Sunday 20th of April 2014

simple as abc: the tories are imploding .....

 

 the toris are imploding .....

from Mike Carlton ….

Putting the ABC to fire and sword is unfinished business for the Tories. The Howard government tried it with all manner of tricks and stratagems, going at it with the manic ferocity of Wile E. Coyote in those Road Runner cartoons.

Beep beep, zoom. In 2003, to great fanfare, communications minister Richard Alston produced his list of 68 examples of ''left-wing bias'' in the ABC's AM radio program, an absurdity that looks even more pettifogging now than it was then. Why, AM had even dared to question the existence of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Howard's trained attack dog, the Queensland Liberal senator Santo Santoro, bombarded the ABC with hundreds of please explains, shouting that its broadcasters constantly denigrated ''Jesus, the Pope and Christianity in general''. A Four Corners program had portrayed American troops in Iraq as ''incompetent, uncaring, gung-ho, ill-prepared and not welcomed by the Iraqi people''.

Howard shamelessly stacked the place with cronies. Stock exchange boss and climate-change denier Maurice Newman was made ABC chairman, and the board was loaded with such luminaries of the ultra-right as Keith Windschuttle, Ron Brunton, Michael Kroger, Janet Albrechtsen and Judith Sloan.

They did their best, but it didn't work. Battered but unbowed, the ABC sailed on. But the Tories have long memories, and the Abbott lot are determined to succeed where Howard failed. As I wrote here last week, the battle is on. Rupert Murdoch's self-styled culture warriors lead the offensive, with a thunderous barrage of confected ''news'' stories, anti-ABC rants by the usual columnists and bloggers, and almost daily editorials in The Australian verging on the demented.

The idea is to goad the Tories into action, and so far it's working splendidly. Last weekend the Victorian Liberal Party conference passed a motion calling for the ABC to be sold off. Keen to show his gratitude for Murdoch's epic support at the election, Tony Abbott very publicly bashed the ABC over its reporting of the Edward Snowden spy story. So did Malcolm Turnbull, who - blatantly ignoring the proprieties - telephoned and then met the ABC managing director, Mark Scott, to heavy him about ''a shocking error of judgment''. Wrong, Malcolm. As Communications Minister, you are required to go through the ABC chairman, Jim Spigelman.

On Tuesday the Liberal party room in Canberra rang with demands for vengeance, whipped up by the South Australian senator Cory Bernardi (gay marriage, bestial sex) and Bronwyn Bishop ( kerosene baths and now Speaker of the House of Representatives, notionally above the political fray.)

The next move is bleedin' obvious. In due course, Abbott will instigate an ''inquiry'' into the ABC, with a suitable stooge to run it and the result predetermined. It will recommend a reworking of the ABC charter to bring the place to heel and, most important of all, to kybosh any activities attracting audiences that Rupert sees as rightfully his. Then they'll slash the funding. Bring on the Murdochracy.

There is an eerie, Orwellian air to the Abbott government. Intriguingly, a couple of readers wrote this week to make the point, one directing me to these chilling lines:

''A few days later, when the terror caused by the executions had died down, some of the animals remembered - or thought they remembered - that the Sixth Commandment decreed 'No animal shall kill any other animal'.'' - Animal Farm.

It's the ''thought they remembered'' that nails it. There's an acrid whiff of that in Abbott's frantic attempt to justify his handstands, conjuring tricks and pratfalls on education:

'We are going to keep the promise that we actually made, not the promise that some people thought that we made, or the promise that some people might have liked us to make. We're going to keep the promise that we actually made … ''

As we now know, they didn't have an education policy. In opposition, Poodles Pyne was too busy trissing around on Q&A to do the policy hard yards. This week the federal Department of Education wiped all trace of the Gonski report from its website.

''Who controls the past,'' ran the party slogan, ''controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'' - 1984.

Miraculously, Abbott and Pyne found $1.2 billion in ''savings'' to lure the non-Gonski states and territories on board. No doubt this will come out of public education in some way, but we can rest assured that private schools will be looked after.

Cruising the website of Geelong Grammar this week, I was entranced to read about the school's sparkling new, $16 million Handbury Centre for Wellbeing, with a 25-metre heated pool, two indoor courts, spacious gymnasium, aerobics and dance areas, teaching rooms, and cafe, and the attached Kennedy Medical Centre with a suite of doctors' consulting rooms, nine-bed hospital and online health resources. Orwell again:

''All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others'' - Animal Farm.

No doubt about it, they do wonderful courtroom drama in Britain, the world's best. There are two running at the moment. One is the enthralling News of the World phone-hacking trial, where the dominatrix editress, Rebekah Brooks, and her lover, Andy Coulson, are being shredded by expensive silk. This is hugely enjoyable, a rich tableau of power and hubris brought down.

The second is the tragedy of the luscious Nigella Lawson, who is being flayed alive in an even more lurid case. Two of her assistants, the Calabrian Grillo sisters, have been accused of rorting £685,000 ($1.24 million) on a credit card belonging to her ex-husband, the squillionaire advertising flack Charles Saatchi.

The defence has portrayed Nigella as a cocaine addict, wired to the eyeballs. The suggestion is that she let the Grillos get away with this dizzy spending to buy their silence. She says this is part of Saatchi's scheme to harass and bully her, that he threatened to destroy her after that now-famous incident where he grabbed her by the throat in a London restaurant.

Me, I'm on her side. What red-blooded heterosexual male has not dreamed of Nigella in the night, her eyes smouldering like coals as she oh-so-slowly licks the chocolate from those beckoning fingers?

Saatchi, on the other hand, is a cad and a bounder.