Gunns antics in Tasmania, bias and the ABC, enterprising Young Liberals, plus how to get a good deal out of American Express this Christmas.

The ABC of unbiased reporting

I agree whole heartedly with “Passionate Friend of the ABC, Penelope Toltz. This last election has shown that the Liberal Party’s Agenda have almost total control over media outlets, because they are just “big business”, not simply information providers. Which ever policy suits their financial bottom line, that’s what the Radio, TV, and Print media support. Except for the ABC. As Penelope asks, please don’t stir the pot on this one medium of balanced view points. Let’s not go completely “all the way with the US of A.” The ABC’s English content is a delight after the ugliest of America’s interpretation of the important things in life.

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Gunns does a McLibel?

Many mainlander greenies will rejoice that Gunns have painted a breach of civil liberties target on themselves. Tasmania is an independent State yes, but it is only as big as say Penrith in numbers. The Northern Territory National Party government tried similar legal rough house tactics over Jabiluka. I was one of several legal helpers up there (with permission of Jabiru court, as no longer officially a working lawyer). Taswegians might note over this period three events:

1. statehood was denied the NT at referendum
2. A more progressive govt replaced the rednecks
3. Jabiluka was shut down hopefully forever

The woodchip lobby may have some marginal complaints upheld recently against the devastating ABC 4 Corners ‘Lord of the Forests’ story early 2004, but that material was replayed pretty much intact with lots worse on Packer’s Ch9 Sunday programme at least twice some months later. With a captured audience of 500K down there Gunns will have to add about 10 million other Aussies on their writ. Hello, hello? Is that the sound of the cash register at Lawyers for Forests?

Tom McLoughlin
Ecology Action Sydney

Facts and old growth forests

We need forest FACTS. 1. The forest industry explains the environmental science that their industry is based on. 2. The Greens provide overlay maps and scientific argument outlining the best configuration to protect biodiversity. 3. Interested parties subscribe to satellite or aerial surveillance to be available on the net. 4. Governments outline the laws governing the use of categories of forest, to be available on the same website.

Christine Hyde

Young Libs get help form Ralph

It seems the Townsville Young liberals will stop at nothing to get their membership up with one of their chief stackers appearing in the Men’s magazine Ralph.

It is no wonder that people have been only too willing to sign up to the Townsville Young Liberals with this blonde beauty on the hunt for prospective members. The now famous was masterminded by Victoria and former NQ Santo protégé, Trent Twomey, who has recently left his fold for Senator Ian Macdonald.

The word has it that Victoria Scanlan walked into the University Gym during a university election (the same election that was almost overturned for bribery) and asked “will you vote for me if I flash my tits” – the overwhelming answer resulted in Victoria bearing flesh for all to see.

It resulted in a massive vote for Victoria, with her out voting her own team 2 to 1.


Crying in public

Congratulations to Christian Kerr for the article on author Patrick West of the Centre for Independent Studies, and his publication “Conspicuous Confessions: Why sometimes it really is cruel to be kind”. It clearly and honestly exposes human nature and the causes behind the necessity to be known. I believe the next demonstration by “doctors’ wives” will be for cheaper medical consultations.

Unwell Perth

On Patrick West and Paul Comrie-Thomson

The quote from Patrick West’s ‘Conspicuous Compassion’ seems a little odd to me. He suggests that communal outpourings of public grief suggest we are “atomised and lonely”. I would’ve thought it proved the reverse… it seems a strange kind of logic that takes spontaneous communal activity or sympathy as evidence that we no longer have any meaningful sense of community.

West’s real point becomes clear in the more clumsy and transparent formulation put forward by the Centre for Independent Studies.

The CIS claims to be saying that people who make public expressions of contrition and empathy without taking any action to change things are merely indulging in ego gratification.

What the CIS is actually saying is that people who don’t support right-wing solutions to poverty and indigenous issues are indulging in ego gratification. That’s a very different proposition.

Hans van Leeuwen

Packers, Hoyts and WA News

Don Boredwalk’s piece was an excellent analysis of the PBL/Cons Press/WAN deal which must surely spell the end for any Fairfax/WAN merger talks. But on what does he base the following lines:

“With WAN now onside and part of the ‘family’ it means a less inquisitive media (WAN is the media in Perth) for PBL’s $700 million new buy, Burswood Casino. WAN is one media outlet that doesn’t confuse its corporate and media responsibilities. They are one and the same. There will be the same amount of critical coverage of gambling and its problems in the West Australian as there is in the PBL media outlets, the Nine Network and the ACP magazines group. Virtually none except when its puff piece for Crown or for Betfair, or a generic piece that looks at gambling as an industry without pointing to the problems it causes.”

