What a week! We’ve had Anders Breivik’s power animal, Trump’s theme song, Fogle’s room-mate and Cory Bernardi’s horrible crusade.
Hello all, and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. There’s been trouble for a couple of famous jailbirds, a disturbing (but unsurprising) insight into the home life of one Donald John Trump, a bit of bait and switch with the Safe Schools Program and our own Senate starting to resemble a famous William Golding novel.
Terrorist and all-round psychopath Anders Breivik has been having a tough time adjusting to life behind bars. The man responsible for the worst massacre in Norway’s history threatened to sue his Government late last year due to the torturous conditions to which was being subjected to (those being the selection of video games available and his uncomfortable couch).
He has managed to crank the nutcase dial all the way to eleven, by comparing himself to none other than Nelson Mandela. He did place a caveat on the comparison, however, indicating that the difference between him and Mandela is that Mandela “ordered action” while he “carried out the action.” He also took the opportunity to describe the prison food as “worse than waterboarding.”
The solution seems simple to me…replace his meals with waterboarding.
Speaking of inmates getting what some would argue they deserve, everyone’s favourite weight loss icon-cum-abhorrent sexual predator, Jared Fogle (the Subway dude for those playing at home) was the victim of an assault in prison this week. Fogle was attacked by fellow inmate Steven Nigg, a 60-year-old convicted robber who reportedly hates child molesters. Perhaps Nigg couldn’t forgive Subway for the whole “Footlong is not actually a footlong, it’s a trademark” fiasco…not to mention their tendency to skimp on the condiments. (I wonder how many footlongs he’s had in prison? – Ed)
Ok, I gave you a week off, Trump. You needed it, I needed it and the world needs a lifetime of it. Unfortunately, like most of the vices I’ve enjoyed through my life, I just can’t stay away from something that will eventually kill me.
Trump’s butler of 30 years, Anthony Senecal, gave the world a glimpse into the private life of the would-be POTUS this week.
Senecal liked to go above and beyond for his boss, hiring a bugler to play “Hail to the Chief” upon his arrival in Palm Beach (Hail to the Chief being the President’s “theme song”). Senecal also indicated that Trump turned the library in his mansion, into a bar with a painting of himself (heavy creative license was taken with his physique). Not surprising, given that the only thing I’ve ever heard of Trump reading is “My New Order”…. by Adolf Hitler.
Oh, and he has a habit of telling guests that the nursery rhyme themed tiles in his daughter’s room were made by a young Walt Disney…which is about as true as Obama’s secret Mosque under the White House.
Many many jokes aside, there is a very serious side to Trump’s potential presidency. This week the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has included his potential presidency in their top ten risks to the global economy. If that wasn’t scary enough, let’s consider the potential events that he managed to beat in that top ten, which include a conflict in the South China Sea and the UK leaving the EU.
He also beat “the rising threat of jihadi terrorism”. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, Trump is more dangerous to the world than ISIS and Al-Qaeda combined. If only we could find a huge oil supply underneath Trump Tower…
On the home front, it’s been all about the Safe Schools anti-bullying program. The results from the much-publicised review arrived, with early news suggesting that the program had merit and should continue with a little more guidance provided for teachers. It appeared that common sense had prevailed, George Christensen and Cory Bernardi had been sent to the naughty corner and vocal support for the program came from all corners including a very strong show of support from former Education minister Christopher Pyne.
Just like when we all got excited the day that Turnbull toppled Abbott, blissfully thinking that everything was going to change, we have discovered very quickly that the far right and the back bench have an absolute death grip on the Liberal party ranks. Within 24 hours of the above reports, Education Minister Simon Birmingham provided the official Government response, which was to gut the program entirely.
Among the sudden sweeping reforms, is a provision requiring parental consent for all students involved in the program as well as increased power to the parents in whether a school can participate at all. This consent also extends to Gay, Lesbian and Transgender students, although if they do not get parental consent, they will still have access to school counselling…to which they already had access before the program was introduced.
