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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Unfair Fairfax argue staff as 300 walk off in Sydney, 100 march to the Industrial Commission
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: big media

The staff at Fairfax are "revolting" as the ambiguous old saw goes: Striking Fairfax workers risk fines says the rival Murdoch press The Australian.

We heard Gerard Noonan of Fairfax talking on ABC Trioli local radio show before 9 am, and Matthew Moore of Fairfax on the 9am news bulletin: Some talk about layoffs of 35 "production people" up to sub editors.

And David Kirk as one of the bosses is getting in front of the protest action with his own pro free speech presser middle of today, according to ABC World Today reporter Ashley Hall, transcript in due course here 10th May 2007, and reported here Media giants fight for free speech | | The Australian, and here Press unites in free speech fight | The Daily Telegraph

Curious times for micro news SAM blog reporting on Big Media protesters.

We had some fascinating converstions with some seriously senior media folks, including one from The Australian supporting the Herald staff.

Will the loss of these production people really change the political content of the paper ...sub editors do headlines, prominence, space I suppose? Answer: Absolutely - one person in senior management asked whether the journalists even write the headlines. Didn't even know the business of running newspapers.

What affect is the bleed of staff to The Australian from the Fin Review like? A tragedy came the answer.


What's the purpose of the lay offs? Various answers to this one:

- Greed. The company is very profitable but not phenomenally profitable like 10 years ago. The senior management are not moving with the times and think newspapers can profit as much they did before in a changing media world.

- accountancy madness. Don't understand the business, think people with similar job titles can do other peoples work.

We hear at the 1 pm news on abc radio that the staff have been ordered back to work and to talks later this afternoon. Mmm.

Postscript #1 at Mon 14th May 07

[bold added]

"Many old-school journalists see him as the devil incarnate, as this comment from a former employee attests: "Brian McCarthy's view of a newspaper is to fill the editorial with social pics and bland, non-threatening yarns and bland, non-threatening letters to the editor; The Sound of Music on newsprint.

"Newsrooms are staffed accordingly, mainly with kiddies from Bathurst who can't write, can't report and who think context is a coloured pencil. They roam around the country like itinerant shed hands, never engaging with communities, simply passing through them, the object a job on city television. I grew up in a community where the editor of the local paper was our collective memory. His taste and judgment reflected the sensibilities of the district. This did not mean we were shielded from life's unpleasantness; it was more how we were told, including the context. There were no screaming headlines sitting over nothingness.

"Rural Press has destroyed local journalism and, with it, the right of communities to know. Its newspapers no longer provide a trusted independent source of local stories of importance and interest. When there's a hole to fill and nothing to fill it with, editors can dive into Rural Press's feature bin and pluck out a yarn. Many of those yarns are fed straight into this bin by PR outfits.

"The name of the real game is aggregated advertising areas, a one-stop-fits-all shop for national, state and regional ad agencies. The advertising dollar drives Rural Press, nothing else, and nothing stands in its way in pursuing this goal, including journalistic integrity."

Kirk may have set the direction for Fairfax, but McCarthy is the one to watch. "

McCarthy shares narrow view as Fairfax goes frugal | Mark Day ... rival Murdoch press, Thursday 3/5/07 p18 The Australian, media section.

Posted by editor at 3:31 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007 10:09 AM NZT
Budget wrap: It's the money or the planet, planet loses as predicted
Mood:  down
Topic: election Oz 2007

Al Gore in the celebrated, Oscar winning An Inconvenient Truth has a priceless section where he considers a scales with bars of gold on one side and planetary survival on the other. He teases the audience by adopting the pose of Joe Punter in confusion, and who really does want the gold, but he somehow knows it’s a trick question.


And Joe would be right. As the old saying goes the root of all evil: is the love of money.


Yesterday’s budget coverage had cartoons everywhere showing Costello literally swimming in dollar bills as a metaphor for the huge sums of money in the surplus churning taxes off the People, ripped out of services. That money represents skyrocketing homelessness, premature deaths, huge air pollution impacts, a dead river system, students who never got in the door, and any number of other objective measures.


That’s not to say profitability and greeniology, as in sustainability are not compatible. They are to some degree via natural capitalism – the notion there is no “waste” in nature, and thus in business there ought be a profitable use for every by product, which in turn can become the tail that wags the dog.


But it's time lines that count. It’s longer to be sustainable, its sooner to draw down natural resource for quick cash. And that’s what this latest federal election budget is mostly about. Quick cash. It’s the money, not the planet. Money for stupid twin speed hedge trimmers and sponge sharpeners. It’s not about the future really.


Take broadband internet. A $5B education endowment looks great but broadband is the best educator you are likely to find especially combined with an easy on the eyes flat top screen. In the last 12 months I’ve learned 

- SAM's editor can stay in touch with my affinity groups and project networks without driving all over the city, or even flying over the country or to other parts of the world, . The age of regular big meetings may hopefully thankfully be drawing to a close. Not to be replaced entirely but travel times greatly reduced. This is a very important evolution to address greenhouse emissions in the mobile energy sector, if not IT sector.

