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A Hottest 100 contender?

My early tip for the song that will win next January’s Triple J Hottest 100

Ticks all the boxes. Former indie Triple J act, turned popular with a new album, with this song that gained mainstream appeal. Think past examples such as Kings of Leon, Mumford and Sons, and Angus and Julia Stone. Follows the formula to the letter.

However, unlike some of those previous winners, this one is also an incredible song to boot. That makes it my pick. I’d be interested to know what you think might be able to beat it.

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So, it’s been over a year now since the country voted for none of the above, and thanks to a greeny, an ex-spy and a couple of bushwhacking independents, we got a Labor minority government. If you were to believe Tony Abbott, Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and just about every opinion poll published in the last six months, it’s been an utterly disastrous failure that has resulted in the death of democracy. However, delving a little deeper might make you wonder whether a rather unbelievable outcome has come from what was supposed to have resulted in absolute political deadlock. Today, I review some of the policy achievements of the Gillard government and likely upcoming legislation, and evaluate the success of having the fate of this nation’s future in the hands of a few fortunately placed men.

Everybody recalls the 2010 federal election campaign, and always for similar reasons. It has been widely regarded as one of, if not the most boring election campaign in Australia’s 110 years of federal democracy. Both major parties produced dull and uninspiring campaigns devoid of any sensible and/or credible policy direction. Despite Labor leader Julia Gillard being a fiery left-wing feminist and Liberal leader Tony Abbott being a devout Catholic conservative, the two leaders for the most part spent the entire campaign pretending to be anything but in a desperate and somewhat unconvincing attempt to attract the political centre – that ground vital for securing electoral success. The result was resounding – the Australian people proclaimed they disliked and disbelieved the major parties so profoundly that they produced a parliament that denied either side of a majority.

After three weeks of intense grovelling, it was the Labor Party who managed to please the required four non-aligned MPs and formed government. This didn’t come without a number of concessions: the three things that stand to define this government for good, bad, or otherwise, namely the carbon price, the pokies pre-commitment scheme and the National Broadband Network (NBN) were all key policies that helped Labor secure this power.

But anyway, onto the policies that have been implemented:

The Carbon Tax

Arguably the biggest of the concessions made by Labor, which was particularly important in securing the confidence of Green MP Adam Bandt, was that of a commitment to introduce a price on carbon within this parliament. As we all probably know, pricing carbon is no new concept, both in general and to the Labor Party. Kevin Rudd promised to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme way back in the lead-up to the 2007 election, a promise that was subsequently matched by the outgoing Prime Minister John Howard, who was acting on advice from his Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Fast forward a few years, Kevin Rudd’s decision to snub the Greens and attempt to negotiate an ETS with Mr Turnbull, who was then leader of the Liberal Party, saw the latter lose his position and the ETS defeated. Mr Rudd’s decision to defer its implementation led to his demise as leader of the Labor Party, as well as the Labor Party’s attempt to put of the issue of climate change for a few more years.

However, the beauty of minority government prevailed against this rather lazy policy decision. Ms Gillard’s proposed “citizens’ assembly” was junked in favour of what we now know as the “carbon tax”. The previously impossible issue of dealing with climate change is now guaranteed legislative passage thanks to Labor and the Greens, along with the independents Windsor, Oakeshott and Wilkie.

The irony of all this is that while both parties went to the election with what could only be described as “token gestures” to deal with the issue of climate change, a substantial if not very industry and household-friendly policy has been introduced.

Pokies reform

In order to get Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie’s agreement to form government, Julia Gillard was forced to agree to introduce legislation for a mandatory pre-commitment technology on what are dubbed high-intensity poker machines (high-intensity being those machines that allow bets of more than $1 per spin). This policy is being rigorously debated in the media at present, and I intend to examine it further in another post. However, despite both parties claiming to be “concerned” (no points for telling me you’ve heard that word from a politician before) about problem gambling, neither side had any interest in doing anything substantial about it.

