Packer and Sinodinos – an intriguing Rockpool lunch

There’s a small issue that has been niggling at me all week. It’s about Sinodinos and Packer.

It was December 2011 and the scene was Sydney’s high class Rockpool restaurant. Senator Arthur Sinodinos and casino tycoon James Packer were having lunch. Sinodinos had just become a Senator and was Treasurer of the NSW Liberal Party. James Packer was on a mission to achieve his lifetime goal – a Crown casino in Sydney to add to his Perth, Melbourne, and Macau gambling meccas.

Sinodinos was Assistant Treasurer in the Abbott government until he stood aside this week while the NSW Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) continues its inquires into Australian Water Holdings (AWH). Sinodinos was a director of AWH during a period when the company made a number of donations to the Liberal party.At the time AWH was seeking a lucrative deal with the NSW government. Sinodinos, who stood to make millions if the deal had been successful., has yet to give evidence at the ICAC inquiry. He has denied any wrongdoing.

But back to that pre Christmas 2011 lunch. Two other men were also in the restaurant, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell accompanied by his Chief of Staff Chris Eccles. The two lunching partners came across each other and not for the first time, Packer raised his new casino plan with O’Farrell.

I owe my information about this intriguing story to Daily Telegraph political reporter Andrew Clennell’s who mentioned the meeting of the heavy hitters in passing in his column nearly a year later in October 26, 2012. As far as I am aware it has not been raised since. By the time Clennell published his column, the casino had won the support of both the NSW Liberal and Labor parties and was all but a ‘done deal’. O’Farrell had given the deal his backing and Chris Eccles had signed off on it. The bipartisan support demanded by Packer fell into place when the NSW Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Luke Foley endorsed the proposal, on the condition that there should be no poker machines in the new casino. Only the Greens were in clear opposition.

But the really interesting questions now are:  What did Sinodinos and Packer talk about at the lunch ? The casino? – we already know that was a topic of conversation. When Packer raised the casino with O’Farrell – what did he, Eccles and Sinodinos say? Was Liberal party fundraising? It seems hard to believe that Packer and Sinodinos  wouldn’t have discussed Liberal Party fundraising. Who else did Sinodinos speak to about Packer’s casino deal? Did he have other conversations with Packer, O’Farrell, Eccles, Crown Board member and Sinodinos’s predecessor in the Senate  Helen Coonan, or anyone else about the casino? Had Sinodinos or Eccles told O’Farrell that Packer would be in the restaurant?  Were donations to the Liberal party discussed with Packer or his employees or lobbyists on this or other any other occasion?

Arthur Sinodinos – Background

Arthur Sinodinos has been regarded as a Liberal rising star. He was Prime Minister John Howard’s Chief of Staff from 1997 -2006 after which he worked for Goldman Sachs and the National Australia Bank.

There are few who can match his Liberal Party insider connections. Sinodinos got out of Canberra before the Liberal party was defeated in 2007 and in the dark years between 2009 and 2011. Sinodinos  became Finance Director of NSW Liberal Party. Later In 2009, while working for the National Australia Bank, he became vice president of the Federal Liberal Party, bringing what supporters hoped would be business support to the party.

Abbott and Sinodinos are close. They have been allies in the faction ridden NSW Liberal party. In 2010 and early 2011, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Abbott was involved in factional battles to support fellow right winger Sinodinos for the NSW Liberal Branch Presidency. In June 2010, Sinodinos was reported to be very regularly talking to Abbott.

Consider this short timeline and sequence of events, some of which were described by Lawrence Bull and myself in a series for New Matilda in 2012

May 2011: The ex-general secretary of the ALP and Giillard’s campaign director in the 2010 election, Karl Bitar joins Packer’s Crown Casino company. Crown announced that he would be ”responsible for managing Crown’s relationship with the Federal Government across a broad range of issues”

July 12,  2011: Arthur Sinondinos meets Karl Bitar at the Four Seasons Hotel in July 2011.  (This evidence is part of documents tended at ICAC. Eddie Obeid junior went along too. We’ll be hearing more from ICAC about the Bitar connection with Sinodinos and the AWH story).

