Alan Jones debacle continues

Chris Johnson writes: Re. “Jones, Abbott and when aggressive politics gets ‘out of line’” (Monday). Yes, Alan Jones can say whatever he likes, and in his own vernacular Australians will just have to put up with the scum. Fauxpologies and appearances before ACMA won’t make a dint because this now-reviled character can’t confront his ineptness. At least Rupert Murdoch conceded pursuit of legal rather than moral righteousness was causal to his god-awful reputation. But when Alan Jones trashed all standards of common decency at a public function among business, political and young education and political aspirants with his deplorable denigration of John Gillard’s passing he invoked the manual on red-herrings — “Hoot of a night according to Chatham rules where black parody ruled and I just repeated what someone else said … et al.”

That 2GB uses Jones and a stable of same-style presenters to build an audience on vilification, slander and propaganda is a matter for Macquarie Radio network’s board of directors. But it’s not beyond the reach of advertisers and listeners to reject the toxic, anti-social skewed format that rusted-on Liberal soldier Jones broadcasts to millions around the nation. When Jones took that formula into the public arena and implied a valued member of our community died of shame, albeit our Prime Minister’s father, he epitomised just how sterile, improper and politicised he and our radio industry have become. Not only does Alan Jones need to express remorse for his in- and out-of-studio gaffes, but so too 2GB for commandeering the nation’s airwaves to influence the electorate and foster personal and corporate agendas.

Martin Gordon writes: I don’t take much notice of Alan Jones and for that matter the equally biased comments of his left-wing opponents who populate the media, in particular the ABC.

While Jones’ recent comments were tacky, they are no worse than many statements made in public or private from the Labor Party and those on the left of politics. I don’t seem to recall too much said when people proudly wore “Howard Hater” badges, or when he was called the “unflushable turd”, or when Gough Whitlam called Malcolm Fraser a dog (“Kerr’s cur”), he was often referred to as a “c-nt”, in supposedly civilised circles, but partisanism is like that. The clearly partisan get Abbott campaign of late has all the smells of partisanism attached. The same alleged anti-women claims have become common in other states and territories too. They are just rubbish.

The lynch mob seems remarkably selective in its victims and remarkably selective in what and who is offensive.

Unemployment statistics

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Battle of the shadows as RBA mulls the global environment” (yesterday).

Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer have missed a key point. The RBA uses the monthly ABS “Labour Force” unemployment survey figure of 5% in determining interest rates. This survey is based on a political definition of unemployment rather than the ABS annual “Persons not in the labour force” survey, which shows a real unemployment survey of 20%, chasing about 200,000 vacancies and is based on an actuarial survey.

The problem is that the ABS monthly unemployment estimates are “paraded” by the federal government, the RBA, most journalists and the opposition when they are back in government as indicative of their “good” economic policy; and this in turn leads to policy errors by the federal government, the RBA and others, which consequently misleads businesses and decision makers looking to invest in their future.

Unfortunately, decisions made on the basis of the ABS unemployment figures have real consequences for Australia and Australians. The RBA’s determination to maintain Australian interest rates at well above the rates of comparable countries such as Canada — the country most similar to Australia with regards to its strong resource sector, has interest rates of 1% and means real Australians and real Australian businesses suffer from the higher borrowing costs that restrict lending in Australia and reduce investment by Australian businesses that would otherwise provide employment to many more Australians.

For ministers, the RBA, economists and investment advisers the above is of crucial importance. In Australia and elsewhere we have a real economy that isn’t experiencing healthy growth but is instead staggering, with imploding employment levels. Much of the stock market is based on expectations of future growth. Remove the growth and most of the current value of the markets goes with it, for when jobs implode so do stock markets.

New evidence, new opinions?

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Attorneys-General looking for ideas to thwart social media” (yesterday). Andrew Dodd says: “Most commentators now agree … courts need to accept that juries are increasingly capable of assessing the facts in complex cases, despite the influence of negative commentary,” and he quoted law professor Andrew Kenyon, “There is a gradual recognition that if jurors hear some things outside the courtroom they can put it aside … Now there is more recognition that with better instruction jurors will try to do their job”.

This is amazing. Several decades of research has consistently shown the opposite: for example, few people give proper consideration to new evidence once they have formed an opinion. Even if they are given overwhelming proof that the basis of their first opinion is completely wrong they may be unmoved. But, miraculously, just as social media emerges as a potentially intractable source of jury contamination, a previously unknown breed of human being emerges who is relatively immune to prejudicial influences. Well, aren’t we lucky.

Where is objective evidence for this phenomenon to prove it is not the illusory product of good old-fashioned wishful thinking?

Peter Fray

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