WALKLEY ISSUE 64
DECEMBER 2010 – JANUARY 2011 $9.95
INSIDE THE MEDIA IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
Celebrate! 100 years of Australian journalism
How Bertie Cook and his mates planted the seeds of a profession Malcolm Brown Lindsay Foyle Bridget Griffen-Foley Christopher Warren
… and the future is looking up, too Jonathan Este David Higgins Gaven Morris
PLUS Stephen Fitzpatrick Anna Krien Hugh Lunn Rick McPhee Alex Mitchell Ian Verrender and Pat Sheil’s Year in Review
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W A L K L E Y
A W A R D
W I N N E R S
I N S I D E
CONTACTS AND SPONSORS
Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance Federal President (Media) Peter Lewis Federal Secretary Christopher Warren Alliance Membership Centre: 1300 656 513 Alliance Inquiry Desk (for all other inquiries): 1300 656 512
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Can you help support your colleagues in the region? Prize donations and dinner sponsors needed The media industry’s major fundraising event – the Press Freedom Media Dinner – will be held in Sydney on Friday, April 29 2011. Celebrating World Press Freedom Day, the dinner is held to raise money to help our colleagues who are placed in danger because of their work. Would you or your company like to donate products, services, or gift vouchers for our fundraising auction and activities on the night? All proceeds from the dinner will go to defending press freedom and providing emergency assistance to journalists in the Asia-Pacific region. Media and corporate tables available. For all partnership inquiries and prize donations, please call Joyce DiMascio on (02) 9333 0945 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org For more information visit www.walkleys.com
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A news photographer helps an injured woman in Kathmandu following violent protests in Nepal’s capital. Photo: Courtesy of Kiran Panday.
Truth, honour and scepticism By Alex Mitchell Murray Sayle was one of Australian journalism’s greats
55TH WALKLEY AWARDS And the 2010 winners are…
YEAR IN REVIEW 2010: Run that by me again By Pat Sheil The year that was Shaken up in Godzone By Colin Peacock It was a tough year for New Zealand media
OUR MEDIA A little celebration might be app-ropriate By Jonathan Este Australian print media is in freefall. But is it about to turn around?
News never sleeps By Gaven Morris News on demand is unstoppable – and necessary
So you want to be an iPad editor By David Higgins How the tablet is redefining Australia’s media landscape
WALKLEY ISSUE 64
DECEMBER 2010 – JANUARY 2011 $9.95
INSIDE THE MEDIA IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
Celebrate! 100 years of Australian journalism Malcolm Brown Lindsay Foyle Bridget Griffen-Foley Christopher Warren
Into the woods By Anna Krien Seeing all sides of the battle for Tasmania’s old-growth forests
Good morning, Afghanistan By Rick McPhee Welcome to television, Kabul-style
… and the future is looking up, too Jonathan Este David Higgins Gaven Morris
PLUS Stephen Fitzpatrick Anna Krien Hugh Lunn Rick McPhee Alex Mitchell Ian Verrender and Pat Sheil’s Year in Review
W A L K L E Y
How Bertie Cook and his mates planted the seeds of a profession
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Ordinary people, extraordinary stories By Bob Dotson The best stories follow a simple outline: “Hey, You, See, So”
A W A R D
W I N N E R S
ON THE COVER Michael Fitzjames, of The Australian Financial Review, celebrates 100 years of Australian journalism
I N S I D E 29/11/10 1:44 PM
WORDS Bare dinkum By Hugh Lunn It’s time to bring back Aussie lingo
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISM The fight to found a profession By Christopher Warren A voice, job security and fair pay: why the AJA began
Don’t toss your rough drafts of history By Bridget Griffen-Foley Journalists should start preserving their records
Press past: the AJA pioneers By Eliza Sum The men and women who helped found a profession
All the news that was fit to print By Malcolm Brown There was no shortage of stories for early AJA members to cover
In the line of fire By Lindsay Foyle Australian cartoonists were outrageous from the start
BOOKS AND REVIEWS Joining the chapter By Gerard Ryle How books are opening new horizons for journalism
Bringing life into focus By Athol McCredie A New Zealand exhibition showcases the work of Magnum photographer Brian Brake
Buck naked history By Ian Verrender The GFC revealed in Michael Lewis’ The Big Short
Busting a vessel By Stephen Fitzpatrick Sometimes, to get the story, you have to bend the rules
Defending the damned By Matthew Ricketson A second look at Evil Angels, the seminal book about the Azaria Chamberlain saga
We are not afraid By Warwick Fry Independent journalists defy threats in Honduras
Australian stories Here’s your summer reading: the books that made the long list for the 2010 Walkley Book Award
Quick on the draw By Phil Thornton Cartoonist Harn Lay skewers Burma’s military brass
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW… to be a cricket writer By Malcolm Conn Those long tours can be a sticky wicket THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
A brave past, a bright future
elcome to a very special edition of The Walkley Magazine. It is special because we are celebrating 100 years of professional journalism in Australia. It was 100 years ago on December 10 that a group of determined journalists, led by Bertie Cook, gathered at the Empire Building on Melbourne’s Flinders Street to form the Australian Journalists’ Association. The immediate effect of this was to establish the AJA as a collective group that was able to bargain for better wages and conditions for workers in the industry. At the time, journalists were appallingly paid and there were those who thought of journalism more as a pastime than a profession. Within a year of registration, the AJA had succeeded in getting (most) proprietors to accept a system of grading for journalists and a deal which included paid leave, at least one day off a week and more money. The following year in Britain, the fledgling National Union of Journalists commented that their colleagues in Australia had wages and conditions that were the envy of the rest of the world. Journalists have been able to achieve great things by working together. We have established a professional code, the Code of Ethics, at the heart of our profession; we were quick among comparable professions to achieve wage equality for women. We’ve maintained journalism as a well-paid career that attracts the cream of recruits who have kept Australian newspapers and broadcasters at the forefront of the craft internationally. There’s plenty left for the Media Alliance to do. Just last month, the Alliance took part in a hearing of the Senate looking into better shield laws for journalists. The fact that the federal parliament has passed a bill which will better protect journalists and their sources is thanks, in no small degree, to the pressure that the Alliance has maintained over the years
Editor: Jacqueline Park email@example.com Contributing editors: Jonathan Este, Jenny Tabakoff Assistant editor: Sam Bungey Subeditor: Jo McKinnon Editorial staff: Lizzie Franks, Flynn Murphy, Lucie Bell Editorial intern: Danielle Gorman Cover illustration: Michael Fitzjames Solicitors: Minter Ellison Lawyers Design: Louise Summerton Production management: Gadfly Media Address: Walkley Foundation Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance 245 Chalmers Street, Redfern, NSW 2016 Visit our website at www.walkleys.com Advertising inquiries: Lucie Bell 02 9333 0968 firstname.lastname@example.org To subscribe visit http://magazine.walkleys.com/ or phone 1300 656 513 Disclaimer: The views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of The Walkley Foundation or the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance.
CONTRIBUTIONS WELCOME The Walkley Magazine, the only forum for discussion of media and professional issues by and for journalists, welcomes contributions from journalists, artists and photographers. To maintain the tradition and be worthy of the Walkleys, The Walkley Magazine aims to be a pithy, intelligent and challenging read, and to stand as a record of interesting news in the craft and profession of journalism. It is published five times a year and guidelines for contributors are available on request.
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through our Press Freedom report and intense behind-thescenes lobbying. Meanwhile the digital revolution of the past two decades has ushered in an era of uncertainty for many journalists, not just in Australia but around the world. As the old ways of working – and the old business models that supported journalism – make way for the new, our livelihoods and job security are not guaranteed. As union members we need to continue to build strength in newsrooms so that we have a say in the way that change is handled. And as more journalists start making their living as freelancers, we need to find ways to ensure that they, too, are treated with respect and are properly paid for their hard work. We need to understand the scale and pace of change in our industry – and no-one is in a better position to do this than the Alliance. We can call on the resources and insight of 10,000 working journalists around Australia, as well as affiliates in many countries going through the same upheaval as we are. Two years ago we launched our Future of Journalism project with a report, Life in the Clickstream, and a series of conferences and seminars around Australia. This year in Sydney, we held the second of our major conferences, rebranded the Walkley Media Conference, which canvassed ideas and strategies for how to flourish in an uncertain future. One hundred years ago, a group of overworked and underpaid journalists decided to work together for a better news industry. It is with great pride that I write that this work continues unabated to this day. Christopher Warren Federal secretary Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
WALKLEY CONTRIBUTORS Harry Afentoglou Matt Bissett-Johnson Malcolm Brown Jason Chatfield Malcolm Conn Bob Dotson Andrew Dyson John Farmer Michael Fitzjames Stephen Fitzpatrick Lindsay Foyle Warwick Fry
Bridget Griffen-Foley David Higgins Ray Hirst Judy Horacek Fiona Katauskas Anna Krien Sturt Krygsman Harn Lay Sean Leahy Simon Letch Peter Lewis Hugh Lunn
Athol McCredie Rick McPhee Alex Mitchell Gaven Morris Gregory Myers Matthew Newton Norman Ng Simon O’Dwyer Jane Patterson Colin Peacock Bruce Petty David Pope
Matthew Ricketson Gerard Ryle Pat Sheil Greg Smith Phil Somerville Rick Stevens Eliza Sum Phil Thornton Ian Verrender Thanks to Fairfax Photos
Good morning, Afghanistan How do you produce TV in a country that is more focused on censoring Shakira’s hips than upholding professional standards? Rick McPhee does his best
Rick McPhee (at left) on the set of Good Morning Afghanistan with Wali Salzesh, winner of series five of Afghan Star.
he greatest threat to the hundreds of Afghan kids who pack the makeshift studio for a recording of the popular Hawa Taza children’s program is not the second-hand fumes from cameramen smoking on the job. It’s not even the lit butts that the cameramen throw away in a room packed with children and devoid of any fire exits or extinguishers (and there’s no point calling the fire brigade – there isn’t one). No, the greatest threat is the half-tonne crane that the children sitting on the top rows of the audience bleachers have to duck every time it sweeps across. There’s not even a verbal warning from the operator. If they don’t duck, they get knocked unconscious. Welcome to the show, kids. In a little office next to the men’s toilet on the second floor are a couple of dour-looking, older Afghan men. They are the religious censors. Their job is to blur any offending female body parts from imported shows. In Afghanistan, offensive female body parts include shoulders, lower necks, arms and legs. Apparently a couple of years ago the interior minister wanted to take the channel off the air because the blur could not keep up with a gyrating Shakira music video. Shakira’s hips may not lie but they certainly upset the religious minister. The head of production is a gutless wonder. He waits until the male presenter of Good Morning Afghanistan is on holidays to sack him. Well, almost. He can’t quite summon the courage. So at 7am on the first day of the new week, two male presenters turn up on set. A Mexican stand-off, Afghan-style. The new presenter backs down and the old one is back in the saddle. That is, until the big boss calls the control room and demands to know why the old host is fronting the show. So the new one is called back. The old presenter throws to the 7.20am commercial break – the new one welcomes viewers back. Confusing? At least the two actors who played Darren on Bewitched were both called Dick. I’m in the graphics room discussing with Mustafa his logo design for a new sports program. The longer our conversation continues, the more anxious he appears. But I like the design, so why does he seem keen for me to leave?
He has even stood up now and is holding a mat. The head of graphics comes over. This is Mustafa’s chance. He bolts. Perplexed, I continue discussing the design with his boss. Then I catch something out of the corner of my eye. I turn around. Mustafa is praying in the corner. Sorry Mustafa, I didn’t hear that call to prayer from the mosque down the street. I arrive at the studio at 6.45 to watch Good Morning Afghanistan from the control room. It’s supposed to start at 7am but isn’t on air until 7.08. The female presenter doesn’t arrive on set until 7.20 and the producer rocks up at 7.40. I’m trying to be tolerant with Afghan time-keeping, but this is live television, after all. The presenter and producer blame roadblocks. I have to believe them. Earlier, my security vehicle was stopped by police. My bodyguard (armed with an AK47) shows some papers and we were ushered through. There appear to be more roadblocks and heavily armoured police vehicles than usual. I later find out that President Karzai is on the move somewhere in the city. When he does this, Kabul traffic is gridlocked. No wonder only two of the seven guests turn up for the show today. There’s no photocopier at the station and only a handful of printers, which rarely work. Desperate for a hard copy of a document, I call the IT department and request a print-out. They ask if I would like it in colour or black and white. When I reply, “Colour”, they tell me they don’t have a colour printer. The channel manager calls me into his office. He tells me there has been a complaint about my Italian colleague Giuisi. Apparently she upset someone yesterday and he wants me to speak to her about it. Her crime? She wore an outfit that exposed a centimetre of flesh behind her knees when she walked up stairs. I hope it wasn’t outside the religious censors’ office. Rick McPhee is an Australian television producer working for Afghan channel Tolo TV. The Afghan programs he has worked on include Good Morning Afghanistan, Deal Or No Deal, Superstar and the sports discussion program Shoot
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
100 Years – tell us your stories Journalism is a profession of great stories. Over the next year, as The Walkley Magazine celebrates the 100th anniversary of the AJA’s founding, we would love to hear stories from your career. Stories such as this one, from former Sydney Sun photographer Ron Iredale, who was on his round at Sydney Airport (“a great source of firstedition pictures”) in 1960. “I spied Charlton Heston on his own,” he says, “so I walked up and introduced myself and we did some nice pictures in the duty-free shop. I thanked him very much and went to the Arrivals Hall, because Alfred Hitchcock was due in.” When the great director arrived, Iredale took “the usual snaps”, then asked Hitchcock to accompany him to the Departure Lounge for a picture with Heston. “My man,” Hitchcock said, “actors come to me. I don’t go to actors.” So Iredale found Heston and told him what Hitchcock had said. “What a little bastard,” said the star of Ben Hur. The mountain went to Mohammed, however, and Iredale got the picture he wanted. Have you got a story from your time in journalism that you want to share? Send us your memories (in 400 words or less) and we’ll publish them on the Walkleys website. Email your stories to email@example.com, or post them to The Walkley Magazine, 245 Chalmers Street, Redfern NSW 2016.
Clickstream updated Two years ago, the Media Alliance launched its first investigation into the “perfect storm” blowing through the world of journalism. The report, Life in the Clickstream, was widely hailed. Respected US editor and journalism academic Philip Meyer called it a “slick and well presented digest of the challenges facing journalism today”. News Limited CEO John Hartigan commented that “every journalist should read it”. Two years on our industry is still changing fast but the big questions remain. How will our industry and our craft survive in turbulent times? How are our newsrooms adapting to new tools and technology? And what do today’s audiences want from journalism? These questions and many others are answered in Life in the Clickstream, Volume II. The wide-ranging report includes surveys and interviews with top journalists and media academics and, for the first time, an in-depth survey of public attitudes to journalism and the changing ways people consume it. Life in the Clickstream, Volume II is an up-to-the-minute discussion of the business of news, new and developing technology platforms, public broadcasting, web innovation, social media and the changing workplace. The report offers a blueprint for the future health of the news business and its continuing role as a cornerstone of democracy. Media Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren says: “As we look back on 100 years of professional journalism in Australia, it is fitting that the Media Alliance is also looking ahead to ensure the future health of journalism in Australia and those who practise it.” Get your copy now – download the report at thefutureofjournalism.org.au or drop into your local Alliance office.
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A Game take on the Khemlani affair Peter Game, who retired two years ago from Melbourne’s Herald Sun after 61 years in journalism, recently made a trip to Canberra. He was on a mission: to donate four boxes of papers and an Olivetti portable typewriter to the National Library. Game had earlier approached the library asking if it was interested in taking his papers on the “Khemlani affair”. Game revealed in 1975 that the Whitlam government was trying to arrange a Middle Eastern loan, brokered by the Pakistani businessman Tirath Khemlani. The ensuing scandal was one of the reasons behind the government’s fall. Game won a Walkley for his coverage. The boxes that he recently took to Canberra contained notebooks, photocopies of documents, and tapes and transcripts of 19 hours of interviews he did over four weeks with Khemlani in 1975. There were also further interviews he did with Khemlani in 1985. To top it off, Game added the typewriter on which he had written the story. “I’m not exactly a jackdaw, but I just couldn’t allow them to be chucked out,” he says. Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, senior curator of pictures and manuscripts at the National Library, is grateful for that. The library is conscious that much journalism is the first rough draft of history. Ayres urges reporters to at least consider keeping notebooks, diaries, early drafts of articles (particularly those changed for fear of litigation), correspondence (including emails) and awards. The library is interested only in material from journalists “at the top of their tree”: its collection includes records from Sir Keith Murdoch, Paul Lyneham, Rupert Lockwood, Alan Moorehead, Richard Hall, Phillip Adams, Cyril Pearl and David Marr. There are also a couple of hundred journalists’ oral histories. People often approach the library near the end of their careers. “We don’t have a lot of space for proactive collecting,” Ayres says. She accepts that only some people are “keepers”. However, she was dismayed when the library approached two of today’s leading senior journalists, only to be greeted by blank looks. “They told us they keep nothing,” she says.
Stanleys’ benediction for Pope The Canberra-based political cartoonist David Pope was given the 2010 Gold Stanley for Australian Cartoonist of the Year at a gala celebration in Melbourne on November 6. Pope has been drawing cartoons since the mid-1980s, under the pen name Hinze, and began drawing editorial cartoons for The Canberra Times in 2008. Other winners included Mark Knight (best political cartoonist), Matt Golding (single gag cartoonist), Geoff Richardson (graphic media artist), Anton Emdin (illustrator) and Dave Gaskill (comic book artist). Steve Panozzo took out the Jim Russell Award for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Cartooning. Full details at cartoonists.org.au.
Books worth noting
Life in Potosi Nelson Ortuga, aged 14, works a double shift extracting silver from deep in the Candelaria mine in Potosi, Bolivia. The shot is one of the series that won Lisa Wiltse the Walkley award for daily life photography. For more of this year’s winners, turn to page 41.
Bring me my shield Many years of campaigning for legislation to better protect Australian journalists and their confidential sources paid off last month when a private member’s bill, sponsored by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, passed the lower house of the federal parliament. The new bill, following Media Alliance advice, adopts an overriding presumption in favour of a journalist protecting his or her confidential source. The Senate will now consider, among other things, what exactly a journalist is in the eyes of the law. The Alliance took part in a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and urged that the principles behind the legislation should be adopted in state and territory laws, as well as at all the state-based anti-corruption tribunals which have been most active in putting journalists on the stand. The presumption in favour of journalist–source confidentiality is the basis of clause 8 of the Journalists’ Code of Ethics. Over the years, several journalists have gone to jail rather than give up their sources. Meanwhile, across the Tasman (reports Jane Patterson, chairperson of the NZ Press Gallery), new legislation has been reported back to the New Zealand parliament which could compel journalists to reveal their confidential sources to various law enforcement agencies. Australian journalists have long envied their New Zealand colleagues’ ability to protect sources, but that may well be about to change. New Zealand MPs have recommended major changes to the Search and Surveillance Bill, but it still poses a significant threat to journalists’ right to protect their sources. Journalists’ organisations have expressed concern that under the new law, police could force reporters to reveal their sources or other sensitive information, under the threat of up to a year in jail. At present the Serious Fraud Office has such powers, in the form of examination and production orders, but the bill would extend that to other enforcement agencies. (Examination orders are court orders allowing the police to require a person to answer questions where they have previously refused to do so; production orders work on the same basis for handing over documents and other information.) MPs on parliament’s Justice and Electoral Committee agreed the legislation was too loose and recommended substantial changes: for example, some powers could be used only when a serious offence was being investigated. The National Party’s Chester Borrows says there may well be further changes as the legislation progresses through the House. The justice minister’s office has also indicated that the minister, Simon Power, is happy to consider further changes to the bill, telling MPs the right of journalists to protect the confidentiality of their sources would not be undermined by the legislation.
Man Bites Murdoch: Four decades in print, six days in court (MUP, $49.99) is the story of Bruce Guthrie and what happened when he sued his former employer for wrongful dismissal. It’s not as “explosive” as promised, but the former Age, Sunday Age and Herald Sun editor has some interesting insights into the News empire and what it takes to be a “Murdoch man”. If you want explosive, open up Paul Howes’ Confessions of a Faceless Man: Inside campaign 2010 (MUP, $24.99). When the general secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union went on Lateline in June, Kevin Rudd’s number was up. For a faceless man, Howes’ diary entries on the bitchiness and betrayals of the 2010 campaign are disarmingly frank and funny. Try this: “It’s impossible to like Rudd once you really get to know him.” Partisan? Sure, but revealing – and often hilarious. Not that Kevin Rudd will be laughing. For a more considered read, try All That’s Left: What Labor should stand for, edited by Nick Dyrenfurth and Tim Soutphommasane, New South, $29.95). It features essays by the likes of Lindsay Tanner and Geoff Gallop, cogitating about what Labor stands for – or should stand for – today. Obama’s Wars by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, $39.99) is a triumph of access, analysis – and transcription. More than 100 people, including the US president, were interviewed about the Afghan and Iraq wars. As a senator, Obama opposed the wars; as the president, he leads them. No wonder there are deep divisions in his administration. Classic books on newspaper editing and design by the likes of Harold Evans will get a journalist only so far in the digital age. Rob Layton’s Editing and News Design: How to shape the news in print and online journalism (Palgrave Macmillan, $62) fills that gap. It’s a guide to not only good subbing, but to picture choice and editing, the language of news design, typography for print and screen, and digital news production. A valuable resource for anyone seeking a comprehensive primer on old and new technology. Jeff Kaye and Stephen Quinn look at the money side of the business in Funding Journalism in the Digital Age: Business models, strategies, issues and trends (Peter Lang, about $33). It examines the media dilemma of our times: how can quality journalism be funded when traditional sources of media revenue are drying up? Do enough people care enough about news to pay for it online? How can mainstream media harness citizen journalists and journalism students? Should newspapers, like universities, be endowed institutions? The authors look at business models emerging around the world. No definitive answers, but food for thought. Jenny Tabakoff
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
And the winner was… a cadet The presentation of the first Australian national awards for journalism, then called the WG Walkley Awards, was a modest affair that took place at the Journalists’ Club in Sydney on December 19, 1956. Sir William Gaston Walkley, co-founder of Ampol Petroleum and the awards’ benefactor, presented the prizes. The main award and £500 was won by Eva Maria Sommer, a fourth-year cadet on the Sydney Sun. She won the “best piece of newspaper reporting” category for her coverage of a mysterious stowaway on the Surriento. The man, who gave his name as Jan Wader, had no identity papers and could tell authorities nothing of his origins. He had not been allowed to disembark when the Surriento was in Sydney three months earlier, or to land in any country at which the ship had stopped since. The Surriento was shortly to set sail again, with the man still on board, when Sommer’s story was published. The cadet, who spoke German, obtained one quote from the stowaway for her original story: “This is the end of the line. It goes round and round like a merry-go-round.” It seemed he would be doomed to sail between Italy and Australia forever. But some readers who saw The Sun’s front page story recognised the man as Jacob Bresler, a former inmate of Buchenwald concentration camp who in fact had been living in Melbourne since migrating to Australia in 1951. Apparently suffering from memory loss, the 28-year-old had somehow boarded the Surriento. As a result of Sommer’s story (which was published without a byline), he was able to leave the ship and begin his life again. The other prize-winners in those first Walkley Awards were K. Finlay, of Melbourne’s Herald and Weekly Times (for magazine feature story); Maurice Wilmott, of Sydney’s Daily Mirror (photographic); and Albert Stephens, of Port
O SI IS EN M P B U O
Moresby’s South Pacific Post (provincial newspaper story): each won £100. Allan Nicholls, of The Age, and A.N. Thomas shared the £200 prize for newspaper feature story. As for Sommer, she seems to have disappeared from journalism in the early 1960s. If anyone knows her whereabouts, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Victor Chang Awards for Excellence in Cardiovascular Journalism
Submissions close 5pm Monday May 30, 2011 Finalists will be notified in early June, with winners to be announced at the annual Victor Chang “Heart to Heart” Ball in August 2011 Further information: Phone Anna Dear on 9295 8715 or visit www.victorchang.edu.au for full Media Awards Guide
Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute 13331 Walkley Mag HP Advert.indd 1
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17/11/10 12:41 PM
YEAR IN REVIEW
2010: Run that by me again Pat Sheil runs a critical eye over the year that was and finds tears, fears and reasons to be cheerful
he Ashes are upon us, and naturally we wish our English opponents an outcome reminiscent of the Battle of Hastings. Then again, if the meandering cricket match that is 2010 isn’t over just yet, whoever is in charge should at least do us the service of an early declaration and pull stumps. Alas, there will be no early declaration from whoever is in charge because – there is no-one in charge. Not really. Not in Canberra, Washington, London, and a slew of other locales from where we can ordinarily expect, if not inspired play, at least play of some sort. But no more, and the Australian federal election is the classic case in point.
A year sometimes dull… Two rather ordinary teams, led by two rather uninspiring captains, wandered purposelessly to the middle before a smallish crowd, who didn’t seem particularly interested in proceedings. Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott at least showed that he could waft a miasma of self-doubt into his opponents’ nostrils by sticking to a traditional game plan centred almost entirely on boats and interest rates. The fact that, even if he had won, he would have been in no position to do anything about either didn’t make the sitting Labor government’s prospects look any better. The scoreboard edged remorselessly towards parity, as has everything else this year. When the prime minister in response decided to stop “moving forward” and take over the ALP campaign herself, she was self-petarded by attempting to sound reasonable in the face of Abbott’s shrill xenophobic and hip-pocket “boat ‘n’ bucks” play. In sum, it all looked a bit wimpish on her part. Instead of safely riding home on the back of being the first female captain of the side (the selectors having dumped Kevin Rudd on June 24), and despite being in charge of one of the most resilient economies on the planet, Julia Gillard squeaked into The Lodge only after tortuous u
Julia Gillard squeaked into The Lodge only after tortuous negotiations with men from far-flung electorates wearing funny hats Digital illustration and cartoon by: Harry Afentoglou, The Sydney Morning Herald; Peter Lewis, The Herald (Newcastle)
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
YEAR IN REVIEW
Australia would still be Australia when the dust settled. Beaches, beer and bad, bad beasties, just like last year u negotiations with men from far-flung electorates wearing funny hats. It all verged on the unseemly. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t interesting, of course. Well, at least for those of us who can’t get enough of this kind of thing, and not least because we may have to go through it all again within the year. And all this came with the endless chorus of tweets and bleats and feats of ill-considered pronouncement that showed, if nothing else, that our elected representatives are just as likely as their teenage offspring to press “send” and only then realise what they’ve done. But despite all the fun of the fair, we were reminded that what goes on in this neck of the woods is not of much concern elsewhere. The world press ran the odd par about Australia maybe having its first female PM, if only she could work out how to form a government, tossed the odd barb to the effect it had taken us a bloody long time to elect a sheila, if indeed we actually had, and moved on. The game here was drawn out and slow, no-one was going to get killed, and Australia would still be Australia when the dust settled. Beaches, beer and bad, bad beasties, just like last year.
Cartoons and illustrations by: Sturt Krygsman, The Australian (left); Andrew Dyson, The Age (top) Opposite page: Greg Smith, The Sunday Times (top); Bruce Petty, The Age
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There were better yarns to be had elsewhere. There was the wacky Mossad hit-squad passport scam. A disingenuous Naomi Campbell purporting to be baffled by the blood diamonds brouhaha. The mysterious Polish presidential plane crash, with all its menacing overtones of conspiracy and incompetence. The American clown who insisted that it was totally within his rights to incinerate a Koran, and who couldn’t care less about what it might mean for the boys and girls across the waves. There were tales of gross incompetence by people who either should have known better, or just didn’t care how much of a mess they made of things. The Philippines cops’ handling of the bus hostage business in August springs to mind (six Hong Kong tourists dead), but it was dwarfed by the Israelis’ ham-fisted approach to the Gaza relief flotilla in May (reportedly 19 activists dead). But the wacky highlight had to be a psychic, football obsessed Teutonic cephalopod, which with an admirable Prussian certainty of purpose, proved the World Cup pundits wrong time and again. Vale Paul the Octopus. Of course, these are human stories. Even Paul the omniscient octopus was a human interest story of sorts. But nature reminded us once again, like a rather terrifying maiden aunt, that she has the final say. The earthquake in Haiti on January 12 – a country only just crawling out from under decades of goonish dictatorship, was truly awful to behold. It was made doubly tragic because Haiti is the place least able to deal with such an event, largely because of all those years of
Shaken up in Godzone It was a tough year for New Zealand media and Colin Peacock isn’t convinced things will improve
despotic banditry and pillage. Refugees in their own country spent months in camps under plastic sheets, then endured hurricanes and, finally, the inevitable cholera epidemic. The floods in Pakistan were on an even mightier scale, with much of the country awash. Another nation that was singularly ill-equipped to cope, though it’s hard to think of any place that could make light work of tidying up after such a soaking. The rains came in July and the water was still there in September. At least the Icelandic volcano with the impossible name only inconvenienced air travellers, but it too, like the more deadly Merapi eruption in Indonesia, cast shadows over our concerns of the day, and let us know that something very big and very ugly is going to happen sooner or later. We just don’t know where or when.
And sometimes… gladness It’s the kind of thing that makes folks look for solace in the mystical and many Australians got something of the sort with the canonisation of Mary MacKillop. Her rise to sainthood got a huge run here, despite the fact that she was just one of a job lot getting the papal thumbs-up on the day. There were sceptics, of course (“You call cancer remission a miracle? Show me a regrown amputated arm and I might listen to you!”, etc), but by and large the press and the humanists decided to let the whole thing slide and not spoil the party. There was a similar approach to the Jessica Watson round-the-world sailing yarn, which would have been handled rather differently had her boat been torn to shreds by a peckish great white in the Indian Ocean. But the 16-year-old sailor u
s the year comes to a close, advocates for media freedom in New Zealand are gearing up on a couple of fronts. Journalists are concerned about a proposed Search and Surveillance Bill which could force the country’s journalists to answer police questions or hand over documents. Clearly that could compromise the confidentiality of sources, and the stiff penalties for reporters who resist – and their publishers – would have an obvious chilling effect. On top of that, the government has recently said it will look at extending regulation to the internet. The justice minister said in parliament: “It’s a bit Wild West out there in cyberspace at the moment. Bloggers and online publishers are not subject to any form of regulation or professional or ethical standards.” But plenty of laws already apply to comment published online – copyright and trademarks, defamation, privacy, harassment, as well as suppression. This is a debate that’ll come to the boil next year. The online arena became a crucial component of the news cycle this year – just how much was demonstrated by the Christchurch earthquake, which struck at 4.35 am on September 4. Television New Zealand mounted the longest ever continuous live coverage of a domestic emergency, but was harshly slated for not getting it on air until after 7am. Its privately owned rival TV3 didn’t go live until much later, prompting one of its star anchors to criticise his bosses on Twitter. By contrast, the pundits praised the “new” media for spreading the word almost instantly. But just how useful is a tweet at 4.38 that says simply : “QUAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”? Or strings of startling digital TwitPics online within an hour, but without captions or any useful context? But watching the huge news-gathering effort devoted to this story was fascinating, because in other areas the cracks are showing. State-funded Radio New Zealand has had its funding frozen and its board has been urged to consider radical moves like commercial sponsorship for its music network – even though legislation says it should be an independent and commercial-free public service broadcaster. Meanwhile TVNZ, which is state-owned but operates commercially to turn a profit, has laid off more of its journalists. Its flagship current affairs show is running items from Four Corners and Panorama to fill the gaps – along with Diane Sawyer’s ABC interviews with American celebrities. And that’s before the passing of a bill which scraps the broadcaster’s public service charter. The spin doctors and PR merchants are well aware that the mainstream news media’s news gathering is diminished these days, and more and more they’re trying to help out – in a way that’s good for them. Back in March, the 60 Minutes show promised a behind-the-scenes look at a major news story at the time – the disastrous failure of a much-hyped 3G mobile network called “XT,” launched by the market leader Telecom. Yet the fly-on-the-wall footage 60 Minutes boasted as “exclusive” was shot by Telecom and given to the broadcaster. There were few warts visible in what was described as “warts and all” footage, which showed the company’s call centre staff and its top execs working round the clock to fix things. All year long, TVNZ presenter Paul Henry hammed up the cranky old bloke routine on Breakfast. Every time he insulted someone, he got headlines – puffing up his profile and his employer’s ratings. It all came to a halt in October, when he resigned after pitching ethnic slurs at New Zealand’s governor-general and the chief minister of Delhi during the Commonwealth Games in India – drawing formal complaints. He’s currently complaining (in a women’s magazine which pays well) that his bosses encouraged him to behave that way, and abandoned him when he offended too many people at once. Here’s hoping for better next year. Colin Peacock is the presenter and producer of Radio New Zealand’s Mediawatch program (radionz.co.nz/mediawatch). Previously he worked for BBC radio news and the BBC World Service
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
YEAR IN REVIEW
u made it home in one piece, was cute and brave and seemed sensible enough, if you’re prepared to accept that sailing around the world on your own is sensible. But the editors of Australia had their “Why was this allowed to happen?” think pieces lined up and ready to go if the pretty lass had become shark food. A much better feel-good story was the rescue of the Chilean miners in October, after two months trapped down a mine, even if it did seem to take as long as Watson’s voyage for those blokes to get up the Tube of Doom. But for feel-bad yarns, one only had to look up the road to Mexico, where power-crazed drug barons amuse themselves and terrify their competitors by throwing severed heads on to disco dance floors with monotonous regularity. Why do people go to discos in Mexico, one asks. Thrills? As for the day-to-day business of journalism, we tried to keep an eye on the language that is our stock in trade, and it’s fair to say that the cliché count has dropped this year. Interview subjects will of course persist in opening their answer to every second question with “Absolutely!” but that’s not our fault. Perhaps there is small mercy to be found in it having seemingly replaced “Yeah, no”, but it is the slenderest of consolations. Yet we still persist in throwing in “going forward” and, incredibly, “the state is a tinderbox” refuses to die, though a burst of wet weather in the east seems to have restricted that one to the Perth papers, where it was spotted this year as early as September. It will be back though – it is hard to underestimate the half-life of the throwaway filler. While this year may have seen the demise of “peak body”, there are ominous signs of “headland speech” making a comeback. We will never, it seems, torpedo the “raft of proposals”, burn the “planks in their platform” or all the other woody metaphors that really belong in the tinderbox of “our craft”. Yes, the key iconic clichés still manage to punch above their weight. They are the go-to words for the befuddled. But what the hell, all in all, it hasn’t been a bad year: Bob Ellis released his 1473rd book, the Large Hadron Collider re-created the Big Bang with no-one getting hurt, and there’s just a chance we might win the Ashes. All is right with the world – what are a few melting ice caps, giant oil spills near the US, and the odd locust plague between mates? It’s raining – we can think about the thirsty rivers next year, the wheat crop’s a bonanza , and you can still buy a decent bottle of red in this country for 20 per cent of the square root of bugger-all. Digital illustrations and cartoons by (from top): Simon O’Dwyer, The Sunday Age; John Farmer, The Sunday Tasmanian; Sean Leahy, The Courier-Mail
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Pat Sheil is the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Column 8, and serial fringe candidate for the federal seat of Wentworth
A little celebration might be app-ropriate Jonathan Este looks back on a media year in which the tide seems to have turned. Cartoon by David Pope
aybe, just maybe, we will come to look back on 2010 as the year we decided journalism may have a future after all. After the carnage of 2008 and 2009, when it seemed that every story about journalism had a flavour of jobs lost and panic buttons pressed, the main narrative for calendar year 2010 has been about news organisations consolidating and even planning for a future that had previously looked for all the world as if it would not exist. Perhaps this is best summed up by the Packer play. In late October – almost four years to the day after he sold out of the Nine Network – James Packer made a $245 million lightning raid on Network Ten, buying enough shares to take out 18 per cent of the stock. Analysts agreed that his dad would be proud: buying in at a bargain price just as all indicators had started to suggest a sustained period of growth for free-to-air TV after a rough couple of years. More recently we heard that Packer may be joined on the shareholder register by Lachlan Murdoch and Gina Rinehart. Having said that, reports that Packer would immediately nix Ten’s plans to revitalise its nightly news offering as part of a cost-cutting strategy would suggest that he was out of the room when the rest of the industry decided that quality would be the key to re-engaging with audiences. As we dusted ourselves off after the Christmas and New Year excesses, the main glimmer of light at the end of the media’s tunnel was the development of an exciting new toy called the iPad. This tech tragic lay awake on the night of January 27, partly because of a seasonal heatwave, but mainly because in far away California the polo-necked Steve Jobs was launching the latest advance – a “game-changer” according to all those in the know. The verdict? At the time there was a feeling of anti-climax: “Why, it’s nothing more than a big iPhone!” (an iPhone, what’s more, that doesn’t make phone calls). Ten months on, there are two main verdicts on the tablet. One is that the iPad is Mark 1 of a technology that needs to get a lot better – and will once Apple’s competitors get in on the act. The second is that, its limitations notwithstanding, the iPad is still a technology platform waiting for content to live up to it. News applications are getting gradually more advanced and versatile, but it seems likely that we’ll need to wait a while for the tablet to be the promised game-changer. Bracing itself for the predictable arguments over the proper role of a public broadcaster, the ABC launched its comment and opinion site The Drum (in December 2009), under former Crikey editor Jonathan Green and with Annabel Crabb as its first big name writer. ABC News 24 launched in July, attracting the (fairly predictable) criticism from those in the commercial media who thought the ABC had no brief to, er, supply a comprehensive and continuous 24-hour news service and, more reasonably, from those who wondered whether the public broadcaster had been properly resourced to run such an ambitious project (read Gaven Morris’ story on p16). Twitter continued its tentacular encroachment into every area of our consciousness. Any news and current affairs host worth his or her salt now ends by exhorting us to “follow us on Facebook and Twitter”, while the 2010 election campaign will forever be known as the Twitter election; those of us out of the loop couldn’t help but thrill to the news (in 140 character or less) from the
campaign bus that such-and-such a journo hadn’t had breakfast yet. The first recorded Twitter sacking occurred in May when Catherine Deveny, formerly a regular op-ed columnist at The Age, was given the heave-ho after her tweets during the Logies ceremony were deemed by Age editor-in-chief Paul Ramadge to be “not in keeping with the paper’s standards”. Globally, the industry is still mired in a debate about paywalls. Figures released in November revealed that The Times and The Sunday Times in the UK have so far attracted only 105,000 relationships (a difficult piece of data to work with, as it is unknown whether this represents the number of people who have signed up to use the papers’ paid website, or the people who have bought apps for iPad, Kindle or other mobile platforms). How Rupert Murdoch will bring this strategy to Australia is not yet known. Whispers from within Fortress Holt Street suggest he will, but in a different form. The words “premium content” feature strongly in pub gossip. We’ve seen plenty of premium content in long form – 2010 will be remembered as the year of the political biography and autobiography. If journalism is said to be the first draft of history, then memoirs by Blair, Bush and Howard could be said to be the first major revision of that draft. Particularly the Bush tome, which appears to be a decidedly “dodgy dossier” – a melange of “misremembered” facts and episodes seemingly taken from other published material. Towards the end of last month, Fairfax CEO Brian McCarthy announced a radical restructure to encourage the company away from its traditional reliance on print revenue towards an app-driven future aiming to monetize content across smartphone and tablet platforms. In the nick of time, too. The September quarter-figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which showed an overall fall of 3 per cent year-on-year to follow a similar decline in the three months to June, suggested that after years of flat or slightly negative sales of newspapers, Australian print may be joining the US and UK in freefall. But with Fairfax and News Limited poised to concentrate their energies in areas where people have shown they are willing to part with their hard-earned, there is some optimism among analysts that this tablet might just be the medicine journalists need. Jonathan Este is contributing editor of The Walkley Magazine David Pope draws editorial cartoons for The Canberra Times
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
Ordinary people, extraordinary stories NBC reporter Bob Dotson says journalists need to master the old-fashioned art of storytelling. Illustration by Gregory Myers
or more than four decades, I’ve been travelling the world coaxing Bob Dotsons to keep telling stories about the rest of us. memories from significant people who would never think of sending The best stories follow a simple outline: “Hey, You, See, So.” out a press release. I look for the people nobody bothers to talk with u HEY!: Whack – you get their attention. Murder mysteries begin with a dead body. in depth. The ones who lead ordinary lives with extraordinary passion. They u YOU: This story may be about a train derailment in Kalgoorlie, but this may not run for president or go to the moon, but people like that can show is how it connects to you. us how to solve some of the larger issues that we all face. u SEE: Here are the details I’ve found no-one else has. Four Kansas farm girls introduced me to a woman who saved 2500 children u SO: This is why you should care. from the Nazi death camps during the Second World War. May-gan Felt and How do I find stories? I search for people who are practically invisible, but her friends were putting together a play for their high school history club and who quietly change our lives. I’ve made an effort – all of my career – to look found a brief mention of Irena Sendler. They wrote her a letter, asking why behind the media mirror that reflects celebrity and power to find compelling she had risked her life. tales about the rest of us. A lot of people standing in the shadows have She wrote back: “My dear and beloved girls close to my heart. My parents interesting tales. taught me that if someone is drowning one always needs to give a helping hand Connect the seemingly unconnected. Find stories that have been overlooked. and rescue them.” Look for something more. In 1940 the Nazis walled off a neighbourhood near Irena Sendler’s home in I came across an old guy in Forest, Mississippi, the other day, working under Warsaw. Pressing almost a half million people into an area the size of New York’s the hood of his car. His neighbours say Jimmy Crudup is good with his hands. Central Park – with not enough food to keep them alive. Five thousand were He was restoring a beautiful 1946 Ford. I told him the car and I were the same dying each month. Sendler, a Catholic social worker, disguised herself as a nurse age. It looks better than I do. and bluffed her way inside. Jimmy said, “You can’t always tell about a car – by its polish.” She was less than five feet tall. And yet... she walked out of the ghetto with Same with people. children in gunnysacks. The tiny ones she sedated This former truck driver, with only a high and put in boxes. She walked with a dog she had Great stories start with the way school education, taught surgery for 30 years, trained to bark if the babies made noise. even though he doesn’t have a degree, can’t stand Irena Sendler took the children to Catholic you ask questions. I use silence. the sight of blood and doesn’t like needles. families who agreed to raise them as their Silence makes most people When the trucking business hit a hard time, own. She wrote their real names on cigarette uncomfortable, but it can help you Jimmy took a job cleaning medical tools at a papers and put them in jars, which she buried research lab at the University of Michigan. He beneath an apple tree across the street from get a better story more quickly watched the surgeons working. It seemed to him a Nazi barracks. as simple as rewiring his old car. So one day he One day, Irena Sendler was betrayed. Arrested. borrowed the doctors’ books and began teaching himself. Both her feet and legs broken. Almost murdered. But she never revealed where Dr Sherman Silber heard some of the older surgeons talking about this she’d taken the kids. amazing guy, Jimmy. “He just watched what these guys were doing. And he did After the war, she dug up the jars and began returning the children to their it better than them.” surviving relatives. Silber was a Michigan med student in the 1960s, struggling, when he asked The girls from Union, Kansas, went to Poland to meet Mrs Sendler. She Jimmy for help. Silber wasn’t good with his hands. Jimmy explained ability was lived in a retirement home. Her nurse was one of the babies she had carried in the brain, not really in the hands. They practised on rats. Silber went on to out in a box. Mrs Sendler asked the girls why they would care, when they came become one of the pioneers of microsurgery and a leading fertility specialist. from a place that doesn’t have a Jewish family for miles and miles. Jimmy never became a doctor, but today the best surgical student each year at Jessica Ripper replied: “Race, religion, creed, it doesn’t matter to us. What the University of Michigan gets his name on a plaque that bears Jimmy’s face. matters is that good can triumph over evil.” The tale of a 97-year-old woman might have been lost forever had it not been reat stories start with the way you ask questions. I use silence. Silence for some small-town Kansas kids intent on rescuing the rescuer’s story. Thanks makes most people uncomfortable, but it can help you get a better story to those teenagers, Mrs Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She more quickly. People nearly always answer questions in three parts. lost to Al Gore. First, they answer what they think you’ve asked. Then, they explain in more Four kids with a computer found that story. Not professional journalists. detail. If you don’t jump right in with another question, if you let the silence Most of us are chasing celebrities and interviewing politicians who stick to build, they figure you don’t yet understand and make an extra effort to explain. talking points and sound like stuck records. Often, they make their point more passionately and precisely the third time. Those big lay-offs at newspapers and television stations aren’t just happening A tornado victim once gave me three answers to a question. The first two because of the bad economy. We run the risk of becoming irrelevant. But I’m were: “The storm sounded like a freight train” and “We’re going to rebuild.” hopeful. The world still needs storytellers to help us sort things out. Is the But the sound bite I used bubbled up after a bit of silence. He pulled a hunk rush to get it online taking a toll on old-fashioned storytelling? No question of pink goo out of the rubble, a shattered set of dentures, and announced, journalism is changing, but the technique of telling a good tale hasn’t changed “Well, the tornado got my teeth, but it didn’t get me!” since the first caveman killed a mastodon and came back to paint his story. He filled the silence with a better answer. Such people sell your story Visual storytelling used to be like writing on smoke. The story appeared once, to an audience. then faded away. Not any more. Digital technology puts your best efforts on an A good story, no matter how quickly written, must give more than electronic shelf that viewers can find when they have time. Six million people information. It’s important to build an emotional outline, some reason for see my stories on NBC’s Today show. When they’re posted on the web, some people to care about what you tell them. The more mundane the assignment, get 70 million viewers. That reality provides production money for would-be
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the more important it is to build that emotional outline carefully. Good stories communicate on many levels at once. I like to craft my stories in such a way so as not to insult the intelligence of the prime minister, but if the prime minister’s cooks were listening from the kitchen, they’d be fascinated, too. A story begins with a lump in the throat. Something you feel compelled to tell. Your story can be built on that feeling. Don’t settle for the clichés. Pinpoint the emotion. Look for strong central characters, people who can tell the tale with passion. We’re all faced with constant deadlines these days. The 24-hour news clock slices time too thin for thought. How can we squeeze out a few more moments for thoughtful storytelling? Try writing the middle of your stories first. It’s the easiest part, filled with facts or figures that can stay or go, depending on the amount of time you’re finally given. Beginning in the middle helps me jump-start my writing. I don’t stare at a blank computer screen, wasting time searching for the perfect opening line. I craft that last. If I’m stumped, I go back over the sound bites I’ve gathered, look for the best one that didn’t make it into the piece, and then rework its main point into an opening thought. From the moment I’m assigned a story, I play a little mind game. “What if I had to write this right now? What would be my close?” In that way, I’m always on the lookout for the best last shot, the best final sound bite. They may change in the rush of news, but if you have some idea what your close might be, the rest of the story goes together more rapidly. Details don’t have to be described in words or pictures. Crisp natural sound (a bubbling brook, a howling wind) can help an audience experience the story. Look for the things viewers might miss. If you go into a flooded house and shoot mud-covered apples on a kitchen cabinet, it’s no longer just a flooded house; it’s water “left river mud on Mrs Smith’s apples”. Learn to think visually. Pictures are powerful storytelling tools. “Write” them first. Think how the pictures should progress in your story. There is a language of video, just as there is of words. They must both flow – one to the other – logically and smoothly. Resist writing words first, then using pictures to cover those words like wallpaper. If you are not personally shooting the pictures, ask, “What’s the best picture you have to open the story? What’s the most powerful picture for the close?” Build your script around these images. You save even more minutes if you stop writing occasionally and let compelling action occur without voiceover. For the writer, that’s difficult. But for viewers, sometimes, nothing is more moving than silence. Open your eyes, your ears and your senses. Tell your listeners how you followed a storm’s destructive path in the dark, just by its smell. “Thousands of pine trees blown down... the night air heavy with their scent... the twister tore through the forest for 100 miles.” That’s something they can’t see and they can’t hear. You’re filling in the corners of your picture. There is always important information that may be difficult to visualise. That’s what I save for my on-camera appearances. I once had to do a piece about skyrocketing meat prices. Visually, pretty boring stuff. I figured out how much stew meat you could buy for five dollars, five years ago. Tossed the meat onto a butcher block, picked up a cleaver and asked, “How much would five dollars buy today?” WHACK! Half the meat was gone. That was much more powerful than a graphic with narration or a sound bite. We see a lot of stories on the web these days where there is no reporter on camera. What does seeing the storyteller add? Why did you
want your mum to tell you a bedtime story, and not some stranger? You liked the way she told it. You trusted her. She was family. That’s an important lesson in communication. If the viewer knows you are the storyteller and trusts your work, it forms a powerful bond. People will return again and again. And… you’ll get paid. I don’t know about Down Under, but these days – in New York – there’s always some boss who’s had eight hours’ sleep and an idea for us. We’re all being asked to do more. Writers shoot video. Picture-makers write. Times are changing, but you can still sell more thoughtful stories. Just don’t pitch an idea until you know enough about it that you can state in one sentence what you want the viewer to learn. That’s tough, but essential. After all, you’re pitching a story, not a topic. The great American writer Mark Twain used to scribble at the top of his letters, “I’m sorry this is so long. I didn’t have time to write a short one.” That’s the unseen hard work of storytelling. Bob Dotson is a writer and news correspondent with NBC whose reports are seen on Today and as hour-long specials on MSNBC. He has received the Edward R. Murrow Award a record five times and has also won three Emmys. This is an edited version of his keynote address to the Walkley Media Conference 2010. Gregory Myers is a freelance illustrator (web.mac.com/grmy)
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
News never sleeps Gaven Morris sees ABC News 24 as a muchneeded evolution for the national broadcaster. Cartoon by Matt Bissett-Johnson
he best lesson I learnt about the potency of live television news was in a living hell. I was in Monrovia, Liberia in July 2003 in the middle of a brutal and indiscriminate battle. And I was there by accident. A month earlier, US President George W Bush had announced he was planning a major African tour and the rumours were he would commit marines to Liberia to secure a fragile pause in a war between rebel groups and the government led by the former rebel Charles Taylor. I worked for CNN – the pioneer of 24-hour news. It dispatched a team and a satellite dish in anticipation of the arrival of the president, the marines or at least an announcement. But as Bush toured Africa, none of those things reached Monrovia. So the LURD rebels did. Monrovia is on a narrow peninsula, with just a few roads in or out, and in the weeks before the attack, thousands of people seeking security or the rumoured glimpse of a US president had crowded into the centre of the city. In the days that followed, a thousand of them died before our eyes and our live camera. Our coverage and CNN’s pictures elevated Liberia to the headline story around the world. The White House’s African PR triumph turned sour. But what hurt American pride more were the attacks on the US embassy in Monrovia – where we were eventually evacuated to with our dish, and continued to report live. That dish changed a nation’s story.