August 2011:  Minister for Communications Helen Coonan resigns from the Senate and a few days later she joins the Board of Packer’s casino company Crown Ltd. For her duties she is  paid about $116,000 a year, as well as receiving complimentary access to Crown facilities in Melbourne and Perth. At the time of her appointment, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon told Fairfax reporters, “It’s sad to see that someone with such a distinguished career in public life will become part of an industry that causes so much misery in the community.” World Vision CEO Tim Costello commented on her “indecent haste”. Helen Coonan also becomes a political lobbyist.

October 2011: Arthur Sinodinos is selected by the Liberal Party to replace Helen Coonan in the Senate.

December 2011: Sinodinos and Packer have lunch.

24 February 2012: James Packer is ready to hatch his new casino plan. His chosen method was an exclusive interview with Australian Financial Review.When asked about his communications with Packer, O’Farrell said “just about every time I see Mr Packer he expresses interest in running a casino in Sydney and offers other suggestions on boosting tourism.”

2012-2013: The biggest donor to the Liberal Party in 2012/13 was James Packer’s mother Ros Packer. She gave $ 570,000, far more than the $11,000 she gave the NSW Liberal Party in 2007/8. Between 2011 and 2012, Crown Entertainment also gave $40,000 to the Federal Liberals.

February 26, 2012 : Two days after Packer announces his planPremier O’Farrell and Treasurer Mike Baird back Packer’s casino plan. Critics note how quickly they have announced their support.  

February 27, 2012: Labor right wing heavy, kingmaker and former treasurer Mark Arbib quits the Senate.

June 2012: Packer recruits Arbib to his private company Consolidated Press Holdings.

From 2011 onwards the most vocal public critic of Packer’s proposal was NSW Greens MP John Kaye, who voiced his concern about the government’s rapid embrace of Packer’s plan. “This is going to be a test for the state government,” he told The Australian. “Are they going to stand up to Packer, or will they do what they always do with multi-billionaires and let them have what they want?”. Kaye told New Matilda that he was appalled that normal legal and planning processes were being subverted by O’Farrell’s handling of the proposal.

The casino deal was highly unorthodox. By locking in media and political support, Packer made its approval seem inevitable. Aside from reporting by the SMH especially reporter Sean Nicholls, there was little rigorous examination of the means by which Packer achieved such favourable conditions for the processing of his so-called gift to Sydney. Crown placed 18 full page ads in News Ltd publications and the Australian Financial Review. The Age and SMH, some of whose journalists had been critical of the proposal, were not included. Packer told the Australian he regarded some SMH journalists as “pissants“.

In September 2012, New Matilda was trying to get Premier O’Farrell to answer our questions about his knowledge of and meetings about the Packer’s casino. We got no answers. The day we published our questions, Andrew Clennell published his intriguing mention of Arthur Sinodinos. I noted it at the time but I’m even more intrigued now.

Sinodinos too has managed his personal media relations well. He has had remarkably little critical coverage until the Australian Water Holdings story and his link to notoriously corrupt power broker Eddie Obeid becamr public. This was partly because he was not only a political insider but a media insider as well. He was on the News Ltd payroll as a regular columnist in 2010. In this role, he promoted Tony Abbott, on one occasion reassuring readers that the leader was now ‘comfortable in his skin’. (5/1/2010). Meanwhile in the same publication, fellow columnists promoted Sinodinos as a future parliamentary talent ( e.g. Peter Van Onselen 17/1/2010). Fairfax made him a judge of AFR’s 2009 List of the Powerful. He’s often been used as a commentator by Radio National.

Fellow Newscorp columnist Christopher Pearson who had since died described him as a ”remarkably selfless individual, loved or respected across not just the Coalition but the entire political class.” That now seems a little generous.

Now that Sinodinos is looking a little bit grubby as journalist Jack Waterford said on Radio National, I am hoping we may hear more of his dealings with Packer and how those were related to Liberal party donations and the casino deal.

 Note: In 2012, New Matilda developed its Team Packer list.

If you see anything here which is not accurate or if you have more information please contact me or leave a comment.

Since this article was first published in the morning of March 23. Minor corrections and editing changes were made on March 24 and small adjustments to the questions





Thousands march against Abbott government in regional centres around Australia

Nearly10,000 protestors gathered in regional city centres around Australia today for marches against Abbott government policies which organisers say lack ‘decency , transparency and accountability’.

