Posts filed under 'Editorial Echoes'

Editorial Echoes: 4 April 2009: Consumerism and Easter don’t mix

Consumerism is invading Easter, but as Samuel explains, the two don’t mix, and more respect needs to be paid to this important holiday.

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You are more than welcome to respond to anything you hear on the show by sending an email to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Emails may be read and responded to on a future episode.

The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking on a link which should be sitting here, but isn’t because Editorial Echoes is still missing from the iTunes Store. I’ve submitted it again, hopefully it gets added back in this time.

The script follows.

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

Has the consumerism of Easter gone too far? The same question is asked of Christmas every year, but after seeing an ad on television last night, I have to wonder if the majority of the general public even know what Easter is about any more.

The ad in question was for a local golf shop. I won’t dignify them by naming them, but they are a reasonably well known store. The ad starts with a golfer hitting a golf ball, a fairly innocuous start. The golfer then sees somebody, or to be more precise, something, on the course in the distance and calls out “fore!”.

The golf ball then hits the distant thing, which is now identifiable as a large furry rabbit carrying a sack, the rabbit falls over, and the sack flies open, causing a heap of Easter Eggs to fly out, and cause a rather large mess.

Needless to say, the ad is for this golf shop’s Easter sale.

Now, I can understand the advertisements for Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns, these things have become a part of the Easter culture in our society, and it is quite normal to see ads for them (although a number of us do get annoyed when supermarkets start flogging Easter Eggs on Boxing Day), however this advertisement, to my mind, is one step too far.

Easter, for those of you who have forgotten, is a Christian celebration of the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is marked by a series of Public Holidays, and is generally treated with some dignity, even by those who are not Christian. It differs from Christmas in that consumerism seems to fit in with Christmas due to the notion of giving presents to each other as a celebration of Christ’s birth, but it does not fit in with Easter where gift giving just isn’t appropriate.

Perhaps it’s the economic crisis that’s too blame. Perhaps a population with less disposable income has caused a sharp decline in the sale of golf clubs. If so, why not advertise a “stimulus payment sale” in an effort to get a slice of the $900 payments which start flowing on Monday. That would be more dignified and respectful than an Easter sale, surely.

Then again, perhaps I’m just being outmoded here. After all, the retail association want a relaxation of the Easter trading restrictions which apply in most states, although not in the ACT I might add. In New South Wales retailers want trading to be permitted on Easter Sunday and the TAB has decided to open on Good Friday.

Perhaps in this increasingly secular society we shouldn’t have public holidays to mark events on the Christian calendar. Or perhaps, as I’m inclined to believe, we should remember the heritage of our society and treat such holidays with the respect they deserve.

Nobody is going to force non-Christians to conform to a Christian lifestyle, but it would be fair to say that non-Christians look forward to the Easter long weekend just as much as Christians do, even if for different reasons, and as such, should at the very least remember why they have the holiday, and have a little respect for the reasons.

A little respect in exchange for a few days off is a very reasonable bargain in my books, and I can guarantee you that I will not be spending any of my $900 stimulus payment in that golf shop, be it on the Easter weekend, or at any other time.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart on Editorial Echoes. If you would like to respond to today’s episode, please send me an email, echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Until next time, tada.

April 4th, 2009 at 06:39am

Editorial Echoes: 31 July 2008: Will Starbucks Ever Learn?

I apologise for the delay in getting this online, it was recorded just before midday, but people with too much to do and a body clock which is stuck in a timezone eight hours ahead of the local timezone tend to need to sleep at odd hours.

Starbucks are closing nearly three quarters of their Australian operation, and yet Starbucks management don’t seem to have noticed an underlying problem as Samuel explains.

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You are more than welcome to respond to anything you hear on the show by sending an email to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Emails may be read and responded to on a future episode.

The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking on a link which should be sitting here, but isn’t because Editorial Echoes currently seems to be missing from the iTunes Store and doesn’t want to add itself back in…”I’m working on it” he said as he mumbled incoherently at the iTunes Store.

The script follows.

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for Thursday the 31st of July 2008, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

A couple days ago, Starbucks Coffee decided to close almost three quarters of their stores in Australia. 61 of their 84 stores. Now, it’s no secret that the Starbucks company is in trouble, it’s not all that long ago that they decided to close a whopping 600 stores across the United States, and now another thousand non-store jobs in the US are going as well.

The standard line about the stores which are closing, both in the US and here, is that they are underperforming…got that, underperforming. But how can they be underperforming when the stores to be closed in Australia include Martin Place in Sydney, Queen Street and Collins Street in Melbourne as well as Melbourne Airport? These are places with an extraordinary amount of foot traffic…if a business which sells something popular (in this case a popular beverage) to anybody who walks in and plonks a few dollars on the counter can’t survive in places like the ones I mentioned, then surely it says something about the business itself.

Perhaps Red Symons summed it up in a broadcast on his 774 ABC Melbourne breakfast show when, in an effort to comply with ABC Editorial Policy by not mentioning the Starbucks name, he referred to them as:
[insert: Red Symons: “the coffee that none of us buy cause we’re all appalled by the fact that they have all these ridiculous flavours”]

OK, well there might be more to it than that, but it’s a start. Personally, I’m happy to be rid of Starbucks in Canberra. Their four stores, or “locations” as they would prefer to have us call them, Gungahlin, Brand Depot, Canberra Centre and City Walk, are all going, and not a moment too soon in my view.

The last time I entered a Starbucks was in April 2005 when a person I was meeting insisted on meeting there. The person was late, so I ordered a coffee and a slice of something, either a cake or an apple slice. I have personally made coffee with a teabag in it which tasted better than the coffee I endured there, and the food, well for something which was supposed to be sweet…let’s just say that the people who cook food for them either don’t eat their own cooking, or don’t have tastebuds.

In some places, I could probably have just written it off as a bad experience and let it be, but the prices in this place were extraordinary…you could be forgiven for thinking that a bank were running the place. It’s clear that the prices were a premium rate, but it obviously wasn’t due to the quality of their product, rather it was due to their brand name. It almost defies logic that anybody would repeatedly pay high prices for a product like that, but they did, but obviously in ever-dwindling numbers.

It reminds me slightly of the Yes Prime Minister episode where Sir Humphrey says that nobody in the general public knows how the missile defence system named “Trident” works, all that they know is that it costs fifteen billion pounds and therefore it must be wonderful. Perhaps Starbucks were running on the same premise…our coffee costs an exorbidant amount, therefore it must be wonderful…and perhaps regular customers deluded themselves into thinking that by being a regular customer, people would think of them (the customer that is) as wonderful too.

Clearly, as evidenced by the mass exodus of Starbucks stores, it’s a business model which just doesn’t work. It did for a while, but people aren’t stupid, and you can’t pull the wool over their eyes forever. Perhaps Starbucks have learnt their lesson and will reinvent themselves with a better product at a more reasonable price, or perhaps they still believe that they have a workable business model…unfortunately their website makes me believe that the latter is the case, as their plan to, quote “restructure [their] business in Australia through a geographical refocus on three core cities and surrounding areas” doesn’t sound like a business which has learnt anything to me.

The one thing which I find myself hoping comes out of this is a bunch of good staff finding employment elsewhere. At the very least Starbucks have vowed to pay out the full entitlements of their staff, and I have to say that the staff were the only good thing about my visit to Starbucks. The hospitality industry is always looking for more staff, and it looks like a whole heap of good, friendly, enthusiastic staff have hit the job market.

To them, I wish the best of luck. To the people running the Starbucks company, I do hope that you learn to adapt quickly, because your new direction is just a small version of your old direction, and as they say, only a fool does the same thing twice and expects a different outcome.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart and this has been Editorial Echoes. If you would like to respond, please send me an email, echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Until next time, tada.

4 comments July 31st, 2008 at 07:58pm

Editorial Echoes 18/02/2008 – Kevin Rudd’s Dangerous Apology

Kevin Rudd’s apology to the aboriginal people of Australia is a dangerous and divisive statement according to Samuel.

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You are more than welcome to respond to anything you hear on the show by sending an email to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Emails may be read and responded to on a future episode.

The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking here.

The script follows.

