What a farce. The day began normally enough – with the Coalition in crisis. By the evening, the Liberal party room had a new premier, who was refusing to explain to the Victoria public what happened or why.
Denis Napthine has been a credible and competent minister. But if he wants to govern the state, he must attempt to explain why his party deemed it necessary to torpedo a publicly elected premier.
In a press conference last night, Napthine didn’t even come close, merely saying it was his task to build on the great work of Baillieu and his team. ”The people of Victoria will understand what has happened,” he said.
Really? In the end, Ted Baillieu had little choice but to resign – and he did so with dignity – following an extended and corrosive campaign against him that locked him in a downward spiral from which he could not escape.
There were several factors that contributed to his demise, including a failure to manage his own party, a failure to communicate with the public, a failure to manage the media, and a failure to manage a series of political scandals.
Baillieu was also the victim of circumstance, inheriting power at a difficult time, with declining revenues, a patchy economic outlook, and a one-seat majority in Parliament.
Nevertheless, it has been one of the messiest episodes in recent political history, rivalling federal Labor’s disastrous decision to oust Kevin Rudd. The Coalition’s handling of this affair was unbecoming, messy, vituperative and incompetent. So much so that the public will have every right to be cynical about their ability to govern.
Baillieu’s decision to resign had been a long time coming, but it was precipitated on Wednesday by a decision by controversial Frankston MP Geoff Shaw to stand aside from the Liberal Party.
There is now a palpable danger that the change of leaders will incite open warfare within the government. The Coalition has clearly failed to heed the example of federal Labor’s experience. From the moment Gillard’s supporters knifed Rudd, her detractors have been busy undermining her authority. Federal Labor, now contemplating yet another leadership change, is heading for oblivion.
Whether the Coalition is headed for a similar fate is an open question.
Unless Napthine, who has already been knifed by his own party once when he was opposition leader, pulls something extraordinary out of the hat, he will have a hard time turning things around in the polls over the next 20 months.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading
Ted Baillieu’s shock resignation is a morale boost for Labor in Victoria that has few implications for the federal election that Julia Gillard has called for September 14.
Tony Abbott might call Melbourne his second home, but the truth of it is that the national result will be much more influenced by what happens in western Sydney and in Queensland, where far more seats are in play, than in Victoria.
Here, the Coalition has a realistic prospect of picking up three federal seats, but it also holds two seats by very small margins.
Moreover, Victoria is the one state where Labor is ahead of the Coalition in two-party preferred terms, according to the most recent Age-Nielsen poll – and where Mr Abbott is most unpopular.
Earlier this week, Mr Abbott declared his unqualified support for the man he considers a friend. Clearly, he had no expectation of what unfolded on Wednesday night – and he was not alone. Among the many questions left hanging is what would have happened if Mr Baillieu had insisted that his chief of staff, Tony Nutt, step down over the revelations on leaked tape recordings of telephone conversations.
But there are many others. Would Mr Baillieu have been more successful if he was more ruthless, projected more urgency, hunger and passion? Undoubtedly.
That wasn’t his style, and he never tried to be what he wasn’t. To his detractors, his failure to communicate was a fatal flaw. Certainly, the love of Victoria and pride in its multicultural success that was so evident last night was not widely appreciated. Nor was his decency, but then, as one Liberal friend remarked: ”Decency doesn’t pay dividends.”
Whether the impression of a man without a clear direction would have been rectified if he had served a full term as premier is, sadly, something we will never know.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading
Ads up: Phil & Amity do the logo motion in The Block: All Stars.MEMO From: Product placement and marketing initiative division, Nine Network. To: The producers, The Block and The Block: All Stars. Subject: Increased product placement strategies.
Good morning all. Before we begin, we’d like to acknowledge the sponsors of this memo, Microsoft Office Works and Canon, while our treats of choice while preparing this document were from Cadbury. If this memo was human and had a driver’s licence, it would drive a Suzuki Swift Sport.
First, congratulations on achieving new highs with The Block: All Stars. Sure, the ratings are down on 2012 and, basically, we’re occasionally cracking the 1 million mark even when My Kitchen Rules is on but, in terms of product placement and leveraged sponsor presence, we’ve never managed to squeeze more clients into a single episode.
