Saturday, February 07, 2009

Headlines Saturday 7th February 2009

NSW health authorities on heatwave alert
NSW health authorities are on high alert this weekend, fearing soaring temperatures will put the elderly, the ill and the very young at risk. - NSW Gov't have not got the necessary infrastructure to handle the heat - ed.
Homes on alert as Vic fire breaches line
A bushfire in a state forest east of Melbourne has breached containment lines much sooner than expected.
Emissions trading 'won't hurt inflation'
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is confident the government's scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will not cause inflation to overheat and force it to raise interest rates. - In other shock news, Reserve Bank assures Australians that spending is irrelevant to demand. - ed
Sydney's bus 'no-go zone' labelled a NSW govt failure
The NSW Government has been accused of failing Sydney bus drivers who have declared one suburb a no-go zone after a string of rock and bottle attacks. - I told the kids what would happen if they continued. But they assured me they had ALP support. - ed.
Couple reunited with children... 20 years after alleged kidnapping
Sydney heat puts stress on elderly, kids
Darcey's death prompts court review
Victorians warned to keep cool
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Rudd's welfare state means horror down the track
With 42 per cent of Australian families paying no tax at all, the welfare state mentality being encouraged by the PM is going to be hard to shake, according to Alan Jones.
Grants + television = yet more Leftist agitprop
Andrew Bolt
It’s not just the ABC or SBS. Any broadcaster financed by the government will be captured by the Left:

High-achieving public servant, leading political activist and chief executive of the nation’s third taxpayer-funded television network — National Indigenous Television — (Pat) Turner has many qualities. Self-doubt is apparently not one of them.

She says the (NT) intervention, a package of measures imposed in 2007 in response to allegations of widespread child abuse in Aboriginal communities, is discriminatory. Asked if she had considered muting her criticism after assuming the duties of broadcaster in July 2007, she laughs. “No! No! I was here at NITV when the intervention started and I still speak out against it."…

When Canberra delivered its historic $40 billion-plus economic stimulus package on Tuesday — a package likely to benefit many indigenous Australians with extra spending on housing and schools — NITV’s late news kept the focus on anti-intervention politics. There was an interview with an academic working to have the UN condemn the intervention as racist and discriminatory, and coverage of anti-intervention protesters who disrupted Parliament. Next to nothing went to air that night on how the stimulus package would affect Australia’s 500,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

For regular viewers there was probably nothing surprising in that. NITV is, by necessity and choice, highly selective. Pro-intervention Aboriginal academics and intellectuals such as Noel Pearson (an initial outspoken critic of NITV) and Marcia Langton are mostly ignored. Warren Mundine, a former ALP president and powerful pro-intervention voice, was even blackballed last year…

Bess Nungarrayi Price, a prominent Walpiri woman from Yuendumu now working as a consultant in Alice Springs, claims NITV has refused requests to broadcast information to the communities on the intervention. “NITV is a publicly funded broadcaster with responsibilities to all Aboriginal people, regardless of what they think. They don’t want people to hear the truth so that they can make up their own minds.”

Turner rejects any suggestions of bias… She says NITV has a charter and guidelines to ensure balanced reporting, similar to those in place at the ABC.

That’s your money, yet again being diverted to preach a far-Left agenda, in breach of solemn promises and charters.

And for those who may ignore that critical point, excusing this breach of charter as merely Territory Aborigines just calling it as Territory Aborigines see it, let me introduce you to Turner and her National Indigenous Television chairman, Professor Larissa Behrendt, another Howard-hating ”Aboriginal" denouncer of the intervention:
Beautiful SunsetBeautiful Sunset
A vote for Iraqi unity
Andrew Bolt
Some good signs in the latest Iraqi elections:

Official preliminary results suggest that those who backed (Prime Minister) Maliki and his allies appeared to be voting for a strong central government and rewarding the Prime Minister for sending forces to fight Shiite militias in the southern city of Basra and Baghdad’s Sadr City enclave…

Iraqis also appeared to favour politicians who have portrayed themselves as non-sectarian and opposed to the division of Iraq. Some saw the support for Mr Maliki as a sign that people were tired of the Shiite religious parties that have ruled since 2005, although Mr Maliki’s Dawa Party has long promoted the establishment of a government guided by Islamic law. In campaigning, he portrayed himself as a secular candidate and avoided the use of religious imagery…

Mr Mutlaq’s party was among several Sunni Arab lists that posted victories, redistributing the balance of power, which Iraqi and US officials hope will foster national reconciliation. Most Sunnis boycotted the 2005 elections…

In the south, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, was the big loser… Iraqis appeared to have voted against the Supreme Council for several reasons, including its religious leanings, its links to neighbouring Iran and its desire to create an autonomous Shiite region in the south.


