Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Paul Nicolaou Chosen to Contest Pittwater

As widely tipped, the Liberal Party have selected Paul Nicolaou as their candidate for John Brogden's former seat of Pittwater. Members of the embattled Liberal left would have to take some solace from the decision, given that Nicolaou is, like Brogden before him, on the moderate side of Liberal politics. Still, I don't know how wise it was for him to proclaim that he hoped to `follow in Brogden's footsteps'. Some of them, perhaps - just not the last few.

Secco to Go?

While Sydney Morning Herald Editor in Chief Mark Scott adamantly stuck to the story that economic conditions or some such furphy (not high executive pay packets) are the reason 60 editorial jobs are being cut from Fairfax on today's edition of AM, Crikey are reporting a much different story, including claims of a great leftie purge. In particular, it's claimed that yet another of my favourite Insiders lounge lizards, Mike Seccombe, has his head on the chopping block. This follows Max Walsh's opinion piece in that bastion of righter-than-thouness, The Bulletin, advising Fairfax that if it wanted to arrest its drop in sales, the first thing it needed to do was become more right wing. Yup - good one Maxie! Just what the Australian media landscape needs - another dull right wing newspaper just like all the others! (and come on - the SMH is hardly The Marxist Times anyway ...) Why is it, then, that the circulation of verbose, left-leaning publications like The New Yorker has actually improved over the past few years? Could it be that people actually want intelligent, challenging media rather than vapid tabloids divided into an ever increasing number of lifestyle sections? Nahhhh.

Those of you who visited the Sydney Morning Herald website yesterday will have seen the banner warning that some regular items were missing from the paper due to industrial action by the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance. It will be interesting - and perhaps horrifying - to see how the issue develops. The last thing the Australian print media needs is a reduction in its already small political gene pool.

Which Liberal?

A good piece on ABC's Stateline last night about the battle for John Brogden's old seat of Pittwater. History dictates that this bluest of blue ribbon Liberal seats should go straight back to the Liberals on November 26th; the question is, which Liberal? Currently, the money is on Paul Nicolaou of `the Group', the moderate faction to which John Brogden was more closely aligned than the other main contender, businessman and hard-right winger Paul Ritchie. Given the claims of independent candidate and Pittwater mayor Alex McTaggart that the massive margin on which the Liberals currently sit could be cut by local anger over Brogden's treatment by the party machine, I'd say they'll try and keep Ritchie out of the picture if they possibly can, though the idea that he'll win on a tide of local anger is likely to be a pipe dream. His revelations that he was approached by the Liberal Right over pre-selection (the transcript should be on the Stateline website fairly soon) are interesting indeed.

But then again, the Liberal Right have other things on their plate at the moment.
A branch stacking scandal involving up to 70 members of the Liberal Party has been referred to NSW Police for possible fraud, according to a newspaper report.

The paper says the Liberal Party's NSW branch has confirmed investigating 74 instances where a small group of members had used their own credit cards to sign up other members to branches without their knowledge.

It is believed the breaches of the party's constitution involved four senior members of the party attempting to renew other members' lapsed memberships to stack branches across Sydney.

But let's play another game of `Which Liberal?':
State director Graham Jaeschke said four party members were disciplined after a meeting of the state executive last week.

Mr Jaeschke refused to name the four, but one was believed to be a member of the Right faction who was involved in a brawl at a party meeting earlier this year.

Geez, Jaeschke - throw us a frickin' bone! That could be ANYBODY !!!

Fabian Society Debrief

The Australian Fabian Society forum this Wednesday was, as always, thought provoking, deliberative, smattered with a few nutters, but well worth attending. It was quite astounding to hear John Singleton describing immigration detention centres as `concentration camps' and raging on like a real leftie. His message was painted (and dismissed) in the media as a bleeding obvious `Kim Beazley should stop waffling', but it was more complex than that. Singleton came across as a pretty cluey character - it shouldn't be a surprise, of course. But I really had to remind myself `Wait a minute. Let's not forget this is the bloke who owns 2GB. Yet this in itself is important. He's someone whose job it is to correctly judge the public mood.

Singleton's main message was that people will latch on to the Labor Party if they knew exactly what the Labor Party were saying. Julie Owens, the impressively energetic Member for Parramatta who toppled the odious Ross `Quality Box' Cameron in the 2004 election, argued that Labor does have different positions on, for example, refugees and the war in Iraq. All very well, argued Singo. Does average Joe know this? No he does not. This is the problem the party must surmount - and this is a much wider problem than simply `Beazley waffles'. I came away with the feeling that too much is made of the leadership issue. I'd be lying if I said `Beazley's the best leader the ALP could have right now', but I think concentrating on a cohesive message and strong policies, as well as strong personal leadership and greater sense of unity from all aspects of the party - from State Premiers to Federal frontbenchers - may be more important in the long run.

One thing that was interesting from my point of view was the high media presence - ABC's AM were there and, friends, Karen Barlow even Vox Popped your humble Minotaur, would you believe! It provided quite an interesting insight into the workings of the mainstream media. Clearly, they went in with an agenda. They fondly hoped that the evening would be the latest in a continuum - first the Latham Diaries, then Barry Jones, then John Faulkner - to cut a long story short, they wanted a Labor bloodbath.

My family and I popped out early. The ABC rushed towards us, microphones aloft. `Why are you walking out early? There was a LOT of anger in the room, wasn't there?' (you angry, disgruntled, dis-GUSTED Labor voters, you - the implication was). My father leaned over and said, very seriously, `Our parking meter was about to run out.' So much for spin ... I then gave a nice eloquent speech about regeneration and suchlike. Did this make it onto AM? No it did not. Thankyou and goodnight.

You can read (and hear) the results here. Alam Ramsay also puts in his two cents worth in today's SMH, while Liam also has his say on

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Extremists Ransack Parliament

OK - last week I brought you, via Jon Stanhope's website, the details of the proposed anti-terrorism legislation and, in particular, the things that you could expect to be thrown in jail for seven years for. In particular:

- `Urging the overthrow of the Constitution or Government'

Now, I'm no constitutional law expert (the reason those guys earn millions of dollars per year is that they have to read the bloody thing - a cornerstone of Australian polity in the past century seems to have been to deliberately make it such a snooze as to deliberately discourage people from doing so), but doesn't the following sound just the tiniest bit unconstitutional and the teensiest bit like throwing the normal procedures of governance right out the window like a couple of drunken teenagers trying to hide their stash?
Tough new counter-terrorism laws will be rushed into federal parliament on Melbourne Cup day in what the opposition says is an extraordinary abuse of power.

