Ellen Fanning has been hosting Nine’s A Current Affair
this week while Ray Martin is on assignment (doesn’t that sound
exciting). Our Ray is scheduled to return tomorrow, but so far Ellen
hasn’t set the People Meters on fire with her presence, losing Monday
night to Today Tonight in a battle of the glamour girls with Naomi Robson on Seven.

But that hasn’t stopped, Ellen, a new mum, taking time out to fire a very fine broadside at The Weekend Australian and Elizabeth Wynhausen in the Daily Telegraph yesterday. Wynhausen, who has been a bit of a bleeding heart at Fairfax on the SMH and the old National Times, is a veteran Sydney journo who has been everywhere, apart from TheTele, and is currently on the The Australian.
She’s just written a book based on her undercover work in menial jobs
in Australia, which Ellen has reviewed in none-too-complimentary terms.

Under the headline Underclass expose just doesn’t work,
Ellen wrote: “It takes Wynhausen until page 235 to figure out that full
time minimum-wage employees in Australia are ‘generally protected
against the real ravages of poverty’ and it’s the growing army of folks
in casual work who are in strife. Couldn’t she have worked that out
before she headed out of Bondi?” Ouch!

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Ellen said the idea of Wyhausen’s book, Dirt Cheap – Life at the Wrong End of the Job Market, wasn’t really her idea – and it’s not really Australia’s dilemma:

Wynhausen has taken her inspiration from Nickel and Dimed-on (not) Getting By in America by US journalist Barbara Ehrenreich.

When excerpts of Wynhausen’s book were published in The Weekend Australian
last month I was astonished to see that they’d even gone to the trouble
to reproduce American Barbara’s publicity shot. That’s the one of the
author in that blue uniform (photo on page 16 of Tuesday’s Sydney Daily Telegraph) looking oppressed.

Australian
Elizabeth acknowledges her debt to American Barbara in the book but
there’s no such nod to the widely-read magazine article. A comparison
of the two books is even more troubling.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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