13 February 2013

The ambulance at the bottom of the cliff

The ICAC investigation into the business dealings of the Obeid family and Ian Macdonald has been compelling and disturbing. Every day, TV runs the same footage: the witness of the hour waddling down that section of Castlereagh Street behind David Jones, then the day's revelations, cut to a bit of recreated back-and-forth between the Commissioner/Counsel Assisting and the witness, followed by a pack of journalists following the witness walking away and pursuing him with banalities like "Did you have a nice day?" or "Are you a crook?".

Inside the ICAC hearing room, there is an area set aside for journalists and an area set aside for members of the public to sit and watch proceedings. All the journalists have to do is listen to what is said, write it down, and then describe it in the format relevant to their employer. I wonder if any journalist attending that hearing scans the public gallery and realises that what they are doing is not beyond the competence of anyone else who walked in off the street to attend that hearing.

Ten years ago, Macdonald and Obeid were ministers in the Carr government. Ten years ago, there were plenty of journalists who were paid to cover NSW state politics. They all reported that the government was brilliant, capitalising on all those opportunities from the Olympics, chock-full of bright rising talent and so far ahead of the stumblebum opposition that they weren't even worth talking about. There was no sustained critical coverage of the Carr government by the media, not of Obeid or Macdonald or anyone else. Any criticism was occasional and jumped on with both feet by the then government; it was always the media who backed down whenever the government shrieked at them.

Where, I wonder, were all those top-notch Walkley-wining investigative journalists when the deeds under investigation were actually underway? What was stopping them putting all that stuff to air/on the front page when Macdonald and Obeid and all the hangers-on were up to whatever it was they were up to?

A quick trawl back to those days reveals exactly where they were: traipsing around north-western Sydney with Carl Scully. Twenty years ago, when the Coalition were last in government in NSW, there was a proposal to run a rail line between Parramatta and Chatswood via Epping, but nothing was done about it because a) Olympics and b) we don't do forward planning for infrastructure in Sydney, we do half-arsed compromises decades after the need becomes acute, if at all. Scully, who was Transport Minister and a Cabinet colleague of Obeid and Macdonald, announced and reannounced that proposal more than sixty times. Every time he did it, a bunch of journos would happily follow him and record their adventures. Some of the more daring ones would ask Scully if he wanted to be Premier.

Scully was a loyal member of the Terrigals, the Obeid sub-faction. He did a good job in dulling the senses of all those super-sleuths from the NSW Parliamentary Press Gallery. If you're going to get supposedly hard-headed and relentlessly questioning investigators away from a place where things are happening, a windswept vacant block of land by a dull but busy road in Carlingford is the place to do it.

Not one journalist from that era has realised just how badly they were duped by the formidable state government media machine of that time. Bob Carr, then Premier, used to ring state press gallery journalists and tell them where they got their stories "wrong", and what they should have done instead. You show me a NSW State politics journo who wasn't in tight with Macca and Eddie, and I'll show you someone who lacked the connections to get the sorts of stories the editors at the time considered good enough.

The then State political reporter from The Sydney Morning Herald was hopeless as state politics reporter, doing quick and unquestioning summaries of government press releases (well, I'm sure Bob Carr and other members of that government thought she was very good). Reading her articles showed me what a bludge journalism could be if you couldn't be bothered digging for stories. She was equally bad in Washington, doing quick and unquestioning summaries of The Washington Post and The New York Times, not realising that people who follow US politics read those papers too. She showed me that a poor journalist could not cruise into an important-sounding job but stay there, and then get promoted. I did a quick search for that journo, assuming she'd long since dropped out of journalism and/or been purged by rounds of Fairfax cost-cutting; imagine my surprise to find she is that masthead's Investigations Editor.