William Shawcross adds that Moqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite who threatened war against the US “invader”, was also humiliated, with his share of the vote shrinking from 11 per cent to 3 per cent. And Shawcross concludes:

Far from being a horror show foisted on the region by the wicked or idiotic president Bush, Iraq is on the way to becoming a model for the region. The election that has just taken place was imperfect, but it was far more democratic than the elections that take place in other Arab countries…

One should not exaggerate the achievements of Iraq. They are fragile. Its future progress will be fitful, the murderous attacks upon its people will continue. But a remarkable thing is now happening. The most important Arab country after Egypt has freer speech, freer elections and more serious free politics than any of its brother states… (T)he transformation of Iraq, hoped for by Bush, with the support of Howard, Tony Blair and others, has begun.

If properly and consistently supported, this will have an immense and beneficial effect on the region. Iraq the Model? Surprising, but immensely welcome.

Taking their jobs and their tongue
Andrew Bolt
Rod Liddle, in the Spectator, explains why British workers are calling wildcat strikes at the Humberside. It’s not just to save their jobs from no-borders immigration, but to save their identity:

At Lindsey, Total — a French firm — has taken on 100 (soon to be joined by a further 300) Italian and Portuguese contractors who are housed on a barge floating on the water at Grimsby. The contract is worth an estimated £200 million. Lord Mandelson warned the strikers against ‘xenophobia’ and insisted that the British workers had not been discriminated against… But on this occasion he was proved to be demonstrably wrong within the hour, which saved us all a lot of time. A spokesman for Total said that the work being carried out was specialised and needed a close-knit workforce which could converse in a common language, i.e. Italian.

Now, that strikes me as being almost the definition of discrimination. Can you imagine a British firm barring, say, Asian workers from its shop floor because it wished to have a close-knit workforce which conversed in a common language? Can you imagine the furore?

Nobody has really picked up this point, the double standards involved. And yet it strikes me that it is at the heart of the matter, unvoiced or otherwise. No group in society has been more egregiously discriminated against, these last 20 years or so, than the white working class; in housing, education, employment. And whenever they dare to voice a complaint the response is always the same: that’s disgusting, typical xenophobia or racism....

If you were from the English white working class, would you ever even consider voting Labour again?

Abbott preaches prudence
Andrew Bolt
Frontbencher Tony Abbott, in a fine essay, edges the Liberals closer to the policies they’ll have to take up to properly attack Kevin Rudd’s economic bungling:

Third, the best way to tackle a business slowdown is to reduce the obstacles to doing business. This means lowering interest rates, reducing taxes and cutting regulation, not increasing it. This is why the Government should reconsider, in the light of the new pressures on business, how far unions should be able to interfere in the way they are run. It should also reconsider the timing of a new tax flowing into every aspect of the economy through an emissions trading scheme.

Opposing Rudd’s reckless spending is only the first step. Next, as Abbott very gently suggests, the Liberals may have to reverse their own support for Rudd’s roll-back of WorkChoices and for an emissions trading scheme that can only cripple our ability to compete, without affecting the climate one zephyr.

It must be no to huge spending. No to new workplace restrictions. And no to emissions trading. No to anything that will cost Australians their jobs.
How Rudd designed the package for spin
Andrew Bolt
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher is, of course, firmly in the Kevin Rudd camp. So when Rudd or his ministers brief him in detail on how they put their $42 billion spending spree together, you can be sure that Hatcher’s retelling will be sympathetic, not cynical.

Yet his account should nevertheless alarm you in its telling of how Rudd and his team worked on this, and what motivated them precisely to spend so much so quickly on so little that will last. First, there’s the usual signs of Rudd rushing, once again deliberately creating an air of quick-quick-crisis among sleep-deprived colleagues in which sober second thoughts will inevitably be seen as distracting, fiddling or even disloyal:

The Prime Minister convened a 7am meeting at his office in Sydney’s Phillip Street of the gang of four ministers who run the Government - Rudd, the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and the Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner - plus their officials. This group would spend a great deal of time together over the next 14 days, meeting daily or near-daily. That initial meeting ran for six hours. Many of the following meetings did, too. Altogether, they met for a total of about 60 hours.

