Australia… banana republic… and it’s open for business


(Source: Sydney Morning Herald,  Pat Campbell)

The cartoon above reminds us not to forget the nobbling of the NBN to benefit Foxtel, and then nobbling downloaders to benefit Foxtel’s programming investments.

Foxtel is the main source of profit for Murdoch’s Australian operation. If it folds, then the Old Man will be humiliated in front of the Gnomes of New York who refused to back his own business model for News Corp. They want to make some money, not indulge Rupert’s dynasty fantasy.

The Gnomes hived off the newspapers around the world, and kept the profitable parts – mostly movies and entertainment – separate… everywhere except in Australia, where pay TV was bundled in with the newspapers to prop them up.

Australia is special for Murdoch. It’s his “home ground”, where he was spawned. He still thinks he can keep control of it and use it as a redoubt to marshall his forces under a friendly government, once again to strike out at the world and take it by storm.

I’ve always thought Foxtel was the key business for Murdoch. So much damage has been wrought on our local polity, our governance, our technological infrastructure, our wallets and our freedoms to prop it up. Even the ABC has been nobbled: they lost Australia TV, and lost access to the BBC when Murdoch gazumped them with big money.

But still Foxtel stubbornly refuses to grow. Increases in sales are desultory. The business model of giving sham value – hundreds of channels full of rubbish – is failing. Packages abound. If you have Foxtel and want to quit, you get badgered by them with better and more generous deals offered (my own personal experience). You have to be determined to resist.

The Foxtel technology is antiquated: a proprietary physical cable, a set-top box, a smart card. It’s too hardware-based. These limitations mean that if a new customer wants a Foxtel connection a gang of workers has to come out to your property with back hoes and shovels to dig a trench. Someone has to pay for that.

Soon it will be us.

Why us? Because Murdoch’s Foxtel HFC cable is due to become part of Turnbull’s “NBN”. When a new HFC cable is installed, we – the taxpayers – will pay part or all of the cost, relieving Murdoch of one of the greatest cash drains in his operation.

Telstra, of course has a big share in Foxtel, so I guess they won’t be complaining either. Telstra already uses the HFC cable for internet… that’s how I get mine, by using the old Foxtel connection only for data. One of my greatest pleasures is to use Murdoch’s battered wire – the one HE paid to install, back in the early days of 2001 – to download iView programs and YouTubes when the broadcast TV menu is just too awful to watch (Psychic TV – online charlatans reading your tarots – can be depressing at times)

We are being stitched up. The ABC will be emasculated, punters will pay more for services they don’t want. All so the Old Man can thumb his nose at New York, who said he’d never make the Australian territory pay. They didn’t reckon on his determination to buy a country and its government.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, he is old. And his kids, the ones he’s anointed to run his businesses are dopey. The only one he hasn’t given the nod to, Elisabeth, the smart one, has been side-lined. There is hope.

The government he has entrusted to shore up his local empire is dopey as well, and hated. They’ve turned on everyone who voted for them – pensioners, disabled, foolish educators who believed that “Unity Ticket” crap, even more idiotic technocrats who didn’t believe Turnbull would actually “destroy the NBN”.

But not all supporters are voters, or more accurately have large numbers of votes at their disposal. They have money instead. Big Business, short on votes, but long on money and ability to donate, thought Murdoch’s Australia would be a land of milk and honey. It was expected that confidence and prosperity would return, literally overnight after the election. I can still remember Ray Hadley confidently predicting that the shops would “be full tomorrow”, the day after the Liberals wiped out Labor in Western Sydney. Reality has superseded that expectation (and Labor didn’t get wiped out).

There now seems to be a definite chance that it’s going to turn into a train wreck, as the train of spin meets the brick wall of reality. Things aren’t going too well.

Eventually the public will have to choose between the naive, “Bread and circuses” Reality TV show that’s been provided for their tittilation – Gillard scandals, Rudd Restorations, rats whiskers on the Speaker, hookers, 20 year old “scandals”, “Budget Emergencies” and the like – and the brutal facts of the Budget that takes away their entitlements (yes… entitlements) and replaces them with the Law Of The Jungle, Abbott and Murdoch’s jungle.

