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Today is a good day to detest the Greens, or reasons to be cheerful

I feel about this senator from South Australia pretty much the same way that Ray feels about his local member for Indi which regular Sandpit visitors will appreciate means that I don’t have a high opinion of Sarah Hansen Young at all.  But this little cavort into corruption of the independence the Commonwealth Ombudsman  is scraping the barrel even for the Greens:

click for source

Really is there anything worse than making the ombudsman less than independent by recruiting him to the Greens’ agenda on the asylum seeker issue? So now we can add the corruption of the process to our reasons to detest the Greens, along with their hubris and arrogance, their wilful misrepresentation of economic migrants as refugees and their continual denial that we as a nation have a right to decide just who we invite to stay… I could go on all day but its nearly time to wake the children and then its off out for the day running errands and organising to fix a few problems.

Cheers Comrades

Sarah Hanson-Young: a whine about News Ltd, or time to toughen up princess

The sick Labor dog is happy to be wagged by the Greens tail on this issue

I find it to be rather bizarre that the Greens in particular and the left in general are so intent on having a “media inquiry” which really has a rather Orwellian aspect if you ask me. Of course a Labor party dog with a very bad case of the mange itself is keen to let the Green tail of its government wag it quite vigorously on this issue because it hopes that this will distract the public from its own rather serious woes and ever declining fortunes in the Polls. Senator Sarah Hanson Young has used her regular sproutings in the Fairfax press to argue the virtues of the inquiry that the Greens have been wetting their pants for since they became worthy of greater scrutiny and have been found wanting.

Now just for a bit of fun lets look at her argument line by line and analyse what she is trying to do here

In Britain, the phone-hacking scandal has put Rupert Murdoch’s media empire under unprecedented scrutiny.  Questions are being asked about News Corporation’s influence over British democracy — its capacity to make and break prime ministers and to set the policy agenda of the day.

Right Sarah begins by pinning her colours to the mast. Her opening gambit is to remind her readers that the Murdoch media empire must be entirely bad because some individuals at one branch did something that was bad. Like so many conspiracy theorists Sarah thinks that a media organisation exits primarily to  serve the political purposes of its owner, rather than as a way to make money.

In Australia, similar questions must also be asked. News Limited controls 70 per cent of our nation’s print media, representing the greatest concentration of media ownership in the democratic world.

Why does a scandal in the UK require questions here about our quite different media Landscape? The citation of that oft quoted “70%” of print media  is one thing but then she makes the rather dishonest leap to imply that it means News Ltd owns 70% of all media, which is just not the case. We have a a lot of media diversity and as the print media continues its decline in the face of the rise in the  internet and broadcast media.

The question for politicians and the community in this context is whether this huge concentration of media ownership and dwindling diversity is in the public interest. We can all argue about what constitutes media bias and what doesn’t, but with less and less diversity of media coverage and opportunities for journalists to dig deeper into an issue, proper scrutiny of policymakers of all stripes and persuasions is in fact limited.

No the question is first and foremost to truly understand the nature of our political media landscape and I would argue that there is not the sort of concentration of media ownership that Sarah postulates here when you take the contribution of “new media” players into account rather than just focusing on what is said in the papers. Journalists are in fact a dying breed who are becoming less and less important. The politically engaged, like yours truly, don’t want to have their information filtered by the sensibilities of a journalist, we want the words and explanations from the players themselves. The less politically engaged don’t tend to have the print media as their primary news source anyway for them its the Radio and the TV followed by the internet.

The Greens have of course been very public in our desire for a real and robust media inquiry to examine the  media landscape and the impact ownership make-up is having on quality journalism and the delivery of information to the broad and diverse Australian community.

The reality is that the Greens have not been doing to well form the media and rather than taking the scrutiny of their policy ideas that found them wanting to heart and doing some soul searching they have leap straight to the “there must be a conspiracy agin us”  conclusion because they argue from a dogmatically  religious conviction on all of their policies and as such they can’t even conceive of the possibility that they might actaully be wrong about anything.

The terms of reference for our proposed inquiry, which will look at how to make the complaints mechanism easier for the public, as well as issues of media concentration, will be voted on this week in  Parliament.

And yet the Gillard government have announced that the question of ownership will not be on the agenda, so clearly what Sarah is doing here is playing to the Green gallery.

The response from some sections of the media (namely News Limited) has been unsurprising. Of course it would prefer that no one was talking about it or questioning whether the shrinkage of media diversity is delivering the news and information our communities deserve and need.

