What is wrong, and why we can’t seem to fix it

Throughout most of my life I have been living under conservative governments, and the nicest way I can find to describe political conservatism is to say that it embodies the popular phrase ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. However, as we all know there are many things wrong at present, and they need fixing. No amount of ignoring them will make them go away. This blog is about those awkward facts of world that won’t go away and which political conservatism won’t make go away either.

What I’m going to aim to do is post a blog once a week, on a Friday, so you can digest it over the weekend. The next week’s blog will either be the next in my series, or a discussion of issues that have arisen from the comments.

I’m going to have a very strict comments policy, comment will only be accepted if they are intelligent and polite contributions to discussion around the topic of the post. Everything else will be moderated.

If you find a blog here sympathetic, you might consider reading the blogs from the beginning, as they are supposed to be a more or less continuous argument.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Government 2: Proportional Representation

In my last post I described how much better I though Australia would be if the states were done away with.

However, another reform that needs to be undertaken to reform government, in a wider sense, is proportional representation (PR). This is the method of choosing representatives for parliaments by the proportion of votes that a particular party wins in an election, not by the number of ‘seats’ won. In other words Party X gains 28% of the vote, there are 150 representatives in the parliament, therefore Party X gets 42 representatives in the parliament.

In the 2007 Federal Election in Australia the Nationals got 5.49% of the national vote and won 10 seats in the House of Representatives, the Greens won 7.79% of the national vote and won no seats in the House of Representatives. Under PR these two parties would have had 8 and 12 representatives, respectively. (These figures are more difficult to calculate for the 2010 election as at that election a hybrid monster called the Liberal National Party represented both the Nationals and Liberals in Queensland and it is difficult to disentangle what proportion of the conservative vote in Queensland went to which party—however at this election the Greens increased their vote to 11.76% of the national vote, and so they should have had 18 HoR seats instead of just 1).

I have chosen these two parties as they are the extremes in Australian politics of geographically concentrated and geographically dispersed voters. The National Party is very strong in certain areas of the country (as opposed to the cities), whereas Green voters are thinly spread across the whole country. This raises a very important issue, local representation.

I think local representation is generally seen seen as a good, and an indispensable part of the Westminster system. However I see it as a curse. The origin of local representation in England was the representatives of the burgess class sent to Westminster to sit in the House of Commons. The burgesses were the rich (non-noble) landowners and merchants and they chose representatives from amongst themselves to go to London to do business with the House of Lords and the Court. All the peers and all the bishops sat in the Lords, and so there was an attempt to make sure that all the burgesses were represented in the Commons (there were too many of them for them all to come). These MPs were representatives of their class, not of the towns they came from. Later the franchise widened and more people in each town got a say in who should be their representative.

It was only at this point that the idea that the MPs were representing their towns (rather than their class) emerged and it became entrenched when reformers tried to reform voting and made much of the numerous ‘rotten boroughs’ in England (towns where there were only a few voters, or places where burgesses located around a mediaeval town had sent an MP, but a shift in population meant that there was no town there any longer). Eventually with the Reform Act of 1832 (and subsequent ones) the idea of parliamentary seats with a wider franchise electing a ‘local member’ became cemented in political thought.

I believe that local representation is a bad idea in modern democracies for several reasons:

  1. As we have already seen, parties whose members are concentrated in certain areas are over-represented, and parties whose members are widely spread are underrepresented.
  2. Local MPs are in danger of being corrupted by local interests and what is good for their constituencies may not be good for the nation as whole. For example, currently Tasmanian MPs are beholden to timber company interests, whereas these interests are not in the national interest.
  3. Parliamentary seats disenfranchise. I personally I have never had a vote that counted in my entire life. When I lived in Britain I lived in a safe Tory seat, and however I voted a Tory would be elected. Now in Australia I live in a safe Labor seat, and however I vote a Labor MP will be returned. Effectively only voters in marginal seats have votes that count.
  4. How can an MP represent an area when they know that possibly as many as 49.9% of the electorate don’t want them to represent them?

What is required I believe is for Australia to have a House of Representatives of 150 members (or whatever number), chosen by all Australians to represent Australia as a whole, not individual areas of it.

The function of MPs of dealing with administrative errors or oversights on behalf of their ‘constituents’ can much more efficiently be carried out by ombudsmen.

