Hack asks the right questions on agricultural handouts

I have been pretty critical of Triple J in the past but today on Hack, Tom Tilley really turned the screws onto Barnaby Joyce, Federal Agricultural Minister, about the recent announcement of handouts to farmers (listen from the 24min mark):

Tilley points out the truth – that farming isn’t anything special, that they aren’t the only business with long term time frames for revenue and that they need to plan more for the future. The paucity of Joyce’s arguments is exposed when Tilley pointed out the economic truth about farming, that maybe the future is in getting bigger – he falls back to a political argument (he can’t sell it), a cultural argument (that small family farms are inherently good) and a distraction (that the ABC is exposed to the same argument, which is true). In the end, Joyce has no credible economic argument for these handouts – it is a political fix for a favoured group of constituents.

Tilley would do well to interview LDP Senator-elect for NSW, David Leyonhjelm, who slays the arguments for agricultural subsidies.


Big Government crowding out private players: Triple J Edition

Justin Burford, former lead singer of pop-rock act End Of Fashion, has taken a big swipe at Triple J for the demise of his band:

Justin Burford, who fronted Perth band End of Fashion, said Triple J turned on his band after initially being supportive, which spelled the band’s demise. He said “very small group of people” make decisions on whether a band gets Triple J airplay, a factor which can make or break an act.

Fellow Australian musician Whitley says Triple J’s playlist is “excruciatingly narrow-minded”, adding “In my opinion they’ve failed as a taxpayer funded radio station that is supposed to challenge and present new ideas for the youth of Australia.”

And this month an anonymous musician claimed many Australian bands are tailoring their sound to suit the Triple J playlist and therefore get airplay.

Burford said the station’s once-supportive music director Richard Kingsmill went off End of Fashion after initially supporting the band, which made No. 8 in the Triple J Hottest 100 in 2005 with O Yeah.

On his Facebook page Burford said “Triple J ended the career path of End of Fashion, no question.”

“A band that was fully supported by the station, earning a top ten place in a Hottest 100, was dropped like a sack of hot potatoes upon the second album’s release. Our lead single, Fussy was even openly derided on air by Richard Kingsmill as just another pop release’.”

Firstly, you have to ask whether End of Fashion’s follow up was any good. I quite like their first album – it’s a energetic slice of the sort of rock-pop that Perth was doing a good trade in circa 2006 (see also: Eskimo Joe) so I don’t have too many doubts that the follow up would been along similar lines. And given how much crap that gets promoted and lauded by Triple J (*cough Riptide cough*), I doubt it couldn’t cross the low bar that is set for going on high rotation.

But the bigger problem is that Triple J is really the only game in town for alternative radio stations. Yes, there are independent stations like RTR and whatnot but none of them have the sorts of dollars or reach Triple J has, primarily because they don’t get a slice of the ABC’s behemoth budget. If you can’t get airplay on JJJ, you aren’t going to go anywhere fast.

Triple J, like any government creation, skews investment in alternative youth radio stations. Who would be willing to invest serious money to broadcast across Australia when revenue and listeners are fickle and Triple J has a solid, year-in year-out source of revenue and a well established customer base? Even if you managed to create a superior station and draw half their listeners, Triple J won’t lose a dollar, so you can’t even starve your competition of money. This is already on top of the problem that potential listeners have less money to spend (either directly or indirectly through buying the products advertisers sell) on radio stations because the government is taking money away from them through tax.

Existing beneficiaries of the system with mediocre second and third albums might mock but it is a serious problem that you have one government backed player dominating one segment of the radio market. Aside from the problems with Left-wing groupthink at Triple J, the economics of a state-subsidized radio station mean that the Australian alternative music and radio markets will be stifled as long as Triple J is on the taxpayer teat.

ABC’s perfect record for blowing off complaints about balance continues

The ABC’s imperviousness to any suggestion that they are politically biased or unbalanced remains. On the 13th of August, Radio National’s The World Today program interviewed Prof. James Fallows regarding the Republican Party’s selection of Paul Ryan as the candidate for Vice President.

They introduced as the national correspondent for The Atlantic and chair of US Media at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. What they didn’t mention was that he was Jimmy Carter’s speechwriter for two years, which one would think would be a pretty good indicator of his political position. In the discussion, he called Paul Ryan a ‘extreme conservative’ and made numerous judgements on him.

So, for a lark, I thought it would be interesting to see if we could get the ABC to uphold a complaint of a pretty obvious breach of transparency on its part.