Our dilemma was when news happened, we usually weren’t on air and, for an increasing segment of the audience, that meant we weren’t always relevant Within weeks we were reporting the exit of Charles Taylor and, far too late for many Liberians, the arrival of the marines. In Monrovia, US warships bobbed off the coast. The docks were cleared of bodies and aid arrived by the shipload. An African Union peace-keeping force was mobilised in record time. A country and a conflict ignored for decades became the world’s top concern. And it happened because a 24-hour news team with an accidental assignment reported a story, live. Live. It matters. And there’s now a demographic division in our audience that ensures the momentum behind news on demand is unstoppable. If you’re over 40, you grew up relying on a schedule determined by the media to get your information. Papers were delivered in the morning, radio news was on the hour and television bulletins were delivered at one certain time each evening. The information was highly refined and ordered by journalists. If you’re under 40, that entire regime is implausible and impossible. The idea that you can’t be informed in an instant by logging on or tuning in to see the news unfold would be as silly as walking to a library to read an encyclopedia to find out more about a topic of interest. Just as encyclopedias printed on paper have become extinct, highly refined selections of news delivered at predetermined times simply don’t interest many people under 40. For the ABC, here was the challenge. Our largest online news audience is under 40 yet a tiny proportion of this demographic tunes in to the 7pm News. With a legislated obligation to provide a universal service to all Australians, our dilemma was when news happened, we usually weren’t on air and, for an increasing segment of the audience, that meant we weren’t always relevant. Take June 23, 2010. The ABC had the scoop of the year. As Mark Simkin went to air at 7pm with the story that a coup was being mounted against Prime
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Minister Kevin Rudd, Chris Uhlmann continued to chase down the details. As our narrow window of scheduled news programs on ABC1 closed, ABC News Online became Uhlmann’s destination for the latest stories and developments. Here was the national broadcaster reporting a story in text. We didn’t have a television outlet to report the latest details. The extraordinary night and day that followed broke all the rules for the pace of an Australian political drama. The morning’s newspapers were out of date before they hit the stands and scheduled TV bulletins missed the main developments as they unfolded. Radio and online were the compelling destinations. For the team at ABC News 24, it was a bad day. We’d been practising madly for weeks for a launch date somewhere in the following month. We weren’t ready but we were starting to get bored of doing shows for no-one. Now, here was the sort of live, unfolding story we aspired to live for – and we were sitting it out. But I knew it was why ABC News 24 was a necessary addition to the ABC News stable – just as ABC News Online had been a decade before and television news several decades before that. I wanted ABC News 24 to be more than a television channel. Many people sit in offices without a television hitting online sites for news; increasing numbers of people on the go want to see news on mobiles. So from the start, we sought to ensure ABC News 24 would be the first rolling news service to be free on TV and free as an online and mobile stream. I also felt the growing audience we’d been building online was an important link to the one we’d like to build for the channel. If we could encourage a few more of the people in their thirties who’d come to the website to switch on the ABC News on television, we’d be building a future for the broadcast brand. I also think the different delivery platforms will melt into one in the near future, so having genuine synergies was important. As a result, video from ABC News 24 has enriched the website and the headline “flipper” on the bottom of the channel’s screen is driven by News Online. Investigative stories done by our fledgling Online Investigative Unit are delivered to ABC News 24 – as well as other broadcast programs. They’re small steps but they’re important building blocks. Being live all the time is still a big cultural change within ABC News. Forever before, the television newsrooms have had two or three deadlines a day and rarely did they feature live reporting. Now, we were talking about a “file now” approach and seeking to get live contributions as often as possible. It’s a change that I hope will keep the ABC’s news-gathering process in tune with an audience that is often way ahead of the news providers. I also hope it returns the national broadcaster to the centre of broadcasting national events. Big stories and events that matter to Australians should be covered by the ABC. Above all else, it’s what ABC News 24 should be for. Live coverage matters. It’s a lesson I learnt with a camera, a dish and an awful unfolding human tragedy in Liberia in 2003. Gaven Morris is head of Continuous News for ABC Matt Bissett-Johnson is a freelance cartoonist. His political cartoons appear regularly in the Melbourne Observer and the websites Arena and Dissent
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISM
The fight to found a profession The formation of the AJA a century ago was a watershed moment. It gave journalists a voice, job security and credibility, writes Christopher Warren, federal secretary of the Media Alliance
ere’s what one famous newsman had to say about the journalists’ union: “The AJA has not only greatly improved conditions for the journalists, but has also done a great deal for Australian newspapers.” As a founder member of the Australian Journalists’ Association, Keith Murdoch recognised the huge contribution made by the union in bringing journalists out of the age of the overworked, underpaid “gentlemen of the press”, often working for a penny a line, and into the modern era, where they are trained, have the power to negotiate a proper wage, and work to a universally respected code of ethics. And along the way, the union fought for the rights of women to earn the same wage as their male counterparts, quite an achievement in an industry that in its early days tried to ban women from the parliamentary press gallery. Consider what it was to be a journalist before the formation of the AJA. Former federal parliamentary roundsman Bertie Cook, who was a prime mover in the foundation of the union, sums it up perfectly in his unpublished memoir, in which he looks back at the state of journalism at the turn of the 20th century; “Journalism as a vocation was at a low ebb at the turn of the century. Some looked upon it as a kind of gentlemanly refuge for that frayed type of somewhat cultured mankind who had fallen to the temptations of the wayside. The fact that there always seemed to be a number of educated but somewhat unreliable men available in the labor market naturally had the effect of keeping wages down.” This was something of an understatement by Cook. As a reporter on a daily newspaper, you were probably paid in the region of £3 or £4 per week for something in excess of 60 hours – across at least six days each week. That is, of course, if you were paid a weekly wage at all. The vast majority of journalists in Australia before 1910 were employed, as was Keith Murdoch, as “penny-a-liners”, scratching a living from piece work. There had been various attempts in different states to organise journalists, but very often those brave individuals who tried to organise an association lost their jobs. In 1890, a Victorian Reporters’ Association was formed by one EGL Sweet of The Age, who organised a meeting at which it was agreed that
Press gang: The Australian Journalists’ Association, led by its first president, AN Smith (front centre), at the meeting of its annual council in Sydney, February 1912.
As a reporter, you were probably paid in the region of £3 or £4 per week for something in excess of 60 hours – across at least six days each week. That is, of course, if you were paid a weekly wage at all members would set aside £1 per week (from an average wage of £3) to go into a fund to support anyone who was sacked. History doesn’t tell us whether Sweet was able to take advantage of this early fighting fund – he certainly had good cause: returning to The Age office after the meeting he found a letter from his chief-of-staff dismissing him. There were many other attempts to organise. In Sydney, the Institute of Journalists, formed in 1907, morphed into the Australian Writers and Artists’ Union in 1909. Adelaide and Brisbane both established an Institute of Journalists. Perth journalists attempted to form an association in 1908 which included journalists and proprietors: predictably, this soon collapsed. In Hobart, journalists at the Mercury and The Daily Post formed an association in 1909, and in Launceston a young reporter named George Brickhill attended several meetings of a social and industrial nature, where he was bitten by the organising bug. Brickhill moved to Victoria, where he helped form the Bendigo Press Association, which found common ground with a similar organisation in Ballarat and was able to use its fledgling industrial muscle to win significant concessions from concerned bosses: one Sunday off in every four and a five-shilling wage rise. But Melbourne was the industrial epicentre for journalism, as it was the epicentre of business and politics. By 1906, journalists had formed the Press Bond and it was Cook, as the second general secretary of this organisation, who laid the groundwork for the establishment of a national u trade union for journalists: the Australian Journalists’ Association.
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CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISM
u An organised and methodical thinker, as befitted the federal parliamentary correspondent of The Herald, Cook recognised that journalists should take advantage of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which had been passed in 1904 and which allowed for the settlement of industrial disputes beyond the limits of one state, and protected members of a registered trade union from being dismissed because of their membership. However, this legislation had been enacted specifically to protect manual trades. It was generally held that if journalists were to take refuge under this Act, it would tie them to Trades Hall and inevitably involve them in “all kinds of industrial disputes, instead of representing public opinion”. In his unpublished memoir, held by the National Library of Australia and obtained by The Walkley Magazine, Cook wrote: “It was my firm opinion, and it is still, that pressmen should keep themselves as a body, free from any industrial or political alliances.” He sought advice from the federal industrial registrar, AM Stewart, who – while not being particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of journalists registering an association – said there would have to be a test case. Cook then canvassed journalists in Victoria and throughout the other states. Worried that, as he puts it, “the majority of pressmen throughout Australia had by then been completely cowed”, he resorted to a “white lie”, signing letters to fellow journalists around Serious business: the federal council of the Australian Journalists’ Association gathers in Melbourne for its inaugural conference, March 1911. the country, “On behalf of the committee”. On December 1, 1910, the following letter went out to journalists around the country: According to Cook, no-one was initially keen to take on the office of Dear Sir president of the new association, due to a fear of victimisation. James McLeod A meeting of journalists, i.e. persons professionally and habitually engaged of The Age was selected, but he was soon to take up a role as the Victorian on staff of newspapers or periodicals, will be held at the cafe in the basement government’s land-settlement agent in London. He was only chosen as of the Empire buildings, Flinders St. Melbourne on Saturday Dec.10th a stop-gap: within six months his vice-president, Arthur Norman Smith, who at 8pm sharp for the purpose of considering the question of forming an ran his own press agency in Melbourne, was elevated to the presidency. organisation to secure registration under the Commonwealth Conciliation Smith “recognised that any improvement in wages and conditions would and Arbitration Act. ultimately increase his own expenses”, but became a key player in the You are invited to be present and to extend an invitation to any other establishment of the AJA. qualified person with whom you are acquainted. Not surprisingly, registration was met with an avalanche of objections from On behalf of the committee, proprietors, who had enjoyed a status quo in which they could pay what they Yours faithfully, liked and demand their employees work crazy hours. The application came before B.S.B. Cook the registrar on April 11, 1911, with Frank Brennan, KC for the AJA and a Bar Melbourne Herald team of three, including two future Supreme Court judges, for the proprietors. On the big day, more than 100 journalists turned up. Cook says this was Arguments took several days, but Brennan’s case was strong and the “a fair proportion of journalists, in those days, who would be qualified employers, it was later revealed, had not been united in all of their objections. to attend. Some of these were not too sure about what they were getting On May 24, registration was granted and the AJA became the first national themselves into, feeling it would be infra dig for the ‘gentlemen of the Press’ to association of journalists in Australia. have to seek the protection of the law in arranging their working hours and The battle to improve the lot of journalists in Australia had begun. In the salaries”, but “after this it seemed as if the floodgates of discontent had broken next few issues we will be documenting that battle and reliving the disputes their banks and speaker after speaker told of the intolerable hours they had and agreements that won for journalism its professional status in Australia. to work and of the miserable salaries they were getting.” But it is worth noting that the AJA was quickly into the industrial fray, All of which seems strangely familiar. The first industrial award was signed in May 1917 and established a 46-hour It was at this meeting that journalists first felt the confidence that is born week with one and a half days off and provision for overtime, three weeks’ out of solidarity. “The employers could not possibly demote all these men paid holiday and paid sick leave among many other achievements. Ratifying as the result would have been chaos,” writes Cook, establishing a principle the agreement, Justice Isaacs of the Arbitration Court commented: “No just that stands to this day. comparison can be made by journalism with any other occupation. Journalism One of the turning points in galvanising action came when C. Walker, a is a profession, sui generis.” suburban reporter whose beat took in the cattle sale yards, yelled out: “Hands So effective was this early work by the AJA that the union – and its agreement up all you gentlemen who get as much money as slaughtermen?” This brought – became a blueprint for similar organisations around the world. Britain’s down the house and led to the meeting voting to register. (Interestingly, while National Union of Journalists looked on in envy at the agreement as “an journalists’ wages have increased significantly compared to meat workers example for emulation” by its journalists. since 1910, a recent deal for meat workers at an abattoir in NSW settled on In 1926 the International Labor Office at Geneva, in its report on the working 15 per cent over four years, which is more than competitive with recent pay conditions of journalists in 33 countries, wrote: “Australian journalists are deals for journalists.) among the members of the profession possessing the most satisfactory status… The next step was to form a committee and draft a constitution, based No other country has such minute regulations on the subject of hours of work.” on the constitutions of other industrial organisations registered under the Act. This ran to more than 200 clauses and sub-clauses. Christopher Warren is the federal secretary of the Media Alliance 18 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Don’t toss your rough drafts of history Journalists often forget that their notebooks and paraphernalia might be worth keeping. Bridget Griffen-Foley issues a wake-up call
ournalists write about, and report on, the present: what is new, what is a “first”. But journalism, media institutions and media practices have a history, and it is a history worth preserving, documenting and telling. The significance of the media as a mirror of society makes the study of media history a crucial component in the exploration of Australia’s past and a way of thinking about our future. Journalists and media historians know that it is not only the articles published or the programs broadcast that provide valuable accounts of what has happened in the past. Everything that goes on behind the scenes to create newspapers and magazines, radio and television programs, and digital media is an important part of the history of the media. Scores – probably hundreds – of Australian journalists have written memoirs and autobiographies, enriching our understanding of news values, editorial practice, working conditions, breaches of ethics and parliamentary privilege, the operation of foreign bureaux, proprietorial interference, scoops, scandals and so on. The private papers of many journalists and editors, ranging from AT Shakespeare, Connie Robertson and “Andrea” to Alan Reid, Graham Perkin and David McNicoll, have made their way into the National Library of Australia and other major research libraries. These collections have been augmented by the radio and television holdings of the National Film and Sound Archive. Even so, research into Australian media history remains hampered by the fact that many archival records are unknown, scattered, fragmented, inaccessible, or in obscure locations. Inevitably, the ephemeral nature of media organs poses significant challenges to those wishing to explore the history of the Australian media. Of the big three metropolitan print media firms – News Limited, Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, and John Fairfax – only Fairfax has formal archives. And this breathtakingly good archive, which constitutes one of the richest business collections in Australia, seems to be under perennial threat. As the “old” media seek to cut costs and adapt to rapid changes in the industry, established library services and librarians’ positions are also being reduced across the Australian media sector. When I wrote my first book, The House of Packer (1999), I had no in-house records to access and had to wade through archives and manuscript and oral history collections across Australia. When I wrote my most recent book, Changing Stations: The story of Australian commercial radio (2009), I personally contacted all of the 260 commercial stations in Australia to obtain information about in-house archives. The records of the NSW branch and the federal secretariat of the Australian Journalists’ Association, together with those of Actors and Announcers’ Equity, housed at the Noel Butlin Archives Centre in Canberra, proved to be particularly valuable. My job would have been easier, of course, if I had set out to write about public broadcasting, with the ABC and SBS having their own archives, rather than about the commercial media. The Centre for Media History (CMH) at Macquarie University has recently launched the Media Archives Project. The CMH was established in 2007 to provide a focus for research into the history of the media, and is the only centre of its kind in the southern hemisphere. It built on the success of the Australian Media Traditions conferences, which began in 1999 and are now biennial events moving around Australia involving academics, independent scholars, journalists and other media practitioners, as well as on the activities of Dr Rod Kirkpatrick’s Australian Newspaper History Group. I direct the CMH, and its advisory board includes Angelos Frangopolous and Jane Connors. The centre organises a range of events (including the Headliners: Early Australasian Press Biographies symposium held in November) and a rural media conference in the first half of 2011 to mark the centenary of The Land. With the Media Archives Project (MAP), the CMH is seeking to locate records in the hands of Australian companies, community groups, past and present media practitioners, enthusiasts and hobbyists concerning print, radio, television and advertising. We are interested not just in the outputs of media organisations,
Journalists were there... Journalists are witnesses to historic occasions, such as the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975.
but also in the records that tell the stories of the people and outfits behind them: minute books, correspondence files, personnel records, audience complaints, in-house publications, oral history interviews, scrapbooks and so on. MAP is concentrating particularly on Australia’s commercial and community media sectors. Rather than physically collecting archives, we are creating a publicly accessible, keyword-searchable database listing them and summarising their contents. The MAP database will go live on the CMH’s website in late 2011. If along the way we discover collections in private hands that are at risk of disposal due to lack of space, or a change of premises or ownership, we can facilitate discussions with asppropriate Australian libraries and archives that would be interested in adding the material to their collections. What are some of the gaps in the archival record? Just as memoirs of Australian journalists have been dominated by men (and war correspondents), archival sources are thinner for women. So far as I am aware, for instance, not one editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly has deposited her papers in a research library. I know of little material concerning suburban newspaper history, or about the editorship of university newspapers. Records of community radio and television stations are sparse. By uncovering hitherto unknown archival records about the Australian media, the CMH will enable new research into the media, business, social and political history of Australia. Some of the records will provide a context for the content of the metropolitan newspapers covering 1803 to 1954 that are progressively being digitised by the National Library of Australia. So journalists, in this centenary year of the AJA, think about preserving (and making known to researchers) your own personal archives. If you have kept material about your media career, or know of someone else who has, please contact the MAP project officer, Dr Nathalie Apouchtine. And if you are thinking of throwing out material, or you have inherited a cumbersome or deteriorating collection about the media, contact a major library or collecting institution, or contact us. See www.humanities.mq.edu.au/cmh/, email email@example.com, or phone 0422 553 813 or (02) 9850 8828. Bridget Griffen-Foley is the director of the Centre for Media History at Macquarie University. Her latest book, Changing Stations: The story of Australian commercial radio (UNSW Press, $44.95), was on the 2010 Walkley Book Award long list
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CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISM
Press past: the AJA pioneers The men and women of the fledgling Australian Journalists’ Association helped turn an underpaid and often ramshackle craft into a profession Bertie Cook (1877–1968) When Bertie Cook started out as a Melbourne Herald copy boy, he was paid five shillings for a six-day week. Graduating to full-time reporter, he put in a 70-hour working week and still brought home just £3. Like many journalists of the time, Cook was essentially a member of the working poor. Although employees could resort to wages boards, reporters had failed to improve their wages and conditions. Cook wanted to put matters into the hands of journalists. In 1906 he and several colleagues formed the Press Bond, a group for journalists to discuss their problems. But Cook decided that any journalists’ association would have to look to the law for protection if it were to survive. In 1908 he lobbied the prime minister, Alfred Deakin, for legislation that would allow a journalists’ association to be registered, in the way that manual workers’ unions were. Knocked back, Cook decided to try putting the cart before the horse; he formed an association and then applied for registration. On December 10, 1910 he convened a meeting in Melbourne, attended by 100 pressmen, at which the Australian Journalists’ Association was formed. A constitution was drawn up and branches were set up in each state. Registration was granted in May 1911. Cook was made president and became the proud owner of membership #1 of the Australian Journalists’ Association. In May 1917 the Arbitration Court gave its first award to the AJA for claims based on a grading system for journalists. The next year, at the invitation of Prime Minister Billy Hughes, Cook organised the first federal press bureau. Cook, who sported a pince-nez and Vandyke beard, began organising for other workers. In 1919 he moved to Broken Hill to take up the post of resident industrial officer, and later helped form the Victorian Central Citrus Association. He went back to full-time journalism in 1929, becoming financial editor of the Argus, but remained active in trade unionism. In 1960, coinciding with the AJA’s silver jubilee, he was appointed MBE. Cook died in September 1968, having done more than anyone to secure the standing of Australian journalism as a profession.
Stella Allan (1871–1962) Stella Allan achieved a number of firsts in her long life. As well as being among the first three women to join the Australian Journalists’ Association as founder members in 1910, she was the first woman in her native New Zealand to study law (after achieving a first-class honours degree at Canterbury University College). She was also the subject of a test case in New Zealand as women were barred from practising law. Her case led to legislation being amended to allow women to be admitted to the bar. However by that stage she had moved on to one of her other great interests – journalism. She achieved a first in that, too, when she was appointed as parliamentary correspondent in Wellington, the first woman to join an all-male press gallery. But special permission had to be obtained from a subcommittee of the House before her presence was accepted. In 1900, the then Stella Henderson married Edwin Allan, the senior leader writer for the Wellington Evening Post. He was appointed by the Melbourne Argus as foreign affairs leader writer in 1903 and he and Stella moved to Australia. The couple joined an influential group of intellectuals including Alfred Deakin, who was to become prime minister later that year. Allan continued
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writing for newspapers and in 1904 the Argus invited her to join its full-time staff. She began a weekly section, adopting the nom de plume “Vesta” and calling the column “Women to Women”. Hers was the first section dedicated to women’s affairs, children’s interests and community welfare. She invited readers to write in, and was overwhelmed by their response. Allan did not shirk away from what was very much a man’s domain – she conducted interviews, trained cadet journalists, and visited rural areas to report on the social effects of bushfires, droughts, floods and other natural disasters. Away from the newspaper, she was a committee member of the Victorian Association of Crèches and the Free Kindergarten Union of Victoria. She was also a prominent member of the Country Women’s Association. In 1924, Allan was appointed substitute delegate for Australia to the fifth assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva and was a delegate to the second Pan Pacific Women’s Conference in Hawaii in 1930. In 1939 she retired to England, but continued to write for the Argus with articles on the experiences of women and children in wartime. In 1947 she returned to Melbourne, where she lived until her death on March 1, 1962.
Maisie “May” Maxwell (1876–1977) When she was profiled in The Age on the occasion of her 100th birthday in October 1976, the remarkable Maisie Maxwell recalled an interview with the editor of the Melbourne Argus in her early days as a journalist. “He kept his eyes down and said: ‘You will never write anything on, or mention the word, sex, will you?’” Her reply: “I said: ‘Do you know any young people – I am sure you do not’,” displays a refreshing candour which must have stood Maxwell in good stead as a young woman battling for recognition in an industry dominated by men. Born in Bendigo in 1876, Maisie took music and elocution at school before moving to Melbourne at age 19 to go on the stage. It was while touring with William Anderson’s company between Melbourne and Sydney that she began writing contributions for Perth’s Sunday Times – and pretty soon came to the conclusion that journalism was a more stable career than the theatre. After a season at the Theatre Royal, she changed her name to May, which she considered more suitable for a byline, and took a substantial cut in pay to join Table Talk at 10 shillings a week. In 1910 she was invited to edit the Melbourne Herald’s weekly page for women. At the end of 1921, new editor Keith Murdoch asked her to make it a daily feature. Maxwell’s journalism was characterised by initiative and plain talking. Although she covered the high-society round of balls, parties and royal tours, she insisted on writing her notes openly and on being allowed to wear evening dress and to mingle with guests at Government House. She interviewed female prisoners, campaigned to have nurses’ training cut by one year, and championed those women in public life who did more than go to parties. In 1911, within four months of its foundation, Maxwell joined the Australian Journalists’ Association as its second female member. She served on the AJA’s Victorian committee (1925–27) and became an honorary life member in 1960. After 24 years with the Herald, Maxwell continued to work as a freelance writer and broadcaster for radio stations 3XY, 3UZ and 3KZ. On the eve of her 100th birthday – still sharply alert but having long given up her trademark red wig for a cap of silver hair – she wrote in longhand a cheerful and candid column of reminiscence. The Herald published it next day, virtually unedited. She died on July 24, 1977 at Jolimont in Melbourne.
CEW Bean (1879–1968) You know a man is destined for great things when he beats Keith Murdoch in a ballot of AJA members. The AJA’s most important formal task during World War I was the selection of the official Australian war correspondent. Charles Bean of The Sydney Morning Herald narrowly won the honour of being the official correspondent to the Australian Imperial Forces, and travelled to Egypt with the first convoy as an honorary captain. Six months later, he was climbing off a boat and arriving at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, about five and a half hours after the first landing. Two weeks after that, on the night of May 8, he helped wounded soldiers under fire at the unsuccessful landing at Cape Helles. He was recommended for the Military Cross, but was ineligible to receive it as he was a civilian. On August 6, Bean’s right leg was hit by a bullet. But instead of leaving Gallipoli on a hospital ship, he limped back to his dugout and lay there for 18 days until he was well enough to go back to observing the fighting. While he was with the AIF on the Western Front in France, Bean envisaged a grand work which would be a monument to the Australians’ sacrifices and achievements. “The only memorial which could be worthy of them was the bare and uncoloured story of their part in the war,” he concluded. Bean returned to Australia in May 1919 and began work on the official history that would span the next two decades of his life. He wrote six volumes about the Australian infantry divisions and edited eight more. The last volume was published in 1943. The entire account contained nearly four million words. He had plenty of material – his own diaries amounted to 226 notebooks filled with his own impressions of life at the front, written about ordinary Australian soldiers, not the doings of the high command. In his own words, Bean wrote about “what actual experiences, at the point where men lay out behind hedges or on the fringe of woods, caused those on one side to creep, walk, or run forward, and the others to go back”. It was Charles Bean who suggested to the Defence Minister, Senator George Pearce, that photographs, relics and documents of the fighting around Pozières should be displayed in a national museum. And so the Australian War Memorial was born. Bean declined a knighthood on several occasions, claiming that he could not bear the thought of his wife going to the butcher and asking for meat for “Sir Charles Bean”.
Keith Murdoch (1885–1952) Sir Keith Murdoch may be best known for becoming a powerful media magnate, but few know that he was also a founding member of the AJA in 1910. Before the industry was unionised, Murdoch was a “penny-a-liner” – a journalist who worked on fixed lineage rates and was paid a penny per line. He had a habit of sitting at the breakfast table with a copy of the paper, counting the lines of the stories he’d written and calculating their monetary worth. He also had a speech impediment, but he used it to gain sympathy from his interviewees. He found that people helped him out by giving him the answers to his partly phrased questions, often giving him the news that he wanted. Keith Murdoch was famously beaten by Charles Bean in an AJA ballot to be the official Australian war correspondent during WWI. Despite losing, Murdoch was eventually commissioned to investigate Australian Imperial Force mail services and associated matters. He also won permission from General Sir Ian Hamilton to visit Gallipoli, spending four days there, during which time he composed and sent the now famous 8000-word cable to the Australian prime minister, Andrew Fisher, in which he praised the Australian fighting men and savagely condemned the British conduct of the campaign. That letter has since been criticised by many historians (including Les Carlyon,
who called it a “farrago of fact and gossip”), but it was enormously influential and gained Murdoch the ear of the British prime minister, Herbert Asquith, and his War Minister, David Lloyd George. The letter was instrumental in the Allied change of heart towards the Dardanelles campaign. Murdoch’s growing influence, both in Britain and Australia, gave him access to senior politicians and government officials in both countries – by the age of 30, he was seen as an unofficial intermediary between Lloyd George, who became the British leader in 1916, and the Australian prime minister, Billy Hughes. In 1919 Murdoch was the only Australian journalist to be present at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Returning to Australia, Murdoch was appointed chief editor of Melbourne’s evening Herald in 1921 on a salary of £2000. He overhauled the “stodgy journal” by modelling it on Lord Northcliffe’s The Times and Evening News in the UK. Political issues were whipped up, more pictures were included and human interest stories featured prominently in its pages. Murdoch gradually acquired a national chain of media outlets based around newspapers and commercial radio. However, Murdoch’s position as a media tycoon did not blind him to the need for a strong trade union for journalists. Indeed, when asked to propose a toast at an anniversary dinner for the AJA in Adelaide, he related tales of his own underpaid days as a penny-a-liner before concluding: “Looking back on those days I know that I would have been a better journalist had I not been sweated in my formative years. The AJA has not only greatly improved conditions for journalists but has also done a great deal for Australian newspapers.”
John Curtin (1885–1945) While John Curtin is known as one of Australia’s greatest prime ministers, he was a journalist before he was a politician. Curtin started out as a copy boy at The Age when he was 14, then worked his way up the ladder via the union movement. He was appointed editor of the Australian Workers’ Union’s publication, the Westralian Worker, and wrote hundreds of articles over a decade. The weekly newspaper thrived under Curtin’s leadership, and he was made state district president (1920–25) of the AJA’s Western Australian branch. His election as an MP in 1928 and again in 1934, and appointment as prime minister in 1941, did not lessen his affection for the media. He continued to wear his AJA membership badge daily. It was this affinity that led Curtin to invite senior journalists of the Canberra press gallery into his office for regular confidential meetings during World War II. According to journalist Fred Jones: “He withheld very little of the then-secret exchanges between his government and the Allied governments, reading telegrams and communiqués in their entirety and communicating the advice and the views of world leaders with uninhibited frankness.” Curtin believed that the journalists would not breach their ethics when it came to off-the-record information, and few betrayed his trust. Morale was a vital concern to Curtin. He actively used the media to build public confidence during the most critical phases of the war. He wrote: “The power of the press is greater than that of the Caesars of the school books or the statesmen of our existing legislatures. It shapes and moulds the thought of millions, even as the potter shapes the clay spinning on the wheel.” As Michelle Grattan wrote: “Curtin went for ‘spin’ (helped by his press secretary Don Rodgers) just as much as any modern counterpart. But he applied it himself, and relied on his force of personality and argument to carry the case. He also was playing the tactic of ‘trading’ – the provision of information was an inducement, direct and indirect, to get editorial support.” Grattan notes that when in Canberra, Curtin often gave twice-daily background briefings to senior correspondents. Rodgers recalled decades later that it was: “a tremendous strain on the prime minister to see the press twice a day, which he did, week in, month in, year out, for a long, long time. It was a movable feast, round 1 o’clock and then between 5 and 6 o’clock, five days a week and sometimes weekends in Canberra, Melbourne or wherever we were.” Curtin remained a paid-up member of the AJA until his death on July 5, 1945.
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISM
All the news that was fit to print AJA members were not short of big stories to cover from 1910 to 1935. Malcolm Brown looks back on that eventful quarter-century
n 1910, when the Australian Journalists’ Association was founded, the world was in an uncertain state, with the Great Powers rumbling, colonial empires restless and Australia, a decade into federation, still feeling its way. Foreign correspondents suffered technological limitations in dispatching reports but were persistent. In France’s African empire, 300 Frenchmen confronted 5000 Central African tribesmen. The battle left 600 tribesmen and more than 40 Frenchmen dead. In South Africa, Dutch members of the Union Parliament were trying to amend the Marriage Bill to prohibit marriage between whites and coloureds. The world was being opened up. In 1911, the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton appealed for public funding of Douglas Mawson’s next expedition: Dame Nellie Melba made a donation. Technology was also on the march, with the first thoughts for most major advances homing in on their military application. Australia’s General AM Gordon took a flight over Sydney. The sinking of the Titanic on April 14, 1912 shook the confidence of the technological age. And on land, the world was intent on making a mess of things anyway. War broke out in the Balkans. In 1913, the Australian government put in the first order for rolling stock for the trans-Australian railway – and Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife paid a state visit to Britain, in perfect harmony and peace. But the Royal Australian Navy was expecting the delivery of two submarines and Australia’s military boffins were conducting big-gun practice at Sydney Heads. On August 3, 1914, after Franz Ferdinand had been dispatched by an assassin’s bullet, Germany declared war on France. The German cruiser Emden caused havoc to the north of Australia between September 10 and 14. CEW Bean became Australia’s official war correspondent, and the Australian papers swung behind the war effort. WA Evans, an Australian private who survived the Battle of Lone Pine at Gallipoli, said in a letter home that he and a mate had trapped a dozen or so Turks in a tunnel but “the cunning devils had bombs”. The brutality continued for another three years. The Australian papers also reported on other matters, including problems with Australia’s administration of Papua New Guinea and industrial disputes at Broken Hill. In 1917, Prime Minister Billy Hughes said Germany’s adoption of unrestricted submarine warfare had serious implications for Australia. The war ended in November 1918. The following year saw Spanish flu, the first attempts to start commercial airline services in Australia, and moves in the United States to introduce prohibition. In Perth in 1920, a meeting of Jews gathered for the reception of the British Zionist envoy to Australia, Israel Cohen, carried a motion thanking the British government for granting the Palestinian Mandate and pledged support for the reconstruction of Palestine as a Jewish state. There was not much joy in 1921. The reparations issue was in full swing, there was open revolt against the British in Ireland, and Sydney was warned of a
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News of the world… from left, Adolf Hitler rose to power (1933); Douglas Mawson raised cash for his Antarctic expedition (1911); the German cruiser Emden was destroyed by HMAS Sydney (1914); and Donald Bradman padded up (1934). (Fairfax Photo Library)
serious outbreak of poliomyelitis. The Australian Kangaroos rugby league team, touring Britain, was plagued by injuries and sickness. Sydney was concerned about the capacity of its public transport system to cope with a population that was nearing a million people. In 1922, the Soviet Union was racked with continuing revolutionary violence, gunfire swept the streets of Dublin and a disarmament conference in Italy went so badly there were fears it would be dissolved. By 1923, Spanish fascists were spurred on by the success of their Italian counterparts. In 1925, NSW passed legislation to outlaw the death penalty and Britain carried out tests to demonstrate how land and aerial warfare could be successfully integrated. The following year there were reports of serious unrest in India, where extreme right-wing groups were organising boycotts of European goods. Australia was being drawn out of its insularity. The annual RSL congress carried a resolution expressing alarm at the “influx of southern Europeans” into Australia which, the congress declared, would “create unemployment and lower the standard of living”. Meanwhile, Charles Young, miner and prospector, said that development of central Australia would not be possible until protection was ensured against predations of ‘‘semi-educated Aborigines’’ who were “a menace”. Wall Street crashed in 1929. In 1931 the committee of the Housing Fund for the Unemployed in Sydney found accommodation for 408 men in hostels and Mrs Mark Foy offered a building in Pier Street, Pyrmont. World economic problems did not stop the militants. The Japanese occupied Manchuria, renamed it Manchukuo and in 1932 had the puppet regime sign a treaty allowing Japan to station troops in the province to ensure security. In Germany, before a roaring crowd, Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, condemned the chancellor, Franz von Papen. Hitler became chancellor in January 1933. Australia was becoming nervous and the federal government voted £3,522,620 for the 1933–34 financial year to cover the naval, miliary and air forces, rifle clubs and munitions supply. But at least in cricket, things were looking up. For the 1934 Test series against Britain – the one following Bodyline – we could field the likes of Woodfull, Ponsford, Bradman, McCabe, Oldfield, Grimmett and O’Reilly. In 1935, with tensions deepening and the fascist powers becoming bolder, a Scottish engineer, Robert Watson-Watt, showed off a new invention, radar, to the British military. As always, the immediate thoughts were for its military application. Malcolm Brown is a senior journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald, which he joined in 1972. He compiles its “In the Herald” column on the Timelines page
In the line of fire Australian cartoons have always been among the world’s best, and most outrageous. Lindsay Foyle casts an eye over how the pattern was set in the early years
t is hard to ascertain just when cartoons and newspapers became co-dependent in Australia. Maybe it was in the 1850s, when Melbourne Punch started publishing. Then again, maybe it was in 1880, when The Bulletin first hit the streets. Certainly The Bulletin did a lot for cartooning, even importing Australia’s first photoengraving equipment in 1883. Before long, every newspaper that wanted to be taken seriously had to run a cartoon or two. However, back then, if a cartoonist wanted to be taken seriously, they had to be published in The Bulletin. Many of the images from those early days live in our minds, as much a part of history as the events themselves. Livingston Hopkins, Alf Vincent, Claude Marquet, Norman Lindsay, Cec Hartt, Will Dyson, May Gibbs and David Low were all cartooning back then. (Before she created Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Gibbs was drawing political cartoons in Perth.) Even Phil May often gets a mention, despite having arrived and departed in the 1880s. In 1911, Ruby Lindsay and Will Dyson left Melbourne for England, where she became well known for her illustrations and he soon became one of the best-known cartoonists in Europe. David Low enhanced his career by drawing cartoons that rubbished Australia’s First World War prime minister, Billy Hughes. Those cartoons took Low to England, where he was quickly recognised as one of the best cartoonists in the world. While cartoonists were leaving Australia and becoming famous in Europe, Sydney-born artist Pat Sullivan was in New York becoming famous. He helped to establish animation with his Felix the Cat films, which became hugely popular all over the world in the early 1920s. There are some Americans who do not give credit to Sullivan for creating Felix – but he did. One cartoonist working in Sydney almost 100 years ago was Syd Nicholls. He drew a cartoon for Direct Action, which so upset “the powers that be” that the editor Tom Barker was taken to court in 1916. It was during the First World War and he was convicted of prejudicing recruiting. The prosecution said the Nicholls’ cartoon was “piteously cruel”. Barker was given the option of paying a £100 fine or 12 months’ jail. He chose jail over the fine. Australian comics became a must for newspapers in this country in the 1920s. Stan Cross drew You and Me, which later became The Potts. Jimmy Bancks first drew Ginger Meggs then, too. The comic is read in countries all over the world in many languages and has continued for almost 90 years. It is now the third oldest comic strip in the world; these days, Jason Chatfield draws it. Apart from drawing cartoons that helped get editors jailed, Nicholls created the Ginger Meggs competitor Fatty Finn. Fortunately Nicholls managed to draw it for more than 50 years without getting anyone jailed. In 1922, he also helped the Australian Journalists’ Association get award coverage for cartoonists and overtime for journalists. He was so happy about this that he joined the union soon after. The cartoon published in Smith’s Weekly and drawn by Joe Jonsson that inspired Frank De Groot to gatecrash Jack Lang’s Harbour Bridge opening ceremony is long forgotten. But the Stan Cross cartoon published in Smith’s Weekly the following year known as “Stop laughing. This is serious” somehow found a way of being published almost every year since. Over the past 100 years there never has been a time when Australian cartoonists have not been making major contributions to newspapers both here and overseas. Lindsay Foyle is a former deputy editor of The Bulletin and a past president of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association. He has recently put the finishing touches to a book on the history of the artists who have drawn Ginger Meggs and hopes it will be published in November 2011
Reflecting the times… (from top) Phil May’s Mongolian octopus; Stan Cross couldn’t stop laughing; Claude Marquet resists Billy Hughes’ conscription; Percy Leason’s brave Australian kangaroo is weighed down by debt and self-interest.