But far more worrying is Hartcher’s inside-access account of what influenced the Government more than anything in deciding what to spend and when:

But, not content to think about spending year-to-year, the ministers wanted to analyse the likely patterns of growth (under its $42 billion package) in the economy quarter-by-quarter. The reason?

The ministers wanted to match their performance to the scorecard, seeking to prevent even one quarter of economic contraction. Growth is measured quarter-by-quarter in the national accounts. And the ministers certainly wanted to avoid two quarters of shrinkage in a row.

Why? Most of the media, based on a hardy misapprehension, likes to report that this is the definition of a “technical recession”. This is a kind of urban myth, but it is an enduring one. The ministers did not want to bet the reputation of their Government as economic manager on the media’s ability to educate itself.

The group, formally known as the Strategic Policy and Budget Committee (SPBC) of the cabinet, accordingly crafted a spending package to deliver a continuous stream of adrenaline.

It is precisely this aspect of the package that is perhaps the most controversial - how it temporarily boosts economic activity without improving long-term productivity or maybe even recovery, and at a cost of crippling long-term debt that will occur interest repayments that Tim Colebatch estimates at at least $2.6 billion a year.

Was this done on the careful calculation that this would, in fact, be prudent spending that would help us in the long term? Or is Hartcher’s account correct: that the Government’s real concern was that a media that was not “educated” would attack the “reputation” of the Government as an “economic manager” if the economy was allowed to slip into a “technical recession”, whether this was necessary or not?

I fear Hartcher is actually right. This is yet another Rudd scheme designed for cheap headlines. Only this time those headlines aren’t actually cheap, and Rudd will sink this nation’s Budget $35 billion in the red to get them.


Terry McCrann notes that Treasury Secretary Ken Henry, in his evidence to the Senate this week, also seemed to have an unnatural fixation on keeping the economy just above the line that’s marked “recesssion”:

In his enthusiasm, Henry—revealingly—stepped over a number of lines on Thursday night before the Senate, in his rejection of Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed smaller stimulus. He said, “there would be some point at which GDP growth in 2009-10 in particular might well have been negative”...Henry also repeated, no longer as an excusable off-the-cuff comment, the desperation to avoid even a single quarter of negative growth. That’s not only statistically silly, but will father very bad policy.
Frogs robbed
Andrew Bolt
Folks, we have a scandal:

NSW faces pressure from the commonwealth and Victoria after a leaked scientific report found it had knowingly restricted flows to the Snowy River to a fraction of what is required, turning the river into a tepid chain of sediment- and algae-choked pools.

That is shocking. For what nefarious purpose did these thieves steal this water, thus imperilling the innocent frogs, water reeds and fish that should always be our first concern?

The water is instead being diverted to the Murray to produce power and irrigate crops.

Main chancers you can believe in
Andrew Bolt
This is becoming a farce:

Reporting from Los Angeles and Washington—U.S. Rep. Hilda L. Solis, President Obama’s choice for Labor secretary, faced new obstacles after lawmakers who were expected to vote on her confirmation Thursday abruptly canceled the hearing amid reports of back taxes owed by her husband. Solis, a Democrat from El Monte, is at least the fourth Obama nominee whose confirmation has been complicated by tax troubles.

Add her to the list of Obama’s gang of cheats, crooks and associated wideboys:

Tom Daschle, Obama’s nominee for Health and Human Services: quit for failing to pay taxes.

Timothy Geithner, Treasury Secretary: failed to pay taxes

Charlie Rangel, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee: failed to pay taxes

Bill Richardson, Obama’s nominee as Commerce Secretary: quit after being investigated over financial irregularities, campaign contributions and construction contracts.

Chris Dodd: given cheap mortgages by Countrywide, one of the lenders he oversaw as chair of the Senate banking committee, and received donations from the now collapsed Fannie Mae.

Nancy Killefer: Obama’s new chief performance officer: quit for failing to pay taxes

Rod Blagojevich, Illinois Governor: sacked after trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat

This, after just two weeks. How many more scandals before we wonder about the kind of company Obama keeps?


