Gasp: The spying game

Tony Abbott's prying eyes raise the ire of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Twitter, while Ten's TV woes look set to worsen.

The spying scandal that has so enraptured Australian politics this week contained a welcome blast from the past – Nokia. Remember, Nokia? Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono does. That was his telephone of choice when the Australian government was listening in on his calls.

SBY has certainly made technological leaps and bounds since then, taking Twitter by storm with a following of 4.031 million. It was little surprise then that this was the platform of choice for venting his frustrations at Australia.

“Indonesia also demands Australia for an official response, one that can be understood by the public, on the tapping on Indonesia. *SBY*” he tweeted.

“I also regret the statement of Australian Prime Minister that belittled this tapping matter on Indonesia, without any remorse. *SBY*” a follow-up read.

But Tony Abbott’s refusal to apologise led the suitably miffed Indonesian president to officially downgrade our relationship status from ‘BFF’ to ‘Weekend Acquaintance’.

This means Australia now forfeits its first dibs rights to Indonesia’s lunchtime leftovers and will now only be invited to social gatherings with a minimum of four other mediocre friends. And we can forget about diplomatic sleepovers.

So you think you can program?

Just days after Ten Network’s chief executive Hamish McLennan told Business Spectator his company had been chasing “the wrong strategy” (KGB: Ten’s Hamish McLennan, November 11), the broadcaster finished the ratings year in fourth place, trailing channels Seven and Nine – and even dear old Aunty.

Ten’s new programming strategy borrows heavily from Labor’s Gillard era in that it promises something for everyone. For the men, there’s the Big Bash cricket. For the women, there’s more Offspring. For families, there’s the Winter Olympics, for the tech-savvy youngsters there’s the Ten Play app. And for the intelligentsia, there’s a test pattern between 4:00am and 4.15am.

The network celebrated its new programming strategy with gusto at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. It was a star-studded event hardly befitting a company that widened its full-year loss by $272.2 million this year.

McLennan must have woken up with more than a nasty hangover when he realised the network’s shift away from the youth market may have meant throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Apparently unimpressed with the new strategy, the youngest of Wake Up’s co-hosts, Natasha Exelby, announced her departure from Ten’s brand new breakfast show the next day.

PNG goes to the printers

It seems it’s not just SBY who’s been keeping a close eye on Tony. In a strategy that seems to have come directly from the Coalition’s media playbook, Papua New Guinea’s opposition leader Belden Namah this week declared he’d no longer be giving interviews to mainstream media. Instead, he’ll keep in touch with supporters on social networks and, in a move that GASP hears has struck fear in the heart of the Murdoch empire, will begin his very own media enterprise.

"Because the newspapers won't run my stories, I'm going to print my own newspapers and distribute them on the street,” he said.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Tweet of the week


Graph for Gasp: The spying game

One-line wonders

  • "Over the other side of the chamber we have government-change deniers.” Barnaby Joyce.
  • “They (prime ministers) need reforming treasurers like they need a dose of rabies.” Paul Keating.
  • “I don’t believe that Australia should be expected to apologise for reasonable intelligence-gathering operations.” Tony Abbott.
  • “Don’t come in here and ask stupid questions.” Kevin Andrews to the Opposition during question time.

The last gasp

Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson’s muted stance on raising the debt ceiling did neither government nor opposition any favours. That he thought the proposed $500 billion limit “prudent” was hardly a silver-bullet endorsement for the Coalition, nor did it support Labor’s opposition to the $200 billion rise.

Parkinson’s fence-sitting will relegate the issue to the same old squalid debates across the chamber. But it may even spark a swell in momentum for a third alternative – to remove the debt ceiling altogether.