Thursday, November 27

I think it's English, but what does it say?

My day brightens when Google Blogger emails me: "[Someone] has left a new comment on your post [whatever it was]". It doesn't happen all that often.

So I snapped to attention this morning when I saw this in my Inbox:

smithsan has left a new comment on your post "Indigenous care for indigenous people":

A critical multicultural approach situates cultural differences within the wider nexus of power relations, and helps overcome the negative stereotyping that often prevents inclusive, self-determined care. Recommendations are suggested for change at the societal, professional and individual level.
exposure marketing

I think it's English, but what does it say? It looks like the gibberish one has to regurgitate to score a PhD in, say, gender studies or Eng. Lit. or journalism.

Is someone having a go at me? In my post on indigenous care, I turned away from the term "cultural sensitivity" because I don't think abstractions win arguments, and there's one argument I do want to win.

I believe some white Australians still believe indigenous people are racially inferior. They'd deny it, or rationalise it away, if asked. But they still believe in paternalism, and in an intervention which fails to consult the indigenous people they believe they are helping.

In the previous post, I chose to use a number of concrete examples, brutally expressed, to explain why too many indigenous people now find themselves in an underclass. Not all Aboriginal people experienced every type of discrimination, of course, but many encountered some of those listed. That's too many.

And that's a major reason Aboriginal people are over-represented in poorer socio-economic groups.

I'm still puzzled by "smithsan" and the comment. Clicking on the name brings up a Google Blogger profile page, but it contains no profile. Unusual.

Clicking on the link provided suggests an answer. "Exposure marketing" takes you to And what do we find? It's an internet marketing service, and clicking "what we do" in the navigation bar takes you to a page which says Driven Wide offers social media optimisation and marketing, search engine marketing and optimisation, and social marketing.

Sadly, this grumpy old blogger must concede it's unlikely his arguments have won the heart and mind of "smithsan", whoever or whatever that is.

It more likely "smithsan's" comment was computer-generated after a search engine picked up some key words in my post's labels, and its purpose was to publicise an internet marketing service.

It's interesting the program was able to find a passage like "critical multicultural approach" to post as a comment, but it just shows what computers can do these days.

For a long time, I've though of studying Search Engine Optimisation. Grumpy Old Journo sure could use it, and if ever I tried to return to the paid workforce, I could try for one of those high salaries SEO experts can obtain.


I did appreciate some praise "Woy Woy Steve" attached to my October 27 post about the Putt Putt regatta. From his profile, it seems Steve may have attended Woy Woy High School (now the Brisbane Water Secondary College senior campus) at the same time as some of my offspring.

A self-taught web designer, Steve has put up a first-class website, I found its local history pages well-researched and interesting.

And while you're looking at all things Woy, you may also be interested in a site offered by Spike. Here's one of his blogs .

Sunday, November 23

Indigenous care for indigenous people

It's been around our region for 21 years, but I'd never heard of Daramulen Home Care until the other day when Kirsty Bissaker came to our monthly Central Coast Reconciliation Group meeting to tell us about this specialist service for Aboriginal people.

Ms Bissaker, the acting service co-ordinator, explained that Daramulen's clients are mostly elderly, some are children with disabilities, and about 20 per cent are adults aged 25 to 40.

Staffed by indigenous people, Daramulen operates alongside the government organisation which provides home care in the wider community. But it offers more for its indigenous clients – help with housework, social get-togethers called “yarn-ups”, and the extra benefits which come from the carers' cultural sensitivity.

Impressive. So I asked Ms Bissaker: “If Kevin Rudd gave you some of this money he's splashing around, what would you spend it on? What's your biggest need?”

She didn't hesitate. “Medical transport.” With low incomes, without cars, and often living in areas poorly served by public transport, her clients face real hardship if, for example, they must get from their homes to a medical centre three times a week. Adding to the problems of disabilities and infirmity, some clients are illiterate and find it hard to access those services which do exist.

