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Australia

Aug 30, 2017

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Australia

Aug 25, 2017

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It was a dark and lightly chilly evening at the University of Sydney last night. Though the bright lights and ducted heating were certainly working at the Holme Building, scene of an impending chinwag between former Sydney Law School Dean and Human Rights Tsar Gillian Triggs and Labor Senator and freshly minted author Sam Dastyari. The trigger for this event was the publication of Sam’s halal-certified memoir. But everyone expected much more would be revealed as the night progressed.

At the entrance, I was immediately accosted by an enthusiastic young man of Daily Mail reporter appearance who told me and anyone within a very broad earshot that I was a famous person. He then proved how much he knew about me by rattling off some names from my past centuries as an amateur politician, before latching onto the senator and following him into the drinks room where a host of blokes in suits (including a former Young Liberal bloke I recognised) were standing around looking important.

The audience included a fair sprinkling of people of south Asian and east Asian appearance, so many that I wondered if I had accidentally walked into a joint medicine/dentistry/law students’ gathering.

Speaking of which, the senator made it perfectly clear that he was still pissed off that he’d been kicked out of the law school by the good Professor. Triggs eventually acknowledged this had been a mistake, though no doubt Dastyari’s branch-stacking activities provided her with the initial trigger.

“But what did Sam say?” I hear all you halal snack packers asking. Here is a dot-point rundown:

  • As always, Dastyari was very humble and self-deprecating. “I know everyone came for me. No one came for you, Gillian.”
  • Dastyari’s initial intention (and eventual goal) was to write a book “on how shit politics was”.
  • He admitted that his background and history as the son of Iranian leftist activists during the early days of the Iranian revolution shaped his politics. His parents had to flee after his mother was detained and tortured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. I’m not sure how their leftist activism explains Dastyari’s choice of right-wing Labor activism, but I’ll leave that one for Sky News Australia pundits to fuss over.
  • Speaking of which, there were a large contingent of media there. The Daily Mail, Sky News, The Oz, ABC and AAP formed part of the contingent.
  • Dastyari told us that everyone is shaped in life by experience, by moments. You often can’t tell which moments are going to amount to something.
  • He told us that he was sure there wasn’t an ethnic kid in the room who at one stage in their life hadn’t felt ashamed of their ethnicity. Kids need to feel they belong somewhere. Individuality is a luxury adults can afford. “Only now can I say I am proud of my ethnic heritage.”
  • The idea of being a non-practising Muslim seems so strange to so many people. It’s as if Muslims are necessarily more religious or affected by scripture than everyone else. When it comes to talking about Islam, we are not a place of comfort. Nuance and knowledge is replaced with code words and phrases.
  • Banks have a social responsibility but banks try to narrow the extent of it. I trust Sam told that to the banking lobbyists in the drinks room. 
  • Politics can be serious and theatrical at the same time. Why does being serious have to necessarily involve being boring?
  • Bill Shorten is an enigma to his colleagues. He is always “underestimated” (dull? stupid? lucky?) but always ends up on top.
  • Kevin Rudd never trusted Bill Shorten.
  • Kevin Rudd’s problem was that he always wanted to be loved. Reminds me of a certain Elvis Costello song
  • Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd have the same attitude toward asylum seekers. They see asylum seekers as political problems to be sorted out, not as people with human lives. I agree, Sam, and I look forward to you sticking your neck out on this issue more.
  • Political lives are always finite. You never know when your political death will come, so you may as well cut the bullshit and speak your mind. (Except on Chinese foreign policy.)
  • Pauline Hanson is a fascist. The report in the Oz gave prominence to this point. The comments were also enlightening, “Jeremy” remarked: “So he doesn’t know what a non-practising Christian is. And whatever he is, he is certainly not a ‘non-practising Muslim’. Hanson was dead right to be incredulous when he called himself a Muslim. She knows damn well he’s not”. Meanwhile “Mick” observed: “Gillian Triggs should be deported to Iran or Syria”. 

Not much halal about all that!​

Federal

Jul 27, 2017

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News Corpse farewelled Gillian Triggs from the Australian Human Rights Commission with the usual spitting hatred with which they have treated her throughout her tenure. It’s a mark of honour, a sort of arch of arcing spittle, through which she has walked pretty much unscathed. The right’s campaign against Triggs and the AHRC in general may have done some contingent damage, but in terms of the general political state of play, it has gone nowhere.

