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News

Mar 7, 2017

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From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

DHS story like Homeland season three. As the warmth of summer gives way to shorter days in the nation’s capital, it’s heartening to see one of the hardy perennials of Canberran bureaucracy, a “Department of Homeland Security-style mega-department” once again in flower. An Aussie DHS last bloomed in 2014 when it was proposed as a vehicle for the monumental ego of then-immigration minister Scott Morrison, only for his colleagues to put him back in his box. Since then, Morrison has underwhelmed as Treasurer and disappeared from leadership calculations. Labor toyed with the idea for years — as far back as Mark Latham’s time. Back then, the Coalition thought a Department of Homeland Security would be “a cynical window-dressing exercise which is going to bog down Australia’s anti-terror efforts in bureaucratic quicksand”.  Not that Morrison — or, now, Peter Dutton — is the only ego involved.

The other giant head in the room is the man responsible for turning Immigration into a paramilitary outfit, secretary “Iron” Mike Pezzullo. Pezzullo would undoubtedly love to run a mega-department — just imagine what billion-dollar contracts it could completely botch! Oh and there’s a fourth ego — that of George “Sadim Touch” Brandis, who is treated in Hartcher’s piece like so much ministerial garbage to be chucked out. Mind you, Tony Abbott did strip Brandis of counter-terrorism responsibility and give it to Justice Minister Michael Keenan … hmmm.

Sizzling the patriarchy. The ABC is kicking men off the airwaves tomorrow to mark International Women’s Day, which is apparently a terrible insult to both male and female presenters according to The Daily Telegraph. “A host of prominent women have labelled the ABC’s move to boot male television and radio hosts off air tomorrow for International Women’s Day as ‘tokenism’,” says the Tele. News Corp hates when the national broadcaster gets in on their turf — surely insulting ABC presenters is best left to the seasoned professionals at News (and in fact, quite a few of the “host of prominent women” quoted happen to be presenters on News Corp-owned Sky News).

Aunty isn’t the only media outlet with a novel way to mark International Women’s Day. Ms Tips hears at The Age in Melbourne there will be a sausage sizzle run by the male members of staff (how insulting!) and that women are encouraged to dress in vintage-style clothes for the day to draw attention to the … ahem … old-fashioned attitudes to women. Marking International Women’s Day will have a bit of extra kick at The Age, which has never had a woman appointed to the job as editor-in-chief (although it has many senior women in its ranks editing the weekend papers and the sport section), and where it has been noted with disappointment that CEO Greg Hywood has appointed 10 men and just one woman as part of the company’s digital restructure. There will be a sausage fest tomorrow, even though the senior ranks at Fairfax are a sausage fest every day.

The best face in television. Ross Cameron was at it again last night on Sky, this time saying we couldn’t rule out a connection between vaccinations and autism (except we can and we have). While most people are able to watch such comments in the comfort of their own homes with the ability to yell at the screen, Cameron’s Sky colleague Janine Perrett had to keep it nice, as she has done before. And like in October, when Cameron said Donald Trump’s comment about grabbing women by the pussy was good for women, Perrett made herself perfectly clear with just the shake of her head, an eye-roll and the best side-eye in the business.

You can watch the full clip here:

Sudmalis speaks on sexism. Government MP Ann Sudmalis has told her local paper she considered quitting after sustained attacks from Labor during question time last week. Sudmalis also said that sexism played a role in the way she had been singled out by the Labor Party after she defended cuts to penalty rates to Fairfax, saying they were a “gift” to young people trying to get a job. The member for Gilmore in New South Wales appeared to be distressed in Parliament after her comments were raked over in question time. Speaking to the Illawarra Mercury yesterday, Sudmalis explained she had thought about stepping down “for maybe half an hour” but the experience ultimately made her stronger and confirmed her view that women needed to be encouraged to run for Parliament. The report says:

“Mrs Sudmalis, who was visibly distressed in Parliament, said her emotion was due to ‘the unfairness of it all’. 

She said she was targeted first as an individual, then as the holder of the seat.

‘I don’t believe they would have gone after a male, three days in a row,’ she said.

‘They would have moved it around, and taken it to a different member, but no, they did three hits in three days, which is most unusual.

‘They don’t do that to a bloke.'”

Sudmalis didn’t back away from her original comments though, continuing to defend cuts to penalty rates.

