Giving the illusion of action.  The spin doctors are still in charge. The creation by the federal government of a business task force to help Queensland as it recovers from its severe flooding is sheer show business. It will serve no useful purpose other than providing a forum for grandstanding.

Perhaps the Premier is just working. The Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu is one politician who does not seem to be obsessed with the need to appear on the radio on the hour every hour and to provide photo opportunities for the nightly television news. That makes his reaction to the Victorian floods stand in stark contrast to those of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and, to a lesser extent, the NSW Premier Kristina Kenneally. His peers spend their time out and about expressing sympathy with flood sufferers. Baillieu seems more concerned with being in the right place to ensure that the job of helping them is actually being done.

The great beer decline. Following some controversy over the previous historical estimates, the Australian Bureau of Statistics today published new figures on the nation’s alcohol consumption. The figures now take better account of increases in the average alcohol content of wine over the years. One striking conclusion is how we have stopped being a nation of beer drinkers, with consumption declining gradually but consistently since the 1960s, while wine and spirits consumption have increased. At the start of the ’60s, beer made up three quarters (76%) of all pure alcohol consumed, but in recent years this has fallen to under half (44%). Wine has increased threefold over the same time (12% of all pure alcohol consumed in 1960-61 to 36% in 2008-09) while spirits have nearly doubled (12% to 20%).

In 1960-61 Australians consumed the equivalent of 9.3 litres of pure alcohol per person, climbing to a high of 13.1 litres in 1974-75. Consumption started to fall in the early ’80s, hitting a low of 9.8 litres in 1995-96. Since then, it has crept up again to 10.4 litres in 2008-09, which is still a fifth lower than the 1974-75 peak.

18-01-2011 alcoholconsumption

Political correctness in dire straits. It has taken a few years — the lyrics found offensive were recorded in 1985 — but in Canada they have ordered the Dire Straits hit Money for Nothing off the airwaves. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) reviewed the song after receiving a complaint from a listener in Newfoundland. It found the lyrics to be unacceptable” because of the use of the word “faggot” and banned radio stations nationwide from playing it.

Now look at them yo-yos
That’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’
That’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free
Now that ain’t workin’
That’s the way you do it
Let me tell ya, them guys ain’t dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb

We got to install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators
We got to move these colour TVs

The little faggot with the earring and the make-up
Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair
That little faggot’s got his own jet airplane
That little faggot, he’s a millionaire

These lyrics were considered in the context of these provisions of the Canadian radio watchdog:

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 2 — Human Rights

Recognising that every person has the right to full and equal recognition and to enjoy certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, s-x, s-xual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 2 — Human Rights

Recognizing that every person has the right to the full enjoyment of certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, s-xual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 7 — Degrading Material

Broadcasters shall avoid the airing of degrading material, whether reflected in words, sounds, images or by other means, which is based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, s-xual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 9 — Language and Terminology

Broadcasters shall be sensitive to, and avoid, the usage of derogatory or inappropriate language or terminology in references to individuals or groups based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, s-xual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

[…]

b) It is understood that language and terminology evolve over time. Some language and terminology may be inappropriate when used with respect to identifiable groups on the basis of their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, s-xual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability. Broadcasters shall remain vigilant with respect to the evolving appropriateness or inappropriateness of particular words and phrases, keeping in mind prevailing community standards.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 10 — Contextual Considerations

Broadcasts may fairly include material that would otherwise appear to breach one of the foregoing provisions in the following contextual circumstances:

Legitimate artistic usage: Individuals who are themselves bigoted or intolerant may be part of a fictional or non-fictional program, provided that the program is not itself abusive or unduly discriminatory.

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and listened to the challenged broadcast of the song. The Panel concludes that CHOZ-FM breached Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics, and Clauses 2 and 7 of the Equitable Portrayal Code. The Panel also found that CHOZ-FM breached Clause 9 of the Equitable Portrayal Code and that Clause 10(a) of thatCode did not relieve CHOZ-FM of those breaches.

Crikey readers can listen to the song here:

18-01-2011 moneyfornothing

Dire Straits’ keyboardist, Guy Fletcher, commented on his website that he reckoned Canada could ban about 75% of ALL records ever made.

He argued that “you can and should be allowed to write a song or poem and use language that is or has been in use by real people in everyday life … MFN does not “celebrate” a slur. In it, Mark [Knopfler] uses real everyday US street language to describe how a numbskull worker in a hardware department … feels about a video being shown. The fact that the [CBSC] can make a ruling such as this, completely missing the context in which it’s used says rather a lot about the society in which we live.”

Somewhat more pointedly he posted this comment and illustration:

18-01-2011 porkfaggots

It’s more fun in Italy. Political journalists in Italy have more fun. I mean to say, covering the comings and goings of Ms El Mahroug, widely known by her stage name Ruby Rubacuori — which translates as Ruby Heartstealer — beats writing about projected budget deficits in 2012-13 hands down.

18-01-2011 rubyheartstealer

Ruby Heartstealer denies having s-x with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

The BBC reports that Italian prosecutors have alleged that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had s-x with a “significant number” of young prostitutes. In a request to search some of Berlusconi’s properties, they cited allegations that he had paid the women or given them free use of apartments.

Berlusconi is also suspected of abusing his power to have the 17-year-old dancer, Karima El Mahroug, freed from a police cell. The prime minister has previously admitted calling the police on Ms El Mahroug’s behalf, but says he did nothing wrong and acted out of pity. Ms El Mahroug has denied having s-x with  Berlusconi, though she has said she received money from him.

18-01-2011 berlusconi

Berlusconi appeared on television this week to deny the allegations being made against him. He had no trouble obtaining airtime as he owns the station.

Peter Fray

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