Politicising Auntie? What a novel idea!

The lefties over at Larva Rodeo have gone into a Henny Penny “sky is falling” frenzy (here and here)  over the appointment of Keith Windschuttle to the ABC Board, joining Janet Albrechtsen and Ron Brunton as appointees seen by many on the Labor side as unacceptably partisan politicisation of the ABC.

Call me naive or a closet Tory if you want, but  I can’t for the life of me see any significant distinction between the Howard government’s practices in appointing ABC Board members and those of previous Labor governments.   As far as I  can recall, the Keating and Whitlam governments’ appointments were every bit as partisan as those under Howard, although things were slightly more moderate under Bob Hawke and in the later Fraser years.   I Googled for a while until  I found this excellent Friends of the ABC 2001 submission to a Senate committee.   An appendix provides a very useful summary  history of ABC Board appointments going back  beyond WWII, and it mostly confirms my own more general recollections:

 From 1932 to 1942 there was always a majority of Commissioners publicly identified with the anti-Labor ministries which had chosen them. The Curtin and Chifley governments tried a little harder for balance: of eleven members appointed and reappointed between 1942 and 1949, five were clearly Labor people and six were not.   Menzies reappointed all but one of the Commissioners he found in office, but 23 years of anti-Labor rule yielded a solid majority of government supporters. By 1970 the Commission was largely composed of business men. One Commissioner belonged to the same branch of the Liberal party as the Postmaster-General, one was a member of the Country party, and the chairman, Sir Robert Madgwick, supposed that nearly all the others voted Liberal. The first Commissioner appointed by Whitlam in 1973 found himself regularly outvoted 8 to 1.

The Whitlam government became the first to make a clean sweep of its opponents’ Commissioners, replacing them almost entirely with Labor sympathisers. The Fraser government made that practice a tradition. Fraser actually tried to remove all the Whitlam appointees at once late in 1976 (see above), and when the bill authorising that action had to be dropped, the number of Commissioners was increased from nine to eleven for no evident reason other than to enable the immediate appointment of two people amenable to the government.

Tony Staley, the responsible minister from 1978, tried to make appointments less partisan. Ken Tribe from the world of music and David Williamson from the theatre might as easily have been chosen by Labor; Williamson, however, resigned after nine months, saying that his presence was legitimising the actions of `very conservative’ Commissioners.

The Labor government’s procedure of consultation helped to secure the new Board a favourable reception in and beyond the world of politics. It was not repeated. Seven of the nine Directors appointed in 1983 had been given three-year terms. (The Chairman, Ken Myer, and the Managing Director, Geoffrey Whitehead, had five-year terms, but each resigned short of the appointed time.) There was no consultation about their reappointment or replacement. When I recently asked Mr Hawke why, he said that governments have to govern and that he had seen no reason to involve an uncooperative opposition in the process of appointment.

Duffy and his colleagues had done their best to heed Dix’s call, written into the 1983 Act, for a governing body not vaguely representative of community interests but having relevant expertise. The Age had welcomed the new Board as a group which `had the chance to rejuvenate Aunty’. Three years later, the paper judged the first Board differently. `The Government’s mistake’, it declared, `was to appoint people who were representative of community interests, when they should have been chosen primarily for their knowledge of broadcasting and for their managerial experience.’   The paper was not alone in thinking that the first group of Directors had not displayed conspicuous expertise. Duffy tried again in 1986. When he replaced three of the original directors, he dwelt on the newcomers’ array of relevant expertise. None of the 1986 appointments were criticized as partisan.

By Paul Keating’s time as Prime Minister the practice of consultation had been largely forgotten. At the end of Labor’s thirteen years in office Alan Ramsey of the Sydney Morning Herald made what seems to me a judicious review of its appointees’ politics. Of 26 Board members, including chairmen, `12 came from overt political backgrounds, among them a former Labor premier, a former Liberal senator, a former Liberal Cabinet minister, four trade union activists, four advisers to various State Labor administrations, and Labor’s former opinion pollster, Rod Cameron.’   In short, `less than half Labor’s ABC appointments over the years have had obvious party political connections, while two of them came from among the ranks of its political opponents.’ (12 June 1996).

