Friday, September 02, 2011

News Items and comments

Labor’s hopes of leadership are lost at sea

Piers Akerman – Thursday, September 01, 11 (06:31 pm)

THIS was to be Julia Gillard’s year of decision and delivery but the past 12 months have seen an aggregation of disgrace, policy failure and humiliation.

I have no problem with accepting those 4000 from Malaysia .. but not at the expense of other refugees. We still need to meet our commitment to those in need. I mourn for those that died because of Gillard’s cold and heartless policy. I don’t think she has a problem with their deaths. I am sure she feels she can exploit them to attack the Coalition, just as she had before. Truth and responsibility don’t seem to matter to her.

The government should end over this. But I think it will stagger on a bit more.

DD Ball of Carramar/Sydney (Reply)
Thu 01 Sep 11 (08:55pm)
Scrooge replied to DD Ball
Fri 02 Sep 11 (07:49am)

It is possible, even probable, that some of the 4000 may consist of those types that Tunku Abdul Rahman often referred to as ‘bad hats and subversive elements’. Just a thought.

Fox replied to DD Ball
Fri 02 Sep 11 (09:28am)

Being called a “subversive element” in an Islamic country doesn’t necessarily reflect badly… in fact it could be proof of a reasonable fear of persecution. But I suspect that the list will be heavy with people who managed to hold on to enough negotiable assets to influence those compiling the list.

DD Ball replied to DD Ball
Fri 02 Sep 11 (02:44pm)

It is almost certainly the case that these migrants will not be ideal. Few are. So long as we still have Australian laws I can live with that. Australia is a highly desirable place to live, despite the ALP government. We won’t always be pursuing poverty.


The PC brigade kills off Jesus Christ

Miranda Devine – Friday, September 02, 11 (12:22 am)


A DECISION to use politically correct terms - which do not mention Jesus Christ - for dates BC and AD in the new national history curriculum was an act of “Christian cleansing”, church leaders said yesterday.

Other than a pollie and some religious folk, who clearly have an agenda, are there any intellectualsor academics who actually find this a problem? I hate the PC agenda flowing from ANY aspect of politics, but unless writers are being forced by government or some special interest group, there doesnt seem to be ANYTHING wrong here. If intellectuals who write books want to change minuscule notes like this to make their work more engaging or readable or WHATEVER their reasoning, as long as they do it of their own free constructed position WHO CARES. This whole event reveals the truly PC character of those pro-Christian thinkers who seek to employ the same forces of control they abhor.
It is easily one of the most PC assertions to make to say you are ‘killing off Jesus Christ’ by changing BC to BCE! How extravagantly melodramatic! This whole article’s concept is remarkably contradictory.

Matt from Melbourne (Reply)
Fri 02 Sep 11 (01:18am)
ella replied to Matt from Melbourne
Fri 02 Sep 11 (07:10am)

It seems to me that a true intellectual would acknowledge the role Christianity has played in the formation of Western culture and want to pass on that knowledge to future generations.

For the past two thousand years Christianity has informed art, architecture, music, philosophy, English poetry, prose and the like.

This foolish attempt to distance Christianity from ordinary people creates a huge divide between ordinary people and the intellectual.

All cultures have their roots in religion. It does not matter whether one is a believer or a doubter, this constant repudiation of our cultural inheritance can only lead in one direction, and that is to the decline and eventual disappearance of Western civilization.

Blackmambo replied to Matt from Melbourne
Fri 02 Sep 11 (08:33am)

it’s not a minuscule change as you say. If it were, as you say, then why bother with it? No, your response is contradictory.

Matt from Melbourne replied to Matt from Melbourne
Fri 02 Sep 11 (11:33am)

To Ella and Blackmambo

Ella said:
It seems to me that a true intellectual would acknowledge the role Christianity has played in the formation of Western culture and want to pass on that knowledge to future generations.
I say:
Sure and I certainly would not want to stifle such acknowledgments but changing BC to BCE in no way effects such such learning. To say it does is extremely PC.

Ella said:
For the past two thousand years Christianity has informed art, architecture, music, philosophy, English poetry, prose and the like.
I said:
Again I agree, but how does that have anything to do with keeping or not keeping BC or AD? Again, your argument is a an intrusive tyranny you seek to throw on intellectuals - you seek Political Correctness.

