Webdiary - Independent, Ethical, Accountable and Transparent
header_02 home about login header_06
sidebar-top content-top

Olle Lecture 2006 – shameful crawling by the ABC or Ministerial nakedness exposed?

Tony Phillips is a regular Webdiarist. His last piece was Victorian State Election – An overview

by Tony Phillips

What the hell is happening to the ABC? Ten years of Liberal government of course. And was last Friday another step along the ABC’s road to compliance with the Tory worldview?

The Andrew Olle Media Lecture was held in Sydney last Friday, the 17th November. The lecture is held annually in honour of an extremely capable and much loved ABC broadcaster who died too young. Previous speakers have not all been journalists but they have been people of the media, and more often than not people who have written and produced at a high level. And if not writers or broadcasters themselves they have had intimate connections with the media craft. Their talks have honoured Olle. They have used the national stage the lecture offers to make a worthwhile contribution to public debate about issues concerning the media.

Previous speakers have included: John Doyle, Chris Anderson, Harold Mitchell, Lachlan Murdoch, Kerry Stokes, Eric Beecher, Steve Vizard (ouch), John Alexander, Jana Wendt and David Williamson. A relatively balanced bunch politically one would have thought. Indeed leaning a little to conservative, but then so was Olle.

This year’s speaker was the Minister for Communications, Helen Coonan. This was change of magnitude in the tradition. It looked a lot like groveling, it looked a lot like buckling, and the choice did no honour to Olle or the ABC. Have we now reached some sort of North Korean, Soviet Union, Latin America under the generals, point? One where it’s fine for an apparatchik to deliver such a lecture purely on the basis that she happens to be the Minister, ie the boss? Coonan’s background in letters appears to be no more than that she was in fact appointed Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts in 2004. However perhaps she would surprise us, and no, she didn’t.

It wasn’t entirely clear whether the paper was written by a staffer or Coonan had a substantial input, but either way the result was a poor farrago of little intellectual merit. She took as her theme digital migration and proceeded to wax not very lyrical about the nature of the wired world. In fact her speech was an example of the very worst illusions of knowledge such a world can produce, since it appeared to be little more than cut and pasted anecdotes (mostly of the optimistic, gee whiz variety) found through a google search of keywords. These were apparently supplemented with some access to on-line press cuttings.

Most distressingly she offered zero intellectual reflection. The actual implications of the new media being rapidly assimilated by the old media with its billions to spend was not dwelt on. This was a strange, but also an obvious, omission. Obvious when one considers that the new media laws passed under her name encourage consolidation and monopoly in the media, all the while hiding behind the fig-leaf that the new technology alone will guarantee competition and diversity. The fig-leaf was waved around again in the lecture but it conveyed no conviction, rather, still remaining just that, an inadequate and insubstantial cover for the ongoing favours to vested interests that make-up current media policy.

There was also no mention whatsoever of what the new Australian laws about to be passed - those criminalizing music and video copying: the most draconian in the world possibly - are there for. And of course her references to broadband and the new economy were laughable when it is her government’s policies that have crippled the industry. Indeed the Minister spoke not of policy at all, and yet there was absolutely no other reason for her being asked to give the lecture.

Basically she delivered what might be expected, lots of spin and gesture signifying nothing. But this might be because she appears to make few important decisions on media policy on her own. Coonan can be perceived as merely a front person for those senior figures who actually make the government policy on media. On Friday she certainly looked wooden enough to be no more than a puppet.

But regardless of what she said the whole thing was completely inappropriate. The bunch of luminaries at the lecture, and the national audience, were expected to go along with the charade that this was a fitting choice of person to give the lecture. They were supposed to look on dutifully, pretending to pay attention as if this was someone worth listening to. Wouldn’t want to embarrass Andrew’s memory you see. Yet the best assessment of the lecture came at the end, when the camera cut to the audience barely managing a dutiful clap, looking in turn embarrassed and half asleep.

However, maybe I’m reading the choice of Coonan all wrong. Maybe it was a clever dissident signal being sent by those deep in the ABC. Like dissidents under communism - the stifling cloak of conformity cannot be breached so it must be subverted. You want a compliant ABC, let’s show everyone just how super compliant it can be. Let the right wing loyalists of the Liberals swan about in tuxes, preening themselves, oblivious to the raucous laughter of those in the know. In the end when you can no longer convey truths the next best choice is to make it clear you are lying. Is this a future for the ABC? We’re lying but we’ll let those with eyes to see, and ears to hear, know that we are.

Link to the actual speech

[ category: ]

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

old trail

So, this thread is obviously "old" now.  But the mere sight of her name makes me want to vomit. As time goes by, the dismemberment of the ABC, particulalry to end independent coverage of politics and culture becomes more and more sad. To me, she is a virtual harlot, doing what she does for money without ever a thought as to the harm she does to people around her, or our society.

I would love to se the back of her and the garbage apparachiks passed off as executives and board members, at  ABC and  SBS. This is as well as the likes of useless Fioravanti Wells, and Miranda Devine and Piers Ackermann in the wider press and media- they are gudgeons and useless as hip pockets on singlets, when a society is fighting to keep its identity.


Making it clear when you're lying... how long till even this level of action is eliminated?

I feel sorry for the ABC, but I'm sure that the commercial networks do not.  Watching Aunty's knickers twist must be a delight for those awaiting the increased ratings that will ensue when those who valued integrity leave in droves.  Unfortunately half of those people (you'd hope) wouldn't have the slightest inclination to respect what passes for journalism on most commercial television.

As an example of possible assistance, here's a Christmas bonbon scene from Nine's The Late Shift :  

Little Bobby goes first "Why didn't the Coalition find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Because the invasion was based on a tissue of lies so that the US could get Iraq's resources"   Everyone murmurs politely then Aunty Beryl reads out "What's the difference between George Bush and Nelson Mandela? George Bush is an arsehole"

Quizzical looks go around the table, then Uncle Fred reads "What do you get when you cross a weasel with a rodent? John Howard." Dad now says to Mum "Where exactly did you buy the crackers?" to which Mum replies

"ABC shop."            (rough paraphrase)

 As soon as I saw this I knew The Glass House was a goner.  I wonder what less obvious help the knackerers of ABC have been receiving?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
© 2005-2011, Webdiary Pty Ltd
Disclaimer: This site is home to many debates, and the views expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the site editors.
Contributors submit comments on their own responsibility: if you believe that a comment is incorrect or offensive in any way,
please submit a comment to that effect and we will make corrections or deletions as necessary.
Margo Kingston Photo © Elaine Campaner

Recent Comments

David Roffey: {whimper} in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 1 day ago
Jenny Hume: So long mate in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 2 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Reds (under beds?) in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 4 days ago
Justin Obodie: Why not, with a bang? in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 4 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Dear Albatross in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 4 days ago
Michael Talbot-Wilson: Good luck in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 4 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Goodnight and good luck in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 5 days ago
Margo Kingston: bye, babe in Not with a bang ... 15 weeks 2 days ago