The “Budget Emergency” will have to be discarded in the minds of the punters, if for nothing else, then just for self-preservation. Without a “Budget Emergency” it becomes permissible to to start whingeing about your lot in life without that nagging guilt of going against the national interest. It’ll go, and along with it, the whole basis of the Budget and the government’s pitch for legitimacy.

In the last week I’ve been around to my suppliers where last year, in some cases, my expressed support for the Gillard government was met with actual open-mouthed shock. The general opinion of me was “Get his money quick. He’s mad.”

Now, not so much. It’s starting in the warehouses, and moving up into the sales offices. People are openly berating the government, looking for fault. You can’t find a lot of punters who admit they voted for Abbott’s mob. Many of these did, of course, and may vote for him again, but right now they’re going with the mob in condemning him. It’s the fashionable thing.

After “fashion” comes “mindset”. Then comes “common wisdom”.

People are sick of eternal struggle. They’re sick of politics and stress. They want to relax and enjoy the benefits of this great country they live in, without being hectored, divided into factions and demographics, and then encouraged to disparage, heckle or pick on each other.

Australia is not a hot-headed country. We’re more laid back about our politics. We like to be “relaxed and comfortable”. Culture wars, seething anger, envy, polemics, lies, spin, scandals and the rest are fun while they last, but we’re tired now.

We want our government to deliver, but in many cases the promises have been broken, and in others the “hundreds of policies” that we were promised were “costed and ready” haven’t got past the back-of-the-envelope stage, pending a thorough vetting by the warriors of the right, for ideological purity.

Australia is small enough for a few players to control. Media moguls, miners, a few banks and two supermarket chains take up far too much of our time and soak up far too much of our disposable income. Our exports are few. We are the world’s consumers. The few who are not involved in this handful of enterprises sell each other real estate and do each others laundry. Scientific research is becoming a secondary, marginal occupation. The physical reality of Climate Change is denied and ridiculed. It is still a “Debate” here, as it is almost nowhere else in the world. Our IT infrastructure is third rate, soon to become fourth or fifth rate, the better to keep antiquated delivery systems artificially current.

We are controlled by a cabal of niche business operators who think they pays us too much for too little work, and who can still buy whole governments to do their bidding… changing laws to benefit them, crushing those who oppose them, suing, arresting and trying – or investigating via Royal Commissions – those who are in their way.

If one of our main exports was bananas it would be perfect. But bananas – and most of our other agricultural produce – were dealt out of the last two “Free” trade agreements we have entered into.

Nevertheless, the description “Banana Republic” still applies. Wikipedia tells us:

Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country, whose economy is largely dependent on exporting a limited-resource product, e.g. bananas. It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy of business, political, and military elites.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions to exploit the country’s economy.[2]

Yes, even “political instability” applies, unless you want to argue that the last election, and the media-legal trail of destruction leading up to it, wasn’t a stitched-up farce.

Yep, “banana republic” does it for me. But what are we going to DO about it?

545 thoughts on “Australia… banana republic… and it’s open for business


  2. Ducky,

    When they lose their seats, they could form the Australian cast of The Sopranos.

  3. Kaffeeklatscher,

    At the end of Form 6, in 1972, a friend and I went to see A Clockwork Orange.

    We walked out after 15 minutes.

    It’s one movie I never want to watch.

  4. Fiona

    Never saw the film but I did read the book. After “15 minutes” of Abbott I never wanted to watch any more .

  5. Fiona…one of those most extraordinary films of that era….like 2001..apocalypse now…blow up..and a host of fellini and others… good!

  6. Kaffe
    Looks like your powers of prediction are working very well… what do you think about Sat nights Tattslotto? 😉

    Hi how are ya? It’s been a while since I last fell from the rafters to join you at the Pub but you know what they say about absence, hearts & fondness but I digress from why I am here.

