The Great Big Home Insulation Program Beat-up

We all know how the media can engineer a beat-up on almost any issue, but can anyone recall a more flagrant beat-up than we’ve seen around the Government’s Home Insulation Program?

It’s hard to determine whether this beat-up is groupthink gone ballistic, with almost everyone swept along by the media-generated frenzy, or whether it is serving another purpose – to demean the Government and those in it associated with the program, as part of a more widespread attack on the Rudd Government.  As so often is the case, it is probably both.

The events that have given the program a bad name are incontrovertible.  Four who were installing insulation funded by the scheme have died – three of electrocution and one of heat exhaustion; many houses have had fires that have been associated with insulation installation – the exact number is uncertain; and some of the insulation has been substandard or incorrectly installed.  Moreover, some installers have been shown to have doubtful qualifications, and some appear to be shonky operators who are in it for the money rather than providing a quality installation.  We also know that because the program was structured so that Government funding passed directly to the installer rather than the householder, the way was open for scams and fraud by unscrupulous operators, and the quality control function, instead of being exercised by the consumer, relied on monitoring at a state level.

It is these facts that have been propagated endlessly by the media embellished with the tragic overtones of deaths, fires, poor workmanship and rackets.  No one has minimized the tragedy for the affected individuals, their families or the community.  Such tragedies ought to have been respected; the fact that the media and the Opposition have exploited them ruthlessly is reprehensible. 

Most of the media has gone along with the line that the Government is to blame for the deaths, the fires and the shoddy workmanship.  It has insisted that ‘someone has to take the blame’ and what better target than a Government already in the media’s sights.  It insists someone must be punished, indeed it implies that such punishment is necessary to salve the pain of those affected.  The prime target was the responsible minister Peter Garrett, with his department not far behind and of course the Government and the PM as the ultimate targets.  When Garrett was relieved of responsibility for winding up the program and initiating its replacement, but still remained a Cabinet minister, that was not enough punishment for the media and the Opposition, not enough pain inflicted on Garrett to sooth the pain of the victims.  While in criminal matters it might be possible to understand victims wishing to see perpetrators who have personally inflicted on them pain and damage, physically punished in ‘an eye for an eye’ manner, it is harder to understand why victims of this program require punishment to be meted out to someone so remote from the ‘scene of the crime’. 

This is the media stream that has been aimed like water cannons at the public and the Government.  We’ve seen and heard the details endlessly, along with heart-rending stories designed to add a highly emotional element to the story.  I’ll refrain from repeating these stories here – you know them well enough.

Has any journalist shown the guts to expose the other side of the story, has any journalist had the patience to garner the salient facts and reveal them to a public already made sceptical by the torrent of adverse coverage day after day?  Yes, there have been just a few, a few to whom we should be grateful.  Sadly much of what they have had to say has not appeared in the MSM; rather it has been exposed in specialist publications or less read papers.  

In response to the Opposition’s invoking the principle of ministerial responsibility to insist that ‘Garrett must go’, Bernard Keane of Crikey wrote on 12 February Foiled logic: under Garrett rule, most ministers have blood on hands.  He said inter alia: “The crazy logic of the pursuit of Garrett is that he must take responsibility for the actions of everyone who has received Government funding, no matter how irresponsible they are in their own actions or their oversight of those for whom they’re responsible.  To take up Greg Hunt’s point about Westminster accountability, in the days when such principles meant something, a program like the insulation program would have been implemented by bureaucrats. That is, Government employees would have fanned out across the country, entering homes, climbing into ceilings and installing the stuff. It would have been done with remorseless bureaucratic efficiency, house by house, street by street.  Fortunately, Governments don’t work that way anymore. There are no standing armies of road builders or PMG workers or engineers. Programs are outsourced so that the private sector can do them, ostensibly more efficiently, certainly for lower cost.

”Somehow, though, Garrett is apparently responsible just as if an army of his bureaucrats were crawling through ceilings across the land. We've changed how we build infrastructure, but the political and media rhetoric is of another age. Responsibility has been transferred to the private sector, but not the political risk.

“This is another symptom of the great Australian conviction that governments are responsible for making their lives risk-free, that if something, somewhere goes wrong, regardless of whose fault it actually is, the Government is to blame. Done your money in a too-good-to-be-true investment scheme? Blame the regulator and the bank that lent you money. Mortgaged yourself to the hilt only to discover interest rates are going up? Blame the Government. Kids overweight? Blame the Government and the advertisers.”

In similar vein Keane wrote on Crikey on 23 February in The problems are bigger than Garrett.  He concluded: "Somehow the workplace deaths of four men have nothing to do with their employers who had a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace, and everything to do with a Labor Government program. Apparently it’s not the shonks' fault that the Government made money available and they rushed to take advantage, possibly putting at risk their employees along the way."

Fearless blogger Possum Comitatus of Crikey’s Pollytics began the rebuttal of the notion that house fires had increased under the program with Did the insulation program actually reduce fire risk? on February 24 that begins "Has the Garrett insulation scheme actually reduced the rate of installation caused fires? It’s a strange thing to say – well, it’s strange if you don’t think about it too hard. What we often forget is that Garrett’s insulation program dramatically increased standards in an industry where there were previously very few."  He concluded: “Under the Garrett insulation program, the rate is 1 in 11,828 – a much smaller rate of fires than what existed before the program.”  You’d need to read the whole analysis to understand the maths.   In his Crikey piece he says: “Let us be clear: the insulation scheme was only shut down after the Minter Ellison document became a pivotal issue, suggesting that Garrett not only failed to read a document back in April 2009 that seemingly highlighted every problem - both real and imagined - that has come to pass in the scheme, but that if he had read the Minter Ellison document and acted upon it, if he had followed the advice of Minter Ellison, homes would not have burned, people would not have died, the scheme would not have failed. It was definitive proof, so the media narrative went, that Garrett was a poster boy for ministerial incompetence writ large.”  Keane concluded: ““This Minter Ellison Risk Register was a report that, according to The Australian, ‘warned of an “extreme risk’ of house fires, fraud and poor quality installations”. On top of these frightening risks, The Australian stated that, “Peter Garrett was kept in the dark by his department about warnings it received that the home insulation scheme should be delayed for three months because of ‘extreme risks’.”  Possum finishes: “The only problem here is that this – and I mean all of this – is complete and utter bullsh-t.”

How much airplay did this well-argued rebuttal get in the MSM?  None that I saw.

In the February 27-28 issue of The Weekend Australian Financial Review, Geoff Winestock wrote in Insulation fears: more hype than actual fires: “Data from fire brigades and workers compensations supplied to the Weekend AFR casts doubt on opposition claims that the ceiling insulation program has caused a significant jump in the danger of house fires and industrial accidents, especially after adjusting for the massive jump in insulation use....Based on data from fire brigades in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and metropolitan Melbourne, the only ones with comparable data, the Weekend AFR has found that there were 115 house fires in 2009 that were caused by faulty insulation.  That may sound like a lot, but it was only slightly higher than the 75 house fires caused by faulty insulation in 2007, before the scheme was operating.  In the meantime, about 1.5 million houses have been fitted with insulation compared with an average of about 60,000 installations in 2007.  In terms of fires per installation, the risk has fallen dramatically.”

He goes on to say: “There are no statistics on whether installers were electrocuted before the program began, but it has always been dangerous work.”

The deaths are subject to coronial inquiry, but that has not stopped the media from concluding that the Government’s program is to blame and that Garrett is culpable, or as the Opposition asserts, he is guilty of ‘industrial manslaughter’.

Has any of the above been replicated in other papers, or been featured in the electronic media?  Not that I’m aware of – but please tell me if it has.

To add fuel to the already blazing insulation fire, house fires have been attributed to the installation of solar panels.  In Crikey on 18 February in Garrett fingered over dodgy solar panels, but story 'a beat up' it was stated, inter alia: “The ABC’s ‘investigation’ into solar panel installations has fingered the embattled environment minister for putting about 2000 homes at risk of electrical fire by incorrectly installing the panels. Garrett’s fortunes - already under fire over deadly home fires sparked by roof insulation – ‘appear to be going from bad to worse’ the AM program declared this morning.  But the firm charged with auditing solar panel installation - and used as the key source in last night’s Lateline story - calls the concerns a ‘beat-up’ and points out most were installed under the Howard Government.  A spokesperson for the Clean Energy Council (CEC) told Crikey ‘people are making it more political than what it is’. Of the thousands of solar panel installations sparked by the rebate scheme, none have caused a home fire.”

On February 19 Keane wrote in Peter Garrett and the perpetual present of politics.  "Here’s some examples of our political journalism mired in a sort of ‘perpetual present’ in which what happened two days ago, let alone two years ago, is forgotten.  And how once journalists get the smell of ministerial blood in their nostrils, the old higher brain functions start switching off and the pack instinct kicks in.  When Tony Abbott suggested last week that Peter Garrett could be charged with industrial manslaughter in NSW over one of the four deaths related to insulation installation, he should have been laughed out of town. Coming from a former health minister - how many people died from medical errors in Commonwealth-funded care then, Tony? - it was particularly absurd.”

Ross Gittins was one of the few MSM journalists to write a contrary view on the insulation program in the SMH in Libertarians silent on insulation bungle.  He says: “The government says one good thing to emerge from the disaster is that the insulation installation industry is now tightly regulated. It reminds us that deaths occurred in the industry before the subsidy was introduced, that employers had the usual duty of care to their workers and that the industry is covered by state occupational health and safety legislation.  But libertarians have never been enthusiastic about occupational safety laws and have long disapproved of licensing arrangements, which they believe are used by the industry to restrict supply.  And whatever happened to individuals accepting responsibility for their own affairs? What happened to caveat emptor and civil remedies? Isn't any of the blame to be shared by cowboy businessmen?”

On 26 February Bernard Keane seemingly in exasperation wrote on Crikey in Dear media -are we all vented now? 

“Dear Mainstream Media

"Feeling better now, are we? Finished your raging about the Government? Or does there yet remain some spleen unvented about ‘insulation debacles’, ‘bungling Ministers’ and of course those four deaths that you couldn't care less about but that provide such a handy hook for efforts to bring our highhanded, manipulative and arrogant Prime Minister down a notch or two?”

The whole piece is worth a read.

There may be others with the courage to take a contrary view to the bulk of the MSM and the electronic media, but I have seen few.  Please post any other you know in comments.

As Bernard Keane said: ...once journalists get the smell of ministerial blood in their nostrils, the old higher brain functions start switching off and the pack instinct kicks in.”  He’s right.  What we have seen from most of those who have commented in the MSM and on radio and TV is a disgraceful disregard for the truth, an obsession with destroying a minister with spurious assertions, and an unremitting attack on the Government and the PM.  Their pieces have been devoid of many of the salient facts, poorly argued, filled with contaminating emotion, laced with vicious sarcasm and vitriol, and of a journalistic standard that disgraces what ought to be an honourable profession.  Worst of all they seem unconcerned that they have thereby brought their craft into disrepute to such an extent that people are avoiding their columns and their outlets and looking to the Fifth Estate of the alternative media and the blogosphere for truthful content and balanced opinion.

What we have witnessed over the last fortnight is a grotesque Great Big Home Insulation Program Beat-up.

During QT in parliament and last night on Q&A we saw Peter Garrett explaining the actions he had taken over the insulation scheme.  Did he sound convincing to you, did his actions seem reasonable, his arguments plausible?  Or did he sound like a typically devious politician?  

What do you think?

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john Ryan

3/03/2010Dear BB and Ad Astra,sorry its just I don't tolerate fools gladly,Sir Ian Crisp is correct I worked in the Building industry as a carpenter,also drove trucks and was a bouncer in clubs and pubs. So I tend to call a spade a bloody shovel,I loath Abbott and anyone that supports him I think Abbott if in some god forsaken disaster ever gets to be PM of Australia he will turn the clock back to the worst elements of the Howard years,the lies,the obscuration,the determined attempt to destroy the Unions, 11yrs that man was in power and he gave the pensioners nothing except when he thought he was a goner that is Abbott as well. It was left up to Rudd to try and correct the massive neglect of the Howard year while his mates in Mandrilla,his brother and anyone with money was treated royally,middle class welfare was raised to an art form,I also think that if Abbott gets in we will go further down the US road there are people starving in the US and that's what the Liberals here want,they aint interested in people just money for their mates. We have a prime example of it in WA with Barnett,introduce laws that are unjust and unfair,attacking lawyers, judges ect if they don't fall into line,pay a huge bribe to the Nats (thought to Labours shame they tried to as well),put incompetents and Thatcher retreads in charge of the Police dep,and what do the Libs bring in laws that have failed, the ASBOs and stop and search for no reason,laws that are being repealed in the UK. I also canceled the Australian after reading it since 1975,I now read the SMH online,so again sorry to you BB and Ad Astra,but I,m buggered if I will apologize to YMBK,you want to swim in the sewer old son don't be surprised if you get bitten.

Blyfu

3/03/2010John, I think you find Labor looks after its mates too. Care to enlighten us with your erudite views on the appointment of Mike Kaiser to a $450K pa job with no formal application process ?

BK

3/03/2010AA A superb piece. The combination of laziness (aided and abetted by rapacious MSM proprietors) and pack mentality have prevented the facts and an intelligent analysis of them from being presented to the populace. The shock jocks are merely amplifiers.

janice

3/03/2010John Ryan, I share your sentiments. Blyflu, so you think Mike Kaiser doesn't have the skills to carry out that position or is it just that you think no Labor person is fit to hold any position for which he/she may be qualified? After Howard got into office there was widespread purging of Labor personnel from the public service and our National Broadcaster was stacked with rightwing ideologues. Even the Judiciary Appointments were carefully selected from rightwing candidates. All diplomatic postings were taken from ex coalition politicians. Now, on the other hand, there was no purging of the public service when Labor came to office. We have seen nice cushy jobs given to ex coalition MPs such as Nelson and Costello which is something that would never have been countenanced by the conservative parties. Is it any wonder then that rational thinking people find your warped views to be hypocritical? Is it any wonder that people lose patience and become frustrated when such a diabolical anti-labor campaign is being waged by the media in support of a far-right faction that has silenced the voices of the rational moderates within the Liberal Party? Perhaps you need to climb a box tree and join YMBK in meditation and soul searching.

janice

3/03/2010I cannot recall ever seeing such a diabolical campaign waged against an elected government. It is not a matter of "groupthink" though it may have started out that way. What we are seeing now is a concerted, focused effort by the rabid far right to silence the views of rational thinkers. I don't know about anyone else, but I submit comments to every article that allows comments from the public yet find not one makes it. Why? Because only those who agree with the author or the biased view he/she puts is accepted and published. I note there are very few comments putting a different view get published. It is, I think, part of the rightwing rationale that the bigger the beatups and the longer they can be held in the face of the voting public, the more chance there is of more seeds of discontent being planted. It is a form of brainwashing the public. It is also a very difficult tactic to counteract because in this country Murdoch owns a huge percentage of media outlets and Howard saw to it that the ABC was infiltrated to become just another arm of Murdoch's msm.

