My Drum piece today is on the Oscars. I have been putting off getting back to writing about politics for a long as possible. I suppose I could have churned out something on the Australia Day stuff, but, meh.
Due to my book writing labours I’m not able to quickly get out a piece in a few hours on Tuesday afternoon, which is disappointing because I would have loved to have written about Abbott’s lame National Press Club speech, and the lamer response by the assorted journalists there and those watching.
Any one who had any thoughts that Abbott would “flick the switch to positive” found themselves to be much mistaken yesterday. Abbott read out a speech he must have given at least 50 times by now. It contained nothing new. Nothing. Not a thing.
Here’s the thing – why can’t the press gallery slaughter this chump? It’s not like they can use the excuse that they didn’t know what he was going to talk about. Nothing he said was new. Nothing.
The same sound bites that he uses – came out again and again. Here’s a taste:
Australia was a stronger society because we had a stronger economy. Between 1996 and 2007, real wages increased more than 20 per cent, real household wealth per person more than doubled, and there were more than two million new jobs.
Since then, real household wealth has declined, productivity has stagnated and 2011 was the first year since 1992 without a net increase in jobs.
Well shit me. You’d almost think there was no Global Financial Crisis, eh Tony?
No good government would ever spend more than a billion dollars putting pink batts into roofs and a billion dollars to take them out again. It wouldn’t spend $16 billion on over-priced school halls while the standards of academic achievement actually fell.
Only thing is of course it didn’t spend $16b on “over-priced school halls”; no report anywhere has suggest it did. But hey – let that one go through to the keeper. Academic achievement actually fell?? Actually what happened is the NAPLAN tests revealed that
93 per cent of students are achieving at or above the minimum standard in reading, writing and numeracy, but that the best students were not doing as well as in previous years.
The NAPLAN report also found
'The line representing the trend is almost completely flat … This picture of no change applies equally to males and females as well as to students with a language background other than English and students with an English language background.''
Now firstly – that is according to NAPLAN, which is just one indicator – but “the best students not doing as well”, or “the trend is flat” does not mean “academic achievement actually fell”, actually. What it means, actually is that Abbott is making stuff up.
Through to the keeper.
Big savings could be made in the government’s $350 a throw set top box programme since Gerry Harvey can supply and install them for half the price.
Ah Gerry Harvey. Praise be the non-complaining business man. That no journalist in the room nailed Abbott to the wall on this bit of shite is just another one to add to the pile of indictments. The set-top box scheme was demanded by the Liberal Party – they were worried about pensioners and the like being left sitting in front of a TV that didn’t work. Harvey can do it for less? Well good, because here’s what he needs to do for $350, via the DBCDE website:
Fact: the $350 figure is an average cost for the assistance package per household, not just for a set top box. It also includes:
- Administration costs for Centrelink to advise people if they are eligible, to set up appointments for installation, follow up phone calls and checks
- A set top box which is accessible for the elderly and people with special needs. The Consumer Expert Group was consulted on the appropriate set top box for the Scheme.
- Installation of the set top box and any re-wiring, antenna adjustment and demonstrations.
- An in-home warranty.
- Access to a free hotline for 12 months following installation.
As Conroy said at the time, if Harvey can do it for less, there’s a profit to be made Gerry, go to it. Now this little furphy has been around since May last year. Where are all the stories of rorts and waste? Sure there some good ole anecdotes, but are you telling me if I didn’t ask around I couldn’t find anyone who has some complaints with something they bought from Gerry Harvey?
I keep wondering why journalists are so stymied by Abbott, but really the reason is clear – he’s a journalist. The guy was a leader writer for The Australian. He thinks in anecdotes. He thinks the one does actually represent the all. There’s a school with a poor BER spend? Why then $16b was wasted. Gerry Harvey says in an interview that he could do set-top boxes for less? Why then it must be true. Run with it! So when he spouts lines in the same manner that journalists would report them, well geez… what do journalists do… hmmm maybe ask if he is going to go positive?
Most in the press gallery are hamstrung because he thinks like they do. Paul Bongiorno actually had the temerity to stand apart and introduce some facts taking about the fact all credit agencies rate Australia AAA, that the cash rate is lower than when the Howard Govt was in office, and the response was “lower taxes, less waste yada yada yada”. It was a good effort by Bongiorno, but he had little support.
