Mr Rabbit vs Mr Riley

I don’t necessarily agree with Tony Abbott’s policies, but I don’t think what he said to the soldiers, taken in context, was unreasonable.

Colonel Creighton says of the Digger’s death: “Was it tragic? Absolutely. But we’re all in the knowledge that all the stuff (firepower support) you see here and more was available on the day.”

In response, Mr Abbott says: “It’s pretty obvious that, well, sometimes s— happens, doesn’t it.”

Immediately, Major General Cantwell replies: “It certainly does, yeah.” — AAP report

So they’d been discussing the death of Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney, and whether the troops had enough support on that operation. The conclusion seemed to be that no matter how much support, how good the equipment, how good the planning, sometimes, unfortunately, soldiers die.

It’s an inherently dangerous job, after all.

It was probably a cheap shot from Channel 7 to use the footage — but perhaps hardly surprising, given the release of the full footage under Freedom Of Information had been blocked. Mark Riley must have figured someone had something to hide.

Abbott’s response — the 25 seconds of dead silent seething anger — made the story much, much worse for him. It made it bigger. It made it a talking point around the country.

Any response would have been better. Say you won’t answer the question because it’s unreasonable. Say the original comments had to be taken in context, and explain that if necessary.

It’s like those guys who get filmed coming out of court, and decide to attack the cameras, guaranteeing them a much more prominent place on the evening news.

From the sounds of it, Abbott’s office let him down, and despite Channel 7 giving advance warning as to the nature of the interview, he simply wasn’t prepared for it.

As a commenter on the Herald Sun web site notes: I’m so pleased that Tony Abbott glared at Mark Riley, the normal human reaction would have been to grab Mark by the hair and call him a few unprintable names. Abbott showed his control, and actually had just come from a very emotional session in Parliament where they reflected on the human tragedies in the floods.

Perhaps it’s a plus that he didn’t lose his temper, but then again, shouldn’t senior politicians be prepared to face this kind of stuff?

MediaWatch returned on Monday. I’ll be very interested to see what they make of it.

Healthy debate needs truth

My view, as I’ve expressed before, is that healthy debate is important, but it relies on the participants sticking to the facts, and not just making things up.

Otherwise you get stuff like this, which concerns a Bacchus Marsh resident who apparently misinterpreted what he read and contacted Leader (newspapers) with concerns about seniors ticket pricing doubling from $3.30 one way to $7.

I suspect Myki spokesdroid Jean Ker Walsh was probably correct when she said some seniors may be confusing a one-off cost with ongoing senior fare prices.

That is, to buy a re-usable Myki card will, once all the free offers are gone, cost $7 for a concession.

Many people also seem to be assuming (incorrectly) that tourists and others will be forced to shell out for a card. They won’t — short term (non-reusable) tickets will be available: Short term tickets (for occasional users such as tourists) will replace the single-use 2-hour and Daily tickets available now.

I know it’s easy for people to assume the worst, but these sorts of false “the whole thing is totally crap” arguments don’t really help the debate, and help obscure the truth: that Myki is incredibly expensive, late, and badly implemented.

So it goes too for climate change.

Lord Christopher Monckton has been doing a speaking tour of Australia in the past few weeks, and doing a fair bit of media along the way. He’s an extremely eloquent, apparently very knowledgeable and intelligent climate change sceptic.

But, as MediaWatch found, he makes stuff up. He comes out with unsubstantiated claims which (as MediaWatch showed) many in the media let him get away with unchallenged.

I think the United Nations Climate Panel is now a busted flush. For instance, Rajendra Pachauri, its chairman, Sir John Houghton, its former chairman, and a number of other people associated with it, are now under formal criminal investigation in the United Kingdom for filing false accounts of a charity known as TERI Europe of which they are all trustees.

MediaWatch asked Sir John Houghton, who said “I am not and have never been a Trustee of Teri Europe.

They also spoke to the UK Charity Commission which said it’s evaluating Monckton’s claims, but is not running a criminal investigation. And they asked TERI Europe, who said that “Neither TERI Europe nor its trustees have received any complaint from the Charity Commission about its activities, let alone any allegation of criminal conduct.

Another of Monckton’s claims: The Barrier Reef Authority has established that sea temperatures in the region of the reef have not changed at all over the last 30 years.

MediaWatch checked this too. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says it doesn’t measure sea temperatures itself, and doesn’t know where his figures come from.

It really does appear that he’s just making stuff up — and not for the first time, either.

I suspect to anybody with an open mind, it all just casts doubt on the rest of his arguments, and it doesn’t help us have a serious, healthy debate at all.