Ella said:
This foolish attempt to distance Christianity from ordinary people creates a huge divide between ordinary people and the intellectual.
I said:
WOW. You seriously think changing BC to BCE “distances Christianity from ordinary people”? That’s just PC rhetoric now.

Ella said:
All cultures have their roots in religion. It does not matter whether one is a believer or a doubter, this constant repudiation of our cultural inheritance can only lead in one direction, and that is to the decline and eventual disappearance of Western civilization.
I said:
Again, PC rhetoric. You are employing the same thought as someone who would think entirely contrary to you. There is absolutely no0 difference between your points and someone who would like to see every scrap of Christianity removed from history for their own reasons. In both cases there is employed a tyranny over the intellectual - a value that seeks to dictate how academics write - you seek political correctness as much as you like to think you oppose it. The only good academia is that which is free to construct itself as I already stated.

Blackmambo said:
it’s not a minuscule change as you say. If it were, as you say, then why bother with it?
I said:
Indeed, why bother with it at all. Its just another interest group, in this case (some) Christians getting angry.

Blackmambo said:
No, your response is contradictory.
I said:
You have yet to show where or how.

bananabender replied to Matt from Melbourne
Fri 02 Sep 11 (11:43am)


Western civilisation was invented by the Greeks and Romans. It has nothing to do with an obscure Jewish sect known as Christians.

DD Ball replied to Matt from Melbourne
Fri 02 Sep 11 (03:03pm)

Yet another part of the Federal government not endorsed by Australian peoples. News of the recent death of Christ have been greatly exaggerated. The good news is he is alive and well and has won the battle. The current battle field is with the hearts and minds of children, for which I will never thank Gillard for engaging in this battle.

Matt, are my credentials in doubt to you, a teacher with 19 years experience and a masters degree in Educational Curriculum Development and Design from Sydney Uni Circa ‘97. Just because you don’t understand the issues doesn’t mean they aren’t there.


Correct words taken out of our mouths

Miranda Devine – Wednesday, August 31, 11 (07:54 pm)

JUST when we thought political correctness was on the way out, ridiculed to death by South Park and Borat and a cynical Generation Y, back it comes stronger than ever.

The resurgence of culturally mandated conformity creeps up on you unawares, like when you don’t take the full course of antibiotics for an infection.

The virulence of the PC disease was seen this week in the Radike Samo blackface furore, which made headlines around the world.

Under this Gillard green government… Miranda..?? It’s Joooolias fault is it...?? BP and BC.

Are you throwing mud as Milne was, what a suprise. With his mud slinging, incorrect and defamatory, unsubstantiated piece, regarding an ex-boyfriend of Gillard some twenty years ago. No wonder there was an unreserved apology from the Australian. It would have been the perfect time for the Prime Minister to sue and expose the Newslimited for what it is.. A bias conservative organisation interested in “regime change” to limit the impact of Free to air TV, the NBN and the Anti-Syphoning laws, that are not in the best financial interests of the Murdoch empire.. But in the BEST interests of the public. Maybe he/you would have been better off trying the old fake email trick.. Oh that’s right, tried that one already and got exposed.

And since when did the indigenous people of this country invite and welcome the English Ryoal Navy to come to this country and hand it over to them..?? What do you think the English Empire and colonialism was ..?? An open invitation from other countries for England to take them over. Of course it was an invasion, take over by force or how ever you want to put it. And maybe the Tassie tiger still exists hiding in those rainforests with some aboriginals..

And gays too.. How many issues do you want to roll into one piece to throw mud at Gillard.

Whats more pathetic is that you self confessed conservative opinionist think that you are “fair and balanced” in your writing.. How FOXY of you. Or that the ABC comes out attacking conservatives, rather than asking hard questions to both sides of the political spectrum. I know there is NO climate change too. Yet another delusional position. Have fun with that one.

Murdoch has created us and them… there is NO middle ground unbias journalism, unless it’s conservative of course. That’s how it works isn’t it.

Fair and Balanced (Reply)
Wed 31 Aug 11 (11:54pm)
DD Ball replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (09:22am)

You forgot to mention the high court ruling that Gillard was never right about the Pacific Solution from the beginning and that her bad policy has lured hundreds to their deaths. I know you meant to so you could be fair and balanced.