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for February 18, 2008, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

Kevin Rudd said sorry to the stolen generation of aborigines last week, or at least, that was the original plan. If he had only done that, I probably would have understood, as that was one of the many platforms he used to win power, but he took it further…apologising to the stolen generation of aborigines obviously wasn’t enough for him, he had to go further and make somewhat of a blanket apology to the quote “Indigenous peoples of this land”, for what he described as quote “the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss”.

I do not, for one moment, understand how it is possible to apologise to aboriginal people for policies which may have affected them adversely, without apologising to everyone else for the same thing. I do not understand how a statement such as this can assist us towards, to quote Mr. Rudd again, “a future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners”.

It was a divisive statement which effectively said, “we’re sorry for whatever may have happened to aboriginal people, but when it comes to others, well never mind”. Has Mr. Rudd really forgotten about certain injustices which he was only too eager to point out prior to being elected…injustices such as the very shabby treatment of Cornelia Rau, the German citizen and permanent Australian resident who was wrongfully detained as an illegal immigrant for ten months…why is it that we can apologise for something a previous government may have done to aboriginal people, but not something a previous government may have done to a German woman?

And apart from that, if we focus on the parts of the apology which were focussed on the “stolen generation”, why did we only apologise to aboriginal people who were removed from their families, and not the white children who were also removed? Why is it that we are apologising for an act which, in some cases by their own admission, probably saved the lives of many removed children. So many of the “stolen” children were removed because of abuse, and if they had not been removed, they quite possibly would not have been alive last week to hear an apology.

Why is it that we can apologise for removing children decades ago for their own safety, and yet we can lambaste government agencies such as the New South Wales Department of Community Services for not removing children in this decade? That, surely is a double standard.

And now that we’ve had the apology, the compensation claims start appearing. Whilst the government remains adamant that the apology will not have any effect on the chances of successful compensation claims, there can be no denying that the apology, which, let’s be honest, doubles as an admission of wrongdoing by somebody at some stage, makes those who feel hard-done-by, feel like they have a better chance at being compensated. I’ll quite happily leave it up to the courts to decide the merits of each case, but it looks like they’ll be doing that sooner rather than later.

The government may believe that the apology doesn’t make compensation claims more likely to suceed, but they still seem to be absolutely obsessed with cutting expenditure…perhaps not to fund the compensation payouts, but almost certainly to help cover the costs of spending time in court battling with people they just apologised to. That’s a twist and a half.

I probably sound like I’m saying that no harm was ever done to anyone…well that’s not the case…there is one thing I would like to apologise to Australia’s aboriginal people for, and that’s the introduction of alcohol to their culture by my ancestors. In moderation alcohol can be a good thing, but they way it has been introduced in to some places, especially remote aboriginal communities, is a travesty. The excessive use of alcohol and other drugs, or things which can be used to the same effect such as petrol, is ruining those communities.

One of the greatest legacies of the Howard government is the Northern Territory intervention. It is an attempt to help put those communities back on track. If Kevin Rudd is serious about helping aboriginal communities, he will continue the intervention in the way it was intended.

I suppose, no matter how much I may view the apology as a waste of time, money and effort, and a dangerous double standard, the fact of the matter is that Kevin Rudd has said the words that many aboriginal people have been, rightly or wrongly, waiting to hear for many years…and as that is the case, it is time to move on. The apology is a two way street. There are too many aboriginal people who are eager to blame the government for anything and everything just because they may have known somebody who was stolen…the apology is hopefully the continuation of the government trying to assist aboriginal people, but you can’t help people who don’t want to be helped…if compensation is all they want, then they are beyond help. Accepting help and not blaming the government for every little problem they can think of are two very important parts of the aboriginal end of the bargain.

Kevin Rudd has held up his end by agreeing to say sorry, now it’s time for the other end to pick up the slack.

And before anybody starts jumping up and down about me claiming that all aboriginal people just want money from the government, I have known and worked with many aboriginal people, a lot are good hard working people who just want to get on with their lives, others have a very annoying victim mentality and seem to think that whatever problems they may have, even if they are self inflicted, are the government’s fault…it’s certainly not all of them, but it’s an awful lot of them. That is a problem, if they want help, they need to accept help, and blaming the government for everything and insisting on a handout is not the way forward…if anything it’s a plea for a verse or two of The Eagles’ song “Get Over It”.

I think another important part of the process of “moving on” is accepting that aboriginal and indigenous are not exclusive words. If you have been listening carefully, you will have noticed that I have been using the word “aboriginal” to describe the people Kevin Rudd apologised to. The reason for that is that I was born here, I therefore, am indigenous…I am not aboriginal though. The sooner this is realised by the government, the aboriginal community, and everyone else the better. There is no reason why an indigenous aboriginal person should have more rights to land than a non-aboriginal indigenous person.

Sadly the government are getting a bit carried away with the post-sorry hysteria and are planning to endorse a UN declaration about the rights of indigenous people, a declaration which treats “indigenous” as another word for “aboriginal”, and could take the native title debate to a whole new level.

It may seem all nice and wonderful to some if we can say that aboriginal people own the land and we should submit to whatever rules they impose on the use of that land…but that is discrimination against those of us who are not aboriginal. If, to take one of the more extreme possibilities, the Ngunnawal people get control over the area which I live in and decide that houses are banned, and I am forced to move as a result, will that be a fair outcome? Of course not, but if we continue down this path, it’s a sample of what is going to happen. It makes me long for the more simple arguments about who should pay for doctors and nurses.

Ultimately, I do not endorse Kevin Rudd’s apology. It was not made on my behalf. I think it smacked of double standards, and was a very divisive statement which did nothing to assist the nation move towards Mr. Rudd’s vision of a “a future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners”.

I strongly hope, although probably in vain, that it does not lead to more messy debates over compensation or land rights because that will affect everyone badly, whether it be through loss of access to land or through the government having less money for various services.

If things get messy, and I believe they will, perhaps then Kevin Rudd will understand why John Howard did not apologise, and instead just took action such as the Northern Territory intervention. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart and this has been Editorial Echoes. If you would like to respond, please send me an email, echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Until next time, tada.

4 comments February 18th, 2008 at 04:53am

Editorial Echoes 17/01/2007 – Whaling

Samuel’s back, and he has a look at the fuss over the whalers, their hostages, and whaling in general.

Update: Hmmph, every time I have tried to write something about the whaling this week, the circumstances have changed while I was writing. It’s happened again, the Customs boat has arrived…my sentiments about the usefulness of a Customs boat remain valid though. End Update

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The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking here.

The script follows.

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for January 17, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

Well, doesn’t time fly…it’s been nearly two months since we last did this, and quite a bit has happened since then. Of course there was a federal election and although I didn’t produce any episodes of Editorial Echoes after that, I made my position on the result quite clear on my blog.

There are two main reasons why I haven’t produced any episodes of Editorial Echoes for a while, one was that a lot of this podcast relates to politics and with a new government in power, it was only fair that I give them some time to settle before chastising them too heavily. The other was that I took a bit over a month off from blogging and podcasting at my usual rate. That break of sorts was good, and now I’m back.

And what a time to be back, we’ve got whalers and their hostages, we’ve got a sixteen year-old in Melbourne that I can’t name but you probably know who I mean and why I’m mentioning him, and then there’s a health announcement by the federal government on the weekend that didn’t get anywhere near enough press coverage, and an out-of-the-blue editorial by Tim Brunero on livenews.com.au about voluntary student unionism that I’m going to have to respond to.

There’s enough material here for a few episodes, and whilst I did say on my blog that there would only be one episode of Editorial Echoes this week…well we’ll just wait an see what happens.

So, the whalers. Japanese whalers once again make the headlines whaling in Australian waters, it happens every year, I’ve been following the stories for a few years now, and generally the story is the same. The Japanese insist on whaling, Australia says no, whaling happens anyway and an environmental group tries to stop them.

Same thing year in year out…what makes this occasion different though is a federal court ruling, stating that it is illegal to hunt whales in Australian waters. Two anti-whaling activists from the Sea Shepard boat, Steve Irwin, boarded the Japanese whaling vessel the Nishin Maru with a letter from the Captain of the Steve Irwin advising that the whaling activity is illegal. That’s where the fun and games started, and the legalities became very very blurry.

