Macklin / Toned-down Sam takes a stand

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THE Anzac extravaganza is finally over, but politicians love it so much we can be sure it will rear its militaristic head again next year.

Robert Macklin.
Robert Macklin.
PM Tony Abbott took full advantage of the occasion during his visit to Istanbul and Gallipoli. Once a year, it seems, we discover a “special relationship” with Turkey, at least for the few days surrounding April 25.

The media went wildly over the top but was nicely exposed by actor Sam Neill who hosted a much-touted Gallipoli special on the ABC. He told Aunty’s new Charlie Pickering show “The Weekly” he hated war and wanted to say so in the documentary. But he was “persuaded” by his producers to “tone down” his views.

It was unfortunate, he said, that we allowed our allies – in this case Britain – to drag us into a war of total irrelevance to Australia and NZ. Pickering was aghast and ended the interview poste haste.

Meantime, Tony took time out to lecture the Europeans on how to “stop the boats” after more than 800 drowned in a single vessel crossing the Mediterranean. And who better?

WHILE the PM was away, central NSW was hit by the full force of a Category Two cyclone costing four lives and untold millions in damages to homes and public amenities. Such “extreme weather events” it seems are becoming ever more frequent as climate change takes hold.

We saw out the three-day downpour at Tuross where the sea swept across the beach and into Coila Lake. Once rare, it’s now a regular event. Coincidentally, we learned this week that the PM’s office drove the push to provide $4 million government funding for the “sceptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg for a Consensus Centre at the University of WA. Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s office denied all knowledge of it. Another captain’s call?

CANBERRANS, it seems, have a much more intimate combat in mind – the war against obesity. An ACT Government survey revealed we want “tough action” to limit unhealthy food. But at the same time, it turns out, we’re unwilling to take personal responsibility for our own weight problems. At least half our population is “overweight” according to the research, but only 20 per cent say they’ll do anything about it.

AT least we haven’t lost our sense of humour. Clearly there were practical jokers at work in the heritage study that this week found the ugly boxes of the Northbourne Flats were “the pinnacle of design… and critical to Canberra’s urban design history”. It gets better. The flats, the study found, demonstrated “the purist form of cubiform architectural imagery”. Nice one, lads.

AND what about those comedians from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Rio Tinto and BHP who gave evidence about their financial finagling to the Senate Inquiry into tax avoidance. “What, us cheat the tax man?” they cried. “You must be joking”.

You had to love the response from tax commissioner Chris Jordan who skewered them in perfect bureaucratese. They didn’t actually mislead Parliament, he said. Oh, no. It’s just that, “their evidence was not accurately reflecting the reality that the level of taxes they pay locally was being contested by the ATO”.

Don’t cross the Jordan.

robert@robertmacklin.com

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Robert Macklin
Journalist and author. Contact robert@robertmacklin.com

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