On discovering that I thought: the joke's on me, the journalistic ugly-duckling of Macquarie Street has transformed into this swan of investigative reporting. I remember the Bulldogs scandal (and would have read about it in the SMH) but had no idea Davies was involved in any way. If she and McClymont had devoted a fraction of the effort to Macdonald-Obeid that they devoted to the Bulldogs or the Bush Administration, who knows what they might have uncovered at the time? Who knows how things might have been different?

Let there be no nonsense about limited media resources or the dreaded social media. In 2003 the only facebooking going on was when people nodded off in the Parliamentary Library. Journalists could and did go about their jobs while ignoring media consumers, and their employers still surfed the 'rivers of gold'. Back then the Bylong Valley would have been full of small-t twittering, but it wouldn't have impeded Macdonald and the Obeids any more than the press gallery did.

I think about John Brogden, who was (along with Joe Hockey) the most promising Young Liberal of my generation; ten years ago he was Leader of the NSW Opposition. Imagine if he, or those he appointed to shadow Macdonald and Obeid, had dug for what has since come before ICAC. Imagine they had laid it all out in Question Time and called for their heads. How would Davies and the press gallery reported it - they would have waited for Carr's quip in response, something stale from Cactus Jack Garner or Boss Tweed perhaps, and run that. Brogden might have become Premier; Scully, Iemma, Rees and Keneally would still be promising and unsullied members of a viable alternative government. Maybe the Doggies would have fared better in the NRL.

When he was in student politics, Ian Macdonald stiff-armed the left. He entered NSW Parliament in 1988, forgiven and backed by the Labor left, in clear breach of one of the most binding laws in Labor politics: The If They'll Rat On You Once They'll Rat On You Twice Act. In his first speech he denounced the very idea of the ICAC when it was first proposed, without a scrap of irony. I still say he reached his parliamentary peak soon afterwards when he smuggled Kylie Minogue into a speech on superannuation, and made canine-related puns in a speech on the Dog Bill.

Labor Left people fancy themselves as salty, hard-to-impress types, utterly unmoved by NSW Right popinjays; yet Macdonald managed to herd them behind Obeid when required. The people who voted the way Macdonald told them to are the same people who think that the decline of the NSW Labor Right is good for Labor's left. I don't know how he persuaded left members like he did, and it probably won't come out in ICAC, so Walkley-winning investigative journalists and anyone else who was not a member of the ALP in NSW back then will never know how it was done.

Are Eddie Obeid and his scions more or less full of born-to-rule entitlement than, say, Tony Abbott? Does anyone doubt that Ian Macdonald, if challenged/asked nicely and pumped full of red wine, could stand on a chair and sing Solidarity Forever with the best of them? Do he and Obeid still bear the title "The Honourable"?

The media and what is now the main part of the government of NSW did nothing to stop the twists and turns of the Obeid-Macdonald juggernaut: no check, no balance, no investigation. Yet here they all are, providing the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff after it is all too late, and it has nowhere to take the damaged body politic anyway.

46 comments:

  1. Until recently I was a believer in putting a fence at the top of a cliff rather than an ambulance at the bottom.
    I now appreciate the value of letting a few fall over the cliff, not only is it a valuable lesson for the individual but it can also offer "vicarious learning" to others. The election of Campbell Newman in Queensland is a good example.
    Thanks for pointing out that the rot in the dead tree print media started well before social media got going.

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  2. ernmalleyscat14/2/13 7:55 am

    Good piece.
    Great line with 'In 2003 the only facebooking going on was when people nodded off in the Parliamentary Library.'

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  3. Peter Phelps MLC14/2/13 8:21 am

    Well said, Andrew. But you forgot to mention the ruthless 'tactical' hiring of journalists (at substantially higher salaries than what they were previously being paid) by Labor as Press Sec's. It was a brilliant, cynical move, done for the express purpose of denuding the Gallery of much of its talent, and entombing them in well-paid positions where their job was to propagandise for the Labor Government, rather than investigate and report.

