Category Archives: Politics

Get your marching shoes on

On Sunday, I will be marching for my right to control my own body.

We only have a few weeks left. Next month, the NSW Upper House will vote on the Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2013 (No. 2). It gives a foetus (20 weeks or more) the same legal rights as a person.

For background, in 2009 Justine Hampson was driving under the influence of drugs when she hit Brodie Donegan, who was 32 weeks pregnant. The child (Zoe) was stillborn as a result of Donegan’s injuries. Hampson was convicted for causing grievous bodily harm to Donegan, including the loss of her foetus, and jailed for nine months. At the time, Donegan seemed to accept the result, but grief is a funny thing. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child, but I do know what it’s like to lose a baby sibling, and that grief fills up all the spaces in a room.

It is understandable that Donegan and her husband Nick Ball want their loss acknowledged. But this is a bad law. That Fred Nile drafted the first version in Zoe’s name without even speaking to the family makes me pretty damn sure that their loss is being exploited by people who want to remove women’s rights.

The Australian Medical Association, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Family Planning NSW, Women’s Health NSW, Domestic Violence NSW, Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, NSW Bar Association, The Law Society, the National Foundation for Australian Women, Reproductive Choice Australia, and the Women Lawyers Association are all against the bill. They say it’s unnecessary and may harm a woman’s access to an abortion after 24-weeks – usually carried out for quite serious reasons. As Sarah Krasnostein writes, this affects:

Those who are in denial or too traumatised to find out because the pregnancy resulted from rape, from incest. Those too young to know the signs. Those who have a mental illness or an intellectual disability and do not understand that they are pregnant.

But it’s not always a question of not knowing. There are those who know too much. Who must make an excruciating choice after test results diagnosing severe foetal abnormality. For instance, the test for Anencephaly happens at 15-20 weeks. Babies with this neural tube defect are born without a forebrain and the remaining tissue exposed. If not stillborn, they die shortly after.

The proposed law has an exemption for medical procedures, but according to Women’s Legal Services NSW, that will be open to interpretation. Keep in mind that abortion in NSW is a crime for women AND doctors, unless the doctor believes the woman’s physical and/or mental health is in serious danger. Faced with this new law, it’s easy to imagine doctors becoming reluctant to perform medical procedures that are legal.

For more info on the legal ramifications, read this excellent piece by law lecturer Hannah Robert:

Once the foetus is defined as a legal person, the law has a direct relationship with it, and the mother’s consent becomes irrelevant. She becomes invisible in the eyes of the law, despite the physical realities of pregnancy meaning that any interaction with the foetus necessarily involves her.

Chilling, isn’t it? As far as the law is concerned, once you get halfway through a pregnancy, you are irrelevant.

This great piece at Hoyden about Town lists some of the potential problems, such as compromising medical care, coercion, and prosecuting pregnant women who don’t follow dietary guidelines.

Make no mistake, this bill is about moving us closer to making it impossible for women to access safe abortion. Women’s Legal Services NSW called the bill “a clear attempt to undermine women’s rights by changing the legal status of a foetus”. Please read that WLS piece, because it deals with the current law, and the emotive and incorrect language of the proposed bill.

In the US, foetal personhood laws are being used to stop women accessing safe abortions and even emergency contraception. Republicans have tried a few times to change the law so that when a man rapes a woman, resulting in pregnancy, that woman is forced to continue the pregnancy and have the baby. They’ve also tried to legalise the murder of doctors who perform abortions. And they are running a war on contraception. Think that won’t happen here? Albury pharmacist Simon Horsfall tells women that if they’re buying the pill so they don’t get pregnant, they should go elsewhere because he doesn’t believe in contraception. He doesn’t sell condoms or the morning-after pill. Melbourne pharmacist Stephen Mulqueeny also refuses to sell the morning-after pill because of his religious beliefs. I have no doubt that there are many more pharmacists who refuse to sell these legal products. (Not that these products are good enough. The majority of abortions in Australia are the result of contraception failure – about sixty per cent of women were using at least one form of contraception at the time.) The Victorian Premier Denis Napthine is willing to remove women’s rights in order to do deals with Geoff Shaw, the MP holding the balance of power. Shaw is an evangelical Christian. The first two things he wants to do are to make late-term abortions illegal, and to remove the legal requirement for a doctor who is a conscientious objector to abortion to refer patients to a doctor without an objection. If he gets those two things, you know he won’t stop there. Having religious/conservative politicians who want to control the bodies of every single woman in Australia is one thing, but it’s disgusting that we have so many other male politicians who are willing to trade away women’s rights to do deals on infrastructure and asset sales. And people like Fred Nile and John Madigan are rubbing their hands with glee.

