Thursday, July 07, 2005

What D'You Say?

So, the Government has decided to bring forward its advertising campaign on industrial relations reform to counter the "gross distortions being peddled by the ACTU in its current campaign against the Government's proposed workplace relations reforms. Mr Howard says that unlike the ACTU campaign the Government's campaign will be fact-based. I just want to take a couple of quick shots at the subject.

Firstly, Kevin Andrews' recent performance on the Government's proposal to allow workers to cash in their annual leave strikes me as a pretty good indication of what we can expect when it comes to the campaigns treatment of the facts on which it's based:

Mr Andrews has told ABC TV's The 7:30 Report that the Labor Government in Western Australia already allows workers to give up two weeks of their holidays in exchange for cash.
He has criticised Opposition Leader Kim Beazley for not being aware of what is going on in his home state.

Andrews' defence of the proposal conveniently omits a few facts that are reported here, among other places.

Secondly, John Howard has drawn an explicit parallel between opposition to industrial relations reform and previous opposition to the introduction of the GST. So I'm expecting the TV ads, when they finally appear to look something like this:

MUSIC: an ambiguous fragmented electric guitar riff which seems to be struggling to find a theme under:

LONG SHOT (extremely underlit, almost monochrome): a factory floor seen from above. The workers walk about the factory and work with jerky robotic motions.

The camera pans and zooms in to:

MEDIUM SHOT: An individual worker, strapped into an elaborate stainless steel exoskeleton thingy which restricts his freedom of movement, forcing him to move robotically. The lighting level increases and we start to see colour.

MUSIC (the guitar riff resolves into a theme, lyrics open): I, I will be king ...

MEDIUM SHOT: The stainless steel exoskeleton thingy disintegrates, releasing the worker ...

MUSIC: And you, you will be queen ...

Cut to MEDIUM SHOT: A female worker is released from her exoskeleton thingy.
Follow this with a montage of more more workers being released from the restrictive exoskeletons.

MUSIC: Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day
MUSIC cuts to:
We can be heroes, for ever and ever
We can be heroes, What d'you say?
Yes, we can be heroes, for ever and ever
We can be heroes, What d'you say?

Zoom out and pan to LONG SHOT (same framing as opening shot): the factory is now well lit and brightly coloured, the workers move about freely.

VOICE OVER: Workplace reform. Be a hero.

Fade to Black, Commonwealth logo and authorisation details.

OK, So Maybe I'm Addicted

I caught up with the repeat of Media Watch last night. Keeping up with Media Watch is another of those things I've let slide since I decided to go on hiatus, give or take the occasional guest post on any site that would have me. Despite the encouraging response to my most recent guest post chez boynton, the idea of a return to regular blogging still attracts me about as much as the idea of taking a leak while standing in the middle of a shoal of hungry candiru fish. It's occurred to me that you could get quite a good horror film out of the candiru fish. But that's incidental.

The Media Watch report that tempted me to interrupt my spell of blogging long-service-leave-with-a-view-to-actual-retirement (or possibly long-service-leave-with-a-view-to-seeking-opportunities-elsewhere) was about that little show put on by the Australian Agency for Sprinkling Pink Powder on the Pavement to Prevent Elephant Attacks, more commonly known as ASIO or the Trenchcoat Brigade. The one where ASIO and the Federal Police actually raided the Melbourne homes of some alleged terrorists who were, according to allegedly reliable (but presumably official) anonymous sources, allegedly planning a series of alleged terrorist attacks on a range of targets in Melbourne and Sydney. That "alleged terrorist attacks" solecism isn't really mine, by the way; I picked it up off the television news.

In this past week of near insomnia, I've had several ideas for ASIO related posts. Perhaps the best was the one on how to plan and carry out an "alleged terrorist attack" in under five minutes. I got quite a way with that one before I realised that firstly, it might be irresponsible to publish such instructions and secondly that, improbable as it may sound, you might actually get jailed for it. That's something of a pity, because it would make a great parlour game.

For those who are too lazy to follow the link, the emphasis of the Media Watch report was on the provisions of the ASIO Act which prohibit someone who is, or has been, the subject of an ASIO questioning warrant from telling anyone about the warrant, other than certain prescribed persons (Section 34VAA)

On Media Watch, Liz Jackson mischievously suggested that AFP Commisssioner BK might have inadvertently breached this prohibition when he told a TV Reporter that:

Any charges will be determined after we look at the evidence that's as a result of the search warrant and also as a result of interviews that have been taking place.

Interestingly, there appears to be nothing in the Act to prevent me from telling you that I have recently been the subject of an ASIO questioning warrant. Normally, I'd leave it to you, the reader, to work out why, but in this case it may be prudent to spell it out; it's bullshit. The Act seems to leave it much open slather for bullshit artists who want to big note themselves by making up stories about how they were taken into custody by ASIO for a spot of "Have you now, or have you ever been, an international terrorist mastermind?" That's not something I'd do myself, of course. And, however amusing I might find the idea in theory, I think it would be extremely imprudent to tell a call centre operative that I don't have time for the short 100 question survey on nasal hair removal products because I'll be tied up for the next few days assisting the prescribed authority with a matter of national security. That's not the only potentially amusing but extemely imprudent idea involving call centre operators and national security that I've had over the past week or two but I'm definitely not telling you the other one.

Postscript (1): number one on the list of The Top Ten More Things I'm Not Missing would have to be sitting in the typing chair staring at the bookshelves for the best part of fifteen minutes wondering how to shoehorn some brilliant idea into a post. Like the one about "What would happen if ASIO raided the "Big Brother" house and took one of the housemates off for questioning? How would the producers explain that one?" Sometimes you just can't make it happen.

Postscript (2): Channel Nine's This is Your Life is doing Pauline Hanson tonight. At least that's what I've inferred from the promos. For that, it might be worth getting back in with the candiru fish again.