Gaz replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (10:20am)

Well done Fair and Balanced (not), you have just gone and made a case in point for Miranda’s argument. Despite your comment consisting of the usual mix of conspiracy theory and unsubstantiated bile, you should be congratulated for managing to drum up almost every one of the progressives’ pet projects. You did leave out asylum seekers though, would have been interested to see how you reconciled that with Aborigines exclusive rights. LOL

TassieRooster replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (10:20am)

Read the polls lately, Lovvie? No wonder the Brown/Gillard Canberra Politburo want to censor the media, can’t have the media actually reporting stuff up after stuff up now can we!

The Milne article contained 1 (count it - 1) incorrect or contested fact. The rest of it has been duly reported in the past, it is on the public record. The over the top hissy fit thrown by Gillard (& her subsequent “War-Council” meeting with cabinet over New Ltd) is symptomatic of a socialist totalitarian mind-set that should concern all Australians who are actually “Fair & Balanced”.
cool grin

Steve S replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (11:00am)

Thank You for your contribution, ‘Fair & Balanced’, for it very effectively demonstrates some of the thinking (or lack thereof) that Miranda is writing about, namely the predisposition of those on the Left to fashion mountains out of molehills and/or deliberately misrepresent somebody’s statements in order to shut down reasonable, ‘fair and balanced’ debate.

Nowhere does Miranda pin all this on Gillard, as you well know. But that didn’t stop you from pretending she did, because then you can go on to have a little tantrum. All she alleges is that the current government, being a Left/Far Left coalition, is encouraging people like you to commence your screeching whenever one of the Left’s holy cows is remotely challenged - be it AGW, ‘cultural sensitivity’ or gay marriage.

But keep going mate, you’re helping Miranda out here.

shebs replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (11:32am)

This government, and the previous Victorian government that included Rob Hulls are known champions of PC. Miranda did not blame Gillard for BP (or BCE, internationally) for BC. Mud is not being thrown, despite what you claim, and PC is held in low regard by the silent majority who simply want to live rather than be “guided” by wowsers!
“Regime change”, killing John Howard (or at least maiming) was often mooted by you Lefties when John Howard led his 11 years of mostly successful government. Don’t get all precious when some conservatives do some muck-raking, however much I think they should hold their peace. Fake emails: done by your lot too.

“Invasion”? Get over it, it was colonisation, same as practised by many other nations, and certainly far more successfully than most. You live off this dastardly deed, so I suppose you must feel guilt yourself. Hate yourself for living off it if you like, but don’t expect me or others to adopt your self-hate. Mate, I won’t feel guilt for having been born here.

Gays? Most of us simply do not care, but the gay lobby is loud. Sure it is easy to ignore them most of the time, but when they want to gay up Sesame Street characters and ythe majority have the temerity to object, then their shouting is bullying.

Funny mate, you accuse Miranda and Murdoch of so many things. One might think you love conspiracies....

Titus Aduxas replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (12:56pm)

I think FNB you should get some treatment,Your pal gillard is the most incompetent politician this country has ever had the misfortune to suffer.The damage that she and her communist inspired lickspittals have done to all Australians will take years to repair.
The only place that shows support for these thieves is from the get up losers who haunt the blogs.
For Christ sake ELECTION NOW.

Bob of Qld replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (02:19pm)

Who gave you the nickname ‘Fair and Balanced’ ? Seriously.
‘Left wing Fruitcake’ is a bit longer, but feel free to use

Geoff of the Central Coast replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (08:39pm)

Bob of Qld replied to Fair and Balanced
Thu 01 Sep 11 (02:19pm)
Who gave you the nickname ‘Fair and Balanced’ ? Seriously.
‘Left wing Fruitcake’ is a bit longer, but feel free to use

Bob, this nutter used to post as livid from Thirroul. Earlier this year, he/she started using divilas well as livid—notice livid backwards and oh, so original—but the moderators called him/her out and asked that one name be used.

Fair and Balanced is the outcome. Seriously, this has to be the greatest oxymoron in Australian politics today.

Actually, drivel in place of divil would have been more appropriate.

The arguments and myopia are nothing if not astounding.

Fred replied to Fair and Balanced
Fri 02 Sep 11 (08:02am)

“Fair and Balanced” posts its Leftist Anti Australian DRIVEL on Bolt also !

Pathetic !


… is from page xiv of Geoffrey Brennan’s elegant 1998 Foreword to Vol. 2 of TheCollected Works of James M. Buchanan – which is Jim’s 1958 classic (and truly indispensable) Public Principles of Public Debt:

To the standard new orthodox claim that we owe internal debt to ourselves, Buchanan’s response is effectively: What’s this “we” business?….