The largest crowd gathered in Lismore where somewhere between 5000 and 7000 people filled a city park.(This blog is still trying to find out if this is biggest or one of the biggest marches in Lismore’s history.) As protestor Terry Lawrence who documented the march with 350 photos said on Facebook: “Everybody who came through, near the Museum and the camera went for 26 minutes non stop”.

As Destroy the Joint convenor and journalist Jenna Price reported in the Canberra times in February, the protests are part of the March in March movement which is “what looks like an authentic public reaction to the Abbott government’s way of running Australia – which means it’s not only about asylum seekers; or climate change; or education funding; or union bashing; or attacks on universal healthcare coverage”.

From Fraser Coast in Queensland to Castlemaine and Bendigo in Central Victoria and Newcastle in NSW, more than 20 marches are planned tomorrow. A highlight of this campaign is an unprecedented array of marches in smaller cities. But the biggest marches are expected tomorrow in Australia’s biggest cities Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, where UK musician Billy Braggs will play. In Melbourne, which has a history of holding bigger marches than in other cities, protestors will be highlighting the threat to civil liberties represented by new anti-protest laws passed by the Napthine Liberal government last week.

Speaking in Gosford to more than 1000 protestors Anglican Minister Rod Bower said, ” We must seek to inform the people with the truth that is now being denied us by our government. The truth about Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island, the truth that it is not illegal to seek asylum, the truth about the Transpacific Partnership, the truth about Coal Seam Gas, the dumping of medicare and education, the truth, the truth.”

Some speakers suggested that it was important not to focus too heavily on Prime Minister’s Abbott’s personal qualities. People should look past Abbott to the people hiding behind his decisions, Larrakia woman Ali Mills stressed to about 500 protestors in Darwin carrying placards opposing power privatisation, CSG, environmental damage from mining, supporting refugees  and pro choice policies.

Hundreds also marched in Grafton and Armidale in NSW,

In Queensland, 800 marched in Cairns and hundreds in Gympie, Toowoomba and Caboolture, where as My Sunshine Coast reported speeches were made by “people who operate homeless shelters, that are now without resources and the find themselves providing food and shelter (sleeping bag) for people that they turn away…”

March in March supporters have expressed disappointment with mainstream media, which apart from SBS and regional outlets, Gympie Times and Expess Advocate appeared to have ignored the marches today. These regional reports were written in advance and based on media releases. Only published a news report. ( The Chronical covered the Toowoomba march – see note below.)

The movement has tried to compensate by building a facebook site with 46,000 followers and many supporters are using twitter to communicate news and ideas about the rallies. Many individual supporters have made their own videos and postings.

Citizen Journalism site No Fibs is providing the most comprehensive coverage and GreenLeft Weekly is live blogging.

While the organisers have consistently said there were no party affiliations, it is obvious that there are few current LNP supporters involved although some disillusioned LNP voters may be attending . As one poster in Caboolture declared “More trees, less LNPs”.

Additions : Late on Saturday night, ABC24 carried a report of the Darwin march. Somewhat oddly for a news report, it did not include reference to the other marches that had been held around Australia, even the more than 5000 strong march in Lismore.

The Chronicle in Toowoomba also covered the march quoting one of the orgnanisers Rebecca Manners who said “she had read about the concept months ago and watched keenly for any Toowoomba events. “I kept watching and watching but nothing happened here in Toowoomba,” she said.  ”The last straw for me was the dredging in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, so I put my hand up to organise an event.  All the organisers around the country are just ordinary people too.  It’s for anybody that feels they’re not being represented at the moment and there are so many people that feel that way.”



The Australian and New Matilda’s ‘Where are the women in the media?’

Today we published Part 4 of our New Matilda ‘Where are the women in the media?’ series. On Tuesday, we published Part 3 of our investigation which was a gender breakdown of by lines on a particular day. We called it a ‘snapshot’ and suggested more research is needed.

The Australian didn’t rate well in the by line breakdown which annoyed them.

While working on the series on Monday, I emailed (copying my co-author Elise Dalley) two questions to Editor in Chief Chris Mitchell. One of these requested a gender breakdown of staff at The Australian and the other was relevant to another piece. He emailed us back but did not answer our question about the gender breakdown. Instead he supplied a list of section and state bureau female editors.As these were not relevant to Part 3, Elise Dalley, my co-author,read his response and correctly assessed it was not relevant. I did not read my email as I was very busy. Once I did read Mitchell’s characteristically dismissive response, I agreed with Dalley. We had already acknowledged the work of some women reporters at The Australian.