Ostermann

3/03/2010Ad As usual an excellent piece, I grew up in Canberra and after 20 years was given time off for good behaviour, during that time I saw the wholesale destruction of the public service, and the transition from Federally supported city to self determination, very much a unique experience. In 1998 or 99 the then Territory Minister decided to blow up the old Canberra Hospital and make a public spectical out of it everybody was invited, it went horribly wrong a 12 year girl was killed by a piece on debris, who was responsible?, the Chief Minister or the outsourced contractors, remember by this time the public service departments that would ordinarily be responsible for this task no longer existed, after a long enquiry and calls for the minister head it was found to be the responsibily of the contractor who took on the task of setting the explosives, they used untrained personel to set the explosives, who didn't fully grasp what they were actually doing. So in a nutshell Garrett can't be responsible for exactly the same reasons, even if by precident if not anything else. As for the MSM and the opposition well there is that great symbiotic relationship going on, those Great Apes picking flees of each other, that Richard Lamm once quoted and Laurie Oakes makes reference to. For the opposition it will be policy on the run as they haven't got any they cant use Howards successfully because they were Howards not Liberal Party those who scream the loudest have very little to say, objectionism is a sign of not being able to offer alternatives and therefore lacks credibilty. Which brings me to the MSM, What sells newspapers?, and sadly auntie is now wanting to dip her toes into the commercial world, fears of selloff or lack of funding, Howard once proposed that the ABC should support itself and I think that mentality still runs throught the place. Who can still hear the Howard dog whistles even today Yes my friends as Dylan famously wrote the times they are a changin' http://www.metrolyrics.com/the-times-they-are-achangin-lyrics-bob-dylan.html

Ad astra reply

3/03/2010john Ryan I take your points and agree with most of what you say. No, you don’t have to apologize to YMBK. We have a variety of opinion expressed here from all sides of the political spectrum, sometimes quite vigorously, but I hope we can be courteous to each other, avoid shooting the messenger, play the issue rather than the person, and use moderate language. I do hope you will return and continue to ‘call a spade a bloody shovel’. BH Thank you for your kind words. What a nice metaphor – shock jocks as amplifiers. janice It’s always good to read your down-to-earth comments. ‘Brainwashing’ is a good descriptor for what the Murdoch press seems to be attempting. Knowing how it operates this has become par for the course. What is most distressing to me is the way Our ABC seems to be taking its cues from the tabloid media. We deserve better.

You must be kidding

3/03/2010Let's see AA ... such a brilliant piece. It's a media beat up and we are lesser human beings because we are brainwashed. Just brilliant. You leave some "facts" out of your brilliant piece. For starters let us consider a very important fact and indeed the most important ... you seem to have forgotten it. The Rudd Government announced $2.4 BILLION scheme ... to do what? Apparently to ensure employment is okay during the GFC. So that’s $2.4 BILLION to be spent on insulation to do what again? Save jobs, create opportunity and what ...? So the government pours $2.4 Billion into an established market WITHOUT any criteria, regulations or fail safe mechanisms. Even your correspondent John with his hatred of all things Liberal would not be as liberal with his own money ... but wait it was his money. So the government pours $2.4 Billion into a flawed scheme. What did you expect to happen ?... if you consider previous flawed schemes such as regional funding, the Sports Rorts or any other snout in the trough government program what do you expect? The underlining point must be if you are going to give taxpayer money away ... that’s $2.4 Billion ... or for the sake of some of your contributors $2,400,000,000,000of taxpayer’s money ... one would think it wasn’t brainwashing to consider having some controls ... some checks and balances in place before you give it away ... you would have to agree with that notion surely? The fact that the Minister and his department did not put in place sufficient checks and balances to ensure the $2.4 Billion was invested wisely is an extremely important point and perhaps one we should all be concerned about. Once money goes into a market without controls then the spivs and shonks appear and we all know this ... this then undermines the market ... so without control we have a huge potential for trouble. And trouble with a capital T followed. Now surely it is not the Minister’s fault that things go wrong if the controls are in place in the first place BUT when he was warned some 19 times, his Department provided advice in April from Minter Ellison not to go ahead unless there a checks and balances ... well who is responsible if they do? Apparently in your so called brilliant piece it is the media who is at fault here... and of course those others that criticise the outcomes. The fact is we have had deaths, fires, property damage, continued uncertainty and indeed we have cancelled the program. Combet is now in charge to ensure those houses insulated are now safe ... more money to be spent to ensure the first monies were spent properly (do you see anything wrong with this process) and if we are to return to the program it will have greater controls ... something blind Freddie would have ensured in the first place. To suggest this is a beat up is to miss the entire point ... you are too close to the politics and need to step back ... as the PM did and call a spade a spade. The disasters happened ... why ... the spivs ... how did they get involved ... no control ... of what ... easy money ... why was there easy money ... the government was giving it away in a flawed program. Who’s fault would that be? You suggest brilliantly the media ... what the? What was supposed to create employment has killed a market. Now are we brainwashed to understand that it’s all the media’s fault. We have 750 (or thereabouts hospitals) If we had spent $100,000,000 on each in capital building expenditure instead we would have had; change, jobs created, better hospitals, better ROI and less community damage. That is not a media beat up ... just an obvious observation. Beat ups ... there are so many over the last 20 years ... Keating’s piggery comes to mind. But that beat up which was worse than this fiasco was based on zero facts. Unfortunately for your so called brilliant argument there are facts a plenty.

Ad astra reply

3/03/2010Ostermann Thank you for reminding me of the tragic sequel to the demolition of the old Canberra Hospital. I remember that episode well, but was not aware of the legal outcome. It is a remarkable parallel to the insulation issue, and reinforces the point made by some of the journalists quoted in the piece that it is untenable to hold Peter Garrett responsible for the deaths and the fires. Even the Opposition would not be able to really believe the ‘industrial manslaughter’ accusation; it was purely political opportunism aimed at scoring a political point and winning a handful of votes. We know that, they know that, but the charade goes on. Thank you too for the words to Bob Dylan’s [i]The Times They Are A-changin/i]. I was struck by the words [i]“Don’t criticise what you can’t understand”[/i]. The Opposition ought to take those words seriously; today Joe Hockey and Peter Dutton are out declaring that the yet-to-be-announced health and hospitals reform program of the Rudd Government will not work, even before they have seen it. It takes a measure of genius or clairvoyance to appraise something sight unseen. Our ABC ought to be a bastion against the marauding tabloid hordes, but whoever is determining its news and current affairs policy seems to be aligning the ABC with the tabloids and entering into competition with them for scoops, ‘exclusives’, striking headlines, and disingenuous representation of events, all in the pursuit of celebrity and ratings. Factual reporting is suffering, especially in its online news services, and the line between fact and opinion is becoming blurred, particularly in news and current affairs reporting. This is why we in the blogosphere must persist in our efforts to call Our ABC to account for its policies and [i]modus operandi[/i]. The MSM is a very hard nut to crack, but we might have success with Our ABC.

Ostermann

3/03/2010Ad I think Bernard Keane's article yesterday reflects your sentiments about Auntie http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/02/balance-without-judgement-your-abc/

BH

3/03/2010What do I think? AA, excellent but I think you should send this to every Press Gallery journo. They need a lesson in balance.

Sir Ian Crisp

3/03/2010John Ryan, you need to have a wider view of things. Yes America does have poverty and some people in America are in real need but America also has an annual foreign aid bill of US$25 billion. If America was to abandon its foreign aid commitment and spend that US$25 billion at home poverty would probably be eliminated. Unfortunately Amnesty International and other NGOs dictate what the USA should give in foreign aid. Parenthetically, China, a country doing well at the moment, gives little in foreign aid. Meeting on December 12, 2006, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace mentioned that China gives about $2.7 billion in foreign aid, up from $100 million a decade prior.

Ad astra reply

3/03/2010YMBK It seems to me that your argument hinges on whether or not proper safeguards were put in place when the insulation program was implemented. You opinion is expressed by your words: [i]” So the government pours $2.4 Billion into an established market WITHOUT any criteria, regulations or fail safe mechanisms.”[/i] You must by now know that this assertion is simply not correct. There were already regulations and OH&S provisions governing an existing industry, which has been placing insulation in roofs for years, with similar adverse outcomes in the form of house fires. You must have heard what Peter Garrett said about what he had done to ready the program for a big expansion, and the actions he took as problems were brought to the attention of his department. Yet you dismiss this with your words. Reading your comments exposes how successful the media beat-up has been – you appear to have taken the media bait with its alluring spin, hook, line and sinker. You regurgitate the oft-publicized lines of the MSM, seemingly in an uncritical way. What this episode has taught us is that to keep the shonks out when there's money to be had is problematic, and enforcement of regulations and OH&S rules needs close supervision, as too many are prepared to break the rules in pursuit of the dollars. It appears that Garrett’s department was not geared administratively to cope with such a rapid and large uptake of what has been, apart from the acknowledged problems, a successful program. I note that you have not addressed whether in your view Garrett should be held responsible for the deaths and fires and should therefore be sacked. You object to the use of the term ‘beat-up’. Taking into account all the misinformation, the incomplete information, the misrepresentations by the media, particularly of the Minter-Ellison reports, the disingenuous reporting of the actions Garrett and his department took, the colourful and pejorative language consistently used in reportage, and the uniformity of the Murdoch journalists’ thrust, what other label would better suit? Please give us a lead. You say I miss the point. Let me return the compliment. You seem to be missing the point if you’re saying that I’m blaming the media for the problems that have occurred in the insulation program. That is ridiculous. You know that is incorrect, or if you don’t, please read it again. Finally, you can make your points without your sarcasm about the ‘brilliance’ of my piece.

janice

3/03/2010You are so right that we deserve better from the ABC, Ad astra. I would dearly to love to know who or what section of the ABC is responsible for determining its news and current affairs policy. Who, or what section, is allowing ABC reporters a free hand at presenting bias, mis-information and sloppy reporting. As it stands at this point in time, those of us who take the time to complain are either ignored or fobbed off with a letter of no consequence that more or less is saying mind your own business. We need an Ombudsman or someone with "great big teeth" to take our complaints and force our national broadcaster to take notice, explain and take appropriate action to return to factual, unbiased reporting. The ABC is owned by the people of Australia, funded with taxpayer revenue and therefore must be answerable to the people. We need those within the ABC who are driving the coach to line up and be put under the same scrutiny as our government and then let's subject them to the same treatment they dish out to our politicians. The ABC, its personnel and reporters, must be made to realise that they are not a private media outlet, are not paid by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and that Australians, as their employers, are entitled to expect exemplary standards of news and current affairs.

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010YMbK wrote: [i]What was supposed to create employment has killed a market. Now are we brainwashed to understand that it’s all the media’s fault. We have 750 (or thereabouts hospitals) If we had spent $100,000,000 on each in capital building expenditure instead we would have had; change, jobs created, better hospitals, better ROI and less community damage. That is not a media beat up ... just an obvious observation. [/i] There is still a market out there for reputable operators. New homes (which do not qualify for stimulus money) are still being built. The operators in the insulation industry had a market before and they still have one. The stimulus program allowed operators - both legitimate and shonky - to make hay while the sun shone, to the tune of one million-plus installations. The mainstream operators joined in the good times as well as the shonks. They made more money in one year than they would have made in five. It was a great industry to be a part of. The scheme targeted unskilled employees and you could say one of its virtues was that it needed no comprehensive planning, just an expansion of supply (i.e. employment and supplier companies) to meet the new demand. If your side of politics had had its way no-one would have gotten a single job out of the insulation scheme, because there wouldn't have been one. Now, of course, you bleat about the loss of jobs, but which is better... to have had a job and lost it (at least temporarily), or never to have had a job at all? As to the lives lost, it seems that previous OH&S standards were maintained and even improved upon. It seems somewhat cold-blooded to bring up proportions like that when talking about human lives, but as you and your pals brought it up first, I suppose we can continue along those lines. We do not know exactly what caused the deaths. We do not know whether the people who died were working for shonks or mainstream installers. We do not know whether the dead workers were informed of their OH&S obligations (every state has and always has had specific insulation OH&S guidelines, including ones designed to avoid electrocution and electrical house fires) and ignored them anyway. Your assertion (and it is just that) is that they were working for shonks. Let's find out shall we, before we start pointing fingers? But of course finding out the facts would spoil the theme of your argument - that Garrett was responsible for anything and everything that happened that was bad - and because nothing good came of the scheme, he stands doubly condemned. You want a quick kill, as did the media, too long deprived of a ministerial scalp. Hardly any of the schenme's critics made the slightest attempt to find out the facts of the matter, it would have spoiled the perfect streamlining of the bandwagon they had built up. Of the few who did, who actually [i]looked at the data[/i], all found that things were not so bad at all, in fact OH&S had improved compared to pre-stimulus industry standards and results. You have also, in the past, harped on about the 19 warnings. But these warnings (some of which were just doubled-up versions of others) [i]were[/i] heeded. No program is risk-free. Minter Ellison were employed to brainstorm the proposed scheme and come up with as assessment of the risks, no matter how remote. Most of their recommendations were accepted and acted upon before the scheme started up. Yet all we hear about from you are the warnings, not the positive responses to those warnings which, it seems, made the insulation industry [i]safer[/i] not more dangerous than before. You write about wasted money. This scheme employed thousands of people who otherwise would have been struggling for employment. That in itself is a good result. But it also supported the employees' families and boosted the economy in a time of trial. It will also pay an environmental and further economic dividend (in the form of reduced power bills) down the track. But I suppose if you don't believe there [i]was[/i] a GFC, if you don't believe it's good for workers' to have a job, and if you don't believe in Climate Change, then none of this matters. The Opposition, the media and the insulation "peak bodies" (mostly self-interested manufacturers' clubs, styling themselves as "peak bodies") all yelled and screamed for a stop to the scheme. When they got their way they screamed and yelled... the scheme had been stopped! All the people the Opposition geniuses didn't want to have jobs in the first place suddenly became the "suffering victims" of Peter Garrett. There is no satisfying some people, especialy a right-wing kibbitzer in full flight. Why don't you admit it, YMbK. No matter what the government does you think it's wrong. You don't believe in any of its goals and you belittle its achievements as make-work or a waste of money. If the government had not acted on the GFC and we had reached the projected 8% unemployment you'd be screaming about that too (as Joe Hockey and Turnbull did with their "Rudd Recession" mantra, until they completely switched horses mid-stream and claimed there never [i]had[/i] been a recession). To have spent the money on hospitals or any other long-term project would have been too slow. Speed was of the essence. There was no time for comprehensive planning, which made insulation stimulus the perfect vehicle for stimulus money. School projects were another. Sure some money was wasted. In such large projects involving haste this has to be balanced against the greater - much greater - good of saving poples' lives and boosting our economy in time of need. Look at Spain, Greece, Britain even the USA... their stimulus packages were either too little or too late. They are still suffering, demonstrably. The government's stimulus plan involves three stages: the payment of cash money (the $900 bonuses for all taxpayers) which was a pure gift, but a necessary one to keep the wheels on. Next came the targeted stimulus packages for school and insulation. These were not just gifts, but schemes designed to put in place some long-lasting benefits while creating employment in the short term. Finally we have thebig infrastructure spends: ports, roads, the new optical fibre internet network and many others. These last projects take time. If we had waited for them to be fully planned and assessed we'd be a basket case economy right now. The aspect of all this that you hate is that the three-stage plan [i]worked[/i]. Australia is the envy of just about every other country in the developed world. It worked, and you can't stand to admit it. I'll concede that Howard left the economy in reasonably good condition (with quibbles about strictural weakness to one side). But it was Rudd who had to solve the problem by directing the economy in the best way possible. There is no point saving for a rainy day if you are not prepared to spend the money when that rainy day comes. The Opposition would not have spent it. They have told us this many times. They would therefore not have created one job, [i]as a matter of policy[/i]. If Work Choices had been in place we would have had mass (and I mean [i]huge[/i]) sackings, unfair or otherwise. Our whole economy wold have contracted in a self-sustaining vortex of doom and gloom leading to more misery as confidence evaporated. Rudd's job was to spend Australia's reserve money wisely. That there were risks is undeniable. That those risks were successfully balanced against the reward is to Rudd's credit, not his detriment.