When it comes to promoting our commercial partners we are killing it; although if you look at the ratings we’re also killing those.
When the show began in the prehistoric age of product placement (i.e. 2003) we didn’t have much to work with other than Jamie Durie religiously mentioning the ”beefy Toyota RAV4” and visits to a hardware store. A decade on and The Block has its own hardware store on site, with 24-hour branding opportunities. No hammer handle need go bare; no ladder leg should lack a bright sticker.
By the way, you know what else is great? Getting a 30-year mortgage to buy a property whose renovation was rushed for commercial television. This memo’s home lender of choice is the Commonwealth Bank.
We’ve had great success this year with the dressing of our eight mobile advertising displays, which some of you might know better as the contestants. In previous years they’ve been allowed to choose their own clothing, which was wasteful.
This year we have them in branded T-shirts and baseball caps, because the viewing audience would never be suspicious that couples who are constantly talking about bettering their interior designs wouldn’t choose to view a T-shirt with Wattyl or Pacific Blue Design and Construction plastered across it.
The success of the T-shirts and caps has got us thinking. If we had larger mobile advertising displays – that is, fuller-figured contestants – we would have more space for logos on their clothes. We could get two companies on one T-shirt (synergy!). Another option? Branded neck tattoos. What hip homeboy wouldn’t want iiNet inked across their throat?
Stop reading this memo for a moment and think about your health and well-being.
Wouldn’t your life benefit from Swisse, Australia’s No.1 multivitamin? We also need to apply a horizontal approach to marketing, not just vertical.
Recently Dan managed to put a nail from a nail gun through his hand and, while it was first-rate work to make sure the public never saw the brand of nail gun he was using (not all product placements are desired), we really missed out in not being able to associate designated brands with his situation. Where were the close-ups of the medicinal dressing box and the private hospital sign?
Aside from that, let’s just keep the ”casual” placements flowing. Making the contestants find their new complimentary car every week or two courtesy of ”the Suzuki Fairy” is genius, and those positive testimonials as they drive across Sydney to select throw cushions are invaluable. Same with Mark buying Duncan a ”treat” from our friends at McDonald’s when they went shopping.
One last suggestion: Josh and Jenna announce she’s pregnant and we name the baby Wattyl Samsung Densten if it’s a boy, or iSelect Swisse Densten for a girl. Or the other way around.
Keep placing, your pals at the product placement and marketing initiative division.
P.S. We’re always open to fresh concepts, but we need to stamp out loose talk about one initiative that goes beyond the pale. Under no circumstances will Amity be recording another album.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net. Continue reading
Buckwild is the redneck version of Jersey Shore.Buckwild, Tuesday, MTV, 9.30pm
Take Jersey Shore, give it a redneck makeover, throw in a bunch of hair-raising Jackass-style stunts, and you’ve got MTV’s latest drinking-shouting-shagging ”reality” sensation.
Buckwild follows the rather contrived adventures of eight young people (five girls, three boys) who live up in the hollows outside the teeming metropolis of Sissonville, West Virginia (population about 4000).
The main difference between this show and the previous iterations of the format is the outdoorsiness and inventiveness of the boys, be it in turning a dump truck into a swimming pool or misusing earthmoving equipment as makeshift fun-fair rides.
Tonight Anna (”the Ringleader”) is still angry at Cara (”the Firecracker”) for having sex with Tyler (”the Pretty Boy”) in her bed. Shae (”the Spicy Southern Belle”) is sticking with her boyfriend, even though he has been trying to have sex with her friends.
The main story, though, involves the gang heading out to a nightclub in the big smoke. This is a first for yokel Shain, who doesn’t leave the hollow much – in fact, he agrees to go only on the condition that Cara stick her finger in his bug zapper.
Once in town, the girls get a body painter to completely cover their torsos so they can get away with dancing around topless inside the club. Must be the new fashion, I suppose. Apart from that, we’ve seen it all before.