Charles Krauthammer says the hiring of cheats and influence-peddlers is just one of the things that betray Obama as a hypocrite. Here’s another:
It’s the essential fraud of rushing through a bill in which the normal rules (committee hearings, finding revenue to pay for the programs) are suspended on the grounds that a national emergency requires an immediate job-creating stimulus—and then throwing into it hundreds of billions that have nothing to do with stimulus, that Congress’s own budget office says won’t be spent until 2011 and beyond, and that are little more than the back-scratching, special-interest, lobby-driven parochialism that Obama came to Washington to abolish. He said…

After Obama’s miraculous 2008 presidential campaign, it was clear that at some point the magical mystery tour would have to end… The great ethical transformations promised would be seen as a fairy tale that all presidents tell—and that this president told better than anyone.

I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.
Japanese curse Ruddernomics
Andrew Bolt
Japan can tell us what happens when you get some Kevin Rudd promising to spend tens of billions of dollars to “save” his country from an inevitable slowdown:

Japan’s rural areas have been paved over and filled in with roads, dams and other big infrastructure projects, the legacy of trillions of dollars spent to lift the economy from a severe downturn caused by the bursting of a real estate bubble in the late 1980s. During those nearly two decades, Japan accumulated the largest public debt in the developed world — totaling 180 percent of its $5.5 trillion economy — while failing to generate a convincing recovery.,. Among ordinary Japanese, the spending is widely disparaged for having turned the nation into a public-works-based welfare state and making regional economies dependent on Tokyo for jobs. Much of the blame has fallen on the Liberal Democratic Party, which has long used government spending to grease rural vote-buying machines that help keep the party in power.

The real difference with Rudd’s package lies only in this: Japan at least spent many of its billions on dams and big stuff that lasts. Kevin Rudd is spending his on pink batts.
But killing is killing, isn’t it?
Andrew Bolt
I understand and share the horror, but wonder why it’s so selective:

Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy.

Three days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix and otherwise get her ready for the procedure.

Only Renelique didn’t arrive in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.

What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic’s owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant’s umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.

But even if the abortion had been done “appropriately”, the baby would still be dead. Its remains would still be decomposing in a bio-hazard bag. So why this sudden squeamishness? Bad conscience?

And a reminder: much the same has happened here, of course:

For too long, our doctors have avoided even recording the births—and then deaths—of babies who survive abortions. (Coroner) Greg Cavanagh found this out when he was tipped off by a horrified midwife about the abortion at 22 weeks of Jessica Jane, born alive in a Darwin hospital in 1998.

Cavanagh, the Northern Territory coroner, was told how Jessica, tiny but perfect, was slipped into a stainless steel dish and left alone in a room where she cried until she died, 80 minutes later.

At the inquest he called, he was also told that other late-term babies had been born alive after abortions in the NT, only to die. And none of those deaths had been reported to him or publicised in any way.

It has been the same story in NSW. A coroner investigated the death of a baby found alive in a bin after an abortion in Sydney’s Westmead Hospital and also learned there had been more such cases, none of which had been reported.

I haven’t heard of similar tragedies in Victoria, but who would tell? Or perhaps our doctors more routinely do what a doctor at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital did to a healthy girl called Jessica, already 32 weeks in the womb, and first kill the fetus with an injection to the heart.

The response of Victoria’s politicians to that last horror? To pass laws giving doctors more freedom to kill more such children, just days from birth. But properly, of course. In the womb, where we can’t see and can pretend the dead child was not quite human.
Holding the Lancet survey to account
Andrew Bolt
You’ll remember that Lancet survey that claimed the war in Iraq, thanks to evil George Bush, had killed 98,000 Iraqis in its first year? And that the toll by 2006 had reached 655,000?

And remember how the first figure was rushed out just before Bush’s 2004 bid for re-election? And the second just before the 2006 Congressional elections?

Those figures were inherently implausible and were then - and later - contradicted by almost every other survey or body-count around. Naturally, any political hack with a contempt for truth seized on them, never minding that they seemed false. Much of the media simply swallowed the bait, and there were the usual outlets that tried eagerly to rebutt the evidence that the study was deeply, deeply flawed.

But no one paid a price for injecting such a wildly exaggerated figure into the debate, through the pages of what was ostensibly a leading medical journal operating under the usual strictures of peer review and dispassionate scientific method.