Any sort of inquiry will by its very nature be both intrusive and expensive for the media organisations that are under the spotlight. This line does however highlight the problem with Sarah’s argument, what she really wants is something that focuses entirely upon News Ltd and what she sees as its vices while other entities that are generally more sympathetic to the Greens and their agenda (have a different bias in other words )  are all fine and dandy so they don’t need an inquiry in her terms.

Opponents to such an inquiry resort to arguing that it will kill off freedom of speech in Australia. Give us a break. Rather than some road to Damascus conversion of Murdoch’s empire to freedom and transparency, the argument against such an inquiry is a strategy of the Right designed to keep the public nose and interest out of their business model.

The senator seems confused with this bit, she does the classic bait and switch; mention freedom of speech and then without drawing breath address the matter of media business models and in passing suggest that Murdoch’s empire is both anti freedom and opaque to scrutiny. It really is the stuff of nonsense  that displays the senators political underwear clearly enough to suggest that she is going commando here.

No one is suggesting that journalists’ work be vetted or censored, but we need to consider how ownership affects the news we all consume and how the public can raise issues of complaint when they believe they have been misled or misrepresented.

How can Sarah claim that she is not wanting to vet or censor journalist’s work and then talk about ways of addressing claims of their writing being either misleading or a  misrepresentation? In typical Greens style she is just being deceptive here what she wants is to stifle any voices that are critical of her party’s policies and activities.

It is totally legitimate for there to be a public debate about the concentration of media ownership. The fact the News Limited press moved swiftly to slap this down, demonstrates precisely why we need this inquiry.  Like any corporation, News Limited doesn’t want any scrutiny of its domination of the market – it will always act to protect its commercial interests.

There has been endless debate on this in the left leaning media and it always seems to find that News Ltd is “bad” but then again the more conservative media makes the same sorts of claims about Fairfax and the ABC , that they have a political bias. Frankly I have always thought that media  bias is unavoidable and that as long as this is understood by the media consumers then they will be well served by the media in general.

Rather than being about censoring journalists, a debate about media ownership is essential to protecting our democracy. With greater diversity of media ownership, comes the potential for greater diversity of views.

Ultimately the purpose of such an inquiry has to be about changing the views presented to the public, that requires a changing of what journalists write and publish, the ownership issue here is a total furphy (and not covered by the terms of reference anyway) I agree that our democracy is best served by a diversity of opinion but what Sarah is arguing for is a Greens authorised understanding of truth and a delegitimising of any contrary opinion.

The flagship News Limited paper, The Australian, for instance has recently declared war on the Greens and wants to see my party “destroyed at the ballot box“. This isn’t some lunatic conspiracy theory; this is the self-declared agenda of the newspaper.

Here you have the senator playing the martyrdom card, sadly for her its easily trumped by the truth that no paper has to endorse an extremist party like the Greens any more than it was obliged to endorse One Nation or any other fringe group*.

In his essay for The Quarterly Essay, Robert Manne has highlighted the paper’s ideological opposition in other areas, such as climate action and the mining tax and there is speculation News Limited wants to see a change of government. Tony Abbott’s dismissal of the inquiry should be considered in this light.

So the totalitarian senator cites another totalitarian lefty who does not like the Australian having a contrary opinion about their pet causes? Who would have though that? 🙄 Further its not just the Australian which wants a change of government according to the polling a very clear  majority of voters do too.

In a media market dominated by one or two players, an agenda such as this can have a disproportionate influence on the politics of the nation. I suspect my blog today will annoy those pushing the News Limited agenda, and I expect to see their wrath for daring to question the status quo, but an inquiry that considers how more voices can be heard can only be good for democracy, allowing the people more participation rather than less.

all quotes from here

Actually rather than being annoyed I am rather disappointed that this piece is so badly written and argued. Sarah Hanson Young is certainly vehement in putting her case but she is far too ideologically blinkered to see the bigger picture of the media landscape in this country. Of course no individual element is perfect or without its own political agenda or tendency. But overall I think that we have a balance of sorts in our media despite the protestation of Hanson Young. Fairfax leans to the left as does the ABC, Murdoch’s press tends to go the other way. Its not ever perfect but frankly its about as good as it gets.  You can’t ever enforce some concept of ‘balance” or neutrality upon the media because the content is always created by individuals who have their own beliefs and that will always influence what they write or create.  The other factor here that seems to elude Hanson Young is the simple fact that people tend to seek out content that matches what they already believe, thus those with a tendency to the left will praise and support papers like the Age where as those of a more conservative ilk tend towards the Australian. Others tend to be more indifferent to politics so they go for the paper that covers their sport of choice or the celebrity gossip that they crave. In other words the nation does not exist on politics alone as so many like Hanson Young seem to think they do.