Depending on who you talk to, boarding the Nishin Maru with the intent of handing the vessel’s captain a letter and then leaving is an act which ranges from being completely legal, to being an act of piracy. I’m not going to pretend to know the answer to that, but I do believe there were some very odd decisions from both parties.

The Sea Shepard people would have known that boarding a Japanese whaling vessel would be seen as a hostile act, although the Japanese would have known that detaining the two activists would also be seen as hostile. Maybe that was the point, the Sea Shepard people probably boarded knowing that they would either give the Japanese whalers a letter which would be ignored, or they could claim to have had their crew taken hostage…either way it’s newsworthy and keeps the heat on the whalers. As for the whalers, detaining the activists was a way of showing that they really don’t care what anybody thinks of their activities…they aren’t messing around and will continue whaling.

Ultimately the situation is messy and we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. I doubt it will stop the whaling activity…if anything it will just inflame tensions on both sides.

The question I really have to ask though, is what are the federal government doing about whaling? Prior to the election, the federal Labor party made a fair bit of noise about how, unlike the Howard government, they were going to be tough on whaling…and yet, now the best they can do is send a Customs ship to the area…a Customs ship. Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to the government yet, but the whalers aren’t about to try and have a holiday in Tasmania, they don’t really have anything to declare at the airport, and they certainly aren’t going to behave simply because the drug sniffer dogs might be asked to check the crew’s quarters.

To top it off, the Customs boat is AWOL. Nobody seems to know where it is. Customs might be good at dealing with rickety little Indonesian fishing boats, but the Nishin Maru is neither little nor rickety. If the federal government were serious about getting the Japanese whalers out of our waters, they would send the navy down there to deal with them. Try to escort them out of our territory, and if they refuse, sink them.

That kind of action is about the only thing that is going to send home the message that the international community condemns whaling. Anything else is just a waste of effort.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter. echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com is the email address.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart and this has been Editorial Echoes. Until we talk again, tada.

3 comments January 17th, 2008 at 03:13pm

Editorial Echoes 23/11/2007 – The Electoral Advertising Blackout

A couple emails from listeners to start the show off, and then Samuel explains why the electoral advertising blackout should be a blanket ban, not just for broadcast media.

Tomorrow: Poll analysis and predictions

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You are more than welcome to respond to anything you hear on the show by sending an email to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Emails may be read and responded to on a future episode.

The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking here.

As this episode is an interview and therefore not scripted, the transcript follows.

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for November 23, 2007, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

A couple emails to start us off today.

Josie writes, “Another smear campaign in the Liberal party, surely enough is enough”. Well Josie, if it’s enough to turn you against the coalition, then so be it, but in my view the pamphlet farce has been appropirately dealt with. Three people have been expelled from the Liberal party over the juvenile smear campaign, and I don’t believe the Liberal MP who is the wife of one of the people behind the pamphlets deserves to be punished for her husband’s actions…but that’s for her electorate to decide tomorrow, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she is a bit nervous.

Tom writes “I thought you said the journalist you were going to have on the show was on Four Corners last week. I didn’t spot James Goodwin on Four Corners.” Tom, I knew someone would say that. There were hundreds of Journalists on Four Corners last week, most of them in the background. James had a short spoken role, he was filmed on the Kevin Rudd media bus talking on a mobile phone to somebody, presumably reporting on the day’s events for 2GB. It was only a small spot, but I can assure you that he was there.

On to the editorial for the day and this political advertising blackout that started yesterday. But I got it wrong, I thought it was a real political advertising blackout…but it’s not, it’s only a blackout on the so-called licenced spectrum, the broadcasters, radio and television. Newspapers, the Internet and letterboxes can continue to be deluged by political ads, whilst the broadcasters miss out on three days of lucrative advertising dollars.

I think the advertising blackout is a great idea, it gives people the two days before the election, and the day of the election itself, to allow the dust to settle and decide for themselves without the vapid promises and noisy ranting of the advertising getting in the way. It’s a good chance to separate fact from fiction, but to limit it to only the broadcasters is utterly ridiculous.

Admittedly the broadcast ads are more intrusive as they just sort of pop in to your life and make annoying noises about why all the other candidates are horrible and nasty and awful, and the advertised candidate is wonderful, and almost without fail they are followed by three competing ads with the same content but the names in a slight different place. It may be harder to get rid of broadcast ads when they appear than it is to throw a pamphelt away or scribble over an ad in the newspaper, but they are still as annoying…and in the case of some Internet ads, even moreso, because you might be trying to read an online article and all of a sudden a politician starts dancing around your screen. It’s just downright annoying.

I support the advertising blackout, but it needs to be regulated properly. Quite simply, no political advertising should be allowed on the two days prior, and the day of, the election. Not on TV, radio, printed media, in your letterbox, on the Internet, sky writing, billboards or any other way they can think of. The two exceptions to this would have to be the how to vote cards, unless we ban them too, and the websites of the politicians. Those websites, technically at least, are advertising for electoral purposes, but they’re an important resource for policy information, and should not be banned.

Everything else is a mere annoyance in the days leading up to the election, it makes the analysis of the election more diffcult for voters, and should be banned.

Regardless of who gets in to power, if they are serious about the democratic process, they will make the advertising blackout a true blackout, by banning it from more than just the broadcasters.

This has been Editorial Echoes for November 23, 2007, as usual the email address is echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com for any feedback, and join me tomorrow for an analysis of the polls, who I think will win, where I will be turning for election coverage on the night, and if I decide to reveal it, who I will be voting for.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, enjoy your day, if you’re still unsure of your vote then please consider it very carefully, and I’ll talk to you again tomorrow. Until then, tada.

November 23rd, 2007 at 03:02pm

Editorial Echoes 22/11/2007 – Analysis from 2GB Political Correspondent, James Goodwin

Today Samuel discusses the election campaign with 2GB political correspondent James Goodwin. James, like many press gallery journalists, has spent the last five and a half weeks following the various political leaders around the country.

Samuel and James discuss the performance of the leaders, the likely outcome of the election, and how disruptive an election campaign is for a press gallery journalist.

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You are more than welcome to respond to anything you hear on the show by sending an email to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Emails may be read and responded to on a future episode.

The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking here.

As this episode is an interview and therefore not scripted, the transcript follows.

Samuel

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Welcome to Editorial Echoes for November 22, 2007. I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart and joining me from somewhere on the campaign trail is Radio 2GB, political correspondent James Goodwin. James, welcome to the program.

James Goodwin: Thank you.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Now you’re obviously very busy covering the campaign so I thank you for sparing a few minutes for us. Where have we found you today?

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Well today, I’m following Mr Rudd but we haven’t done any events, any campaigning just yet but yesterday, I was … I spent the day with John Howard. As we do on the campaign, we tend to alternate between the different leaders but yesterday, I was with Mr Howard in Sydney. He’s had quite a busy day. He’s certainly ramping up the campaigning in the final days of this campaign. He was in Sydney to start off with. He went to have a coffee with some workers just on George Street in the Sydney CBD. He spoke to the business owner. He sat down and had a cappuccino and then quite oddly decided that he’d walk back to his parliamentary office … back to his government offices.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Really?

James Goodwin: So he walked down along Pitt Street and up George Street, down Martin Place and then back to Phillip Street, down towards Circular Quay where the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices are. So it was one of those moments where only in Australia can the Prime Minister just go for a walk and much to the amazement of many of the workers along that they were just seeing … did a double take, who was that and he was quite friendly and shaking hands with people and chatting with people as he waited to cross the road. But then it was off to quite a formal speech where he laid out his key priorities for the first 100 days if he is elected to government. The economy, keeping unemployment low was his key priorities. That’s quite a dig at Mr Rudd who didn’t mention the economy in his first five priorities. I mean he was interviewed by a newspaper a couple of days ago.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: So I do have to ask the question. Did the Chaser team turn up for Mr Howard’s little walk?

James Goodwin: Certainly not yesterday. The Chaser has tried to turn up a number of times for the morning walks, the ones that Mr Howard does about 6:00/6:30 in the morning. Security was very tight yesterday and it’s been fairly tight throughout most of the campaign. The Chaser do try to make an appearance but they usually will have a bit of a go but they know their limits as well. If they see that security is particularly tight or if that the journalists … it’s a very serious issue for the day, they usually respect our job as well. So …

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: That’s good.

