Thursday, November 01, 2012
Alan Jones has the last laugh; now tops
With puffed-up pseudo-indignation, the Left tried to destroy him over a minor gaffe but they failed utterly
THE public has delivered an extraordinary verdict on the Alan Jones controversy and the attempt to destroy his program via an advertiser boycott.
The Alan Jones show has surged back to the top of the market. It is again bristling with ads. His number of listeners – all voters and consumers – is showing a healthy glow.
Prior to the recent anti-Jones campaign, Jones had a cumulative audience of 442,000 listeners in his 5.30am to 9am slot on weekday mornings. It was 2 1/2 times the audience size of his most direct commercial competitor, 2UE, but still trailed ABC 702.
This changed dramatically in the latest Nielsen ratings. Jones cruised past ABC 702, gaining 22,000 listeners while 702 lost 17,000 listeners.
The survey was generally bad for the flagship ABC station. Its daytime audience fell 9 per cent as ABC 702 suffered losses across every shift from 5.30am to 7pm, losing a cumulative 142,000 listeners.
This probably had nothing to do with Jones and more to do with changing media consumption patterns but the difference in fortunes was striking.
The latest Nielsen numbers are also a blast of cold air for 2UE. The station is not just a direct commercial competitor of 2GB but has also mimicked the 2GB formula, for a time even hiring David Oldfield, the former strategist for Pauline Hanson. The station should also have benefited from a ferocious coverage of Jones in Fairfax Media mastheads.
The upshot: prior to the boycott, 2UE had 166,000 cumulative listeners during the 5.30 to 9am slot, the equivalent of 38 per cent of the Jones audience. In the latest survey, 2UE shed 30,000 listeners while Jones was on air, a plunge of 18 per cent. Its audience has fallen to an equivalent of just 29 per cent of Jones's audience.
The Alan Jones show took a big commercial hit during October from the boycott but the show again has plenty of advertisers. Shares in 2GB's parent company, Macquarie Radio Network, fell sharply at the height of the boycott, from 64¢ to 54¢, but have since sprung back to pre-boycott levels.
The anti-Jones campaign has become problematic for its organisers.
In the marketplace of ideas, and the arena of freedom of speech, this controversy was a setback for Jones but has proved an abject defeat for his political adversaries in terms of market share.
The campaign targeted small businesses that advertised on the Jones program, jamming their online operations with anti-Jones spam. The campaign thus inflicted commercial damage on companies that had done nothing wrong.
The social media campaign which drove the anti-Jones campaign has been exposed as having organisers with clear organic links to the left, the unions and the Labor Party.
Ten days ago, Simon Sheikh, the long-time national director of GetUp, a social media network imported from the United States, announced he would seek preselection from the Greens as a Senate candidate in the ACT at the next election. This removed the fig-leaf, if one even existed, in front of the reality that GetUp serves as a proxy for the unions and the Greens.
Another anti-Jones organiser, Change.com, which like GetUp is a progressive social media network imported from the US, used to market itself as a politically neutral platform. It revealed itself as far from neutral when Change.com become an active cheerleader for the anti-Jones boycott campaign.
The campaign via Change.com was white hot for a week but quickly ran out of steam. After an initial surge of 100,000 online signatures in support of a boycott the growth in numbers fell to a trickle. When the petition closed after a month it had 116,000 signatures.
Any further attempts to target companies that advertise on Jones will be perceived as vindictive, given that Jones has apologised for the remark which sparked the campaign (that Julia Gillard's father had died of shame because his daughter lied so much) and commercial damage has been inflicted via the advertiser boycott. The point has been made.
The offending remark were made at a private function, and quickly withdrawn, but the outrage directed at Jones came from people who never listened to his program and are not remotely interested in his extensive philanthropy.
Based on the overall reaction to the Jones controversy, as distinct from the froth on social media, the campaign has proved to be a flash flood with little impact on the wider audience.
The Nielsen ratings suggest the campaign is widely perceived as an exercise in overkill. This morning a clearly nervous man went on air during the Jones's show and said: "First-time caller. I just want to give you my support."
Another caller, Stephanie, a Jones regular, wanted to talk about the two years of abuse she endured from another radio talk host who indulged in an obsessional hatred of Jones.
"Was your name and address ever mentioned on air?" Jones asked, in classic Dorothy Dix mode. "Indeed my full name was mentioned for nearly two years by a broadcaster, and where I live," replied Stephanie. "My sons were mentioned … I was referred to on air, several times, as a skanky ho."
Jones: "There are rules for some and different rules for others … It's perfectly OK to refer to Tony Abbott as a 'douchebag' or 'Jack the Ripper'."
A sense of resentment has energised Jones, and his audience. It's called blowback.
Asylum seekers told of no-advantage rule
IMMIGRATION Minister Chris Bowen says he has explained to asylum seekers on Nauru that they will not go to the head of the queue in their claims to come to Australia.
Mr Bowen visited Australia's offshore processing detention centres on the Pacific Island of Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island in early October.
"I have spoken to the people in the centre at Nauru, and I have explained the no-advantage principle to them to their face," Mr Bowen told ABC television on Wednesday. "I have told them that it is a period of years, and talked that through."
The principle was to deter people arriving by boat without a visa as they would not gain an advantage over those who waited in a queue in refugee camps.
On Wednesday, Mr Bowen introduced legislation to remove the migration rights from any asylum seeker arriving by boat on the Australian mainland. The measure is one of the recommendations from the Houston expert panel handed to the government in August.
Mr Bowen defended his and Labor's change of mind on the policy.
In 2006, Labor opposed the measure when then prime minister John Howard tried and failed to excise the Australian mainland from the migration zone.