[ Have a look at the composition of the ABC Board in 1995, the last full year of the Keating government.   It included former Labor Premier John Bannon, long-time ALP pollster Rod Cameron and Queensland trade union official and then Goss government  health bureaucrat Janine Walker. Can anyone  seriously suggest that those 3 appointees were  significantly less overtly ‘political’ than Brunton, Albrechtsen and Windschuttle? ]

Most of the directors appointed since the Howard government took office have been formally or informally identifiable as supporters of the coalition. When I asked Mr Howard about a report (Sun-Herald 15 March 2001) of discussions between the coalition and other parties about the possibility of bipartisan appointments, he said that he knew nothing of any such discussions and that he was content with the present procedure.   Michael Kroger, he said, was the only clearly political appointee, and he was a good member of the Board. Mr Howard has sometimes justified the political affiliations of Board members appointed in his time by invoking (and exaggerating) the partisan appointments of his predecessors. Some Howard supporters, far from denying that appointments are being made on political grounds, argue not only that Labor did that but that to do so is proper and healthy. You would chloroform the ABC, one coalition appointee has said to me, if you filled the Board with nondescripts having no publicly stated views and no engagement in public debate. No government lasts forever (this argument runs), and the time will come when Labor can retaliate.

Present Labor policy, however, as expressed by Kim Beazley and the shadow minister Stephen Smith, is that the Board should be de-politicised. By means of a joint parliamentary committee, as proposed by the Democrats, or by an informal committee, as in 1983, or unilaterally? When I asked the present minister for communications and the arts, Senator Richard Alston, what he thought of consultation before appointment, he replied that this was the sort of thing that appealed to parties in opposition. Once, though, it has been done, and there is no reason why it could not be done again unless relations between parties have so deteriorated since 1983 that members of a Labor government could not bring themselves to consult their opponents about anything.

Commissioners and Board members with evident political preferences have not always behaved as instruments of the party to which they owed their appointment. They might well develop around the table an allegiance to the ABC itself, a sense of trusteeship,stronger than any commitment to the government responsible for putting them there.   In 1967 a Commission full of Menzies and Holt appointees resisted a minister who cut the budget, which he was entitled to do, and ordered that half the cut was to be applied to the always troublesome area of current affairs television, which he was not. The chairman, Sir Robert Madgwick, flew with a team to Canberra to tell him so. The government, not the Commission and management, buckled. The episode went into ABC collective memory.

More than one member of the present Board has told me that since 1996 differences of opinion between coalition appointees have sometimes been more substantial than differences between coalition and Labor appointees.

Quite so.    Despite being a close friend of  John Howard,  the current Chairman Donald McDonald has developed an evident and highly principled  allegiance to the ABC and its interests, to the vexation of some Liberal politicians.   I suspect the same is probably  true of Ron Brunton, who I have always found to be a man of great integrity and thoughtfulness in the dealings I’ve had with him.  

I agree that it would be a nice idea if ABC Board appointments could be made with bipartisan consultation and  agreement, but in the real world neither Labor in government  nor the Coalition is likely to do so.   Fortunately, history suggests that Coalition-leaning appointees have been just as capable as their Labor-leaning counterparts  of fulfilling their fiduciary obligations as Board members and displaying the integrity and intellectual strength to make decisions in the interests of the ABC rather than the politicians who appointed them.   I suggest that cuts to the ABC’s budget and the very public monstering of working journalists by the government have far more to do with the ABC’s current level of timidity than anything that has taken place at Board level.  

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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Thomas the Tout
Thomas the Tout
15 years ago

I have always thought of the Friends Of Auntie as being partisan. And here, the appendix encapsulates the bias. The Menzies co-alition cabinet is called “anti-labor.” So why not describe the Whitlam, Hawke and Keating cabinets as “anti-liberal” or as “anti-conservative”?
…There is none so blind…

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
15 years ago

Yes, both sides have been stacking the board for years (which doesn’t make it right).

But surely the issue is more than Windschuttle is a complete nincompoop?

phil
15 years ago

He might be a nincompoop, but he’s our nincompoop.

Rob
Rob
15 years ago

Quite right; it’s a storm in a Larva teacup. Michael Kroger didn’t make a skerrick of difference to the ABC’s prevailing culture, and remember what outrage that appointment generated.