James Goodwin: … they know when to give up.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Okay, that’s good. So you’ve spent some time with both leaders. What’s your … what’s been your impression of the campaign so far? Do you think either leader or any of the leaders for that matter have done better than other ones in terms of presenting themself?

James Goodwin: I think early on in the campaigning, Mr Rudd was presenting himself to the public in a better light. He was just doing a lot more campaigning. It was very busy being with him. You were on a bus, you were on a plane, you were in a different motel every night and he’d do a number of events during the day. The Prime Minister in contrast would largely just do one event for the day and then an opportunity for the journalists to ask him questions, so that was certainly a difference. I think Mr Rudd did a lot of ground work early on and that may serve him quite well but the Prime Minister is certainly now decided to “up” his campaign momentum and he’s doing a number of events during the one day. So I think that’s where Mr Rudd got off to a good start by doing that, just getting out there and meeting a lot of people in a lot of different places and if we think back to it, there was another … (chuckle) that was quite a while ago now but the Prime Minister virtually spent the first week of the campaign still in Canberra. He did announce the good … a very large tax relief package. That went down well for the Prime Minister. It did take … it did perhaps sure up some votes with that sort of announcement but Mr Rudd has certainly been out there campaigning and meeting more people and that’s been what the difference has been between the two parties.

But they certainly just have different strong suits. Mr Howard has been campaigning on the economy and keeping unemployment low. The interest rate issue has been bubbling away and despite having another interest rate rise within the campaign, the first time that’s ever happened, he still maintains the line that interest rates would certainly be higher under a Labor Government and just being out on the road with people and listening to the people that they were meeting in shopping centres but certainly one of the main concerns for anyone that has a mortgage is they do fear whether they actually had a mortgage during the last government, they certainly fear having very high interest rates.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Right. So amongst the journalists and I suppose also amongst the public that you’ve seen, do you think there’s been a consensus as to who is going to win the election or who people will rather vote for?

James Goodwin: It’s still a little bit close to call and I know we’re only a couple of days out from the election but it is very close. I don’t quite believe that the polls are … as the opinion polls give … I believe that it’s still very tight. It’s not perhaps the 10% that we’re seeing in most of the opinion polls, that the gap will be much tighter than that, that people on election day may decide different things to what they’ve been thinking if they’ve been opinion polled. So I’m not sure, I can’t really speak on my colleagues’ behalf but there’s been a lot of discussion that possibly Mr Rudd will scrape over the line but possibly only by a couple of seats. He does have to win 16 seats. It will be difficult for him and it looks like Queensland will be one of those key states. Both of them just don’t spend a lot of time in Queensland. Mr Rudd, it’s his home state. He needs to pick up a number of seats and that will be one of the clenches for him if he’s going to win this election.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Okay. Just finally, obviously the campaign has seen you ferried all over the country. It’s probably been quite tiring for you. Are you looking forward to Sunday when it’s all over?

James Goodwin: Yeah but Sunday, it won’t be all over for me, particularly if Mr Rudd is elected. I’m sure he’ll be straight on the campaigning, getting into the mode of being the Prime Minister. So (chuckle) yes, I would like a day off. I’m up to day 40 something. I did get to go home one day of the campaign but that was the day of the debate, so I didn’t really spend much time there. It certainly wasn’t a day off. I am looking forward to having some time off but it’s been a lot of fun. Just not knowing, having this magical mystery tour is a lot of fun.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Yeah, I suppose a lot of people in the public probably don’t appreciate the amount of work that everyone in the press gallery does following all of the leaders around throughout the debate. It’s obviously a very big interruption to your life.

James Goodwin: It is. I’m sure there’s a lot of bills stacking up in my mailbox …

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: (Chuckle). I hope not.

James Goodwin: … and those sort of issues. Yeah, I hope not as well but yeah, all those sorts of factors and packing for six weeks is an interesting task and never knowing when you’re able to do a load of washing and those sorts of thing.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Yeah. Alright James, well thank you very much for your time. It’s been great talking to you.

James Goodwin: Thank you.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart: Thank you. James Goodwin, political correspondent for Radio 2GB, 873 on the Sydney AM dial and on the web at 2GB.com. This has been Editorial Echoes for November 22, 2007. As usual, the email address is echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com for any feedback. I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, enjoy your day and until tomorrow. Tada.

Transcript produced by Coralie Faulkner, Audio.net.au

November 22nd, 2007 at 01:16pm

Editorial Echoes 21/11/2007 – Smear Tactics

There are three things you can be sure of in life, death, taxes, and politicians using smear tactics. We saw it yesterday with the coalition accusing thirteen Labor candidates of being ineligible to stand for office. That backfired for them, but despite assurances, the smear tactics are here to stay.

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The script follows.

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for November 21, 2007, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

Well that’s typical of me isn’t it. I should know better than to say things like “there will be an episode of Editorial Echoes every morning”…I suppose I’ll just never learn.

Anyway, on with the show, and thirteen Labor candidates are ineligible to stand for parliament because they hadn’t resigned from government jobs before the nominations to stand for parliament closed. Or at least, that’s what the coalition were claiming yesterday.

The claims have fallen apart in spectacular style. Apart from being wrong, the claims were based on outdated and poorly researched information. The accused Labor candidates struck back very swiftly, calling the accusations “the act of a desperate party”, and “another reason to “vote the for the coalition last”.

The tactic was grubby, and at least one of the accused Labor candidates has announced that the Labor party will never stoop that low. As much as I might like to believe that, I just can’t…politics is a very grubby business, and if the tables were turned, Labor were miles behind in the polls and they managed to get their hands on some seemingly highly damaging information about the coalition, I believe they would use it without hesitation. I believe that almost any politician in that position would.

Don’t get me wrong, the accusations were very serious, and I would expect the coalition MP behind the accusations, Andrew Robb, to apologise. All I am trying to say is that desperation politics is a game both major parties are very good at, and whilst an apology is in order, you can be guaranteed we will see similar tactics over and over again in the years ahead.

Any why will we see it again…it’s a matter of trust…if the accusations had been proven, or hard to disprove, the staunch supporters of either side wouldn’t have been affected, but swinging voters would have been. The accusation was the type of accusation which could have left a sense of “what else are they hiding” in voters’ minds, and removed a buch of candidates from some crucial seats.

As it happens it has only left the coalition looking very silly and embarrassed, but despite that, we will see the smear tactics from both sides again. The risk may be high with smear tactics, but the rewards can be even greater if the information is accurate.

This has been Editorial Echoes for November 21, 2007, if you have any thoughts or comments about any of this, email them to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, I hope yesterday was a good day for you, tomorrow it’ll either be just me again, or I’ll be joined by a journalist who is on the campaign trail. So until then, tada.

November 21st, 2007 at 08:51am

Editorial Echoes 19/11/2007 – Parliamentary Balance Is Not Ideal

Anti-conseravtive group GetUp have been running an advertising campaign with the aim of giving control of the senate to the Green, Democrat and Labor parties under the guise of "balance", but balance, as Samuel explains, is not ideal in parliament, as it only panders to minority groups.

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The script follows.

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for November 19, 2007, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

A group called GetUp have been running an advertising campaign to, according to them, return balance to the senate. The advertising campaign, called “Save Our Senate” features Lyn Allison from the Democrats, Bob Brown from the Greens and Kate Lundy from Labor, urging people to vote for either of the three parties in the senate, in an effort to restore balance.

The advertising campaign has been running quite heavily on television and radio, and fair enough, if people want to push their point of view in an election campaign, that’s their choice.

On the surface of it, The GetUp group have honourable intentions, to quote from their website “GetUp is an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation giving everyday Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues.”

That makes them sound like an impartial group who just want to help people get involved in the democratic process more than once every few years, but when you dig a bit deeper, that picture changes dramatically.

To further quote from their website “GetUp does not back any particular party, but aims to build an accountable and progressive Parliament – a Parliament with economic fairness, social justice and environment at its core.”