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  4. I quite take your point that the low standards in the press gallery are not a recent phenomenon and were not due to any Internet-related problems, but were mostly due to the cosy nature of the gallery. But was it ever any different? I may be completely wrong, but I get the impression we have always been carefully fed the end result of digested horse-feed. The MSM generally has always seen its job as mostly investigating only those crimes already exposed, or those just too obvious to all to ignore. They wouldn't write about the real news because one way or another they would lose their jobs, so they stick mostly to reporting facts (crimes, divorce scandal, etc), and always have. Am I being too much of a conspiracy theorist here?

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    1. Lachlan Ridge14/2/13 7:47 pm

      No, John Wren was only exposed by Frank Hardy's "novel", despite many in Victoria and further afield having good knowledge of that man's cancerous contribution to public life. Other examples of historical bastards who went untouched by our fearless meeja include Frank Norton, Henry Parkes, Edmund Barton, Billy Hughes, Blackjack McEwen, Phil Lynch, Peter Abeles and Kerry Packer.

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    2. Peter, earlier versions covered this in detail. Where I got to was: if a journalist wants to give up their job and do something else, this is (on the face of it) no crime. It would be interesting to catch up with those who took the coin as you describe, and ask them to what extent things turned out as they planned/hoped.

      Lachlan, maybe one day the MSM will catch a live one. Maybe.

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  5. Andre, I have never met you and don’t read your blog. However, having had it drawn to my attention, can I correct a few of the many inaccuracies.
    1. The Bulldogs series in 2001 included a number of stories about Mr Obeid’s involvement with the Oasis development planned by the club. We reported on how he had organised a briefing on the project attended by six ministers and alleged that he had sought a $1 million donation to Labor to smooth its way. This was not paid. ICAC found the allegation unsubstantiated and we lost a defamation suit to him.
    2. A simple Google search will reveal the efforts Kate McClymont and I have made to uncover the Obeid family business and corruption in this state. Over the last decade we have revealed that the Obeids’ brother in law was the owner of the leases at Circular Quay; the family’s land dealings at Port Macquarie; attempts to develop the Homebush bowling club; the circumstances of the award of the flagpole contracts and others. These stories were ignored by Labor , ICAC and met with threats of litigation.
    3. The current inquiry in ICAC into the Mt Penny mine was sparked by a story I wrote in May 2010 and by another written by a colleague at the AFR. It revealed that Obeid associates were buying up land in the valley and that something was awry with the tender process. After it was published I was approached by an ICAC investigator and I gave evidence at the current inquiry. Read the transcript. It’s online.
    And next time do some basic research before you let fly with your mysogynistic views. The fair comment defence to defamation only applies when based on true facts. Or even better, perhaps you should get off your arse and do some investigative journalism. I didn’t see you exposing any corrupt conduct lately. Much easier to go after the messenger.
    Anne Davies

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    1. Nice answer! Here's the 2010 story http://smh.domain.com.au/real-estate-news/coal-down-below-how-rich-is-his-valley-20100519-vfd4.html, and the 2004 Circular Quay story http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/28/1085641717781.html.

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    2. Lachlan Ridge14/2/13 7:55 pm

      Investigative Journalism? What? Like Peter Wicks is doing on the HSU over at his own blog and at Independent Australia? You must have missed that Anne, after all, it hasn't been in the mainstream media, which seems to focus on a fellow called Thom(p)son (depending upon which credit card statement you believe). Maybe you could ask your colleague Kate McClymont how her series of stories on ex-HSU official Kathhy Jackson and Tony Abbott appointee Peter Lawler are coming along?

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    3. Andrew, it's clear you were badly wrong on this. Will you withdraw?

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    4. Mysogynistic? How so? It means hating a woman for being a woman - not criticising a journalist who happens to be a woman

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    5. Well at least Andrew wouldn't use the phrase 'true facts'. As opposed to untrue facts? And you are a professional writer?

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    6. Misogynist? Where did that come from?