However, there is one major problem with PR. Where PR is practised, such a Germany and New Zealand (though not in its pure form, but mixed with local representation), political parties devise a ‘party-list’ which ranks their candidates in the order the party would like them selected. If the party receives a certain percentage of the vote, a certain number of MPs are elected down the list. This, it seems to me, continues the tyranny of political parties that is a feature of current politics.

Here is a PR model that I think gets around this problem:

Four political colours are established to cover the spectrum of political opinion. Let’s say greens, social democrats, liberals and conservatives (or Green, Red, Light Blue, Dark Blue). When an election comes round anyone can nominate to become an MP, selecting a colour to belong to. For each house there are two streams, up to 75% of the eventual list is reserved for previous MPs and the remainder for new prospective members. A large number of citizen electoral selectors are selected at random from the population—(next week I will be detailing how I think society can be revitalised in all departments by the use of citizens’ panels chosen at random, this is an example)—and these selectors nominate which colour they wish to select for.

Every potential MP fills in a form detailing their thoughts on the political issues of the day, how they voted in the last parliament (or how they would have voted) and listing their achievements. They must also answer personal questions about, for example, their financial interests, their religious affiliations &c. The selectors then read these applications in either the new or continuing streams and rate the applications. All these ratings are compiled for a colour, the two streams combined, and a list is generated. At the election each political colour has a list selected this way.

At the election voters either vote for a political colour, or an individual. There is a clever weighting system so that if an individual gets many individual votes he or she moves up the colour list without the individual vote counting more than a colour vote. When the results are counted the MPs are selected down the lists. After this the new MPs meet in their colour caucuses and elect a leadership team (the policies they will follow have been laid down by the outgoing colour caucus from the previous parliament as the election platform). The leaders then begin to talk to the other colours to work out a coalition government.

At the end of this process the President asks the leaders of a coalition which has a majority to form government. During the life of the parliament MPs vote on issues without any coercion (a whip-system), however, if they persistently vote against their colour’s programme a two-thirds majority of the colour caucus can vote to expel them and they then have to join another colour, or sit as an independent, for the rest of the parliament.

Elections in this system are held every four years on a fixed date. The President functions much as Governor-General now, and can either be elected directly (by a form of the above process) or by Parliament, every four years, out of step with the parliament, ie a presidential election/selection at the end of the second year of every parliament.

As there are no states or territories (see last week) there is no need for a Senate. New Zealand does perfectly well without a second chamber.

For regional government assemblies (see last week) much the same system can be used for elections. However, at the regional government level I believe some form of local representation is appropriate, and so after the RG elections MRGAs from different colours would be assigned to local representative teams who would have to get to know a local area and represent its interests at the assembly. However, if reelected they would be rotated so as never to represent the same local area in successive parliaments.

This form of PR is of course very laborious and dependent on much rating and voting and calculations, at the national and regional level, and so all of it would be conducted on secure computer systems.

Next Week: Government 3, Citizens’ Panels

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Government 1: Getting Rid of the States

I take it that most potential readers of this blog would agree with the proposition that politics in Australia at present are utterly corrupt. This corruption stems in my view from two sources:

  1. A beholdenness on the part of politicians to vested interests of various kinds. This is predominantly to business interests as they have the deepest pockets, but it also encompasses undue regard for all ‘professional’ groups and other lobbyists. This is ‘stakeholder society’ trumpeted by Tony Blair in the late 1990s. Under an older and more sober view this would simply be regarded as corruptly listening to factional interests and selling out the only stakeholder that governments should consider—Australian citizens.
  2. An unhealthy regard for opinion polls, focus groups and other manifestations of temporary views, and a willingness to pander to every unsavoury view if it can be seen to provide temporary advantage. A couple of generations ago politicians used to stand up and say ‘I believe that this is the direction the country should head in. To go this way will be difficult and expensive. I ask you each to make the sacrifices that will be necessary to achieve this worthy goal’. Nowadays this speech would run ‘I have no vision whatsoever for the country. Here is a tax cut. Please allow me to agree with whatever mistaken belief or prejudice is uppermost in your minds at the moment.’

The problem with this corruption is that it robs politics of any ability to respond to developing events, to consider new facts and to develop new strategies to move on. It is unquestionably the case that Australia in 50 years time will resemble not at all the Australia of our time, but will be entirely different. How difficult it will be to move through necessary changes into the future will depend on how responsive politics can be.