In November, the bill passed in the Lower House 63 to 26. Here is a list of those MPs who voted for and against it. It goes to the Upper House in March. We don’t have a lot of time.

This is why I’ll be at the protest tomorrow. See you at midday at Martin Place.

Update: Restricting our access to safe abortion is not an unintended consequence of this bill, it is THE intended consequence. Zoe’s Law is not an accident.

Update: You can email your MP here. Debate on the Bill in the Legislative Council starts at 10am on Thursday 6th March. MPs who oppose this Bill said it helps if we’re there. See you then.

Write it right

The COAG Reform Council has released a report looking at education, employment, housing, health, disability, and homelessness outcomes by gender: Tracking equity: Comparing outcomes for women and girls across Australia (127 page pdf). Basically, it says women are being fucked over in most parts of their lives.

This is how it’s being reported in the Sydney Morning Herald: COAG report: girls ahead at school but women lag in pay stakes:


It is the “baffling contrast” in gender equality in Australia: girls generally outperform boys at school, and are more likely to hold a bachelor degree, but men continue to earn more than women in the workplace and overwhelmingly dominate leadership roles…

…But in the workforce a significant gender pay gap still exists, with women paid about 17.5 per cent, or $266 a week, less than men. The disparity exists even within the same profession in many cases, and once the different average hours worked by men and women are taken into account.

At dailytelegraph.com.au (I don’t know if it’s in the paper): Women paid less than men for same job:

GIRLS outshine boys at school and are more likely to graduate from university – but are still paid less to do the same work as men, a damning new report reveals.

The Council of Australian Governments Reform Council report, shows that young male dentists earn $14,000 more than women in their first job, while male architect graduates earn $9000 more and male lawyers $4300 more…

…”Financial disadvantage starts as soon as women enter the workforce,” the official report says.

“Graduate starting salaries are overall significantly lower for women than men.”

And at abc.net.au – COAG equity report finds Australian women still lag behind men in pay, care more for disabled – it was the same general summary of the findings, with this detail at the end:


The report also found women continue to bear the brunt of caring for Australia’s disabled and that they often pay an economic and psychological price.

The report says women are almost twice as likely as men to be the primary carers for people with a disability.

Nearly 40 per cent of women who are caring for a person with a disability are not in the workforce, with many suffering physical and mental health impacts stemming from their role.

The report also states Indigenous women continue to face a significant homelessness problem.

The rate of homelessness of Indigenous women is more than 15 times higher than it is for non-Indigenous women.

Only the ABC mentioned Indigenous women and women who have caring responsibilities. None of the stories mentioned the fact that Indigenous women have a life expectancy of 72.9 years, compared with 84.2 years for non-Indigenous women. And that women with a disability are less likely than men with a disability to be working, and less likely than men to use disability services.

Now, I understand that a single news story doesn’t do justice to a report like this. It’s possible that these journos have saved some of the other issues for more stories over the next few days. Mind you, that doesn’t seem to happen very often these days. Once the report has been released, it’s old news and will sit on the pile of other reports about “women’s issues” that no one with any power does anything about.

But what if we flipped it to put the focus on the real problem?

What if these stories were about the Australian employers who are discriminating against female employees, in a clear breach of the Sex Discrimination Act? It becomes a different story then, doesn’t it? One that’s not so easily dismissed as a women’s issue, for women to sort out.

What if, rather than just numbers per 10,000, the stories about homelessness focussed on family violence being the main reason women report using homelessness services?

Flipping the stories to focus on the cause and not the outcome will help change the way people think about these issues. We know from decades of research into framing, agenda setting, and priming, that not only does the news media shape what issues people think about, but also how they think about those issues. So as long as journalists keep writing about women being underpaid, instead of employers underpaying women, then people will keep thinking about it as a women’s issue.

