Monday, November 18, 2013

Top 20 reasons to ignore the Climate Action Rally in Melbourne.

So. Yesterday morning I, along with thousands upon thousands of Victorians, rocked up to Treasury Gardens for Melbourne's Climate Action rally. I know we were just one of 130 events being staged simultaneously around the country but the turn-out was massive, the goodwill undeniable and the message clear.

Or so I thought... more fool me. Having read many of the articles (and accompanying comments) written about the rally, it seems I wasted my time. The rally apparently didn't matter.

For your convenience, I've compiled a list of all the reasons WHY it didn't matter... if anyone uses ANY reason from this list, feel free to laugh at them and walk away.

Top 20 reasons to ignore the Climate Action Rally in Melbourne.

  1. It was a nice day. 
  2. It was a rent-a-crowd. (wish someone had told me, I could have been paid!)
  3. Unions.
  4. Greens.
  5. Lefties.
  6. Climate is always changing.
  7. Humanity’s impact on climate change is negligible.
  8. Warmer is good.
  9. CO2 is not a pollutant.
  10. Nothing we can do matters because China/India/USA.
  11. Nothing we can do matters because nature.
  12. Nothing we can do matters.
  13. Temperatures are not rising.
  14. Global warming is an international scam.
  15. Cold days are proof that global warming is a lie.
  16. Climate change is an urban myth.
  17. Humanity has had zero impact on the Earth’s climate.
  18. Linking natural disasters to climate change is exploiting the misery of others.
  19. Increased bushfires are the Greens’ fault.
  20. Australia voted against a carbon tax.

The Climate Action rally in Melbourne. If you look real close, you can see me. :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Daily Telegraph Misdirects Readers To Liberal Website

With less than three weeks to go until the 2013 Federal Election, we've already seen a lot of attack-dog tactics from both of the major parties… yet nothing they've done has managed to top the blatant electioneering of Rupert Murdoch's Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph. Photo-shopping Kevin Rudd into a bank robber or a comical Nazi, misrepresenting him and his policies with hysterical “gotcha” headlines and lightweight articles, their tactics have been heavy-handed and blunt.

But now, they’re getting subtle.

Unsurprisingly, the Liberal Party is advertising heavily on the Daily Telegraph website. Every second or third story has the Liberal “choose real change” ad in a banner across the top of the page, as well as a second ad placed next to the body of the story.

But the Daily Telegraph (like most of Murdoch’s News Ltd publications” is pay-walled. And when someone like me, who doesn't want to stump up the cash for the privilege of reading obviously and unapologetically biased fluff, ends up on their website, I get a “please register” pop-up.

Now, normally I just close the pop-up (by clicking on the “X”) and scroll through the rest of the page to see if there’s anything else of interest. Not everything is behind the paywall, after all.

And this is where it gets interesting.

When the story has a Liberal Party ad, closing the paywall pop-up actually opens the Liberal Party website in a new window.

Oh sure, you might say. It’s a mistake, clicking on the “X” must accidentally translate to a click on the ad behind the “X”.

Problem with this, is that when the story has any other kind of ad, closing the paywall pop-up does just that: closes the pop-up window. Nothing else.

The ONLY ad that is triggered by closing the paywall pop-up is the Liberal Party ad.

Try it for yourself.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Menus, misogyny and Mal - why the cover-up is a lie

The media has been buzzing all day about THAT menu. The mock menu allegedly created for a Mal Brough fundraiser back in March. The menu that refers to a number of Labor MPs, but specifically to Prime Minister Julia Gillard in less-than-flattering terms.

And by "media", I mean ALL the media. Newspapers. TV. Social media. Radio. It's been everywhere, and other stories (such as the 260 Target workers made redundant in Geelong) have slipped through the cracks.

This evening, there was a twist. Apparently Joe Richards, the owner of the restaurant where the fundraiser was held, has claimed responsibility for the menu, and says it was an "in-joke" that was not used at the fundraiser.

