Less Outrageous, But #QandA Still Doesn’t Get It

SCANDALISED YET DEFIANT after its outrageous disregard for social and editorial standards last week, the ABC’s #QandA roared back onto screens across the country last night; after a week in which the broadcaster has come under heavy criticism for providing a platform for a convicted criminal, terror suspect, and advocate of the pack-rape of female journalists on national television, it remains stoutly but implausibly insistent it did no wrong.

First things first: for those who’ve been under a rock somewhere, my midweek article — a follow-up to the disgusting farce perpetrated by #QandA last Monday — can be accessed here, and this piece also provides a link back to an earlier piece which features a link to that episode.

Those who did not see last night’s follow-up episode of #QandA can watch it here.

And for a slightly different perspective, I am also including a link to this article today from conservative journalist (and former ABC board member) Janet Albrechtsen, which paints an accurate picture of the ingrained left-wing bias of the national broadcaster and a compelling portrait of its systemic refusal to meet its obligations in terms of political balance and impartiality.

Senior Liberal Party figures Nick Cater and MP Alan Tudge drew the ire of the broad Left yesterday for refusing to appear on #QandA last night, and I made the point during the show on Twitter that a “line in the sand” drawn by Liberal Party figures refusing to appear is understandable, given the almost explicit anti-Liberal, anti-Abbott government agenda this programme — and by extension, the publicly funded broadcaster itself — is wont to pursue.

As we argued during the week and as Albrechtsen points out, there is no “free speech” defence to what transpired last Monday night, and whilst ABC figures from #QandA host Tony Jones down were yesterday claiming that had they known the criminal they featured, Zaky Mallah, had also championed the gang rape of journalists Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi on national television they would never have invited him to appear, the claim is as hollow as it is disingenuous.

For one thing, even without the gang rape incitement, Mallah still represented an unsuitable person to whom to  provide a platform of national airtime at public expense; and for another — as last-minute #QandA panel member Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large of The Australian, noted — there is no “free speech” defence when Mallah’s appearance was a deliberately contrived “gotcha” ambush against a government MP, and that much at least was established during the week as well.

The final word on Mallah’s suitability to appear on a national programme like #QandA, ironically enough,  came from Mallah himself; a heavy user of social media to spread his opinions, I noticed last night he had tweeted that Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was “society’s cum stain (sic)” for having the temerity to stand up to him last week and suggest he should be thrown out of the country.

There is a stain at the centre of these discussions, to be sure. But it is not Steve Ciobo.

I think the ABC and its key personnel know they overstepped the mark — badly — last week, and I equally think they couldn’t give a shit about it; the whole point of its diatribes about “free” speech to justify its actions is to send the message that the ABC will say and do whatever it likes — and if that means demonising the Australian Right in order to advance the interests and positions of the Left, then so be it.

After all, host Tony Jones’ cheery declaration at the start of last night’s episode that over time, #QandA would leave no strand of opinion out of the programme is disingenuous: “over time” gives ABC staff more than enough scope to manipulate and abuse its execution of that promise.

Does a solo #QandA performance by, say, Joe Hockey after a federal budget count as “coverage” of conservatism or as a sop to the Liberal Party? If it does, that frees up more “space” at other times for stacked panels of pinkos taking aim at everything they despise.

To that end, conservatives are too often included on #QandA as either “tick-a-box” token inclusions (so the ABC can claim not to have left the Right out, even if the discussion has been fixed and sabotaged beforehand) or as targets for abuse, ridicule, humiliation, or downright bullying.

Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was regularly invited onto #QandA, only to face vicious onslaught from her fellow panelists — Jones included. NSW conservative Christian MP Fred Nile was recently invited onto a “special” #QandA show on marriage where he was outnumbered five to one. There have been plenty of other examples.

The voice of reason last night belonged to Kelly, who — graciously, patiently and eloquently — made the case that the ABC had engaged in an endeavour last week to ambush Ciobo in pursuit of a “gotcha” moment with the specific objective of embarrassing the Abbott government, and that in so doing, it provided a national platform for an individual whose presence on any ABC production is and was unjustifiable.

The real message of the ABC’s “contrition” came from the persistence of panellists to defend Mallah; one even suggested getting him media training so he would be more “media savvy” in future.

Spare us!

But none of the panellists from the Left were having a bar of Kelly’s admonition; and his fellow last-minute ring-in replacement — Human Rights commissioner Tim Wilson — probably delivered the line of the night, bluntly telling Jones that he and his colleagues should have been ashamed of themselves over last week’s effort.

But defiant to the end, the insistence that editorial independence and a right to free speech contrived to dictate no fault on the ABC’s part for including Mallah last week tells the story; these people are not sorry, and the apologies they have offered should be sneered at with the same contempt with which the ABC itself dismisses anyone who disagrees with it.

The ABC simply doesn’t get it, and the fact anyone from the national broadcaster is defending last week’s episode at all proves the point: in its own world view the ABC is above criticism, beyond reproach and immune to the consequences of its actions, and I would go so far as to suggest that those responsible for #QandA really don’t care for the damage they have done to the ABC’s reputation, and to political discourse in Australia more generally.

Those who doubt this contention need look no further than the fig leaf Jones tried to appropriate as an excuse for Mallah’s presence at all: as I pointed out at the outset, he claimed that had ABC types known of Mallah’s advocacy for the gang rape of Devine and Panahi on breakfast television, then Mallah would not have been allowed into the audience or onto the ABC’s premises at Ultimo in Sydney.

In the final analysis, that the ABC has used feigned ignorance of the threat of pack rape against prominent female identities as its excuse for allowing last week’s outrage to happen is a damning indictment on those people at the national broadcaster who were involved.

Distilled to the essence, it is disgraceful that a public broadcaster would use something as tawdry to rationalise away its culpability.

Last night’s episode might have been nowhere near as bad as the one that preceded it, but the events of the past week — culminating in last night’s broadcast — show the ABC to not only stand behind its inappropriate actions last week, but that it offers no real apology or contrition for them at all.

At a cost of $1.1 billion dollars to the taxpayer each year, it is not a situation that can be permitted to continue, and the lawless ABC needs to be held rigorously to account.