The following are my comments, not those of Ms Bissaker (although I hope she'd agree). Sometimes people ask me why we should provide special social services for indigenous people. Surely we're all Australians, and if we're in need there should be no discrimination.

You might assume the whitefellas who ask this question are rednecks, but often they are not, and they deserve a considered reply.

Cultural sensitivity? Well, that's true – but we're not going to win hearts and minds if we argue in abstractions. Here are the answers I give:

  • If you're fifty or over, and you went to the flicks in many country towns, you'll remember when indigenous customers sat up front on wooden benches.

  • Even if some of your playmates were Aboriginal kids from down the road, they'd often be barred from joining you in the swimming pool. That exclusion generally held firm until after the 1965 Freedom Ride through outback New South Wales.

  • In country towns in NSW, and probably elsewhere in Australia, whites had a “local option” to exclude indigenous pupils from government schools. For example, when European settlers in the Manning Valley finally pushed the indigenous owners off their land and resettled many of them on a mission, the good people of Taree asked the government to bar the children from their schools, and the government set up the Purfleet Aboriginal Provisional School. Up and down the coast, in towns like Kempsey, or inland, in towns like Walgett, the story was the same.

  • What would you say if your Dad came home from the war in 1945 and tried to put his name down for a soldier settler block, only to be told “abos” weren't eligible?

  • And try to imagine this. You're playing with your friends, when Mum starts shouting, “Git! Git! Git outta here fast.” As rehearsed, you run for the bush or down into the creek bed. You peek through the scrub, see a couple of cars pull up, and some whitefellas stride into your homes. When you creep back, your sister is gone. Your Mum and your aunties are inconsolable in their grief.

All of these things happened within my lifetime, and therefore within the lifetimes of some of Daramulen's clients.

It's no reflection on indigenous people to say such experiences turned too many into an underclass – people who cannot assert themselves at school interviews, or know how to dispute local council rulings, or negotiate their way through our complex and overstressed health system. People who may be functionally illiterate after rudimentary education in mission schools.

Today, one can see rapid improvement in the pride and achievement of Aboriginal Australians. And while most do appeciate the goodwill and efforts of whitefella friends, it's clear much of the credit should go to indigenous workers and organisations who understand the special needs of their people.

Friday, November 14

Federal politics, media beatups, and other circus acts

Merry picked it straight off. "That picture's been posed". I lean over the breakfast table. "Well, of course it's been posed" – I peer at the tiny credit line in The Australian – "and photographer David Crosling has done it quite nicely."

"No, not that. It's that they're not really bowling. Where's the mat?"

She's right, you know. But I hadn't spotted it because I was still bemused by a story about Matt. Or more specifically, by the third par of this story about Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's finding the time to launch an anthology of the late Matt Price's satirical political columns from The Australian.

Just in case you can't read the adjacent image, here what the third par said:

By attending the launch, Mr Rudd showed his affection for Price and The Australian despite the furore over reporting of details of his recent telephone conversation with US President George W. Bush.

". . . affection for . . . The Australian . . . " An interesting choice of word, affection. Is it some sort of coded message?

It's hard to believe the paragraph would have run without the approval of the Oz's editor-in-chief, Chris Mitchell. Had Mitchell gone further, and "suggested" reporter Nicola Berkovic note Rudd's "affection" for his newspaper?

Unless you've been switched off for the past few weeks, you'll know "the furore" followed a report in The Australian four weeks ago which said Rudd had spoken by phone to soon-to-be-ex-President George W. Bush. Rudd had suggested a proposal for the G20 meeting, and Bush had asked, "What's that?"

What an opportunity! Malcolm Turnbull, exercising the prerogative of the opposition leader through the ages, went for the throat. An insult to our great friend. Putting the US alliance at risk. World leaders will never speak to Rudd again. Diplomatic blunder.