As reported on The Age website only a couple of hours ago (at 7:46 pm, to be precise), Richards wrote a letter to Brough explaining the situation after seeing it reported on the evening news.

Bullshit. Here's why.

At midday, this story was released on the ABC website, written by Latika Bourke. "Liberal National Party candidate Mal Brough apologises for 'offensive and sexist' menu which mocked Julia Gillard's body" the headline screamed.

The third paragraph of the article states:

Mr Brough says the menu was drawn up by a non-party member who thought it would be "humorous" and "didn't mean any harm by it," but is now "deeply apologetic".

So. At midday, Brough was aware that the menu had been drawn up by a non-party member, who was now deeply apologetic.

How could Brough have known this, if Richards didn't write to him until later in the day?

Remember, Richards didn't write his letter to Brough until after seeing the story on the evening news.

And in his letter, which was subsequently distributed by the LNP, he stated the following:

As you know no one at the dinner was privy to such a menu, and it is so unfortunate that an in-house joke between myself and my son has caused you great problems and embarrassment.

How, then, could Brough have known that Richards, a non-party member, was responsible for the menu when the ABC article was published at midday?

It doesn't add up.

Brough made statements, reported at midday, containing details that he couldn't have known until later in the day... if he and Richards are to be believed.

I'll let you be the judge of that.

Friday, May 17, 2013

My "Budget Reply 2013" analysis

In September 2010, Tony Abbott offered newly-elected Independent MP Andrew Wilkie $1 billion for Wilkie's local hospital, if he would throw his support behind the Coalition.

Wilkie rejected the offer, labelling it "over the top and irresponsible".

Almost three years later, in his budget reply speech last night, Abbott pledged to scrap Labor's carbon tax, but keep the associated compensation packages. That pledge alone will cost almost $4 billion a year, every year.

Nothing has changed.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Expert Support For Coalition NBN Proposal: Political, Not Technological

Telecommunications analyst Kevin Morgan published an article on the ABC website The Drum today, explaining why the Coalition’s cut-down broadband proposal made more sense than Labor’s more ambitious, more advanced policy.

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years, Labor is rolling out a fibre-to-the-home broadband network called the NBN. It will connect 93% of households, deliver speeds far greater than we currently have and will be, in theory, infinitely upgradeable.

The Coalition, after opposing the NBN for years, have just released a hybrid proposal that would see fibre rolled out around the country, but not connected to individual households. Existing copper phone lines would be used for that. The cost would be a little lower; the achievable speeds would be considerably lower. The Coalition proposal would also be significantly more expensive to upgrade.

That’s the background.

Morgan’s article was heavily critical of both the Government and the NBN, calling the network roll-out a “train wreck” and “lead in the saddlebags” that the Coalition will have to deal with. The Coalition’s plan is described as “eminently sensible” and goes into some detail as to why hooking the NBN up to the existing copper infrastructure makes perfect sense.

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull obviously approved. He bobbed up on Twitter shortly after the article was published:

Thing is, Morgan is speaking rubbish. He is opposed to the NBN in principle, and has been from day one.

Consider this article that Morgan published in The Age in April 2009. Called “Rudd's $43bn broadband plan is just another sham”, it slams the proposal and concludes with this statement:

Welcome to 21st century broadband Australian-style, delivered over rotting copper wires.

Sixteen months later, on the eve of the 2010 Federal election that would eventually see Labor returned to power, Morgan called the NBN a “political cover-up” that had nothing to do with technology or economics.

Once the election was over, Morgan changed his angle of attack. Suddenly our phone lines were no longer “rotting copper wires”; now Morgan was saying “The copper still has good life in it” and claimed the existing network still had more to give.

Move forward another 12 months to October 2011, and here’s Morgan again. This time he’s writing about the NBN gravy train and the pork-barrelling that goes with it. No mention of copper though.

And another year on, in October 2012, Morgan and The Australian were at it again. This time the NBN’s commercial viability was under attack.