The one bright spot is the unpretentious, unselfconscious Shain, who is unencumbered by book learnin’ and happier than a hog in slop. He’s also the only one who has a real job. Well, MTV is pretending he does – it turns out he was fired from his job on the garbage trucks before filming began. Reality just ain’t reality no more.
Digging deep: Annabel Crabb explores the underbelly of Canberra.Should any current politicians be worried about what will be revealed on your new show, Canberra Confidential?
All politicians past, present and future should be worried about how easily – as history demonstrates in Canberra Confidential – covert operations and intrigues can detonate, with disastrous effects.
Which skeletons to emerge from the proverbial closet most intrigued you, and why?
I knew that Canberra had a history full of secrets. But I didn’t know much about what an erotic secret life the city had until we made this show. That’s all I’ll say.
Should we really be surprised that Canberra’s political scene has a history of skulduggery and subterfuge?
Human beings love secrets. The thrill of being privy to something is a perfectly unsurprising human instinct. What surprised me is how much Australian politicians will excuse in the name of intelligence gathering; it’s as though they all had childhood dreams of espionage and haven’t entirely grown out of them.
What are your fondest memories of working in Canberra?
I am a sucker for secrets too. My favourite memory of working in Canberra is the day a politician leaked me a document by taping it to the underside of the giant billiard table that used to be in an annex to the Parliament House cafeteria.
And what memory would you rather forget?
I would rather forget the moment that Philip Ruddock walked into the room when I was loudly telling the story of the gorgeous security officer who had just been assigned to accompany him on his morning jog. The temperature in the room fell about 10 degrees. Later, I got a call from the security services warning me not to publish details of the minister’s movements. Awkward.
Which politicians, past and present, would be on your ultimate dinner party guest list, and why?
Fred Daly, for anecdotes. Amanda Vanstone, for cooking and outrage. Tony Abbott, to annoy Amanda. Colin Powell, for his mimicry. Harold Holt, for sheer surprise value. But if I could invite only one, it would be the former Thatcher-era minister Alan Clark. He was fearless, erudite, hopelessly optimistic as to his own abilities, and an extraordinary chronicler of his times. His diaries are among the best books on politics I’ve read. Sadly, his career never quite recovered from when he was caught bedding the wife and two daughters of a judge. But we might not mention that at dinner.
Why is politics so entertaining?
The same things that make it crucial that politicians are closely monitored: human relationships, secrets and intrigues that change the course of history.
What can we expect before the election?
Human relationships, secrets and intrigues that change the course of history.
Canberra Confidential screens on Thursday, March 14 at 8.30pm on ABC1.
My Kitchen Rules’ Anglo male nasties, Peter and Gary.LETTER OF THE WEEKIndiscriminate idiocy
My Kitchen Rules has had plenty of Anglo villains, so stop stirring the racist pot and suggesting minorities are being targeted, Craig Mathieson (Hindsight, GG 28/02). The latest pair are incredibly unlikeable, nasty and rude, just like the mother-daughter pair before them, the ”wicked witches of the West” Lisa and Candice; and 2012 contestants Peter and Gary, to name other Anglo (male) nasties.
Trish Bunworth, Thornbury
Seven’s race to the bottom
Channel Seven is doing a great job of promoting racial prejudice when they depict an Asian couple, an Indian couple and an Italian couple as bitchy, nasty people designed to attract adverse attitudes. There is no doubt all three couples are behaving only in accordance with scripted direction.
John Woolley, Ringwood
Giving the forks to class
I am sick of all the bitchiness, nastiness and the inconsistency of the judges on MKR. We all know that they have been given scripts and that they are following them to the letter. But really! The catalyst for me was watching Pete Evans pushing the dessert onto his spoon with his fingers. Haven’t any of these people seen a dessert fork?
Jenny Doreian, Box Hill
The case of the missing show
We had been enjoying Vera on 7TWO on Wednesday nights, but Channel Seven screened the last episode of series two on a Thursday night when Rebus was advertised in the schedule.
