Campaigning on the frontier

tollner.jpgThis story from today’s NT News (not online so I’ve reproduced it myself) gives a flavour of the subtlety and sophistication of political campaigning in Australia’s north. It may be of some interest given that the federal seat held by the CLP’s David Tollner is Australia’s most marginal.

However, my main reason for posting it is to comment on the actions of my former ALP colleague Warren Snowdon in commencing defamation action against Tollner for comments that don’t seem to be even slightly out of the ordinary run of day-to-day political rough and tumble debate. I don’t know what lawyer (if any) has advised Snowdon to sue on this material, but if I was him I’d be getting a second opinion.

snowdon.jpgThe decision to sue itself shows Snowdon in a very poor light. As a member of the hard left, Snowdon has always had his Stalinist side, but this move takes him to a new level of cowardly thuggishness. Why not just slug it out in the political arena, Warren? Or don’t you think your arguments are good enough to persuade people?

It isn’t even clear to me what Snowdon claims is defamatory about Tollner’s remarks (assuming they’re accurately reported by the NT News – which may be a dubious assumption). There’s no doubt that Snowdon (along with the rest of the left faction) did sustain defeats in caucus on the FTA and abolition of ATSIC. Presumably Snowdon objects to Tollner suggesting that he’s about to spit the dummy and retire from politics as a result. So Warren reacts by spitting the dummy and suing!

Given that Tollner’s allegation seems to be that Snowdon will retire before the forthcoming election and throw things into chaos, it’s difficult to see how Warren could ever prove any damage flowing from the statement. If he stands for election (as I’m sure he will), anyone who might have thought Tollner’s remarks were anything more than a stock standard piece of empty political rhetoric will know that he was wrong before they vote.

If Snowdon’s lawyers are correct about this statement being actionable, then so is all the ALP propaganda saying “A vote for Howard is a vote for Costello“, because the innuendo is almost indistinguishable.

Any damage caused to Snowdon’s reputation flows from his own stupid, thuggish, immature, undemocratic decision to sue, rather than from anything Tollner said about him. However, it hasn’t lowered his reputation in my eyes. Lucky he’s not standing in Solomon. I wouldn’t vote for him in a pink fit. But then I’m not voting for Tollner either.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

Good God. On this basis I assume we’ll have Tollner counter-suing given Snowdon’s outrageous assertion about Tollner being “away with the fairies.”

It reads to me more like strategic intimidatory tactics than a real intent to proceed to law but then….I’m not a Territory politician and I’m often away with the fairies myself :)

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2021 years ago

I can tell you from my experience that David has really gotten under Warren’s skin over the years. Very little love lost between them.

David Tiley
2021 years ago

Ken – this is irrelevant to the post but it might help with the design – hspace=”10″ in with the align=”left” (or right) gives you a gap around your photos. Vary the size with the number.

Drove me mad till I found that out. Photos are great. Like the background texture – tried for that myself but didn’t get it right and moved on to something else.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Thanks David. I’ve wanted to know how to do that for ages.

mark
2021 years ago

Ahh, but hspace is no longer valid HTML; safer to go with style=”margin: 10px;” or something instead.

Even better, put in your CSS:
IMG {
margin: 10px;
}

Then you don’t need to add anything, all images will have a margin of 10px — top, bottom, and sides.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Mark

Thanks for that. How then would I create a stylesheet division that would enable me easily to add captions to photos (that seems to be how the online newspapers do it)?

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2021 years ago

They use a tag, to divide the photo into its own logical segment. That section then has a different style for captions.

An example from the SMH:

“He was crying” … Habib’s wife and daughter, Maha and Hajer.

A few comments. Firstly, very naughty of them not to have a proper alt or title attribute. Secondly, naughty of them to have an align attribute; formatting attributes in tags is deprecated.

Otherwise though, that’s how you’d do it. Probably with the CSS margins stuff mark had above, making sure that tags in the relevant class don’t have any margin at all (ie, but up to the photo).

I’d give you some code but I don’t really have a good setup to test it here.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2021 years ago

Alright, that code didn’t post right.

The SMH uses <div> tags with a special CSS class. That class probably describes how an img tag and a p tag would behave together.

David Tiley
2021 years ago

Damn. Back to the drawing board for me! Thanks though.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Jacques

If you ever get the time and inclination, I’d love to receive the stylesheet code for SMH-style photo captions. I’ve got Buckley’s Chance of working it out for myself. That’s the trouble with stylesheets. You can’t cheat and copy the code from “view source” in someone else’s web page.