In her wake, the organisation is stronger than ever, more legitimised, confirmed as a permanent part of Australian government. How has that occurred? Thank the prioritising of tactics over principle, and Tim Wilson, the Henry Bucks shirt mannequin who became an MP. Wilson was elevated to the role of “Freedom Commissioner” to, well, er — as with much of what Tim does, he appears to have passed through without trace. He got himself photographed eating a Big Mac after McDonald’s got protest laws changed to get a store built in outer-east Melbourne. He defended the government’s practice of preventing controversial speakers from being allowed to enter the country, a strange idea of free speech. Above all, he gained preselection for the blue-ribbon seat of Goldstein (named after a socialist feminist of the early 1900s heh heh). Above all, he was part of the comically failed attempt to remove the 18C/D/E provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act, a campaign that anchored the laws more securely in Australian social fabric than before.

[As Triggs faces QUT 18C grilling, stats show improvement]

In the absence of substantial achievements on the ferrdom! front, all Wilson’s presence on the AHRC did was to legitimise a left-liberal idea of what rights are. For classical liberals, rights should be sparingly enumerated and minimally defined in the most general laws possible, constitutionally grounded. Rights should restrain the state from enumerating new laws, especially those focused on particular sections of the community. Classical liberals are meant to regard rights as arising from the essential character of human existence (whether or not God is brought into it). The social liberal idea of rights is that rights are conferred by the state in a utilitarian fashion, and may enforce positive freedom (i.e. the guarantee of enabling conditions) rather than merely negative freedoms (i.e. restraining the state from interfering in your life). Section 18 C/D/E is a prime example of that, the positive freedom of having racist abuse minimised trumping the negative freedom right of free speech.

Wilson’s ineffectual tenure on the AHRC — a social liberal, positive freedom rights factory, which discovers new dimensions of discrimination and oppression at a dizzying pace — has served only to strengthen the legitimacy of this idea of rights in Australian society, and by undermining any classical liberal expression of principle in, I dunno, refusing a gumment job telling other people what to do, further undermined the credibility of classical liberalism and the “ferrdom agenda” in Australia life. But then, the ferrdom agenda and limited gumment don’t seem to be high on the list anymore. Half the IPA appear to be ethno-nationalist obsessives, whining about values, and the other half appear to have taken tenured jobs and post-docs in publicly funded universities. If the right are scratching their heads wondering why the entire apparatus of social rights — which, as a materialist leftist, this correspondent is less than thrilled about — has expanded its legitimacy and remit in the last four years, it might want to look at the cluelessness, fecklessness and self-interest of those ostensibly waging the war against it.

Australia: a country so statist that even those vowing to change it get on the government payroll to do so.

Film & TV

Jun 19, 2017

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Today in Media Files, it’s feuds all around, with journalist Ginger Gorman calling out the Daily Mail for ripping off her work (again), Chris Kenny getting legal advice over a Gillian Triggs interview published by Fairfax, and former Fairfax journalist Michael West hitting back at Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston.

Good feud guide. Freelance journalist Ginger Gorman has gone for another round against the Daily Mail after it published a rewrite of her Fairfax piece over the weekend about her relationship with an online troll. Gorman’s piece told of her experience over more than a year dealing with a troll whom she’d interviewed for a story. She tweeted this morning that the Daily Mail had plagiarised her story, calling the website “slow learners”:

The Mail‘s story, published yesterday, had nothing new to add and was published under the headline,”‘I was trolling a girl who got hit by a train’: Shocking admissions of an internet troll who spends 30 HOURS a week on his sickening habit.”

Gorman has previously called out the Mail and Mamamia for ripping off a story she’d written for news.com.au about mothers who sexually abuse their sons.

Chris Kenny’s feelings hurt. In an exit interview with The Age‘s outgoing political editor Michael Gordon, Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs talked about coverage of her and the commission by The Australian during her tenure, and she had this to say about the paper’s associate editor, Chris Kenny:

“He keeps swirling the same facts over and over again and they are not true for a start — and that’s all he’s got. I’ve never met him. He’s never phoned me or made any attempt to understand anything. It’s just been a full-on attack.”