Elizabeth Foster, Box Hill
Missed Mardi opportunity
Why didn’t Foxtel or another media outlet telecast the Mardi Gras this year? What a missed opportunity for advertisers and other groups to promote and showcase our tolerant and progressive country. It’s a great party for many people and their gay families in celebrating their loved ones.
Pamela Papadopoulos, Prahran
Don’t stoop, SBS
Lee Lin Chin can report the news on Saturdays all by herself for one hour. I’m sure Anton Enus and Janice Peterson could do the same if given the chance. Come on SBS: why lower yourself to the lowest common denominator and copy the rest of the commercial channels with multiple news presenters?
Charles Scott, Harcourt North
Dear Inspector Rex … Not content with pushing your timeslot around from pillar to post, you’ve now been sent to Coventry! Who’s around to watch their favourite crime canine at 5.35pm on a Sunday? What dreadful, dead-end programming. Bite a few bums will you, Rex, and get things sorted.
Gloria (Tracy) Guest, Yallambie
Hard work murdered
So it’s not enough that the networks minimise end credits to flog their other shows, Channel Ten has taken the next step with Mr & Mrs Murder and virtually eliminated crew credits altogether, directing viewers to their website. Don’t those who worked on this Australian-made comedy deserve on-air recognition, too?
Kym Cross, Campbells Creek
Real Mad talent, to be frank
Although Shaun Micallef has the funniest eyebrows in Australian television, the real comedy talent of Mad as Hell has to be Francis Greenslade.
James Adams, Preston
Professional all round
Three cheers for MasterChef: The Professionals, the reality show where everyone is a winner. The contestants learn things even from their mistakes, no one is mocked, positive things are emphasised. Viewers can enjoy new ideas and ways of working with food, and the ultimate winner obtains recognition within their chosen profession.
Christine E. Gray, Grovedale
There is no competition about the best food/cooking show on TV. It is Food Safari on SBS. All class with a real love of the food from real people showing off their origin with pride.
Geoff Burston, Tullamarine
So what’s the problem with Catalyst? It’s not research done in a lab or buzz-word technology. It’s the science of outdoor Australia, including comments from scientists living and working there. I emphasis ”living”, because for the secondary students I used to teach, and me, it provides a rich context for scientific thinking and exploration. Childish? Critics, please explain what you mean!
Frank Bremner, Colonel Light Gardens
Not authentic but healthy
We have been enjoying The Doctor Blake Mysteries and don’t feel it loses any of its authenticity by not showing people smoking, as mentioned by Luke Strevens in his review of the show (GG, February 28). I don’t notice if people are not smoking on TV but I had to stop watching Mad Men because of the constant smoking.
Jo Prendergast, Sandringham
Give Aunty credit
Your report ”Seven News redraws battle lines” (February 28) says Seven’s News is ”sometimes drawing fewer viewers than the ABC’s 7pm bulletin”. For the record, in 2012 ABC News Victoria averaged an audience of 309,313 compared with 297,936 for Seven News. In the first eight weeks of this year ABC News has averaged 291,679 compared with 287,801 for Seven.
Shane Castleman, Victorian news editor, ABC News, Melbourne
Wiener’s a winner
Am I alone in appreciating the excellent Sarah Wiener, 6.40pm weekdays on SBS Two? She is an innovative chef from Berlin who visits areas of Italy, exploring the cuisine before cooking up an original interpretation of the fare. Her friendly, unassuming manner contrast to the confrontational ”cooking soaps” on the commercial channels.
Bruce Boldner, Brighton
No Lynx effect for Joe
May I politely offer some deodorant to Joe Hildebrand while debating issues on The Drum. He needs to have a change of shirt during the show as all that passionate debate seems to have side effects. I’m sure he can sweat it out with my criticism as well. Poor man … someone please assist him.
James Smith, Melbourne
Can’t of Worms
I’ve tried to put up with the latest series of Can of Worms, but enough is enough. They used to ask contentious questions, have meaningful debates and make the audience laugh. Now it’s just as annoying as Chrissie Swan herself. Goodbye Can of Worms.
Joshua Gray, Wodonga
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First look: House of Cards
Depending on your age, you might remember Ian Richardson in the original House of Cards playing Francis Urquhart, a slimy British politician who redefined television’s portrayal of politicians. That is, it brought slimy truth to the fore and exposed politics for the shallow and inhuman house of cards it is.