We know, from report after report after report, that women are paid less than men. We know, from report after report after report, that carers do not have the support that they need. We know, from report after report after report, that Indigenous women have a much lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous women. We know all this, and yet nothing happens.

Many journos will say the reason they became journalists was to change the world. To write the big, important stories that make a difference. Well, these are those big, important stories. It’s time to write about them in a way that forces action, that changes the way people think. It’s time to write about them in a way that wins you a fucking Walkley.

Fairfax’s fact-checking failure

The editors and journalists at Fairfax just don’t get how to use their fact-checking info.

Ok, so it’s mind-boggling that Fairfax has said, yep, we don’t fact-check the news we publish, so for the election, for a gimmick, we’re going get PolitiFact to do it for us. Apparently that doesn’t bother people like it bothers me. But at least they’re checking things, unlike News Ltd. So there’s that, I suppose.

But they really don’t understand what to do with the information PolitiFact gives them.

Take this story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald: Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme to begin July 2015. In the paper it’s on page 8, with the headline “Liberals smooth out the bumps with $6b paid parental leave scheme”. It’s buried deep in the bowels of smh.com.au – I had to google the first sentence of the story to find it. Below the story (in the paper), running across pages 8 and 9, is the fact-check statement from PolitiFact – Working mothers won’t be $21,000 better off under Coalition plan – which labels Tony Abbott’s claims as “mostly false”.

So, you’d expect that information to be mentioned in the story, right?

Right?

BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Of course not.

Instead, we have 476 words from Jacqueline Maley about the scheme, including the claim that women will be $21,000 better off under the Coalition’s parental leave scheme, with no mention that the claim is nonsense. Honestly, what is the point of partnering with Politifact if you don’t put that information in your stories? I don’t understand how any journalist and any editor would think it’s ok to put the news in one section, and the facts over there in a different section. It’s just bizarre.

And, in keeping with the Australian journalism approach to online news, the two damn pieces aren’t even linked on the website. Nope. If you’re reading the fact-check statement, you can’t click to the story that it’s about. If you’re reading the story – if you managed to find it – you can’t click through to the fact-check statement. How can they be so clueless?

It’s a crazy idea, I know, but isn’t the point of fact-checking to put that info inside the story?

Information? Oh, we don’t put that in the news anymore, silly

I didn’t watch the debate last night. I was at the pub with my derby gang after training, which was a much better way to spend an evening.

So, this morning I thought I’d check the MSM for information about the debate. You know, what Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott said, whether they announced any policies, and how their claims stacked up when they were fact checked.

I wanted some news.

Shush, I can hear your laughter from here.

This is the debate coverage across the top of smh.com.au this morning:

Coverage of last night's debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott on smh.com.au.

Coverage of last night’s debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott on smh.com.au.

There’s an opinion piece by Peter Hartcher about who won – based on style, rather than substance – and 861 words by Judith Ireland (with AAP) about Kevin Rudd using notes during the debate and whether that makes him a cheater, and a video of the same news story. To put the 861 words about a simple “yes he had notes, no they weren’t allowed” into perspective, this whole post about the coverage on two websites is 476 words.

Hartcher’s piece mentioned that both Rudd and Abbott “ducked the question on building Sydney’s second airport”, so after reading the smh.com.au coverage I know about one question from an hour-long debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

Righty-o then.

At dailytelegraph.com.au, there was one story at the top of the website this morning:

How dailytelegraph.com.au started their coverage of the debate.

How dailytelegraph.com.au started their coverage of the debate.

But it was replaced a short time later by this:

MAKE IT BIGGER - the same dailytelegraph.com.au story a short time later.

MAKE IT BIGGER – the same dailytelegraph.com.au story a short time later.

I guess they didn’t want smh.com.au to be the only ones shouting CHEATING CHEATERER.

The story is by Patrick Lion and it’s from the News Limited Network so it’ll be the same story on every website: Election debate: Kevin Rudd accused of cheating after using notes during debate. It’s 496 words about the notes, and not a single mention of any of the topics that were discussed. So, after reading the dailytelegraph.com.au coverage I don’t know anything about the questions in an hour-long debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.