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Into the woods It’s easy to paint the conflict in Tasmania’s forests as feral greenie v redneck logger. The reality is much more complex. Anna Krien got down and dirty to unpick the stereotypes. Photo by Matthew Newton
t was a short blurry video that made me book a ticket to Tasmania. An activist friend had sent me the footage taken near a blockaders’ camp set up in the Florentine forest (about an hour and a half’s drive south-west of Hobart). It shows loggers dressed in high-visibility vests and armed with sledgehammers smashing a car that’s blocking a forest access road. There are two young activists inside the car. I learnt later that the car had been cemented into the road, its wheels and ignition removed, to block this particular logging crew from going to work. The boss of the crew had lost his temper when he saw the obstacle and led the charge against the activists, who quickly pulled a blanket over their heads to protect their faces from the shattering glass. It is a disturbing little window into Tasmania’s forest conflict. The night before I arrived in Hobart and three days after this particular incident, a group of men visited the Florentine blockade around midnight. Again cars were smashed, as well as a temporary hut. The activists hid in the forest, ignoring taunts to come out into the open. The men then doused the camp in petrol and set it alight before driving away. So by the time I arrived, the explosion of violence had lured many journalists to the story of these young kids who had been living in the Upper Florentine forest for more than two years. Some of this motley crew had donned wetsuits in the depths of winter to climb trees and push snow off their tree-sits. Reporters with the price tags still flapping on their Blundstone boots wandered through the camp; some television reporters struggled as their high heels sank into the mud. I soon realised it wasn’t a particularly original story, so in the midst of the media flurry, I slipped into the background. I stayed at the forest blockade and at the activists’ town base – the “Pink Palace”, a salmon-painted weatherboard share-house that was degenerating with half-finished chores. The backyard was littered with food rescued from supermarket dumpsters (an incredible source of swanky stuff such as gourmet brie and vanilla-bean yoghurt thrown out because the packaging is dented). The front porch was strewn with teenage vagabonds. I became close to the activists. We shared stomach bugs, gastro and ideas. I also spent time with loggers, hanging out in small-town pubs and spending time on their worksites. I discovered that many of the guys had left school at 14 to work in the bush, and some even had families to support before they were 20. Many of these men, after asking not to be named, confided that they were being put under stress not just from the local environment movement but also from native woodchipping – a product which relies on clearfelling whole forests, a very different practice from the old-timers’ method of selecting mature sawlogs from a forest over time. Incidentally, jobs have been plummeting in the timber industry since the 1970s, about the time clearfelling started. I soon realised the conflict between two stereotypes – the feral activists and redneck loggers – was a “false battleground”, a convenient decoy for key players in the island’s timber industry, namely Gunns Limited, the world’s biggest exporter of hardwood chips, plus an assortment of state politicians. As a result, the conflict appeared archaic and unchanging, a hopeless and 40-year-long battle between the state’s timber industry and environment movement that was constantly tweaked, nipped and tucked to no end. I wanted to get past the slogans and spin that tends to swarm around most environmental stories. I studied science and biology textbooks because so many people I met seemed to have science on their side. I especially wanted to strip the stereotypes back to the bone, something that the luxury of time can allow. In the 24-hour news cycle, stereotypes are often used as a way of creating an instant rapport with the audience. In the mid-’90s, American social psychologists Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson coined the term the “stereotype effect” after discovering that the assumptions and stereotypes we hold about other people can cause these targeted people to behave in a way that validates these assumptions. Their research, focusing largely on the behaviour of minority groups, found that stereotypes are so affective that the targeted subjects have little confidence to argue with them; rather they simply collapse into the role
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and confirm it. With this in mind, I did meet “conspiracy theorist” greenies and “shoot, fuck and drink beer” rednecks – people who were true-to-life caricatures. But I also met a collection of fiercely intelligent individuals – activists committed to their cause and men who are good at their jobs. At the Florentine blockade, I watched as these young adults built tree-sits (platforms the size of a single bed) and lugged them about 30 metres up in the canopy, digging shit-pits, lugging fresh water from the creek, documenting species and sightings of native fauna, liaising with police, and lugging chains, tools and equipment through the freezing bush in the middle of nowhere to set up an obstacle at 3am. Once they built an enormous pirate ship out of leftover logging debris at the mouth of a contentious logging coupe. There was this incredible commitment juxtaposed with a stubborn moral high ground and an off-putting subculture. In court in Hobart, I got a sense of just how different these young activists were from their peers as judges read out the daily charges of drink driving, shoplifting CDs, nightclub assault, and then moved on to the activists with their charges of trespassing in logging coupes, stopping work at a woodchip mill and blocking log trucks. Whether I agreed with them or not, I couldn’t dispute their passion. On the other side of the trenches, I spoke with articulate and considerate loggers, men who rescued sugar gliders and ran their car batteries flat to keep them warm as they worked through the night. These were men who liked to
So why feed this rift? Why hasn’t this wound that divides “greenies” and “rednecks” healed? In whose interests is it to keep the island fractured? work outdoors, preferring “working forests” to bush that was “locked up” and, in their minds, left to ruin. I found these differing aesthetics fascinating. How could so many people all be looking at the same thing and see it so differently? One forest industry spokesman told me that an old-growth forest reminded him of a nursing home, while activists said that eucalypt trees only started to form habitat hollows after 150 years, then pointed to one such tree and compared it to a block of flats. Michael Field, a former state Labor premier who I met with a few times at a pub in Salamanca, told me that the division in the state over its environment flows from “differing value systems, not some monopoly of the truth”. So I began to wonder, is beauty a value? Is the environment a value – or is it, as environmentalists claim, a fact? And can our aesthetics differ to the bitter end? In the 1980s, during the Franklin River blockade, Tasmania’s then Liberal premier Robin Gray spluttered in fury that the river was a “brown leech-ridden ditch!” The former agriculture consultant was unable to understand the passion environmentalists felt for the wild rushing river. Greens leader Bob Brown recalls at the time flying over the Franklin in a helicopter with the chief of the Hydro Electric Commission (which wanted to dam the river) who yelled out over the noise, “Look! It’s not beautiful at all, is it?!” There is something to be said for the environment movement’s confidence that if people could only see the wilderness, any wilderness, they would want it protected. But this idea of natural beauty is, I think, the Greens’ double-edged sword, as it doesn’t include us in it. While this is part of the allure of the wilderness, it is also perhaps why we want to make a mark on it, to feel significant within it. Into the Woods wasn’t meant to be a book. I had intended only to write an essay about the tense face-offs between loggers and activists in the depths of the forest, and by the time I realised Tasmania’s forestry story was
On the front line in the Florentine forest. Anti-logging activists have cemented cars to the road, removing the wheels and ignition, to stop loggers accessing old-growth forests. It is the latest flashpoint in a conflict that has been going on for decades. Michael Field, a former premier, says the struggle stems from “differing value systems, not some monopoly on the truth”.
much bigger than that, it was as if the island had coagulated around my ankles like cement. Unfortunately for me, once I’ve waded into a story, there’s no going back. I’m mentally stuck in the story until it’s finished. So when footage of the loggers smashing the car with two activists inside it made headlines and Bob Gordon, managing director of Forestry Tasmania, accused the activists of taunting the timber workers, I began to ask some questions. It was just as easy to interpret Gordon’s response in another way: these timber workers have been purposely enraged by their employers and politicians, and then turned loose on the activists. So why feed this rift? Why hasn’t this wound that divides “greenies” and “rednecks” healed? In whose interests is it to keep the island fractured? I remember trying to sleep on the floor of the Pink Palace one night with dogs pulling at my sleeping bag, going through the names of people I needed to speak to – those off-stage meddling Greek gods by the name of Gunns Limited, who had an ex-premier on their board. “It’s a bit like a Monopoly board here,” said one activist. “You go around and around until you have your utilities, where the gentry live and so on.” I was only a quarter of the way around the board, yet to meet the island’s powerbrokers. Gunns is the biggest hardwood chip exporter in the world and runs close to 85 per cent of the island’s timber industry. Its monopoly puts timber workers in compromised positions when it comes to bargaining for workers’ rights, compensation and fair wages. The timber company also appeared to have had a direct line to the state’s key political players. Back in 1989, Eddie Rouse, a Gunns director, tried to bribe a Labor MP to cross the floor and bring down the government. More recently, in 2005, the Gunns’ proposed pulp mill saw the Tasmanian government roll out its bizarre Pulp Mill Taskforce prior to Gunns announcing the project. The Taskforce was a $1.4 million taxpayer-funded initiative that included a touring mini-bus to convince locals that the island needed a pulp mill. During the same pulp mill’s assessment, the then premier Paul “Big Red” Lennon (Labor leader from 2004 – 2008) had a Gunns-owned building subsidiary do the renovations
on his home; the building company was known for bridges, woodchip mills, hospitals, stadium stands, but not home renovations. When I asked “Big Red” about the alleged closeness between the state government and Gunns, he had responded with exasperation. “How can you avoid that?” he said. “In a small community such as ours, you’re bound to have one or two companies dominating – we can’t just ignore them because people think it’s unethical for us to meet.” And Lennon had a point – Tasmania is a small place, home to just 500,000 people. It was easy to see how vulnerable the island is to overt influence and company monopolisation. In a sense, Tasmania seemed to me to be like a little America: deeply conservative, but try to rule it with too firm a hand and you’ll have these radical spurts of steam. This tiny island at the bottom of the world is, after all, home to the world’s very first “green” political party, the United Tasmania Group, which was founded in 1972. This same smallness is perhaps why the story of Tasmania’s forest wars needed to be told by an outsider. At one point during my journey, I was driving along the highway after interviewing a local who had pleaded with me not to use her name. I realised just how hard it was for a local to speak out in such a small community, let alone write the story I was aiming to tell about Tasmania’s timber industry. Things like getting a job, a government grant, feeling safe and welcome – all of these things that I took for granted on the mainland could be at risk if one spoke out. At that point, I had to pull over and take a deep breath on the side of the road because I realised that I too – by writing Into the Woods – was risking my relationship with the island. Even though I wasn’t dependent on the place, I had definitely fallen in love with it. Anna Krien is a freelance writer whose work has been published in The Monthly, The Age, Griffith Review and Frankie. Into the Woods: the battle for Tasmania’s forests (Black Inc., $29.95) is her first book Matthew Newton is a Hobart-based photographer who has also filmed nationally broadcast documentaries
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Truth, honour and scepticism Murray Sayle outed Em Malley at the age of 17. It was the start of an exceptional career. Alex Mitchell salutes one of our best. Photo by Rick Stevens. Murray Sayle January 1, 1926 – September 18, 2010
he Macquarie Dictionary defines a legend as “a person who has achieved fame or notoriety in a particular field” and that is a fitting description of journalist Murray Sayle. The pace of his career was so furious that any chronicler is left breathless recording what he packed into his 84 years. He interviewed Soviet agent Kim Philby in Moscow, climbed Mount Everest, tracked Che Guevara in the jungles of Bolivia, crossed the Atlantic in a yacht single-handed and covered wars in Vietnam, the Middle East (twice), India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Ireland. He leaves a legacy of fine pieces of journalism, a remarkably good novel on Fleet Street and a towering reputation among newspaper practitioners of the old school. There is much in his life for the generation of 21st-century journalists as well: his inquisitiveness and irreverence, a pedantic approach to research and a larrikin joy in experimenting with words to create colour and humour. Sayle maintained that the essential characteristics of the good journalist were “a plausible manner, a little literary ability and rat-like cunning” and argued there were only two newspaper stories – “We name the guilty men” and “Arrow indicates defective part”. Those who scorned his glibness missed the point. In Sayle’s dictum lay the essence of investigative journalism which pulled no punches, and he was highlighting the fact that large tracts of so-called “serious journalism” had nothing to say and put nothing at risk. Born in 1926 at Earlwood in Sydney, he attended Canterbury Boys’ High School (motto: Truth and Honour) where other ex-students included his lifelong friend and colleague Phillip Knightley and ex-prime minister John Howard. Decades later, Sayle remarked that Howard ignored his alma mater’s two golden rules when he followed George Bush into Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied psychology at the University of Sydney and, at 17, became editor of the student newspaper Honi Soit. He scooped the mainstream media by unmasking the perpetrators of the Ern Malley poetry hoax and earned notoriety by calling on Allied forces not to bomb the ancient city of Rome “no matter what plausible military reasons for such vandalism might be argued”. He abandoned university to take a cadetship with Frank Packer’s Daily Telegraph, later explaining that “the immediacy of journalism, the sense of history in the making, lured me away”. Following a brief sojourn on the Cairns Post, he moved to Ezra Norton’s afternoon tabloid Daily Mirror where the 23-year-old wrote a column called “Sydney Mann”. He travelled to London in 1952 and fell into a job on The People, a Sunday tabloid which specialised in yarns of the “Vicar in love tryst with showgirl” variety. Deciding it was time to “do some serious thinking and light-starving and get used to not having a job”, Sayle moved to Paris, where he turned his Fleet Street experiences into a classic book called A Crooked Sixpence. It was reprinted in 2008 after being banned for almost half a century. In 1960 he joined the staff of The Sunday Times, then owned by Lord Thomson of Fleet, and became a distinguished war correspondent and the winner of two prestigious awards – UK Journalist of the Year for his coverage of the Vietnam War and Magazine Writer of the Year. Under the editorship of Harold Evans, independent investigative journalism flourished and the Insight team churned out trail-blazing accounts of financial scandals, government misadventures, war horrors, US election dramas, airline disasters and thalidomide as well as exposés of wine and antique frauds. Alongside Sayle, the “Australian mafia” on the paper comprised Bruce Page, Phillip Knightley, Tony Clifton, Nelson Mews and myself. Murray’s influence was
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seminal because he insisted on digging out “the story of the story”, which meant not simply reporting the what and when of any article but also the how and why. He was a great advocate of public service journalism and encouraged his protegés to take up “the shining sword of reform”. At the same time his expense accounts were an art form in which he developed an awesome reputation. He once included the cost of a camel and was told to remove the expense because it was unacceptable to the accounts department. Murray rewrote the expenses form, the total amount remained exactly the same and he attached a sticker which said: “Find the camel.” In 1973 he became Asian editor for Newsweek, based in Hong Kong, and so began a lifelong passion for the East Asian region, particularly Japan. He lived and worked in Japan for the next 30 years, writing for leading newspapers and news magazines in the US, Britain, Australia and Hong Kong. In 1995 the New Yorker devoted its entire July 31 edition to Sayle’s “Letter from Hiroshima – Did the bomb end the war?” while his other critically acclaimed piece covered the mystery surrounding Korean airliner KAL 007, shot down by a Soviet fighter near Sakhalin in 1983. Sayle lost his entire library and archive of papers and photographs in a house fire in 1988 and friends raised a rescue fund. Rupert Murdoch sent an unsolicited cheque for £500 but Sayle returned it because of his aversion to what he regarded as Murdoch’s pernicious influence on the integrity of journalism. With his wife Jenny and three children, Alex, Melindi and Matthew, he returned to Sydney in 2004. He continued to write for the Griffith Review and Quadrant and give radio interviews. In May 2007, the University of Sydney awarded him an honorary doctorate of letters for his distinguished work as a foreign correspondent and, in the same year, he received an Order of Australia for services to the media. A few months before he died, Sayle’s account of Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972 was vindicated by the Saville Inquiry in the UK. His original story had been spiked because it carried the proposition – furiously denied at the time by the Heath government, the Ministry of Defence and the army – that the Parachute Regiment had conducted a deliberate military operation shooting 13 unarmed civilians. When Lord Saville found that the army had gone on a killing spree, Prime Minister David Cameron told the Commons,“I am deeply sorry,” adding that the killings were “unjustified” and “unjustifiable”. Sayle, then in the terminal stages of Parkinson’s disease in a Sydney nursing home, raised a grim smile and said to Jenny: “I told you so.” At the university ceremony at which he received his doctorate, Sayle concluded by saying: “And now we are at war again – many wars, big and small. Somewhere in me I can hear a 17-year-old editor asking, ‘Where is our university’s sceptical voice?’” He was also talking about our journalism. Alex Mitchell is a columnist with The Sun-Herald in Sydney and a lifelong Alliance member
Busting a vessel Stephen Fitzpatrick had to resort to some ingenious methods to give asylum seekers a voice. Photo by Norman Ng.
s an exercise in how high journalists must sometimes leap to overcome hurdles obstructing their stories, last year’s Indonesian stand-off involving Sri Lankan asylum seekers trying to reach Australia ticked all the boxes – and required plenty of thinking outside the box. Mobile phones were tossed at an Australian Customs ship while crew members had their backs turned; reporters dived into the South China Sea to retrieve messages in bottles thrown overboard by asylum seekers; and a laptop computer was smuggled on to an impounded boat so that its protesting occupants could communicate via Skype and email under the noses of the Indonesians guarding them. There were two separate vessels involved in this story: the 30-metre Indonesian cargo boat the Jaya Lestari, seized in October 2009 on direct request by the then-prime minister, Kevin Rudd, to the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and then, several weeks later, the massive Australian Customs vessel the Oceanic Viking, which spent a month wallowing off Bintan Island as 78 rescued Tamils on board refused to disembark without a promise of resettlement from Canberra. In the Australian imagination the two groups largely merged to become part of a bigger single story, variously to do with desperate boat people, rapacious people smugglers and untrustworthy governments. The fact they were hundreds of kilometres away from each other made pulling the two narrative threads together an enormous challenge. The events on the Jaya Lestari happened first; that boat was intercepted by an Indonesian Navy cutter in early October, on information that had been provided by Australia, and with an Australian Federal Police officer involved in the operation. Initially, talking with the Tamils on board was easy. I happened to be the first foreign journalist on the scene as the vessel was towed to the dock in the West Java port of Merak, and the man who was to become their spokesman, the enigmatic Canadian-educated Sanjeev “Alex” Kuhendrarajah, was allowed to speak with me for a few minutes. In that brief time we established something of a bond with each other and exchanged mobile phone numbers – a connection that was to be crucial in the early days of the story.
There were doubts the Oceanic Viking would even dock in Indonesia – it took a face-saving fib about a sick child – but the Australian and Indonesian governments were even more embarrassed when the 78 rescued asylum seekers refused to disembark for a month
The Sri Lankan receiver caught, fumbled and then … dropped it. A devastated Simon and Norman watched the phone sink out of view in the beautiful clear tropical waters Officially, no-one in an Indonesian detention centre or in the custody of immigration officials is allowed to have a mobile phone. In reality, everyone does. It’s how business is conducted, including between boat people and the smugglers who are busy arranging their journeys and springing them from jail – provided, of course, they have the cash to pay for such a service. (Months later, when Alex disappeared from the Jaya Lestari and escaped Indonesia, it was under the noses of the very officials who were supposed to be guarding him. It was days before his absence was even noticed – officially, that is.) The day after their arrival in Merak, another of those on board the Jaya Lestari slipped me a memory card from his camera, depicting the terribly cramped conditions on board – 254 people had made the risky journey from Malaysia and were to spend the next six months or so refusing to disembark. It was a telling foretaste of the ways technology, subterfuge and ingenuity were to combine in how the story needed to be covered. Within days, the Jaya Lestari story had gathered a full head of steam for Australian journalists, but the Indonesian officials dealing with it were by now doing their best to restrict access, fearful it would blow up in the national media. Pretty soon access to Alex and the others had to be conducted in mostly illicit fashion. I eventually bought a laptop computer and GPRS modem with money his brother wired to me from Canada, and we organised to have the whole package handed over cloak-and-dagger style, out of view of the plainclothes immigration police loitering around the dock, pretending to be fishermen. u
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u Another time, getting a photograph of Alex for the front page involved the photographer (an Indonesian, who I won’t name here because recriminations for this kind of thing are still very real in that country) taking his children with him to the dockside as a ruse. He loudly told them to wait in the warung (cafe) where we knew “intel” spies were drinking coffee, while he went and checked out the fishing. Instead, he snuck on to the boat from the ocean side, armed with only a compact camera, and got the shot. Dino Patti Djalal, at the time Yudhoyono’s chief policy adviser and now Indonesia’s man in Washington, told me the restrictions on access were in place because he was worried the national press would turn on Yudhoyono for kowtowing to Rudd.
As the swell raised our tiny craft high enough, Norman, who is basketball player-tall, reached up and this time simply lobbed the phone on to the vessel’s deck Indeed, when the Oceanic Viking story heaved into view later that month, Djalal fabricated a story about a seriously ill child on board the ship needing medical help – he later admitted to me this was a face-saving concoction – to explain why it would dock in Indonesia rather than going straight to Australia. The difficulties we faced getting this new, even bigger, Oceanic Viking story were no less mountainous. Indonesian officials put about various red herrings as to where the ship might arrive after receiving its human cargo in international waters. Eventually we determined that the ship was headed for the Indonesian island of Bintan, which has a detention centre recently refurbished using more than $12 million of Australian funds. Singapore-based reporter Simon Kearney and photographer Norman Ng
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were first out of the gate in the hunt, as I was still stuck in West Java focusing on the Jaya Lestari. They commandeered a small Bintan commuter boat and had its pilot explore the waters around the island’s south-east for more than a day before they found the ship. It was a good get, but the pair weren’t allowed close enough to speak with the 78 Tamils. Deciding that a mobile phone was the answer to their problem, Norman tossed Simon’s through the air. (Simon told me later, “I’ve always been a hopeless thrower, so I let Norman have a go.”) The Sri Lankan receiver caught, fumbled and then… dropped it. A devastated Simon and Norman watched the phone sink out of view in the beautiful clear tropical waters. I arrived in Bintan the next day and Norman and I decided to try again, this time having our pilot manoeuvre alongside the Oceanic Viking. As the swell raised our tiny craft high enough, Norman, who is basketball player-tall, reached up and this time simply lobbed the phone (which I had wrapped in a sarong, along with a note instructing the holder to call me) on to the vessel’s deck. I had programmed the number into my own phone as simply “Oceanic Viking”, hoping against hope for a result. I must admit I felt a thrill when the caller ID flashed up on my screen: we knew we were on to a winner. As the story dragged on for weeks and then months, such creative strategies were crucial. But the key to it all for us was that, whatever your position on immigration, these were asylum seekers asking for Australia’s help, and Jakarta and Canberra were actively trying to stop that plea being heard. It was just a matter of working out ways we could give them back a voice. Stephen Fitzpatrick was Jakarta correspondent for The Australian from 2006 to 2010. He won the 2010 Walkley award for Outstanding Continuous Coverage of an Issue or Event for his reports on the Sri Lankan asylum seekers Norman Ng is a freelance photojournalist based in Singapore
We are not afraid Honduras is a terrifying place for journalists. Warwick Fry finds out what keeps them going. Illustration by Ray Hirst
ust before sending this off to The Walkley Magazine, Dick Emanuelsson, a Swede who has worked in I got word from Honduras that Radio Uno was off Latin America since 1980, is no stranger to regimes the air indefinitely. Electricity to the station was hostile to independent journalism. In 2005 he was cut in the middle of an interview about government persuaded to leave Colombia. negotiations with striking teachers. Cables had been “I used to get calls two or three times a week cut and the transmitter disabled. at 3am telling me to get out or get killed,” he told me. It is not a unique event in Honduras. The interviewer He was leaked a dossier. It contained, he said, “over had been receiving death threats for six months. Two 400 pages of documentation by the Colombian community radio stations had been burnt down. Last Security Forces detailing my movements – where year the main independent radio stations in opposition I went, who I spoke to, when, what I ate, which way to the coup of June 28, Radio Globo and Radio Progreso, I travelled… It was all there.” When they started had been raided and sabotaged: their equipment was openly filming him, Emanuelsson left. In Colombia, smashed and looted, and their journalists beaten up, open surveillance is the warning signal that one’s intimidated, kidnapped and, in at least one case, “disappearance” is imminent. murdered. The two independent television stations, I asked Emanuelsson how he survived. His Canal 36 and CholoSur, came in for similar treatment. response: he takes pains to ensure that everything he Since the incumbent president, Porfirio “Pepe” does is open, above board and consistent with his code Lobo, assumed the sash at the end of January, 10 more of ethics. “The Swedish journalists’ association has journalists have been assassinated. a rule, a principle, that you always work publicly. You What many now call the “media blockade” of never hide what you are doing. When they followed Honduras began in earnest around July 6 last year. More me around for six months in Colombia they found than 300,000 people turned up at the airport to see the nothing they could use against me.” deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, make his first attempt Nevertheless, some Honduran media workers to return to the country. The military put trucks on the have felt compelled to leave Honduras. Katia Lara is runway to divert the plane; police used live ammunition the director of the definitive documentary about the against the protesters and several were shot, one fatally. coup, Quien Dijo Miedo (“We Are Not Afraid”). She The Venezuelan television team TeleSur, which filmed followed co-worker Rene Amador into exile late last the protest, was expelled from Honduras. year to do the post-production in Argentina. In-country reporting was left to a few media owners Amador was one of the actors making a series (who had, incidentally, supported the coup). While of promotional TV spots advertising the poll for the interim president Roberto Micheletti made public “fourth ballot”. A proposed poll on a “fourth ballot” announcements that “everything is back to normal”, triggered the coup. The “fourth ballot” (or Cuarta the few independent media had a surge in popularity. Urna) was a proposal to include in the ballot paper They became an informal communications hub for of the general election in November 2009 an demonstrations of tens of thousands, sometimes option for a non-binding vote for a plebiscite on hundreds of thousands, of people. Protests continued constitutional reform. for five months. Xenia Flores, another actor who worked on The coup outraged a normally passive population. the “fourth ballot” TV spots, was offered a blank “You always work publicly, What began as a massive protest developed loose cheque to work with a pro-coup public relations organisational structures that became the “Resistance”. firm. Rejection led to death threats. openly. You never hide When Radio Globo was taken off the air, staff kept the Flores got up on stage at a public event, shaken and what you are doing” radio streaming on the internet. Barrio (neighbourhood, tearful. “I want to declare that I am being threatened,” or “block”) organisations and networks acquired she said. “You are witnesses, that whatever happens cheap micro-transmitters and rebroadcast the to me, it is their fault.” web stream to neighbouring houses. Otherwise, Globo was replayed through For a year now I have been conducting phone interviews and email a loudspeaker set up in the street. correspondence with people in Honduras. Although busy and stressed, they are In a country where there are more mobile phones than people, the talkback always ready to give their time. A common thread in their willingness to make host is king. Talkback radio became an organising principle of protest. As one time is a poignant belief that if the international community knew what was Resistance figure said, “If we had been organised from the beginning, the coup happening in Honduras, there would come recognition and some relief. regime would not have lasted more than a few weeks.” And beyond that? Dick Emanuelsson provided a succinct answer when asked There was speculation that the Lobo administration, in its US-supported what motivated journalists to continue working under such hostile conditions. efforts to be readmitted to the Organisation of American States, would be more “There are historic changes sweeping through Latin America. I feel privileged sensitive to human-rights issues. The savage repression of the teachers’ strike in to be here to report them.” August this year, and the growing toll of journalists, indicates otherwise. Warwick Fry worked in El Salvador and Nicaragua for five years in the 1980s. When news of Radio Uno came through, I contacted Dick Emanuelsson. With His photojournalism of the November 1980 guerilla offensive in San Salvador his partner, a Honduran woman, he had caught dramatic footage of the Cobras, has been exhibited internationally. He has been covering the Honduras coup in a “special forces” anti-riot squad, firing more than 200 tear-gas canisters into hundreds of the striking teachers trapped in university grounds – the second time his weekly podcast “Latin Radical” (vensol.blogspot.com). Ray Hirst is an artist with The Advertiser and Sunday Mail in two weeks (dickema24.blogspot.com).
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
So you want to be an iPad editor… For many newspaper people, the tablet promised to be a panacea. But, as David Higgins explains, adapting print content for an iPad isn’t a simple cut-and-paste job. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas
ot since the dot.com boom has an event driven our industry to action as abruptly as the launch of Apple’s iPad. At the start of 2010 – some 15 years after newspapers moved online – the web was still a secondary consideration for most editors. But since the May launch of the iPad, attitudes to digital publishing have been thawing. That’s partly because tablets are a path back to paid content, but also because they bring a renewed emphasis on traditional editorial values rather than the smoke and mirrors of web techniques such as Search Engine Optimisation. The Australian’s editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell, launching his iPad edition in May, described newspapers as “very satisfying in this form – you know you’re getting display with pictures, you’re getting layout, you’re getting headlines that aren’t designed for SEO but have puns and traditional journalistic values in them”. Launching his paper’s app in November, The Daily Telegraph’s editor Gary Linnell said: “I’ve had an iPad for three or four months and I spend most of my time on it. It’s a much more enjoyable experience than reading stories on the web.” “I wouldn’t say I was sceptical about online – I guess I’ve been more sceptical about online’s relationship with print. I think the iPad experience is so much more related to print than online and promises in the short- to mid-term to be richer and more intimate for a reader.” It also helps that tablets have closed the gap between digital and “traditional” journalists – when it comes to apps we are all newbies. There are plenty of uncertainties about tablets – for example, their impact on newspaper circulation. More than half of 624 print newspaper subscribers who owned iPads said they were likely to cancel their print subscription and switch to an iPad subscription within six months, according to a November survey by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. Another 100 said they had already made the switch. Nevertheless, with more platforms on the way (Google’s Android, RIM’s BlackBerry and probably Microsoft Windows) – and the paid-content debate largely out of the way – publishers are swiftly moving resources to tablets. News Limited’s major mastheads are now on the iPad and at least one, The Australian, is on Android. Fairfax plans to upgrade its PDF iPad editions to full-blown apps early in 2011. APN’s free New Zealand Herald app has been downloaded 24,000 times since June. It’s thought about 200,000 Australians have tablet devices – almost all of them iPads. Sales will probably pass 300,000 this Christmas. It’s a safe
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bet that a million tablets will be in Australia by Christmas 2011 – and some 50 million worldwide. Already dozens of local journalists are working on iPad editions. The apps in their first, basic incarnations are resource-intensive and publishing systems will improve. But apps will only require more editorial staff – designers, subs, layout subs, artists, picture editors and video and multimedia staff – as competition grows. By the end of 2011 many of us will be working on or contributing to tablet editions. So what lessons can we share as the first generation of journalists producing editorial content for tablet computers? What do we know so far?
It’s a hungry beast Don’t underestimate the production overhead – especially in this early era of app development. A seven-day newspaper will need a tablet editor, four or five subs, a pic editor, a graphics editor and possibly a video/multimedia editor. Add reporters if you want to do exclusive content (but ask yourself, would you really hold back a story for the iPad?).
Tablets bring a renewed emphasis on traditional editorial values rather than the smoke and mirrors of web techniques such as Search Engine Optimisation Software companies such as WoodWing and EidosMedia are busily working on intuitive publishing systems, but in the meantime many of us will work on custom systems developed in-house or by third parties. At this stage, something as simple as adding a new layout template can be a torturous affair. It can take six weeks to make a change, do the testing and gain Apple’s approval. Decisions about your feature-set need to be made early in the development phase. Everyone involved – editorial, sales, product managers, developers, designers, marketers – needs to be comfortable with a bare-bones approach for the initial version. “With the content management system, whether it’s an off-the-shelf program like WoodWing, or an in-house system, you need to be clear about what you can produce,” cautions Ben Coady, deputy editor of Sport & Style magazine, Fairfax’s first iTunes app, released in June. “If it’s an in-house system you need to work closely with the digital department. They are
skilled in creating the programs but they are not journalists – so things we take for granted, like the ability to change type from normal to bold, are not obvious to them and need to be made clear during the development process.”
Don’t get too fancy, too early For your first version, focus on creating a stable app that is easily updated rather than an elaborate multimedia affair. An unstable app leads to lower use, poor iTunes reviews and a drop in downloads, so be prepared to descope “can’t-live-without” functionality initially. Your content – and the tablet’s built-in novelty factor – should carry you in the short term, even if your app is not as pretty as you’d like. Readers are more likely to complain about a missing editorial section than interactive weather or puzzles. These can always be added later and, with a bit of clever marketing, you can delight customers with new monthly features. “App development is very complex – much more so than building websites,” says News Limited’s chief product officer, Sigrid Kirk. “This is hardcore software development. You will never deliver a perfect app out of the gate – no-one has, and you could spend a lot of time trying. App development is iterative – users accept it and expect it. It’s an ongoing process of improvement.”
Prepare content as “cross-media” In a “multi-platform” world, workflow across channels needs to happen in parallel rather than the standard linear approach (that is, print first, web second). It’s crucial to reduce double-handling when adding tablet editions to the daily workload. For instance, it’s a huge help if the picture desk can crop images for the paper and app at the same time – especially if your app requires a main image and thumbnail for each story. Image management can take up half your production time on the iPad. If it sounds like a stretch to produce a stunning layout several times a day on a variety of platforms of varying shapes and sizes – all in portrait and landscape modes – you’re right. We will eventually need publishing systems such as EidosMedia’s Méthode that allow editors to simultaneously create and view pages across multiple platforms and modes. But if you’re on an older system – or more likely a mish-mash of old systems – it still makes a big difference to adjust the manual workflow. Templates should also be used for 80 per cent of stories, reserving bespoke layout for the splash and page leads. Don’t bother creating 20 different layouts though – you’ll be too busy to use them all.
The essentials u Less is more. The web exacerbates that out-ofcontrol feeling of too much information. One of the key attractions of a tablet edition is its sense of completion. Telling people how many unread stories they have is not a cool app feature. Keep the number of stories on each index down to 10 to 15. u Do update, but not too much. It’s not good enough just to put the print edition into the app once a day. At a minimum you need to update stories and sport results that move overnight. But that doesn’t mean you need eight editions a day. Many readers won’t open the app until the evening and they want the morning’s paper (albeit with new details) to still be there.
Consult your friendly web editor Take advice from editorial staff who have worked on websites. Yes, tablets are a new medium – more lean-back than sit-forward; more session-time than page impressions – but there is still a lot to learn from mistakes the web guys made years ago. It’s likely that some content that doesn’t do well on the web – perhaps longer news stories and features – will find a new appreciation in apps. But there will be plenty of other stuff the web guys stopped uploading years ago with good reason. As any app editor will tell you, you don’t want to waste precious production resources.
Exclusive content Just getting the day’s stories loaded into an app can be a trial, without thinking about content that enhances the tablet experience. Should we go for iPad exclusives? Swipeable picture galleries? Embedded videos? Geo-located content? A personalised news list? Early indications are that the iPad is more lounge room than bus or train. Weekend and evening use is high – tablets seem to be replacing laptops, not smartphones. iPad users may be more engaged than web users, so content such as multimedia, lifestyle and even news features may be worth the effort. However, “every added extra requires more time and resources”, says Coady. “It’s no longer just the printedword process of journalist, photographer, editor, designer, subeditor – you can add many more steps such as video journalist, animator, video editor to
Yes, tablets are a new medium – more lean-back than sit-forward; more session-time than page impressions – but there is still a lot to learn from mistakes the web guys made years ago the process of producing a ‘story’ for the iPad. “To produce interactive 360-degree photo images for Sport & Style our art director, Peter Windrim, had to work out a completely new, and painstaking, process of staging photo shoots with our photographers. “However, the extra effort is worthwhile and incredibly rewarding when you can produce a story with more layers and depth that gives the reader greater understanding of a topic.” As the platform matures and becomes more competitive, differentiation will be important. Any number of innovations are possible. But be sure to test everything against basic customer needs such as convenience, value, simplicity, social connection, learning or aesthetic experience. David Higgins is News Limited’s innovations editor and a former editor of news.com.au and smh.com.au Fiona Katauskas is a freelance cartoonist (fionakatauskas.com)
u Watch your file sizes. Don’t make the daily download take longer than putting on a gown and walking out to the front lawn. Stream videos, don’t embed them (and stay away from high-definition). Designing landscape and portrait modes will double your file size (and production efforts), so you may want to copy the German daily Frankfurter Rundschau and design only for landscape, using portrait as a text-based mode with a single image. Progressive download ability is important, allowing the reader to browse the front page while the sections are downloading in the background. u Talk to your readers. “Take every opportunity to interact with your subscribers,” says Grant Holloway, The Australian’s digital business manager. “Encourage them to send you feedback and always answer that feedback as promptly and as personally as you can. The tablets are a very personal device and your subscribers will appreciate knowing they are dealing with a human being.”
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
Quick on the draw Phil Thornton meets a man who put down his gun and picked up his pen to lampoon Burma’s generals. Cartoon by Harn Lay
artoonist Harn Lay grins, draws a quick sharp line and Burma’s feared Harn Lay studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Rangoon and drew film posters dictator, General Than Shwe, is skewered like a chicken, ready for roasting. for theatres before starting out as a cartoonist. Sai Khuensai Jaiyen, editor of the Chiang Mai-based Shan Herald Agency for Harn Lay says he detests General Than Shwe and his regime and it shows News and a former army colleague of Harn Lay’s, says the cartoonist has always in the cartoons he draws for The Irrawaddy magazine, Democratic Voice of Burma been unafraid to voice his opinion. and Voice of America websites and the Shan Herald Agency for News. “When we were in the MTA together, Harn Lay and others put themselves at “Than Shwe’s a pumped-up bully. I try to show how ridiculous he is, a little fat great risk when they mutinied against Khun Sa. I regularly use Harn Lay’s cartoons man in a uniform. His only power, his gun.” in our paper. His cartoons are a powerful message. I hope Than Shwe sees them. Cartoons are often not taken as seriously as the editorial comment they appear His work is strong and good, but he’s not arrogant, he’s a humble man.” beside, and this ability to sneak under the censors’ radar allows a certain freedom. If Khuensai thinks Harn Lay is humble, his ancestry is anything but. Khuensai Harn Lay says it is the role of the artist to point out the emperor is naked. leans in close, stirs his iced fruit drink and says Harn Lay is a direct descendant of “It’s like a responsibility. I stand by the victims of the powerful and the ruthless. the Shan royal family. I try to make people not only laugh, but to When I later ask Harn Lay about his royal be aware of how they can be manipulated. connections he’s quick to dismiss them. Sometimes my cartoons have upset the “My father was opposed to the monarchy, pro-democracy and aid groups.” he was a republican, as I am, but it is true my Harn Lay, 44, is from Shan State. He has uncle and grandfather were Shan (Tai) kings.” seen the mad and powerful of Burma up But Harn Lay is more court jester. He’s close and it isn’t pretty. chunky, his hands constantly on the move “When I was younger, I joined the Mong as they draw air pictures. He switches from Tai Army (MTA) to fight for Shan freedom and independence. But it was an illusion. impish grins to deep frowns as he discusses Khun Sa [the MTA leader] was power mad, the dismal state of Than Shwe’s Burma. Harn Lay credits Australian artist Bill Leak’s the same as Than Shwe. He was like a kid, hard-hitting cartoons as an inspiration. no control, he wanted everything he saw.” “I look on the internet at many cartoonists, Khun Sa, as well as being the leader of the MTA, was on the world’s most-wanted list for but I like Bill’s the best. He’s strong. He running a vast drug-trafficking operation out doesn’t hold back. I love the directness of his of the Golden Triangle region that includes work. He doesn’t miss his targets.” parts of Thailand, Laos and Burma. The feeling is mutual. “I am so impressed “Khun Sa told us he was fighting for by his drawing that I’m now a fan of his too,” independence and the drug money would buy says Bill Leak in a phone interview. “I’m in arms, but he used the money for himself. He absolute awe of him and the work he does.” “Translated my name means a leaf that said life would get better for the Shan people But not everyone is in love with these causes irritation and itching. I want to make cartoonists. Both Leak and Harn Lay receive if we fought with him, but it only got worse.” Harn Lay stops smiling as he remembers their fair share of threats from the people these powerful generals uncomfortable” back to the days when he had to have his they upset. Leak says he used to get abusive meals at the same table as the notorious drug mail and threats daily. lord and says being around Khun Sa was a nightmare. “I wear them like a badge of honour. The intention is to upset the big and the “He was moody. If he didn’t like you, it was off with your head. It was always powerful, stir things up a bit. I’m lucky the editor at The Australian newspaper personal with him, never political. There were no laws, only his dark moods.” gives me enormous leeway. The editorial group enjoys the idea that it [a cartoon] Khun Sa, dubbed by international law enforcement agencies as the “Prince of will cause an uproar.” Death” and Burma’s “King of Opium”, died in 2007. Likewise, Harn Lay’s cartoons have upset politicians on both sides of the Harn Lay realised it was time to put down the gun and pick up his pen. Thai-Burma border. “I get many strongly worded letters. I even got one from “The gun kills, the pen doesn’t. I try to use cartoons to express my politics, the a former prime minister, now dead.” injustices people suffer and to make them laugh at the powerful – they can’t be too Harn Lay says his intention is to get under the skin of the ruthless and powerful if people are laughing at them.” powerful dictators of Burma. “Translated my name means a leaf that causes Harn Lay picks up a book of his cartoons, Defiant Humor (published by The irritation and itching. I want to make these powerful generals uncomfortable. Irrawaddy), and flicks to a drawing of two crumbling statues. The one chopped off I want to show people what they are really like without the protection of their at the ankles and lying on its side in the dirt is former Thai prime minister Thaksin uniforms and I want to show they are mortal.” Shinawatra and the other, still standing, is Burma’s Than Shwe. Than Shwe’s statue Harn Lay has the support of his wife Yuwadee and his daughter Wan Wan, is falling apart and a bird has built a nest on its head. Harn Lay chuckles. but says they can be his harshest critics. “I met Yuwadee 16 years ago in Shan “Than Shwe doesn’t realise it, but he’s like an ant in the sugar bowl… One day State. I test my work out on her for clarity. If she laughs, I know I’m on track.” he’ll die there. All dictators fall eventually and one day my daughter, like the people But the cruelty of Burma’s regime is not a laughing matter. “Every Burmese of Burma, will live freely.” person has been hurt or touched by their brutality. In 2007 they killed my friend Harn Lay was encouraged to paint, read and draw cartoons by his father. Nong Dang by pouring boiling water down his throat. I’ve given up the gun, but “My father was a rice miller, but he painted, wrote poetry and short stories. I’ll keep drawing and try to expose this regime for the criminals they are.” He had a collection of cartoon books and we’d look at them together. My father’s Phil Thornton works as an investigative journalist in South-East Asia. He lives library was big. He had English language magazines and they had lots of in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma border cartoons in them.”
