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Don't give your name to census, Mal's mandate, put Bush on trial, and arms race with China
2016-07-14 05:50:40
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Don't give your name to census, Mal's mandate, put Bush on trial, and arms race with China

Received: 2016-07-14 05:50:40 (10082 sec.) Created: 2016-07-14 03:02:38 (?)
Crikey Insider
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July 14, 2016
Independent Media. Independent Minds.
Dear Tony,

Why are Bush, Blair and Howard still free men after the crime of the Iraq War? You do not have to give your name to the 2016 census: former Australian Statistician. Razer: the rise and rise of the left (plus Rundle: the perpetual decline of the right). Transparency in the too-hard basket for Australia Post. Why we need to risk it all and take on China. And the real reason Luke Foley is backing the torture and slaughter of dogs.

Coalition should come clean on deal
Put Bush, Blair and Howard in the dock for democracy's sake
The census cannot force you to give your name
Tips and rumours
Rundle: Turnbull's mandate with destiny
To hell with lost trade, Australia needs to stand up to China -- and soon
Viva la revolucion! There's life in left-wing politics yet
Rundle: pity The Australian, the last holdouts of yesterday's culture war
AusPost outsources IT, claims it is no longer accountable to citizens
Department of Australia
Is this the snowpocalypse or do we need to chill out?
Bad luck o' the Irish: low-tax paradise soon turns into dystopia
Pokemon Go: more popular than snow, but trumped by Wimbledon and the Tour de France
We should treasure the history of greyhound racing
Media briefs: Google fights pirates ... when a follow-up isn't ... and here comes Boris ...
Glenn Dyer's TV ratings
The risk of Nats deals
Blog Roll
What revitalised central Melbourne?
Essential Research: 51-49 to Labor
Airbus wins a trophy order from Air Asia for 100 A321 NEOs

Crikey Says
Coalition should come clean on deal

Voters have a right to know the deal between the Liberals and Nationals.

It might be an agreement with almost a century of history, on and off, but the Coalition agreement between the Liberals and Nationals is an effective minority government. Without the support of the Nationals, the Liberals would not be in government.

Given this, the Nationals are going to throw their weight around. Reportedly there were promises in the deal during the last parliament that Turnbull wouldn’t move on same-sex marriage, climate change or a republic. He essentially sold out all he has believed in just to retain the top job. Nationals have threatened to end the agreement when they don’t get their way.

A stronger performance by the Nationals at the election means that new leader Barnaby Joyce is likely pushing for more, including apparently gunning for the Communications portfolio, meaning a Nationals politician could be in charge of determining the NBN rollout, ABC and SBS budgets, and arts policy.

Joyce claiming this morning that the agreement is akin to a journalist keeping their sources a secret might hold weight if in the last parliament the Coalition hadn’t brought in mandatory data retention laws, and the AFP hadn’t raided Labor’s headquarters chasing a leak to the media.

If Labor had made such a secret deal with the Greens to form a minority government by giving the Greens, say, the environment portfolio, the Coalition would be screaming from the rooftops and demanding to know what “dirty deals” had been done. The 2010 minority government deal between Labor and the Greens was public. We have a right to know the agreements made between our elected officials in order to form government, and the terms of those agreements in order to ensure that they can be held accountable for those agreements.

Put Bush, Blair and Howard in the dock for democracy's sake
Bernard Keane
Crikey politics editor

John Howard and Tony Blair

The Chilcot Inquiry report, awaited for years but finally released during the greatest political tumult in the UK in generations, has disappeared from the media cycle, submerged by the Tories and Labour simultaneously tearing themselves apart amid Brexit.

Those two issues, however, are not as separate as we might assume. Trumpism in the United States, Brexit in the UK, even the return of Pauline Hanson here have political commentators — left and right — mulling over an Anglophone revolt against “elites” (which elites depends on which political side you line up with), a distaste for politics-as-usual and a desire to re-assert control (with the focus usually being control of borders).

It’s difficult to fault a desire for greater control, however xenophobically expressed, when it is motivated by perceptions that governments and large corporations do as they please with little accountability — multinational tax avoidance, for example, is another issue that has angered voters both here in Australia and in the UK.

The Chilcot report devotes much of its massive length to detailing what exactly Tony Blair should be accountable for — and what he shouldn’t be. Notably, the report concludes that whatever errors and misjudgments Blair made — for example, wilfully ignoring advice that attacking Iraq would make the UK less safe, not more safe — he did not take Britain into Iraq based on a lie.

[Chilcot Inquiry: how Blair deliberately made the terror threat worse]

That’s not a conclusion that can be drawn about the Bush administration, however. There is considerable evidence that Bush and Cheney knowingly lied about Saddam Hussein’s possession and further development of weapons of mass destruction. Not merely is this evidence strongly circumstantial, based on intelligence reports that the administration was given before making statements contradicting those reports, but includes the statements of those directly involved. Former CIA officers have detailed how the head of the CIA, George Tenet, gave Bush intelligence that Saddam had no WMDs, but Bush rejected it because he’d already determined on war. Tenet himself in his book At the Center of the Storm outlined in extensive detail the determination of Dick Cheney, long predating 9/11, to find a reason to attack Iraq, and along with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to insert what Tenet called “crap” in public justifications for attacking Iraq, as well as the administration’s willingness to “mischaracterize complex intelligence information”. One of Bush’s intelligence briefers has also admitted Cheney fabricated claims but said it “wasn’t my job” to correct the lies being told about his own intelligence briefing.

These were people who were literally in the room, who have acknowledged the Bush administration lied, inserted “crap” and “mischaracterized” information about Iraq.

[Rundle: the Chilcot Inquiry, and Iraq’s true history]

Whether John Howard engaged in the same deception is unknown: we have never had a proper inquiry into the circumstances in which he led Australia into its participation in the invasion and occupation, and the only parliamentary inquiry into the WMD intelligence failure was not given full access to the materials provided to the government. At the very best, however, Howard was guilty of the same gross misjudgement as Blair; the fault lay as much with their own eagerness for war as any intelligence failure about the threat posed by Saddam. And Howard was guilty of making Australia less safe from the threat of terrorism as Blair was guilty of making the UK less safe. Like Blair, Howard failed on the most basic responsibility of any leader, keeping his country as safe as possible.

The three of them, and other Western leaders like Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, are responsible for one of the biggest mass slaughters of post-war history, a death toll of Iraqi civilians numbering in the hundreds of thousands, as well as creating conditions for the rise of Islamic State and the dominance of Iran in its region. They are responsible for more than 4400 dead US personnel and 179 dead UK personnel, along with tens of thousands of casualties and a bill that is estimated to eventually exceed US$4 trillion — quite apart from the ongoing human toll from veterans taking their own lives and suffering profound mental and physical trauma.

[Why the killing in Iraq will never end]

None have ever faced any accountability for, in the case of Bush and, possibly, Howard, deliberate lying about the need for an attack on Iraq, and in the case of Blair and Howard, a wilful misjudgment about that need. They still walk free, uncensured, apparently untroubled by the colossal disaster they bequeathed us.

Nor has Rupert Murdoch, who aggressively encouraged the invasion across all but one of his newspapers across the globe, been held to account. As Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre told the Leveson Inquiry, “I’m not sure that the Blair government — or Tony Blair -= would have been able to take the British people to war if it hadn’t been for the implacable support provided by the Murdoch papers. There’s no doubt that came from Mr Murdoch himself.” Murdoch, via orifices like The Sun, now claims to have been misled by Blair, complaining last week about Blair’s “weapons of mass deception” as though Murdoch was an innocent victim of Blair (and, by implication, Bush, although the former president has no connection with Wendi Deng). And we’re yet to see that US$20 barrel of oil that Murdoch declared would result from invading Iraq.