Guy
Guy
15 years ago

Some good points Ken. Of course I echo Bill’s comment – that Labor has engaged in such shenanigans in the past does not make the shenanigans right today.

It’s probably worth adding that Windschuttle is somewhat more of a polarising figure than many of the other names you have mentioned in this post.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

You’re a closet Tory, Ken, or just trying to be provocative.

The people Labor appointed were neither as controversial nor as slimly qualified (according to the requirements set down in the Act) as Windschuttle. However, given the idiocy of appointing Windy and Janet in particular, a future ALP government could do a good service for the depoliticisation of public institutions by changing the method of appointment.

And if you don’t think the Board has any effect, I’d invite you to consider the sort of coverage Keating got in 1995 and 1996 with the sort of coverage Howard gets now, not to mention the general dumbing down of ABC TV to boomer lifestyle pap.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Ken, I think there’s a difference between appointing a respected former Premier like John Bannon, or a respected conservative like John Hirst or Ian Hancock to name two conservative historians and appointing a red baiter like Keith Windschuttle. They could have appointed Jeff Kennett (a lot more interesting than Michael Kroger) and I wouldn’t have been complaining.

Here’s Hirst on Windschuttle:

Again, with his other critics (and one or two supporters) I am surprised at Windschuttle’s lack of sympathy of the plight of the disposessed Aborigines. A position of hard realism about the nation rsting on conquest does certainly does not require that we abandon sympathy for Aborigines as fellow humans.

kartiya
kartiya
15 years ago

I AM NOT SURPRISED WITH HOWARD’S APPOINTMENT-WITH A BIT OF LUCK BRUNTON AND WINDSHUTTLE’S WORKS WILL BE SUBJECTED TO MUCH CLOSER SCRUTINY BY FAIR MINDED AUSTRALIANS.
HOWARD’S APPOINTMENT WILL NOT HELP GOOD RACE RELATIONS.IT WILL CONTINUE THEIR SLOW DETEORATION.
WHEN HE EVENTUALLY RETIRES I HOPE THE GOOD LORD JAMS HIM INTO A HOME WITH 14 + PEOPLE AT WADEYE TO SEE WHAT HIS 10 YEARS OF INDIGENEOUS POLICIES HAVE PRODUCED FOR OUR BLACK FELLOW AUSTRALIANS.

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
15 years ago

A much more nuanced approach is needed if one expects to be taken seriously by anyone except fellow one-eyed Labor partisans.

Because, of course, Windschuttle himself is famous for his nuance.

Please.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Well I’ve never read the tealeaves on Howard’s retirement, as there’s so little to go on, but being bloody minded about Costello’s preferences strikes me as suggesting imminent retirement more than the opposite. Hawkie seemed to get more and more cavalier as he walked off that plank towards the end – remember (I think it was) Coronation Hill where he overruled his cabinet (so much for primus inter pares).

But who knows?

Paul Norton
Paul Norton
15 years ago

Here’s an interesting quote from Windy’s website:

“The growing use of ‘partner’, however, has had its own effect. It has helped cement this change more firmly into place by defining serial relationships as the norm rather than the exception. The rise of the term partner is another example of the homosexualisation of our culture. Once again, this is a considerable victory for the sexual radicals.”

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

Ken, yes, Windschuttle has had experience in the media, including writing a book in 1984 which criticised the media for its right wing structural bias. However, I doubt very much he’s the most appropriate person in Australia to fill a board position on that basis. Wouldn’t it be more to the point to call for a process whereby directors were appointed – for instance on a bipartisan basis – where the clear intent wasn’t for the government of the day (Labor or Liberal, I don’t care) to fill the board with its ideological bedfellows?

I think Nicholas is right about the contrast with Bannon, Walker, etc.

Costello probably did support the appointment – he’s known to be close to Kroger’s position on the ABC.

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
15 years ago

Shorter Ken: Windschuttle’s appointment is no problem as long as you’re living in the past, which is only sensible really.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

Just how much program content influencing does the Board get to do? If they were pissing around checking up on Kerry O’Brien’s “balance” or finding a right wing alternate for Fran Kelly, I suspect they’d be pretty much to one side of where a governance board is supposed to be and they’d be – deservedly – called on it.