Enter Andrew Wilkie, and his upper house anti-pokies colleague in Senator Nick Xenophon. Despite what you may think of them as politicians, their commitment to at least addressing the issues surrounding problem gambling in a serious fashion, as well as bringing the debate into mainstream prominence, must be credited. As such, it is almost certain that Australia will have these cash-guzzling machines limited in some fashion, if not removed from existence altogether.

Asylum seeker policy

I’ve examined this in great detail before. Despite the end of the Howard era seemingly seeing a shift to a semi-humane policy on treating unlawful boat arrivals, the deposition of Kevin Rudd saw Labor “lurch to the right on asylum seekers”, to quote the now-foreign minister. Labor prior to the election rediscovered a taste for offshore processing, firstly promising to send asylum seekers to East Timor, then Manus Island, before finally deciding to arrange a swap deal with Malaysia. The Malaysia deal ended up so condemned by all that even humanitarians were starting to question whether it was worse than the Nauru option previously employed by John Howard.

Alas, minority government, with the support of the High Court and a contradictory opposition, won out again. After being ruled illegal by the High Court, the government saw to amend the Migration Act to allow their less-than-humane “solution” to proceed. However, with the Greens holding the balance of power in the senate, and their MP Adam Bandt being part of the lower house power sharing deal, there was no way the amendments would pass. After a few painful weeks of watching the government, through Julia Gillard and immigration minister Chris Bowen, try to talk up a failing, unpopular policy and sweet-talk Bob Katter and WA national Tony Crook, they finally admitted, through the deference of the amendment legislation, that it would not pass, and re-embraced onshore processing of asylum seekers.

Again, the irony of this situation is so beautiful. The two major parties both went to the election with policies so far to the right that even Pauline Hanson was supporting them, yet due to the politics and the parliament numbers, a relatively left-wing humane policy outcome was reached.

So, despite the entrenched unpopularity of the government as this point in time, it does appear that some substantial policy outcomes have been reached. Their politics in dealing with these policies has been nothing short of woeful, and while I do expect to watch Labor get thumped at the next election, at least the policies implemented by this government have been for the most part ones I embrace.

Friday Flashback #24

Hey, remember this blog thing I used to do? Yeah, so do I now! Probably about time I write something again, don’t you think?

I’ll start with a Friday Flashback again, largely because I can’t think of what else to write, and also because I’ve got a list of about 10 more songs waiting to be analysed (and I warn readers – many are likely to be rather terrible). Luckily today’s choice does not fall into that category. From their 1982 album The Blurred Crusade, this is The Church with When You Were Mine.

I stumbled upon this track by sheer coincidence just the other night, taken from an old episode of Countdown, while just sifting through some YouTube videos and saw a link to this. I’m quite a fan of the Church material I do know, though I must confess to being woefully unfamiliar with much other than their biggest songs. So I thought I’d check it out, and quite enjoyed it. A typical Church-type number (that is the band, not the institution, I can’t quite imagine this being played in a chapel of a Sunday morning) with its fantastic yet simple guitar-driven melody, and the excellent vocals of Steve Kilbey running the show, this track has been on a semi-constant repeat over the past few days.

The Blurred Crusade is the Church’s second album, released in March 1982 as the follow-up to their highly successful debut effort Of Skins and Heart. When You Were Mine was the second single released from this album, following the high-charting and equally impressive Almost With You which reached #21 on the Australian charts in the same year. The Blurred Crusade itself was also quite well-received, given that its predecessor had produced gems such as The Unguarded Moment, peaking at #10 on the Australian album charts.

Sadly, The Church’s future fortunes were somewhat mixed. This started by their US record label refusing to market The Blurred Crusade and subsequently dropping the band from their label, thus largely confining The Church’s success to Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, the success of their next three albums, namely Seance, Remote Luxury and to a lesser extent Heyday, was limited. The band struggled through this time, and even went on hiatus for a period.