Okay, so your grumpy old blogger has taken some liberties here, and he certainly doesn't suggest Turnbull is a harlot. The phrase – "power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot through the ages" – was uttered by British Tory leader Stanley Baldwin, and back in 1931 he was speaking of Fleet Street newspaper proprietors, Lord Beaverbrook in particular. It's said Rudyard Kipling suggested the phrase to Baldwin, his cousin.

And for opposition leaders today, a more apt phrase might be impotence without responsibility. They can jeer, they can pontificate, they can offer bipartisan support – but the skilled media advisers in prime ministerial and state premiers' offices will plot to keep them on the sidelines and irrelevant.

Still, it was great while it lasted. When Rudd retorted that Turnbull should apologise for John Howard's remark that Osama bin Laden would be praying for a victory for Barack Obama, Turnbull seized the opportunity to distance himself from the former prime minister (read on for a little more on that theme).

Turnbull came close to disaster, however, when Family First Senator Steve Fielding said he would move for a Senate inquiry. What a dilemma for Turnbull! If his senators voted against an inquiry, he'd lose credibility. But if they set one up, look at the problems he would face:

  • The Senate committee of inquiry could not compel Rudd or his staff to give evidence.
  • Surely it would have to call Chris Mitchell, one of the guests at the dinner party in Kirribilli House in Sydney when Rudd spoke with Bush – and if Mitchell knew the source of the "leak" to his reporter, as one would expect, professional ethics would oblige him to refuse to answer. What then? Would the Liberal senators vote to throw the editor-in-chief of The Australian into jail?
  • If the senators baulked at jailing Mitchell, how could they require other witnesses to answer?
  • On top of that, could Turnbull rein in his more rabid senators – especially as they're from the hard right and don't want him as Opposition Leader anyway. It may be okay to call the Secretary of the Treasury, Dr Ken Henry, a liar. But to do it to the editor-in-chief of The Australian? Unthinkable.

Turnbull was lucky the Green senators refused to support an inquiry. When ABC radio's AM show reported their decision, it said the Greens had thrown Rudd a lifetime. But when you think about it, it must be Turnbull who was glad to receive the lifeline.

At this time, Turnbull seems to be ready to further dissociate himself from John Howard. I've already noted his repudiating Howard's criticism of Barack Obama.

Journalist and political commentator Christian Kerr wrote in The Australian on Friday that "this week Malcolm Turnbull irrevocably started to remake the Liberal Party in his own image."

Turnbull is thinking the same way [as Obama], Kerr wrote. Kerr quoted Turnbull's words and made a telling comment:

"There is no person who can look into the mirror and say 'That is an Australian face' or 'That is an American face'. The United States is a nation of choice, a nation of immigration – just as our nation is. It is in diversity that we find our strength."

You couldn't get much further from John Howard and the white picket fence.

Curiouser and curiouser. This note has been added to GOJ after reading the second editorial in The Weekend Australian , "Digging Up Old News", and subtitled "Media obsession with a mythical dinner party is peculiar".

First, your grumpy old blogger must acknowledge Chris Mitchell's insistence – one assumes he wrote or guided the editorial – that the Kirribilli guests were not at a dinner party. Kevin Rudd was entertaining guests (including Mitchell) in the lounge room, and Rudd was still in the dinner suit he had worn to a business dinner in the city. So we'll get that correction out of the way.

Beyond that, the editorial has one puzzling sub-text overlaid on another and then over another and another. If anyone can understand what it all means, please post a comment to GOJ.

Perhaps it explains Rudd's "affection" for The Australian, like, thanks for not dobbing me in.

In any event, did Chris Mitchell believe the conversation at Kirribilli House came under the Chatham House rule? As the Chatham House website explains (insisting there is only one rule, not rules as commonly written):

When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

It's an interesting speculation. When Rudd joined his guests in the lounge room after talking with Bush, did he say Bush had asked "what's that" about the G20? Was it a serious comment (which would confirm most people's belief that the current Leader of the Free World is a simpleton). Or was the comment just some light-hearted banter?