About 90 minutes after the race that stops the nation, draft laws allowing people to be arrested and detained for up to a fortnight without evidence or charges will be unveiled in their final form for the first time.

Punters will still be picking up their winnings or tearing up their betting slips as Attorney-General Philip Ruddock outlines the full provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

In an unusual move, the government will force an immediate debate on the legislation, giving the opposition only 10 minutes to examine the draft laws rather than the usual fortnight.


Yes, once again in case you missed it ... RATHER THAN THE USUAL FORTNIGHT ... that's TEN minutes. ONE ZERO. 10. One third of an episode of The Simpsons rather than the time it takes to get from Sydney to America on a passenger liner.

And let's not forget - that's not ten minutes on any particular day. That' ten minutes on Melbourne Cup Day. You know - when everyone's pissed and has just won the office sweep and what have you. `An unusual move' is putting it mildly, a little like saying `Crikey - it was a bit windy in New Orleans the other day, eh?'

I'm almost wishing they do pass these stinking laws so some particularly clever judge somewhere manages to put the whole front bench in the slammer on a technicality. Yes, Mr Farr - sometimes we are a little cranky over here on the left - but sometimes there's not a whole lot to laugh about.

Fabian Society Forum: One Year Down & Two to Go: Can Labor Win in 2007?

It's Fabian time again, and this month's Sydney forum promises to be a goodie, with rumours that John Singleton intends on regarding the event as his pitch to win the ALP's account for the 2007 election. As much as I hate Singo, I fondly recall his famous `Whinging Wendy' campaign of the early 80s which made me regard John Howard as a has-been before I'd even reached double digits. Also coming up soon is the first ever Australian Fabian Conference. It's great to see the Fabian Society going from strength to strength (and publishing an article or two of mine along the way. :) ).

Anyway, here's the details:

One Year Down & Two to Go: Can Labor Win in 2007?

It is now one year since the ALP’s fourth consecutive federal defeat. With two years to the next election, this forum will consider what Labor has to do to win in 2007.


· John Singleton, Advertising executive
· Geoff Walsh, former ALP National Secretary
· Julie Owens MP, Labor Member for Parramatta

Chaired by Senator John Faulkner, President of the NSW Fabian Society

When: 6:00 to 7:30pm
Where: LHMU Auditorium, 187 Thomas St Haymarket, Sydney

I note that some (most recently Gerard Henderson have dismissed the ongoing discussion of the ALP and its internal processes as `navel gazing', but frankly, in an inversion of the old saying `if it ain't broke, don't fix it', it's only those for whom the system is working who are arguing that it shouldn't be fixed. The Liberal Party went through a similar process in the wilderness years of the 1980s and early 1990s and emerged a stronger and more coherent party. The ALP will do the same as long as it accepts the need for change.

Is the Day of the Single Voice Blog Dead?

Having observed the bachelor pad that was Cut Price Commentariat being shut down and a swinging share apartment named open in its place, I'm curious as to your thoughts, O my friends and droogs: what of the single voice blog? Is it, as Comrade Liam believes, a dying art form? Is the blogosphere becoming a bit like the Domain on a Sunday, where I at first wondered if they still had Speakers Corner and then saw not one but three competing Speakers Corners set up in various areas of the park? Or is setting up a multi-voice blog just a convenient way of making sure there's another blogger to pick up the slack when you're too shagged out to do so?

I'll tell you why I started blogging. Because I'm an opinionated, bossy little so-and-so who couldn't keep her mouth shut even if the alternative was to swallow battery acid with a light chaser of pulped WorkChoices booklets. Thus, the single voice blog suits me down to the ground. I admit I haven't been blogging as much as I would have liked recently (I haven't got blog fatigue ... fellow uni students will realise my predicament) but when I do, I'm afraid it's me, me, me for the forseeable future, puppies. Love me, love my blog.

Nevertheless, different strokes for different folks and all that. Any thoughts?

(As an aside, I must gently but firmly disagree with another of my favourite Insiders divan divas, Malcolm Farr - who argues that the Left blogosphere is just too much of a collective stick-in-the-mud for anyone to take it seriously. True, the Left in general can err on the side of po-facedness, but in my experience, the Left is a hell of a lot better at taking the piss out of itself than the Right. The Left's idea of a good laugh is, for example, The Daily Flute. The Right's idea of a good laugh is that gawdawful page George W. Bush has on the White House page dedicated to his two dogs. I'm not linking to that because I'm still not entirely sure whether or not it would make me a terrorist.)

The Bush Administration: Down in Plames?

It would be all too corny to call it Plamegate, and unlike Watergate, there isn't one single event that you can use to name it (though then again, nor was there in the case of Watergate when you think about it). What would you call the scandal that is rapidly engulfing the White House? Given the latest revelation, Cheneygate is the latest contender. The New York Times are now reporting that no less than the Vice President himself, Dick Cheney of Halliburton fame (or infame), was the one who leaked the secret that Valerie Plame, the wife of a diplomat who openly criticised the Bush Administration for going to war in Iraq on the basis of flawed intelligence, was a CIA operative, thus destroying her career.

The New York Times claims Cheney passed this information on to his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr, and that Libby subsequently lied about his source under oath. It remains to be seen whether Libby or George W. Bush's chief strategist, Karl Rove, are indicted for their parts in the scandal.

Unfortunately, the fixed terms in America mean that nobody will have the satisfaction of frogmarching them out of there ... unless it takes less than 4 years for the whole mess to be sorted out, that is ...

Monday, October 24, 2005

And They're Off!

No surprises in today's announcement that the industrial relations legislation will be handed down by the end of the month (this humble blog reported it some weeks ago). However, the ACTU's Sharan Burrow makes a good point in suggesting the timing is in order to coincide with a rather famous horsey race for which Aussies are traditionally encouraged to get pissed at work and enter office sweeps and do virtually anything rather than concentrate on complex boring legislation.

