September 9th 2000

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Articles from this issue:

EDITORIAL: A way out of the debt trap

COVER STORY: Inside the World Economic Forum

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Petrol prices puncture GST optimism

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Radical groups organised for Forum protests

Straws in the Wind

LABOR PARTY: New book, old view of ALP



DOCUMENTATION: “I’ve always felt like an IVF guinea pig”

MODERN ART: “Anything goes”: gallery

Milk: will wheat be next?

EAST TIMOR: Rebuilding East Timor

'Kursk' disaster timely reminder to next US President

As the World Turns

LITERATURE: The magic of Harry Potter

BOOKS: The triumph of spin over substance

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by John Styles

News Weekly, September 9, 2000
Carr profile

Winning an Olympics bid, it would seem, is the greatest gift a political leader could wish for. So why has Bob Carr kept such a low profile, asked the headline in the August 27 issue of Melbourne’s The Sunday Age.

One of the reasons might be because Bob Carr, of course, did not win the Olympics bid. John Fahey was the Premier who made that triumphant leap of joy when Sydney won the right to stage this year’s Games.

That rather inconvenient fact was missing from the glowing Bob Carr profile by Brendan Nicholson in which John Fahey is dismissed as “the smoking, drinking footy-watching Premier” whom Carr was told he’d never unseat.

According to this piece, the answer to the question posed in the headline is: because, well, Bob’s such a really modest kind of guy. The leader who “has not sought self-aggrandisement and has let one of his ministers, Michael Knight, become synonymous with the Olympics”.

(In his own modest way, Knight has said his association with the Olympics has ruined his chance of ever becoming Premier.)

However, right at the bottom of a separate panel containing a selection of Carr quotes, the NSW Premier reveals that the real reason has less to do with modesty and more to do with being a poll-driven politician:

“The electorate has told us and the previous government it does not want the Olympic Games politicised. That is very clear from our polling before the 1995 election and before the last election”.

Brendan Nicholson’s profile did not mention how John Fahey so far has been virtually ignored by the Carr Government. He will run a leg of the torch relay in his electorate and he is the attache of the Irish Olympic team.

However, a report in The Australian (August 27) noted that John Fahey “will play no part in the NSW Government's official functions. And he will be granted no honorary role to recognise his contribution”.

Beazley ticker

— bar lowered

On the issue of Kim Beazley’s ticker and leadership ability, the bar continues to be lowered.

When ALP front bencher Cheryl Kernot urged a conscience vote on the Howard Government’s proposed amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act, Michelle Grattan wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald (August 12): “How he handles the push for a conscience vote, which he opposes, will become a test of Mr Beazley’s leadership.”

However, the point seemingly lost on Ms Grattan at that time was that Mr Beazley had already relinquished leadership of the IVF debate. That occurred earlier in the week when the Left’s Jenny Macklin spoke out first on the issue, declaring that the ALP would oppose the proposed changes. From that point on, Kim Beazley was in catch-up mode.

The vacuum he created was enthusiastically, if momentarily, filled by Cheryl Kernot. That she was ultimately forced to reverse her stand on a conscience vote probably said much about her current standing in the party.

And what of Mr Beazley’s leadership when the ensuing ALP executive vote left the Labor leader at odds with a group of his most loyal supporters?


There seemed to be no doubt in the mind of The Australian Financial Review’s Geoffrey Barker that new ALP senior vice-president Jenny Macklin performed well at the party’s national conference.

When the ALP health spokesperson led the charge on the IVF issue, Barker, in his August 4 report, described her as “impeccable” under pressure.

This “pressure” came, at least in part it seems, from a journalist who asked Ms Macklin whether the ALP’s position on IVF access was “putting the right of a woman to have a child ahead of the right of a child to be raised by a mum and a dad?”

Geoffrey Barker noted that the journalist who asked the question was a former Coalition staffer.

By singling out the reporter, was Mr Barker suggesting that questions from journalists who have had a stint of political service need to be flagged in news stories? If so, it could start an interesting new trend in political reporting.

Kursk tragedy

At first glance it looked like another blurring of the line between news and entertainment.

Reporting the Russian Kursk submarine tragedy, Newsweek magazine seeking expert opinion called on insurance broker-turned-thriller-writer, Tom Clancy, author of a string of best-sellers including the submarine adventure, The Hunt for Red October.

This might seem a little like Scotland Yard enlisting P.D. James to help solve a crime. Then again, who’s to say an apparently well-researched writer like Clancy is not capable of making quality assessments of naval matters?

Clancy’s biography on his publisher’s website records:

“The success of his books has resulted in his ‘adoption’ by the military. He is regularly welcomed aboard jets, submarines, and destroyers. Admirals and generals give him access, Pentagon officials debrief him, and many of his books are required reading at our nation’s military colleges.”

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TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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