- why my Toyota Liteace is prone to over heating via innumerable south east Asian delivery drivers on user web sites;


-         how to swin the Australian Crawl with near correct stroke via expert local web site;


-         how to generate a micro news blog with some original reporting and satisfying writing exercise via a host USA site (those pesky Democrats), including freeze frame screen prints of tv images,

-         similiary I can quit my grovel job and still be seriously involved in community media work


-         that I can be paid to do web updates for the local community centre,


-     the meaning of “apocraphyl” and “sans” and a hundred other obscure words via www.dictionary.com, not to mention www.wikipedia.org


On a more trivial level I also learned


-         where all my favourite pop songs are and listened to them (You Tube, with the exception of Finding You by the Go Betweens), and that http://www.engagemedia.org/ is better for non profit groups

-         that I’m not interested in dating sites



Okay sure I’m a dedicated self learner, and motivated having already received courtesy of Whitlam and the Catholic system a decent tertiary education. But I don’t think a $5B endowment from Peter Costello is relevant to that. It was free 'HECS' from Gough Whitlam et al, and my savings from 12 months working in a boozer bottle shop at 18 years of age that did that.


The ALP are building on that history of education policy in Australia with a fast broadband plan for access to the say 70% of Australians who really need to learn their whole lives. Who really missed the boat on formal tertiary education, and many of who are befuddled and misdirected by the hogwash in the Murdoch press and the Howard Coalition. No wonder the ALP are for it, and the Coalition are against.


It’s mostly politics. The most revealing things I’ve read so far about the budget are as follows:


- people with serious dental problems who aren’t actually dying from them but still living in misery have probably got nothing, like the woman from Uralla who pulled her own tooth out indesperation.


-         in terms of expenditure, this budget is 1. defence 2. health/social services and then 3. education. Not the other way round


-     profound Crikey.com.au opening editorial yesterday on how an Opposition Leader can avoid sounding carping, instead present as gracious, and transcend his opponent with a higher message in reply. A laugh out loud moment here at SAM micro news blog.


-         Chanticleer back page of the Australian Financial Review with profound statistics in his article (subscribers) "Classic Costello: politics first" with these salutary observations:


"simply handing back windfall tax revenue .....$31.5 billion ..... As pre election budgets go some $71 billion was 78 per cent more than the $40 billion in the last pre election budget and 3.7 times the $19 billion before the prior election."



-    Imre Salusinszky in the Murdoch press (The Australian) with the line, to paraphrase 'in truth tax cuts are due to the success of Kevin Rudd as a competitive opposition leader.' How surprisingly honest of Imre.

Posted by editor at 8:05 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007 10:18 AM NZT
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Alan Jones leans heavily on false premise of Janet Albrechtsen and her foetid imaginings on IR?
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: human rights

The other day on the 7.30 Report Greg Combet said it was internationally recognised as a human right for labour to collectively organise:

02/05/2007 - Greg Combet discusses industrial relations with Kerry O'Brien

Janet Albrechtsen as a corporate lawyer in thrawl to Big Business there at The Australian has cooked up an incredible cauldron of smear about this human right.

As an ex corporate lawyer I know its all about framing of a debate, and Albrechtsen on whom Alan Jones went to town yesterday morning on 2GB in reliance, has invented a framework right out of ...fairy land. Or perhaps a Lord of the Rings like vision of Mordor run by trolls and goblins from the union.

But like the JRR Tolkien writing method it's all about creating a fantasy and then loading it up with realistic trimmings after that, enticing the reader to forget the original premise is, and has always been, fantasy.

Thus Albrechtsen has written  twice now

 "in a workplace of 1000 workers, if 100 workers turn up to vote and 51 workers vote yes to a collective agreement, that agreement prevails. The vote of 51 workers will bind all 1000 workers". Refer Labor scheme to sell out workers to unions May 8th 2007 cross referencing an earlier story last weekend.

This is such an incredulous scenario one wonders if Albrechtsen has spent time at Mardi Grass in Nimbin: Over 100 arrested at Nimbin Mardi Grass festival. 07/05/2007. ABC ...

Let's just tease out her scenario. The union, the boss, or the workers call a general meeting to discuss their potential level of wage. Is it $25K, $40K, $70K? Will you get redundancy, holiday, sick and other pay loadings or will it all be folded into an AWA and decided that way individual by individual?

How many turn up to such a meeting? Let me guess. Not 50. Not 100. 900 would be more like it.  Money talks and bullsh*t walks. As the old saying goes self interest is always trying and workers WILL attend a meeting in droves based on their hip pocket nerve.

Alan Jones and Janet Albrechtsen have no idea, and what's more a revealingly jaundiced lack of confidence in the culture of democracy in Australia. But even if you think workers lack interest in meeting process per se, you can count on their self interest to motivate that democracy for the sake of their own pay packet. Which is why 50/1000 at a meeting to discuss their pay is a hopelessly vexatious premise.

The fact this laughable scenario has been published twice by The Australia is sad. It is also probably why a now desperate PM Howard, big budget notwithstanding, is going to lose the next federal election, bargaining fee for unions or not. In fact it seems not based on Julie Gillard's reported position front page story in the same paper The Australian a day earlier:

Gillard move likely to enrage unions - The Australian - 7 May 2007

Is it too much to hope that the squawking Parrot and the quacking duck do a bit more home work and real thinking?

Declaration: As a community media practitioner this writer is a member of the Australian Services Union on a greatly discounted rate of $5.80 a month.

Posted by editor at 11:53 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007 10:13 AM NZT
Budget: Peter Costello's electoral sunrise or fading vapour trail?
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: election Oz 2007

 Picture: a new day dawns after federal budget night signifying something, but what exactly?

 As Prof Ian Lowe of the (Melbourne!?) Conservation Foundation on abc 702 this morning points out there is a big climate change attention deficit in this year's electoral budget. We do like Prof Lowe too.


Picture: Call us the perjorative 'Howard hater' if you have to, but it seemed to our eye the 'Prime Miniature' John Howard was looking quite grumpy on TV last night sitting left of his Treasurer Peter Costello. This image only a minute or two in via ABC here . It didn't seem to improve through the 1/2 hour broadcast.


