Wednesday, November 26, 2014


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG says that the ABC is cutting rural programs to slight the National Party


Three current articles below

ABC to cut more than 400 jobs

More than 400 people are set to lose their jobs at the ABC as the public broadcaster seeks to offset federal government funding cuts.

Managing director Mark Scott says close to 10 per cent of the ABC's ongoing workforce "face potential redundancy as we adjust our activities over coming months".

"We regard the changes as vital to securing the long-term health of the organisation but I acknowledge that is no comfort to those who will lose their positions."

The Abbott government has slashed $254 million from the ABC's budget over the next five years.  SBS has also been asked to find $53 million in savings over the same period.

Thousands of protesters held rallies against the cuts in Sydney and Melbourne at the weekend.


Turnbull slams Mark Scott over ABC cuts

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has launched a scathing attack on ABC managing director Mark Scott, accusing him of using funding cuts to drive his own agenda.

The coalition party room meeting, held earlier today in Canberra, devoted the majority of its time to criticising Mr Scott’s handling of the $254 million cut delivered to the public broadcaster last week.

Mr Turnbull, who previously had been a staunch defender of Mr Scott’s performance, said the programming cuts announced Monday had nothing to do with efficiencies and there were plenty of alternative options that would not have affected content.

Mr Scott was “using this opportunity as a cover to do things he has wanted to do for a long time,” Mr Turnbull told the party room meeting.

He also said the ABC had an “obsolete business model” and had been “a worker’s collective for quite some time”.

Other coalition MPs described the decision to cut programmes such as Radio National Bush Telegraph and close a number of regional bureaux, as a purely political move.

One MP said the ABC needed a stronger regional and rural voice on its board, a suggestion to which Mr Turnbull agreed.


ABC has flab to cut

When Louise Evans joined Radio National, the staff were like free range chickens, wandering around at will, pecking at this and that, content that laying one egg constituted a hard day's work.

By Louise Evans,  a former manager at ABC's Radio National

"Good luck trying to change anything around here, there are too many lifers."  This was the advice given to me when I started as manager at ABC's Radio National last year.  It seemed like a dream job. I love the ABC and relished the opportunity to help steer RN.

But having previously worked as a journalist, foreign correspondent, editor and managing editor at lean, efficient and editorially robust media companies including Australian Associated Press, Fairfax and News Corp for over 20 years, I was shocked by the culture, waste, duplication and lax workplace practices exercised in some pockets of Radio National. I was even more shocked by the failure of the executive to want to do anything about it.

One problem, as one insider pointed out, was the so-called lifers, a pocket of predominantly middle-aged, Anglo-Saxon staff who had never worked anywhere other than the ABC, who were impervious to change, unaccountable, untouchable and who harboured a deep sense of entitlement.

They didn't have a 9-5 mentality. They had a 10-3 mentality. They planned their work day around their afternoon yoga class. They wore thongs and shorts to work, occasionally had a snooze on the couch after lunch and popped out to Paddy's Market to buy fresh produce for dinner before going home.

They were like free-range chickens, wandering around at will, pecking at this and that, content that laying one egg constituted a hard day's work.

They knew they couldn't be sacked or officially sanctioned because there was no appetite among the executive to make waves, take on the union or make a case for any more redundancies. So the lifers just thumbed their nose at any attempt at performance management. Managers came and went, but they were there for life.

The RN budget was another shock. It was predominantly tied up in wages for 150 people. There was precious little budget to do anything new or innovative and you couldn't turn any program off, no matter how high its costs and how poor its audience share and reach.

The executive would pander to the whims of celebrity presenters because they gave the ABC "edge and credibility", yet would take for granted journalistic giants like Fran Kelly and Geraldine Doogue who present world-class programs.

While online rules the media world, trying to get some RN producers to repurpose on-air content for online was like pulling teeth. Plus the systems they were using were archaic, due to a failure to invest in efficient, integrated content-management systems that worked across divisions and on multi platforms, especially on mobile devices.

