Two Fathers

Posted Tuesday February 15, 2011 by Lisa Gunders in |

Earlier this year, a father lost his child. The child, together with his mother, was swept away by the water. At his funeral, attended by many and reported by the media, his father, said “I don’t think I can put into words just how much I’ll miss them”. The child has been hailed as a hero by Australians, who mourn alongside his family.

Late last year, a father lost his child. The child, together with his mother and sister, was swept away by the water. His body has never been found, but his sister’s funeral, attended by few and with attempts by the government to prevent media coverage, was today. Some reports have it that the father has not been allowed to speak at the funeral. Australians have been bickering over whether the government should have wasted taxpayers’ money on flying the remaining members of the family to Sydney for the funeral.

Does the second father’s different language and silenced voice make his suffering any less? What have we come to?

This morning I have seen a report indicating that media did get to cover Nzar’s funeral, and his father did speak to them, despite security seeming to attempt to stop him doing so.

Nevertheless, the political bickering and fallout continues. Constant opposition attacks on the government over spending is bad enough at the best of times, but in this instance it has grubbied the aftermath of a tragic and shameful event in Australia’s immigration history and lowered the dignity of those involved. It is rare that I say this, but for once I appreciate Joe Hockey, who has had the courage and strength to stand against members of his own party in the name of compassion. Good on you Joe.

ABC 24 - The Real Cost?

Posted Tuesday November 2, 2010 by John Gunders in |

I love ABC 24. I love that I can get real television news when I want it (FYI, CH7, 9, & 10: if it involves a celebrity, it probably isn’t “news”); I love watching Question Time; I think “The Drum” is actually quite good (and not just because Steve Cannane and Annabel Crabb are a bit hot). I can’t afford cable, so Sky News is not an option. I think it is quite amusing that Sky and the Murdoch Press are so threatened by the newcomer: and not a little ironic, given their ideological support of “competition” as an economic panacea.

Nevertheless, I share their concern that the already stretched ABC has launched this venture with no new funding. Unlike the Murdoch hacks I don’t see a problem with recycling and repurposing material from the ABC’s existing services (how much of The Australian is recycled from other Murdoch sources?), but the claim that the channel will spread already stressed journalists too thin has the ring of truth.

A piece in today’s Crikey by Jason Whittaker (paywalled, but you can sign up for a free trial) talks about the pressure on correspondents in foreign bureaus to provide original and quality reporting with fewer supporting staff. This stretching is affecting other ABC services as well, it is argued. This is in the face of mooted staff cuts in selected overseas bureaus.

Journalist and academic, Margaret Simons, has a proposal on YouCommNews, the subscriber-supported journalism site, to fund an FOI request into ABC 24’s budget: again, with concern that resources are being spread too thinly.

I think I might offer Margaret a crisp $20 note to help her with that investigation, and I would encourage you to do so as well.

Sorry . . . for what we’re about to do

Posted Tuesday October 26, 2010 by Lisa Gunders in |

Were you proud when Kevin Rudd apologised to Australia’s indigenous peoples on behalf of the nation? Did you, like me, hope that it meant that, at last, progress would really be made on closing the gap in health, education, and employment? So many people were so optimistic, swept away in part by the relief at having Howard and his racist, punitive ways gone at last. Now the honeymoon is over, has the hard work of commitment begun? Was the promise fulfilled?

Yesterday I went to a talk by Mark Fordam, organised by the NTEU and the QUT Student Guild. It is the second time in the past year that I’ve gone to listen to someone with first-hand experience of the Northern Territory Intervention. The first one was by an anthropologist, I think, and what I remember most was her description of how difficult she found it to find fresh food, or afford it even if should could find it, and how much more difficult it was for the indigenous residents who could only use their basics card in approved stores.

Yesterday’s talk was by Mark Fordham. By his own admission, he started off on a good wicket with his early working life, made good money, and had skills that were highly sought after. At the point where his mother asked him to come and work on one of the indigenous communities, he was inclined to believe that those on the new CDEP were probably just lazy. He changed his mind after working with them for a time, seeing their willingness to work, and seeing the odds stacked against them.

Andrew Bolt and Indifferentiation

Posted Thursday October 15, 2009 by John Gunders in |

Poor old Andrew Bolt. Those meanies on Hungry Beast were mean to him last night:

Hungry Beast item on the ABC does underline my point, however, and increase my concern that critics are now deceitfully using the stranger comments of some reader to define my own views and to delegitimise the ones I in fact hold and express. How dishonest this is may be judged by the fact that Hungry Beast item relied on about three or four comments plucked out from a thread of more than 300, written by Muslims, atheists, Christians and Jews, expressing all shades of opinion except my specific own.

Posting here

Bolt has a point, but (to use his term) one that is rather delegitimised by his one-time annual sport of ridiculing the titles of successful ARC grants—always ones approved by the Humanities and Creative Arts panel.


Tossing a grenade in the culture wars: The Australian at it again.

Posted Tuesday March 3, 2009 by Lisa Gunders in |

Ok, I don’t often go for a full spit on the blog, but this has really got my goat. On the front page of the Weekend Australian on 28 March, Justine Ferrari had an article titled ‘Teachers Bid to Downgrade Literature’ purporting to report the response of the Australian Association for the Teaching of English to the National Curriculum Board’s National English Curriculum: Framing Paper. (The response can be found here) Now I actually had cause to read both the Framing Paper and the Response the other day.

Does Everyone in the World Instant Message?

Posted Tuesday November 18, 2008 by John Gunders in |

A study reported by the BBC claims that the largely discredited six degrees of separation theory might in fact be correct after all:

A US study of instant messaging suggests the theory that it takes only six steps to link everyone may be right – though seven seems more accurate.

The study which was published in March this year was conducted by researchers from Microsoft and looked at the addresses of 30 billion instant messages sent during a single month in 2006.

One of the researchers on the Microsoft Messenger project, Eric Horvitz, said he had been shocked by the results.

“What we’re seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity,” he was quoted as saying by the Washington Post newspaper.