This climate change concern echoes Senator Brown (Greens) outrage on the World Today yesterday. But how did Senator Brown get the advance copy of the green segment of the federal budget?  See our theory below.

We woke early today and by chance got the picture(s) above and below with the suitable weather dimension re climate worries, raising the question, electoral sunrise for the Coalition or fading streak?

Pictue: Not Happy John #2, about 15 minutes into the broadcast half way through, which we would caption as not quite the proverbial 1000 yard stare but still quite grim.


And we emailed as below to the allegedly early working Crikey.com.au team banned from the budget lockup yesterday in a grotesque restraint of trade on that increasingly mainstream meeja outlet. (We still haven't seen it in our email inbox either said to arrive at 6am today (?), at time of writing 7.37 am. Maybe they cancelled the schedule in exasperation, or maybe they are going to go the government legally for that restraint of trade? )

[Our internet server had an email delay according to their tech support advised 17/5/07, so no fault of crikey.com.au at all ]

 Picture: Startling vapour trail over Sydney about 6.45 am of the morning after the Budget Night.


Our email to a Green Party staffer copied to Crikey reads:

Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2007 5:22 AM Subject: scurrilous theory Costello leaked to Greens to hurt PM? Re: [Greens-Media] Costello wilfully negligent on climate change

and note probing on abc coverage last night, missed Laurie Oaks on 9 which 
might be important on this also.

Costello answer being taskforce due to report in a month, and kerry obrien
attacking that Ken Henry in Treasury had a trading scheme in 2003 /4 which
was declined. Ouch.
So its being fed into the election timetable, if at all.
 But what I am wondering is Who leaked the green segment of the budget to the 
Greens with Senator Brown on World Today yesterday with Chris Uhlmann abc?
Here is a scrurillous theory - Howard looked fairly grumpy on the tv last
night. Did Costello's people leak the lack of climate change allocations to
Greens knowing it would cause alot of anger, exposing Howard PM as the one
who held up the show in 2003/4 as per red haired Kerry questioning? To
damage Howard within the Coalition?
  A bit of prime ministerial treasurer
tension leveraging Bob Brown?

I wonder. Poor grumpy John Howard. Poor planet.
Tom McLoughlin.

Picture: Not Happy John #3, at 22min 57 sec of  the Video On Demand ABC website.


We were responding to this press release on the broadcast list:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Hollo, Tim (Sen C. Milne)" To: Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 8:45 PM
Subject: [Greens-Media] Costello wilfully negligent on climate change

Costello wilfully negligent on climate change

Canberra, Tuesday May 8, 2007  Australian Greens climate change
spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, said Treasurer Costello's 12th
budget demonstrated that he is negligent and reckless when it comes to
climate change.

Senator Milne said "Peter Costello talked tonight of 'the emergence of
climate change' over the next decade. Clearly he has no understanding
that climate change is already biting Australia and the world, and has
been well understood for many years.

"Tonight Mr Costello allocated not one new cent to the development of
clean energy technologies. Not even the Government's favoured solutions
- so-called 'clean coal' and nuclear power - scored a Guernsey.

"Has the Government finally seen the light that these are not 21st
century responses to this massive challenge?

"Surely the absence of any such program makes it clear that the
government's nuclear plans are no more than a wedge against the ALP. If
they were serious about setting up a nuclear power industry in
Australia, the Government would be moving to fund that shift.

"There is no change to the absurd situation that massive subsidies to
the fossil fuel industry swamp the few token efforts that seek to create
the impression of action on climate change.

"$22.3 billion to Auslink, the vast bulk of which is set for roads,
makes a mockery of the $60 million for alternative fuels which Mr
Turnbull reckons will reduce Australia's dependence on oil imports.
Until we see structural change, with support of public transport and
removal of perverse GST and FBT incentives for private car travel,
Australia's greenhouse emissions from transport will continue to
balloon, and our vulnerability to oil depletion will be further

"With no targets, nothing serious for energy efficiency and crumbs for
renewable energy, the fundamentals of a climate change strategy are
still not in place. The patience of Australians must now surely be at an

Contact Tim Hollo on 0437 587 562

Picture: Grumpy PM at 23 min 2 sec


And notice this about Big Business collecting and nourishing their investment in captured Big Parties literally [also covered in critical terms in the Aust Financial Review as well]:

Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 12:44 PM
Subject: [Greens-Media] Senate to reveal budget night largesse: Greens

Senate to reveal budget night largesse: Greens

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle has described the Liberal Party's annual
budget night fundraising sessions that occur in Parliament House as a
warp on Australia's democracy, that require a rigorous Senate

"The lines are inappropriately blurred when a minister can charge to
have drinks with wealthy corporations in one hand and spend Government
money with the other all under the same Parliamentary roof." Senator
Nettle said.

"The NSW Leader of the Opposition has called for an inquiry into
political donations in Macquarie Street, so it's also appropriate for
the Federal Parliament to investigate donations occurring on Capitol

 "The Senate needs to address the types of fundraising that can occur in
Parliament House to make sure that the Parliament does not become a
Liberal Party donations festival, given that these parliamentary budget
night dinners now rake over a million dollars for the Liberal Party.

"Recent reports that Ministers charge guests to attend lavish diners at
Parliament house tonight should cause significant concern to those who
care about the transparency of Government.

"Like other people I do not want to see the nation's seat of Government
become little more than a cash register for the Liberal party.

"If the Government hasn't got the guts to ban political donations from
corporations, then they should at least be banned from taking money
within the grounds of Parliament House on the day the Government spends
it - on budget night.

"Australia should catch up to best practice by closing the tills of
Parliament on budget night " Senator Nettle said.

