Dention, HIH, Q&A. ABC TV’s Q and A finished last night in a flurry or irony, back patting and then a very poignant segment triggered by a question from a man who had been in immigration detention. That exposed Tom Switzer, the former adviser to Brendan Nelson and the former Op Editor of The Australian and The Great Ditherer AKA Peter Costello.

It was an emotional point that some on the panel grappled with: Cheryl Kernot made some good points, but why did they sound so unconvincing. David Marr pointed out the complicity of Labor and Paul Keating in the detention policy. But there was a major howler that others have made about the quality of financial supervision and regulation of our financial system.

Amid all the back patting (especially by the Great Ditherer), no one mentioned HIH. Some $5.3 billion was lost in that blackhole and huge changes were made to APRA, the prudential regulator and to the oversight of insurance companies, and banks and building societies as a result. But it was a scandal and this much vaunted method of regulation was found wanting at its first major test.

HIH happened under the new post Wallis Committee multi-regulator approach. Critics have reminded Malcolm Turnbull of his role in HIH, but not the poor role of APRA and the regulatory system so many people pat their backs about. A reminder about HIH and why it happened would remove some of the hubris about the strength of our system of regulation. If it can happen once, it can happen again. — Glenn Dyer

There’s something capricious and/or downright dumb about The Sydney Morning Herald‘s approach to the new NSW Government led by Premier Nathan Rees. Readers will recall the front-page headline the day after Morris Iemma’s implosion which said snottily: “It’s Premier Who? Iemma dumped for ex-garbo.” (Sept 6). The following Tuesday, after the Cabinet swearing-in, the blaring headline said: “Here’s my A-team, says Rees … shame abour our AAA rating.” (Sept 9)

What a switcheroo in today’s Herald with an editorial, “NSW’s golden handcuffs“, which argues that the AAA-rating is a millstone around the government’s neck:

Mr Rees’s single-minded parsimony seems to be a product of Treasury advice — which has elevated preserving the triple-A credit rating above all other goals – even, it seems, investment in the state’s future. Investment in economic infrastucture at any time is not wasteful or irresponsible. If Mr Rees invested in the state’s economy, he would be ensuring a good credit rating for decades to come.

Excellent point – but why was Rees being bashed over the head with credit rating scares less than a month ago? — Alex Mitchell

Well, it looks like the bigots at the Daily Telegraph have found their next targeted minority. It’s time for some good old-fashioned poofta-bashing. Piers Akerman and some of his colleagues have decided that NSW government funding of the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is a terrible idea. Not all the Tele’s reporting on the issue has been blatantly homophobic. Joel Hildebrand’s article today focussed on the financial troubles plaguing the event. But yesterday’s Tele went nuts, with Piers Akerman’s article described as answering the vexed question of “Why should taxpayers struggle to pay mortgages while semi-naked homosexuals dance on floats?”

As if gay and lesbian people don’t pay taxes or take out mortgages. Piers Akerman’s column involves his usual tactic of playing on far-Right victimhood, accusing a marginalised group of becoming powerful and bullying bigots who marginalise them: “Now, homosexuals — or their unelected representatives — are intolerant of everyone else’. No, Piers, they’re intolerant of your intolerance. And then there’s this argument that rightwing NSW Liberal powerbroker David Clarke always used to peddle (and perhaps still does) in factional gatherings: The parade for years featured men dressed as outrageously named nuns who mocked the Roman Catholic Church with obscene labels, despite the fact that the wards of the hospice run by the sisters responsible for St Vincent’s Hospital was staffed with selfless souls who were humiliated by the parade’s depiction of their colleagues. Yep, them pooftas are insulting our nuns! But don’t call Akerman homophobic because he knows all your nasty PC tricks. After all, homophobia is just “a made-up word born of bureaucrats jumping onto the anti-discrimination bandwagon of the ’80s.”