I take it he knows the inner workings of The West and, particularly, the relationship between editorial and the board? Give me a break. I’d love to see him point to the evidence that WAN “doesn’t confuse its corporate and media responsibilities” because “they are one and the same”. In the past The West has been extremely critical of gambling (for instance, see Crikey’s read on The West/SMH/Age story on bank manager Kim Faithfull here) and I can’t see that changing.

West Worker

Indigenous English

Have the words “indigene” & “indigenes” been deleted from the English (Australian) dictionary. I always thought that an indigenous person was an indigene.


The long overdue synchrotron

What have you got against this thing? The extra cost is old, old news, announced in January 2003, and the research community is delighted to be getting a more powerful machine. The guys in charge of building it are seasoned professionals, many of whom have been involved in synchrotrons overseas, so the cardigan factor is way low. The project’s on time and on budget, and boffins from across Australia and worldwide are donating their expertise to help develop it. With the Sargent report saying it’s about time Australia got its act together and invested in major collaborative research infrastructure, and given this nation trails the OECD leaders in R&D capital investment per capita, the long overdue synchrotron will help our scientists stay competitive. Without R&D you can kiss the economy goodbye.


Losing interest in super co-contribution

Anxious of Albert Park is being a little hard on the Government. The superannuation co-contribution gets automatically paid, but it requires both tax return information and information from superannuation funds. These returns do not come to the ATO until a few months have passed after the end of the financial year. It is a mechanism designed to make sure all the possible claimants get paid with a minimum of fuss, and is not a conspiracy against the contributor.

Timing issues are always a bit of a problem. Anxious may have been less anxious if the stock market had gone down over the period, as it has from time to time. In any event the super contribution made for his wife has been one of the best investments ever – 12% return on the stock market, and then up to a 100% matching of the initial investment by the government, depending on the wife’s income and the amount of the contribution. Not really a cause for complaint.

The link below has more than you ever wanted to know about the co-contribution.

Ross Clare
Principal Researcher
Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia

The problem with the ABC’s Favourite Books

I was all riled up to chastise RNJ for his/her supercilious yet servile (wait, I’m sure you left out a few Miles Franklin winners there) dribbling, but Brad Pragnell beat me to the punch with more deadly accuracy than I could have summoned. Middle-brow curmudgeon indeed. Heart of Darkness, incidentally, whilst more turgid and introspective than your average potboiler, is a relatively low-overhead classic at less than a hundred pages, depending on the edition, and has, of course, many ingredients of action adventure readability. I like, incidentally, that Conrad has been stripped of his first name on the ABC website, like Cher.

Given that Mr Pragnell has beaten me to the vitriol, let me content myself with my raised-eyebrow moment from the list, which was the presence of the Bible. Of course it’s a great work of literature, but I still tend to think that most Bible fans are also Christians, rather than disinterested litterateurs, and therefore plugging the truth-value of God’s Word. I suppose it’s just a side-effect of the overwhelming preponderance of fiction on the list (was this a condition of nomination?), but surely it must be with mixed feelings that a true believer finds the Bible gazumped by The Lord of the Rings and edging out Harry Potter by a scant margin.

John Attridge

CRIKEY: For more feedback on the My Favourite Book list see – Fudging the stats – ABC’s My Favourite Book

How to get a good deal out of American Express this Xmas

In light of Australia’s burgeoning credit card debt, I thought I’d do my bit and cancel my Amex Blue thus reducing our national debt by about $3000. In the process I had a bit of fun, but also discovered discovered that when push comes to shove, American Express will get a bit more competitive on the credit card battlefield, having offered me 11.99% for 6 months (current interest rate is 16.99%), and no Annual Fee for life (normally $35 a year). Too late though, as I am now with HSBC, but for you other debit ridden card holders, the number to call is 1300 882 538. Alternatively HSBC are one of the few to offer a 2.99% balance transfer from Amex.

me : Hi I want to cancel my American Express
amex : What would be the reason sir?
me : I don’t like American’s
amex : (pause) ok sir, one moment I’ll transfer you to a colleague

(gets transferred from Indian Call Centre, back to Australia)

amex : Hello Sir, you want to cancel your card? (then goes on to give me the ‘special’ rate)
me : Yes, I can no longer use an American card and support the great satan,
amex : Will you be canceling your AMEX gold card as well?
me : No, we’ll see how things pan out in the Middle East first, then we’ll make that decision.
amex : (silence) Ok Sir, that card is now cancelled, thank you for calling American Express.

Merry Christmas!


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