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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

The Canberra Press Gallery: one year on « Previous | |Next »
June 24, 2011

The Canberra Press Gallery have been obsessed with the anniversary of Julie Gillard becoming PM through Kevin Rudd being dumped. The screeds of commentary involves the talking heads looking back to the knifing of Rudd, and looking forward to the ongoing leadership tensions between Rudd and Gillard.

LeakBRudd assassination.jpg

In their focus on politics as personalities they make a judgment that the Gillard Government has achieved nothing after being a year in power, and that 'tear down' Tony Abbott 's negative campaign of no no no to everything plus stunts has been an astounding success. The Gillard Government is on the ropes because of Abbott's biffo; it is weak; and it is weak because it is a minority government. End of the story.

However, the Canberra Press Gallery is so caught up in their conception of politics as the clash of personalities that they are blind to their failure to realize where they are wrong with their judgement that the Gillard Government talks reform but achieves little.

The agreement with Telstra over the national broadband network is a watershed one not a sideshow. It corrects the failure of 20 years of policy to structurally separate Telstra (eg., its ownership of the copper wire network on which it and its telco competitors competed) and to provide substantive competition in the telecommunications market. Telstra will buy space on the wholesale NBN monopoly network, just as its competitors do.

MoirANBN.jpg

Not only is this agreement of historic importance the NBN is the biggest infrastructure project that Australia has seen; and one that is designed to transform Australia.

At one level this failure to acknowledge the reform is derived from a hostility to the NBN. Thus Jennifer Hewitt in her Striking up Broadband in The Australian has little positive to say about the NBN. We don't need it; its uncompetitive; its too expensive; its picking technological winners and its a toll road. The conclusion is that there is no need for it since this government-owned monopoly will never be a structure associated with innovation, flexibility or efficiency.

Hewitt's core argument is that there is a more efficient, less costly way of producing similar results, which contradicts her central argument that the possible new services such as e-education don't deliver much in terms of basic knowledge; and that households will only use the faster speeds for downloading of high-definition movies or computer games and YouTube videos.

At a deeper level the media caught up in Canberra sideshow doesn't understand the policy--there are no opinion pieces in the Fairfax Press's National Times and those that have been written are in the business pages. They are about the business deal and how successful Telstra was.

Secondly, the media lacks the knowledge to comprehend what a shift to a digital economy actually means beyond sending emails or using Skype. Nor have they shown any interest in gaining that knowledge. Their assumption is that we are passive consumers of “stuff on the internet” that other people make--eg., Hewitt's households downloading of high-definition movies or computer games and YouTube videos---rather than a digital economy being one in which everyone is as much a producer as a consumer.

It appears to be very difficult for the Canberra Press Gallery to understand what is meant by “upload speed” compared to “download speed”. As far as most are concerned, it’s ALL download, like a TV receiving TV shows, in which us consumers receive the fabulous insights op-eds of the Canberra Press Gallery.

Update
Annabel Crabb in her Sorting the myth from the chaff on this silly Sackiversary at The Drum acknowledges that the Australian political debate has become almost entirely disengaged from the two chambers that are supposed to be its home. She adds:

The perception of an anxious, uncertain Prime Minister - shadowed perpetually by the man she deposed a year ago - now dogs everything the Government does..Even a Budget that waltzes through the parliament and a previously unimaginable agreement on the NBN that is signed with Telstra does not ease it.And of course, before you all remind me: Yes, the media has a massive role in all of this. Lindsay Tanner's argument that conflict always wins higher page placement than consensus is quite correct.

A glimmer of insight and self-reflection from the Canberra Press Gallery! But it is limited, as Crabb goes on to say as ye sow, so shall ye reap.
And one of the reasons that Julia Gillard cannot escape the pestilence of intrigue and instability that envelopes her is the brute truth of what she and her colleagues did one year ago. The unease at the core of the government is no media invention; anyone with a pair of eyes can spot it. Short-term measures, like the sudden disposal of a leader, carry long-term consequences; perpetual lack of peace is one of them.

Sure the assassination of Rudd is one of the reasons for federal Labor being seen negatively. What are the others? If one of them is the role of the media, then how is the media doing this?