Cheers Comrades

*Godwin avoided here 😉

Also Rann, and the cruel sea

The palace coup seems to have become well entrenched in Labor culture as successive branches of the franchise realise that their only hope for retaining any  sort of market share is to ditch leaders that have become unsaleable to the public while there is still time to sell their successor to an increasingly cynical electorate. This week its Mike Rann’s turn to taste the cold steel of political reality as his party moves to repalce him in South Australia.

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Now I can’t help feeling that there is something rather cowardly about waiting until Mike ran was out of the country to wield the assassins blade and as the Oz notes I tend to think that this move will just add to the woes of a Labor party that is unravelling like an old jumper snagged on a fence:

Mr Weatherill said he had “lots of discussions with Mike Rann and a whole range of party members” before dispatching Mr Malinauskas and Mr Snelling to give the Premier his marching orders.

“I think Mike Rann has been a great leader and it’s been a privilege to be a part of his team,” Mr Weatherill said.

He urged South Australians who may be confused by the Labor government’s actions to be patient, but he rejected comparisons with Julia Gillard’s knifing of Mr Rudd. “When questions of transition and leadership are being discussed, it’s a difficult issue and I am sure people are feeling a bit confused at the moment, and I hope that we’ll be able to offer them some certainty very soon,” Mr Weatherill said.

Mr Rann is in India with his wife Sasha Carruozzo and long-serving staffer Jill Bottrall. “They are in a state of shock, we all are, but that’s the nature of politics,” a close adviser to Mr Rann said.

South Australian Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond said Labor should be ashamed. “Jay Weatherill and his factional hacks have clearly positioned Jay to topple the Premier,” she said. “By telling Premier Mike Rann that his time as Premier is up, the un-elected union powerbrokers have demonstrated who really is governing South Australia.”

Tony Abbott said Mr Rann would not be alone in feeling worried about his future. “Mike Rann is not the only Labor leader who would be feeling very insecure this week,” the federal Opposition Leader said, claiming backlash from the carbon tax would be a cause of concern for Ms Gillard.

Its hard not to think that the dreaded “NSW” disease has spread a long way in the Labor party and that what we are seeing here is the desperate thrashing of a party that is gasping for political breath, Now I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t have a perfect grasp of the minutiae of South Australian politics but this desperate deck chair reassignment just won’t stop the HMAS Labor from slipping beneath the waves…

And may God have mercy on their souls because I doubt that the electorate will be so kind…

Cheers Comrades

The most important function of your house is to keep you warm when it is cold and dry when it rains

I am utterly horrified by just how much it costs to rent a house  in the big smoke these days, as a home owner without a mortgage hanging over my head I look at the amount of cash that people have to outlay to get that roof over their heads and I am amazed at just how much the cost of that necessity will enslave. But I am also well aware of how the choices that are made about the life they want to lead have more effect on their housing prospects than an so called “affordability crisis” in housing:

click for source

 Colin Barnett is right about the sort of houses that so many new entrants into the home buying game are desiring, we should all be happier with more modest digs but two things get in the way as far as I can tell, the first has a great deal to do with wanting our abodes to display a greater social status than we may have earned (so the bigger and more ostentatious the better) and the second one is the rather silly belief that one’s home should be treated first and foremost as a tool for creating wealth, as an investment. Reality check folks; the most important function of your house is to keep you warm when it is cold and dry when it rains…

So in many ways less is more. Less conspicuous consumption and more modest aspirations is the answer…

Cheers Comrades

Just say yes rallies

Given its officially winter now maybe the low turnout is due to the "Gore effect" Photo courtesy of Andrew Bolt's blog

To a large extent our friends from the “climate movement” are a perfect example of a triumph of faith over reason. They keep turning up to events like thsi and their Profits keep preaching precisely the same liturgy that they have been chanting for ages as one Adelaide  climate activist blogger describes it:

We have been doing rallies like this – on various issues be it (pro-peace, pro-tolerance, pro-planet) – for a long time. If they worked to build a movement that grew, learned, organised and won, then, well, we would Be “There” by now. But we’re not. (Footnote 1)

