The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week’s news, every week. This week, Labor figures if it can’t prevent its inevitable decline it will at least stop people from talking about it, Bob Katter considers martyrdom over media ownership and the Reserve Bank of Australia gets h4x0r3d bad.
Shooting the messenger
Everyone’s favourite bumbling communications minister, Stephen Conroy, believes that if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all. And if you still want to, you shouldn’t be able to. Legally. The federal government unveiled its highly anticipated suite of media reforms this week, much to the rage of pretty much everyone, in an ironically very similar outcry to the one that infiltrates every corner of broadcasting whenever a douchebag media personality breaks one of the guidelines Labor is now attempting to enshrine in law. The media sector absolutely lambasted Conroy, accusing him of attempting to curtail free speech, with one highly respected daily even comparing him to Stalin on its front page. The resistance to the reforms, driven by various high-level executives, has absolutely nothing to do with the fact the reforms will alter laws surrounding consolidation in the sector and possibly cost these guys money, but instead is about fighting state control of media, with laws that won’t actually change any existing Press Council rules. Despite the rage, Labor has stood by the plan. Conroy claimed press reaction to the announcement could not possibly have been more hysterical, lest an opposing MP had offered to sacrifice his own life to oppose the reforms.
As if that would ever happen
Utilising his globally-renowned way with words, Bob Katter has promised to ‘die in the ditch’ fighting any attempt to change laws which prevent television networks from broadcasting to over two-thirds of Australian viewers. Despite the somewhat drastic stance, he did give qualified support for Labor’s reforms, expressing concern over biased and irresponsible reporting. The independent MP agreed that something needed to be done about the press, claiming newspapers do not necessarily belong to proprietors, as they have a responsibility to society, in an observation so considered that the reporter who asked Katter the question collapsed in surprise. However, Conroy is unwilling to compromise on the legislation, in a somewhat surprisingly combative position, given reports earlier in the week suggesting Labor was considering backing down on some of the changes because of corporate anger. Such a move would have been an uncharacteristic one from the government, which is not known for altering policy at the behest of hostile and powerful industries.
Those crazy whizz-bang computer kids have struck again, only this time Australia’s national security is at risk. The Reserve Bank of Australia confirmed media reports this week that its network has been victim to malware sent from an outside source, but has refused to confirm who (or where) from. The news is a big blow to the Australian public, who had previously viewed the RBA as impenetrable, reputable and completely incorruptible. Except for all of the corruption, obviously. Early reports suggested the attacks may have originated from China, which appears not to be content with just treating the country as its personal quarry. Whoever it was, the question arises as to what exactly it was they were looking for had they gotten into the system in the first place. The attacks came ahead of the most recent G20 meeting in Cannes; but what did they expect to find? Given Australia’s actual clout at such an event, it’s unlikely the RBA even knew where the local delegation was due to sit at the opening night gala.
The man with the golden tongue
For the few of you left that aren’t sick of Rob Oakeshott’s self-posturing yet, never fear! The man himself has delayed the final decision on whether he will stand again for a seat in the House of Representatives come the election, despite promising earlier that he would make up his mind before the middle of March. This means we all could be seeing a lot more of the MP, at least until September when voters have the chance to boot him themselves. Oakeshott now plans to make the final call on his future after the release of the federal budget in May, where it is expected he will announce his decision at the conclusion of a 45 minute televised speech and long after everybody has stopped listening.
On a high after the popularity of its media reforms, the federal government has also set its eye on the gaming sector this week, announcing plans to extend pre-commitment technology to online gambling. The move, which will see punters forced to set their own deposit limits when playing online, comes obviously in response to similar reforms which worked so well when Labor tried to place them on poker machines. I mean, come on, how hard could it be to police the internet? Such a thing worked so well for the government the first time around. Plus, Labor is in a great position given there are so many existing Australian-based online gambling sites for it to work with, and that the very few overseas-based ones are normally very happy to have their revenues curtailed by interfering foreign governments. In fact, the whole situation seems tailor made for Labor to absolve itself of previous failures to regulate both gambling and the internet by successfully putting the clamps on something that vaguely combines the two. Go Labor!
– Prime Minister Julia Gillard has moved to protect penalty rates in law, noting she’ll be desperate for them when she’s flipping burgers in the middle of the night for a living later this year.
– Nathan Tinkler was finally forced to answer questions in court this week over the dealings of his failed Mulsanne Resources, but not before his lawyers made several desperate last-ditch attempts to stop the examination, claiming he was far too rich to have to face the consequences of his actions.
– And finally, New South Wales announced this week that it will allow recreational fisherman into the state’s marine parks. Other proposed changes in the pipeline will see recreational hunters allowed in national parks and recreational miners let onto sacred Aboriginal sites.