To quote their explanation of why we need a group like GetUp, “It has not been a good decade for Australia’s progressives – those of us who share a commitment to the values of social justice, cultural diversity, ecological sustainability and economic fairness.

With its Senate majority, the Coalition Government now has more power than any government in a generation: the other political parties aren’t providing a strong opposition and the media is influenced by a handful of conservative voices.

GetUp.org.au is providing Australians with the tools to fight back”

I think you’ve heard enough to get my drift, GetUp are not in the least bit impartial, they are an anti-conservative movement. They claim to not back any particular party, but their recent commercials paint a very different picture, they are backing Labor, the Democrats and the Greens under the guise of “balance”.

But are GetUp really interested in balance? If the Greens had a majority in the senate, would GetUp be advocating that people vote for the Democrats, Labor and the Liberals? Let’s turn to GetUp’s campaigns for an answer?

GetUp want John Howard to announce a new plan (in other words, a plan they send to him) for Iraq, GetUp have called WorkChoices “un-Australian”, GetUp want John Howard to say “sorry” to the Aborigines, and amongst other things disagree with the Liberal party stance on climate change, the Tasmanian pulp mill and the Northern Territory intervention.

So, if the Greens had complete control of the senate, it’s safe to say that GetUp would not advocate that anyone vote for the Liberal party in an effort to restore balance, because quite simply, GetUp do not believe in balance, they believe in so-called “progressive policy”…in other words, anything which isn’t conservative.

But it’s not just this masquerade of impartiality that bothers me, it’s the fact that they are trying to paint balance as perfection, and the current majority coalition senate as a travesty.

GetUp have obviously forgotten that the reason the coalition have a majority, is because the majority of people voted for them. They also forget that balance, which by definition would be an equal number of people from each party, is not only undemocratic unless it is voted for, but is an awful deadlock.

If, to pick a number out of the air, you had five representatives from Labor, the Liberals, the Democrats, the Greens, Family First, the Citizen’s Electoral Council, etc, it would be almost impossible to pass any legislation because each party would have a gripe with something another party would be in support of.

I doubt we will see another majority senate for a while, but I can only worry about who may hold the balance of power, because in many ways, having a minority extremist group like the Greens holding the balance of power would be worse than a majority. A majority actually requires a majority of people to vote for the group in question, whereas a balance of power requires a minority, in many cases less than twenty or even fifteen per cent of people to vote for the group in question, and despite this small minority of votes, the group would be more-or-less in control of the senate.

I picked the Greens as an example of a minority extremist group a short time ago for a reason. The Greens have always been a far-left-wing group, and by definition are an extremist group. They also, like most extremist groups, only ever manage a relatively small number of votes. Whilst there is certainly nothing wrong with voting for them if you agree with them, the fact that they only ever receive a small percentage of votes, puts them in a perfect position to receive the balance of power.

“And why would that be bad?” I hear you ask…perhaps I’ll let Greens leader Bob Brown explain that with his answers to a couple questions Rove McManus asked him on Channel Ten last night. Mr. McManus asked him if any trees deserved to be pulped. Mr. Bown answered with a very succint “no”.

Mr. McManus posed a clearly jocular question, are vegans just a bit boring? Mr. Brown’s answer, in a very serious tone, “Vegans are helping save the planet.”

Sometimes I wonder if perhaps we should send the vegans to Africa so that they can witness nature in action. The more sensible amongst them would realise that consumption of meat is perfectly natural, whilst the more silly amongst them would try to educate the lions about the error of their ways, be eaten, and we’d never have to hear from them again.

But I digress, my point is that if, for example, as the polls indicate, Labor win the lower house, the idea of giving an entirely different group the balance of power in the senate is nuts. Surely if you vote for a party in the lower house it is because you believe their ideals and policies, and you would want them to be be able to get those policies through the senate as well.

As it happens, if it were up to me we wouldn’t have a senate. I think a single house of parliament is far more democratic…for example here in the ACT we have a legislative assembly which is currently under majority Labor rule. I disagree with the majority of their decisions, but I accept that the majority of ACT residents voted for them. I reserve the right to whinge about the decisions of the ACT government, but I don’t complain about the fact that there is a Labor majority, and I don’t wish that we had an upper house complicating things.

It is my view that federal parliament should be the same. Perhaps then people wouldn’t vote one way in the House of Representatives, and then vote for people they disagree with in the senate, simply to maintain a balance, when in reality you should vote the same way in both houses because you are putting a group in power who you generally agree with.

People got it right in the last election by voting for the same people in both houses. I can only hope that this ridiculous call for an effective deadlock via balance by GetUp doesn’t make people vote differently in each house this time.

By all means vote for whoever you like, but be sensible and vote for them in both houses.

This has been Editorial Echoes for November 19, 2007, if you have any thoughts or comments about any of this, email them to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com

I would briefly like to thank Cloud Nine for sending me a bunch of quotes about the sham of man-made global warming, and remind you that the weekly poll on my blog this week is an election poll to see who you will be voting for in the house of representatives. If you’d like to cast your vote, samuelgordonstewart.com is the place to go.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, enjoy your day, and until tomorrow, tada.

2 comments November 19th, 2007 at 06:29am

Editorial Echoes 18/11/2007 – Climate Change, The IPCC and The Election

Climate change hasn’t been a huge issue so far in the election campaign, but a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will bring the issue to the fore. Samuel examines the issues to see if the consensus of scientists predicting climate-change-induced-disaster really exists, and what effect climate change will have on the election.

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The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking here.

The script follows.

Samuel

It looks like somehow I managed to get the date wrong in the script of this episode and didn’t notice.

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for November 15, 2007, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

Nine days between episodes…well that’s something that’s going to change. We’re now in the final week of the election campaign, and from now until the day after the election, there will be an episode of Editorial Echoes every morning.

Later this week we’ll catch up with a journalist who has been following the leaders around throughout the election campaign, and during the week I will be out and about conducting polling, with results on election day.

Incidentally, I’m also running an election poll on my blog at samuelgordonstewart.com and I’d be very interested to see you cast your vote in the poll. The more votes cast, the better!

Anyway, on with the show, and today I’d like to have a word with you about climate change. Climate change is something we have heard an awful lot about in recent times, but it hasn’t really been a huge issue so far in the campaign. In fact, the “who copied who” of climate change policies appeared to take up more time than the actual policies.

Climate change really hasn’t had anywhere near as much focus during this campaign as many would have expected, but that will probably change this week as the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, have released a report which, once again, paints an alarming picture of the climate change issue.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has been quoted as saying “Today the world’s scientists have spoken, clearly and in one voice”, but Mr. Moon, have they?

DemandDebate.com sent out a survey to 345 members of the IPCC and found something quite astounding. Less than 50% of the respondents said that an increase in global temperature of 1-degree Celsius is undesirable. Half of the respondents said that such a temperature increase is desirable, desirable for some but undesirable for others or too difficult to assess.

Only 14% said that the ideal climate was cooler than the present climate. Whilst Sixty-one percent said that there is no such thing as an ideal climate, and even more incredibly, only 20% said that human activity is the principal driver of climate change.

The survey found that the standard questions about humans and climate change tended to get responses which you would expect from an IPCC report, but once they started asking questions which didn’t quite seem to fit the usual script, the views varied wildly, and the cosensus disappeared.

And even scientists are questioning the consensus, the Petition Project for example has recorded signatures from 19,000 scientists questioning the scientific basis of climate alarmism, and other IPCC scientists have resigned due to their disagreements with other members of the panel, and yet still get their name on reports.

So, with this in mind, what does the latest report say?

Well an unpronounceable scientist and economist who heads up the IPCC summarised it by saying the world would have to reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 to avert major problems.

“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late” he said.

But hang on a minute, during the week the New South Wales government released a report showing that air pollution in Sydney has dropped by 30 per cent in the last fifteen years. The report went in to further detail by naming particular pollutants, including carbon monoxide emissions, which dropped by 34 per cent.

Now if Sydney has managed these reductions despite an increase in population, then it is probably fair to say that other cities have done the same, which means pollution is dropping, but climate change continues, which brings us back to the lesson of history, the lesson that climate change is natural, or at the very least, mostly natural.

When you consider that only forty years ago or so we had scientists warning us of an impending ice age, you have to wonder how much of the alarmism is real science, and how much of it is merely keeping these scientists in a job.

