Posts Tagged ‘Queensland’

Gee I really, really hate it when I find myself defending Tony Abbott. Well, to be honest, I am pretty sure that this is a first time. But I’m still unhappy about it.

OK, so what actually happened? Tony Abbott, leader of the Australian Opposition, was in Afghanistan, visting Australian troops. While in conversation with senior officers, he was filmed making the comment ‘shit happens’. Australian prima donna television network, Channel 7 aka Prime, captured the footage. They were very quick to start claiming this was Abbott dismissing the latest death of an Australian soldier on active service in Afghanistan as ‘shit happens.’ That is not what happened. Watch the footage for yourself. This comment was made in a far broader context. That didn’t stop Prime however from ambushing Abbott, playing the footage for him on a laptop and quizzing him over the angle that he was so dismissive of the death of Lance-Corporal Jared MacKinney.

Fair suck of the sav, you lot. Tony Abbott does not need Prime’s assistance in making an utter dill of himself. He has shown his true colours and hypocrisy often enough over the past few years. But in this instance, Prime and the reporter in question, Mark Riley, have been guilty of nothing other than twisting the facts in a cheap ratings stunt. Spare a thought for a moment for his poor widow, 26 year-old Beckie MacKinney. Her husband and father of her young son, Nathan, has just died on active service. Beckie now has to relive all this over and over again, for no other purpose than Prime trying to score a point or two over arch-rival, Channel Nine.

Abbott being one of those individuals that so many of us just love to hate, Prime and Riley decided to play fast and loose with the facts in order to blow up a ‘story’ that didn’t actually exist.

It is stunts like these that make me ashamed to be generally grouped with the media as a writer (having been so informed in no uncertain terms by a journo on a previous occasion after letting rip on the media). However I am not a journalist and make no pretense of being so. I am a story writer, primarily a fiction writer. And so should Mark Riley probably be after last Tuesday’s stunt.

Unfortunately, Abbott does not get it all his own way. His response to Riley was to stand in quivering, rage-filled silence for some twenty-five seconds. He honestly looked like he was about to up his fist and clock Riley one on the jaw. But it was his later response that gets my goat. Jug Ears Abbott has come out, jumping up and down about how dare the media take a tragedy and use it just to push their own agenda.

Hold on a minute. Isn’t this the same Abbott who has been using the floods in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia as a simple excuse to start pushing his own political agenda of unseating the current Federal government? And as usual, he doesn’t let the facts get in the way too much. For example, his biggest platform has been that because of the floods, followed by Cyclone Yasi, the proposed National Broadband Network should be dumped. He then states that the loss of mobile communication (cell phones for my US friends) in the area hit by the cyclone is somehow proof that the NBN won’t work. Ahhh excuse me Jug Ears. Mobile comms relied on physical broadcast towers that were damaged in the cyclone. The NBN will run on optic fibre cable buried underground and safe from the tender attentions of cyclonic winds.

Of course this also happens at the same time that press releases, email and a website statement all appear under Abbott’s name, followed by requests for donations to the Liberal party for a fund to fight and cease imposition of a national levy to pay for rebuilding of shattered Queensland. In other words, don’t give money for Queensland flood relief, give it to the Libs instead. Abbott denies all knowledge of this request going out. He and his mates then claimed it is common practice and referred to the Labor Party doing a similar email request only a day or so before. The only problem however was that the Labor Party request was for people to donate funds to flood relief funds, not a political donations grab.

For Abbott to go claiming Prime/Channel Seven have used a tragedy for their own purposes is nothing short of appalling hypocrisy as he has been doing exactly the same thing but on a larger scale.

If all this wasn’t PR-suidcide enough, while Abbott is wandering around flood- and cyclone-ravaged parts of Queensland, accompanied by the non-entity that is the leader of the National Party (does anyone actually know who that is these days?), the Nats leader decides that is exactly the right time to start publicly claiming that Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, has let all of Queensland down during the floods and cyclone.

Give me a break. Just at present, Bligh is rapidly approaching sainthood status in parts of the country due to her non-step efforts during these crises and her frank and honest presentations to the press. There was a complete absence of any spin or political grandstanding. No make-up, tears, even appearing like a drowned rat at one point. And this wasn’t stage-managed opportunism. This was genuine. Even if the subsequent Inquiry into the floods finds her government 100% culpable (which is not that likely given she hasn’t been in the job long enough to be responsible for any and all infrastructure problems), that should not detract from her frank humanity during that terrible few weeks. But Jug Ears’s partner in crime, leader of the Nationals, thinks it is a good time to go for her jugular. How many votes will that ultimately cost them in Queensland?