If there’s no holding to account for an act of mass murder costing hundreds of thousands of lives, resulting from deliberate falsehood and wilful misjudgement, one that has cost the West trillions in resources, one that continues to claim the lives of Iraqis and Syrians, former Western military personnel, and Western civilians, then what accountability exists at all for political elites? Under what genuinely democratic system does Tony Blair not risk prosecution while the men he sent to Iraq do? Under what genuinely democratic system does John Howard escape even an inquiry into his actions? How do George W. Bush and Dick Cheney face only the judgement of history, not the judgement of a court?

There are of course coherent answers to each of those questions, but we shouldn’t wonder about growing perceptions of a profound democratic deficit in Western countries when four members of the group that led us into such a catastrophe escape all accountability because of their elite status.

The census cannot force you to give your name
Bill McLennan
Australian Statistician, 1995-2000

Census collectors do their rounds

The Acting Australian Information Commissioner recently said “Privacy is not secrecy. It is about giving individuals control over how their personal information is handled; creating customer confidence and trust. As such, good privacy practices and great innovation directly support each other.

Unfortunately, Australian citizens will have no “control over how their personal information is handled” in the forthcoming Census of Population and Housing. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is collecting the name and address of each Australian, will retain that information and will match the census records with various administrative records held by government. Australians will be given no say in how their information is used as the ABS has said the provision of “name and address” is compulsory.

This, without doubt, is the most significant invasion of privacy ever perpetrated on Australians by the ABS and a direct and deliberate breach of Australia’s Privacy Principles. By doing this, the ABS has put the very success and value of the 2016 census at significant risk. From as early as 1976 to the mid-1990s the ABS has found that the Australian public is very concerned about the collection of names and addresses. More recently, the ABS’ own research shows that 19% of Australians don’t trust the ABS.

The compulsory collection and retention of names and addresses is very likely to result in a significant public backlash against the 2016 census, with people either boycotting the census or providing incorrect information. For a statistical office, this approach is just not tenable. To collect accurate information the willing co-operation of the public is required; this is an old adage, but a very true one.

[Why you should boycott the census]

However, an important legal issue is also at stake: the ABS doesn’t have the legal authority to collect “name” in the 2016 census on a compulsory basis.

The ABS is using the word “compulsory” about name-collection as if its meaning is obvious. Well, it is not, and for starters, that word isn’t mentioned in the Census and Statistics Act either. The reality is that most data collected by the ABS, even in the Population Census, is done on a voluntary basis. The term compulsory is simply used to mean that the ABS has the power to direct, in writing, any respondent to provide statistical information and then to prosecute if the person does not comply.

Before prosecution can be commenced regarding the collection of the census, several legal conditions have to be met. The first of these is the enabling provision, Section 8 (3) which, among other things, provides authority for the statistician to collect statistical information in the census. Section 8 (3) says: “For the purposes of taking the Census, the Statistician shall collect statistical information in relation to the matters prescribed for the purpose of this section.”

By regulation, the ABS has prescribed “name” as a topic on which statistical information may be collected and from which statistics are to be produced. However, as far as I can determine, no statistics are planned to be produced from the census about “name”. Therefore that statistical information, that is “name”, can’t be considered as being collected “for the purposes of taking the Census”.

I say this because the statistician is required to “compile and analyse the statistical information collected under this Act and … publish and disseminate the results of any such compilation and analysis” (See section 12 Publication etc of statistics.) With respect to “name” it is obviously impossible to meet this requirement! Hence the collection of “name”, per se, is not authorised by section 8(3) of the CSA.

“Name” can still be collected on a voluntary basis, but the ABS has no power to commence prosecution action against Australians for not providing “name”.

[Govt to store a trove of highly personal data, putting you at risk]

I should point out that I explained my conclusions on this matter to the Australian Statistician and he said he disagreed with my analysis. However, he gave no indication why he disagreed with me. He did say he had some advice from the the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) that concluded otherwise. I asked what questions he asked the AGS to address and if he would show me the AGS advice. He declined to do so. This surprised me, as I would have thought that if the ABS had sound advice that is helpful to the ABS view, then there are some obvious advantages in using it.

I was, personally, heavily involved in the process of rewriting the Census and Statistics Act in 1981. At the time, I kept good personal records of all the discussions the ABS had with the government, the parliamentary draftsmen and the Attorney-General’s Department on all important legal matters, including this specific issue.

My notes indicate that in June 1981, Dr Roy Cameron, the then-Australian Statistician, wrote to the First Parliamentary Counsel asking, among other things, if the draft bill could provide for the ABS to “collect information and then to compile and tabulate statistics”. He also suggested that a broader term, like “information”, was necessary for the collection function as it could be argued that names, addresses, industry, etc, are not statistics.

In July 1981, the Second Parliamentary Counsel replied to Cameron that he agreed with the distinction Cameron wished to make between the collection of information and the compilation of statistics. However, he suggested that the word “information” would be too broad and proposed the use of the term “statistical information”. He thought this expression was broad enough to authorise the acquisition of names and addresses, etc, of respondents, so long as it is done for statistical purposes. This proviso is making the same point I have prosecuted above.

The Second Parliamentary Counsel’s recommendations were agreed to and embedded in the enabling statements in the Census and Statistics Act in Sections 8 (3) for the census and 9 (1) for statistics.

I suggest the discussion on this issue ends here. The ABS does not have the authority to collect “name” in the 2016 census on a compulsory basis.

*Bill McLennan was the Director of the UK Central Statistical Office and Head of the UK Government Statistical Service 1992-94. He was the Australian Statistician 1995-2000

*A longer version of this article was originally published here.

Send your tips to or submit them anonymously here.

Tips and rumours

From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Going to the dogs. NSW voters might be wondering why Labor leader Luke “the Invisible Man” Foley has elected to spring from his normal state of complete obscurity to oppose the Baird government’s decision to close the greyhound “racing” industry, which keeps more people employed killing dogs than racing them. One Labor source — Crikey has been contacted by a number of Labor figures dismayed at Foley’s support for the dog killers — says look no further than Foley’s newish chief of staff, former “controversial” Channel Seven Sydney news director Chris Willis, who was unceremoniously given the flick from his old job last year. Willis, probably best known to the public for his long-running feud with popular Seven News veteran Chris Bath, “encouraged Foley to go hard against the greyhound ban”, we’re told. Presumably the same unerring judgement that Willis employed at Seven has led him to believe there’s political capital to be made from backing a bunch of people who slaughter and brutalise tens of thousands of animals a year.

CUB left hopping. Carlton and United Breweries is being picketed by staff after they were laid off when the beer company cancelled its contract for maintenance workers. The workers at the Abbotsford plant in Melbourne were told that they could return to their jobs on individual contracts, which they say would result in a 65% wage cut factoring in penalty rates and other entitlements. The brewery, which makes Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught beers, has been bussing in non-union workers for the last four weeks while ex-staff wait outside. Beer production has reportedly taken a hit, but now the brand’s standing with its customers is also facing damage. Posts on the VB Facebook page are less than complimentary, including this one, which gets in the spirit:

CUB Facebook


Mirabella pops up in Melbourne Ports. Her party may have deserted her, but Sophie Mirabella has not deserted her party. Mirabella was spotted yesterday far away from her former electorate of Indi, scrutineering in the seat of Melbourne Ports. Michael Danby is expected to hold the electorate in Melbourne’s inner city, even though the Liberals’ Owen Guest polled more than 10,000 more votes than Danby in first preferences.