The rally followed an entirely predictable format. After some music, there was an entirely competent introduction, followed by three speeches of variable audibility and interest. Nobody said anything that the people attending didn’t already know or agree with. People had no opportunity to communicate what they didn’t know, what they thought could be done, what they wanted to happen next with the campaign for a climate safe Australia (which is a much bigger issue than just a carbon tax/emissions trading scheme)

source

The climate movement are suffering precisely the same sort of issues as any other religious movement, namely they are having trouble convincing  a sceptical public that they can do what they claim or that the tenets of their faith are a real and a valid underpinning for life as we progress through the coming century. What is certainly clear in any survey of what the public thinks on this issue is that the deeply pious climate fanatics are going backwards and I think that it is only people being reluctant to give up  the sort of “motherhood ” (Well we all think the planet is worth saving don’t we?) positions that they have  announced to friends and family that has stopped a total collapse of the Warminista faith.

click for source

Anyway lets spend a couple of minutes considering the questions posed by that same Adelaide activist rally attendee shall we?
I will try to unpack the problem with the cold hard light of truth and reality 😉

Why gather 2000 people who have knowledge, ideas, passion and commitment and have them listen to 30 minutes of music and 30 minutes of speeches telling them what they already know

Because the faithful have to be prevented from backsliding into doubt and the best way to do that is to regularly recite the catechism of the faith in an environment where the truth of the doctrine can be reinforced by the congregation.

Why gather 2000 people and disempower them by having them listen for an hour, as if they are simply empty vessels to be filled? Or sheep to be shepherded? I am sure that the organisers don’t think that, but their actions create that impression. I looked at the faces of people during the speeches, and they were bored and irritated. That’s not the way to enthuse and engage and encourage

Because the Profits of the faith want a compliant congregation who will act in a sheep like manner, blindly following where they are lead.

How many of those who attended the rally will be able to tell a mildly skeptical friend or neighbour “yeah, it was exciting and inspiring, you should come next time.” (That, to me, is a key definition of success.)

All of them, because they know that the faith is not based upon facts or objective truth it requires nothing more than a belief in the liturgy and the catechism.

Why not give permission to people to mingle and meet with those stood around them. How else are we to create the loose networks of people across the city?

This one has to be answered with a question: Who needs permission to chat and mingle? 🙄

Why not structure some of the hour so that all the people who are teachers, or health care professionals or students could gather in different parts of the park, just to exchange names and details.

Oh I love this one , and I bet some burglars would too! Just image what a resource would be for the criminal underclass, the location of good targets guaranteed plenty of up-to-date electro toys to steal b and the knowledge that they would be out of the house when ever a revival meeting/rally was on 🙄

Why not structure some of the hour so that people from different parts of the city could mingle based on where they live. For example, when I was walking down my street about to start putting the “conversation” letters in post-boxes, I met someone who had also been at the rally, and we had a really useful conversation. That was a happy accident. The organisers of the rally could have created many more of those happy accidents.

Because it just adds to the amount of Junk mail put into people’s letter boxes which is actually bad for the environment.

Why not have a a space after the rally where people who have questions about the science of climate change could talk with experts face to face, and get impromptu lessons. It would make people feel more confident in their (inevitable) dealings with the small number of vocal denialists. It would give the experts valuable experience.

Because no matter what the “experts” tell you you can’t sell a faulty product to a public who can tell when they are being lied to. 🙄

Why not have a “suggestions box” so that people can submit their contact details and ideas for what the movement could be doing to improve its power?”

Because it is unnecessary as there already exists enough on-line resources that do precisely this 🙄 (and I thought taht “activists were right up there and across the WWWeb thing….

Why not have an agreed post-rally meeting place for those who want to talk more over a coffee or a sandwich?

Since when did a latte sipper need permission to partake in their drugs of choice?

Why not have a “video booth” where people can record brief comments that could then be posted on youtube, showing just how many people outside the “latte-drinking inner-city professionals” demographic want action.

Because anyone with a Camera could do this but it would make for very dull You tube viewing, akin to the innumerable “funny kitty” vids there already.

All quotes above from this source

OK that is enough of me taking the piss out of the climate change Missionary types. The grim reality for anyone who believes in AGW is that they have to get over a couple of rather significant hurdles, in the first instance there is the not insignificant matter of actually testing the AGW hypothesis, and secondly demonstrating that the proposed panacea can be made to happen or more importantly actually do anything for towards addressing the “problem” without all three aspects of this  trinity being  addressed activists like our friend from Adelaide is pissing in their own pockets in the rather deluded belief that they are doing something for the planet. Then again it has always been the tragedy of millenarian cults that so many of the followers are sincere and acting form the best of intentions as  their Profits grow fat on the efforts of the  believers .