The Australian has responded today in the paper by suggesting Triggs could face legal action over the comments, with Kenny saying:

“I will seek legal advice because this sort of abuse in lieu of facts must be countered. My approaches to her office by phone and email over many months for interviews for The Australian and my television shows have been numerous and always rejected.”

Kenny sued the ABC for defamation over a Chaser sketch broadcast in 2013, where Kenny was photoshopped mounting a dog on The Hamster Decides. The case settled with an apology and cash from the ABC to Kenny.

Michael West v Joe Aston. Also stepping into the ring this morning is former Fairfax business journalist Michael West, who now runs his own business news website. West had written about Australian Financial Review columnist Joe Aston’s pursuit of CPA Australia CEO Alex Malley, and Aston has written this morning in his Rear Window column that West had known Malley for many years, something West has denied:

“Failing to call the subject of your insults before publishing is not just cowardice, it’s a matter of basic journalistic protocol. Journalists are required to make the phone call in order to allow their subjects to respond — and get the facts straight … A detailed rebuttal of Joe’s petty claims would be a waste of time.”

Introducing the newest NT News reporter, No Byline Please. The subs at the NT News must have checked out a bit early when putting Saturday’s sports pages to bed on Friday night. Neglecting to pick up a note from the reporter asking to not have a byline, the request was published where the reporter’s name should have been. Of course, the NT News is never one to shy away from taking the piss, tweeting on Saturday, “our new reporter no byline please is really starting to make his mark at the paper”.

The Parrot calls in from sick bed. There isn’t much that will keep 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones down. Recovering from a health scare last week that took him off air and into intensive care in hospital over the weekend, Jones called into his own show this morning (covered by colleague Chris Smith) to let listeners know that he’s on the mend and should be back on-air next week. He said he’d been “at the exit door” over the weekend, but was now feeling weak, but OK. Jones took an extended break at the end of last year following multiple operations on his back and neck.

Symons apologises for “racist” interview. ABC radio presenter Red Symons has apologised for a controversial interview with colleague Beverley Wang, in which he asked her if she was “yellow”, and asked, “what’s the deal with Asians?”. Symons opened his program on ABC Radio Melbourne this morning with an apology about the interview, which the ABC has since removed from its website:

“The plan was to take on a serious topic, race and culture, and talk with Beverley about a range of related issues. I came across as racist and I was wrong in the way I conducted the interview. This is not who I am, but I acknowledge on this occasion I caused offence and hurt, not only to Beverley but also to our listeners. I offer my sincerest apologies. We need to talk about these issues, but be careful how we consider them.”

The ABC apologised for the interview going to air in a statement on Friday, and said it would review the editorial processes around the content and its use.

Game played in heaven, ignored on earth. Rugby union might still boast it’s the game played in heaven, but in Australia it’s the game now being ignored. It was a case of netball one, AFL and rugby union nil after Saturday’s games, with viewers less interested in what are usually the more mainstream sports.

The Australian Rugby Union might be holding an emergency general meeting in Sydney tomorrow to discuss a lot of issues — the fate of CEO Bill Pulver, the fate of one or two Super Rugby teams and, of course, the loss to Scotland in a one-off test on Saturday. What should be top of the agenda (but won’t be) is the damage that the incompetence, moaning and groaning of the past year is doing to fans’ support.

More people watched the inaugural grand final of the national netball competition on Nine on Saturday night than the Rugby Wallabies v Scotland test on Ten earlier in the day (it was simulcast on Fox Sports, but this comparison is for free to air TV).

Oztam ratings issued yesterday showed 447,000 people watched the netball on Nine on the network’s main and digital channels. Oddly the pre-match figure was 505,000, so nearly 60,000 people tuned out after watching the lead-up — perhaps they were off partying on a winter’s Saturday night?

But the rugby test could only manage 274,000 national viewers on Ten. That was after a pre-match audience of just 113,000. The post-match audience leapt to 450,000 — that’s a real slap at the game and the sport when more than 200,000 supporters can’t be bothered watching the game and tune in afterwards to see the size of the loss.