    Do you think Mary Poppins is going to cope with the fact that Superkalafragalisticxpalidociuos has serious competition in the land of words that are pretty much impossible to pronounce unless, one is well primed on,,,,well,,,,Tequila should do the trick 😉

  7. jaycee

    By some quirk of censorship rules in early 1970’s NZ our school film club could order in some amazing films. Amazing as in we would never be allowed in to a cinema to watch .Selected by house prefects they were shown at the end of each term .So we got to see films like , If ,The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner , The Canterbury Tales and Ken Russell’s The Devils..

    Still remember having my mind being blown away at primary school when out teacher took the class down to see 2001 A Space Oddity when it came to town.

  8. Fiona,

    “At the end of Form 6, in 1972, a friend and I went to see A Clockwork Orange”

    I saw it three times and it got better each time. The first two were for the wrong reasons (OK, the second was at the old Matraville Drive-In and I may have had ulterior motives). The third time, I got it. Plus I then read how the wife of the author, Anthony Burgess, died.

    Having said all that, Malcolm McDowell was in some “out there” movies. Anyone ever see “O Lucky Man”? Brrrrrr…

  9. Roy
    Saw “O Lucky Man” at the Bass Hill drivein. Can’t remember a thing!

  10. Roy and Kambah can you remember the vehicle and your partner for the drive-in?

  11. There is one comment about how impossible it is that it landed at Diego Garcia …

    Without even having to read it that is clearly a disreputable comment.

    Anyway, I never said it LANDED in Diego Garcia (OK, well I did, but only right at the start). I changed my opinion to “it got shot down near Diego Garia”.

    They can come and get me, put me in the clink, throw away the key, but I will always believe that plane came afoul near the cursed atoll.

    I am a conviction blogger.

  12. That theory becomes better and better the longer they spend our money trying to make Tony look good.

  13. Absolutely right

    New technology actually works

    Goal line technology and the humble shaving foam work. Cricket, AFL and NRL have made a bigger meal of their camera review system than an all you can eat Brazilian buffet. The goal line technology employed at the World Cup in Brazil has been swift and decisive. As for the referee’s shaving cream graffiti, it has revived the art of the free kick.

  14. Billie 11.
    Yes, I can remember.
    The girl was a buxom young Scots lass named Fiona, and the vehicle was my old sky blue Falcon ute.
    It’s just the film I have no memory of.
    Fiona dumped me just a few weeks later.

  15. Bit sad that the passion pits have gone.

    Hard to find a place now where you can combine art and ardour.

  16. I still reckon you played strong, done fine, Tom

    Tom Watson has said Rebekah Brooks was not the editor he thought she was and accepts she did not know about hacking, Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
    Labour MP Tom Watson has said he was wrong when he said Rebekah Brooks knew about phone hacking but he was not going to apologise for standing up against a “very powerful company”.

    He also said criticism of the £100m cost of the trial was misplaced and that the eight-month hacking trial could have been avoided if News International had owned up to hacking in the first place.

    “If they had dropped the ‘one rogue reporter’ defence in 2006, as we now know Andy Coulson knew that couldn’t have been the case because he was played a hacked message of David Blunkett in 2004, we wouldn’t have had any of this cost,” he told the BBC’s Daily Politics.

    Watson, who was at the vanguard of the campaign to get News International to admit that phone hacking was widespread at the News of the World in 2011, said he accepted that Brooks was not the editor he thought she was.

    In July 2011, Watson said Brooks was not only responsible for wrongdoing at News International, but he believed she knew about the widespread hacking at the Sunday tabloid she once edited.

    “Rebekah Brooks is not guilty, so therefore she has been found not guilty of conspiring to hack phones in a court of law., I wish her well in life,” he said.

  17. Got off lightly. Should have been two years

    Luis Suárez suspended for nine matches and banned for four months from any football-related activity

    26 Jun 2014

    The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has reached a decision in the case related to Luis Suárez of Uruguay following an incident that occurred during the FIFA World Cup™ match between Italy and Uruguay played on 24 June 2014.