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    7. Anne
      Not surprised you don't read this blog, like most MSM journalists you seem to want to bury your head in the sand at the crisis you all face.
      Happy to read your defense of your work but why the "misogynistic" comment? Andrew certainly is critical of your journalism but does nothing to link that to your gender - seems like you can dish it out but can't take it.

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    8. Has Kate McClymont given an investigative journalists account to her stories exposing Craig Thomson and the brothels and her ThomPson credit card she has relied on? And the "investigative journalist" who has exposed that blunder, and there were at least 3 from the pictured documents accompanying KMcC story, is not even a journalist just a person willing to do some basic research.

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    9. I see what you've done there: your journalism is indefensible and so you attempt to muddy the waters by accusing me of misogyny, a far worse charge than merely being another crap journalist.

      You don't know me and read anything I write, so you have no basis for whether or not I'm "misogynistic". What you have proved my point about your inadequate research skills, and that your output is knee-jerk, lazy and in this case, wrong (you can't hide behind more esteemed names here).

      Nobody asked you to do a Google search on 'Obeid' through the archives of SMH, and it doesn't really help your case either. I have written to the ICAC asking for them to detail to what extent any media articles may have contributed to their investigation, and to identify which have done so. You will have to wait until that report is handed down before any further comment on this is warranted, but if you are owed an apology you will get one then and not beforehand.

      You owe me an apology for your flimsy, dirty slur without any further delay. There is no evidence that you are big enough, smart enough or good enough to offer one (and before you start, "I apologise if any offence was taken" is a non-apology - you owe me an apology for your slur, not for how I feel about it). You are a crap journalist and I have correctly identified you as such. I am not a misogynist and you have been petulant, idle and careless to mislabel me in that way.

      I work every bit as hard as you do; I'm better at my job than you are at yours. I deserve better information than you provide.

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    10. You made a stringent attack on the integrity and capability of a well known journalist.
      Said journalist, Anne Davies, is entitled to right of reply. It turns out you were seriously inaccurate, particularly in relation to your statement:

      "I remember the Bulldogs scandal (and would have read about it in the SMH) but had no idea Davies was involved in any way. If she and McClymont had devoted a fraction of the effort to Macdonald-Obeid that they devoted to the Bulldogs or the Bush Administration, who knows what they might have uncovered at the time? Who knows how things might have been different?"

      Then to cap it off your response above is bizarre and injudicious to say the least. You might be wise to do some research on defamation law, Andrew.

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  6. Resending.. i would appreciate you posting it .

    Andrew,
    I have never met you and don’t read your blog. However, having had it drawn to my attention, can I correct a few of the many inaccuracies.
    1. The Bulldogs series in 2001 included a number of stories about Mr Obeid’s involvement with the Oasis development planned by the club. We reported on how he had organised a briefing on the project attended by six ministers and alleged that he had sought a $1 million donation to Labor to smooth its way. This was not paid. ICAC found the allegation unsubstantiated and we lost a defamation suit to him.
    2. A simple Google search will reveal the efforts Kate McClymont and I have made to uncover the Obeid family business and corruption in this state. Over the last decade we have revealed that the Obeids’ brother in law was the owner of the leases at Circular Quay; the family’s land dealings at Port Macquarie; attempts to develop the Homebush bowling club; the circumstances of the award of the flagpole contracts and others. These stories were ignored by Labor , ICAC and met with threats of litigation.
    3. The current inquiry in ICAC into the Mt Penny mine was sparked by a story I wrote in May 2010 and by another written by a colleague at the AFR. It revealed that Obeid associates were buying up land in the valley and that something was awry with the tender process. After it was published I was approached by an ICAC investigator and I gave evidence at the current inquiry. Read the transcript. It’s online.
    And next time do some basic research before you let fly with your mysogynistic views. The fair comment defence to defamation only applies when based on true facts. Or even better, perhaps you should get off your arse and do some investigative journalism. I didn’t see you exposing any corrupt conduct lately. Much easier to go after the messenger.
    Anne Davies

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    1. Just because you work for an organisation that pays people to monitor social media doesn't mean that I do. Your comment was posted as soon as was practicable and, as I made clear in my original response, you embarrassed yourself more in posting it than I did in publishing it.

