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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

HUNSLET: “Thanks to Joe we got Granny’s line ‘cee-ment pond’: his 1824 patent really rocks, you should read it,” maintains a limey Payton L. Inkletter

Be all that as it may, meanwhile:

In other news…

21st October 2009:

Wednesday: For some reason I woke earlier than I was expecting, based on how little sleep I’d had – it had been daylight for an hour when I finally had skin meeting low thread count poly cotton – and I could quickly tell I wasn’t going to manage to return to the embrace of Mistress Nodette. So I arose to start day four of the complete absence of the delinquents, not counting Saturday, the day they left for their week in Busselton; the bliss of the solitude is easy to bear, but it will be over very soon…

I attended to a number of computer housekeeping jobs, laying low when the Mormon boys knocked the door (they tried to pin me down twice yesterday – I just can’t spare the time at the moment to either chat about beautiful things, or be subject to a description of the glories of joining the most correct church of all on earth), and finally got to do some badly needed weeding-brush-forest removal – take your pick – deep in the depths of the backyard in preparation for the summer fire season, as well as other sundries to do with worms, mulch, and potting aloe vera plants into worm castings compost filled pots.

Well, time flies when you’ve got a lot to do and not enough time to do it in, and so it was soon dark and My Beloved time, the house still having the lovely absence of the sound of the pitter patter of silly feet carrying small concerns. Not that I had the energy to do any more outside anyway. Kerry O’Brien, white shirted tonight on The 7.30 Report, sported a red flavoured tie again – can’t for the life of me understand why the old Bluey should favour that colour – and thus turned himself out very acceptably; in fact, this tie was so vivid and striking it could be used on top of a fire engine! The story on the threat to Australia’s birdlife was a worry, for this old native bird lover from way back, who even used to feed wild blue wrens cheese from his hand; but I am a sucker for interviews: The More O’Kerry (O’Brien) Volume: a not as snazzy, but snazzy nevertheless, Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Evans, joined Kezza on-screen, and kept his super cool as he discussed the Oceanic Viking matter and the asylum seeker issue in general, and spoke to the issues using both deft political side-step as well as moderation. The best line from the whole interview came from Mr Evans, after being asked by Mr O’BrienIs it any more humane to call them illegal immigrants than to call them queue jumpers?”: “Well what I'd say Kerry is it's how you treat them.” I wish more of our politicians spoke like Chris Evans, with the careful ease with which he does, saturated with moderation and sense.

I walked to The Dear Leader’s house at half eight to feed the cat, empty the mail, and water the garden, and on my return did some writing before Lateline: The (Leigh) Sales Graph: Wearing a black top contrasting stoppingly against her white skin, Ms Sales also had a tight necklace of small coloured stones which worked very well, her hair hanging loose and gently flaring midway to good effect. Inevitably the asylum seeker issue was going to feature prominently tonight, and this was the subject discussed and reason why the Shadow Minister for Immigration Sharman Stone and a Hard Place was Ms Sales’ on-screen interviewee.

Almost the only good thing I can say about Ms Stone this evening is that she was very attractively dressed, in a dark-striped jacket with double pink stripes setting off the lapelles, and with a pink modesty panel and very subtle make-up conspiring to make her look superb. I’ve heard Ms Stone say some contradictory things on Aunty before (take her nonsense back in May on Q&A during which she wanted to have her cake and eat it too when she railed against the Government’s ‘cash splash’ and in the next breath interjected that “$900 doesn’t go far”with respect to the handout to tertiary students), but tonight she wanted all the kudos for her side and could find utterly no good thing to say about the Government’s handling of the asylum seeker situation since assuming power.

The woman was all over the shop, and full marks for Ms Sales’ sufferance; I feel sorry for journalists when they have to endure interviews like this one, listening to endless criticism at all costs of the other side while hearing that ours is, or would be, the perfect approach: poor Ms Sales. I’m searching for a way to explain some of what Ms Stone was spruiking: she seemed to be maintaining that everything bad happening now is solely the result of Kevin Rudd’s policies, with no regard to the ‘push factors’, but then she contradicted herself with these foolish few sentences: “But if it's just about the push factors as this Government suggests, why haven't we got those Eritreans, the Sudanese, the Congolese all in these boats? Because that's where the biggest growth in numbers of asylum seekers are.

They're not on the boats because they can't afford the cash required by the criminals, the smugglers and they haven't got the contacts.” My word, talk about mounting an argument against your opponent, by outlining in this case the African push factor upsurge, and then giving one of the reasons why this cohort is not represented in the arrivals. And this woman could be Immigration Minister one day!