    The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided that:

    · The player Luis Suárez is regarded as having breached art. 48 par. 1 lit. d of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC) (assault), and art. 57 of the FDC (an act of unsporting behaviour towards another player).

    · The player Luis Suárez is to be suspended for nine (9) official matches. The first match of this suspension is to be served in the upcoming FIFA World Cup™ fixture between Colombia and Uruguay on 28 June 2014. The remaining match suspensions shall be served in Uruguay’s next FIFA World Cup match(es), as long as the team qualifies, and/or in the representative team’s subsequent official matches in accordance with art. 38 par. 2a) of the FDC.

    · The player Luis Suárez is banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) for a period of four (4) months in accordance with art. 22 of the FDC.

    · A stadium ban is pronounced against the player Luis Suárez in accordance with art. 21 of the FDC as follows: the player Luis Suárez is prohibited from entering the confines of any stadium during the period of the ban (point 3). The player Luis Suárez is prohibited from entering the confines of any stadium in which the representative team of Uruguay is playing while he has to serve the nine-match suspension (point 2).

    · The player Luis Suárez is ordered to pay a fine in the amount of CHF 100,000.

    The decision was notified to the player and the Uruguayan FA today.

    “Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field. The Disciplinary Committee took into account all the factors of the case and the degree of Mr Suárez’s guilt in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code. The decision comes into force as soon it is communicated,” said Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

  18. BB. ” Sight of the famous “Park” scenes (Maryon Park, London): “…..That park scene in the film is sublime…I cannot get it out of my memory…..

  19. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    How can any government stand by and let this happen. Fight fire with fire. Bastards!
    They are happy when they are destroying things.
    Mark Kenny decodes what has happened. The last couple of sentences are telling.
    Ben Eltham in The New Matilda does likewise.
    Michelle Grattan on Abbott’s obsession with the carbon tax.
    I’m glad I got rid of my CBA shares. I would not feel comfortable holding them now. They are in for a rough ride this mob.
    Now, will Abbott simultaneously provide a Royal Commission and push through the FoFA changes?
    And the Senate Committee fingers Macquarie Bank too.
    The Independent Australia looks deeply at NewsCorp and Big Tobacco,,6613
    It was a common practice for priests to sleep with young boys. So it’s OK then?
    Gerry Harvey where are you? Probably preparing a statement saying how it will all get better as families reap their windfalls from the abolition of the carbon tax.
    There is justifiable scepticism over how Australia will now achieve its CC targets.
    Campbell Newman and the rule of law.,6610

  20. You’d have to admit that Apocalypse Now has one of the best opening sequences ever seen on film.

  21. Section 2 . . .

    CSIRO cuts “driven by ignorance”.
    Oh dear! Some trouble in the Liberal camp and fingers are being pointed at the PM’s tent.
    Bring it on! Yay!
    I wonder who blinked. Erica perhaps?
    An “orientation message” says Morriscum. What a vile creature.
    An interesting view of Egypt by Waleed Aly.
    Alan Moir with a reckless Popeye.

    Andrew Dyson shows us the World Cup cuisine.
    David Pope on fire with Clive Palmer, the elephant in the room.
    Ron Tandberg and Abbott’s climate change leadership.
    MUST SEE! David Rowe – yellow is the new red. It’s horrible!!

  22. Hunt, unlike many in the Coalition is an enthusiast for the renewable energy target, but was said to be fighting a losing battle. Environment activists told me on Thursday that despite all the hoopla and focus on the carbon tax, the retention of the target was ‘‘the big decision’’ out of Palmer’s formula

    Missing the point entirely.

    The RET has not been saved. It has been given a reprieve until the next election. I said this yesterday, I’ll say it again – Palmer does not care about the RET at all, it was just a convenient stick he could use to rave about Abbott’s lies.