Pauline Hanson’s mystery preferential voting changes. Pauline Hanson has never made any secret of her admiration for Donald Trump, and her Insiders appearance on the weekend proved it extends to her approach to “facts”. And the sheer volume of questionable assertions meant one or two were bound to slip through the gaps. Host Barrie Cassidy (and, subsequently, much of the media and political establishment) called her out on her admiration for Vladimir Putin, her suspicion of vaccines, her assertion that Muslims “hate” the West and her support for the penalty rates cut. But there was no breath or column space left for a couple of other quite possibly “alternative facts.” Early on, she stated:

“If you look at what happened in the past, the Howard government changes the preferences from optional preferential voting in the 1998 election. That was the first time they colluded together, they agreed to get rid of One Nation and put us last on the how-to-vote tickets.”

We couldn’t remember any changes of that sort, so we had a little look back and couldn’t find anything. Not in the text of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment Act 1998 or the accompanying summary on the Australian Electoral Commission website. Nor was it mentioned in the ABC’s history of preferential voting. In 2013, there were articles on the subject by Antony Green and Charles Richardson, which came in response to a push from senior Liberals for a shift to optional preferential voting (note: “shift”, not “return”). Christian Kerr’s initial report on that push in The Australian mentioned the optional preferential voting introduced by Labor governments at state level (in New South Wales and Queensland), but nothing at federal level. A research paper on electoral systems from 2007 published by the Australian parliamentary library mentions optional preferences in those state jurisdictions, but again, elides the federal changes Hanson claims the Howard government implemented. We asked our resident psephologist, William Bowe, and he said:

“I really haven’t the faintest idea what she’s referring to. The history of optional preferential voting in Australia is as follows: NSW introduces it in 1981; Queensland introduces it in 1991; the Northern Territory introduces it last year; Queensland abolishes it last year. You might also say that New South Wales introduced it in the upper house in 1999, and it was introduced in the Senate last year. But that the Howard government colluded to abolish it in 1998? No, and a very odd thing for her to think, given she was elected in 1996 and then voted out in 1998, both times in the lower house under compulsory preferential voting.”

Perhaps Pauline could please explain?

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

Media

Feb 13, 2017

5 comments

Now we know.

Whenever the opponents of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act are asked what, specifically, that part of the law is preventing them from saying they just roll their eyes and claim that this is a matter of principle: it’s not what may be said that’s at issue but our right to say it.

But, courtesy of the Q Society, we now know that’s complete balderdash.

What they really want is the right to mouth is racist, homophobic bile. Addressing their fundraising dinner on Thursday night at an RSL club in Sydney, cartoonist Larry Pickering told the 160 attendees “I can’t stand Muslims”, but that “they’re not all bad, they do chuck pillow-biters off buildings”. Nice.  

[Knowing your Cory from your Angry: a guide to Australia’s far right]

At the same meeting, former Liberal MP Ross Cameron warmed to that gay-bashing theme by describing the NSW division of the Liberal Party as a “gay club”, and mocked The Sydney Morning Herald as the “the Sydney Morning Homosexual”. (Among those applauding was the one-time rock singer Angry Anderson, more recently known for parading his vigilantist tendencies on tabloid TV.)

The function last Thursday was staged to raise funds for the legal defence of Kirralie Smith of the Australian Liberty Alliance after she posted videos claiming that revenue from halal certification was going to fund “illegal activity” (read: Islamist terrorism). Not surprisingly, she’s being sued for defamation by a Halal certifier, not prosecuted under Section 18D.

The “pro-halal choices” push is, of course, a cover for rabid anti-Muslim prejudice. A cartoon by Pickering auctioned at the RSL club dinner depicted an imam as a pig being roasted on a spit. The words “Halal Certified” were written on its rump. I think we get the drift. The dog-whistle is deafening.

And to round out the night, Cameron troweled on the praise for the Islam-hating Smith, declaring “there could not be a more authentic expression of the goodness of Australian than Kirralie Smith”.

It would be easy to dismiss all this as merely the frothings of a rabid fringe, but the following day the Q Society staged a parallel fundraiser in Melbourne. It was addressed by breakaway Senator Cory Bernardi and government MP George Christensen. Both are elected politicians, being handsomely paid by the taxpayer.

[The Oz has literally written more about the ‘thought police’ than George Orwell did]

Christensen, who spoke at a Reclaim Australia rally in 2015, told the Friday meeting: “I believe we are slowly seeing the erosion of free speech with the myriad anti-discrimination laws we have in this country and the threats of violence from Islamist and leftist groups.” Bernardi confined himself to explaining that those expressing hard right opinions were just “people with concerns”. Sure.