Teething problems. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age launched new websites this week after months of beta testing. While The Age‘s new site is still online, the SMH has reverted back to its old design. The post from editor-in-chief Darren Goodsir welcoming a “new dawn” for the site has also been removed. A Reddit user complained that the new site was showing him someone else’s name when he logged in, although the “my account” page had his own details. Now we don’t want to throw stones in glass houses, but it looks like there has been a hiccup in the process of rolling out the new site.

UWA v West Australian. The University of Western Australia’s student magazine, Pelican, has canned a sponsorship deal with The West Australian newspaper to protest against its cartoonist Dean Alston. Pelican writer Kate Pendergast wrote on the publication’s website this week that Alston’s cartoons were “crude mysoginst ink”:

“Dean Alston is a prolific, provocative and roundly-acclaimed cartoonist. Having published over 14,000 drawings to date and received honour with a number of awards (including a Walkley in 1991), he has since the late eighties been under the employ of WA’s state newspaper the West Australian as editorial cartoonist. Though heading into his autumn years at 66, Alston has told the ABC he has no plans of retirement and will most likely ‘die at his desk’. His wit has been dubbed ‘wicked’, and his line-work — it’s pretty great.”

She went on to slam his views on women. The magazine hasn’t revealed what the deal is worth, but it said it has cut the deal over two cartoons deriding women in sport, one called “Wimmin” and the other “AWFL” about the women’s league in the AFL.

“So. Pelican noticed this and had a think. The West is currently in a sponsorship with us; or rather (because we don’t control our own advertising, and our budget is hardly our own), the UWA Guild. It has been since our first edition of this year, when the marketing arm of the Guild struck up an advertising contract. They have both a banner advert on our website, and an ad space in our magazine negotiated to run in five print issues. A free 12-month digital edition subscription is also offered to students (valued at around $300). There is one remaining print advertisement booked, set to feature in Edition 5, and following this the possibility to continue and expand our relationship into the future. The sponsorship is of significant benefit and value to Pelican financially — out of it, we’ve managed to pad our pockets with a tidy sum, that by commercial agreement, we’re not allowed to specify.”

The editors got a response from The West Australian‘s editor Bob Cronin, and unsurpisingly the paper chose to keep the cartoonist over the small sponsorship deal.

Not what you were looking for. While Theresa May is about to take the reins as Prime Minister of the UK, the Liberal Democrats (the British branch, not David Leyonhjelm et al) are not so happy about it. This is their 404 page:

UK Lib Dems 404

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Rundle: Turnbull's mandate with destiny
Guy Rundle
Crikey writer-at-large 


So it begins. “Malcolm Turnbull is claiming a full mandate …” on the front pages, and “Tony Abbott should be returned to the cabinet” in the op-ed section (two separate articles in the Oz!). With the count down to one seat, Herbert — barring any bizarre late-reversals elsewhere — and the Coalition eyeing the prospect of 77 seats in the house, the claims to total dominance begin again.

They always do, and they’re always pretty thin. This time, vanishingly so. A one- or two-seat margin over all other comers, and a 50.2% two-party preferred result overall. The pre-emptive confidence-and-supply deal with Cathy McGowan is a statement of intent, given certain conditions apply. The agreement with Bob Katter is like signing a timeshare resort agreement with the Tasmanian Devil (“now your payments are in arrears …” “GNASGSGsahhhfggghaaahAHHSGGHG”). Even now half-a-dozen Nats are brushing off their boondoggle schemes and preparing to become the new Barnaby Joyce.

Faced with these melancholy facts, the Coalition has resorted to pointing to the first preference vote, where it leads the ALP by about 700,000 votes. But of course that’s only as a Coalition; Labor remains the single largest vote-getter with 4.3 million first preferences. Add the first preferences of all the non-Coalition parties and MPs, and it outdistances the Coalition. And of course, first preferences are irrelevant. The whole point of an exhaustive preferential system is to allow voters the luxury of making a ticket; voters don’t vote with a “veil of ignorance” as to how their votes will be counted, they vote oriented to it.

But, as always, the manifestly undemocratic nature of the lower house will be ignored, and the originating pretence inserted — that 150 good and true men and women have come to Canberra from their backblock electorates, brass band at the station waving handkerchiefs etc, to, without preconceptions, form a government. The Nationals have about a million votes (the Nats plus half the LNP) and 23 seats. NXT has a quarter of that — and one seat. The Greens have more — 1.2 million votes — and one seat. One Nation have about 160,000 votes and are locked out entirely.

[Rundle: how the minors can hijack Parliament and bring on the revolution]

They do not, of course, control the Senate, which once again takes its place as a house of review — indeed, increasingly as the states’ house it was intended to be. But now the game becomes more complicated. Even though the Senate has a proportional-preferential system in place to put a brake on small-majority governments, its legitimacy will now be questioned in the name of a m-m-m-m-andate.

We have a system that is now a shell-game, one in which legitimacy is always under the other card. Our system is hybrid; like the UK and the US it has never been reformed as has those of Europe and New Zealand, so that the parliament reflects the vote. Unlike the UK and the US, it has been repeatedly tinkered with, so that its process of determination has been rendered obscure. In the Australian system, there is no clear answer as to where legitimacy lies. Single-member parliaments are really a form of imposed sovereignty by election; they carry enough of the mystique of hereditary authority with them, to acquire sovereignty by fiat.

With the resolution of the result, mainstream political commentary goes back to the manner it prefers: that of sports journalism by other means, handicapping the runners. What will Turnbull have to do to get his nose in front in the early parts of the race, how will he handle the turn, etc, etc. On the one hand, the MSM commentariat howl endlessly about the lack of “budget repair”, and imply that some sort of ubermensch is required to sort it all — someone who will rise above “politics” to deliver the pure and unquestioned program.

[Rundle: it’s not our country that’s unstable, it’s our political system]

On the other, they never bother to question whether the structure of the system itself is designed in such a way that it will now deliver that sort of result repeatedly from now on. In other words, they never consider the degree to which an electoral result is not a product of the public will mediated by an electoral system, but the autonomous product of a system that consumes the vote as raw material and spits out a result. When the raw vote is scattered among multiple parties, but the system was designed to reconcile three-party contests into a simple majority, the result will — barring genuine landslides — always be indeterminate.

Indeed we would now have more stability from a proportional multi-member lower house system than we do now, with Bob Katter, ageing boy-king of a Queensland fiefdom, crouched in the hold with a lit bomb labelled “B-O-M-B”. Talk about a fizzer. A lower house that forced parties into stable coalitions is exactly what would make a long-term plan for budget repair — and foreign affairs, and infrastructure and much else — a feasible proposition.

Of course, that has an anti-democratic dimension, too: the centre locking out the margins. And one of the virtues of our current mess of a system is to let randomness and other voices into the process via the Senate. That’s fine by me, but I suspect it’s the opposite of what many people want, or believe was intended by the Westminster system.

But one thing is for sure: it will be the absolute making or breaking of Malcolm Turnbull. He will either be able to bring his negotiating skills to bear, put his first bad year behind him and re-cement his reputation — or he’ll go down in flames again, and be the joke of history, judged as the worst of the post-Howard prime ministers, and with the enormous resources of News Corp devoted to a second time for Tone.

So it begins.

