So how should I cover Budget 2012?

I’ve commented on the Budget for Crikey every May since Labor took power in 2007. This year will be no exception. But what will I say?

In 2008 I criticised Rudd’s slow digital revolution.

Dig into Budget Paper No. 2 and there’s a frustrating lack of detail and commitment.

Of $4.7b promised for the National Broadband Network [this was the original 12Mbps fibre to the node policy], only 0.16% has been committed: $2.1m this financial year and $5.2m next for “establishment and implementation”. The remaining 99.84% — you know, actually building the thing — is all “nfp”. Not for publication. We’ll get back to you…

The rest? All. Too. Slow. And. Vague.

In 2009 I complained that the machinery of Australian government is as outdated as the steam locomotive and the electric telegraph in The Budget? How quaint! They’re just made-up, you know.

Here we imagine that once a year we can produce a Big List of Numbers that’ll cover everything our “modern” nation-state will need to deal with for the next 365 days.

We proclaim it Good or Bad for this or that self-interested sector of the community on the basis of a quick glance, a gut reaction, and the need to create a narrative that’ll attract an audience or justify a pre-existing political zealotry.

We pretend to believe numbers like “$20 million over four years” when only a tiny part of that might be committed in the coming financial year and the rest, still to be confirmed in the next Budget, is therefore nothing but wishful thinking.

The reality, of course, is that the world moves faster than this. We experience a sudden global financial crisis, and must immediately tighten our belts by … um … giving away $900 cash to everyone.

In 2010 I complained of More NBN vagueness, border control and cyber-safety re-allocation. It’s not a bad read, but I’ll leave you to click through to that one.

And by 2011 I was clearly over the whole thing, writing Ritual shenanigans, but hey, this is government.

Riddle me this. What is the actual point of the federal budget process and all the lock-up shenanigans that go with it when the biggest bucket of money related to the technology sector by far, that National Broadband Network thing, isn’t even on the books?

What is the point when the way that NBN money is being spent – and is it $26 billion or $36 billion or $43 billion or that $50 billion scare-number that Malcolm Turnbull pulled out of some random orifice and keeps repeating unchallenged? – it is all SEKRIT thanks to those magic words “commercial confidentiality”…

What is the point of this annual ritual – built on the assumption that we can publish a set of numbers in May that will, in this complex and rapidly changing world, still be meaningful six months down the track – when the government has to respond to changing circumstances? Such as urgently building a fibre-to-the-premises network? Or responding to a global financial crisis? Or starting a land war in Asia? Or handing to every taxpayer $900 because, um, oh, shut up stop asking questions and buy a new TV.

I went on about “$20 million in suck-up-to-Tasmania funding” and “Labor’s half-arsed internet ‘filtering’ policy” and “loud-mouthed entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan” and noted:

Just be aware that all of this could be changed in an instant, budget process or not, if a minister gets on a plane with the Ranga-in-Chief with a few numbers scribbled on the back of an envelope.

So, what the fuck will I end up writing once the budget papers drop onto government websites tonight? Especially given that my shoulder is “out” and I won’t be able to get it fixed until tomorrow afternoon — my birthday! — and I’m scoffing codeine? Suggestions please!

The 9pm Edict #20

Margaret Whitlam is dead. Tony Abbott picks up her still-warm corpse and uses it to thump her grieving husband. British comedian Bill Bailey says what I think about classical music. And we top the party goat for Harmony Day.

In this episode of the Edict, you’ll hear how Harmony Day is just made up by the Australian government — and you can check out the material at the official website. I’ll introduce you to the joys of 3 Word Quotes. The ABC TV broadcast of Last Night of the Proms inspires me to quote Bill Bailey from British TV program TV Heaven Telly Hell. And I reflect upon Tony Abbott’s lame tribute to Margaret Whitlam.

Continue reading “The 9pm Edict #20”

The 9pm Edict #19

Years ago, a bloke got frustrated at the end of a long day, and swore a bit. And suddenly the entire fucking media in this country is buzzing around this one pissy little story like blowflies to the corpse of a dead horse.

Yes, less than two days since I posted episode 18, today’s bullshit reportage on a video in which former prime minister Kevin Rudd swears a few times — shock horror! — and a bunch of unsubstantiated rumours from Canberra have triggered this episode.