The usual explanation of this state of affairs is that we have poor politicians and we need to elect better ones, we need to rejuvenate Australian political parties so that politicians can better reflect the community.

I do not believe that this is true, I believe that politicians do currently reflect the community: lazy, uninformed and unimaginative. I think that a reform in Australia’s government systems must occur before a better class of politician can emerge as the present system tends to corrupt, or foil the best efforts of, even the best politicians. T

Next week I will talk about a possible form of proportional representation (PR) that rescues PR from the dreaded ‘party lists’ and later I will go on to explain how I think that society can be jolted out of its complacency by the adoption of citizens’ democracy widely. For today, however, I want to talk about getting rid of the states.

Various figures have been bandied around as to how much money Australia could save by getting rid of the States (‘shedding a tier’!). Sums of up to $50 billion dollars a year have been mentioned. I believe that even if the idea was revenue neutral it would still be worth doing rather than continuing to live with the ignominy of these contemptible entities.

My reasons for recommending the removal of the middle tier of government in Australia include:

  1. States are the principal offenders for corruption: because most of the local decisions such as planning are at the state level, this is where most of the corruption occurs. The late unlamented NSW Labor Government was widely seen as in the pocket of developers. I suspect that people expecting this situation to change under the new NSW government will be disappointed.
  2. States are basically the ‘capital cities’ tyrannising over large areas—when people complain about ‘Canberra’ interfering in their lives, they usually mean the state government. NSW politics is basically Sydney politics—I once heard a news report describe Bathurst as ‘in the State’s west’ (sic). There is no earthly reason why Perth should rule the Kimberley or the Pilbara. States are too small and revenue poor to be effective and too big to be local. &c &c
  3. As is well known, there is duplication of administration in states that should be national (why do we need eight police forces, eight vehicle licensing authorities? &c). The different legal systems in the states make for great inefficiencies.
  4. The states are for ever tussling with the Commonwealth, cost-shifting, playing blame games, failing to coordinate their activities with other states, and the fact that the Commonwealth raises most of the revenue and then passes it to the states to spend is ludicrous.
  5. States are meaningless colonial relics, any nation state or subdivision of a nation state which has straight lines for borders obviously has no ecological or cultural reason for existing. As most Australians live in the ‘capital cities’ then it probably seems natural to them that there is a parliament building with a flag outside it in the CBD, but this is just an accident of history, and if the large cities of Australia were, instead, the seats of regional governments much smaller than the current states, everyone would get used to this fact very soon.
  6. There is not enough cultural different between the parts of Australia to justify subdivisions with such control over important policy areas. However, there are ecological differences between the different parts of the country, and these should be reflected in the regional government structures.

Local government as it exists at the moment is even more of a joke than state government.

In place of the State and local governments I propose to have expanded regional government (RG) areas that correspond to eco-regions within Australia. The idea of using the cultural areas as depicted on the map of Aboriginal Australian groups prepared for the Encyclopedia of Aboriginal Australia, (a work edited by David Horton in 1996), as the basis for these eco-regions occurred to me a little while ago. Then David reminded me he had already dilated on this idea himself!

Anyway my take on this would be to have the following local governments

Administrative Centre
South-West RG
Region sw of a line from Geraldton to Albany
Pilbara RG
Horton’s North-west
Kimberley RG
Horton’s Kimberley
Top End RG
Horton’s North, Arnhem and Fitzmaurice
Spencer Gulf RG
Horton’s Spencer
Lake Eyre Basin RG
Horton’s Eyre
Carpentaria RG
Horton’s Gulf and West Cape
Desert RG
The area bounded by the above 7 RGs
Alice Springs
Torres Strait RG

North Tropics RG
Horton’s East Cape and Rainforest
Capricornia RG
Horton’s North-east minus the Brisbane area
Eastern RG
Hervey Bay to Grafton inland to the Divide
New England RG
Glen Innes to Newcastle
South-Eastern RG
Lake Macquarie to Wollongong and inland to the Divide
South Coast RG Wollongong to Eden
Bass Strait RG
Eden to Portland
Murray Darling Basin RG


It will be seen that the only current state retained here is Tasmania, which I reckon is a reasonable unit. The rest of the states in this list have been broken up and their parts distributed into eco-regions. All the ‘capital cities’ have had their area of government curtailed and restricted to an eco-region around them. Canberra should be part of the Murray Darling Basin RG, but not its administrative centre.