But Akerman only spends one line on the real issue : “And forget any argument about support for World Youth Day and the Mardi Gras, there is just no equivalence in goals or aspirations for either participants or the State”. What b-llsh-t. The Tele had no problem with the government funding World Youth Day, an event that has cost taxpayers a secret sum. But then again, the Tele benefitted from the WYD as an official media partner. Don’t get me wrong — the NSW government had good financial reasons to back WYD. The same good reasons they also have to fund the Mardi Gras. But in the poofta-bashing world of Akerman and co, what’s good for the Papal goose isn’t good for the gay gander. The double standards are just breathtaking. — Irfan Yusef

NRL Footy Show should get the boot. By any measurement, last night’s Grand Final Edition of the NRL Footy Show on Nine should be the last of its kind. It was flogged in Sydney and Brisbane: averaging just 319,000 viewers, with 192,000 in Sydney and 127,000 in Brisbane, and beaten by the ABC, Ten and Seven between 9.30 pm and 10.30 pm. It was flat, predictable and dull. Only when Peter Sterling appeared to talk about the game, did you get a sense of the stakes involved and what might happen on Sunday afternoon at 5pm? Paul Vautin, Laurie Daley and Matthew Johns have all played in winning grand finals, but we were none the wiser until Peter Sterling appeared. Q&A beat it in Sydney with 229,000 viewers. Q&A had 98,000 viewers in Brisbane. Law and Order on Ten beat it with its SVU repeat in both centres, as did Seven’s Ghost Whisperer. The program is carried all year by the fading strength of the AFL Footy Show in Melbourne, but it finished last week. Nine couldn’t show it in Melbourne, despite the Melbourne Storm playing in their third consecutive grand final. That says a lot about the inherent lack of courage in promoting the game at Nine and the absolute fear of being made to look bad by a low rating figure. Nine is the free to air media partner for the NRL, but the News Ltd controlled football league isn’t getting value for money. Nor are the viewers. Nine could start by putting the cleaners through the NRL Footy Show lock, stock and jockstrap for the 2009 season. — Glenn Dyer

SMH: tackless. Gotta love the outrage of the Sydney Morning Herald about youths taking photos of the suicide in Derby… with the encouragement to send news, photos, tip offs to their number at the bottom of the page…

Crikey reader Nick Shimmin

ABC Staff response to values. This was a response posted on the ABC intranet to Mark Scott’s ‘Values” Statement. (Crikey, Thursday, item 20 “ABC to cut staff, the resonate referentially“)

Dear Mark,

I, and all my colleagues that I have spoken to about this, find it deeply offensive that you could put out this particular motherhood statement about values within the ABC in the same week that it has been announced that 35 people are to be made redundant involuntarily in TV production.

From the coal face, I can tell you that the values you refer to exist in abundance among the people in this organisation that actually produce television, radio and online content.

Where these values are evidently lacking within this organisation is within management. Clearly there has been a management plan and strategy constructed and implemented with no consultation with staff. So much for cooperation, integrity and honesty. Clearly, from the staff who have been targeted for redundancy, there is no respect from management for the skills of TV production or the quality of their work. So much for respect for our work. Clearly, from the poor implementation of a faulty Performance Management scheme, the absence of proper training and the lack of career structures within the ABC, management have no desire to nurture and encourage people to stay and grow at the ABC. And clearly, in the call for more efficiencies requiring a 10% cut in operational budgets of all areas of TV production, management are not aware of the innovativeness, creativity and resourcefullness that production staff have to their duties. We’re already extremely efficient. We need proper budgets to enable us to do the jobs we do so well, not budget cuts.

To be lecturing staff about values in their work while management is behaving the way that it is can only be seen as duplicitous and hypocritical.

Please, if you are serious about the values you espouse (which are in themselves correct and worthwhile), then lead by example so that the rest of us can have some confidence in the faith with which you hold them.


Dr Paul Willis Catalyst ABC TV

Hey, “Gotcha”! Caughtcha! The problem of gotcha journalism has recently become so pronounced that, now, it’s being engaged in not merely by journalists, but also by voters themselves (though, we should note, we have yet to see any convincing proof that such “members of the electorate” are, in fact, concerned citizens, rather than self-interested partisans and/or individual organs of the liberal media elite out to spread their socialist agenda to freedom-loving Americans). — Columbia Journalism Review

Megan Gale’s unfortunate timing — spruking the new David Jones credit card in the week that Wall St melted 2 minutes 50 in… — Today Show

For newspapers, the storm gets more perfect. More bad news for the newspaper industry this week: The cash-starved New York Sun went under Monday and Wednesday the Minneapolis Star Tribune said it was skipping a $9 million quarterly debt payment, prompting worries of a potential bankruptcy. But that’s not the worst of it. Standard & Poor’s Wednesday put newspaper giant Gannett (nyse: GCI – news – people ) on credit watch, concerned revenue declines could accelerate at the newspaper giant. The company downplayed the move in a statement with CEO Craig Dubow saying its “underlying fundamentals remain strong.” — Forbes