The Festival Hall Organ

Today’s Guest Author is the wonderful Gorgeous Dunny. Thank you so much for honouring The Pub again, GD!

[Recently I was asked to relate some of my political experiences, having worked and lived through the times of our more charismatic leaders of the 1960s and 1970s, Don Dunstan, Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke. They transformed Australia’s outlook on things from a colonial outpost in the British Empire, to a broader view of the world and our role in it. In a current age where we’ve allowed parochialism, paranoia and selfishness to dominate the way we are governed, it may help to know that once we were led by vision and hope.]

This is the story of the purchase of Adelaide Festival Hall Organ and how a major philistine bunfight was avoided in doing so. The story involves two States and two major cultural buildings in their capital cities: the Sydney Opera House and the Adelaide Festival Centre. Firstly, it should be acknowledged that they are not strictly comparable. The Sydney Opera House is an architectural wonder of the world, a unique sails-like roof design looking out to the glorious Sydney Harbour and facing Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney. Its site at Bennelong Point had earlier been a tram barn.

The Festival Hall is modest by comparison, overlooking the Torrens Lake or River and the Adelaide Oval. It’s walking distance from Adelaide Railway Station and Parliament House. It was almost an accident of choice. Don Dunstan, who succeeded Frank Walsh as Labor Premier, and was determined on a Renaissance for Adelaide on lifestyle, had wanted a suitable ‘home’ for the Adelaide Festival of Arts (later to be known simply as the Adelaide Festival) rather than the various halls scattered around the city.

His first choice was Government House, the residence of the State’s Governor at North Terrace, on the Eastern side of King William Road, and backing on to the Military Parade Ground before joining the banks of the Torrens opposite Adelaide Oval. It was a superb location only walking distance from the Museum, Art Gallery, Library and University.

However, he lost the election in 1968 on gerrymandered boundaries, despite getting 54% of the vote. The incoming Liberal Government of Mr Steele Hall and able Attorney-General Robin Millhouse, was exceedingly embarrassed at winning government with a minority vote of around 46% and a minority of seats, relying on three independents to form a government. To their credit, they embarked on a series of reforms aiming to match the Dunstan zeal. It included such things as abortion law reform. Importantly, Hall realised that the voting system must be fairer if public confidence was to be maintained. At that time two thirds of the State’s population lived in metropolitan Adelaide. Yet the MP representation was exactly the opposite. Two thirds of the seats were in country SA, and only one third in the rapidly growing Adelaide metropolitan area. It had been going that way for years, but it only looked so blatantly disproportionate with post-WWII immigration.

The biggest obstacle for reforming the voting system were the Liberal & Country League’s (LCL) own conservative colleagues. The Upper House Legislative Council was even more gerrymandered than the House of Assembly. Members were elected via a strange alliance of property owners heavily tilted towards country zones and wealth. Voting was voluntary.

As another disincentive, the Legislative Council Electoral Roll was used for summoning people for jury service.  The office of Chief Secretary was also Government Leader in the Council and virtually Deputy Premier. It was held by Mr Ren De Garis.

He saw no advantage to the state in changing the LCL’s privileged position. He had no interest in changing the Upper House. In his own words, Upper House MPs, propertied people, represented the “permanent will of the people”. Nothing like these fly-by-nighters flitting in and out of jobs, living in rented accommodation or boarding.

The struggle for fairer voting representation was mostly between the progressive section of the LCL, and its more reactionary colleagues mostly in the Upper House. Dunstan stirred it along, referring to the outrage of the unfair election result through large public protests. But Labor was always likely to support a voting system that would almost guarantee their return to power. That was easy enough in the Lower House where they already had the most MPs.

Just a few progressive LCL MPs would get it through. The Upper House, where De Garis was in charge, was the real challenge. Labor had only a handful of MLCs. Hall and Millhouse had to win over nearly half of their LCL MPs to get the laws passed. To their great credit, they did that. It was that sort of time when members of the political parties could work together for the greater public good. Dunstan was thus assured of return to the position of Premier as soon as an election was held.

Knowing that reality, Hall and Millhouse worked hard to pass progressive social reforms in the hope of gaining voter support. It did not work out that way, despite some excellent legislation. They did make one change, however, which appealed to both sections of their Party. Government House would remain as it was. The new site for the Festival Centre would be in Elder Park near the Railway Station and Parliament House. The site had been until then a Migrant Hostel, albeit in shabby condition. A new Hostel was built at suburban Woodville.