[T]here is a kind of intellectual divide between those who conceive social phenomena in a disaggregated way and those of a more holistic, organic cast of mind. Arguably, it is this intellectual divide that most distinguishes microeconomists from macroeconomist and a fortiori as a group from sociologists and many traditional political theorists.


Geoff immediately adds: “Within this divide, in Public Principles of Public Debt, Buchanan establishes himself firmly as an arch exponent of the individualist method.”

Indeed Jim does so distinguish himself (as he continues to do so 53 years later) – always brilliantly and vitally and productively.


The Palm Beach Post reports on a rhetorical move by the Obama administration:

Don’t think of it as the federal government but as your “federal family.”

In a Category 4 torrent of official communications during the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has repeatedly used the phrase “federal family” when describing the Obama administration’s response to the storm.

The Obama administration didn’t invent the phrase but has taken it to new heights.

“Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast,” a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.

The G-word — “government” — has been nearly banished, with FEMA instead referring to federal, state and local “partners” as well as “offices” and “personnel.”

Later on in the article, there is some empirical support for the claim that the Obama administration is using the phrase more frequently:

A Google search shows the phrase appearing 10 times on FEMA’s website during the Bush years. Since Obama took office, “federal family” has turned up 118 times on, including 50 Irene-related references.

Among them: statements that the Obama administration “is committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear” for storm assistance and that “the entire federal family continues to lean forward to support the states in their ongoing response efforts.”

Lean forward? I guess that’s the opposite of sitting back. I guess it’s supposed to show initiative and focus. Not working for me.

As I tried to describe in The Price of Everything, families generally don’t use prices to allocate resources because they don’t need to. Families have good information about the desires and constraints facing the members of the family and the families have the incentive to use that information wisely. So when there aren’t enough cookies to go around, I don’t auction them off to the highest bidder. I might give each of the kids an equal fraction of the cookies. Or I might know that one of the kids went to a party and had some sweets. I try to get the cookies into the hands of the kids that will enjoy them the most. I have the information and the incentive to make that happen because I care about my kids. And I face the consequences if I do a bad job as a parent.

The federal “family” is not a family. It’s a faux family. A sham family. The government has neither the information nor the incentives to allocate goods wisely in the face of a shortage or a catastrophe. It should do less leaning forward and more sitting back.





I’ve run a bunch of programs for small groups of journalists where we talk about economics or data and empirical work so I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time among journalists in casual situations. One thing journalists hate is being told that they’re biased. It infuriates them. It is a semi-reasonable reaction. Journalists respond by explaining that they are professionals. Of course, they admit, they have personal views about politics and ideology. But they would never let their views contaminate their reporting. That’s what being a professional is all about.

It’s a semi-reasonable reaction because most journalists that I’ve known ARE professionals. They do their job very well and objectivity is their credo. It is a huge part of the culture of journalism.

It’s a semi-unreasonable reaction because we’re all human, and bias–as I’ve learned in recent years the more I’ve thought about it–is often a subtle phenomenon. I’ve become extremely interested in confirmation bias, I’ve sensitized myself to my own biases, and that makes it easier to see how it works in others.

Megan Mcardle (HT: Arnold Kling) really gets at the root of the problem and the subtlety of bias in this post. Most of the time, the media isn’t sitting around conspiring among themselves. But many journalists do have biases and bias works in subtle ways affecting what journalists question and won’t they don’t question. The only point she misses is the role that bias plays in placing articles. You want to make the editor happy. You don’t sit around thinking what can I do to make the editor happy. That would be unprofessional and it would bother most journalists to think they’ve slanted a piece in ways that confirm the editor’s biases. But those incentives are at work even when most people aren’t thinking about them. Read all of Megan’s piece. I’m looking forward to checking out Tim Groseclose’s book that she mentions.

Read Megan’s post. It’s superb. It reminds me that we think we know is always as problematic as what we think we don’t know.


Thomson affair explained

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (09:47 am)

What the video should add is that Thomson denies using his union credit card to pay for prostitutes. He denies making unauthorised withdrawals.

(Thanks to many readers, including Alan RM Jones.)


There will be no change of leader under a government I lead

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (09:31 am)

It’s that serious:

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has dismissed reports of disquiet in the Labor Party about her leadership, saying she is the best person for the job.

I’m not going anywhere,” she told ABC Radio this morning.