Cheers Comrades

Latte Sippers™ for David Hicks!

I’m not sure which is more disturbing, the thought of fawning Latte sippers lining up to get David Hicks to sign his book or the notion that he might profit from it.

click for source

Notice too  how the Age skips over the salient fact that Hicks trained with al Qaeda  and declared allegiance to  Osama Bin laden? Hmm I very much hope that the profits from this book are seized by the Commonwealth, but I am cynical enough to expect that they won’t be because the Labor government and their masters the Greens will ensure that Hicks is able to profit from his crimes, just as they caved in to the spurious law suits from that other terrorist Mandoub Haib.

If Hicks was genuine  about wanting to put those , err,” indiscretions” behind him, then he would just look to the future and not try to profit from a very disgraceful past.

Cheers Comrades

Sarah Hanson Young on Lateline at 45rpm

Notice how the Green’s Senator is making the very obvious  assumption that even those who have had their claims rejected are genuine “refugees?”

Further am I the only one who thinks that if the government had not created a tsunami of unauthorised arrivals that the contractors would not be forced to press under trained officers into service?

After all recruitment and training  of staff takes time and if you have an ever expanding number of people to detain that outstrips your ability to recruit and  train staff can you really be blamed for asking the new recruits to step up ?

Any way just how much training do you need to do the job?

The priorities have to be the following:

  • Feed and house the claimants.
  • Make sure that they don’t escape
  • make sure that they can attend the interviews with Immigration officials
  • Get them on the plane when their claims are rejected

Gee I don’t think that any of that requires a PHD …

Cheers Comrades

I can't for the life of me see a cure for the NSW disease anywhere on the horizon

The first time I voted it was Gough who led the party and I was passionate about being able to give the ALP my vote. The party just seemed to have all of the correct ideas that suited my sense of fair play the idea of Medicare, ending the White Australia Policy and ending our commitment to Vietnam were things that inspired voters like myself, and I went on to be a very loyal Labor voter for many years. Then I found that I was voting for them out of a sort of despair. Despair that they were at least not the Tories and that they would do some good things for the ordinary people, But then I started to see then degenerate into an incompetent rabble. The last Labor leader that I respected was Keating and since then it has just been one disappointment after another and now, as I have completely turned my back entirely on the party I am beginning to wonder if the once great Australian Labor party is in its death throes. Which brings me to today’s little gem of an Op ed piece from the Age by Michael Pearce who also seems to think that the party if not already dead is at least gravely ill.

Many on the left have turned to the Greens for that articulation. However, the Greens sit outside the broad consensus on economic policy and, while they remain there, will struggle to win mainstream support. The dilemma for Labor is that to move outside the consensus makes it unelectable, while it denies its history and its raison d’etre by staying within it.

As a result, this once great party has become little more than a vehicle for political careerists, drawn mainly from the trade union movement. While the majority of the workforce were trade union members, as they were up to the 1970s, the link to the union movement enhanced the representative nature of the party. But today less than 20 per cent of the workforce are trade union members and the link now serves only to highlight the party’s unrepresentative nature.

The increasing professionalisation of politics has bred a cadre of party officials and MPs who have never worked on the shop floor, run a business, practised a profession (other than politics) or done anything outside of politics. Many have been parachuted into safe Labor seats or won preselection by stacking branches. Few have any real connection to the communities they notionally represent in Parliament. Indeed, many do not even live in their electorates. With caucus members no longer in the position to work out what voters think, is it any wonder the party has become reliant on focus groups to supply that information?

This is the modern Labor Party: a hollowed-out institution lacking any coherent and relevant ideology, propped up by the increasingly marginalised trade union movement with a dwindling active membership. Can anything be salvaged from it, or is it time to say the party is over? This is the real, existential question that the ALP and its members need to ask.

Michael Pearce is a Melbourne lawyer and has been a member of the Labor Party since 1976.

We need to have a viable dichotomy to keep an incumbent government focused and hard working but Labor seems to be so incompetent in power and that has more than anything undermined any of its good social ideas and it is the reason that it has seriously declined in its standing with the public. I can’t for the life of me see a cure for the NSW disease anywhere on the horizon but there is one thing that I do know ant that is if they don’t find a cure soon the party will continue to wither and die . The Greens like to think that they will raise to fill the political space thus created but I think that this is wishful thinking because they have peaked and now that they have enough prominence to warrant closer scrutiny they have been found very deficient in that most important currency of political capital, moral consistency.

Hard times ahead for the left, even those of the moderate centre Left like the ALP.

Cheers Comrades

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