Disability Funding Triumph: Progressive Blogosphere Abdicates

A repost from Labor View from Bayside:

This week we saw a major achievement in Australian policy – the bi-partisan acceptance of an increase in the Medicare levy to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (DisabilityCare). There was considerable activity on social media before Tony Abbott’s concession but there has been a deadening silence in the progressive blogosphere since.

When you google Oz blogs for the last four days, there are no posts heralding this policy triumph. In fact it seems that many have just accepted it as a political victory for Abbott, not a policy win for Julia Gillard’s government. A lone voice has been Gary Sauer-Thompson at Public Opinion but even his post was titled Perhaps:

The disability people got what they wanted: a secure funding source that will partially pay for the NDIS and bipartisan support. That means the Coalition will find it hard to renege at a later date because they are publicly committed to the national disability insurance scheme.

If the conservatives keep their word, the NDIS  will be a major legacy of the Labor government, whether it is reelected or not. Abbott’s “conditional” support of the levy contained his usual dissembling but once the legislation is passed, he should be locked in.

Yesterday Victoria signed up to NDIS, just as we are abandoning the field to the Liberal National Party policy void. Despondency over the polls and government policy failures must not make Abbott’s austerity a fait accompli.

Schools, climate change and the NBN are just a few reasons to keep up the political fight. If progressive bloggers cannot step up, then it is probably time to archive their blogs and retreat into the twitter ether or a subscription to Foxtel.

Right royal hypocrites

Mobius made a comment on one of our topics that is worthy of a post in its own right. He wrote:

Abbott’s wearing glasses. So where’s all the media headlines and why aren’t the right wingers here outraged as they were when Gillard wore them?

Oh silly me, that’s right, they’re hypocrites.

Now I, and I would assume Mobius as well, don’t really care if Julia Gillard wears glasses. I don’t care if Tony Abbott does either. I don’t really care if Julia Gillard wore a track suit or Tony Abbott wore a kilt. They can shave their heads and I wouldn’t be fussed, or if they decide to keep their hair, sport a Mohawk each.

But the point is, Julia Gillard wore glasses during her recent National Press Club address and it has become the biggest issue in this country since Menzies declared war on Germany in 1939. It overshadowed contemporary issues that I thought might be important, such as Ashbygate, the Liberal Party’s proposal to rob the poor should they win the election, or even their paucity of policies coming into the election.

The two medias, mainstream and social, went into overdrive in their condemnation of this spectacle (forgive the pun). I won’t name them, but right-wing irritants who visit this blog demanded explanations as to why the PM needed to wear glasses. Each of us were singled out and criticised for not condemning this as a political stunt.

How odd that we of the left didn’t even consider it a political stunt in the first place. The thought never crossed our rational minds. But it certainly occupied theirs and they went into hysterics.

Then we see in the news a photo of Tony Abbott wearing glasses yesterday. Forgive the pun again, but why wasn’t that turned into a spectacle either? Where’s the mainstream media and the right-wing banshees when we ask for some balance?

I’ll repeat what Mobius said as it offers the only answer:

Oh silly me, that’s right, they’re hypocrites.

Right royal ones at that.

Jones and Macquarie Radio Network discover the power of consumers

The continuing Alan Jones saga is proving to be far more interesting than most commentators could have ever hoped to have predicted. It’s only been a little over a week and Alan Jones and his team are clearly feeling the pressure.

What started out as an awful apology that wasn’t even really an apology has morphed into a social media behemoth aimed at Alan Jones and his corporate sponsors. It was certainly telling that Macquarie Radio Network decided to issue a press release declaring that it was the sponsors of Alan Jones’ breakfast program who were being bullied. MRN thought it highly inappropriate that advertisers on their 2GB radio station were being ‘cyber bullied’ into withdrawing advertising from Alan Jones’ breakfast show.

Quickly the cries of cyber bullying were being made by commentators on Sunday’s politics and current affairs programming like Insiders and The Bolt Report.

The statement from also Macquarie Radio Network exposes their failure to understand modern public relations. Plenty of others have commented about these media and PR related perspectives, and a lot better than I.

However one of the less highlighted angles is the social media campaign targeting businesses that advertise on John Laws’ breakfast program is consumer power at work.

We’re constantly told about the power of our decisions as consumers and if we don’t like something we can vote with our feet. Well Australian consumers are voting with their feet and their keyboards. Consumers are taking the power back from the one-way PR machine of corporate advertisers and telling them loud and clear what they like and don’t like.

Though one has to wonder how clever the people at MRN are as they’ve spent a couple of days deriding and criticising consumers for using the power of their wallets to effect change. Consumers voicing their opinions through social media is proving to be quite powerful and if the likes of Macquarie Radio Network don’t begin to come to terms with it, then they’ll continually be on the receiving end of such campaigns.

It is not consumers caught behaving badly, rather Alan Jones and MRN. It’s time such personalities and their associated entities quit their complaining when social media turns on them because we all know how much they love social media when it’s working in their favour.