The thought of taking something so definitive and fashioning an American remake might be enough to turn your hair white. It verges on sacrilege, particularly when you consider the American television market’s imperfect record.
But the American version of House of Cards, produced by Sony for on-demand TV service Netflix, is complex enough to earn a second glance. And once you’ve seen one riveting, sickening and illuminating episode, you’ll likely stay the course.
In a sense, Australian audiences have the toughest call here. As with shows such as The Office, we have the advantage of having seen the original before the copy. And the original House of Cards was, and is, a sight to behold. Richardson’s performance is exquisite, the observations in the writing devastating.
Kevin Spacey, with smooth charm, is strangely likeable in a way Richardson was not. And his character, Frank Underwood, is a far more modern politician, alternately captivating and disgusting.
House of Cards is Shakespeare, retold and laced with the bard at his political best. Spacey is moments out of his thrilling Richard III, and that heightened sense of stage play is felt loud and hard here.
He talks to the camera like an actor glancing at the audience, while Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood circles her husband with the sultry, luxuriant thrill of Lady Macbeth.
Much kudos should go to the director, David Fincher. This is a big drama told in small, sharp notes, and its velvet texture belies the taut, muscular motion of the story.
House of Cards launched in the US on February 1. It has not yet been sold to an Australian broadcaster.
What excites you about TV? Maybe it’s Walter White (Bryan Cranston) or Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) behaving badly on Breaking Bad and Girls. Or Don Draper (Jon Hamm) brooding on Mad Men.
Maybe it’s Tony Jones grilling a guest on Lateline or velvet-voiced Dennis Cometti calling an AFL game. What about Scandinavian crime thrillers, Israeli dramas and English cooking shows? What about a newcomer who sends the judges on The Voice spinning in their chairs, or a culinary triumph on My Kitchen Rules?
Television offers a smorgasbord of riches and, in terms of flexibility and variety, there’s never been a better time to view. What was once a limited diet provided by a handful of mainstream channels has grown into a feast. You can watch on a super-sized screen in the lounge room, a phone on the tram, a computer at your desk or a tablet in a cafe tuned to a catch-up website.
However you choose to watch, if you choose well, the experience can be rewarding. That’s where we come in. At the Green Guide, we know there’s a lot to love about TV. And, yes, there’s also shabby stuff that deserves to be rubbished. We can do that too.
For decades, the Green Guide has been an institution at The Age and in Melbourne. It’s celebrated accomplishments in TV and radio, criticised the duds, profiled those who make a difference and analysed industry trends.
The new-look Green Guide will continue to provide the features that readers value: a lively Letters page, a Livewire section looking at the latest in entertainment technology, the Hindsight column, radio and sports columns on alternate weeks, and radio listings.
There’s also the country’s best viewing guide with previews from our experienced team, authoritative film reviews and pay TV highlights.
We don’t always agree about what we like, and you might not always agree with us. But we do know this: when TV is good, it can be great. And that keeps us all coming back for more.
For a television show to clock up 10 years on air is no mean feat. For an indigenous current affairs program plagued by budget cuts, network management shuffles and a prevailing misconception that viewers aren’t all that interested, a decade on air is cause for celebration.
As SBS’s Living Black celebrates its milestone with a prime-time slot on indigenous network NITV, its face and founder, Karla Grant, reflects on a decade of stories that would otherwise have remained untold.
”It’s been quite a journey,” Grant says from the SBS studios in Sydney. ”When we started, there was no program like ours on television, so we were trying to cover everything – news, art, sport, music, everything under the sun to do with indigenous people and indigenous life and issues. We started doing mini-documentaries and over the years we’ve evolved into a harder-edged current affairs program.”
The 2004 move from SBS’s now-defunct local productions department to news and current affairs was the beginning of a new era for Living Black, and saved it from the axe.
”I really had to fight for the survival of the show,” Grant says. ”I entered into talks with the then head of news and current affairs at SBS, Phil Martin, and I’m forever grateful to him for getting behind me.”