      Of course you don't know me: you can't write this off as having some ulterior motive, which is why "misogynistic" is the best you could come up with. Let's hope that the readership of the SMH never declines to the point where one person knows all of its readers personally; ask yourself whether that decline is occurring despite your best efforts, or because of them.

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  7. As a journalist said to me....

    Im on a mortgage....

    Cant write about that stuff

    Herald Sun Victoria...

    Obeid et al are repugnant....

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  8. Furthermore it gives a great insight into how and why these criminals got so far within the alp and the political class...

    Thanks again Andrew!!

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    1. Tim Fleming14/2/13 2:16 pm

      There is no insight here. A lazy, self-opinionated blogger spraying his bile and ignoring any facts that might contradict his jaundiced view of everything. Attacking the one institution and its employees who have actually been doing something about the rotten mess for years - where is the insight in that?

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    2. Tim, you are the first person to diagnose my liver condition without having inspected it, or without having any medical qualifications, or much sense really. Thank goodness you're wrong about that, too. When you're cocooned in an environment where any and all criticism is "bile" and "jaundice", you can't argue on your own merits so you have to lunge for the kind of authority that medicos have, and hope no-one notices.

      This blog has more than made the case that press gallery journalism has failed as a form of journalism. Few press gallery journalists make a consistent and robust case to the contrary. The tongue-in-cheek offerings of McClymont on Obeid are nowhere near good enough, and (along with Anne Davies' appalling missteps above) reinforce my case rather than your diagnosis.

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  9. resending .. if you dont i will refer this to the lawyers...

    Andrew,
    I have never met you and don’t read your blog. However, having had it drawn to my attention, can I correct a few of the many inaccuracies.
    1. The Bulldogs series in 2001 included a number of stories about Mr Obeid’s involvement with the Oasis development planned by the club. We reported on how he had organised a briefing on the project attended by six ministers and alleged that he had sought a $1 million donation to Labor to smooth its way. This was not paid. ICAC found the allegation unsubstantiated and we lost a defamation suit to him.
    2. A simple Google search will reveal the efforts Kate McClymont and I have made to uncover the Obeid family business and corruption in this state. Over the last decade we have revealed that the Obeids’ brother in law was the owner of the leases at Circular Quay; the family’s land dealings at Port Macquarie; attempts to develop the Homebush bowling club; the circumstances of the award of the flagpole contracts and others. These stories were ignored by Labor , ICAC and met with threats of litigation.
    3. The current inquiry in ICAC into the Mt Penny mine was sparked by a story I wrote in May 2010 and by another written by a colleague at the AFR. It revealed that Obeid associates were buying up land in the valley and that something was awry with the tender process. After it was published I was approached by an ICAC investigator and I gave evidence at the current inquiry. Read the transcript. It’s online.
    And next time do some basic research before you let fly with your mysogynistic views. The fair comment defence to defamation only applies when based on true facts. Or even better, perhaps you should get off your arse and do some investigative journalism. I didn’t see you exposing any corrupt conduct lately. Much easier to go after the messenger.
    Anne Davies

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    1. Lawyers! {*snort!*] Can you imagine if everyone who wanted a letter to the editor/retraction/right of reply published in the SMH threatened legal action? This is desperately silly, but on re-reading your offering here this is perhaps to be expected.

      Lawyers will tell you that if you are going to initiate legal action, you need to do so with "clean hands". Your misogyny slur and your admission that it can't be supported might be typical of you, but it is not the sort of thing someone who was sure of their position would have done.

