Tags: robert manne

19 Jun 2006, Comments Off on Thinktanks redux

Thinktanks redux

Author: Helen

Did I mention the Right is having a field day, moaning all the while about how oppressed they are? Robert Manne explains the Windschuttling of the ABC board (it’s already been Albrechtsened and Bruntoned) in the Age today, while John Roskam of the IPA complains that even that isn’t enough to root out the commie pinko culture of the damn place (hoick, spit).

Picture from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bennelong

I might have also compared the IPA to lantana, or one of those funguses that spread and spread until they occupy the subterranean equivalent of several office buildings? Maybe we’d better scrub that idea and replace it with a huge fungal infestation, not of the IPA, but of many thinktanks. Because as we know, strange consanguinities often pop up – or maybe it’s just because the public intellectuals of Australia are such a small pond?

The thinktank which released the report about Aboriginal culture in schools (anti) was not from the IPA or the CIS but the Bennelong society. Obviously, a group which calls itself the Bennelong society would be in some way concerned with Aboriginal welfare, or reconciliation, or culture. Right? So what does the Bennelong Society website tell us?

Well, it’s a com.au and an inc., not an .org or an .edu. It has some beautiful graphics on its header – from Aboriginal paintings by Noongali, a member of the Balardong clan from Western Australia. Its aims are, in part, to


*promote debate and analysis of Aboriginal policy in Australia, both contemporary and historical;
*encourage research into the history of the interaction between Australia’s Indigenous people and the Europeans and others who settled in Australia from 1788 onwards, and of the ideas through which this interaction was interpreted by both Europeans and Aborigines;…
[and disseminate this via the internet].

Another stated aim is to promote Aboriginal welfare.

This site may not be familiar to you, but click through to Who we are and Useful Links and hey, you could practically play “Rightwing Thinktanks plus Quadrant bingo” with the results. On the board, Dr. Gary Johns (IPA), Peter Howson (Minister for aboriginal affairs under the McMahon government), Senator Jeannie Ferris (current Liberal government), Des Moore (Institute for Private Enterprise, H R Nicholls society), Ray
Evans (Lavoisier group). There are two or three actual Aboriginal people on the Board (one’s even a woman!) but there are no Aboriginal office bearers. “Useful links”: Centre for Independent Studies, Quadrant and Keith Windschuttle. “Articles and Speeches” is pretty much a Johns-Howson-Brunton showcase.

It’s just like the IPA but with Aborigines (and global warming denialists).

How does Noongali feel, you have to wonder, having his art showcased by, and an integral part of, such a website. On the one hand, it should bring him lots of hits and interest, so great. But if I were in his shoes I’d be saddened to see it giving prominence to the writings of Keith Windschuttle. As Robert Manne said in his article:


On the basis of a comically flawed methodology, Windschuttle argued that the British settlers killed only 118 of the Tasmanian Aboriginal population; that those Aborigines who resisted the destruction of their way of life were no better than vicious common criminals, robbers and murderers; and that, as a “dysfunctional” people, the Tasmanian Aborigines were actually responsible for their own demise. In Fabrication, Windschuttle wrote about the collapse of Tasmanian Aboriginal society with a moral coldness not seen even in the 19th century settler accounts.

With friends like the Bennelong society…

Now the ABC’s full of them.

26 Oct 2005, Comments (0)

Typing with intent

Author: Helen

Heard a panel discussion on RN the other day on ìnew media publishingî, with reference to online magazines like New Matilda and blogging. As with other references to blogging in the msm (Main Stream Meeja) lately, it was patronising, insulting and depressing.

One lowlight was journo / opinion writer Andrew West opining that much dead-tree writing is superior to Just “Any Old” blog. Oh, well then. So Robert Manne, Adele Horin, Ross Gittins and himself are stacked up against a few OMG WTF LOL livejournalling teenagers. Apples and pears. He frames the discussion so as to set the blogosphere up to fail.

And the old saw that blogging isnít journalism. Repeat after me 100 times: Blogging is not, and has never been, intended to be journalism. (Political blogs – which are only one of many categories – can cut through the agenda-setting of the msm by highlighting and pointing to stories that otherwise would be buried by the stories the powers that be consider suitable for us.)

It was evident the panelists had done little or nothing to really find out what is available in the blogosphere.

The other bit which had me whimpering in frustration was Hilary McPhee saying (Erratum: it was Ramona Koval) that she really didnít know where the ìnew mediaî was going to go in terms of readership, because, she says, there is no serendipity there. She reckons you have to ìlog onî somewhere in order to read anything on the net. Iím not sure what she was trying to get at but she seems to imagine that people choose one or two online mags which they have to know about first; subscribe; log on to those one or two sites and just read. Sheís aware that people come in and comment at New Matilda, but she doesnít seem to understand how people really move about on the internet.

For exampleÖ hasnít she ever, for instance, gone over to Barista from where she follows a link to Professor Q (while being directed to various overseas mainstream media articles which she otherwise might have missed, along the way), then decided to go over to the Purple Rodeo for a while just because the link is on Quigginís blog, or maybe via Catallaxy, canít remember; thus discovering a treasure trove of historical writing called Philobiblon, who, together with Susoz, provide enough feminist links to keep her up way past her bedtimeÖ

Serendipity, in spades. I didnít know any of the blogs I knew today a couple of years ago. I have followed an interlocking, non-linear mass of links to topics and writers that particularly interest me ñ and many topics, and writers, that intrigue or horrify. A person who is running an online journal should know how the internet works. (See “Typing with intent redux” above for correction).

Iím not the only onewho has been disappointed lately with the attitude of the msm to bloggers. What’s with this tribal sniping?

Update 29/10: Found a transcript, and the comment was actually made by Ramona Koval, to McPhee. See Typing with Intent Redux.