Our failure to include the irrelevant information led to an piece attacking me in The Australian news pages yesterday – yes, I know they should have more important stories to cover but attacks on the reputation of women educators who dare to criticise News Ltd is nothing new. Julie Possetti and Margaret Simons and myself have all copped it before.

Elise Dalley and myself repond to The Australia in New Matilda today.

I was first aware of The Australian’s anger that we hadn’t published their list of women section editors late on Tuesday when Nicholas Leys wanted to interview me about the project. Despite the inconvenience of the time and extremely short notice, I responded in writing to six questions which are relevant to our research. When I first received his questions, I was inititally concerned that we might have missed something relevant. Once I checked with my co-author and also read the reply, I knew this was not the case.

So here are the questions and my answers:

1. Why have you not included the list of women editors supplied to you by The Australian in the research? Yesterday, I sent two questions to Chris Mitchell. I did not request the list he sent me of middle ranking editors, although I welcome it. I did not receive it before publishing this article. In any case, today’s story was about the breakdown of gender by lines across mastheads and rounds. In relation to Michelle Gunn(the editor of the Weekend Australian), we specifically mentioned her in our first report. We also mentioned other names of strong women reporters at The Australian in today’s report.

In part one, we noted the absence of a woman editor across Australian metropolitan and national papers. For those interested in gender equity, this is cause for concern. So far we have not studied senior editors below the top level. We hope to continue our research and we agree it would be good to get a fuller picture of the journalism labor force. If media companies cooperate, we would be interested to add this. In order to gain a greater understanding of our results, we asked the Editor in Chief for a gender breakdown of women and men at The Australian but he did not supply this.

2. Would you agree or disagree that this list does in fact indicate The Australian employs a significant number of women in very senior roles? I agree that this list shows there are a numer of women in senior roles at The Australian. This is heartening. However, this was not the issue at stake in today’s report which is part of a project with at least five parts.

3. Why did you choose to conduct a byline search on just one day?
This part of our study is somewhat similar to the Global Media Monitoring Project which has been done in many countries. at regular intervals. That project also uses the technique a snapshot on a single day. We have acknowledged limitations that flow from this sample in our report and specifically indicated the need for further research. However some of the patterns indicated are nevertheless quite stark and deserve more public attention from the media and community discussion. We did a week for Part 2 which was focussed on opinion pieces so was easier to do. Even one day involved detailed coding of hundreds of stories as you will see in Part Four on sources.
4. Does this meet normal and accepted standards of academic research as opposed to counting bylines over one week, for example? We have not claimed that our study has the rigor of a larger peer reviewed study however it is a useful example of how journalists can combine social science techniques with journalism to provide fresh insights and stimulate community research. In the changing world of journalism and universities,you could call it data journalism or practice based research. As you can read in our article, our findings are confirmed by other academic research. We specifically drew attention to that.You can also find more information about other research studies on the ACIJ site.
5. Why did you choose a Monday (March 4) to count the bylines, a day when any newspaper is not working with a full roster of staff? We did not choose Monday because there were less staff. In any case, it was clear from a reading of the publications that many articles were not prepared on a Sunday. Take the media section of The Australian for instance. I imagine that much of that would be prepared in advance. A broader study would reveal whether there is a distinct variation across the days of the week. Our only aim in this study is to gain an understanding of women in the media.
6. What does your research show, other than a higher ratio of male to female reporters on the day in questions? I suggest that you read Parts One and two. We summarised these briefly in today article. Also today’s report showed a variation across mastheads and rounds which is worthy of greater study. The overwhelming male nature of sports reporting and the gendered nature of other rounds including the male dominance of politics and business and feminised nature of some others is an indication of lack of gender equity which most would agree is not desirable. I would be surprised if the women editors at The Australian and many male journalists do not agree with this. The causes for the inequity and how to change it needs much more discussion by journalists and others.

Having received these replies, Nicholas Leys decided that he had a story, not just for the media section but the front news section. He ignored those parts of my answer that he did not consider relevant to his story and accused me of suppressing the list of women editors. Fair enough. That’s how reporting works over at The Australian.