It must be excruciating for her:

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has laughed off suggestions former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie wants her job.

The Gold Coast Bulletin quoted unnamed Labor insiders, who said Mr Beattie has been approached to run for the seat of Brisbane at the next federal election and had designs on the nation’s top job.

“I’ve got a lot of important things to do and I don’t much worry about newspaper idle gossip and speculation,” Ms Gillard told reporters in Brisbane ahead of a community cabinet meeting.


Rallying round:

FORMER Queensland premier Peter Beattie has ruled out running for Federal Parliament.

He also said Prime Minister Julia Gillard was the best person to lead the party, urging Labor colleagues to “hold your nerve"…

To change leaders at this time would destroy the Labor Party.”


On the other hand:

ETU Secretary Dean Mighell this morning claimed union leaders, particularly those in blue-collar industries, were also talking up change.

“The tom-tom drums are beating, without naming names or being too specific,” he told radio station 3AW.

“I think she’ll go. I think she has to in order to give Labor some chance of not being decimated at the next election.”

Mr Mighell said his preferred leader was Simon Crean.

“I think he’s a good Labor man, a good leader, a very highly respected politician and probably Labor’s best chance if they went to an election tomorrow,” he said.


Ferguson says enough

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (07:14 am)

I think Ferguson has had enough of working with amateurs:

ENERGY Minister Martin Ferguson has slapped down fellow Victorian junior frontbencher Mark Dreyfus for being antagonistic towards the Baillieu government over future assistance for communities in the Latrobe Valley.

Mr Dreyfus, the parliamentary secretary for climate change, has been critical of the Victorian government’s decision to follow Tony Abbott’s strident anti-carbon tax rhetoric, suggesting it could lock the state out of opportunities under the carbon tax package.

But Mr Ferguson told The Age Canberra was intent on working constructively with Victoria, and Ted Baillieu’s attitude on the carbon price was a matter for him.

‘’The Victorian government has been involved from day one in discussions at both a ministerial and official level on these implementation arrangements,’’ Mr Ferguson said.

‘’[State] Minister [Michael] O’Brien and I are both prioritising the interests and needs of workers in the Latrobe Valley … working together to deliver the assistance being offered in seeking to ensure the Latrobe Valley has a vibrant economic future.’’


Gillard’s woes blamed on some bloke called Evans

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (07:04 am)

A ministerial reshuffle is a ludicrous half-measure - the advertising of a problem, rather than the solving of it:

LABOR powerbrokers are pressing for a ministerial reshuffle and a shake-up of Julia Gillard’s office in an effort to lift her government’s performance and shore up her leadership.

While factional leaders have acknowledged that the High Court’s repudiation of the Prime Minister’s Malaysia Solution has hammered the government’s credibility, they are not contemplating a leadership change.

Other Labor sources are less optimistic, warning that the party’s Right faction is promoting Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten as possible replacements.

How often do you hear people say, “If it wasn’t for that damn Evans, I’d vote Labor”?:

There was heavy debate about the future of Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, with senior Right sources praising his performance and saying they would not allow him to become “the fall guy”....

Several senior Labor figures said Ms Gillard had too many poor performers in her cabinet.,,,

Industrial Relations Minister and Labor Senate leader Chris Evans, who previously held the role of immigration minister, was the focus of the anger.

“Everything he touches turns to shit,” one senior source said. “He left us with this problem on border security and he’s not much better in IR.”

Actually, the two names mentioned here both inherited and implemented dud boat people policies either drawn up or authorised by Julia Gillard herself, as she revealed to Laurie Oakes last year:

LO: It’s fair to say as Shadow Minister after the 2001 Tampa election, the shadow Immigration Minister, you actually were the substantive author of the policies which Kevin Rudd’s government adopted. Is that fair?

JG: I was the substantive author of a policy paper which became Labour’s policy, it was called “Protecting Australia, Protecting the Australian Way”.

LO: And it was adopted in government.

JG: It was adopted by the then Labour Opposition, obviously my successors in the portfolio put some of their own stamps on this and we brought that policy into government.

LO: But it’s basically what you advised isn’t it?

JG: Look, I think the underpinnings were in that document, protecting Australia, protecting the Australian way.

And was Evans responsible for Cash for Clunkers? The school halls blowout? The premature promise by Gillard of an East Timor Detention Centre? The broken promise on the carbon dioxide tax?