The site, although covered by derelict old buildings and storehouses at that time, lost nothing in comparison to Government House. It still had a splendid outlook to the Torrens on one side, and the classical old buildings of Parliament and Adelaide Railway Station, plus easy access to transport or parking. Importantly it became a home for performing groups in theatre and music so that workshops and experimental exercises could be conducted. In the performing arts whether theatre, music or song, marionettes, dance… a critical component is the development of skills through training and experiment. Workshops and studios were available for such work. Craft support via make-up, costumes, set design and construction, technical through sound and lighting and through secretarial and publicity services. It could provide some sort of home or forum for almost anything creative.

Dunstan’s own lifestyle had given him an identity and affinity with the arts. When studying law, he supported himself through employment on radio and the stage as an actor. He retained his membership of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance throughout his political career. The ABC, as now a national broadcaster, was then very much a federation. It set up an elaborate studio at Collinswood which produced national TV programs, plus national radio via Classic-FM. Don was given his own program on lifestyle in suburban Adelaide. He argued the case strongly for a Mediterranean lifestyle.

In politics he set out immediately to transform people’s lives, aiming to end racial discrimination and for a better way of living, dropping SA’s ‘wowser’ types of attitudes to alcohol and recreation. It helped that he was an elegant speaker, a voice sounding ‘posh’ yet ready to talk and listen to anybody. He even learned Italian so that he could communicate better with many of his Italian-origin migrants. He was a founding President of Meals On Wheels, dedicated to providing meals to aged people in their own home. Though his political work often took him working into the small hours for reforms and helping people, he had two other passions. One was for anything to do with the arts. The other was for friends with interests in food, wine and stimulating company.

One of his great achievements (with excellent advice from Melbourne Labor ‘Participants’ Philip Adams, Barry Jones and John Button) on setting up the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) as a body with some independence of bureaucratic and political interference. Though Australian movie production was almost extinct by the 1960s, apart from a few successes in Melbourne, he was determined to establish it as a viable film industry, providing world-quality standards and the opportunities for employment with it. In that, SAFC had some remarkable successes in the 1970s and 80s. It was soon imitated by other States and private syndicates. Australia was a world player: small, yet exciting here and abroad. Picnic at Hanging Rock and Storm Boy were two standouts of many.

Dunstan had learned along his way to compartmentalise his primary interests so that his political and governing work did not overlap his encouraging the autonomy of the creative arts, nor his own recreational activities among close friends. He ran a very well-disciplined ministry which had clear objectives and kept well within budgetary limits. However, his determination to let the creative arts flourish fully without interference led to one major problem at the Festival Centre. In the main performance hall a decision was made to purchase an elaborate organ for feature performance at opera and musical concerts.

It was no ordinary organ, as you might expect in a new Centre. It was of such size and weight that it could only be transported on and off the stage being powered by a hovercraft underneath it. If this wasn’t enough of a worry, the bill for this revolutionary instrument certainly would have set the alarm bells ringing among the Premier and his close staff. I can’t remember the exact figure, but was about $500K, something like $400K over what had been budgeted for it. In those days, that was a huge overspend, which neither his public service advisers nor his political ones could justify. Vivid memories of how the NSW Labor government was hammered for years about the overspend at the Opera House. It became a major political football, largely because the populist-style Cahill govt had been very shy in admitting the real cost of the Utzon masterpiece. Davis Hughes, the Minister in the incoming Askin Liberal-Country Party, had made much capital complaining about it and the delays when in Opposition. He did not stop when becoming Minister and it led to near-disaster when Utzon was sacked. There was no way Dunstan would let that happen. But it went against his rules to interfere.

I’m glad it is now 45 years on. I no longer feel obliged under Public Service rules to keep confidentiality. His solution to this dilemma was incredible. He contacted a professional fundraiser in Sydney. What they worked out was that Don Dunstan would give two special fundraising talks. Essentially, they’d be about what he had achieved during his time as Premier and how it had changed South Australia and its people.

The fundraiser contacted me. What he wanted was some secretarial assistance as he went about asking people to the first and second luncheons. It would be our phone number which subscribers would call to book seats. As our senior receptionist usually took the first phone call anyway, it was sensible to give her the task. She needed to log names, companies and phone numbers of those attending. Then she would give those details to the fundraiser for any of the follow-up and payments. It took quite a bit of her time, but she was thorough.

Don Dunstan was a celebrity in Sydney. He’d been known before he became SA Premier due to his popular television show. But the dazzling array of achievements during what became known as the Dunstan Decade was enviable to all interested in a fairer, more reasonable society. Adelaide, which functioned almost like Ancient Athens as a City-State, was suddenly a civilised place to be. He even coaxed Robert Helpmann back to direct one Festival. He in turn got his friend Rudolph Nureyev to perform. Don was famed for setting style in appearance (once wearing pink shorts into parliament) and his good looks and eloquent voice. Don Dunstan even performed at one Festival. At the Adelaide Zoo, supported by the SA Symphony Orchestra with live animals, he recited Ogden Nash’s poems to the Orchestra playing Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. At the nearby Botanic Gardens, SA’s Chief Justice Dr Bray recited his own poems. It was that sort of place. 