Until now, perhaps:

In a highly unusual rebuke, the American Association for Public Opinion Research today said the author of a widely debated survey on “excess deaths” in Iraq had violated its code of professional ethics by refusing to disclose details of his work. The author’s institution later disclosed to ABC News that it, too, is investigating the study.

AAPOR, in a statement, said that in an eight-month investigation, Gilbert Burnham, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “repeatedly refused to make public essential facts about his research on civilian deaths in Iraq.”

Hours later, the school itself disclosed its own investigation of the Iraq casualties report “to determine if any violation of the school’s rules or guidelines for the conduct of research occurred.” It said the review “is nearing completion.”
Better a liar than a fool
Andrew Bolt
Here’s one occasion where I hope one of our top Islamic leaders is a liar:

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils chairman Ikebal Patel infuriated the Jewish community by claiming during the Israeli incursion into Gaza last month that the “victims of the Holocaust (are) now perpetrating much worse atrocities against the Palestinians"…

Mr Patel said yesterday he stood by his comments, though he would regret it if the Jewish council cut ties.

He said he had spoken to the state Islamic councils, other Muslim groups and many imams, and was confident he represented the mainstream Muslim view.”
Obama appoints a Flannery
Andrew Bolt
It was bad enough that we made Tim Flannery our Australian of the Year for making wild claims like this:

I think there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis.

Worse is that not only does the US have a Tim Flannery of its own, but Barack Obama has made him America’s Secretary of Energy. Here’s Steven Chu in full Flannery:

“I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” he said. “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” And, he added, ”I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going” either.

The reporter helpfully adds:
Chu is not a climate scientist.

Nor, incidentally, is Flannery, who seems astonished to find that not only have Perth’s dam levels recovered, but its desalination plant has made it drought-proof. I suspect Chu may be in for some lessons of his own, and we can only hope he doesn’t do too much damage in the meantime.
Lesson learned, but swiftly forgotten
Andrew Bolt
One green scare starts, another quietly dies:

NUCLEAR reactors are to be built in Sweden for the first time in nearly 30 years after the Government decided to abandon a decades-old commitment to phase out the power source.

Sweden joins a list of EU countries that have chosen nuclear energy under pressure to diversify from fossil fuels and meet tough climate-change targets for cutting CO2 emissions.

The dramatic policy switch showed that even in a country where popular opinion has been against nuclear power previously - and one with extensive hydroelectric resources - atomic generation is seen as part of an emissions-free energy strategy.
How O’Brien mauls - or meows
Andrew Bolt
Yesterday, I contrasted the remarkable aggression with which the ABC’s PM this week interviewed Shadow Treasurer Julie Bishop with the softball chat her Labor counterpart, Wayne Swan, enjoyed that same day, and on the same topic, on AM.

Now let’s see how the ABC’s 7.30 Report host Kerry O’Brien interviewed both Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull on the same issue - Rudd’s $42 billion gamble. I suspect you might find a remarkably pronounced difference in tone and respect.

First, here is every question O’Brien put to Turnbull:

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: But just for clarity at the outset, in your comments today on the massive drop in tax revenue for the Australian Government as a result of the global recession, you are acknowledging, as I understand it, that no Government could sustain those tax losses without going into deficit.
Asking for acknowledgement of Government’s excuse.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: In your speech to the National Press Club last November, just two months ago you said, Australians would be right to regard the prospect of a Budget deficit as a failure of economic management by Mr Rudd. Will you revise that statement now?

Aggressive. Distraction from main topic. Past opposition statement made the issue. Defence of Rudd sought.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: That’s a bit disingenuous of you isn’t it? I mean I’m sure you understand the figures as much as anybody, that that $115 billion figure is a cumulative one, it includes the $40 billion estimate of Treasury last year, late last year, it includes the $50 billion that the Treasurer identified yesterday as losses in company tax revenue and the rest is other tax revenue losses, that’s so, isn’t it?

Insult. Offensive insinuation of dishonesty.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: You acknowledge what I’m saying don’t you?


KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: It’s cumulative.

Interruption. Aggression. The topic is still the parsing of some statement made by Turnbull, and not the merits of a $42 billion gamble.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Now can we come back to my question? And the issue of whether going into deficit means that Kevin Rudd isn’t a competent economic manager, that this would be a failure on his part. Do you now acknowledge that this deficit does not represent a failure of economic management on Kevin Rudd’s part?

