We have moved to a new address called
Come on over and read about the big news on the Macquarie Uni partnership with @NoFibs.
This site will remain live for a while as our archive and to give you plenty of time to get used to the new address.
We have moved to a new address called
Come on over and read about the big news on the Macquarie Uni partnership with @NoFibs.
This site will remain live for a while as our archive and to give you plenty of time to get used to the new address.
UPDATE 2 May 27: Why won’t PM Gillard close the loophole which allows gambling ads during sports broadcasts in children’s viewing time? Extracts from her doorstop transcript:
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, if you want to get rid of the influence of gambling in sport, why don’t you go as far as to ban any gambling related advertisements even through half time onward?
PM: Well we considered that but the proposal that we’re announcing today, we believe, gets the balance right between protecting the community from gaming and the influence of gaming and making sure that there is an appropriate revenue stream for broadcast rights for our sporting codes.
People want to watch great sporting matches on TV. Obviously that’s got to stack up as an economic model for broadcasters, so we believe that what we’ve announced today gets that balance right…
We’ve needed to get the balance right between that and the economic proposition that brings those great matches to our screens.
And what that means is it’s got to stack up for the broadcasters to pay the money to the codes to have access to the game, to put it on TV, so you and I can sit there and watch it.
We think we’ve got the balance right because people know when half time is, they know when, if they’re watching AFL, quarter time and three-quarter time are.
That means if you’re sitting there and you don’t want to watch any gambling advertisements, then have a chat amongst yourselves, go and get a drink, have a little wander around, settle back in for the next section of play.
You can watch every moment of the match and not see a gambling ad and not hear any reference to live odds.
Margo, UPDATE 1 May 26: Here are some key documents in the latest Government attempt to make this issue go away. First, thanks to Fairfax Media Press Gallery journalist Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan), for a background paper given to journos on Sunday morning, then the apparent backdown by ALP backbencher Stephen Hones on his pledge to seek Caucus approval for a private members bill to ban gambling ads during sports broadcasts in kids time. The PM’s official statement, issued later on Sunday to accompany her doorstop announcement, follows.
The government’s policy is so minimalist the gambling and TV industry have rushed to say yes to the PM’s get out of jail free card. Note there is no ad ban, even in childrens’ viewing time.
All promotions of odds by gambling companies and commentators will be banned during the broadcast of live sports matches, under new rules.
The Gillard Government has demanded that Australia’s broadcasters amend their broadcasting codes in the following ways to ensure a reduction in the promotion and advertising of gambling during sport:
• All promotion of betting odds on broadcast media will be prohibited during live sports matches. This includes by gambling companies and commentators.
• All generic gambling broadcast advertisements will be banned during play. Advertisements of this sort would only be allowed before or after a game; or during a scheduled break in play, such as quarter-time and half-time or the end of a set.
• Banner adverts, sponsorship logos, and other broadcast promotions must not appear during play. Read the rest of this entry »
May 24, 2013
A couple of months ago, I took a cab ride into Melbourne city. The conversation moved to what job I had – and when I mentioned the Victorian Women’s Trust, the young male cab driver looked a bit perplexed. I explained that the Trust funds projects addressing discrimination and disadvantage faced by women and girls living in Victoria, only to be greeted by more confused looks.
When he asked specifically what I worked on, I said ‘Communications and Policy’, and the conversation drifted towards law reform and I mentioned working on addressing men’s violence against women.
He asked about laws relating to this. I mentioned family violence, sexual offences and how many laws over history were created by men and not necessarily ideal in terms of outcomes for women. I then made the quip that it was only in the early 1980s that rape in marriage became illegal. This caused the biggest eyebrow raise, which I could see through his rear vision mirror from the backseat.
“Rape in marriage?” he said, with a high inflection in his voice that indicated a question.
“Well, when a woman, in this case, a wife, is forced to have sex with her husband, without her consent, against her will – as in raped,” I tried.