And when I consider that I’ve heard a handful of scientists this year claiming that they are starting to see a shift towards another phase of global cooling, I can only think that we will see a very large number of scientists with a fair amount of egg on their collective faces in the coming years.

Of course the most amusing thing about the IPCC report is that it is the precursor to a round of international climate change talks in Bali next month.

You would think that a group concerned about carbon emissions would want to hold their meetings in a location which would require the least amount of travel, which would surely mean somewhere in Europe, not an island nation almost as far away from the vast majority of nations as you can get…not to mention the amount of air conditioning they will have to use in Indonesia in December!

I suppose the question therefore is, how will the issue of climate change affect the election? Well there was a national protest about global warming last weekend, the so-called “walk against warming”, and it’s probably fair to say that the majority of people who see climate change and the supposed need to take action as the main issue which will decide their vote, would have attended the walk.

Cate Faehrmann from the Nature Conservation Council said estimates suggested as many as 150,000 people attended the rally nationally. 150,000, in a nation of 21 million, 141 thousand people. That’s 0.7 per cent. Naturally, this prompted one of Bob Brown’s amusing pronouncements. He told the Sydney march that the turnout proved the environment is a top priority ahead of the November 24 election.

Well Bob, if 0.7 per cent of the population have climate change as their clinching argument for their vote. That’s only enough to tip the balance in six electorates, half of which are Labor electorates anyway.
The electorates are Hindmarsh, held by Labor by 0.06 per cent
Kingston, held by Liberal by 0.07 per cent
Swan, held by Labor by 0.08 per cent
Macquarie, held by Labor by 0.47 per cent
Bonner, held by Liberal by 0.51 per cent and
Wakefield, held by Liberal by 0.67 per cent.

This 0.7 wasn’t just the climate change fanatics either, the numbers were inflated by other groups tagging along for the ride. For example, the Canberra march was joined by Resistance, the peculiar rent-a-mob socialist movement that seem to turn up to any protest they can find, and a bunch of anti-nuclear movements, which seems strange considering that nuclear power would help to curb carbon emissions.

So, 0.7 per cent, many of whom are so anti-liberal that they would vote against the coalition even if they could cure cancer, produce world peace and end hunger and poverty.

Will climate change have much effect on the outcome of the election? The answer is a very clear “no”.

This has been Editorial Echoes for November 15, 2007, if you have any thoughts or comments about any of this, email them to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com

In the previous episode of Editorial Echoes I provided my Melbourne Cup tips…well as per usual I had a shocker, with my tips running 14th, 16th and 19th.

As I mentioned earlier, the weekly poll on my blog this week is an election poll to see who you will be voting for in the house of representatives. If you’d like to cast your vote, samuelgordonstewart.com is the place to go.

Last week’s question about compulsory voting saw 71% in favour of it. A result which is hardly surprising.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, I look forward to talking to you again tomorrow, and until then, tada.

2 comments November 18th, 2007 at 06:44am

Next week on Editorial Echoes

With the election now just over a week away, I will be increasing production of Editorial Echoes for next week as I think it is very important that it runs every day next week. To that end, there will be one episode over the weekend, and then from Monday morning there will be an episode every morning until Sunday the 25th.

The even better news is that in the latter half of next week, it looks like I have secured a five minute interview with one of the journalists who have been following the leaders around the nation throughout the campaign. I’m not going to say who it is just yet as the day they appear will depend entirely on how busy they are, working for their employing media organisation, however I will give you a clue…they were one of the journalists visible on Four Corners on Monday night. That gives you a lot of journalists to choose from if you want to guess…

Also of potential interest, on Friday next week I will be conducting an Editorial Echoes street poll to find out who people will be voting for. This will be in addition to, but not associated with, the Samuel’s Blog Weekly Poll which starts tomorrow on the same subject, and will be “broadcast” on Saturday morning (the morning of the election in other words).

Samuel

November 16th, 2007 at 08:37am

Editorial Echoes 6/11/2007 – The silly Melbourne Cup holiday

Today Samuel takes a look at the Melbourne Cup public holiday and why it is a bad idea. Samuel also provides a few tips for the big race.

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The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking here.

The script follows (although it’s worthwhile that I do make a few minor changes when recording as even I don’t always write properly for my speech pattern).

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for November 6, 2007, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

Last time on Editorial Echoes I said that I’d be back the following day with more about GetUp’s campaign to end the coalition’s majority in the senate. Unfortunately a number of other things got in the way of me doing that, it will still be done, but not today as today there is something a tad more pressing.

Yes, it’s Melbourne Cup day, and for some inexplicable reason that means it’s a public holiday in the ACT at the behest of Chief Turnip Jon Stanhope and one of his ministers, Andrew Barr. If you’re not in the ACT you probably don’t care, so I’ll deal with that in a moment, and talk about the race first.

Well in the last few years I have picked horses based either on names or recent form, and without fail, they have failed, so this year I was planning on taking up one of the fifteen dollar Melbourne Cup packs that Kevin Woolfe from ACTTAB has been promoting, and getting the ACTTAB computer to pick three random horses for me, but then I had a nap, and woke up with three numbers stuck in my head for no apparent reason, so, for this reason, my tips are as follows:

Number 1 Tawqeet, number 3 Blutigeroo and number 15 Scenic Shot.

I’ll be popping in to an ACTTAB agency to pick up one of their fifteen dollar Melbourne Cup packs which gives me a dollar win and place on each horse, and a boxed quinella and a boxed trifecta with all of my selections. Effectively it means I will recoup some of my outlay if any of the horses runs first, second or third, and I’ll do a tad better if I pick combinations of first, second and third.

I think one very important thing to remember though is that if you are going to have a bet, please do it sensibly. Do not, under any circumstances, bet money that you can not afford to lose. I think the best way to look at gambling is as a donation to the people you are gambling with. If you’re lucky they might give you a few dollars back, but as you have given them a donation, they are under no obligation to give you anything.

If you have a gambling problem and want help, or you know someone in that circumstance, you can give lifeline a call in the ACT on 13 11 14, or your local gambling support service. You should be able to find them in your local phone book.

Moving on to the Melbourne Cup public holiday in the ACT, which is laughably called “Family and Community Day”. I have mentioned my objections to this holiday on a number of occasions on my blog, and my main reason is that Melbourne Cup day had its own workplace culture. Work was still done in the morning and at a slower rate through the afternoon, but the main aspect of the day was the way work colleagues could get together and have a really good, natural, team bonding session. There were office sweeps and trivial fun things like that, and in general, people just had a good day.

The amount of office harmony that this produced in many ways outweighed the lack of work done on the afternoon of the first Tuesday in November.

Even schools had their own brand of celebration for this national event. Whilst no gambling would be involved for legal reasons, most schools would turn on a television in the library or another common room for students to gather around at 3pm for the race. The day also enabled staff to run various classes around the history of iconic national events, not just the Melbourne Cup.

With a public holiday, none of this will happen, it will just mean that the kids are at home with their parents. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m sure most adults would rather celebrate with adults, and most children would rather be jovial with their peers.

Unfortunately the impact of a public holiday on Melbourne Cup day is worse than just a loss of a good day of some productivity and a lot of team bonding, the impact is far more serious. Having a public holiday on a Tuesday meant that a lot of people took yesterday off, either as annual leave, a legitimate or otherwise sick day, or some other form of leave. This means that in industries such as the one I work in during the day where national customers keep creating work, there were less people available to do the same amount of work…today will be worse.

With the ACT being the only part of the nation other than parts of Melbourne to have a holiday, the workload in service industries will be the same as usual, except for part of the afternoon, and there will be less people present to do the work, resulting in frazzled employees today, and a less-than-fun backlog of work tomorrow.

Regardless of that, I will be working today as a matter of principle. I’m against the holiday, so I won’t be having the day off.