 

“Weak,” Inept, Or Just A Liar, Bill Shorten Is Not A Leader

LABOR “LEADER” Bill Shorten might dismiss it as “propaganda,” but the fact is that an attack ad produced by the Liberal Party and posted on YouTube sums him up to the letter; disloyal, treacherous, dangerously incompetent and downright dishonest, the moronic Shorten is a frightening candidate for the Prime Ministership of Australia: and grotesquely, he makes the imbecile Rudd and the divisive Gillard appear as national heroes by comparison.

I will probably post again late tonight, for the interview with fraudster and pretend cancer sufferer Belle Gibson on the Nine network’s 60 Minutes programme tonight revisits a theme we covered off on some months ago; I have no time for people like Gibson — and readers should be well assured that she and the handful of other con artists already exposed this year for profiteering and/or glorying in false and/or embellished stories of misery are just the tip of the iceberg — and if the interview with Tara Brown tonight is as hard-hitting as Nine insists (despite suggestions it’s a paid powder puff piece) then the exercise will have been more than worth the money they dangled at Gibson to entice her to appear.

I think Belle Gibson should be prosecuted for fraud, and made an example of, and we will return to that theme tonight.

But I has seen the Liberal Party’s new attack advertisement this weekend, and I must say it’s absolutely on the mark; Shorten has had more than 18 months now as the “leader” of the ALP, and the story that is increasingly able to be told as a result of his words and actions is one of a man who should never be elected as Prime Minister of this country.

And as far as I am concerned, he isn’t even fit to sit in federal Parliament.

Is it merely “propaganda,” as Shorten claims? Well, as a paid political production disseminated to influence political behaviour, of course it is to some degree.

But that doesn’t make it any less valid — especially when particularising the abominable track record of a specimen like Shorten.

Shorten told the Fairfax press yesterday that he’s “learnt not to take too seriously Liberal Party propaganda,” and I suppose for a man trying to spread the lie of an $80 billion cut to health and education spending — monies that derive from unlegislated Labor promises that the Liberals explicitly refused to match before the 2013 election — and who refuses to commit the ALP to “restoring” those monies, Bill Shorten knows all about propaganda: he’s busy enough with his own.

And the key critique Shorten offered Fairfax was that the advertisement was evidence the Liberals want to “live in the past:” for a man whose party is gearing up to fight a fourth consecutive federal election with WorkChoices at the centre of its campaign, Shorten would know all about that too.

But where is the new Liberal Party attack advertisement incorrect?

Is it the assertion of weakness? Hardly. Shorten stands for absolutely nothing.

Is it the assertion that he is untrustworthy? Anyone who watched The Killing Season over the past three weeks knows you wouldn’t trust Shorten as far as you could throw him, and much less with the governance of the country and the Prime Ministership: Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard would have the franchise on that.

Is it the assertion he’s got too much baggage from his time in the unions? Well, with what is emerging at the Royal Commission into the trade union movement — Shorten’s powerbase and old stomping ground — it’s not unreasonable to wonder if he might end up being charged with something. No baggage?

To listen to Shorten, of course, it’s an “unfair smear,” and one of the problems with “Bull Shittin'” is that in his world it’s fine to dish out as much dirt on opponents as he and his henchmen can muster, but to have someone hold him, and them, to account? Well, that’s an outrage. But Shorten can’t have his cake and eat it as well.

Is it the assertion he has too much baggage from his “six disastrous years” with Rudd and Gillard? It is sufficient to note that based on the accounts of his own colleagues, Shorten has had to clean an awful lot of blood off his own knife since entering Parliament, and Rudd and Gillard — and others — have the scars between their shoulder blades as testament to his handiwork.

Or perhaps it’s the litany of policy failures that are directly attributable to Shorten — the ongoing commitment to the carbon tax, the sellout to the Greens over asylum seeker policy, and so forth — that fleshes out the case he stands for nothing — or at least, nothing that hasn’t been tried, and has failed, and been comprehensively rejected.

As we’ve noted in this column, Shorten’s only policy (that he now stands on only to hide) is to abolish the private health insurance rebate — and the reason he wants it concealed is that it would cripple the healthcare system in Australia if ever implemented, and cause its collapse. So much for Shorten’s “year of ideas.”

And as for the Liberals’ assertion that Shorten is committed to more taxes, more waste, more debt (and by implication, more spending), the advertisement does no more than accuse Shorten of following in the footsteps of the Whitlam, and Rudd, and Gillard governments, which were also mirrored in the final disastrous term of the Keating years.

What has changed at the ALP on Shorten’s watch? Apparently nothing.

Perhaps Shorten’s real complaint against this piece is that it brutally exposes the fundamental truth — that he is not a leader — and in doing so, this column has led that charge since the day Labor’s “democratised” leadership election process was rigged by unions to ensure their grip on MPs saw Shorten prevail against the wishes of the party’s membership.

Anyone who thinks Shorten is in fact “a leader” should watch the advertisement, and try to explain away its final sequence: busted for lying over his involvement in knifing Gillard — and caught out for treachery and disloyalty for more than the first time — Shorten, with an answer for everything, had an answer for that too: but he still went ahead and stuck the knife into Gillard, just because he could.

Just because it advanced his interests.

And just because, unable to truly lead people, treachery and disloyalty and lies are the only tools Shorten has to work with in his quest to become Prime Minister.

I can only suggest anyone who is repelled by the odious behaviour of Bill Shorten share a link to this article far and wide, for he is not the kind of person Australia can afford to bestow responsibility for its welfare and its future upon.

My call is that the Liberals’ new advertisement hits the target perfectly.

Bill Shorten is a grotesque and insidious specimen. He is not a genuine leader’s sphincter. He is a treacherous thug and a liar who is solely motivated by his own ambitions and his own welfare. And the prospect of him as Prime Minister is a hideous and terrifying prospect.

 

 

Gay Marriage: No, It Is NOT Time To Legalise Polygamy

LESS THAN A DAY after the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of gay marriage — legalising the measure in all 50 states, making the pressure to follow suit here harder to resist — voices of the liberal Left are already pointing to polygamy as the “next step forward” in their “progressive” crusade. The ruling by the Court is a travesty. For those who’ve opposed gay marriage and warned of what might follow, those forecasts have quickly proven right.

