Never have there been causes more just than equality, fairness and striving against poverty. And the Left has always had a proud mortgage of standing up for these causes; battling the indifference and vested interests of the Right.
But, somewhere the baton was dropped and it’s hard to see today’s Left as little more than a band of self-obsessed dilettantes living in their own worlds.
How else do you explain people who have long espoused freedom and openness, suddenly supporting censorship and the suppression of ideas and expression. Or arrogantly telling developing nations they can’t join the first world club because it would only increase eco-footprints.
Once, the Left would never have presumed to all knowledge. Once, it was sure in its values and intellect and did not stoop to simply hurling labels like sexist, racist, anti-feminist etc etc etc.
The sight, this week, of well-heeled, self-appointed guardians of community thinking smirking at the death of Margaret Thatcher, unfortunately, said a lot.
Devoid of real causes and living comfortably with their tertiary education, people on the Left have drifted away from substance — and now find their main values lie in the inflexible dogmas of political correctness and radical environmentalism.
Unfortunately, such elitism is not a good base from which to garner broad public support.
Somewhat sadly, the Left is now a case of ‘once were warriors’.
Today, I’m feeling my mortality.
And bowing my head in regret.
The finest journalist I had the pleasure of watching at work, ex-ABC wordsmith, Dick Cutler, is dead at 67. A heart attack, late last month, did what Viet Cong bullets had been unable to achieve decades before.
And, the fact that I only just heard of Dick’s death is something I regret deeply.
We met in the early 1980′s, not long after I joined ABC News. I had many years of newspaper experience behind me, yet I was in awe of Dick’s background as a journalistic journeyman. In the next five years, we shared a newsroom, a lot of laughs and raised many a glass at Kempsey, on the NSW Mid-North Coast.
Dick was an astonishing, award-winning journalist, capable of turning the mundane into quality copy at remarkable speed. Whether it was ploughing out stories about the local ‘mullet run’; scooping the press about cattle disease outbreaks; or pinning tinpot bureaucrats to the wall, Dick did it daily – with extraordinary finesse.
Why the techniques and thinking of such unsung giants of the industry are not studied more closely by today’s journalism students is a crying shame – and a pointer to the dire straits in which the noble profession finds itself.
Dick was an old fashioned, down-to-earth journalist who cared about the truth, but was doggedly objective and had no axe to grind. And, in those days at least, the ABC generally shared such admirable traits. But, Dick was a giant among some outstanding talents in ABC rural news – men such as Murray Miles at Grafton, Maurie Ferry in Bega and young gun, Rob Raschke, at Newcastle ….. extraordinary journalists all of them.
Unfortunately, Dick and I lost touch in recent years, but I had always intended to catch up with him; see again that boyish grin; swap stories of adventures past and colleagues long gone – and perhaps consume a few ales together. But, I put if off too long – and now it’s too late.
Like many of us, Dick had his inner demons. I don’t think Vietnam and the Kempsey bus crash helped. And, journalists – especially those with a work ethic like Dick – don’t often make it to old age.
But they certainly don’t make them like Dick anymore – and I only hope that somehow this man’s contribution to journalism can be remembered in a lasting way.
A few words in a newspaper obituary hardly seems sufficient.
Goodbye Dick. Sorry I wasn’t there mate.
I’m heartily sick of hearing how newspapers are doomed because of the Internet.
It’s over-simplified rubbish; right up there with the so-called ‘clean energy economy’ and similar Gen X and Y catch-cries.
As someone who has actually worked in newsrooms, I’m firmly convinced that the newspaper ‘business model’ – surely one of the most stupid phrases ever penned – is not ‘broken’ as a result of a dramatic switch to online news sources. The noble profession of journalism is facing challenging times, of that there’s no doubt. But the role the Internet is playing is being greatly romanticised.
Speak to journalists and they’ll tell you that, as usual, the industry is afflicted with bad management, bean-counting, cost-cutting and a lack of vision. More than ever, the old journalistic wisdom that “accountants will be the end of the media” is being heard more and more around newsrooms. Most journalists will attest that the newspaper industry has a history of ill-conceived snap decisions to cut costs, regardless of the long term impact.