And did Mitchell arrange to steer the story's author, chief political correspondent Matthew Franklin, in the right direction, making sure his newspaper got a great story while he complied with the Chatham House Rule?

Another note, added after reading commentary by political editor Dennis Shanahan in the Weekend Australian's Inquirer section. As Shanahan wrote:

. . . reporting on a political story that involves your boss, your colleague, the Prime Minister, the US President, the press gallery, the Opposition Leader, the Senate and the Australian Federal
Police can be a daunting task . . .

Undaunted, however, Shanahan presses on to deliver his trademark blend of well-informed conservative sources and visceral disdain for non-conservative views.

Rudd has said, and the White House backed him up, that Bush did not make the comment. One assumes that Mitchell, who was present but is not commenting, believes Rudd did make the comment to the guests in his lounge room. If everyone involved is to be trusted, it means Bush did not make the "what's that" comment, and Rudd spoke in jest.

It's all been a great circus act, but like all entertaining acts, there comes a time to wind it up.

Wednesday, November 12

Fairfax shows how to accelerate the decline of a great newspaper

I'm glad I went back to read Michael Duffy's piece more carefully. I'd been at risk of launching an intemperate attack on the “right-wing Philip Adams”.

Last Saturday when Merry came back with only half the Sydney Morning Herald, and said the newsagent told her Fairfax had failed to deliver the second section to the Central Coast, it was almost a relief. There's too much to read already. But we had paid full price despite not receiving the Spectrum and Good Weekend liftouts.

Could we blame Fairfax's current “business improvement program,” ie, slashing staff numbers? Along with such encumbrances to profitability as sub-editors and customer service staff, had the company also pushed distribution supervisers – the guys who knew which bundles went on which trucks – into accepting redundancy?

Yesterday, I was grumbling about it at the No 1 ladies book club (I'm the only bloke), when I found the others were also cranky with the SMH.

Fairfax had also failed to include a Writers Festival insert distributed to Sydney readers. Signs in newsagents' windows showed this was a Fairfax decision, not an accidental blunder.

Perhaps those Fairfax chiefs on multi-million-dollar remuneration know better, but it seems a strange way to push a daily newspaper in a competitive market.

Right now, I have The Australian home delivered, six times Monday to Saturday, for just $4.95 a week. It began when a call centre rang to offer the promotional deal on the Daily Telegraph. Well, no, I haven't felt the need to read the Terror since I retired from it – what about The Australian? No problem. So I signed up for the promotional offer, and when that ended, for a long-term subscription at the same price.

Oh dear! I was going to talk about Michael Duffy, wasn't I? That's because what I did get of the SMH on Saturday included his attack on global warming theories, but yesterday when I clicked on the website of a leading authority he quoted, I found he'd misquoted it significantly. Perhaps I'll make that the next post.

In Crikey today, contributor "Broadway Betty" suggests shareholders at tomorrow's AGM in Melbourne ask directors: "Was an executive share retention scheme – in addition to cash bonuses and salary increases – secretly announced at the end of 2007?" If "Broadway Betty" is a journo, perhaps she should put her hand up for that redundancy offer. Unless, that is, she can explain how one secretly announces something.

Tuesday, November 11

There's always one more road to ride

A few days ago, I travelled a road so exhilarating for a motor cyclist and so stunning in its scenery, I just have to tell you about it.

I'd ridden to Muswellbrook to meet up with one of my sons, Matthew, who's working on a contract at the Bengalla mine. With all the mining, Muswellbrook is a boom town and I was glad he found me a $35 room in the Valley Hotel.

Muswellbrook is one of our most attractive towns, but as with so many others, the main street is full of empty shops – Coles has opened on the outskirts. Locals told me there's worse to come, with Woolworths planning to relocate from the heart of town to a new centre.

Mining boom towns aren't what they used to be. From about six o'clock, the guys started to arrive, still in work-stained orange visibility jackets. A few beers, a meal and a chat with friends, and they drift away.