As fair-minded as I am about my conservatism, I find myself offering an unconditional apology to Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi this evening; the Senator — whom I pilloried when he warned that sanctioning gay marriage would inevitably lead to calls for polygamous unions to be legal, and further along the slippery slope marriages (and presumably sexual relations) between people and animals — was probably right.

Three years ago, when Bernardi caused uproar and brought shame on conservatives with his graphic warnings of polygamy and bestiality, I never thought I would see the day when I would say this: but the attack I made on him in this column is one I now unreservedly and fulsomely withdraw.

By now I’m sure readers are aware that overnight the Supreme Court of the United States delivered a majority decision by a 5-4 margin that legalises gay marriage in all 50 US states; and whilst the victors are entitled to be jubilant, declaring “love wins” and rattling on about “equal love” and marriage “equality” — when there is no such thing — the decision already looks to be the thin edge of the wedge, and promises to stir great division and conflict in American society.

An article from the New York Times, which details the decision and which I strongly recommend readers review, can be accessed here.

I’m sick of being told I am a bigot, or a homophobe, or ignorant, or a Neanderthal, when I am none of these things; as far as I am concerned, gay people can go off and do whatever they like with each other. As far as their place among the rest of us goes, that’s a given. I understand there are still people around who think gay people should be bashed, ostracised, prosecuted or worse. But I am not one of them and I am fed up with sanctimonious “do-gooders” taking it upon themselves to make such insidious spot diagnoses when they have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.

But my opposition to gay marriage (in spite of a wide liberal streak that says they should do as they please) isn’t about brutalising and vilifying gay people; rather, it stems from the need to preserve traditional social values: values that, sadly, seem to break down that little bit more each day, when they are the foundation and the bedrock of our society — and not some arbitrary product of it, as this decision is, and as it will be if developments in the United States come to be mirrored here.

I think the ruling of the Court is a travesty, made as it seems to have been with the cavalier disregard for its consequences that invariably accompanies judicial activism, and driven as it has been by the hardline activism of the illiberal political Left. It is one of those oxymorons that in recent years where social policy is concerned, those traditionally ascribed the label “liberal” have largely come to be nothing of the kind.

The regime this decision will spawn in the United States will seek to vilify and to crucify anything or anyone who fails to parrot unquestioning compliance with the new “order,” and before anyone scoffs, there are already signs of the same thing happening in Australia. Exhibit #101 in this regard is deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek, who has already shown her hand (and that of the wider Australian Left) through her push to enforce a compulsory vote in favour of gay marriage on Labor MPs if and when the matter comes before federal Parliament.

It defies belief that the use of force would stop there: and with the prospect of conservative campaigners in the USA now facing a barrage of legal and social attacks for their trouble, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a) this change could tear American society apart, and that b) that effect could well be replicated here if gay marriage is legalised in Australia.

I’m sorry, but exhortations of “goodwill” from those activists campaigning for this change amount to nothing — literally nothing — when viewed against the backdrop of the very clear signs that have already emerged in the States in the wake of their Honours’ decision.

I’m not going to labour the point on the decision, but less than a day after it was announced a prominent American academic has published an essay in the respectable Politico magazine, in which he argues “group marriage” is the “next horizon in social liberalism” in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Just as readers should acquaint themselves with the coverage I’ve linked from the New York Times, they should read Fredrik deBoer’s article from Politico as well.

The point that I would make of his theoretical case is that from a logical perspective, it is very persuasive.

Yet this is a key problem with socialism in all its forms, and with the ideologies of the Left in general: you can make a case for them, and those cases may seem compelling. From a purely practical perspective, however, they are generally unworkable — the experience of the Soviet Union is obvious proof of it — and when it comes to engineering the complete breakdown of traditional social values that have endured and underpinned liberal democratic societies for centuries, it’s not unreasonable to assert that their implementation, if taken to its logical conclusion, risks the breakdown of the society as well as the values.

Polygamy is popular with welfare rorters; until the practice was clamped down upon in Britain, the UK had hundreds of polygamous families on its books claiming millions of pounds in welfare payments; here in Australia, there have been cases of the same thing occurring. To the best of my knowledge, the practice (in terms of welfare claims) remains legal, even if the “family” structure is not. But if the likes of Dr deBoer win the argument, this adoption of “family” structures with which to abuse public resources will skyrocket.

Polygamy is also popular with all the kinds of people the Left purport to hate: misogynists, sexists, tokenisers of women, those who are violent and/or abusive of women, and those who hide behind what deBoer euphemistically describes as a “hub and spoke” view of “family” relations.

As Dr deBoer himself gleefully acknowledges, the decision of the US Supreme Court has set American society on the slippery slope: and his embrace of the fact is alarming, considering where that slope may lead.

I don’t intend to tear his arguments apart at length any more than I intend to dwell on the “historic” decision of the Court; those who feel elated by its handiwork can celebrate, but they should be careful in contemplating what they think they have won.

Do I have a problem with gay people in relationships, or with extending to them the same rights at law that heterosexual people enjoy? Of course I don’t.

But as I have now said many times, calling it “marriage” is one step too far: and for a group in society that arguably ranks among its most intelligent, my suggestion they come up with their own institution rather than hijacking a “hetero” entity half of them want nothing to do with anyway is a sincere one.

Yet regrettably, having trashed marriage in its traditional sense, other injuries to decent and traditional social norms will quickly follow, and if one of the first to be inflicted is to bring polygamy into the mainstream as the Left has done with gay marriage, then it’s only a matter of time before outright social decay ensues.

The thing that makes us civilised as human beings is that we don’t behave like animals: our societies are ordered according to a set of values that give them structure, and operate within the rule of law to give them order.

To begin to kick the pillars out from beneath the edifice is to invite the entire thing to collapse; gay marriage might well be the harmless foible its proponents claim in attempting to steer conservatives toward supporting it, but it really is the thin edge of the wedge.

To me, it is no surprise the call for polygamy to be legalised has already rung out in the United States; the only mildly surprising thing about it is the indecent haste with which that call has been made but then again, there is never all that much about the social engineering efforts of the Left that could be characterised as “decent.”

Let those who are so inclined celebrate what has transpired in the United States; for the legalisation of gay marriage is a Pyrrhic victory indeed, and one which raises the curtain on the prospect of it ultimately delivering far more harm than good.