You must be kidding

3/03/2010BB You really should get across some facts when it comes to the GFC and the stimulus package. Let's just go through it to help you a little more shall we ... The RBA reduced interest rates siginificantly in September, October, November and December 2008. The usual acceptance is that a change to fiscal control takes around 3 - 6 months to flow through the economy ... so the changes in September 2008 would be seen in figures perhaps in February 2009. And they were ... increasing benefits from that time. The Rudd Government in October 2008 announced a stimulus package. The first part of that package was a cash payment to families, pensioners and others (possibly self funded retirees). Depending on how many children a family had or indeed the circumstance that family was faced with financially ... payments thus varied. Indeed many got more than a $1000 ... some families received greater than $4,000. Most payments were sent in December but very late and even January. Too late for any significant change to pre Christmas trade. The PM wanted the money to be spent ... that was his instruction ... but unfortunately they didn't listen to him and many paid off credit cards. (Confirmed by figures) The next part of the program was the construction phase which indeed was orginally part of the education revolution but mostly to keep the construction sector working. In February Rudd announced the home insulation program to create jobs. At that time there were early signs of recovery as the economy was not performing as predicted. Indeed unemployment was not increasing and consumers were begiining to reenter the market. In April the $900 payments were made to most but not all Australians ... no that's wrong ... to most taxpayers from the previous year. So if you paid tax and you hadn't earned more than a certain amount you received the money. Unfortunately dead folks and indeed international travelers who casually worked received money. The economy at that time was showing stronger signs of recovery and indeed I am fairly sure that it has improved since. Remembering that full employment is 5% unemployment and we started the GFC below 5% it was a little extreme to be predicting unemployment would get to 8%. Given the difficulty in getting staff prior to the GFC most employers decided to make arrangements with staff (under flexible terms incidently) to retain most. And as we recover even further that has been a good decision by most employers. Those employers that shed staff were mostly in the financial sector and those that if they could close something ... such as a mine they would. Most did not. Question ... if the recover came much earlier and indeed another way of saying that is, if the GFC was not as bad as predicted why are we still spending money on a stimulus package when unemployment is close to 5%? So if you retained your job and have a mortgage and children you would be far better off now than you were in September 2008. AA talks of OH&S regulations and indeed so does BB which really is a blame shift from the Feds to the States. Bottomline though, if there was no insulation program there would not have been the problems associated with the fraudulent practices. If the feds had insisted on accountability, registration, perhaps payment to the household, then we may not have been in this mess. It's not OH&S that lays batts across rafters, it's the spivs that came into the program becuase it was easy money. Who is to blame for that ... AA BB et al please explain ... just who you think is responsible for the spivs coming into the program? Even you both knowledgable folks should concede that easy money will attract the spivs and the only Department that released the money is the Department of Environment. The very same Department that released the Sports Rorts funding. As was the case with Sports Rorts where the Minister took responsibility perhaps the Minister should have on this occasion. He didn't but the PM did and thus stripped him of further responsibility. There's an old cliche ... never let the facts get in the way of a good story ... you both write a good story

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3/03/2010Ostermann Thank you for the [i]Crikey[/i] link – a great piece by Bernard Keane that I’ve filed for future use in discussions on Our ABC. BH I guess I should send it off the Press Gallery, but I would not want to be seen as presumptuous. I hope, and suspect, that some of them take a peak at [i]TPS[/i] anyway. Judging by the steady increase in visits this year, a lot of new visitors are – journalists may be among them. janice I don’t know if there is an ombudsman-type person to whom we can complain. Until we can identify one, I suppose we will just have to keep hammering the ABC via its complaints line. This afternoon Kevin Rudd launched the most far reaching reform of hospitals and health services in several decades. There were literally dozens of aspects that could have been addressed by Our ABC, but what were the online news headlines: [i]Rudd's hospital overhaul to cost states $50b[/i] Online political correspondent Emma Rodgers went on to say [i]“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has unveiled a sweeping national plan to take control of Australia's hospital funding by clawing back $50 billion of GST revenue from the states and territories."[/i] Of all the positive things she could have said in her headline and her first paragraph, she chose to highlight the ‘clawing back’ of GST funds, thereby giving a distorted picture of what the reform was designed to do and how it was to be funded. It is as if she said “How can I work a negative angle into this announcement”, rather than “How can I inform the public about the main elements of the reform in a few well chosen words.” She went on to outline the reforms, but her headline had already warped what readers might understand about it. Check it out at http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/03/2834814.htm BB Thank you for yet another lucid exposition of the circumstances of the insulation program, and more widely the Government’s stimulus program in response to the GFC. It will be interesting to see whether YMbK acknowledges your well-made points, or whether he returns to repeat the worn-out mindless mantras the media and the Opposition have been mouthing for the last fortnight. His response will be diagnostic.

You must be kidding

3/03/2010AND ANOTHER THING BB wrote this ... Finally we have thebig infrastructure spends: ports, roads, the new optical fibre internet network and many others. These last projects take time. If we had waited for them to be fully planned and assessed we'd be a basket case economy right now. The aspect of all this that you hate is that the three-stage plan worked. Australia is the envy of just about every other country in the developed world. It worked, and you can't stand to admit it. You are absolutely sure that a $43,000,000,000 for the NBN makes us the envy of the world ... the NBN without a business plan, without a risk assessment developing old technology ... you really think we should be proud of this? $43 BILLION without a plan ... seems that not only do you have rose coloured glasses but you think it is fine to play fast an loose with the money till. BB ... just how an when do you think we will pay for this roll out ($43 BILLION)... who will pay for it? ... and given the technology will be over run with wireless where do you see the ROI? Come on folks ... get your conspiracy theories out of the way, your bias and apply your obvious intelligence to this equation ... where is the money?

mick smetafor

3/03/2010you know,the sad thing about this affair is that it is the msm version of events that will become the official and true version for the vast majority.i think the government has been a bit too complacent in many areas and not sold it's achievements as howards lot did.maybe the high polling had something to do with this.we need to see more of gillard and tanner as they seem to me to be able to explain their message more effectively.

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010I'm wondering when the Opposition and its hacks will start on the "Health reform is just a way of distracting the public from the insulation debacle" line? We've already seen P. Costello this morning in Fairfax spouting the "If they can't run an insulation scheme how are they going to run the Health system" line. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/federalrun-health-another-batty-idea-20100302-pg6q.html . Costello also lets us know that when [i]he[/i] was Treasurer he scotched a nearly identical scheme, put forward as a Climate Change measure rather than a Stimulus measure. [i]"I was against it. I couldn't see why those taxpayers who had paid to insulate their own homes should subsidise insulation for those who hadn't. The subsidy would only increase the value of a private asset - the private home. Secondly, I could not see how the Commonwealth could hope to manage a scheme to insulate millions of homes with thousands of private contractors when it had no staff with experience to design and supervise such a scheme."[/i] His first point is purely ideological, and has nothing to do with Economic Stimulus. If we worried too much about who would be jealous of whom in stimulus spending deliberations, then nothing would ever get done. His second point is superficially more relevant, but only superficially. Extrapolated to general policy areas, it asserts that unless the government can provide public servants with [i]hands-on[/i] practical experience, it shouldn't fund anything. I wonder whether the Commonwealth has staff to build school halls? Or whether it has staff to build railways, or black spot bypasses? Perhaps there are brain surgeons in the public service who can attend, or even assist at any operating theatre in the country? Or pilots who can fly a 747 just as well as any QANTAS captain? Can someone remind me what - when elected to government in 1996 - were Peter Costello's qualifications to run the nation's economy? He couldn't have relied on his Treasury staff, because as we are often reminded, they are all Labor hacks, with Ken Henry the Hack-In-Chief. Costello is, thankfully, a has-been, safe (again) in a sinecured government job, free to bleat how he could'a been a contender, if only... He tries to take the credit for thinking up the Insulation Scheme and also to take the credit for scotching it. What a genius! Back to the Beat Up... one of the things I have been afraid of is that Insulation will be used by the Opposition as a talisman for general failure of the Rudd government. This is why I thought it was important for Rudd [i]not[/i] to concede too much about the alleged failure of the scheme, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The scheme was, in the overwhelming majority of installations, a success in its stated aims, not a failure. But just as a few scattered complaints (most of them resolved) on the Schools stimulus plan were used to tar the whole scheme as a "failure", now we have the Insulation scheme trumped up as a symbol of the same thing. In truth, both of these schemes have had problems, predictable problems, that had to be both balanced against the potential benefits and risk-minimised by proactive action on behalf of the ministers concerned. Ross Gittins speculates a "95%" success rate. I think it is more, much more. My disappointment was that Rudd let these successful projects be written off as failures. Choosing to play defence rather than attack, Rudd and his colleagues let the detractors take them apart piecemeal, to create an impression of total failure by a beaten up bootstrapping campaign. But what of Costello? His concept of pre-Scheme neighbour against post-Scheme neighbour, worrying about the value of their houses is typical of the Coalition's petty-mided approach to national problems. Why worry about jobs when real estate fixtures are at stake? This, of course, from the man who presided over the First Home Buyers' Scheme, which would have added a lot more to the value of housing than a few pink batts in the roof. Better to have homes undercooled or overheated, to spend billions more on electricity bills, to pump millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, to have thousand of unskilled workers unemployed (and under Work Choices!) than to allow batt envy to take hold in every street. If any article reveals the bankrupt ideology of the Coalition deep thinkers it is this one. The Liberals [i]had an insulation plan[/i] (Turnbull's, in fact, no wonder he didn't criticise Rudd's) and they knocked it on the head [i]because some people would have felt envious of their neighbours[/i]. Costello's ideology in a nutshell: government shouldn't fund anything because public servants are not rocket scientists or brain surgeons, and anyway, people not receiving benefits will get jealous of those who did. What a bankrupt, small minded attitude towards good governance. No wonder they say Costello has no ticker.

You must be kidding

3/03/2010AA Speaking of diagnostic ... the PM today announced a plan for Health. He said it was the first part of the process of reform. His major pitch was the funding. He said unless we take over the funding then health will cost too much. He then said that the Feds will fund 60% which assumes the states will provide the other 40%. If the states do not then what happens ... as is the case now ... I suspect the patient will be required to pay something as we are required to do at the doctors now. He also said that he would take 30% of the GST to pay for it. This is a fact, can't deny it. The only point about that is thta the original legislation on GST said that it was to be used solely by the states. If he is using GST for health why not something else ... like disability services He left unopen on detail as to how the new program will be structured, who will make the funding decisions and how priorities will be determined across the country. He said there will not be a gross increase in staff to run the operation and indeed those staff left would most likely be deployed to the regions (Health networks) where staff will be housed at hospitals. Obvious creating a logistic issue. So here's a couple of questions for you:... Will there be job losses? Who will determine the price of the new medical services? And what happens if the hospital can't get the service at the figure the government wants ... as is the case with GPs Will waiting lists reduce without an increase to staff? Given a promise of a hospital bed will this be a disincentive for private health users and thus adding more patients to the public system? So many questions ... and explained so little by this announcement. Firstly the PM needs the states to agree. If they don't then he goes to a referendum? If he is not successful at referendum and let's face it referenda historically are not successful ... what will he do then given the buck stops with him and he wants to end the blame game. Let's all be positive about ending the double funding structures we have now with health but the PM has raised more questions than he has answered. Given he promised this announcement more than 6 months ago ... and he announced the education issue yesterday and the terrorist issue last week ... cynic in me tells me he is trying hard to get positive messages back out into the electorate. I suspect as we begin to look more closely at the announcement and its complexity the politics will take over ... three state elections this year plus the feds ... I suspect there will be be many more words written about this reform ... Such an important reform yet the doubt already is beginning to show as you outlined.

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3/03/2010YMBK As I predicted your response is diagnostic. I wonder whether it will be possible to move your opinion at all. Still let’s try. You place considerable emphasis on spivs and shonks, some of whom saw an opportunity for quick money and got themselves registered. It would have been better if there had been the resources to monitor their registration and activity more closely. States and OH&S authorities have been monitoring for years, but the success of the scheme in attracting over a million households to request insulation in 2009 made monitoring so much more difficult. Monitoring a million installations is somewhat of a different task from, for example, monitoring the 60,000 in 2007. But tell us what you would have done and how you would have done it so as to avoid the problems that occurred. Please don’t tell us you would not have run the program – that is too easy a solution. Tell us also whether you have any evidence that it was the employees of the shonks who suffered electrocution or heat exhaustion. Tell us whether there were more fires resulting from the installations carried out by the shonks than by reputable operators. It stands to reason that this might be so, but I haven’t seen any data on this. Yet it’s important, because only if you can establish that much of the blame for the deaths and fires can be properly laid at the feet of the shonks, can you logically blame those who registered them. Finally you say: [i]“...if there was no insulation program there would not have been the problems associated with the fraudulent practices”.[/i] But there has been a program for years; are you saying there have been no fraudulent practices until the Home Insulation Program came along? There certainly have been fires, indeed a higher proportion per thousand installations [i][b]before[/i][/b] the program began. You have a fragile argument to defend.

Ad astra reply

3/03/2010YMBK You do have a long list of Government misdeeds. Has it done anything right at all? Anything? Regarding the NBN, may I suggest you stop mouthing the ‘no business plan’ mantra the Opposition created long ago, and just see what eventuates? The NBN will open up possibilities not yet dreamed about. In the field of medicine there is a real possibility of surgery being carried out in remote areas by a city surgeon. Imagine that. There will be hundreds of other applications. Try stretching your imagination, your vision. So what should the Government do? Nothing, since it costs money? Nothing until the business plan is worked through in fine detail when this project is one that will need continually evolving business plans? It makes me smile when you insist on business plans – do you mean like the one John Howard drew up on the back of an envelope for the Murray Darling water plan? People in glass houses... Now you’re onto the just-announced hospitals and heath plan. What a recital of negatives. What a mountain of hurdles you see ahead. Perhaps we should just let things roll along as they are and save ourselves the difficulty of changing the system – [i]laissez faire[/i] Is there anyone in Australia that is fully satisfied with our health system? If you asked a hundred people if it should be ‘fixed’, how many would say ‘No’? So we can get into Opposition negative mode and knock every attempt to reform the system, or try to do something. Health care personnel have been urging change for decades – now we have sporting chance of making those changes. But judging from the utterances of the Opposition so far, and from what you say, which I expect mirrors Opposition attitudes, the Government is going to have to fight every inch of the way against a conservative group of people who fondly believe that, like the free market, the health system will fix itself. The Opposition has opposed ‘more bureaucracy’ but that is not what is planned. Will Tony Abbott see that the area networks are like his local boards? Do you? Will he give support to that? If past form the Opposition, and all who support it is a guide, it will make it as difficult as possible for the Government to carry out the reforms that are needed. Why does governing a nation have to take place with the alternative government continually jamming on the brakes, for no other reason than to gain political advantage?

lyn1

3/03/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for another brilliant column which is sure to generate quality comments for us all to read. Bushfire Bill thanyou to you, brilliant column as well. (We all know how the media can engineer a beat-up on almost any issue, but can anyone recall a more flagrant beat-up than we’ve seen around the Government’s Home Insulation Program)? Ad this beat-up has taken the cake I believe it is bigger than Utegate. http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/03/when-dead-workers-werent-quite-so-important/ I like this comment showing others feeling the same way as us Cuppa Posted Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink We will never know how many people lost pay, conditions, even their jobs under the Coalition’s SerfChoices, and how many of them took their own lives out of desperation. The Coalition and their cheerleaders should hang their heads in shame. Good article, Bernard. Your work is a refreshing breeze of difference to the dumbed-down groupthink drivel of the mainstream media. Recommended read http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/02/garretts-insulation-scheme-good-or-bad/ http://eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=19643 Did everybody see Abbotts latest stunt, and notice he is not wearing a helmet while riding that quad bike, I wonder what Occupational Health and Safety have to say What do you think about your leaders latest stunt whith no helmet on You Must be Kidding The link below will tell you what trouble could have been caused by Abbott if the phone worked also demonstrates how ridiculously stupid Abbott is: (Fortunately, the message did not get through to Kimball. Had it done, the Northern Territory Police, the Australian Federal Police, ASIO (and quite possibly some archaeologists thrown in because of the Fossil Creek reference) would have mounted what may have been the largest search party seen in these parts since Peter Falconio wandered off the map in 2001.) Hillbilly no I didn't have a boat in the lounge room, but ccan assure you we have had buckets of rain. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/tony-abbott-lost-in-the-outback-for-hours-after-being-abandoned-by-traditional-aboriginal-guide/story-e6frf7l6-1225836579913

You must be kidding

3/03/2010AA I’m not the Prime Minister nor indeed the Minister but perhaps I would have done something a little different. I would have listened to the industry for one. I would have asked the local government who have business registration, licensing, health and other community responsibilities and infrastructure to provide me with a business management model that would ensure quick and safe practices that did not put local community assets and indeed lives at risk. Perhaps I would have had the application process for money going via the householder as opposed to companies setting up call centres to market the program. Thus the householder holds the power of the negotiation thus allowing competition and I would have paid the rebate via the medicare system. I would have ensured the industry was protected and thus its investment in the market was protected. I would have applied credits to the companies already in the market for increasing employment. I would have considered setting out guidelines for installation and protocols associated with what to do ... this would have included safety issues like turning off the power. I would have monitored the program to ensure no sudden increases in funding was required indicating the spivs had entered the market. I would have asked questions. I would have listened and I would have acted prior to beginning the program to ensure it wasn’t a flawed system ... perhaps I would have acted like Greg Combet is now doing. As to Health Of course we want an improved health system. We want hospitals to be just that and not aged care and hospice centres. We want doctors to attend to our sick and injured. We want our community to want to go to their GP rather than a hospital. We want folks to have a hip replacement when they are 80. We want a system that is simple, that combines government, private and particularly personal responsibility when it comes to health. We want those perpetrators of ill health to pay more such as the cigarette companies ... but to health not just general consolidated revenue. Of course we should be paying our nurses more and in particular our aged care nurses, of course we need new equipment, new research and new medical centres. Fact is we all want this ... everyone has been promising it for years and years ... fact is ... the better the system the more it is used. Question to ask ... can we ever meet the health expectations of the community. There will always be folks wanting free medical attention ... do we have to supply it to everyone and if we do what is the total cost and do we have the resources to provide the manpower and infrastructure ... so the balance is delicate. (Indeed co payments are now at most GPs because the government strikes a consultation price and that’s it ... no matter the actual cost. Which is what the PM suggested today about hospital services) The first step is mutual obligation ... we are responsible for our own health, the government is not. If we are ill or need assistance then quality care should be available anywhere in Australia to those that need it and this should be the goal. Currently our health care is very good compared to other country systems ... whilst it needs to improve we should recognise that our system is good ... but the answer I suspect is not just money ... the PM has provided a new direction let us hope he can manage the result. Answering the questions from many competing interests will have would be a great start ... vision is one thing practical management and implementation is another. We all want a better system ... assuming this is it is perhaps a little too trusting. Let’s have an open mind to all aspects of the program before jumping on board would be a good idea and asking those questions that perhaps the Minister for Environment should have asked before implementation. But according to you and BB, acting without a plan is a good thing. Spending money without accountability is a good thing ... I would bet that you both don’t go on holidays without a plan and I would also bet you both consider carefully the implications of what might happen if you were to spend a serious amount of money ... if it is good enough for you why not the government.