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    2. Quite bizarrely, there's a very brief wikipedia article for this person. I don't know how to kick off the debate required for deletion of a wikipedia page for non-notability. Someone who does might be able to help out there? Thanks.

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  10. You are a fine one to discuss journalistic standards Andrew, conveniently neglecting to mention that McClymont and Davies were sued by Obeid in relation to their investigation of his activities going back a decade. Fairfax were looking at Bylong years ago and the efforts of its investigations unit a significant influence towards the current enquiry.

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    1. See my response to Davies. Taking the sarcasm off your comment, I thank you.

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  11. WEll said, but the problem I have with this whole ICAC thing is that it makes claims without proof, if there really was so much criminality going on why don't they just have them charged with the crimes instead of this silly sideshow.

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    1. Why did the state parliamentary press gallery at the time become so enamoured of the Carr government? The ICAC are gathering the facts upon which future legal action will rely.

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  12. I have an enduring memory of Carl Scully when Police Minister having an aide Tasered in the Parliament House library to his and the assembled media's guffaws- duly reported as a superb aide those deadly weapons would be in fighting crime.

    If fitted perfectly with Bob Carr's endless Laura Norder dog whistles and then AG John Hatzistergos winding back of accused person's rights coupled with Carr's slashing of legal aid : these trolls allowed Obeid to run riot and the so-called political writers of both Fairfax & News Ltd were on the inside as Carr so eloquently boasted that he played them for the dills they are.

    He is one of the best but how on earth could the then Sun Herald's political writer Andrew West report on politics and at the same time, pen an autobiography of Carr with Carr's co-operation ?.

    Australia's media is one of the worst collective of navel gazers on the planet.

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  13. Lachlan Ridge14/2/13 7:29 pm

    First, let me say that no one is ever useless, they can always be used as a bad example.

    I worked as a media officer for the dreaded NSW Trades Hall and later for a crossbench MP in the NSW Upper House. Time and time again we would bring to the attention of the droogs in the NSW Parliamentary Press Gallery the activities of various NSW Mining ministers, the over-reach of Treasury in policy settings for NSW and how this was leading to poor economic, social and environmental outcomes for all but a few privileged beneficiaries.

    This was true for electricity privatisation, food safety, transport, TAFE funding, ethics classes, state forestry management, to name but a few examples where policy settings had massive impact on people's day-to-day lives. The substance of these issues was seen as little more than dull but worthy space filler by the press gallery, who wanted the colour and movement provided by personality, sleaze and intrigue that allegedly is politics.

    The problem is that the impact of policy on people's lives is greater than the gossip column reportage dished up by the likes of McClymont, Davies et al (and don't get me started on Simon Benson!). But then again, they aren't trying to get across Sydney five days a week on $50K a year, or keep their heads above water in a city where rents start at $400 p.w., let alone exist ina regional area where government services thrive like seeds on rocky ground.

    The self-serving tosh from Ms Davies above reinforces this truth (Misogynist? Really? Even if the same accusations can be levelled at, say, Brian Robins or Heath Ashton, minus the junket to Washington of course).

    In all her time as a journalist I cannot recall one sentence that has explained how government, any government, interacts with the day-to-day lives of the general populace. It's all about high flyers, big wheels and other sundry flim-flam, while the real crooks are sitting around the cabinet table making decisions that will make the lives of ordinary people like you and I that little bit harder and the lives of corporations that little bit easier.

    People knew about Eddie and Macca's relationship long before 2010 Anne - it's in the famous Della-Bosca Downfall parody about Iemma's thwarted electricity privatisation move. Anyone with eyes in their head and a basic knowledge of the Costigan Royal Commission knew Richo and Coy. were bad news back in the eighties. I certainly did, and I was a clerk at Telecom who read the National Times! The fact that Richardson and his prodigies have been seen as somehow useful, knowledgeable and/or part of some great contribution to public life has had me gobsmacked for ages. They are completely uninterested in the art of feeding, clothing and housing a population - the art of politics - and have merely attached themselves as parasites to the electoral system.