Suddenly, Cory Bernardi’s warning about sex and marriage with goats and horses and God knows what else looks a little less hysterical than it did 24 hours ago.

Even if that sounds — as it deserves to sound — thoroughly ridiculous.

 

Their ABC: No Free Speech Defence Exists For #QandA Outrage

WITH INQUIRIES afoot into Monday’s despicable episode of #QandA and the furore over giving airtime to a violent thug and gang rape advocate refusing to abate, apologists from ABC Managing Director Mark Scott down have sought to defend the show based on free speech. No “right” to free speech features taxpayer-funded airtime for criminals. If it did, questions of bias and decency are separate issues Scott’s “defence” fails to address.

In the wake of the reprehensible episode of #QandA broadcast on Monday night — an outrage unapologetically compounded as the ABC repeated the broadcast, unedited, on Wednesday — the most disgusting (but not unexpected) aspect of the saga to date has been the parade of various left-wing sympathisers in the press and elsewhere lining up to defend “their ABC” on the basis that convicted criminal, gang rape advocate and former accused terrorist Zaky Mallah was not only entitled to appear on the programme, but to proclaim that the fact he did was evidence of free speech at work and of the ABC’s fine record in empowering the powerless, and of giving them a voice.

What absolute bullshit.

At best, those who have been trotted out to fly the flag on the ABC’s behalf — from its Managing Director Mark Scott down — have spoken of freedom of speech without any appropriate sense of context for it; at worst, this was an unforgivable exercise in providing a national platform for a dangerous criminal that was contrived to either poke the hated Abbott government in the collective eye, or to publicly signal (yet again) the ABC’s solidarity with elements obsessed with undermining the national interest and bald in their hatred of our society.

In Scott’s case, he has also confused the difference between a “state broadcaster” and a “public broadcaster” and exhibited an intolerable ignorance of what is acceptable for broadcast by a media outlet entirely funded by taxpayer money.

The merit or otherwise of providing access to a vehicle for mass broadcast to a known terrorist sympathiser and would-be murderer of law enforcement officers has, coincidentally, been exposed with deadly effect tonight, as news of yet another murder attributed to Islamic State insurgents — this time in Grenoble in France — filters out of Europe, and given Mallah’s past support for radical Islamic terrorism and his intended travel to Syria to join jihadis (to “observe” them, he claims), those who now defend the wisdom of putting Mallah in front of a national audience of some 1,000,000 viewers should take a hard look at themselves.

Anybody who pays even the most cursory attention to the news of the world knows that Islamic terrorist groups maintain worldwide communication networks, and what happens in one location can well influence what happens in another. The attention the ABC has openly drawn to a known sympathiser of these groups could have sent a signal to allied cells in France.

On Monday, Islamic State begins a week of high-profile controversial publicity in Australia, aided and abetted by the national broadcaster; on Friday, it perpetuates its dominance of news media worldwide by murdering someone in France in the name of its cause. This is not a long bow to draw. The ABC is potentially very heavily culpable for its role in the sequence of events, however innocuous it proclaims its motives on Monday were.

But let’s come back to #QandA in its domestic context, for this is the main focus of my article tonight.

When the debate over ultimately unsuccessful attempts to modify S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act began, the Left in this country was apoplectic with fury over remarks by Attorney-General George Brandis to the effect that free speech meant people have the right to be bigots, whilst others have the right to ridicule, ignore, or rebut them; in the most strictly literal sense he was right, of course, but it wasn’t the first time that the astonishingly intelligent Brandis miscommunicated his message in such a ham-fisted fashion as to render the entire debate pointless.

But if Brandis had instead issued forth an assertion that people should have the right to mouth off like murderous lunatics, to threaten members of Parliament, and to advocate the pack-rape of female journalists on national TV, would the Left have been any less enraged or strident in its denunciation? Of course not.

Yet that formulation, in effect, is precisely what those who now seek to defend Monday night’s episode of #QandA are in fact defending.

Not a syllable has been uttered publicly by any prominent mouthpiece from the Left to denounce Mallah over the tweet he posted in January — republished and widely circulated this week — in which he argued conservative commentators Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi should be gang-raped on national television on the Seven network’s Sunrise programme, and for all the bluster about “misogyny” that has seeped from the Left ever since it decided playing the gender card might cut Julia Gillard some slack and divert voters’ attention from the woefully inept government she presided over, it is a neat little illustration of just how hypocritical the Left is when it comes to “values.”

My bet is that if it had been two women from the Left, rather than female identities from the Right, there would have been no end of condemnation from Labor and the Greens instead of the silence they have met the matter with.

And only a fool claims that putting a known terrorist sympathiser, who has threatened to kill ASIO officers, on a national television show is a shining example of free speech in action, or defends such an idiocy after the event. But again, as far as the apologists from the Left are concerned, there’s no problem with having Mallah beamed into hundreds of thousands of living rooms across Australia.

If Mallah is to enjoy the right to freely peddle his odious views, let him do it at the pub (where he could have the shit beaten out of him for insulting the women present) or in his social media accounts, where people can report him for God-knows-what, block him, or simply ignore him.

Someone like Mallah neither warrants nor deserves a spot on a national forum to air such antisocial and offensive viewpoints.

Labor “leader” and seemingly incorrigible dickhead Bill Shorten has, as usual, sought to have his cake and eat it too, using the storm that has erupted over #QandA to claim the ABC is “not a propaganda arm of the government” but — surprise, surprise — nonetheless “condemning” the ABC for having Mallah on the show in the first place.

Really, any utterance from Shorten is best ignored.

But the sobering facts that have emerged during the week are that ABC staff admitted they knew of Mallah’s background and selected him to ask an audience question (or even be in the #QandA audience at all) anyway; the show’s producers reviewed and helped draft the question he asked, and it is reasonable to infer they would have also had a fair idea of which direction discussion on the show would take immediately thereafter; production staff declined to provide a discretionary but standard briefing to the Coalition MP who got into an altercation with Mallah, Steve Ciobo, which inevitably suggests the intended effect was to ambush Ciobo; and just to make sure Mallah attended at all, and played the part carefully planned out for him, the ABC saw to it that he was transported from his base in western Sydney to the ABC studio in Ultimo and back again at no cost.