Why should we be worried? Because these are precisely the same types of utterance that fueled the rise of fascism in the 1920s. We should not shy away from Godwin’s Law or the Reductio ad Hitlerium. This stuff is beyond analogy — it is real.

Three years of hyperventilating nonsense in the Murdoch media about the 18C “muzzle” has legitimised the specious claim by those with hardline conservative views that they are somehow being denied the right to free speech. It is not a great stretch to see the hate-driven Q Society rhetoric last week as our equivalent to the Nazis’ beer hall rabble-rousing in Munich.

To its credit, The Sydney Morning Herald front-paged the RSL meeting with a telling picture of Ross Cameron in full flight — snarling mouth, eyes narrowed in hate, right hand raised in a menacing claw — rather like a certain mustachioed former corporal at the Nuremberg rallies.

Meanwhile, The Australian could manage just five pars of coverage on page 7, single column, down the page. Maybe they’re beginning to wonder whether all their ceaseless agitation over curbs on “free speech” has created a monster.

Federal

Jan 10, 2017

5 comments

The other day my mate and I went to Nissin World Delicatessen, a popular supermarket for expats in central Tokyo. In the meat section, I saw imported meats from Australia, the United States and New Zealand. The Kiwis do roaring business here in Japan, and the huge, loud halal signs don’t seem to worry anyone. In this majority Buddhist nation, and even among its expatriate community (many of whom would be nominally Christian), the idea of eating the flesh of a cow or lamb slaughtered in the name of Allah isn’t going to lead to a House of Councillors inquiry.

The same is largely true in Australia (apart from the futile Senate inquiry into kosher and halal certification). Indeed, most halal-related litigation Muslims involves halal butchers suing halal certifiers, halal certifiers suing other certifiers and religious bodies seeking to enforce contracts in which certifiers promise to pay some stipend. Halal v Halal.

But now Australia’s fractured far right has joined the halal fray, largely a case of yesterday’s anti-Semites becoming today’s anti-Halalcertifites. As Dr Shakira Hussein notes, kosher certification was once used as a means to attack America’s Jewish minority. Now the same racist themes are being used to attack halal certification and the tiny minority of Australians who identify as Muslim, including ones like me who are happy to eat halal-uncertified McDonald’s in Tokyo.

Kirralie Smith and her colleagues from the Q Society/Halal Choices/Australian Liberty Alliance have found themselves defendants in a defamation claim brought by one of Australia’s major players in the halal meat game. Smith posted a video on Facebook headlined “Mosques promote bigotry. Islam is divisive”. She mispronounces the name of the dreaded faith as “Izlaam”, claiming that it isn’t a religion in the same way as Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity. She claims Islam is a “totalitarian ideology” with both political and military aspirations. She also says that we don’t want people who behave violently against those who disagree with them.

[Rundle: muddying the waters with Angry Anderson and the ALA]

But Smith has come across a Muslim businessman who prefers not to get angry but instead to use the non-sharia civil law system via defamation proceedings. She needs every dollar to defend the court case and has organised public events in early February in Sydney and Melbourne to raise funds. For just $150 you get “a sparkling welcome, a variety of fine finger food and a generous serve of free speech. Article 19 UDHR applies. Drinks at bar prices.”

And where does the money go? The promotional material states: “All proceeds and donations go towards the legal expenses incurred by Q Society of Australia Inc, Kirralie Smith, Debbie Robinson et al. in the defamation action initiated by Mr Mohamed El-Mouehly (Halal Certification Authority Pty Ltd) before the NSW Supreme Court.”

It continues: “This is a landmark case with considerable ramifications for freedom of expression in Australia.” How does litigation pursued in accordance with a jurisdiction legislated in Australia since 1847 have considerable ramifications for freedom of speech?

Indeed, how often do you see senators and MPs involved in fundraising for one side or the other in a free speech case? Even in the case of Danny Nalliah’s defence of religious vilification claims brought by the Islamic Council of Victoria, entertainingly covered by Hanifa Deen’s book The Jihad Seminar, Peter Costello delivered an Australia Day message to a meeting organised by Nalliah and had been the recipient of Nalliah’s prayers, but that’s about it.