“But what do you mean?” he genuinely asked, followed by an incredulous, “She’s my wife!”.
I could see we needed a much longer cab ride to address the ‘confusion’. I had one more attempt at explaining, paid the fare, and was again reminded of the world I inhabit, and the disconnect between the ‘ordinary person’ and the sector I work in, and how there is a daunting amount of work to continue.
Last week I was at the inaugural White Ribbon International conference, where participants were overloaded in hearing three days of talks centred on the prevention of men’s violence against women.
The official opening of the conference included a panel of pollies – welcoming guests to Sydney and all talking the talk on their commitment to violence prevention.
We had the Federal Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, open the conference with a $1 million announcement to set up a new national organisation to engage with the community on preventing violence against women and children. Collins apologised for the Prime Minister being unable to attend, because she was attending to a little document known as the ‘Federal Budget’.
Collins was followed by the Shadow federal Minister, Senator Michaelia Cash, who told us the issue was “above politics” and talked about how committed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is in addressing the issue. So committed, she mentioned ‘Tony’s Pollie Pedal’ and raising money for the Manly women’s refuge in his electorate.
Cash departed after giving her speech – noted at the start of the NSW Women’s Minister Pru Goward’s address, “and I thank Senator Cash who is leaving now”, and the others followed suit soon after their official duties and the session ended.
Inside the conference booklet, we had a message from the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, about how the “Australian Government stands with White Ribbon in its endeavour”.
This was followed by a message from Victoria’s Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge, who wrote of the State’s Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children as covering “prevention, early intervention, and response measures”.
And finally there was a message from federal Green leader Senator Christine Milne, who wrote about campaigning to make domestic and family violence as a separate form of discrimination in law. On the surface, it appears that politicians really care about this issue.
The conference itself included a mix of speakers from around the country, with some international ‘gurus’ in the prevention of men’s violence against women also attending – like White Ribbon founder Michael Kaufman and educator and author Jackson Katz.
Both gave arresting presentations, with Katz in particular honing in on some home truths. Katz joked about being applauded for stating the bleeding obvious on various issues that even still seem to be missed by mainstream media discussion – for instance he talked about the gun massacres in the United States and noted that of the last 60 odd gun massacres, all but one were perpetrated by men – and how that if this had been reversed in terms of gender, there would be widespread discussion about ‘what is wrong with our women?’ – yet instead, the debate focuses on gun control and mental health, and is devoid of gender analysis.
Kaufman talked about the history of White Ribbon, and its humble Canadian beginnings around kitchen tables, and talked about how societies which have bigger gaps in gender equality and reinforce traditional roles of men and women, also have higher rates of men’s violence against women. Read the rest of this entry »
‘We must return stable, predictable, AND honest government to Australia.‘ Joe Hockey, May 23, National Press Club
May 23, 2013
When I saw Paul Barratt’s tweets today on some momentous Howard government lies, I remembered this letter, which Barratt signed in 2004. The government’s trashing of the elders who signed it triggered the decision of public servant Michael Scrafton to blow the lid on the children overboard lie. Thanks for the memories, Paul. And Joe Hockey, don’t talk about bringing back honest government, please. Your last government’s record does not allow it.
Paul Barratt, AO, former Secretary Dept of Defence and Deputy Secretary Dept of Foeign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
TIME FOR HONEST, CONSIDERED AND BALANCED FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICIES: A STATEMENT BY A CONCERNED GROUP OF FORMER SERVICE CHIEFS AND AUSTRALIAN DIPLOMATS
Sunday August 8, 2004
We believe that a reelected Howard Government or an elected Latham Government must give priority to truth in Government. This is fundamental to effective parliamentary democracy. Australians must be able to believe they are being told the truth by our leaders, especially in situations as grave as committing our forces to war.
We are concerned that Australia was committed to join the invasion of Iraq on the basis of false assumptions and the deception of the Australian people.