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To hell with lost trade, Australia needs to stand up to China -- and soon
Michael Sainsbury
Freelance journalist in Asia and editor of Little Red Blog


Australia’s ambivalent relationship with China has been laid bare by the long-expected ruling by an international court in The Hague in favor of the Philippines against the country’s largest trading partner and wannabe regional hegemon and its aggressive, illegal activities in the South China Sea.

The by-rote, meaningless, bare minimum response from Canberra to the dangerous regional security game now very much in play also underscores a growing weakness in the country’s engagement with the region and its diplomatic heft.

“There would be strong reputational costs. China seeks to be a regional and global leader and requires friendly relations with its neighbours — that’s crucial to its rise. Australia will continue to exercise our international law rights to freedom of navigation and overflight, and support the right of others to do so,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

The South China Sea issue has been roiling for the past 65 years and has been in play as a potential inflection point for the entire Asia Pacific region since 2013, when the Philippines showed considerable spine by taking a four-pronged dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

[Conflict in South China Sea an ominous background to this election]

The body’s ruling is the first time China’s claim to a maritime area of 3.5 million square kilometres, which overlaps with the sovereign economic exclusive zones (EEZs) of seven other nations, has been legally tested. It was effectively dismissed as illegal. To boot, the court exposed the fact that China has exported its environmentally destructive growth model into international waters, accelerating the destruction of the world’s oceans for the glory of the ruling Communist Party. Quite the global citizens.

It’s important to understand that this is very much a regional issue, with five other of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus Taiwan (as well as Japan) having an identical dispute in the East China Sea. As the Centre for Strategic and International Studies neatly summarised in January 2016, by 2030, China will be such a superpower that the South China Sea will be nothing more than a “Chinese lake”.

Australia is a wealthy, democratic nation with sophisticated armed forces whose long-standing defence alliance with the US has remained the unshakeable politically bipartisan centrepiece of strategic policy. As such, it should be showing courage and leadership on an issue that has triggered a regional arms race.

So the initial response from Bishop and her puppet-masters at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was the usual cut-and-paste huffing and puffing.

There was little demonstration of the complexity of the situation and the usual craven rider — “but Australia does not take any sides” — was added in. It will have the effect of slapping Beijing with a wet lettuce leaf.

Moreover, this response is a lie; it is a continuation of the rapid loss of transparency and obfuscation by governments in Australia.

Australia is quite clearly taking sides — anyone in Canberra who thinks the Chinese are not absolutely convinced Australia it has chosen a side is delusional. So why bother saying it at all? Why not man up?

Secondly, it’s just the latest episode in the determined avoidance by the government (and its Labor predecessors) in attempting to avoid any serious debate about China and “The Relationship”, as the diplomats intone with their usual self-importance.

[What is going on in the South China Sea?]

The reason is simple: when it comes to trade, Australia is all over China — which accounts of about one-third of two-way trade with Australia — like a cheap suit. It is desperate to mimic at least some of the unrepeatable once-in-a-lifetime mining boom. So it gave away far more than it got for the sake of a so-called free trade agreement, which is really a deal for some tariff reductions and access (with conditions) to some (by no means all) market sectors where Australian companies will only ever play a very limited role.

Like many other nations, Australia lives in fear of any reduction in trade and investment by China. It’s time we got over it; there are enough other investors across Asia, the Americas and Europe, to reduce the Chinese to a rounding error.

Yet from a strategic and military standpoint, Australia stands firm with the US and increasingly Japan, a country with the most-loathed status in China. The US and Japan have made it very clear they have taken sides against China. And this week, Japan and India, ever closer, will discuss the decision and its potential repercussions. Australia needs to join this loop.

The Gillard government’s decisions to allow US forces to be stationed in Australia in 2012 and the Coalition government’s handful of invective about China’s maritime aggression and air defence identification zone in the East China Sea were all duly slapped down by China, with La Bishop given rare public rebuke by China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The game is up and there is no going back unless Australia wants to dramatically reshape its core alliances; that ain’t gonna happen.

Labor defence spokesman Stephen Conroy is the only politician in Australia prepared to speak up:

“It’s time that Australia demonstrated that it supports the international system and, now that it’s very clear you cannot build artificial islands and claim rights around it — there is no 12-mile limit around these islands that China is claiming — so Australia should authorise its forces to both sail and fly over the areas of the South China Sea.”

And why not?

There are no surprises in the ruling, which basically says the Chinese claims are outrageous, and its intrusion into the Phillipines EEZ illegal; China has used its rapidly improving naval might to stop the country’s fisherman plying their trade in an area around the Scarborough Shoal for the past four years

So far, the commentary from the mainstream Australian media has been disappointing: simplistic, often uninformed and China-centric, ignoring other regional players.

So Australia, with its annual tripartite talks with the US and the Coalition’s embrace of Japan as a defence ally, is necessarily drawn in further to the side it claims it has not taken.

A firm collective response for China’s neighbours and led by the US would hopefully give it time for some thought and recalibration of what is effectively a dick-swinging strategy. If China doesn’t take this time for some positive development, anything could happen and then, perhaps, Australia would finally speak up about the side it has taken.

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Viva la revolucion! There's life in left-wing politics yet
Helen Razer
Writer and broadcaster

bernie sanders 785x495

Last week, well-regarded Fairfax columnist Waleed Aly had a moment of modest despair. Old politics, he said, didn’t reflect a new and emerged reality, and he described a nation at mild odds with its representatives. If we started from scratch, he said, our parties would now look very different.

It’s difficult to argue with the suggestion that politics is out of touch, and, so nobody did. Aly was seen to have deftly “nailed it” once more with his description of stuffy old ideologues, and his view that most Australians were “centrist” who craved a centrist party went unchallenged.

Perhaps many of us in Australia just want what Aly and Nick Xenophon believe we do: a reasonable party located at the midpoint of political thought. Many of us may agree, on the face of it, with Aly’s view that, “left and right have almost never been meaningful terms” and that they now are even less meaningful.

Left and right have, says Aly “fragmented into nothing coherent”. At this time, this may still hold true in the minds and the political practice of Australians. But it ain’t the case in the US or the UK, whose social and political conditions have produced a young left who may serve as our Coming Attraction.

This week could bring the public disappearance of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, but it certainly won’t spell the end of the 1970s socialism each man has introduced to a class of young activists and voters. Whatever you happen to think of either chap and however much you may share Aly’s faith in reasonable centrism — just how one declares oneself to be at the meaningful centre of meaningless distinctions is beyond me, but, anyhow — you cannot say that these men have not had a great influence on the young.

Bernie Sanders, who this week traded an endorsement of the “centrist” Clinton for a boost to minimum wage, might be gone. But, as he said in New York City shortly after all his hopes for nomination were done, to a young crowd shouting, “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie”, “This is bigger than Bernie!”

This is bigger than me. If we don’t count marvelous inattention to personal grooming, this statement may be Sanders’ most legitimately socialist act — as others have written, his policies are really just straightforward FDR centrism that only appear left in a time of such profound devotion to supply-side thinking. Whatever Aly thinks about the “meaninglessness” of the left, it revives an old-time meaning for leftists when we see a guy say, “You are not applauding me. You are applauding engagement with these ideas.”

Young people in the US and the UK are engaging with these ideas. We can say, and we often do, that young people are apolitical and young people only care about publishing selfies on Instagram in an Uber. But that they turned out in great and historic number to support and to vote for a man who keeps saying “It’s not about me” — also a key message from that other identifiably left US political movement of the present, Black Lives Matter must restore some active meaning to Aly’s meaningless left.