Many work twelve-hour shifts, and they may be tested for drugs and alcohol as they clock on in the morning. By 8.30 pm, the Muswellbrook pubs are dead.

Next morning, I look for a longer way home – but not too much longer, and there mustn't be too much dirt. That rules out the great scenery on the Scone-Moonan Flat-Gloucester road across the Barringtons.

Then I remember the road I once took from Gresford to Singleton, years ago when Merry's back still allowed her to ride pillion. Once again, but in the reverse direction, it delivers an enjoyable ride. I throttle back into Gresford, past a general store which looks a good place for coffee, then over the hill to the twin village of East Gresford.

These are a lovely little townships, but they're quiet these days. Once a row of shops served timber workers, dairy farmers, and their families, and at one time construction workers from the Lostock Dam. Today the twin villages slumber in bucolic bliss.

I ride right past the East Gresford pub and head north up the Allyn River. But rather than face all that dirt road (I seem to remember fords, too), with a steep climb over the Williams Range, I turn right a few clicks out of East Gresford on a road signposted to Dungog. The map says it's the Bingleburra Road.

Wow! This is one magic road!

If you're a young fella wanting to punt the Ducati around sweeping curves and tightening zig-zags, this is the road for you. Even if you're a poseur astride a two-wheeled American agricultural machine, you should enjoy it.

Me? Back when I was a young fella, I admired the scenery too much as I skirted Canning Dam near Perth. It took me an hour to get the little BSA back on the tarmac. These days, I choose between doing the boy racer bit or slowing down to take in the scenery. Accept my recommendation. Take in the scenery. From this road, it's fantastic.

Sunday, November 9

Reflections on the death penalty

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. – H.L Mencken (US editor and essayist, 1880-1956)

So firing squads have ended the lives of the three Bali murderers.

Why am I not more depressed? Why do I feel so little dismay at their execution? Why am I now disturbed by the thought I may betray beliefs I have held since my teenage years?

The quote which leads this post is not strictly apposite to judicial execution. But its basic premise, that we must not suspend our moral beliefs when the cause becomes unpalatable, is relevant. (I had, in fact, stashed away Mencken's quote in case I ever felt the need to discuss again that despicable turd, David Hicks.)

I'd assumed the fight against the death penalty had long been won in civilised societies like Australia.

But a bit over a year ago, I was at the monthly meeting of a club for retired business and professional men. Our speaker was a retired police inspector, and when he said he still believed in the death penalty, a murmur of assent went around the room. Out there, support for the death penalty remains, although it's hard to assess how strong it is.

But even lifelong opponents of the death penalty may be having trouble arguing against the execution of the Bali murderers. They killed 202 people and maimed hundreds more (and it's understandable that Australians should feel strongly, because 88 of the dead and many of the mutilated were Australians).

The only regret the murderers expressed was that a few Muslims had died in the blasts. The images often showed them smiling, even gloating.

One can make many rational, practical arguments against judicially imposed death penalties. Very occasionally our juries and judges will convict an innocent man – and it's hard to make amends once you've hanged him.

When I was a young journalist on The West Australian, a serial killer terrorised Perth. Eric Edgar Cooke began his crimes in 1958 and continued until police caught him in 1963.

He confessed to more than 200 thefts, five hit-and-run offences against young women, five more attacks on women asleep in their beds. In all, he attacked 22 people and killed eight.

But in his confession, he claimed he'd committed two murders for which other men had been convicted. I remember we used to giggle at how convenient it was – the police wiped several hundred unsolved crimes off their books as they accepted all of his confession. All, that is, except for the two murders where they'd already put men away.

But it really was nothing to laugh about. A deaf-mute man, Daryl Beamish, was already serving a 15-year sentence for the 1959 murder of Jillian Brewer, and John Button was serving five years for the manslaughter of his girlfriend Rosemary Anderson.