Saddam’s dictatorial administration has ended, but removing him was not the reason given to the Australian people for going to war. The Prime Minister said in March 2003 that our policy was “ the disarmament of Iraq, not the removal of Saddam Hussein”. He added a few days before the invasion that if Saddam got rid of his weapons of mass destruction he could remain in power.
It is a matter for regret that the action to combat terrorism after 11 September 2001, launched in Afghanistan, and widely supported, was diverted to the widely opposed invasion of Iraq. The outcome has been destructive, especially for Iraq. The international system has been subjected to enormous stress that still continues.
It is of concern to us that the international prestige of the United States and its Presidency has fallen precipitously over the last two years. Because of our Government’s unquestioning support for the Bush Administration’s policy, Australia has also been adversely affected. Terrorist activity, instead of being contained, has increased. Australia has not become safer by invading and occupying Iraq and now has a higher profile as a terrorist target.
We do not wish to see Australia’s alliance with the United States endangered. We understand that it can never be an alliance of complete equals because of the disparity in power, but to suggest that an ally is not free to choose if or when it will go to war is to misread the ANZUS Treaty. Within that context, Australian governments should seek to ensure that it is a genuine partnership and not just a rubber stamp for policies decided in Washington. Australian leaders must produce more carefully balanced policies and present them in more sophisticated ways. These should apply to our alliance with the United States, our engagement with the neighbouring nations of Asia and the South West Pacific, and our role in multilateral diplomacy, especially at the United Nations.
Above all, it is wrong and dangerous for our elected representatives to mislead the Australian people. If we cannot trust the word of our Government, Australia cannot expect it to be trusted by others. Without that trust, the democratic structure of our society will be undermined and with it our standing and influence in the world. Read the rest of this entry »
By Andrew Elder
May 22, 2014
There is a story of a Queensland shearing team and a cook who was especially sensitive to their rough-and-ready ways. One day the shearers came for their meal break to find the cook refusing to serve them. Someone was sent in to find out the problem: the peacemaker returned to the shearers and asked “All right, which one of you bastards called the cook a bastard?”. After a pause one of the shearers replied: “Never mind that – who called that bastard a cook?”.
When George Brandis calls himself a defender of our liberties, and of media freedoms in particular, why is he taken at face value? What makes you think that if Brandis was confronted with a threat to civil liberties, he’d do anything but cave in and insist it was for our own good?
George Brandis was apparently big on civil liberties as a University of Queensland student, and studied their roots in philosophy and law at Oxford, as a Commonwealth (not a Rhodes, as so often misreported) Scholar. He became a barrister specialising in trade practices law, a field dedicated to defence against unfair market practices – essential freedoms play a role, kind of, but they involve the relationship between government and corporations rather than with or among individuals. Very little of his 15 years as a barrister was spent at the coalface of civil liberties, asserting the rights of clients from low socio-economic background against crusty police and snippy magistrates.
Before becoming a barrister, Brandis co-edited a book on Liberal politics called Liberals face the future. The book followed the defeat of the Fraser government federally, the defeat of longterm Liberal governments in states like Victoria, and the removal of the Liberals from Coalition government in Queensland. Three chapters are co-written by Brandis: ‘Liberal values’, ‘The Liberal Party: towards government’, and ‘Policy choices for Liberals’. All expound liberal philosophy and try to balance it against conservatism and libertarianism, but all shy away from actually showing what liberal policy might look like for Australians of that time.
In 2000 Brandis became a Senator, replacing Warwick Parer, who was one of John Howard’s closest friends. In his maiden speech Brandis quoted from Isaiah Berlin, Shakespeare, J S Mill and Adam Smith, and lumped ‘political correctness’ in with tyrannies. All the big decisions seem to have been taken, and Brandis would have our roles as citizens and legislators to provide the aspic in which they are to be preserved. Liberties are to be inherited and defended, not advanced or reinvented, nor extended to those excluded from the birthright in the past.