    Palmer wants changes or repeal of the RET to be taken t the next election, that’s all, because he says Abbott did not mention repealing it before the last election. Abbott already has the RET under review and plans to get rid of it once the pre-arranged results of his review are in. Hunt will still be fighting that losing battle.

  23. And from the Land of the Free –

    The US Supreme Court is mad. It’s George W Bush’s legacy.
    It’s simply disgraceful
    Chris Matthews revisits the start of the last Iraq war.
    Surely not. Mitt Romney to make another run?
    Education management Arizona style.
    Irresponsible gun owners on steroids!
    Ted Koppel skewers Bill O’Reilly and FoxNews and signs off with a kiss.
    Gun lover celebration Florida style. Tragic.

  24. The Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard that defrocked Wollongong priest John Nestor denied that sharing a bed with teenage boys was inappropriate

    Never forget – Nestor was the priest Abbott referrred to as ‘a beacon of humanity’ and ‘an extremelty upright and virtuous man ‘in a glowing reference he insisted on providing when Nestor was before the courts in 1997, charged with sexually assaulting a teenage old boy.

  25. Aw, I missed the movie talk from last night. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick for all films mentioned. Loved O Lucky Man, but then I did see it at an impressionable age. Early scenes in A Clockwork Orange freaked me out, but all the rehabilitation stuff was amazing. The other early Malcolm McDowell one worth seeing of course is If…

    Special hat-tip to The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner too, brilliant little film.

  26. Can I propose a little exercise for The Pub patrons.

    Firstly, a rough explanation. We got a mortgage in Feb 2012. We are paying more than minimum. With all the cuts to everything, that will force everything to go up, eg council rates, that affects us we will really start to struggle.

    Should we go to just paying minimum, which just covers interest rates, or continue as we are? The complicating factor in this is we owe one of my sons a chunk of money that allowed us to get the mortgage in the first place, and by paying more for the mortgage we are trying to build the amount we can draw down to pay him back when he needs or wants it.

    All input would be greatly appreciated. Of course we will be talking with my son, but any advice from clear headed people here is needed as we keep talking in circles.

  27. I am assuming you intend to eventually pay off your mortgage.

    Interest rates are really low at the moment, so I would try to reduce your principal so that you can pay your mortgage out earlier and save toward repaying the loan.

    If your son is likely to ask for the money back soon consider saving what you owe your son in a higher interest account.
    If your son is likely to take his time about asking for his money back I would pay off your mortgage

  28. Billie11

    Our aim was to pay as much as we can as soon as we can, we are on Disability and Carer pension, and we are not spring chickens, being in late 50’s and early 60’s. Losing rebates and concessions will hurt badly.

    We want to at least pay ahead so we can repay son, then just go with interest, then when we are gone, the estate can pay the rest.

    We have already forgone quite of few ‘treats’, won’t join local footy club next year……

  29. Gravel,
    If I read you correctly, you are worrying more about repaying your son whom I’m certain, would be horrified if he knew (!!), than the actual mortgage. So, in your shoes I would do the mortgage interest only thing and then squirrel away as much as you comfortably can to repay your son. As you rightly point out, “when we’re gone” the estate can pay out the mortgage.

  30. Janice

    Yes, there is that. I think that will be the end result. But, with paying the extra it is a forced saving, as opposed to putting a bit away. The more we put in the mortgage, the more we have to drawdown on. See the dilemma now?

  31. Fiona and all raffle afficionado’s

    I have to take OH out to the art framers and then to a restaurant that is interested in displaying her artwork and hopefully selling them. So I may be a bit late back (remember we are 2 hrs behind here in the west), I am confidant that I’ll be able to catch up but if not I still have everyone’s numbers from last week saved in a spreadsheet. So if the worst comes to the worst I can still give the same numbers as last week. Hope that’s OK with everyone?


    Regarding your situation, I agree with foreverjanice, I think you will feel so much better paying off your son than making the rich banks just that little bit richer. If you can’t make up your mind toss a coin and while it is still in the air you will know which side you want it to land on.

Comments are closed.