Of course it would be very difficult to remove the states from the Australian system of government as they are (unfortunately) embedded in the Constitution. However this fact shouldn’t prevent efforts to be made in this direction. When most people say ‘it’s very difficult’ they really mean ‘we shouldn’t do it’; when I hear ‘it’s very difficult’, I think ‘Ok, let’s start doing something straightaway’.

I have no idea how we could go about getting rid of the states. My best guess would be for the Commonwealth to progressively starve the states of funds (though unfortunately certain payments to the states are mandated in the Constitution), which would mean over time the states would hand their responsibilities to the Commonwealth. I would love to see dramatic scenes where Commonwealth officials enter state parliaments, ritually deface the state flag and break the speaker’s mace, but it’s more likely the states will eventually expire with a whimper to universal apathy.

Next Week: Government 2: Proportional Representation

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Media 2

Last week I provided an argument about how our media are failing in the task of providing us with information so we can make informed decisions about the world.

I appended to this a list of the headlines from a Channel Nine evening new bulletin. It’s easy enough to laugh at that embarrassing list of non-news items, and news items badly reported, but we should remember that that particular news ‘product’ is aimed at an older and poorly educated demographic. I don’t believe there is any sense in which other news ‘products’ current available are any less lacking, it is simply that their failures are more easily overlooked.

For example there is what you might call the international economic press: The Economist and the Financial Times from Britain, The Wall Street Journal from the US, and, here, The Australian Financial Review. These are, obviously much more sophisticated ‘products’, but ultimately just as lacking, because, as I have argued in previous posts, when an ecological analysis is done on a global scale, the sums do not add up, and we are living well beyond our ecological means, however impeccable our credit rating may be.

The international economic press is group of media products (just imagine the inverted commas from now on) which has maintained its coherence into the present. It would be my argument, however, that now we are witnessing the falling together of many previously separate media spheres into the one type of ‘infotainment’.

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s in Britain and my parents, being conservative and middle-class, read The Daily Mail. If they had belong to the middle classes a few rungs higher they would have read The Daily Telegraph and fewer rungs higher, The Times. If they had been lower middle class they would have read The Daily Express; if conservative or apolitical and working class they would have read The Sun or The Star. If they had been more left-wing inclined they would have read The Guardian, and if left-wing and working class, The Daily Mirror. In other words, then what newspaper you read was a function of your class and education.

In Australia I would like to say that the media landscape then was less elaborate because of a flatter social structure, but it was probably just due to a smaller newspaper industry, with the choice being a capital city newspaper in tabloid and one in long-base, or the rural press, until the birth of The Australian.

What we are seeing now is a collapsing of traditional media forms into the Internet. When the Internet was emerging newspapers and media outlets were caught in a bind: they were obliged to have an Internet presence, but struggled to make any money out of the Internet. This dilemma has persisted to the present day. It is noteworthy that it is really only the international financial press that has actually survived intact on the web because they are able to charge for their services as people rely on them to make financial and investment decisions.

What we have seen with the other media is that older readers have remained loyal to the printed word and TV, but this is not enough for newspapers and TV to maintain circulation/viewer figures. Younger and middle aged consumers have gone on to the Internet and compared the traditional sources with each other and found that in most cases these products were very much the same and contained very little real information. People have voted with their hip pockets and are showing a great reluctance to pay for something which they now see as having no value. There is no longer, it seems, any felt need to consume a particular media product in order to belong to a particular group.

And so it is that the media, newspapers, TV, radio are dumbing and dumbing down and becoming more and more sensational and more and more empty in their desperate quest for readers/viewers/listeners. And because most of these traditional media outlets were right-wing to begin with they have pursued ever more cretinous populist ways to maintain their figures. The blurring of a distinction between news reporting and opinion is the most obvious symptom of this.

(I sometimes wonder what happens when all the polite society conservatives open their dumbed-down Australians and see the stable of unlikable demagogues spouting forth—their pained patrician expressions must be a delight to observe).

So where are people going to get their quality information from?

