2UE’s fill-in breakfast hosts Stuart Bocking and Tracy Spicer put together an excellent piece  yesterday morning on how the New South Wales Government seems to be more concerned with feeding neat lines to the media than actually answering questions and addressing concerns.
It all came about following a Daily Telegraph report which claimed that the New South Wales Police’s traffic and speed monitoring plane  had not been used once over the Christmas/New Year period despite assurances that it would be used. (As an aside, the information about the plane was pretty sketchy back before Christmas/New Year, with initial statements from the government and police indicating that it could be used anywhere and everywhere and later police statements amending that to just a couple highways near Sydney).
Stuart and Tracey had New South Wales Police’s Traffic Services Commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley on the show and asked him about the Daily Telegraph’s report.
John Hartley: It’s been up three times out of nine we could have used it and, look this bad weather is one with only a light plane we don’t want to send it up where it is dangerous or could endanger the pilot or the observer’s life. So we’ve only used it on three days out of the nine we could have.
A very direct answer which shows that the plane has actually been used, contrary to the Daily Telegraph report, and also shows that the police would have liked to use it more often.
You can imagine then, just how surprised Robert Spicer in 2UE’s Newsroom was when he asked the Police Minister, Michael Daley, the same question and didn’t get an answer, but instead was treated to an episode of Daley’s Daily Phrase.
Robert Spicer: How many times has it been in the air?
Michael Daley: Well we don’t give details about that. You understand that it has a deterrent factor even when it’s not in the air because you never know when and you never know where the plane might appear.
Robert Spicer: Yeah that sounds really good minister. Forgive me, but, I mean, the question really stands. How many times has the plane been in the air? You say the Telegraph is wrong, it has flown…how many times has it flown?
Michael Daley: I’ve just answered that question.
Robert Spicer: I don’t understand why you won’t say it’s been up once, twice or three times. I mean your Traffic Services Commander has just told Tracey and Stuart that he thinks it’s been up three times. Why is it a secret from your point of view?
Michael Daley: It’s not a secret. What we’d like to do is to say to drivers that you never know where and you never know where…that you never know when and you never know where that plane might be operating, so we’d prefer not to give details about when and where it’s operating. It’s as simple as that.
Robert Spicer: I appreciate that, I’m not asking you when it’s going to operate, I’m asking you in response to what you were saying about the Telegraph article…how many times has it operated? Not is it operating, but how many times has it operated?
Michael Daley: I’ve just answered that question for you twice.
Robert Spicer: I can understand you not wanting to say when it’s in the air in the future, I have no problem with that, but I fail to understand why you don’t want to say how many times it’s been up.
Michael Daley: Because that’s an operational decision that was made.
So effectively Michael Daley just wants to say that the Daily Telegraph is wrong and “you never know when and you never know where” etc etc etc, without providing any sort of information which might make his claims seem credible.
As Tracey commented a few moments later:
I can just imagine the media meeting they had in Michael Daley’s office this morning with all his media advisors coming up with this key message “you never know where and you never know when” and patting each other on the back and saying “yeah that’ll get it through, we won’t have to say how many times”
I don’t know whether the New South Wales Government are doing this so that they can employ a whole lot of media advisors making up nonsense, whether they’re trying to make the media give up on asking them about anything they don’t feel like talking about, or a combination of both. Regardless, it’s ridiculous. It’s also typical of a government which is so bad at delivering anything useful, that they have become quite expert in producing a vapid smoke screen of hot air which they delusionally think people can’t see through.
I think Stuart summed up the futility of it quite nicely by applying Michael Daley’s interview logic to Michael Daley’s personal life.
You could meet him somewhere and say “look, I forgot your name, what was it again?” “I’ve already answered that”
Brilliant work Stuart, Tracey and Robert in exposing what I think we all already know, but need to be reminded of so that we don’t become desensitised to it.