Take, for example, the recent decision by Fairfax Media to end subediting at two of its most successful regional newspapers, the Newcastle Herald and Illawarra Mercury. It’s hard to see how online competition is behind the move to send these jobs to New Zealand. It looks like penny-pinching, plain and simple.
Of course, Fairfax probably needs to save money wherever it can because of the decline in revenue at its flagship newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Melbourne. And, that decline is caused, in part, by a loss of advertisers as circulation has fallen steadily in recent years. However, it is a vast simplification to simply blame the advent of the Internet for this crash in circulation..
There’s no doubt that the Internet adds another growing layer of competition for the SMH and The Age – and every other major newspaper. But, both the SMH and The Age have online editions – as have the Newcastle Herald and Illawarra Mercury. More to the point in this case, all Fairfax publications are operating in spite of a board and senior management that both appear to be verging on chaotic.
The esteemed Fairfax board has presided over a spectacular crash in the firm’s share price and a puzzling stance that is keeping its biggest shareholder, Gina Rinehart, from occupying a seat at the boardroom table.
Senior Fairfax management has set the SMH, The Age and even the Sun-Herald on a leftist, pro-Green editorial policy that has stunned much of its readership – especially in the nation’s business sector – and is fast destroying the group’s long-standing and once-proud reputation for objective journalism. This almost extreme editorial stance reinforces the impression that the central Fairfax mastheads have lost touch with the general population and are waging some sort of class war against much of their readership.
The Internet poses particular problems for Fairfax, News Limited and every other media groups. For a start, the web has developed as a club of freeloaders, who simply don’t want to pay for content. Secondly, iPhones and iPads have altered news reading behaviour by creating a generation of scanners, who want information to cut to the chase. And thirdly, advertisers are gun-shy and are uncertain how to reach people anymore. But these are problems that intelligent and visionary media executives need to tackle.
Unfortunately, the Australian media has never been overly blessed with those management attributes. And, as the behaviour of Fairfax shows clearly, it doesn’t look like much has changed – and I suggest that this is a bigger and more immediate threat than iPhones and iPads.
As panic selling gripped Australia’s stockmarket in recent weeks and our superannuation accounts tumbled again, I left the analysis for those more learned in such things.
But, enough is enough. The fact that Australia may be entering a second Global Financial Crisis - this time with the dead weight of a carbon tax holding us down, is sheer stupidity, obvious to all.
As respected writer, Gerard Henderson, commented “now, more than ever, tax and red tape” are an economic deathtrap”.
Writing in the National Times, Henderson pointed out that, if there was a second wave of the global financial crisis, Australia would be tackling it as one of the few nations in the world with a carbon tax — out there largely on its own for a country with a reliance on natural resources and only a small manufacturing base.
He highlights that our main competitors in the resources area such as Canada, Brazil, Russia and South Africa – not to mention the USA – do not have nationwide carbon tax or emissions trading schemes. Of course, it’s long been the bleedin obvious that the introduction of a carbon tax here would disadvantage Australia in competing with our major competitors.
Noted economist, Terry McCann, said that, to escape an economic crunch, Australia would need to rely on China continuing to boom.
If the economic crisis remained mild, McCann believes China would ride it through – and Australia could follow suit.
“But I’d suggest it would be impossible for China to not be dragged into, and to some extent, under, by a serious global financial meltdown.”
If McCann is correct on that last point, then the Gillard government is being handed a perfect excuse to offload the highly unpopular carbon tax and trading schemes.
Of course, the irony is that, should Australia escape the worst of the economic collapse, it can thank coal and other resources exports to China — all of which will be financially hit by an amateurish carbon tax from an out-of-touch government.
If it doesn’t escape the market meltdown, Henderson notes that Gillard is again caught by her own words : the government’s commitment to put the budget into surplus, if implemented, would rule out another large stimulus package.
Well done so-call Independent politicians, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, for getting the country in this fine mess. No wonder you’re less popular than the late but not lamented Osama Bin Laden.
It’s official: the Australian carbon tax plan is nothing more than a grubby money grab — and a particularly nasty one at that!
The draft legislation for the tax – all 340 pages of it – strips away any pretence that this is about ‘clean energy’, saving the environment for our grandchildren; reducing pollution; or preserving the Great Barrier Reef.
