Plenty of fresh controversy today in the ongoing scandal of the Federal Government's $250m "gift" to TV networks: Crikey's Bernard Keane reveals that while Tony Abbott has been banging on about the government getting too cosy with the networks, he was throwing back croissants and lattes with media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Meanwhile, The Age reports that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has being doing more than just hitting the slopes with Kerry Stokes:
Parliamentary documents reveal that Senator Conroy has attended football, AFL, motor racing and horse-racing events as guests of the commercial TV networks and other companies that depend on his decisions for millions of dollars in revenue.
Kevin Rudd made a feeble attempt to defend the payment:
"I don't want Auntie Nellie's TV reception to be interrupted, so it takes practical and frankly expensive measures to make that work," Mr Rudd said. "I think Australians want to see Australian content maintained. They want to see the continuation of programs like Underbelly, programs like MasterChef, programs like Packed to the Rafters."
However, as The Age points out, there no provisions to ensure that the money is spent on creating Australian content. The pundits are once again out in force: The Australian Michael Stutchbury: Backroom TV deal corrupts our policy
The $250 million gift by the Rudd government to the commercial TV networks is corrupt, not in the sense of brown paper bags but in its corruption of public governance.
Herald Sun Terry McCrann: Kevin Rudd and Stephen Conroy in it up to their eyeballs
The real dirty little secret about the quarter-billion is that it could just as easily have been given by the Coalition if it was (still) in office and had command of the keys to the taxpayer safe.
National Times Peter Costello: The streets of Conroy are paved with gold
Here is the senator's genius: the budget is in deep deficit, the government desperately needs money, and this week he announced a tax cut worth at least $250 million.
Sydney Morning Herald Tony Wright 'The Goanna': Worker's mate has a day on the piste with Kerry
There was a time when a senior Australian politician needed simply to call up a chauffeur and slide a kilometre or so through Canberra's streets when a media mogul called up for a jolly little get-together.
Phillip Coorey: Pay TV giants turn on Labor in broadcast battle
There is now a firm belief within the government that News Ltd is running a campaign of negative stories as political leverage.
The Advertiser Editoral: Free to air, with a $250m windfall
The Government's justifications for this payment are tissue thin.