However, they came back with a bang with the release of their 1988 album Starfish. Sporting the band’s most successful single to date in Under the Milky Way, as well as the brilliant Reptile (whose guitar riff I to this day still am in awe of) and many other gems, Starfish was a hit both in Australia and also overseas, finally seeing that The Church obtained at least some of the worldwide recognition their work deserved.

Today, The Church are still kicking along, touring and releasing albums. Both the band and Kilbey solo have released a number of project since Starfish, none of which I am in any way familiar enough with to comment on. However, the volume of material of theirs I know makes me love them as a band, and the even greater volume of their material I do not know makes me want to explore their back-catalogue even further.

Oh, and it’s nice to be back 🙂

A couple of look-alikes

Doing some web surfing preparing this post on my top 10 Australian albums, I couldn’t help but think that the lead singer of The Whitlams Tim Freedman looked very similar to someone.

Then I figured it out. Take a look at the next picture and tell me if you think these two men look similar.

The latter picture is Christopher Skase, the late businessman who fled Australian for Majorca after his Qintex empire collapsed in the late 1980s.

So, are they in fact similar, or am I just seeing things?

As you may know, Triple J are in the process of taking votes for their upcoming Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time countdown. Being the semi-obsessed music lover that I am, I could not pass up the opportunity to exert my influence on the outcome. However, the task of choosing only the ten best Australian albums proved somewhat difficult, and did result in a number of excellent albums being omitted from my final list.

Anyway, for the pleasure of the two or so blog readers I have, I’ve decided to share with you my top 10 (in no particular order, except for denoting my number 1 choice) as well as a few glaring omissions that were reluctantly made due to capacity constraints.

10. Birds of Tokyo – Universes

It was impossible to pass up Universes, the Birds’ second release, and arguably still their greatest. A very solid release balancing harder alternative elements with a pop-rock sound, Universes spawned some of the best recent Aussie music releases I know of. Broken Bones is a solid track, Wild Eyed Boy was the song that got me into the band and to this day I still love, and the epic Silhouettic, my clear favourite from the album, redefines brilliant. Combine the fact that this was released as recently as 2008, and was created by a bunch of sandgropers, and it’s hard to argue that this is a masterpiece worthy of recognition.

9. The Butterfly Effect – Final Conversation of Kings

This would be a countdown by me if it didn’t include a Butterfly Effect album – these boys from Brisbane have been in my mind the best thing to come from the sunshine state ever since a certain fateful night last April (they were only second best prior). I agonised about whether this album or its predecessor Imago was more worthy of the place as the exclusive TBE album on my list (I couldn’t justify putting two from the same artist, regardless of how good I rate that artist to be). However, it was the first seven tracks of this album that swayed me towards picking their latter effort. Just incredible.

8. The Cat Empire – The Cat Empire

This one is sure to please a certain someone north of the border. I don’t know how to describe The Cat Empire, and I’d reckon neither do they. They are without a doubt the most unique band Australia has produced, and are still to this day the best live band I have ever seen (a claim I firmly stand by, and that’s in comparison to some little known bands I’ve seen like Metallica, Muse, Slash and a few others). While it was the single “Hello” that first helped them gain notoriety, it’s tracks like “The Rhythm“, “The Chariot“, “Days Like These“, “The Wine Song“, “How to Explain” and “One Four Five” that entertain me the most. And given my almost exclusive love for rock as a genre, the fact that this funk-ska-indie-Latin band even rate a mention of something of note.

7. Children Collide – Theory of Everything

The newest album on this list, and a very thankful modern addition given my fear for the lack of quality music being produced in general by the music industry in recent times. I got into this album thanks to the first single “Jellylegs” (after randomly flicking onto it when trying to find something decent on the radio – thanks Triple J). My current love for it is primarily due to my near-obsession with “Loveless” at the moment, not to mention the quality of a few others on the album like “Arrows“, “Complacency No Vacancy” and “My Eagle“. It’s good to see these Melburnians flying the flag for modern Aussie rock.