Again. Even if you share Aly’s faith in a reasonable middle, and even if you support his curious reading that sees left and right as indistinct historical partners, you cannot say that there are not many young people in Anglophone nations who think you’re wrong. Their attachment to the old ideas of these old guys is documented.

By the end of today, Corbyn may be devoured by a party who insists that he is “unelectable”, despite the plain disagreement of all those, many young, who have joined Labour or allied organisations in order to give a declared socialist their vote. You can be as centrist and reasonable as you wish, but this will not change the fact of a membership surge of more than 100,000 in the last week. This will not change a renewed interest in a part of the left, long marginalised, that arose in the first moments of financialisation.

Younger people do not share our centrist faith in the long boom. The material quality of their lives is not tied to economic growth figures any more than our wages have kept pace with housing prices. This class of voters and activists have had it harder for longer in the US, where debt and underemployment are problems monumental enough to produce dissatisfaction much bigger than Bernie. In a Harvard survey, 51% of US millennials didn’t much fancy capitalism.

“Left and right have almost never been meaningful terms” is a bold claim and one, I’d suggest, that can be easily upturned by a quick comparison of Capital and The Wealth of Nations, perhaps the two most influential texts for left and right practice respectively. To say that these ideas are either indistinct or have lacked real influence is absurd. I guess it’s slightly less absurd to say that these ideas have “fragmented into nothing coherent”; and certainly, I’ve banged on about the incoherence of the contemporary left to you for several years.

But, it’s just wilful to say that young people have not begun to notice a left and right distinction.

This is bigger than Bernie and more gigantic than Jeremy. It’s every bit as large as the problems that young people face. And you can say, if you will, that we need a new and “reasonable” politics, but given that the very unreasonable effects of 40 years of financialisation are so keenly felt by young people, you better get writing that centrist manifesto.

While you’re doing that, some younger folk plainly feel that older socialists can give them something to work with. And, a handful of us Gen X-ers do as well.

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Rundle: pity The Australian, the last holdouts of yesterday's culture war
Guy Rundle
Crikey writer-at-large 

The general theory about, well, everything that’s happening on the right these days is this: the great coalition of “social conservatism” that lasted from Reagan-Thatcher to the end of Howard (with a last farcical recap under Abbott) has fallen apart.

The movement combined free-market economics and globalisation with traditional morality (enforced by the state). It served to build majorities for nearly 40 years. The destructive effects of capital have killed it: the communities that were held to be yearning for this traditional morality have been scattered and trashed by the economics it was being used to shield. The New Right is — in rhetoric at least — communalist, nativist, anti-globalist. The appeal of Trump, Brexit, Hanson and the European New Right is all built on their explicit twinning of nativism and parochialism with a rejection of free-market globalism. Seems obvious.

Not so to the denizens of The Australian‘s Surry Hills bunker, who have not been having a good time of it. Tony Abbott was supposed to be the key figure renewing the social conservative movement — instead, he appeared to trash it beyond redemption. Not much was expected of Malcolm Turnbull, but he has proved to be not much good, even at being Malcolm Turnbull. Now with Pauline Hanson forming a crucial Senate bloc, the bunker has to deal with several parties’ rejection of the borderless free market, which they do so with grace and clarity I’M KIDDING they are as batshit delusional as ever.

[The worst result of election night: the return of Hanson]

Typical of this is Nick Cater’s typically addled account. On the one hand, she represents a democratic act by those who voted for her and who are dismissed as “dangerous” by “sophisticates” (Cater’s vocab, here as always, reads like dialogue from Mad Men). On the other hand, she is part of a wave of “populism” sweeping the nation — a term implying that those who vote for it are fools who do not understand how the world really works. No matter. Hanson’s task is not to represent them at all, but to help the Turnbull government cut the budget:

“The real test for Hanson, then, is not whether she offends the cultural sensitivities of the sophisticates. She only has to take her seat in the Senate to do that. The test is whether she is prepared to take on the populist forces of economic ­irrationalism and contribute to the urgent task of lowering the debt, reducing the deficit, fighting the dependency culture and promoting economic growth. “

In other words, her task is to cut the services and benefits of the people who voted for her. Because her actual politics can’t be taken seriously; they can only be a populist cover for the politics of the elite that Cater represents.

This delusion — that there is a “real” politics, deep down, that coincides with, well, Thatcherism — is present also, inevitably, in Planet Janet’s latest screed, in which she praises Cory Bernardi for setting up a hahaha right-wing GetUp, which will speak for the “silent majority”, whose values are real. How does GetUp recruit? It offers “buzzwords” — “fair speech” rather than “free speech”, which stimulate dopamine in the brain, as does chocolate or sex. Conservatives are considered individuals, GetUp are political sugar rush zombies.

[Can Bernardi and friends create a conservative GetUp?]

Having strained to actually try and understand the GetUp phenomenon, Planet just can’t do it. She needs her little dopamine shot as much as anyone, by deriding its members. In doing so, she misses how it works. GetUp is simply the popular political militia of the rising progressive class, knowledge and culture workers, most of whom vote Green.

These people are young, professional digital natives with busy lives. They’re not political junkies — the world is too interesting for that — but there are things they want to get done. To do so, they’re willing to lend their weight, most simply by signing an online petition. A small number of the 1.1 million people signed up will get involved on the ground. Their strength comes from their positivity, their clarity about what they’re doing, and the limited role that politics plays in life.

[Pssst, Abetz: GetUp is not a charity, does not care what you think]

The conservatives Bernardi and others are trying to rally aren’t like that. They’re from social classes losing out in the great globalisation process, who are imbued with the spirit of paranoid politics. Silent majority? Bloody Marcel Marceau, more like. They’re a set of groups with overlapping obsessions, and a lot of their economic politics are recognisably left wing — to the left of Labor, indeed. They like outsiders like Hanson and Lambie. Finely turned-out professional politicians like Bernardi, who attempt to put themselves at the head of this parade, are going to get trampled by it. These people don’t share the Elite Right’s fantasy that they have much in common with the Elite Right.

One has no doubt that some sort of reactionary insurgent force can be got going. Whether it can be sustained is the question. There is no substantial social base for it, as there is for progressives — the cultural right is now a scattered and minority tradition. By now, most people watch Netflix and have no great problem with same-sex marriage. The GetUp movement is digital in a digital world, run by digital natives.

By nature many of the conservatives Bernardi will try to draw on are older, digitally excluded (which is part of their sense of powerlessness) and to be blunt, more interested in watching Sky News and grousing about things than phone banking or the like. This “enthusiasm” gap is what has given the Democrats two decisive victories in 2008 and 2012, even when the polls made the race look tighter. Can the quant tables be turned here? I doubt it. And even if they could, one doubts Planet and Bernardi are the ones to do it.

But the Stupid Prize in all of this goes, as almost always, to Gary Johns. The Senate has just become a states’ house for the first time in its history: NXT is largely South Australia First, Lambie is Tasmania First, and One Nation is Qld/WA v the non-mining states. Johns’ advice to Turnbull for getting stuff through this Senate:

“Turnbull must move away from the concerns of the city elites on culture wars. Turnbull should get stuck into anyone who rabbits on about weaker borders, treaties with Aborigines, Islamophobia, gender identity or withdrawing a gay marriage plebiscite.”