There’s nothing even remotely noble about this. The suggestions of wanting to improve our world were never more than barefaced lies — and now it’s proven for all to see.
The tax and its even more reckless offspring, a trading scheme, are nothing more than the next stage in tacky wealth redistribution – political garbage from faceless Canberra-centric bureaucrats and politicians who couldn’t hold a real job.
It’s all about taking more money out of your pocket – and redistributing it to Labor groupies. Fullstop. Nothing more. And the arrogance is breathtaking. If you don’t like this type of amateur social engineering, then there are McCarthy-era punitive measures to ram it down your throat - including the use of constitutional powers to force States to comply.
The sums are, of course, rubbery (the draft legislation is not even original – just a cut and paste job from a failed American experiment)
But the impact on regional areas, household costs, levels of poverty, and all our jobs will be nothing short of horrrendous. ‘Clean energy’ is code for you losing your job and paying more and more for everything you buy – until you can’t afford to buy it any more.
Farmers will be ripped off big time by the trading scheme, truckies may as well go bankrupt now, food, water and electricity costs will hit our wallets hard, and some of Australia’s most successful industries, mining, manufacturing, aluminium and power will be forced to retrench and retrench workers, while money pours overseas to dodgy carbon traders.
But, as in England, the most damaging aspect of this junk public policy will be hardship arising from increasing costs of household heating, cooling, groceries, clothing, cars, car running costs etc etc etc. And you will pay this — and keep on paying year after year, long after the government’s 30 pieces of silver (they call it ‘compensation’) is gone.
This is the most divisive thing ever done by an Australian government and it will tear the country in two for a generation or more.
Faith in science will never again be the same, feelings toward the United Nations and green issues will be harmed and a highly politicised public service will be a prime target.
And, from here on, every utterance this government makes, every slip-up, every adverse economic figure, every opinion poll, every unemployment statistic, every stock market drop, every investment withdrawal, every hurdle in developing renewable energy, will be seized on, publicised, promoted, spread like wildfire - until this government and its supporters are consigned to history.
Bring it on you shonks. Just don’t try to say that it has anything to do with the environment. Because this scum legislation has nothing to do with being noble and caring!
Green groups and Australia’s Federal Government regularly point to science to support their views in the carbon dioxide debate.
Yet, Greenpeace – one of the biggest Green lobby groups of them all – doesn’t seem to practice what it preaches.
Recently, a group of Greenpeace members broke into a government research station at Canberra and destroyed a trial plot of genetically modified wheat.
In doing so, they destroyed their own credibility as environmentalists and clearly demonstrated a nasty underbelly of the green movement. These so-called activists apparently reject the science of food modification, yet attack anyone who dares question the science about carbon dioxide.
It would seem to be a long way from the ‘caring-for-the-world’, ‘whale-loving’ and ‘tree-hugging’ image that the green lobby has painted for itself.
While the claims and counter-claims about whether carbon dioxide has any impact on our climate are widely questioned, the value of genetically modified food seems broadly accepted – by everyone except radical greens. And, how can that value be clarified one way or the other if crops are destroyed before they can be tested.
So, the next time that Greenpeace comments on some serious issue, think back to the Canberra stunt – and consider the organisation’s views in that light.
Those who want us to pay for a carbon tax often claim that scientists agree with them.
Well, another scandal surrounding the Inter-government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has cast more doubt on scientific methodology.
Last month, the IPCC issued a media release that started:
“Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies a new report shows”.
Soon afterwards, it was widely alleged that a key claim in the IPCC media release was remarkably similar to another by huge, multi-national activist organisation, Greenpeace.
Scientists widely called on the IPCC to confirm that one of its lead authors was, in fact, the same Greenpeace writer who had worked on the Greenpeace information.
The row kept growing with claims that the Greenpeace report had been jointly prepared with the European Renewable Energy Council, which describes itself as ‘the ‘umbrella organisation of the European renewable energy industry’ – in other words, an industry lobby group for sellers.
Dubbed the ‘Greenpeace Karaoke’ by critics, this comes on top of the Climategate affair and the so-called ‘Hockeystick debate’.
Oh yes, as the carbon tax debate hots up, the science behind it all sure is looking solid!