Well, to return to the 1970s for a moment. While I leafing through The Daily Mail at home I was also watching the BBC TV News and the contrast was quite striking. The Daily Mail and the other members of the Tory press club were baying for the blood of the then Labour Government. This was a timid administration, trying to preserve a few social democratic shreds of dignity with the handicap of an IMF financial straitjacket, but it was portrayed by the press as a desperate gang of socialists intent on bringing Britain to its knees, much as the current Gillard government here is portrayed by the whole of media. However, then the BBC did a very good job of reporting the political news impartially. Their news was simply, ‘Today the Prime Minister announced this.... the Opposition said.... Professor So and So comments, “Well, of course, the Prime Minister is in a very tricky position, on the one hand....”’ and so on, so much so that my parents didn’t like watching it, saying ‘There’s too much of that horrible man Wilson/Callaghan on..’. And I remember that Independent Television News was similarly impartial.

[People will start commenting about the role of the BBC as a British propaganda tool in the 1930s onwards, Lord Reith &c... yes, I know, all I’m saying is that I remember it as doing a good job of providing information impartially in the 1970s. I can’t vouch for it since, nor can I vouch for ITN either.]

Clearly there have to be some media outlets who take it as their mission to provide information impartially. In the current Australian context this should the ABC, as unfortunately there is no private sector organisation in Australia like ITN to supply quality news to commercial television (the very idea). However, as we know the ABC has recently been following the same populist road to a road smash that the commercial media has been. (No, ABC, ‘The Opposition says..’ is not a good opening to a story, and no, you don’t have to feature global warming denialists to ‘maintain balance’).

So what will happen?

Firstly I think that the current miasma of media maundering will have the useful effect of sending several commercial media companies bankrupt in the medium term.

However, this dumbing down may in the short term have the effect of increasing support for the right in Australian politics (it may, for example bring down the Gillard Government), and, as the centre of Australia politics is already way to the right, this will be doubly disastrous. (I’m not for a moment suggesting that the Labor Government is in any way leftist, but given a choice of dark blue and light blue, you choose the light blue).

I also suspect it will have the effect of turning generations of people, people who have access to more information than anyone has ever dreamt of before, into infotainment zombies, unable to recognise information and use it for rational analysis. This would be a particular tragedy because the Internet is wonderful tool and can provide a lot of the information needed for a cogent analysis of the world at present. However, you have to know where to look, and you have to know what to ignore, and what you need to ignore is most of what passes for news and analysis.

This zombification would not consist so much of converting people to any particular cause, it would merely be by a process of inculcating the idea that all opinions are equally valid, that everything seen on TV or the Internet is equally valuable, or valueless. You could argue that this populist assault on, well, thought, is inculcating nihilism, which is the very opposite of what conservatism is supposed to stand for.

Next week: Government

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Media 1

This blog post has a simple and familiar theme: the media is supposed a source of information on which people can based their evaluations of the world and make decisions; in reality the mainstream media (MSM) of the early C21 are largely run as a vehicle for propagating the right-wing corporate agenda. This can either be done flagrantly (US Fox News), or it can be done more subtly. Either way it can be seen that the mission of the MSM is to sell a version of the western consumerist lifestyle deriving both from the news reporting and from the advertising that surrounds it. Noam Chomsky mordantly observed that we assume that news consumers are the clients and they purchase a product, the newspapers or whatever, but in fact, he said, the clients of the MSM are the advertisers and the products delivered to the advertisers are the consumers.

What follows in this post as an illustration of this thesis is a listing of the main news stories of Nine News (Sydney Edition) from their 6pm Sunday evening bulletin during the winter and spring of 2010. I decided to record these as the TV happened to be on in the house this time each week.

Not being very familiar with commercial news reporting I was at a loss initially as to how to analyse the news. My conclusion in the end was the this bulletin seemed to be creating from the news it reported a view of the world as a cruel and unpredictable place, full of natural calamities, violence, predatory individuals and governments, with a constant danger of Australia losing in international sports competitions—and the corollary to this is that viewers should look to their homes, possessions and families as refuges from this world... and vote for conservative politicians who can be trusted to get tough on crime and unAustralian behaviour.

How this differs from other expressions of MSM practice is mainly in its extreme unsophistication (mingling, as it does national, international, sports and local stories). This is a news programme that milks emotion wherever it can (even (24/10/10) giving a sympathetic hearing to Christina Keneally, the then NSW Labor Premier, when Nine News coverage of the State Labor Government was otherwise hostile), and never misses an opportunity to fall into bathos.

[OK, so some of my summaries of the stories may be a little snarky, but people who are familiar with the ‘product’ will recognise them as a type.]