NB Senator Nettle will give notice of a motion this week in the Senate
to establish an inquiry into these matters.

Contact - Kristian Bolwell: 0411638320

Picture: looking forward, eyes swivel at 26 min 17 sec re drought assistance exceptional circumstances (National Party boondoggle?), and again at 28 min 22 sec at mention of the joint strike fighter and retiring in an 'orderly way' the F 1-11, which is widely criticised as a poor budget process in defence circles.

Picture: At 29 min 28 sec


Posted by editor at 9:29 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007 12:57 PM NZT
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
Qantas and the law of offer and acceptance in contracts
Mood:  chatty
Topic: legal

We studied contract law in 1983 and corporate law a year or two later and worked for Baker & McKenzie top 10 law sharks in 1990-1.

[Actually we failed our first contract law exam but passed the course, in part because we were in shock at the death of our inventor grandfather Joseph Ford. Being a bit of an emotional cripple at the time we didn't really know how to process the loss of that genuinely kind old guy and got 42 out of 100 in the first semester. Ouch. The only exam we have ever failed in our lives and proving yes perhaps lawyers are people too.]

We haven't done any fresh research but having listened carefully to Prof Ian Ramsey of Melbourned University Staff Profile on ABC 702 before 7 am this morning we can feel some preliminary legal advice coming on.

It all revolves around the law of offer and acceptance: So the private equity barbarians at Airline Partners Australia (APA) have a clause in their offer to buy that asserts a 100% purchase of a shareholding in any partial acceptance to sell a fraction of a shareholding.

But that's just a bald assertion, and indeed sleazy try on, unless it's actually agreed to by the share owner/seller. Who is to say such an offer to buy with such a clause is the one accepted? It actually might be the shareholder has rejected the conditioned offer of APA, and simply made a counter offer to sell to APA to only sell a fraction, which is then accepted by APA to buy the fractional shareholding and only the fraction of shares.

Offer with conditions, rejection and counter offer is just as plausible a scenario and as old as business itself.

It would all turn on the evidence and the reality of the intentions of the multitude of diverse shareholder parties by document, word and conduct etc.

That would be quite a messy litigation of the evidence across many stakeholder parties union, to govt to companies Qantas and APA to investors and likely public insterest folks like Australian Shareholder Association etc with wildly varying interpretations one imagines of individual contracting parties offer and acceptance.

To restate: Anyone can baldly assert conditions in an offer like APA seems to have done. But that's no contract. Anyone can reject such a conditioned offer. It depends what is actually accepted especially if they have in fact declined the conditional offer and made a counter offer to sell only a fraction of shares which is then accepted by APA.

Then consider such a messy litigation with some real legal evidentiary questions to resolve over offer and acceptance taking say 3 years in the NSW Supreme Court, with very willing combatants. Consider the wider political and business context of barely 50% of total shares purchased by APA as pointed out by Treasurer Costello (that there just was not much seller interest), and now very serious allegations of illegal foreign ownership holdings contrary to the sale of Qantas legislation.

No wonder we hear 9 am abc news just now that Aircraft Partners Australia, so called, have raised the legal white flag. Sure enough some smarty in Allens, Bakers or somewhere has reached roughly the same conclusion as here.

Tom McLoughlin, solicitor in NSW

(feedback welcome)

Postscript #1 early 10 May 07: We have since had the benefit of some public commentary from Stephen Mayne founder of crikey.com.au on abc 702 radio with Virginnia Trioli, and secondly an article by crusty Bryan Frith a veteran in the back business pages of Murdoch press (The Australian) earlier this week. Both say the 'partial acceptance full purchase' conditional offer to buy from APA are pretty standard in takeovers.

BUT also especially via Frith, that hedge fund shareholders usually have a swathe of legal entities that they spread their shares, in this case Qantas shares, over. Thus the hedges choreograph which of their legal shells accept and which don't to circumvent an APA conditional full purchase conditional offer to buy. Then add the reality that Foreign Ownership of Qantas legislation has almost certainly been breached during the takeover process, it seems the legals and the politics of any court action by APA fell over before it even started - as much for embarrassment and risk of legal blow back as evidentiary legal problems (if any) over offer and acceptance in contract law as suggested above.

Posted by editor at 11:00 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007 9:50 AM NZT
Monday, 7 May 2007
Qantas foreign owned in breach of corporate law for 2 months?
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: corporates

This cracking story by Stephen Mayne at Crikey.com.au today in subscriber material should be repeated in the public interest and to give him and the ezine their due. Shambolic, and farce are words that seem too kind, indeed:

8. For two months, Qantas has been foreign-owned

Stephen Mayne writes:

It’s all very well for the Qantas board, Peter Costello and various other pundits to now be sticklers for probity, process and the law, but where the hell were they for the past two months when Qantas was clearly majority foreign-owned and in breach of the Qantas Sale Act?

The $11 billion privatisation has been destroyed by a group of foreign hedge funds who were not legally entitled to own such a large chunk of the airline, let alone directly determine its destiny.

Hedge funds have long been regarded as a law unto themselves and on Friday night, before retreating to the Senate Bar, the Macquarie Bank-assembled bidding team decided to vindictively expose the 68-year-old New York billionaire Samuel Heyman as being the man responsible for APA’s failure.

The Saturday papers widely reported that Heyman controlled 10% of Qantas after being briefed by the Macquarie Bank boys who first came up against him when he bought into the London Stock Exchange last year.