Granny Anny

3/03/2010For further very relevant reading at Crikey, check out Keane's article; http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/03/when-dead-workers-werent-quite-so-important/ Granny

john Ryan

3/03/2010YMBK,do you ever have an original idea,or do you just parrot Abbott and the bobbsy twins,if you had your Liberal way unemployment would have been over 12%and causing untold misery,funny how only you and the other Liberal parrots are the only ones singing this tune. O hang on the Murdock press is on that song as well,I think that elderly wonder Ergas was singing something similar,funny thing for a bloke whose business went bust,giving advice to all and sundry

macca

3/03/2010YMBF.....GKM bangs on about the NBN and the lack of a business plan. Didn't Trujillo and his amigos have a business plan for Telstra? Halved the share price, sack thousands of competent,trained staff,make customer service virtually redundant and then piss off with big payouts. Yeah...that's a business plan that the country needs. Thanks YMBF>>>>>GKM

You must be kidding

3/03/2010Hmmm ... here's an original idea Johnno. Your knowledge of government and indeed economics is about as useful as the opinions of your mate Joe McDonald ... but then that's not so original after all. May you continue your seething hatred for capitalists ... those are the ones that fund your lifestyle, and may your ignorance to how the nations bills are paid continue to create much mirth around your barbie as you continue the clarion call of the industrial era and the wonders of Marx Weber et al ... but here's another thought for you to consider johnno ... the world has moved on from that line of thinking ... at least those that have a grasp of economic principle and modern technology and workplaces have ... on the other hand perhaps you are right and every one else is wrong. I suspect that's what you tell yourself as you sneer and complain about those that have an opinion unaligned to the blinkered view of life which you have ... may your thumb always be protected from your angry hammer. Oh and when the last government was in power ... unemployment decreased to less than 5%; more jobs were created than in our history, more small business (that would be capitalism) was created; real wages increased and I suspect the per capita wealth of your fellow citizens increased. And yet you are still angry ... either you missed out or you want more ... how many bathrooms do you need anyway

Rx

3/03/2010How does Costello find the time to moonlight as a regular contributor to the press? He's either got too much time on his hands or isn't applying himself fully to his new role. His boss Kevin Rudd should either give him more work to do or give him the sack. I'd like to see hims sacked myself; he always tried to bring in laws making it easier for people to be sacked.

Rx

3/03/2010Janice wrote: "I don't know about anyone else, but I submit comments to every article that allows comments from the public yet find not one makes it. Why? Because only those who agree with the author or the biased view he/she puts is accepted and published. I note there are very few comments putting a different view get published." __ Janice, I've had the same experience. I often submit comments to news stories at the ABC News Online site. I consider myself fortunate when one gets published. What often happens is: a) they are rejected outright - ie never posted or b) they are edited to blunten my rhetoric against the Liberals. On a particular occasion last week I noticed distinct bias in ABC moderation. I submitted three different comments to a news story. They were in the nature of responses to other posters. Only one of my comments was published. 'Maybe they don't want multiple contributions from individual commenters,' you might suggest? That's not so. There were numerous right-wing commenters who had multiple comments published. No editing out the harsh anti-Labor rhetoric in theirs either. It's one rule for us and one rule for them at their ABC.

HillbillySkeleton

3/03/2010Significant development wrt MSM bias against the PM...Laurie Oakes prefaced his remarks about Tony Abbott's response to the PM's new Health agenda with: "Predictably, Tony Abbott gave it the thumb's down..." !!!

Rx

3/03/2010I submitted a comment to the ABC blog, 'The Drum Unleashed' over the weekend. They published 90 per cent of the comment, but they edited out a sentence where I said that practically all the Coalition did was criticise the government's handling of the GFC.... I mean, why edit that out? It's not like what I said was incorrect or written with inappropriate language. It's not like the posting was over-long so needed to be trimmed for brevity. The only conclusion I am able to draw is that that statement did not fit with the agenda or views or political inclination of the moderator on duty.

HillbillySkeleton

3/03/2010AA and BB, top show! I can't add much to the debate this time that hasn't already been said, other than to observe that one commentator that I read in passing said that the whole incident re the implementation of the Pink Batts scheme was purely and simply an example of payback from the Press Gallery aimed fairly and squarely at the PM and his office of 'high-handed' young guns. Sounds about right to me. Not a fatal wound to the PM and his government, but enough of a flesh wound to let him know what they are capable of should they put their minds to it, as in these courtiers could decide that they felt like showing 'the mob' that the Emporer wasn't wearing any clothes, and as a warning to him in the lead-up to the election to watch his p's and q's. "Message received loud and clear" was my summation of the PM's mea culpa. You really have to know what a self-important bunch the Press Gallery is to be able to read the tea leaves in this way. I did a stint as a Senate Intern a couple of years ago and I got to see behind their media veils at how they operate and how they carry themselves around the place beyond where the public are allowed. They honestly think they are our equivalent of the Delphic Oracles, especially the Senior journos for the major media outlets. Peter Garret was just collateral damage, but usefully taught a lesson in the fact that a rockstar was nothing in the parliamentary pecking order!

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010YMbK wrote: [i]The economy at that time was showing stronger signs of recovery and indeed I am fairly sure that it has improved since. Remembering that full employment is 5% unemployment and we started the GFC below 5% it was a little extreme to be predicting unemployment would get to 8%. Given the difficulty in getting staff prior to the GFC most employers decided to make arrangements with staff (under flexible terms incidently) to retain most. And as we recover even further that has been a good decision by most employers.[/i] I worked as a fairly senior contract project manager for Woolworths in their Construction division for a period of one year, which included April 2009. At that time Woolworths was asking contractors to [i]defer invoices[/i] due to the GFC, in other words to give Woolworths - Woolworths! - three months' credit. My anecdote against yours, YMbK. Why did, as you put it, "most employers decided to make arrangements with staff (under flexible terms incidently) to retain most"? The answer is because the Rudd government's stimulus plans were taking effect. They kept confidence high. They showed a ray of light to a nervous economy. You are getting the cart before the horse with your denialist rubbish that we - alone of all countries in the world - could shield ourselves from the effects of the GFC by doing precisely nothing to stimulate our economy. As to your concerns over the Health policy, its announcement is about three hours old. Not every aspect of it has been fleshed out. Because Rudd did not read a multi-hundred page document out to the Press Club doesn't mean these things haven't been considered. Indeed, if these things are so compelling why didn't the media ask questions on them when they had the chance. Two reasons... 1. The press conference would still be going, and would probably extend through the night and into tomorrow if all possible questions and answers were canvassed. 2. The likes of Matt Franklin (from the Australian... but you all knew that) were more concerned with making canned political talking points disguised as questions about "Labor hacks" and "union stooges" on local hospital boards than getting down to the details of the matter at hand. Interesting, isn't it, that he didn't ask Abbott when he had the chance whether [i]Abbott[/i] intended to staff [i]his[/i] hospital boards with "Liberal hacks" and "industry stooges"? Interesting, and telling, in my opinion. Oh, the "cynic" in you tells you that Rudd "is trying hard to get positive messages back out into the electorate" is it? What, pray tell, is wrong with that anyway, but more importantly do you genuinely not realise that this new policy is the result of two years work? That Rudd couldn't possibly dream it all up ina few days as a petty spin response to your precious insulation "scandal" that you find so hard to let go of? Your entire tone is negative and destructive. We have a chance to fix the health system, or at least to begin the process with a serious attempt. We even have, as a part of the new health system, something similar to Abbott's local boards proposal as part of it (which shows, incidentally, how pathetically small Abbott's idea is, because that is [i]all[/i] he proposes to do). Let's see you criticise that, YMbK. Or, after telling us all the problems in the new system - after a couple of hours skimming through Liberal Talking Points - are you going to tell us that magically you need more time to examine that particular part of it? More on Health: Ymbk, you manage to contradict yourself in two consecutive sentences: [i]"The first step is mutual obligation ... we are responsible for our own health, the government is not. If we are ill or need assistance then quality care should be available anywhere in Australia to those that need it and this should be the goal."[/i] If quality care should be available anywhere, who is going to provide it? The government of course. But wait a minute: "we are responsible for our own health, the government is not." What to do... what to do? You regurgitate platitudes - [i]Of course we want an improved health system. We want hospitals to be just that and not aged care and hospice centres. We want doctors to attend to our sick and injured. We want our community to want to go to their GP rather than a hospital. We want folks to have a hip replacement when they are 80. We want a system that is simple, that combines government, private and particularly personal responsibility when it comes to health. We want those perpetrators of ill health to pay more such as the cigarette companies ... but to health not just general consolidated revenue. Of course we should be paying our nurses more and in particular our aged care nurses, of course we need new equipment, new research and new medical centres.[/i] Wow, we're in agreement for once. Motherhood statements all around. The only problem is (you ask, ever caring): will it work? I can guess your answer: "If they can't run an insulation scheme, how can we trust them to run a health scheme?" QED. Brilliant YMbK. Let's just do nothing. Two years of research, preparations and investigations, consultations with stakeholders, visits to hospitals, reports and hard work but, according to you, we're "acting without a plan" and "spending money without a plan". Rudd just made it all up last night, I guess. Right let's do nothing until Tony "Dr. No" Abbott approves (which he won't). That's the safest alternative.

BK

3/03/2010BB Great rejoinder - especially the last paragraph

Blyfu

3/03/2010Janice, In response to your statement "Blyflu, so you think Mike Kaiser doesn't have the skills to carry out that position or is it just that you think no Labor person is fit to hold any position for which he/she may be qualified?" Mike Kaiser may well have the skills for the position .... however, there may well be any number of more suitably skilled and qualified people who could do the job better. Regardless of their political persuasion Labor, Liberal National, Greens, Independent etc, etc The lack of a transparent recruitment process means that we will never know if the best person was appointed and the government has left itself open to criticism.

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010[i]The lack of a transparent recruitment process means that we will never know if the best person was appointed and the government has left itself open to criticism. [/i] This statement would also apply to the appointment of Nelson and Costello to senior government jobs. So... your point is? Please direct us to a blog post by you somewhere, anywhere, where you criticised these appointments.

lyn1

3/03/2010Hi Ad Did you watch Kevin Rudd's address to the National Press Club, it was excellent he is back to Kevin 07, smiling and plain speaking. One question by Mark Kenny was about Tony Abbott being lost on his quad bike, dumb and dumber. Paul Bongiorno's question asked if they can't run the insulation program how can they run the hospital system, dumb and dumber. Later Paul Bongiorno interviewed Kevin Rudd on 10 news, which I thought was a good interview, then I got annoyed because they showed the video clip of Abbott on the quad bike, but on second thoughts, that was good because it shows people the vast difference in Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, Abbott is looking pretty stupid. I see some of the papers are comparing the near miss truck accident to this quad bike stunt and getting lost for 5 hours. Abbott and none of the party of 10, didn't know how to use one phone and couldn't space the words on the mobile phone, but what was the good they couldn't tell anyone how to find them because they were lost anyway, dumb and dumber We have had the education curriculum and now the Hospital and health system, both huge policies and as Hillbilly said of course Tony Abbott will have thumbs down, wonder what stunt Abbott will arrange next to get another photo shoot. I read somewhere yesterday that Tony Abbott is now opposing policies before details are even released. Anyway how could Abbott even know about the Hospital Policy he was lost in the dessert on a broken down quad bike do you think he was watching the National Press Club speech on his mobile phone on his quad bike. Oh dear some Opposition we have.

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010How can we expect Tny Abbott to find a way out of the mess Rudd has gotten us into when he can't even find his way out of Fossil Creek with a couple of blacktrackers beside him?

lyn1

3/03/2010Hi Ad Oh no!!!! how can I cope, I just saw Tony Abbott put a witchety grub down his neck for the camera, Mark Symkin ABC travelling with the cicus crew. Good one Bushire Bill

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010Abbott's photo op ploy was today shown up for the fatuous circus act it is. While he was out getting lost on a dirt bike the guy who actually runs the country was hard at work dealing with a complex but vitally important issue. Yet, as a few have pointed out above, he had an instant opinion ready to go, from the Simpson Desert! Of course it's impossible that he'd in any way read or digested the import of the health presentation. One of his staff would have sent him the talking point on the sat phone. I'm hoping this will be the beginning of the public snapping out of their curious fantasy that Solo Man will be the saviour of us all. To have one near miss with a B-double is happenstance. To get lost in a waterless desert is co-incidence. But any more adventurous mishaps like this will invite enemy action from a skeptical public.

janice

3/03/2010The Evil Knievil of Politics is the would've-been priest. One of these days his stunts will end in grief, especially if he ignores safety advice by not wearing a helmet - quad bikes are notorious "accident" machines.

sawdustmick

3/03/2010March 3. 2010 05:31 PM You must be kidding “Oh and when the last government was in power ... unemployment decreased to less than 5%; more jobs were created than in our history, more small business (that would be capitalism) was created; real wages increased and I suspect the per capita wealth of your fellow citizens increased.” February 11 2010 on late line interview between Tony Jones and Joe Hockey TONY JONES: 50-something thousand jobs created in one month. I think nearly 200,000 since October of last year. Are you prepared to give Ken Henry and the Government credit for creating all those jobs in the middle of a global recession? JOE HOCKEY: You know what: they didn't create one job; business creates jobs. This is the difference, Tony, between you and me. I actually recognise that it is business that employs people, not the Government; it's business that generates wealth; it's business that generates income. It was hardworking Australian businesses that helped to get us through, and ... So, you must be kidding who are we to believe Hockey or you.

janice

3/03/2010Blyfu, there will always be someone somewhere who may be better qualified but what is sticking in your craw is that Kaiser is Labor. There wouldn't have been a peep out of you if this appointment had gone to a coalition person even if that person was less skilled and less qualified.

