South African tactics against All Blacks were really puzzling

After South Africa lost to New Zealand in last weekend’s 100th rugby game between the two countries, there has been much criticism of the Springboks’ style of play.

Some have dubbed it boring, others have gone so far as to say it will end up driving crowds away, something that rugby can ill afford.

Given that rugby fans, like all sports fans, are a devoted lot, the Springboks’ supporters have been equally loud in defending their team and backing the way they play.

But it was a bit puzzling to hear the captain Siya Kolisi and coach Jacques Nienabar claim that the strategy they had followed succeeded. It didn’t, unless they were aiming to lose the game.

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Australia is a vassal state of the US. That will never change

The craven manner in which Australia continues to bow before the US is borne of a deep-seated fear that Washington will again choose to interfere in Australian politics as it did in 1975.

That year, the late Gough Whitlam, who was prime minister, hinted that he might have second thoughts about renewing a lease for Pine Gap, a base in Australia’s northern parts which the Americans use for spying on other countries.

Whitlam was sacked by the governor-general John Kerr shortly thereafter. A full account of the affair is here; the CIA’s involvement has never been in doubt.

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Macdonald leaves Q+A with little comment from the media

The departure of Hamish Macdonald from the position of host of the ABC’s Q+A program should, logically, have occasioned some comment from the country’s media, given that the program in question is one of the taxpayer funded channel’s flagship offerings.

That it has gone mostly unremarked is due to one reason: Macdonald is perceived as being from the left and publications who tilt towards that side of politics have remained silent as a show of solidarity.

To date, nothing has appeared to analyse why he quite what is a high-profile role in Australia. Some said he had left the program because he had experienced a lot of trolling on social media — he shut down his Twitter account though a lot of interaction for Q+A takes place through this platform — while others studiously avoided speculating on why Macdonald may have decided to return to Channel 10’s The Project.

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The world has become the domain of liars

There’s a common element to much, if not most, of the news that flits across the TV screens: lies.

People attempt to add a touch of sophistry to lying, by trying to create classes of lies, but in the end it all adds up to the same thing: saying one thing when knowing that the opposite was correct.

One well-known example: the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, came to office promising a US$15 minimum wage for the country. He also promised to provide medical services for all and forgive at least a part of the billions in student debt.

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All the news (apart from the Middle East issue) that’s fit to print

The Saturday Paper — as its name implies — is a weekend newspaper published from Melbourne, Australia. Given this, it rarely has any real news, but some of the features are well-written.

There is a column called Gadfly (again the name would indicate what it is about) which is extremely well-written and is one of the articles that I read every week. It was written for some years by one Richard Ackland, a lawyer with very good writing skills, and is now penned by one Sami Shah, an Indian, who is, again a good writer. Gadfly is funny and, like most of the opinion content in the paper, is left-oriented.

The same cannot be said of some of the other writers. Karen Middleton and Rick Morton fall into the category of poor writers, though the latter sometimes does provide a story that has not been run anywhere else. Middleton can only be described as a hack.

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Time for ABC to bite the bullet and bring Tony Jones back to Q+A

Finally, someone from the mainstream Australian media has called it: Q+A, once one of the more popular shows on the ABC, is really not worth watching any more.

Of course, being Australian, the manner in which this sentiment was expressed was oblique, more so given that it came from a critic who writes for the Nine newspapers, Craig Mathieson.

Hamish Macdonald: his immature approach to Q+A has led to the program going downhill. Courtesy YouTube

Newspapers from this company are generally classed as being from the left — they once were, when they were owned by Fairfax Media, but centrist or right of centre would be more accurate these days — and given that the ABC is also considered to be part of the left, criticism was generally absent.

A second critical review has appeared on April 5, this time in The Australian.

Mathieson did not come right out and call the program atrocious – which is what it is right now. The way the headline on Mathieson’s article put it was that Q+A was once an agenda setter, but was no longer essential viewing. He was right about the former, but to call it essential viewing at any stage of its existence is probably an exaggeration.

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AFR’s Aaron Patrick shows us what gutter journalism is all about

Australian journalists often criticise each other, with those on the right tending to go for those on the left and vice versa. But, generally, in these stoushes, details of people’s private lives are not revealed.

But there are exceptions, and one of those was witnessed on March 31, when Aaron Patrick, the senior correspondent with the Australian Financial Review, took a swing at Samantha Maiden, a reporter with news.com.au, a free site operated by News Corporation, over coverage of numerous issues around women. (News Corporation’s other sites are all paywalled.)

In February, Maiden exposed the story of a young Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins, who had been allegedly raped by a colleague in Parliament House some two years ago.

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Peter van Onselen is no journalist. He is a political operative

Peter van Onselen is an academic from Western Australia who came to prominence in 2007 when he co-authored a biography of John Howard, the Liberal prime minister who reigned from 1996 to 2007.

Nearly 14 years later, Van Onselen has graduated to become a journalist who writes a weekly column for the right-wing broadsheet, The Australian, and also functions as the political editor for the tabloid free-to-air TV channel, 10.

Recently, however, Van Onselen has shown that he is no journalist, but rather a political operative who looks to back his powerful friends when they need his help. And nobody has needed his help more than the attorney-general, Christian Porter, a close mate of his and a source for many of his stories.

Porter was recently accused of raping a woman in 1988, when she was 16 and he was 17. The woman, known as Kate, died by her own hand last year, and did not make a police complaint, though she did toy with the idea. She is said to have been a highly intelligent person, but the alleged incident appears to have taken its toll, and she was described by many as having some mental problems.

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Why Australia is the developed world’s COVID vaccine laggard

A timeline of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine saga courtesy of Justin Stevens, executive producer of the ABC’s 7.30 program

19/8/20 PM media release: “Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government &… AstraZeneca.”

7/9/20 Govt announces $1.7 billion Uni of Oxford/AstraZeneca & the Uni of QLD/CSL Manufacturing agreements. PM says “a home-grown sovereign plan for vaccines is the hope I bring to Australians today.”

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ABC claims no funds, but sends Ferguson to the US to make worthless programs

The ABC is always whinging about the funding cuts it has had to suffer, with the Federal Government having cut the public broadcaster’s annual handout by a sizeable amount.

But the corporation makes its case weaker by splurging out on cosmetic exercises to keep its big names happy, with a case in point being Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners program on the riot in the US capital on January 6.

Sarah Ferguson: vanity programs.

Had Ferguson’s effort offered some context about the incident, instead of being a straight news program, it would have made some sense. But what is the point in having an Australian reporter file a 45-minute piece about an incident that occurred nearly a month prior?

Audiences in Australia have been enduring a surfeit of coverage about the riot, with there being no shortage of news clips from US broadcasters being shown on the ABC, the other public broadcaster SBS, and also the three Australian commercial channels.

Add to this the fact that the ABC already has three staff reporters in the US. The corporation’s news channel has a weekly program devoted to the US called Planet America so there is no dearth of coverage of the country.

Ferguson and her husband, Tony Jones, went to the US on January 15 along with a production crew. The ABC must have spent a decent sum on their upkeep and travel. So how can the corporation justify its grumbling about funding cuts when it seemingly has plenty of cash to indulge Ferguson and let her make vanity broadcasts?

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