Most of Brandis’ parliamentary career has taken place since 2001, when the attacks on the US on 11 September that year ushered in a series of challenges to the execution of civil liberties under law. His thinking on the matter appears to have been piecemeal and working on trade-offs rather than on guiding principles on the execution of justice in 21st century Australia. Brandis claimed the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005 represented:
a very conscientious attempt within the government to reconcile those two conflicting values: the real—not the imaginary or fanciful—threat of domestic terrorist violence in Australia and the fact that as a liberal democracy we fight with one hand tied behind our backs.
The lesson from the Second World War, and indeed the end of the Cold War, is that social/liberal democracies are more resilient than tyrannies – even those beset, to whatever degree, by political correctness. It is telling that Brandis relies upon the following quote to an extent that would have made the blood of his Joh-era Queensland youth run cold: Read the rest of this entry »
By Tom Cummings
@NoFibs Gambling Reporter
May 22, 2013
There’s a script floating around Canberra, called the “Gambling Action Response” script. It’s a succinct little document that gets dusted off and put into action every time someone has the temerity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we need to do something about the widespread incursion of gambling into every corner of our lives.
Remember poker machines? They used to be THE hot gambling topic not so long ago. There was strong public support for changes to the poker machine industry and the pokies themselves, and the cause was led by a couple of politicians who championed their cause as hard as they could.
Both major parties fell over themselves agreeing that something needed to be done. Committees were formed and hearings held around the country. Commitments were made, only to be weakened, diluted and finally broken altogether. What was offered up in the end was little more than a shadow of the original intent, and even that looks unlikely to come into effect.
And the poker machine industry? They howled and campaigned and agitated, then went very quiet. And now almost everyone has forgotten about them, and moved on to the next story.
That’s the “Gambling Action Response” script at work. It goes like this:
Now the hot gambling topic is sports betting advertising. It’s everywhere, and the public is (for the most part) sick of it. Much of the outrage is directed at Tom Waterhouse but he’s merely the most aggressive, most recognisable face of an industry that is buying advertising space at a rate never seen before. TV. Radio. Newspapers. Trains. Trams. Billboards. Football jerseys. Sporting stadiums. Scoreboards. Train stations. Sporting associations. It’s a relentless onslaught with no end in sight.
The public backlash has been strong and savage, and has not gone unnoticed. All sides of politics have expressed their dismay at the state of affairs and have promised action. Sadly, that promise of action has dwindled to a token attack on the promotion of “live odds”, and has mostly ignored everything else. The Government and the Opposition have both made a lot of noise about banning live odds, and the industry Code of Practice is also being modified to reflect this… but the rest of the sports betting advertising deluge, more than 90% of the advertising in fact, will be unaffected.
Not every politician is playing this game. Greens Senator Richard Di Natale has a bill before the Senate proposing a ban on all gambling ads before 9pm, and a blanket ban on the promotion of live odds. Labor MP Stephen Jones will soon put a motion before caucus proposing a similar bill which he hopes will get formal government backing. Both men have been publicly praised for their endeavours… but Di Natale’s bill drew criticism and condemnation in the Senate, with Liberal and Labor Senators joining forces to oppose it (see details below). It will be another month before it is discussed again but the prospects are bleak.
As for Jones, it is unlikely that caucus will support his proposal, given that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy reportedly drafted the guidelines for the industry Code of Practice updates, to allow bookmakers to keep advertising live odds in sports broadcasts.
Once again, the “Gambling Action Response” script has been brought into play. What started out as a real, effective response to an uncontrolled surge in advertising is petering out to a limp, ineffective token effort which will ultimately achieve nothing. Read the rest of this entry »
By Steve Jenkin
May 21, 2013
The Great NBN Debate is notorious for the high degree of emotion, insult, abuse and attack by many highly vocal proponents for the two political proposals. The response seems disproportionate; something strange is going on…
This piece frames simple, fundamental questions and seeks to answer them.