But how on earth could Heyman own 10% of Qantas when he never lodged a substantial shareholder notice which is required for all investors with more than 5%? These are the publicly known positions of the largest Qantas shareholders before the 36% held by APA last Thursday night is put back to the original shareholders:

4 May : Credit Suisse 11.73%
30 March : Deutsche Bank 10.66%
22 March : UBS 10.40%

Was Heyman’s stake hidden by some of these foreign investment banks or just flagrantly not declared in breach of Australian law?

Heyman wasn’t legally allowed to buy a 10% stake in Qantas -- let alone largely foreign-controlled hedge funds a collective 40-45% stake -- because the law states that the airline must be majority-Australian-owned.

The Qantas board allowed the law to be flagrantly broken and never said boo about it. The last update on foreign ownership was provided six months ago.

Peter Costello directly controls the Foreign Investment Review Board which should conduct an immediately inquiry into this shambolic situation.

Send your tips to boss@crikey.com.au or submit them anonymously here .

Posted by editor at 4:03 PM NZT
NSW loggers move today to destroy chunk of sacred Gulaga Mountain forest on south coast
Mood:  irritated
Topic: ecology

Pictures: successful protest against logging of the foothills of Gulaga Mountain on the NSW South Coast in 2005, about to be trashed from today Monday May 7th 2007. Aboriginal folks pictured are from Sydney Morning Herald in partial hand back ceremony 27 April 2006. All the other pictures by SAM reporter Tom McLoughlin.

Guboo Ted Thomas RIP stopped the loggers and their bulldozer in the 1970ies on sacred Gulaga Mountain on behalf of his people. I met him a few years ago and he told me "you're on the right track" trying to stop the woodchippers logging our native forest cultural and natural heritage.

This was against the wishes of some pro logging Eden based Aboriginal interests.

Now the loggers are back over the memory of this great warrior for the environment. Maybe the local Blacks have been beaten down to accept it. Maybe the laws under Morris Iemma are so draconian it can't be stopped. But it's still wrong. Very wrong. Shameful.

Guboo would say it if he were alive today, Black or White. Harriet Swift from ChipStop in Bega writes on the weekend as follows:

Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2007 4:22 PM
Subject: [chipstop] gulaga logging

Logging of compartment 3046 of Bodalla Forest (Gulaga Mountain)  is scheduled to start tomorrow, 7 May. If you are interested in joining the campaign against this logging, see the campaign website at:  http://www.tilbalogging.com

People may recall that this area,  important to the local Aboriginal people, was scheduled for logging a year or so ago, but was deferred until after the election.

CHIPSTOP campaign against woodchipping the SE forests, PO Box 797 Bega NSW 2550 Australia, http://www.chipstop.forests.org.au

Posted by editor at 10:38 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007 11:21 AM NZT
Peter Costello PR adopts our spidey 3 metaphor on page 1, Sydney Morning Herald
Mood:  lucky
Topic: election Oz 2007


We feel a certain deja vu looking at the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald today.

Big Pete, the Treasurer in black and red trackie daks, on his exercise regime.

Very similar to the colour scheme of you know who - that other Peter, fictional Peter Parker in the Spiderman series of movies. It's a clever and hip mass appeal PR metaphor if we humbly say so ourselves, which we leveraged in our Sunday Talkies image yesterday.

Or it could simply be an echo of Victorian based Essendon AFL football team too. But we like the spidey theory being more broad appeal.

Not surprisingly the talented Andrew Taylor got the image which cracked the front page, with all those subliminal colour code affects to the literally millions of voters who will consume Spiderman 3 over the next weeks and months. The subliminals of modern, strong, good heart, kind, intelligent etc all with our own budget money of course tomorrow night.

This compares with the happy indeed but perhaps more subdued visual imagery of Big Kevin walking with his lovely daughter in bridal white on the weekend. It's the  'sherman tank' of Big Media Big Political clash of the positive visuals and more uplifting than we are used to in political reportage.

Picture: Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd with his 21 year old daughter looking the Australian rose on her big day as pictured in various Sunday press yesterday, this one lifted from the Brisbane Times which from memory is another Fairfax venture, online paper.

Postscript #1: We might be misdirecting ourselves with hyberbolic vanity as to the SMH and treasurer borrowing from our humble micro news site for PR subliminals (though one of our siblings does work there in the PMC (last we heard) not that it has ever done us any good), but still we couldn't help noticing this spidey echo top left corner of the prime cartoon in the Herald next day


Posted by editor at 9:57 AM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007 8:00 AM NZT
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Sunday political talkies - Will Peter break free of evil web with heroic budget, or will sandman destroy him?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: election Oz 2007

Picture: Images from Spiderman 3 trailer: “How long can any man fight the darkeness … before he finds it in himself?” Is our Treasurer “Peter” caught in his own political web and desire for revenge? Will he break free with a heroic budget? Will he get to say “Everyone loves me”. Will he triumph and get the girl … err top job? Or will an evil sand man (John Howard/Kevin Rudd) still destroy all electoral hope? Come see the longest running most expensive Hollywood movie ever made, roughly 5 months duration and $240 billion expenditure. It’s a blockbuster! It could reverse the polls by 10 points or more!

Author’s general introductory note (skip this if you know this regular weekly column):



This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies  in Big Politics and Big Media. ]



Indeed it’s the tv version monitoring task similar to what Nelson Mandela refers to here in his book Long Walk to Freedom (1994, Abacus) written in Robben Island prison (where he was meant to die like other African resister chiefs of history in the 19C), at page 208



“..newspapers are only a shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.”



Just substitute ‘Sunday tv political talkie shows’ for "newspapers" in the quote above.



For actual transcripts go to web sites quoted below except with Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.