I happened to receive my WorkChoices booklet today (strictly for research purposes, I'll have you know). There's an eerie sense to it. For one, it's almost completely non-informative (again, no surprises there). The photos occur in some idyllic workplace. Everyone has these very scared smiles on their faces. But for the fact that there are no Arabs, Asians, or ethnic faces whatsoever, I'd swear they popped out to Baxter, whacked hard hats and reflective vests on the detainees, sat just out of shot with a tazer or two and said `Now SMILE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!'

But of course they'd never do that.

The Dawn of the Trioli Era

Virginia Trioli's stint on ABC 702 began with a nervous `Hello Sydney' this morning (why nervous? Was she afraid that, like Sally Loane, Miranda Devine would try and become her new bestie? Nothing to fear there, Virginia ...). The spin being put on the first day is `Oh, Clive Robertson stole the show,' but anyone who's heard Clive Robertson's recent performances (for example, on Murray Olds' excellent Sunday morning panel show on 2UE) will know that it's fast becoming his stock in trade as he attempts to elbow his way in to another permanent job in the busy Sydney radio market. It was honestly no big deal.

Straying off politics and on to the Melbourne Cup with the similarly Melbourne based Barrie Cassidy was a risky move (and can they get rid of that bloody annoying over-the-hills-and-far-away music?) Other than that, a promising debut for Ms Trioli, one of my favourite Insiders seat warmers.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A-Fussin' and A-Fightin'

I missed a golden opportunity to report on the Joe Tripodi - Andrew Fraser fracas almost live on my blog, but alas, I have had the busiest week in memory and didn't have time to note it down. Hence, here we are several days later.

It should say something that the first thing plenty of Labor people secretly wondered was whether Tripodi - an eminently thumpable pollie - was actually biffed by someone on the other side of politics or someone from his own side. Personally, I think it's a bit of a shame that Andrew Fraser - though he himself a right wing twit - has been pressured to step down from the front bench, as he was clearly goaded and bullied into making the extreme reaction that he did. Sure, trying to throttle someone is not appropriate behaviour in parliament, but we should not sit back and accept bullying just because it is a less visible form of aggressive intimidation.

We make much of our high-falutin Australian democracy, yet we seem content to let a very poor substitute for the concept pass for a fair and balanced parliamentary system. The fact that Barnaby Joyce was ostracised for his floor crossing, after making a decision of conscience that he believed would better represent his constituents, says it all really.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Barry Jones' `Sudden' Spray

The suggestion that ALP President Barry Jones suddenly exploded and had a big spray about the culture within the ALP today strikes me as absolutely ludicrous. The fact that it has taken so long for his forthright and very important article (which I received and read in the Australian Fabian Society newsletter several weeks ago - if not an entire month ago) to cause a stir is a complete mystery to me.

I can't locate a copy of the Jones article online - it's not on the Fabian website - and come to think of it, when I first read it, I remember wishing I could find an online version, because I wanted to post a link to it on my blog. To give you an idea of exactly how old a piece of news the article is, it came out right around the same time as the Latham Diaries - I remember, because I was surprised, having heard Jones speak out quite harshly against Latham, to read this article which, in essence, said exactly what Latham had - particularly about the factions and so forth; albeit in a bit of a more calm and considered manner than Latham.

As I said, the fact that it's suddenly blown up today is an absolute puzzler - but what is more so is the fact that every time someone actually tries to fix the deep seated problems in the ALP - to make it a better, more constructive, more collaborative and more consultative party - he or she is howled down and everyone gets back to their horrible old ways. Why? There could be few people in the party with more legitimate influence than Jones - who is after all, the party president, elected by the party rank and file. Until someone addresses these problems, it's going to be like sitting outside a hornet's nest with a can of bug spray, patiently spraying every stinging insect that flies out of the hive rather than throwing the blessed thing on the ground, cutting it open, and getting rid of the nasties for once and for all.

Commentary at The World Today and also PM. If I didn't have an essay due I would transcribe the Jones article somewhere on line (no doubt someone will do this eventually).

Unemployment: The Axis of EVIL

Add this one on to your terrorist acts kids. They've started breaking out the big scary words.

The Salvation Army is the latest church based group to oppose the industrial relations plans, labelling them `anti-family' and inevitably prejudicial towards the most vulnerable people in society.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrewss' reaction to this?

Unemployment isn't just bad: IT'S EVIL. Evildoers traffick unemployment in the outposts of tyranny like Iran and Syria. I hear Osama bin Laden is unemployed. `Unemployment is an evil. It's especially evil when it takes away the hopes and dreams and aspirations of young people' according to Andrews, on AM this morning. I nearly choked on my cornflakes. I didn't know whether to laugh or pray.

Now, I myself have suffered the indignity of unemployment. And it is indignity. You're made to feel like a piece of shit every step of the way. Centrelink is designed to make you feel like a useless, leeching fool. If you have a degree, they may as well tear it up front of your face, laugh, and say `Why did you even bother with this useless scrap of toilet paper?'. You go in hoping to be more employable - they basically say `Nah - just find a dead end job and get the hell out of my hair, Billy!'.

Yeah, it's bad ... but uh ... evil? Mate, you have to be careful with words nowadays. Remember when, at the very beginning of the War on Terror, Bush began rashly describing it as a Crusade, and everyone started nervously staring at their feet going `Uhh ... not a good idea ...'

What's that? You meant to say `evil' so all those churchy types would have a good hard look at themselves? To imply that even God would never wear a Your Rights at Work bumper sticker on his Vespa so nyeh nyeh nyeh?

Well I never.

Danna Vale Finally Loses It

Ah, Danna Vale. We forget, in these days of complete lack of ministerial responsibility, that one Howard Government minister (and one only) did actually take one for the team after the 2004 election - Danna `Brave and True' Vale. But even she has managed to wreak havoc from beyond the ministerial grave. First came the revelation that she was, as a parliamentary report put it, `asleep at the wheel' when she should have been, erm, making sure Gallipoli wasn't being dug up and turned into a six lane highway.

Not content to leave well enough alone, what's her solution? build another one! and not only build another one - build it in Aussie Land! No going to some horrid garlic-stinky foreign country! Plenty of transport, easy convenient access to McDonalds and Starbucks! I say it'd look just darling right next to The Big Banana.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Insiders Quote of the Week

It was going to be Virginia Trioli's prediction that the Industrial Relations changes could be `John Howard’s last hurrah - a very big curtain call before he very slowly moves towards the exit', but then Piers Akerman came out with `The church has a vested interest in the welfare lobby' and I cried til I laughed.