6. Flowers – Icehouse

This is the oldest album I’ve chosen, being released in 1980 here in Australia. Thanks in part to some musical influence from my mother, I absolutely love Iva Davies’ voice, and am a big fan of his music. I was determined to put an Icehouse album in this list, but it was one hell of a challenge to pick which one. While “Primitive Man” was brilliant, “Man of Colours” truly incredible, and “Sidewalk” contained my all-time favourite Icehouse song, just on the number of great tracks I had to choose their first album (despite the technicality that the band who released it weren’t actually called Icehouse at the time – they were still “Flowers”).  Sure, they hadn’t quite reached the peak of their refined sound that came in later albums, but I liked the rougher rock edge of their earliest work. And with tracks like “Can’t Help Myself“, “Walls“, “We Can Get Together“, “Sister“, not to mention the title track, I think it’d be hard to disagree.

5. The Living End – The Living End

The Living End are a band I expect to fare very well in this countdown, given they went something like 10 years without not getting a song in the annual Hottest 100 countdowns. Interestingly, like with Icehouse, it’s their debut album I’ve chosen to recognise as their greatest as it not only contained some fantastic songs (think “Prisoner of Society“, “Second Solution“, “All Torn Down” and my personal favourite in “West End Riot“, as well as many others), but it set the scene for this punkabilly-rock band from Wheelers Hill to dominate the domestic rock music scene for the next decade and more.

(Apologies about the links to the live versions of the songs – evidently there is only a filmclip for Prisoner of Society)

4. Powderfinger – Odyssey Number Five

These guys are another band I expect to feature very highly, and on the strength of some of their work deservedly so. It’s a real pity that overplaying ruined many of the singles from this album, because songs like “My Happiness” and “These Days” are brilliant in their own right, it’s just that even now no one wants to listen to them again. However, it’s not just due to those songs that I rate Odyssey as an album. “My Kind of Scene” is a fantastic song, “The Metre” is equally impressive, and “Waiting For The Sun” would probably be my favourite by the ‘Finger. Odyssey was the peak of Powderfinger’s work in my opinion, and while I’m not ridiculously obsessed with them as a band, I’ve got quite a bit of time for their melodic soft-rock sound, and in particular the sound they created on this release.

3. Silverchair – Frogstomp

Again, like the last few artists, I struggled to pick which album by these guys deserved my vote, and I think they’ll feature heavily in the final countdown (continental pun not intended). In the end, despite strong competition from a number of later releases (excluding the most recent), it was the debut album Frogstomp that got my vote (and I can hear the exclamations of disbelief coming from the south east as we speak, or at the very least I’ll hear about it Tomorrow). Given that I wrote about these guys and this album very recently, I won’t bore you again with the nitty gritty, I’ll just say that this was a very solid release, additionally worthy of praise given it was the debut recording by a band not old enough to even fornicate legally in some states.

2. The Whitlams – Eternal Nightcap

The brilliance, and equally, the depressingness of this album is truly mesmerising, and just shows off Tim Freedman‘s songwriting genius at its finest. To go from the depressing story of the Charlie trio of songs, to the upbeat sound of “You Sound Like Louis Burdett“; from the happy reflectivity of a song like “Melbourne” to the distant longing for another in “No Aphrodisiac” – I’d argue there’s no greater emotive songwriter in this country than this man. This album is a work worthy of marvel, and I sincerely hope it rates highly in the countdown like it does in mine.

Which brings me to the final choice, and my nominated “greatest Australian album of all time”. The artist won’t shock many, but is surprisingly calm for someone like me with a “heavier” taste in music.