Peter Costello also won’t be on the podium of the ALA event. Neither will Danny Nalliah or Fred Nile or even Pauline Hanson, who has campaigned heavily on Islam-related stuff (from halal meat certification to sharia law to toilets in the Tax Office building). No one from the United Patriots Front or the Reclaim Australia mob will be present.

[Anti-Muslim sentiment reaches fever pitch as ministers channel their inner Howard]

Indeed, were it not for the presence of Cory Bernardi and George Christensen, the event would hardly have been worth reporting on.

This event is more conspicuous by who will be absent than present. The Islamophobic space in Australia has some powerful media and political backers. But its hardliners are deeply divided, mirroring the divisions in the Australian far right, for which hatred of Muslims has replaced hatred of Asians and Jews and other “Others”.

In the electoral stakes, at 0.66% of NSW Senate votes Kirralie Smith came well behind One Nation (4.1%), Fred Nile (2.7%) but ahead of Danny Nalliah’s Rise Up Australia Party (0.17%). When it comes to the “Islam-critical” sector, as John Howard once never said, “The things that divide us are more important than the things that unite us”.

Instead of other prominent Muslimphobes, Shariaphobes and Halalphobes, the podium will include a crime writer, an ageing hard rocker and some bloke named Ross Cameron. And now a couple of Coalition backbenchers.

Media briefs

Dec 19, 2016

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Ross “the Cap” Cameron has been having a middling few weeks. His new Sky show The Andropause Hour*, with explosion-in-a-woolshed Rowan Dean and celebrity monorchid Mark Latham has so few viewers that they could go round to people’s houses and do it in their living rooms; the NSW Liberal Party is looking to suspend him for forthright criticism of the party apparatus; and he (and other rightists such as Rita Panahi) have been fulsome in their praise of a viral video of Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett, pulling apart a loaded, “failure of the world” question about the siege of East Aleppo from a Norwegian hipster journalist. Fair enough, but Bartlett is a pro-Assad regime advocate (and openly so) — in the video she describes Assad’s takeover of the city as its “liberation”. Nice to know the NSW Liberals have a pro-Assad faction.

Where The Cap may part company with even the most deranged of his colleagues is in his renewed support for Barack Obama ‘birtherism”. Yes, the Cap is jumping on the bandwagon as everyone is scrambling off, taking time at 2.27 on Monday morning to inform us …

birtherism1

What the …? Well, this is birtherism 2.0, which has been running for a while now. The rejigged craziness is that yes, Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, not Kenya, but his real father was not Kenyan exchange student Barack Obama Snr, but Frank Marshall Davis, an important African-American journalist and poet who had moved to Hawaii in the late 1940s. Davis was a friend of Obama’s granddad, and he became a mentor of sorts to Obama during his teen years, when he was living with his grandparents and attending high school in Hawaii.

He’s of interest to the Deranged Right because he was for a time a member of the Communist Party of the USA. In birther theory 2.0, as aired in the 2012 film, Dreams From My Real Father, Obama’s 18 year-old-mother Ann Dunham was impregnated by Davis during porno/fetish photo sessions they were conducting together, the scheming Dunham then having an affair with Obama Snr, and marrying him, to cover her tracks.

There is not the slightest evidence for any of this, and two previous works by the film’s director Joel Gilbert, Elvis Found Alive, and Paul McCartney Really Is Dead, give you an idea of his approach. The fantasy has been brought back to life by the “investigation” of recently deposed, and also convicted (of contempt of court) Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio, who held a press conference with a blow-up of the full long-form birth certificate that was released in 2011, after a birther 1.0 campaign by Donald Trump. Boy, he really paid for that folly. The sheriff’s ‘proof’ that the long form is a forgery is an adaptation of a bogus analysis put around by the uber-birther, Florida lawyer and dentist Orly Taitz, that the long-form image circulated is a photoshop mock-up, consisting of multiple ‘layers’.

Birther 2.0, hasn’t become popular until recently, because it didn’t bar Obama from the presidency. It’s a last attempt to render him as illegitimate, an alien spirit. The earlier notion had been that Marshall Davis’ mentorship had turned Obama into an undercover agent — disguising his true Black Marxist politics as he rose through the establishment to the White House. But that is too conventional for the paranoid right in these times. They need a recrudesced version in which the Communist taint is passed on through the blood (and the demon seed of infidelity at that).