Looking ahead

Unless the Prime Minister surprises us all by calling a snap election – and I’m betting she won’t – 2013 will be the year of the Federal election.

The last twenty four months have been a pure delight for a political tragic. For that we thank the Coalition for providing us with some comedy relief in the form of Tony Abbott. The next 12 months should be equally as entertaining and is sure to be another Abbott cocktail of gaffes, brain farts, back-flips, thought bubbles and publicity stunts. Yet, the daily media mantra of “Mr Abbott says . . .” will be elevated to headline status. He’ll be in our faces from the time we have breakfast until we tuck ourselves in at night. It’s a scary thought.

Over the next 12 months it all gets serious.

He’ll again be exposing his hairy chest, running marathons, kissing babies, firing rifles and visiting cities on the eve of their destruction. As Nasking suggested on this blog, he’ll still be the show-pony grabbing the limelight and attention he so desperately needs.

For our mainstream media, 2013 will be Tony’s year.

Quoting Nasking again . . . like many of you, I haven’t failed to notice that time and time again, the moment his leadership is at crisis point, comes a Newspoll to the rescue – Abbott’s numbers as preferred PM are up? . . . yea, and my mother was born a Vulcan . . . followed by some shock jock, News Ltd, Channel Nine and ABC ‘usual suspect’ support. Yep, they’ll be there to save Tony’s bacon.

It has started already. Just when the whole world has woken up to the fact that Tony Abbott is a misogynist sledge hammer the media pluck his wife Margie out of his shadow to promote him as the perfect, dare I say it . . . man. Such headlines are sure to dominate the media landscape over the next 12 months as Margie competes with Paris Hilton as the tabloid gossip girl. The media will find people (that Tony himself may have even forgotten about) that will attest to all his goodness and purity. And no doubt too, the media will beat a path to John Howard’s door, swooning to the lavish praise the little man will bless upon him.

This week he’s being presented as a lady’s man. What will he be next week? A soldier? A savior? A saint? And closer to the election he may become the Pied Piper or Tarzan, or perhaps a miniature version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. There is nothing our media couldn’t portray him as.

He will be the expert voice on all things in the known universe. He will be humanity’s guiding light and of course his incompetent mumblings will be fed to us as though he was a divine entity. He will be the master of all knowledge. Dare I chose what pair of socks to put on in the morning without first consulting him? I’ll need Tony the hold my hand and the media will attempt to have us handcuffed.

Might I suggest that over the next 12 months the tabloid media change from printing on white paper to brown. It might be appropriate. Brown is a close colour to bullshit. Looking ahead, we’re going to cop it in the bucket loads.

For the independent and social media, 2013 will be Tony’s year too. But we won’t be as kind.

Looking ahead, this and other left-wing blogs will be there helping to expose every lie, mock every brain fart, dissect every thought bubble and fill in the gaps missed by our media goons. Since he became Leader of the Opposition we have been subjected to a stream of lies, misrepresentations, obfuscations and . . . a string of idiotic brain farts thinly disguised as policy which have been neither well thought out, nor costed. (Thanks to Jane from this blog for that quote). If the mainstream media won’t hold him to account, the independent media will be demanding that they do.

We’ll be pushing the message on all social media platforms and even at the hallowed family BBQs. People who don’t engage in social media – who only read/listen to our mainstream media – have no idea how politically incompetent and socially dangerous this man is.

2013 is the year to get in peoples’ faces. The might of the mainstream media can never be taken on, but by Christ we can still make a noise.

Oh the arrogance of the high and mighty

This story in the Brisbane Times tells us the not too unexpected news that “a defiant 2GB boss has refused to distance himself from Alan Jones despite the mass walk out of major advertisers in response to the broadcaster’s fudged apology to Julia Gillard on Sunday“.

Oh, so it was the fudged apology. Thank goodness for that. For a brief moment I thought it might have actually been the sewer-dredging speech Jones delivered when he attacked Julia Gillard for ‘causing’ the death of her father.

I’m glad we’ve sorted that bit out. At least we know where 2GB stand.

It’s OK for their putrid pin-up boy to keep squealing that the PM should be tossed out to sea in a chaff bag or agree to her being guillotined, or to delve even deeper into his horrid bag of pus by linking her to her father’s death – while they sit back and rake in the advertising dollars – but to fudge up an apology has them startled:

Asked for his response to the desertion of advertisers and sponsors from the station, Russell Tate, the chief executive of 2GB’s owner Macquarie Radio Network, said: “When there’s a response it will be between me and my sales team and our individual advertisers. The relationship with advertisers is a private one and a commercial one. There won’t be a response, there isn’t one and that’s the end of it.”

That was only a teaser. Consider this arrogant bile:

Asked if the 71-year-old could be expected to address the issue again, Mr Tate repeated “Alan will be back as planned on air tomorrow morning. I suggest you listen.”

That’s the problem, you idiot. People have been listening to him.

And they don’t like what they hear so they want him to shut up.

If people such as yourself don’t shut him up then expect the backlash to keep growing. Get off your high horse and take a look at what’s happening in the social media.

The arrogant high and mighty are no longer immune.