Trioli, David Marr and Piers Akerman ... what a combination. My dream is to become an Insiders panelist when I grow up ...

Revived: The Occasional Meet The Press Live Blog

I had to revive it, with the colourful Mr Andrew Robb, spearhead of WorkChoices, as guest!

Aha - I was waiting until the pension issue would come up. In my opinion, this is one of the two sleeping giants of the IR issue (I'm not going to mention the other one in case the ACTU are holding onto it for a later attack). It works this way - the pension is set based on the minimum wage, the way the minimum wage is going to be set will change - hence, if the minimum wage declines over time, so too do pensions. Making pensioners angrier and poorer is not a wise thing.

Holy shit ... this is the guy who's going to save it all for the government? He's doing a pretty lousy job! Crikey ... if this is `cutting through' ...

It's quite scary to find myself agreeing with Dr Peter Jensen. But what Greg Turnbull says is true - you can have $20m worth of advertising, but advertising is not going to change the minds of the Peter Jensens of the world. What I can't understand is how they can play this line of `Oh, we're just extending and building upon the family friendly clauses that are part of many enterprise agreements nowadays'. It doesn't take a genius to work out that these clauses are only there because unions have campaigned long and hard for them to be there, they didn't emerge from thin air.

This business about not being able to understand an award or certified agreement is absolute rubbish. I myself am just a bone-headed union organiser and I can understand my certified agreement. I can also help people I represent understand their certified agreement. That's the way a union works. It's all very logical when I say it, isn't it Mr Robb?

(Hahaa ... the irony ... here's one of the ads! Now, is it just me, but do all the actors in the WorkChoices ads look distinctly uneasy? Like `Mate - give me a thumbs up. NOW! Or you're OUT ON YOUR ARSE!)

Part Two
The Panel Louise Dodson, SMH; Brad Norrington, the Australian

Isn't it terrible that Beazley can really get stuck into Howard like that and all you can think of is `Kate Ellis really is a lovely looking girl, isn't she ...'

In other news, were Brad Norrington and Steven Smith separated at birth?

Meanwhile back at the ranch ... Robb is complaining about `industrial bureaucrats from the top end of town' setting industrial agreements. Eeeexcuse me. AHAAAAHAAAAAAAHhhhhhhhh AAAAAAAHHHAHAAA. Look, I'M SORRY. Even Norrington is smothering a giggle. It's just not washing! This is the biggest load of spin cycle shit I've ever heard! The unions `stick their nose in' and `frustrate' attempts to improve the balance between work and family? As Dodson says, the whole system is based on employers being `good guys' - but in fact, it goes beyond that. Legally, the corporation is beholden to return money to shareholders, no more no less. This sole purpose was based on the legal precedent of Dodge vs Ford. Is even the most kind hearted boss going to give his or her employee a break if it compromises their legal obligation to make a profit? Sorry - no.

To put myself in the position of a humble worker at say, Trendy Healthy Minimum Wage Juices, would I be convinced by everything I just heard? Uh, no. I think I'd just be more confused ...

(I won't blog John North of the Law Council of Australia's very worthy interview following, except to heartily endorse his description of the proposed anti-terror laws as `hasty and ill-thought out' and to heartily giggle at his description of the fact that journalists could potentially be jailed under the laws as `tantalizing'. Interesting also his statement that it is only lawyers that are attempting to hold their governments to account in regards such legislation. Read the rest at http//

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Think Hard: Are YOU A Terrorist?

Having looked through the draft anti-terror legislation (once again, here it is) - a few thoughts.

Under the draft legislation, a person can be considered to commit a criminal act, even if a terrorist act does not occur. So, say if I posted on my blog `Hey guys, wouldn't it be a laugh if I headed out to Phillip Ruddock's house and chucked a cream pie in his face'?


Say I directed you all to this webpage - which, it is only fair and decent to tell you, is the legendary silent comedian Buster Keaton's guide on how to make and throw pies for maximum impact (`With shots over eight feet, you need to make sure the pie is of the right weight to fly perpendicular as it leaves your fingers')

Then I'm a TERRORIST. (and so's BUSTER!)

And I'm only up to page 8 of 107 pages of legislation!

By page 9 I'm a TERRORIST just for writing this post! Holy shit!

Skip forward a few pages and we're on the poop deck of the SS Sedition. Thar she blows! Sedition's a funny one. In Australia, we can't just say `You all suck, and by the way, FIRST AMENDMENT!'. According to this document, `seditious intention' includes wanting to `urge disaffection' in the Sovereign (i.e. the Queen), the Constitution, either house of Parliament, the government, and working to `promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between two groups so as to threaten the peace, stability and good government of the Commonwealth'. The bad news is - that's the Republic, the Dismissal, the Howard Government's control of the Senate, the Howard Government, and Barnaby Joyce off the table ... but the good news is it could become illegal for Philip Clark and Chris Smith to continue their disgraceful Muslim baiting on 2GB. See, there's always an upside ...

You may have heard the phrase `Imprisonment for 7 years' bandied around. Well, here's what you could cop it for. Most of these come with qualifiers such as `with recklessness' or `with violent intent' - it's pretty hazy though, as is the fact that if any of the below is provably done `in good faith', it's OK. Would a cream pie in the kisser count as `in good faith'? What would ??? Anyway, here's the list:

- `Urging the overthrow of the Constitution or Government'
- `Interfering with parliamentary elections'
- `Urging violence within the community'
- `Urging a person to assist the enemy'
- `Urging a person to assist those engaged in armed hostilities'

You guys are going to have to make your own cream pies to chuck at Ruddock though, because if I collect the pie money - and even if we don't make the cream pies - and even if someone ELSE collects the pie money for me and we STILL don't make the cream pies - well, guess what the penalty is there?


But supposing we smuggled in our highly illegal supply of flour, eggs, whipped cream and, let's say, blueberries (Keaton recommends dark colours for people with pale colourings - though let's not forget this is a hypothetical attack that has not and will not happen) for our pie bake off. Having searched us for pastry-related terror implements and found evidence of such, AFP would now have `reasonable grounds' to suspect our imminent attack and would possibly take you, I and Buster into `preventative detention'. If we think this is a bit off, we can run away if we like. Here's where the legislation get's distinctly murky. It says `Now, you can't shoot someone dead or treat them like crap when you take them into preventative detention ... UNLESS that's the only way you can capture the bugger!'. Pfwah!?!?