1. Something For Kate – Echolalia

In fact, I’ll admit that I surprised myself when I decided on Echolalia as my favourite Australian album of all time. However, the reasoning was surprisingly simple – of the 13 tracks on this album, I couldn’t find a single weak one. Now if that doesn’t fit the bill as being the greatest album, then nothing will. And I’m serious too. As someone who’s listened to this album start-to-finish a number of times, there’s not a bad song. Not to mention that it contains absolute gems such as the hugely popular (in its day at least) “Monsters“, “Old Pictures” (one of my favourites, which devastatingly I can’t find an online clip for), “Stunt Show“, “Jerry Stand Up“, “Three Dimensions“, “Say Something“, “Feeding The Birds and Hoping for Something in Return” and “Twenty Years” (and yes I could go on, but I’d better stop myself), it rates very highly in my book.

Again, I agonised about whether “The Official Fiction” (the album with my absolute favourite SFK song – “Reverse Soundtrack” (sorry about the quality of the link) – as well as the very famous “Deja Vu” and “Song for a Sleepwalker“) or even “Desert Lights“, but I had to go with Echolalia for the reasons mentioned above.

So that’s the list, ridiculously incomplete as usual, and bound to upset some based upon the albums I missed out. I do apologise to the many bands whose work did deserve to be recognised, but just didn’t make the cut (and believe me, there were many). However, I’m pretty satisfied that I’ve produced a solid list. Now let the criticisms begin…

(Disclaimer: the following opinions expressed are those of a Geelong Football Club supporter. While all efforts have been made to open both eyes and consider the situation objectively, management apologies for any partisan views published.)

For those living under a rock, last night Geelong played Hawthorn in yet another classic at the MCG, and as has been the case in every game since the 2008 Grand Final, Geelong won by a narrow margin.

However, a supposedly contentious decision in the final seconds set the talkback stations alight and invited comment from just about every commentator of the game, with a fairly mixed response from all. For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the vision (both at game speed and with a slow-mo replay):

So to add to the number of people with an opinion on this event, here’s is my take.

There was no free kick to be paid there. From the live footage, it did in fact look like Franklin was pushed in the back by Tom Lonergan, and on the basis of that alone it wouldn’t have surprised me had the umpire blown his whistle and paid Franklin the free (though it would have disappointed). However, on review and looking at the slowed-down reverse angle footage, there is no evidence of a push in the back whatsoever.

What there is evidence of is somewhat different, and would warrant a free against Hawthorn rather than for them. That footage shows Franklin diving in order to receive a free kick. Despite the lack of contact from Lonergan, and the ball coming in over his head height, he made no effort to raise his hands in order to mark. Instead, he chose to go to ground, in what can only be described as a deliberate attempt to deceive the umpire into paying a free kick for him. I think it was an extremely lazy and selfish act on the part of Franklin to not go for the mark, and I think his pathetic effort was appropriately rewarded by him not winning possession. I actually believe that if he’d gone for the mark, he would have not only had a good chance of taking it, but he may have been more likely to earn a legitimate free kick as well.

It also appears the impact of this decision is being grossly overstated as is usual for decisions near the end of the game. It’s no wonder umpires are regularly thought to “swallow their whistles” near the ends of tight games – no one wants to be labelled with making the decision that determined the result of a game. As such, this criticism has come of the umpire who decided against paying the free to Franklin. However, while people will harp on about one free kick, ignoring the fact that 48 others were paid throughout the course of the game. I don’t see the Hawthorn fans complaining about the weak 50-metre penalty against Bartel on Franklin that gifted Clinton Young a goal earlier in the match. I also don’t see them criticising their coach for allowing Scarlett and Mackie to stay a kick behind play unmanned, which prevented Hawthorn from launching any threatening attacks in the last term and kept them scoreless after 3 quarter time.

So I’m sure the Hawthorn fans will feel ripped off because their faultless (*cough*) star wasn’t given the chance to win the game for his team. I stand by the fact that if I believe he deserved that chance, I’d agree that they had a legitimate complaint. However, he didn’t, and that blatant dive ensured justice was done, and Geelong won the game.