Attempts to have their convictions overturned were not helped on October 26, 1964, when the hangman killed a key witness – Eric Edgar Cooke, the last man to be executed in Fremantle Prison.

Beamish served his 15 years, but in 2005 the conviction was quashed after evidence indicated Cooke probably was the killer. Thank God he hadn't been hanged. Similarly, Button's conviction was quashed in 2002.

The WA police and judiciary can take no credit for reversing this gross miscarriage of justice – it was almost solely the work of a Perth journalist, Estelle Blackburn, who was later honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia and a Walkley Award.

Indeed, as some recent cases have demonstrated, Western Australia appears to be one of the few jurisdictions in which it is still considered acceptable for a crown prosecutor to fail to reveal evidence which may be favorable to the accused.

There are other rational arguments. Here are some: The death penalty doesn't deter crime. The executioners are likely to become brutalised or suffer trauma. If it's vengeance (rather than justifiable punishment), putting men to death must diminish us all.

And the claim that established execution methods – hanging, firing squad, pistol bullet into the brain, lethal injection or gassing, electric shock, guillotine – are quick and relatively painless is, at best, dubious.

Also, if we welcome the Bali murderers' executions, we put ourselves in a weak position to argue against death penalties against Australian drug mules in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia.

But the issue goes beyond rational argument about the pros and cons of capital punishment. It is, fundamentally, a moral issue. So, as we contemplate our responses to the Bali murderers' executions, it's hard to avoid examining how we form our moral beliefs. Do we have the right to kill, or to endorse the killing, of men in cold blood, even with due judicial process?

For the past few days, I've been out on the motor cycle, touring wonderfully scenic country and finding new roads (I'll tell you about them later). But when I've picked up a paper in a cafe or watched TV news above the bar, I've had to confront my responses to the then-impending executions.

Yesterday morning, I opened The Weekend Australian and noted on Page 4 a longish comment piece by journalist Paul Toohey in which he agonises over the same questions. I empathise with him, although I feel he has trouble isolating the core issue – do we have the moral right to kill criminals in cold blood?

Toohey is a fine journalist, and his perceptive reports have given The Australian's readers a better understanding of issues involving the Federal Government intervention in Northern Territory indigenous communities. But at one stage, he appears to argue that because he cannot stand the sight of blood, and would not be able to pull the trigger or the trapdoor lever himself, the death penalty is wrong.

I think I'm made of sterner stuff. If my conscience persuaded me that a man should die for his crimes, and if absolutely no-one else could be found to do the deed, I could commit the execution. I oppose the death penalty not because I'm squeamish, but because I believe it's morally wrong.

How do we form our moral beliefs? Do we soak up the attitudes of fellow lefties, or on the other side, of conservatives sipping gin and tonics in a gentlemen's club (which may be where some judges reinforce their attitudes)?

Do we pray for guidance in understanding God's will? It doesn't seem to help much. The Christian community ranges from the supporters of departing US President George W. Bush, a devout believer who signed off on many executions as Governor of Texas, to those Christians who have devoted their lives to the abolition of capital punishment.

Perhaps, too, we should remind ourselves: The Bali murderers also believed they were carrying out God's will.

Notes: The crimes of Eric Edgar Cooke form a central element of Robert Drewe's book, The Shark Net, and the case is described well in this Wikipedia article.

Paul Toohey's comment can be read here.

Since this post first went up, the Australian Government, with the support of the Opposition, has announced it will step up an international campaign to abolish capital punishment. Here's the ABC report.

Monday, November 3

Well, what would you expect? Murdoch papers praise Murdoch.

You will not be surprised to learn that Rupert Murdoch's initial ABC Boyer Lecture received a good run in The Australian and its sister paper, The Daily Telegraph, and in all the other capital city daily newspapers in the Murdoch empire.

The Oz had a short writeoff on Page One, a longer piece, Challenges Ahead for Australia, on P2, and the full text in the Media section. Photos showed Australia's business and cultural elites mingling at the Opera House where they turned out to hear the speech. The Terror ran him on most of P2 and the full text further in.