Other Labor figures want to remove the real problem:

SENIOR Government figures say Julia Gillard has “lost her authority” and have urged her to weigh whether it’s in Labor’s best interests for her to remain prime minister.

In an extraordinary turn of events, Labor figures who supported Ms Gillard when she replaced Kevin Rudd as prime minister just 14 months ago are now floating a remarkable plan that could see Mr Rudd return to the leadership with Stephen Smith as his deputy and treasurer.

“This is about authority and whether she can assert her authority because she hasn’t got it now,” one senior figure told The Courier-Mail last night.

Others in the party say Mr Smith, the Defence Minister, would have the numbers in any ballot and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet could emerge as deputy.

All those talking about leadership options insist they do not want another coup against a leader. They say Ms Gillard would have to voluntarily decide to give up the leadership.

From which you can conclude that one thing paralysing Labor is the last of a natural successor. There is no Paul Keating to her Bob Hawke, and no agreement on who comes next.


Phillip Coorey:

THE federal government is split and Julia Gillard faces fresh doubts about her leadership as she grapples with the problem of where to send asylum seekers after the High Court torpedoed the Malaysia plan and potentially ruled Manus Island and Nauru off limits as well.

The party was alive with chatter last night about possible replacements for Ms Gillard, including Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith, although no moves were imminent.


What happened to the days of “relaxed and comfortable”?

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (07:01 am)

Here we go again:

STRIKE action tripled across Australia in the three months to June as unions exploited the Gillard Government’s industrial relations policy, employers say.

There were 496,500 working hours lost due to strikes in the three months, Australian Bureau of Statistics show.That was equal to 66,200 days, compared with 19,700 days in the first three months of the year.

Like boat people policy, Labor fixed something to make it worse.

(Thanks to reader CA.)


Doesn’t Labor preselect adults?

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (06:58 am)

Why not simply pre-select candidates who are already ethical?

AFTER an underpants dance scandal, a minister being done for pornography and with a federal MP on the ropes over prostitute allegations, NSW Labor MPs will learn ethics.

Labor leader John Robertson and the party’s state headquarters are joining forces on Monday at parliament to give an all-day ethics seminar to state Labor MPs.

(Thanks to reader CA.)


Only dumb people disagree with Manne

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (06:24 am)

Robert Manne reveals his inner Leninist: the people are stupid and their choice must be denied.

Take the start of his remarkable anti-Murdoch rant today in The Age:

NEWS Ltd owns 70 per cent of the circulation of major newspapers in Australia.

A more accurate way of putting it is that 70 per cent of Australians who buy a newspaper prefer to buy one published by News Ltd, rather than its competitors.

If Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, were an apolitical or a distant figure, this might not matter, but he has a powerful set of ideological beliefs and is determined to maintain tight control over the political line of all his papers on issues that interest him.

Yet, curiously, the papers of this dictator employ journalists or regular columnists as divided on those issues as me and Jill Singer, Piers Akerman and Phillip Adams, Janet Albrechtsen and Susie O’Brien, Dennis Atkins and Tim Blair; Paul Howes and Henry Ergas… At the last election, his papers were split, 50-50, on which side to support. If this is “tight control over the political line”, then the ABC and Age must be positively Stalinist, especially given that the Agedoes not employ a single on-staff conservative columnist.

Politically engaged citizens have a plethora of accessible sources of information on the internet, but News Ltd’s capacity to influence the opinions of the vast majority of less engaged citizens - whose political understanding is shaped directly by the popular newspapers and indirectly through the commercial radio and television programs that rely on newspapers for content and, more deeply, for the way they interpret the world - is unjustifiable.

How self-pleasuring. Manne’s thesis is that the readers of The Australian, Courier-Mail, Herald Sun and other titles are actually much dumber than those of, presumably, The Age, and so we need .... what, government regulation? An inquiry? Forced divestment by Murdoch of some of his papers for the proletariat?

Thankfully, in this extract of his essay, Manne does not recommend such things. Instead:

There seems to be only one possible solution to the threat to democracy posed by The Australian: courageous external and internal criticism. The strange passivity of its two mainstream rivals, the Fairfax press and the ABC - even in the face of a constant barrage of criticism and lampooning - has left victims of the paper’s attacks vulnerable and friendless. There is an old joke that suggests that no individual ought to engage in battle with those who buy their ink by the barrel. But Fairfax and the ABC have the same arsenal of weapons at their disposal.