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Strike me lucky Fair suck of the sav, where have all our true-blue phrases gone? Hugh Lunn wants to spark a revival of Australia’s larrikin tongue. Cartoon by Phil Somerville
hen I wrote feature stories for The Australian newspaper in the 1970s, no-one ever used imported New York words like shtick, schmuck, chutzpah, klutz or even zeitgeist. We hadn’t heard of them. Yet it seems no-one in Australia today can write a feature article without at least one of them. The language of the rest of Australia has changed just as radically. Governments now never have problems – only “issues” to be “taken ownership of by managing the process to facilitate optimum outcomes going forward”. Everyone now uses American TV-speak for every situation: “Get over it”, “Tell someone who cares”, “Get a life”, “Bring it on”, “Don’t go there”, “Get real”. Since we are the words we use, perhaps we should reclaim the clear, direct, inventive Aussie lingo we threw away. Let’s imagine for a moment what it would be like... Julia Gillard overthrows Kevin Rudd, whereupon Tony Abbott tells electors: “Same horse, different eyebrows.” He criticises the Building the Education Revolution program, saying: “There’s more ways of killing a pig than choking it with butter!” To which the PM responds: “That’s very poor form by Mr Rabbit. I think he has lowered the tone. I don’t dislike him, but dealing with him is like dealing with a bag full of snakes.” Abbott: “Don’t cast nasturtiums or there’ll be hell to pay. You could stare down a king brown. Who do you think you are, Julia? The Queen of Sheba?” Gillard: “Well, Mr Rabbit, I can put on the dog as well as anyone. Don’t stir up more snakes than you can kill. I’ll take it out of your hide.” Abbott: “Anyone who leans on you is leaning on a dead stick. You’re about as popular as a black snake in a sleeping bag.” Gillard: “’Scuse pigs without tails. But you’ve got a head like a peewee’s nest: mud on the outside and straw on the inside. Whatever happened to your Budget costings?” Abbott: “If they were a snake they would have
bitten you by now. What about your carbon tax committee? It’s only half a committee.” Gillard: “If you don’t come you won’t be counted. After all, good things come in small parcels.” Abbott: “Including poison.” Gillard: “We’re moving forward.” Abbott: “It’s only a five-minute walk if you run.” Gillard: “Oh the next time I see you I’ll set you on fire.” Instead of Joe Hockey calling on the treasurer to “show fiscal responsibility”, he says: “Wayne Swan would steal a bridle off a nightmare.” Swan responds that the deficit is “three-fifths of five-eighths of bugger-all-of-nothing.” Adding: “We’re not broke, just badly bent.” Hockey: “The treasurer is so smooth and syrupy you need a Vegemite sandwich after talking to him. He would rob a blind parrot of its corn. The hurrieder he goes the behinder he gets. He wouldn’t work in a bucket of yeast.” Swan: “We had to stimulate the economy because of the GFC. Hockey’s so tight he wouldn’t let his dog drink from a mirage. He wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him. If you hit a hollow log with the back of your axe something better than him would be sure to run out.” Hockey: “Swan keeps promising to balance the Budget, but he’d sooner point than work. It’s soon enough to say chook when it’s out of the egg.” Christopher Pyne – feeling left out – calls across the floor of the House: “Am I a block of flats? Pardon me for living! I’m like the cockie on the biscuit tin: I’m just not in it.” Anthony Albanese: “Pyne’s got a good future behind him.” Gillard: “Good work, Anthony. Take a pound out of the till. That’s one up against his duck house. But all this chatter won’t make the doll a new dress.” Pyne: “She’s like a singlet – always on my back. She’s like two wirelesses going at once.” Albanese: “Oh give him a medal.”
Gillard: “What for?” Pyne: “For bravery in the duck yard.” Rob Oakeshott cuts his 17-minute speech to: “I feel like a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that isn’t there. I’m as nervous as a bunch of long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs. It’s enough to put the chooks off laying.” Liberal backbencher: “Oakeshott always gives himself a fair hearing.” Labor backbencher: “He’s Port Macquarie through to his underpants.” National backbencher: “He’s not a good speaker, but he’s willing. He’s got a good brain, but a bad passage out.” Independent: “He’s doing very well for a hammerchewer.” One thing they will all have to remember under the new paradigm: you don’t need pink and grey feathers to be a galah. Hugh Lunn has won three Walkleys for feature writing. His new book, Words Fail Me: A journey through Australia’s lost language (ABC Books, $35), is the sequel to Lost for Words (ABC Books, $32.95) Phil Somerville is a Sydney-based freelancer with one book of work to date, I am Moderately Fond of Australia (Hardie Grant, $24.95)
MASTER OF US STUDIES: MORE THAN JUST A DEGREE At the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney our students are at the core of our aim to lead the debate on the global role of the US in politics and culture. Our students will be well-suited for a wide variety of careers in media, government, business and education, drawing upon the breadth and depth of their knowledge of the US and its global role. In the future we will be running a unit specifically on American media: News in the USA. The unit
will draw on Centre experts such as professors James Fallows and Geoffrey Garrett. Graduates of the Master of US Studies will gain: • knowledge and understanding of US politics, culture and society • an understanding of America’s influence on the world and the world’s reaction to America • improved analytical research and writing skills • specialist understanding of current events and the best sources for information and analysis.
We have two intakes per year and also offer a Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma and opportunities for scholarships. For more information visit:
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
Joining the chapter Books are opening a new chapter in journalism, with the space to tell a complex story from beginning to end. For Gerard Ryle, it’s journalism in a purer form. Cartoon by Judy Horacek
efore Thomas Keneally won the Booker Prize for Schindler’s Ark in 1982, he had already been short-listed for the Booker twice. And lost. Twice. He has a distinctly philosophical view on the subject of book prizes. If you emerge a winner, he says, you then understand clearly that – of course – the judges could not possibly overlook the obvious subtlety and power of your book. If you lose, your consolation is your deep belief that in a world of vulgarity the judges were unable to come to terms with a work of such subtlety and power. Either way, you are a winner. Though the judges clearly overlooked the obvious subtlety and power of my book Firepower when they made their final choice for the Walkley Book Award last year [it went to Graham Freudenberg’s Churchill and Australia], allow me to offer some of my own observations on the importance of books of journalism in the modern world. It is clear that the threats to journalism today are not those of previous generations. These days we need books to do some of the things that the traditional media used to do. We need them to tackle the increasingly neglected art of taking a reader into unfamiliar territory and informing them about something they didn’t realise they needed informing about. We focus a lot on the disorder that the new digital era has brought to the world of the traditional media. Media company revenues are bleeding as they struggle to support the kind of professional journalism that used to bring them profits. But we should not ignore that other threat – the threat of too much poor information in a time-sensitive world. The digital era may have expanded everyone’s horizons, but it has not always made people better informed. There are too many semi-truths and untruths posing as the truth out there in digital land. It has transformed the world into a bunch of citizen detectives, each of whom has the ability, if they so desire, to find what they want to support their own chosen view on life.
These days we need books to do some of the things that the traditional media used to do This poses a real threat to many things, not least professional journalism. We are very close to losing entirely the privilege of being the trusted gatekeepers. But the fine level of noise and the bewildering number of choices may, if anything, start making old-fashioned things more fashionable again. Old-fashioned things like books. By and large, writing a book is not about trying to change the world. By the time I began writing mine, I had already published more than 60 newspaper articles in The Sydney Morning Herald about the dodgy dealings of fuel-pill company Firepower.
It was the sort of scandal that was hiding in plain sight. And yet no-one other than the Herald was writing about it because it was potentially dangerous and certainly complicated. You hope your book will change the way people see the world. But books rarely cause powerful people to scramble for cover in the way that those newspaper articles did. Yet the world of books has something that is powerful in a different way. It has a devoted readership that actually wants to read stories from beginning to end. Stories like Firepower that are hard to sum up; stories that are slow burners and that are not always obvious and known. In the modern era, where choice is everything and a level of noise is everywhere, a book can offer a purer form of journalism – one that allows you to present a depth of detail and create a narrative pleasure by using the kind of techniques that are more familiar to fiction. And as every author quickly learns, it is a peculiarity of the modern noisy world that people are often willing to talk to you to promote your book in a way they would never do for another form of media. Books allow you to prise open secret worlds in a way that newspaper investigations used to do a lot more often. And perhaps the greatest blessing is that there’s no fighting for a shortened attention span. You have the reader’s attention from the moment the cover is opened. There is no conflict over your presentation of the facts. You just have to get them right and put them together in a way that allows you to make a story. I wish this year’s long-listed authors the best of luck, but not all of them can win. So I’ll finish with another piece of wisdom from Thomas Keneally: remember that the greatest revenge you can have on the shortcomings of book judges is the brilliance of your next work. Gerard Ryle is deputy editor of The Canberra Times. His book Firepower (Allen & Unwin, $35) was short-listed for last year’s Walkley book award Judy Horacek is a freelance cartoonist
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Bringing life into focus Brian Brake travelled the world, documenting grand moments and intimate scenes for leading publications. By Athol McCredie
ew Zealand photographer Brian Brake readily admitted that he was lucky in his late twenties, when he had no experience of photojournalism whatsoever, to be picked up by Magnum, an agency with some of the world’s best photographers on its roster. It began with a chance encounter with Magnum member Ernst Haas, which in turn led to meeting Henri Cartier-Bresson, the agency’s leading figure. Cartier-Bresson always insisted on looking at proof sheets to see how a photographer thought and worked, sometimes even viewing them upside down in order to separate composition from content. Cartier-Bresson liked what he saw in Brake’s proof sheets of a short exercise in taking candid shots of people in and around the streets of London, and offered him a nominee membership of Magnum. Nominee membership was a provisional level and Brake still had to learn and to prove himself. One of his early opportunities came when he was assigned to cover Queen Elizabeth’s 1956 royal tour of Nigeria. Magnum president David “Chim” Seymour told Brake, “You need this” and instructed him to watch how the other photographers operated. Brake noted in particular the Paris Match photographer shunning the herd mentality of the press corps: “He was always sauntering around in the background. And when he moved, he moved just before he wanted the shot, then quickly melted away again. He was always on the move, never still. So I did what he did.” The approach paid off, for Brake’s photographs were seen around the world, from the British Illustrated magazine to Life and even Paris Match. Not bad for an apprentice photojournalist. Brake’s most interesting work from the 1950s
“He was always sauntering around in the background. And when he moved, he moved just before he wanted the shot… So I did what he did” is undoubtedly his photography in China. This was a time when few Westerners visited the country and American citizens were expressly forbidden from going there. Brake photographed celebrations in Beijing for May Day in 1957, and then the tenth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic in 1959. These were classic images of communist parades, complete with synchronised gymnastics and massed military hardware being trundled before senior politicians and visiting heads of state. However, he was also able to spend some months in China on each occasion and photographed many facets of ordinary life. Few were published at the time, and today they have become a valuable historical record of Chinese life in the 1950s. Brake worked almost exclusively for Life magazine in the 1960s. In the late 1960s he moved to book illustration, adding film-making in the early 1970s, and returned to live in New Zealand in 1976. He died suddenly in 1988 at the age of 61.
Top left: Cheerleader at a Waseda University versus Keio University baseball game, Tokyo. Taken for a series on Japan for Life magazine in 1964. Top right: Street portrait studio in Beijing, 1957. Above: Pablo Picasso, son Claude and Jean Cocteau at a bullfight in Vallauris, France, 1955.
Brian Brake: Lens on the World, a survey exhibition of Brake’s work, is on at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, in Wellington, until May 8, 2011. It will then tour New Zealand. The accompanying catalogue, edited by Athol McCredie, is published by Te Papa Press, $99.99. Athol McCredie has worked in many areas of photography since the 1970s, most recently as curator of photography at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa
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Buck naked history Can a book about the shonky foundations of the global financial crisis leave you laughing? Yes, it can. Review by Ian Verrender. Cartoon by Lindsay Foyle
ichael Lewis thought his first book, Liar’s Poker, would be a salutory tale of madness and greed, a warning for following generations of the mass lunacy that occasionally infects humans. As he explains in the prologue to his most recent book, The Big Short, in the mid ’80s, at age 24, he was hired by Wall Street investment bank Salomon Brothers to dispense investment advice – and was paid handsomely for it. Exactly why remains a mystery to him to this day. “Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue,” he says. “I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had any savings of my own to manage.” So preposterous was the arrangement to Lewis he found it easy to walk away, despite the money. “I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud.” The Great Reckoning arrived in October 1987 in the shape of Black Monday, a catastrophic sharemarket crash that Lewis thought would forever change the shape of Wall Street and those who inhabit it. But he now laments that somehow, somewhere, the message that he wanted to convey was lost. His great morality tale (which became an international bestseller) about a nation that had lost its mind was designed to persuade bright kids to pursue their ideals and dreams. “Six months after Liar’s Poker was published, I was knee deep in letters from students at Ohio State University who wanted to know if I had any other secrets to share about Wall Street. They’d read my book as a how-to manual.” As it transpired, the 1980s, the great decade of greed, was merely a warm-up for the main act. And in the two decades that followed, Wall Street marched on relentlessly, while the investment banks at its centre grew fatter and ever more immoral. The collapse of Drexel Burnham Lambert, the undoing of Salomon Brothers, the sinking of Long Term Capital Management, the disaster of the dotcom bubble; each scandal created barely a blip on the radar in the tireless march towards a debt-fuelled illusion of prosperity. That all changed in late September 2008 when Wall Street stalwart Lehman Brothers hit the wall. Bear Stearns had beaten it to the punch, but by then
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it was too late. The problems weren’t confined to a couple of Wall Street firms. The entire American financial system had been corrupted and hollowed out; its rotten core had infected the entire global financial system. The Big Short is a voyage into the dark heart of American and global capitalism. It delves into the inner workings of the world’s biggest investment banks, an industry that diverts colossal wealth to those within for shuffling paper between its participants – and not for any obvious benefit to society. But while the book is a forensic account of
“I love Greg,” said one of his bosses. “I have nothing bad to say about him except that he’s a fucking whack job” the events that led to the greatest economic crisis of the modern era, it is also hugely entertaining and a gripping read. Americans can be disarmingly honest. Take this character assessment of Greg Lippmann, a Deutsche Bank bond trader who is a key character in the book. “I love Greg,” said one of his bosses. “I have nothing bad to say about him except that he’s a fucking whack job.” That the brightest minds, schooled at the most prestigious learning institutions in the richest nation on Earth could be so blinded by greed in their headlong rush to oblivion is nothing short of astounding. Lewis attacks the subject from an odd but brilliantly conceived angle. Rather than attempting
to unravel the disaster from within, he tracks down a handful of disparate investors who, in the early part of the decade, became convinced that a catastrophe was at hand. There is Mike Burry, a socially inept medical intern who develops his own theory of stock trading, sending tips out on the internet at ungodly hours of the morning. When he quits med school and stops his late night tips, Warren Buffett’s righthand man tracks him down and hands him millions of dollars to set up his own fund. Then there is Steve Eisman, a stockbroking analyst who throws convention to the wind and makes it his personal crusade to expose ineptitude and idiocy in the corporate world. A Republican in his youth, Eisman’s politics drift to the left the longer he spends on Wall Street. “He’s not tactically rude,” his wife explains. “He’s sincerely rude.” With a handful of others, the pair independently comes to a view that the American housing market has become possibly the world’s greatest Ponzi scheme. The problem they face is finding a way to bet against it. And it is at this point we enter the arcane world of credit default swaps, collateralised debt obligations, mortgage bonds and sub-prime debt; devilishly complex instruments designed to be incomprehensible. Between them, they independently cook up a means to “short” the system, to bet against the might of American capitalism that is gorging itself fat on the misfortune and ignorance of the masses. And Wall Street, the world’s biggest casino, is only too willing to oblige. Unfortunately, when the wheel stops, America’s biggest banks, the world’s biggest insurer and the country’s government-backed mortgage agencies are left holding the losing chips while millions of Americans find themselves homeless. Eisman and his crew made a fortune. So did Burry. But their vindication is tinged with horror and disbelief. As Eisman notes: “We fed the monster until it blew up.” The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine , by Michael Lewis, published by Allen Lane, $39.95 (hardback). Ian Verrender is the senior business commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald Lindsay Foyle has worked on The Bulletin and The Australian. He is currently a freelance cartoonist
Defending the damned Some books of journalism deserve to be revisited. In the first of an occasional series, Matthew Ricketson reconsiders John Bryson’s Evil Angels, the definitive account of the Azaria Chamberlain saga
raham Perkin, former editor of The Age, once said an important news story was one that had its roots in the past and a stake in the future. Baby Azaria Chamberlain’s death near Uluru in 1980 clearly fits that definition. Lindy Chamberlain’s trial for her infant daughter’s murder stirred an ugly brew of long-held fears about lost children in the outback, prejudices against littleunderstood religions and unspoken agreements between police and reporters. Thirty years, three coronial inquests, a trial, two appeals and a royal commission later, the case continues to run. Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, divorced in 1991, recently called for another inquest to establish definitively that a dingo took their baby. Apart from the hectares of media space, there have been at least seven books on the case. The first two – Azaria by Richard Shears and Azaria: Wednesday’s Child by James Simmonds – were published in 1982, just weeks after a jury returned a guilty verdict against Lindy Chamberlain, but only one book is remembered today: John Bryson’s Evil Angels. Bryson says Brian Johns, then the managing director of Penguin Australia, commissioned him. With a case generating so much public interest a writer needs to produce either the first or the best book on the topic, “and you’re not that fast Johnny, so you’d better be the best,” Johns told him. And he was. Published in 1985, three years after the trial, Evil Angels is a landmark work of booklength journalism in Australia. Bryson reconstructed the events that led to Azaria’s tragic death and reinvestigated the case. He told the shocking tale in a compelling narrative, portraying the Chamberlains as ordinary people caught up in horrific events. It won five awards, including the Victorian Premier’s prize for non-fiction and the UK Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger. It has been translated into 10 languages and was included in the list of Best Australian Journalism of the 20th Century, as judged by journalists and media teachers in 2004. It has sold close to 190,000 copies. Adrian Howe, author of a retrospective of the case, describes Evil Angels as “the most influential miscarriage-ofjustice book ever written in Australia”. Originally, Bryson had been impelled to write because he was angered and disgusted at how the police mishandled the investigation, how they treated the Chamberlains and how they leaked inflammatory material to the news media. Bryson had not attended
With a case generating so much public interest a writer needs to produce either the first or the best book on the topic the first coronial inquest but attended the second inquest, the trial and subsequent appeals. Drawing on his training as a criminal lawyer, Bryson critically examined the evidence, especially as presented by forensic experts, and found it deeply flawed. Public opinion on the case had been sharply divided, with a majority deeply suspicious of Lindy Chamberlain. A Seventh-Day Adventist, her stoic demeanour in the face of tragedy played against her. There were lurid rumours that the Chamberlains were involved in dark rituals and that the name Azaria meant “sacrifice in the wilderness”. Bryson’s book was the first to seriously question the evidence and it began influencing public opinion. But equally important was the discovery in February 1986 of a vital piece of missing evidence, which supported Lindy Chamberlain’s belief that a dingo had stolen her baby. Baby Azaria’s missing matinee jacket was found by chance as it lay near the body of a British tourist who had died in an accident at Uluru. Days later, the Northern Territory government set Lindy Chamberlain free after three years in jail and announced a royal commission, which in 1987 found that the evidence presented in the original trial was insufficient to justify the guilty verdict. Shears’ and Simmonds’ books were “quickies” offering little analysis of the case. More significantly, Steve Brien, a journalist with The Sun in Sydney, befriended the Chamberlains during the coronial inquests but revealed in his book, published in 1984, that “Ever since I had known the full ramifications
Lindy Chamberlain outside Darwin Court in 1982. John Bryson’s book re-examined the case and found the investigation had been deeply flawed. (Photo by Nigel McNeil, Fairfax Photo Library)
of the police case I had always believed Lindy was guilty,” and argued that Lindy Chamberlain either killed her baby in a “crime of passion” or that to atone for her sins, she sacrificed her child in the desert. In her autobiography, Lindy Chamberlain was scathing. Brien “said we were some of the nicest people he had ever met – and claimed he was our best friend – [and] later authored one of the most scurrilous books ever written about our case with incorrect evidence and rumours put in as fact”. After what she saw as her betrayal by Brien, Chamberlain sent a message from jail to Bryson offering to tell him her version of events. Initially, she had chosen Brien over Bryson to give the in-depth interviews needed for a book and now realised her error in trusting him. Bryson interviewed her as well as other members of the family. He defrayed his research costs by covering the second coronial inquest and the trial as a freelance journalist for radio and television. Bryson used an omniscient narrative voice because he wanted to make the book, already long at 550 pages, “an easy journey” for the reader. His approach certainly foregrounds the Chamberlains’ plight in ways earlier books did not, but what is lost is a sense of transparency between journalist and reader. The book’s tone is calm and even-handed, perhaps reflecting Bryson’s legal background; his questioning of the trial verdict was certainly vindicated by later inquiries. Bryson writes about numerous episodes he had witnessed but he never openly acknowledges his presence in the book. On occasion the text refers to a stringer for the Today show on television or the radio station Fox FM without identifying the stringer as Bryson. These events were minor and u
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u it was probably immaterial whether the person described is Bryson or someone else. In at least one instance, though, readers would have benefited from knowing Bryson’s role in events. After the jury found Lindy Chamberlain – then seven months pregnant – guilty, Bryson writes about the parties held in Darwin. The journalists gathered at one hotel where: The waiter refused to serve three journalists who were rolling joints on a dinner-plate in full view of a nearby party hosted by a uniformed superintendent of police. [Malcolm] Brown [of The Sydney Morning Herald] knew those journalists were upset with the verdict, and plainly he was observing some calculated gesture of insolence, more than anything else. When he walked through to the garden-lounge, things were peaceful enough, until two radio reporters who were otherwise firm friends got up, grey-faced and shouting, from a poolside table and knocked each other into the water. Bryson was one of the two grey-faced, anonymous reporters: “What happened was that there was a party at the Hotel Darwin after all the journalists had filed their stories and everyone was letting down. They were tired and getting drunk and smoking dope and I was very upset about the verdict because I thought it unfair and wrong and this other journalist, who
is an old friend but I won’t tell you who he is, said: ‘Look, Johnny, it’s not that bad really and you’ve got to remember that for us this is the best result, because it is a sensational story.’ I thought that was cruel, so I hit him. We started fighting and punched each other into the hotel pool.” The contrast between the book’s cool, magisterial tone and Bryson’s violent reaction is stark. This is what struck me when Bryson first told this story to RMIT journalism students in 2001. I found it hard to imagine this slight, softly spoken man getting so passionate he’d start throwing punches but, as he says, his anger over the Chamberlains’ treatment was his original impetus. Whether Bryson’s anger distorts his book is difficult to assess. It appears not; Bryson has an acute sense of fairness. For instance, he writes that after the jury returned its guilty verdict, defence counsel was invited to the judge’s chambers. As an orderly opened the door, Justice Muirhead poured a whisky and said: “Well, I didn’t think I exactly summed up in favour of a conviction, did you?” The orderly withdraws, “closing the door on the rest of the conversation”. Bryson had been reliably told by sources what had been said in judge’s chambers but chose not to report it, distinguishing between reporting an important fact and attempting to take the reader into the privacy of the judge’s chambers. He also knew that since the trial Justice Muirhead had expressed similar views. “I took the reader to what could have been overheard but what was said in chambers was their
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business. It also did not throw any further light on his views and thinking.” None of this decision-making is shown to readers, either in the book, in endnotes, a note to the reader, or even in promotional interviews. Bryson enjoys footnotes himself but felt they would have clogged the book. I would argue he did himself a disservice because the available evidence shows he took great care researching and writing Evil Angels, but his readers are asked to invest a high level of trust in his journalistic integrity over an event where many journalists had performed poorly. To learn that Bryson disguised his identity in the poolside fight creates a sense of disquiet that comes from the reader’s desire to trust the journalist’s account of events. Bryson was writing when most practitioners of book-length journalism in Australia had given little thought to notions of transparency. That has been changing, as is evident from Margaret Simons’ open approach to readers in The Meeting of the Waters (Hachette Australia) and in David Marr and Marian Wilkinson’s extensive use of endnotes in Dark Victory (Allen & Unwin), among others. Bryson remains a pioneering figure and Evil Angels is well worth revisiting, especially with a fourth coronial inquest mooted to begin early in 2011. Matthew Ricketson is an academic and journalist. This article draws on his PhD, which was awarded by Monash University this year.
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WALKLEY BOOK AWARD LONG LIST
Australian stories From the 59 entries in the 2010 Walkley Book Award, the judges selected a long list of nine outstanding reads. Here are their comments. Illustration by Simon Letch Bridget Griffen-Foley, Changing Stations: The story of Australian commercial radio (UNSW Press, $44.95) Changing Stations explains in detail the elusive world of radio through the years. Griffen-Foley, a media historian from Macquarie University, has written an account of all fads and passing enthusiasms, from the days when wireless had a night-time monopoly to today, when it competes with television and every imaginable form of home entertainment. The book is a compendious, definitive and well written account of the medium.
It’s about water, farmers, regional towns and river life. Not content with statistics and bureaucratic reports, the author immersed himself in the primary source to take readers with him on a critical journey of discovery. The love of the pub is there, too, and runs throughout the book like a counter-melody to the main story about the thirsty country. Paul Cleary, The Men Who Came Out of the Ground (Hachette, $35) Australians and Timorese fought the Japanese during desperate times in the Second World War. Paul Cleary’s The Men Who Came Out of the Ground examines that campaign, and the tough, resourceful soldiers of the 2/2 Australian Independent Company who had on-the-job training as guerilla fighters. It’s a sharp, fascinating account, with vivid personal descriptions of the men involved.
Shirley Shackleton, The Circle of Silence: A personal testimony before, during and after Balibo (Murdoch Books, $34.95) This book is meticulously researched: Shirley Shackleton has dedicated her whole life to her subject matter. Where segments of the book are subjective and based on personal narrative, these are obvious and clearly delineated. Written with searing self-awareness and unrelenting inquiry, this book is incisive, newsworthy, and its timeliness will have a strong public impact.
Ben Hills, Breaking News: The golden age of Graham Perkin (Scribe, $59.95) Breaking News breaks ground as the first panoramic account of an editor who redefined Australian journalism. Ben Hills’ meticulous research into Graham Perkin and his influence at The Age and on generations of reporters and their storytelling is an important piece of history, compellingly told.
Mike Carlton, Cruiser: The life and loss of HMAS Perth and her crew (Random House, $55) Mike Carlton’s Cruiser sets a fine example for the narrative historical non-fiction genre. While the book about this Second World War cruiser is forensically, tirelessly and flawlessly researched, it never becomes mired in the technical details that are critical to its story. Carlton has deftly and passionately told a compelling story through the characters – all of them real people who live and breathe on the page – he has discovered. Paul Kelly, The March of Patriots: The struggle for modern Australia (MUP, $44.99) The March of Patriots is a well researched and well executed piece of writing, combining excellent policy and political analysis, supported by primary research. The level of detail means anyone interested in Australian politics doing further research on the period covered will find this book required reading. Its core coverage is of the Keating government and the first half of the Howard years, continuing the author’s chronicling of politics in this country since the 1970s. This
Debi Marshall, Lambs to the Slaughter: Inside the depraved mind of child-killer Derek Ernest Percy (Random House, $34.95) Debi Marshall’s account of child-killer Derek Ernest Percy is a compulsively readable rendering of the crimes of a man who personifies pure evil. Her skilled, forensic examination stretches the reader’s and author’s comfort zones, while never diminishing Percy’s traumatic impact on victims and their families.
work highlights the similarities and differences between the prime ministers in a way that is compelling yet not entirely orthodox. Chris Hammer, The River: A journey through the Murray-Darling basin (MUP, $34.99) As the Murray-Darling river system becomes central to a widening national debate on sustainability and co-operation, Chris Hammer’s book The River is a reservoir of informed opinion.
Colleen Egan, Murderer No More: Andrew Mallard and the epic fight that proved his innocence (Allen & Unwin, $32.99) Colleen Egan’s journalism shone a powerful light on a shameful miscarriage of justice – the conviction and jailing of Andrew Mallard for a murder he did not commit. Egan’s remarkable book tells an extraordinary story that should be compulsory reading for young journalists, lawyers and police. Simon Letch is an artist at The Sydney Morning Herald
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The unflinching eye In images including a Melbourne underworld funeral and the “treatment” of people with mental illness in Indonesia, Jason South revealed his range and his ability to find beauty even in squalor. Join us as we congratulate the Nikon–Walkley Press Photographer of the Year and the other winners of the 55th Walkley Awards
NIKON–WALKLEY PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR Photography • Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year Winner Jason South, The Age Jason South’s photojournalism exposed the brutal approach to mental illness in Indonesia, where the ill are known as “orang di pasung”, which means “people in stocks”. An estimated 30,000 are kept in shackles throughout Indonesia. In one facility South photographed there is no medical treatment, just potions, massage and prayer. Many of the patients are naked and nearly half of them are chained to poles. Closer to home, South snapped Liberal leader Tony Abbott off guard and on the campaign trail and captured a moment of historic uncertainty for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson as they left the stage on election night, not sure if she would be in a position to form a minority government. He documented the maudlin extravagance of an underworld funeral, as mourners carried the coffin of slain underworld figure Carl Williams from the church in a gold casket. And South singled out Vietnam veteran Barry Brewer at the Anzac Day dawn service at the Shrine of
Remembrance in Melbourne. South began his career at the Sunday News in New Zealand. He moved to Australia in 1993 and two years later joined The Age. Jason was the Nikon Photographer of the Year in 1999 and the Nikon–Walkley Press Photographer of the Year in 2003. Last year he won the Walkley award for Photographic Essay.
Judges’ comments A remarkably beautiful series of images, though often reflecting such debasing circumstances. Jason has produced a folio of world-class photojournalism, bringing to the public images of places and circumstances otherwise hidden from the world. 1. Lest we forget… Jason South captures Vietnam veteran Barry Brewer at a dawn service near Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance.
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NIKON-WALKLEY PRESS PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
2. A patient at the Yayasan Galuh Centre in Bekasi, outside Jakarta. South recorded confronting images of how the mentally ill are treated in Indonesia. 3. Tony Abbott deep in thought on the campaign trail, flying from Melbourne to Sydney. 4. A late afternoon football match in the Northern Territory community of Yuendumu.
To view Jason Southâ€™s complete entry go to walkleys.com/2010winners 42 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
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2010 GOLD WALKLEY • Television • Television News Reporting Winner Laurie Oakes, Nine Network, “Labor leaks” Laurie Oakes knows a good leak when he hears one. The Nine Network’s federal political editor heard two whispers during the 2010 election campaign – and sent them echoing around Australia. The first leak, put direct by Oakes to Julia Gillard during a National Press Club address, was the claim that she had reneged on a deal with Kevin Rudd over any leadership challenge. The second leak involved details of her apparent opposition in cabinet to paid parental leave and an increase in the aged pension. Both stories were reported nationally, crediting Oakes. His stories became significant issues in the election debate – not just the leaks themselves, but the question over who was the source. Laurie Oakes is one of Australia’s foremost political commentators and authors. He has had a distinguished career in journalism spanning more than 40 years and is renowned for his probing interviews and scoops. His commentary and news-breaking ability have earned him the respect of both his peers and politicians, and in 1998 he won the Walkley Award for Journalistic Leadership. As well as reporting on federal politics as political editor for Nine News, for more than 20 years Oakes wrote an influential political column in The Bulletin. Since The Bulletin ceased publication, he has penned a weekly column in Brisbane’s Courier-Mail and other News Limited tabloids around Australia.
Judges’ comments The question Laurie Oakes put to Julia Gillard was inescapable – it was like a half-nelson. Showing the depth of sources at his disposal, the Canberra veteran trumped everybody and totally derailed the election campaign.
OAKES: “Is it also true that you agreed that this offer was sensible and responsible? Is it true that there was then a brief break during which Mr Rudd went outside and briefed a couple of colleagues on what he thought was a deal while you contacted your backers?”
We’re with you every step of the way… Sallie Stone +61 412 552 888 email firstname.lastname@example.org Kurdistan • Baghdad • Basra • Kabul • Mexico City • Islamabad • Oman • Cyprus • London • Sydney • Singapore • Dubai • Moscow • Washington • Lima
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Photography • News Photography Winner Brett Costello, The Daily Telegraph, “Jessica” Though she was just one day away from Sydney Harbour, those on shore had only a rough idea of Jessica Watson’s location. And as Brett Costello took off in a helicopter to find the solo roundthe-world yachtswoman he became aware how small and insignificant a 33-foot yacht is, 60 nautical miles off Sydney in the Pacific Ocean. Daylight hours were short on this May afternoon, making it all the more important to find her quickly, then capture the 16-year-old sailor braving the harsh elements. Spying Watson’s tiny pink boat, Costello navigated the chopper pilot to a position where a storm was approaching and the swell was at its most dramatic angle. After a period of intense concentration and patience, Costello finally captured the yacht launching off the right wave, the type that Watson calls a “liquid mountain”. Brett Costello started as a cadet photographer at The Daily Telegraph in 1998. Soon after, he covered the Australian summer of cricket for News Limited. A tour to England followed for the 2001 Ashes. On returning, he moved to a full-time position as a sports photographer. Recent highlights have included covering the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Summit and the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Judges’ comments A dramatic image of a vulnerable little pink boat in a dark, threatening sea. The boat itself, battling the ocean and the looming storm, becomes the subject. This image tells the story perfectly without even seeing the subject and what she achieved.
CONGRATULATIONS To all 2010 Nikon-Walkley finalists from Nikon Australia, with special mention to: BRENDAN McCARTHY Nikon-Walkley Prize Winner Community and Regional Photography
CAMERON LAIRD Nikon-Walkley Prize Winner Portrait Photography
“The depth of quality of all the entries was quite remarkable this year.” Judge’s comment
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Photography • Photographic Esssay Winner Phil Hillyard, The Daily Telegraph, “Prime Minister Julia Gillard”
Phill Hillyard is primarily a sports photographer used to snapping the moment of impact between AFL ruckmen, not photographing a political grudge match. But when he got the call from his picture editor, Hillyard went straight from a weekend double sports shift to document the first week in office of the new prime minister. It was a daunting task. “Parliament House to me was that big building on the left as you drive to rugby league matches at Bruce Stadium,” he says. The week started off slowly, but once he started to get a few pictures his confidence grew, and he was able to capture Julia Gillard with her guard down, providing readers with an exclusive insight into the life of the new leader. Phil Hillyard began his career as a copy boy with the Adelaide News, gaining a cadetship as a photographer eight months later in 1989. After its closure in 1992, Hillyard freelanced for a few years. He transferred to The Daily Telegraph in 1998 and is currently working as their sports photographer. He has won many national and international awards for his work, including five Walkley Awards. He was named Australian Press Photographer of the Year in 2001.
Judges’ comment Phil Hillyard’s essay offers us a candid insight into a time that would become one of the most significant stories in Australian politics. There have been many such essays over the years and the challenge is to record without intrusion or control by media units. It is clear that Julia Gillard was comfortable with his presence. Though the lighting was dictated by the moment, Hillyard has produced an essay that is varied, unrestricted and an intimate illustration of Australia’s first female prime minister. To view Phil Hillyard’s complete entry go to walkleys.com/2010winners
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1. Julia Gillard checks messages on her phone at the end of her first day in her new office. 2. Prime Minister Gillard announces her new cabinet at a press conference at Parliament House, as senior political journalists listen in. 3. On her first public outing as PM, Gillard is all smiles after a successful morning as she departs in a goods lift with AFP officers at a shopping centre in Queanbeyan. 4. The prime minister getting ready in her dressing room. 5. In the car on her way to a Labor Party fundraiser in Brisbane, the PM makes a phone call to former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke.
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All Media • Social Equity Journalism Winner John Blades, ABC Radio National, 360 documentaries, “The too hard basket” Disabled people are rarely touched in a loving way or thought of as sexually desirable, yet they have the same need for a sex life as everyone else. This is the oddly confronting subject explored in “The too hard basket” by John Blades, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1982 and who cannot move his body from the neck down. In the documentary, Blades tells his own story of his loss of independence, depression and decades of celibacy – and then of how he read about a sex worker who specialises in disabled clients. Blades talks to two sex workers who have disabled clients about the importance of touch to every human being, their experiences with people who are having sex for perhaps the first time, and the healing nature of their work. John Blades has been presenting and producing programs about experimental music on community station 2MBS-FM for 28 years. He has also made programs about film and music for ABC Radio National. He has a Masters degree in civil engineering and a passion for outsider art and cinema. He spreads the word about life with MS through talks and articles.
Judges’ comments Remarkable journalism that tells us an enormous amount about a subject that is usually disregarded, even taboo in mainstream media, and tells us the story from the inside, with sensitivity and unblinking honesty.
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KYLIE: “The skin is the largest organ in the body, and people ignore that. And I think that everyone deserves the right to be touched and to be caressed and to feel good about themselves.”
JOHN BLADES: “I had the wheelchair backed against the building on the main street, George Street, in Sydney, on a wide pavement, 6 o’clock at night ... I can still see her to this day – needless to say, I’m still looking for her – beautiful girl in a beautiful red dress, blonde girl, she was standing at the traffic lights, talking to somebody and I of course was looking quite fixedly at her. Don’t know whether she saw me looking, but anyway, I saw her rummaging in her bag. I must have turned my head for a split second, ’cos I was looking at her a lot, almost hypnotised, and in that instant, she rushed over to me, left $3 on my tray, raced off across George Street, no word, no nothing, no chance for me even to explain, ‘I’m all right! I’m not looking for money.’ She’d gone. And I think I would have preferred one of two things: a kiss on the cheek, or if she’d offered to buy me a drink.”
Photography • Daily Life/ Feature Photography Winner Lisa Wiltse, Getty Images, “Potosi” A mountain in Potosi, Bolivia contains the largest deposits of silver the Spanish empire ever found. For Europeans it became a land of mythical riches, but to this day Potosi’s mine spells suffering and death for the indigenous population. Few miners live longer than 20 years after starting work in the mountain. Two-thirds of Potosi’s population have respiratory ailments; silica dust in the air causes blackened lungs and silicosis. The infant mortality rate is 135 per 1000, and more than 30 per cent of the population is illiterate. Women and children beg on the streets. More than 6500 children, some as young as nine, work for the mines, loading tippers, engraving holes for explosives, and searching for precious metals. They labour up to 10 hours a day, fuelled by bags of coca leaves. Freelance photographer Lisa Wiltse photographed Potosi teenagers as they performed a wretched daily commute to perform double shifts underground for a few dollars’ pay. Wiltse moved to Sydney from the United States in 2004, working as a staff photographer for The Sydney Morning Herald. In 2008, she decided to pursue a freelance career and in 2009 she moved to La Paz, Bolivia. She has travelled extensively, focusing on documenting everyday life in marginalised communities.
Judges’ comments The relentless hardships endured by the children are apparent in each image. This is a revealing view of a little-known community, which shows Wiltse’s empathy for her subject. To view Lisa Wiltse’s complete entry go to walkleys.com/2010winners
1. Young miner Nelson Ortuga, 14, falls asleep as he waits for the bus to take him back to the mines. He will finish his double shift at 6am. 2. L to R: Betty, Samuel and their mother Marta Aguirre at home on a Sunday afternoon in Calvario.
NIKON IS A PROUD SUPPORTER OF THE DAILY LIFE/FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARD AND CONGRATULATES THIS YEAR’S WINNER THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
FOR EXCELLENCE IN J O U R N A L I S M
Online • Best Online Journalism Winner Andrew Meares, smh.com.au and nationaltimes.com.au, “Phonearoids@mearesy: looking back at moving forward” “These days,” says Andrew Meares, “everyone is a photographer.” In the 2010 federal election, Meares was confronted by the fact that anyone with a point-andshoot or even a camera phone was documenting the campaign. So he decided to document this change, shooting the periphery of the campaign trail – the press pack, in-flight meals, security personnel – using the camera on his iPhone. He processed his images through an app, in homage to the Polaroids of another era, and instantly uploaded to Twitter. “It’s put me in this present tense,” Meares says of his work during the campaign. In another series, he used key news photos, stop-motion animation and his “phonearoids”, and added a soundtrack to take the viewer on a unique retrospective of Julia Gillard’s first week on the campaign trail. Andrew Meares began as a cadet photographer in The Sydney Morning Herald darkroom in 1991. Since then, in the line of duty, he has been shot at, spat on, shelled, chased, banned, detained and he walked away with stitches from the Cronulla riots. He has been on the sidelines of elections, the Olympics and grand finals and has twice completed the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. In 2005, Meares began telling screen-based stories online, combining his photos with audio. Moving back to the federal parliament’s press gallery in 2008, he established a video capability for the Fairfax bureaux that includes live streaming, multiple camera video interviews and short documentaries.
“When I get off the bus now, I’m constantly scanning the scene, not only for the news picture of the day, but for these iPhone pictures which are a sort of Polaroid commentary. I’ve chosen the iPolaroid format as an app on the phone because that was the original instant picture.”
Judges’ comments Meares took viewers outside the frenetic heat of the election campaign to cut through the political spin. He combined great storytelling and sharp observational skills with an innovative use of technology to deliver a unique and thoroughly engaging view of the election. In a campaign dominated by 24-hour news cycles, Meares’ images provided a rare moment of clarity and told the election story in a compelling and original way.
Luckily the Walkley Awards only recognise quality and excellence in online reporting. Congratulations to the winner of the 2010 Best Online Journalism Award. A’ight. WLK05012_SAMediaAwards_print_1a.indd 1
50 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Creative agency. Digital view. www.august.com.au
12/11/10 3:23:26 PM
Print • Three Headings Winner Warwick McFadyen, The Age, “Heads and tales” When gangland killer Carl Williams was given a gold-coffin send-off by his family, friends and associates, Warwick McFadyen couldn’t resist blurring the line between “gilt” and “guilt”. The other headlines in his winning entry were inspired by Harry Kewell’s red card for a handball in the World Cup, and by a story on the difficulties young people face getting into the housing market. McFadyen started at the Newcastle Herald before moving to Melbourne. Aside from a short stint in Canberra and a longer period living in Ireland, he has been at The Age since 1987. His work there flows between writing and production. He has been a Walkley finalist three times. This is his second Walkley Award.