And the AFL can’t crow because the netball final also had more viewers than the Swans v Richmond game on Seven and 7mate on Saturday afternoon. The Saturday night AFL game had a total of 586,000 viewers, so the netball’s figures stack up nicely. — Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer’s TV ratings. It was Nine’s night in the in total people and the main channels and Seven’s in the regions. The Voice has lost more ground for Nine — 1.37 million nationally last night for two hours from 7pm (the final half hour making the difference between winning and second to Seven). House Rules was the second most watched program on the night nationally with 1.84 million. But it ended at 8.30 pm and viewers went to Sunday Night which managed a decent 1.31 million nationally. Ten’s MasterChef finished well behind its rivals with 1.01 million nationally. The Voice should really have done better, being the Top 10 elimination. No one qualifies as a must watch at this stage.

In the regions House Rules topped the night with 742,000 viewers, followed by Seven News with 673,000, Nine News 6.30pm was third with 506,000 viewers, Sunday Night was fourth with 496,000 and Nine News was fifth with 460,000. The Voice could only manage 404,000 and MasterChef 278,000. — Read the rest on the Crikey website

Tips and rumours

Mar 23, 2017

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Tomorrow when Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs is hauled again before a Senate committee to talk about the Bill Leak complaint, it is expected that one of the Liberal members of the committee will demand answers from Triggs on why she is going to Tasmania to give a speech at the Hobart Oration, an event hosted by the Bob Brown Foundation. As Crikey has previously pointed out, the event is not a fundraiser ($50 tickets don’t even break even) nor associated with a political party, despite what the Daily Tele has claimed, and outrage over it ignored that Tim Wilson, back when he was Human Rights Commissioner spoke at Liberal Party branch events. A tipster today forwarded us this event attended by Wilson while still at the commission back in 2015 for the right-wing group Australian Taxpayers Alliance and the Australian Liberty Alliance. Tickets were much more expensive at this event, at $300.

Those super keen freedom fans could, however, have paid $700 for the up-close and personal experience with the Human Rights Commissioner:

“Plus, for our most committed supporters, we are offering a VIP package which includes an exclusive VIP reception, a private luncheon with guest speakers and other dignitaries, preferred seating, and a DVD of all conference sessions & Liberty Awards. For only $700, the VIP package is an excellent opportunity to enhance your experience while helping us ensure the best possible conference.”

To paraphrase Senator Eric Abetz, it looks like “a blatant fundraising event for a [right wing] political action group”. Very poor judgement. 

News

Mar 23, 2017

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From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Right to bare arms. The dress code for the House of Representatives, set in 1999 by then-speaker Neil Andrew and reinforced in 2005, requires men in the chamber to wear good trousers, a jacket, a collar, and a tie — a safari suit is also included as an option. Women are also expected to have a similar level of formality in their clothing choices.

There are exceptions, such as if the air-conditioning is broken or a member is rushing to a division and forgot their jacket, but otherwise it is jackets on.

The rules apply to the press gallery, too, and recently ABC journalist Patricia Karvelas was asked to leave the gallery in the House of Representatives because she was wearing a sleeveless top.

In the Senate, the rules were relaxed after a formal request from then-Greens senator Bob Brown. And Greens MP Adam Bandt recently wrote to speaker Tony Smith asking to relax the rules for journalists to be able to work through the hot summer sans jackets after a request from a photographer.

“As temperatures continue to rise, so too will the body temperature of journalists — who are regularly required to be physically active and who are required to work inside and outside the building,” Bandt said in a statement to Crikey. “Journalists and especially photographers should have a right to bare arms.”

Wilson spoke at right-wing event too. Tomorrow when Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs is hauled again before a Senate committee to talk about the Bill Leak complaint, it is expected that one of the Liberal members of the committee will demand answers from Triggs on why she is going to Tasmania to give a speech at the Hobart Oration, an event hosted by the Bob Brown Foundation. As Crikey has previously pointed out, the event is not a fundraiser ($50 tickets don’t even break even) nor associated with a political party, despite what the Daily Tele has claimed, and outrage over it ignored that Tim Wilson, back when he was Human Rights Commissioner spoke at Liberal Party branch events. A tipster today forwarded us this event attended by Wilson while still at the commission back in 2015 for the right-wing group Australian Taxpayers Alliance and the Australian Liberty Alliance. Tickets were much more expensive at this event, at $300.