He wishes the ABC to become an even more partisan political player than it already is. He wants the Fairfax papers to be even more stridently of the Left.

So the taxpayer-funded ABC must breach even more flagrantly its charter obligations to be balanced, and Fairfax must become even more dangerously marginalised and irrelevant.

What Manne cannot accept is that there is now an argument on issues where he wishes there was none. His mindset is the true threat to debate - and democracy.

In the media, the public already has a choice before it. One of those choices is The Age in which Manne’s article appears, and another is The Monthly, in which Manne’s full essay appears.

If the public isn’t buying Manne’s line, well, they’re just not buying it, Robert, and blaming evil Murdoch is just a cop-out.

Incidentally, Manne was until very recently the chairman of The Monthly’s editorial board, Before he preaches about fairness and ethics in journalism, perhaps he should reveal what instructions were issued by The Monthly’s board and editor for the writing of a profile of me. Or shall I? It’s the kind of editorial interference that would horrify Manne if done by Murdoch.

I think Manne’s readers are entitled to know.


Passing wind

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (06:19 am)

It’s remarkable how a twitch of the weather could persuade serious people of a man-made Armageddon:

Commentator Robert Manne in The Monthly, February 2006:

SINCE the mid-1990s ferocious hurricanes, whose intensity is directly linked with the temperature of the sea, have occurred with unaccustomed regularity in the Gulf of Mexico. You may regard all this as coincidence. Despite my naturally sceptical temperament, I do not.

Ryan N. Maue, Centre for Ocean and Atmosphere Studies, Florida State University, in Geophysical Research Letters, July 20:

IN the pentad since 2006, northern hemisphere and global tropical cyclone accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) has decreased dramatically to the lowest levels since the late 1970s. Additionally, the global frequency of tropical cyclones has reached a historical low.

It’s the predisposition to believe that once again is so telling.


Thomson taxes Labor even more

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (06:13 am)

Will Labor have to give Craig Thomson another gift of its members’ money?:

A TAX bill of about $250,000 could await whoever was responsible for the use of embattled Labor MP Craig Thomson’s Health Services Union credit card.
An investigation for The Daily Telegraph by former Australian Taxation Office senior auditor Chris Seage has estimated that whoever used his card from 2002 to 2007 owes $239,818 to the ATO.

The total bill is made up of $132,520 in tax payable on omitted income, $34,270 in penalties and $73,028 in interest charges dating back to 2002. The figures have been verified by accounting firm Charge Thoo & Co.

The new assessment presents a potential fresh element to the affair. The ALP made a payment of $150,000 to Mr Thomson in March to prevent him from going bankrupt.

Mr Thomson’s financial solvency is critical to the future of the Gillard government and its wafer-thin majority, because serving MPs cannot be bankrupt.

(Thanks to reader the Great Waisuli.)


Gillard a victim of the kind of judging conservatives warn against

Andrew Bolt – Friday, September 02, 11 (05:39 am)

Paul Kelly blames an activist court for Labor’s humiliation:

JULIA Gillard’s attack on the High Court may be poor politics, but her argument is convincing.

This majority decision is unwise, a major reinterpretation of the Migration Act and an unjustified intrusion into the realm of asylum-seeker policy.

The evidence for such claims is the minority judgment of Dyson Heydon.

It is the most persuasive. It argues that Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has sufficient discretion to make his declaration, that he acted consistent with parliament’s original intention and this judicial intrusion into external relations is a “potentially dangerous course”.

How ironic that a Labor Government should be so punished for the trend to judicial activism which it so recklessly encouraged. That said, most of the judges don’t leap out from their profiles as radicals.

But even if Kelly is right, he overlooks the political stupidity of reinventing the wheel. Nauru worked and could probably have survived the High Court’s ruling.

And while Gillard is perfectly entitled to question judicial overreach, her singling out of the Chief Justice himself for his alleged inconsistency is playing the man, French was only one of the six-to-one majority which struck down her Malaysian deal.


Reader Victoria 3220:

Humiliated Gillard accuses French CJ of saying one thing before his appointment, and doing the opposite after his appointment. Now that’s karma.


Professor Sinclair Davidson doubts there was any judicial activism here, just a deal that did not comply with our laws. Professor Greg Craven on MTR 1377 this morning also told me he detected no judicial activism or overreach - and he’s a famous critic of such things. He considers the decision straightforward. (Link will appear on my MTR post above when it becomes available.)

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