Concerns of the city elites? Has he listened to Pauline Hanson? No one raised any of this stuff until the right did. Takes two to have a culture war. How do you get so confused about a new political force? Because deep down, Johns can’t believe they’re real — still less that they are big-spending economic nationalists, whose vote depends on hospitals, roads and protected industries for their state. Johns can’t accept that the real New Right are different to the fantasy public the Elite Right constituted to cover their politics.

They’re a classical liberal’s nightmare. Farcical recap is it. The Elite Right are going to be more disappointed by the next three years than I already am.

AusPost outsources IT, claims it is no longer accountable to citizens
Josh Taylor
Crikey journalist

Australia Post

It turns out “It’s too much effort, and we outsourced our IT” is not a valid excuse for government agencies to attempt to avoid transparency and scrutiny.

Outsourcing is often seen in government as a means to cut down on costs, but it is also used as a means to avoid transparency in government. We’ve seen before that by using commercial companies to do your work for you, it is possible to evade Australia’s freedom of information scheme through a number of confidentiality clauses. But blaming outsourcing entirely for your inability to comply with an FOI request is a new one.

[Outsourcing: the key weapon in the war against transparency]

Last year, a man attempted to get hold of footage from two CCTV cameras from an incident he was involved in at an Australia Post facility in 2014, using Australia’s freedom of information law. Australia Post initially rejected the request on the grounds that it would breach the personal privacy of others in the footage.

The man took the case to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, headed by Timothy Pilgrim, for review. The judgment issued in April is a fascinating look into the lengths some organisations under the umbrella of FOI law will go to in order to avoid handing over information.

Although the man was refused access to two videos, Pilgrim found that in the first video, only the man himself was identifiable, so there was no privacy breach in that instance. In the second video, several customers — and staff members who opposed the release of the video — are also identifiable.

Pilgrim suggested that perhaps the footage could be edited so that the faces of those involved would be blurred. Australia Post first argued that by editing the video, it would be creating a new document that didn’t originally exist, and therefore FOI law would not apply. When that didn’t work, Australia Post just claimed it would be far too difficult because the government-owned business had outsourced its IT division, could not find an employee with video-editing skills, and the software and work required would take up to four days and cost $4000. As such it would be an abuse of taxpayers’ funds.

Australia Post also, bizarrely, argued that the CCTV footage was “actually a program, not a video file”, which meant it couldn’t be edited. The OAIC looked into it and found that the footage could be saved into editable files, and blurring the footage would only cost about $100 to do, with very little in the way of editing skills required.

[Every step you take: govt to pool CCTV images and facial recognition to track citizens]

Australia Post also tried to argue that by disclosing security footage it would “disclose the existence of this security measure and the location of the security cameras”.

Pilgrim was not convinced, and ordered the release of the videos.

It is not the first time CCTV footage has been obtained under FOI law. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has released similar footage. This footage is now available on YouTube via a Right to Know request.

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Department of Australia
Department of Australia
Hand-crafted, artisanal satire


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Is this the snowpocalypse or do we need to chill out?
Magdalena Roze

A child makes a snowman in Mt Macedon, Victoria

A bitter cold snap is bringing extremely cold weather to south-eastern Australia today, accompanied by low level snow in places like Canberra and Ballarat and storm force winds. So how unusual is this weather? Is it climate change or is it just winter? It’s a bit of both, so let’s discuss.

A fairly uncommon weather set up in the Southern Ocean is to blame, with low pressure systems stacked vertically on top of each other all the way from Antarctica up to Australia. Winds move in a clockwise direction around lows, so there’s a conveyor belt of icy southerly winds carrying polar air directly from Antarctica to us. Normally cold snaps are caused by south-westerly winds that have a bit of time to warm up before they get to Australia, but not so this time, which is why it’s so cold. Not only have temperatures been as much as 10 degrees below average today, but we’ve also seen snow down to low levels such as Melbourne’s and Hobart’s higher suburbs.

But before we scream “snowmageddon!” it’s worth noting that we actually saw snow down to even lower levels last winter. Extreme cold events like this are common during winter, as are heatwaves during summer. It’s the nature of the weather. Therefore, one can’t attribute any such single weather event to climate change because climate isn’t just about one single weather event; rather it refers to pattern of weather over at least a few decades.

There’s actually a bigger picture with this current event, too. What’s quite unusual at the moment is that while we have an Antarctic blast affecting southeastern Australia, meaning unseasonal tropical rain is falling over northern Australia, which is usually bone dry at this time of year. Jabiru in Kakadu National Park has already picked up 21.8mm in 24 hours, seven times what it would typically get during the entire month of July. But wait, there’s more. This tropical moisture across the Northern Territory is moving eastwards and intensifying, and it’s expected to clash with the cold Antarctic air from the south. This has the potential to causing record-breaking rain in parts of Queensland from Friday to Sunday. Flooding is possible, with the heaviest falls from about Bundaberg to Mackay.

So we have unusual cold weather and unusual tropical weather — both happening at the same time. Thus the real question is: are we seeing more such extremes in hot and cold weather in Australia? Yes we are, there is certainly a pattern emerging and this pattern is consistent with a warming atmosphere.

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Bad luck o' the Irish: low-tax paradise soon turns into dystopia
Glenn Dyer
Crikey business and media commentator

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reckons his narrow win in the July 2 election gives him a mandate to implement policies, including the corporate tax cuts from the May budget. He should take a look at what happened in lower-taxed Ireland this week and wonder if he should be more careful in going down this route.

A report from Ireland’s government statisticians has upended all previous knowledge of what happened to the Irish economy in 2015. The report said the economy grew 26.3% last year. Previously, in March, the Central Statistical Office had estimated growth of 7.8%.

That was three times the growth rate the Irish economy achieved in the mad bad days of the “unlimited” property boom and the “Celtic Tiger” years that ended in a huge financial bust as the banks collapsed and were rescued by a 78 billion-euro bailout package from the EU and IMF. That, in turn, produced a deep recession, which even though ended years ago, still scars the economy and the Irish population and cost the government its majority in an inconclusive national poll earlier in the year.

[How much will a company tax cut boost ‘jobs and growth’?]

The 26.3% growth rate is so large and off the planet that it is unbelievable and has drawn scorn from far and wide — US economist Paul Krugman labelled it “Leprechaun Economics,” while a report in the Financial Times started, amusingly:

“The Irish have written some notable works of fiction — James Joyce and Flann O’Brien produced imperishable classics. Now there is a new addition to the national oeuvre — the official narrative of the country’s economy. According to data released on Tuesday, it grew by 26.3% last year.”

And that’s at constant prices. At current prices, growth was more than 32%, which is absurd.

The absurdly high figure is explained by Ireland’s 12.5% tax rate for business, which has encouraged a flood of investment from companies (mostly US) “inverting” themselves by taking over Irish-based companies and relocating from their former home markets.

Among firms that have inverted to Ireland — mostly through acquisitions — are Perrigo Co. and Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc. Corporations with assets overseas of 523 billion euros (US$580 billion) were headquartered in Ireland in 2014, up from 391 billion euros in 2013, according to the statistics office. As well, many companies are already located in Ireland (tech and pharma companies) for tax/revenue/profit shuffling — Facebook, Starbucks and Apple are some of the big names that use Ireland in their tax planning.

It helps explain why Ireland is a top five investor in US Treasury securities, with well over US$240 billion invested — most of it the corporate cash float that is sitting in company accounts to take advantage of Ireland’s low tax rate (some companies actually pay less than the 12.5% official rate). American companies refuse to repatriate their money back home to the US because of the higher tax rate there on earnings of 35%.

