The art of looking into the middle distance

Alan Baird writes: Re. “ASIO’s mislaid plans hardly a Chinese cybersecurity attack” (Tuesday). Two prime cases of red faces this week, both handled by throat clearing, assuring all that the federal government is Doing The Right Thing and Don’t You Worry About That. First the hacking of Defence etc, etc. How annoying that the opposition didn’t play ball, especially when the opposition would invoke “security” if in government with exactly the same demeanour, i.e. seriously looking into the middle distance in a statesmanlike fashion, as popularised by Andrew Peacock. How irritating it was the ABC and not Julian Assange that revealed the debacle, bluster, bluster, blimp(!) and No Derisory Questions Thank You! Why, it’s enough to make Labor stand by and whimper when Tony pillages the ABC upon being anointed, getting ready with their wet-lettuce flails.

Then the “Grab-for-Cash-But-Just-Us” electoral reform. “Reform”. Don’t you just love that wholesome-sounding term? And let down again by the opposition. The chagrin! Tony can’t be trusted! Of course he can’t. Unfortunately Labor can.

Eddie McGuire’s not the worst

James Burke writes: Re. “Media briefs: Murdoch tax havens … Bolt on Eddie … Stutch spruiks NZ …” (yesterday). The reaction to Eddie McGuire’s brain-fart seems disproportionate — at least compared to what other sport/media figures get away with.

On July 31 last year, the Grill Team had Pauline Hanson co-host their breakfast show on Sydney’s MMM Radio. MMM caters for fans of two things: rugby league and rock music (leaning heavily on golden-age Aussie rock). Hanson, of course, gained notoriety and votes in the 1990s by denouncing Asians and Aborigines. She has never recanted or apologised for her hate-mongering, and has “evolved” only as far as bumping Muslims into higher rotation on her bigotry playlist. She campaigns in politics to this day, unremorseful and unreformed.

So for the Grill Team to welcome her on air was an insult both to rugby league, with its many indigenous and minority players and fans, and to MMM’s favourite Aussie rock acts, many of which feature or have close ties to indigenous and Asian Australians (Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, Goanna, Regurgitator, to name a handful).

There was no controversy about this fawning promotion of Hanson’s public profile. Few noticed or cared. In any case, McGuire would be justified in wondering why Matthew Johns, Mark Geyer and Gus Worland haven’t earned a humiliating Tele front page.

I look forward to the blanket coverage of this scandal that will surely follow, nearly a year after the event …

A plague on both your houses

John Richardson writes: Re. “Political farce: donations bill blows up on Labor and Abbott” (yesterday). While Bernard Keane might be right to argue that the proposed electoral reform bill “blew up” in the faces of both the Labor and Coalition parties, the sad truth is that it is the electorate that yet again winds up being short-changed by deceitful and dishonest politicians from all sides. I dream of the day that someone will found a party simply called “None of the above?”.

Peter Fray

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