The balance has not been restored

Here is a letter I have written to the ABC regarding the supposed ‘satire’ Restoring the Balance, broadcast on triple j on Sunday nights.

I would like to lodge a complaint to express my disgust at the Restoring the Balance show on triple j. To take a legitimate criticism of the ABC, and triple j in particular, that there is an element of systemic left wing bias and then turn in it into a ‘satire’ of conservatives is insulting to me as a young conservative.

I can put up with the favouritism that the Left gets on triple j, and the tokenistic approach to airing conservative views, but to have a show that lampoons that feeling amongst conservatives is like rubbing salt in the wound. It shows the contempt that triple j management has for conservatives.

If triple j were serious about restoring the balance of commentary on their station, they would either a) have a show where serious and reasonable discussion of issues are had from a conservative point of view; b) change the tone of the show to criticise the substance of conservative views rather than denigrate a stereotype for the benefit of their sniggering buddies; or c) pull the show from the air as it serves no purpose but to insult half the voting population with demeaning, lame jokes.

Restoring the Balance as it stands is a disgrace to the public broadcaster, as no other religious or political group would ever be subject to such treatment (in fact, if a commercial station do such a thing, triple j would be first to condemn them in outrage). It is not ok to think that WASP conservatives are fair game while shielding others from the same sort of vilification.

ABC now thinks you don’t need a job

The media today was awash with post-Budget analysis, not the least the ABC. I turned into The World Today, ABC Radio’s midday current affairs show, to hear their economic editor, Stephen Long, drop a real clanger.

Eleanor Hall, the host of The World Today, asked him about whether Labor’s moves to get those on parenting payments and disability support pensions will work. Stephen started off making a good point, that long term unemployed people need help to get back into work as they can be unready.

But then he said something that I think reveals a real ideological bias, one that even Labor has nothing to do with any more. Let’s turn to the transcript:

But the other side is there is an assumption in all the discussion around this from the Government and just about everybody that somehow this is a universally good thing, that any job is better than no job and we will be giving these people the dignity of work, the dignity of labour.

Now there is a whole body of medical research and other research that actually says that pushing people into low wage, insecure jobs that can often be quite oppressive and give people little control can actually undermine their health and well being.

So in other words, if your crappy job (of which I hold two of at the moment) is getting you down, quit because Centrelink has got your back. Stephen Long thinks that the dignity of unemployment and being on the dole is greater than the dignity of putting in a hard day’s labour, even if is a real s**t kicking job.

I’m sure this logic is exactly why isolated Indigenous communities, where intergenerational welfare dependency is entrenched and prospects of finding a job are very low, are happy, fun places filled with rainbows and sunshine and smiling children. Just ask Noel Pearson.

So to all you dole bludgers, don’t stress. The ABC says you guys are all fine. And if someone should know what it’s like to sponge off the taxpayer, it would be the ABC.

Ningaloo and the green beat up

Nothing is sure to fire up the greenies than the prospect of greedy, evil multinational corporations digging around the isolated coastline of WA for that apocalypse-waiting-to-happen: oil. Not surprisingly, when Shell lodged a proposal to drill 50kms away from Ningaloo’s Marine Park, the greenies got on their soap boxes.

Rachel Siewert (WA Greens Senator) condemned the plan, saying that, “Ningaloo is one place which is too important to jeopardise with oil and gas exploration. All the regulations and precautions in the world will not offer the level of protection the area needs.”

Paul Gamblin of WWF said, “Clearly for a place like Ningaloo we should be protecting these areas, and not allowing oil and gas activity so close.” Mr Gamblin reckon tourism is under threat because of this oil rig, which would be a great loss.

Ronnie Fleay, however, burst their little bubble though with this:

The Shire president Ronnie Fleay says the project should not come as a suprise because Shell has kept the community well informed.

She says there are already operations closer to the reef than the Shell proposal.

"I don’t think it will have any impact to be honest, none of the others have, in fact tourists are quite fascinated to stand on our hill where our lighthouse is and to be able to see the flaring out there on the platforms," she said.

"I don’t think the tourists in general will even know they are there."

Oh dear, the hysteria of the greenies is shown up for what it is. It is disappointing that Geoff Hutchison would first go to the WWF and Paul Gamblin, who presumably doesn’t actually live in Exmouth (more likely inner-city Perth), when the president of the Shire of Exmouth could immediately put things into perspective.

Or maybe Geoff wanted to lend his soft-touch interviewing skills to the cause.