How do such crackpot theories gain the support of so many deluded clowns? Let’s ask one expert:

birtherism2

Guy Rundle

* Not actual show name

Federal

Nov 21, 2016

5 comments

One of the many lessons from the US election it is that increasingly people are retreating to media outlets that validate their own opinions. In the United States the right wing has Fox News, Breitbart and Infowars among others. In Australia, it is a bit more complicated.

Last month, Sky News host and former NSW premier Kristina Keneally told a conference that Fox News wouldn’t work in Australia because its audience is so niche that it would struggle to succeed, but she added that the Fox News style of show did have a place in Australia.

“It has an audience, after 7pm on Sky News,” she said.

Sky News during the day is what you’d expect from a professional 24-hour news channel. Apart from an appearance or two by former Liberal MP Ross Cameron, the commentary you can expect on Sky News during the day is some of the best the news industry has to offer. David Speers, Kieran Gilbert, Laura Jayes and co do the network proud.

In the evening, however, Sky News’ commentary takes a sharp right turn. The schedule varies, and the talent pool is often repeated. But the coverage is spearheaded every night from 7pm with The Bolt Report. And he sets the tone.

7-8pm: The Bolt Report

From Monday to Thursday (with a best-of on Friday), the format for Andrew Bolt’s show is usually him having a rant (often about section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act or crowing about Donald Trump’s victory over the “left media”), followed by a couple of interviews and then a panel to talk about the issues he had ranted about.

The interviewees tend to be government MPs or Labor Right members, and last week Bolt had Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching, Barnaby Joyce, Peter Dutton and the big scoop of the week: Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott on Bolt Report

Nothing represented the absurdity of Australia’s most-read columnist railing against “media elites” more than his almost hour-long interview with Abbott in his luxurious home office filled with leather-bound books.

Bolt told Abbott that the US election result was giving two fingers to the media, and claimed that the Australian media was just as nasty to Abbott as the US media was to Trump. Abbott, to his credit, was never willing to go that far.

The interview, obviously, drew wide attention in other media outlets for Abbott saying the Trump win was the “revenge of the deplorables”, but Abbott only arrived at that position after much goading from Bolt. It was the same with Dutton’s interview later in the week, during which the Immigration Minister was critical of former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser’s refugee intake — the genesis for that position came from Bolt. Bolt’s interview style tends to be setting up his own view on the world — 18C is terrible, why is Malcolm Turnbull still PM, etc — and leaving it to the interviewees to either agree or take a more nuanced position.

Abbott, to his credit, held his own against the cries from Bolt that Gillian Triggs needed to be “out! out! out!”, among other things. Dutton tried to shift blame onto the Victorian state government for its “law and order” failure, but he was much more taken in by Bolt’s views, leading to the following day’s headlines. It’s not his fault — at one point, the Immigration Minister said his mum was a big fan of Andrew Bolt.

Bolt generally has one more smaller interview with someone to rant about a specific issue, and then a panel.

The highlight from last week was former Labor leader Mark Latham on to complain about Bono being named woman of the year. Latham’s entire post-political life seems to be devoted to fighting what he believes is the great evil of society: identity politics. The human form of a Twitter egg used his segment of The Bolt Report to claim he was running for the Australian Human Rights Commission president job as “an Islamic female indigenous transgender lesbian” after he took a course in Safe Schools.

OK …

The other highlight (such as it is) was Gerard Henderson. He was on to complain about (take a guess …) the ABC (!) and its coverage of the Trump election victory. My colleague Myriam Robin’s notes from the remainder of the interview suggest it was classic Hendo style:

“Gerard spends a long time going on about someone who did something 30 years ago. I do not know the people or the references and do not follow at all.”

In the panel on Monday night, Bolt wanted to comment on one aspect of the original complainant against Bill Leak’s cartoon — who has dropped the case — but said he couldn’t (in light of his own 18C case, in case anyone had forgotten in the last 10 minutes). He held up a photo of her, said she was indigenous, and left it to the viewers to draw conclusions.

What could he mean?

On Tuesday, a member of the closest thing Australia has to a political dynasty, Georgina Downer, was railing against the elites.

“There is a problem with the media echo chamber — talking to itself and not talking to the rest of the community,” Downer said on The Bolt Report.

8-9pm: Jones and Co … and co.

This slot varies each weeknight and seems to exist mainly as a graveyard for the careers of former politicians. The shows are: Beattie and Reith, Jones and Co, Credlin and Keneally, and Speers Tonight, with regular news on Fridays.