The fact that developed world public broadcasters are staffed with folks who tend to more of a left-liberal hue than the opposite is surely the no-brainer of the age. The reason why this is somehow ‘a problem’ continues to elude me.

It’s equally mysterious to me why quite intelligent people screech hysterically when the Australian takes an editorial line that isn’t supportive of aspects of the ALP’s IR stance.

In both cases, people seemingly are utterly pissed off that their opinions aren’t being privileged. Whatever happened to informed scepticism, let alone the ability to consider, analyse and disagree?

ABC Radio, in particular, produces some intelligent, thought provoking stuff. What the fuck does it matter if the perspective is more often than not, left-liberal? If the listener is not herself left-liberal, she needs to know that you really don’t have to agree with everything you hear as a precursor to finding it engaging.

Windschuttle is a pedant, a desperately – tear-jerkingly, silent screamingly – boring writer and a man who has veered from one ideological extremity to the other without ever collecting 200 bucks for passing through Reasonably Balanced Outlook. He’s clearly been appointed to the Board as a provocation but what can he and Janet actually DO? Ron Brunton would be an adornment to the ABC Board regardless of circumstance but what effect can the other two actually have?

Albrechtson can no longer comment about the ABC publicly and nor will Windschuttle be able to.

Anyway, forget the ABC. Imre Saluszinsky has just been appointed to the Chair of the Australia Council’s Literature Review Board.
I’m anticipating a mass sit-in at Gleebooks…..

Scott Wickstein
Scott Wickstein(@scott-wickstein)
15 years ago

I must call Nicholas on his statement that John Bannon was a ‘respected’ former Premier.

As a man, Bannon was well respected, to be sure, but as a Premier he was the worst SA Premier of the 20th Century* for presiding over the State Bank fiasco; a disaster that had a chronic, shattering effect on South Australia that it is only just getting over now. His appointment to the ABC board was a slap in the face to the state, and his acceptance was poor judgement on his part. Given what happened to South Australia in the 1990’s, a discreet retirement was the only honourable course he could take.

*and we’ve had some ‘shockers’ I can assure you.

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
15 years ago

I suggest that both governments stack the board of directors because it does deliver some influence over the complexion of ABC broadcasting. Otherwise they wouldn’t bother. The board appoints the MD who presumably has controlling influence over all major journalistic appointments and through them, programming decisions.

Ken is correct that Janet and Keith are qualified. But it is not lack of ability that make their appointments inappropriate. It is their obsessive ideological warfare. Both are major figures in the culture wars and I cannot imagine that they would sit back and allow the current ABC culture to continue. Quite in contrast to Kroger or MacDonald.

The ABC is obsessive about certain issues, most obviously aboriginal issues. Have you ever sat watching some obscure ABC program late at night and been warned that the people depicted might have now died which may offend some aboriginal viewers? How many aborigines are watching the ABC at 11PM and how many of these would have such superstitions? It may be a completely harmless announcement but it is a symptom.

The media now is more polarised/biased than at any time I can remember. Have a look at the recent stance of The Australian on IR. I am not just talking about their editorials Geoff, though these now routinely use partisan jargon like “Howard Haters”

Mark Bahnisch
15 years ago

On Chris’ point, I’m not a regular reader of the news stories in The Age (as opposed to op/eds) but it wouldn’t surprise me. But the spin on Beazley’s AWA decision was incredibly thickly laid on. And the prominence of the stories is worth noticing. Could it really be the case that the most newsworthy story for the “paper of record” for 3 days running is business criticism of Beazley? That’s the inference you’d have to make from the front page treatment of this “news”.

Mark Bahnisch
15 years ago

I think they stack the board in part because it does have an influence on journalism (if only a sort of self-censoring one) but mainly as a symbolic move in the culture wars:

http://larvatusprodeo.net/2006/06/17/is-the-abc-actually-biassed/

The distinction that ought to be made is one between public trust and the increased propensity of governments to cast themselves as “shareholders” with “views”. Institutions such as the ABC or National Museum should have a governance model that reflects their status as institutions with a public purpose. That might mean that there should be an element of bipartisanship in board appointments or some form of transparency – perhaps Senate hearings. It ought to be the case that neither Labor nor Liberal ought to be allowed to tilt a public broadcaster to the left or right. Otherwise we may as well tear up the ABC Charter and treat the ABC as equivalent to Berlusconi’s tv stations or public tv in Putin’s Russia.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Scott, no doubt the SA Bank failure was a disaster. In how far was Bannon responsible? This is a genuine question, but I’m hoping for a genuine answer – not some pat line. Having observed him occasionally I found him a remarkably competent, modest, articulate fellow. I’m thinking that perhaps the State Bank might have happened to anyone. Was its collapse due to complete incompetence or the kind of willful ignorance we see from the Howard Government regarding (for instance) the AWB? Or was he given bad advice and or led astray by crooks?