Just look at this crap, from ninemsn. Even the ABC, which is supposed to be a credible, non-sensationalist news outlet, covers the swearing but then has two “related stories” about the speculation about a leadership challenge, that the cabinet is supposed repeatedly testing support for Julia Gillard and that attorney-general Nicola Roxon had declared her support for her.

The Australian has at least six stories linked from its home page, including some irrelevant commentary from opposition leader Tony Abbott and even Rudd saying he’d do it differently now.

Seven is reporting that independent MP Andrew Wilkie reckons Rudd will launch a challenge, describing the video as “explosive”.

This entire episode is an embarrassment. It’s this sort of Canberra pseudo-insider bullshit that’s precisely the reason I don’t read newspapers or their websites and don’t watch TV news. It’s all a sideshow, the so-called journalists who perpetuate this bullshit know it, and yet they continue to do it.

Why?

Well I think I know why this fucktardery happens, and I have a modest proposal for fixing it.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

Um, except… no… oh fuck no, not this!

News has just come through — well, Dennis Shanahan says — that Rudd’s leadership challenge is on. Really. May God have mercy upon our souls.

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733. Not that anyone ever does.

[Credits: Audio grabs from ABC News24 and, of course, the video in question. The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

Weekly Wrap 82: Anonymous, Stratfor and little else

A weekly summary of what I’ve been doing elsewhere on the internets. This was expected to be a short, easy week between Christmas and New Year, but when news of the Anonymous hack on Stratfor broke, well, that was it. It dominated everything except my personal podcast.

There’s still some end-of-year start-of-year posts to come, but I’ll deal with them over the next few days. I actually took the holiday weekend as a holiday.

Podcasts

  • The 9pm Edict episode 16, which had rather a lot about Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Christmas Message, and a fair amount about Twitter. It thought this episode was a bit weaker than others recently, because I didn’t seem to channel the rage. But I’ve been told it’s OK. I shrug my shoulders.
  • The 9pm Edict episode 17, which was put together in a pub on New Year’s Eve, interrupted by the pub closing early, and filled with more than the usual number of expletives. The bits of the script that had to be left out will appear in a special bonus episode soon.

Articles

The one written piece I did about the Stratfor hack shouldn’t be listed in this Weekly Wrap, technically, because it wasn’t published until 2 January. But I’ll list it here anyway for compeleteness.

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

None. I have been abandoned. It’s not like PR companies are real families.

Elsewhere

Most of my day-to-day observations are on my high-volume Twitter stream, and random photos and other observations turn up on my Posterous stream. The photos also appear on Flickr, where I eventually add geolocation data and tags.

[Photo: The Meaning of Life, Part 1. This uniform was worn by nearly every woman under 25 partying in Sydney on New Year’s Eve. Photograph taken near the corner of George and Goulburn Streets, Sydney.]

The 9pm Edict #17

The 9pm EdictTonight we’re doing what every other media outlet does. A look back at the year. The big stories. From earthquakes and cyclones to royal weddings and the descent of TV stars into madness. All through the eyes of the media and, since it’s 2011, through the eyes of fucking Twitter.

In this episode you’ll hear what I think about the Sydney Morning Herald’s review of 2011 and Charlie Brooker and his drama series Black Mirror.

I also refer to Charlie Brooker’s glorious explanation of the grammar of a TV news story. Watch it.

And as I mentioned on Twitter, this episode has been recorded in bursts of one-take recordings at the C Bar, also known as the Chamberlain Hotel in Haymarket, Sydney. The arseholes closed early. I refer to that, and I shall follow it up next episode.

You can listen below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

The 9pm Edict #16

The 9pm EdictPrime Minister Julia Gillard delivers the world’s most tedious Christmas Message. A motorists organisation wants the world to be more predictable, just like it used to be. And Twitter wins the hearts and minds of the world’s media, the puppets.

In this episode you’ll hear what I think about the Prime Minister’s Christmas Message, which doesn’t hold a candle to my own Christmas Message from 2008, let alone the Queen’s Christmas Messages, such as Her Majesty’s 50th such message in 2007; the NRMA’s claim that petrol pricing is too hard to predict and their call for an inquiry; the fact, or supposed fact, that Twitter gets more news mentions than Facebook, even though the latter is much, much bigger; and a really, really stupid tweet from Shahira Abouellail, whose blog is called fazerofzanight.

You can listen below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission. Mark Zuckerberg news item from NewsyTech.]