Nor will you be surprised that the Oz's lead editorial, headed “Frontier spirit in an age of freedom,” carried a sub-heading, “Boyer lecture was rich in insights born of experience.”

But what may surprise you is that your grumpy, left-leaning old blogger, a former long-time hack in the Evil Empire, found himself nodding agreement much of the time as Murdoch explained the themes he will develop in the six lectures.

Murdoch agreed that many Australians would question his right, as a man who became a US citizen in 1985, to judge the country, but said: “The main reason I agreed to come to Australia to deliver these lectures is that the country I see before me simply is not prepared for the challenges ahead.”

Many people remain suspicious of Murdoch. They cannot forgive his chumming up to Margaret Thatcher and the brutal move of his London newspapers to Wapping, his support for right-wing politicians and causes in the US, his failure to speak up for human rights in China. They see bias in his newspapers, and in his giving too much space to hard-right conservative commentators like Janet, Piers and Andrew.

There is some truth in all that, but not as much as most lefties contend. And I believe Murdoch has moved to what I shall call, for the want of a better term, the conservative left.

He remains a supporter of those values which conservatives hold dear – a stable society, free markets, the rule of law, property rights, individual responsibility, and offering public welfare money only to those in need.

But he departs from the conservative right – what I call the group-think of the Quadrant mob – in ways we lefties should applaud. He praises Australia's open, democratic and multi-racial society, supports reconciliation with our indigenous people, and advocates liberal immigration policies.

He pleads for reform of a “19th century education system” that leaves too many children behind, a system which “effectively writes off whole segments of Australians”, quoting both the social injustice it perpetuates and also the damage it does to Australia's ability to meet the challenges of the future.

Although he doesn't accept the wilder claims of many greenies – who could? – he does accept the probability of man-made climate change, and supports action now. He has instructed his own business empire to improve its environmental impacts.

As Murdoch clarifies his thoughts and expands on these themes for the Boyer lectures, he seems likely to distance himself further from Australia's hidebound conservatives. However, we can hope that because of who he is, as well as the persuasiveness of his arguments, he manages to take some of them at least some of the way with him.

Is it too much to hope that at least some of our lefties will put aside their prejudices, give him a hearing, and make up their own minds?

Alas, sub-editors can't hide their mistakes

newspaper heading shows spelling error

Perhaps it's unwise to highlight the mishaps of other journalists, as Amanda Meade does in Talking Turkeys, a centrepiece of The Diary which she writes in The Australian's weekly Media section.

Today, they included “the wife of a 1980s corporate radar” to describe Janet Holmes a Court (from The West Australian's Weekend Magazine) and “not adverse to taking on political leaders” (The Age's Business Day).

Still, Ms Meade does have a reputation for reporting without fear or favour, even about her own newspaper – I seem to recall her being sidelined some years ago when she failed to carry out an instruction to remove an unfavourable reference to her employer – so no doubt Talking Turkeys next week will include the headline above, taken from the front page of The Oz's Business section this morning.

As News Limited's Style Book (the one I took with me when I retired five years ago) says:

Pass: The past tense of the verb to pass is passed, not past.”

My red pen also hovered above “bogy”, but the Style Book rules – correctly, according to the Macquarie – it's “bogy” for the ghost, “bogie” for an undercarriage, and “bogey” in golf. And, if you're interested, it's Colonel Bogey.
newspaper clipping shows misspelling of bogey

So the heading uses the correct spelling. Pity about the text, though.

To be honest, I don't get much of a laugh out of other journalists' errors. I've made too many myself.

Talking Turkeys works much better when it highlights the stilted or pretentious drivel which sometimes pops up in our media – or in the gushy handouts of public relations spruikers. That's the type of content which drives Pseuds Corner in British satirical magazine Private Eye, which may have inspired Talking Turkeys.