There is a simple truth, brilliantly summed up by the Bureau of Statistics in 2001, that is constantly overlooked in this debate. Since the 1850s Australians have been at the forefront in communications, and the NBN is just a continuation of that struggle to communicate in our Wide Brown Land.
A topsy turvy debate
What is important is not discussed and what is trivial, is cause for endless turmoil.
I’ve seen some very controversial and divisive public debates, including the Vietnam war and conscription, abortion, indigenous land rights, equal pay for women and abolition of the death penalty. These were life and death issues, or concerned fundamental human rights.
The NBN is none of these. It is a modern infrastructure choice, the selection of which won’t End the World. In fact, on a daily basis, it will be barely perceptible to many people. It will provide ordinary householders an Internet service that works the same for everyone, not that works, just.
The longest running wars Australia has ever been involved in, Iraq and Afghanistan, were entered into by John Howard with virtually no Parliamentary debate. Many Australians have died or had their lives permanently changed in the pursuit of a very nebulous Strategic Principle with no discernible benefit to our country or way of life.
This real Life and Death issue for servicemen hasn’t been costed, nor are figures publicly released. In 2011 it was estimated military spending increased by more than $30 s billion, with $2-$4 billion extra every year for on-going Field Operations. This was funded directly from our taxes, giving us no tangible benefit and was certainly never the subject of any “Cost Benefit Analysis” by the Coalition.
This is the topsy turvy nature of the current NBN debate – expensive Life and Death issues pass by while insignificant technical issues cause endless, raging debate.
It reminds me of Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” where the Lilliputians have a long-standing war that’s riven the nation: Which end of a boiled egg should be opened? The Little-end or Big-End? (A phrase well known to IT folk in a different context.)
In my life, I’ve seen technology change dramatically with little comment, let alone opposition. Even the most fundamental change recently happened almost without comment, while costing households directly many billions – the switch-off of Broadcast Analogue TV after 50 years – like the introduction of B&W TV in the late 1950s and and replaced by Colour TV in the mid-1970s, analogue Colour TV superseded by Digital this century, FM then digital radio, renumbering the AM band, touch-tone dialling, domestic dial-up modems, answering machines and later Caller ID, mobile telephones…
Why has the NBN been singled out for such a low and bitter campaign, rivalled only by the climate change debate?
It’s not obvious ‘Who Benefits’ nor does the usual tell-tale ‘Show me the Money!’ help.
At the very best, it seems to be politicians arguing over which way to open an egg: lots of noise, bluster and theatrics, but very, very little substance.
As far as I can judge, this whole debate revolves around maintaining a functional copper telephone network, the sole advantage of which is that you can plug in your 1925 rotary dial phone and have it still work Not, for me, exactly the strongest or most compelling of arguments. Read the rest of this entry »
May 21, 2013
I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about the Coalition’s May 16 response to the revelation of its decision to refuse Labor MP Michelle Rowland a pair to be with her ill baby.
Christopher Pyne, the likely new head of government business in the House of Representatives, and Warren Entsch, the likely chief whip in an Abbott Government, made several false statements to the public about the matter which they have not withdrawn. Neither have apologised to Ms Rowland for relying on that false information to question her behaviour as a mother. Mr Abbott has not been questioned about their behaviour, and Mr Pyne has sought to erase his statements from the public record by failing to post the transcript on his website
I believe it is a baseline responsibility of political journalists to require that politicians tell the truth to the public. If they don’t, more politicians will lie more often, and the public will be more misinformed than they already are. It’s an accountability responsibility of the fourth estate which involves seeking to uncover the truth and insisting that politicians who have not told the truth correct the record and explain the reasons for their falsehoods.
Last Thursday, May 16, News Limited papers published the news that Mr Entsch had refused Ms Rowland’s request for permission to return to Sydney early to be with her sick baby.
