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Sydney Morning Herald

Dec 11, 2009

Dumb and Dumber

There's no need to actually live in the Premier State shambles that is NSW to know that our state government is fairly hopeless, the stench radiates far beyond o

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There’s no need to actually live in the Premier State shambles that is NSW to know that our state government is fairly hopeless, the stench radiates far beyond our borders. NSW Labor has spectacularly failed to deliver the services that residents demand and have been saved only by the NSW Liberal Party’s complete and utter addiction to self-destruction. This state of affairs was once again thrown into sharp relief when Nathan Rees was last week deposed from the Premiership by the forces who he thought he’d dealt with only weeks before at the State Labor conference.

Unsurprisingly, the Sydney media has been relentless in their criticism of the NSW government. What is surprising is that the two Sydney papers have taken the extraordinary step of going beyond reporting and analysis and have begun actively campaigning against the sitting government. Unfortunately for the rest of us, they’ve picked some really stupid ways to go about it.

The form guide with pictures that is the Daily Telegraph has decided to go straight for the jugular. The Tele isn’t mucking around with the folks from Macquarie Street at all, instead making a plea to the Governor of New South Wales, Marie Bashir, to simply dissolve the parliament early and hold a fresh election.

There’s only one small problem with the Tele’s grand plan, the NSW Constitution. Unfortunately for the folks at the Tele, the NSW Constitution is very clear about what the Governor can and can’t do when it comes to dismissing a government. The whole argument rests on one clause.

(5) This section does not prevent the Governor from dissolving the Legislative Assembly in circumstances other than those specified in subsections (2)-(4), despite any advice of the Premier or Executive Council, if the Governor could do so in accordance with established constitutional conventions.(My emphasis)

Sadly, “Because we think they’re shit” doesn’t fit the established constitutional conventions when it comes to dismissing a government. The NSW people voted for fixed four year terms in 1995, and we voted to give the NSW ALP 51 of the 93 seats in the Legislative Assembly in 2007, and no amount of buyer’s regret will make dismissing the government constitutionally sound.

Meanwhile the tabloid that’s too big to read on the bus, The Sydney Morning Herald, has taken a different approach. Obviously wanting to differentiate themselves from the Tele, the SMH is instead calling for a referendum at the next state election to insert a recall provision into the NSW Constitution so that voters could demand an early election whenever they liked.

Although the outright campaign against a sitting government isn’t a good look, at least the Herald’s idea is constitutionally possible. The problem, however, is that no matter what Barry O’Farrell says at the moment about supporting the idea, there is no way in hell that the power-brokers in the Liberal Party would ever let this idea through. The ‘Your Rights at Work” campaign at the 2007 Federal election showed that the union movement in Australia is far from a spent force and the hierarchy of the Liberal Party know that the ALP would have no hesitation about using their union base to activate any recall provision whenever they thought they had a commanding lead in the polls. Even if O’Farrell is true to his word and supports a referendum on this issue, the No campaign would be funded and organised by the people behind the scenes in his own party.

All that these two newspapers have achieved with their campaigns is that they have lost any claim to be disinterested reporters and commentators. The NSW print media has shown that it is willing to actively campaign against a sitting government, making a mockery of their role as the fourth estate. This is not a sign of a healthy and informed democracy.

29 comments

29 thoughts on “Dumb and Dumber

  1. confessions

    Bruce: all reasonable points. Shabadoo has form for trolling which is why i don’t take him seriously.

  2. Bruce

    There’s something serendipitous about a question like this being asked on a thread titled Dumb and Dumber.

    Actually, if you’ve studied ecological niche theory, it doesn’t come across as particularly dumb question. The “greatness” of natives is a value judgement that’s taken far too much for granted. If a weed like Oxalis pes-caprae can perform an important roll in preventing the weathering of clay on hillsides, and Rubus fruticosus bushes can protect endangered fauna in place of the likes of Acacia paradoxa which has been heavily cleared, it’s not so clear cut that native flora is automatically better, and introduced species a scourge.

    I don’t buy into the who tree-hugger strawman that followed of course. And relating back to the original point about the Libs felling native vegetation, Shabadoo’s question seems problematic – just because native vegetation may not be intrinsically better from an ecological perspective, it doesn’t follow that clearing it is a good idea.

    I’d be interested to see NSW Labor and the Greens be made to go toe-to-toe on the science of this issue, rather than ideology. Though given the media would have a roll in dragging this kind of information out of potential candidates, what do you think the chances of this happening are? 😛

    I portend hysteria, for what it’s worth.

  3. Ian Bryant

    I think the question about the native vegetation arose because it was the first comment in a story about Sydney newspapers petitioning for an early election, contrary to the NSW constitution.

    I must admit I thought something similar: of all the possible legislative moves the Libs might introduce when they finally got their hands on the reins in 2011, why would native vegetation so important? I know they’re fairly likely to stuff up most of what they do, but imagine their effects on schools, hospitals, transport, law and order, etc. etc. etc…. – …. and native vegetatation!

  4. Bloods05

    Shabby? Are you there? Or do you work in the private sector, where you’re not allowed to blog outside your 15-minute lunchbreak?

  5. Ian Bryant

    How would the papers look if their wish was granted, an election held, and Labor returned?

  6. twobob

    Westpac, bananas and abbot spoof video, too good to miss
    you’d love it shabby

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/rooted/

  7. twobob

    Shabby is it not obvious
    Where would the fairies and sprites all live?
    But more seriously native vegetation supports entire native ecosystems. In fact Bloods said it well.
    And what I am concerned about is not a few trees that you must get council approval for. It is native forests that to me and many others define natural Australia. You watch. If the native veg laws are repealed what happens in NSW will be an international disgrace. An orgy of death and destruction of forest will ensue. Want that do ya?

