Seven Days: Eye spy, but don’t say you heard it here

“At first, officials deliberately omitted the source of the satellite imagery. Twenty-four hours later came a very odd statement…”

THE discovery of that airliner wreckage in the Indian Ocean not only propelled PM Tony Abbott on to the front page of “The New York Times”, it also caused two governments – ours and America’s – to become very economical with the truth.

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin

At first, officials deliberately omitted the source of the satellite imagery. Twenty-four hours later came a very odd statement from an American company, DigitalGlobe: “We have been informed by an Australian government official that it was our imagery Prime Minister Abbott referred to in his recent comments.”

Truth is, the likeliest source by far is the ultra-secret US/Australian space defence/intelligence facility at Pine Gap. But don’t say you heard it here.

ARTHUR Sinodinos’ banishment to the outer parliamentary darkness was starkly illustrated by his new place in the Senate Chamber – in the last row next to our own (previously invisible) Zed Seselja. Sinodinos was caught up in the greed, envy and corner-cutting that has warped NSW politics since the Rum Corps. Thank goodness it hasn’t slithered across the border to our fair city.

SPEAKING of the Rum Corps, their sworn enemy, the saintly Alexander Maconochie, would have been appalled at this week’s $3 million expansion plan for the prison that bears his name. He actually released more than 900 prisoners from his Norfolk Island hellhole after they had earned their parole. Less than five per cent reoffended. Today’s incarnation is following Parkinson’s Law: prisoner numbers expand to fill the space available, and then some.

OKAY, Canberra’s not to be Sydney’s second airport but Plan B – using its curfew-free status to become the national freight terminal – makes a lot of sense. Except, of course, to the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury who says Canberrans “don’t want to inherit Sydney’s night-time noise”. Really? The few who foolishly chose to live on the flight path knew exactly what they were doing. Sometimes the Greens are their own worst enemy.

AS the nation’s Sex Trade Central, Canberrans were naturally to the fore in the tour by parliamentarians to Europe, Sweden and South Korea where prostitutes are legal but their customers are not. Lib MLAs Vicki Dunne and Giulia Jones will take up the cudgels on the girls’ behalf. Ms Jones is seeking “exit programs” for the 89 per cent, she says, who want to leave the industry.

Is it really that hard to get another job in Canberra?

SEX slavery is quite another matter. But that perennial grandstander, mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, this week pledged his efforts to end it worldwide. He even got the Pope on side. This follows his splashy campaign with Kevin Rudd to employ 50,000 Aborigines; his promise to endow the University of WA with $65 million; and 5000 tonnes of his iron ore to Chinese earthquake relief. Residents of Forrest, named for his illustrious ancestor, will be bursting with pride.

WE could barely contain ourselves waiting for the return of “Downton Abbey”. But when it arrived courtesy of the Seven Network, it was so choked with commercials it became unwatchable. Greed, envy and corner cutting, it seems, are not confined to the Sydney push. The good news is you can get the entire season via Amazon for spare change.

robert@robertmacklin.com

 

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