Other industries such as hospitality will also suffer as Bryan Cossart of Flynn pointed out in a letter to the editor of the Sunday Canberra Times. Quote “Melbourne Cup Day, while taking workers out of the picture for up to half a day at employers’ expense, provided a boon for caterers and the like whilst providing a wonderful opportunity for workplace bonding. [..] This must be a major loss for our city’s caterers. To top it off, any catering that is done is now done at penalty rates.” End quote

Of course Bryan is right, the caterers and food stores will suffer, the caterers from a lack of offices to cater for, the food stores from a lack of offices catering for themselves. Sure, some people will have their own celebration, but it will, from a sales perspective, be nowhere near the level of revenue or stock sales that workplace celebrations generated…and of course staff will be on various public holiday arrangements.

Of course, the predictable argument from people is “how can you possibly be against a day off?”. Well apart from the immaterial fact that some of us like to work, it should be blatantly obvious by now that it is not the day off that I am complaining about, it is the timing of the day off. It’s not just the fact that the holiday has ruined the traditions of Melbourne Cup day, it’s that we have just been given yet another holiday up this end of the year.

We have a holiday in October, then this one in November, two in December and another two January, then one on March, the three Easter holidays in either March or April, and ANZAC Day in April. Between April and October we have one holiday, just one, the Queen’s birthday in June. Surely if we are going to have a public holiday it would better to produce a bit of balance in the holiday structure and have it somewhere between mid July and early August. I don’t know if there is anything the ACT could celebrate in that date range, maybe balance day considering why I think it should be placed in that part of the year. Then again, it tends to warm up a tad at that end of winter, so perhaps family and community day would work well there. It would certainly be better than holding it on Melbourne Cup day.

This has been Editorial Echoes for November 6, 2007, if you have any thoughts or comments about any of this, email them to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com

And of course there is the weekly poll on samuelgordonstewart.com, this week’s question is “Do you think Labor’s environment spokesman, Peter Garrett, was joking when he told 2UE’s Steve Price that Labor will change their policies if elected?”

Last week’s question about whether you would prefer Australia to sign Kyoto or a new climate agreement if we must sign something was a 50/50 split. It’s a difficult issue, so I’m hardly surprised.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, best of luck if you decide to have a punt on the Melbourne Cup, and until next time, tada.

1 comment November 6th, 2007 at 02:20am

Editorial Echoes 30/10/2007

Editorial Echoes is back, and as a treat (or possibly as a vent for me) there are five issues tackled in this episode, they are:

  • Peter Garrett
  • The Bali Nine’s attempt to get out of the death sentence, and Indonesia’s use of the death penalty on drug smugglers
  • Craig William Wheatley’s sentence over the death of an 83-year old war veteran
  • Sydney’s move to replace glasses with plastic cups in pubs and clubs
  • And a brief look at GetUp.org.au’s advertising campaign urging people to vote against the coalition in the senate.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Download link

You are more than welcome to respond to anything you hear on the show by sending an email to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com. Emails may be read and responded to on a future episode.

The episode can be played in the MP3 player above or by downloading the MP3 file. You can also subscribe to Editorial Echoes. The RSS Feed can be found at http://samuelgordonstewart.com/wp-content/EditorialEchoes/echoes.xml and you can subscribe through iTunes by clicking here.

The script of the episode follows (it’s long, so it’s not going on the front page of the blog…none of the scripts will).

Samuel

Welcome to Editorial Echoes for October 30, 2007, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.

This is the return of Editorial Echoes, a podcast containing my editorials on the issues of the day. Unlike last time, this won’t be a daily podcast, but it will be very regular. You can also respond to anything you hear on the show by sending an email to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com, I may then read and reply to your email on a future show.

Today, simply because I have a lot of things on my mind, the show will cover many topics, but most days it will only be one or two topics.

To start off with, Peter Garrett, the mildly annoying ex-rock star who, for one reason or another, seems to be quite hamstrung in the Labor party. Sometimes I feel sorry for Peter, he has so much potential and has been a strong advocate for the environment, but seems to be almost silenced as a shadow minister in the Labor party.

Then, there are other times, like yesterday when he stood next to Kevin Rudd and made an announcement about funding to help farmers stop polluting the Great Barrier Reef. Peter made the rather odd statement that this would help with the reef’s recovery from, quote, “Climate change events”. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding the shadow environment spokesman here, but I thought he had told us on many occasions that climate change would cause the temperature to rise, and the Great Barrier Reef, amongst other things, would be irreperably damaged…and what exactly is a climate change event? Has Mr. Garrett forgotten his own teachings and started believing in the great climate change monster that comes out once per week and shoots a bit of the reef? If so, wouldn’t it be better to spend money on catching the monster rather than unshooting the reef? In the short term at least…

And as for Labor’s peculiar (but somewhat welcome in my view) backflip on international emission agreements…poor old Peter, he should have joined the Greens, at least he would know where he stands with the Greens.

Moving on, and the Bali Nine have attempted and failed to challenge the constitutional ability of Indonesia to use the death penalty on drug smugglers. Technically speaking, the Bali Nine were correct, the constitution of Indonesia seems to only allow for the death penalty to be used on violent offenders.

The Bali Nine, however, were prevented from challenging the constitution on the grounds that they are not citizens of Indonesia. This, whilst a technicality, is brilliant. The Indonesian constitution needs to be ammended quickly to avoid a similar situations occurring with Indonesians, but for the moment, the Indonesian justice system has delivered a fantastic result.

It is my strong view that a justice system should make it appear that justice is being done, and have a think about this:

The Bali Nine were caught smuggling drugs, illegal drugs, potentially deadly illegal drugs, drugs which, if they didn’t kill people, had the power to easily ruin lives. Now, whilst the users of these drugs need to take some responsibility for themselves, it is important to note that these life recking drugs would not be available without the drug smugglers. Drug smugglers are evil low-life scum, they contribute heavily to the misery and suffering of hundreds and thousands of people, and I fully support Indonesia’s policy of giving them the death sentence.

Moving on to another case of “justice should appear to be done”, Craig William Wheatley was sentenced today for the death of an 83 year old war veteran. Mr. Wheatley has been convicted of pushing Robert Narramore in to the path of an oncoming car after having a drunken argument with another person. He was sentenced to a minimum jail term of two years, backdated to when he was taken in to custody. This means Mr. Wheatley could be out in September next year.

The maximum term is three years and nine months, which, if enforced, would see Wheatley released in June 2010.

Mr. Wheatley may not have intended to cause physical harm to Mr. Narramore…but the fact of the matter is he pushed an elderly man in to the path of oncoming traffic, despite the elderly man not having any part of the argument he was having. Forget the fact that Wheatley was drunk for a minute, that shouldn’t have any bearing on it, Wheatley’s actions killed Narramore, and two years is a ridiculous sentence for that.

June 2010 sounds like a good time for a release under a minimum sentence to me, but then again, I can’t see any reason for a difference between minimum and maximum terms on a manslaughter sentence. There was no malice involved, so there is no rehabilitation required. There should be a single sentence, and after reading the details of this case, I think the maximum sentence imposed should be THE sentence.

As an aside, in any case where rehabilitation of the offender is required, there should be a minimum sentence, with an indefinite maximum sentence so that the offender stays in for the minimum term regardless of anything else, and is then released once they have been rehabilitated…repeat offenders could then be given another sentence of the same type, and if that doesn’t help, then there is no room for them here, and the death sentence would be appropriate.

Another alcohol related subject. Sydney is looking at implementing plastic cups to deal with the growing number of “glassings” in pubs caused by incredibly intoxicated people. (And to think that a couple years ago I had never even heard of “glassing”). Admittedly plastic can do much less damage than glass, but it shouldn’t be underestimated…plastic packaging on an electric toothbrush nearly took my finger off last week, and really this measure, whilst helpful, is treating the method rather than the cause. A ban on alcohol would certainly solve the problem of intoxicated people causing trouble, but prohibition has never been palatable, so instead, I think we need a blood alcohol limit for the general population. We already have one for people in control of motor vehicles, so I can’t see any problem with having one for the general population, or at least the general population in public venues.

I don’t know what we would set the limit at…that’s not my area of expertise, that would really be up to a combination of medical and behavioural experts and law enforcement agencies. Enforcement shouldn’t be too hard, either require pubs to employ at least one person who is trained and authorised to run breath tests and kick people out, or get them a taxi home if they exceed the limit, or get the existing age enforcement people to do it. Preferably a combination of both.