Apologies for those on Facebook who’ve already seen this one…

The song is “Loveless”, from Children Collide’s second album “Theory of Everything“, released in 2010. Now I’ve been a fan of these Melbourne boys since their first album “The Long Now” was released a few years back. That album was a bit raw but full of energy, shown in tracks like “Social Currency” and the very brilliant “Farewell Rocketship“. However, their follow-up effort by far surpasses their first work in my opinion. For instance, take the song “Jellylegs” which combines a punchy, aggressive chorus with bass-driven verses, and was until recently my favourite off the album. Also worth mentioning are tracks like “Arrows“, “Complacency No Vacancy” and “My Eagle” (the one that’s charted the best of their work so far, but funnily not the one I’m most impressed with). While the lyrics may need a bit of work, as do the video clips, they are all solid, energetic, enjoyable rock songs.

However, it’s Loveless that impresses me the most. It’s sound is a bit different, swapping the aggressive hardness of most of their songs for a softer, more ballady-type sound with an alternative twist. In fact, it reminds me a lot of another Aussie rock outfit that I adore, that being The Butterfly effect, especially with the little guitar parts in the chorus.  This song is brilliantly written both lyrically and musically, with a chorus that’s hugely addictive. The simpler music in the song is complemented beautifully by the dynamic vocals that really suit its mood. Overall, I just think it’s an amazing song that I can’t get enough of.

So that makes it my favourite song for the moment. Sure, that will change in time as I tire of it, but it’s just good to see a band that’s flying the flag for Australia musically and producing some great home-grown rock.

Friday Flashback #23

Another Friday Flashback for you now, and today’s choice could be described as bizarre. You might even ask, How Bizarre?

Yep, the song is “How Bizarre“, by New Zealand duo Otara Millionaires’ Club, more commonly known as OMC.

OMC were formed by vocalist Pauly Fuemana and producer Alan Jansson in 1993. The name Otara Millionaires’ Club was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Auckland suburb Fuemana grew up in – Otara is regarded as one of the poorest areas in Auckland, with parts of it providing the setting to films such as Once Were Warriors. They were signed to a local recording label and had put little together until the release of this song in late 1995. Upon release, its reception was huge, with How Bizarre racing to number one on the local charts, and selling over 35,000 copies in NZ alone, a record still to this day not broken. By early 1996 it had featured in charts worldwide, hitting number one in five countries, including Australia.

Sadly, at least outside of New Zealand, OMC were to remain a one-hit wonder only. The success of How Bizarre inspired the group to record a full-length studio album, the only one of the band’s career, however even it failed to replicate the success of the title single. A 2007 single titled “4 All Of Us”, which didn’t even chart, was their last release.

Sadly, Pauly Fuemana died in early 2010, aged just 40, at North Shore Hospital in Auckland. Ironically, this final resting place completed Fuemana’s rags-to-riches transformation, with the North Shore being one of the priciest, most exclusive areas in New Zealand.

How Bizarre is still one of those songs that everyone knows, yet few could tell you who performed it. It’s status as a one-hit wonder is well-renowned, with the song placing at #71 in a countdown of one-hit wonders performed in 2002 by American music television channel VH1. For me, it’s one of those annoyingly catchy songs that reminds me of being a kid, but now has almost completely faded into obscurity.

Take your politics elsewhere

Last night, due to my interest in the round ball game, I casually followed the progress of the Australia versus Serbia friendly being held at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium. I don’t have pay TV so I didn’t watch it, and from all reports I missed an entertaining match, despite the eventual goalless scoreline.

What I didn’t see at the time, but was brought to my attention by the media this morning, was the disturbing sight of Serbian supporters choosing to use the football game as a public forum to vent their disgusting ultra-nationalist political views. Banners expressing support for Serbian General Ratko Mladic, even calling for his release, were displayed to the horror of some of the crowd and the wider public.