Ostermann

3/03/2010lyn1 I read the SunHerald article, wow more padding than Jelignite Jack so Tony's the man knowledge of N.T. geophyisics and how to use an electric air pump, but not a sat phone well F*#k me I'm impressed, my hero, all that to find some drugs, hmmm, what was Conway doing wandering off like that anyway well I guess I can see a couple of nominee's for the Darwin awards coming up. I'm still laughing, this is just total bullshit.

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010The contrast between Rudd and Abbott today was stark. People all over Australia will be asking themselves whether they would care if Abbott had really been lost.

Blyfu

3/03/2010BB & Janice Your comments amaze me. Is it deliberate obtuseness ?

Blyfu

3/03/2010Janice a point of clarification please....where exactly might my craw be?

Ad astra

3/03/2010Folks I've had a major glitch today with my connection to the Internet and will probably be off the air for 24 hours. As I'm on someone else's computer, I can't respond to your individual comments. Thank you all for such an interesting debate and for the links. I'll get back to you tomorrow. In the meantime please ignore the stupid spam. I'll kill it as soon as on on the air again. Goodnight

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010Blyfu, Your comments don't amaze me at all. If you are going to criticise one appointment to public office on the basis of: [i]...The lack of a transparent recruitment process means that we will never know if the best person was appointed and the government has left itself open to criticism. [/i] This is a matter of principle as set out by you. Are we to conclude that you are likewise highly critical of Costello's and Nelson's appointments... and for that matter Tim Fisher's, Peter Reith's and Mandy Vanstone's appointments, all made with what you would call a "lack of transparency"? A simple answer will suffice.

Blyfu

3/03/2010BB I guess I was right; you are being deliberately obtuse.

Bushfire Bill

3/03/2010[i]BB I guess I was right; you are being deliberately obtuse.[/i] And so are you, Blyfu. Fess up mate, you believe the Costello, Nelson, Vanstone, Fisher and Reith appoints were wonderful, don't you? On a much more interesting point that Blyfu's pathetic inability to answer a simple question, it appears that [b]Rudd does not need the Senate's approval to get a referendum on health (or any other matter) put to the people[/b]. From s128 (the relevant section) of the Constitution: [i][b]s128...[/b] But if either House passes any such proposed law by an absolute majority, and the other House rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with any amendment to which the first-mentioned House will not agree, and [b]if after an interval of three months the first-mentioned House in the same or the next session again passes the proposed law by an absolute majority[/b] with or without any amendment which has been made or agreed to by the other House, and such other House rejects or fails to pass it or passes it with any amendment to which the first-mentioned House will not agree, [b]the Governor-General may submit the proposed law as last proposed by the first-mentioned House, and either with or without any amendments subsequently agreed to by both Houses, to the electors in each State and Territory qualified to vote for the election of the House of Representatives.[/b][/i] http://www.aph.gov.au/SEnate/general/constitution/chapter8.htm In other words Rudd gets two bites at the cherry. [b]1st Bite[/b]: Referendum bill is put as a normal bill. Senate rejects it. ... [i]Wait three months...[/i] [b]2nd Bite[/b]: Referendum bill is put as a normal bill. Senate rejects it. Now here's the rub... [i]Rudd then goes to Quentin Bryce and advises her to put the referendum on the ticket anyway[/i]. Bryce accepts Rudd's advice (as she must). Referendum proceeds. The summary is that [b]Abbott has no procedural or other power to prevent the referendum from being put to the people[/b]. Michelle Grattan, that savant of all things political in Australia, put a question to Rudd this afternoon asking what he would do if the Senate prevented him from putting any referendum at the election. She should have known better: the Senate has no power in these matters. It is between Rudd, the House of Representatives (which Rudd controls) and Bryce as to whether a referendum is put. MY excuse for not realising this is that I'm just a blogger. What would [i]I[/i] know? Grattan should have done exactly the same research I did and found out. More MSM laziness.

HillbillySkeleton

3/03/2010I wish I could remember the name of that Liberal Party donor they appointed to the Reserve Bank Board who was later found to have massively avoided his tax! That appointment was done 'without going to tender' or via a headhunter outfit. Same goes, I would imagine for Nicky Downer's appointment to head the Arts Council, Janet Albrechtsen and Keith Windschuttle to the ABC Board...Dick Honan, Dick Pratt, Roger Corbett, Carla Zampatti to Chair SBS...the list goes on and on and on from the Howard era.

Blyfu

3/03/2010I was wrong BB. Clearly its a case of intellectual superiority you suffer from.

lyn1

3/03/2010Hi Ad Ad goodnight, I am sorry that has happened to you, and you are of the air when so much is happening, never mind we will talk to you tomorrow. My astounding astonishment, coupled with laughter has caused me to do 3 typo's on one little comment above. I am still getting over being astounded. Ostermann I always enjoy your comments and the sat phone, I'm with you how hillarious, but what about the mobile, they were not able to find the space key for the words. Janice you are so right something will happen bad, the sad part it will be someone else that is involved in these stunts, Tony Abbott will still have his s**t eating grin. Sawdustmick I think you are new here, Ad would say welcome from him and us and please keep coming back. Great comment couldn't agree with you more. So now it is time for some interesting links http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/03/03/omgwtfbbq/ http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/ http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/03/rudd-checks-nations-pulse.html http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2010/03/03/rudd-rolls-out-a-health-reform-package-complete-with-snappy-slogan/

lyn1

3/03/2010Hi Ad Just watched Lateline, Tony Jones is no match for Nicola Roxon. Nicola is a good performer, hard worker, dedicated to her health portfolio, exactly on message, she cannot be trapped by the likes of the Liberal/Coalitian biased ABC.

Ostermann

4/03/2010lyn1 Wasn't it the Liberals who said they would't sell off telstra unless they had proper rural service, oops whodathunk they would actually need it one day, double oops, having worked in the Territory for a while it isn't a place to be blase, it isn't Canberra or Kingscliff (where the hell has my budgie gone) paanniicckk!!!!!, what a dick!!!!!. Tony (Putin) Abbott Thanks for the links by the way very much appreciated.

Bushfire Bill

4/03/2010As if on cue, it's round up the usual suspects time: Matt Franklin tells us health is just more boring process work. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/rudds-magic-cure-more-process/story-e6frgczf-1225836734884 The Australian trots out David Pennington to impart wisdom. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/experts-say-health-blueprint-will-not-prove-an-instant-panacea/story-e6frg8zx-1225836723630 Peter Hartcher tells us Rudd will have to show he is "a real fighter". Thank you Peter, for your wisdom. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/pm-scrubs-up-for-his-toughest-operation-20100303-piyj.html (and Hartcher forgets completely about the Big Reform, so far, of Rudd's first term: WorkChoices) Victoria rejects the plan, or so says the Age. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/hands-off-our-hospitals-victoria-tells-rudd-20100303-pj0e.html All of this rubbish is coming from newspapers that just a few days ago were scolding Rudd for not keeping his health promises. They said he was all talk and no action. Broken most of his election committments. Forgotten the rest. Hartcher rabbits on that the ETS was Rudd's big reform, in order to demionstrate "failure". But he forgets it was [i]Work Choices[/i] that the election was fought upon, not the ETS, and the abolition of WorkChoices was delivered to the letter, on time. Abbott (as I predicted) uses Insulation as a metaphor for incompetence in all fields of government, yet was a member of a government, indeed at one time the [i]Health Minister[/i] who did nothing except strip away funds from Health, necessitating in part the current reform proposals. It looks like from now on it's going to be all opposition, all the way, to everything the elected government wants to do. Spin. lies, half truths, zero research and maximum distortion will be the orders of the day. Every cockroach under the fridge will be dragged out into the light to have their say. It'll be the biggest succession of bootstrappers from here on until election day. There's not a positive bone in any of their bodies. They couldn't give a fig about our country. They just want blood sport.

Bushfire Bill

4/03/2010Blyfu, You irritate me. I suppose I shouldn't admit that, but you do mate. You make a case and then resort to insults and evasion when called on it. If you don't have anything but slurs to contribute why not go away?

Rx

4/03/2010Hillbilly Skeleton, The guy you are thinking of is Robert Gerard. Senator John Faulkner said in 2006: "Peter Costello, the Treasurer, appointed Liberal Party megadonor Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank board despite being told by Mr Gerard that he was involved in a 14-year long tax evasion dispute with the Australian Taxation Office." http://web.archive.org/web/20071204022454/http://eherald.alp.org.au/articles/0306/magopine23-01.php I urge all Political Swordsmiths to read this link as there are many, many examples of wrongdoing by the previous Coalition government.

Rx

4/03/2010Hmmm, previous link did not work. Try this one please http://tinyurl.com/ycn26op

Blyfu

4/03/2010Bill not intended as an insult... merely a statement of fact. I think you get a kick out of bloggers telling you how awe inspiring your wordsmithing is. I'm not buying the BS. Dry your eyes sweetie, take two aspirin and have a lie down ... you will feel better after. Not going to give you the pleasure ;-)

Bushfire Bill

4/03/2010[i]"Dry your eyes sweetie, take two aspirin and have a lie down ... you will feel better after. [/i]" I guess you're conceding the argument, Blyfu. Your contention that jobs-for-the-boys is some kind of "Labor thing" has been comprehensively rebutted. It doesn't take any "intellectual superiority" at all to do that. Just an ability to remember and to add up. I'll take the point anyway.

Kim

4/03/2010Blyfu, please stop posting until you actually have something to contribute besides personal attacks. Some people might cut you some slack if your personal attacks were amusing or incisive, but they're not. They're boorish.

lyn1

4/03/2010Hi Ad Rx what an excellent link you have provided us with, a definately must read for everybody. http://mumble.com.au/?p=1781 This is a photo of Tony Abbott and the witchetty grub, don't look unless you are strong. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics Ad and everyone , look at the papers, you only really need to read the owls report under each headline to be up to date, classic example today, as Bushfire Bill says bootstrapping. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/indepth/speedos-loving-opposition-leader-tony-abbott-lampooned-in-giant-climate-change-billboard/story-fn4x9za1-1225836793790 http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/insulation-fire-risk-was-worse-before-rebate-20100303-pivv.html

lyn1

4/03/2010Hi Ad Sorry I forgot to put up the political owl link on my last comment http://politicalowl.blogspot.com/2010/03/media-wrap-papers-are-full-of-health.html

You must be kidding

4/03/2010Here's a thought. If everyone is generally supportive of the need to fix the health system ... and this would vary depending on location and circumstance ... if we start at that position, and if we all think we need to do so now ... why then are the subscribers on this site the total fount of knowledge on this. If the State Premiers and cautious; if the industry professionals are cautious; if the academic experts are cautious why then are folks on this site so gung ho? is it that evryone who is cautious has it in for the PM or are they biased? The amount of gung ho rhetoric from the regulars is so charming that one thinks they are total ideologues incapable of looking at something with balance. I mean I'm no expert ... that's why it is sound to look to the experts. Yet it seems folks on this site just gung ho their ideology for the sake of making sure that their view is the right one ... and poor old Blyflu or whatever their name is is bullied to the extent of not being able to express a point of view. That sort of tyranny when expressed beyond a democracy is cause for concern. But then again unless one shares the view of the protaginists of this site they are ridiculed and bucketed. Yet again on the Health issue we already see commentary about bias; about Abbott wo is yet to comment in any significant way; the ABC and how they are right wing and other claptrap ... as one observer noted. perhaps it's time for some of you to step away from your computer get some intellectual refreshment by seeking the opinions of balanced experts and then perhaps begin a more fulfilling debate.

Bushfire Bill

4/03/2010YMbK above: [i]"... and poor old Blyflu or whatever their name is is bullied to the extent of not being able to express a point of view.[/i]" He expressed his point of view. No-one deleted his comment, and he's free to comment here under the usual civilized blogging guidelines. But when challenged on his point - that a direct appointment to a government or quasi government position is inherently dodgy - he came back only with meta comments about particular bloggers (including myself). Asked to say whether similarly "non-transparent" Rudd and Howard appointments of ex-[i]Liberals[/i] were equally inherently dodgy, he just obfuscated and then accused [i]me[/i] of being obtuse, fancying myself as being "intellectually superior" etc. etc. It was a pretty simple question to answer. That he chose not so indicates that his opinion, his [i]hypothesis[/i] is not worth defending. If Blyfu wants to express and point of view, then he should be prepared to defend its logical extensions. [i]If the State Premiers and cautious; if the industry professionals are cautious; if the academic experts are cautious why then are folks on this site so gung ho? is it that evryone who is cautious has it in for the PM or are they biased? [/i] You ask a reasonable question and it deserves a reasoned reply. Firstly, caution does not denote disagreement. Rudd's introduction of the concept yesterday at the Press Club could not possibly be comprehensive. There are some questions that have arisen since which will need to be answered. That is the process of public debate. Reasoned debate and questions regarding the content of the policy are surely to be welcomed. What irks me is that much of the input so far has been not about the details of the policy, but of issues [i]said to be[/i] surrounding it. [i]"How can a government that can't even get insulation right get Health right?"[/i] Whether insulation was gotten right is a matter of much dispute. As the smoke clears, the error rate seems to have been a small proportion of one per-cent. In a big project like this you'd expect there to be such errors and inefficiencies... and that's not even considering the very worthwhile benefits of such a scheme, in its context as an economic stimulus measure. But this begs the question: "Can this government get [i]anything[/i] right?". Well, if the answer is "No, it can't" then we may as well pack up now and go home. If the government can't get [i]anything[/i] right then there is no government and no hope for Australia as it drifts rudderless (forgive the pun) off into the sunset (until, presumably, a lycrad-up Tony Abbott arrives on a dirt bike to rescue us). These are not criticisms of the [i]policy[/i], nor are they, at essence, even criticisms of the Rudd government. They are attacks on the very [i]concept[/i] of government. No government is perfect, or anywhere close to it. All governments make mistakes and get things wrong, both in policy and execution. But to extraopolate (or perhaps a better word is "bootstrap") one program (insulation), whose success or otherwise is heavily contested, out to include anything and everything the government does, in any policy area, is drawing too long a bow. It is negative and wantonly damaging the core concept of governance in this country. If it is taken to its logical conclusion then the government does nothing, because someone somewhere might get hurt, or disadvantaged or envious (Costello yesterday) of someone else. It is a lazy, nihilistic call for a government to abrogate its duty to govern and for an opposition to abandon its duty to participate constructively in the process. Worse, it doesn't address the issue of Health. [i]"Rudd's Answer to Health Problems: More Red Tape"[/i] Once again, a new program involving countless billions of dollars a year in outlays, must involve, if not more, then at least some red tape. The Opposition have just finished whingeing about [i]not enough[/i] regulation and red tape being applied to a scheme associated with just four deaths. Why are they suddenly against red tape and regulation when the health and welfare of 20-something million Australians is at stake? I can only think of compulsive negativism as an answer, as the idea of the policy is to straighten out the lines of responsibility and, in particular, funding, which has been the big bottleneck in the past in the Health area. Again, we see no criticism of the specifics of the policy, only of the inevitable need to regulate it. On this basis, no policy should ever be put forward, no reforms attempted, because something might change from what it was before (and it had red tape before, too!). What I don't object to is not the reasoned arguments of the experts, as long as they are reasoned. What I [i]do[/i] object to is the constant search for negatives. We have seen, in just 24 hours, "tax increases", "Victoria rejects Rudd plan", "more red tape", "Wrong on insulation therefore wrong on Health", "not enough money", "too much money", "too late", "too early", "too many details", "not enough details" so far, as knee-jerk reasons for opposition to the plan. There seems to be something there for everyone. It's not "media criticism" it's a nuclear holocaust of denigration... and all on day #1! From a reading of the news sites this morning, this program has nothing at all to recommend it. It's a total dud. Do you really believe that? Is there nothing that is of any value in it at all? Nevertheless, as you say, everyone agrees that we need a better Health system, but no-one on the Opposition side, or in the media seems to think its even worth talking about seriously, on its merits. It might sound clever and funny to say Rudd can't do anything right, but I believe the public will tire of it in the not too distant future. They can only take so much whingeing from the Opposition before they'll want to see some alternatives. If they intend to vote Rudd out then they'll want to know what Tony abbott's plans for Health are. Local Hospital boards won't cut it, unfortunately for Tony. You can't demolish a comprehensive Health policy (or any serious policy for that matter) that has gone through reviews, stakeholder consultations, months of planning and authoring... from a dirt bike in the Simpson Desert, a photo opportunity, or with a clever but ultimately expendable sound bite.... and replace it with a footnote. Most egregious of all are those who say "Rudd broke his promise on the timing of the Health Reform policy, so how can we now believe his Health Reform policy is serious?". If this logic was acceptable, then nothing that was ever late, or delayed would ever have any credibility. Critics who are putting out this argument are indulging in a self-referential feedback loop. "The policy is late, therefore it can't be any good". As I said, we may as well do nothing, and then the Opposition can criticise Rudd for inaction. It's a losing fight, an aimless drift towards a governance vacuum YMbK, and one that goes nowhere. Until the Opposition gets serious about policy discussion and debate, and quits negativism, the cheap soundbite and the photo-op as substitutes for participation in policy development it will remain on the benches to the left of the speaker. Those who want to be in government should participate in it, not question its very reason for existence.