Beattie and Reith seems like a show no one in particular asked for, and it is difficult to tell what audience it is catering for. Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie and former Howard government minister Peter Reith talk for an hour. The latter was away for last week’s episode, so we were treated to Beattie and other former Queensland premier Campbell Newman talking about innovation for an hour. It was a struggle.

On Jones and Co, the “co” last week to join 2GB talkback host Alan Jones, in lieu of the unwell Richo, was Mark Latham, again. Latham was wearing a Trump cap. Fellow Trump supporter and former Liberal MP Ross Cameron was on hand to talk about the Trump victory, and will now be hosting the show for Jones when he goes under the knife.

After getting the Trump victory right, Cameron now has many wild predictions, which can only be summed up in the following quote:

“We are gonna see Donald Trump build a wall so fast it’ll make your head spin. And as he does it, the American people are gonna fall in love with Donald Trump, with his wife, with his children, none of whom smoke, take drugs. He is gonna be the all-American Johnny Appleseed … International financial markets have fallen head over heels in Donald Trump — they can see for the first time the realistic prospect of a Western economy rebuilding, regrouping.”

When Bill Leak was on, Jones went to great lengths to emphasise it was a “light-skinned indigenous person” making a complaint. That was what Bolt said he couldn’t say earlier, in case you had not worked it out.

Speers Tonight is far too normal a news show for its time slot. Speersy is always a pro. Credlin and Keneally was in its first week last week, and it appears to be a good dynamic between the former Abbott chief of staff and the former New South Wales premier. They also scored a big win in getting Karl Rove on their first show to warn about the dangers of the US refugee deal in light of the Trump presidency.

9-10pm: PM Live

Unfortunately for this experiment, Australia’s most charismatic right winger, Paul Murray — who referred to the PM as “that man” on election night — was away for the week, and the much more moderate Janine Perrett was hosting PM Live instead.

Still, her panel was often filled with right-wing reactionaries — usually Cameron — who did the work for her. Cameron on Monday said that WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange was “the only asylum seeker [he] respected”, for his work in leaking the Podesta emails.

The highlight for the week, by far, was the gathering of what Perrett called “Trump’s Aussie mates”. Deplorables including Mark Latham, Ross Cameron, Speccie editor Rowan Dean and former speaker Bronwyn Bishop gathered to talk about why a Trump victory was so good.

Bronwyn Bishop

Nothing could more encapsulate the absurdity of this panel than Bishop, who was wearing a giant Trump political ribbon attached to her lapel. A 30-year career politician who was forced to resign in shame from the role of speaker after it was revealed she had charged taxpayers for her to take a helicopter from Melbourne to Geelong for a Liberal Party fundraiser, and who is often spotted at the opera in a fur coat — on a panel railing against the elites.

But perhaps the past 30 years have been forgotten, because when asked who Australia’s enemy was, Bishop repeatedly blamed socialism for everything.

rosscameronontrump

Last night’s Paul Murray Live featured a panel of Graham Richardson, Janine Perrett and former MP for Parramatta Ross Cameron discussing the issue of that Donald Trump tape. You know, the one where he boasted that he was so famous he could sexually assault women and get away with it.

While most of the panel was scathing (“he’s a pig”, said Murray), Ross Cameron said the whole thing had made him even more pro-Trump (“I respond to this tsunami of sanctimony that we are getting from the greatest bunch of hypocrites who ever walked and breathed, and I am exactly where I was, except even stronger.”). He had a rather novel take, complete with props: he stripped to a campaign T-shirt and cap when the discussion started. Here’s Cameron:

“Let me give you a basic biology lesson, which may not be universally welcome but is actually based in fact, that’s the inconvenient problem. The human race is made of mammals, and in order for the race to continue, as with every other species, they must find a means of reproducing, which means bringing together a male and a female. Now, I’m saying to you that this is a victory for women. The Trump conversation tells you that in the private moment, at the end of the day, when the bloke is sitting down with his mates, the thing that his mind turns to is the female of the species. The female is the celestial body around which the male orbits. She is the [wiki?] to which the male will always, in the end, return. She is the dominant figure in human history. The rise and fall of civilisations may be renamed, ‘who gets the girl’. That’s what it’s about. And I’m saying to you, and we’ve got a birth rate … five years before I was born we had a birth rate of 3.5 in this country. Today, we’re at 1.78, and that’s one of the reasons government spending is at a crisis, because there’s no babies left to pay for it. But we’re not allowed to talk about fertility. We’re not allowed to talk about the basic principles … we’re not allowed to talk about chicks. Surprise, surprise.”

