(Image: Unsplash/Jonathan Petersson)

Get your rocks off

Admittedly it’s been a hard time for any story not involving a NSW premier and her ill-starred romance with an ICAC bad boy to get much traction, but time was that a Pauline Hanson yarn would get play all across the media.

Especially if it showed another outlet acting in an ethically-questionable way and offered a rare chance for the Murdoch press to tsk about perceived bias in reporting.

And thus it’s a surprise that few outlets have jumped on the news that, despite its carefully-worded statements implying the contrary, Channel Nine has been confirmed as having indeed funded Hanson’s notorious “I’ll Climb What I Want” jaunt to Uluru last year to protest the imminent ban on tramping all over the rock by defiantly getting scared 10 minutes into her climb and having to be helped down. Take that, snowflakes!

Nine had been very cagey about what money they’d thrown into the story, with host Tracy Grimshaw declaring “we did not pay Senator Hanson and the visit was not our idea… she asked if we wanted to cover the story and we did”. However, an investigation by The Klaxon reveals that Hanson helpfully updated her Register of Senator’s Interests that August to include Nine’s donation of flights and accommodation for her and senior advisor/cursed shadow James Ashby.

So that’s old if largely unreported news — but the Klaxon’s new investigation goes a lot further by interviewing Hanson’s Indigenous hosts. And oh, they have some tea to spill!

It would appear that Nine didn’t just look after Hanson and Ashby, but also paid out thousands in travel, accommodation and other perks in order to woo Tjimpuna Ruby, the traditional owner who appeared to approve Hanson’s not-technically-a-climb on behalf of a Facebook group called the Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders (as opposed to the Anangu Traditional Owners who strongly oppose climbing the rock, and also exist in the real, non-internet world and help actually manage the site via the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management).

Ruby allegedly had some onerous conditions put on her regarding talking about the rock climb itself (as, despite what the segment suggested, she also thinks Uluru should be pedestrian-free) and even implied that Hanson might have been a bit easily manipulated by the people around her. Perish the very thought!

So, aside from hiring Hanson, funding the trip, and paying for everyone involved to remain exclusive to A Current Affair, Nine were just innocent bystanders fearlessly reporting the news. Which they also invented and paid for. Huzzah for journalism!

Panic! In the courtroom

If you had to guess which state still had the “gay panic” defence on its statutes, which would it be? Wrong: it’s not Queensland, which repealed it in 2017. Nor is it historically anti-gay Tasmania, which specifically changed the state’s provocation defence to exclude it in 2003.

The hold out is South Australia, which seemingly went “hey, we passed some of the most progressive sexuality-related laws in the nation during the ‘70s under Don Dunstan — reckon we’re good to rest on our laurels for a few decades”. But now they’re getting around to looking at removing it, a mere decade after saying it really should be a priority.

Yes, back in 2010 Greens MLC Tammy Franks first made a serious attempt to argue that “gay panic” wasn’t reason enough to downgrade a charge of murder, and yet on the books it remains. And popular support seems to be behind the move: in the space of 52 hours over 25,000 people signed an online petition encouraging the parliament to get in line with the rest of the nation.

A draft bill to remove the defence was released for comment in June this year and will come before parliament during the current sitting. Although said sitting has largely been taken up with arguments about whether the act should reduce “discounts” on sentences for offenders who plead guilty. Mind you, it’s not urgent or anything. After all, it hasn’t been used in a murder case since [checks notes] 2015.

Don’t take another 10 years though, please. It’s getting weird.

Gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em…

If you’ve been tearfully shoving fistfuls of fifties through the doors of our nation’s casinos to help offset the tragic COVID-led losses of our nation’s most vital industry, then we have some good news: it turns out the gambling industry has been doing OK after all.

In fact, COVID-19’s been a real boon for the online money-losing biz, with the Australian Gambling Research Centre reporting that uncertainty of employment, an open-ended global recession and the terrors of a worldwide pandemic that’s already taken over a million lives hasn’t put a dent in the passions of those what like a bit of a flutter.

More specifically: there are more Australian gamblers than ever, especially males aged 18 to 35, and they’re spending a lot more per head. The median amount of money blown by gamblers per month was $678 pre-pandemic. That number has now jumped to $1075.

Lead researcher Dr Rebecca Jenkinson told InDaily “increased gambling among young men was often reported to be associated with being socially isolated, bored, or as a means of social connection with friends”.

You know, it’s almost like that “gamble responsibly” tag isn’t working for some reason. Maybe it needs to be in a different font or something?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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