The Canberra Gallery remains in its comfort zone --the politics of personality.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:58 AM | | Comments (15)
Comments

Comments

Apparently the budget passed, either yesterday or today. Not sure which. Read about it on one of those uploaded non-MSM upstart blogs while our very important political journalists were picking over Kevin and Julia and Julia and Tony.

The whole thing highlights the good reasons the party ditched him.
He only sees now where his numbers are higher than Gillards but says nothing about how the party was buggered if they took him as leader to the election and Gillards numbers at the time were much higher than his.
His attempt now to snatch some sort of "See I was right I am more popular" highlights only what a sad self obsessed little weazle he is.

Nailed it in one Gary. Journalists are such narcissistic, self-obsessed creatures they are incapable of seeing online digital transmission of data as anything other than 'the internet', just one more medium of providing content to passive consumers. They are entirely incurious about the changes to our whole society being brought about by information and communication technology.

According to the media the marking of the anniversary of Julia Gillard replacing Kevin Rudd as Labor leader and Prime Minister was the biggest event in national politics this week.

Political commentary is about froth and bubble not substance. In its commentary on the Willunga NBN test in SA starting, the journo dug out found people who were critical of, or worried about, the NBN. Verity Edwards, the journo, quoted glass artist Glenn Howett who cannot see why he should sign up to the NBN simply to access a phone line.

It transpires that Howett doesn't even own a computer, hates emails and prefers to talk to people on the phone or meet clients face to face. So why ask someone who doesn't own a computer about the NBN?

The Gillard Govt is weak because it is a minority government. End of the story.

Not really. The Gillard has a parliamentary majority. Of the 151 bills that the Gillard government has supported, 151 have passed the House of Representatives. Abbott has successfully blocked nothing, and successfully proposed nothing.

Lyn,
wasn't that the class war budget assault on hard working families; would destroy middle Australia, and punish the aspirations and hard work of Australians struggling to get ahead?

In Gillard gambles on delivering a digital future Jennifer Hewett acknowledges that the National Broadband Network is one of the few solid policy achievements the government can cling to in an otherwise bleak political landscape.

But she moves to downplay its significance--its just a leap of faith that the NBN is the best way for Australia to ride into its digital future and that NBN Co will also make a modest financial return. She says:

the NBN is neither the likeliest nor the most practical solution to the key examples Gillard gave this week: a mother with a sick child in the middle of the night having face-to-face health care in her own home and a student having the best possible education by getting access to education facilities across the world. Videoconferencing with a doctor doesn't require anything like 100Mbps, and that also assumes the household is willing to pay for that level of speed (most are not) and is able to find a real doctor or nurse in the first place. Access to the internet is already a vital part of every student's life. The best possible education doesn't automatically require fibre connections being delivered to every household, where the most common use of higher speeds will be the ability to download movies and videos more quickly.

Oh, and the NBN business case requires all capital city households to subsidise that desire by paying higher costs than they otherwise would.

The NBN is all a bit of a mirage.

It's an interesting thread, moving from the coded attempted knifing of Gillard by Murdoch, a abbott and co, to a knowledge specific issue like broadband.
George, Abbott blocked nothing and proposed nothing, because conservatives never forget and never learn.
Ken's identification of these as manifest in the handiwork of their under-butlers in the old press in terms that can only excite my admiration.
GST, the war on the undeserving poor and evangelising to the shirking welfare-dependent, like the wars on terrorism, bad syntax, drugs and indecency, continues unabating and is never won.

Ken,
Jennifer Hewitt runs the same story in each column--it is one of negativity that doesn't bother to explore how the NBN will facilitate innovation, flexibility and efficiency. Her claim is that it won't.

In her Striking up the Broadband in The Australian Hewitt says:

Nor does it (NBN) guarantee hoped-for results. It is indeed possible to foretell, as the government does, a future of e-health consultations and records - but not before all the privacy laws and doctors' habits on exchange of information have changed. It is possible to see a future where sensors will be able to signal remotely if electrical appliances should be turned on or off or are at risk of failure - but not how essential a universal NBN will be in managing this.

She infers that the mass adoption of e-health wont happen---because the privacy laws and doctors' habits on exchange of information have to be changed. So what are the health people on the ground saying about the relationship between e-health and the NBN?