This cream pie lark is starting to sound a bit crap. But if you start thinking that way ... then the government wins.

(I was going to say to hell with all of this and let's get all get together and watch some Buster Keaton films ... now I'm not so sure doing so wouldn't be a terrorist act. I'd only have to hope that these guys were the ones who came after me ...)

Draft Anti-Terror Legislation

The draft legislation everyone's talking about, at the deceptively innocent looking site that's probably seeing a lot of traffic today, the personal site of ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope.

Given that he's been told in no uncertain terms to remove this draft post haste, I recommend that if you want to see it, download it pronto (though I can take no responsibility if a) the link's already gone or b)they jail you, me and everyone you care about for doing so).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Walkley Nominees Announced

This year's nominees for the MEAA's Walkley Awards have been announced and are available on the Sydney Morning Herald website. DIMIA and the tsunami heavily dominate.

My money's on Lateline's expose on the Vivian Solon wrongful deportation scandal to sweep the pool - and so it should.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Barnaby Finally Crosses the Floor

Oh, they called him Barnaby Rubble and Back Down Barnaby, but last night, without any fanfare, and on a vote on a relatively obscure piece of legislation regarding the ACCC's ability to have the final say on company mergers, he did it - `maverick' Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce crossed the floor.

Let me be the first one to say: WOOHOO!

Crossing the floor is not a new phenomenon, nor a cataclysmic one - at least usually. Just off the top of my head, I can think of a few notable floor crossings - former Veterans Affairs blunderer Danna Vale putting a rare foot right to vote against mandatory sentencing of juveniles in the Northern Territory springs to mind. But when the government holds the balance of power in the Senate by the slender, tenuous thread of aforementioned maverick Nationals senator? Are we sorry we ignored Steven Fielding now, people?

Barnaby's stroll took away from what was in a sense a bigger story - Education Minister Brendan Nelson's decision to defer the vote on the Voluntary Student Unionism legislation until at least next year. This comes after yesterday's revelations, published in The Australian, that the government knew the plans would disadvantage students on low incomes (well duh). Nevertheless, it's too early to roll up those anti-VSU banners yet - like IR, this is an issue Howard is determined to push through. As Labor's Jenny Macklin put it, speaking on AM this morning VSU is a `totemic issue' for the Liberal Party. It's no mere rejig of the Trade Practices Act. However, should the legislation fall over, it would be a major victory for Labor's controversial position on the issue, which has involved withdrawing in-principle support for compulsory student unionism in the hope that dissidents such as Joyce will side with them on a compromise deal. Let's hope they were on the money ...

And now of course, the $64,000 question: Barnaby, will you be crossing the floor on IR?

In other possibly related news - the press conference John Howard and Peter Costello held today has been much commented on. Their first together since the election. And didn't Costello look chipper?

Does he know something we don't?

Lawsie's Bad News Day

2UE's John Laws, has had a bad time of it recently, losing audience share to the avowedly gawdawful Ray Hadley on 2GB and taking considerable time off due to a back complaint, which should have given him lots of extra time to count his money and Rolls Royces.

Now comes the news that 19 of Laws' regional markets will have to resort to buying their own Akubras and seeking their own advice on the finer points of Valvoline and Toyota cars, with the announcement that former 60 Minutes reporter Charles Wooley will replace him in these markets. The news comes despite signing a contract not much more than a year ago guaranteeing that he would continue with 2UE well into his seventies.

Will he storm off in a huff? Will The Man With The Golden Tonsils depart with a Golden Handshake? It's hard to see him losing too many viewers to ABC's Virginia Trioli whose hotly anticipated debut will finally occur in a few weeks' time. Still, I humbly predict that something controversial will happen on the Laws show in the next few weeks. He just hates to be ignored ....

Monday, October 10, 2005

Andrew Olle Media Lecture

John Doyle's wonderfully witty, wise, and striking contribution to the Andrew Olle Media Lectures, broadcast on ABC TV last night, is now online and highly recommended.

I particularly like his idea of the commercial stations subsidising ABC drama to turn the ABC into `the Australian HBO'. Ah, in a perfect world ...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

WorkChoices: The Bargaining Begins

I've just finished watching the press conference to launch the industrial relations changes on Sky News. Surprisingly low key? Absolutely deliberate. `This? The issue that nearly brought my government to its knees mere months ago?' Howard seemed to be saying `Pish-tush-pshaw!'. It takes a certain sort of bloke to dismiss the most serious threat his government has ever encountered with `The concerns - if they actually existed - were based on misapprehensions' Make no mistake - from this day forward, the slate will we wiped clean and the government will try as hard as they can to erase Mrs ACTU and her two sick children from history (yes, according to Howard, she was still fired for staying home from work to look after her sick children. Speaking of misapprehensions).

A linguist would have a field day. The Fair Wages Commission won't bring in bog standard US style minimum wages - it'll simply bring a `new rigour of analysis' to wage setting. Unfair dismissal laws won't have the rear torn out of them - they will be `better balanced' (and after all, they're `not some sort of Magna Carta'. Which is to say - once you fight for and win rights, don't expect to hold on to them for 400 years, kids!). Award protection will not be ripped to shreds, it will be made `more modern'. `Flexibility', `Workers Market' - oh boy, they were flying thick and fast. George Orwell would weep.

It was when it came to the questions that things actually started getting interesting. Repeatedly, Howard refused to guarantee that workers would not be worse off under the IR changes. It looks like we'll be hearing `my guarantee is my record' an awful lot in the future. Howard is taking a mighty gamble in saying that the way the success of the changes will be judged is whether the Australian economy improves. It doesn't take a fool to work out that even if you cut Australian wages in half, the owners of Chinese sweatshops won't have cause to break out a sweat themselves.

Family First senator Steven Fielding might note that it again appears the government have lost his Family Impact Statement in the mail. I bet they wouldn't have done that if it wasn't for Barnaby Joyce.

Oh, and those tedious Boeing workers who have been striking for 120 days? Howard's message to you? Get back to work, you bludgers. Yes, you'll be earning less, but it's perfectly within Boeing's rights to treat you like shit, and by pooncing around with placards you're just making fools of yourselves. QED.