Attempt to make Turnbull seem evasive. And again, Turnbull is asked to excuse Rudd.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: I am not sure who you are able to quote as saying that the stimulus package hasn’t worked, but I notice that the Retailers Association has come out today saying that, in fact, it did impact positively on consumer spending immediately before and after Christmas, as one illustration.

False insinuation that the Liberals alone say the December stimulus package failed. Government yet again defended.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Okay, Mr Turnbull, we covered the issue of that last economic package in our last interview at the end of last year, and I might add you did support that economic package at the time, the stimulus package.

Turnbull rudely cut off, when he actually addresses the topic O’Brien himself raised. Made to seem a waffler. O’Brien then implies he’s a hypocrite. No chance given to answer, because O’Brien immediately continues:

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: You are favouring tax cuts. You’re saying now that there should be substantial tax cuts in this next stimulus package of the Prime Minister’s, and in fact, your deputy and Treasury spokesman Julie Bishop says broad and sweeping tax cuts. How broad, and how sweeping are you proposing those tax cuts to be?

“Now” falsely implies a sudden change of mind. But then comes the first unspun request for information.
KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: They’re now in place?

Second straight request for information.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Sorry, before you go on, would that be the full extent of the tax cuts that you are proposing, or are you proposing further tax cuts on top of it?

Interruption, followed by third - and last - straight request.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Could you clear up some confusion for me, when you talk about the Government not knowing within its ranks that Mr Rudd, not necessarily being in step with his deputy, you said today that Australia ... isn’t necessarily going to go into recession, one of your front benchers Christopher Pyne said in Canberra that quote, “We are definitely going to be in recession this year”.

Again focus switched to alleged Liberal disunity, not the $42 billion package.
KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: This isn’t just going to be a tough year for the Government is it? As you go into 2009, there’s a sense clearly that there’s a lot of uncertainty within your own ranks, about the Coalition, how the Coalition should positioning itself for the future, you can’t deny that there are some tensions in some areas can you?

Again focus switched to alleged Liberal disunity, not the package about to be unleashed.

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Well, we look forward to watching more evidence of that Mr Turnbull, but we are out of time for now, thank you very much for talking with us.

Patronising insinuation that Turnbull’s assurances are cheap.

I’d say there’s a pattern. But maybe that’s just O’Brien’s brusque non-nonsense style. If so, let’s see if it’s repeated when his guest is Kevin Rudd, speaking on the very same topic. Again, here are all the questions:

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Kevin Rudd, with all your injections of cash back into the economy and all the interest rate cuts; after all that, can you say with any confidence that Australia will avoid recession?
Straight request for information, right from the start. Turnbull didn’t get such a “tell us a bit about yourself” question until O’Brien’s ninth - or arguably 10th - attempt.
KERRY O’BRIEN: OK. But as you’ve said in the package today, as it’s been made plain, all of this is premised - your growth projections and so on - all of this is premised on the global economy not getting any worse. And we all know that the solid body of belief on this is that this year is gonna be a horror year; it’s gonna get worse. That being the case, will you have anything more in the tank for yet another stimulus package?

OK implies endorsement. Rudd set a problem, followed by second straight request for information.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Which could get significantly worse again.

Rudd pressed on possible problem.
KERRY O’BRIEN: OK. Well let’s look a little more closely at the practical - the ways these will happen. Your stimulus package: how quickly will people start getting their cheques for $950, because I think it starts in April? Is that gonna happen almost instantaneously? We’re talking about a lot of people, and you’re hoping that that money will be spent and will stimulate the economy to an extra half per cent of economic growth in three months from April to the end of June.

Third straight request for information.
KERRY O’BRIEN: I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Bookmark inserted.
KERRY O’BRIEN: OK. People who will be entitled to this $950, do they just wait at home and the cheque turns up in the mail? They don’t have to do anything.

Fourth straight request for information - already one more than was granted Turnbull.


Acknowledgement of good answer.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Malcolm Turnbull has been saying for two months now that the evidence from America suggests most people in this scary economic environment won’t spend your handouts, that they’ll save them, which keeps it out of the economy. Can you show conclusive evidence from your last package that the money was spent rather than squirreled away?

Opposition argument put up, followed by fifth straight request for information in rebuttal.