I’m sorry, but which aspect of any of this speaks to an inherent “right” to free speech on Mallah’s part? The whole thing was a planned stunt.

Scott is right that there is a difference between a “state broadcaster” and a “public broadcaster;” a “state broadcaster” spews ruling party propaganda out of every conceivable media orifice (TV, radio, online) whereas the ABC’s purpose, it seems, is to spew the propaganda of the government’s opponents. It’s a very straightforward arrangement.

Nobody is asking the ABC to become some mouthpiece for conservative politics or its practitioners.

But some balance — and the abandonment of partisanship altogether — would befit a public broadcaster whose role, funded by the taxpayer, is not to engage in ideological crusades and partisan brainwashing.

It’s one thing to put what in essence is a political propaganda forum on television every week and for the Left and the Right to argue about its (indisputable) bias. But Monday’s episode was something else altogether, and enough is enough.

Piers Akerman has published an excellent piece in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that runs as a complement to the points I have made this evening. I urge readers to take the time to peruse it, for this is one occasion when the Left are seeking to defend the indefensible, and it is time those who preside over the farce that is #QandA — at the expense of the taxpayer, just to labour the point — are held to account.

The simple fact is the ABC had no right putting a piece of shit like Mallah over the national airwaves in the first place, reaching a million viewers, much less trying to justify itself after the event as encouraging “diversity” of opinion and “free” speech.

Yet again, #QandA has gone far too far in offending the limits of fairness and decency in the drivel it purports to facilitate as fearless debate.

And to put not too fine a point on it, I reiterate that I think it should be axed: for a format that promises so much, this show has been abused as a propaganda tool one time too many, and if it returns to the air next week,* it will only be because saner and wiser heads have not yet managed to prevail.

*AND ANOTHER THING: As readers would expect, my strident criticism of #QandA has also been extensive on Twitter; to this end, I suggested yesterday that the program canvass mainstream issues rather than the standard diet of indigenous issues, climate change, gay marriage, “disadvantage,” and other matters peripheral to sound governance that it is already promoting in relation to next Monday night.

I received a curt response from someone monitoring the #QandA feed inviting me to submit a video question on “one of these mainstream issues” and I have indicated that over the weekend, I will record and send them exactly that.

Stay tuned. In the highly unlikely event they use the question I am going to send them — if #QandA even proceeds next week, that is — I will let readers know how things went.

But I won’t hold my breath. Neither should you.

Lying Shorten Betrayed The Public As Well As His PM

AMID THE FALLOUT from the ABC’s airing of Labor’s filthy laundry — The Killing Season — has emerged a tawdry piece of duplicity by (now) Labor “leader” Bill Shorten that might damage him more than a first glance suggests; outed by a radio host in Melbourne as having lied publicly about his involvement in the overthrow of Julia Gillard, Shorten now presents as the most untrustworthy and dishonest candidate for the Prime Ministership in decades.

It’s an article of faith among the general public — often wrongly and mostly unfairly — that politicians are nothing more than rank liars; that the group of people elected to go off to Canberra (or to Spring Street, Macquarie Street, North Terrace and so forth) morph into the most unethical, dishonest, self-obsessed bunch of corrupt gutter dwellers the country boasts the dubious ability to spawn, and that elected representatives will literally say and/or do anything to anyone in the interests of self-advancement with a total and cavalier disregard for whom they might walk over in the process.

It’s an assessment I fundamentally disagree with: having spent a lot of time over the past 25 years or so in and around politics I know there are many, many good people on all sides of the political divide who find their way into public office, and whilst there are always a few bad apples in any barrel (and yes, politics has its fair share of them) the obfuscation of most MPs is limited to and dictated by quaint concepts such ministerial solidarity and other forms of official confidentiality that are actually contrived in the interests of the public benefit.

Whether people agree with those strictures is a valid matter for debate, for those so inclined.

But public esteem for politics and politicians is not helped by the kind of brazen lying opposition “leader” Bill Shorten was caught engaging in yesterday by 3AW morning anchor Neil Mitchell; the fact Shorten’s transgression related to precisely the kind of behaviour voters seem to find the most distasteful about politics — subterranean machinations and doing hatchet jobs on people, in this case former Prime Minister Julia Gillard — only compounds such perceptions, and reinforces the utter self-obsession of a specimen like Shorten, whose reputation for disloyalty and wielding the knife against his colleagues is already well entrenched and apparently well deserved.

For those who don’t know, Mitchell — who interviewed Shorten two days after the 2013 parliamentary Mid-Winter Ball, during which Shorten told Rudd in a secret side-meeting that he would knife Gillard and bring the support of those MPs’ votes he controlled to the Rudd camp — realised whilst watching the final instalment of The Killing Season on Tuesday night that Shorten had lied to him on air two days later; and yesterday, having “asked questions” of Shorten, Australians were gifted a grubby little insight into the man masquerading as a candidate for the Prime Ministership.

For background, readers may peruse articles from the Murdoch and Fairfax press, along with a separate opinion piece from Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt.

And people should watch the interview Mitchell taped with Shorten on 21 June 2013, during which — despite attempting to squirm his way out of giving iron-clad commitments around his support for Gillard — Shorten nonetheless gave explicit denials of any involvement of leadership machinations when we now know he was in it up to his neck, and in the course of which he had the nerve to berate Mitchell for persisting with trying to get to the bottom of Shorten’s agitation on Rudd’s behalf and his private commitment to stick his knife between Gillard’s shoulder blades.

Is it any wonder Liberal frontbencher Bruce Billson, seated alongside Shorten, could barely keep a knowing smirk off his face.

Shorten, at the time that interview was taped, was already battling unfavourable publicity over the fact he was instrumental in knifing Rudd three years earlier; now, of course, he was reprising his role by doing the same thing to Gillard.

Accusations of loyalty are never going to be something Shorten is burdened by.

But what this episode shows is that Shorten is apparently an individual prepared to literally say and do anything in his pursuit of his own political ambitions: he benefited from promotion after the elevation of Gillard as Prime Minister and, as history shows, he would benefit from promotion under the restored leadership of Kevin Rudd. In the absence of those undeserved promotions it is unlikely Shorten would have had any coherent case to make in seeking the Labor leadership after its thumping election defeat later that year.

