Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Phil's Amnesty Badge Speaks Out

A Tug Boat Potemkin Exclusive

After Monday night's episode of 4 Corners, I decided enough was enough: it's no more Mr Nice Badge. I got in a good start on Tuesday morning, by snagging myself on the interfacing under the navy blue serge. That got Phil nicely frustrated so I got the chance to sink a good quarter centimetre of point into the ball of his thumb.

I guess that was the high-point of the day for me: from there it was on to the dreary round of public appearances. The radio interviews, like the one Phil did on AM, are the least embarassing: if it's done over the phone nobody gets to see me hanging around with Phil. Even the in studio interviews are tolerable: most of the reporters and production staff are used to seeing me and they don't make too much of a fuss about it these days. I think they understand how it is between Phil and me.

It's the television interviews, like last night's 7.30 Report interview with Kerry O'Brien that are really hell. Even with the ABC's low reputation and ratings, you can't help thinking about the hundreds of people who look up to you as a sort of symbol and how disappointed they must be at the company you're keeping. The next time he leaves me pinned to his suit when he sends it to the dry cleaners, I'm off. Let's see him try to get a replacement.

Monday, May 19, 2003

What Ken Said

(Give or take the occasional quibble)

Tonight's Four Corners program, depicting conditions in the Woomera Detention Centre, was truly horrifying. Although some of the detainee behaviour would have been very difficult for even well-resourced, trained and motivated management to control effectively, it's clear that the US-controlled Australian Correctional Management was none of those things. Conditions and senior management attitudes of the sort recounted on Four Corners have no place in any civilised country. I suppose we should make some allowances for the possibility that some of the interviewed former ACM staff may have had personal axes to grind, but the sheer number of staff interviewed and the remarkable unanimity of experiences recounted mean that the program's allegations can't simply be rejected and ignored (although that's probably what Minister Ruddock will try to do).

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