[The economic case for a company tax cut is collapsing]

But all this tax shuffling and all these inversions artificially inflate the size of Ireland’s economy. When the headquarters of a group of companies becomes resident in Ireland, all of its global profits may be counted as part of the nation’s gross national income, according to the ministry — and that has been boosted by around 7 billion euros — but there is no increase in output or employment. And it also forces Ireland to make higher payments to the EU (which is based on the size of the economy and doesn’t take account of the tax-based nature of the increase in the economy).

The Financial Times nicely captured the problem from being a low-tax regime with this quote from a member of the country’s parliament:

“The question is whether the Irish economy has become so distorted by its tax regime that nobody knows what is happening on the ground. Pearse Doherty, a Sinn Fein member of parliament, said: ‘We now have an economy so intertwined in international tax and accounting stunts that they bring with them a serious risk.’ He said the next reclassification could see an equally dramatic drop in activity.”

And there is a problem about to emerge — a slowdown that the tax lurk can’t offset. Tuesday’s Irish GDP report suggested that activity in the first quarter of this year fell by 2.1%. If that happens and is repeated in the second quarter (and the Brexit vote and the volatility and loss of confidence triggered by that shock vote, could do that), then Ireland will be in recession. So, from a year where the economy grow by more than a quarter to a recession — all in the space of six months, and all due to the distortions of being a corporate tax paradise.

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Pokemon Go: more popular than snow, but trumped by Wimbledon and the Tour de France
Myriam Robin
Crikey media reporter

If you want to avoid the ceaseless Pokemon Go coverage, you’d best avoid the internet. And TV. And radio. You’d be somewhat safer sticking to the papers.

Isentia figures of the week’s most popular issues shows the augmented-reality mobile game was mentioned 2678 times in Australian online media outlets in the past week, making it the fourth most-mentioned topic for online media sources over the period. Pokemon Go was mentioned about a third as often as the federal election (mentioned 8382 times) and only slightly behind the greyhound racing ban (3483 mentions) and the Euro 2016 football tournament (3692 mentions).

Television and radio also gave the game a hefty dose of free publicity in the past week, with 2003 and 1460 mentions respectively. But a relative paucity of print coverage (politics has eaten the papers) mean its total mentions are well behind things like the Wimbledon tournament, the Dallas shootings and the Tour de France.


We should treasure the history of greyhound racing
Alan Davies
Transport and town planning consultant and The Urbanist blogger


The author’s household’s late greyhound, Carlos, aged 14 years. Carlos was a former racing dog who was poorly looked after in retirement and eventually rescued and rehomed

The Baird government’s decision to close down the NSW greyhound racing industry last week prompted vigorous public discussion on a range of issues, mostly around animal welfare and gambling.

[Left and right revel in the pointless cruelty of greyhound racing]

But there’s also a “heritage” dimension here; a mostly working-class activity that’s been pursued for almost 90 years in NSW will, for all practical purposes, completely disappear.

This is very different from historically significant buildings being bowled over. What’s almost certain to go by the board in this case isn’t just the infrastructure; so are the various activities they were built to accommodate. It won’t be the sort of slow disappearance that no one really notices until it’s too late; it’ll be a clear-cut chop from “before” to “after”.

Around 600 race meetings will no longer be held across NSW every year. Many of those venues may close or be redeveloped for non-sporting purposes. An estimated 13,000 active participants in the industry will no longer have a role, including owners, trainers, breeders, organisers and volunteers.

It’s unlikely terms unique to greyhound racing — like “handler”, “catcher” and “lure” — will be heard much any more in NSW. The owner-trainer who walks his muzzled greyhound through suburban streets every day in the hope of a big win one day isn’t as common today as a few decades ago, but he won’t be seen at all in NSW from now on.

The report of the Special Commissioner refers to the greyhound industry, but it’s much more than that term implies. It would be unfortunate if what’s been an important part of Australian cultural life is only remembered by the appalling findings of Justice Michael McHugh AC.

Greyhound racing is a big part of Australian 20th-century working-class history. The first race with a mechanical lure was run on 18 May 1927 at Harold Park after the Gaming and Betting Act was amended to allow legal wagering.

“While horse racing was generally a pastime for the wealthy, Greyhound racing attracted the working class man due to the low admission charges, ability to place small bets and the timings of races which were often at night and suited their leisure hours. It created much opposition from the conservative and religious elements of the population against public gambling.”

Like any activity, greyhound racing means different things to different people. For those involved in some way, it could’ve been a job, a responsibility, a hobby, a great win, a pursuit, an income, a list of champions, a social life, a wager, an area of expertise, a regular committee meeting, time with dad, a favourite bar, a source of self-esteem, a bunch of friends and acquaintances, and more.

Neither the dark underside nor the bright upside should be forgotten. Of course the idea of “protecting” an existing industry on heritage grounds — treating it like a museum piece — makes little sense (although the history of industry protection suggests it’s not always seen that way). And anyway, McHugh’s report provides compelling evidence to support the Baird government’s decision to close the industry.

Like corner video stores, it’s an industry that’s structurally unsuited to contemporary circumstances. Technology made the video store redundant, but changing values underlie the demise of greyhound racing.

The key problem is a large supply of pups must be whelped each year to keep the industry running. But the great bulk in each litter are euthanised prematurely, either because they’re unsuitable for racing or their competitive career is over. Moreover, the incentives for barbaric training practices like live-baiting are strong and hard to police.

These sorts of practices have always been part of the industry; they date from a time when animals were seen as commodities with few “rights”. But values have changed; like the keeping of sow stalls, they’re quite properly considered unacceptable today.

So the industry is going in NSW, but the fact it’s still operating offers an unusual opportunity to “design” the way its history — the heritage it leaves — is represented. Many of the venues and artefacts are still being used, albeit on borrowed time. For the moment, this is a living and breathing set of activities; it’s possible to capture real-time events and the views and recollections of participants while they’re still engaged in the activity.

That’s likely to be a much richer source of information (albeit restricted to the post-war years) than the customary focus on preserving buildings that once accommodated long-disappeared activities with significant social and cultural historical importance.

Indeed, it highlights just how little information about social history is conveyed by simply preserving a building with — as is usually the case — no tangible connection to the activities it once accommodated. That usually can’t be avoided but we can do better.

We need to put more effort into recreating the way heritage buildings were used during their lives. The value of preserving a set of buildings like these would be immensely greater if protection were accompanied by, for example, information-rich 3D tours showing how they were used during their lives (e.g. see here and here).

Disclaimer: my wife’s father trained and raced his own greyhounds in the 1970s (Kelley Diro won the $1250 Graduation Stakes at Olympic Park, Melbourne, on July 15, 1975); they lived as pets for the rest of their lives.

*This article originally appeared at The Urbanist

Media briefs: Google fights pirates ... when a follow-up isn't ... and here comes Boris ...


How Google pays back for piracy. Google is often the kicking boy when it comes to copyright holders angry about all that internet piracy. Through YouTube, and Google searches, it is not difficult to find pirated content online. Google is fighting back against this perception, however. In a report released overnight, the company has said that through pirated videos uploaded to YouTube, the actual copyright holders of those videos have made over $2 billion.

This happened through a system called Content ID, where creators can go and match up their own content up against videos uploaded by other people. If they find something of theirs that someone else has uploaded without permission, they can ask for it to be pulled down, or they can ask to get the revenue from the advertising around that video. The latter option has resulted in $2 billion being paid out.

Content owners, however, argue that it’s not very good with finding infringing content on YouTube, so it’s not paying out as much as it should.

