Alan Jones is no longer just Gloria, but Gloriana, the reigning queen of radio, and the Crikey Bird Watching Team is keeping an ear on Australia’s most powerful shock jock – and his thoughts on Christmas giving.

The Crikey Bird-Watching team is going away, too – but not, we hesitate to say, on holiday. Our summer won’t be anything as pleasant as that. We’ve spent too much time around parrots this year and are being pulled off to hospital to be treated for psittacosis. The doctors aren’t sure when we’ll be out.

But anyway, back to the Parrot.

He closed on a touching note:

“This is my final broadcast for this year.

“And it’s not only your correspondence which has suggested to me how difficult Australians have felt this year to be.

“The scars of Bali are etched deeply within the psyche of all Australians.

“And never has the spirit of Christmas been more appropriate and more needed, where goodwill, giving, sharing and telling people they matter are central to the Christian tradition…”

Yes, giving was foremost on the Parrot’s mind. So what present did he leave for the battlers on Struggle Street?

Well, he didn’t actually leave one. He thinks they should be doing the giving. He thinks that they should pay higher prices and hand over more in tax to prop up a whole bunch of vested interests.

“In recent times we’ve had the Federal Government provide to the motor vehicle industry a guarantee of more than 4 billion dollars over the ten years after 2005,” he squawked.

“And in my view so it should.”

Great. So cars should be more expensive.

True, battlers don’t buy cars everyday – so the Parrot’s got some other ideas as well.

“I have sighted a letter to a newspaper editor in Queensland from a beleaguered cane farmer.

“I bet it won’t get published.

“But I think it should see the light of day.

“Amongst other things he says this…

” ‘In 1996/97 the Federal Government removed all tariff protection from the sugar industry and told the most efficient cane farmers on earth to compete on the corrupt world market where our competitors are heavily subsidised by their governments…

” ‘So after removing the sugar industry’s tariffs and causing financial ruin to the cane farming sector, what’s the Federal Government’s solution?

” ‘They offer a fake assistance package which provides one year’s dole to a few desperate people, but does nothing constructive to help cane farmers get a fair price for their product…

“The farmer says, ‘Don’t get me wrong, I believe that while the rest of the world is busily protecting their industries, we should do the same.'”

So Struggle Street should be paying more for their sugar.

That was followed up the following day with the obvious:

“Well, yesterday I spoke about the sugar industry.

“My comments prompted correspondence to me on behalf of dairy farmers.

“Only the Federal Government could possibly know why the dairy industry was deregulated back in the year 2000…”

We should pay more for milk, pay more for sugar… It’s lucky that the week came to an end before the Parrot could call for special assistance to tea producers – naturally funded by taxpayers and consumers.

All in all, it was a wonderful demonstration of how the Parrot really represents the folk on Struggle Street.

To be able to afford to pay for all the largesse he wants to hand out to loud interest groups, why, you’d have to have a major holding in a radio network.

Funnily enough, that’s something a lot of people will be interested in hearing about next year.

And so, from all of us at the bottom of the cage, goodbye.

Peter Fray

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