. Preferences need to be understood in context – they’re designed to assist in getting your own party’s candidate up (duh!). The question of whether it was strategically wise to be seen to be “lending support” to a far-right party is an issue on which Santoro took a particular view – contrary to the official view – and expressed this privately behind Liberal closed doors. Fictions such as the implied “Santoro did it” line on One Nation are just that – factional fictions.

Point 3: It’s true that then Liberal Leader David Watson observed that politics is no place for prima-donnas, when, in 2000, he allowed himself to be talked into making some incautious remarks about Santoro which Santoro demanded he retract. But then, politics is no place for wimps, either.

Point 4: It is always dangerous to take things out of context (and pernicious to then sell the out-of-context message), which is what Charles and “Charlie” have done in relation to the speech Santoro gave to the Australian Liberal Students Federation Activists Conference on 27 January 1995. To read it in context, visit http://home.vicnet.net.au/~victorp/liberals/qld/santoro.html.

Let’s hear more about Queensland politics from the unique perspective Crikey brings to that process – but try being just a little objective about it.

“Fascinated Observer”, Brisbane

Crikey :
There’s two sides to every story and it seems you either love or hate dear old Santo.


Crikey and media ethics

What do you think about the ethics of media? I agree that an independent and satirical voice is important in a country with limited media diversity. However does that make the burden on your organisation too great?

Not only do you have your own political history, you need to constantly battle for funds, but you carry the flag of independent journalism in a country which is deeply craving diversity. How then do you balance your goals and your responsibilities.

It would seem to me that your interest is in promoting independent media and you should focus on critiquing the political environment in a way which makes you invaluable. I have seen a number of articles that you have produced which are of the very best quality, these articles have imported onto me the importance of the work that you do and how deeply lacking in media depth this country really is. There is a need to present stories that the mainstream media ignores or feels are not sensitive or profitable for them to run.

However from time to time your production resembles a collage of indulgent diatribe by student politicians. For example the issue of Latham or that ongoing issue regarding Nick Bolkus.

To make the experience enjoyable and to ensure survival through sales, satire and political humour can be injected to a point. However some of the comments you have made are defamatory, this lowers your credibility. Their is nothing sadder in this world than a group of well informed people moaning about the lack of intellectual development of a country while they lower it. If you portray the higher levels of business and politics in this country as a soap opera you engage in a voyeuristic amusement and loose your desire to change Australia, because in doing so you would lose the punch line.

I fear that this is where you have headed. I ask you as someone who respects your rhetoric if not always your articles, be ethical, abandon the bashing and get on with the job.

Crikey :
Always happy to give critics a run and we’ll try to take heed.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.