From memory both lunches were oversubscribed. Payment for that organ was now by subscription not public money. The fundraiser was paid a commission on the amount raised. Our receptionist received a huge bunch of flowers for her trouble. The only public expense was the receptionist’s work and telephones, and air fares for Don to come to Sydney twice. But those would’ve been amply repaid by publicity to Don’s public speeches on both occasions. The people attending would not easily have forgotten. To me, it seemed a win-win situation. The Arts people would have their organ. The SA taxpayers would not be slugged an outrageous sum for a world-rated instrument that cost too much for such a rarely-used asset. Dunstan was able to avoid any accusations of waste. SA and its Premier got some publicity for a minimal cost. The donors got their money’s worth. Only Philistine politics missed out.

427 thoughts on “The Festival Hall Organ

  1. Tory MP Christian Wakeford defects to Labour saying Boris Johnson ‘incapable of leadership’

    Tory MP Christian Wakeford defects to Labour

    PMQs live: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer moments after Tory MP for Bury South defects to Labour

    House of Commons live video here

  2. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    In this contribution from Chris Wallace, she looks at the Morrison/Albanese election battle. She thinks Morrison, like he did at Bathurst, will go for the “boke vote, while Albanese’s approach will be, “Don’t give the voters a reason to hate you. Try to help them get to know you. Try to be broadly appealing. And when you’ve got their attention, promise them positive policy.”
    Aaron Patrick tells us that the election is close enough in Goldstein, Wentworth and North Sydney for the seats to change hands, according to the first dedicated poll of the inner-city seats.
    Peter Hannam explains how Australia put the economy before the health of the nation.
    Alan Kohler says Omicron is a natural disaster – and we should treat it as one.
    Lucy Carroll and Lucy Ward report that a high-ranking doctor from one of Sydney’s biggest hospitals has lashed the “politically driven” management of the pandemic, as thousands of health staff remain on COVID-19 leave and the number of hospitals treating coronavirus patients has grown to nearly 100.
    David Crowe writes that Morrison has urged the states to ease rules that could force employers to require daily virus tests for millions of workers, as he acknowledged the “natural anger” in the community over soaring infections and chronic test kit shortages. Business leaders are not happy.
    Tuesday’s Victorian government announcement of a statewide code brown for the next four to six weeks, and the intent to recall healthcare staff from leave, has sent shockwaves through much of the Victorian healthcare sector.
    Teachers are expressing concern over the Government’s rush to send kids back to schools while the pandemic is worsening, writes Dr Marie Clark.,15954
    David Crowe tells us about Morrison’s somewhat terrible press conference yesterday. It was replete with trademark blame shifting and monologues on the government’s “achievements”. Crowe wonders if the TV broadcasters will offer Albanese equal time.
    Josh Gordon in The Age writes about the latest Resolve state poll that shows the Andrews government to be well in the lead.
    The Federal Government has spent billions on defence equipment, ignoring issues such as the climate crisis and pandemic, writes Dr Binoy Kampmark who has a real tilt at Peter Dutton.,15952
    From the moment an accused is charged in respect of a crime involving a child, the child’s name, and any information identifying them, can no longer be reported under NSW legislative restrictions. Media law expert Jake Blundell says that it is time the absurd law in NSW is brought into line with other states.
    Parliamrentary resident idiot George Christensen has been asked to step down from his lucrative committee chairman role. (How did he get the gig, anyway?)
    Lisa Visentin and Mike Foley report that international students and backpackers will have their visa fees refunded for the coming weeks in a bid to entice them back to the country to fill critical worker shortages.
    But Greg Jericho urges that, as Australia’s economy recovers, what must not return is the wage theft and abuse of short-term visa holders.
    NAB, Westpac and ANZ have drawn stinging criticism from environmentalists for helping to fund a private equity group’s stake in the expansion of Woodside’s controversial gas plant in Western Australia.
    History’s annals are filled with war profiteers and hustlers for the opportunistic return. They come in the form of hoarders, arms manufacturers and wily business folk making a steal on slaughter and mayhem. But the other conflict – that of battling a pandemic – has also shown that profits exist for those willing to exploit the crisis, writes Binoy Kampmark.
    Helen Dalley-Fisher goes into considerable detail to explain why the government’s Religious Discrimination Bill is a bad outcome for women. She concludes with, “This Bill tells people of faith that their needs and rights are more important than the needs of other people. For a government which says it supports women’s rights in the workplace, this Bill is a significant misstep.”
    Sydney Business’s Paul Nicolaou provides five ideas to help revive the city’s ailing business mojo.
    The two things we know for sure about the market for electric vehicles is that it is booming, and also that it is getting very, very crowded. In truth, it is about to turn into a bloodbath, explains the London Telegraph’s Matthew Lynn.
    Christian Porter and barrister Sue Chrysanthou have been ordered to pay $430,200 in legal costs to Jo Dyer, a friend of a deceased woman who had accused the former Attorney-General of raping her three decades ago, after a court ruled there was a conflict of interest in the case last year.
    Scott Morrison has denied misleading Australians about whether his government is detaining refugees at a Melbourne hotel, insisting he “answered to the best of my knowledge at that time”.
    One of Rupert Murdoch’s henchmen, Col Allen, is in a spot of alleged sexual harassment trouble.
    A more dignified relationship between Australia’s governors-general and the Palace evolved in the aftermath of John Kerr’s sycophantic conduct, writes Jenny Hocking who has at last gained access to many historical documents.
    Screen Australia, the federal government’s key funding body for Australian TV and movie productions, has awarded over $2 million in funding to a company owned by a “clearer upper” for Harvey Weinstein. Callum Foote reports.
    Even under the mask, Johnson looked like someone who knew the game was up, writes John Crace in typical fashion. It’s a classic!
    Farrah Tomalin writes that Joe Biden faces internal dissent on the eve of his first anniversary in office, with demoralised Democrats urging him to reset his agenda or risk a wipe-out at this year’s midterm elections.