To those working weekends and crappy hours? It's a bloody wonderful thing. In fact, Howard - bizarrely paraphrasing Chairman Mao (I hear he takes a picture of him to his hairdresser each month and says `I'll have one of those, thanks) - says he would like `a thousand arrangements to bloom' in regards the configuration of working hours. Clearly a keen scholar of the Cultural Revolution.

Finally, it appears Howard has been dipping into that other Little Red Book, the Latham Diaries, or at least keeping abreast of the saga surrounding such. Latham recently admitted on Lateline that one of Labor's great failings was to try and pick holes in the economic performance of a government that was managing an economy that was allowing people to do quite well for themselves rather than emphasising that it was the Hawke-Keating government that put in the groundwork (an approach he described, memorably, as `a bit of Barry Bulldust I'm afraid, Tony,'). Howard couldn't resist proclaiming to the high hills what a marvellous job Hawke and Keating had done of setting things up for him, and to bemoan to his nonexistent fringe the fact that the Opposition would never praise him for the same.

Which would at least acknowledge that they'll get in one day ...

StillWaiting for WorkChoices

Still no word on WorkChoices, the SexyName with InterCaps chosen to sell the industrial relations changes to the AussieWorker, but the basic details have been outlined in most weekend papers. The major point of difference so far appears to be the idea of holidays and other privileges being able to be sold off - I imagine they'll market it as basically a free market system for workers rights. Don't want holidays? Sell 'em to the highest bidder! The punters will love this. It should be pointed out that they are including better provisions for work and family balance in this as if they thought about this, when it was unions who fought hard to get these sorts of provisions into awards and certified agreements in the first place ...

I admit I was off the mark when I predicted the PM would roll them out on the morning current affairs shows today - the Opposition must have been under the same misapprehension, as Kim Beazley grabbed the plum slot on Channel 9's Sunday, rightly sinking the boot into John Howard for letting business leaders into his little deal before us poor hapless workers. So much for an even playing field between employers and employees, sit down with your boss and work things through, etc etc, so on and so forth ...

Like so many things, It's All About Choice. Tell that to the friend of mine, a public servant in Department X, with whom I recently shared celebratory drinks after she received a promotion. While she was thrilled by the new position, as she loves her work and is finally gaining a foothold, she now faces a career's worth of six month contracts. Whereas once she would have been given the time to build her skills and develop into a worthwhile lifelong employee of the government, today, her job will be re-advertised every six months - externally as well as internally. She will have to re-apply each time, competing against people with greater experience and qualifications, not only to hold on to her own job, but, in a ridiculous paradox, to gain enough experience to hold on to her own job. Some celebration. Some `employee's market'. And a whole lot of `choice'.

One Year On

I've just realised, comrades (well, Channel 7 has just reminded me - `Meet the Press' isn't on because of the Bathurst brm-brms), that it's exactly a year since the election that wasn't. Holy cow ... haven't seen Sunday Sunrise for some time since they turned it into the Kath & Kim of Sunday current affairs shows. It really is a piece of vacuous crap, isn't it? It's like Entertainment Tonight for pollies.

Has there ever been a year in which so much has changed in Federal politics? You would possibly have to go back to the Whitlam era to witness a time in which a government has pursued its agenda with such single-minded zeal. Supporters of either side will argue whether or not the Howard or Whitlam governments were given a mandate for the widespread reforms they brought in, but the fact remains that, as Bob Ellis put it in his book `Goodbye Jerusalem' (ironically enough, to John Howard's brother, a respected left-leaning Australian university academic), it will take 100 years to undo the structural, and perhaps more imporantly, the cultural reforms the current government has brought in. How long will it take to change the culture of individuality that has overtaken not only Australia, but other Western countries?

Professor of Cognitive Science and advisor to the US Democratic party George Lakoff is currently attracting a lot of attention via his theories of the conservative framing of issues. This article, while a few years old now, is still very relevant (and intriguing), and outlines many of the theories expanded in his more recent book Don't Think of An Elephant!: Know Your Values And Frame The Debate.

Death Sentence Alert

`He's been bail-refused to appear in Parramatta Local Court this morning.'
- Wendy Valois, Police Media Spokeswoman, ABC 702 7:45am News

Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. And USE PLAIN ENGLISH DAMMIT!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

IR Changes to Be `Softened'

Bless their little cotton socks, the Howard Government now looks set to `soften' its IR changes, according to The Oz. It's a bit like saying `not to worry, we'll take a few spikes out of that bed of nails'. While it has been reported that the legislation will be handed down on the 31st of October, I've got an inkling that it will begin trickling down even earlier than that - details will apparently be rolled out in all their glory tomorrow, no doubt on one of the flagship Sunday current affairs shows. As I reported here last week, Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews was due to be the feature interview on ABC's Insiders last week, but events in Bali obviously led to him being bumped - I would say it would be a major coup for them if they've retained his services for this week, but what's he going to say? It'll be Good For You, You'll Like It, You'll Work Harder, You'll Live Longer, You'll Shut Up and You'll Take It. Thankyou And Good Morning.

One thing I would like to know is why (according to today's 7:45am ABC 702 news) business leaders have been briefed on the changes, but we - the humble working public - have not. I forgot entirely - we don't fund election campaigns, we just vote.

Brace yourself for the inevitable onslaught of heartwarming ads kiddies. `Don't think of it as a smaller gap between shifts. Think of it as ... an inspiration to walk down a beach with your children and loved ones. Don't think of them as unions. Think of them as homicidal maniacs, who would kill you and everyone you cared for if they had half a chance ....'

The Week In Review - Dumb and DIMIA: The Next Chapter

And the saga of DIMIA rolls on, as only the saga of DIMIA can, with Amanda Vanstone grinning for all she's worth as she tears down reams of razor wire from Baxter Detention Centre ... not mentioning that it's actually going to be replaced with an electric fence (it's far more hygienic ...)

In an appalling way, it's very symbolic of the way DIMIA operates - put on a happy face, make a superficial gesture towards fixing a deeply flawed system, under no circumstances actually take responsibility, just cover it with a different sort of wrapping.