Don’t get me wrong – the notes story is a story. But it’s not the story because it’s not really important. Having notes at a debate has fuck-all to do with helping people to decide which party’s plan for the future is the one they want to support. Because that’s the whole damn point of the debate.

But the notes story is an easy one to write. It’s a lot easier than reporting what Rudd and Abbott said and doing some research into their policy ideas and fact-checking their claims and finding a clever way to include all of this info in the same story so it’s actually useful to your audience.

PS – If you want to know about the content of the debate, abc.com.au has broken it down question by question, and junkee.com’s Jess O’Callaghan explains the debate with gifs in a piece that contains more info than Fairfax and News Ltd combined.

It’s time to get new journalists because these ones are borked

This is the main election story on smh.com.au this afternoon:

Incredibly useful reporting from Tony Wright, the national affairs editor of The Age.

Incredibly useful reporting from Tony Wright, the national affairs editor of The Age.

Yes, that’s right. The national affairs editor of The Age has written 375 words about a four-year-old child in the background of a photo. And the online editor at smh.com.au has decided the story is SO DAMN IMPORTANT that it’s the main image.

You can’t make this shit up.

And it IS shit.

Meaningless, trivial shit that gives their audience exactly ZERO information about the election.

Oh wait, there was one bit that could have been vaguely useful:

Mr Rudd visited the Ryde Uniting Church to talk up his government’s multicultural policies. The church runs regular English classes for the local Korean community, and Mr Rudd was keen to announce that his government would make the Korean language one of the top-five priorities for teaching in Australian schools.

Ok, so what are the other four priorities? And what other multicultural policies was the Prime Minister talking about? DID ANY JOURNALIST THINK TO ASK?

There are three election stories above the fold on smh.com.au this afternoon: the photobomber, a gaffe (discussed below) and 406 words from business reporter Matt O’Sullivan (with mainly AAP copy) about how outrageous it is that Anthony Albanese had a beer with Craig Thomson. Because now you can’t even have a beer with someone you used to work with. Come on, don’t you think there are more important stories to be covering?

Over at dailytelegraph.com.au, there are two election stories above the fold:

Two election stories on dailytelegraph.com.au

Two election stories on dailytelegraph.com.au

One is about how Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott will have a debate on Sunday, which is a very easy story to write – no need for any research or to examine any policy or indeed to ask any questions. Yet despite the story being based on a media release and containing no original reporting and no new quotes, it somehow has three goddamn bylines on it. You’d think that at least one of those journalists would have subbed the damn thing – it’s a mess.

The other story is wire copy from AAP in which Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury is asked to comment on a radio interview he gave. It mainly transcribes the interview. There’s no issue investigation – it doesn’t even go into what they were talking about. Just OMG GAFFE! Smh.com.au is running the same story but unattributed to AAP. I guess you pretend it’s the work of your own journalists when you’re trying to get people to pay for stories that are free everywhere else.

Most people have very little contact with politicians and so they get their political information from the news media. After all, providing information about the world is the central function of the news media. Yes, media organisations are businesses and they need to make money, but providing information to their audience is at the heart of it. So if you’re a journalist and you’re writing stories about the election campaign that contain fuck-all useful information about that campaign, then you seriously need to ask yourself if you’re in the right job. Sure, there’s plenty of room for the funny things that happen during an election campaign, but only if you’re also covering the election issues properly and I don’t see any evidence for that on these major news websites.

In The problem of the media: US communication politics in the 21st century, Robert McChesney writes, “democratic theory posits that society needs journalism to perform three main duties: to act as a rigorous watchdog of the powerful and those who wish to be powerful; to ferret out truth from lies; and to present a wide range of informed positions on key issues” (2004, p. 57). When’s the last time you saw Fairfax or News Ltd do any of those things? Fairfax has even admitted it doesn’t fact-check its stories and has outsourced that basic function to someone else – but just for the election campaign, mind you.

I’ve just realised that I could have saved myself all these words by asking just one question: When’s the last time someone tweeted or emailed a Fairfax/News Ltd story to you saying “wow, great story”?

What the fuck, Australia?

This post discusses domestic violence.

And contains swearing.

Lots of swearing.