Press gallery journos on morning duty outside the doors of Parliament House, and the gallery, led by Fairfax media, Nine news and ABC radio, did a strong job getting most of the truth and the lies on the public record. Due to Pyne’s transcript cover-up, the record of his doorstop was missing, and I published it after Fairfax online editor Tim Lester kindly sent me the audio feed available to the Press Gallery.
But hey, the issue blew up on budget reply day and Press Gallery journos moved on. Fair enough – there’s a lot fewer of them these days, and they have many more platforms to fill.
So there’s a gap that new media needs to fill. We can’t do the job as well, of course, because we aren’t backed by big media employers and thus don’t have the power to pressure politicians to answer our questions. But we can put on the record the fact that politicians who have misled the people have been asked to correct false statements.
My first step was to DM Ms Rowland asking her to write a piece detailing her version of exactly what happened. And that’s when I realised that there is yet another factor in play in the brave new world of public affairs that I hadn’t comprehended – the social media pressure on politicians not to pursue stories to protect themselves from harm.
Ms Rowland said she didn’t want to write about her ordeal because she had already been falsely accused of playing politics with her child and needed to move on. As a result of statements by Mr Entsch questioning the quality of her care for her baby, she said she had been bombarded with tweets and emails saying, among other things, that she was heartless mother and would be referred to DOCS (the NSW Department of Children’s Services). ‘I don’t want crazies to mess with my mind on this. I’m a first time mother and this is the first time my baby has been this sick.’
She was happy to give me the facts as she knew them, and I talked her into letting me quote her for this story.
So here we go. Read the rest of this entry »
By Sally Baxter
May 19, 2013
What makes a journalist? A lot of people – inside and outside the profession – are asking that question. If you think it takes a genius, think again. Good journalists have a representative of their audience in mind who informs every step of their work. My background’s print, so it’s natural for me to refer to a reader. Who’s your reader, a genius or an idiot?
My first Editor was also my dad which means I spent a good deal of my career wondering if I was a journalist at all. I certainly didn’t feel I really was until I was a newspaper reporter, but that was later.
In 1980 I finished high school in Brisbane and went back to Hong Kong to plot my next move.
When I’d left, Bax had a talkback show on Commercial Radio (that’s how small the market was – that was the name of the station) and was filling in the rest of his time with a little computer magazine he’d started.
By the time I returned Computer-Asia had grown enough to warrant all his attention. It was still a tiny operation, running out of a backroom behind the Hong Kong Press Club in Wanchai. There was Bax, John the ad sales guy and Teresa the paste-up artist.
I had pitched up in the middle of the mad rush which happened once a month to get the magazine to bed and Bax dragged me, still jetlagged, the very next day to help out.
I didn’t contribute much I’m sure but it was a great introduction to the swirling excitement of deadlines and the dead calm at the centre, where evey line must be carefully checked first for spelling and punctuation and then again for meaning.
The operation was so small and so tight for cash our final job was to stick the subscriber copies into envelopes as soon as they arrived back from the printer and make sure it was at the front of every newsstand we passed on the way home.
Bax, recognising the value of cheap labour, asked me to stay. But, I told him, I don’t know anything about computers.
“Neither do I,” he said.
“And nor do most of our readers. Our job is to explain it to them.”
Bax told me we were writing for the business people who knew this stuff was important but didn’t have the first idea what it meant.
“Our reader’s probably a middle-aged guy in the middle of a middle-sized company whose boss is either about to invest in computing or has just done so.
“He’s got these weird new people with weird new titles talking a language he can’t understand telling him he’s got to do things differently.
“He doesn’t want to look like an idiot to his boss but he’s not convinced any of this stuff is going to help him do his job better.
“That’s your reader. You get to talk to the experts. Go and ask them the things that guy needs to know.” Read the rest of this entry »