There was also blatant waste. Taxi dockets were left in unlocked drawers for the taking and elephantine leave balances had been allowed to accumulate. When programs shut down for Christmas, staff would get approval from their executive producers to hang around for a week or two "to tidy things up". One editor asked for his leave to be cut back by a week because he'd need to pop into work during the holidays to "check emails".That constituted work.

Yet attempts to tighten basic oversight of taxi use and leave, controls that are the norm in the corporate world, were frowned upon by the ABC executive and actively discouraged as "not the main game".

Programming and content generation was another shock. While other media organisations live and die by their ratings, circulation and readership figures, some ABC programmers considered ratings irrelevant. Some producers strongly resisted editorial oversight and locked in segments that lacked editorial rigour and relevance. So the weekly Media Report went to air discussing foreign press freedoms while hundreds of Australian journalists were being made redundant just down the road.

The ABC can be leaner and remain editorially strong and independent as ABC's NewsRadio proves. With less than 20 per cent of RN's total budget, NewsRadio employs brilliant broadcasters including Sandy Aloisi and Marius Benson and produces 5000 hours of robust original content each year that reaches a bigger national weekly audience than RN.

That's why these ABC budget cuts announced by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull are not just necessary but vital to the ongoing health of the corporation.

Pockets of the ABC have been allowed to get too fat, flabby, wasteful and unaccountable.

The doors have to be prised open so that the winds of change that have swept through media companies around the world can reinvigorate our ABC.

The same efficiencies and workplace practices that are the norm in corporate Australia need to be front and centre at the ABC so that it remains a strong, independent voice that is both editorially robust and reflects who we are - a culturally, geographically and socio-economically diverse nation that doesn't believe anyone is entitled to a job for life at the taxpayer's expense.


Australia: More Bureau of Meteorology shenanigans

(BOM:  "The Australian Climate Observations Reference Network – Surface Air Temperature (ACORN-SAT) dataset has been developed for monitoring climate variability and change in Australia. The dataset employs the latest analysis techniques and takes advantage of newly digitised observational data to provide a daily temperature record over the last 100 years")

The BoM ACORN SAT project has reconstructed Cobar temperature data commencing with an obviously invalid adjustment

This is the second episode in the Cobar ACORN-SAT series examining BoM adjustments to the CDO [Climate Data Online] temperature data – here I start to look at adjustments to minimum temperatures. The 1st episode looked at maximum temperatures.

A list of ACORN adjustments to Cobar data is here and you can see the first min adjustment listed is 1st Jan 1972 meaning the adjustment factor applies to all data earlier than that. You will see it is labelled as “Statistical” meaning there is no evidence for it in station diaries or admin records but it derives from computer driven comparisons sifting data differences from multiple stations as far away as Parkes and Hillston – see map. In this case of the 4th adjustment the following stations data was used.

Making the chart of Cobar annual minimum temperatures compared to ACORN-SAT my eye was caught by the adjustment starting in 2006 and affecting all earlier years which I have marked with a blue 6.

That is unlisted in the ACORN-SAT documentation and is substantial at about -0.4 degrees C. The slight mismatch between Cobar Met Office and ACORN from 2007-2013 is due to rounding differences because I have made my ACORN annuals by averaging a year of daily data which I leave as produced by Excel with multiple decimal places.

The next adjustment to look for is at 1971 where I have the blue 4, which is the 4th adjustment in the ACORN list and is listed at -0.49 degrees C. The increased departure of ACORN cooler than Met Office to about -0.9 is obvious on the chart.

Examining this adjustment in greater detail I have made a chart comparing Cobar MO and ACORN version with nearest neighbours Bourke, Wilcannia and Nyngan. The average difference between the 1971 & 1972 readings for these 3 stations is +0.2 at Cobar MO, +0.4 at Bourke PO, +0.4 at Nyngan, and -0.4 at Wilcannia, an average for the 3 Cobar neighbours of +0.13, not very different from the +0.2 that we know happened at Cobar Met Office.