Those super keen freedom fans could, however, have paid $700 for the up-close and personal experience with the Human Rights Commissioner:

“Plus, for our most committed supporters, we are offering a VIP package which includes an exclusive VIP reception, a private luncheon with guest speakers and other dignitaries, preferred seating, and a DVD of all conference sessions & Liberty Awards. For only $700, the VIP package is an excellent opportunity to enhance your experience while helping us ensure the best possible conference.”

To paraphrase Senator Eric Abetz, it looks like “a blatant fundraising event for a [right wing] political action group”. Very poor judgement. 

Body account. The power struggle over governance at CPA Australia, one of the country’s biggest accounting bodies, looks like it is in no way slowing down. CPA Australia’s board and senior management can’t keep governance campaigner Brett Stevenson down. Stevenson is leading the charge against the board and CPA boss Alex Malley, using an email list of members. In his 15th such email to members, sent this morning, he calls for heads to roll at CPA Australia with continuing revelations about the way which the largest of Australia’s accounting bodies is engaged in damage control.

Some might call it “stakeholder management”. Yesterday Stevenson revealed to his contact list another email, from CPA chief operating officer of member services Jeff Hughes, in which Hughes encouraged team members liaising with various chairs of committees and other so-called “friendlies” to circulate a 17-page memo written to counter the criticisms levelled by Stevenson at the organisation. Page 17 has a crack at The Australian Financial Review and the manner in which it has covered various issues related to the marketing spend, the heavy focus on chief executive officer Alex Malley in marketing and promotion and the level of remuneration paid to board members and executives. Stevenson has stated in an earlier email that the total aggregated remuneration for those in charge at the bean-counters’ club is $5.5 million and that disclosure should be broken down into amounts paid per relevant office bearer.

The accounting body has also taken steps to curb debate on its LinkedIn forum and shut down its “Find A CPA” search tool on its website to prevent members being able to build a mailing list to communicate with other members about concerns.

Guthrie schmoozes with pollies. As the ABC cuts more than 200 jobs for a content fund, ABC MD Michelle Guthrie has told politicians that the national broadcaster needs to “free up investment” to try its hand at new things. Guthrie was in Canberra yesterday evening to launch a new parliamentary friendship group devoted to the ABC.

“It’s lovely having friends. When you deal with the Chinese government they particularly refer to you as … old friends. It’s even better to have old friends,” she said.

Guthrie reiterated previous statements about the need for the ABC to remain relevant, and attract the 18-45 demographic, particularly in regional areas. The change would not be “another microphone in Federation Square or Martin Place” but telling stories in places like Yackandandah or Mallacoota.

“I think we need to free up investment to try new things. Not everything is going to work. I can’t guarantee everything you will like,” she told parliamentarians.

The friendship group has 50 MPs and senators as members, with four co-chairs in independent MP Andrew Wilkie, Labor MP Mike Freelander, Liberal MP Craig Laundy and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. Also at the launch were Andrew Leigh, Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman, Warren Entsch, and noted ABC critic Bridget McKenzie, who has been pushing for the ABC to focus on regional Australia.

Ms Tips’ spy didn’t spot Justin Milne, the man widely tipped to be the new ABC chair, but Guthrie stuck around for a couple of hours at the event chatting to politicians of all persuasions.

Kroger’s gesture won’t change outcome. It looks likely that Victorian Liberal party president Michael Kroger will ask the party’s administration committee to re-open nominations for the position of president today, following the news that his challenger Peter Reith had suffered a stroke. Reith was taken to hospital yesterday and has withdrawn from the process, which has surfaced deep divisions within the Victorian branch of the Liberal party. Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy had supported Reith in his challenge, while federal MPs have been divided between Kroger and Reith. Even though Kroger looks like he will make a democratic move to open up the process, it’s believed that there is no one obvious to run against him now that Reith will not, so he will still end up retaining the presidency.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Federal

Mar 22, 2017

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Gosh, I am enjoying the latest season of 18C, aren’t you? Been a binge-watcher of the series for years. It has had its up and downs, but it’s really coming on strong this year, with a new premise, and a taste for absurdity. I think it’s only a couple of seasons away from jumping the shark, but I plan to enjoy it while I can.