"If I have a choice between saving somebody's life and being entirely consistent with something I said in 2006, well, I'll go for saving the life, thanks very much," he told ABC radio earlier on Wednesday.
He said not every party had the same position in 2012 as it did in 2006. "In 2006, the Liberal Party supported putting a price on carbon for example," Mr Bowen said.
The Immigration Department confirmed two asylum seekers attempted self-harm at the detention facility on Nauru.
A spokesman for the department said the two people had been treated on Wednesday by health services provider International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) for superficial injuries. "They have since returned to their accommodation," he told AAP.
Two more asylum seeker boats have been intercepted, both detected late on Tuesday off Christmas Island. One was carrying 51 passengers and two crew and the other carried 12 passengers.
The increase in the number of boat arrivals was likely to blow the government's aim of a budget surplus for 2012/13, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said.
Mr Bowen introduced two bills to parliament on Tuesday requesting appropriation of the money needed to implement the recommendations of the Houston expert panel on asylum seekers.
It comes at a cost of $1.67 billion in 2012/13 and includes $267 million to build regional asylum seeker processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island.
Mr Morrison said before the mid-year budget update the estimated cost of processing and accommodating asylum seekers was $4.97 billion. "That figure today is up to $5.4 billion for this financial year and out over the forward estimates is $6.6 billion," Mr Morrison told parliament.
In the May budget the government had estimated 450 people a month would arrive in 2012/13. That figure had blown out to 2000 each month, Mr Morrison said.
Greens agree to back wheat deregulation bill
Sad that it takes the Left to do this
The Federal Government has agreed to a deal with the Greens to get its wheat deregulation bill through Parliament. The bill abolishes Wheat Exports Australia (WEA) and the 22-cents-a-tonne charge it imposes on producers.
The legislation has split the Coalition, with east coast MPs against it and some Western Australian MPs wanting to back it.
Some Coalition MPs had threatened to cross the floor in support of the bill.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert says her party will back the legislation in both houses of Parliament after Labor agreed to support amendments in the Senate.
She says they will ensure a port-access code of conduct is legislated and an oversight body is set up. "And that none of the provisions of the Act would come into place until that regulation ... putting in place that mandatory access code are in place," she said. "We have also reached agreement there will be an amendment that puts in place a ministerial advisory taskforce or body."
The former Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey has congratulated the Greens for supporting the bill.
But, he says he is disappointed about the lack of support from his former WA colleagues, including the deputy Opposition Leader, Julie Bishop. "As I have made very plain, I am extremely disappointed that there is not a total vote of West Australian Liberal members for this particular measure," he said.
The WA Farmers Federation has welcomed the deal. The federation's president, Dale Park, says he is not concerned which party backs the bill as long as it gets through. "It's good to see this bill going through," he said.
"We've said right from the start that we don't see any need for WEA so it doesn't really matter how we get it, as long as we get what we wanted."
After-school care paedophile angers parent
Governments seem to have a manic determination to protect sexual offenders from the consequences of their own deeds
A mother whose two children attended after-school care in Adelaide's north-western suburbs says she is angry the Education Department failed to tell parents the students had been supervised by a now-convicted paedophile.
Mark Christopher Harvey, 41, was sentenced last February to six years in jail for sexually abusing a young girl attending the care program.
A mother - who cannot be identified - says she was told Harvey quit his position because of ill-health and she did not find out about his conviction until after the matter went through the courts.
She says her two children have since made allegations against Harvey, which police are investigating, and she is demanding to know why the school and the Education Department did not inform parents when charges were first laid. "For me to find out that my children were in care of a paedophile and I had to find out through my children over a year after it happened, that's wrong," she said.
Police issued a statement, saying the principal was with officers when Harvey was arrested and was advised to consult with the Education Department on how best to tell parents what had happened. They said the principal was also told it was not a police role to tell the school community.
Education Minister Grace Portolesi later promised an independent review of the incident and its handling. "I certainly have acted on the advice provided by my department and as has been demonstrated yesterday ... SAPOL (SA Police) has a different opinion and so that's why we will get to the bottom of what's going on," she said.
"Of course it's a concern there appear to be differing opinions in relation to this matter. There clearly has been miscommunication and I'm organising an independent review to get to the bottom of that, I think that's what's important."
She said she had acted on clear advice from her department when she made the statement to Parliament that: "The school did not send information to the community about this incident on the advice from SAPOL."
"This is a symptom of incompetency both in the department and in the minister's office. I mean if I received a brief that told me that the police said the best way of dealing with this is to keep it secret, I would be asking very severe questions," he said.
The day after the matter surfaced publicly, Ms Portolesi made a ministerial statement to the Parliament. "We acknowledge the importance of the community's right to know and for parents to be supported in the care and wellbeing of their children. We must strike this balance for the community," she said.
"In regard to the serious matters raised yesterday, I advised the House on the basis of advice given to me. However it is now apparent that there is a difference of opinion and that is cause for concern. That's why, Madam Speaker, I have asked that an independent review investigates and reports to me in relation to this matter."
Ms Portolesi said the matter also was raised with the Ombudsman several months ago. "I understand that it was an aggrieved parent who went to the Ombudsman and that sparked the investigation," she said. "They are establishing the line of communication, they are establishing events as they transpired. "I think it's a good thing we've got the Ombudsman inquiring in relation to this."
While the minister is claiming there may have been crossed wires, child protection expert Freda Briggs thinks otherwise. She was contacted months ago by members of the school governing council, who claimed they had been silenced by the Education Department.
"The parents think that the school or whatever the organisation is is trying to conceal what has happened. Shoving it under the carpet," she said.
Now-Premier Jay Weatherill was education minister at the time Harvey was arrested but said he had no recollection of the case.