But instead of leaving the higher quality Cobar Met Office readings well alone – what does the BoM decide to do with their adjustment #4? They take off 0.49° making the 1971-1972 difference now 0.7 – greater by 0.3 than any of the neighbours. Presumably the BoM justify this by their computer driven comparisons with sites as distant as Parkes.

If the reasons for an adjustment can not be seen in nearest neighbours then it must be an exercise in fantasy to search for a reason in a cherry picked array of more distant stations which are all of poorer quality than Cobar Met Office.

It is interesting to check the differences in annual minimums between Cobar Met Office and Cobar Airport which are only about 7 or 8 km apart. You might expect them to be very similar and in lockstep – not so from the chart.

Note the BoM never refer to Cobar Airport data in ACORN-SAT – but we are free to check it out.

First there is no evidence here of a step or jump around 2006 – 2007.

While there are such wildly varying and apparently random differences between these two very adjacent sites – what on earth can the BoM learn by comparing Cobar with Parkes – or indeed any other station in their adjustments list.

These are the sort of unsafe foundations that pro-IPCC climate science is based on.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Coalition to act on watchdog’s behaviour over asylum inquiry

THE Abbott government has “great concerns” about the behaviour of Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs and will “take the matter forward”, ­according to Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg.

And Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the HRC’s ­inquiry into children in detention “risks being a complete waste of taxpayers’ money” in the wake of controversy over how it was ­established.

Appearing before the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee last week, Professor Triggs revealed she had decided to hold the inquiry early last year, but delayed it because of what she claimed was the possibility of an early election.

After initially denying she ­discussed it with the then Labor government, she admitted under questioning that she had raised it separately with two Labor immigration ministers.

Speaking on Sky News’s Viewpoint, Mr Frydenberg said “what deeply concerns” the government about the president’s evidence was the “revelation that there were political considerations taken into account” before Professor Triggs decided to delay the inquiry.

“Those revelations — one, that there were political considerations about delaying the inquiry and, two, that there is now revelations that she had spoken to two senior Labor ministers — are also of great concern to the government.”

Referring to “contradictions in the evidence”, Mr Frydenberg also said: “It is going to be up to (Attorney-General) George Brandis to take this matter forward, but there are many questions that need to be answered.”

Speaking on 2GB radio, Mr Morrison said the HRC “did nothing” while boats were arriving under Labor and that as a result the inquiry was a “wasted opportunity”. But he would not be drawn on Professor Triggs’s future.

“She is appointed by the ­Attorney-General and there are some pretty strict conditions which apply to someone departing their role in such a position and it involves serious misconduct issues and things like that. That is really a matter for the Attorney-General.”

Professor Triggs is less than halfway through a five-year term.

The two former Labor immigration ministers Professor Triggs said she briefed have declined to reveal what was said. Chris Bowen said the HRC typically updated him on its activities, but he did not confirm or deny the inquiry into children in detention was raised.

Tony Burke said he sought a meeting with Professor Triggs “principally for the purpose of ­discussing my plans to prioritise the removal of unaccompanied ­minors from detention” and to provide and receive updates on ­activities.


Looming poll will shed light on what voters think of leaders with thuggish mates

The possibility that Labor might win next weekend's Victorian election is more worrisome than usual. There are two aspects which could set an unhealthy precedent for Victoria and maybe later for NSW Labor – which has a former union boss as its leader who will be contesting next year's NSW election.

The first is the CFMEU's control over Victorian Labor and its record of intimidation, thuggery and links to unsavoury individuals. With Labor using its numbers in the Senate to protect the unions and the CFMEU running Victoria, no one should be in any doubt that union militancy could be difficult to handle. We have had this problem before in the 1970s and 1980s when militant union behaviour was a major concern of key trading partners like the Japanese and Koreans.

The second is the declared policy of Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews to tear up large infrastructure contracts. A government decision to refuse to honour legally enforceable contracts is clearly a case of sovereign risk.

Regardless of the fact that polls suggest Labor is just ahead I still find it hard to believe that the Victorian Coalition will lose. The idea that Labor is going to win seems contrary to common sense. Then again, I never thought that Jeff Kennett was going to lose either back in 1999.