A brief history lesson here: General Mladic was responsible for ordering the execution of over 8,000 Bosniaks (aka Bosnian Muslims) in the massacres at Srebrenica in 1995. By execution, I don’t mean causing the death of soldiers during combat, but the capture and murder of unarmed civilians in an act that is best described as cold-blooded genocide.

I unashamedly admit that my views on this debate are somewhat coloured by my Croatian heritage. My grandfather was born in what is now defined as Bosnia and Herzegovina, and until the declaration of independence by Croatia was not able to return to his homeland without fear of being taken a political prisoner by the Serb-controlled government at the time.

However, even the objective observer the situation for what it is. Mladic is a war criminal, and I find the notion that anyone, Serb or otherwise, could support his actions utterly despicable. Additionally, I find the need for these people to openly express this horrific view in public at, of all places, a football game just disgusting. Sport is about many things – competition, skill, and even national pride – but not politics. If you support Mladic, while I may not agree or approve, that’s your choice. But to ruin the spectacle of an international friendly match by marching this racist political agenda out all over it detracts from the beauty that is sport.

Take for instance the cricket world cup match between Pakistan and India a few weeks back. Pakistan and India hate each other – they are practically at war and political enemies, despite their neighbouring geographical locations. Yet, for the cricket match, the politics was put on hold. The Pakistani team and Indian team put their differences aside to compete in a sporting match. It was passionate, it was hard-fought, and it was a truly great sporting spectacle. It was so because the politics had been checked at the door. The Pakistanis and Indians arguably hate each other even more than the Serbs and the Bosnians/Croatians/Albanians/Macedonians/Kosovars do, but they acknowledged that their differences had no place on the sporting field.

Sadly, the Serbs (and I acknowledge the Croatians too) do not take this mentality. The riots at the Australian Open tennis a few years ago show this. While we understand the hatred you both have for each other, is there any need to let it develop into a fist fight at a public sporting event? Additionally, given the age of the perpetrators at both the football and the tennis, it’s highly unlikely that any of them were even involved in the Balkans wars of the 1990s – they are most likely descendants of the generation of immigrants who left Europe in the 1950s and 60s (a bit like me). While it appals me to learn of the crimes committed in those wars, I have no desire to bring these battles to of all places a sporting event. My grandfather left Yugoslavia (as it was then) to avoid these wars – to enjoy a life of freedom instead of one of conflict. Why their descendants can’t do the same confuses and disappoints me.

Take your politics somewhere else, and let sport be the great contest that it is.

Reverse-spin the news

A few weeks ago I wrote an article defending the ABC from the claims that the public media organisation holds a political bias (I can’t say whether the claims are that it is biased to the left or right, because the conservatives would have you believe it favours the left, while the progressives claim it is biased to the right).

However, one such media organisation that will not receive my support for its editorial line is News Limited, or specifically in this case, The Australian. Murdoch’s national broadsheet, which claims that it needs to “make a lot of noise” in order to be heard, and has already willingly expressed its disapproval for The Greens, possesses a conservative bias that surely must be evident to all but the most one-eyed Liberal Party supporters.

I’m not the first to point this out – the online news service Crikey makes the point often, as does the Grog’s Gamut blog, both of which are finer examples of media and political analysis than that shoddy rag could ever wish to be.

So why am I so incensed about this today? Well, I woke this morning to find the latest Newspoll results had been released. The figures showed Labor on 34% primary vote, the Coalition on 44% and the Greens on 14%. That’s a 1 point increase to Labor, a 2 point drop to the Coalition and a 4 point gain for the Greens. The two-party preferred figures are now 48-52 in the Coalition’s favour, a four point drop in the difference from the last survey.

Here’s how our unbiased friends at the ABC reported today’s poll results:

As the carbon tax continues to dominate the political debate, a new opinion poll shows the Coalition’s lead over Labor is narrowing slightly.