You must be kidding

4/03/2010Here's a question ... when I posted at 1PM that was the 75th post ... now at 2.30 there is only 69 posts. Thus culled include a chap who suggested we all step back from the computer and smell the air ... now why is that?

Bushfire Bill

4/03/2010[i]... now why is that?[/i] And I thought it was only Lefties who indulged in conspiracy theories! Your short post sounds like you think you have some kind of proprietary rights on this blog, certainly a right to demand an explanation for a deleted post. YMbK... you don't have any rights here, only priveleges. That applies to all of us, including me. Every Lefty blog has its token ratbag shouter coming in to stir things up. So you have function here, even as a foil. You're tolerated because your posts are above the usual troglodite level of such posters elsewhere. In short, you can put more than two sentences together and for that you are to be congratulated. However, AA pays for the site and spends a lot of time maintaining it when he has a post up. He owes you no explanations at all and you have no rights to demand them. Got it? His decisions (or most likely in this case, his mistakes during a busy day) are his business. As a matter of site-specific information, with this engine you get one chance when deleting posts. Once deleted you can never get them back. Sometimes there are many spam posts that have come in overnight. Deleting them is a tedious process, requiring several processes to get to the point where a click will delete the post. Posts can't be edited, only deleted, indcidentally. It's quite possible, when you have a bunch of them, requiring many minutes of tedium to sort out, to click on a "genuine" post (if that can be said about Blyfu's contributions) and delete it accidentally. If a post is short and stupid-looking it's more likely to be deleted. So my advice to you is first: quit complaining. Second, keep your posts to a reasonable length so they don't look like spam to a busy moderator. Third, keep contributing, but keep it sensible, civil and rational. Stick to these guidelines and you'll do well here.

Ad astra reply

4/03/2010Folks I’m back on the air again after having had my Internet connection restored. Thank you Lyn1 for your comments and for welcoming Granny; I hope she and sawdustmick will become part of the [i]TPS[/i] family. I will now belatedly attempt to address some of the unanswered comments. I won’t address the comments that have ably been answered by others. I’ve looked at your links Lyn1 and note that there is now a small groundswell of opinion that the insulation saga really was a beat up. Ross Gittins is on to this, and once he gets his teeth into an issue, he persists. So does Bernard Keane. The ‘Get Up’ poster was laudably pointed. mick I too hope that the Government will make a better fist of publicizing its achievements in the lead up to the election. There is already an impressive list. No doubt their strategists have a plan to roll out achievement after achievement, initiative after initiative, right up to the election - like the boxer who dances around in the early rounds, feinting and riding with the punches, seemingly unable to land a punch himself, before launching a withering barrage when his opponent is tiring and running out of telling blows. BB You make an interesting point. The accusation of using the ‘politics of envy’ is usually aimed at Labor, yet here we have the Liberals worried that those who have paid for their insulation will be envious of those who had theirs subsidized. Envy really is pathetic but too often influences thinking. YMBK Yes, already the unanswered questions about the hospitals and health reform are being posed, all important, all needing an answer. Clearly the intent is to release elements of the program seriatim, thereby answering them progressively. The reforms are very complex with a host of stakeholders all wanting to at least retain what they already have and hoping for more. None will want to relinquish anything in order to boost the system elsewhere. It will be ‘every man for himself’; there will be no ‘milk of human kindness’ on display. This is what makes political reform so difficult – everyone wants to be a winner. But one can only hope that the vigorous debate that will inevitably occur will take place in the context of what’s best for the nation. Having been in the health care system all my working life, I can testify to the high quality of health care in this country compared with others. It is near the top of the pile. Yet everyone knows about the long waiting lists for elective surgery, the long waiting time for emergency care, the shortage of primary care doctors, especially in rural areas, the medical errors, the in-hospital infections, the inadequacy of medical records, and so on. The system can and should be improved. But that is not the prime reason for these reforms. The compelling reason is the financial unsustainability of the health system which by mid century will consume the whole of the states’ health budget. Changes must be made. The Opposition seems to agree, but of course insists that its model of local governance is better, although it looks much the same as the Government’s. One might therefore expect support for the Government initiative, albeit qualified. But no, there has to be, must be, opposition. ‘Their plan will not work’, was shadow health spokesman Peter Dutton’s immediate verdict. No ifs or buts, it just won’t work. ‘The states will not cooperate.’ ‘Rudd won’t succeed in a referendum.’ On and on the negativity goes – nothing is right, nothing will be achieved, standards will not improve, bureaucracy will burgeon – all this before they have digested the report. This is the malevolent curse of adversarial politics. To hell with the national good – just let’s oppose for opposing’s sake, let’s score as many political points as we can. Isn’t it pathetic – don’t you get sick of it? The media is waking up to the negativity, to wit Laurie Oakes comment reported by HillbillySkeleton: [i]“ Predictably, Tony Abbott gave it the thumb's down..."[/i] One can only hope that opponents of the reform will ask the relevant questions, query elements of the reform that seem unclear or could be improved, work with the Government to produce an even better reform, but for the sake of the nation and its people get behind it, as has the medical profession, health planners and health economists, and some states, and make it work. It has to work The alternative is that the system will collapse under the weight of its responsibilities for health care, shaken to rubble by the approaching earthquake of unsustainable funding unable to support the health care edifice we need for the years ahead. Rx You and janice share my views about the ABC; I believe the only recourse we have is to keep hammering them via the complaints facility every time they step down the bias track. Of course some visitors here can’t see any bias and conclude it is imagined. Amusingly, because each side accuses the ABC of bias the other way, we need to back our criticism with facts and unarguable logic. Lyn1 I too enjoyed Rudd’s press club address. He was lucid and not overly technical – no mention of ‘programmatic specificity’ that seemed to bamboozle our learned Press Gallery a few months back. He talked in short sentences. He’s modified his delivery. If anyone couldn’t understand what he said, you’d have to ask why. I too was disappointed with Paul Bongiorno's question that asked if they can't run the insulation program how can they run the hospital system. For those of us who admire his journalism for its balance, it was disappointing. Likewise I was disappointed with Karen Middleton’s silly question about Rudd’s communication skills – in the middle of the most important health announcement in decades. What was she thinking? Her journalism is usually better than that. What is it that causes good journalists to indulge in such attempts to have a gotcha moment? Is it some unofficial contest to see who can shoot the most aggressive question so as to assume the macho mantle? I wish I knew. YMBK Now that I’m back online, I’ve deleted the spam. I am not aware of deleting any legitimate comment; sometimes it hard to tell. The one to which you refer read: [i]” Nice article..keep up the good work... Take this tip from me! Take a break during the weekends! Take a rest from your hard computer work and spend some quality time outdoors![/i] There’s no mention of the subject matter – it might sound complimentary, but to me it’s spam. If you sat in my chair you would see a lot like that.

Bushfire Bill

4/03/2010AA wrote: [Envy really is pathetic but too often influences thinking. ] The 11th commandment: [i]Thou shalt not be envious of thy neighbour's free insulation.[/i] At its heart Costello's argument is one against doing anything, anytime, because someone might be upset they didn't get what others got. They (and he) forget that there are usually instances where the situation is reversed. Why should someone get a first home buyer's grant when I didn't? Why does someone get child support when I don't (because I don't have children)? Why fix [i]his[/i] traffic black spot and not fix [i]mine[/i]? Faced with an overwhelming need to satisfy a growing demand for employment among the semi-skilled workers, the government had no time to indulge in luxurious inquiries as to who might be envious of his neighbour. It almost goes without saying that they would have been mocked if they had done so and if it came out into the public gaze: "Employment Tanks While PM Wrings Hands Over Yuppy Batt Envy". Better just not to try and fix anything if your thoughts proceed along those lines. No wonder Costello was laughed out of the parliament.

You must be kidding

4/03/2010Got to love those contributions BB Your trivilisation of the Insulation fiasco does you a disservice ... perhaps you will have to come to terms with the fact the PM has now appointed Greg Combet to fix it ... and then develop a new scheme ... Now I would have thought that the PM made that decision becaus ethe orginal scheme was rather a mess. And who was responsible for that mess I wonder? So the PM and I are in sync, it seems you are not thus the trivilisation. By the way you are wrong on the Constitution and your reference to it as that section actully refers to changes to the constitution only as opposed to plebicites. So when you bucketed Blyfu you were being a little misleading. Constitional change has a history of failure in this country. Plebiscites ... and there has not been that many on the hand have been successful, although the daylight saving referendums in WA and Qld have failed. I am not sure why we would need to change the Constitution to have the Feds fund 60% of the health service. I suspect though it will require legisaltion to do that and also agreement from the states with regard to changes to the GST payments. So it may be a plebiscite such as we did to nominate our national anthem. And thank you for the stern lecture regarding web sote protocols ... perhaps you can read the more insightful and relaxed AA to get the true answer to a reasonable question.

Ostermann

4/03/2010YMBK at this point I think you show a little good will, if you can't tell the difference between a comment and spam then you really aren't reading anything properly just scanning looking the key words, Christopher Pyne did that when he commented on the Govt's education package and made himself look like a goose, I think Ad has more than adeqately answered your last post on health and from an industry point of view.

Rx

4/03/2010I saw the post referred to before it was deleted. It was spam alright. Keep up the good work, AA! How about a little less complaining from some of the guests. If you want to entertain spammers spend your own money and time and start your own website.

Ad astra reply

4/03/2010Folks If you want to read an opinion of the health reforms that is informed by many years of experience in public health, take a look at Stephen Leeder’s piece [i]Rudd's reforms a good start to fixing ailing health system[/i] http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/rudds-reforms-a-good-start-to-fixing-ailing-health-system-20100303-pivu.html?autostart=1 He is professor of public health and community medicine at the University of Sydney and director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy.

Ad astra reply

4/03/2010Folks John Watson's article in the [i]National Times: Insulation fire risk was worse before rebate[/i] http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/insulation-fire-risk-was-worse-before-rebate-20100303-pivv.html is another that reinforces the thrust of this blog piece - that the insulation saga was a media beat up. Not that deaths and fires did not occur - they did. Rather that much of the media, in ignorance of the facts which it could have obtained, or disinterested in anything other than getting rid of Garrett and embarrassing Rudd, ran its stories relentlessly in pursuit of those aims. There is a video on that page by Ross Gittins on the same theme, and the GST.

Bushfire Bill

4/03/2010YmbK above: [i]"By the way you are wrong on the Constitution and your reference to it as that section actully refers to changes to the constitution only as opposed to plebicites. So when you bucketed Blyfu you were being a little misleading. Constitional change has a history of failure in this country. Plebiscites ... and there has not been that many on the hand have been successful, although the daylight saving referendums in WA and Qld have failed. I am not sure why we would need to change the Constitution to have the Feds fund 60% of the health service. I suspect though it will require legisaltion to do that and also agreement from the states with regard to changes to the GST payments. So it may be a plebiscite such as we did to nominate our national anthem. [/i]" Mate, you're talking through your hat... and so soon after I advised you against going off half-cocked! I'll put this in bold letters so you can't say you missed it: [b]There is only one way to change the Constitution: by the official process of referendum. Section 128 is the only section that deals with the process of changing the Constitution.[/b] There is no provision for "plebiscites" in the Constitution. Currently, the Commonwealth has no formal legislative power over Health matters. The Federal legislative powers are listed in s51 of the Constitution (there are 39 of them, see them here: http://www.australianpolitics.com/constitution/text/51.shtml) If the states refuse to hand over 60% control of Health to the Commonwealth, then the only way the Commonwealth can force the issue is by adding "Health" to s51 the Constitution, in which case it will have powers to legislate to control 100% of the Health area, and Rudd has said he intends to do so. This is why a referendum would be needed, if the states won't co-operate. This is and has always been part of the Rudd government's Health policy that you have been whingeing he hasn't carried out. A referendum must be passed by at least one house of the Commonwealth Parliament. If passed by both then it can be automatically put to the people. If passed only by one, then after three months it may be resubmitted. If it fails to pass both houses a second time the Prime Minister can advise the Governor General to put the referendum to the people anyway. A [u]referendum[/u] is a proposal put to the voters at large to ratify of approve of the wording of a specific piece of legislation the government wants passed, or has already passed through the parliament: in this case a change to the constitution. A [u]plebscite[/u] is a more general concept: better defined as a proposal put to the people on matters [i]other[/i] than the ratification of specific pieces of legislation. But for the government to include Health as the 40th Commonwealth legislative power, giving them unchallenged rights to pass laws affecting all aspects of Health Care, they will need a formal Constitutional referendum. Thankfully, this is one thing that Abbott can say "No" to until he is black in the face, and still not prevent happening, which was the entire point of my previous post. If the states don't co-operate the referendum comes first and then the legislation. Presumably this referendum would be put to the people at the next election (as promised by Rudd), with or without the "approval" of the Coalition. IF the Referendum is passed, then presumably Rudd would also have been re-elected and the Coalition would have lost its hold over the Senate so that follow-up Health legislation could be then passed without impediment for its own sake. That day cannot come soon enough.

lyn1

4/03/2010Hi Ad Good to have you back Ad you do an excellent job on this blog. This link I am sending is very interesting by Bob Gosford in Alice Springs, seems questions are being asked about the Abbott stunt, hinting at a media beat up and that Abbott and co were not lost. http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/04/lostnearfossilcreek-abbott-quadbikes-through-the-top-end/

macca

4/03/2010The Health Reveiw, the CPRS, the Education Policy and the forthcoming Henry Tax Reveiw all seem to try and address problems which are current and foreseeable in the next 10/20/30 odd years. Have any of the pundits, commentators and various boofheads criticizing them have any realisation of the importance of these steps? How vital to our country,grand and greatgrandchildren they will be? There really is only one criteria to judge these policies on. Will their implimentation and application be fluid enough to cater to a future society who's demands may be much different than our own. In essence, are the foundations strong enough?

Ad astra reply

4/03/2010Lyn1 Thank you for your kind remarks - I'm pleased to being online again after having been spectactularly messed around by our esteemed Telstra FascinatinglinkaboutAbbottbeinglostatFossilCreek -wasitastunt?

Sir Ian Crisp

4/03/2010HillbillySkeleton, I believe the man appointed by Howard to the Reserve Bank Board was Rob Gerard. Mr Gerard was allergic to paying tax. His appointment was an obscenity. His appointment was equal to the appointment of Mr Sticky Fingers himself, ex-convict, ex-Premier Mr Brian Burke as our ambassador to the Holy See. Apparently the Vatican is still inspecting every reliquary in its possession to reassure itself that the contents are intact. Mr Burke is I believe the first Premier in Australia’s history to taste prison food. Sadly Mr Burke is or was a member of the ALP.

Bushfire Bill

4/03/2010[i]Mr Burke is I believe the first Premier in Australia’s history to taste prison food. [/i] And a good thing too. For my mind there should have been a few more, from both sides of politics.

Ad astra reply

4/03/2010macca The initiatives you mention – health reform, CPRS, education reform and tax reform are all long-term projects. They require a vision of the future informed by thoroughly researched predictions about what the state of affairs will be several decades hence. To many it seems so far away that it is easier to coast along cosily not wanting to contemplate the massive changes that are predicted, perhaps hoping they will go away or at least not cause much annoyance. To take painful action now in anticipation of these changes is anathema to many so [i]laissez faire[/i] is the preferred option. One wonders how any long-term planning can be possible when this attitude prevails, especially when sponsored by a political party.