Gaby
Gaby
15 years ago

I agree that the entire operational responsibility for the State Bank can’t be sheeted home to Bannon. A different matter from political responsibility for the disaster.

The biggest factors were egregiously incompetent management, a dysfunctional and weak board who were cowed by a megalomaniac chief executive, lax internal security, audit and prudential controls, and inaccurate or misleading financial reporting, especially back to government.

Bannon was particularly let down by the last mentioned.

Gaby
Gaby
15 years ago

PS When the State Bank was established from a couple of other progenitors, the Libs were very vociferous on insisting on independent board management, notwithstanding the existence of the government guarantee.

The specific “Labor” appointees let the Bannon government down by not reporting on, being aware of, or even undetstanding the financial difficulties of the bank.

Scott Wickstein
Scott Wickstein(@scott-wickstein)
15 years ago

What Gaby said, but also there were plenty of warning signs that Bannon could have picked up on by 1989. The Royal Commission into the fiasco noted that Bannon was pretty keen to not hear bad news. When a Lib backbencher started raising noises in 1990, Bannon used her questions as a chance to play politics instead of taking it seriously. So you could compare it to AWB, but Bannon was Treasurer as well as Premier, so he was the responsible Minister to boot.

It was not just a case of something that could have happened to anyone; he was actively asleep at the wheel.

Just goes to show how backwards we all were in the 1980’s with the notion that State Governments should own and operate commercial enterprises like banks and insurance companies and the like. Thank goodness we’ve (nearly) all moved on from that sort of thing.

Nicholas Gruen
Admin
Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

Scott, I put it badly. I agree that he was the responsible minister and that it was therefore his fault – and that he should take miniserial responsibility for it. That still leaves him a long way from “as a Premier he was the worst SA Premier of the 20th Century”.

Thomas the Tout
Thomas the Tout
15 years ago

re: John Bannon. I have not researched the dates, but I think it goes like this. The State Govt (Labor) decided to ‘privatise’, or at least ‘corporatise’ the State Bank. Timmy Marcus-Clarke came in as the new CEO. After a while, Jennifer Cashmore (Lib) raised questions about risky banking practices. John Bannon, as Premier, dismissed her concerns (rather savagely if I recall correctly). A year later, the Bank is in deep trouble.
Problem. When it was the State Bank, owned and operated by the Govt, it came with a guarantee to all customers that the Govt would ensure their money was safe. Some idiot let the Bank off the leash and into the world of competition, but left the guarantee in place. Bank funded all sorts of speculative schemes, and many went broke. Ergo, State had to cough up $3000 million, or more, pursuant to guarantee.
Change of Govt, and State sells lots of assets to cover its liability.
The failure of the politicians was leaving the guarantee in place. Major blunder. John Bannon was Treasurer and Premier.

Scott Wickstein
Scott Wickstein(@scott-wickstein)
15 years ago

Nicholas- name another Premier that set back the state a decade?

Sure, he didn’t mean to do it, but he was the monkey in charge.

Scott Wickstein
Scott Wickstein(@scott-wickstein)
15 years ago

Yeah, understood Ken, just didn’t want to allow Nicholas’ remarks go through to the keeper. Party loyalty can only go so far before it makes people look ridiculous. Defending John Bannon’s Premiership looks as silly as.. well, as silly as appointing Windschuttle to the ABC board, really.

I mean, they COULD have appointed someone who was willing to have a cold hard stare at the ABC and wondered where it is likely to be in twenty years time.

John Quiggin
John Quiggin
15 years ago

What Chris said. Jobs for the boys/girls appointments like Bannon’s are deplorable, but appointments like Windschuttle’s at the ABC, PP’s gig at the ARC and Imre at the Arts Council are something different, and a step towards the kind of cultural polarisation these guys are importing from the US.

