Saturday, May 04, 2013

The pond in a quandary until Peter van Onselen's mad hatter tea party turns up ...

(Above: Barangaroo dreaming, click to enlarge)

The pond is deep in a quandary.

First there came the matter of Paul Sheehan and Manly. There has never been so much tumult and tempest on the pond, the storming and the grieving. It's no consolation that the opening remarks reflect a similar deep angst amongst Fairfax readers, only overcome by their deep hatred of Manly.

There were dozens of messages of pain:

I never ever ever thought I'd agree with Paul Sheehan ...

Etc etc, cats kicked, dogs howling, the naked grief and the suffering.

And if that wasn't enough, along comes James Packer with glittering eye candy Dubai-style proposals for Barangaroo, featuring designs by some of the best eye-candy, glittering domes of Xanadu, international designers available in the 'build a pyramid' game.

Naturally this sent a lot of Fairfaxians and cardigan wearers into a frenzy, but the pond was tempted. After all, if you love New York, part of the reason has to be a love of towering eye candy of the timeless gothic or deco or modernist kind. And it follows that if you love tall buildings, especially ones that cut into the air like giant Dundee knives, they should be as tall as possible, and to hell with the height restrictions.

And if you're a futurist or a disaster movie follower, deep in your heart you've always known that Sydney was a little light on for landmarks. Oh sure, the harbour just a bowl of dust, the Opera House exploding, the bridge torn apart, but where's the tall buildings ripe for the toppling?

Now there might be a few issues - like James Packer not being able to pull together the finance, and once he's got the approvals ducking and weaving to deliver a second rate imitation, a pile of half-arsed tosh in his best Vegas manner. And he might discover the urgent need to open the casino to locals so he can do a Tom Waterhouse on them. And a casino in itself is a vulgar and wretched excuse to do a little urban design for a grand hotel. And the new proposals make the rest of the commercial buildings look like a heap of Keating stodge, designs with all the grace and airs of a rather tall can of Coke.

And yet the pond is tempted, and forgiving and hopeful and willing to do the dance. How is this possible?

Well it blows Star out of the water for starters. There's no way that wretched building can ever be fixed, only demolished. Just look at it:

And then there's the inside:

That's the up-market view without all the vulgar tat and the hideous lighting.

The pond once ended up by accident inside the place for a moment, and immediately fled into the night, shouting the horror, the horror, and has never returned. The chances of ending up inside Packer's dream are equally slim, but there's something about that phallic thrust into the Sydney air that calls to the pond, not least at last a chance to say "sod off Melbourne".

But that's enough of heresy for the moment, though it's also enough of the pond's familiar jousting partner Christopher Pearson, who has been feeling poorly for the past week, and so has turned in a mournful piece Panacea of great poetry (behind the paywall because you must pay to read the sick), which is all about having poetry read and playing Beethoven and the only thing left behind is love.

Naturally this sort of mawkish stuff was marked down by the editors of the lizard Oz and buried deep in the bowels of the opinion pages, as the important business of doling out hate must always continue apace.

The usual pack of baying, yowling hounds were at it again, as they are every day of the week. Dennis "the tie" Shanahan was gloating about how Tony hadn't been wedged over the NDIS, Greg Sheridan was howling that the white paper on defence was pure fantasy (as distinct from the fantasy world in which Sheridan lives in all the time), Troy Bramston was predicting an epic rout in the September poll, and Chris Kenny chattered about tea in Julia's wonderland, seeming not to understand that the lizard Oz is the real mad hatter's tea party, and that Kenny himself most closely resembles the dormouse.

Look, there he is, you can just see him:

By golly, the pond is glad News Ltd tore up Godwin's Law so that personal snidery is allowed without fear of the tinkle of coins in the GL Swear Jar.

But then a splash caught the eye, someone seemed to be swimming against the rats heading up the usual predictable set of drainpipes.

But when you click on Tony Abbott in danger of being a do-nothing PM, behind the paywall to help you have a happy weekend, what do you actually find?

Yep, Peter van Onselen is just another kool-aid drinker, and all he's done is find a new angle to maintain the neo-con rage, which is to propose that Abbott isn't conservative enough, in a big L, Ayn Rand, ratbag Menzies House, Liberal way.

Amazingly, van Onselen even has the cheek to present The Australian in its current guise as continuing the proud tradition established when it first launched in 1964 and dared to criticise the Menzies government.

Talk about the pygmies donning the clothes of the respectable. The first editor, Maxwell Newton, was a ratbag, and ironies of ironies, he supported free trade and the Vietnam war; Murdoch sacked him because in those days Murdoch was both a protectionist and a supporter of Left-Liberal causes (more on Maxwell Newton at the ADB here).