HillbillySkeleton

4/03/2010You Must Be Kidding, Have you been assigned to this site by the Liberal Party to draw the bloggers here into wasting their time refuting every Coalition Talking Point you throw at them? It certainly seems like it. Not that you would admit to it, so I suppose I'll never really know the answer to that question. It just seems strangely coincidental that you have a ready-made screed for every piece of evidence that is put up against the Party you so obviously, tirelessly, work to aid and abet. Do you really believe that your constant and unending verbal assaults on everyoner here who disagrees with you will sway the opinions and affections for the work of the government you attempt to tear strips off and ridicule? Right-thinking and considered adults are able to objectively weigh the evidence and come to their own conclusions absent any input from your diatribes. You better believe it, before you waste any more of your time, this election year, conspiring to take down the 'Lefty' edifice. You'll be wasting your time. Those of us new to this blog have migrated here from other sites on the Internet because AA and BB produce thoughtful, considered pieces, backed up with evidence, and untainted by media spin, that looks at the issues that are current and reflects a point of view that resonates. You should try it sometime, YMBK, as you obviously possess seemingly persuasive communication skills, and if you were to objectively mount your case, you could be an effective advocate.

HillbillySkeleton

4/03/2010What a cynical opportunist and tawdry individual Tony Abbott is. He spent the first half of the week trying to destroy the dignity of Indigenous Australians by attacking inclusion of their story in the new History curriculum; but today he raids a hospital in the Northern Territory and literally wheels one of them out as a prop and a tool with which to attempt to beat the government over the head with as he tries, feebly, to launch an attack, any attack, on the Prime Minister's new Health policy. Not only that, but he obviously thinks he's on a winner with the 'Great Big New Tax' mantra, as he has wheeled it, too, out again, in front of the media, for a spin today as his attack du jour against the Health initiatives. How could you ever trust a government that that man led to look after the interests of all Australians? He's a charlatan of the first order.He'll concoct and wheel out any old stunt in an attempt to undermine the government's initiatives. He doesn't know how to put spaces between his words in his texts, either(which is illustrative in itself because it bells the cat wrt the fact that he obviously gets others in his retinue to do it for him usually), and he doesn't know the meaning of 'constructive'. Only 'destructive'.

Ostermann

4/03/2010AA Back to the Home Insulation Scheme media beatup, I noticed that even SBS last night was trying to have a go, and Anton Enus repeating the same pat questions, "how can people trust you on Health etc. etc." sheep mentality is coming to the fore amongst Australian Journalism, I don't think it is even left or right of the wedge anymore, it is the blind leading the blind for a news story, but suddenly the shift is moving onto how negative the opposition are without anybody even realising it, Home Insulation is off the map in fact Peter Garrett is beginning to look like the "fallguy" for a poorly implemented policy and not responsible for it, which is now being over shadowed by stupid stunts by Tony Abbott and stupid comments by Christopher Pyne, Peter Dutton and Barnaby Joyce when he is let off the leash, are beginning to filter through to the main stream audience via the continual beatup which seems to have lost its purpose thoughts anyone

Grog

4/03/2010Good article Ad Astra. From the Leeder article: [However, while this is a step in the right direction, there is no single magic bullet for Australia's health system and it is important to be realistic about what the plan might achieve.] Of course the Oppostion will claim anything complex is suspicious, and the media will dismiss anything complex as waffle (check Neil Mitchell's pathetic inteview today with Roxon). Rudd will need to put in the hard yards on this. He hasn't quite gone "all in", but if he loses hewon't have a hell of a lot left in his kitty. Oh, and cheers for the addition of my blog to the Blog Watch.

lyn1

4/03/2010Hi Ad Grog please keep coming back here and leave comments, we love your blogg, like Ad another quality writer with balanced thoughts. HillbillySkeleton, they don't care about what is good for the country, Tony Abbott is still in woop woop and therefor would not have seen or disgussed the Hospitals policy with his cabinet, so he just says it's another tax. Joe Hockey is still very cranky, and says it's Kevin Rudds secret agenda to raise tax. Ostermann I agree with you, how much longer is Mr and Mrs public going to put up with photo's like Abbott eating a witchetty grub for the camera. Laurie Oakes report tonight he says Kevin Rudd and Nicola Roxon at some hospital, was like a soap opera. As Bushfire Bill said yesterday if they get lost on quad bike photo shoot, how can they run the country.

Ad astra reply

4/03/2010Ostermann As I’ve mentioned before the first piece I wrote was on the subject of groupthink. It was published on Possum’s [i]Pollytics[/i] old site. [i]Is the media in Australia suffering from groupthink?[/i] http://thepossumbox.wordpress.com/2008/06/14/is-the-media-in-australia-suffering-from-groupthink/ I’ve re-read it just now. It’s as true now as it was then. If you care to read it, you’ll note several recurring themes. Note this one [i]” Media groupthink now seems to be moving towards belittling Kevin Rudd and his Government, reinforcing the approach of the Opposition.[/i] Sound familiar? Nothing much changes. The media are as afflicted by groupthink now as they were when that piece was written in June 2008. Note the date. As mentioned in an earlier comment, otherwise sound journalists such as Paul Bongiorno and Karen Middleton asked silly questions of the PM at the National Press Club this week. The only explanation for this unusual behaviour I can muster is groupthink and a desire to ask the most macho question. Now you say Anton Enis is up to it. In the case of newsreaders, we have to look behind them to the news writers who are responsible for the words the presenter uses. In my view it is this group that is the most culpable in creating inaccurate or biased headlines. SBS seems to be following the ABC down the same track. Grog Thank you for your kind comment. I enjoy your blog - well written, well-referenced and relevant. Yesterday’s piece [i]Rudd checks the nation's pulse[/i] http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/03/rudd-checks-nations-pulse.html makes good reading. I agree that Rudd and his ministers have a big selling job to do on health, education, tax reform and of course the CPRS. Marketing their achievements and aspirations has not been their strong point. It has allowed disingenuous utterances from a variety of Opposition spokesmen to muddy the waters and divert the public from the essence of these important issues. Complexity is not well understood by the majority. A quick fix, the magic bullet is what they want. In health care people usually prefer a targeted medication that will resolve the problem – all they want is to swallow it and let the pill do its work. Behavioural change over a protracted period is not the preferred option, even though it may produce the best outcome, because it requires thoughtful effort and persistence. In health care delivery the same applies. Dealing with complexity is too difficult. So the painless political quick fix that Tony Abbott offers appeals, even though it is implausible and likely ineffective. I’m glad Stephen Leeder warned about the danger of looking for the single magic bullet. It doesn’t exist.

Rx

4/03/2010The word "complexity" doesn't even exist in the lexicon of the voters the Coalition are reaching out to, let alone in the way they think about politics. That's why we get very dumb slogans such as "Great Big New Tax". Four words, not a one of them longer than one syllable. Keep it short and keep it simple FOR the simple-minded. Anyone with any insight at all would be rightly offended by such base manipulation ... but then, sophisticated people aren't likely to be inclined towards conservatism.

Colen

4/03/2010Rx "Anyone with any insight at all would be rightly offended by such base manipulation ... but then, sophisticated people aren't likely to be inclined towards conservatism." If that is not a fallacious and derogatory argument, I don't know what, but then what would one expect from a "Simpleton". I notice that Mr Rudd is holding back the release of the Henry Review. He is too busy to reveal it. Health is more important. I would say both are essential especially the funding of his health changes. We need to know where he is going to get his extra taxation from. Mr Henry and his committee may have reported back on some very controversial items, like how are we going to support a population of 36 million when we are struggling to support 22 million.

Blyfu

4/03/2010Bill I forgot what a long memory and sense of grievance the Left has ... no one hates like the Left.

john Ryan

5/03/2010Well old son if you don't like the heat in the kitchen go live at Bolts or Ackermans blog where they all sing very loudly what their masters tell them. And if you think I,m abusive make a remark the the kiddies on their blogs dont like,then you will see what abuse is. You think the Left are good haters, well here we have a Liberal party who never accepted the last election result,and a number of so called columnists in the Murdock press who don't believe it either,so off you go enjoy Bolt and Ackerman you will never have to think again,and take YMBK with you,don't let the door hit you on the bum on the way out

Kim

5/03/2010This right vs left false dichotomy is silly. Until recently, I was a member of the Liberal Party. I left because of the behaviour of the federal party after the rise of Nick Minchin and his cohorts. The party once contained liberals; it's now been taken over by the worst breed of knee-jerk conservatives. It has become reactionary and stupid; against everything, and for nothing. In Australia, it isn't 'left' vs 'right' anymore. It's become rationalism and fairness vs confected rage, but the waters are muddied by spin from all sides. Irrespective of ones ideological beliefs, the behaviour of the Liberal Party over the 'insulation debacle' has been an astounding example of exaggeration and double-standards. I don't even agree with the program, but I recognise that it isn't the worst thing the government could have done, and Peter Garrett's culpability is minor, as the rate of deaths actually decreased during the program per number of insulation installations. That the media have gone crazy in the most startling example of group-think I've ever seen makes the situation even worse. The behaviour of the media in this instance makes me worry about this country's future; to my mind the best case is that the people begin to abandon the main-stream media. I describe myself as a 'small l liberal'. I believe in as small a government as possible, but realise that some government is necessary. I wish the government and those who vote for it to be motivated by rational, enlightened self-interest. From that standpoint, Liberal are now worse than Labor, as Labor have big government tendencies, but at least they don't reject reality. The Liberals have become promoters of what Steven Colbert would call 'truthiness'; the truth that you know in your gut, not the truth that you learn from reasoned observation. I can honestly say that from my standpoint, no-one in politics looks very attractive at the moment. Labor are better than they once were, but I distrust their tendencies towards what I see as 'big government bureaucracy'. The Liberal party have gone mad; they have become rabidly anti-science, are in a love-hate affair with the agrarian-socialist national party (or the anti-inner-city-educated-latte-sipping-elite party, as I think of them), and have abandoned any pretence of consistent decent behaviour. The greens seem to me to be a group of watermelons. The LDP and the Democrats are tiny. I've found this blog to be at the very least a refreshing analysis of what is wrong with the media in this country.

Rx

5/03/2010I wrote: "Anyone with any insight at all would be rightly offended by such base manipulation ... but then, sophisticated people aren't likely to be inclined towards conservatism." Colen wrote: If that is not a fallacious and derogatory argument, I don't know what, but then what would one expect from a "Simpleton". __ Then I suppose the monosyllabic grunt-sounding 'Great Big New Tax' is aimed at engendering the support of conservative geniuses such as yourself? Aren't you offended that they choose to 'communicate' to conservatives using the language of a four-year-old? Nah, you lap it up!

Blyfu

5/03/2010John Ryan thankyou for proving my point old son

HillbillySkeleton

5/03/2010Sir Ian Crisp, I laughed, ha! ha! ha! ha! at your wit. Then I thought, I guess the crime of a Federal Liberal Minister, namely Peter Reith, fraudulently allowing his son to use his Commonwealth Phone Card was deftly sidestepped in the prosecution with the help of the surfeit of lawyers in his Party.

HillbillySkeleton

5/03/2010Kim, I appreciate your thoughtful comments from a small 'l' Liberal perspective. I believe the old Left v Right paradigm dissolved in Australia at least, when Howard went down the path of big government with WorkChoices and the GST, which needed large attendant bureaurocracies to implement and monitor them. Thus he needed increased tax revenue from us all, ergo the GST. Also, I believe that private consultants are just another arm of government anyway, albeit one which sees taxpayer dollars going into private company pockets. Also, they are unable to be 'frank and fearless' like Public Servants as their livelihoods into the future depend on continued patronage from the government.

HillbillySkeleton

5/03/2010Kim, I forgot to add that, as a result of the dissolving of the Left/Right paradigm(also as the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War ended, and Communism was overthrown by Capitalism in Russia and China), the line in the sand was drawn between Progressives and Regressives. Ergo the Cold War was replaced by the Culture Wars.

HillbillySkeleton

5/03/2010Blyfu, Your glib dismissals do not an argument or proof make.

Sir Ian Crisp

5/03/2010HillbillySkeleton, Reith & Son both deserved to be prosecuted for the abuse of one of many taxpayer privileges granted to MPs and in their case it was abuse of a phone card. The comedy of excuse making coming from our MPs both federal and state is highly entertaining. All of them continue to insult our intelligence. We were also witness to the failure to prosecute the world’s greatest treasurer. He forgot to lodge his tax return. There is usually a penalty to be paid for that. How absurd for a treasurer to say he forgot to lodge his tax return. Imagine you’re listening to the cricket and the commentator says: “Watson has just been caught in the gully and Australia is now 1 for 84. Ricky Ponting is now striding to the crease looking very determined. He has a quick word to Katich and he now he’ll take guard. Oh no! Ricky Ponting has forgotten to bring his bat out with him. There’ll be a slight delay while he races back to the sheds to get his bat.” Things that make you go mmmmmmmmmmmm.

janice

5/03/2010Kim, Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Whilst I am a lefty, I would not vote for a labor candidate if I felt he/she would not be a good representative for the whole electorate. I am completely and utterly against rabid partisan politics where it is preached that Liberal/conservative is all good and Labor is all bad. I am incensed that the Liberal Party has been taken over by a bunch of far right jingoes who put the welfare and well being of the nation at the bottom of its list of priorities. I am incensed that the remaining small l liberals in parliament today do not have the courage to stand up and fight for their beliefs. It seems these people cannot see that by allowing themselves to be silenced simply enables the rabid right to march on and grow stronger. It is also evident (to me anyway) that the current conservative ratbags have allowed themselves to be bought by the power-crazed Rupert Murdoch who has spent at least half his working life attempting to "rule the world" by media. Murdoch influenced Howard and his government to nobble the ABC and thus wipe out his No.l enemy in this country. Murdoch is the evil behind what is wrong with the media in this country and it Murdoch who is pushing the buttons of Abbott, Minchin et al. In years gone by there were many politicians from both sides of politics who were admired by the public and their colleagues alike. Two examples come to mind in James Killen and Fred Daley. The moderates in the Liberal Party need to stand up and be counted and cleanse the party of this band of bully boys and bigoted nutcases. I want to see a credible opposition with well thought out alternative policies and reasoned debate in parliament that results in better legislation being passed for the betterment of the nation. No government is always wrong, always right or puts up legislation that is absolutely perfect.

Ostermann

5/03/2010Ad "Groupthink" yes (Media groupthink now seems to be moving towards belittling Kevin Rudd and his Government, reinforcing the approach of the Opposition.) I see that, I guess what I was trying to allude to is that in its apparent mindlessness "the butterfly effect", possiblly the "Groupthink" will actually end up giving the Govt. clear air to explain it policies and show just how belligerent the opppostion really are, a reverse effect to what there plans actually were, the media becoming Lemmings in competion for a headline. If of cause the Govt. can stay "on message" clearly

janice

5/03/2010SIC, What a pleasure (sincerely) it is to read your comments now that you appear to have ditched your penchant for attacking Ad astra. I like your honesty in highlighting the rogue politicians from both sides - it is a breath of fresh air.