Each item should be read as ‘Be frightened of [insert news story]’:

Paying too much for alcohol
6 individuals in Villawood Detention Centre
Elderly male drivers reversing out of drives without looking
The weather

Hit and run drivers
Money being wasted on Sydney Opera House
Muslim Australians rorting the First Home Owners Scheme

Socceroos losing in World Cup
Dying on glaciers in NZ (Australian tourist deaths)
The Taliban (Australian solider killed in Afghanistan)
Schoolyard fights

Flying in Africa (mining executive deaths)
NSW State Labor not losing in March 2011 (Penrith state by-election)
Babies being shot in their cots
Kevin Rudd’s Broadband Plan
Socceroos losing in World Cup

Stabbings in the Blue Mountains
Julia Gillard’s new policies
Professionally organised protestors” (G20 Summit)
Traitors” (Jana Pitman running for Britain)
Being kidnapped at Word Cup
Fathers being bashed by police

Stabbings in the Blue Mountains
Home invasions
Julia Gillard
Greedy Sydney Councils (parking fines)

Uncertainty about Federal Election date
RTA cash grab (“speed-cameras hitting the ground”)
Missing bargains at the July sales
Teenagers and violent crime

Labor winning election despite a Galaxy Poll
War veterans losing medals in house fires
Unexplained murders (Lin family)
BP oil well cap not holding

Political correctness claiming scalp of (anti-muslim) Liberal candidate
Tony Abbott losing election debate
Perils of rock concerts
Unexplained deaths

Child abductions
The Shadow of Kevin Rudd”
Fatal shootings in Sydney
Government’s mining tax destroying opportunities for ordinary Australians.

Tony Abbott’s campaign launch not being enough to secure a Liberal victory
Mark Latham
Malfunctioning fire alarms
Child abductions

Julia Gillard as next PM
Crazed feminists bringing down David Jones (sexual harassment case)
The Taliban (Australian solider killed in Afghanistan)
Forgetting our military heritage (Sandakan death marches commemoration)

Julia Gillard’s socialist minority government cheating Australians of the Conservative government they voted for
The socialist Greenslide
The NSW Labor Government
Daughters shooting their fathers

Threats against Independent MPs
Dangerous surf
Pakistan causing cricket corruption
Fees demanded of professional photographers in Sydney

Wind and floods: losing power, falling eucalypts, damage to property, “unforgiving, cruel nature”
Earthquakes ((1st) Christchurch Earthquake) “The Richter scale can measure quakes, but a security camera can give a much more graphic picture”
Paul Hogan fleeing the country
Your footie team not making it to the final eight

Alcohol fuelled violence
Pedestrian accidents
Terrorism (Sept 11 anniversary)
Julia Gillard’s step-daughter posing for men’s magazine
Julia Gillard’s cabinet reshuffle

Car crashes
Security at Commonwealth Games (esp for parents of competitors) + Dengue fever
Rough seas
Julia Gillard “setting her goals too high”
Greens taking advantage (euthanasia legislation)

Computer malfunctions affecting air travellers
Chaos in Delhi, Australian athletes withdrawing from Commonwealth Games
Julia Gillard moving into two houses at once (Lodge and Kirribilly)

[No News owing to NRL Grand Final coverage]

[missed news]

[Mary McKillop edition, beyond analysis]

Personal tragedy” (Christina Keneally interview)
Public school underfunding
Cars crashing into houses
Wikileaks’ threat to National Security

Plastic water pipes
Julia Gillard on the world stage

Boating accidents
Julia Gillard on the world stage (Hillary Clinton visit)
Kilojoules in fast food
Qantas engine failures
Skin cancer

Police being stabbed
Bushfires (“a million NSW properties at risk”)
Julia Gillard on the world stage (APEC)
Mark Webber’s poor qualifying time for the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix
Gas drilling in Sydney suburbs

[missed news]

Balanglo State Forest murder
Qantas A380 engine problems
Victorian state Labor evading voters’ wishes just as Julia Gillard did federally
England winning 1st Ashes Test

Floods in NSW
Boating accidents
Car crashes
12 year old armed robber
Fast food marketing aimed at children
England winning 2nd Ashes Test

[Oprah edition, beyond analysis]

Assaults and other alcohol-fuelled violence
Asylum-seekers drowning
Gas drilling in the Sydney area
Illegal drugs at music festivals
E-mail killing post offices

next week: the media 2