On the ABC this week, Vanstone washed her hands of all blame for the wrongful deportation of Vivian Solon. It's true that she was not head of the department when the incident - described by report author Neil Comrie as `catastrophic' - but firstly, she is the head of the department now, making her the one responsible for at least taking the burden of the blame, and secondly, anyone remember a bloke named Philip Ruddock, grinning like a Cheshire Cat all the way to his inevitable knighthood ??? The whole matter is an absolute disgrace

Yesterday's interview with Fran Kelly on Radio National must surely go down as one of the oddest of the many odd interviews Vanstone has held with the ABC (recall for example the infamous Great Eastley Dummy Spit):
FRAN KELLY: And, Senator Amanda Vanstone, the Minister for Immigration joins us now. Minister, welcome.

AMANDA VANSTONE: Uh, welcome. Thank you for welcoming me. Yes. Good.

It gets better. And yes, I heard the interview, and there's no way you can fake someone's phone reception being lousy. Vanstone's phone reception was lousy., as was her attitude to the ABC, as it always is when they put her in an uncomfortable spot - as they should do.

FRAN KELLY: Minister, We're losing your line here, so I'm not sure if you're going through a tunnel or something?

AMANDA VANSTONE: muffled --- not going through a tunnel, I'm in a perfectly clear area.


AMANDA VANSTONE: Perfectly clear reception on MY part.

FRAN KELLY: OK, well we're having trouble with you here. Can I just move to the moves you're putting in place to fix this?

AMANDA VANSTONE: Apparently not enough trouble to interrupt me and tell me not to go on with what I'm saying.

FRAN KELLY: Sorry Minister, are you there?

AMANDA VANSTONE: (muffled and cranky) --- oh, I'm here all right.

FRAN KELLY: Minister, I just wanted to ask you about your $230m plan to try and fix this, can you tell us briefly how that will work, what will change things here?

AMANDA VANSTONE: (sarcastically) Ah, so reception is working well enough again!

FRAN KELLY: Just now it is Minister, it's in and out.

AMANDA VANSTONE: (cold as an Eskimo's ring) Well, I'm very pleased. Well, the $230m will make a significant difference. muffled muffle muffle talk to different sections of the department ----

Once again ... oh so symbolic ...

The Week In Review - Cross City Tunnel Leaves Thousands Cross

NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi has finally admitted that the NSW Government `compromised too much' in its contract with the operators of the Cross City Tunnel, which is proving to be a massive white elephant. Yes, we've all seen the photos of one lonely little car trundling its way through that too-shiny, too-expensive superhighway. The Sydney Morning Herald asked its online readers earlier this week what it would take them to use the tunnel. Some pollies and members of the public have already suggested a toll free period.

Not closing off every other bloody road in the vicinity and giving everyone the shits might also have helped. It's projects like this and arrogant corporations like the Cross City Tunnel's operators that make me glad that I don't have a car.

A sign of the trouble the tunnel has run into might be demonstrated by the fact that one Alan Jones has suddenly become very forgiving of the whole shambles. Methinks perhaps a little too forgiving ...
Alan Jones Show, Thursday Morning, about 8:45 ...
A caller named Ross says that Jones sounds like he is promoting the Cross City Tunnel. He asks if Jones is receiving payment from them. Jones says that some people have a bad attitude merely because some people have an alternative view, something which does not necessarily have to be bought by someone else. Jones says that he is paid by Channel Nine and Macquarie Radio (yes Jonesy, but who pays them?).

Ross says that it seems that Jones is `rolling over' for the Tunnel's management. Jones suggests Ross is not intelligent enough to understand the way the tunnel works, and he is not here to fight his batttles for him. Jones concludes by saying that 'if Ross wants to join the symphony of whingers, he is happy to give him an instrument'.

Sounds more like the ring of cash registers to me ...

The Week In Review - The CFMEU Forestry Division or Howard, Who's The Bigger Bastard?

No red blooded ALP supporter will ever forget the images of Tasmanian timber workers slapping John Howard on the back in the last weeks of the 2004 election campaign. I stand by my belief that morally, the ALP's forestry policy was the right one. Politically, it was introduced the wrong way, too late in the election campaign, and was poorly explained to the people it was going to effect most. The intention of the policy was to ensure people who were working in an unsustainable industry would move to sustainable, safe jobs, rather than to prop up a dinosaur, as is so often the approach of governments.

That's why this story made me very very sick, and very very angry indeed.

It's a supreme irony that Howard can play unions like this, given that he's about to rip the seat out of their pants. It's also a good reminder of the reasons that unions should remember that representing workers should not come at the expense of others. I should add that I have many friends in the CFMEU who are and were as outraged about the deal as I were. I've also worked alongside the CFMEU to preserve historic buildings via Green Bans (another right of unions that could soon be lost). So this is not to tar an entire union with the same brush - I imagine plenty of Howard Government ministers and Liberal supporters are quietly seething about many decisions made in their name, too. It's just a reminder - valuable for all aspects of life: Keep Your Head About You Or Dumb Decisions Will Be Made.

(What say they put that above every ballot box in Australia?)

The Week In Review - Redfern-Waterloo

Firstly, I must apologise for being blogless for so long, owing to My Other Job keeping me busy (not to mention My Study).But enough of that, there's too bloody much going on to talk about me. Let's go over it far too briefly, starting with ...

Life for Frank Sartor as NSW Minister for Redfern-Waterloo is looking increasingly bleak, with revelations that the Aboriginal Housing Project's Pemuluwuy Project - their long term vision for The Block - was supported by the NSW Government virtually until the arrival of Cranky Franky. The NSW Opposition have bought in to the controversy, openly supporting the Pemuluwuy Project (Aboriginal Affairs Minister Amanda Vanstone has also put in her two cents worth - it would have had a bit more credibility had she lifted a single finger to assist Redfern-Waterloo since assuming the portfolio. Then again, she's been too busy running away from Vivian Solon et al). They're now planning a major event on the 15th of October in support of the local community - given that some big names are attending, this could attract a fair bit of publicity. Will Franky still do it his way or will they kick his white arse out of there? Local opposition to his sweeping plans have made it increasingly difficult to achieve his mandate - it's possible that he may hand it over and concentrate on the meatier and (slightly) less sticky prospect of reshaping Sydney via his new Planning portfolio.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Julie McCrossin Quits 702 Brekkies

It's been a short black rather than a large latte for breakfast for ABC 702's Julie McCrossin, who has quit the high profile slot after only a matter of weeks, citing the strain of the early starts. It's a blow for the station, which spent ages auditioning in-house talent in the high profile slot after losing Angela Catterns to FM station Vega.