When caught out by Mitchell, Shorten’s response was deeply unsatisfactory for a man purporting to present as a Prime Ministerial candidate; his apology was to Mitchell only, not to the audience of several hundred thousand Melburnians who were listening the day he lied on air — to say nothing of the wider Australian public, who were made aware of his denials through other media during the day — and came in the form of a phone call during a news bulletin when Mitchell was on a break. Shorten refused to be interviewed on air or for his apology to be broadcast.

His excuse for lying — that he didn’t want to make “a diabolical situation (ALP leadership speculation) worse” is disingenuous, fatuous, and an utter hypocrisy, for away from the 3AW microphone he had been doing precisely that, undermining his leader behind her back and garnering support for the termination of her tenure.

The idea he had been caught “on the hop” and by implication, unprepared to answer questions on Labor leadership rumblings and his role in them, means he is either an idiot, or totally oblivious to any concept of honesty in his public discourse, or (more realistically) both.

As recently as yesterday morning Shorten was holding the line that his hands were clean when they were not, remarking that it was not his job “to be the curator of the museum of Labor (sic)” in relation to questions around his involvement in matters oxygenated by The Killing Season when in fact, he was a central — even pivotal — player in them.

This column has been scathing of Shorten and utterly dismissive of any alleged merit he offers as a political leader, public figure or (God forbid) as a theoretical Prime Minister: episodes like this one, whilst perhaps innocuous viewed in isolation and from a purely clinical perspective, are becoming more frequent, and as I am fond of observing from time to time, where there is one there are usually others. This seems a truism and a self-fulfilling prophecy where summary analysis of Shorten is concerned.

Evidence that the Labor “leader” is a disloyal, treacherous, scheming, opportunistic and self-promoting charlatan — and now, unequivocally, a liar — is mounting. It is no wonder Shorten’s public approval numbers are collapsing, not that they were anything startling to begin with. As a “leader,” I think it’s fair to say Shorten is a red herring, and a fraud.

Nothing about this sordid little incident paints politics and politicians in a particularly rosy light but, happily, it makes Shorten look worst of all: and the point I most want to make this morning is that aside from betraying Gillard — like Rudd before her — Shorten has actually betrayed the men and women of Australia he expects to vote for him, demonstrating that they, like everyone else he encounters, are entirely instrumental to him.

Very soon, Shorten will front the Royal Commission into the trade union movement to answer and explain allegations that the Australian Workers’ Union — during his tenure as its Victorian and/or national chief — received substantial sums of money on numerous occasions from a raft of companies whilst striking industrial agreements with those businesses that stripped away the same workplace entitlements Labor and the unions (and Shorten) have been so viciously outspoken about the need to protect, most notably wherever any mentions of workplace reform and the Liberal Party are made in the same sentence.

To date, the explanations that have been offered from all interested quarters on these matters have been vague, inconsistent and unconvincing; the only conclusion to draw is that the companies involved were buying industrial peace and freedom from the threat of union-led industrial anarchy, and I can only remark that the monies involved might as well have been handed over in brown paper bags.

Shorten’s appearance at the Royal Commission probably represents his last opportunity to salvage his reputation and convince people he is able to be trusted as a prominent senior figure in affairs of state in Australia.

If the tawdry little episode revealed by Mitchell — which Shorten wilfully attempted to conceal — serves as any kind of indicative reference of what to expect, then good luck with that.

 

Killing Season Nothing New, But Could Bury Labor Anyway

WITH THE END of the ABC’s excellent three-part window into the machinations that shaped (and destroyed) the ALP during six years in office cones analysis, fallout, and reprisals; whilst there was nothing really new — except fresh venom — in journalist Sarah Ferguson’s brutal expose on Labor, it shows a politically and ethically bankrupt party that is unfit to govern, and whose ongoing key figures bear the blood of their own brethren on their hands.

First things first: there are a lot of people across the country who are talking about The Killing Season this morning, and — depending on their preference — some of this conversation can be tapped into from the Murdoch and Fairfax press by readers.

I suppose it’s ironic that just 24 hours after tearing into the ABC over its reprehensible Monday night episode of #QandA we’re now talking about another of its productions in fairly glowing terms; credit for this in my view can be ascribed to the journalist who drove The Killing Season as a project — Sarah Ferguson, who also deputised for Leigh Sales whilst she was on maternity leave from the 7.30 programme — and in a further delicious irony that should be lost on nobody, Ferguson is actually married to the ABC journalist who fronts the biased and puerile student-politics calibre #QandA each week, Tony Jones.

In terms of the material covered, The Killing Season presents relatively little by way of new substance; perhaps my opinion on this is formed from the perspective of someone whose consumption of news and current affairs media is voracious, incessant and largely “in the moment,” but there was very little in terms of what went on during the six tumultuous years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government that wasn’t well-oxygenated at the time those events occurred.

In truth, this in itself speaks to an awful culture within the ALP of leaks and counter leaks, and an amateurish bent on Machiavellian machination that does not and did not play at all well in front of an incredulous and repulsed voting public.

But that said, Ferguson and her team deserve credit for welding this material together in a punchy, gripping format that simultaneously kept viewers glued to their screens, whilst adding just enough perspective after the event from key players involved to ensure that whatever else you think of the Labor governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, the fallout will continue to haunt and damage the ALP for as long as a significant contingent of the key people from that time remains in Parliament.

As I said at the outset, the one fresh ingredient The Killing Season had in spades was venom; to this end, the sparring between Rudd and Gillard via the interviews for the programme was predictable, as was its subtext that each in effect called the other a liar, with Rudd presenting as the tragic Shakespearean victim, and Gillard portraying herself as the hard-nosed purveyor of sorely needed common sense, and the salve for the injuries Rudd was purported to have inflicted on his party and the government it formed.

Anyone who has paid even cursory attention to Australian politics over the past decade knows well what Rudd is like: in no particular order, an imbecile, a cretin, a control-obsessed megalomaniac, and a vindictive, revenge-obsessed wrecker whenever any slight or rebuke — real, perceived and/or imagined — is inflicted upon him.