Media Backgrounder: - Matt Price, The Australian



What happens to talented journalists who work for News Ltd? Does the money and the capitalist greed finally get them in the end? Or do they just get an infected foot and start blathering and missing the obvious?


With dancing bear Greg Sheridan one assumes he sold out a long long time ago, revealed by his own admissions of dedicated hatred of the Lefties on his university campus. Was it the ultra Right Bulletin or Quadrant that gave him a start? Same thing really.



But what about Matt Price? He has wandered around pretty badly this last week. Late on Friday he blathered on to Jennifer Byrne on ABC 702 radio about Howard stock standard election year “listening” backflips and terrible comments by Bill Heffernan as to Julia Gillard’s childless fate. But not once did he say what everyone else in the political community knows – it was a Heffernan dog whistle to the ultra right, not least the Assembly of God/Family First fruitcakes.



The cartoon in the Herald covered it so well here:

Was it just a cavalier late Friday arvo blather from Price, you would expect in workplaces nationwide? Well no because he wrote a column along the same lines in The Australian the same day May 5th: Budget for more bile as desperation rises | Matt Price | The ... The article was a study in fence sitting: “For all her talents, Gillard is an extraordinarily defensive politician” followed by a determined sledge of Medicare Gold, while the Coalition Govt sits on $15.5 BILLION surplus. So unrealistic eh, Matt?

Indeed The Australian played along with the bury the lead re Heffernan's obscenity here: p4 2/5/07 postage stamp bottom left far corner by Samantha Maiden “Libs stick to barren gibe”. Everyone else went big including Ch10 Meet the Press tv talky today 6/5/07.


No mention of Big Heff dog whistling by their gun commentator Price. That’s quite an omission there Matt.


- Greg Sheridan, The Australian (and see postscript)



Which brings us to the tone of intellectual corruption set by the dancing bear Greg Sheridan About Greg Sheridan | Greg Sheridan biography | The Australian also at News Ltd'sThe Australian.


We specifically identified on our news blog here Sheridan's willing compromise of journalistic objectivity by accepting a pro Israel rah rah prize recently: A clear case of bias to one of many geopolitical stakeholders, relevant to subjects he writes about all the time as a foreign affairs and defence specialist. And Sheridan responds in a recent article:


“It goes without saying that in accepting this award I do not compromise my independence as a commentator. I have often been critical of Israeli policies. Last year I opposed its military operation in Lebanon.”



Wrong test. Wrong in theory and practice. The spin in the headline 3/5/07 shows the determined line: Rare support for democracy in a sea of misunderstanding with sub header “Despite its mistakes, Israel is a legitimate nation should not be treated as a pariah” [sic]



Trouble is



1. Israel as we understand it doesn’t actually have a written constitution (!). Bizarre but true. So how can there be a real accountable democracy in such an ethno religious enclave? We hear this complaint about theocratic Iran often enough. Then there is the odd nuclear whistleblower locked up for decades: Mordechai Vanunu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



2. Uri Davis' book Israel: An Apartheid State written by the child of holocaust survivers documents the way land law in Israel is skewed to the ethno religious control of the Jewish People with rampant discrimination against Arabic Israelis. That’s what you might expect but its not democracy in the sense we understand in Australia because its theocratic or at least ethnic in tone. Similarly President Jimmy Carter has tilted at the sacred cow of aparthied in Israel with his book:  Jimmy Carter and Apartheid - The New York Review of Books



So these disturbing airbrushes should be kept in mind when we read so called unbiased Sheridan, same article:



“Anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti Israel sentiment are all different, yet they are all intimately related [we don’t think he means the military industrial complex with Nixon stating Israel is cheaper than a USA Mediteranean Fleet]. They draw from diverse sources, yet they are all, in their virulent forms, fundamentally irrational and evidence of psychological and ideological dysfunction rather than genuine analysis. [so easy to condescend on those fat News Ltd wages perhaps].



And he goes on with the allegedly ‘unbiased’ commentary, and note again the complete airbrush of USA barracking and funding of Saddam Hussein’s war on Iran in a laughable “analysis”:



“Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the deaths of near enough to 1.5 million Iraqi Arabs and Iranians. …a million or more died in a wholly unjustified war he launched against Iran. Anyone who was seriously concerned about Muslim suffering in the Middle East would have concentrated on Saddam all the yeas he was in power.”



Well there you have it. Saddam apparently was never an ally of Donald Rumself, never shook his hand, and never did the USA’s murderous dirty work for middle east oil? It’s all so clear, not. Everyone else has concluded Saddam was Made in the USA.:



"The Bush administration [has] sent U.S. technology to the Iraqi military and to many Iraqi military factories, despite over-whelming evidence showing that Iraq intended to use the technology in its clandestine nuclear, chemical, biological, and long-range missile programs."



No this quotation is not pulled from a conspiracy-minded website, but from the Congressional Record from July 27, 1992. They are the words of the late Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas.



For months in the early 1990s Gonzalez released hundreds of documents that outlined how the highest levels of the U.S. government - including Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - had secretly and illegally helped arm Saddam Hussein. The scandal was known as Iraqgate.



In 1991, Charles Schumer, then a New York Congressman, now the New York Senator, said Hussein was Bush's Frankenstein: "He had been created in the White House laboratory with a collection of government programs, banks, and private companies." At the time, future Vice President Al Gore said, "Bush is presiding over a cover up significantly worse than Watergate."


From http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Iraq/Saddam_MadeInUSA.html



Don’t go down the Sheridan track Matt Price, baffled by your own bullshit. They can’t pay you enough.