In the last few months, the racism and sexism and misogyny and vileness in our society have all come to the surface like a nasty boil:

Australia, this is you right now. If you think this is gross, imagine all the images I looked at to find it. Image: Mental bleach

Australia, this is you right now. If this grosses you out, imagine what I saw while looking for it. Image: Mental bleach

First it was racism, with a 13-year-old girl calling AFL player Adam Goodes an ape, then Eddie McGuire’s King Kong comments. And all those videos of people being arseholes on public transport. And today, more racist dickheads at an NRL game.

Then there’s the menu at Mal Brough’s fundraiser, and Socceroos coach Holger Osieck saying women should shut up in public. His apology was just a clusterfuck of wrong. Someone should tell him, in small words so his little brain can understand, that telling your wife to shut up, and saying “I’m still pretty happy with my wife so everything is fine”, doesn’t actually indicate “a lot of respect for women”. Sort of the opposite, really.

And there’s the bunch of idiots in the armed forces calling themselves the “Jedi Council” (what, are they 13 years old?). And Howard Sattler’s disgraceful questioning of the Prime Minister, and Piers Akerman repeating it all on ABC tv.

And we have News Ltd reporting that a 15-year-old girl has attempted suicide and the geniuses there put the story in the GLOBAL GOSSIP section (I’m not linking to it). She’s a child, they shouldn’t be reporting it in the first place. For fuck’s sake, what the hell is wrong with people?

Then we have the decision by The Mirror to publish a fucking NINE image photo gallery of Charles Saatchi assaulting Nigella Lawson. In Australia, News Ltd and Fairfax both republished the images, thereby furthering her distress. Hopefully I’m not doing the same by writing about the appalling coverage. Dailytelegraph.com.au and News.com.au even went with a cutesy headline calling him “hubbie”. Didn’t ANYONE in those newsrooms say “hey, we’re just hurting her more if we publish the images”? Are their brains just painted onto the inside of their skulls?

This morning 3AW radio host Dee Dee Dunleavy called for a boycott of Nigella Lawson’s products unless she takes a stand against domestic violence. What. The. Actual. Fuck? By the afternoon she’d issued a clarification, saying she wasn’t calling for a boycott. But what else does “If you want us to buy your books and watch your shows on how to run our kitchens, then we need you to make a stand on domestic violence” mean, other than to say we’re not going to buy your stuff unless you do what we want, aka a boycott. And then issuing a clarification instead of an apology, which should have said “I didn’t realise that’s what I was saying but that’s what those words mean and I should never have put pressure on a domestic violence victim to be a public spokesperson and I am so very very sorry for what I said and I apologise to everyone”.

It never ceases to amaze me that people who use words for a living think so little about those words. Another example is the wording of the link to the images in Dunleavy’s post:

Distressing to some people, but not a thought has gone in to how distressing it is for Nigella Lawson.

Dunleavy’s warning misses the point.

Trigger warnings are good. Shame there was a complete lack of thought for how distressing it might be to have the photos republished around the world.

Just because she is famous, doesn’t mean she “owes” us to be a spokesperson. In fact, at the moment we owe her. We owe her because we gawked at the photos. We owe her because all of the reporting is about her and not about Saatchi, just like it always is when Australian journalists report violence against women. We owe her because we’re writing opinion pieces and blog posts about her private hurt – this one included, and I don’t know how can I point at the coverage and yell THIS IS SO FUCKING WRONG without being just as bad as everyone else.

So. What do we do now? I don’t have any solutions but I do have a lot of swearing.

On the positive side, it’s a massive YES THE FUCK WE DO to everyone who says “Australia doesn’t have a racism and sexism problem”. It’s kinda hard to pretend it doesn’t exist now.

But on the negative side, I AM SO ANGRY AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

All the better to see pointless journalism

Why do I get the feeling that I’m going to be blogging a lot about stooopid journalism between now and September 14? I kinda feel bad for the Sydney Morning Herald because I always focus on them, but I don’t read News Ltd rubbish so I don’t blog about their nonsense.

Anyway.

Today’s example of pointless journalism is All the better to see the opposition with, by Judith Ireland and Shelly Horton.