And now he’s back. His article on The Drum not only goes to some lengths to explain how we can keep using copper (but not the rotting copper wires he was so scathing about in 2009), but also tries to use the “our future is wireless” argument:

The flexibility of an FTTN deployment recognises that in an age of tablets and smartphones, predicating our future on one vast investment in fibre to every home, at unknown cost, is not sensible.

Morgan, with his years in the telecommunications industry, knows this is grade-A gold-plated bullshit. Wireless and cabled technologies are complementary, not adversarial. That’s why we have wireless networks in our homes home, fed by our physical broadband connections, to provide data to our wireless devices.

Ultimately, Morgan’s position on the NBN can be described in his own words:

Not economic, not technological, pure politics.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Response To The Daily Telegraph

Journalism can be a dangerous business; no one is denying that.

In fact, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), it can be deadly.

As their website says, the CPJ is “an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide.” And they have some truly frightening statistics:

  • 974 journalists killed worldwide since 1992
  • 232 journalists jailed worldwide, as of the end of 2012
  • 463 journalists forced into exile since 2007
The list goes on.

Countries such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Pakistan are among those where reporting the news can lead to jail, exile or death.

Australia, on the other hand, doesn’t rate a mention… which makes the hysterical bleating of Kim Williams, Paul Whittaker and co from the News Ltd stable a bit hard to swallow.

I won’t re-hash the hysterical nonsense about media regulation that The Daily Telegraph has vomited into the tabloid press over the past couple of days. There’s no need; it’s enough to point out that at the end of the working day, Williams, Whittaker and the rest of them can go safely home to unwind. Relax. Be with loved ones. Get a good night’s sleep. And front up again the next day to do it all again… without fearing for their lives.

Want to attack the proposed regulatory reforms? Go right ahead. Be factual, be clear, be persuasive. Convince us that you’re right.

But to play the “woe is us” card and liken your situation to those in oppressive regimes around the world? Where to report the news is to risk your life?

You gutless, spineless, self-important wankers. You are an embarrassment to your profession.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Coalition Dumps Abbott For Carbon Tax

The Federal Coalition made history this morning when they voted overwhelmingly to sack Tony Abbott, and then installed Labor’s Carbon Tax as Leader of the Opposition.

The surprise move came 3 months after a pair of poll results that showed that the Carbon Tax was more popular with Australian voters (Essential Research, 46%) than Mr Abbott (Newspoll, 33%).

Former Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been replaced by the Carbon Tax.

One senior Liberal figure (speaking on condition of anonymity) said, “It was a no-brainer, thank goodness. When the polls are that clear, it’s time to make a change.” But he denied that the change in leadership was the beginning of the end for the Coalition. “Don’t think for a moment that we’re in trouble; believe me, we’re behind our new leader eleventy per cent.”

The Carbon Tax marked its elevation to the Opposition leadership by embarking on a whistlestop tour of the country, starting in Whyalla. But the Tax plans to be back in Canberra before long.

“It’s obvious that my place is in Parliament,” the Carbon Tax said before driving off in its carbon-neutral Prius. “There’s more hot air coming out of the House of Representatives than any factory in the country. Well, that’s about to change.”

Kevin Rudd refused to comment.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Grattan And Rudd: This Isn't A Conversation, It's An Obsession

As political editor of The Age, Michelle Grattan was obliged to cover the broad spectrum of events in Australian politics. Her brief was not to pick and choose what she wrote about, but rather to decide how to interpret and report the events of the day, every day, whatever they may be.

But last week, Grattan left The Age to take on a teaching role with The University Of Canberra. At the same time, she signed on with independent news & opinion website The Conversation as an associate editor and their chief political correspondent.

Yes, Michelle Grattan has entered the blogosphere. And, as new bloggers are wont to do, she has embraced her new-found editorial freedom by writing about what really, really interests her.

Sadly, that seems to boil down to two words: Kevin Rudd.