Judges’ comments Warwick McFadyen’s three headings are an outstanding example of his craft. Whether it be a front-page splash, a heart-wrenching moment in sport or column commentary, he has shown a concise and accurate understanding of each story and the context in which it unfolded. A very high standard of work produced against the backdrop of daily deadline pressures.
To the end, a killer’s gilt shows through By CHRIS JOHNSTON and ANDREA PETRIE AFTER the funeral and the burial and with Carl Williams’s mourners drinking at his wake in a Keilor reception centre, the undignified work began. No one was there to see it. The ceremonies were over, the spotlight turned off. His $30,000 bronze and 14-carat gold coffin, imported from the United States, had been put in the ground. Cream roses had been thrown, his drawn exwife Roberta Williams peeling
petals and fluttering them in one by one. The ashes of his mother and his brother were lowered in. Two white doves were released by his godson and daughter Dhakota and white balloons released. Holy water scattered. Prayers said. ‘‘Our brother Carl, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the Lord bless him.’’ There were perhaps 30 people at his graveside. This was 2pm yesterday at Keilor cemetery. The funeral had already been held in Essendon. Roberta, her children, Williams’s ailing father, George, and their security guards travelled between the two places by black stretch Hummer. ‘‘Do not count his deeds against him,’’ said priest Joe Caddy at the graveside. ‘‘May he rest in peace.’’ The small crowd then filed away. There was no more to say, no more to see. The gravediggers got to work. Silently they filled in the grave, the dirt and clay all landfill from construction of the nearby freeways. Wet earth
THE WRIGHT WORDS TONY WRIGHT
Home a loan too much for kids Continued PAGE 6
The conversations around the dinner tables are onand one subject — house prices. George Roberta Williams farewell Carl, And when that is the case it’s a guide to a market oncarried the from edge who was theof overheating.
The Kewell hand of fate
church in a $30,000 bronze and gold coffin.
PICTURES: JASON SOUTH, VINCE CALIGIURI
All Media • Outstanding Continuous Coverage of an Issue or Event Winner Stephen Fitzpatrick, The Australian, “Sri Lankan asylum seeker stand-off”
News of the interception of two groups of Sri Lankan asylum seekers on the high seas last October acquired an immediate political focus in the media, triggering the Rudd government’s Bad memories of the former asylum-seeker camp hang over any boatpeople solution with Indonesia, Stephen Fitzpatrick reports “Indonesia solution crisis”. Meanwhile, no-one had spoken to the ‘N individuals at the centre of the story. Stephen Fitzpatrick fixed this when he tossed a mobile phone aboard with written instructions in English and Indonesian to call him. His journalism helped humanise the asylum seekers and their plight, while holding immigration officials in both countries to scrutiny. Fitzpatrick, then The Australian’s Jakarta correspondent, led the reporting of the affair, consistently breaking stories after the first of the two boats carrying asylum seekers docked in Merak in western Java. His exclusive interviews on board were cited in news reports worldwide. The efforts by Jakarta and Canberra to prevent both groups from talking to the media effectively treated the Sri Lankans as criminals by denying them the basic human right of freedom of expression. This situation presented significant ethical questions as well as reporting and technological challenges. Crowded house: Asylum-seekers are yesterday guided to Christmas Island The first pictures of desperate conditions on the Merak boat came via a mobile phone memory card smuggled to shore, its MORE than 260 Sri Lankan The Sri Lankan asylum- dealt with by immigration offi- out cause, and take you to trial images quickly transmitted by satellite phone to The Australian’s asylum-seekers were last night seekers and six Indonesian crew cials after having refused for the without evidence.’’ threatening to blow up their boat members were under military past three days to leave their Alex said the group’s choice of Australia as a destination was not if the Indonesian navy forced guard aboard the cargo ship in stricken boat. picture desk. A laptop computer and modem were later secreted them to disembark at the port in western Java after being interKevin Rudd confirmed yester- based on intimate knowledge of Merak after the large cargo boat cepted trying to sail to Christmas day he had made a personal plea federal government immigration aboard the same vessel, at great risk to the asylum seekers and they were piloting towards Island. to Dr Yudhoyono for the Indone- policy, but simply ‘‘because we had to flee somewhere’’. Christmas Island broke down. Indonesian President Susilo sians to intercept the boat. ‘‘Another boat full of Tamils ‘‘We have gas canisters and we STEPHEN FITZPATRICK Bambang Yudhoyono intervened Alex denied last night that Fitzpatrick himself from Indonesian authorities. have told the navy we will blow directly in the case of the asylum- those on board the boat were left Malaysia for Canada, and for that people were paying up the boat and jump into the seekers, who were detained trying associated with Tamil Tigers. ocean if they try to force us off ‘‘If the authorities in Sri Lanka to sail to Christmas Island at the ‘‘We are civilians, not Tamil $US45,000 per person,’’ he said. Stephen Fitzpatrick was The Australian’s Jakarta correspondent the boat,’’ said a spokesman for know this is me on this boat, they weekend. Tigers. Every day there are ‘‘That was far too expensive.’’ He said the group had been at the asylum-seekers, who would will hunt down my wife and Dr Yudhoyono has ordered his Tamils being killed and raped in only give his name as Alex. children in Jaffna and kill them,’’ navy chief of staff to treat with the refugee camps. Men are sea for 13 days before being for almost five years until August 2010. Previously he spent captured by anface Indonesian can’t begroup serious: of disbelief clouds the ofnavy Harry Kewell (centre) as Italian referee Roberto Rosetti blindfolded and shot in the back ‘‘II have Alex said the Sri Lankans had the frightened man said.You care the of hungry A andlook vessel early on Saturday morning. each paid $US15,000 ($16,533) to been waiting for my wife and tired refugees, who last night of the head. board the wooden craft in Malay- children to follow me here. As were expected to be towed to ‘‘In Sri Lanka if you are Tamil ‘‘We spent a month in the jungle several years as the paper’s world news editor. Fitzpatrick has sia 13 days ago, after travelling soon as possible, we need to get to shore after their cargo boat’s there is no opportunity — the in Malaysia before that,’’ he said. shot was toohad harsh, that the MORE Australians been there by air from Jaffna. Australia.’’ engine died. They were thenhave to be government can detain you with- Continued — Page 8 “Now we are the only ghosts here.” The question covered some of Indonesia’s biggest stories of recent times and penalty it cost Australia was sent off at the World Cup than has reported extensively on East Timor. been how many Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees punishment enough and that, Australia has scored goals or
Galang’s refugee hell
OW we are the only ghosts here.’’ The question had been how many Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees committed suicide waiting for the UN to determine their refugee status on this tiny Indonesian island 30 years ago. The answer is frightening. Hundreds died here, either by their own hand or from natural causes; vastly more died at sea trying to reach this place. Abu Nawas Tanawolo, an eastern Indonesian who grew up in the shadow of his country’s contribution to the great diaspora that followed the end of the Vietnam War, is in tears as he tells his truth. The past weighs heavily on Abu, as it does on Jakarta’s leaders; none of them wants a return to the chaos that was Galang Island, the UN-created solution to the world’s first modern boatpeople crisis, when hundreds of thousands fled war in the hope somewhere else, anywhere else, would be better. ‘‘On those trips they were so tightly crammed that they were forced to urinate and defecate where they sat,’’ says Abu’s boss at the surreal and deserted tourist park where the two men live out their shared past, remembering the arrivals at Galang’s UNbuilt port during its years of operation from 1980 to 1996. ‘‘The smell when they docked, after weeks at sea, was incredible. Sometimes you couldn’t even go close to them.’’ Mursidi, the boss, is a grandfatherly Javanese man who used to tend to the diesel generators that supplied power to the camp. These days, retired, he sits in a museum housed in one of the few remaining intact buildings on the 80ha site, carefully rolling cigarettes of rough tobacco, one after another. Now almost entirely forgotten, the Galang camp is only a few nautical miles from where Australian Customs vessel Oceanic Viking lies off the port city of Tanjung Pinang, waiting for a resolution to the faltering ‘‘Indonesian solution’’ Kevin Rudd so desperately desires. The structures at Galang are mostly in ruins and the hulks of abandoned UN vehicles rot in the tropical rain, but the camp is an eerie reminder of the Indochinese diaspora that brought it about. A beautifully maintained Buddhist pagoda, still used by the area’s Chinese community, speaks of the living; all else, including a desperately sad ramshackle cemetery full of tiny graves and a monument to ‘‘those refugees who died while travelling by sea to their freedom’’, reeks of decay. Just a handful of the 250,000 people processed through Galang in those years, many of them now Australian citizens, have been back to visit. Those encounters are tearful times, with bitter memories of escapes by crowded fishing boat, of disaster, death and pirates on the treacherous South China Sea, of squalid conditions in the camp and, for the lucky few, resettlement in the US, Australia, Canada and select European countries. Suicide by hanging or self-immolation was frequent as the years went by and the camp filled to bursting with those who, having had their refugee claims rejected, refused to be repatriated. Escape attempts, focused on sailing directly to Australia, were punished by the Indonesian Brimob police guarding the camp. Violence and rape — by refugees and guards — was a daily threat. Melbourne newspaper publisher and editor Hong Anh Nguyen arrived in Galang in 1980, as the boatpeople surge following the end of the Vietnam War peaked. Then 29, he spent 13 months on the island with his three younger brothers after their 12m fishing boat, with 154 people on board, was forced back to sea at gunpoint by Singaporean troops, firing rounds into the air. Nguyen and his siblings had travelled for a week from Saigon; his parents never escaped Vietnam. Nguyen says there was anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 people living in the Galang camp while he was there and, although he was not beaten, he knew plenty of people who were. ‘‘Young people at that time who didn’t have their parents, they don’t have a good education, or something like that, so some-
Remembrance of chaos past: Abu Nawas Tanawolo, left, and his boss Mursidi on Galang Island, site of the UN-created solution to the world’s first modern boatpeople crisis in the wake of the Vietnam War
Sri Lankans threaten to set fire to boat MERAK, INDONESIA
Due process: Rotting hulls of boats used by the exodus of Vietnamese refugees
‘It’s easy to open a processing centre, but when it comes to closing it you face a lot of difficulty’ Teuku Faizasyah, Indonesian Foreign Ministry
times they behave no good, fighting between themselves, so the Indonesians, they treat them very harsh, they beat them,’’ Nguyen says. ‘‘We had many problems over there because when you live in a camp with about 15,000 people, so many problems. You had not very good facilities, especially the toilet, it was terrible.’’ Time and distance are a salve. Having made his life and become a citizen in Australia — as have all three of his brothers — Nguyen is able to look back on Galang with a degree of equanimity. ‘‘In any country, any authority from the police in the developing country like Indonesia or even in our own country, sometimes
they are very tough, harsh, and many times they are corrupt,’’ he says. For Indonesia the memories are conflicting, too: relatively few, aside from those working in the camp, know of the boatpeople’s precarious existence in their territory. Those refugees accepted for resettlement in third countries — after what was in many cases effectively a lottery conducted on-site by UN staff, outside the building where Mursidi sits smoking his handmade cigarettes — were taken immediately to Singapore. In the Nguyen brothers’ case, that was followed by a flight to Adelaide. But for those Indonesians who do understand — and they include many of the bureaucrats negotiating with Australia over how to deal with a new wave of sea-bound irregular migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and elsewhere — Galang is a thorn in their side. Talk of an Australian-designed Indonesian solution to the present surge only stirs anxiety over the idea of a new internment camp on its scale. We are living in a different era,’’ era, insists ‘‘We the Foreign Ministry’s Teuku Faizasyah. That was the Cold War. And opening a ‘‘That processing centre now would be like a pull factor for those coming to our region, expecting that they would be processed and destination. find the best country as a final destination.’’ Instead, Australia helps Indonesia maintain its system of 13 detention centres nationwide, run by the Immigration Department with skeleton assistance from the International Organisation for Migration, and refugee claims that are processed by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It is a shaky arrangement. Australiantrained guards, for instance, are on trial for corruption in Tanjung Pinang, accused of
having accepted up to $US15,000 ($16,500) from six Afghan detainees at the centre there to let them escape. The Afghans were caught and thrown back in the centre, a forbidding new razor wireringed prison that Rudd hopes he can persuade the 78 Sri Lankans on the Oceanic Viking to voluntarily enter. With many of the 78 having already lived in the Indonesian immigration system for several years, experiencing firsthand its inefficiency, brutality and venality, Rudd’s officials on the ground have been fighting an uphill battle during the past three weeks trying to pull off the improbable. And their Indonesian counterparts, while gracious, are quietly determined not to let Australia impose on the country another Galang. It was the UNHCR that established the internment camp in 1980, after nearly five years of boatpeople fleeing the fall of Saigon had overloaded facilities on the nearby Indonesian islands of Batam, Bintan, Natuna and, especially, Kuku. In a way it was a win-win arrangement for the businesses ranged around Indonesian president Suharto, who came to power on the back of a vast anti-communist bloodletting in 1965 but also understood the value of capitalism’s quiet logic in the years that followed. The UNHCR provided the funds for Galang; Indonesian corporations, many allied to the Suharto machine, built and ran it. An Australian-funded hospital on the site was opened in 1980 by ambassador Tom Critchley, the great pioneer of the modern Indonesia-Australia relationship; other countries and international organisations also contributed to Galang’s operation. Shutting up shop was a different matter altogether: it took from 1989, when the world
Pictures: Ng Norman
decided to stop accepting Indochinese boatpeople as refugees and forced them to register as asylum-seekers, until 1996 for Jakarta to get rid of the foreign visitors it never really wanted. Most were repatriated, unwillingly. In the end, the Indonesian navy was deployed to force them out. ‘‘It’s easy to open a processing centre, but when it comes to closing it you face a lot of difficulty,’’ Faizasyah says, with no irony. Abu, 32, now a guard at the tourist site the camp has become, grew up here, after his Flores-born father abandoned his Sulawesiborn mother and she obtained employment as a cook for the camp’s guards. He describes, with untouchable tears that turn to quiet sobs, the phantoms of the past he sees at Galang, but admits there is too much of him in the place to leave. ‘‘Now we are the only ghosts here,’’ he says, indicating himself and Mursidi. ‘‘It’s all just memories.’’ He lights incense at the grave of an infant in the miserable cemetery, one of the few still tended to in this rundown expanse of death. The Vietnamese government wants Jakarta to shut down the Galang site altogether, worried the place unites the diaspora against it. ‘‘The regional officials have told us they won’t do that,’’ Mursidi says. ‘‘This is important.’’ On the hill above, a shrine to Dewi Kuan Im, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, watches over Galang. The shrine, like the pagoda nearby, is lovingly kept, a tribute to the faith of those who built it. In the distance, the Oceanic Viking sighs heavily on the swell of the South China Sea. Stephen Fitzpatrick is The Australian’s Jakarta correspondent.
Judges’ comments Stephen Fitzpatrick displayed creativity, tenacity and a concern for the plight of the highly vulnerable people caught in the controversies at Merak and on the Oceanic Viking. He overcame obstacles to reach these people and bring their perspectives to Australian and, ultimately, international attention. His compelling stories came just as the asylum issue emerged as a critical political battleground in Australia.
according to their preearned points, but the suicide waiting for the UN to determine committed their GREG BAUM tournament briefing, the Socceroos still have a toe in on this tiny AT Indonesian 30hadyears THE WORLD CUPisland referee the discretion to the door. refugee It has been status as it at here, that. emotionally wrenching as only ago. The answer is frightening. Hundredsleave died They contrasted Kewell’s had one of each within the soccer can be. either by their own hand or from natural causes; vastly sanction with the judgment on In no other football code — first half-hour against Ghana in Rustenburg. no other sport — died does caprice more at sea trying to reach this place. Nemanja Vidic the previous day, when the Serb deliberThere was an element of play such a telling role. In no ately reached out to intercept luck about Brett Holman’s other sport are the turning a ball in Germany’s penalty goal, an element of heavypoints at once so indiscrimibox, costing his side a penalty handedness about the referee’s nate and so abrupt. In no (which was saved), but not decision to send off Harry other sport is justice someonce they times at once so summary and Kewell, too. But, T H E W A L K L E Y himself M A G Aa Zred I N card. E 51 ‘‘I’m devastated. He’s killed were facts, they shaped the rough. This is Australia’s World my World Cup,’’ said Kewell. match and tournament. Cup experience. His language was indignant, The Australians averred One goal changes everybut its tone crushed. ‘‘What that referee Roberto Rosetti’s thing, one waving — as
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Judges’ comments This series of reports is an outstanding exposé of a complicated financial collapse and the devastating effects on hundreds of investors, workers and businesses. Relentless investigation and painstaking research has brought to light a massive regulatory failure and blame-shifting. The reporting includes an impressive array of personal stories demonstrating the shattering local impact; the reporters’ pursuit led to more exclusive revelations despite the main players hiding behind a public relations company. Succinct, confident writing with enormous public benefit.
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52 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
MORE than two decades after surviving a horrific bicycle accident, Fairy Meadow man John Telford is facing financial ruin and the loss of $600,000 in a failed investment recommended to him by a Wollongong financial planner. Mr Telford, 62, has had a rough ride since the 1985 accident at Gwynneville, which occurred while he was cycling to the University of Wollongong. Mr Telford was flung from his bike when the driver of a parked car opened a door in front of him on August 6, 1985. Run over by an oncoming vehicle, he had critical injuries - including a broken back and broken neck - that left him in hospital for nine months. A year-and-a-half after the accident, Mr Telford returned to university. He completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Creative Arts. It took 14 years for Mr Telford diagnosed as an incomplete quadriplegic - to be awarded a compensation payout and he said it was a condition of the payout that it be invested to provide for his financial security. When he received the money in 1999, he was warned he would not qualify for a pension until at least 2023. He said the sad irony was that he had been frugal with his money to ensure it would last and that it would cover his ongoing medical expenses. ■
CONTINUED PAGE 2
Staff Sergeant Steve Burgess of Albion Park Rail and Sergeant Ian Pye of Nowra enjoy a rare moment of relaxation during their work with the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.
REPORTS: NEWS, REVIEW
FUND COLLAPSE RUINS FAMILIES By NICOLE HASHAM
HUNDREDS of Illawarra investors are facing financial ruin after their life savings vanished in the collapse of fund manager Trio Capital. A devastating picture is emerging across the region as ordinary “mum and dad” investors
report losses of between $50,000 and $500,000 - money that is unlikely to be recovered. Around 150 workers at Moss Vale’s Vale Engineering have also been hard hit after discovering their Trio superannuation savings have disappeared. Collective losses could run into the tens of millions of dollars.
Around 100 household investors are now seeking legal recourse in a case which has been described as Wollongong’s version of the infamous Storm Financial collapse. Their retirement savings were invested in the Albury-based superannuation fund manager Trio Capital which failed last October,
leaving an amount of $180 million that cannot be traced. A nine-month global hunt has failed to turn up the missing funds, supposedly invested in a complex web of hedge funds in foreign tax havens, including the British Virgin Islands.
Some Tarrants investors had been encouraged to borrow heavily against their homes and take out margin loans to fund their investment, he said. “I find it very difficult to understand why retired people or people about to retire, would be encouraged to borrow to invest,” Mr McDonald said. “I have clients who say they will have to sell their house to pay the loan.”
■ CONTINUED PAGE 6
Hard hit: Vale Engineering workers have lost their invested superannuation savings.
TRIO COLLAPSE By LAUREL-LEE RODERICK
Early this year, The Illawarra Mercury received a tip: two Wollongong financial planning firms had heavily invested clients’ money in Trio Capital, a company on the brink of collapse. About $123 million invested in Trio’s flagship fund has disappeared without trace. Since the Mercury began its investigations, one Wollongong solicitor has signed up more than 160 clients facing hefty losses. The breakdown of Trio Capital has been as disastrous for Wollongong investors as the collapse of Storm Financial was in Townsville. Reporters Nicole Hasham and Laurel-Lee Roderick tracked down dozens of devastated investors, convincing some to allow their stories to be printed. The two reporters remained in front of the story as the NSW Supreme Court heard that one of the Wollongong firms, Tarrants Financial Consultants, had accepted $840,000 in undeclared payments from Trio Capital. Later, Tarrants was placed into liquidation. The Mercury also proved through ASIC searches that a senior Tarrants employee was behind the new company set up to take over Tarrants clients. The reporters devoted countless hours to the investigations, helping to make regulators ASIC and APRA accountable, despite their refusal to comment on the ongoing Trio investigations. Nicole Hasham began her newspaper career at Sydney’s Cumberland Courier group in 2007, after several years in magazines and online media. She joined The Illawarra Mercury in January 2010 and covers politics and general news. Laurel-Lee Roderick studied journalism at the University of Western Sydney and started at the Mercury as an intern in 2002. She worked there until 2007, then spent two years at The Cairns Post. Roderick returned to the Mercury for 18 months until October 2010.
Picture: SYLVIA LIBER
All Media • Coverage of Community or Regional Affairs Winners Nicole Hasham and Laurel-Lee Roderick, The Illawarra Mercury, “Fund collapse ruins families”
All Media • Coverage of Indigenous Affairs Winners Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, ABC TV, Contact Contact was filmed deep in the desert of Western Australia, where in 1964 there took place Australia’s final instance of first contact between Indigenous Australians and white settlers. Martin Butler and Bentley Dean were confronted by a logistical nightmare in the desert, but the two-man crew was able to establish a non-intrusive filming style that put the Martu women involved at ease. Despite the small crew and minimal equipment, the piece has the cinematic look of a large production rather than the shaky, hand-held feel of much video-journalist camerawork. Yuwali, who was 17 when the encounter took place in 1964, gives a first-hand account of the fear, panic and sheer bewilderment as “the devils” in their “rocks that move” [cars] chased them around the desert. Martin Butler and Bentley Dean co-directed and co-produced Contact. Butler graduated from Oxford University, worked as an assistant to the manager of The Who, and spent 20 years in the field and in senior production at Four Corners, Foreign Correspondent and Dateline. Dean was a contestant in ABC TV’s first Race Around the World in 1997, and has filmed and directed stories for Dateline as well as several award-winning documentaries.
YUWALI: “Then I made out two men standing in the dune. They had dishes on their heads. I moved so they wouldn’t see me. Cannibal beings. Devil men. They had white skin. Whitefellas. Not like me. Blackfella.”
Judges’ comments This is a highly original account of Australia’s final – but practically forgotten – “first contact”. The narrative tension is superb, the research impeccable and the competing perspectives are nuanced yet telling. Contact allows the Aboriginal “talent” both primacy and a sense of humour. A stand-out piece of journalism.
SBS congratulates the winners of the 55th Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, ABC TV
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SALARY CAP CRISIS
Phil Gould: NRL should have known
Danny Weidler: Waldron v Bellamy
Gallop answers the hard questions
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All Media • Best Sports Journalism Winner Adrian Proszenko, The Sun-Herald, “Melbourne Storm rorts salary cap”
Sunday, April 25, 2010
EXCLUSIVE Adrian Proszenko
THESE are the names you have been waiting to read. Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Dallas Johnson, Brett White, Michael Crocker and Steve Turner – seven of Melbourne’s highest-profile rep players – will have their payments scrutinised as part of the ongoing salary-cap rorts investigation into the Storm. There is no suggestion the players – nor their managers – were complicit in cheating the system. The superstars have played an integral role in the Storm’s on-field LEAGUE success in recent seasons. All bar Turner have gone on to play for the the Kangaroos. Johnson (Catalans), Crocker (South Sydney) and Turner (Canterbury) are no longer at the club which, ironically, cited the need to stay under the salary cap as the reason for releasing them. Another personTHE of interest the SALARYtoCAP Adrian Proszenko NRL’s ongoing investigation is Andrew McManus. The concert proTHE NRL is investigating Melmoter, who has brought acts includbourne over alleged salary-cap ing Fleetwood Mac and Whitney breaches that occurred during their Houston to Australia, has been quespremiership triumph last year. tioned by salary cap auditor Ian The Sun-Herald can reveal that Schubert over hissalary game-day role with cap auditor Ian Schubert has the Storm. In an interview with theover several issues raised concerns Herald during thepertaining week, McManus to payments to Storm said Schubert hadplayers, inquired about a third-party deal including payments of between $5000 and Cameron Smith between skipper $7000 he made in previous years to and Fox Sports. But the man who brokered the Cronk and the since-departed Turner arrangement, and Crocker for appearances at Super his League architect John Ribot, Melbourne Cup marquee and otherdenied it was an enticement to keep the Australian promotional outings. hooker at Storm and that the A Storm fan, McManus hasthe been NRL were ‘‘up to 85 their eyeballs’’ in Continued Page
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Photo: Ben Rushton
Painstaking detective work and his sensitive handling of confidential sources enabled Adrian Proszenko to piece together the first reports on what was to become one of the biggest scandal in Australian sporting history. Proszenko’s initial news reports about questionable payments to players at champion rugby league club Melbourne Storm raised questions that prompted NRL CEO David Gallop to ramp up the NRL’s investigation into salary cap rorts at the club. Proszenko’s first reports ran in the first edition of The Sun-Herald on March 28. Three weeks later, Melbourne Storm officials confessed to systematically breaching the salary cap over a period of five years. The punishments were unprecedented. Adrian Proszenko is a senior sports journalist for The Sun-Herald. He covers a number of sports, but his main focus is rugby league. In recent years, he has broken some of the game’s biggest stories, including Sonny Bill Williams’ plan to walk out on the NRL; inside the Jason Taylor sacking; South Sydney’s Book of Feuds and the Timana Tahu racism rows. Prior to joining Fairfax, Proszenko was the chief rugby league writer for AAP.
Judges’ comments Adrian Proszenko was the groundbreaker, revealing the initial investigation which led to the uncovering of a deeper, widespread salary cap rort. The story led to the exposure of the most breathtaking salary cap rorting in Australian NRL history.
FOUR-PAGE ANZAC DAY FORM GUIDE
the details of the deal when it was struck last year. NRL CEO David Gallop confirmed his salary cap team would fly to Melbourne this week to examine the Storm’s books. ‘‘This is the time of the year when the salary cap audits are being completed,’’ Gallop said yesterday. ‘‘It’s not unusual for a number of matters to be under investigation. It’s fair to say that there are some issues at the Melbourne Storm that are being looked at carefully. Those investigations are ongoing. I understand that the salary cap team will be going to Melbourne in the next week or so.’’ Foxtel paid Smith $45,000 a year over three years as part of a thirdparty arrangement that Super League architect John Ribot helped to arrange. The deal was struck when Smith was coming off contract in late 2008 and considering a massive offer to join the Gold Coast Titans. Ribot, Foxtel and the Storm have denied that the third-party arrangement was used as an enticement to keep Smith at the Storm and that it would have remained in place regardless of which club employed him. Foxtel penned a letter to all parties backing up the assertion. Then-Storm CEO Brian Waldron, now the chief executive of the new Melbourne Rebels rugby union franchise, declined to comment.
These are the names you have been waiting to read. Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Dallas Johnson, Brett White, Michael Crocker and Steve Turner – seven of Melbourne’s highest-profile rep players – will have their payments scrutinised as part of the ongoing salary-cap rorts investigation into the Storm. There is no suggestion the players – nor their managers – were complicit in cheating the system.
Ongoing investigation ... Cameron Smith’s finances will be pored over by salary-cap investigators this week. Photo: Getty Images Acting CEO Matt Hanson confirmed he had met Gallop and Schubert a fortnight ago in an attempt to resolve the matter. ‘‘Basically the NRL are wanting to include a portion of that deal in the salary cap and we believe it is not in the salary cap,’’ Hanson said. ‘‘Cameron didn’t have a manager at the time and John Ribot helped him to negotiate that deal. ‘‘It’s our belief that it shouldn’t be in the cap and Ian believes that a portion of it should be. It’s ongoing, it’s nothing new, and they need to make a determination.’’ Asked if Ribot’s involvement in the deal could be viewed as a bid to keep Smith at Melbourne, Hanson said: ‘‘That’s the way ‘Schuey’ [Schubert] is viewing it, that it was brokered to
keep Cameron at the Storm. But Cameron has a deal with Fox irrespective of which NRL club he plays for.’’ The salary cap has been hailed as the great leveller of playing talent, with the days of dynasties said to be over. The Storm, however, gunning for their fifth straight grand final, have bucked the trend. The club has retained some of its best players on long-term contracts, including Australian stars Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and Smith. To do so, the Storm have reluctantly parted with a number of club favourites and last year shed Steve Turner, Dallas Johnson, Joseph Tomane, Matt Cross, Aidan Guerra and Will Chambers. It is understood that Schubert is investigating a number of other possible anomalies at the club. Hanson
said that Schubert had raised the issue of Johnson’s termination pay, with a query over which year it should be included in the cap. Ribot said that his involvement with Smith was only as a ‘‘supporter’’. ‘‘I have no official position with Melbourne but I just helped as a friend,’’ Ribot said. ‘‘I’m a huge supporter of Cameron’s and I thought he was good for the game. I spoke to David Gallop about that. ‘‘When we did that deal it was in conjunction with all parties and the NRL were up to their eyeballs in it. ‘‘His manager [Isaac Moses] did the deal and I wasn’t involved in the last part of the deal. I wasn’t involved with that. ‘‘I was more of a facilitator to
bring all the parties together.’’ Asked why he thought the NRL was reopening its investigation into the matter more than a year on, Ribot said: ‘‘I wouldn’t have a clue. ‘‘If they have some questions they are fully entitled to investigate those things. ‘‘We were fully transparent . . . no one was hiding anything.’’ Moses was unavailable for comment. This is the second salary cap drama to emerge in as many days following allegations that Gold Coast captain Scott Prince was involved in a plan to have a $400,000 house built for him as part of a rort of the salary cap. Prince and the Titans have denied the allegations and are considering defamation proceedings.
All Media • International Journalism Winners Mary Ann Jolley and Andrew Geoghegan, ABC TV, Foreign Correspondent, “Fly away children” Mary Ann Jolley and Andrew Geoghegan were on another assignment, staying in a hotel in Addis Ababa, when they noticed it was full of Western families and their newly adopted Ethiopian children. There was something confronting about the international adoptions happening en masse in Ethiopia. They felt it warranted scrutiny. A few inquiries to local and international human rights organisations revealed serious concerns about the lack of oversight of the industry and alarming stories about the way children were procured by adoption agencies. But it proved a challenging story to film, requiring much planning and ingenuity. No international human rights organisation would go on the record, for fear the government would banish it from the country. Former agency employees and parents who had given up their children were terrified of airing their grievances, scared of reprisals from corrupt agency and government officials. And most American families who had been lied to about their adopted child’s background and/or medical condition, refused to be interviewed because they were worried they would have their child taken away or jeopardise their chances of adopting again. Mary Ann Jolley has worked as a producer and reporter on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent since 2001 and has filmed stories in some of the world’s most closed countries, including Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Libya, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Andrew Geoghegan has been the ABC’s Africa correspondent since October 2006. He has covered the continent’s major stories, going undercover into Zimbabwe to investigate the political and humanitarian crisis, reporting in Somalia on the dangerous work undertaken by aid agencies, and travelling with the commander of the world’s largest peacekeeping force into the heart of the Darfur conflict. Both Geoghegan and Jolley have been recognised for their work, with several prestigious international awards. Together they won a Walkley in 2009 for Television Current Affairs.
Judges’ comments This groundbreaking investigation into the Ethiopian adoption industry was a complex story told very well, with considerable effort made to treat the subject even-handedly. The story had a significant impact, leading to an investigation into the adoption industry in the United States and immediate changes being made to the US Embassy’s adoption visa processing system. Following the program here in Australia, our government suspended its Ethiopian adoption program and ordered a review.
54 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
ADOPTION REP: “If you want your child to be adopted by a family in America, you may stay. If you do not want your child to go to America, you should take your child away.” ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: “This active drafting of children from families for the international adoption market... is harvesting.”
Photography • Sport Photography Winner Michael Dodge, heraldsun.com.au, “Seizing the moment”
A sport photographer’s role is to seize the moment. Whether capturing the unexpected or making the most of the natural light, it takes high levels of concentration and discipline to be ready at all times – especially when things look pedestrian. Nothing much was happening in the minutes before Italian 250cc rider Roberto Locatelli overcorrected on the Phillip Island racetrack... or in the Saints vs Pies game before a verbal joust between Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse and St Kilda forward Stephen Milne... or when Roger Federer was being swallowed by late-evening shadow at Rod Laver Arena... or when St Kilda’s weeping captain, Nick Riewoldt, needed a hug after his team lost the AFL grand final to Geelong. And Bart Cummings was just standing quietly after yet another Caulfield Cup win when Michael Dodge’s 600mm lens captured two tears trickling out from beneath the veteran trainer’s sunglasses. Events such as these could have been mundane, but Dodge’s instincts and reflexes turned them into magical moments. Michael Dodge started as a cadet photographer with The Herald Sun in 1991 and then joined Sports Weekly as a full-time sport photographer in 1995. He returned to The Herald Sun as senior sport photographer in 1997.
1. Dizzy heights 2. Light and shade 3. This hurts 4. Milne rape slur 5. Cupsweep
Judges’ comments Michael has exhibited not only his ability to ‘capture the moment’ as an action photographer, but also a deft news sense born from his innate knowledge of the sports he covers. Dodge’s images are unique thanks to his intimate knowledge of the personalities he photographs. To view Michael Dodge’s complete entry go to walkleys.com/2010winners
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Radio • Radio News and Current Affairs Reporting Winner Stephen Long, ABC Radio, PM, “A Super Scandal” Paul Keating called it his greatest reform for workers: a system to ensure that all Australians had security and dignity in retirement. Stephen Long’s report revealed that returns from Australia’s retirement savings system are shockingly low: net of all fees, charges and costs, just 3 per cent a year over a dozen years. Not satisfied with the claims by the industry and its paid consultants, Long undertook his own independent analysis of statistics compiled by the prudential regulator. His premise was that to assess the health of the system, you have to look at returns system-wide. The investigation showed a sick system. Long showed the courage to take on a powerful industry, move beyond its rhetoric and, through original research, highlight its failings. Long has been the ABC’s economics correspondent, and previously its national finance correspondent, for the past six years. He came to the ABC after seven years as a senior reporter and columnist on The Australian Financial Review. In his 23-year career he has also worked for The Sydney Morning Herald and AAP, and as managing editor of a specialist business publisher. In 1999, he was seconded to the London School of Economics as researcher-in-residence.
Judges’ comments Stephen Long’s stories for PM on the shortcomings of the current superannuation system were the result of solid, investigative research and analysis that showed how the returns from Australia’s retirement savings were shockingly low. He revealed that the real winners from compulsory super were those charging the fees to run it.
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STEPHEN LONG: “The conflict of interest in the way financial planners are paid to promote super schemes has been in the spotlight but there’s been less attention on those who get paid the biggest money, the investment managers.” JEFF BRESNAHAN: “Quite clearly it’s the investment management side of it that is taking the bulk of that income, just over half, or about $9 billion a year.”
STEPHEN LONG: “The highly salaried stock pickers don’t get a flat base fee and a bonus for doing well as you might expect.” JEFF BRESNAHAN: “They get a percentage of the superannuation fund assets, irrespective of performance.” STEPHEN LONG: “So the bigger the pot, the more they get.” JEFF BRESNAHAN: “No-one’s willing to push the boundaries and say we need to change the way the investment managers are paid.” STEPHEN LONG: “At Australia’s biggest super fund, they’ve cut the fees they were paying by sacking most of the investment managers. Mark Delaney is the fund’s chief investment officer.” MARK DELANEY: “Stock picking is what people call in investment terms a zero sum game; that is for every winner there’s a loser.”
Radio • Radio Journalism Feature, Documentary or Broadcast Special Winner Kristina Kukolja, SBS, World View, “Echoes of Srebrenica” In July 1995 more than 7000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were rounded up and executed by Bosnian Serb forces over a period of five days near the town of Srebrenica. Many more died in the Bosnian war and the search for their remains continues to this day. In June 2010 the world watched as the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia concluded its largest trial to date; sentencing seven for their roles in what has been deemed the worst mass murder in Europe since the Second World War. Those who survived the ordeal were once again reminded of the ongoing nightmare that is life after the Srebrenica massacre. “Echoes of Srebrenica” features the voices of survivors now living in Australia – some speaking for the very first time about their experiences, despite fears of unleashing a past too horrific for words. This is a story of the strength of the human spirit, the importance of justice and truth in the pursuit of reconciliation, and the burden of memory with which Srebrenica’s survivors will forever be cursed. Zagreb-born Kristina Kukolja spent her childhood years between the UK and Croatia, arriving in Australia in 1994 – towards the end of the civil war. In 2005 Kukolja returned to Zagreb, where she freelanced for several Croatian travel and lifestyle magazines. Kukolja joined SBS in late 2008 as a broadcaster with the Croatian language program.
“They found some bones from one uncle. He’s not whole, so we won’t bury him yet. We’re waiting for them to find some more parts of him.” Alen Gabeljic, aged 28 “One evening all the people were there. I don’t know how many of us there were ... They were saying the Serbs are coming and taking young women away, raping them. There were fields of wheat all around us. ... There wasn’t any water where we were so they’d go to some of the abandoned houses that still had water. People went away and they would come back saying ‘The houses are covered in blood. The people have been killed.’ I was afraid. So I put on a lot of clothing and put my hair to the front and around my face. I’d hoped they’d think I was crazy. I tied scarves around the children’s faces.”
CI-10-314 CRICOS no. 00213J
Kukolja’s work uncovered new information, brought a story of global significance up to date and managed to personalise the trauma of a people through the voices of a few. “Echoes of Srebrenica” displayed detailed research, effective interviewing techniques and subdued production values to reflect the harrowing stories of loss, separation and despair. A powerful and evocative piece of radio journalism.
Uncovering the real story As a proud sponsor for many years of the Walkley Award for Radio Feature, Documentary or Broadcast Special, QUT Creative Industries congratulates this year’s winner. Journalism courses at QUT Creative Industries produce industry-ready graduates and up-and-coming Walkley nominees. We offer a range of courses that provide practical skills in print, radio, online and television journalism for media newcomers plus opportunities for cutting-edge research and development for experienced media professionals. More information Phone (07) 3138 8114, email email@example.com or visit www.creativeindustries.qut.edu.au.
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All Media • Best Scoop of the Year Winner Lenore Taylor, The Sydney Morning Herald, “ETS off the agenda until late next term” Lenore Taylor’s scoop, that the Rudd government had shelved action on an emissions trading scheme (ETS), changed the course of Australian politics. The prime minister recorded the largest drop in personal satisfaction rating over the shortest period of time in the 20-year history of Newspoll, plummeting 11 percentage points between a poll taken just before the story appeared and one conducted shortly afterwards. The ETS had been Rudd’s centrepiece policy to address what he had described as “the greatest moral challenge of our time”. The leak revealed a political decision made at the worst possible time for the government. Taylor pieced together the story over several days with repeated phone calls to trusted political and bureaucratic contacts built up over two decades of reporting federal politics. When the Australian Federal Police were called in to investigate, it took them several months to interview everyone she had called. Taylor’s scoop surprised the public and even government ministers. Lenore Taylor has covered federal politics for most of the past 22 years, for The Canberra Times, The Australian, The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald. From 2000 to 2003, she was the AFR’s London-based European correspondent. She is now national affairs correspondent for the Herald, writing a Saturday column, analysis and stories that delve behind the daily news.
Judges’ comments Taylor’s revelation, that Rudd planned to shelve the ETS, took both the public and most of Rudd’s own ministers by surprise. Taylor exposed a political decision which is recognised as one of the key precursors to Rudd’s downfall. Building her story over several days through back channel sources and her command of the issue, Taylor produced a scoop, well ahead of her rivals, which could not be denied by manipulative spin.
ETS off the agenda until late next term LENORE TAYLOR THE Rudd government has shelved its emissions trading scheme for at least three years in a bid to defuse Tony Abbott’s “great big new tax” attack in this year’s election campaign. The cabinet’s strategic priorities and budget committee has removed the scheme from the four-year forward estimates, a decision that saves $2.5 billion because household and industry compensation would have exceeded the revenue generated by the scheme in its early years. The Herald understands the government has decided not to start the scheme before 2013 at the earliest, hoping that by then it will have gained support from the Coalition and international efforts to combat climate change will have become clearer. After the Coalition leadership coup shattered the bipartisan deal on the carbon pollution reduction scheme in December, some environment groups hoped the government would include it as a trigger in a possible double dissolution election so that later it could be passed at a joint sitting of Parliament, or that the government would try to renegotiate the bills with the Coalition or the Greens if it won a second term in a normal half Senate poll. And the Greens are technically still negotiating with the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, over a “compromise” plan to get the scheme through before the election. But as debate rages within the government over political strategy on climate change, the Herald has learnt it has decided to put the scheme on ice to undercut the “great big new tax” scare campaign, particularly after the failure of the Copenhagen climate conference and uncertainty over the fate of the US emissions trading scheme. Labor will insist it still believes an ETS is the best way to reduce emissions but will cite domestic and international pressures as
making it impossible to introduce in the short term. The scheme had been due to begin with a carbon tax next year, moving to full trading in 2012. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, maintained his theoretical support for the ETS in an interview with the Herald last week, saying “on the question of climate change policy our policy hasn’t changed. We maintain our position that this is part of the most efficient and the most effective means by which we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with least cost to the economy.” But the government is preparing a range of energy-efficiency policies – based on advice from its new energy-efficiency taskforce – to demonstrate its environmental credentials in the absence of an ETS.
The government will stake its future on health reform after it emerged the Coalition’s refusal to allow a means test on the private health insurance rebate has blown a $660 million hole in the budget.
News – Page 3 Comment – Page 4
A spokesman for Senator Wong said yesterday: “The blocking of the CPRS legislation by the opposition has caused delays and created uncertainties which will of course affect the budget treatment of the CPRS.” A poll by the Climate Institute WHO wouldreleased have thought the think tank yesterday difference between ‘‘theMr greatest showed those trusting Rudd moral challenge of our age’’ and most on climate fellup from ‘‘absolute crap’’change could wind 46 per last year to 36 per beingcent so small? The climate change debate at cent in April, and the proportion the next election will now be the of voters believing there was no battle of between the ‘‘direct action plans’’. difference the two leadOn one side there will be the ers Coalition’s rose from 37magic’’ per cent to 40 ‘‘soil scheme per based cent on over the same time. implausible assumptionsnew about the greenhouse- posiThe government abatement capacities of the earth, tioning and time pressures mean the legislation incorporating the now-defunct deal with Malcolm Turnbull is unlikely to be brought back to the Senate.
