Internet kill switch:

Andrew Bartlett writes: Re. “What is the government up to on Australia’s internet kill switch?” (yesterday, item 3).  In response to the latest excellent piece of reporting by Bernard Keane on this government’s security proposals, it is worth noting that the Senate inquiry into the 2003 version of this law may have been a “Howard-era special” which was held virtually overnight, but it occurred before Howard had control of the Senate — which means they wouldn’t have got away with the inquiry being so brief without the agreement of the ALP.  However, as the article demonstrates, even an inquiry that short is more valuable than no inquiry at all. Even that brief bit of scrutiny highlighted a major power grab and provided the means for a significant change to be made to the original bill.

The fact that the bill hung around after that Senate inquiry for six months before it was debated also shows that the claims of “urgency” made to justify such a rushed Senate inquiry was just as false as many of the other claims made about the urgency or “necessity” of many of the security measures put forward by the previous and current government.

Despite all the claims about the current Labor government being held hostage to the Greens, the fact is that the Liberal/National Party always supports this government on legislative changes to do with “security”, much as Labor did when Howard was in government. They would not become law otherwise, as the Greens today — as with the Democrats previously — will rarely agree with the many measures put forward under the guise of “security”.

Although to be fair, at least Labor in opposition occasionally insisted on some changes being made — despite some occasional bluster, Senator George Brandis, the so-called “moderate” in the Libs usually ends up rolling over and agreeing with anything Labor bowls up in this area.  Presumably allowing law is better in the Libs’ eyes than giving Labor even the tiniest chance to portray themselves as “tougher” on security.

Marr on Abbott:

Virginia Gordon writes: Re. “Marr on Abbott: nine things you didn’t know about Tony” (yesterday, item 1).  One stylish writer on another, the always-amusing Margot Saville nicely sums up What We Must Know about the PM-in-waiting.

As a Sancta girl, living next door to Johns, I can confirm those sorts of views on s-x were not as surprising as they might seem. It’s fair to say many reached uni without the Puberty Blues experiences other teenagers had had. Attending religious schools did not equip many well for their adult s-xual lives. As Catholics, we all knew “converts” were more extreme than those who grew up with “the faith” .

A school friend active in the National Civic Council took me to those Democratic club gatherings, another (a devout Catholic) ran against Tony for the SRC solely to lampoon his sometimes-less-than Christian views on women, lesbians and homos-xuals. Marr’s essay well captures the political mood and feelings of the period.

The standout moment of the essay for me is that David Marr may have done the one thing few other journos might do for Tony, namely humanise him and show him as a man for the people. To find out he argued against WorkChoices is oddly comforting. That to me is far more interesting than the rampant physicality of the heteros-xuality of the man, which to me is no more or less than some of the campus boys we hung out with at the time.

Barry Everingham writes: David Marr paints Abbott as many of us have been seeing him for some time — Tony is a low-rent clone of Mark Latham.


Keith Thomas writes: Re. “Simons: the fact is, one size doesn’t fit all platforms” (yesterday, item 14). Surprisingly, Margaret Simons — for once — devalues the contribution good journalism should make. She tells us that “most facts are not cheap as chips. Finding them out is the professional journalist’s main claim to continued usefulness.” But Garry Linnell puts an alternative view.

We have two online ventures that illustrate the narrowness of both claims: when I read articles in The Conversation, I generally get a string of facts plus, if I am lucky, a few insights. Switch over to the Global Mail and I read carefully crafted stories that demonstrate extensive research, facts selected for the reader’s benefit and a willingness to extend the reader’s comprehension into new and intellectually challenging areas. The Global Mail may be struggling in some respects, but I would happily pay a subscription for access to journalism of this quality and I would not pay for the drab, disappointing content of The Conservation.

I would also add that WikiLeaks has shown us just how many facts journalists decide to keep within their cosy in-group and their willingness to go along with the crowd — witness the uncritical boosting of most economic and financial reporting before the 2008 GFC. We need brave journalists of Global Mail quality writing for independent outlets — like Global Mail, not mere reciters of facts selected with an eye on the writer’s career prospects. P.S: Crikey does a pretty good job, too.

A Crikey reader’s lament:

Brett Gaskin writes: It’s with some serious anticipation the daily Crikey missive arrives, primarily for the latest instalment of Guy Rundle’s coverage of the US presidential elections.
And yesterday nothing … and to top it off a repeated First Dog. Despair.