Thursday, September 27, 2018

Milne defies ABC staff calls to go

ABC chair Justin Milne has vowed to continue in his position despite hundreds of ABC staff calling on him to step down. At union meetings in Sydney and Melbourne on Wednesday, ABC workers unanimously passed resolutions calling on Milne to stand aside pending an independent inquiry, while staff at a smaller gathering in Brisbane demanded Milne resign immediately. The furious response followed a Fairfax report that Milne urged former managing director Michelle Guthrie to fire chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici to ease government pressure on the broadcaster. Subsequent leaks revealed Milne tried to torpedo a campaign to change the date of the triple j Hottest 100 music countdown from January 26, saying “Malcolm [Turnbull] will go ballistic”, and would refer to Guthrie as “the missus”. Communications minister Mitch Fifield has ordered an inquiry into the Alberici revelations, saying “it is important for the community to have confidence in the independence of the ABC”.

Nine Liberal politicians have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to a printing company owned by a prominent New South Wales party donor. BuzzFeed Australia reports that federal special minister of state Alex Hawke, federal families and social services minister Paul Fletcher and New South Wales treasurer Dominic Perrottet are among the Liberal figures that routinely order printing services from Zion Graphics, a company registered at the Sydney home of Bella Vista Liberal branch president Rudy Limantono. Zion Graphics, which does not own commercial printing equipment and has no website or dedicated phone number, accepts printing orders from Liberal politicians’ offices at a large markup before outsourcing them to Hills Banners in Castle Hill. Limonato told BuzzFeed that "Zion Graphics prides itself as a provider of high quality complete printing solutions”.

Marine scientists working to preserve the Great Barrier Reef were told to “prioritise shorter-term research initiatives” to satisfy the federal government and corporate donors. Documents tabled before the Senate inquiry into the $443 million Great Barrier Reef Fund grant revealed that Australian Institute of Marine Science executive director David Mead wrote to colleagues that “we will need to determine to what degree we focus on quick wins or whether we progress longer-term strategic interventions and accept that we will only partially progress them during the next five years”. The documents also showed a planned meeting between GBRF managing director Anna Marsden and then-science minister Michaelia Cash was cancelled as “the optics of this meeting [were] not great”.

And in the United States, a third woman has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. In a statement published on Twitter by lawyer Michael Avenatti, public servant Julie Swetnick accused Kavanaugh of “abusive and physically aggressive behaviour toward girls” at house parties in Washington DC in the early 1980s. Swetnick said she witnessed Kavanaugh and another man, Mark Judge, “spike the punch at house parties I attended with drugs and/or grain alcohol”, in an effort “to cause girls to become inebriated or disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys”. Swetnick also claimed she was “the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present”. Two other women, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, have accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting them at Washington house parties.


“Sharon Forbes spends her evenings on the sofa, searching for another world. At her house in Wiltshire, with the television on in the background, the 63-year-old joins thousands of citizen-scientists in an astronomical treasure hunt that stretches back more than a century. Every night, she scours images of the sky on her iPad, searching for a giant planet hidden at the edge of our own solar system.”


“The cover illustration was a modern-day forgery, masquerading as a medieval illustration. ... These contemporary images are not ‘reproductions’ but ‘productions’ and even fakes – made to appeal to a contemporary audience by claiming to depict the science of a distant Islamic past.”


“Kids were picked up and interrogated, for hours and even days, for their haircuts, or clothing, or scraps of paper with song lyrics. For even minor transgressions, they lost college placements, government-controlled apartments, and jobs, their parents and relatives often punished in a similar manner. Kids were arrested and beaten, spent months in prison, threatened with expatriation.”


“Whatever happened to all the rock anthems, songs with a political and/or social bent, that once filled the Great Aussie Jukebox? ... Why do the musos of today, perhaps with such rare exceptions as Dan Sultan and Urthboy, seem more concerned with navel-gazing and their fragile broken hearts than weightier, more universal issues?”


“If you spare a moment to actually listen to the musos of today – particularly women and people of colour – you’ll find each of those subjects feature in some of the best new Australian protest music around. Where are all the great Aussie protest songs? Well, a lot of them are on Spotify, where it took us about 10 minutes to make a playlist.”


“I don’t know what problems you’re facing right now – there’s a lot – but have you tried keeping a thing of nuts or something in your car? Just a thing of them. Have you tried it? I don’t know. Might make a difference. Everything else is too much.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.