Yesterday, I wrote Leys this letter:

Dear Nicholas

The article about me published by you this morning is unfair, defamatory and misleading. It falsely accuses New Matilda of misrepresenting facts and me of suppressing relevant material. In fact, our report was an accurate and factual one.

The material sent to us by Chris Mitchell and Helen Trinca was not relevant to yesterday’s piece. Chris Mitchell did not answer my question about gender balance. If he had, my co-author Elise Dalley who read his response would have informed me. Once I had also read it, I completely agree with Elise Dalley that it was not relevant to yesterday’s article.

It is unprofessional of you to suggest that we should publish irrelevant material. As I explained in my responses yesterday, if the information becomes relevant for future articles, we will mention it.

The question about the Top 50 was asked with regard to a future article. As I made clear in my email, we are writing a series of articles on gender and the Australian media. As I said in my email to Chris Mitchell, we are doing a series.

This sort of attack journalism demeans you, your paper and our profession,


Wendy Bacon

To which Leys replied:

“Wendy, with all due respect counting bylines on one particular day – a Sunday no less – and condemning this newspaper and the fine journalists who work on it (men and women) as a result was flawed and insulting”.

Perhaps the ‘fine’ men and women over at The Australian could take a look at the results and the other academic studies on this subject and consider whether the issue of the under representation of women might yet be worthy of their attention. Could the under representation of women have anything to do with the deep misogynist streak in our culture which led to the menu which provided a joke for people involved in LNP fundraising and occupied some much of the nation’s attention yesterday. If in fact, women are playing a strong middle level editing role at The Australian why isn’t it reflected in the results for Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 of our study? As many feminists have pointed out, it takes more than a few women climbing up the ladder for deeper change to occur in gender inequality.

Compared to some many other stories, this interchange is a very minor matter. It only further goes to show that The Australian, rather than dealing with critiques of its reporting, whether it be climate change, international relations or gender representation attacks the critic rather than dealing with the issue.

News on Roseanne Beckett petition & Questions for NSW Government

Last week I published a story which laid out the terrible conspiracy by NSW police and Crown witnesses that led to Roseanne Beckett (Catt) spending ten years in prison for crimes she did not committ. The Crown and the NSW DPP continue to sanction that conspiracy.

On Sunday Night, Channel 7 did a short follow up on its earlier story about the case. Reporter Rahni Sadler put this proposition to Roseanne’s ex-husband Barry Catt: You put an innocent woman in jail for 10 years. You helped to put an innocent woman in jail for 10 years. Shortly afterwards (at least in the edited version) Barry Catt asks to be excused, saying that he has an answer ‘up his sleeve’. As he departs, he thrusts his fist into his hand – suggesting to the audience that he could resort to ‘biffo’. In fact, Barry Catt has assaulted many women as the NSW DPP well knows. Even at the time of her arrest, Roseanne had charged Barry with two very serious assaults. These were part heard but were simply allowed to lapse while the NSW police got on with framing Roseanne. In their introduction, Channel 7 summarised the case this way:

Roseanne had lost the best years of her life in what’s been described as a grave miscarriage of justice. But her battle is far from over: she now has to fight for compensation. Ironically Barry Catt, who has had AVO’s taken out against him by at least nine different women, did receive compensation when Roseanne was jailed that he has not had to pay back. Today Barry still claims his ex-wife is guilty, describing her as ‘Satan’ .

Also on Sunday, Mary Court who first met Roseanne as a prison visitor in 1996 and has continually campaigned for her ever since, started an online petition. The Blue Mountains Gazette reported on Mary’s fight for justice for Roseanne this week.The petition calls for compensation and a public inquiry into the case. Amongst many other issues,such an inquiry would find out who was responsible for the NSW DPP being prepared to continue to rely on the word of ex-detective Peter Thomas, who had been proved to have lied in another case. Why wasn’t he charged with perjury? You can find the petition here:

The first politician to sign the petition was Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon who first raised questions about this case in November 2000, not long after our first reports appeared in the SMH. (I republished those early stories on this blog.) Rhiannon later asked further questions about the police role in the case and about the case of Jake Sourian, another Thomas frame-up.
I will continue to report on this story and will pursue my questions with the authorities.If the Crown had not been so determined to cover-up and there were avenues for redressing miscarriages of justice in our society, Roseanne would have been compensated years ago. As another supporter Claudette Palmer has reported the Attorney General’s department were involved in negotiations for compensation in 2006.For some unknown reason these negotiations were abandonned.
Given that there has been a lot of discussion in the media about journalism, neutrality and politics this week, I thought I’d add a small comment on that topic.Some people may wonder why as a journalist, I’m promoting a petition, which is after all a form of political action. Suffice it to say here that I regard the essential obligations of a journalist as being to the evidence and the’truth’. I apply the MEAA code of ethcis which mirrors that of most organisations of journalists around the world. My views on Roseanne’s case are based on months of research over many years. But once convinced by the evidence that she had been framed, I have an obligation as a citizen and a journalist to hold power accountable. The topic of politics and journalism is a much bigger one about which I will do more posts. I’m proud to be part of a long tradition of radical journalism and last year published a chapter in Left Turn, a book edited by Antony Loewenstein and Jeff Sparrow and published by Melbourne University Press.

Fairfax’s sense of gender balance

I’d just finished watching an ABC Q&A show about feminism and decided to take a flick through SMH on iPad before retiring. I started noticing lots of male images. Had the program on feminism oversensitised me to sexism? But it wasn’t the first time I’d noticed what seemed an overwhelming preponderance of male images on the SMH iPad version. Indeed it was questions about whether my initial perceptions were accurate or simply the product of an odd bad male day at SMH that led me to get involved in New Matilda’s Where are the women in the media? project. We’re looking for hard facts. Part 3′s on the way.

So in the meantime, I decided to do an extra small research pilot on SMH iPad images and gender. The flick through was horizontally across from the front page tonight. Up to where I started bumping into yesterday’s stories, I counted 100 images of men compared to 13 women. Just 12% of the people I saw were women. Overall, the story is one of men who speak, men who represent, men who play sport and men who are always there.

The 13 women included a murder victim in another country, two women associated with fashion week, a woman who looked a bit like actor Gwyneth Paltrow decorating an article on clean food, a woman who is head of a health support NGO, the face of a woman TV star, one caricature of Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart and four images of PM Julia Gillard. If, as looks likely, we replace Gillard with Abbott, we would be down to 8% of female images. As you flick through your ipad, the story of women is one of food, fashion, highly made up faces, carers and the odd woman whose has become powerful.

The dominant thread is men. Who are they? They are many things – leaders, politicians, sportspeople (all of them), journalists, entertainers, business people and just ordinary old people in the background.

Last week, the SMH’s section Life and Style ran an article about women sliding out of bed to put on make-up so their partners don’t see their faces. Yes, even long term partners.Could things really have got that bad? Can you imagine the strain and secrecy that would impose on a relationship?

The story about women waking early to get on their make-up (if indeed it is happening on a widespread level) could be a page one story, not a slightly daring comment piece on Life and Style It’s a great topic to discuss on breakfast and talkback radio.

The SMH’s gender biased image practices need to be publicly discussed. Despite Sarah Oakes strong resistance to having the word ‘women’ applied to her Daily Life section, is Daily Life just a new form of women’s pages with a soft touch of feminism, designed to hold advertisers and readers when paywalls come into place? This isn’t to reject the feminist stories that do regularly appear on Daily Life amidst the food and bodies, or the efforts of women who are trying to push editors’ and publishers’ boundaries. But whose editorial vision is being pursued in the selection of images for the SMH? Is selection determined by individual editors? Or is it the product of market research of readers for advertisers? Is Daily Life a sop to hide gender bias in the rest of Fairfax publications? A few add-on pages can’t disappear or justify gender bias elsewhere.

I’ve also got to be honest and say that our ‘Where are the women in the media’? project is coming up with far worse results than I expected. I think I believed that gender discrimination in the media was gradually improving for women. I’m no longer sure about that and we haven’t even started on women in broadcasting. I am thankful to Destroy the Joint which now has more than 27,000 facebook followers for pushing a public rewakening of these issues. They build on earlier research and feminist action.

You can follow our women in the media project on New Matilda and/or watch our progress by joining our Facebook page. Read Julie Posetti’s post on our facebook page written from her sickbed yesterday where she spent the day listening to a very male ABC. The results are also not good.