Premier Denis Napthine is a good man: the polls show he is well liked by the electorate; he has been a solid and dedicated Premier. There have been no real scandals despite the determination of many in the media to find some; he has sensibly managed the State's finances and wisely promoted Michael O'Brien as Treasurer; his infrastructure proposals will be good for Victoria and his key Ministers are streets ahead of Labor's union hacks.

In contrast, it's hard to see what Labor offers and its record when last in office was poor. Victorian taxpayers will be paying for Labor's mothballed desalination plant for decades, Labor's main policy seems to be 50 railway crossings to improve traffic and Andrews is the most left wing leader Labor has ever put up in Victoria. Andrews was anointed by the hard line CFMEU and he now turns a blind eye to the ongoing thuggery and intimidation which is the well-known trade mark of his CFMEU sponsors. The CFMEU is an embarrassment to Andrews but he can't do anything about it. And CFMEU supporters are becoming more brazen than ever; so much so that only a few days ago, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported that "Underworld figure Mick Gatto has told Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews not to break links with controversial CFMEU John Setka". When a political figure is getting advice from people like Gatto it's obvious Labor has a big problem with its choice of mates.

Andrews has said that a CFMEU member will be the new Planning, Major Projects and Infrastructure Minister. Mr Andrews sees no conflict of interest in his Minister's close association with the CFMEU despite the fact that the CFMEU is inextricably involved in his portfolio. Or maybe he has been told to turn a blind eye. Or maybe he is too weak to stand up to the CFMEU. Either way his position is scandalous.

In addition, Labor has publicly confirmed that it will break existing contracts for the East West road project despite the fact that the proposal has strong public support (around 60 per cent in recent polls). The combination of CFMEU cabinet influence and a diminution of Victoria's reputation on sovereign risk will be a blow to Victoria.

The third risk of a Labor government is that it would be a big spender as were the recent Labor governments of Steve Bracks and John Brumby. The facts speak for themselves, as reported by the Menzies Research Centre using ABS and other publicly available data.

Under Bracks and Brumby, the number of public sector employees grew by 52.4 per cent compared to the population increase of 16.7 per cent. By comparison, Labor governments in NSW from Carr to Keneally increased the public sector by 25.69 per cent.

Over the same Labor period, the average annual increases in wages were 7.7 per cent for Victoria and 6.2 per cent for NSW under Labor. By comparison, wage growth with Coalition governments was 3.3 per cent under Greiner, Kennett wages expenditure actually fell by 1.7 per cent and the John Howard increase was a mere 0.6 per cent.

And if you thought that the extra public sector workers were there to boost front line services, you would be wrong. From 2001 to 2007, when Labor was running nearly all the state governments, the ABS classification of "government administration" increased by 8.5 per cent compared to education (2.5 per cent) and 2.3 per cent for health and community services.

Victorian Labor has become too close to the CFMEU and tearing up contracts cannot be acceptable for either Liberal or Labor voters in NSW or Victoria. If Victorian Labor loses, on these two issues particularly, they will deserve what they get.


Australian Wind Industry in a Tailspin as Senate Sets Up Inquiry Into the Great Wind Power Fraud & Cross-Benchers Lay Out Plans for the LRET

(LRET = Large-scale Renewable Energy Target)

STT recently covered a motion proposed by cross-bench Senators Leyonhjelm, Madigan, Day, Xenophon; with the support of the Coalition, through their Deputy Government Whip in the Senate, STT Champion, WA Senator, Chris Back to establish a wide-ranging inquiry into the wind industry in Australia. It gives us much pleasure to report that the Senate voted to establish the inquiry, as moved by David Leyonhjelm on Monday.

Sure, it was a close-run thing, but many a grand final has been won by a single kick.

Predictably, the wind industry, its parasites and spruikers have gone into a tailspin – wailing about the dreaded malady of “uncertainty” – of the kind that everyone else gets to face on a daily basis in every aspect of life and business – but from which the wind industry must be protected at all times.

But the Senate inquiry is just the beginning of the wind industry’s many woes.


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