Here’s the story in the paper, on page three:

Story about Julia Gillard's glasses in the Sydney Morning Herald

The large blue photo holds the story

Page three is important real estate. Yet almost half of page three is taken up by this story about the Prime Minister’s glasses. Specifically – ooh, it’s a glasses pun – what people on twitter said about the Prime Minister’s glasses.

It took two journalists.

To write 306 words.

About what three people said on twitter.

As the Adelaide writer and “vampire hunter” Michael Scott Hand posted: “I don’t remember seeing Julia Gillard wearing glasses before. Is it because THIS TIME SHE MEANS BUSINESS?”

Some punters hypothesised that the member for Lalor was courting the youth market with the trendy new accessory. “It seems @JuliaGillard is already campaigning to the hipster voters with those new glasses. Well played,” wrote Kath McLellan of Sydney.

Then again, the glasses were suspiciously similar to the pair sported by the outgoing US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. How hipster could that be?

Justin Colee (who describes himself as pro-carbon tax) had other ideas: “did @JuliaGillard borrow her glasses from Greg Combet?”

But they must be three influential people, right? People with thousands of followers, like @GrogsGamut or @HelenRazer? Nope. Michael Scott Hand has 215 followers. Kath McLellan has 29. And Justin Colee has 19 followers on twitter. Only the tweet by Kath McLellan was retweeted, and that was once. Now, I’m not trying to poo on their sandwiches. I’m just questioning the editorial judgement of using two journalists to write a piss-arse story about what three people said on twitter, and then filling almost half of page three with that piss-arse story.

I’d also like to know if Julia Gillard said anything else during her address to the National Press Club on Wednesday. Because the coverage would indicate that she rocked up, said “Election’s on September 14, bitches” and left.

Here’s how the story is promoted on the smh.com.au homepage:

Smh.com.au makes a big deal out of the PM's glasses

It’s a pair of glasses. Get over it.

The caption under the photo of Julia Gillard reads: “What’s with the glasses? Election announcement plays second fiddle to PM’s specs.”

If a pair of regular, everyday glasses has played second fiddle to the Prime Minister’s address to the National Press Club, then it’s your fault, journalists. So what if a few people tweeted about her glasses? THOSE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE NATIONAL PRESS GALLERY. If you thought the coverage of the last election was bad – and pretty much everyone did – then just wait to see the rubbish the mainstream media will call “news” this time.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think news has to be stuffy and serious all the time. If it’s stuffy and serious then you’re not thinking enough about how you can tell stories. But honestly, this?

The everyday shit they call journalism

There’s a story in the Sydney Morning Herald today that’s a great example of how meaningless political journalism has become. It’s not about a manufactured scandal, or a gaffe, or something that happened decades ago, but is just the everyday political journalism that is, frankly, rubbish.

I don’t think it’s because political journalists are stupid. It’s more that they write for each other and not for the public, and they don’t ever stop to think about what they are actually writing. When I was a journalist, I used to write in journalese, just like every other journalist. Every now and then, the news editor made half-arsed murmurs about not using journalese – like Person A “slammed” Person B, or “Thailand’s restive south” (go on, google that and see the 497,000 results for a phrase that no one but journalists use) – but journalese was only ever seen as particular words, and not the sentences that make up a story.

So, Rudd backers turn on PM for celebrity choice, by Mark Kenny and Jonathan Swan (interestingly, if you look at the URL, the “news story” is filed in opinion…):

The move to parachute the Olympian Nova Peris into Parliament has re-ignited discussion about Julia Gillard’s political judgment and the value of so-called “celebrity” candidates.

Now, the article contains no discussion whatsoever about the “value of so-called “celebrity” candidates”. None. Not a single sentence. The online version includes photos of Cheryl Kernot, Maxine McKew, and John Alexander, without any explanation of why these photos are there. Which is pretty suckful when you consider that the online version is almost permanent and will be the information that other journalists use when they write their stories. The paper version runs a pretty lazy story on the side of the main one, also by Mark Kenny, using these three people as evidence that celebrity candidates don’t work. Kernot shouldn’t be in that list. She was a senator for the Democrats from 1990-1997, then for Labor from 1998-2001. That hardly makes her a celebrity candidate. After all, no one says Billy Hughes was a celebrity candidate and he changed parties five times while in federal parliament, including while he was Prime Minister.