A Q&A with an all female panel plus male host for one night is not enough.

Note: In an earlier version of this post, I wrote that the piece about women getting out of bed to put make-up on was in the Daily Life section. Daily Life editor Sarah Oakes has pointed out that it was not. It was in the Life and Style section. The piece was arguing against the practice of hiding one’s unmadeup face from male partners. My point is that a few feminist pieces, whether in Life and Style or Daily Life could be seen as commercially based appeals to a female audience, otherwise turned off by the regular fare of content biased towards men. This is not a personal attack on female journalists who write or edit such stories or sections but an argument that these sections may also play a role in reinforcing and reproducing gender stereotypes. If you are not regular reader, have a look and see for yourself.We will be able to analyse this issue further in Part three of our Where are the Women in the media? series.

Gillard should forget minders and listen to Carlton

I’m a fan of Michael Carlton‘s who writes the backpage on Fairfax’s weekend NewsReview. Last weekend, he tackled the ‘farce of the mining tax’, the latest sympton of what he calls Labor’s ‘terminal disease.’

Vintage Carlton. But then came the very good bit about Tony Abbott.

“Tony Abbott was oddly silent all week. Invisible, even. There was no silly TV stunt at a fish shop or a widget factory, no poncing around in Lycra or hard hat. He kept his head down, allowing his shadow ministers and his obsequious media claque to do the public gloating over the opinion poll.

It was clever politics. Any comment from him would have looked like smart-alec hubris, which is one reason that voters have so disliked him in the past. Abbott still believes he was born to The Lodge and will do anything to get there, but he is learning to disguise this. The election is still his to lose, as his former mate John Hewson managed to do in 1993.

With Labor in turmoil and the smell of blood in the water, the opposition blithely carries on as a policy-free zone and gets away with it.”

Now read this carefully. If you enjoyed it last weekend, you will enjoy it again.

“Yet you know exactly what the Coalition will do if it wins government in September. First up there’ll be the Gothic horror of a Labor budget “black hole” – even worse than expected, we’ll be told. This will be the pretext for a savage round of expenditure “savings” and the sacking of thousands of public servants.

That done, all the same-old, clapped-out Tory machinery will creak into place. Once again there’ll be grovelling deference to the Americans in our defence and foreign policies. Billions will be wasted on bright and shiny military hardware, just as the Howard government did by buying 59 useless main battle tanks for the army, the navy’s Seasprite helicopters that could fly only in daylight in fine weather, and the eye-watering extravagance of the struggling Joint Strike Fighter project for the air force.

Domestically, Labor’s reforms in healthcare and education will be scrapped, with money ripped out of the public sector to be shovelled back into private hospitals and private schools. Climate change will be crap again. WorkChoices will eventually re-emerge with a new name; there will be a swingeing ideological attack on the ABC, enforced by a whopping funding cut; the national broadband network will be gutted; social reforms like same-sex marriage will be further off than ever; and the gap between rich and poor will grow ever wider, as it does in the US.

Been there, done that, deja vu all over again.”

Hard to sum it up better than that. Many of us have been there before and those that haven’t, don’t need to. Tip for Labor. Get rid of the mindless repetitious ‘working men and women’ version of Howard’s ‘working families’. Carlton, perhaps jokingly, says that he emailed John McTernan, your PR “apparatchik from the British Labour Party” last Christmas suggesting a drink but he hasn’t heard back.  I would take him at his word and sit down and have a chat with him. He might have more ideas. I doubt he’ll charge you an arm and a leg, like those expensive lobbyists and advertising firms.

For a start, I’d ditch trying to jolly up those journalists who have been campaigning to get rid of you for years and deliver Carlton’s column to every home in Australia. Skywrite and tweet it phrase by phrase.

Then I would get try one last treatment for that terminal disease and instead of dumping on the Greens follow their advice – fix the mining tax, stop the appalling abuse of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus, speak up about war crimes in Sri Lanka and restore the income Labor’s taken from single parents and give those on unemployment allowance a rise of $50 which just about everyone who has tried living on the allowance recommends as a minimum.

Note : The last 40 words in the first published version of this post were slightly different. Edited for clarity and accuracy.