There’s a great central plot motif in 18C, and it’s this: what begins as an ostensible attempt to abolish the law entirely, in the name of a classical liberal minimisation of state controls on speech, becomes, with each new twist, a move to make the law more convoluted, cumbersome, and baroque. I liked the bit where that guy who failed the audition for the Flight Centre ads got a gig on The Drum, and having called for the abolition of the law, then joined the body that runs it, before entering parliament in order to try and abolish it afresh.

The inquiry called to give a pretext for abolishing the law that recommended no change to it was a cliffhanger. Then they had a second inquiry which made no recommendations at all! Risky to pile comedy on comedy, but they pulled it off. The death of the “Bill” character was pure melodrama, real Packed To the Rafters stuff, that was a bit disconcerting — but now they’ve turned the demise of a self-styled larrikin and free-spirit into a symbol of the sort of whiny victimhood he used to satirise in his cartoons.

The “death of Bill” arc looks like it’ll run and run, and they’re doing something really interesting with it: having argued that 18C is an illegitimate law because words aren’t acts, they’re now saying that mean words killed Bill. Which is a pretty strong argument for laws that exactly treat words as acts. That’s your classic crossover there, and not everyone can manage it — but I think we’re a couple of episodes away from the “Friends of Bill” saying that be called “a racist” can kill you, and someone from the AHRC mounting a libel action based on the premise that words are not capable of having that sort of effect. That trial would be a cracking end to season, what is it, five? Nine? Seventeen? Imagine the scene where Senator James “sprog” Paterson is called by the plaintiff’s lawyer to say that words not being things — with thing-like effects, e.g. a fatal heart attack — is the foundation of liberalism.

Of course, amidst all the serious stuff, there’s a light touch, too. These characters Turnbull and Brandis, have you seen them? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern types, two hapless boobies trapped behind a single podium like a couple waiting for a free table at Movida, trying to explain the latest screw-up as a victory. This is a very modernist device, where the characters comment on their own failure as characters, a Beckettian touch. Watch that press conference again and pretend it was written by a dissident East European absurdist playwright around 1967.

Really, the hits just keep on coming. Episode 233 yesterday was a corker, in which the government released a document criticising multiculturalism as a force for difference, and emphasising a new drive to integration — and then this Guildernstern/Estragon/Turnbull character calls all the multicultural “community” leaders to reassure them that the changes to 18C really won’t change anything.

What am I looking forward to in future seasons? Well, the “reasonable person” test is a corker. Here’s how it works. You have a principle you don’t like — laws controlling free speech, including a sectional community standards test — and, failing to abolish the law, you make that principle even more powerful by convoking an abstract “reasonable person” from an abstract “general community”, to assess whether the words in question fall this side of the law or not.

I do like the motif here, cos there’s a real whiff of Italian corporatism, whereby the organic body of the social whole is held to be more important than the individual. Fun to see it smuggled into a drive for free speech. And then, the kiss of the whip. Having proposed the idea of a “general community” and a “reasonable person” free of all attributes of race, ethnicity, etc, this PM Guildenstern type rang all the leaders of “communities” based on race, ethnicity, etc, to see if that was alright with them! Spoiler alert.

What am I looking forward to in future eps? The High Court case in which we test whether a single racist slur is by itself “harassing” or “intimidating” will be a hotter ticket than the Book of Mormon musical. Constituting the “reasonable persons” — well that’s your 2018 reality game show blockbuster right there. Would a panel of reasonable people think that Andrew Bolt and Bill Leak were defiant champions of the right to free thought, or a pair of demented weirdos spewing out vicious bile? That would be exciting, because of course, if the verdict went against them, or people like them, there would be absolutely no comeback — the “reasonable people” had spoken, and we had, as a community, decided. Those of us who think that what is “reasonable” is created and recreated by speech and dialogue, and transformed over time, would be disappointed. But clearly we’re not liberals. Sorry, Liberals.

Some people say the show has no suspense in it, given that the same “community” leaders PM Guildenstern spent all yesterday calling — thus magnifying their power — will today be calling Labor, the Greens and NXT to oppose changes to the law, and promise delivery of votes in exchange for such, and it’ll go down like a lead wossname. Should that happen, changes to 18C will have failed, by my count, for a fifth time, and I’m getting worried that the scriptwriters will be able to keep this up.