Tony Abbott and un-Social Media

Is Tony Abbott a hypocrite, or does he just have thought bubbles on any issue that makes the news?

In response to the publicity and subsequent condemnation of the Aboriginal Memes Facebook page, here is Mr Abbott’s thought bubble, for which I commend him:

Tony Abbott says regulators may need more powers to order social media sites to take down offensive material.

The suggestion follows the belated removal from Facebook of a racist page that denigrated Aborigines as alcoholics and welfare cheats.

Mr Abbott said he wanted to avoid damage to individuals as a result of cyber bullying.

He said Facebook and other social media organisations should act responsibly to prevent cyber bullying, but greater regulation could be required.

“I do think there is an issue with cyber bullying, and I think that we really ought to look at whether the regulators need more power to make takedown orders and so on,’ Mr Abbot said.

Any commendation I had for his statement evaporated when the thought bubble was displaced with blatant hypocrisy. He went on:

The Opposition Leader denied the position was inconsistent with his plan to axe Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which makes it an offence to offend or humiliate a person on the grounds of race or ethnicity.

“We’ve set up a Coalition task group to look at this whole issue of cyber bullying.

“There is no case, though, for political censorship, and that’s the problem with Section 18C of the Act.”

The link above also reminds us that ‘News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt was found guilty under Section 18C last year, after he accused some “fair-skinned Aboriginals” of choosing to identify as Indigenous for personal gain’. And let’s remind ourselves that Abbott was quick to leap to Bolt’s defense.

Yep, the hypocrisy is oozing all over the article.

By courtesy of Min, Section C18 of the Act, that being which Tony Abbott so vehemently opposes concerns offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin. That’s correct it’s offensive behaviour, with the specifics being:

For an act to be unlawful it must fulfill the following criteria:

  • that the action causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or that it is done in a public place.
  • that the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people.
  • that the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

So that’s OK by Tony Abbott.  OK, that is, if the mainstream media kick heads but let’s do something about independent journalists or people who engage with social media. You know the types, they’re the ones often critical of the current Opposition (and him) and the biased mainstream media.

Mr Abbott is right, of course, in one respect. Some social media sites have become a cesspool of hate. But has he bothered to look at the hatred or suggestions of violence that are published by commenters on the blog sites of Andrew Bolt’s or Piers Ackerman’s? Does he worry when a commenter pleads for a call to arms to rid ourselves of the Government?

And why doesn’t he have caring thought bubbles when he stands side-by-side with those same types as they hold signs calling Julia Gillard a bitch or a slut.  He rubs shoulders with hate mongerers after they’ve said on air that Julia Gillard should be dumped at sea.  He supports members of his party who suggest Julia Gillard should be kicked to death.  He also fails to reprimand those in his party who say Julia Gillard needs a bullet.

I guess it’s all free speech, which the other day he vociferously endorsed. A comment on The Political Sword by Wake Up amused me:

Don’t you just love the hypocrisy of Abbott . . . this morning in the face of the ‘Aboriginal Meme’ affair he invoked a Coalition ‘ task force’ to look at social media including ‘stronger take-down powers for the regulator’ yet only three days ago he was heroically swinging to defend ‘free speech’.

I’m worried about what Abbott might do the free speech on social media sites. It will be muted, there is nothing surer. It will be muted because they are the forums that breed – in his eyes – dissent.  They are not the forums that provide him with unqualified support, such as seen in the mainstream media. And according to Mr Abbott the laws will be changed to give the media – those pedlars of hate – the right to abuse and denigrate at will (as if it isn’t disgusting enough already).

Meanwhile, everyone else will be made to shut up.

We should all be worried.

We’re 2


Café Whispers is 2 years old today.

The site was actually built in February 2010, but the doors weren’t open for comments until June 6 when my good self Min, Nasking, joni and Ben Tolputt kicked off the blog.  Our first post appeared on June 8, being Ben’s Since when did the journalists become the story.  It attracted a whole five comments.

Now, two years later we’ve received over 76,000 comments from almost 700 posts and are nearing a half a million visits.  Over 300 bloggers have commented at the Café.

Most of our visitors come via Google, which is quite pleasing as it shows that people are searching for the Café.  Running a close second is Facebook where our posts get good coverage over a number of Facebook groups.

Of our two years, last month was our best month ever as far as the number of visitors, and last week was the best week ever.  The huge month coincided with Café Whispers making the final seven for the best commentary blog in Australia.

At times I’ve wondered whether the Café should become more of a serious political blog but I always knock that idea on the head as soon as I think of it.  I can say without much contradiction that we all enjoy the lighthearted blogging we offer here, mixed with the thoughtful commentary across a wide range of categories.  In a way that makes us unique.

Having said that, who’s to say we won’t continue to evolve?  Take that as an invitation to put forward any ideas you might have or any subjects you’d like to see introduced.

The real highlight of the two years has been the pleasure of blogging with everyone who visits the Café.  Thank you to the authors, commenters and readers, all of whom make running a blogsite worthwhile.

Now, should I open our cellar door? 😯