John Quiggin
John Quiggin
15 years ago

I should add that I agree with you regarding Ron Brunton; he is likely to prove a disappointment for the Libs, or maybe he already has.

Don Wigan
Don Wigan
15 years ago

I tend to agree that the board appointments have little to do with day-to-day activities, except to the point where they might intimidate some ambitious managers.

The Libs have always been concerned, and still are, about a perceived left-liberal bnias in current events and news. After one disastrous MD they’re not inclined to meddle too much. The alternative theory, which is less palatable, is that the search for the truth (and as Beaverbrook once said, news is something that powerful people don’t want us to hear) will tend towards a left-of-centre focus.

Nicholas covers a similar point regarding the AFR. A generation ago, when I was in management, I remember an executive fuming over some ‘pinko’ stuff in the AFR. I asked him why he bothered if he didn’t like it. His response was that he had to have all the facts if he was to make sensible investment decisions.

Re Bannon and jobs-for-the-boys, I can give a slightly different take on the State Bank disaster. Dunstan’s very strong criticism of Bannon was based on the fact that he didn’t have his own lackey on the board reporting directly to him.

In Dunstan’s day, he would have had, and that hack would have been under no illusions that his primary responsibility was to the Premier. It wouldn’t have mattered that he knew nothing much about banking and finance. He would have told the Premier what he didn’t understand and the alarm bells would’ve been ringing.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

The natural culture of ABC boardship is kind of vaguely anti-Left inquiry sceptical of staff ideological consensus. I mean, that’s just the world out of which board members come. If they don’t come out of that world, they really can’t be board members. I mean, if you’re not sceptical of the staff consensus, find another job. You know, just find another job. And that is kind of a anti-leftie kind of culture.

– David Marr on the ABC Radio National Big Ideas program, September 26, 2004…ooops, sorry, me on clubtroppo, today…

Stephen Mitchell
Stephen Mitchell
15 years ago

Mark Bahnisch is spot on. Obviously, the board has influence. Otherwise, why have a board at all? The left/right thing is mistakenly pushed to the fore. The chimerical notion that the ABC has somehow to be all things to all people is an impossible demand, and one that is designed to keep the ABC failing to live up to it. The balance a public broadcaster is required to provide is not within itself, but within the society it services.
The reason there are few right wing ideologues at the ABC is because ‘the market’ provides more than enough Alan Jones’s and Andrew Bolts. If the ABC has a left/liberal sensibility, it is because the role of a public broadcaster is to be a voice for the voiceless – the right is more broadly aligned with wealth and power which, by definition, have the means to advance their perspective on society/politics etc at will. Governments being in the category of the ‘powerful’, it is no wonder that both Labor and Liberal have sought to undermine the ABC, regardless of the partisan nature of their appointments. The left or right wing constituency of the board is not nearly as important as a commitment to the idea of public broadcasting. Those that claim the ABC can be ‘saved’ by commercialisation do not have this commitment.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

I find little less convincing, or indeed more damning in its implicit comparison, than the suggestion that the vast bulk of the modern left offers the voice of anything but the privileged and self-indulged.

In my completely uninformed guess (the only thing I watch on TV is Rugby!) the closest TV comes to a ‘voice of the voiceless’ on a regular basis is shows such as ACA. One worthy documentary a month, and I’ll wager not at prime-time, watched by 20,000 people, is not by the greatest stretch of the imagination ‘balance’.

Nathan
Nathan
15 years ago

Stephen M is quite correct however Patrick, the philistine, shows his own self indulgence by confessing to only watch Rugby! He should try thinking of things other than himself if only to understand that “left” ideas merely reflect an attempt to bring a modicum of humanity and grace to so many “right” ideas which perpetuate the banal & base tendencies of those who like to exloit, destroy or divide. ACA is more like the ‘wit of the witless’ and even if 90% of Australia watched it, it wouldn’t make it anything other than what a lynching is to a lynch mob; it only takes its adherents down with it. It is hardly a privilege to attempt to improve the social good, or consider others less fortunate, or expect any government to serve the community whom it represents. Long lean the ABC!