Now giving parents a say may appear to make sense; however it also ignores the fact that children more often than not develop their values system based on the example and values system of their parents. So, the children most likely to inflict bullying on those the program is designed to protect (i.e.: those with a home environment that fosters prejudice against those that identify as LGBTI), will require parental consent to be involved in the program. Sounds like a foolproof plan to me. Oh, and the children arguably most at risk, i.e. those that identify as LGBTI and aren’t supported by their parents, won’t be able to participate in the very program designed to protect them.
On the same day, the program received another blow, unfortunately inflicted by its own supporters. Senator Cory Bernardi’s office was stormed by a group of 20 student protestors who proceeded to vandalise it, allegedly threaten his staff (including his wife), trash the inside and knock over a fence. The stunt, whilst borne out of understandable anger and frustration at Bernardi on a number of levels, has achieved absolutely nothing except to help him by making him the victim of, among other things, bullying.
Or as Federal Labor MP Tim Watts tweeted, “It takes a special kind of nitwit to do something that creates sympathy for Cory Bernardi. Grow Up SA” – although, as a proud South Aussie, I must say that the second part of the tweet is about as fair as blaming Watts for Pauline Hanson.
To wrap things up on the local front, Fairfax staff at the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Australian Financial Review are on strike this weekend over an announcement by the company that they are terminating 120 jobs, but I’m guessing you knew that and have now made the overdue switch to us at TBS because Fairfax haven’t been able to update their websites since Friday.
Jokes aside, it’s horrible news for the 120 facing the sack and I genuinely feel for them. It’s also horrible news for our industry, which certainly doesn’t need less competition in the mainstream.
Wacky and Wonderful
The Australian Senate had a slumber party this week. No, seriously, an actual slumber party. The Upper House were continuing their drawn out debate on the controversial Senate voting reforms on Thursday. The Labor party made a few attempts to finish up for the day and resume later but Mathias Cormann, the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate was having none of it. Cormann stepped up and said “If you still want to be here on Easter Friday, on Good Friday, that’s fine.” (I’m assuming the Leader of the Government in the Senate, George Brandis, was curled up under his desk still trying to understand metadata.)
The horror swept across the faces in the room as they realised they weren’t going home that night.
What happens when you put the group of people tasked with being our last line of defence against bad legislation in a room together overnight? Exactly the same thing that happens when you put a group of five-year-olds in a room together overnight. Fart jokes, dorky pjs and name calling.
Not one to miss a photo-op, Senator Nick Xenophon wandered the halls in his pyjamas, which he told Sky News he’d picked up at Kmart (no-one is surprised Nick, we didn’t have you pegged as a Peter Alexander man). He even wore them in the chamber briefly before being asked to change back into his suit.
Senator Doug Cameron pulled out a timeless Monty Python line “I fart in your general direction,” in the Chamber. On the record. It will actually appear in the Hansard. Senator Glen Searle started talking about his colonoscopy. In fairness, it was probably the one thing from the debate that wouldn’t have happened with a bunch of five-year-olds.
Greens Leader Senator Richard DiNatale was repeatedly and relentlessly mocked for his skivvy and pants combo on the cover of the latest GQ Magazine and rightly so, although it has resulted in me not being able to get this corker from The Late Show out of my head.
All of this occurred only hours after what was possibly the most ridiculous debate in Australian Senate history earlier that day when Stephen Conroy was chastised for saying (in session) “If I get elected, I consider it a privilege. I don’t think I’m entitled to be here, unlike those in the crossbench, who think they’re entitled to red leather under their bums.”
Senator James McGrath from the Libs quickly interjected, implying that the word bum wasn’t appropriate in the chamber; Conroy replied, as most of us would, “Oh please. Seriously?”
What followed was a spirited and clearly important debate between Conroy, Doug Cameron (who must have posteriors on the mind this week) and McGrath to decide what was the more “parliamentary term” – “bottom or bum.” I didn’t throw the word parliamentary in there for effect, McGrath actually said:
“What about bottom? I think bottom might be more parliamentary. I prefer bottoms. Bottoms rather than bums.”
All of this, ladies and gentlemen, from the people that we as taxpayers remunerate with a base salary of at least $199,040 per annum – plus those pesky little entitlements.
As Mencken said, “Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.”