    Cartoon Corner

    Cathy Wilcox

    John Shakespeare

    Matt Golding

    Peter Broelman

    Andrew Dyson

    Mark David

    Glen Le Lievre

    Warren Brown


    From the US

  3. This week’s runaway winner of a Nelson Muntz HaHa and getting a Darwin Award nomination .

    Unvaccinated Czech singer Hana Horka dies days after getting Covid-19 on purpose

    “Her philosophy was that she was more okay with the idea of catching Covid than getting vaccinated.”

    He told reporter Ben Tobias his mother would not listen when family members tried to persuade her to get the vaccine and said he wanted to share his family’s story in the hope of convincing others to take the Covid threat seriously

  4. “Peter Hannam explains how Australia put the economy before the health of the nation.”

    Cracking good article, telling of the stupidity coming from Scovid, Domicron and their woefully incompetent governments.

    “The Economy” (is that a new god???) has been placed way above the health of Australians.

    Scovid and Domicron are merchants of death. Do they feel any guilt over the deaths they have caused? Of course not. Both loons dismiss those deaths as “God’s will”.

    Let’s hope the voters of Australia decide religious fruitcakes are no longer needed in government and cleanse our parliaments, state and federal, of the lot of them.

  5. Why would any backpackers or international students want to come to Australia, the Plague Capital of the world just because Scovid has promised to give them rebates on their visas worth a lousy $630?

    We all know what his promises and announcements are like – worthless.

    He is more than likely to impose strict conditions on those visas – if they ever exist – like accepting menial work for hideously low pay. They will be expected to work for below award wages, put up with appalling work conditions and, despite being vaxxed to the max, WILL catch Covid.

    Better to stay at home, I think.

  6. It’s easy to see that an election is becoming imminent. I’ve had two polling phone calls yesterday. Both calling from Tasmania. Could things be starting to get antsy in certain quarters?

  7. And in other not-so-good news –

    Antimicrobial resistance now a leading cause of death worldwide, study finds
    Lancet analysis highlights need for urgent action to address antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections

    Antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to humanity, health leaders have warned, as a study reveals it has become a leading cause of death worldwide and is killing about 3,500 people every day.

    More than 1.2 million – and potentially millions more – died in 2019 as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, according to the most comprehensive estimate to date of the global impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

    The stark analysis covering more than 200 countries and territories was published in the Lancet. It says AMR is killing more people than HIV/Aids or malaria. Many hundreds of thousands of deaths are occurring due to common, previously treatable infections, the study says, because bacteria that cause them have become resistant to treatment

  8. BREAKING: Prime Minister Scott Morrison to drop legal drinking age to 13 to support pubs and bottle-os#auspol— The Artful Bunny (@artfulbunny) January 20, 2022

    He will also announce school will be cancelled for those under 8 years old, to avoid a stoush about when our kids are to be sent back to Covid-filled schools.

    Instead children will be encouraged to take up fruit picking and driving trucks to deliver supplies to supermarkets. The government however has refused to subsidise the ladders and booster cushions necessary for little kids to carry out these tasks.

  9. Still lying –

    The federal Department of Health has just released a statement about claims that RATs are being redirected to the commonwealth and away from businesses and other organisations, pharmacists, and so on. Here’s what it says:

    The Commonwealth Government through the Department of Health is reporting false claims about the requisition of Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) to the ACCC.