But hell, most of us thought this show would collapse under the weight of its own absurdity years ago. After all, the premise — that a party defining itself as the home of free speech as an expression of courage, is too cowardly to act on it — should barely support more than a single episode by right. But here we are, years later. Let’s enjoy it while we can, though that may not be long. When they premiere Shorten Labor — the world’s only lack-of-variety show — we’ll know what we were missing. Unless it’s just reruns of Tony Abbott. Or they write that Bill character back in, and the whole thing was all a dream.

Tips and rumours

Mar 17, 2017

5 comments

The Daily Telegraph‘s Sharri Markson has gone hard on Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs for the gall of speaking at the seventh annual Hobart Oration at the end of this month, an event put on by the Bob Brown Foundation.

The $50-per-head event is just covers costs for the event, but because Bob Brown is the former leader of the Greens, Markson has Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in the article calling for Triggs to cancel her speech or step aside from her job. The Australian has followed up this morning with a quote from Liberal Senator Eric Abetz along the same lines. You didn’t see this sort of fuss from Liberal politicians when Tim Wilson, now the Liberal member for Goldstein, spoke at political party events as Human Rights Commissioner. In 2015, Wilson was a speaker at a Liberal Victoria party branch event. He subsequently revealed he had spoken at Liberal Party events, Greens events, Liberal Democratic Party events, and Country Liberal Party events on the same proviso as Triggs — that it was not a fundraising event. Where was the same outrage and calls to stand aside from Dutton?

A spokesperson for the Bob Brown Foundation told Crikey that the orations were not fundraisers, and historically they have run at a loss. He said it was run by the foundation, not the Greens, because the Greens gave up running the event years ago because it was running a loss. It is purely a community event and has previously heard from eminent speakers including David Suzuki, Professor Brian Schmidt, and 350.org founder Bill McKibben. In a statement, Brown said The Daily Telegraph had not bothered to contact him about the event before today’s hit piece.

“No one has ever complained before The Daily Telegraph, which has not been in contact with me. Perhaps it should concentrate on it what it does so well, censoring public comment in Sydney,” Brown said.

Tips and rumours

Mar 17, 2017

5 comments

The Daily Telegraph‘s Sharri Markson has gone hard on Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs for the gall of speaking at the seventh annual Hobart Oration at the end of this month, an event put on by the Bob Brown Foundation.

The $50-per-head event is just covers costs for the event, but because Bob Brown is the former leader of the Greens, Markson has Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in the article calling for Triggs to cancel her speech or step aside from her job. The Australian has followed up this morning with a quote from Liberal Senator Eric Abetz along the same lines. You didn’t see this sort of fuss from Liberal politicians when Tim Wilson, now the Liberal member for Goldstein, spoke at political party events as Human Rights Commissioner. In 2015, Wilson was a speaker at a Liberal Victoria party branch event. He subsequently revealed he had spoken at Liberal Party events, Greens events, Liberal Democratic Party events, and Country Liberal Party events on the same proviso as Triggs — that it was not a fundraising event. Where was the same outrage and calls to stand aside from Dutton?

A spokesperson for the Bob Brown Foundation told Crikey that the orations were not fundraisers, and historically they have run at a loss. He said it was run by the foundation, not the Greens, because the Greens gave up running the event years ago because it was running a loss. It is purely a community event and has previously heard from eminent speakers including David Suzuki, Professor Brian Schmidt, and 350.org founder Bill McKibben. In a statement, Brown said The Daily Telegraph had not bothered to contact him about the event before today’s hit piece.

“No one has ever complained before The Daily Telegraph, which has not been in contact with me. Perhaps it should concentrate on it what it does so well, censoring public comment in Sydney,” Brown said.

News

Mar 17, 2017

5 comments

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Tele beats up on Triggs, again. The Daily Telegraph‘s Sharri Markson has gone hard on Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs for the gall of speaking at the seventh annual Hobart Oration at the end of this month, an event put on by the Bob Brown Foundation.