People who reach the limit could then be sent home, or if they don’t co-operate, ferried to the nearest police station to sober out. It wouldn’t completely solve the problem of public violence, but it is a well known fact that drunk people contribute excessively to the problem, and placing a reasonable limit on alcohol that balances people’s right to drink responsibly, and everyone’s right to public safety, would go a very very long way toward solving the problem.

And just briefly as this episode has gone on for long enough already, the political activist group GetUp.org.au have launched an advertising campaign on television and radio urging people to vote for anyone other than the coalition in the senate, so as to remove the majority the coalition have there. GetUp claim that this is undemocratic and unfair. I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow, but for now I have this little thought for GetUp.

In order for the coalition to get a majority in the senate, the majority of voters have to vote for the coalition. So, if the majority of people vote for a particular party then, democratically, that party receive a majority. The senate in its current form may be one-sided, but as that’s the side the majority of people voted for, it is hardly undemocratic or unfair.

This has been Editorial Echoes for October 30, 2007, if you have any thoughts or comments about any of this, email them to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com

And don’t forget the weekly poll on my blog, this week’s question is “If Australia must sign a climate change agreement, would you prefer Kyoto or a new agreement?”

To register your vote, simply visit samuelgordonstewart.com and enter your vote on the right hand side of the page. The votes will be presented at the end of the week.

I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, until next time, tada.

October 30th, 2007 at 11:48pm

Editorial Echoes is returning

Good news, my audio editorial show, Editorial Echoes, is returning. I’ll have an episode for you later tonight.

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, Editorial Echoes is a short podcast of my thoughts and opinions on various topics. Last time it didn’t work out because I locked myself in to a daily release schedule without realising how much works goes in to producing a daily podcast…and it was also a bit of a ramble.

This time it will be regular (not daily, but regular), and scripted, which will have the added advantage of transcripts being available for each episode.

Samuel

2 comments October 30th, 2007 at 07:06pm

Editorial Echoes #8: The Final Episode

A final look at the HECS and TAFEs issue, before Samuel spends some time explaining to the few of you still listening, why the podcast is ending….yes, with much regret I must inform you that this is the final episode.

The episode can be downloaded from here.

Edit: Link corrected

Further edit: Here is a transcript, so that those of you who aren’t listening can also know why Editorial Echoes has ended.

This is Editorial Echoes, episode number eight, for Thursday March 23, 2006…the final episode.

Yes, you did hear it right, this is the final episode and I’ll explain the reasons why just a little bit later on, but first, yesterday I did say that I would be out in force to gauge the public opinion on the idea of HECS fees being extended into TAFEs.

Now, the majority of people that I spoke to did not want to have their answers recorded which, I don’t know, I can’t really work that one out, I mean it’s not as if they were going to be personally identifiable from it, it was just going to be random voice clippings of random voices, it was hardly going to be able to identify anyone but “No, not interested, don’t want to be recorded” whatever. Of course the people who did want to be recorded, they all seemed to think it was such a bad idea that it should never happen.

Now, I was very surprised to find that a number of these people were in fact TAFE students. I just can’t get my head around this, maybe they’re in some gallant financial situation where they can afford every single little fee that comes up to them but, apparently for the rest of the people who might not be able to do that, the scheme just doesn’t have merit. In fact, one person said this to me:

“Yeah I don’t think it’s applicable, CIT fees aren’t that exorbitant where you can’t sort out a payment plan or something else.”

That was pretty much the opinion of most of the people who were willing to be interviewed. There were a few people who did agree with me that it was a good idea and I still think it’s a good idea, I mean OK admittedly TAFE fees aren’t as high as uni fees, but students still do have trouble and seeing as they’re not anywhere near, according to some people, anywhere near the university fees, certainly they wouldn’t provide as much of a challenge to the government in terms of funding them, in fact it would be fairly small in comparison.

But, I don’t know, the one thing I do have to wonder…the TAFE students who were against the idea today, if the scheme is introduced, as is being seriously considered, if it were to be introduced, would they be willing to use it?

Anyway I did say that this is the final episode, and well I’m afraid it is. The podcast started off quite well, it was, there were quite a few downloads, the first episode was very successful, and to start with on iTunes it got up to, I think it was…I can’t remember the exact graphic, I don’t have it right in front of me, but it was up there in the top twenty of its category on iTunes which was very good. Then over the weekend it kinda disappeared, which I suppose, that was to be expected, it would sort of drop down a bit, because there weren’t new episodes over the weekend, which was always the plan, it was a weekday podcast, but, it never returned, and having a look at the download statistics I can tell you why.

It seems people lost interest, now I know there’s a few of you out there listening to this, and to the few of you and I think there’s about six, seven of you who have been listening right throughout this, to all of you I say thankyou very much, your support is greatly appreciated, but for the time and effort that I am putting into this podcast, it’s just really not worth it, especially with declining numbers, it’s just gradually dropping. Maybe people just aren’t interested in hearing a few minutes of my opinion each day, I don’t know what it is, I was thinking this might actually be a little bit more successful than this, but we’re struggling to get even ten downloads a day at the moment which basically means to me that it’s just not worth the effort because, let me run you through the production process.

I record the episodes either when I’m out and about or I record them when I’m at home, and it’s something that I’ve thought of, I’ve thought through mostly, I mean on occasion I haven’t quite thought it through properly and it’s coming off the top of my head a bit, but for the most part I’ve thought it through, and so I come in and I record it or I record it on the spot, then I put it on the computer, I have to convert it from the digital notetaker format into a wave file, I then have to import that wave file into Audacity, I have to put in the intro and outro music, I have to increase the volume on the, well I pretty much have to compress the, this bit, the spoken bit so that it’s a fairly consistent volume, I have to play with the volume of the intro music and the outro music so it doesn’t go bizerk, and overall it just, it takes a lot of time.

Then I have to export that, I have to make sure I get the ID3 tags correct, I have to write the changes to the RSS file,I have to write changes to the blog sidebar, I have to write the post that goes with it, and then at some stage, later on after it’s released, so after it gets automatically copied into position which was another bit of tedious work, a bit of automation I was very proud of and very happy with but it turned out to be a bit of a waste of time really, sometime after the episode appears I have to go and update the Editorial Echoes page with the information about the episode so it’s quite a bit of effort and quite frankly if only six or seven or eight of you are actually listening it’s really not worth the effort. I do apoligise for that, I mean I was really hoping this would be a success, I know a number of you were, but ultimately it wasn’t, and that does sadden me to some extent, especially when it started off so promisingly, such consistent download figures, and suddenly it just fell into a big black hole.

So yes, this is the final episode, there shall be no more Editorial Echoes, and that’s a pity, I’ve enjoyed doing this, I have, but, well I’ve already explained why it can’t go on.

Thankyou very much for listening, I do appreciate it as I keep saying, and I’ll keep updating my blog of course, I suppose this means I’ll have a bit more time to devote to it, and Samuel’s Persiflage, my other podcast, will continue as always, the march schedule is sadly behind schedule at the moment and will probably remain that way until one of the people I have asked for an interview actually takes me request seriously, I just don’t, I don’t know, that seems to have stalled, which is a problem, but we’ll see what we can do about that.

Anyway I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, this has been Editorial Echoes, the final episode, I hope you’ve enjoyed, I don’t know if it’s possible to enjoy this one, I know I haven’t, none the less this has been editorial echoes, episode number eight, we had eight episodes, it was good while it lasted. I’ll say it again, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, until we meet again, tada.

Samuel

20 comments March 23rd, 2006 at 06:00am

Editorial Echoes #7

Editorial Echoes #7 is online and ready for download. Today Samuel looks at the possibility of the HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) being extended to TAFEs.

Samuel will be out and about at various times of the day with his digital notetaker at the Reid CIT campus, and possibly in Civic, gauging public opinion on the matter…just look for the person wearing the Editorial Echoes logo. Samuel will include some (or maybe all depending on the number) of the responses in tomorrow’s Editorial Echoes.

Alternatively, if you have a view on the issue (preferably 30 seconds or less), email it as an MP3, Wave, or Ogg Vorbis to echoes@samuelgordonstewart.com
Emails over 10MB will bounce.

The episode can be downloaded from here.

Samuel

2 comments March 22nd, 2006 at 06:00am

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