So, Channel Seven, Tony Abbott and his mates do a damned good job of screwing up all by themselves. They do not need dodgy stunts like that pulled by Mark Riley. The management of Channel Seven should be bloody ashamed of themselves for ever allowing this appalling stunt to go ahead. And how dare you put me in a position of having to defend Jug Ears!!

Meanwhile, that other commercial television network with the morals and attitude of a cheap used car salesman, Channel Nine, are probably now congratulating themselves for not dreaming up Prime’s stunt for themselves, considering how it is blowing up in Prime’s face, big time.

Well, it’s happened. Despite appeals from the Prime Minister downwards (appealing to insurance companies to show the same generosity of spirit shown by the community), thieving bastard insurance companies have struck. Then again, who really believed that they would be so generous? Nobody who has ever had to try and deal with the scum.

Unbelievable as it may sound, claims for flood damage are being refused in places like Toowoomba, Queensland, with insurance companies claiming that the floods weren’t actually floods! Huh? Yep. That’s what is being reported in the media. Apparently, massive rains do not create floods. What these thieving bastards are relying on is an insistence that the policy holders were not subject to floods, but to rising river levels which, according to the esteemed insurance assessors, are not in fact floods at all!

Unbelievable. Un-be-fucking-lievable.

Why oh why are insurance companies and banks consistently allowed to write their own rules, answerable to none but their shareholders. This is not what deregulation was about. And what do governments actually do about it? Sweet Fanny Adams. At best, tinkering and nothing more.

David Koch wrote a good piece on the subject recently at The Punch, highlighting the dirty tricks that insurance companies rely on in circumstances such as those being experienced in Queensland, northern New South Wales and Victoria, with the worst still yet to come in some parts of the latter. But how blatant a lie is it to claim that the likes of Toowoomba were not subject to flood???

Here is another one for you. The Victorian town of Newstead was flooded last week. Why? Because during the torrential rain, the relevant water authority thought it would be a really great idea to turn the storm water drains off, meaning they were not emptying into the river system. End result – massive backup of storm water through the streets of this geographically pretty flat town, flooding basically the whole damn place. Who’s going to pay for that damage? It’s an easy out for the insurance companies, “sorry, you’re not covered for bureaucratic idiocy.” Just where on earth did the responsible shit-for-brains think all that water was going to go? Vanish into thin air? Get sucked up by his anal-retention? New Victorian Premier, Ted Ballieu, leaping in front of the flood waters, opening his gigantic mouth and swallowing them up?

It is more than bad enough that so much death, hurt, loss and misery has been suffered, not to mention the long-term economic problems that will result. But should the victims really have to be subjected to yet more heartbreak just in order to keep the financial services sector secure in its multi-billion dollar profits? The problem is we simply do not have a single government with the cojones to stand up and be counted in any meaningful manner. Joe Hockey was and still is pretty good at blustering and posturing about it, but that was it.

One last, irrelevant to the subject, rant. But it’s my blog so I’ll write what I bloody-well want to. Queensland premier, Anna Bligh was out on the flood scene, making heart-felt public statements about the status, announcing more deaths etc. Ex-Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was out in waist-deep water helping recover people’s belongings in his electorate, later throwing a public BBQ open to all comers. Prime Minister Julia Gilliard has been just about anywhere and everywhere, on the ground, meeting the victims. Victorian Premier, Ted Ballieu, a man that I normally consider a total git, has been out at the coalface, gumboots and all. So what have we seen from Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott? Out in his best suit, pulling the hems of his trousers up, tip-toeing through a patch of mud that might, just might, have almost made it to the top of the soles of his shoes. And out of all the main political players, who has tried to make political mileage out of it? You got it, Tony Abbott. Good one, dickhead. Oh alright, yes, yes, Bob Brown from the Greens started jumping up and down, claiming the coal miners were the cause. And the real pity of that was it made Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce actually make sense when responding to Brown. However that is still a little different to Abbott’s blatant attempt to use the Queensland flood to kill off the National Broadband Network, to his obvious political advantage. Arsehole.

Here endeth the rant.