Macklin / When the messengers start doing the shooting

“Dyson Heydon was back on the bench as though nothing had happened… and we were treated to more appalling behaviour from Canberra’s building industry thugs in the CFMEU,” writes Seven Days columnist ROBERT MACKLIN

Robert Macklin.

Robert Macklin.

THE media itself became the news this past week as Immigration Minister and former Queensland policeman, Peter Dutton, rounded on Fairfax journalists when they trumpeted that his Border Force operation in Melbourne had crashed in flames.

Then when they revealed that his predecessor’s $55 million deal with Cambodia to take asylum seekers off our hands had yielded exactly four, he was fit to be tied. And if that wasn’t enough, they reported Cabinet ministers suggesting Treasurer Joe Hockey was for the high jump.

But did he really have to accuse them of “jihad”?

BY week’s end the proprietor of their rival News Limited, Rupert Murdoch, was so tired of Fairfax hogging the limelight that he took to Twitter to call Australia “ungovernable” and ordered Tony Abbott to call a snap election. Tony declined… for now. But as we’ve suggested, it’s sure to happen before the next Budget.

INDEED, the economic news made an early poll much more likely. Australia’s trading account collapsed dramatically, raising our foreign debt to almost $1 trillion! And the domestic economy would have actually contracted in the June quarter were it not for massive Government defence spending. No wonder Tony wants to bomb Syria.

LOCALLY, it was not much better. Canberra had a net loss of 1244 residents in the latest figures with more than 18,700 departing our fair city. By contrast we attracted only about 17,500, some 3200 fewer than seven years previously.

THE bad economic news also put pressure on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to wave the Australia/China free trade deal through the Senate. Instead, he was using it to bolster his party’s prospects in the Canning by-election. Not the most statesmanlike stance for a prospective prime minister, but these days, it seems, both political leaders are more concerned with their own futures than that of the country.

THE first hint that Anthony Albanese might well mount a tilt against Shorten arrived this week in the form of a “Good Weekend” article. “Albo” was permitted to display his undoubted leadership qualities without the slightest demur from regular Fairfax author Jane Cadzow. Suspicious, Mr Dutton?

THEN, on Friday, the “New York Times” grabbed its share of the limelight with a scathing editorial calling Abbott’s asylum seeker stance “unconscionable”.

“His policies have been inhumane, of dubious legality and strikingly at odds with the country’s tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and war,” it said.

“It is inexcusable that some find themselves today in situations that are more hopeless and degrading than the ones that prompted them to flee.”

No doubt Dutton is penning a blistering reply as we speak.

ROYAL Commissioner Dyson Heydon was back on the bench as though nothing had happened… which was just as well as we were treated with more appalling behaviour from Canberra’s building industry thugs in the CFMEU.

ALL very depressing, but Canberrans can take heart from our own shaggy sheep story. A merino named “Chris” hadn’t seen a wool barber for five years till shearing champ Ian Elkins fleeced the jumbuck this week. “Chris” was so happy he’d shed the 40kg he’d been humping around the back blocks, we’re told, that he changed his name…to “Sean” (boom boom!).
robert@robertmacklin.com

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