The Newspoll published in today’s Australian newspaper says Labor’s primary vote has risen one point to 34 per cent, while the Coalition’s primary vote fell two points to 44 per cent.

The Coalition is still leading Labor 52 per cent to 48 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

A fortnight ago the Coalition led by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

Yep, much as it was. Labor’s gained, but the Coalition still leads. Pretty much as it is.

This tone was obviously too simple (or more likely too left-wing) for The Australian, whose Political Editor Dennis Shanahan instead went with this angle:

ALP fails to profit from Liberal ructions: Newspoll

THE Coalition has kept its clear election-winning lead over Labor as Julia Gillard’s personal support co

ntinues to languish and Tony Abbott calls for an early “carbon tax” election.

Despite two weeks of publicity about infighting and squabbles within the Liberal Party, and a concerted government campaign against the Opposition Leader, there has been virtually no change in the party standings.

Look at the wording: “clear election-winning lead”, “Gillard’s personal support continues to languish”, “Abbott calls for an early carbon tax election”, “virtually no change in the party standings”. From that, you’d think Labor had been wiped out by the latest poll. In fact, even their claim that Gillard’s personal support is languishing is not correct, because the poll figures show an increase in Gillard’s satisfaction ratings, and a decrease in her dissatisfaction rating. Meanwhile, her opponent Abbott has fallen in satisfaction and risen in dissatisfaction ratings in the same period.

It’s sadly typical of The Australian, and many News Limited papers, to report favourably towards the Liberal Party. God forbid they actually look at the results, which show a drop for the Coalition. And heaven forbid they dare mention that The Greens were the biggest positive movers in this poll, rising a significant 4 points in the primary vote alone.

So, I figure if they won’t write it, I will. Much like I did in that ABC article, here’s a quick re-write of the poll results with the shoe on the other foot.

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Coalition on the nose as progressives rise

The Coalition’s internal rumblings and negative campaigning appear to have lost their appeal to voters, with the latest poll figures revealing the Liberals and Nationals leaking support to both the Labor Party and the Greens.

The Newspoll figures, published in The Australian, reveal that the Coalition has dropped two percentage points in its primary support, now sitting at 44%, barely above the 43.6% primary vote it lost the 2010 election with. Meanwhile, the Labor Party have gained one percentage point to be on 34%, and The Greens were the big movers, rising four percentage points to sit on 14%.

The two-party preferred gap has narrowed considerably as well, with the Coalition now only holding a slender 52-48 lead over Labor after preferences.

Party room dissent may also increase after the figures also revealed Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s personal support has taken a tumble in the past fortnight, with his satisfaction ratings dropping 3% overall to put him at a net satisfaction rating of -16. In the same period, Julia Gillard’s personal support has risen by 2 points overall. Mr Abbott has been accused of pursuing a campaign of “mindless negativity” and lacking in any genuine policy direction, recently claiming he favoured “pragmatic politics over policy purity”.

The poll results come on the back of an already disastrous week for the Coalition, with front-bencher and former leader Malcolm Turnbull launching public attacks on party colleagues and openly criticising the Coalition’s climate change policy. Tensions between Mr Abbott and his shadow treasurer Joe Hockey have also surfaced, with the two forced to put on a joint press conference in an attempt to quell speculation about a falling out.

Meanwhile, Labor and the Greens have been strengthened by a campaign launched by a coalition of community groups expressing support for the proposed carbon tax. The campaign, launched on the weekend, includes celebrities such as actors Michael Caton and Cate Blanchett, and is supported by public figures like entrepreneur Dick Smith and former Liberal Party leaders John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser.

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Now I can’t claim to have anywhere near the circulation figures of The Australian, and although I deride them, their standards of writing are far superior to mine. However, it still feels nice to reverse the spin and stick it to the right-wing media in this country sometimes.