Ms Stone seems to believe – or why else do it? – that the more bucketing she can give every aspect large and small of what the Government is doing, the better she and her party look to the electorate as an alternative government; I would love to know just how many Australians buy this criticise-and-criticise-harshly-at-all-costs-and-regardless-of-merit approach, which curiously has malignantly infected a substantial bloc of the Opposition since it lost its right to and born to rule suzerainty; I suspect, regardless of which flavour of politician indulges in it, that it has a limited purchase.

Ms Sales could get Ms Stone to own nothing, and in order to get her to explain her side’s alternatives she literally all but had to squeeze blood from a Stone. Take this: Ms Sales: “Every time you're asked that question (didn’t the Howard Government’s policy amount to locking up people indefinitely?) you don't actually answer it. You say what Kevin Rudd’s doing is no good, you say that he's softened the policies and therefore opened the doors to asylum seekers. But you stop short of saying that he should re-embrace the measures that you had that you claim are more successful. Why is that?

The answer was typically amorphous, so after Ms Stone dropped this one: “We aren't in government, Leigh. I can't get out there right now and ...Ms Sales tried to get something concrete from this focus of fuzziness with this salient interjection: “But you are criticising Government policy without offering an alternative.”

Her answer was essentially that all was honky dory on the asylum seeker boat people front when Howard left office, and Ms Sales’ point that there has been a 30% increase in total refugee numbers globally since 2006, and thus Australia could surely expect an increase in boat arrivals, made not a dot of difference to Ms Stone’s impenetrable barrier to any explanation that reflects less badly upon the Government.

P.J. O’Rourke’s mad judgment on Q&A back in April (“I mean, it's just - the thing is when somebody gets on an exploding boat to come over here, they're willing to do that to get to Australia, you're missing out on some really good Australians if you don't let that person in.”) was cited by Ms Sales for Ms Stone’s opinion, and I think this was one of the rare moments when she offered some consistent sense with her reply. Mr O’Rourke preempted AWU National Secretary Paul Howes, who on Monday this week was widely reported as saying “these people fleeing persecution, are putting their lives at risk . . . I think we should put out a red carpet and welcome them with open hands if they are that desperate to become Australians.Mr Howes thus talked himself into the corner of irrelevance to the sensible handling of this issue, which he can share with Mr O’Rourke; imagine the number of people who would put themselves and their children’s lives at risk in unseaworthy vessels if Australia made a point of accepting those who survive and reach our shores or sea-based assistance as new citizens on the basis of such acts of desperation.

It must have been a relief when Ms Sales could put a line under this interview. Tonight must have been the night for frustrating interviews, because it was Ali Moore’s turn next on Lateline Business: The Ali Moore or Less: Almost without fail Ms Moore turns herself out immaculately and appropriately for the role she fulfils as anchor of serious current affairs, her specialty happening to be Business, however she not infrequently sits on the hallowed cigar smoke and Drambuie soaked leather of Kerry O’Brien’s chair at The 7.30 Report, and tonight was no exception: a fetching dark striped jacket with pleated lapelles, and white modesty panel, tiny necklaced ornament, subtle effect make-up and gorgeously arranged hair, diminutive earrings finishing the vision. I was fixated by her interview on-screen from Perth with the Chairman of Qantas, Leigh Clifford, not because he brought anything noteworthy to the intersection of their ten minutes together, apart from being smartly dressed, but because Ms Moore pursued him relentlessly, though with professionalism and calm, about executive pay issues at Qantus. I could write a lengthy tome about how this big man squirmed repeatedly out of illuminating what smells like a tawdry bit of fat cat mutual nest feathering, but time does not allow; but I will say two more things: Ms Moore did an exemplary job pursuing this obfuscating executive while remaining polite well beyond what he deserved, and Mr Clifford’s performance in this interview should become an archetypical training piece for university student ethicists in what constitutes the unpleasant odour of an executive trying to justify executive controlled and sanctioned executive remuneration excess. Thank you Ms Moore for your courage to pursue this issue and this fellow, and thank you Mr Clifford for being far more transparent than you probably realised.

I wrote and researched all through the wee small and dark hours before finally getting to bed well after dawn, hurried along by an ugly sounding transformer zapping not far away from our house which plunged the computer into silence, the lights out, the fridge and freezers off, kaput.

I must mention that I received tonight a kind reply email from the brilliant artist Charles (Chick) Lynn Bragg, son of brilliant artist Charles Bragg – no guesses needed for where the son’s genius might have had its wellspring – offering to pass my original email on to his father, whose accurate contact details I had not been able to find.


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