Decision that shattered faith in PM arranged visit to Nepean Hospital, to confirm ‘‘the implementation of a carbon pollution reduction scheme in Australia . . . will be extended until after the conclusion of the current Kyoto commitment period, which finishes at the end of 2012’’. A spokesman was unable to explain the conditions under which Labor would reconsider the scheme t was the decision that seemed until quite late that night – we now to snap voters’ faith in Kevin know because the kitchen cabinet Rudd. Perhaps a final straw. was meeting all afternoon to try to Straight after the government figure them out. announced it was deferring an By the next day Wong was finally emissions trading scheme until 2013, clarifying – there had to be ‘‘credible graphs of the Prime Minister’s satisaction’’ from China, India and the faction rating looked like a rock falling United States, and some resolution of off a cliff. Labor’s primary vote tumthe Copenhagen deadlock over how bled after it. national emission reduction efforts Labor is under attack from the Coaare checked. lition for still being committed to the In other words, the government was ETS in theory, and from the Greens for now advocating the same ‘‘wait and being too scared to implement it in see’’ position the Prime Minister himpractice. For Rudd, who said global self had previously described as warming was the greatest moral chal‘‘absolute political cowardice’’ and an lenge of our time, the assault is of a far ‘‘absolute failure of leadership’’. more dangerous kind – aimed directly Bogged in the policy ramifications at his personal credibility. of the scheme for the budget and for How could the government have the mining tax and concerned about taken such a disastrous decision? After countering the Coalition’s ‘‘great big piecing together months of ferocious new tax’’ campaign, it seems the govdebate within the ALP, the extraordinernment as a whole forgot to take a ary answer seems to be that the decistep back and consider the political sion was taken almost by attrition. ramifications of a Prime Minister During the first three months of this Lindsay Tanner, and others on the Parkinson. But the Treasury, and the government could deliver in arguing in favour of something for year, what to do about the ETS was Swan, didn’t own the scheme, or even grounds that it was bad policy and even deference to one that it had not been years and then suddenly arguing one of the hottest topics within the like it particularly. able to get though the Senate, Swan is worse politics, given everything the almost the exact opposite. In the end the Deputy Prime Minisgovernment. For a short while a dousaid to have argued. government had said it stood for. Such as that it might become an ter, Julia Gillard, agreed with Swan. Even worse, from Swan’s point of ble dissolution election remained an The Prime Minister was undecided, issue of credibility, or that in a highly Tanner, according to sources, did not. view, the way the compensation payoption. But the chaos of Copenhagen, torn, fearful of the political scare camcentralised government where the Rudd remained torn but finally agreed the so-called ‘‘climategate’’ scandals ments under the scheme are treated in paign over prices but just as fearful Prime Minister had carried the arguit should be removed from the budget, the budget would make it almost and the Coalition’s ‘‘great big new tax’’ about what a lengthy delay would a decision which meant it was deferred ment in favour of an ETS for years, the scare campaign meant that all the impossible for the government to mean for his own credentials as a credibility problem would be his. Such for at least another three years. meet its crucial stimulus package ‘‘exit arguments in favour of an ETS were reformer and for the policy he truly as that the relationship between a The kitchen cabinet was scheduled quickly fading in the public mind and believed was both necessary and right. strategy’’ – to keep the growth in govleader and the people he leads is more to meet on April 27 to decide exactly ernment spending below 2 per cent. the undecided government was doing By the third week in April, other than a mechanical policy exercise. how to explain the delay, and the conEven from the graveyard of Senate nothing to revive them. issues were forcing the kitchen cabinNow the Prime Minister is insisting ditions under which the government defeat, the scheme was threatening At the same time, the NSW Right – et – the strategic priorities and budget that he still believes an emissions would pledge that the ETS policy the government’s self-imposed in particular Senator Mark Arbib and committee – to make a decision. trading scheme is essential. And would be revived. Labor’s national secretary, Karl Bitar – undoubtedly he does, or he would News of the decision had also filbegan arguing that after what was have given in to the NSW Right ages tered through to a few members of the then five interest rate rises in a row, ago and killed it. broader cabinet, who had determined Labor was deeply vulnerable to the The government is working overto try to wind it back when cabinet met Coalition’s campaign. According to time on ‘‘green’’ pre-election to ‘‘ratify’’ the budget on April 29. But senior Labor sources, the pair began announcements, especially on energy on the morning of April 27, the Herald to lobby the Prime Minister not just to efficiency. benchmark for economic responsibil- disclosed the decision to remove the The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, argued delay the carbon pollution reduction But now, despite all his work on the scheme from the budget in a front ity. And because the spending would that since a delay was inevitable the scheme but to kill it altogether. emissions scheme, despite all his page article entitled ‘‘ETS off the not be in the Coalition’s figuring, it government had to be clear about it, (Some in federal Labor believe the efforts at Copenhagen and in the agenda until late next term’’. It was the would mean Tony Abbott’s spending because it had big ramifications for NSW government deliberately played months leading up to that meeting, first many ministers and senior public calculations would be less conup ETS-related electricity price rises in the budget. despite the fact the Coalition was so servants had heard of it. strained. Maintaining a vague commitment an announcement in late March to try determined to avoid meaningful Knowing the back story helps And the scheme had been devised to the scheme would complicate the to bolster the kill the ETS campaign.) action on climate change they clawed explain why the government’s by its very own department, the The ‘‘kill’’ option was ferociously res- politics of the resources super profits When the Coalition began dissolution election, said itpolitical misjudgment beChange. assessing at theresponse end of 2012 has shifted,Department think back of toClimate duckMinister, discussion oftax anthe emisdownor a leader, on that day was so confused. Sure, government debate had recently isted by the Climateto Change would try a normal what the rest of the world hadafternoon Brendan who was run sions trading altogether. means it is Rudd who isinsisting strugglingon to a wait-and-see posiIt was early before theagain after the department a by former decided to advocatepoor as its old major taxa- Nelson, Penny Wong, her assistant minister,scheme tion, Rudd halfatSenate has done,Dr and the political lost the aLiberal 2008secretary, Tony ‘‘the settled science of cliconvinceit the voters to believe him. said it was ‘‘absolute Prime realities Minister emerged, a pre- poll. Instead Treasuryin deputy Martin tion reform. Why jeopardise reform leadership Greg Combet, the Finance Minister,
Rudd remained torn but finally agreed the scheme should be removed from the budget.
Decision to put climate action on hold smacks of political cowardice LENORE TAYLOR
ANALYSIS and on the other the government’s ‘‘energy efficiency’’ measures, which it implausibly hopes will provide sufficient cover for it
mate change is absolute crap’’ Abbott and Kevin ‘‘the greatest moral challenge of our age’’ Rudd know they have to have a carbon price to make a significant difference to Australian greenhouse emissions. But both now say they want to wait and see what the rest of the world does. To understand just how far this
for suggesting the wait-and-see approach that now seems to have bipartisan approval. Kevin Rudd suggested yesterday he was just shifting the timing of the ‘‘implementation’’ of his carbon pollution reduction scheme – like it was a minor administrative matter. But then he also said he would
in the Senate. What if the rest of the world hasn’t done much? Seems he could drop an emissions trading scheme altogether. The Coalition’s decision to abandon bipartisan support for an emissions trading scheme last year obviously changed the politics of the issue. Labor could have put the issue to a double
distanced itself as far from the scheme as it can without dropping it altogether. This decision significantly compromises the Prime Minister’s credibility on the issue and clouds in uncertainty business investment decisions, and Australia’s international negotiating position.
political cowardice ... an absolute failure of leadership’’. It would be a ‘‘failure of logic’’, because if every nation said it could not do anything until everyone else did, no one would ever do anything. Now he’s adopted the same position himself. He was right the first time.
The Rudd government has shelved its emissions trading scheme for at least three years in a bid to defuse Tony Abbott’s “great big new tax” attack in this year’s election campaign.
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Artwork • Cartoon Winner Mark Knight, The Herald Sun, “Moving forward” Julia Gillard’s election slogan “Moving forward”, used ad nauseum on the very first day of the campaign, acquired satirical status with lightning speed. By day two it had worn thin enough for Mark Knight to depict the PM as a gramophone endlessly stuck on a loop of the phrase. The cartoonist wanted to capture how focus-group phraseology like “moving forward” might sound to punters out in the electorate. Mark Knight joined The Sydney Morning Herald as a cadet in 1981 and worked in the art department. From 1984-1987 he was political cartoonist for The Australian Financial Review. He later joined HWT/News Limited and worked until 1990 as the political cartoonist for The Herald in Melbourne. His political cartoons are in the collection of the Victorian State Library and the National Library, the Museum of Australia and The National War Memorial, as well as private collections.
Judges’ comments Paying homage to His Master’s Voice, Knight captured the debilitating effect on the public and press gallery. Sharp drafting style and sharper wit. A perfectly pitched gag.
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Print • Newspaper Feature Writing Winner Pamela Williams, The Australian Financial Review, “Labor’s trial” The coup against Kevin Rudd seemed to happen in the space of a few frantic tweets. Williams mapped the intricate and secret manoeuvrings and showed who helped undo the 26th prime minister and how and why they did it, unravelling a complex drama while sustaining tension throughout her reporting. “Kill Kevin” told the definitive story of the machinations that led to the drama of a Labor government tearing down a first-term leader. On the campaign trail, Williams tracked the drumbeat of the war between the major political parties and the trials of the Labor campaign. She moved between reporting on the campaign strategists inside Labor’s campaign bunkers, to travelling on the road, switching between Labor and Liberal. At the end of the election campaign, Williams produced a dramatic 10,000-word feature, published over two days in The Australian Financial Review. She captured the grim fears inside the Gillard campaign, documenting the crisis meeting on board Gillard’s jet as she wrestled to recast a failing strategy to save her prime ministership, and the origins of disastrous policies that derailed her campaign. Pamela Williams is the national correspondent for The Australian Financial Review, writing investigative stories across politics and the corporate world. She is a former news editor of the AFR and a former executive producer of the ABC’s 7.30 Report in NSW. She reported from New York for three years. She has won four Walkleys, including the Gold Walkley in 1998 for her coverage of the waterfront dispute.
Judges’ comments Pamela Williams’ stories of the last days of Kevin Rudd’s government, and the extraordinary election campaign that followed, were the definitive accounts of a turbulent period in Australian politics. The depth and expertise of her reporting and analysis, her beautiful writing, and her ability to bring stories vividly to life combined to make this newspaper feature writing at its best.
Kill Kevin: the untold story of a coup In a blow by blow account, national correspondent Pamela Williams reveals the secret plotting and pressure from a powerful outsider that undid a prime minister. On Monday night while cameras rolled, Julia Gillard embraced Bob Hawke in a long, lingering hug. The new Prime Minister lavished praise, launching the biography of the famous ladies’ man and Labor legend. Hawkie, wreathed in smiles, conveyed his own blessing, from the father to the heir. While they posed for photos, a circle of light played across her deep auburn locks and Hawke’s decadent silver waves. It could have been a halo. There was no talk of treachery amid all this luminosity. Or of Kevin Rudd, the previous prime minister, who exploded like a supernova three weeks ago, before fading to a black hole with al all the g. immediacy of a good killing. 54 ard’s ascent to the prime Gillard’s ed an almost ministership followed less campaign ignited by a flawless abor MPs just small handful of Labor freshly elected in 2007. But it ers too, involved some seasoned players ampaign by as well as an explosive campaign ng titans, and some wealthy mining dL subtle manoeuvring by old Labor eag back hands who traced their lineage rnment. to the days of Hawke’s government.
Big Three economies disappoint Anthony Hughes NEW YORK
The Australian Financial Review Friday 16 July 2010 l www.afr.com
The Australian Financial Review www.afr.com l Friday 16 July 2010
Knifed . . . new details have emerged about the cutthroat way Labor disposed of Kevin Rudd in favour of Julia Gillard.
Growth in the world’s three largest economies is slowing and the United States Federal Reserve has hinted at further monetary stimulus, admitting that the US economy might not return to its average growth rate for up to six years. The announcements add to fears of a double-dip global recession, which would hurt all trading economies including major commodity exporters such as Australia. Minutes from the US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting last month – held in an environment of heightened concern about the global economy triggered by European sovereign debt concerns and weak financial markets – show that the central bank trimmed its growth forecast for the world’s largest economy to between 3 per cent and 3.5 per cent. The Bank of Japan said growth in the world’s second
From page 1
Rudd’s antagonists. In a campaign on behalf of major miners, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Xstrata and others, their lobby group the Minerals Council fought the government to a standstill on the tax. They commissioned nationwide, weekly polling to assess the impact of their campaign on the government and the electorate. The findings showed focus groups questioning Rudd’s motives for the tax, amid fears of both the short and longterm impact on the economy. It largely mirrored the public polls and the ALP’s own private polling, as would soon be clear to all. In early June, ALP national secretary Karl Bitar held a private meeting with a man working for the mining industry, but who had a long and particularly close relationship with the Labor Party, where the interconnected networks are like nylon wire – hard to see, resilient and fatal to run through. Geoff Walsh is an astute and engaging onetime adviser to prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. He is a former diplomat and also a former national secretary of the ALP. His Labor pedigree included a friendship with Treasurer Wayne Swan dating to the 1980s when Swan was himself a political adviser. Now, however, Walsh was in charge of public affairs at BHP Billiton, a company in the vanguard of the campaign against the mining tax.
Geoff Walsh, pictured, met Karl Bitar in Canberra armed with devastating polling from the Minerals Council related to the mining tax. Bitar is a former ge f NSW Labor Party, the He followed Mark Arb Arbib left eft to ef to launch h federal MP. Their successor secretary in NSW is Sa in-law of Peter Barron, Machiavelli and former at the same time as Wa Walsh and Bitar met the mining tax, but thei unanswered question Minerals Council pol table too. Asked abou yesterday day declined da declined any saying: sa ng: “Private discu sayi a former national secr f private.” But a small group o Walsh’s meeting with manager, have ha private about out perceptions ou perceptions of t industry’s role in the minister. For the min was spectacular good the new Prime Minister job to dramatically wa aspects of the resource angered the companies. heavi ea ly eavi But it would heavily the miners to suggest was the key factor in was a single theme to
Rudd’s leadership was carefully sliced up for weeks before his fall, as influential right-wing ALP officials and MPs became increasingly morose about Labor’s chance of re-election. Polling of focus groups across the country had drawn a portrait of an electorate that had fallen out of love with
it was this: Rudd had foes everywhere. Once his support collapsed in the polls, there was nowhere to turn. He had centred all government decision-making in his own office. Nothing could be delegated, no issue was too small for prime ministerial oversight. Rudd’s ministers often became simple messengers and his oft-cited preoccupation with process and planning masked a chaotic management style that almost paralysed the government. All of these elements had frustrated his colleagues. Moreover, in his bid to eradicate factional control over ministries, Rudd had accorded to himself untrammelled power, which sat badly with his personal propensity for micromanagement. He had a potty-mouth when angered and, according to some ministers, there were implied threats against those who failed to toe the line. Many ministers, fearful of losing favour and position, held their tongues. In the manner of both great tragedy and schoolyard brawls, Rudd had simply made too many enemies. Over four weeks from May to June, many small hints of the gathering mood for change at the top of the government were dropped, like crumbs on a pathway. In mid-May, Hawke was forced to deny reports that he had had an airport conversation (allegedly overheard by a Liberal staffer) with Labor backbencher Daryl Melham where he had asked Melham why the party didn’t dump Rudd for Gillard. On June 9, Gary Gray, the former ALP national secretary and Western Australian MP since 2007, was obliged to publicly disassociate himself from a stinging attack by his father-in-law – former resources minister Peter Walsh – on the government’s handling of the mining tax. Rumours were churned and denied that the NSW kingmaker and former machine man turned senator, Mark Arbib, had given up on Rudd. Newspoll showed Rudd’s numbers slipping alarmingly. By mid-June Labor’s primary vote was down to a frightening 35 per cent. Wherever there was a meeting of Labor MPs there was a discussion of the odds. Did the poll numbers mean it was impossible for Labor to win the next election? This was an inconceivable thought for a Labor of the mighty ghty Labo years in the wilderness but spectacularly rl rly me minister, John Australia, where the aking a heavy ea toll, eavy senator Mark Bishop standing. rmer national secretary kers Union, Victorian ker and now no etary for Disabilities, li lities, lose the election and lose only tw two o orr three months ectoral mood seemed
Rudd. He was blamed for everything – from the roof insulation debacle to the mining tax. Rudd had presented himself as a one-man band and the electorate had believed him. But it was the resources tax that had aroused the most powerful of
Continued pageTriumphal 19 march . . . Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan
emerge after the successful coup that resulted in the political demise of Kevin Rudd, Parliament House, Canberra, June 24. Photo: ANDREW MEARES
Editorial, page 58 n
Continued page 54
turned out, was to push back and hope it would all go away. He was isolated from colleagues and powerbrokers who, under the factional system, for all its warts, might have forced him to change course in a way that might have revived the government’s fortunes so close to an election. But Rudd would never hear fearless advice. He would hear only the advice he wanted. On the morning of Tuesday, June 22, at 9.30am, the Labor caucus met. It was the last
NSW senator Mike Forshaw called the Prime Minister’s office later in the day, but no one returned his calls.
Party polling undertaken on June 16 and 17 in four key NSW marginal seats by longterm Labor pollster UMR highlighted the storm clouds. The four seats were the bellwether Eden-Monaro, Greenway, Hughes
NSW Right senator and former unionist Steve Hutchins, a local in the electorate, handed out how-to-vote cards at the Glenbrook Public School with South Australian senator Don Farrell who had flown in on Friday night, and Mark Bishop
Hutchins handed out ovote cards at Glenbrook Public Sc School electorate) the Penrith elect
Julia Gillard hear Shorten out as he thought ther real chance tha faced a wipeout.
The Australian Financial Review has pieced together the turbulent final days of the prime ministership of Kevin Rudd including a series of secret meetings between party powerbrokers, devastating polling, and a meeting between a senior BHP-Billiton executive and the ALP’s national secretary. a Labor stronghold eats like Deakin and der threat and others ooked unreachable. nd and the beat of the Minerals against the new mining more strident. tri trident. The demise had begun. the Queen’s birthday nt to see Gillard in er and pragmatist with detail rolled up in a personal style, the deputy ass he told d Shorten ou out a there was a real chance ipeout. The implications ad plenty to gain but she She held her counsel. nued to swat away rumours engee R Rudd.
Donn FFar rell and Mark Farrell Bishop.
with a p ry ghes, Labor’s cent, with the Labor was down to do o-party preferred. preferr ef ed. They eferr to turn a numbers num n umbers umbe
voters went to a ue-collar Penrith, in the ney. It was widely el ely
m on the state the result was Liberals with a 25.7 per cent, the nose in NSW in watchers. n the federal seat of seemed well armed with
remember On Mo vented thei ca caucu caucuss m particula could see Bradbury, Hutchins Hu hins Hutc on matters mining tax. Convenor Forshaw Australia their concern prime mini no one ev Rudd brewing
caucus before Parliament rose and possibly the last caucus before an election. Rudd knew that if anyone was to strike, this would be the moment. The Newspoll that morning had showed Gillard preferred to Rudd in marginal seats in regional Queensland (Rudd’s base), and in the west of Sydney, with swings against the government of 12 per cent. Many of the issues raised in the Right caucus two days before were now raised again directly with Rudd. His response was to soft-pedal and ask for a bit of solidarity. But he had lost the authority founded on his popularity and the government’s standing. On Tuesday afternoon, two key numbers men – Mark Arbib and David Feeney – respectively from NSW and Victoria – met quietly to discuss the situation and to read over the dire polling numbers from their states. Feeney was a former Victorian ALP secretary, elected to the Senate in 2007 and close to Shorten. Arbib and Feeney were regarded as musclemen in a party not short on head-kickers. Both believed Labor would lose the election. On Tuesday night, most members of the cabinet were present when Rudd spoke at a Business Council of Australia dinner in Canberra. He lambasted business, reminding those present of what his government had done for them. Many of his colleagues looked at their hands. Gillard, however, was charming, working the room, graciously meeting and greeting. Early on Wednesday, June 23, after playing in a (losing) 7am football game against the Malaysian embassy, Arbib arrived at Parliament House. A report in that day’s Sydney Morning Herald had already electrified the government. To outsiders the story might have appeared modest, but to insiders it was like a match in a dish of petrol. According to the report, Rudd staffer Alister Jordan had taken soundings of support in the caucus for Rudd. This would be the ostensible trigger for the day’s bloody events, but in the aftermath, the initial speculation that Rudd had planted the story gave way to every possible conspiracy theory – from either Rudd or Gillard planting it, through to factional plotters seeking to bring things to a head. In the end it hardly mattered. The three months of worsening polls, anticipation that the election was doomed, Rudd’s enormous personal unpopularity with his colleagues and the
deafening noise from the mining industry over the resources tax had tipped things to the point where any small slight – or the perception of a new injury done to a loyal deputy – could bring the pot to the boil. The mining tax, regardless of the government’s attempts to settle a compromise with the companies, had become a lightning rod for dissent over asylum seekers, the climate change about-face, and the raft of bungled stimulus programs. Arbib soon heard that Gillard was on the warpath over the Sydney Morning Herald story. He and Feeney met and soon after 9am, they went to see her. They found Gillard angry; she said she viewed efforts by Rudd to assess his support in the party room as an attack on her own loyalty. She had spoken already to senator John Faulkner about the situation, she said, and Faulkner had said he would speak to Rudd. The fire was lit. Arbib and Feeney told Gillard they had sounded out MPs across the party who were concerned that Labor would lose the election. Rudd and Gillard met soon after. She told him she was unhappy with the direction things were taking. By the time they finished their discussion, Rudd felt confident he could hold on. They agreed to hold another meeting later in the day. Soon after, Shorten visited Gillard and urged her to seize the moment, to challenge Rudd. Agriculture Minister Tony Burke (who had switched his support from Kim Beazley to Rudd in 2006, helping to ensure Beazley’s destruction and Rudd’s ascension), did the same. Kim Carr, from Gillard’s Victorian Left faction (as distinct from Martin Ferguson’s Victorian Left faction), went to see Gillard. If she would run, they would all bring what numbers they could to support her. A key question for those already trying to war-game the strategy for a challenge was this: what would Rudd do? Could Rudd fly to Canada, to the G20, buying time against
On Tuesday afternoon, Mark Arbib, pictured, and David Feeney met quietly to discuss the situation and read over the dire polling numbers from their states. Gillard? And what if Rudd went straight to Yarralumla, to call an election? Then they would be stuffed. Yarralumla was a big fear. Later on Wednesday afternoon, following Question Time, Gillard and a core group of her backers assembled in Kim Carr’s office. In the room were Gillard, Carr, Arbib, Shorten, Feeney and Don Farrell, the South Australian Right power-broker and former boss in the sprawling shop assistants union. Farrell knew the situation in South Australia was not as bad as elsewhere. But Labor would struggle in the southern seats of Kingston (a seat that tends to go with the government of the day), and Hindmarsh, the oldest electorate in the country. In SA, voters
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Kill Kevin: the untold story of a coup The Australian Financial Review has pieced together the turbulent final days of the prime ministership of Kevin Rudd, including a series of secret meetings between party powerbrokers, devastating polling, and a meeting between a senior BHP-Billiton executive and the ALP’s national secretary.
Artwork • Artwork Winner Eric Lobbecke, The Australian, “Rudd’s dangerous climate retreat” If you’re like Eric Lobbecke, the best way to draw an analogy is to physically draw it. His “Rudd’s dangerous climate retreat” illustration, produced in the wake of the news that Kevin Rudd would change his position on climate change action, ran with an opinion piece by Paul Kelly, who branded Rudd’s decision the “most spectacular backdown by a prime minister in the past century”. Napoleon never recovered from his decision to turn back from his imperial march. His army suffered terrible losses in the retreat from Moscow through the brutal Russian winter while, back in France, a coup d’état was brewing. Like Rudd’s, it was a fateful volte-face; there was trouble on the home front, and climate played a hand. Eric Lobbecke is given all of two to three hours to produce his news illustrations, from scratch. “We receive the article to read and generally I draw the idea in pencil, then scan it into the computer and colour it with Photoshop,” he writes. Lobbecke has illustrated for News Limited since 1988. Until last year, he worked as editorial cartoonist for The Sunday Telegraph for 11 years. He has illustrated four children’s books and written one.
Judges’ comments The demands on newspaper artists to provide quality illustrations, often in full colour, are sometimes crippling to the creative process. Interpreting an opinion article, and representing that point of view adequately, demands mastery of the materials of the trade and a nimble social and political conscience. Lobbecke’s submission not only served to illustrate Kevin Rudd’s failure to deliver his ETS policy, but also contributed a historically literate allegory to Paul Kelly’s article. A masterful blend of both traditional and computer-based artistic techniques delivered a most impressive result.
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Print • Magazine Feature Writing Winner David Marr, Quarterly Essay, “Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd” David Marr’s prescient profile of Kevin Rudd ends with a lunch between the author and prime minister. In a brilliantly tense passage, Marr relates a highly controlled explosion from Rudd. “We’re in the open. His voice is low. He is perfectly composed. From the distance of the next table it would be hard to tell how furious the prime minister is...” Thus Marr was convinced that Rudd was a leader governed by his own anger. “Power Trip” links Kevin Rudd the man with the strengths and weaknesses of his government. He was riding high when the Quarterly Essay was planned in late 2009. By the time Marr began to work on the piece full-time, Rudd was already on the slide. The essay appeared in early June, three weeks before his downfall caught the author – and the press gallery – by surprise. “Power Trip” was greeted with acclaim and focused a growing concern about Rudd’s shortcomings as prime minister. It continued to sell strongly after the June 24 putsch to readers apparently seeking a deeper explanation – grounded in character – of Rudd’s strange rise and astonishing fall. David Marr is the multi-award-winning author of Patrick White: A Life and The High Price of Heaven, and co-author with Marian Wilkinson of Dark Victory. In a career spanning more than 30 years, he has written for The Bulletin, been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners and presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch. He currently writes for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Judges’ comments Released just weeks before the stunning June coup against the then prime minister Kevin Rudd by his deputy and cabinet colleagues, “Power Trip” is an eloquently written “pocket biography” (to use the author’s term) that articulated a growing, gnawing sense of disappointment and disillusionment with Rudd and his government.
POW ER TRIP
that mattered. He began the last long haul working with Gordon Brown to try to persuade low-lying states like Kiribati and the Maldives to let the world warm a little more than 1.5 degrees. Mid-morning saw him deliver his set speech to the full plenary in the big hall. It was superior Rudd – pared down, not too much jargon, only a little mawkish about Gracie:
The Politica l Jour ne y of K e v i n Rudd
Before I left Australia, I was presented with a book of handwritten letters from a group of six-year-olds. One of the letters is from Gracie. Gracie is six. “Hi,” she wrote. “My name is Gracie. How old are you?” Gracie continues, “I am writing to you because I want you all to be strong in Copenhagen. Please listen to us as it is our future.” I fear that at this conference, we are on the verge of letting little Gracie down.
WONDERFUL , WONDERFUL
“Those Chinese fuckers are trying to rat-fuck us,” declared Kevin Rudd. As snow fell on Copenhagen – on its palaces and squats, on police and their dogs, on protesters rugged up against the fierce cold and on the big, bland Bella Center where the largest gathering of world leaders in history sulked and plotted – the prime minister of Australia faced the collapse of old dreams. This was the little boy fascinated by China, the kid who longed to be a diplomat, the man who believed a better world might be built through international agreement, and a prime minister struggling to meet “one of the greatest moral, economic and environmental challenges of our age.” Life had brought him, inevitably it seemed, to this icy Scandinavian city a few days before Christmas 2009 and he blamed the Chinese for wrecking it all. The Copenhagen that mattered began on 17 December and lasted forty hours. Rudd slept for one of them. He wasn’t shy. He relished working with the big boys. Almost to the very end he was a player in the meetings
QE 38 2010 1
Australians with sharp ears might have picked the trademark boast that Rudd had done his homework: “If you examine, as I have done, the 102 square bracketed areas of disagreement that lie in the existing text before us …” After Queen Margrethe’s state dinner at the Christiansborg Palace – Rudd so monopolised Princess Mary’s attentions that the British prime minister on her other side was left staring at his plate – he joined Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Brown and another twenty world leaders in freewheeling and futile efforts to find agreement. At 3 a.m. they left the haggling to their environment ministers. By this time delegates were sleeping on sofas all over the Bella Center. Rudd had an hour’s kip in an armchair, all he felt he needed to keep going. Barack Obama jetted into the city that morning and joined the talks. The United States was offering little in the way of emissions cuts but wanted what the president called accountability. “Without any accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page,” Obama told the delegates. Absent was Wen Jiabao. The snub was deliberate. Rudd believed the Chinese were intent on sabotaging any deal that involved binding obligations and international monitoring.
2 QE 38 2010
What he says in these angry twenty minutes informs every corner of this essay. But more revealing than the information is the transformation of the man. In his anger Rudd becomes astonishingly eloquent. This is the most vivid version of himself I’ve encountered. At last he is speaking from the heart, an angry heart.
BHP Billiton applauds all the finalists and winners of the 2010 Walkley Awards. Our special congratulations to
David Marr winner of the BHP Billiton Magazine Feature category www.bhpbilliton.com.au
62 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Print • Best Print, Wire Service Journalism: News Report Winner Paul McGeough, The Sydney Morning Herald, “Prayers, tear gas and terror”
Judges’ comments Courageous journalism, writing excellence and newsworthiness are all profoundly evident. He put himself in harm’s way to tell of the drama that unfolded in international waters. The commitment to the process and the degree of difficulty made this entry a standout.
NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR
Friday June 4, 2010
First published 1831 No. 53,874 $1.50 (inc GST)
REVEALED How Labor executed the U-turn of a generation. PAGE 2
YELLOW CARD Is the round ball game spinning out of control? PAGE 3
June 5-6, 2010
LUNCH WITH Quentin Bryce, model of a modern G-G. PAGE 5
WORLD PICTURE EXCLUSIVE
EXCLUSIVE Words: Paul McGeough Photography: Kate Geraghty
There was a lot of blood in the stairwells and then the sound of the ammunition hitting metal changed again – I decided that was the live ammunition. People were yelling ‘live ammo! Live ammo!’
After four days at sea, our correspondents witnessed the Israeli assault on the Gaza flotilla
Prayers, tear gas and terror KATE GERAGHTY
PHOTOGRAPHER IN ISTANBUL
CHIEF CORRESPONDENT IN ISTANBUL
The Sydney Morning Herald
he Israeli attack was timed for dawn prayers – when a good number of the men aboard the Mavi Marmara were praying on the aft deck of the big Turkish passenger ferry, as she motored steadily through international waters in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The call to prayer could be heard across the water – haunting chords made tinny by the ship’s PA system, yet haunting enough amid tension sparked several hours earlier, when the six ships captains in the Free Gaza Flotilla rejected a demand radioed by the Israeli navy – change course away from the Gaza Strip or be confronted with lethal force. Pacing the Mavi Marmara at a steady 8 knots and just 150 metres to its port side, we were aboard the 25-metre Challenger I, the fastest but also the smallest boat in the flotilla. It was a front-row seat for the opening to Israel’s Operation Sky Wind which, despite confident predictions by a gallery of Israeli officials, was about to go horribly wrong. In the blackness before the rising of a burnt-orange moon, all that could be seen of the Israelis around us were pinpoints of light, as warships sitting a kilometre or more either side of the flotilla inched in – seemingly to squeeze the Gaza-bound humanitarian convoy.
The photos they didn’t want seen The photographs that got away ... Israeli commandos board the Mavi Marmara, above left, and are met by angry protesters wielding weapons, above right and top. Photos: Kate Geraghty Then, the tightening noose. Sneaking up and around every boat, there were bullet-shaped hulks which soon became impossible to hide as the moonlight made fluorescent-tubes of their roiling wakes. First one, then two and maybe four could be seen sneaking in from the rear. They hunted like hyenas – moving up and ahead on the flanks; pushing in, then peeling away; and finally, lagging before lunging. But as they came alongside the Mavi Marmara, the dozen or so helmeted commandos in each assault craft copped the full force of the ferry’s fire hoses and a shower of whatever its passengers found on deck or could break from the ship’s fittings. Suddenly sound bombs and tear gas were exploding on the main aft-deck, where prayers were held five times a day. The life-jacketed passengers on the rails at first seemed oblivious as those behind them donned the few gas masks that were on board and others, wearing asbestos gloves, sought to grab the devices and hurl
them back at the Israeli commandos before they exploded. In failing to get their grappling irons to hold on the rails of the five-deck ferry, the commandos in their Zodiac-style assault craft continued to be an irritant, or perhaps a decoy because at this point the Israelis opted for a critical change of plan – if they could not come up from the water, then they would have to drop from the sky. On hearing the machines, activists on the upper decks rushed to the top level of
Ahmed Luqman Talib remains in an Israeli hospital, and his wife, Jerry Campbell, has chosen to stay in detention to be with him.
World – Page 9
Editorial, Letters – Page 12
the ship – grabbing the commandos even before they landed, disarming them; beating them until, according to some who were present, leaders demanded the Israelis not be harmed; but in one case, one of the Israelis was hurled from one deck of the ship to the next. The death toll stands at nine of the ship’s activists and maybe 30 injured – and there were claims from some on the ship that some of their comrades were missing, unaccounted for since the battle at sea and the chaotic arrest and deportation by
Don’t miss the second part of Paul McGeough’s and Kate Geraghty’s tale of the storming of the flotilla and the analysis of its effect on the Middle East.
Israel of the estimated 700 activists aboard the six vessels. Four of the ships carried 10 000 tonnes of emergency supplies for Gaza, which Israel has kept under blockade since 2006 when Hamas won electoral control of the Palestinian Occupied Territories. A year later Hamas retained control of Gaza in the face of an Israeli and US-backed bid to oust the Islamist movement from power. But the flotilla’s international coalition of Palestinian support groups – drawing funds from NGOs in Turkey, Malaysia, Ireland, Algeria, Kuwait, Greece and Sweden – also is determined to prove the Israeli blockade of Gaza as a Western-backed exercise in collective punishment that will be maintained until Gazans turn on Hamas and not, as Tel Aviv claims, a policy that is vital to Israel’s security. When the first commandos slithered down ropes from the helicopters we could see moving in over the Mavi Marmara, the protesters did not stand a chance.
AS THE assault began the Herald’s Kate Geraghty started shooting, rotating her six memory cards regularly to reduce the risk of losing them. She took hundreds of photos. ‘‘[I was] praying to God I’d get something,’’ she said. ‘‘We had four assault boats heading towards us and I just knew that they would board us . . . so I knew I just had to shoot as much as I could.’’ With satellite communication jammed there was no way to transmit the images. She used gaffer tape to hide the micro SD cards on her body and clothes. Two Israeli Zodiacs appeared on either side of her boat and the commandos boarded. ‘‘As soon as he [an Israeli soldier] got to the top he lunged towards me . . . the guy was on top of me . . . I released [the camera].’’ Despite numerous searches, including a strip search, she saved three cards. The Israelis had found three in her clothing, but she had hung on to the other three – two on herself and one in some luggage.
though it was 3am back home, his 12-yearold daughter was out of bed and watching a live-feed video from the ship on the Free Gaza Movement’s website. Seeing him in the video, she shot him an email: “Dad, take it off – you look ridiculous.” To which he fired back: “It’s past your bedtime.” Ahmet was perplexed. “We were a convoy of peace. But the Israeli choppers overhead, the smoke grenades . . . all the screaming, all the noise. People were running all ways and there was blood everywhere. But before we could do anything it was all over.” But it was not all over. Two days before the Israeli assault – in which nine activists were killed by Israeli gunfire and up to 30 more wounded – the bullet-headed Bulent Yildirim, head of the Turkish non-government relief agency IHH, which in effect ran the flotilla, did an interview with the Herald aboard the Mavi Marmara. He explained that Israel could not afford to pay the price of the disaster that he confidently predicted the Jewish state would make in its efforts to intercept the convoy. Failure would add to the litany – the Gaza war and the Goldstone report; the Hamas assassination in Dubai and world anger over the abuse of the passports of several nations, including Australia. Now there was this highseas venture on the eve of a meeting between President Barack Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, which was supposed to dilute the bad blood generated by the recent announcement of settle-
ment expansion while the US Vice-President, entry to the country. There will be hundreds Joe Biden, was in Israel. of witnesses. It has been a spectacular week in the MediBut, at an inquiry, the organisers will face terranean, with the Israeli government being government allegations that steel bars were the butt of domestic and international criti- used to beat troops; that weapons confiscism for a botched mission against an cated from captured commandos may have unarmed, humanitarian convoy. Inevitably, been used against their comrades. there will be an inquiry – domestic or interThe threads of an Israeli case, being leaked national; perhaps a mix of the two. selectively in the Israeli media, argue that 60 European diplomats in Tel Aviv openly to 100 ‘‘hard-core’’ activists had been scoffed at the government’s claim that the embedded on the Mavi Marmara. They flotilla organisers had ties to al-Qaeda. One included Turks, Afghans, Yemenis and an Eritold the Herald that if such a claim was the trean, experienced in hand-to-hand fighting. government’s best opening shot, then it had a Yesterday, the Israeli navy claimed three serious credibility problem. commandos had been dragged unconscious Each side is documenting its case against into one of the ship’s halls ‘‘for several the other. The flotilla organisers accuse the minutes’’ before regaining consciousness Netanyahu government of hijacking their and escaping. It was not clear whether any of vessels in international waters – killing and them were among three commandos who the wounding in the process; of then taking activists on board the Mavi Marmara have almost 700 humanitarians and peace activ- said were beaten, then sheltered and given smh.com.au Weekend Edition June 5-6, 2010 ists prisoner and forcibly taking them to medical treatment. However, the flotilla crisis is not just about Israel – and then charging them with illegal
Israel. The virtual takeover of what was a coalition of groups from a dozen countries by Turkish non-government organisations plays into regional politics. Long an Israeli ally, Turkey is flexing its muscles regionally, bonding with Syria, Iran, Iraq, Qatar and Hamas – and at the same time awkwardly exposing the Arab world’s aboutfaces on the Palestinian cause and, by its demonstrable actions, almost shaming them to do more. Tucked in under all this is Washington’s role in the region. The rest of the world was quick to criticise Israel in the aftermath of the flotilla fiasco but the Obama White House lamely called for an Israeli inquiry, the kind of response that placates Israel but erodes US credibility in the region. Some on the ship thought the Israelis did not put enough into their opening shots. Espen Goffeng, a Norwegian, said: “I looked over the rail and saw the zodiacs. It Continued Page 4
Gaza: the aftermath
‘No worries,’ Israeli commando says as pistol is thrust in activist’s face
Aussie accent is a surreal sound amid chaos of raid t is startling enough to have black-masked commandos hijack your boat on the high seas, but when the orders and the threat that any who resist will be shot are barked in Australian accents on the far side of the world, it becomes surreal. In the early hours of Monday, a Herald news team was aboard the Challenger I, the smallest but fastest of six ships in the Free Gaza Flotilla, which came into lethal conflict with the Israeli Navy while sailing in international waters about 110 kilometres north-west of the Gaza Strip and well off the Israeli coast. As the killing started on the big Turkish ferry, the Mavi Marmara, and it seemed just a matter of time before the other slow boats in the flotilla would be commandeered by the Israelis, the Challenger I’s English skipper, Dennis Healey, pushed the 25-metre cruiser to top speed, about 18 knots. Initially, four Israeli Zodiac-like assault boats were tailing us, but they were unable to get close because of the powerful wake Healey was ploughing across the water. But then the Israelis gave Healey pause for thought. With previous boat runs to Gaza under his belt, he knew what it was like to have his vessel rammed by an Israeli boat, so he cut the motors, allowing the craft to slow to a drift. Other veterans of earlier runs – the Palestinian lawyer and head
ustafa Ahmet, a 33-year-old Londoner, is irreverent as he recollects events. Having completed his ablutions, he joined a big group engaged in morning prayers on the aft deck of the Mavi Marmara as it pushed south in the Mediterranean. But then a cry went up – “They’re here! They’re here!” ‘‘They’’ were Israeli commandos coming alongside the Turkish passenger ferry in their assault craft. But the imam leading the prayers was unmoved. Instead of cutting proceedings short, he seemed to go on forever. As Ahmet observed the commandos’ arrival, “it was like a scary movie – their helmets were shiny, the sea was shiny and battleships sat off on either side. But the imam just kept on, holding us in position – it was bonkers.” Elsewhere, the ship was being prepared – people were distributing lifejackets and taking up positions on the rails. Others were preparing to throw Israeli sound bombs and tear gas canisters back to where they came from. Groups had been rostered through the night, to sleep or be at the ready, and electric angle-grinders were brought in – to cut steel bars from the lifeboat bays along the main decks. Despite thoughts of what might lie ahead, there was good humour. Matthias Gardel, a key figure in the Swedish delegation, was getting used to his lifejacket, unaware that even
PAUL McGEOUGH IN ISTANBUL
of the Free Gaza Movement, Huwaida Arraf, and the deceptively demur Scottish postal worker Teresa McDermott – yelled to all on the fly bridge to brace for a collision as the powerful spotlight on the bigger Israeli boat bored into all on deck while the vessel positioned its bow to Challenger I’s starboard side. An assault craft quickly came along each side of the boat, and, before any of the commandos leapt aboard, a flash of white preceded a jolt to Herald photographer Kate Geraghty’s forearm as she tried to take pictures of the boarding party. The jolt, which appeared to be from a Taser, threw her across the deck. Thinking the Israelis would approach the fly bridge from ladder-like steps which came up to the bridge through a hole in the deck, McDermott chose to sit on a lid that closed over the hole. But the commandos – six of them – came over the side rails and when McDermott refused to move away from the lid she had a pistol thrust in her face. Commando 1: ‘‘Down! Sit down! Get down!’’ Geraghty: ‘‘Professional journalists!”
They hunted like hyenas – moving up and ahead on the flanks; pushing in, then peeling away; and finally lagging before lunging. But as they came alongside the Mavi Marmara, the dozen or so helmeted commandos in each assault craft copped the full force of the ferry’s fire hoses and a shower of whatever its passengers found on deck or could break from the ship’s fittings.
Passengers on the Mavi Marmara look out to sea at 2.30am, after an Israeli warning to turn the vessel around. Soon afterwards, Israeli commandos were coming aboard from Zodiacs and helicopters. Photo: Kate Geraghty
See footage of the flotilla ambush and the images Herald photographer Kate Geraghty was able to save during the raid.
DESIGN YOUR FUTURE.
