Thursday, April 05, 2012

Fairfax's notion of useful reporting "could be 'a disaster' ...."

It's not enough that we have The Australian leading the pack of baying hounds spreading FUD.

Fairfax wants to get into that game, spreading doom, gloom, and fear and uncertainty and doubt, and making sure that it's top of the page.

Yet when you actually NBN labelled a waste to set Labor back years, there's very little in the way of sizzle or fizz, with the main point seeming to be to drag Percy Allan, president of the Australian Institute of Public Administration, out to do the fear-mongering.

The thing that triggered a guffaw? Percy was doing the rounds as head of NSW Treasury under premiers Wran, Greiner and Fahey. Yep, he was last in government in 1994 before he hared off to Boral, or so his CV, here, delivered to the pond at copper wiring speed, advises.

Percy sounds like the sort of wired public administrator or accountant or economic advisor you have when you have a lamington in need of a good lashing of desiccated coconut.

So what's novel, what's news, why should you be bothered reading this top of the pack, head lining story?

Well it turns out Percy doesn't like Kevin Rudd and the lack of consultation in his style. Dearie me, that's a turn-up for the books, and will come as shocking insight to former chairman Kev's colleagues.

And naturally there's a reference to the Whitlam years, and waste and extravagance and a Rolls Royce service, and then comes the news that Percy's institute hired a bunch of management consultants, Howard Partners, to examine some high profile federal projects and report on them. Talk about waste and extravagance. One bunch of economic suits hiring another bunch of suits to deliver yet another gab-fest report.

Of course it seems the report is dressed out in fine academic, bureaucratic gobbledegook. There might have been other ways, it could be a disaster, people might not subscribe and watch public opinion then, it might not take long to backfire, we don't actually know the take-up rate, and so on and on in best beancounter style.

Yep, there's a lot of couda and shouda and maybes and mights and perhaps and escape clauses, and a lot of prejudice and bile, and bugger all by way of actual insight or information.

So the real question is why Fairfax bothered to run a repeat of talking points that were dull when The Australian was going gung ho about all this twelve months ago.

It's nice of them to care about people suffering relevancy deprivation syndrome, but please, Jeremiahs spruiking Jeremiads at the top of the page? Oh Gina Rinehart will be terribly well pleased ...

Meanwhile, privatisation of Sydney's water supply continues apace with news that a major pipeline has been handed over to the totally useless folly known as the desal plant, boosting its bottom line in a handsome way, and nary a word about it in Fairfax or a bleat from the wretches yammering on about government waste and the perfidy of the public sector. Ssh, not a word about the perfidy of the private sector, once again socialising the losses and banking the profits, and now doing it with water ..

And meanwhile, over at The Punch, there's the same NBN line being run by Liberal Andrew Laming in Making the connections with Labor's NBN pork barrel.

Yes, it's all there, except for a reference to Gough Whitlam and Rolls Royce. But there's the shameless salaries being paid to NBN staff, and the shameless pork barreling as the NBN is rolled out in politically dodgy seats.

Hang on, hang on. Breaking news. That seems to imply communities are interested in being pork barreled, and so it turns out:

The NBN is one of those rare pieces of national infrastructure that divides on party lines – not on the merits of high speed internet but on how it is best delivered.

Oh so we're no longer arguing about the need for a rare piece of national infrastructure that delivers higher speeds. Now we're only talking about how best to deliver it.

Do go on ...

One of the benefits of the Coalition’s market based approach is that those who want it most pay for it, and those who need it most are helped with targeted ‘blackspot’ assistance.

Which is at best nonsense and at worst idle gibberish. The day the pond wants to pay for a major backbone between Sydney and Melbourne, or for that matter an upgrading of speed to the United States, is the day the lottery landed. And by golly it better be a bloody big payout.

As for the yabber with targeted blackspots, the only way to sort out network problems is to sort out the network. For years, the pond has lived in a copper wire black spot, and was there once a cooee from John Howard's team or Telstra? Tell Laming he's dreaming ...

But it's remarkable how the rhetoric in the Liberal party has undergone a subtle shift.

The shame of it is that those people living in non-Labor seats and genuinely in need of faster internet are still paying for the NBN and its excesses but will have to wait as long as nine years for any improvements.

Uh huh. Genuinely in need. Who'd of thought there'd be that sort of fish in the digital water? Could the suffering of retail helped focus the minds of the luddites?

Well it turns out that the pond lives in a Labor seat, and will by best estimates have to wait until 2015 to be connected, so now's the time for a deal Mr. Laming, because we're genuinely in need of faster speeds ...

All the same, these last few pars sound very odd, and not at all in accordance with the FUD being peddled by Percy Allan. It sounds like there's an urgent need to pork barrel Liberal electorates, and people facing untimely delays and fixing black spots and getting on with the job of delivering national infrastructure in an economical way.

By golly, how to back peddle a little?

The challenge for Labor’s NBN Co is that it is Government MP’s who want it more than anything, and the NBN Co seems to be happy to dance to their tune.

Oh dear. The only thing to stand out in that little rhetorical flourish is the misplaced possessive apostrophe.

Can we just run through the General principles for the possessive apostrophe one more time? Happily it's text based so it doesn't need much speed ...

But if the Government MPs want it, could that be because they think it might deliver them an electoral advantage? Oh FUD it ...

Now perhaps we could re-write that last rhetorical flourish:

The challenge for Liberal MPs is that it is Tony Abbott's nattering negativity that's put them in a ticklish spot when it comes to addressing broadband infrastructure issues, when there is clear evidence they could get brownie points by pork barreling their constituencies, especially in regional and rural areas, which want it more than anything, yet the Liberal MPs seem to be happy to dance to Abbott's negative tune.

You can see the problem here. On the one side arguments that the NBN is a complete waste of time and money; and on the other fear and loathing that the Labor party is using the NBN to pork barrel Queensland electorates, which seems to suggest that voters might perceive the thing might have some utility.

Well it could, or perhaps it should, or maybe it will, or perhaps it's likely ...

What to do? Well naturally a proposal that the Liberals could pork barrel the beast better than the Labor party.

Well here's a pond prediction. Just as water is being privatised - thanks NSW Labor you useless tossers - all Laming's tut tutting will disappear in a trice when the Liberal party gets into power and hands over the NBN to its mates for an orgy of asset stripping and making out in a first class massive boondoggle

Oh what a grand pork barrel it will be ... and then we can have another chat about salaries, extravagance, waste, and finally, just finally, service delivery after a decade of watching the Howard government sit on its very plump Telstra monopoly-driven bum ...

And now since it's Easter, here's a New Yorker cartoon that caught the pond's eye. Yet more evidence that liberal elites can ruin everything, even an ant colony! Click to enlarge.


  1. I absolutely love you Dorothy. It is a rare enough thing that the printed word can cause me to laugh out loud but you also manage to inform and educate at the same time.

    I hope you are surrounded by supportive people who encourage you every day to continue to regale the world with your wit and peculiar brand of cynicism. I say that because you don't seem to get many comments. I hope your 'hits' records let you know that you have dedicated fans - I know my small circle of friends wait with bated breath for each new offering.
    Keep up the superb work and may I never have to get into a verbal stoush with you because I have no doubt that I would be a quivering lunatic within five minutes.

  2. Why thank you kindly sir (clumsy impression of southern curtsy follows), and treat yourself to a mint julep and chocolate this easter weekend, and rest assured that the rantings of the pond continue to work on a personal therapeutic level. My shrink advises that with a bit of luck I should be out of therapy within the lifetime, or perhaps no more than several months after death ...


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