And the nasty politicking by Sheridan goes on and on. We have started deconstructing his essay noted by, and attacking same Prof Hugh White of the Lowy Institute here:



2 May 2007  -  Media
"Shadow boxing"
Greg Sheridan reviews a Lowy Institute Paper by Visiting Fellow Hugh White, entiled 'Beyond the defence of Australia'. The Paper can be viewed and ordered at: http://www.lowyinstitute.org/Publication.asp?pid=521

Australian Literary Review, 2 May 2007, p. 16



Interesting that the Sheridan article itself attacking White, the ABC and Fairfax is offline, perhaps for copyright reasons with web referencing here ALR | The Australian



The conceited Sheridan article is replete with trite, at time gratuitous put downs with some real howlers only exceeded by the poisonous posturing: He whines about Prof White’s qualified written style of support of the Australia USA Alliance when his own article is littered with “may be”, “from his point of view”, “could also be seen” which are hardly categorical stances. What Prof White is, is realistic mature sophisticated and I suspect much more honest. He doesn’t want to see Australia blunder into another Iraq such as say a nuke powered Taiwan vis a vis China. Nor nuke defence shields on Australian soil making us a nuke target.



There’s plenty more that’s blatantly wrong with the Sheridan piece like airbrush of security dimensions of climate change, but you get the idea. Sheridan is a flake. He even projects his own sorry state onto White with “the only strategic analyst in captivity”. Sheridan of all people would know what that's like at News Ltd. Like lionesque intellectual Paul Kelly this Sheridan is another animal in the News Ltd Zoo.



What this is all about is revenge by dancing bear Sheridan pure and simple for Prof Hugh White giving substance to the damning belief of many greens that PM  Howard has a sleazy Strangelove embrace of a nuke weapons future for Australia, under cover of dodgy climate policy, as here: Don't mention the bomb - Hugh White - Opinion - theage.com.au


It's the defence analysts version of whistleblowing which has really damaged Howard's credibility with the political community Left and Right, Green and Brown, Media and politician. They can well imagine a hawk like Howard destroying out natural advantage as a lucky country distant from all those geopolitical conflicts with an array of nuke weapons dumped on us by Uncle Sam.



This indeed is why the opening paragraph seeks to maliciously position White as dodgy on the USA alliance, a holy grail of modern politics, under cover no less of hypocritical style comments. Give up Greg your fur is showing, as much as your pursuit of the so called “war on terror” which phrase itself is a travesty of English literature let alone analytical thinking.





10 Meet the Press 8-8.30 am



Paul Bongiorno directs traffic. Interesting polling data about PM Howard best days behind him strong trend in perception. Another poll later in show what money should go on in the budget – mostly services, not tax cuts (only 20%).



Brutal ALP revenge story on Kelly Hoare for speaking against Greg Combet choreography pre selection in Charlton. Front pager Sydney Daily Telegraph. Cruel cruel business.




Panel is Fleur Anderson AFR , Steve Lewis The Australian (Murdoch controlled, ultra Right)



Lindsay Tanner, sticks with the sledge of Howard’s wind up phone. Pretty smooth, mostly about budget, leans on broadband policy.


Cheeky Nicholson rubbery figures is Howard in bed with picture of Ricky Ponting cricketer reprising a photo in the Big Media this last week (Australian from memory).



Chris Richardson, Access Economics re budget: cares about “democracy” of this boom reaching the suburbs.




Transcript in due course www.ten.com.au/meetthepress



7 Weekend Sunrise, 8.35-40 am Riley Diary



Riley Diary – edgy and amusing segment.


Riley – “dishes the dirt” (our headline recently on Tas forests piece).


Very funny based on puppet agro theme, complete with single long eye brow.


Goes big on Heffernan slur. Howard gets testy and smart alec at a presser at the end.


Riley notes the dog whistle aspect “unreconstructed misogynistic vote” is pretty small, (unlike Matt Price above?) Correctly notes Howard rodent like back up about family traditional values before demanding an apology from his attack dog. All pretty sleazy really.




Sunday 9



Feature on child custody dispute father with 3 kids in Tasmania.


Feature about drug rehabilitation, a campaign pioneered by The Greens for a long time the major parties are finally adopting with no acknowledgement, of course. Given Ben Cousins AFL drug addict, Couts Trotter drug rehab story. Big media finally starting get a mature approach?



Oaks interview with Treasurer Costello - this is the main game. Re-elect the government?



Budget will be in surplus. Asked about tax cuts. Says last 4 did, but long list of spending priorities, health, childcare, defence, environment. No direct answer.



Whose turn is it this time? Declines.



What about pressure on interest rates? Govt will not borrow – [quite ideological ignores role of good debt which won NSW ALP the last election]



Defence – increase re personnel but also equipment. Biggest build up since WW2. Very expensive. State of the art in 4, 5, 6 years time.


Climate change? Long term issue, sound responses, not knee jerk responses. Thought about it a lot … blah blah … decades lie ahead. Low interest loans.



Says Rudd policy is a real puzzle, people in too much debt, then offers them more loans. [highlights good versus bad debt, ideology of Costello.] Costello says they would be doing it anyway if they could use water/energy savings to pay for loan.



Costello goes into blather and bluster self aggrandising mode about 240 billion dollar budget process affecting decades ahead. Making cover for his own exposure on ideological hatred valid govt valid interventions.


Shameful ideology really. I suppose the market would have solved WW2 as well?



Onto politics of IR and (weak) consultation of Rod Edington.








Insiders 2



Revealing survey of 10 point change in polls 3 weeks after 2004 election budget.



Talent is Wayne Swan, Opposition Treasurer. Looking pretty sharp and focused. Quite deft.



Everyperson is a flock of sisters wondering about what to spend money on. Mention of climate change, water.