KERRY O’BRIEN: The $15 billion schools building program would sound great by anyone’s standards, I guess, but you actually going to have to rely on the states to deliver it, and in a hurry if it’s going to boost jobs and the economy in the way that you hope it will. Some states will do that better than others, I’m sure you’ll agree. In NSW, for instance, the public wouldn’t trust their Government, dare I suggest it, to build a LEGO classroom, let alone a real one.

Approval expressed for part of Government package. Doubt expressed over ability of others - not Rudd - to deliver goodies.
KERRY O’BRIEN: Which comes back to my point.

Point pressed, gently.

KERRY O’BRIEN: How tough has your rhetoric been to the Premiers direct along these lines?

Classic Dorothy Dixer: “How tough have you been?” Flattering request for information.

KERRY O’BRIEN: So let me just ask you this: how quickly would you hope and expect schools to see the first rollout of activity - the actually classrooms starting to be built, the maintenance starting to happen? How soon would you expect to see that actually happen and concrete being poured?

Seventh straight - or flattering - request for information.
KERRY O’BRIEN: OK. You’ve delivered another address to the nation tonight, just like the one you did after the last stimulus package. You’ve go the Parliament and an army of media to explain your actions and report your statement. Why this extra little bit of drama? Why is it necessary? I mean, arguably, you keep underscoring the sense of crisis, this sense of danger, this is another national security stimulus package, which surely just feeds the public anxiety and becomes counter-productive to at least some degree. I know you’ve gotta inform, but why this endless kind of packaging as a sort of package of anxiety?

OK signals satisfaction with answer. Information requested, with any suggestion of criticism of “drama” muted by friendly qualifications ("arguably") and acknowledgement of PM’s burden ("I know you’ve gotta inform").

KERRY O’BRIEN: OK. We’ve got very limited time left on interest rates. You said today that you expect the banks to take, “… an openhearted and compassionate approach to people and small businesses struggling to meet their loan commitments.” That’s not exactly the banks’ culture, is it?

Doubt expressed, but less of Rudd or his economic management than of the banks.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Well, the Commonwealth today has announced another $2 billion half-yearly profit - interim profit.

Rudd pushed - on greedy banks.

KERRY O’BRIEN: You accept that you’ll be judged harshly by the Australian people next year if your economic management of this crisis is seen by them to have failed or at least not lived up to your promises and your expectations, while leaving a legacy of budget deficits?

Benchmarks of failure demanded.

KERRY O’BRIEN: Now I had read your 7,500 word essay on neo-liberalism and economic orthodoxy in the hope that I could ask you a few questions about that tonight, but we’re out of time. So, hopefully at some point in the future, we will find the time to do that. Kevin Rudd, thanks for talking with us.

Rudd the scholar acknowledged.

The difference in tone, I’d suggest, is pronounced and relentless. And you could draw a similar contrast in treatment almost any time O’Brien has a Liberal and Labor leader on his show.

There’s nothing that screams out as a crime against tough journalism, yet the ever-present handicapping and badgering of Liberals is something an ABC dedicated to fair play would, you’d hope, seek to remove. Or at least to redress by, say, letting at least one conservative staffer host one of its TV current affairs shows.
Age editor opposes “ideological reasons”
Andrew Bolt
The Age editor dismisses Malcolm Turnbull’s stand on Kevin Rudd’s dangerous $42 billion spending spree in the depressingly common post-modernist way - not by simply challenging the argument, but in particular by impugning the motives:

But he has chosen instead to reject the package for ideological reasons, and in doing so sounds like a man who hasn’t noticed that the world has changed.

In fact, there is no way on this earth that The Age editor could know the mind of Turnbull, and whether he lies when he says he is against the package not for ideological reasons, but because Rudd wants to spend too much, and spend it on the wrong things. All that the editor could know are the reasons that Turnbull gives, and the rest is just spiteful supposition, stated as damning fact.

How often we see this kind of argument in defence of the Left’s most cherished faiths. Think of global warming. The odd thing is, of course, that the man who writes in condemnation of “ideological reasons” is more prey to them than most.


Speaking of ideologues, Kevin Rudd’s essay blaming neo-liberals for 30 years of financial disaster is deservedly mocked by former NSW Treasurer Michael Costa:

So deregulation, privatisation, greater market competition and expanded private participation in equity markets through compulsory super, is OK if it’s undertaken by Australian Labor governments, but it is neo-liberal ideology if anybody else does it. All the way through his essay Rudd tries to have it both ways, cherrypicking economic history to support his political prejudices.
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