In NBN 101: How the NBN can change Australian healthcare Chloe Herrick highlights how the NBN relates to to e-health re availability, reliability and coverage.

She quotes Grampians Health Alliance chief information officer, David Ryan, who says that the uptake of e-health is patchy in rural and regional areas due a lack of connectivity between health services. Specifically he points out the poor take-up of telehealth services in these regions as the communities struggle to attract and retain staff.

The service of metropolitan specialists travelling into remote regions is becoming more and more difficult for them. So ultimately if you can provide that on a remote basis — as an online consultation service or a telehealth videoconferencing service — that means it’s seen as a way for those services to continue.

There have been quite a significant number of failures across Australia in telehealth before and it’s fair to say the reasons for those failures have been sustainability both in terms of funding and sustainability in terms of how the technology companies have contributed to their own downfall

So the regional health system can clearly see how the NBN can facilitate the mass adoption of e-health because the current digital infrastructure is poor. Hewitt is not interested in learning about this.

Paul,
the NBN is seen as by health professionals on the ground as a “crucial” leveller that will provide equity across metropolitan, rural, regional and remote Australia.

This is ignored by Jennifer Hewitt in her Gillard gambles on delivering a digital future in the Australian. She is more interested in point scoring than exploring how the NBN would make a difference in e-health by enable health professionals to do things differently. Hewitt says that:

The NBN is neither the likeliest nor the most practical solution to the key examples Gillard gave this week: a mother with a sick child in the middle of the night having face-to-face health care in her own home and a student having the best possible education by getting access to education facilities across the world. Videoconferencing with a doctor doesn't require anything like 100Mbps, and that also assumes the household is willing to pay for that level of speed (most are not) and is able to find a real doctor or nurse in the first place.

Those in the regions speak quite differently. They see it as one way to ensure that health is broader than the hospital system --ie primary care. They realize that the hospital system hasn’t solved some issues to date and they don’t see it solving them into the future.

Chloe Herrick in NBN 101: How the NBN can change Australian healthcare quotes Grampians Health Alliance chief information officer, David Ryan, who says that rural and remote areas are often served by a single telecommunications provider, which has resulted in attempts at bringing clusters of health services together to create Wide Area Networks (WAN).

The Wide Area Networks (WAN) means:

that by bringing some of the health services together, they can now provide additional healthcare services that they might not have been able to do if they didn’t have connectivity in place.[However] you get to a point where people are using those wide area networks to pass around electronic health information that is everything from scanned medical records, CT and MRI scans, all the way through to videoconferencing services.

As we get more and more people using things like telehealth services, videoconferencing, remote monitoring or even passing around electronic health records, you get to a point where you saturate those links and you need greater speeds.

To attain those greater speeds, there is really only one technology – optical fibre cable--ie., the NBN. Satellite technology is slow and unreliable.

Once you have a solid terrestrial connection it means you can start to have certainty around service level agreements and around the data speeds, it helps to bring the bush up to the levels in the city. Hewitt has no interest in equity issues.

"Verity Edwards, the journo, quoted glass artist Glenn Howett who cannot see why he should sign up to the NBN simply to access a phone line."

News Ltd journos are tasked with getting quotes from those who are opposed to, or sceptical of, the NBN not reporting on what is actually happening at the various test sites.

I find Leak's cartoon above highly offensive, for what are, I hope, obvious reasons.
This is not the first time Leak has produced blatant and offensive rightist propaganda.

fred,
Leak's cartoon accurately expresses the way that News Ltd views Gillard. He is doing what is required of him.

Yes, people in that job usually wear white boots. Bloody Greenies!! stealing everyones jobs.

Cynical move by Hewitt in attempting to invoke techno phobia as to med info on computers. Still, it's an aging readership.
Leak can be a good cartoonist when he's not doing hatchet jobs for his overlords.
But genuine satire would deconstruct the Murdoch myth before swallowing the cartoon.
Barthes must be turning in his grave. People like the editorial staff at Murdoch weave such artifices, some times even artistically and aesthetically challenging in their compexity, like a child's story telling as it constructs a narative explaining its absence from the dinner table in terms of an heroic escape from schoolyard bullies, without mentioning the fact that the intervention was instigated by monitors concerned at the kid's propensity to throw dirt clods at sheep, in the field next door.