    These claims are categorically untrue. They have also been made in relation to at least one state government and will be a matter for the ACCC.

    Supplies of RAT kits are not being redirected to the Commonwealth and at no time has the Department sought to place itself ahead of other commercial and retail entities. Where such claims have been made, the Department has written to the relevant retailer to reassure them that is not the case and seek further detail or evidence of the claims made by suppliers.

    The Department is liaising closely with the ACCC and is highlighting the pattern of conduct and providing specific examples of such claims.

    While we are aware there are supply constraints within the market, it is expected supply will normalise over the coming weeks.

    The Department of Health reaffirms that the Commonwealth Government has not requisitioned RAT supplies within and entering Australia. Any such claims are false, and where notified to the Department will be referred to the ACCC

    Despite that Queensland state Labor MP Mark Bailey is still saying RATs intended for Queensland Rail have twice (at least) been stolen by the Feds.

    I know who I believe.

    … a 2nd order of 15,000 tests has been commandeered by the Morrison Govt.Read for yourself the explicit email above (with appte privacy redactions) confirming the 2nd commandeering of RAT tests from essential workers in Qld rail sector by @ScottMorrisonMP— Mark Bailey MP (@MarkBaileyMP) January 20, 2022

  10. Seth Meyers –

    Stephen Colbert –

    Jimmy Kimmel –

    Rachel Maddow –

    Chris Hayes –

    Brian Tyler Cohen –

  11. When Scovid is breaking before our eyes – and ears.

    Is it stress? A brain tumour? He is getting worse every day now.

  12. Planning to let your 16 year old drive a forklift?

    Forget it – Scovid has backflipped.

    Ben Butler
    Scott Morrison has backed down on his plan to allow children to drive forklifts as part of plans to ease the staff shortage currently crippling supply chains.

    “We agreed to proceed no further with the issue of 16-year-old forklift drivers,” he said this afternoon after a national cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders.

    The PM floated the idea, described by unions as a “brain fart” that would lead to tragedy, yesterday. As Guardian Australia revealed, this morning right here on the blog, that he would, Morrison took the idea to national cabinet today.

    “We had a good discussion about it today and it is not something that we believe, collectively, that is something we should be pursuing at this time,” Morrison said this afternoon

    This is not satire, although it certainly reads as if it is.

    Wouldn’t you have loved to be a fly on the wall for that National Cabinet “good” discussion!

    • I know Morgan is not considered the most reliable poll, but when all the major pollsters agree Scovid stinks then you have to accept their verdict.

      No wonder Scovid is increasingly erratic and incoherent. He absolutely hates being om the losing side.

  13. Nades Muragappan, father of the adorable Tharni and Kopi, and husband of Priya, has his forklift licence and his job in the Biloela meatworks is still there waiting for him. Considering the current food shortages shouldn’t he be allowed to return to work?

  14. Good . Hard borders remain. However there will be some easing. Cunning plan is to see WA as the only place where high levels of 3rd doses are present before Omicron arrives.

