March 31st 2007

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Red Star over East Timor

EDITORIAL: Melbourne Cup field in Timor's Presidential election

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Time running out for John Howard?

FINANCE: Concerns over US company behind Qantas takeover

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Australia's foreign debt - myth and reality

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Brian Burke's shadow government

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Why must the show go on? / Another wake for absent friends / Reluctance to condemn Mugabe / Musical chairs / More heat than light


DRUG POLICY: Sweden's success in combating drug use

UNITED NATIONS: Dilemma for pro-abortion feminists

OPINION: The narcotic of narcissism

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Mothers in the military

CINEMA: Where Hollywood fears to tread - Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypto'

THE ARGUS: Life & Death of a Newspaper

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Why must the show go on? / Another wake for absent friends / Reluctance to condemn Mugabe / Musical chairs / More heat than light

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, March 31, 2007
Why must the show go on?

I'm watching clips from yet another Big Ticket event, the Grand Prix, which was supposed to bring us scuds of tourist dollars and that worldwide attention that our city fathers say we should always be seeking.

The Grand Prix looked even more scruffy, more joyless than in previous years, and as poorly attended. As in previous years.

The Save Albert Park group always insisted that the official figures were cooked, both as to attendances and to matters of profit and loss. I don't doubt them.

By how much are we having to subsidise events of no real interest to most people, but which need to be thrust down their throats? It is difficult to say. Possibly a lot.

As to the indirect gains which are supposedly great but incalculable, I suspect that that whole theory of trickle-down benefiting us all is nowadays virtually ignored. The public has never been given any evidence for it, and never will.

Channel Seven has just conducted a telephone poll asking: "Are there too many special events?"

Some 79 per cent said "yes". Fatigue is setting in. Money is going on more lasting consumables.

The organisers' reaction to the public's rejection of their squalid nonsense is to suggest night-time GPs!

"Pressure is mounting to bring these in," the television spruikers say. Pressure from whom? From Ron Walker and Bernie Ecclestone. Go on! So trains which people can't use or find in normal times will suddenly appear.

Ecclestone has already announced that "we will have the GP at night-time: for it will fit in better with other regional time zones, such as Asia". That is, there will be more television-viewers worldwide, so - more television advertising, and more money into Ecclestone's coffers.

As Noel Coward asked, "Why must the show go on?"

What has this to do with what Melburnians may want? Nothing. It's the corporate money, stupid!

Well ... Ecclestone said it. No-one else did.

I had thought the change was to thin out the pesky children at the GP who don't pay much, and get some of those adults who actually work during the day. But this was small beer, and obviously not part of Ecclestone's Big Picture.

People are asking: how can we be building endless new stadiums, conference halls, sports centres, when Melbourne, in so many ways, is becoming ever-more decrepit, ever more uncomfortable?

The trick seems to be to build a new stadium or pool or conference centre ... then invent events to use them and fill them.

Who benefits? The construction and building industries and unions, the government, and supposedly we little people.

Construction is the main driving force in a milk-bar economy, and like the Third Reich or Roosevelt's America in the 1930s, you try to construct your way out of stagnation or depression.

It would have been nice had we not cut our manufacturing in half, and so neglected our own agriculture.


Another wake for absent friends

I think happenings in which people can take part - and not just be spectators or be part of a captive audience - and which cost little, are in season. Thus, people like the Anzac Day march and Melbourne's Moomba Festival (making a comeback). Some watch, but many take part. And St Patrick's Day, for example.

In passing, the recent St Patrick's Day procession in Brisbane numbered 35,000. What it was in Melbourne or Sydney, I don't know. Why?

The media didn't mention it. What they did mention was the march against the Iraq War and for David Hicks - at length.

There were 350 who turned out in Sydney; a few more in Melbourne. Not so much a march as a small rabble.

And 200,000 people were walking over Sydney Harbour Bridge to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Not one of them said "sorry". Remember that vulgar hysterical contrived impersonation of the general will? It seems 100 years ago. Who says there is no progress?

That SBS television should report a dying species, viz., the Left moral outrage phoneys, and ignore a traditional, important and well attended procession like St Patrick's Day, is testimony to the hardcore student union puerility of the SBS political culture.

They talk about processions which people obviously did not want to go to, while scrubbing around the real ones.

They are virtually irrelevant to the world in which we are actually living, and people who come from other cultures should be especially careful not to ignore traditional Australian ceremonies and values. We don't pay them to do that.


Reluctance to condemn Mugabe

Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu of Cape Town has just said that the leaders of the African nations should be hanging their heads in shame at their refusal to speak out about what Robert Mugabe is doing to his fellow-countrymen and Zimbabwe.

Speak out about his detestable system? They don't. But don't expect them to feel shame; only whites have to feel shame (our friends get this philosophy from dissident whites in the West).

And, I would have thought, ex-leaders of African states should be speaking up at this time, as should iconic stars of many a freedom-loving rock concert.

And Mugabe's original sponsors and backers in the West? No saying sorry there.

The reason these African leaders can blithely ignore what is happening is that their own peoples don't bring pressure. Africa is not South America. African people accept corruption and violence from their own rulers as more or less the norm.


Musical chairs

Labor's fury at the Howard Government continuing to seek clarification of Kevin Rudd's dealings with Brian Burke is being expressed by outing, or trying to out, colleagues of John Howard, although on matters fairly trifling so far, compared to those arising from the Burke-Rudd relationship.

Labor is virtually saying, and the scribblers and electronic motor-mouths are actually saying, that if the Liberals keep trying to get to the truth about Rudd, they will seek to impugn the reputation of any conservative they can, be he culpable or not.

This is a measure of how seriously Labor and the media regard the prospect of further developments of the Rudd-Burke story emerging.

There are a lot of greedy and dodgy MPs, and not a few ministers, who have probably been rorting the system. They would be found on both sides of the house and should be exposed.

Although, as Queensland Labor Premier Peter Beattie has said, party political leaders should not be responsible for overseeing the expense accounts and financial transactions of their party members; an independent agency should undertake this task, full time.

Nor should MPs be able to decide their wages or their superannuation.


More heat than light

We had voiced the modest hope that at least some of the people whose lives have been blighted by the Victorian bush-fires should sue Steve Bracks's Labor Government for sustained neglect of well-tested forest management practices.

These include early back-burning, keeping forest floors clear of build-ups of flammable material, clearing fallen logs - we all are familiar with these pre-emptive strategies.

By neglecting, or refusing to listen to, experts and hands-on advisers, so as to pander to the radical greens, the Bracks Government set up a disaster which was just waiting to happen. Furthermore, some of the bridges and some of the tracks which fire-fighters needed to penetrate the area ... had been decommissioned.

I am glad that the litigants are avoiding using Labor lawyers - a courageous decision.

The Legislative Council are seeking answers to the Victorian bushfires disasters, among many other questionable Labor activities, but are certain to get bogged down by government refusals to co-operate.

So this class action is more or less mandatory.

The litigants' path will not be unencumbered. Time was, when the judicial reception and treatment of such litigants would follow traditional practice and be predictable in its outcomes.

But, what with the dilution and politicisation of our judiciary, nothing now is certain.

- Max Teichmann

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