Hillary Bray monitors Alan Jones

Sunday, 26 May 2002

Alan Jones is no longer just Gloria, but Gloriana, the reigning queen of radio and Crikey is keeping an ear on what Australia’s most powerful shock jock has to say. This week, the Crikey Bird-Watching team have some amazing new discoveries on Australian parrots to share with readers.

Psittaciformes are a source of constant delight to the Crikey Bird-Watching team. We like nothing better than to while away a happy hour over books like The Parrots of Australia: A Guide to Field Identification and Habits (William R Eastman, Jr and Alexander C Hunt, Angus & Robinson, Sydney, 1966).

These contain a wealth of fascinating information and it’s probably worth quoting the fundamentals from Eastman and Hunt for readers new to bird watching:

Parrots have a few interesting characteristics which set them apart from other birds:

  1. They have short, stout, hooked beaks (not adapted to meat-eating like the beaks of eagles, hawks and owls).
  2. The beak is used as a third foot in climbing, which helps the bird in its acrobatic activities.
  3. The feet have two toes pointing forward and two pointing backwards as in owls, but parrots do not have the strong hooked talons of owls.

Well, 1966 was a long time ago and from the many hours of research we’ve spent out in the field observing our special feathered friend, the Crikey Bird-watching team has some new discoveries to add to the list:

4. Parrots do not understand the concept of the separation of powers.

This hypothesis is easy to support. Every time some crime grabs both the front page of the Tele and the lead on the Channel Nine News, the Parrot is out their squawking as he demands to know why Bobs Carr and Debus haven’t got the perpetrators swinging from a gibbet under the Harbour Bridge.

Or listen to what he had to say about the ABC on Wednesday: “The Prime Minister of Australia urges the Board to ‘look as far and as wide as possible’. The Chairman of the ABC defies the Prime Minister. Mr. Kennedy’s altruistic offer to serve is ruthlessly rejected.” Despite what the Parrot might think, the Prime Minister doesn’t actually decide who runs the ABC.

This, of course, is only minor compared to our greatest discovery, viz:

5. Parrots can hold two completely contradictory opinions simultaneously.

Parrots can surprise one. On Monday morning, our feathered friend suddenly let out a squawk of protest at the Sydney Anglican Archdiocese’s opposition to the ordination of women. On Tuesday, there was a period of prolonged shrieking about the cost of the Cole Royal Commission into the building industry. It could have been one of the bruvvers from the CFMEU talking.

These sort of examples were just the starting point for our hypothesis. We needed more hard evidence and by golly, we got it.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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