  15. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Michelle Grattan explains why she thinks the Morrison government is nowhere near ready to win an election.
    More on the Resolve poll from David Crowe who tells us that Albanese has gained an edge over Morrison on climate change policy ahead of the next election, with 37 per cent of voters backing the Labor target to cut carbon emissions while 22 per cent prefer the government goal.
    Mark McGowan has delayed the WA’s reopening over fears lagging booster vaccination rates will cause the Omicron variant to run rampant in the community.
    One of the Queenslanders Prime Minister Scott Morrison relies on to pass laws in the Senate has labelled his own leader “pathetic” and accused him of caving in over his criticism of rogue LNP MP George Christensen. Of course, it was Gerard Rennick, another Senate star.
    Young Australians have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and they are understandably angry. David Crowe wonders if they will mobilise to deliver an electoral backlash.
    Dana Daniel and Mike Foley report on yesterday’s national cabinet meeting which didn’t seem to have produced anything momentous.
    Scott Morrison has abandoned a proposal to allow children to drive forklifts after it was rejected by states and territories and criticised as a dangerous “brain fart” by unions, writes Ben Butler.
    Jordan Baker and Tom Rabe report that, as the wait for NSW’s back-to-school plan continues ahead of next week’s reopening, teachers and principals worry they are not being given enough time to prepare.
    General practitioners are again being flooded with patients as thousands of Victorians race to book their booster shots and medical clinics struggle to find appointments for the rising wave of coronavirus patients.
    Two million rapid antigen tests could be produced in Australia every week under a pitch to use existing facilities for local manufacturing while the country continues to grapple with major test shortages. The peak body representing major suppliers says accredited plants could start manufacturing tests within six months, calling for a government commitment to purchase local tests in future if such a plan was commenced.
    As Australians struggle to access RATs tests, Greg Hunt and Scott Morrison have publicly denied allegations of stockpiling. Michelle Pini and David Donovan report.,15957
    The Independent Australia has detailed mounting evidence suggesting that the Morrison Government – caught out without an adequate plan to supply the community with RATs kits as promised – is stockpiling tests ordered by pharmacies and others in the community who did plan in advance.,15959
    Meanwhile, Melissa Coburn tells us why she is giving up her daily RAT-hunt.
    Rents have reached record highs in our biggest cities and many regional areas, leaving lower income earners and essential workers – many of whom are keeping the country going amid surging coronavirus case numbers – struggling to find affordable rental properties, explains Kate Burke.
    Michael Pascoe writes that the grants corruption rolls on, with bias in bowls too.
    Jenny Noyes reports that the decision to grant a visa to British far-right commentator Katie Hopkins last year is under investigation by the Australian Human Rights Commission following a complaint by a Muslim advocacy group.
    Angela Macdonald-Smith reports that history will be made next week when Australia ships the world’s first cargo of liquid hydrogen, an event that will mark a milestone in a looming transformation of exports with one of the country’s most important partners amid the energy transition.
    LNG producers insist they bankroll crucial government services — but the royalties they pay are paltry and the jobs they create are relatively few, explains Michael Mazengarb.
    Elizabeth Knight tells us why Alan Joyce has declared war on his cabin crew.
    The SMH editorial says that, while Australian politics can often seem absurd, the “partygate” scandal now threatening to drag down British Prime Minister Boris Johnson raises the bar a notch for hypocrisy and arrogance by senior members of a government.
    A damning report has found the former pope, Benedict XVI, failed to take action against clerics in four cases of alleged sexual abuse when he was archbishop of Munich.
    The US president’s first year has disappointed progressive supporters and generated little in the way of positive developments on the world stage, writes Mack Williams who rhinks 2022 looks daunting for Biden.
    Eryk Bagshaw informs us that the Beijing Olympic Committee has warned that dedicated departments will be able to punish athletes who protest at the Winter Olympics, escalating concerns about the safety of international competitors two weeks out from the start of the Games.

    Cartoon Corner

    Peter Broelman

    Cathy Wilcox

    Alan Moir

    Matt Golding

    John Shakespeare

    Mark David

    Simon Letch

    Andrew Dyson


    From the US

  16. A record day for deaths in NSW – 46.

    The media is spinning this dreadful news as “reduction in hospitalisations”.

    Has it not occurred to these dimwits that the small reduction in hospital numbers – 2,743, down from 2,781 the day before, might be due to those deaths?

  17. “Angela Macdonald-Smith reports that history will be made next week when Australia ships the world’s first cargo of liquid hydrogen, an event that will mark a milestone in a looming transformation of exports with one of the country’s most important partners amid the energy transition”

    Producing hydrogen from brown coal and biomass is not a low-emissions process. So far this project relies on carbon capture and storage, a process no-one has managed to prove works. Wouldn’t it be better to leave the coal in the ground and produce hydrogen in better ways?

    The real advance in this article is the method of cooling hydrogen for transport, but this could be done no matter how the hydrogen is produced.

    This article from 2018 explains the process of producing hydrogen from brown coal. Although it does make a conclusion I disagree with things have advanced a lot since it was written.

    Explainer: how do we make hydrogen from coal, and is it really a clean fuel?,can%20be%20put%20in%20place.

    • It is about as shitty as you can get. The brown coal contains a mere 4-6% hydrogen. The 65-70% Carbon will end up as CO2.The problem is obvious. Victorian Brown coal is the worst of the worst no matter how it is used.

  18. Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was asked if she regrets flinging open the doors in light of the subsequent Omicronapalooza in the State. Perhaps it is because I’m a Sandgroper that makes it sound so ‘unconvincing’ to put it politely.

    No, I don’t because I said very clearly at the time that the federal government had all the information in relation to the Omicron variant, and they said it was safe to do so.

    • Neatly putting all the blame where it belongs – on Scovid and his tame (but useless) health advisors, especially the unfit for purpose Prof Paul Kelly

  19. it’s rare for Hadley to say something sensible. Today he managed to do it.

    Here is the segment.

  20. Things to do, places to go, people to see, so this is all for now. 😀

    friendlyjordies –

    Seth Meyers –

    Rachel Maddow –

    Chris Hayes –

    Brian Tyler Cohen –

  21. Shaun, Yes! Laura’s smile; the quirk of mouth and those oh, so knowing eyes! The hundreds of written replies here suggest even more thousands of viewers who needed no further words from her after all that tosh from Josh. What a brilliant interviewer!