    In a just world Richo would be stacking shelves at Coles and ignored even by his workmates. The fact that he, and anyone else he introduced to politics, is taken seriously is merely a cipher for how far they have corrupted public life in this country. The two-dimensional cardboard cut out that is our Foreign Minister is a testament to that.

    Keep dreaming Anne. You're not a player. You're one of the played.

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    1. Thank you Lachlan. The fact that this was available at the time meant that real journalism could've had real outcomes at the time rather than waiting until it was a matter of raking over history.

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    2. Great post.

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    3. A lot of people might forget that Richo came to national prominence after his stellar Number Crunching during election night coverage - not really anything to do with his factional politics at the time (i.e. only as a generic ALP member)

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  14. Lachlan Ridge14/2/13 8:26 pm

    Macca's influence in the Left of the ALP hinges on his relationship with Mr Anthony Albanese and, like the NSW Right, the stock-in-trade is the threat to preselection should someone, say Phil Koperberg, not toe the line to Albo's machine. Here's a name for future reference: Albo's current gopher, Anthony d'Adam, currently employed by the NSW Public Service Association, is destined for great things. His nickname is 'two-phones', for the separate one he uses for his factional work on behalf of Albo's laughably named 'Hard-Left' grouping (faction is too generous a word for that intellectual desert of groupthink). It's just a bloody eminience grise for washed up uni politicians to continue to flaunt their inadequacies but this time acting as wreckers in public policy development.

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  15. Very interesting and v informative. Paul Keating used to ring gallery journos and their bosses and "tell them where they got their stories "wrong", and what they should have done instead." So did Rudd and so has Gillard. They all got applauded for it! But in all the 11 years of JWH I can't remember any reports that he did the same. Do you know of any?

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  16. What a strange response from Anne Davies.

    Living in Victoria I may have misunderstood it (Rugby scandals? Bulldogs?) but it's hard to see what in your piece is "defamatory" or "misogynistic".

    Maybe the decline and imminent death of traditional media is making Old Media Journalists a bit jittery and liable to fly off the handle at the smallest provocation.

    As an aside I do think it funny that she got Mr Elder's name wrong. "Andre" (smirk). One should always check the facts before filing.

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    1. To be fair, the "Andre" was a typo that she corrected in subsequent resends before the original was published. We all make mistakes.

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    2. You would have thought that she would fixed "Mysogynist" by the 3rd post, I was embarrassed after mis-spelling it it in my first one

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  17. Slightly off topic but still relevant, I think: Peter Van Onselen said yesterday WTTE: "I'm beginning to suspect Abbott isn't allowed to do interviews because the Libs are scared of what he might say."

    Where to begin with this? The fact that it's taken him three years to notice what the rest of the country knows? The fact that Peter is helping Abbott become PM even though Abbott is clearly not qualified?

    It beggars belief. And frightens the pants off me.

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  18. I don't always have my comments published, but when I do, I send them three times in ninety minutes and include threats of legal action.

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  19. "ICAC found the allegation unsubstantiated and we lost a defamation suit to him".
    Is this a comment on this journalist's ability to construct a strong case? Anyway, the main thing is it's all very well to publish a few splashes here and they but what really needed to do was connect the dots and then hold up the picture for everyone to see. Anyone remember the "Moonlight State"?

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  20. Christopher22/2/13 10:33 pm

    Overheard Neil Mitchell interviewing{?} Richo today about how Julia had lost the trust of the Labour Party faithfull. The thieving, dissembling little snake. The irony and self delusion of this worm who almost singlehandely brought the Labour Right to power and then to it's [deserved] knees through his own filthy backroom deals and "whatever it takes" to make him obscene amounts of money is just breathtaking. Fucking disgusting.

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  21. Then here comes Paul Howes with his prick comment............

    Charming stuff!!

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