So that leaves McKew (a former ABC journo) and Alexander (a former tennis player). McKew won Bennelong from John Howard in 2007. Alexander won Bennelong from McKew in 2010. I hardly think Kenny’s case is made by one seat. Particularly when you consider Peter Garrett, Andrew Wilkie, Malcolm Turnbull, cyclist Hubert Opperman and cricketer/hockey player Ric Charlesworth all had high profiles before getting into politics and lasted quite a while. (And these are just the recent ones that I’ve found with a quick search. Remember the days when journalists did basic research?)

Anyway, moving along to the bit about how the move has “re-ignited discussion about Julia Gillard’s political judgement”.

But Labor figures loyal to the former prime minister Kevin Rudd rounded on Ms Gillard on Wednesday, calling the drafting of Ms Peris to replace a sitting Labor senator for the Northern Territory “unprecedented”.

Who are these Labor figures? Oh, look, there’s just one:

“Because we are in an election year, most MPs will bite their lips, but people are furious,” said the MP, who wished to remain anonymous.

One. Unnamed. MP.

One. Unnamed. MP. Who didn’t have the guts to put his/her name to his/her words.

One. Unnamed. MP. Who wanted to undermine the PM and asked the journalists to leave out his/her name and they agreed.

One. Unnamed. MP. Who is a bit shitty about something and is using docile, unquestioning journalists to have a bit of a whinge. Can Mark Kenny and Jonathan Swan seriously not see how they are being used? Are they that blind? But I guess “One MP has a bit of a whinge about something” isn’t as exciting as OH MY GOD WE HAVE TO KEEP WRITING ABOUT RUDD IN CASE THE PARTY DUMPS GILLARD AND RETURNS TO RUDD EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT ANYONE WANTS THAT BUT MY GOD WE AREN’T GOING TO MISS IT AGAIN.

But wait, there’s more.

In an article about Nova Peris being endorsed as a Labor candidate there is no mention of her suitability. Except this bit:

“Unfortunately Nova doesn’t realise she’s being used by Julia Gillard,” said Michael Anderson, a former leader of the Australian Black Power movement and a founder of the Aboriginal tent embassy.

“Ms Peris-Kneebone is only being used as a public relations exercise for Labor. She has not been involved in major political processes, rallies or otherwise. She has been missing in political action all the time.”

Which is wrong. The journalists should have indicated that Anderson was wrong, not only for using her old name (she hasn’t been Peris-Kneebone in over a decade), but for having no fucking idea what he is talking about. Nova Peris was awarded the Order of Australia, she was a treaty ambassador for ATSIC, she created the Peris Enterprises charity to promote health and education for Indigenous children, then there’s the Nova Peris Girls Academy. And she was an international ambassador for the World Health Organisation (for youth suicide prevention), and a national ambassador for Reconciliation Australia, and a delegate to the National Constitution Convention, and a national patron for Beyond Blue. And here’s a list of 17 things she’s been involved in that make her one of the best candidates for political office that I’ve seen in a long time.

I found this information in less than one minute. Yet Kenny and Swan didn’t even make a basic effort to point out that Anderson is completely wrong. They published his ignorance/lie, playing in to the narrative of Nova Peris being an unskilled celebrity candidate who will no doubt crash and burn and it will be ALL JULIA GILLARD’S FAULT.

I started this post by saying Kenny and Swan’s story is a pretty bad example of political journalism. But now that I’ve dissected it, and seen how lazy and how wrong the story is, I’ve changed my mind. It’s fucking appalling journalism and they should be ashamed of themselves.

On wanting the PM to be everything

When Julia Gillard became PM – and it wasn’t because she “knifed him” as the MSM mindlessly repeats, but because the majority of the ALP decided that she’d be better than Kevin Rudd – I got very excited.

Very.

excited

I’m not a Labor voter, but I was so very very pleased that we FINALLY had a woman as Prime Minister.

And even though I disagree with the ALP on lots of issues (like their breathtakingly cruel asylum seeker stance) I think Julia Gillard is doing a pretty good job. Particularly faced with a hostile/stupid media who are being taken for a ride by the Opposition and who berate the Government for not being able to get their message across when at every policy announcement they ask the same questions about leadership, the latest Opposition beat-up and blah blah blah. Seriously, political journos have no idea how silly they look to the rest of us.