Bushfire Bill

5/03/2010Janice, re. your point about Murdoch nobbling the ABC... he is now taking on the BBC: [i] The Tories have indeed signalled a hostility to the BBC that is rare, if not unprecedented, in an opposition. Why might that be? Two words: Rupert Murdoch. People often speak of the unique influence of the media magnate, with his combination of economic and political muscle, but ''influence'' doesn't quite capture it. Instead, Tory leader David Cameron has simply allowed News Corporation to write the Conservative Party's media policy. Start with the BBC. Murdoch, with son James, can't stand it - regarding it, a senior figure in broadcasting tells me, as ''like the ebola virus: they can't destroy it, so they try to contain it''. They dress up their opposition in pseudo-intellectual free-market blather, but the reality is much earthier: the BBC is a rival, and therefore an obstacle to News' commercial ambitions. The smaller and weaker the BBC becomes, the more money News Corp can make ... Perhaps this is merely a happy alliance of like-minded folk who share what Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw calls a ''free-market fetishism''. Maybe the Tories coolly weigh up the policy alternatives, with no thought to the endorsement Murdoch's Sun has given them and withdrawn from Labour, and just happen to reach a conclusion that matches News Corp's interests perfectly. Rather more likely is that a Conservative government would repeat one of the ugliest chapters of the Bush-Cheney era, when the White House allowed the oil and gas industry to write its energy policy. When it comes to media, the Tories are already doing that - handing the pen to Rupert Murdoch.[/i] http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/media-policy-tories-march-with-murdoch-20100304-plof.html

janice

5/03/2010It's bloody frightening isn't it BB? This "take-over" is so difficult to counteract because all rational debate is silenced.

Colen

5/03/2010Rx Unlike you I love new taxes. GST, VAT, Stamp Duty, Payroll Tax, Land Tax, Income Tax Medicare Levy, medicare Levy Surcharge, Superannuation surcharge. Dealing with all of these is how I make my living. The introduction of the ETS/CPRS would be just another layer, passed onto the consumer. The rich will play the game and pay more to use much the same. The poorer classes will cry and receive more social security benefits to cover increase in electricity and gas costs and the middle class will cop it, once again. You tell me who will benefit. The Macquarie's who arrange the permits, the financial middlemen. If you think the companies who sell their permits will reduce their costs and pass on any benefit to the consumer you are dreaming. I am a realist.

Rx

5/03/2010So Colen, If you're a realist, how do you feel about the conservatives talking down to you as if you're a four-year old? They're not treating those whose support they want with much intelligence are they: 'Great Big New Tax', indeed! Four monosyllabic words. My five-year old uses more sophisticated language than the mantra the Liberals are aiming at conservatives. If they were to dumb down that slogan any further they'd be talking in babbling baby-talk. Aren't you insulted that they dismiss your intelligence and that of other conservatives in this manner? I would be.

Bushfire Bill

5/03/2010[i]You tell me who will benefit.[/i] Ultimately billions who won't be living on an uninhabitable planet.

sawdustmick

5/03/2010Rudd address to the National Press Club on Health 3 March 2010 questions from Journalist. Matthew Franklin:(Murdoch Press) Yeah Being from Queensland, you'll understand this from your youth. Won't these just be - who will hire, appoint, fire, what will be their accountability? Will you just stack them with mates, Labor hacks and union bosses? And two - And two - And two, it leads from the question, your answer to that last question - surely you've got Buckley's chance of getting the states to hand over the GST? Aren't you just setting yourself up a nice populist election campaign where you can bag both Tony Abbott, the states, and big nasty bureaucrats who want to make everything bad for everybody? Tony’s morning tea of a lamington and warm glass of ovaltine with Rupert has certainly paid dividends. When TA was questioned over this little get to together, he said, “ I would hope that he liked me” I would say that was an understatement, I think that Rupert would like to get into TA’s pants. Jesus Ad, can you or anyone who writes on this blogg remember a more vicious and constant abuse of a PM of this country by the Murdoch press? No matter what political affiliation one has I think that any fair-minded person would agree with me on this matter.

lyn1

5/03/2010Hi AD Sawdustmick I couldn't agree with you more, the vicious abuse of our Prime Minister (elected by the people) by the Murdoch press. There were other vicious questions, Paul Bongiorno "if you can't run the insulation program how can you run the country". I wonder what the likes of Mathew Franklin and the whole lot of other Murdoch journalists,will do when the government gets voted back in this year. You all might like to read this column http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10139

janice

5/03/2010Sawdustmick, this Murdoch campaign has been going on since Labor came to office but the beat-ups are becoming more and more hysterical since Abbott and his mates shafted Turnbull. Lyn1 - once again you have posted a link to an excellent article - thank you. Did you read the four comments at the end? Makes me wonder if these people are just small minded bigots or just gullible souls who are incapable of rational thinking.

Bushfire Bill

5/03/2010[i]There were other vicious questions, Paul Bongiorno "if you can't run the insulation program how can you run the country". [/i] I got the feeling Bongiorno's heart wasn't in that question. I felt that he was rehearsing Rudd for the same, tedious question being asked by others in the succeeding days. They've certainly been lining up to ask it and mouth it, like a rite of passage for journos. Of course it isn't the answer they're after, it's the question that's important. To have not asked it is to relegate a journalist into the "weak on Rudd-bashing" team. Rudd should have said something like, "Insulation ain't Health," with a bit of argument to back that up. Instead he just waffled. Bongiorno gave him his chance and Rudd muffed it.

Colen

5/03/2010"Ultimately billions who won't be living on an uninhabitable planet" Africa and South America to Bushfires rescue. They have already destroyed the world's forests. Indonesia is also doing a great job. With the increase in the world's population I cannot forsee a reduction in CO2 emissions. The only way is for a reduction in population or a major investment in energy efficient technology. Going "green" any one. Soylent Green.

You must be kidding

5/03/2010This blog began speaking about group think ... and it seems we have the evidence of it right here. Nothing new to add to denate but the screaches of anger, hatred and conspiracy theorists all sound a little similar. Never let the facts spoil a good story I say ... So we have now trivilised the insulation program ... not the government of course for they changed Ministers and they are now recommending sending in the Auditor General ... but if it was left to this group think blog then you wouldn't support Combet's actions. Because apparently nothing is wrong ... to the extent one very wise group thinker suggested Garrett did a good job because there were less deaths than before ... say what? Then some start getting stuck into Reith who had an errant son ... indeed girlfriend if the facts be known ... another group thinker suggests he got off because some smart lawyer acted covertly ... the fact is he got off because he repaid the money some $50,000. Then some other group thinker seems to think this is the best Labor Government ... I'm sorry ... are you actually considering thinking that the Rudd Government is superior to the Hawke Government? Just goes to show how blind bias can be. And whilst soe of the group thinkers blame the ABC for right wing bias .... say what? ... does anyone follow senate estimates, doesn't anyone follow the Inquires into ABC bias ... not sure they have ever been accused of being right wing ... except of course on this site. You forget Cassidy is a former labor staffer as is Kerry O'Brien ... but I suspect that doesn't mean much when group think kicks in. Then its the News Limited team ... what was the comment again ... News have attacked Rudd like no other Prime Minister ... you are kidding right? Whether you agree with the issues of the time or not I would have thought the hounding Howard took over ... Sorry, Hicks, Children Overboard etc etc and the issues keep rolling ... would have been very different with the column inches disparaging Howard personally and his Government. I am yet to see that severe writing yet with regard to Rudd ... but hey who cares when the group thinkers on this site don't apply intellectual balance. So much so they ignore the PM's mea culpa ... didn't that mean anything to you? Then there was some commentary disparaging the National Party ... who represent mostly rural electorates ... so typical of folks to whack things they don't personally like without any consideration for those Australians who actually support such a Party ... it's called a democracy and having a balanced view to accept another's point of view without throwing a wild tanty would be intellectual maturity ... but do we get it from the group thinkers Apparently I am now a Liberal Party plant ... group thinkers are also called mob rulers who disparage folks they do not like ... these folks can use their hate and bigotry to generate similar commentary yet it is those who provide a balance that stops hatred and bigotry. And as for the Constitution and referenda ... perhaps reading the thing and then considering those referenda that have been put to the Australian people ... please point out where in the past the Government has put legislation to the people for approval ... other than changes to the Consitution ... BB ... you are all over the place on this and you need to get an understanding. Just because the Rudd government will change section 51 to include health ... that would be a mistake I would suggest given the diversity of the sector and the fact they pay for GPs and other health practices at the moment and we are only talking about hospital funding at the moment ... but for the sake of agreement .... just because they get approval of a change to the constitution to control health ... does not mean legislation will pass through the parliament. What many of the group thinkers believe is obviously their truth and as many have said of my contributions .... truth is difficult to change ... but your truth and my truth may not be the reality ... and that's a concept many group thinkers here just haven't grasped ... your truth is your truth ... it's neither right or wrong ... it's your truth ... that same concept then is also true of others including journalists.

lyn1

5/03/2010Hi Ad Talking about Murdoch this is must read Janice thankyou for your comment you and everyone will enjoy this link too: http://nymag.com/news/media/64305/ Bushfire Bill I agree Paul's heart wasn't in that question, but I was disappointed because I have always respected him as being one of the few balanced reporters we have. You must be Kidding what are you talking about The Truth is the Truth Get this If you tell the Truth you don't have to remember ANYTHING. Get it

Ad astra reply

5/03/2010Folks I’ve had diabolical trouble this morning accessing the Internet in the very centre of Melbourne via Next G Wireless Broadband, and when after three hours I did, it was painfully slow. Now out in the suburbs it is fine. Can anyone explain that? Anyway I’ll now try to make up some lost time. Rx I agree. What a slogan - ‘Great Big New Tax’. It rates with what primary school children might chant in a slanging match in the school yard – but perhaps I’m insulting the kids. Yet I’m sure it would have been created by Coalition minders based on focus group feedback. It’s caught on, at least among Opposition members who regurgitate it at every opportunity, and the mindless in the media use it as a weapon. How it will play out at election time is another matter. If that’s all the Opposition has to say about the Government’s CPRS, unless it can convincingly sell its own package, I doubt if the thinking swinging voters will buy it. They will see it as the superficial and disingenuous mantra it is. Your comment about complexity is germane. The desire for a simple diagnosis and a quick fix is all pervasive. It is intellectually difficult to encompass all the variables that operate in any system, and even more perplexing to contemplate the interaction between those variables. What we are experiencing in the discourse about the CPRS and now about the health reforms is the operation of complex adaptive systems, so called because they are diverse and made up of multiple interconnected elements, and adaptive in that they have the capacity to change and learn from experience. Such systems are not governed by simple linear thinking, and easy solutions are not available. Yet this simplicity is what the Opposition dishes up, and the lazy in the media repeat endlessly. Its minders must have convinced it that this will wash with the voters they want to win back. I believe those who swing from one side to the other, or who swung to Labor in 2007, are too circumspect to fall for that. The rusted-on will believe it, but they don’t count. Kim You are right when you say [i]” This right vs left false dichotomy is silly.”[/i]. [i]The Piping Shrike[/i] http://www.pipingshrike.com/ has written many good pieces on this subject. As descriptors, right, left, centre and all their variations, seem to have lost their usefulness, relying as they do on a consistency of values, opinions and positions among those so-labelled, which manifestly is no longer the case. So using the term ‘leftie’ for example is just a lazy way of categorizing as identical all who favour Labor. Kevin Rudd has attempted to neutralize the left-right dichotomy; I can’t recall him ever using the terms. He has avoided factional allegiances, where left-right contests still abound, and has eschewed unions and the power they exert, much to their chagrin. His message seems to be that aligning with stereotypical positions is not in the best interests of the nation. In my view what the people deserve to know is what each party believes in and how those beliefs are reflected in their policies. To embrace ‘small government’ yet behave as an intrusive one is contradictory and is seen as such. To portray a party as one that favours low taxes, yet to be the highest taxing government in Australia’s history, is seen for the charade it is. I would prefer parties to state their fundamental philosophical or ideological positions and show us how these are reflected in policy. Instead, too often, especially from those in opposition, we get crude slogans, paltry policies, simplistic solutions for complex problems, all an insult to our intelligence. And far from challenging this approach, most of the media goes along with it, happy to use and re-use the slogans, too lazy to check their veracity, hell bent on pursuing its own destructive agenda.

Ad astra reply

5/03/2010Ostermann I’m sure the media is hoping for the ‘butterfly’ effect, hoping that the incessant flapping of their flimsy wings will create a tornado that will blow the Government away. But as you suggest, it may work the other way. The public may wake up to the media’s deceit and blow it away. BB Your account of what Rupert Murdoch is up to with the BBC is alarming. Coupled with the piece to which Lyn1 linked us: [i] The Raging Septuagenarian[/i] http://nymag.com/news/media/64305/ it points to the agenda of the man, influencing to his own liking the politics of more than one country. Those who see Murdoch as a benign influence should comment here and convince us that this is so. YMBK You begin: [i]” This blog began speaking about group think ... and it seems we have the evidence of it right here. Nothing new to add to denote but the screeches of anger, hatred and conspiracy theorists all sound a little similar. Never let the facts spoil a good story I say ...”[/i] That is what you perceive in many who comment here. You end by saying [i]” What many of the group thinkers believe is obviously their truth and as many have said of my contributions .... truth is difficult to change ... but your truth and my truth may not be the reality ... and that's a concept many group thinkers here just haven't grasped ... your truth is your truth ... it's neither right or wrong ... it's your truth ... that same concept then is also true of others including journalists.”[/i] If that is so, and I agree with most of it, then should we not be more tolerant of each other’s ‘truth’? Where I don’t agree is where you say [i]” many group thinkers here just haven't grasped ... your truth is your truth”[/i]. That might be true of some, but we have some deep thinkers who visit here, smart enough to have grasped the truth which you describe. You did not offer a firm opinion about whether you believe the media in this country is afflicted by groupthink. Let’s have your view. You hint that might be so in your last paragraph , but seem to excuse the media’s groupthink as simply expressing its ‘truth’. I wish its behaviour was a benign as you suggest.

Bushfire Bill

5/03/2010YMbK above: [Because apparently nothing is wrong ... to the extent one very wise group thinker suggested Garrett did a good job because there were less deaths than before ... say what? ] I didn't say nothing is wrong. Something goes wrong in every large program like this, in every field of policy. Should the minister in charge of social security resign because people rort the system? Should the minister responsible for civil aviation resign because a light plane crases? If someone is killed building a federally funded freeway should the minister for infrastructure resign? Does the minister for defence resign when a soldier is killed in Afghanistan? Sure there have been four deaths associated with the insulation scheme. Note I did not say [i]due to[/i] the insulation scheme, because we don't know the circumstances yet. I won't get into the phoney "every death is a tragedy" business. Frankly, less deaths than would be expected in a large project like this is to be congratulated, and then improved upon. The whole premiss of your argument is that perfection is and should have been achieved. This has never happened in history, we have only improved on the past... so why start being all faux-concerned and crocodile tears about it now, YMbK? [i]... please point out where in the past the Government has put legislation to the people for approval ... other than changes to the Consitution ... BB ...[/i] I never mentioned anything [i]other[/i] than changes to the Constitution. My whole post referred to s128, which is solely about referenda and the process surrounding them. [i]just because they get approval of a change to the constitution to control health ... does not mean legislation will pass through the parliament. [/i] Of course not! But if such a referendum is passed then it is likely on the back of a victory for Rudd in the simultaneously held general election, which would most likely result in a loss to the Coalition of Senate control, which in turn would mean any reasonable Health bill passes, presumably with the assistance of the Greens who would hold the balance of power. YMbK, now you really are raving. Take a look at your own post. It's all over the place, hardly a complete sentence, slightly unhinged. Get a grip man.

Ad astra reply

5/03/2010Lyn1 Your link to [i]The politics of contrition[/i] by Jennifer Wilson today on [i]On Line Opinion[/i] http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10139 makes fascinating reading. You will be interested to know that Bushfire Bill has written a related piece that follows on from the current post. It is titled [i]Is Rudd tying the bootstrappers’ shoelaces for them?[/i]. It will be posted tomorrow. I’m sure visitors to [i]TPS[/i] will watch for it and find it appealing weekend reading.

lyn1

5/03/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for letting us know about Bushfire Bill's post going up tomorrow, I can hardly wait. Ad I am pleased you enjoyed the Onlineopion article. Ad I have a free subsciption to some of the bloggers sites, whereby they send me an automated alert by email everytime a new post goes up. Is it possible to put this option on The political sword, I suppose it costs more money , or you need a different search engine, anyway I just thought I would ask you. I got very excited about Grog coming here yesterday, I enjoy his posts

Ad astra reply

6/03/2010Folks I've just posted a piece by Bushfire Bill [i]Is Rudd tying the bootstrappers’ shoelaces for them?{/i], which I'm sure you'll enjoy. I'm closing this post now to block of the silly spam.

topsy.com

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