Adopting video-journalism at a time when the only other Australian current affairs show to do so was Dateline, Living Black reporters were able to work within budget restraints and tread softly in media-shy communities.
”We’ve built up a pretty good reputation over the past 10 years,” she says. ”People know we’re not going to just breeze in and breeze out and have no respect. That’s been part of the problem in the past and it still exists. A lot of commercial stations and people from print go into remote communities and they leave a sour taste.”
With family members spread across the Northern Territory and the Tiwi Islands, Grant is welcomed into communities that are often closed to other reporters. Of course, with such privilege comes responsibility.
”I love getting out on location and meeting people at the grassroots,” she says. ”You learn so much and you meet some really lovely people … The show has an important role to play in our society in creating an awareness and understanding of indigenous issues and culture, especially as we head towards constitutional recognition.”
Grant wishes more Australians could see for themselves the plight of Aboriginal people in remote areas.
”When I visit a community and I see 20 people living in a house, I think, ‘What on earth is going on?’ All this money is put into indigenous housing yet we’re seeing people living in overcrowded situations that breed arguments, violence and drinking.
”Then there’s no work in the town, so there’s no employment or education opportunities for these people. It’s a vicious cycle, and that makes me angry. People shouldn’t be living like that in this day and age.”
That it has taken until 2012 for Australians to have a free-to-air indigenous TV network is a matter that still confounds Grant.
”There hasn’t been that commitment from governments in the past to fund a channel like NITV,” she says. ”You don’t see a lot of indigenous stories on mainstream networks because programmers think they don’t rate. There’s been a hesitation to take a chance, but in fact people are interested in indigenous stories – they want to know more.”
Living Black returns on Tuesday, March 12, at 7.30pm on NITV, and is repeated on SBS One at 2.30pm on Fridays and 4.30pm on Sundays.
An official inquiry has punctured the most popular legend of the Gallipoli campaign by declaring Simpson – the man with the donkey – was not exceptionally brave.
A Defence Department committee last week found there were no grounds to justify the demand of a long-running public campaign that John Simpson Kirkpatrick be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
But the committee went further to rule that the British-born private was no more gallant than scores of other stretcher-bearers who transported wounded soldiers in the first weeks after the Gallipoli landing in April 1915.
“The tribunal found that Simpson’s initiative and bravery were representative of all other stretcher-bearers of the 3rd Field Ambulance,” the report said.
Simpson – who enlisted under his middle name to hide the fact that he was a deserter from the merchant navy – spent several weeks ferrying wounded soldiers on a stray donkey before he was killed on May 19.
His story captured the imagination of war correspondents and the Australian public, which came to regard his selfless bravery as exemplifying the Anzac spirit. His deeds have since been celebrated in a series of books, films and plays.
But a year-long inquiry by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal heard detailed evidence it was impossible for Simpson to have rescued the more than 300 wounded soldiers whose lives he is widely credited with saving.
Instead, it was estimated he ferried fewer than half that number before his death, all of them lightly wounded and none with life-threatening injuries.
The tribunal was told that there was no evidence in military archives to support the popular belief that Simpson had repeatedly ventured into no-man’s land under Turkish fire to rescue badly wounded soldiers.
One submission detailed how several witnesses whose vivid accounts of Simpson’s bravery have reinforced the legend of the man with the donkey were not even at Gallipoli at the time.
The tribunal ruled Simpson’s bravery had been “appropriately recognised” by a Mentioned-in-Dispatches award made to him and seven other members of the 3rd Field Ambulance in early May 1915. It concluded there were no grounds for him to receive a VC or any other gallantry medal.
Tribunal chairman Alan Rose told a news conference last week that Simpson was “a curiosity” who, having chosen a donkey as his method of transport, was “largely only able to bring lightly wounded men” down from the front lines to the beach at Anzac Cove.
“The judgment by his peers, by his commanders at the time, was that he had displayed considerable bravery but that it didn’t reach the very high levels either for the award of a second or third-level award – a Distinguished Conduct Medal or a Military Medal – much less a Victoria Cross,” he said.