  22. 😆 😆 😆 Can’t you just feel the ‘quality’ of the opposition to McGowan’s move last night.

    The announcement has been met with desperate pleas from the WAGs, sports stars and reality TV personalities who are mentally exhausted ………
    Second LOL .Serbia revoked Rio Tinto’s mining licence . Nothing to do with Novax of course.I wonder how Serbian papers are reporting that news 🙂

  23. With video. Worth watching. Several times.

    ABC 7.30 host Laura Tingle has unleashed on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over a government $16billion war-chest for spending decisions before the upcoming election.

    During a fiery interview on Thursday night, Tingle asked the treasurer about the ‘astonishing amount of money’, and why taxpayers weren’t informed of where the funds were going.

    ‘Why can’t you do that? Especially in a time when – in 40 years of reporting – it’s only been in the last couple of years that allegations of widespread corruption have actually hung around the federal level of government and this is tainting you as Treasurer, as well as the Government,’ she said.

    ‘Is that something that you’re prepared to see as a legacy issue for you?’

  24. The opening lines of an article by a West Australian “shout back radio’ host (of all people) distils just why we out in the Wild Wild West are very happy with how it is and why we think people like Binchook etc are eejits.

    The caricature of West Australians as locked-up cave dwellers is at odds with the lived experience of most Sandgropers over the first two years of the pandemic.

    Since the nationwide lockdowns of early 2020, West Australians have endured just 12 days of lockdown, the vast majority of the time free of masks and other business-curbing social restrictions.

  25. Thumbs up to the final words as well.
    Two years into the pandemic most West Australians have no first-hand experience of COVID-19, and they are not particularly interested in acquainting themselves with it.

    Who wants to get sick? Or wear masks? Or suffer crippling restrictions? No, thanks. Do you blame them?

    • I agree, KK! Yes,’sandgropers’ have not have experienced Covid and don’t want to! However, they know all about the suffering it causes and the daily reports of mounting death tolls experienced in the eastern states. I don’t wish for more ghastly statistics but surely the news we hear of more deaths and disaster over there must give our State leaders pause for thought, to re-think policy and consider even further delay in the opening up. Are the happiness of some re-united families and rising profits for inter-state businesses really worth the anguish of the sure-to-come disease and death tragedies for many West Australians. Those deaths, of course, will include, those already seriously ill and suffering from non-Covid related illnesses, displaced from our already over-full and underfunded hospitals.

      For the hard headed economists perhaps someone might like to count the cost of all that in cash. More deaths! More taxes!

  26. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. There are some meaty contribution here today.