The $50-per-head event is just covers costs for the event, but because Bob Brown is the former leader of the Greens, Markson has Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in the article calling for Triggs to cancel her speech or step aside from her job. The Australian has followed up this morning with a quote from Liberal Senator Eric Abetz along the same lines. You didn’t see this sort of fuss from Liberal politicians when Tim Wilson, now the Liberal member for Goldstein, spoke at political party events as Human Rights Commissioner. In 2015, Wilson was a speaker at a Liberal Victoria party branch event. He subsequently revealed he had spoken at Liberal Party events, Greens events, Liberal Democratic Party events, and Country Liberal Party events on the same proviso as Triggs — that it was not a fundraising event. Where was the same outrage and calls to stand aside from Dutton?

A spokesperson for the Bob Brown Foundation told Crikey that the orations were not fundraisers, and historically they have run at a loss. He said it was run by the foundation, not the Greens, because the Greens gave up running the event years ago because it was running a loss. It is purely a community event and has previously heard from eminent speakers including David Suzuki, Professor Brian Schmidt, and 350.org founder Bill McKibben. In a statement, Brown said The Daily Telegraph had not bothered to contact him about the event before today’s hit piece.

“No one has ever complained before The Daily Telegraph, which has not been in contact with me. Perhaps it should concentrate on it what it does so well, censoring public comment in Sydney,” Brown said.

Turnbull spotted by his mates. After the PM’s Snowy Hydro announcement, Malcolm Turnbull quickly hopped on a plane to Melbourne to appear on Ten’s The Project to sell the feasibility study, meaning he took the train from Melbourne down to South Yarra, as he often does in these situations. In the Facebook group dedicated to pointing out where public transport ticket inspectors are located in Melbourne’s public transport network (sardonically referred to as “our mates” in the group), the below photo was captured of the PM stuck in what appears to be a rather crowded train headed in that direction.

Snowy Hydro to get the poll numbers flowing. Malcolm Turnbull is certainly going to great lengths to hype his unfunded, undetailed Snowy Hydro feasibility study, conducting a round of media interviews to spruik it. We note, by way of comparison, that the high-speed rail proposal — of which Crikey‘s own Bernard Keane is such a huge fan — is now into its ninth year of feasibility studies, scoping studies and corridor selection (that’s the current iteration — there have been previous iterations since the 1990s). But while we may be sceptical that a single watt will ever be generated from Turnbull’s media release, what we’re sure about is the timing: there’ll be a Newspoll out early next week as Parliament resumes, and another poll like the last one will immediately set leadership hares running. So the Turnbull brains trust is clearly hoping a bit of green vision will boost the government’s numbers and Turnbull’s personal ratings. Still, who knows — maybe Tony Abbott will repeat his Newspoll-wrecking performance of two weeks ago with another helpful intervention. Time enough if good enough …

While McManus is condemned, actual illegal strikes ignored. New Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus’ Wednesday interview on 7.30 — in which she flatly stated she didn’t see a problem with breaking unjust laws — continues to be a boon for tut-tutting columnists. In today’s Age, Mark Kenny described the comments as “out-dated,” “politically inept” and an “enormous stick” with which the Coalition can beat Bill Shorten. Meanwhile, the Herald Sun said the comments were “advocating lawlessness and protecting some of the biggest thugs and criminals ever to carry union cards” and illustrated that workers and the union movement deserved better than McManus. And The Australian –– having dedicated its front page to McManus and her thoughts on body hair, among other things — saw fit to publish an editorial, a Cut & Paste column and a David Crowe opinion piece, as well as four letters to the editor about her comments, three of them condemning them.

While all these three publications have shown a clear commitment to the rule of law as it applies to industrial relations, it seems strange that none have mentioned what appears to be an actual illegal strike currently happening in Melbourne.

According to a report on the ABC, the staff at Nant’s Melbourne whisky bar have walked off the job, claiming they have not been paid thousands of dollars in wages, superannuation and other entitlements. According to the article, a letter signed by most of the workforce was presented to management last week that said:

“We cannot continue to strive to achieve the future we see for this bar if we perceive no support from management, and feel our basic entitlements, such as regular pay … are not being honoured.”

As anyone condemning McManus surely knows, striking just because you haven’t been paid is illegal. Surely this is just the kind of “reckless assault on [the] rule of law” that the Oz warned us of? And yet not a word about it. Perhaps a quiet strike by a small workforce over an employer’s failure to provide basic entitlements doesn’t quite fit the anarchist union thug narrative, even if it’s illegal?

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