Needless to say, much of the panel raised objections following the spiel.

Several media figures have uploaded partial clips of the exchange on Twitter. You can listen to the full comments on the podcast here (beginning at around the 36-minute mark). Those with Foxtel Go can watch the full video on last night’s PM Live, which gives you bonus cut-aways to Janine Perrett’s face as Cameron goes on. It really adds something to the experience.

perrettfaces

Murray quickly said that Cameron was “being theatrical” about the whole thing. The man himself tweeted this morning: “This is not a psychotic episode, this is a moment of clarity.” Perrett, Cameron’s co-panellist, says the outburst took the panel by surprise. “My face says it all,” she told Crikey, though she did add that given the circus the US election campaign has turned into, perhaps it kept in the spirit of things.

“That’s Ross — he’s very theatrical,” she said. “Very unique.” Indeed, it’s not hard to call to mind other “theatrical” comments by the former elected representative, such as the time he went on a massive Twitter rant about Jews being “magic” and the time he said Hillary Clinton used a colostomy bag. — Myriam Robin

Politics

Sep 5, 2007

5 comments

Need APEC access? Just be a Liberal candidate

Sydney-siders have been told by the PM that the lockdown of their city is the result of nasty protesters who have been banned from the no-go zone. Yet while some protestors are forced to apply to the courts for permission, my old Young Liberal pal John Ruddick and his Aussies 4 ANZUS crew have been given the kind of access other protesters can only dream of.

Sydney-siders have been told by the PM that the lockdown of their city is the result of nasty protesters who have been banned from the no-go zone. Yet while some protestors are forced to apply to the courts for permission, my old Young Liberal pal John Ruddick and his Aussies 4 ANZUS crew have been given the kind of access other protesters can only dream of.

John was featured on Lateline the other night. He was a right-wing Young Liberal who stood three times for the presidency of the NSW Young Liberals. He also worked (when he decided to turn up to work) as a staffer for former Federal Parramatta Liberal MP Ross Cameron. In fact, we were always surprised Ruddick managed to get that Cameron job in the first place.

Most Young Libs remember Ruddick as a hard-drinking chap who wasn’t known to be an early riser. It was only when we found out he’d received a glowing reference from the Mufti of the NSW Right David Clarke, that we understood why Cameron hired him.

Later, Ruddick went to at least one US rightwing junket arranged by Clarke in conjunction with a certain religious denomination led by a Korean chap. Apart from all this, Ruddick appeared on Stan Zemanek’s show (in various states of inebriation) as a drunken right winger named “Banjo”. Ruddick was on the government’s payroll at the time, and he told Crikey this morning he stopped appearing after Cameron ordered him to do so. Ruddock also ran for Senate preselection for the NSW Liberals in 1997 against Marise Payne and 14 other candidates.

On that occasion, Ruddick came equal 15th, receiving less than one vote. He also stood for New England in the 1998 Federal Election where he significantly improved his stature, coming third in the ballot. Sources tell me there were three candidates in that ballot. Ruddick admitted 12 months ago standing outside Kirribilli House holding a “John Howard forever, Peter Costello never” placard. He still hangs it on his bedroom window.

The Aussies 4 ANZUS website shows Ruddick holding a placard saying “The World Needs Great Men Like Dick Cheney”. Somehow I doubt Harry Whittington would agree. Ruddick’s website gives 10 “intelligent reasons” for Aussies to thank America. Among them is “The Vietnam War”, something I recall him always supporting during his younger days. The US Constitution is also mentioned, though Ruddick wasn’t enthusiastic when I asked about the possibility of having a US-style Bill of Rights in Australia.

Ruddick says that already 100 people have signed up for the newsletter, and a quarter-page advertisement is appearing in The Oz tomorrow.

“My goal is to have President Bush see us on the TV supporting him, even if it’s just for two minutes. I don’t want him thinking all Australians are against him.”

Interestingly enough, Ruddick acknowledged opinion polls that show most Australians oppose Bush and the Iraq war. His website says:

The Iraqis have formed a democratic government in the heart of the Middle East. If we have the guts to see Iraq through it will end up similar to … Egypt …

So Iraq should move from democracy to virtual one-party rule in which opposition activists are locked up. With that level of political sophistication, I doubt I’ll be signing up for the newsletter.