By the time Murdoch got to his third editor, Adrian Deamer, the tone was set, only for Murdoch to begin his march towards the right of Genghis Khan, and sack Deamer for daring to criticise the Springbok tour of Australia. Yes, already Rupe was at one with Maggie, supporting the rights of the whites, though it would be years before they'd trample the unions into the dust and think of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist ...

What's this got to do with van Onselen? Well he purports to be an academic, and yet he starts off his tale with sanctimonious righteous stories of a balanced paper undeterred by the need to criticise Liberal politicians.

Uh huh. Cut to the Whitlam sacking crisis, and seventy-five News Ltd journalists calling the paper's editorial policy "blind, biased, tunnel-visoned, ad hoc, logically confused and relentless."

Uh huh. Nothing much has changed over the years. Some of the journos even burned the rag in the streets, and the coverage gave Bill Hayden a chance to crack one of his better jokes which ran, if Whitlam had walked across Lake Burley Griffin The Australian's headline would be, 'Gough can't swim'!

So nothing has changed, and certainly not the stupidity of its commentariat. Van Onselen even holds up this bit of editorial chutzpah for inspection:

A few years later, when prime minister Harold Holt drowned off the Victorian coast, the paper boldly editorialised for McEwen to lead the Coalition rather than hand over to an inadequate second-tier Liberal.

Black Jack McEwen?


It was a stupid idea then, and it's an even stupider idea now for van Onselen to propose it showed bravery and a determination to be outspoken. A goose might squawk loudly, or a donkey bray, but listen to what it's saying. (check out Black Jack's bio at ADB here).

Never mind, this woeful, pathetic and ultimately shamelessly ignorant and distorting trawl through history is really just an excuse for an Onselen to be outspoken, but strangely he doesn't announce his firm believe that Barnaby Joyce should be the next PM, even though Barners and Black Jack have a lot in common.

Instead, as mentioned, it's just a chance to bash Tony Abbott for not being Liberal enough about the NDIS, and his paid parental leave scheme, and the need to do welfare reform so the weak and the poor can be punished even more.

Yep it's not enough to reverse out the carbon tax and implement a direct action socialist campaign to save the environment, or reverse out the mining tax so Gina and Clive - poor suffering billionaire Clive - can roam wild and free, the hapless, the helpless and the unemployed must be given even more of a hard time ...

And this is the moment when the pond started to roll the Jaffas down the aisle:

The Liberal machine likes to complain that the commentariat gives it a hard time. That's because it is "our duty to inform Australians everywhere of what is really happening in their country ... and how this affects our prosperity, our prospects, our national conscience and our public image". 

Yes, there he is, blathering on about how the hate machine is really doing its duty by sternly tackling Tony Abbott and the Liberals. Talk about being off in Wonderland  ...

A duty fulfilled when this paper scrutinised the AWB and Haneef scandals during the Howard years.

That's it? What about the war in Iraq, what about the WMD, what about the routine support of Howard rolling out the middle class bribery? And so on and on endlessly, where the rag and its commentariat in general supported Howard?

The Australian's commentariat gives the Liberal machine a hard time?

Oh he's a killer. If Gillard walked across Lake Burley Griffin, The Australian's headline - as proposed by Sheridan, Shanahan, van Onselen, Chris Kenny and the rest of the pack - would be that 'Gillard can't swim'!

And now van Onselen is proposing that the rag will be a keen critic and scrutineer of Abbott and his policies:

What's really happening is this: Tony Abbott is about to become PM because Labor has comprehensively failed during its time in power. But there is much we do not know about how Abbott plans to tackle the nation's challenges. We deserve to know, before electing him prime minister.

Oh just pull the other one.

You just said you wanted him more to the right of Genghis Khan. That's not scrutiny, that's just more of the rabid pack of kool-aid drinkers howling at the moon ...

And now let's get back to the party ...


  1. The Oz went hard on AWB because it sold newspapers. Back then it looked like there'd be plenty of time to rein it in & smash the Kimbo led Opposition at the 2007 election.

  2. Dorothy did you happen to see Paul Kelly Chairing the Menzies centre on apac it was supposed to be looking at the state of the nation with not one positive comment from any of the participants the most sickening presentation I have seen.
    What you have pointed to is how they pretend to question the LNP but all the way are screaming support for them by diminishing the great steps taken by this government. with statement like this is the worst government in history.
    So how can we stop this mob of propagandists for the extreme right contaminating our political system it has become so disheartening when we have to put up with domination of our media in Australia


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