  8. DeanL

    Shabadoo,

    Now you’ve made a reasonable and debatable point.

    No, I don’t think that’s reasonable. What would be reasonable would be to have restrictions/regulations that council could enforce. But not to have to get approval.

    Which councils and how many impose it?

  9. confessions

    [can you explain what’s so great about ‘native vegetation’?]

    There’s something serendipitous about a question like this being asked on a thread titled Dumb and Dumber.

  10. surlysimon

    Shabadoo
    YES because you may own your small peice of land, the council has a responsibility to the whole comunity. And I for one am glad of it.

  11. Bloods05

    [do you think it is appropriate to have to go to Council to get approval to prune or remove a tree on your land, which you own?]

    The answer to that question, of course, is that it depends on the circumstances. There are cases where it is appropriate, others where it is not. Private property is important, but not sacred.

  12. Bloods05

    [Dean, do you think it is appropriate to have to go to Council to get approval to prune or remove a tree on your land, which you own?]

    If that was all you were concerned about Shabby, what was all that provocative abuse for?

  13. Shabadoo

    Dean, do you think it is appropriate to have to go to Council to get approval to prune or remove a tree on your land, which you own?

  14. Bloods05

    [can you explain what’s so great about ‘native vegetation’?]

    Yes Shabby, it supports communities of native flora and fauna that are uniquely adapted to the Australian environment, it cycles nutrients, it helps keep air and water pure, it’s beautiful, and if it’s removed, it’s usually replaced by concrete, monoculture cropland or bare pasture, thereby reducing biodiversity and generally degrading the environment. Seems pretty obvious to me.

  15. DeanL

    [but the primitivist tree-worship that takes place in NSW (and presumably around the country) borders on the ridiculous, where no one is allowed to remove one without making sure that no fairies are disturbed and any sprites living within are re-homed …]

    This sort of comment isn’t intended to be debated is it? A ridiculously exagerrated straw-man assertion with no indication of what the real restrictions are and what your problem with them are.

    Why bother?

  16. Shabadoo

    twobob, can you explain what’s so great about ‘native vegetation’? I have no problem with the environment, so long as it knows its place, but the primitivist tree-worship that takes place in NSW (and presumably around the country) borders on the ridiculous, where no one is allowed to remove one without making sure that no fairies are disturbed and any sprites living within are re-homed …

  17. Bruce

    All this talk of a dismissal along with the media campaigning, has the faint echo of the Lang era. Can we call the SMH The New Guard, and The Tele, The Old? 😛

  18. Bloods05

    [NSW premiers have big egos, Bloods05, and like to see their title on number plates.]

    As I recall, it was started by Neville Wran. Always seemed to me that it was more Premier than State.

  19. Duncan

    You used to be able to get number plates is SA that said..

    “South Australia…The Altered State”

  20. Dave Gaukroger

    Turns out it’s been gone longer than that:

    NSW plates attracted the following slogans, usually located at the bottom of the plate:
    October 1980 to November 1988: NSW – The Premier State
    November 1988 to Mar 1989: NSW (interim series)
    Mar 1989 to present: New South Wales legend at bottom of plates introduced. Standardised option from October 1996.
    Jun 1989 to September 1994: NSW – The First State
    September 1994 to September 1996: NSW – Towards 2000

    Still Greiner’s fault.

  21. Dotty Daphon

    Shows how observant I am, Dave.

  22. Dave Gaukroger

    We haven’t had ‘The Premier State’ on our rego plates for years – I think Greiner got rid of it for something meaningless like ‘Towards 2000’ in the mid 90s.

  23. Dotty Daphon

    NSW premiers have big egos, Bloods05, and like to see their title on number plates. (I don’t know if it’s still the case that NSW plates have ‘The Premier State on them.)

  24. Bloods05

    Not because it has lots of premiers then?

  25. Dave Gaukroger

    premier |prēˈm(y)i(ə)r; ˈprēmēər; ˈprēˌmi(ə)r|
    adjective [ attrib. ]
    first in importance, order, or position; leading :
    • of earliest creation : the premier issue of the quarterly.

  26. Bloods05

    They used to call Victoria the Garden State because it had lots of gardens. Queensland was the Sunshine State because it had lots of sunshine. Why is NSW called the Premier State?

  27. Dotty Daphon

    The next NSW state elections is ideal to elect a large number of Greens to both houses. Even if you don’t like the Greens can they be any worse than the ALP or LP?

    What a shake up to the two ‘majors’ that would be. The Greens would receive primary electoral funding at the expense of the ALP and LP and could finally become a much-needed third party force in NSW and, hopefully, federally as well.

    People can complain all they like here, at the SMH, Punch or wherever, but so many of them still can’t help voting ALP or LP.

  28. Ross Sharp

    The form guide with pictures that is the Daily Telegraph

    tabloid that’s too big to read on the bus, The Sydney Morning Herald

    Classic. Thanks.

  29. twobob

    One can only thank god that the papers sphere of influence is shrinking daily.
    I despise NSW Labor primarily because they are such a right wing bunch of loonies who have sold the crown jewels to prop up a few bills. But I do fear for native vegetation when the Liberals are elected here in 2011. I am betting that native veg laws will be one of the first things dismantled by the libs when they attain power here. The ensuing destruction of plant material will be a shame on our nation I have no doubt at all. I wonder will the SMH and Tele take any responsibility for that?

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