Tim Lambert
2021 years ago

That’s the trouble with stylesheets. You can’t cheat and copy the code from “view source” in someone else’s web page.

Sure you can. Do a view source and look for the URL of the style sheet. Here is yours.

mark
2021 years ago

Building on what Tim said, stylesheets can either be part of the page, or linked/imported from elsewhere. There’s also adding the style=”” attribute to particular tags, but you’re already familiar with that. “Embedded” CSS is visible directly from “View Source” (CTRL-U on Mozilla/Firefox, and ALT-F3 (I think) on Opera). It looks like:
<style type=”text/css”> img { margin: 10px; }</style>
(obviously, you can include as many different “definitions” as you like, not just the one for IMG tags. In this example, “img” is an element, “margin:” a property, and “10px;” the value)

CSS from other places can’t be seen directly, because, well, it’s not there (as you’ve already discovered). But there has to be a reference within the HTML to it, or it can’t be used, eh? There are two ways people access a stylesheet from an external document (almost always “whatever.css”): by “linking”, and “importing”. MT-based ‘blogs like yours use linked stylesheets, even though this isn’t the best solution (all CSS-using browsers can understand it. Which means NN4 has a great opportunity to choke on it). This looks like:
<link rel=”stylesheet” href=”whatever.css” type=”text/css” />. Any time you see this, you know there’s something of interest in “whatever.css”.

“Importing” involves sticking a reference into an embedded stylesheet. It’s mostly done to hide stylesheets from browsers like NN4 and IE4 that try to understand CSS and go all gang agley (or even crash) under the effort. It looks like:
<style type=”text/css”>
@import “whatever.css”;
</style>

Hope this is helpful.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Mark

As far as I can see the SMH and Oz use the latter method (including @import). Does that mean I can or can’t view their css source code, and if so how?

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2021 years ago

Ken;

I’d be happy enough to give it a whirl. Could you email your current stylesheet to me?

Ken Glasgow
Ken Glasgow
2021 years ago

Interesting article. Post moral majotity?? According to census 2001 68% of Australians are Christians.

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
2021 years ago

Yes but there are Christians and there are God-botherers. I even have trouble chatting with the latter, they are worse than tele-marketers.

Enduring crucifixion is one thing but the prospect of having to share company with Kevin Andrews or Eric Abetz, not even Satan deserves that sort of treatment. I hope my second coming is soon because a couple of hundred years up above with that lot will be worse than having to watch consecutive screenings of that new Mel Gibson film.

Remind me to tell St. Peter to change the admissions policy as otherwise I might be truly tempted. Oh, and don’t tell Trish Draper about some of the films we like to screen up here, lets just say yours truly is making sure Martin Scorcese is on the guest list. Actually I’m more of a “Jesus of Montreal” than a Mel Gibson Jesus, the beard is so 70s.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Lord

I am your most humble servant and, as you know (being omniscient and all), only a miserable sinner. Just a stranger on a blog trying to make his way home. But it does occur to me that Abetz was distinctly complicit in covering up for that Draper tart. Surely you could tactfully suggest to St Peter that he merits at least a spell in purgatory if not eternal damnation.

And Kevin Andrews was at the very least uncharitable in what he did to the NT’s euthanasia laws. Yes, yes I know that sort of thing’s a tad controversial up there, but really, if judgment was thine then that little upstart prick has it coming too. Oh forgive me Lord, I got carried away. Anyway, Andrews must certainly deserve to burn in hell, don’t you think? And if you get a little side benefit of avoiding their company up there, well what the hell? Ooh sorry!

Lord I have to confess I’m deeply disturbed by that comment about beards being so 70s, though. You’re not taking divine fashion advice from that little twerp Carson Kressley, are you? I hope you’ll forgive me for mentioning it, but things have changed in the couple of millenia since you were last here. That bloke’s taste is in his arse. Think of him as the Judas of haute couture, the fashion kiss of death. I mean I know you move in mysterious ways, but you wouldn’t want to make the same mistake twice.

And lastly oh Lord, I’m wondering if I give you thanks and praise enough, would you consider vaporising Osama and his crew, and turning Howard and Bush and Tony Abbott and Dick Cheney into cane toads?

Amen

Red Peter
Red Peter
2021 years ago

As one astutely christian talkback caller put it last night; “Jesus would be turning in his grave!”