Paul Kelly “the professor” of politics at News Ltd, not nearly as wicked as Sheridan. More a dancing elephant than bear. Notes big change in IR to avoid mugging by Unions. Rudd is in charge and moving to rectify the problems of “detail” runs into big discussion by the panel. Matt Price looks unfocussed and blathering (but why? Sick with foot infection he said on radio, probably the antibiotics. Starts to warm up and focus with some real grist, thankfully.)



Footage on Today show of Tony Abbott looks emaciated, stressed. Gillard on her game too there.



Bolt lies about Prof Garnaut view of Stern. Not that “deeply flawed” but that underestimates some factors and over estimates some other.


Bolt frolic against the whole IPCC science process, with Barry Cassidy furrowed brow. Panel and compere humour Bolt they know is way off to the margins, giving cover to eco dunce Howard etc.





Replayed at 11.10 am on radio PNN 630 AM band.


Home page is http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/




Postscript #1: More media backgrounders:

The Essay Patience and curiosity versus paranoia and fear  by Paul Monk who we still remember from Ursula College (Catholic) residential college at ANU two doors up from exclusive (Protestant) Burgman College that Ruddy was domiciled at in the late 70ies. The two page feature is massively relevant to Greg Sheridan for his "paranoia" although its actually about James Jesus Angleton head of CIA counter intelligence until 1973 when he was "removed". My recollection of Angleton in Peter Wrights' Spycatcher is that he was a drunk, which explains oh so much. We read this essay at p28 Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum supplement 5-6 May 07. The piece apparently is found in full in Griffith Review 16: Unintended Consequences  (ABC Books), http://www3.griffith.edu.au/01/griffithreview/current_edition.php

This very amusing piece by Mark Coultan in New York in staying healthy while touching too many people in politics: Germ warfare fought on new front in clean land - Opinion - Home

Minister Joe Tripodi implicated by Trevor Davies in ALP Young Labor conference corruption [which recent law cases have shown is probably actionable for misuse of public funds]. Davies is a local ALP branch secretary and veteran worker at the South Sydney Herald free suburban press: April 2007 edition page 5 reads "I was asked by various people if I would have the person, who signed the nomination form in my name charged." If it looks like, reads like, smells like fraud, then it probably is.

Janet Albrechtsen, aka ABC Board's Madam Lash who gives every impression of a condescending pompous ayrian has the story of an ex union organiser Ayn Rand type Grace Collier in silky blouse, excessive lippy and a very big chip on her shoulder. This traitor to unionism says her old comrades are just fee gougers while Collier herself lives in a culture of social justice built by those same unions with a proud 100+ year history, warts and all. Sad stuff. Story here 5th May p23 where else but Murdoch The Australian Unions plan to get rich (and powerful) with bargaining fees ... (Albrechtsen is funny for her hyper praise of all things individual above all else while tugging the forelock as a Howard stooge on the ABC Board. In other words hierarchy is good as long as she is high on the hog, and too bad any of the individuals downstairs copping her lash. It's all about privilege really. 

Malcolm Turnbull busily protesting too much in all the Murdoch press at what a good job he and his government are doing on greenhouse emissions, as here Malcolm Turnbull: Bring Third World in on climate pact | Opinion ... While Mal has a point the critics at the Climate Institute are ALP aligned wolves, he still deserves a slam dunk for sleazy accounting tricks as per the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald here Wrong message on greenhouse

Then there was this curious 12cm by 12 cm advert green washing of the cotton industry massive over use of water here placed smack bang in the middle of the share market price lists on 2nd May SMH for "Ecoliving Collection"  (no relation to ecology action sydney related to SAM blog here):

But it's not just cotton marketers getting away with environmental murder. This one is going to our environmental contacts at Ecosistemas in Chile:

Last but not least this quote from Timothy Balding, CEO of Paris based World Association of Newspapers on World Press Freedom Day in "ALP's source protection delayed", by Chris Merritt Legal Affairs editor at The Australian May 4, 2007 p22:

"...there was legitimate concern that security and surveillance measures were being used to stifle debate and the free flow of information. Mr Balding said counter terrorism measures were laudable but there were growing concerns that they were being introduced with insufficient regard for the overriding need to protect individual liberties and press freedom."

Which echoes the question: Why exactly was this SAM news blog reporter evicted from Sydney University campus recently (see indepenent media topic at right) while reporting an anti government student rally? Could it be censorship under the cover of security. Surely not? Because that would bring security measures into disrepute and erode the integrity of that "laudable" objective for indulgence in abuse of power.

Posted by editor at 12:56 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 6 May 2007 10:44 PM NZT
Saturday, 5 May 2007
April 07 figures for SAM website, nearly double March hit rate
Mood:  amorous
Topic: independent media

We were chuffed to be called a "journalist" by the receptionist at the MEAA union in an email yesterday, though the editor is actually an ethusiastic amateur, lawyer, zoology graduate, ngo hack of 15 years.

Here are the figures for April 2007 (up to and including May 3rd, as we started on Jan 3rd) for hits to this password protected edited news blog:

April 2007 - 12,087

March 6,684

February 5,372

January 2800

Thankyou to our readers and especially anyone taking the time to comment or offer a story. This particular blog template is a bit clunky and daggy like it's editor but never mind. Thanks especially for the encouragement from various ngo and other professionals who are also stakeholders (aren't we all) in a vibrant democratic media sector here in Sydney.

SAM news blog site is starting from the proverbial "low base" but the trend at least is in the right direction and for that we feel a morale boost.

Posted by editor at 8:20 AM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 5 May 2007 9:00 AM NZT

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