Take this from Abbott yesterday – again nothing new:
Finally, the coalition’s plan for a more prosperous future will try to ensure that our children and grandchildren look back appreciatively on the big decisions this generation has made.
We have a responsibility to ensure that our land is as productive as possible, that’s why we are looking at new dam sites especially in northern Australia which could become a food bowl to Asia.
Sounds wonderful. Geez, I wish it could be so, but here’s the thing – In February 2010, the Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce released a report. This was a Taskforce that wanted to find good news. It had Bill Hefferrnan as its chairman. Here is a paragraph on ITS FIRST PAGE
The north is not a vacant land. It needs to be actively managed for resilience and sustainability, based on a contemporary and informed understanding of the complexities of the landscape and its people. Contrary to popular belief, water resources in the north are neither unlimited, nor wasted. Equally, the potential for northern Australia to become a ‘food bowl’ is not supported by evidence.
Now I was sitting at home, writing away on a chapter for my book incidentally about how journalists use social media, and I heard that statement by Abbott. I immediately thought, that old chestnut, hasn’t that been shown to be a pipe dream?
A 20 second search on Google found the report. I didn’t link to it, but I did link to this ABC article on it titled
Report kills northern food bowl dream
Now maybe Abbott has some new evidence he can tell us about that has come to light since 2010. We’re all ears Tony, ante up.
Who was in the gallery, either in the NPC or online was also thinking “that old chestnut”?
No one. Instead we had the likes of James Massola, who made the statement on Twitter after seeing some tweets by ALP MPs who were also watching Abbott’s speech:
seems like a few Labor MPs tweeting from the same script following the Abbott press club speech. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
When I challenged him that all I had seen was a couple MPs mention the figure related to spending as a proportion of GDP, he replied:
also 1 about taxes and small business. as i said, "not that there is anything wrong with that". it just stands out in tweetdeck
Well geez. Two tweets. Well done, ace. Good to see you’re using social media for all that it is worth.
Last month the NY Times public editor wrote a column that asked:
Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?
I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge “facts” that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.
Well hell. You can only imagine the response.
But here’s the thing – who is being a truth vigilante here? All I see is journos repeating what Abbott said and then telling us that he cuts through, then they go looking for signs of how the ALP are reacting, of if Rudd’s about to challenge. Take Peter Hartcher’s oped on Abbott speech. It’s all bullshit blather about his tone, and how he’ll need to be positive and how yesterday was a start down this road:
He told us not only what he opposed but what he stood for. He was pro-immigration, pro-environment, pro-manufacturing, pro-social spending, pro-Aborigine, pro-infrastructure, pro-tax cuts and pro-productivity.
You gotta be kidding me.
We knew that all before yesterday.
THERE WAS NOTHING NEW!
What we also knew what that those statements are based on nothing. Pro-environment? What does that even mean?
Last year I wondered how Abbott could continue after he admitted to Kerry O’Brien that he stretched the truth during the cut and thrust of interviews.
I wondered how could a guy who admitted to lying when it suited him survive. But of course, he was only lying to journalists. Who the hell wouldn’t? Most people if you asked them – would you lie to a journalist if that meant they would go easier on you? The answer would be a “Hell yes”. Most people would say anything to get rid of the journalist, most people don’t trust them, so why should it matter if Abbott lies to them?
Where is the journalist who is sitting at his/her desk and is linking to reports and ABS data as Abbott speaks? Latika Bourke transcribes everything said at any press conf quite well. She is good to follow if you can’t watch it yourself. We don’t need two of her. Where is the person who has the knowledge of policies so that when Abbott (or Gillard, or Pyne or Swan or Hockey or Combet or Robb) says something in a press conf, he or she is known as the one to follow because he or she will find the evidence that either supports what they are saying, or the evidence to show its all bullshit?
No one in the media that I am aware of.
For that you need to read blogs. Blogs written by folk who don’t give a damn that some Minister’s press secretary might freeze them out.
And if I’m wrong. C’mon journalists, send me the links with all the articles written today pointing out the dodgy statements, unsupported claims and pie in the sky bull that Abbott said yesterday.
Hit me with them.