Yet incredibly, my sense is that he emerges from The Killing Season in far more robust shape than does Gillard, who — irrespective of the validity of any of her criticisms of Rudd as a leader, Prime Minister, or Parliamentary colleague — managed to come across as tricky, economical with the truth, and (it has to be said) less than entirely honest.

And for me to say so goes against the grain of what I have always thought, and opined in this column: with little time for either of them, I have always found Gillard more credible on objective assessment than the moronic Rudd. It’s hardly a choice between inspired (or inspiring) options.

Perversely, the fact Rudd manages to emerge from The Killing Season looking less bad than Gillard can probably be racked up as a victory of sorts but — like much to do with the whole tawdry period of Labor in office — it doesn’t really matter a can of beans.

These are simply the perceptions conveyed, mind; I suspect nobody except the combatants directly involved will ever know precisely who did what to whom, or whose account of those activities are more or less authentic than anyone else’s.

But in my view, the most damaging impact of this programme will be felt by those who remain in Parliament on the Labor side who were central to the events that drove The Killing Season, and it deserves to be.

In addition to driving the departure from Parliament of a generation of ALP MPs (and I am not going to pass opinion on most of them) — Crean, Ferguson, Emerson, Combet, Roxon, Smith, and Rudd and Gillard themselves, among others — Labor’s behaviour between 2007 and 2013 implicated and tarnished many of those who remain in its ranks, including some who could (or should) be regarded as its up-and-comers.

The likes of Chris Bowen and (dare I say it) Bill Shorten and others like them wear, to differing degrees, the blood of their colleagues on their hands, and bear varying levels of culpability over the childish, internecine and undignified brawls over the spoils of government in which Labor indulged itself.

To some degree, it doesn’t matter who was in the right and who wasn’t: in the eyes of the voting public, Labor was an unedifying rabble in office. Some of the key players from that period now aspire to form and run a fresh ALP government of their own.

What Labor thinks it stands to gain in this regard from the continued presence of former Treasurer Wayne Swan in Parliament — not least on account of his intention to contest his marginal Brisbane seat yet again at the next election — is anyone’s guess. But like the rest of the key coup conspirators and counter-conspirators, Swan’s already shaky political reputation has copped further significant damage from his portrayal in The Killing Season.

And as far as the Liberal Party is concerned, the one observation I would make — aside from the real prospect that this whole trip down memory lane will help disabuse wavering voters of the temptation to return to Labor — is that the heavy emphasis The Killing Season placed on Tony Abbott addressing crowds wielding placards bearing slogans such as “Ditch the Witch” and “Ju-liar — Bob Brown’s Bitch” is unlikely to adversely affect the Abbott government’s re-election prospects: these events failed to deter voters from electing it two years ago, and will fail to deter them from re-electing it.

In any case, there has never been any suggestion Abbott or the Liberals were at all responsible for producing those signs or devising the slogans they bore — even from the Labor Party — and confronted by Craig Emerson’s almost blubbering protestations over how offensive they were last night, the inevitable response of “toughen up Buttercup” is impossible not to utter.

Emerson — like so many of the Rudd-Gillard insurgents who have left Parliament — is no loss at all to either the ALP’s ranks or to the country generally. But enough of them remain, and the serving of reheated leftovers on the ABC of the government they formed, and indulgently trashed, will renew the electorate’s reservations about Labor’s suitability to govern for the foreseeable future.

In short, the Labor Party as it now stands is a mess; there is good reason to believe, having watched it for almost 12 years in opposition, that it had already sunk to the levels of narcissism The Killing Season highlighted well before it reclaimed government.

Equally, and taking into account its portrayal of the continuing ALP personnel from the Rudd-Gillard years, there is no evidence to support a judgement that the party has learnt a bloody thing. In fact, its present antics under current “leader” Shorten suggest the party is in the worst shape it has ever been in, the presence of illusory minor polling leads notwithstanding.

Ferguson and her team are to be congratulated on a tight, powerful presentation that takes neither sides nor prisoners: and Sarah Ferguson’s growing reputation as one of the best political journalists in Australia — especially at the ABC — deserves to rise that little bit further on the back of this effort.

In fact, with #QandA plagued by entirely justified accusations of bias and simpering sycophancy toward the Left, hers might just be the impartial hand, devoid of fear nor favour, the ABC should consider as a replacement for her husband if he proves intransigent to the idea of his left wing propaganda sessions being overhauled and/or abolished.

Yet the biggest takeout from all of this concerns Shorten: and as I warned after last week’s episode, voters would be rightly advised to heed the notice The Killing Season has provided them in relation to the Labor “leader’s” honesty, authenticity, and trustworthiness (or the distinct lack of all three).

If Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard are and were fatally flawed, fundamentally unsuited to the Prime Ministership, then Bill Shorten is even more so; this series will have done nothing to advance his spurious claims upon that office, showing him up as the treacherous grub and nihilistic opportunist he really is.

And that — with a potential federal election looming — can only be regarded as a very good thing.

 

Their ABC: #QandA Broadcasts Incitement To Terror

THE ANTI-AUSTRALIAN “Adventure in Democracy” charade that is the ABC’s #QandA show has done it again this week; not content to merely steer debate away from anything that could turn a blowtorch on the woeful record of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government — although it did that too — last night’s episode provided a platform for an accused jihadi who admitted threatening to kill ASIO personnel. Perhaps it is time for #QandA to face the axe.

Readers know I have a real issue with #QandA: it is not, despite the exciting catchphrase, an “adventure in democracy” or anything remotely approaching it; it is, simply distilled, a free weekly one-hour slot for the airing of the ideological and political whims of the Left, and for the slapping down of any common sense and/or sanity that emerges from the token one to two participants included in the invariably stacked panel of six (although I will give credit where it is due, and concede Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon made a bit of sense last night too — which is perhaps why his invitations to appear on #QandA are very intermittent indeed).

Anyhow, first things first: anyone who didn’t see last night’s shocker can watch it here, and a word to the wise: as tempted as you might be to reach for No-Doz (and/or something to throw at your computer screen) be sure to be alert in the last 15 minutes of the programme even if the rest of it has worked you into a state of unbridled pique.

Anyone who has ever either tried to get a question into #QandA‘s running sheet and/or taken part in its audience — and I have done both, to no avail on the former count and successfully earlier this year on the latter — knows everything about this show is carefully and tightly vetted, scripted and prepared well in advance.