Of course, as a woman in power, she is being held to an impossibly high standard. If she isn’t considered The World’s Greatest Leader by people on both sides of politics then it will be taken by many as “proof” that she wasn’t a very good PM. Which, apart from being fucked, is fucking ridiculous.

Anyway, I realised something on Saturday. (It was during a pub lunch that started with tequila and finished with me ranting at my poor friend at 2am, so be kind.)

A lot of us want Australia’s first female Prime Minister to be AMAZING. We want her to make Australia a better place so we can point and say, “See? She did that”. We want her to implement marriage equality, save the environment, pump funding into public education, end homelessness, increase support for people on low incomes, and to do all these things even if the rest of the ALP doesn’t support them.

In other words, we want the leader of the ALP to be an autocratic Green.

Some of Tony Abbott’s best friends are women

I completely understand why women related to Tony Abbott are defending him from accusations that he has a problem with women. I have no doubt that he is a supportive and caring parent, husband, brother and son. (And, of course, they’re not just calling media conferences and speaking to the Daily Telegraph‘s Gemma Jones because they want the public to know the Real Tony. It is politics after all.)

This from Margie Abbott:

“I say to the people who claim that Tony Abbott doesn’t ‘get’ women: You get this. Tony Abbott is surrounded by strong women. In fact, not only strong but capable women.

“He grew up in a household with three sisters. He has encouraged me and supported me in whatever I have chosen to do.”

Just because you’re “surrounded” by women in your family, doesn’t mean you “get” women. It just means you care about your family. It certainly doesn’t make you a feminist. It’s how Tony Abbott acts towards women he’s not related to that reveals that he does indeed have a problem with women. After all, Todd Akin has a wife and I’m sure he respects and trusts her. But in his breath-takingly ignorant and offensive comment that women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape“, it shows that he thinks that other women – millions of American women – are probably liars and can’t be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies.

Tony Abbott also believes women can’t be trusted to make their own decisions about their bodies and their reproductive health. What is it with conservative men and women’s vaginas? In his own words, he shames women who terminate a pregnancy:

The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience…. Even those who think that abortion is a woman’s right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year.

He’s right, though – I am troubled by that statistic. Because it’s a lie. He’s wrong by about 20,000. And since he was Health Minister when he wrote it, he’d know it was a lie. He’d also know that most terminations are the result of contraception failure.

But check out the language he uses: 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year. That’s a fuckload of shaming right there. If Abbott really wanted to reduce the number of abortions, he’d be pushing for better contraception, rather than shaming women with words like “destroy”. (Check out Leslie Cannold’s great talk on shaming: I had an abortion… or maybe I didn’t.)

Tony Abbott even believes 14-year-old girls should be made to have babies, to punish them for having sex (no mention of the boys they had sex with, though. Funny that):

To a pregnant 14-year-old struggling to grasp what’s happening, for example, a senior student with a whole life mapped out or a mother already failing to cope under difficult circumstances, abortion is the easy way out… Our society has rightly terrified primary school children about the horrors of smoking, but seems to take it for granted that adolescents will have sex despite the grim social consequences of teenage single parenthood.

That’s right, if you’re a mother who is “failing to cope under difficult circumstances” – like an abusive partner, or illness, or that there just isn’t enough money – you should be forced to have another baby.

Those quotes are from a speech he made in 2004. In 2006, members of Parliament stripped Tony Abbott of the power to make decisions about women’s reproductive health. He had demonstrated that his personal beliefs were more important than the rights of Australian women. That Abbott believes that women terminate pregnancies “almost [as] a badge of liberation from old oppressions” demonstrates how little he understands, well, pretty much everything to do with women. Most of his own side voted against him.

He told women that the carbon tax would make ironing more expensive – then dismissed women who got annoyed by his comment as “hypersensitive”.

Then he made a rape joke.

The quotes from this video date from 1979 to 2010 (and yes, we were talking about this a few weeks ago, but that post was about the bigger picture rather than Abbott in particular, because it’s evidence that his ideas haven’t really changed):

Tony Abbott’s biggest problem with women is that we refuse to put up with his shit.