In the five days thus far that Grattan has been writing for The Conversation, Grattan has published five articles. All five are (to some degree) about Labor, and all five are less than complimentary.

Four of the five mention Rudd.

Article one, A Fresh Start To An Important Political Year, is ostensibly Grattan’s introduction to The Conversation. Yet it focuses primarily on Julia Gillard and her government, and is unable to list a positive without countering with a negative. And in the third paragraph, even before any mention of Gillard or Labor, we get this:

“Of course, in a parliament where the unexpected is the expected, that could change – for instance, if Kevin Rudd were to achieve the Herculean challenge of seizing the leadership.”

Article two, Not So Super Profits Tax Has Labor In A Bind, is more overtly critical of Labor and their apparently-underperforming mining tax. But Grattan sets the tone of her article in the opening paragraph:

“In a notable bookending, the mining tax that helped destroy Kevin Rudd’s leadership late last term is causing Julia Gillard serious budgetary and political problems as she heads towards the election.”

Grattan also uses treasurer Wayne Swan to reiterate the bad blood:

“Rudd bitterly blamed Swan for the vicious reaction to the original tax from the mining sector, because there was not enough consultation beforehand.”

And comments from government whip Joel Fitzgibbon are reported as a backlash from “Fitzgibbon, a Rudd supporter”.

Article three, Rudd Puts Gillard And Swan In His Sights Over The Mining Tax, is pure cheerleader material for Rudd. The inconvenient fact that Rudd publicly backed Labor to win the September election under the Prime Minister’s leadership was buried by Grattan deep in the article, well after revisiting the events that had “destroyed” his leadership and labelling the tax a “fiasco” (a point of view not necessarily shared by all political commentators).

Article four, The Paucity Of Information Overload, is the only article of the five that makes no mention of Rudd. It’s essential a reprint of part of a speech given by Professor Robert Picard (from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism), but is bookended (to use a Grattan expression) by references to the Prime Minister and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, and their unwillingness to “upset” the media companies.

And finally, article five, An Adrenaline Charged Rudd Increases Pressure On Gillard, is 100% leadership speculation. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing in the article that explains exactly how or why Rudd is “adrenaline-charged”; in fact, there were no new facts or events since Grattan’s earlier Rudd missive, three days earlier. This is simply a case of Grattan warming to her favourite subject and writing about it with impunity, with such pearls as:

“If Kevin Rudd were to wrest the prime ministership back from Julia Gillard”


“Rudd’s bid has revived on the back of the impression of government “chaos””


“Rudd knew that… he was directly undermining the leadership.”

It’s pretty clear that Grattan, freshly released from the shackles of the mainstream media, is indulging herself and, it has to be said, writing these articles largely for herself. And while it seems incongruous that I, a blogger for only three years, could possibly hope to offer advice to Grattan, a political journalist with over 40 years in the industry, I feel compelled to say this:

Michelle, if you keep writing articles based on what you want to read, rather than the actuality of events that are unfolding around us daily, then you may as well pack it in now. Bloggers rise and fall on their integrity and willingness to question; to ignore the truth is to doom yourself to irrelevance.

Sadly, it may already be too late.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Abbott's Spectacular Spectacles

Here's an article you WON'T read in the papers, about Tony Abbott's impending National Press Club speech.

Double standards, anyone?

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott unveiled more than a policy launch today - he also showed off a new pair of glasses.
The LOTO, who doesn’t normally wear corrective lenses, surprised a number of political pundits when he took to the lectern at the National Press Club sporting the stylish black-framed spectacles.

His hair also appeared to have been changed, with more neutral tones than before.

Some online commentators dubbed the glasses "hipster specs" while one keen fan called them "super stylish".

In response to queries on Twitter, his press secretary James Boyce pointed out that Mr Abbott's use of glasses is new – and that this is a new pair.

And with that answer, onlookers' attention went back to the speech - and the surprise policy launch.

(this article was actually published, about Julia Gillard, following her National Press Club address)