Interestingly, Sarah McDonald (the woman I predicted would take the slot in the first place) is taking over until the end of the year.

Let's hope things are a little smoother for Virginia Trioli, who takes over after the deposal of Sally Loane in a few weeks time, after being introduced to Sydneysiders at a swanky event hosted by a PR firm whose name currently escapes me (was it because I wasn't invited? ;) ).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

You rat-arseddirtybloodyfrickin@#$%INGGGG

I'm sorry, but this has pushed your usually erudite host into total incoherence. This is beyond the pale of the palest pale. This is nothing less than one party, in what is ostensibly a two party democratic country, attempting to obliterate the foundations of the Opposition party. No more, no less. I was speechless when I heard it, then seething, then speechless again. We live in interesting times. They're sure not democratic ones.

The Special Minister of State, Eric Abetz, will tell a Sydney Institute function that unions and other non-government groups should be listed as "associated entities" under the Electoral Act because they exist almost solely for the benefit of the Labor Party.

Senator Abetz, who is preparing to take the plan for electoral reform to cabinet this month, is also examining ways to toughen up disclosure requirements for the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF Australia, the Wilderness Society and the RSPCA.

More at the SMH.

I propose, that by the same token, we subject the large corporations that provide the backbone to the Liberal Party to the same level of scrutiny. Let's see Piers Akerman's name on John Howard's tax return for once, if we're being perfectly honest, shall we? Worthy organisations like the Total Environment Centre and the Australian Conservation Foundation have already had to face funding cuts - not to mention smears on their good character - as they scramble to prove that they are not political mouthpieces for the Opposition for simply advocating a position other than that which the government holds. In case some people had forgotten, IT'S A FREE COUNTRY (or was once).

I'm disgusted, I'm seething, and I'm VERY BLOODY ANGRY. Vote early and often, and GET EM OUT! Thankyou.

Mark It In Your Diaries, Kids

The 31st of October (or Halloween to you and I - remember, the night where the ghouls rise and haunt us and so forth) is apparently the fateful day that has been chosen to unleash the Four Horsemen of the IR Apocalypse - war (on penalty rates), pestilence (sick leave? who needs sick leave?), famine (hungry? Perhaps its' because you had to work through lunch) and death (of the Industrial Relations Commission).

As with the Telstra legislation, a short, pointless, pseudo Senate enquiry will be held to prove that everything's hunky dory and democratic before it's rammed through as quick as curry through a duck. Three cheers for democracy! Hip-hip-BICAMERAL!

Let's do what we can, people ... check out the links I have on the side of my webpage ------> thataway. As Louise Dodson put it in today's Herald:
But with industrial relations, Howard is facing possibly the biggest political and policy challenge of his career. If the legislation's legitimacy is undermined by legal action, its acceptance by the community will be affected and the Government blamed.

The Government's future will depend to a large extent on the next few weeks when the details of the legislation are finalised.

We may not be able to stop this legislation going through ... but we can make the Howard Government die trying.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bali Bombings ... Second Chapter

What a horrible way to start a Sunday morning, or any morning. Naturally, this morning's second terrorist attack in Bali will be used to justify every strangulation of our civil liberties that was brought to bear in this week's COAG meeting. It will be used to smother other issues. It will be used to do just about anything than to actually address the reasons that young men are feeling so disenfranchised, angered and helpless that they believe their only recourse is to blow themselves up, and take countless innocent people with them. Think back to when you were a kid - if your friend or sibling was ignoring you - wilfully ignoring you, staring at the TV with a twisted grin on their face, you'd go and yell in their ear, and eventually, you'd go and slap them to get their attention. Terrorism is no less. Until we enter into a genuine dialogue with the disenfranchised people of the world - and doing so is not conceding that the tactics of terrorism are legitimate - Bali bombings, London bombings, and even September 11th attacks, will keep occuring.

The Left are often accused of being apologists for Islamic terrorists. As someone who was in New York on September 11th, let me just say I'm not apologising for anyone. Flying planes into buildings to murder innocent people is unequivocably, irrevocably wrong. But the fact that such attacks keeps occurring shows that the current methods we are using to address them are not working.

More IR Advice: Get A Sex Change

Following yesterday's widely reported revelations about the astronomical cost of childcare comes today's warnings from RMIT Research Fellow Robyn May that the planned industrial relations changes will impact particularly harshly on women. Women are more likely to be in casual employment and, regardless of provisions for maternity leave, are more likely to leave employment due to family commitments.

And yet, a year after Treasurer Peter Costello urged all us ladies to pop off and have `one for the husband, one for the wife and one for the country', the rhetoric just doesn't match the commitment. And, as May says, "Unless you happen to be a highly skilled employee, the bargaining power is all with the employer,". This doesn't only go for women - this goes for men who for whatever reason can't articulate themselves well, and particularly, people whose first language is not English; and within this category, people whose cultures oppose the idea of approaching their boss and personally demanding better conditions rather than acquiescing to an authority figure.

I'm waiting, Kev, I'm waiting ...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Great $4,000 IR Swindle

The Federal Government's announcement of $4000 in legal assistance - shall I use the term `safety net'? - for people wishing to pursue unfair dismissal claims in court is, at the very least, the first public acknowledgement of the huge public concern about the government's plans for industrial relations.

Is it a valid remedy? Frankly - no. Currently, unfair dismissal cases are dealt with by the Industrial Relations Commission. $4000 or no $4000, they will now become court cases, where they did not need to be before. The payment does nothing to address the inequity of a system which gives some rights to people working for companies with over 100 employees but none to those who have less than 100 - something which, it could be argued, will also discourage companies from expanding beyond the magic number. The fact also remains that unlawful dismissal cases are extremely hard to prove. No employer is going to say `I'm firing you because you're gay/pregnant/black', because they know that's unlawful. The basis of unfair dismissal cases is frequently `My employer fired me because he/she said I wasn't required anymore, but I have some evidence to indicate that it was actually because I'm gay/pregnant/black'.

It will be interesting to see what further ice cubes the government throw into the blast furnace ahead of the legislation's official release in the next few months.

Update: Given that Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews will be the special guest on ABC's Insiders this week, what solace can he offer? Eh Kev? Anything, anything? Perhaps the government has realised all too late that they got the wrong Big Kev ....