Home' InDaily : January 22nd 2010 Contents E73874
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7The Independent Weekly
January 22 - 28, 2010
In the midst of the turmoil
wreaked by last week s
earthquake in Haiti, there was
worldwide grief and sympathy,
spawning acts of humanity and
generosity that shed some dim
light on the dark scenes we were
witnessing nightly on the TV news.
And then there was also this
fairly insensitive little snipe, posted
on the Twitter site of our Minister
for Education and Tourism, Jane
Lomax-Smith: "Why so many
journos and so little aid in Haiti".
It reads as a question, even
though J-Lo, who oversees the
education of our state s children,
omitted any punctuation.
But it must have been a rhetorical
question, since she appeared to
have no answer when I asked her
about it on Friday.
The brief exchange probably
benefits from being transcribed in
near-entirety, since it so amusingly
demonstrates a politician utterly
unable to extricate herself from an
embarrassment of her own making.
Q: I understand you updated your
Twitter site lamenting that there
were too many journalists and not
enough aid ... How much has the
State Government contributed to
the aid effort in Haiti?
A: Thank-you, I m glad someone
reads my Twitter, I m delighted
someone s interested in it ...
Q: Actually, I heard that second-
have iPhone, I suggest you log on to
"Santos Tour Down Under" and get
our free application, it s becoming
very popular, so I recommend a BIT
of technology to you ... I think that
a lot of Twitter is instant com-
ments, short sentences and I don t
think anybody needs to agonise
over deconstructing the inner
meaning of what s said.
Q: So do you regret that Twitter
A: No, I m just amazed that people
want to deconstruct and analyse
what is after all a pretty small state-
ment, saying one always wants to
get more aid into those tragic areas
... I think it s an extraordinary
tragedy for so many people, such a
poor country, and I think anybody
who s seen those television images
will have their heartfelt feelings
go out to those people, it s just a
Q: But you were objecting to that
television coverage, you said there
were too many media outlets there
and not enough aid ...
A: I think you should not get too
hung up on the words in the Twitter
account and maybe go back to
Hmmm ... not sure what the
Premier would make of being told
his Twitter "announcements" were
not a primary source. Let alone
what the Treasurer would make of
being implicitly told we should get
off our backsides and contribute
to the devastated republic, rather
than leaving everything to the
Commonwealth as usual.
As it happens, the media outlets
in Haiti were doing their best to
cover an extremely significant and
traumatic event, while J-Lo was
hobnobbing around with Lance
The amazing report from
Channel 9 s Robert Penfold on
Saturday showed a number of
Australian journalists helping to
rescue a baby girl who was trapped
under the rubble of her family
home. Sure, it was a small moment
of joy and relief amid a human
disaster on an epic scale, but on
such occasions, it is moments such
as this that give hope and succour
and inspire those working tirelessly
to save lives.
So, J-Lo, to answer your ques-
tions, rhetorical as they may have
been: a) there are so many journos
in Haiti because news outlets
believe the world needs to be told
of the unfolding disaster there and
saw fit to invest time and money
getting reporters and camera
operators on the ground so that
you could see those heartbreaking
images. And b) there is so little aid
because governments such as yours
prefer to opine about these news
outlets than to offer any substantive
J-Lo s mind was more occupied
by other things this week, namely
the Tour Down Under and how to
avoid revealing to the public how
much of their money was spent
getting Lance Armstrong to come
and endorse Mike Rann for a third
term. Her rebuff to that query was
typically flippant: apparently the
evil Victorians are eyeing off our
Pro Tour cycling event and want
to pilfer it for themselves, as they
did with the Grand Prix, and being
transparent about how you spend
the public s money will somehow
make this easier for them.
That, at least, was J-Lo s
straight-faced answer last Friday.
By Wednesday, however, she was
reassuring people that the Tour was
locked in to its South Australian
schedule and that any question of
it being hijacked by the Vics was
mere pie in the sky. Which does
tend to undermine her rationale for
keeping mum about Lance s appear-
ance fee. Appropriately enough, a
reading of J-Lo s recent "tweets"
reveals that she learnt a new word
this week: Obscurantism . It s clear
why she likes it so much; it means
"opposition to the increase and
spread of knowledge".
Apparently members of this
Government think we re all idiots. I
suppose the feeling is mutual.
Which brings me to the Premier s
nasty little smear in last week s
Financial Review, in which he
appeared to accuse members of the
press gallery of corruption!
"I m sure there s going to be
more and more smears because of
our opponents and a few of their
sympathetic journalist friends,"
Mike Rann said.
"I think the Liberals have got a
couple of very active friends in the
media who they rely on. I m sure
there s a few jobs been promised."
Now, I m not sure to whom
the Premier is referring, but the
implication is that reporters are
deliberately pushing a certain
Opposition line with the explicit
assurance that there is a financial
benefit down the track. It seems
an odd sort of tack, collectively
insulting the Adelaide media two
months before an election. But in
case the Premier is in any doubt; to
paraphrase US President Lyndon
B. Johnson, I have not sought, and I
will not accept any role in the next
Liberal administration, whenever
that occurs. Indeed, I have never
so much as been approached about
working for the Liberal Party.
Labor, on the other hand ...
Rann s outburst is indicative
of an increasingly paranoid and
spiteful approach to politics which
has become more marked in the
upper echelons of the ALP in recent
months. Since I ve established that
I have no vested interests, might I
suggest that a spell in Opposition
could teach them some much-
Rann: paranoid and spiteful
The media outlets
in Haiti were
doing their best to
cover an extremely
traumatic event, while
J-Lo was hobnobbing
around with Lance
Rann s Government is handing the Tour Down Under millions of dollars while simultaneously complaining that not enough aid
is going to Haiti earthquake sur vivors.
Photo: David Mariuz
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