On the search front, Google says engineers have ensured that when someone Googles, say Game of Thrones, they’ll get legitimate sites rather than torrent sites first up. Google says that searching for the name of a piece of content is much more common practice than “Game of Thrones download” for example. In that instance, the former has been searched 784 times more often than the latter.

For those who are searching for pirated content, Google says it also offers up ad results for legitimate means of buying the content.

It’s an ongoing fight, however. Google says it takes around 6 hours to process each Digital Millenium Copyright Act request to remove a link (or multiple links) from Google search results, and in 2015 alone, Google received requests for 558 million URLs to be removed. It removed 98% of these. Google defends its search, though, saying search merely reflects what is put on the internet, and doesn’t control it. — Josh Taylor

The tricky business of what is and isn’t a follow-up. On Tuesday, an opinion piece by yours truly made the point that journalistic follow-ups that don’t acknowledge where a story came from threaten to undermine the business models underlying original journalism. The piece used two examples from that day, both involving the ABC. But ABC sources have since told Crikey we weren’t being entirely fair to Stephen Long, the business reporter whose story on the nightly television news centred around the views of George Rozvany, who had been the key source in former Fairfax journalist Michael West’s exclusive investigation released earlier that same day.

Turns out West and Long had spoken of doing stories on Rozvany ages ago, when West was still at the SMH. The idea was anything Long did would run on the same day as West’s piece, to maximise the impact. With that in mind, West introduced the two, and Long interviewed Rozvany last week (rather than, as our piece assumed, in response to West’s story that day). There was no set agreement that the ABC would credit West with having broken the story, as our piece on Tuesday quoted West saying. — Myriam Robin

Front page of the day. Foreign Affairs Minister Boris Johnson …

FPOD July 14

Glenn Dyer's TV ratings
Glenn Dyer
Crikey business and media commentator

State of Origin Game 3 last night. Ill mannered and mean spirited, and that was the after game performance by the winning NSW team (and at times the Queenslanders were just as churlish with their on field antics). Weak football in many respects with Queensland also not really wanting to be there having won the first two games and NSW wanting to win at all costs to send captain Paul Gallen off into retirement on a winning (and whining) note.

Viewers must have sensed it would be an unattractive game (certainly for people in the main market of NSW, it was going to be a very boring until that last minute “try) so they tuned out in their hundreds of thousands. Not helping audience numbers was the change of regional affiliates for Nine, from the long time NRL-supporting WIN, to Southern Cross the old Ten affiliate with a smaller footprint and almost no interest in NRL.

So the national audience of 3.064 million was the lowest in six years (since Game 3 of the 2010 series) while the metro audience of 2.11 million was the lowest since Game 2 in the 2008 series. The regional audience of just 953,000 was the lowest so far measured (and records go back to 2003 under the present electronic rating system). That has a lot to do with the change of Nine’s regional affiliation deal from June 30. It means we will probably won’t see a record audience for years to come. That was 4.194 million for Game 3 of the 2013 series. So looked at another way, last night’s audience was 1.13 million lower than that record, and given NSW’s performance in this series and last year, that is understandable, even before the impact of the change of regional affiliate for Nine.

Mad As Hell was a far better program to watch. At least there was humour and a point to the program, unlike for much of what I saw in the Origin game. Shaun Micallef looks more Prime Ministerial with each passing program. Made As Hell managed to grab 807,000 national viewers.

And Masterchef Australia stood out for Ten with a solid effort against the faded glory that was Origin 3 – it managed to hold on to 1.3 million national viewers. And a good part of those hung around for Nina and her latest antics — 926,000 nationally — which was also pretty good going. In the morning Today won for a second morning with 318,000 metro viewers to 294,000 for Sunrise. Sunrise won nationally.

Tonight: The AFL Grand Final two and a half months early? Hawks v the Swans, though at the SCG and not the MCG.

Network channel share:

  1. Nine (40.2%)
  2. Seven (21.2%)
  3. Ten (17.5%)
  4. ABC (14.5%)
  5. SBS (6.6%)

Network main channels:

  1. Nine (32.9%)
  2. Ten (13.9%)
  3. Seven (13.6%)
  4. ABC (9.8%)
  5. SBS ONE (4.7%)

Top 5 digital channels:

  1. 7TWO, GO (3.6%)
  2. ABC 2, 7mate (2.9%)
  3. Gem (2.6%)

Top 10 national programs:

  1. State of Origin Game 3 – match (Nine) — 3.064 million
  2. State of Origin Game 3 – pre-match (Nine) — 1.920 million
  3. Seven News — 1.794 million
  4. Seven News/Today Tonight — 1.534 million
  5. Nine News — 1.463 million
  6. A Current Affair (Nine) — 1.334 million
  7. Masterchef Australia (Ten) — 1.309 million
  8. ABC News — 1.282 million
  9. State of Origin Game 3 – post-match (Nine) — 1.277 million
  10. Home and Away (Seven) — 1.242 million

Top metro programs:

  1. State of Origin Game 3 – match (Nine) — 2.111 million
  2. State of Origin Game 3 – pre-match (Nine) — 1.2850 million
  3. Seven News — 1.157 million
  4. Nine News — 1.109 million
  5. Nine News 6.30 — 1.077 million
  6. Seven News/Today Tonight — 1.036 million

Losers: No one really in the viewing audience (Well, Queensland supporters of their Origin team). NSW fans and players for the team’s churlish after game celebrations.

Metro news and current affairs:

  1. Seven News — 1.157 million
  2. Nine News — 1.109 million
  3. Nine News 6.30 — 1.077 million
  4. Seven News/Today Tonight — 1.036 million
  5. A Current Affair (Nine) – 953,000
  6. ABC News – 864,000
  7. The Project 7pm (Ten) — 726,000
  8. 7.30 (ABC) — 688,000
  9. The Project 6.30pm (Ten) — 581,000
  10. Ten Eyewitness News — 508,000

Morning TV:

  1. Today (Nine) – 318,000
  2. Sunrise (Seven) – 294,000
  3. The Morning Show (Seven) — 189,000
  4. News Breakfast (ABC, 110,000 + 51,000 on News 24) — 161,000
  5. Today Extra (Nine) — 134,000
  6. Studio 10 (Ten) — 95,000

Top five pay TV channels:

  1. TVHITS (1.9%)
  2. LifeStyle, Sky News, Fox 8 (1.7%)
  3.  Nick Jr (1.6%)

Top five pay TV programs:

  1. NRL: 360 (Fox Sports 1) — 72,000
  2. AFL: 360 (Fox Footy) – 68,000
  3. Alvinnn!!!! And The Chipmunks (Nick Jr) — 61,000
  4. Family Guy (Fox8) — 58,000
  5. Blaze And The Monster Machines (Nick Jr) — 54,000

*Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2016. The data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of OzTAM. (All shares on the basis of combined overnight 6pm to midnight all people.) and network reports.

The risk of Nats deals

Wheelin’ and dealin’

Keith Binns writes: Re. “Is there a secret Nationals deal to attack women in the Family Court?” (yesterday). It will be interesting to see how the Nats vote holds up in Queensland when more of the Barrier Reef bleaches. They remain the most culpable political Party as they deny Climate Change while it is their constituency that will be most effected.
I was handing out pamphlets for Get Up on election day. There was a shady side and a sunny side on the path where I was. A Liberal supporter, in the shade and cold, asked to swap with a co-worker in the sun. She replied that she liked it in the sun and wouldn’t swap. Sort of sums up the whole Party, doesn’t it?

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