When it comes to getting a question included, discretion over what makes it into the programme and what doesn’t is held by the ABC producers and editorial staff responsible for the show, and one of the biggest bugbears about #QandA from the Right is that episodes are invariably set up to provide free airtime and a forum for the Left to indulge its ideas and thought bubbles on a national, publicly funded platform.

Questions — and who asks them — are so carefully planned in advance that when you arrive at the auditorium as an audience participant on #QandA, microphones have been strategically placed throughout the room and selected “questioners” assigned to those seats: there is nothing spontaneous, or random, or left to chance insofar as who asks what is concerned.

Before you get as far as being selected to ask a question, it must be submitted for vetting, in writing, to ABC production staff: and if you end up being chosen (as others I know have been) those staff will have corresponded with and/or actually spoken to you several times before the episode of the programme is filmed.

And as ever, even then, the direction these “adventures in democracy” take is controlled with an iron fist.

Indeed, last night the discussion on #QandA meandered very close to a debate over the incompetence of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government — a foray immediately shut down by host Tony Jones, who chided participants for straying off topic and returned proceedings to this week’s version of the standard #QandA fare of socialist diatribes and kick-the-rich, shame-the-nation, class-envious bleeding heart fantasies that this programme is infamous for.

The reason I am speaking so generally thus far is because I am relying on readers to watch the episode, and where I am headed with this concerns a questioner who appeared toward the end of the episode — and readers can learn a little more about him from this article in today’s edition of The Age.

In the interests of giving credit where it is due, Fairfax deserves acknowledgement for reporting the fact such an odious individual was provided with a platform at the expense of the taxpayer.

For Zaky Mallah — charged with planning a terrorist attack in Sydney more than a decade ago, and the first Australian detained under the Howard government’s anti-terrorism laws — was not only selected by ABC producers last night as a #QandA participant, but used the opportunity to declare that Muslims who disagree with the Liberal Party are “justified” in going to Syria and joining the jihadis at Islamic State.

Whilst acquitted in 2005 of terror-related charges (because, as Liberal MP and panel member Steve Ciobo pointed out, the laws were not retrospective), Mallah did admit last night to pleading guilty to threatening to kill officials from ASIO.

Nonetheless, he had the nerve to use the forum to lament that during his incarceration he was treated “like a convicted terrorist” and I have to say that frankly, the bastard ought to consider himself to have gotten off lightly.

And Mallah isn’t just a highly dubious character who is an embarrassment to the Muslim community and a disgrace to Australia, but a filthy misogynist pig who has incited gang rape against prominent female conservative journalists in the past.

I am indebted to Daily Telegraph columnist Rita Panahi, who kept a screen shot of a particularly insidious tweet from Mallah that was posted back in January — and like any coward, Mallah subsequently deleted everything in his Twitter feed prior to and including that post, presumably to try to falsely claim the cover of deniability.

But I think it is relevant today, as it goes to the heart of ABC values, how the broadcaster operates in light of its expenditure of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year, and the kind of individual #QandA production personnel deemed suitable to showcase last night.

Rita Panahi Terrorist Gang Rape Screen Shot

My apologies to the lovely Miranda Devine (whom I would never deliberately offend or upset) and to Panahi (a lady of razor-sharp, ordinary common sense and decency if ever there was one) in republishing it now, but people have a right to know exactly what this piece of shit — the ABC’s newest star and its latest carefully chosen #QandA insurgent against the Liberal Party — really stands for.

Yes, Jones ruled the question “out of order” (but not before it had shanghaied debate down its disgusting anti-social tangent) and yes, ABC TV director Richard Finlayson said in a statement this morning that #QandA made an “error of judgement” in including Mallah, but the damage is done.

The ABC cannot have it both ways: on the one hand, claiming it was all a mistake and that things got out of hand, and on the other exercising a command-and-control regime over what gets into this God-forsaken show that is so stifling as to render any denial now of its culpability over Mallah completely pointless.

Certainly, given Mallah’s past, it should have known his was a presence to be avoided at all costs; if it didn’t know this, it only serves to exacerbate the outrage over the waste of public money on such drivel.

It is inconceivable that #QandA staff were unaware of Mallah’s background prior to last night’s broadcast; given one of the publicised themes of last night’s episode was “Terror” and given the ABC’s trenchant opposition to the Abbott government’s proposed changes to citizenship laws where Australians going overseas to fight jihads is concerned, one has to conclude that Mallah would have been gleefully leapt upon by those staff as just the hand grenade to detonate over the subject.

And if it did know about Mallah, what he has been accused of in the past and what he has admitted to, then those people at the ABC responsible for his inclusion in last night’s show ought to be contemplating an involuntary job change this morning.

On Mallah, can I simply say he is a filthy piece of shit whose relevance and value to this country is non-existent: and to this end, Ciobo’s remark that Mallah would make a good candidate for deportation under government moves to strip dual citizens of their Australian citizenship is an astute one, and a matter for commendation.

I also note that once again, decent members of the Muslim community are likely to be tarred, by the less reasonable in our community, with the same brush as this odious individual whose television career should have concluded when the coverage of his trial and incarceration finished a decade ago.

But where the ABC and its #QandA programme are concerned, this kind of thing happens far too often; and whenever it oversteps the boundaries of public decency and acceptable standards, it is simply not good enough for it to pull its head in for the proverbial five minutes before ramping things back up.

This column has spent far too much time over the pst four years tearing into the ABC over this show, and whilst doing so is justified, the fact is that this programme is unfit for broadcast on any objective criteria — not least in light of the ABC’s charter, and specifically where it relates to requirements of taste, decency and balance.

I have this morning sent a message to Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull — in his capacity as the minister responsible for the ABC — asking him to either publicly rebuke the ABC over last night’s programme and/or to engineer the show’s axing, and I encourage anyone who shares my sentiments to follow suit.

After all, #QandA adds very little that is meaningful to political debate in Australia, and virtually nothing when its biases and prejudices and blatant favour of the political Left are taken into account.

Surely, enough is enough.

 

UPDATED: Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced today that an “external review” of #QandA is to take place — and that it has already commenced. We will follow this with great interest. It is to be hoped this “review” has teeth.