    Laura Tingle is again unimpressed, saying that Morrison is displaying neither honesty nor humility.
    David Crowe looks at the issues hurting the Coalition’s vote in a horror polling week.
    Peter van Onselen asks, “What has this Coalition achieved to warrant re-election?”
    According to John Hewson, Morrison’s ‘too-hard’ basket just keeps getting bigger. He says the failure to address them has become a national disgrace and a global embarrassment. Ouch!
    Wishful thinking and an incompetent handling of the pandemic over the summer have shattered the chances of Scott Morrison pulling off another improbable election win, writes Paul Bongiorno who describes Morrison’s campaign as being on a wingnut and a prayer. He writes, “One Labor strategist says there is a firm view in the electorate the prime minister is “an incompetent bullshitter”. This perception hinders Morrison’s ability not only to promote his cause but to effectively attack Anthony Albanese.”
    Rob Harris writes that a fit for purpose and streamlined Anthony Albanese says it’s his time.
    Rick Morton tells us that a deal that allowed private pathology labs to claim government rebates up to 20 times for one procedure has contributed to the startling collapse of the testing system. Oh dear!
    Make no mistake – Labor and the Coalition have starkly different climate policies, explains Thom Woodroofe who says both sides have committed to net zero emissions but voters will hopefully reward the one that knows how to get there.
    Jack Waterford goes to some length to tell us that it’s time for Anthony Albanese to show his true self to voters.
    Leadership is a sober business, and it takes more than a bloke with a beer, writes Malcolm Knox.
    Cindy Wockner writes that, with Clive Palmer taking another tilt at politics, we are in for quite a ride.
    Paul Karp tells us how yesterday’s Prayer and Pushback event gives a taste of the fearmongering to come when federal parliament resumes. Karp says when parliament resumes, the Star Wars Cantina bar of characters will share a stage with Morrison, and he’ll have to answer for their views and the long stretches of inaction against them.
    The Department of Finance was warned by one of its own staffers that waiving a $41,000 debt owed by a senior official was likely illegal, but it fully waived the debt anyway, reveals Anthony Clan.,15965
    Tory Maguire writes about how Omicron has changed the political climate.
    We may have to live alongside the virus for some time yet, so it’s crucial that we don’t let fear and doubt elicit significant shifts in our social and personal behaviour and attitudes, writes historian Frank Bongiorno. It is an interesting essay.
    Gareth Parker tells us why the west will mostly back Mark McGowan.
    The sector that includes some of our most vulnerable citizens was unprepared for the end of lockdowns: the Commonwealth is overwhelmingly to blame, opines Kathy Eagar who says aged care is again bearing the tragic brunt of a COVID-19 wave.
    As supply chains collapse, government policies have created a situation where as much as 40 per cent of the trucking and freight workforce has Covid-19, explains Mike Seccombe.
    Australians who have not received their booster shots are dying at far higher rates than those who have, an analysis of health department data shows.
    But tens of thousands of Australians will have grappled with long Covid by the end of the year and a plan is urgently needed to treat and monitor them, according to an associate professor with Deakin University who has modelled long Covid prevalence.
    WA’s health system is falling apart even without Covid-19, writes Jesse Noakes.
    Inactive teachers, principals and support staff are being urged to head back to school in term 1 to respond to an expected teacher shortage due to COVID in Victoria.
    George Christensen will pursue a post-parliamentary career in journalism, he told an online forum featuring a who’s who of right-wing provocateurs on Friday, reports Cameron Artfield.
    Ben Smee reports that Christensen has amped up his conspiracy theory and anti-vaccination commentary, described by the PM as “dangerous”, while signs suggest he may be quietly planning to launch his own media brand when he retires from parliament.
    Highly profitable private schools raked in millions from JobKeeper, underlining the deep flaws and inequality in Australia’s school funding system, explains Trevor Cobbald.
    A new law, modelled on a controversial American act, gives the Foreign Affairs minister extraordinary powers to impose travel bans and financial sanctions on foreigners, warns Brian Toohey.
    The Perrottet government faces some tricky choices in responding to the economic disruption caused by the Omicron surge, explains Matt Wade.
    Jenny Noyes reports that Ben Roberts-Smith has lost a legal bid to have his former wife cross-examined over access to his emails, with a judge describing his claims against her as “ill-founded” and ordering him to pay her costs.
    At a Senate inquiry yesterday two gay educators have spoken out about being sacked for their sexuality, warning an inquiry the religious discrimination bill will make it easier for such dismissals.
    Michael Koziol has some words of advice for the crowds at the Australian Open.
    This scandal reveals a Conservative party corrupted by Boris Johnson – and by Brexit, writes Jonathan Freedland.
    The mother of an eight-year-old Queensland girl, who died this month after she was taken off insulin medication while her family prayed for her cure from diabetes, previously told authorities she didn’t believe in medical treatment for her daughter. What can one say? Nomination for “Arseholes of the Week”. Surely.

    Cartoon Corner

    Jon Kudelka

    Peter Broelman

    Alan Moir

    Matt Golding

    Mark David

    Andrew Dyson

    John Shakespeare

    Warren Brown

    Simon Letch


    From the US

  27. About today’s Arseholes of the Week –

    There is much more to this story – here is the whole sad saga.

    Toowoomba girl whose parents are accused of murder allegedly denied medical care: sources

    That poor little girl. She should have been removed from her parents’ “care” two years ago, when the parents made the first attempt on her life. Now they have succeeded in killing her.

    As well as not believing in medical care these incredibly stupid parents also do not believe in birth control – they have 7 other kids. Or maybe they have more now – this article from July last year is about the 2019 court case –

  28. Two threads you should read. Together they paint a very ugly picture of the way ignorant and/or gullible Australians are manipulated by lies from both politicians and the media.

    First, Behrouz Boochani on Scovid’s lies about asylum seekers and refugees, going back to his time as Immigration Minister.

    1/8 Australian PM @ScottMorrisonMP has a history of lying. He was immigration minister in Feb 2014 when Reza Barati was killed inside the Manus prison camp— Behrouz Boochani (@BehrouzBoochani) January 19, 2022

    Second, a long thread from a daughter of Palestinian refugees and former Murdoch reporter Jennine Khalik, who has also written for Nine and the ABC.

    Before I leave this continent, I want share with you some things I have never shared about the @australian, while they continue to publish their disgusting pieces smearing Palestinians. Want to know how unethical they are?— Jennine #SaveSheikhJarrah #SaveSilwan (@jennineak) January 20, 2022

  29. Hmmmm – TWO ambulances when Sydney people have to wait hours for just one?

    There are some very funny responses to this tweet, many mentioning forklifts or curry.

  30. I’m still waiting for a decent Bill Maher vid to post, no Rachel today, here’s a couple while waiting.

    Julian Hill –

    Stephen Colbert –

    Chris Hayes –

    Brian Tyler Cohen –

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