When Fintan Lain, an Irish anti-war activist, refused to hand over his passport, his refusal was accepted by the Israelis. But when a Dutch academic refused to hand over her documents, she was stood over by four commandos who stood And because we also understand that you are the bestwithin judge Unlike many other business schools who offer a ‘one size fits inches of her. She kept her passport. of what subjects are suited to you, UTS Business allows all’ approach to postgraduate qualifications, UTS Business On arriving at Ashdod the you to choose 50% of your MBA subjects from a vast range understands how diverse the business sector has become. possessions of the activists, media and crew were not That’s why we have developed a full spectrum of both generalist of electives so you can design your MBA to match your returned to them as promised. @ employment aspirations. and sector-specific MBA and Management programs offering Instead, everybody was paraded before cameras – in contravenover 150 subjects covering a range of business related areas. tion of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners. Some of that footage later appeared on YouTube. All who were on the Challenger I were then bundled off to Ella Prison, a two-hour ride in UTS CRICOS PROVIDER CODE 00099F UTS322BUS_JUNE caged wagons where they were held for more than 48 hours and again promised that their possessions would be returned on their release. All who were on Challenger I were flown to Istanbul on WedWatching and waiting ... activists on the Mavi Marmara gather on deck as Israeli commandos come alongside in preparation to board the v vessel. Photo: Kate Geraghty nesday – again having been told their possessions had been pacassured it would be returned to As the crew was ordered to ance techniques – refusing to coger I, but the satellite phone was Reporter Paul McGeough: ked in a container and sent to Tel them on arriving at Ashdod. steer a course for the Israeli operate, yelling and screaming snatched from my hand – and has “We’re with The Sydney Morning Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport for the The four-hour voyage to port of Ashdod, the activists and seeking to provoke the comnot been seen since. Herald.” flight to Turkey. Ashdod became a taunting test and the Herald team – whose mandos, who were identifiable The arrival of the commandos Commando 2: “We know But, of all the equipment and of will. From time to time, yelling requests for their rights as only by numbers on their chests. on the fly bridge was accompanyou’re with the Herald.” possessions of the 17 who had matches became a refusal to cojournalists to be respected by Two of the women, including ied by the din of sound bombs on Geraghty: “Bloody hell – Aussailed on the Challenger I, all operate and those who yelled the Israelis were ignored – were Arraf, were dragged to the forethe lower deck of the boat and sie accents!” that arrived at the baggage pickloudest were handcuffed in a bid taken one at a time to the deck, where they were handthe shattering of one of two slidCommando 1: “No worries.” up point in Istanbul was a single to silence them. Some of the actcuffed and forced to sit with bags wheelhouse, where all were ing glass doors between the I was sitting on a bench, trying computer case of mine, in which ivists resorted to creating decoy stripped of any electronic comover their heads. A young Belmain cabin and the aft deck. to get a line through to the Herald there was nothing save a few ruckuses several times to interAs we were herded down the fly gian woman who had been hit by munications and photographic in Sydney to report the battle cables and a handful of laptop rupt the heavy or pushy quesequipment. The equipment a paint pellet was bleeding from bridge, the dozen activists on raging on the Mavi Marmara and accessories. tioning of their colleagues. was numbered and all were the nose. board resorted to passive resistthis new assault on the Challen-
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Paul McGeough and his Sydney Morning Herald colleague, photographer Kate Geraghty, were the only English language reporters to secure places aboard the Gaza Aid Flotilla on its fateful voyage through the Mediterranean. McGeough’s instinct that it would prove more than a quiet cruise proved tragically accurate when Israeli commandos attacked the six ships in the early hours of May 31, triggering a bloody assault aboard the Mavi Marmara. McGeough and Geraghty were taken to an Israeli prison, where McGeough interviewed dozens of activists about the attack and its aftermath. His reports took readers inside a crisis that might have been hidden from the world. A former editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, Paul McGeough has served as a foreign correspondent for much of the last two decades and is currently chief correspondent at the paper. This is his seventh Walkley award.
The Sydney Morning Herald
From one award winner to another Take a bow! Media Super would like to congratulate this year’s winner of the best Print News Report:
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Television • Television News and Current Affairs Camera Winner Neale Maude, ABC TV, Four Corners, “A careful war” Physically and mentally, it was one of the most demanding stories that Neale Maude had ever shot. For most of his four weeks in Afghanistan, the producer and cameraman patrolled on foot with the soldiers day and night, in 48-degree heat, carrying 20-plus kilos of camera equipment, water and body armour. There was the constant danger of improvised explosive devices and small-arms fire. Two soldiers from his company were killed during his time there. The story that Maude brought back helped make the war in Afghanistan less abstract for viewers, showing the day-to-day lives of the soldiers in the Miribad Valley, the extraordinary landscape and the inherent dangers of modern warfare. Maude was both producer and cameraman on the story. Maude has been a senior cinematographer at Four Corners for 15 years. He has also worked on drama and documentaries and has been director of photography on several award-winning short films. He worked for four years in the ABC`s London bureau, covering major stories including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the revolution in Romania, Afghanistan and the break-up of Yugoslavia. Maude has been nominated twice before in this category: this is his first win.
Judges’ comments Neale Maude deserves recognition for the extraordinary result from extraordinarily difficult circumstances surrounding the filming of “A careful war”. Beyond the obvious dangers of the assignment, the gruelling nature of the work and the memorable beauty of the landscape, Maude managed to help tell the story through soldiers’ eyes. His work as a producer and camera operator enabled him to break down the normal barriers: the result was an engaging, insightful and candid story of life on the front line with Australia’s forces in Afghanistan.
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64 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
All Media • Business Journalism Winner Michael Bachelard, The Sunday Age, “The shadow side of a cardboard king” Richard Pratt was a towering figure in the business world, one of Australia’s richest men and most generous philanthropists. Though questions about Pratt’s integrity dogged him throughout his life, much was difficult to prove and went unwritten for that reason. There were public outpourings of grief in his final hours. When he died he was fêted by the public and politicians. Australia, it seemed, had lost one of its greats. Michael Bachelard wanted to cast a critical eye over the history of Richard Pratt; to balance the ledger, if it needed balancing. He flew to Perth to go through boxes and boxes of documents still held by Pratt’s former executive, Alan Hancock. He met a large number of former associates, including Visy executives, who were still unwilling to talk publicly about Pratt for fear of his posthumous influence on Melbourne’s business affairs. After a year or more of investigation, Bachelard wrote his story, bringing together for the first time the history of Pratt’s business deals, his methods and practices. The story prompted a remarkable confession by a former executive of a rival company, who admitted that he had accepted Pratt’s bribes in return for revealing his employer’s industrial secrets. Michael Bachelard has been a reporter for 20 years, first at The Canberra Times then, after moving to Melbourne in 1996, at The Republican and The Melbourne Times. Between 1998 and 2006 he worked at The Australian as, variously, workplace relations writer, Melbourne business editor and Victorian political reporter. He moved to The Age’s investigative unit in 2006, and to The Sunday Age as a senior reporter in 2008.
Judges’ comments Michael Bachelard showed rare persistence and tenacity in taking on a Melbourne business and philanthropy icon whose family continues to wield business and political power. A riveting read and a fascinating portrait that went beyond the massaged image. It was also courageous for a local journalist to take on the Melbourne business club.
JULY 25, 2010
YING on his deathbed last year, Richard Pratt, riddled with prostate cancer, briefly became the centre of the nation’s attention. The then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, the coach of the Carlton Football Club, lifetime employees and Melbourne socialites joined a procession of notaries filing through his gates to pay their respects to the immigrant tycoon, the cardboard king, our biggest recycler, philanthropist, footy club president, family man. When attention turned to the question of his role in a $700 million price-fixing cartel, it was his supporters who were heard, in righteous anger, saying he was being hounded to his death by a vengeful regulator. They vowed to have criminal charges withdrawn, to clear his name, have his surrendered honours, including the Companion of the Order of Australia, posthumously re-awarded. After his death, at his state memorial service, he was eulogised by Rudd and Premier John Brumby. But 14 months after his death, when last month’s Queen’s Birthday honours list was issued, it was silent on the subject of Richard Pratt. He will now never be officially honoured. Instead, it was his tormentor, Graeme Samuel of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, who was made a Companion of the Order of Australia. And now Sydney-based Penthouse Pet and former prostitute Madison Ashton has come forward to claim part of his $5 billion empire. This smashes the spin surrounding Pratt’s long-term relationship with his official mistress, Shari-Lea Hitchcock, that the tycoon’s life was simply ‘‘unconventional’’ and ‘‘European’’, and that he was devoted to two families, not just one. It’s become a cliche to say that Pratt was a complex man. He was brilliant at business — intuitive, intelligent, visionary, capable of manic hard work and creative thinking. He could be charming, caring, impulsively generous to employees, friends and strangers alike. His philanthropy, worth $150 million or more, is a monument to him and particularly to his wife Jeanne, who drove the giving campaign. But some former executives and competitors, people who were bullied, damaged and ripped off by Pratt, say it’s now time to balance the ledger of his life. A Sunday Age investigation has revealed a dark side to Pratt that played out through decades of questionable business deals and borderline criminality — allegations of bribes, thugs, systematic tax evasion, intimidation, the use of prostitutes and the purchase of political influence. ‘‘He was living a double life,’’ said one former executive of Pratt’s Visy company, a respected Melbourne business figure. ‘‘He was 50 per cent above board successful businessman, philanthropist; the other half was a very flawed character — multiple women, money under the table, mistresses, bribery and corruption.’’ In Pratt’s mind, according to critics, any problem could be fixed with money, and every interaction turned to his advantage. Anything was justified if it served his craving for two things: riches and respectability. By the end of his life, he had achieved the first in spades. But as the honours list shows, the latter, most desperately craved, ultimately eluded him. Alan Hancock is perhaps Pratt’s most vocal foe, in life and death. Lured to Visy in the late 1980s to start an outpost of the business in Perth, Hancock was welcomed into the close-knit, family-oriented atmosphere of the company. He lived for a while in Melbourne, dined regularly at the Pratt’s palatial Kew residence, Raheen, and became a Pratt confidant. He was put in charge of Anthony Pratt, the then feckless son who would eventually take over the company and become, in
Richard Pratt (centre) and the women in his life, from left: Penthouse Pet Madison Ashton; wife Jeanne at their Kew mansion, Raheen; and mistress ShariLea Hitchcock and their daughter, Paula. PICTURES: (MAIN) SIMON O’DWYER, ASHTON PICTURE COURTESY CHANNEL NINE, HITCHCOCK PICTURE COURTESY AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY
The shadow side of a cardboard king He may have been generous, charming and charismatic, but mogul Richard Pratt had a dark side. Michael Bachelard explores a world in which money bought everything — except honour. turn, Australia’s richest man. But by 1993 things had turned sour, with Hancock claiming Pratt owed him $2 million as part of his salary package. When Hancock quit Visy, Pratt began a campaign to discredit his former employee, bankrupt him, and have him investigated, on confected charges, by police. Hancock retaliated, alleging publicly as early as 1993 that Visy and Amcor were colluding on prices, prompting an investigation by the Australian Trade Practices Commission, the forerunner of the ACCC. That investigation found nothing.
‘‘When somebody’s in a position to sign a $10 million contract, a $20,000 motor car for their girlfriend isn’t a big deal.’’ FORMER VISY EXECUTIVE
Hancock still has pieces of
butcher’s paper on which Pratt wrote after a 1987 meeting about his plan to ‘‘share everything’’ with APM, Amcor’s predecessor. Based on this and other documents, Hancock maintains that the duopoly cartel had been in full operation since 1989, 11 years
earlier than the ACCC was able to prove. It was through this illegal arrangement, says Hancock, that Pratt’s phenomenal wealth was secured. If true, this would mean the damage to the Australian economy of the cartel would be more in the order of $2 billion rather than the $700 million estimated by lawyers pursuing a class action over the cartel’s proven duration, from 2000 to 2004. Others in a position to know have questioned the 1989 start date, but confirmed to The Sunday Age that a cosy arrangement was well under way by the early 1990s. But Hancock, backed by other sources formerly close to the Pratt empire, says Visy’s phenomenal early growth during the 1970s and 1980s had its foundation in a different illegal activity — bribery. ‘‘Richard told me in the old Kew house [which he lived in before buying the Italianate mansion, Raheen]: ‘See that bloke there? I’m bribing him. I’m bribing that man’,’’ Hancock recalls. ‘‘ ‘I could be considered Australia’s biggest briber. I want to fix it.’ I think he meant it at the time.’’ In most businesses, the executive in charge of deciding who provides the boxes for your
product does not have a glamorous job. But Pratt recognised that his success relied on relationships with those people. Pratt considered these men ‘‘highly corruptible in easy ways’’, a former Visy executive recalls. They were invited to glamorous parties, flown to exotic destinations, their wives feted at parties attended by celebrities. This might be considered good business practice. But some were also given cash in brown paper bags, cars, speedboats as Christmas presents. ‘‘There were flying lessons in aeroplanes for a year or two at a time — a lot of people got their pilot’s licences . . . And when somebody’s in a position to sign a $10 million contract, a $20,000 motor car for their girlfriend isn’t a big deal,’’ the source said. As a big supplier to the fruit and vegetable industry, notorious for its cash transactions, Pratt always had plenty of tax-free cash to splash around to pay for his largesse. On top of that, Pratt artificially inflated the price of paper imports before sale through the use of two sets of books, and the extra money was creamed off to pay for illicit activities. Former employees from the
1990s say business clients were entertained by escorts at his parties in some places, and clients were also sent to Melbourne brothels, at Pratt’s expense, to help seal the deal. It was not just box-buyers in receipt of Pratt’s generosity. Pratt would also influence people higher up the corporate ladder in an organisation he was targeting. He would orchestrate apparently chance encounters with senior executives, even chief executives who were known to be travelling overseas. ‘‘And that person may be told, ‘Why don’t you stop off in my magnificent place in Honolulu? I’ve got a big apartment there’ . . . Dick would just happen to have the keys with him and he’d say, ‘All you’ve got to do when you leave is sign the visitors’ register’,’’ the source said. ‘‘And then, a year later when there’s a $20 million contract on the line, he’d ask them, ‘Well, did you have a good time a year ago?’ Some of those guys were the big hitters in the Australian business scene.’’ The sources, who declined to be named, also allege that many politicians, as well as union officials and executives in competitor companies, were bribed or received favours with an expectation of support. It worked. When Pratt got into trouble with the National Crime Authority in the mid-1990s, very few politicians raised his conduct as an issue — a situation attributed by a Labor apparatchik at the time as being because Pratt ‘‘has
‘‘He was 50 per cent above board successful businessman, philanthropist; the other half was a very flawed character — multiple women, money under the table, bribery and corruption.’’
FORMER VISY EXECUTIVE
Cardboard King Richard Pratt paid bribes worth $25,000 to buy the company secrets of a competitor, according to the man who accepted the bribes. A former executive at Smorgon Fibre Containers has told The Sunday Age that, using the code-name “Gordon”, he leaked secret information in the 1980s that had helped Pratt keep contracts worth millions of dollars.
first offer and Pratt was forced to concede his role, as well as pay a record fine. ‘‘He would never agree to anything unless there was absolutely irrefutable evidence. You could get him on video doing something wrong and he’d still deny it,’’ one associate said. By the mid-1980s, Pratt was becoming a very rich man, and as he aspired to join the corporate titans of the day, he began dabbling in dangerous financial transactions. His involvement with his mate, then Elders IXL chief John Elliott, in the defence of BHP in 1986 led to a series of payments that saw him pursued for years by the National Crime Authority. His Battery Group’s ownership and later sale of two insurance companies, Regal and Occidental, sent one man to jail and led to the suicide of another, former Commonwealth Bank executive Vern Christie. Pratt lost respect in the business community over these deals, but escaped otherwise unscathed. One Visy document, however, obtained by The Sunday Age and entitled ‘‘Strictly Private & Confidential F[or].Y[our].E[yes] Only’’, suggests that a decade after some of these deals, Pratt still feared exposure. ‘‘A number of persons have probably still got documents relating to ACI, Battery, BHP, Occidental etc, despite the efforts [of Pratt operatives to get rid of them],’’ the document says. The document does not identify either an author or a recipient, but is labelled: ‘‘Update on security and related aspects of Pratt Group/Visy Industries, November 1996.’’ An extraordinary artefact, it’s clearly written by one of Pratt’s security men, and it also reveals the extent of Visy’s tax evasion, political manoeuvring, and use of underhanded tactics in business. ‘‘The tax department,’’ the document says, ‘‘is still a major achilles heal (sic)’’, particularly the issue of ‘‘executive salaries and the ‘tax sensitive’ material’’. It makes clear — a story supported by Hancock and other former executives — that Visy was paying executives a large proportion of their benefits under the table, and out of reach of the tax department, using a ‘‘black’’ chequebook. One had a tennis court built at his property, another a swimming pool, and many whitegoods were purchased, Hancock says. The document confirms that the pay slip of one senior executive, which was left lying on his desk, ‘‘represents less than half of his package’’ which ‘‘creates a vulnerability’’. ‘‘There could be a F[ringe] B[enefits] T[ax], payroll tax and group tax liability in excess of $50,000,000 with penalties. In particular, under Victorian state MICHAEL BACHELARD payroll tax legislation there is a vulnerability back into the ’70s for evasion.’’ CARDBOARD king Richard Pratt Of payments to another executive the paid document says, ‘‘the tax $25,000 to buy bribes worth department must not see any of the company the detail’’, particularly a docu-secrets of a comment thatpetitor, included theaccording words: to the man ‘‘Confirmed by R. Pratt that all who three areas are toaccepted be paid out ofthe bribes. Australia.’’ There reference executive to a A isformer at Smornote in Pratt’s handwriting which gon Fibre Containers has told says, ‘‘Shred everything — RP’’. Pratt’sThe approach to tax was Sunday Age that, using the consistently aggressive throughcode-name ‘‘Gordon’’, he leaked out his career. He admitted to secret information in the 1980s being involved in the ‘‘bottom of the harbour’’ tax schemes in the that had helped Pratt keep con1980s. Michael Brereton, the tax tracts worth millions of dollars. lawyer whose clients are at the centre of the Wickenby investigaIn return, envelopes stuffed tion into illegal offshore tax with $2000 in cash were transactions, was$1000 on Pratt’sor payroll, earning $82,200 over four sent to Gordon’s post office box, months in 1996, and Pratt was the he claims. biggest single investor in conman Max Green’s scam, investing Over about three years $1.19 million in what was sold to 1984 and 1986, the the Jewishbetween business community as a tax-minimisation scheme. leaks from his company, originThe documents reveal that ally called Fibre Containers and Pratt’s security men had other concerns,later too. Employees are Fibre Containers, Smorgon named, one for her predilection earned the for man for ‘‘pot and men’’, another his about $10,000 ‘‘drinking— problem’’. a former the Of equivalent of $25,000 in Liberal politician it’s said that money. ‘‘since thetoday’s BMW transaction
I took Pratt’s bribes, says Smorgon exec
been very clever and built up friendships and support’’. Sources have told The Sunday Age that former Trades Hall secretary John Halfpenny was regularly handed brown paper bags stuffed with cash. ‘‘Dick hated unions, but believed you could buy them off. But they’d take the money and not do anything,’’ one former executive remembers.
Pratt’s impulse to pay people off never wavered. The story about his best-known mistress, Shari-Lea Hitchcock, emerged in 2000 because one of Pratt’s operatives tried to hand a bag of cash to the nanny who was preparing to expose the relationship, but mistakenly approached a Fairfax reporter instead. And in 2007, when the ACCC was trying to nail Visy for the cartel, Pratt’s lawyers quickly agreed to a record high fine of $35 million on the condition that Pratt himself could be shielded from exposure for his personal participation in discussions with Amcor’s Russell Jones. The ACCC did not accept this
Gordon’s evidence supports former Visy executive Allan Hancock, who told The Sunday Age last month that the Melbourne tycoon had admitted to being ‘‘Australia’s biggest briber’’. Gordon said he had decided to come forward because he regrets leaking the information to Pratt. ‘‘I now realise what an unscrupulous person Pratt was in dealings not only in the packaging industry, but in business in general’’. He wishes to remain anonymous because he fears being prosecuted for accepting bribes, however The Sunday Age is aware of his identity and has verified he held the role he claims.
CONTINUED PAGE 18
Gordon’s contact at Visy was a senior executive, but he says that he was also given Pratt’s direct phone number in case he needed to contact him directly. ‘‘Once I delivered to them a full month’s copy of all the invoices of everything that Smorgon had invoiced to customers,’’ the man told The Sunday Age. ‘‘Visy would have known every price that we were charging every customer in Victoria
The late Visy tycoon Richard Pratt: cash for inside information. — big milk companies, Bonlac, the fruit customers, SPC, Geoffrey Thompson Fruit Packing, potato growers — they had all that information.’’ He also leaked details of the prices that Smorgon was about to offer to try to win the contract for GMH’s export engine boxes. The information allowed Visy to lower its own price and keep the contract worth at least $5 million per annum in 1985 dollars. Gordon confirmed Mr Hancock’s evidence that the cartel for which Visy was fined $35 million in 2007 had started more than a decade earlier than
previously thought. He said the illegal cartel had been in operation almost continuously since the Whitlam government outlawed collusion in 1976, with a brief pause for a cardboard box price war in the mid to late1980s. Before the price war broke out, he said, executives from Visyboard and competitor Fibre containers would meet illegally at the old Melbourne Motor Inn once a month to compare prices. There they would agree about how to pretend to bid for each others’ contracts, maintaining the illusion of competition. Margins on cardboard boxes were a huge 20 to 30 per cent in this period, he said. However, it was when the price war broke out in the 1980s that Pratt’s people had approached the Smorgon executive and offered to pay him for information. Unhappy with the management at Fibre Containers, Gordon agreed. ‘‘We had code names in case the phones were bugged,’’ he said. ‘‘I probably saved Pratt tens of millions of dollars.’’ When the price war ended in the late 1980s, and Smorgon’s operation was split up between Amcor and Visy, the duopoly cartel immediately came back into operation, he said. The ACCC’s successful prosecution of Pratt and Visy over the cartel only referred to the years 2000 to 2004.
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FOR EXCELLENCE IN J O U R N A L I S M
Television • Television Current Affairs, Feature, Documentary or Special (more than 20 minutes) Winner Sophie McNeill and Geoff Parish, SBS TV, Dateline, “Questions from Oruzgan” In the painful opening scene of “Questions from Oruzgan”, a distraught woman exhumes a shirt from her brother’s grave, holding the clothing up to the camera to show holes she says were made by Australian Defence Force (ADF) bullets. So began an exhaustive investigation that raised questions of accountability and cover-up involving Australian troops and their commanders over the February 2009 killing of six Afghan civilians, including four children and a teenager. The investigation involved hours of meetings with ADF investigators and the director of military prosecutions, months of sifting through leaks, claims and counter-claims and, thanks to help from Perth’s Afghan community, an interview with a survivor of the attack. Determined to gather further testimony and footage of the scene of the attack, the team then trained and provided a video camera to Farid Popal, a remarkable Afghan man from Perth. Dateline’s determined investigation helped spur an ADF inquiry into the deaths that occurred in the “fog of war”. Geoff Parish is Dateline’s chief producer. In 2009 he won a Walkley award (along with Fouad Hady) for a story revealing the devastating legacy of the war in Iraq. Sophie McNeill is a video journalist with Dateline. In 2007 she was nominated for a Walkley for her camerawork, and in 2008 she was the inaugural winner of the Walkley “Young Australian Journalist of the Year” award and, in 2010, won “Young Australian Journalist of the Year” in the television category.
Woman digging at edge of grave. TRANSLATION: “Here they are. Oh God, oh my dear brother. God they’ve made a sieve out of it.”
Judges’ comments A chilling investigation of a tragic night raid by Australian troops in the Afghan province of Oruzgan in February 2009. The humane and tenacious pursuit of the truth, after Dateline was initially misled by bogus claims, brings reminders of the complexities and misery of war.
You can’t suppress a powerful question.
For in-depth impartial news, current affairs and analysis. Channel 649 bbc.com/news
Never stop asking
66 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E BBC WN_Walkley Mag_Tribute Ad_FA.indd 1
22/11/10 4:02 PM
Television • Television Current Affairs Reporting (less than 20 minutes) Winners Fouad Hady and Ashley Smith, SBS TV, Dateline, “Iraq’s deadly legacy” Fouad Hady asks questions quietly but persistently, and carries a small camera. He travelled to Falluja and Baghdad to investigate whether an alarming spike in deformities and cancer among Iraq’s babies and young children was a legacy of war. Locals revealed their children were suffering mental disabilities, and told horrific tales of birth defects and miscarriages. The mothers recounted how they were pregnant during the fierce fighting between American forces and insurgents in 2004. They suspected that depleted uranium, used in US bullets and bombs, might be the cause. Doctors had been told not to talk to Hady about the issue, but somehow he found a technician at work testing blood – she described the increasing leukaemia rates. Baghdad-born Hady knows how to question his countrymen and, importantly, Iraqi women who we never TRANSLATION: “It’s for children see in the mainstream media. His access provided detailed footage and moving testimony rarely seen in who were born with deformities the Western media. and incurable diseases. They Hady arrived in Australia as a refugee in 2001. After a year in Curtin Detention Centre, he moved to Melbourne grow to about five or six months and is now an Australian citizen. As a video journalist, he of age and don’t survive any has contributed to Dateline for several years. His work has longer. This whole cemetery is also been shown on Iraqi television. He is currently finishing an advanced diploma in film and television at RMIT. Hady especially for children.” won a Walkley in 2009 for his report on a community where people were living in the execution cells of one of Saddam Hussein’s former prisons. Ashley Smith joined Dateline in late 2006, but his media career began more than 40 years ago as a dispatch boy for a London cinefilm lab. He has produced and/or directed many documentaries, from the classic ABC TV series A Big Country through to Bush Tucker Man and Two Men in a Tinnie. He has also produced current affairs pieces for Four Corners, Foreign Correspondent and SBS TV’s Insight.
Judges’ comments A simply stunning piece of television reportage. This investigation linked the use of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq to a catastrophic wave of birth defects and deformities in the country. Working as a lone video journalist in a dangerous environment, Hady gave us a raw and shocking story, beautifully told. A leader in the current affairs category.
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All Media • Investigative Journalism Winner Linton Besser, The Sydney Morning Herald, “The wrong stuff” The Department of Defence is Australia’s biggest-spending agency. So where does all the money go? In the four years to 2009, Linton Besser discovered, more than $1.4 billion was spent on travel, accommodation and conferences, almost $48 million had been spent on rental cars, $20 million on corporate coaching, and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cosmetic surgery and fertility treatments had been subsidised by Defence. Besser spent months downloading more than 700,000 contracts, and reading the 80,000 which were issued between 2006 and 2009 – some $48 billion worth of spending. Oil paintings, custom-designed chesterfields, games of skirmish, horse-back trail rides and yachting adventures were among the 80,000 contracts Besser scrutinised. Peppers Blue On Blue resort at Magnetic Island and the Lake Crackenback ski resort near Thredbo had been hired out for internal management meetings. More than $18,000 had been spent on “incidentals” for an employee rugby trip to Europe, and taxpayers spent another $11,000 for someone’s membership fees at Singapore’s exclusive Sembawang Country Club. Another find: “Army Cadet Exchange Program – flights to the Cayman Islands – $47,000.” Defence Minister, John Faulkner, endorsed the Herald’s investigation in an interview which landed on page one the following day: “If you need more evidence of why the [government’s] strategic reform program is required, then you have provided it.” For the past 18 months, Linton Besser has been stationed in The Sydney Morning Herald’s investigative unit. In this time, he has written reports on corruption and poor accountability within both the NSW and Commonwealth public service, leading to the removal of officials and prompting several high-level inquiries.
Judges’ comments An outstanding piece of investigative journalism, based on thousands of Australian Defence Department documents. Besser’s incisive analysis, combined with multiplatform publication of the raw documents on which his stories were based, produced a valuable public service.
HERALD INVESTIGATION THE EXTRAVAGANT WORLD OF DEFENCE CONTRACTS
The Wrong Stuff Military chiefs spent $48 billion on guns, bullets, tanks and ... Actors ($1m) Learjet hire ($33,000) Qantas flights ($1b) Hotel rooms for trainees ($1.7m) Taxi vouchers ($1.3m)
Linton Besser ............................................................................ THE Department of Defence is spending millions of dollars on luxury items that appear to bear no relevance to its sworn role to defend the nation. A three-month Herald investigation, which examined $48 billion worth of contracts published by the department in the past four years, reveals for the first time the poor accountability that allows some military personnel to subsidise their lifestyles. Some of the more than 83,000 contracts let by the military in that period, obtained from the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s records, go beyond what members of the public might find acceptable. They include: More than $1.4 billion on travel that includes the use of private Learjets, first-class airfares and accommodation in five-star hotels and resorts all over the world. Original oil paintings and handmade office furniture, including $40,000 on a series of customdesigned Chesterfield leather couches.
Devil in the detail ... just one of 83,000 contracts published by the Department of Defence since 2006.
budget, it said, in building maintenance, professional services, training, advertising, health and travel. Last year, the federal government said Defence had to find $20 billion worth of efficiencies and savings by 2019 to afford the new technologies needed to defend against threats. The government’s strategic outlook document warned: ‘‘The Defence organisation needs fundamental TUESDAY, MARCH 9, 2010 reform.’’ But the Herald’s examination raises new questions about the accountability of a department that has become the single biggest spender of taxpayer dollars. Money spent on gym equipment, accommodation and venue hire at Sea World, courses at Harvard University and fees at Singapore’s Sembawang Country Club. Club Over the four years examined, the and team-building applied to other Commonwealth two biggest beneficiaries of the States, Germany and the Cayman coaching Taxpayer-funded membership of Defence budget were the US governagencies. workshops. Islands. exclusive clubs, the use of personal This is despite review after review ment’s foreign military sales program More than $18,000 was paid just to The Herald has also discovered a trainers and subsidised overseas RENTAL CARS spend- HEALTH-RELATED ADVERTISING MANAGEMENT TRAINING CLUB/ASSN MEMBERSHIPS GYM EQUIPMENT SETTLEMENTS/COMPENSATION HARVARD UNI COURSES and Australian Aerospace, a subsidithe department’s number of phantom contracts that cover what official documents term warning that sporting trips. ary of the European Aeronautic, Almost $200 million on marketing- have mystified the companies to ‘‘incidentals’’ on a Defence employee ing was out of control. Thirteen years ago, a top-level Defence and Space Company. related expenses, which largely which they were meant to have been rugby trip to Europe and another memberships Training from Media Manoeuvres Accommodation at The Retreat At Wisemans Combined, these at twoSingapore’s foreign gov-Sembawang Country Club focused on trying to recruit and awarded, raising questions about the $25,000 was spent on memberships to report recommended urgent reform Golf rigour within the exclusive golf clubs in Canberra and of the department, identifying up to ernment contractors received more retain more soldiers. This includes a accounting thanplus $5.2services billion, or more than 10 per $1 billion a year that could be saved. Singapore. $1.7 million bill over four years to $26-billion-a-year agency. Command headquarters ‘‘Gap year’’ accommodation at Macleay Serviced Apartments Air show special effects $1m-plus contracts not subject to tender The Pappas review, in 2008, found cent of all contracts published by the The examination reflects the sheer Taxpayers have funded games of accommodate trainee recruits in a department. hotel rooms in Sydney and Mel- skirmish, horse-riding adventure scale of the department’s budget and the agency was wasting $1.8 billion Sound system for a cinema from Sound Fits Hire of care with driver from Select Limousines Public relations from Cornerstone Public Relations bourne and a separate $160,000 to trips and sailing voyages and $20 mil- the extent to which Defence has suc- year. As much as $518 million a year Do you know more? fly school-age army cadets to over- lion for leadership-oriented con- cessfully quarantined its funding Chair covers and sashes Accommodation and venue hire at Sea World Unused capacity in Defence’s video-conferencing facilities seas camps including in the United sultancies that include executive from the typical budget pressures could be cut from the Defence firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sydney Morning Herald
THE WRONG STUFF
$10,758 $38,412 $157,630
Source: Department of Defence/Department of Finance and Deregulation/2008 Pappas Report. NB: The Herald alerts its readers that some inaccuracies have been found in these published Commonwealth records.
US Government Through its foreign military sales program, it is the biggest supplier of military goods to Australia. In one single budget item in 2008, $76m was spent on FA-18 Hornets and associated systems.
Praeco Joint venture of Leighton Contractors and ABN AMRO to build and operate Defence’s new $300m joint operations command. The PPP with the Government, including a 30-year maintenance deal, is worth $1.2 billion. ASC AWD Shipbuilder Building the next generation of navy destroyers, an $8 billion project. The lease and management contract alone for the systems centre in Adelaide cost $16.5 million.
ENTITY United States Government Australian Aerospace BAE Praeco Thales Boeing Qantas ASC AWD Shipbuilder Raytheon Serco
Raytheon US-based defence company with annual sales of $US23 billion. Among others, its contract to provide radar for Australia’s upgraded FA-18 Hornets was worth $11.8 million.
MAIN PRODUCT OR SERVICE TO DEFENCE Military Military Military Construction Military Military Travel Military Military Military
TOTAL AWARDED 2006-2009 $2.9b $2.7b $1.3b $1.2b $1.1b $1.1b $1b $1b $1b $1b
SOURCE: Department of Defence contract notices 2006-2009, Figures rounded off
What can you find?
Weapons of mass expenditure
Firms find no evidence of mystery deals
OUR BIGGEST CONTRACTORS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
ism company in far north Queensland we offer. Our horse rides are $105 per called Blazing Saddles was paid person.’’ Defence failed to answer questions $37,000 in March 2008 for what was described as: ‘‘Stockhorses and trans- about this contract and several others,reform, despite being alerted to them 11 port from Cairns to Darwin.’’of sweeping Despite promises Yet the Cairns company told the days ago. Defence still appears toone be other out company appears to Only Herald it did notspending offer tours or transbe registered under the name Blazing port between the two cities.Linton Besser. of control, writes It also did not remember a job of Saddles. It is based at Aireys Inlet in andthat also offers horse trail ridthat size, with most of painted its business he audit a cars,Victoria allowances, didn’t exist ing. Terri Burnes, one of its managers, focused on half-day horse rides on a grim picture: mil- in my day.’’ “We are confident that mature annual saidexpenses the company nota do any work big property at Kuranda. For $37,000, lions of dollars were Such barely did make savings being wasted every ripple inDefence. such a ‘‘It ponderous with is definitely not us,’’ of at least $770 million are the company would have provided day by therides. Defence organisation: achievable with good prospects of she said. Defence has 352 individual horseback Department. person- of reaching Examplemilitary after example bizarre annual savings of about ‘‘This is definitely not in our sys-53,000 full-time It urged reform, demanding nel, another 21,000 public ser-in the notices found tem,’’ said Andrew Riley, the com- anomalies can be $1 000 million ... It would be wrong to the department ‘‘derive the max- vants and 23,000 paid reservists, pany’s reservations manager. “That that are meant to provide taxpayers imum capability for each dollar’’ plus thousands more contractthe Australian people to provide details how their ask dollars pricein would be way too‘‘the much for whators. with keeping with normal Instead, most about of its money more resources until Defence can show are spent. demands of fiscal responsibility’’. vanishes in vast multibillionis efficiently and effectively using the Under a contract described it only as That was 1997. dollar deals to buy new weapons. ‘‘stuff’’ in the official public notice, the Fast forward, and little has of the current projects, resources it has now.” into an online search tool so youTwo can help us theOne changed. years ago a similar purchase of new destroyers, department spent $30,000 for goods said the waste had wor- is a neat In 2004 the fromillustration. a promotions and marketing to smh.com.au to see howaudit it works. sened – Australia could be public was told that for as little Continued Page 5 defended over the next 10 years
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THEY are the phantom transactions buried inside more than 83,000 contracts published by the Department of Defence. Private firms allocated thousands of dollars for services as diverse as hotel accommodation, horseback trail rides and the hire of an executive jet say they cannot identify the contracts. Under Senate Order 192 the department is required to publish on the internet all contracts worth more than $10,000, a transparency measure introduced in 2001. According to these notices, a tour-
We’ve compiled 700,000 contracts scrutinise Defence’s spending. Go
DEFENCE EFFICIENCY REVIEW, 1997
with $20 billion less funding. Last May the federal government announced a sweeping reform package in response – the fourth such exercise in six years – to trim down the $26-billion-ayear agency. This reform ‘‘is the most complex and far-reaching package of reform Defence has ever undertaken’’, the department told the Herald last week. ‘‘You can be assured that each and every one of the issues your questions have raised have either been considered in the [reform’s] context or will now be considered,’’ a spokeswoman said. These questions asked the department to justify thousands of dollars the Herald discovered it had spent in recent years on items irrelevant to the task of defending
‘I think there is an extravagance now that didn’t exist in my time.’
as $4.5 billion, four of these massive new vessels would be delivered from 2013. But just a few years later, the project was recosted at $8 billion, and suddenly we were getting only three ships, not four, from 2014. All this while the Spanish navy managed to buy four similar vessels – all of which are now in the water – for just $3.7 billion. Defence reviewed the way it manages these large acquisitions in 2003, and came to some worrying conclusions. ‘‘Cost overruns have led to pressure on the financial resources available for defence,’’ its report found. ‘‘In some instances major capital equipment has been delivered . . . many years after its planned introduction.’’ The previous treasurer, Peter Costello, described Defence’s budget submissions to the Herald journalist Peter Hartcher last year: ‘‘What I found frustrating was that, when we made the decision to acquire [the asset] at one price, a couple of years later it would be significantly more. ‘‘And a couple of years later it would be significantly more again. By now you’re so far into the contract that it would cost you more to pull out than to go ahead.’’
KINNAIRD REVIEW 2003 “Cost overruns have led to pressure on the financial resources available for defence. In some instances major capital equipment has been delivered to the services many years after its planned introduction. Budgets have been balanced by reducing capability.”
Linton Besser ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
Defence Minister: IAN MCLACHLAN
Defence Minister: ROBERT HILL
DEFENCE MANAGEMENT REVIEW 2007 “We found that the current comparative wealth of Defence means that there is now less concern about efficiency than in the past. Management information is inadequate . . .”
The Herald has also discovered a number of STRATEGIC REFORM 2009 phantom contracts that have mystifiedPROGRAMthe W companies to which they were meant to have been awarded, raising questions about the accounting rigour within the $26-billion-ayear agency. Taxpayers have funded games of skirmish, horse-riding adventure trips and sailing voyages. David Leach, former chief-of-navy
the country. Oil paintings, Chesterfield lounges and firstclass overseas airfares all look, at least to outsiders, like perks. Some say these perks flourished under the previous government when the department’s budget ballooned 107 per cent. Now a fresh examination of the department’s spending is needed, says Mark Thomson, an analyst from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. ‘‘In the 1990s Defence was making do year by year with money it had the previous year, adjusted for inflation,’’ he says. ‘‘The cost of equipment was going up and goods and services and personnel was going up. They were under pressure, so they had to make hard decisions. ‘‘Do we go down to the drill hall at Duntroon for our strategic meeting or do we hire the Lake Crackenback resort? They would go to Duntroon.’’ How times have changed. In March 2008 Defence instead chose Lake Crackenback, spending $10,483 at the luxury alpine retreat for a one-day ‘‘strategic planning conference’’. In the four years to last year, according to the department’s own contracts, more than $36 million was spent on accommodation and conferencerelated expenses, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels and resorts. ‘‘I think there is an extravagance now that didn’t exist in my time,’’ former vice-admiral David Leach, a former chief-of-navy, says. ‘‘They have credit cards,
hen Kevin Rudd came to power he matched a funding commitment given by John Howard in 2001. It means that taxpayers will continue ploughing enormous sums of money into Defence for the foreseeable future. On top of annual increases to adjust for inflation, the department will receive a 3 per cent boost each year to 2017-18 and then 2.2 per cent for the following 12 years. The guaranteed funding helps officials plan a 20-year, $100 billion Defence expansion that includes new submarines, fighter jets and warships. But it also floods the department with cash and eases the pressure on decisions. In recent years, the government was being directly warned that the scale of Defence’s funding was having an ill effect. ‘‘We found that the current comparative wealth of Defence means that there is now less concern about efficiency than in the past,’’ a 2007 review found. ‘‘The culture is that the department has such a huge budget that if you spend money on sending rugby teams overseas and staying at the top hotels, it is such a small amount in the total vote, it is so minor, that there is no inquiry about it all,’’ says former major-general Alan Stretton, a former army chief of staff. Hopes are now pinned on the current minister, John Faulkner, to ensure the $20 billion in savings is found. Last August the Chief of the
Go to smh.com.au to use our interactive tool to search the database.
curacies have been identified. We expect more will be found. The public has been told that about $100 billion worth of military hardware, technology and personnel are needed to defend Australia in 2030. To find this money, the government is
embarking on an ambitious reform program. The Herald’s investigative unit is keen to receive confidential tipoffs from anyone with information that is in the public interest. email@example.com
policy expectations will frustrate and disappoint you, as they do us,’’ the letter says. Last week, asked to discuss dubious expenses such as memberships to exclusive golf clubs and $160,000 spent flying schoolage cadets to camps in Germany, the US and the Cayman Islands, the department said it was trying to change its ways. ‘‘A key feature of this [reform] program is embedding a culture of greater cost consciousness throughout the organisation,’’ a spokeswoman said. Thomson remains doubtful that changes will stick. The deep cost savings and staff reductions identified in the 1997 reform package were gradually reversed, he says, and ‘‘soon forgotten’’. ‘‘In a strategic sense, is the organisation failing its responsibilities to use taxpayer funds properly? The answer is yes.’’
A handy throne for posh events Linton Besser ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
IT IS not exactly a crucial piece of kit: ‘‘framed original oil on canvas’’ for $35,200. But at least it has a military flavour – it was bought from a company called Aviation Art. The detail is from a contract that is one of 83,000 published over the past four years and available online via the Department of Finance and Deregulation. Others that appear to have little to do with the art of war include a $40,000 series of custom-made Chesterfield leather couches, including a king-size ‘‘King Charles chair’’.
Chesterfield House, which took the order, said the chair, designed for VIPs attending Victoria Barracks at Paddington, looked ‘‘like a throne’’. It threatens to make the handcrafted American white-oak boardroom table, which Lavarack Barracks at Townsville has recently bought, look positively shabby. It and a matching buffet cost only $15,000. Another $10,000 was allocated for a one-day ‘‘strategic planning conference’’ at Lake Crackenback Resort in the Alps. In July 2008 $10,000 was spent on a National Australia Bank card for ‘‘petty cash transactions’’ for a golf day and official
visits to the Australian Defence Force Academy. At the Edinburgh air show in October 2007 Defence paid $38,000 to a company called Explosive Events for ‘‘special effects’’. Last June Defence paid $10,000 for a game of skirmish, and more than $37,000 was spent at Blazing Saddles, a tourist outfit in northern Queensland that takes people on horseback and quad-bike tours. In November 2008 Defence paid the entertainment and sporting ticketing company Ticketek more than $130,000 for an unknown event or service.
Firms find no evidence of mystery deals From Page 1 company. Again, in May and June last year the department recorded hiring a Learjet and a crew for $33,000. But the company from which it hired the executive jet, Pel-Air Aviation, says that although it performs regular jobs for the military, it has no record of this contract. In May 2008, the department published a notice of a $250,000 expense at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Adelaide. It was labelled simply as ‘‘accommodation’’. But what made the figure unusual is that it was supposedly
THE Defence Department spent as much on travel, accommodation and conferences in the past four years as it would cost to give everyone in the army, navy and air force – about 53,000 people – a brand new Toyota Corolla. The bill – $1.42 billion – included first-class air fares buried among $1 billion worth of Qantas contracts, as well as $36 million spent on accommodation and conferences, some of it at luxurious resorts. Defence’s records show a $327,141 bill was paid at the Alexis Park Resort and Spa in Las Vegas for an aerial combat exercise in February and March last year. It is believed about 100 defence personnel took part. These published contracts also say $11,000 was spent for two nights at the Ohana Waikiki Beachcomber hotel in Hawaii in February last year. Another $249,000 was spent at the Orchard Parade Hotel in Singapore over four separate visits. And the department spent $16,000 at the Shangri-La in Manila, in June 2008, for a period – according to its own published information – of only one night. The total figure was obtained by compiling all published notices between 2006 and 2009
As much as $40 million over the past four years was lost in ‘rogue spending’.
Defence Minister: JOEL FITZGIBBON
Take part in DIY data search TODAY The Sydney Morning Herald has published online more than 700,000 Defence contracts stretching back to 1997. These contracts have either been downloaded as spreadsheets from the Department of Finance and Deregulation’s websites, or provided on disc by the same department. The Herald has configured this data into an index that allows readers to scrutinise the biggest spender of taxpayer dollars. It is worth noting that inac-
Defence Minister: BRENDAN NELSON
“Over the next four years Defence funding will amount to approximately $104 billion. This is a massive investment of public money. Australians have a right to expect that Defence will use this money carefully.”
Defence Forces, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, and a deputy secretary, Stephen Merchant, wrote frankly to the new minister of the challenges ahead. ‘‘Over the past 20 years Defence has embarked on a number of internal reform measures, many of which have failed to deliver their promised results and, in some cases, damaged our internal assurance processes,’’ the letter, as reported by The Australian, says. ‘‘[Our] capacity to mount and sustain operations contrasts with what, on occasion, has been a more ordinary level of performance in meeting the government’s directions on nonoperational matters – indeed, sometimes there have been very poor levels of performance,’’ they wrote. ‘‘These failures to deliver on
First class seats and luxury resorts
for only one day – March 5 – and, when contacted, the hotel could not explain the figure. ‘‘There was nothing that big here at our hotel at that time,’’ said a senior employee who did not wish to be named. Some contracts also appear to be duplicated. A $400 million deal with recruitment firm Chandler MacLeod, for example, was published early last year under four contract identification numbers, and with four amounts that differed by as much as $45 million. It is only when individual ver-
sions of the 83,000 notices published in the past four years are downloaded that the public can see these particular contracts have been amended – even though all of them were published on the same day. Another phantom bill was for $12,100. In May 2008, Defence published a contract notice that said this amount had been paid to Bentley Suites, a Canberra serviced apartment complex, for two nights the month before. But the hotel has no record for a bill of this size. A senior employee who did not wish to be named
said the published expense was ‘‘completely impossible’’. ‘‘There was nothing that highlighted that amount of money at all . . . nothing like it,’’ the employee said. The department said six Defence Materiel Organisation staff from Melbourne were accommodated from March 11 to April 3 but conceded there was a problem with the department’s records. ‘‘Defence records show . . . the total payment made to Bentley Suites for this activity was $9236 (GST inclusive), not $12,100,’’ a spokeswoman said.
for all travel-related expenses. It includes those contracts paid to outside firms for services that comprise a travel component. One $10,320 air fare is described in an official notice as: ‘‘air fares for trip to Europe and US to gain insight into how other military agencies are embarking on their reform programs.’’ According to the department’s travel policy, at least 19 personnel are eligible to fly first-class for overseas trips, and may, on occasions, be accompanied by their spouse. A further $169 million was spent leasing private cars for staff, while defence spent a separate $48 million on hire cars, according to the department’s published contracts. The Herald is not disputing that extensive travel around the country and overseas is a legitimate, and sometimes important, undertaking for the department and for many of its officers. But since 2007 it stopped providing details of its travel expenses in its annual report, thereby restricting oversight by taxpayers who fund the bills. And in the four years analysed by the Herald, about $368 million was spent which could not be categorised as air travel, car hire, hotel accommodation, meals or incidentals. A 2008 McKinsey & Company analysis of the Defence budget found this money was routinely described within the department as ‘‘other’’ and cannot be itemised. The McKinsey report found as much as $10 million a year was lost in ‘‘rogue spending’’ – which means where personnel have pocketed and not spent cash allowances, withdrawn Commonwealth funds from ATMs or claimed back GST. One former ADF member told the Herald it had long been common practice to claim a travel allowance but stay with a friend or relative, or even at a defenceowned property. The McKinsey audit said up to $22 million a year could be recovered simply by demanding that employees submit receipts. 1HERSA1 A005
Linton Besser from
The Sydney Morning Herald for winning the
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68 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
All Media • Broadcast and Online Interviewing Winner Kerry O’Brien, ABC TV, The 7.30 Report, “The Rudd and Abbott interviews” These interviews were pivotal political moments in the shadow of an election. Kevin Rudd became ropeable when Kerry O’Brien questioned the courage of his approach on climate change. “Now you have squibbed on that decision,” O’Brien said. “You have put this on the backburner until 2013, at least.” The exchange (right) followed. Tony Abbott tied himself in knots trying to explain when voters should expect him to tell the “gospel truth” and later declined to answer basic questions on his broadband policy. That was, he explained, because he was “no Bill Gates” and “I don’t claim to be any kind of a tech head.” The interviews dominated the news cycle and reverberated within the party ranks.
Judges’ comments Kerry O’Brien’s three entries confirm him as one of the best interviewers in Australia. He took on the prime minister, Kevin Rudd, over his incredible shrinking credibility problem on the ETS and Opposition leader Tony Abbott over his contradictory statements on when he’s really telling the truth... the gospel truth. Both interviews helped define the candidates on the eve of the federal election.
KERRY O’BRIEN: “Mr Rudd, when the Opposition tried to argue with you on holding back a vote on the ETS until after Copenhagen, that is, until after the world had made a stand, you said that was absolute political cowardice. So why is it now not absolute political cowardice for you to show leadership on this to the rest of the world by seeking to take the Australian people with you at the next election on an ETS?” KEVIN RUDD: “You know something, Kerry, where I think you’ve got this fundamentally wrong is um, frankly being absent from the negotiations in Copenhagen themselves. There was no government in the world like the Australian government which threw its every energy at bringing about a deal, a global deal, on climate change. Penny Wong and I sat up for three days and three nights with 20 leaders from around the world to try and frame a global agreement. Now it might be easy for you to sit in 7.30 Report-land and say that was easy to do. Let me tell you mate, it wasn’t.”
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All Media • Commentary, Analysis, Opinion and Critique Winner Andrew Cornell, The Australian Financial Review, “Once bitten: How Australia’s banks dodged the crisis” The performance of Australian banks during the world economic crisis has been widely reported and acclaimed. Politicians, the industry and regulators all leapt to take credit, but was the Australian system really so superior? Did our banks weather the storm through good management or good luck? Andrew Cornell set out to do a forensic investigation, with the help of two decades’ worth of contacts at every level of banking and government. The result was a sophisticated and compelling two-part series that articulated how Australia’s brush with debt in the late 1980s helped it weather the GFC. The third essay, written for the AFR Magazine, analysed the challenges and dangers presented by the resources boom. Cornell started his career as a business reporter in 1987 at the Sun News Pictorial. Based in Melbourne, he is a senior writer and columnist with The Australian Financial Review and its magazines. He was formerly the AFR’s North Asia bureau chief. He was a 2005 Walkley finalist for commentary and analysis. Cornell has written and contributed to several books and co-authored the Australia–Japan Foundation’s study “Australia and Japan: Beyond the mainstream”.
Judges’ comments Andrew Cornell used in-depth, comprehensive, original research to answer two fresh questions of national significance. For the analysis of Australia’s performance in the GFC, Cornell obtained reflective and pertinent commentary from key players in our banking and regulatory sectors, providing clear and comprehensible writing that was accessible to the general reader. The third article was a probing and pertinent analysis of the national dangers in an economic boom that is most commonly applauded across the media sector. Significant and original research, marshalled and communicated cogently.
www.afr.com Price $3.00 (incl GST)
MONDAY 21 DECEMBER 2009
Once bitten: how Australia’s banks dodged the crisis Throughout 2005 and 2006, a parade of US investment banks called on Westpac Banking Corp offering some very clever products: so-called ‘‘structured’’ investments. The investments offered more yield than the very low interest rates at the time, yet were apparently built on safe-as-houses mortgages and corporate debt of the highest quality, rated AAA by ratings agencies. Banks around the world were
Near-death experiences from previous crises toughened Australia’s banks and regulators and helped them to withstand the global turmoil, writes Andrew Cornell in the first44 of aFEATURE special two-part analysis of the financial crisis.
Rapid responses, measure of
lapping them up. More yield, less But there was internal opposition. risk. Even one of Westpac’s Mel- In 1992, Westpac ± Australia’s bourne rivals, the Americans noted, oldest bank ± had nearly failed had dived in. Westpac was close to under the weight of a huge portfolio investing a ‘‘significant’’ amount. he worstof poor corporate and commercial financial crisis since the and from time to time you might say As the financial world sailed blithely on, buoyed by the tide of money, Australia showed more caution, writes Andrew Cornell, in concluding his analysis of the financial crisis.
Great Depression became public in July 2007 when two investment funds managed by investment bank Bear Stearns collapsed. The high-yielding funds had been investing in ‘‘sub-prime’’ American mortgages, the riskiest category of home loans, which had been sliced and diced into complex structured loan packages for reselling. By the time the Bear Sterns funds collapsed, after being on their deathbed for a month, there had been many warnings that the global financial system was seriously out of whack. The US sub-prime market ± riddled with unscrupulous operators, focused on a segment where a multitude of loans should never have been approved, where lenders had no recourse if the borrower defaulted, where many properties were in hurricane belts ± may have triggered the acute crisis but there was already instability and many had seen it. Some had even seen it in that particular market: hedge fund manager John Paulson walked away with billions after betting against US mortgages. British advisory firm Independent Strategy coined the term the ‘‘new monetarism’’ to explain how a shadow banking system of derivatives and leveraged debt had dwarfed traditional finance tenfold. And experienced debt investors were warning the global liquidity glut, created by this shadow banking system and swelled by excess savings from Asia, had driven the price of risk down so low as to be ridiculous. Bill Gross of Pimco, the world’s largest fixed-interest fund, pointed out matter-offactly that the interest-rate premium paid by riskier credits was not matched by the chance of that credit failing. He said: ‘‘When the premium paid for the riskiest debt is only 2.5 percentage points over the safest and the historic default rate of that debt is 5 per cent, and about 60 per cent of the principal is lost in a default, any loan made at the rates prevailing [in 2006] would lose 3 per cent over the life of the loan. High-yield lenders were giving away money.’’ Yet the financial world sailed blithely on, buoyed by the tide of money. In Australia, though, there was more caution. The Reserve Bank had been talking about a ‘‘bubble’’ ± the word was explicitly used ± in the home lending market throughout 2003-04. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority had undertaken ‘‘aggressive’’ ± its own description ± stress testing of not just lenders but the mortgage insurance industry which sheltered the banks in the higher risk mortgage sector of high loan-to-valuation ratios and non-conforming loans. Former Suncorp chief executive John Mulcahy says APRA had been getting ‘‘toey’’ about capital and liquidity well before the Bear Stearns events. ‘‘They were always tough
unreasonable but they had a systemic view,’’ he says. ‘‘They started to monitor liquidity and capital more stringently. In [Suncorp’s] insurance business they were looking at your investments. They were very pro-active.’’ While no financial system in the world came through the major crisis after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 without government intervention and support, the Australian system entered the crisis in 2007 as well prepared and battened down as any in the world. The dozens of directors, executives, regulators, supervisors and advisers to whom the AFR has spoken believe it was a history of crises, from the near failure of Westpac Banking Corp and ANZ Banking Group in 1992, to the Asian crisis of 1997, the failure of HIH in 2001, National Australia Bank’s rogue trading and board implosion fiasco in 2004 that prepared Australia for the worst. Hugh Harley, financial services partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and former head of strategy at Commonwealth Bank, notes all elements were well co-ordinated and the overall stance on monetary policy also served Australia well. ‘‘Monetary policy was tightened progressively in Australia from May 2002, helping to temper demand for ‘speculative borrowing’ in Australia, helping to keep a lid on housing prices and reducing investor demand for ‘yield enhancement’ through exotic instruments,’’ he says. ‘‘Yield enhancement through exotic instruments’’ precisely defines the sub-prime mortgage funds and structured debt such as collateralised debt obligations at the heart of the crisis. Of particular importance when the worst of the crisis approached was the arsenal of responses in the hands of the Reserve Bank and the communication links between the critical members of Australia’s regulatory community, as well as the sufficiency of their coverage of the system ± as opposed to that of their peers in the US and UK. The former’s piecemeal and largely statebased regulatory structure allowed many gaps to appear in the risk picture and in the UK the Financial Services Authority had responsibility for not just prudential supervision but consumer affairs ± a portfolio that during the crisis presented an inherent conflict of interest: save the institution or look after customers? Wharton Business School management professor Mauro Guille´ n has argued one crisis contributor was a ‘‘race to the bottom’’ between London and New York about which would have the lower financial regulations. London began to compete aggressively in the 1980s to woo financial firms back to England, Guille´ n says. The US responded by easing financial
in 1999 the Glass-Steagall Act ± a Depression-era law that barred commercial banks from engaging in investment-bank activities, and vice versa. But Guille´ n says there was no reform of regulatory structure, which ‘‘remained a hodge-podge of agencies inherited from the Great Depression. The result was regulatory fragmentation. No agency had a 360-degree view’’. Australia had, if not a 360-degree view, a much broader perspective. Martin Fahy, chief executive of FINSIA, the Financial Services Institute of Australasia, the professional association representing the wealth management, banking and finance and capital markets sectors, says: ‘‘Australia went into this crisis well prepared. There were sufficient powers, institutional memory. ‘‘In engineering terms, Australia had ‘torsional flexibility’; our system was sufficiently flexible it didn’t break, particularly when you look at the US where there were a lot more cracks.’’ The system in the US was piecemeal because it had evolved in reaction to events over a long period without overriding structure and co-ordination; the UK suffered almost the opposite problem, set up during the ‘‘Big Bang’’ financial reforms of the 1980s but largely untested by crisis. Australia’s regulatory and supervisory regime, in contrast, is largely the result of a wholesale restructure following the 1997 Wallis Financial System Inquiry. That inquiry institutionalised the so-called ‘‘twin peaks’’ model of a market regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, to focus on market integrity and consumer protection issues across the financial system. Prudential supervision was the realm of APRA, which had been hived off from the Reserve Bank, leaving the bank to concentrate on monetary policy and the payments system. BHP Billiton chairman and former National Australia Bank chief executive Don Argus, who established the bank as the market’s strongest during the post-recession ’90s, credits former RBA governor Bernie Fraser with the emphasis on prudential supervision. ‘‘Bernie Fraser set that process in train and then Wallis, and I remember there was a lot of internal opposition at the RBA at the time but now I think APRA has come of age,’’ he says. The twin peaks model, though, was almost immediately tested ± and found wanting ± by the HIH collapse, resulting in the revamped, more aggressive APRA. The Wallis inquiry also paved the way for an umbrella body, the
■ Copenhagen fails to deliver targets ■ Coalition claims ‘comprehensive failure’
Rudd presses ahead on ETS John Breusch COPENHAGEN and Louise Dodson The Rudd government has vowed to reintroduce its proposed emissions trading scheme in February but admitted further negotiations with other countries would be needed before it could announce Australia’s 2020 greenhouse reduction target. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will return to Australia under pressure to review the next steps of his government’s climate change policy after the Copenhagen summit concluded without a legally binding agreement to cut emissions. The Copenhagen Accord set a target of limiting global warming to a maximum 2 degrees but it did not specify the cuts needed to achieve the goal. It also held out the prospect of $US100 billion in annual aid from 2020 for developing nations. The disappointing outcome in Copenhagen is set to weaken Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s political advantage in the climate change debate, following last month’s defeat of the ETS and new Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s decision to aggressively attack the government on greenhouse policy. Treasurer Wayne Swan said yesterday the government would reintroduce the ETS to parliament because it was important for providing business certainty. ‘‘We still believe, and it is just as relevant now as it was before Copenhagen, that we need to pass the bill for business certainty. Business itself has made that case,’’ Mr Swan said.
Key events in the global finan financial crisis 2007 Jul: Wall Street’s fifth-largest bank, Bear Stearns, tells investors they face big losses in two of its hedge funds after rival banks refuse to help Bear Stearns bail them out. Aug 9: BNP Paribas halts withdrawals
Bank of Canada and the Bank of Japan also begin to intervene. Sep 13: British bank Northern Rock is granted emergency financial support from the Bank of England. Oct 1: Swiss bank UBS is the world’s first top-flight bank to announce
from two Kevin of its funds.Rudd The European Blurred 2020 vision . . . Prime Minister has been to sub-prime admit he can’t set an emissions target. lossesforced – $US3.4bn from Central Bank pumps ¤95bn into the banking market to try to improve liquidity. The US Federal Reserve, the
Mr Abbott said the Copenhagen result was a ‘‘comprehensive failure’’ for Mr Rudd, and added that the Prime Minister had not met his own test for international action as ‘‘real targets against real timelines’’. Greens leader Bob Brown called the summit outcome a disaster and urged Labor to start ‘‘serious negotiations’’ with his party in the Senate.
Feb 17: Northern is to be COPENHAGEN: THERockAFTERMATH nationalised.
‘For multilateralism, warming Investment will suffer, page 9 Mar 17: Bearglobal Stearns is bought Sep 15: Lehman Brothers files for rival JPMorgan Chase may be a bridgebyforlarger too far. The divisions Union bankruptcy protection, becoming the looks to coalition, page 9 $US240m. first major US bank to collapse since are too deep, the history too hard toof the credit crisis. How the talks unfolded, page 10 Jul 14: Financial authorities the start US bank step in to help America’s two Merrill Lynch agrees to beSummit’s taken over Switzerland make emergency interestpage 11 shake.’ ‘amateur hour’, Analysis, page 8 largest lenders,– Fannie Mae and by Bank of America for $US50bn. rate cuts of half a percentage point. Freddie Mac, owners or guarantors of The culprits, page 11 ‘The disappointing result boostsOct 2: The RBA cuts the cash ratemain by Oct 12: The Rudd government $US5tr of home loans. 100 basis points to 6%. Big questions: guarantees Editorial, all bank deposits. page 46 US Federal Tony Abbott’s claim that the Rudd Sep 2: The RBA cuts the cash rate by Reserve Chief Oct 8: Central banks in the US, Europe, Nov 4: The RBA cuts the cash rate by 25 basis points to 7%. Ben Bernanke Barker comment, page 46 government is needlessly actingEngland, Canada, SwedenGeoffrey and 75 basis points to 5.25%. Rudd implosion: Opinion, page 47 ahead of much of the world.’ A role for gold: Opinion, page 47 – Louise Dodson, page 9
But if there is one determining feature of Australia’s success about which almost all agree, it is the paramount importance of a recent history INDEX of failures. “I think one of the main reasons things went so right in Australia for the major banks is that they went so wrong in the 1980s and early 1990s,” says Bob Joss, the American brought in to save Westpac after the catastrophe of 1992.
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property loans. Many executives still at the bank had come through that dark time, and they were wary. Moreover, Westpac had dabbled in such structured products before The Australian Financial Review in itsTuesday global diversified investment 22 December 2009 www.afr.com portfolio. The bank took a $150 million bath on them in 2002. ‘‘Believe it not, we learned,’’ one executive says. ‘‘If the memory of 1992 was fading, that was a reminder. A note went around: Do regulations in the 1990s, eventually repealing
15 ● Information 37 ● Property 34 ● Financial Services 38 ● Sports Review
41 ● Letters 42 ● Editorial
we understand this product? Does it make sense to rely on the ratings agency? Do we know the underlying exposures? Do we have an appetite for the volatility we have seen in The Australian Financialbefore?’’ Review these things www.afr.com Tuesday 22 December 2009 Westpac and Commonwealth Bank of Australia didn’t buy in 2006. National Australia Bank did ± $1.2 billion ± and paid dearly, at one point writing down 90 per cent
luck helped weather the storm Continued page 44
Council of Financial Regulators, established in 1998 as the successor to the Council of Financial Supervisors which was formed in 1992 ‘‘to improve co-ordination and communication among the then major financial regulators: the RBA; the Insurance and Superannuation Commission; the Australian Securities Commission; and AFIC’’. APRA chairman John Laker credits the close and regular contact between Australian regulators, not just formally through COFR, but in regular, informal discussion and information sharing, as being one of the strengths of the Australian system. ‘‘It is helped by many of us [at APRA] having formerly been at the [Reserve] bank,’’ he says. That close communication was in stark contrast to that in the US, in particular, where state-based Federal Reserve banks continue to argue about responses and policy settings. Internationally, the situation was even worse. In late 2006, National Australia Bank chairman Michael Chaney asked RBA governor Glenn Stevens at a public function ‘‘if you think about the international interdependence of financial institutions now, of the counter-parties all over the world in all sorts of transactions, I wondered whether you could tell us about the international institutional structures that exist to be able to react that quickly in the event of a crisis?’’ Stevens’ response boiled down to global regulators knowing one another’s phone numbers and that was about it. ‘‘As far as I know, I’m not sure there is a terribly well developed set of protocols that we know that’s in the top drawer and we get it out and just follow it,’’ he said. ‘‘We know who to call and who are our opposite numbers.’’ In Australia, that critical element of crossjurisdictional communication and data sharing was constantly reassessed and federal Treasury formally joined COFR in 2003. COFR undertook a series of crisis management analyses following a report into deposit insurance in 2005, particularly in relation to the financial claims scheme. Harley says: ‘‘I wouldn’t underestimate the strong and effective working relationship between John Laker and Glenn Stevens, in contrast to the initial difficulties which the Bank of England and Financial Services Authority had in co-ordinating their responses in the early days of the Northern Rock crisis.’’ After various rescue attempts failed, the British government took the ailing Northern Rock bank into public ownership in February 2008. Laker says: ‘‘We use the
telephone. It’s amazing what happens when you pick up the phone and have a conversation.’’ In September 2008, COFR released a detailed, five-page Memorandum of Understanding on Financial Distress Management laying out the protocols for dealing with the crisis, including Treasury’s core role in giving advice to the government. Despite some sensational media coverage in the critical period after the Lehman collapse on the inner workings of COFR ± which may have been selective and perhaps mischievous leaking of material ± the financial industry and expert observers believe the emergency package of government guarantees of bank debt and deposits introduced on October 12, 2008 was both necessary and well delivered. Rob Hunt, chief executive of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank at that critical time, says that although there was and continues to be disagreement about the detail and scale of guarantees, this disagreement is insignificant compared with the overwhelming agreement that guarantees were needed. ‘‘It’s easy to forget the massive systemic risk Australia faced with its current account
Recovery adds up for accountants Marsha Jacobs and Kate Burgess
available under existing powers. To provide the necessary liquidity and funding certainty, the RBA in effect extended the term of credit it provided the banking system and began accepting much broader types of collateral for that funding. As well as government securities, it began accepting bank bills and certificates of deposit. Further, the bank began accepting not just residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) the banks had bought from other institutions but RMBS the banks themselves had created. Sean Keane, who at the time was managing director of fixed income for Credit Suisse, says: ‘‘The RBA was the textbook central bank. If Australia wasn’t so small it would have been seen as the template for all central banks. It acted fast, it was innovative. It showed the market that it understood.’’ Australian banks were ‘‘enormously aided by the Reserve Bank, the most pro-active central bank in the world. It got involved very early and understood what was happening’’. Keane notes that straight after the Bear Stearns event in 2007 the RBA ‘‘came out almost immediately in August and September, expanding the eligible collateral for its repos
Australia has about the most sophisticated, concentrated
and converged financial services industry on the planet. Australia’s largest accounting DAVID MOLONEY, OLIVER WYMAN FINANCIAL SERVICES firms are cautiously optimistic deficit financed through bank borrowing,’’ he [repurchase agreements] and whenever they about the year ahead as to deal with the biggest issue saw any pressure they increased their repos’’. says. ‘‘You have first, then you look to see if there are The RBA had to order more than increased merger andunintended acquiconsequences.’’ $11 billion of large-denomination bills to meet Hunt in and other senior finance figures, the demand for cash by nervous depositors. sition activity and atheFor lift paramount risk to Australia was a capital The RBA boosted liquidity day-to-day in the flight deposits pouring out of the country to markets by about $100 billion as the crisis discretionary spendingjurisdictions by±corthat had a government intensified from October into early 2009. guarantee. The APRA’s concern was evident in tougher porate clients are expected tonext critical issue was to sustain the flow of funding into Australia. positions on capital, particularly as the government and regulatory response authority considered, as senior officer Wayne boost revenue after their‘‘The worst was spot on,’’ Hunt says. ‘‘Step one is to make Byres said in June 2008 ‘‘tighter provisioning year in decades. sure capital doesn’t flow out of your economy rules by the accounting profession, which to a guaranteed jurisdiction; step two is to have limited the capacity to use what APRA The fallout from themake global sure the flow of capital coming in would consider to be prudent, forwarddoesn’t stop.’’ looking approaches to provisioning, further financial crisis caused earnings The regulatory and supervisory community exacerbate potential volatility over the does not pretend to have predicted the business cycle’’. APRA took a tougher view to flatline in 2009 after extraordinary years ofcourse of events over 2007 and on capital deductions and the potential for but through COFR and stress testing losses in even the ‘‘safe’’ mortgage market. double-digit growth, 2008, forcing each institution was well aware of its roles. The banks had also prepared themselves. International observers rank the RBA as When Michael Ullmer joined National firms to freeze pay, lay among off staff the first and most imaginative in Australia Bank in 2004, his first major project dealing with the initial choking off of global was to move out the term of NAB’s funding and slash graduate programs. liquidity after the initial Bear Stearns funds profile, gradually replacing debt with shorter failures. Almost maturities with long-term debt. That’s a But the chief executives of until that point, longer term strategy funding was still readily available albeit at now being broadly encouraged across higher prices. When that availability began to the banking universe by prudential rules ± the major firms believe the seize, the RBA moved rapidly to expand its longer term funding, although typically more outlook is more optimistic, operations in domestic financial markets. expensive, is more stable. Critically, the bank found the extraordinary NAB executives say there was a move to boosted by a rebound in transmeasures it needed to undertake were all more five- and six-year debt issues, even action activity. ‘‘As the economy has picked up, a lot of our Apr 7: The RBA cuts the cash rate by Jun 17: The US government announces 2009 clients are 25 basis points to 3%. a major reform of banking regulation looking to expandJan again oragrees start 16: Washington to provide to prevent future financial crises. May 1: Car maker Chrysler enters Bank of America with another projects they had$US20bn on inthe bankruptcy protection after pressure Jul 14: US bank Goldman Sachs beats fresh aiddrawfrom its from the US government. analysts’ forecasts with a net profit of $US700bn financial rescue fund to ing board,’’ said Ernst & $US3.44bn for April to June. Several – help the bank absorb losses incurred Jun 1: General Motors declares but not all – other US banks when buying Merrill Lynch. Young chief executive Gerard bankruptcy, the largest corporate subsequently announce big profits. Nov 9: China sets out a two-year failure in American industrial history. y 3: The Rudd government $US586bn economic stimulus ‘‘MostFeb Dalbosco. think we have Jul 16: China aannounces GDP growth announces a $42bn stimulus package package. rate of 7.9% between at an annual ra the RBAbut cuts thewe’re cash seen the worst ofand it, April and June, up from 6.1% in the Nov 20: The IMF approves a $US2.1bn rate by 100 basis points first quarter. loan fornot Iceland,out the first of IMF loan for a woods to 3.25%. yet.’’ the Western European nation since 1976. Sep 2: GG20 finance ministers Feb 17: USAustralian President A survey by The meeting in Brussels agree meet Dec 1: The National Bureau of Barack Obama signs his maintain stimulus to m Economic Research declares theReview US to $US787bn economicfound Financial has measures despite growing mea be in recession, concluding the US stimulus plan into law. signs of a global recovery. that economy began tothe contract10 in largest firms generMar 2: Insurer AIG reports the December 2007. Oct 6: TThe RBA raises the cash ated earnings of largest $5.3 billion quarterly loss in US in rate by 225 basis points to Dec 2: The RBA cuts the cash rate by corporate history of $US61.7bn in 3.25%. 2009, but revenuethe growth theIt 100 basis points to 4.25%. final three monthsin of 2008. Nov 3: The RRBA raises the cash rate receives an extra $US30bn from Dec 16:top The Federal Reserve slashes three firms was negligible. points to 3.5%. by 25 basis po the US government. its key interest rate from 1% to a range of zero to 0.25% – the lowest since records began.
Continued Mar 3: The RBA keepspage the cash 6 rate at 3.25%.
More reports, page 6 ■ 43 46
Dec 1: The RBA raises the cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.75%.
seven- and 10-year issues. The bank worked on building up ordinary deposits and introduced the concept of a ‘‘stable funding index’’ in 2005, measuring the ratio of longterm funding and ordinary deposits to shorter funding. Even when NAB had to write down more than $1 billion on complex securities in 2008, its core funding remained stable. Australia has been fortunate with the structure of its financial services industry. The Four Pillars policy, although reducing competition, insulated the banks from the need to undertake riskier business. The structure of the economy, with the need for the banks to fund the current account deficit with offshore borrowing, introduced more pressure for conservative behaviour. Meanwhile, the banks were highly profitable concentrating on a secure mortgage market and wealth management. David Crawford, long-time Westpac director and former chairman of KPMG, says the lessons of the past have been critical ± not just in better risk management but also on the demand side with the Australian corporate sector much less heavily geared going into this crisis, having learned from the ’90s how bank debt can rapidly disappear. ‘‘The big difference in Australia has been cultural,’’ Crawford says. ‘‘Culture is absolutely critical, in risk settings, in management, in following the spirit, not black letter law. With the ’90s ± and HIH was a watershed for regulators ± there emerged a culture of conservatism here.’’ Unlike banks in the northern hemisphere, Australian banks did not have excess funding and the need to invest it in riskier and riskier assets to provide returns to shareholders. That structure may not deliver customers the cheapest banking but it has delivered a stable financial system during the worst financial crisis in more than 50 years. David Moloney, principal of Oliver Wyman financial services, says: ‘‘Australia has about the most sophisticated, concentrated and converged financial services industry on the planet. This unique positioning has supported less aggressive business model settings (encouraged by a very active regulator), resilience through scale, and finally earnings diversification to fast growing wealth pools and countercyclical insurance distribution.’’ On September 14, Lehmans collapsed. The financial world went haywire. Governments rushed to guarantee bank debt and deposits, the financial world was on a precipice and Australia was swept towards the edge. But as things stabilised, it was clear Australia and its financial system were emerging in better shape than almost anywhere else. There was luck. And there was also good judgement along the way. But as Laker warns, the great danger is complacency. Because there was a lot of luck.
RBA Chief Glenn Stevens
The Walkley Book Award Winner Shirley Shackleton, The Circle of Silence: A personal testimony before, during and after Balibo (Murdoch Books) When her husband Greg was killed reporting the crisis in East Timor at the age of 27, Shirley Shackleton began an accidental career as a human-rights activist, becoming tied to the history of the country and its struggle for independence. Her fierce determination to expose the truth surrounding the killing of the Balibo Five in 1975 led her to confront Indonesian General Benny Murdani in the dining room of Dili’s Hotel Turismo and to turn her unrelenting gaze on Australia’s own government. This book is testimony to her work in East Timor, and an insight into a defining time in that country’s history. Such struggles have their personal sides, however, and this book is also a remarkable personal narrative, interspersed with poetry, that details the other careers Shackleton juggled while maintaining an abiding focus on justice in East Timor.
Judges’ comments Shirley Shackleton’s book is an exceptional personal narrative in this year’s field of rich Australian journalism, history and analysis. It is exceptional because of its raw intellectual honesty forged from murder and massacre in East Timor during a cover-up which prevailed for 25 years. It is exceptional because it confronts then exposes blind-eyed Australian diplomacy. It confronts then exposes self-censorship posing as journalism, because of the Australia/US/Indonesia geopolitical logic which required it. From ordinary human expectations, the author’s personal story – with sometimes brutal self-assessment – evolves from self-pity and grief over the 1975 murders at Balibo and Dili to a campaign to raise public consciousness about atrocities which decimated the people of East Timor. The consequence of that raised consciousness? Independence for East Timor in 2002 and a measure of belated redemption for Australia and the international community. The Circle of Silence is Shirley Shackleton’s testimony from her life’s darkest hour at the death of her husband Greg to vindication and relief at the survival of a people who struggled for their freedom.
FOR EXCELLENCE IN J O U R N A L I S M
WE COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU! The Walkley Foundation and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance thank all the judges in the 2010 Walkley Awards. We couldn’t do it without you!
JUDGES Bronwyn Adcock Lee Anderson Chris Bath Joel Becker Brian Burke Josephine Cafagna Rory Callinan Deborah Cameron Rodney Cavalier Neil Chenoweth Barbara Cox Gary Cox Ross Dagan Paul Daley Anne Davies Anne Deveson Brett De Vine Sean Dorney Ross Duncan Tom Dusevic
Leslie Falkiner-Rose Tony Feder Mark Forbes Michael Gawenda Leon Gettler Tony Gillies Louise Graham Jonathan Green Chris Hammer Leigh Hatcher Belinda Hawkins David Hele Amanda Hooton Deb Hope Nic Hopkins Christine Jackman Mark Jessop Simon Johanson Sigrid Kirk Elizabeth Knight Tom Krause
Kate Legge Tim Lester Andrew Main Hugh Martin Julie McCrossin Paul McInerney Lindsay Olney Margot O’Neill Caroline Overington Tim Palmer Steve Panozzo Michael Pascoe David Penberthy Bruce Petty Kerryn Pratt Alice Pung Chris Reason Sue Richardson Matthew Ricketson Olivia Rousset Peter Ryan
Howard Sacre Julianne Schultz Dan Silkstone Mark Simkin Steve Speziale John Stanley Melissa Stevens Duska Sulicich Melissa Sweet Nick Tabakoff Hedley Thomas Gary Tippet Andy Toulson Mary Anne Toy Andy Tyndall Helen Tzarimas Peter Van Onselen John Van Tiggelen Murray Waldren Tony Walker
2010 WALKLEY ADVISORY BOARD JUDGING PANEL Quentin Dempster (Chair) Gay Alcorn Mike Carlton Helen Dalley John Donegan Malcolm Farr Peter Meakin Jeni O’Dowd Malcolm Schmidtke Fenella Souter
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
FOR EXCELLENCE IN J O U R N A L I S M
Journalism leadership Winner Kerry O’Brien, ABC TV presenter, The 7.30 Report For decades Kerry O’Brien has been one of Australia’s most trusted news figures, confronting politicians with a mixture of meticulous preparation and fair but frank, undaunted questioning. Though best known for his political encounters, the scope of O’Brien’s knowledge and the quality of his research has meant that he is equally at ease asking questions of key people in sports, the arts and science. He is one of Australia’s premier interviewers, able to draw out revealing insights through fearless, intelligent questions. Subjects who try to escape using meaningless verbiage are relentlessly pursued for a more meaningful response. He has been Australia’s expert guide through much recent history, including numerous election campaigns and Australia’s triumph in the 1983 America’s Cup. On the world stage, he has reported on the 1983 US invasion of Grenada, the 1984 US presidential election, the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, the Russian coup attempt that led to Boris Yeltsin replacing Mikhail Gorbachev… and much more. His approach as a host and interviewer has won him the respect of colleagues, and of the national and international leaders he has interviewed over more than 40 years in journalism. Born in Queensland, Kerry O’Brien started as a Channel Nine news cadet in Brisbane in 1966. In 1969–70 he was AAP– Reuters’ correspondent in Papua New Guinea. In the early 1970s, he spent three years as a senior reporter with the ABC’s This Day Tonight, followed by a couple of stints at Four Corners from 1975 to 1977 and again in 1985–86. He spent three years as a press secretary, first for Labor leader Gough Whitlam in 1977, and later for Labor’s deputy leader, Lionel Bowen. Kerry O’Brien is one of journalism’s true all-rounders: he has worked in newspapers, wire service and television news and current affairs, as a general reporter, feature writer, political and foreign correspondent, interviewer and compere. For 15 years, he both presented and was a driving force of The 7.30 Report; in 2011 he begins a new challenge, as host of Four Corners. His skill and his professionalism stand as examples for a generation of reporters, particularly those working in television. He is a past Walkley winner: in 2000 for Broadcast Interviewing, in 1991 he was part of a team that won for TV Coverage of a Current Story, and in 1982 he won Best TV Current Affairs Report and also the Gold Walkley. Below is just one memorable exchange from interviews O’Brien did for The 7.30 Report in 2010. He was putting pressure on the Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, about a tax-promise turnaround: Kerry O’Brien: No, but I’d like you to explain it. Tony Abbott feels with conviction we will not have a new tax in any way, shape or form, we won’t have a new tax; a month later, you do. Tony Abbott: Well, again Kerry, I know politicians are gonna be judged on everything they say, but sometimes, in the heat of discussion, you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark, which is one of the reasons why the statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth is those carefully prepared scripted remarks. Kerry O’Brien: So every time you make a statement, we have to ask you whether it’s carefully prepared and scripted or whether it’s just something on the fly? No, seriously; this is a very serious question.
The The The The The
people chatter ceremony envelope silence
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72 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism Winner Cameron Forbes Cameron Forbes’ career has been distinguished by news-breaking and great writing. But when he was hired as a subeditor at The Age by Graham Perkin in the late 1960s, he was initially placed in charge of overseeing croquet results. Perkin mentored Forbes, encouraging him to study and move back to writing. As a leader writer, and as foreign editor, Forbes spearheaded The Age’s campaign against apartheid. He quickly established himself as a first-rate news reporter and also as a copy editor who combined speed with an unusual sensitivity for copy. Forbes’ best gifts became apparent as a foreign correspondent and feature writer for The Age and The Australian, covering Europe, Asia and the United States. Always he sought the new, the insightful and, most importantly, the stories of ordinary people faced with extraordinary situations. His dispatches from Rwanda, the Philippines and elsewhere were polished, profound and often moving. He was writing serious stories for serious papers, but he had the knack of combining the huge with the human. He could make serious and complex stories readable, but without compromising the integrity of his tale. Wherever possible, he told stories through people. He was the master of the anecdote that opens out effortlessly into a wider narrative. When he joined The Australian in 1998 he became its Washington correspondent, covering the travails of the Clinton administration. As a senior writer, Cameron’s coverage of Aboriginal affairs and the growing land-rights movement was groundbreaking, and won him the respect and trust of Aboriginal communities. Covering the Rwandan genocide, he was the first journalist to tell the world of one of its most appalling atrocities. The writing is typical of his journalism: The stained-glass window of the Ntarama church breaks bright sunlight into rose and gold and heavenly blue, a dapple of colours playing gently over the gloom of a Rwandan hell. Over bodies piled on the floor and on the pews, hundreds and hundreds of them, men, women, children and babies, torn and twisted and shattered, dying in their individual agony but melting into one another now. It is easier to look at the skulls than at faces where flesh remains. The skulls are mute; the faces scream with terror. The people came here for sanctuary and they were slaughtered. Forbes embodies journalism’s best virtues, because first of all the craft is about reporting and writing and finding an audience. Forbes is now a full-time author, continuing his devotion to storytelling with two books, Hellfire: The story of Australia, Japan and the prisoners of war (Macmillan) and Under the Volcano: The story of Bali (Black Inc.).
THE WALKLEY MAGAZINE
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW...
… to be a cricket writer Malcolm Conn says those four-month tours can be a sticky wicket. Cartoon by Jason Chatfield 1. You will drink Foster’s, somewhere Ignore any suggestions from former hacks that you should walk into the first friendly London pub you come to and order a pint of their best bitter. You will find that the Slug and Lettuce on Fulham Road is not a unique old ale house but a chain of pubs which cares as much about best bitters as the UK does about AFL. After attempting to chew your way through a couple of different bitters you return to the bar and ask for something cold, only to find you’ve broken your most solemn vow of the fourmonth tour on the first night – “I’m not drinking Foster’s under any circumstances.”
2. You will have a headache Not that you can escape the bitter. Every English journalist has a favourite city or country local with its own special brew of tepid suds that you’re expected to down with gusto and good humour. You’re never sure whether the ringing in your head is permanent jet lag or a cry of protest from your body over the awful substances being poured into it.
3. It’s not all steak and eggs Before you go on your first tour of India, make sure you’ve had some sort of Asian meal and make sure it is hot. Then have another, preferably vegetarian. A well travelled colleague once admitted on arriving in India that he was a steak and eggs man. All his travelling had been to Europe to watch his English soccer team play. He’d never even been to his local Chinese. So imagine his consternation when the tour began in provincial southern India, where the food is hot and traditionally vegetarian and, anyway, cows are sacred in India. It was made worse by the fact that elections were taking place and alcohol had been banned for a week. It was a great relief when we finally arrived in Bombay, staying in five-star comfort, and he could order steak flown in from Australia, and wash it down with a can of ridiculously expensive Foster’s. Then, just like in the cartoons, his face turned flaming red, sweat poured off his brow and steam hissed out of his ears. “Jeez,” he gasped, grabbing the water jug and taking large gulps from the side. “I thought it was a snowpea.” It was in fact a green chilli.
4. …but avoid KFC in India Always eat at good restaurants in India and always eat the local food. If you think it’s impossible to butcher a pizza, you’re wrong. On a previous tour the Australian team were delighted to arrive in Bangalore, which had a KFC. They paid one of the doormen about a month’s wages in rupees to go down and bring back a tuk tuk full of family-sized buckets. The players who indulged the most became the most ill. The reporters stuck to the sensational poolside smorgasbord and had far fewer problems. 74 T H E W A L K L E Y M A G A Z I N E
5. Cricketers drink bottled water now The good old days of touring are gone. Once you couldn’t get the players out of the hotel bar. Now you can’t get them into it, and if you do the fast bowlers are probably drinking bottled water. Important skills have been lost, most notably the ability of Merv Hughes to drain a can of beer and then crush it onto his forehead so it stuck fast.
6. You’ll criticise blokes you like Making friends with players and coaches is fraught with danger. You usually have to sack them at some stage. Not many sportsmen know when it’s time to pull up stumps without being pushed. The hardest thing I have ever had to do was spend Matthew Hayden’s last season saying he was not playing well enough to be in the side and should be dropped. He’d been a mate for a decade. To his eternal credit he rang me after he’d announced his retirement and said he was calling out of respect. There are very, very few like that in the game.
7. Sri Lanka is a joy Don’t bother smuggling wine into Sri Lanka. A few of us made that mistake almost two decades ago, loading up on duty-free on the way out of Australia. We were astonished to find a modern supermarket in downtown Colombo and more astonished to find that an entire wall was covered in wine. Sri Lanka remains cricket’s best value for money tour for the budget-conscious cricket fan, followed by South Africa. Both are great places to visit.
8. …but Pakistani beer isn’t Cricket’s greatest disappointment is the tragedy of Pakistan. In 1998, when Australia last visited there, it was an easy and interesting place to tour. A colleague and I stayed on for a holiday, travelling
to the magnificent Murree Hills in northern Pakistan, then down the Silk Route to Peshawar and through the now highly dangerous Khyber Pass. Surprisingly for a strict Islamic country, Pakistan has two breweries – and they both make awful beer. Hotel staff will always be trying to flog you the stuff, at hugely inflated prices. You need to be in your room with a very cold fridge, a ghetto blaster and some company as a distraction to drink it.
9. You’ll always find electricity Don’t be paranoid about electricity on the subcontinent. If you need power in the press box someone will come with a set of pliers, cut the cable, and wire you up somehow, while the power is still on. Be careful where you walk, and lift your feet off the ground if monsoon rain comes flooding in.
10. South Africa is fun (but in a dangerous sort of way) Cricket’s other great tragedy is the demise of Zimbabwe as a country and a cricketing nation. It is paradise lost. Touring South Africa is a lot of fun if you’re not forced to file morning and night, given it has England’s time zone. But you need to keep your wits about you. South Africa ranks with Jamaica as cricket’s most dangerous destination. Skip the West Indies, it is overpriced and overrated. Sri Lanka and South Africa are closer, cheaper and much more fun. Malcolm Conn is chief cricket writer for The Australian Jason Chatfield is a freelance editorial cartoonist for AAP, and the fifth writer and cartoonist for Ginger Meggs. He is the new President of the Australian Cartoonists’ Association
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