1. Rupert gets his just deserts
The New Daily has an article News Corp in ‘dangerous times’ as audience and revenues drop in print and digital:
- Audiences deserted Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp mastheads in 2019 with its tabloid tub-thumper The Daily Telegraph losing a massive 15.5 per cent of its readership across both print and digital editions, according to research house Roy Morgan.
- At News’ major competitor, Nine Newspapers, the story was different. The Sydney Morning Herald grew its audience 4.1 per cent, The Age scored a marginal improvement, growing 1.2 per cent, while the Australian Financial Review performed best with a 14.4 per cent audience jump.
With a bit of luck Lachlan Murdoch will run News Corp into the ground and the outfit will be taken over by people interested in ethical journalism.
Roy Morgan did the survey.
I was surprised and pleased with the extent of news readership:
- Now 15.5 million Australians aged 14+ (74.6%) read or access newspapers in an average 7 day period via print or online (website or app) platforms, and this audience increases to 16.6 million (79.7%) when one considers news portals such as news.com.au and the Huffington Post.
2. We’ve had a bit of rain
I picked that one up on Facebook. The photos were taken four weeks apart.
Now we have stories like Sydney wet weather extinguishes Gospers Mountain ‘mega-blaze’, flooding clean-up continues across NSW.
The Gospers Mountain fire burnt through more than 512,000 hectares, continuing about 78 days.
From mid-January it started raining again in these parts and elsewhere. We had 171mm in January, followed by an 11-day sequence in February yielding 408mm. Together that makes just 10mm more than we had last year.
Two days ago Sydney dam levels reports indicated that dam totals had cracked 75 per cent overall – the first time in close to two years – increasing 33.3 per cent in the past week, according to WaterNSW, albeit with contamination issues.
SEQ dam levels are now at 67.2% overall, with Wivenhoe, which seems to be in a rain shadow, making it to above 50%. Overall dam capacity had been down to around 55%. By rights, at lower than 60% the Qld government should have taken corrective action, which in the first instance would be connecting the recycling facility to the main grid by mixing it with ‘natural water’ in Wivenhoe. This would have cost about $500 million.
We use, I think, about 1.2% a month. The government might just wing it through to the election due on Saturday 31 October 2020.
And in Talgai, near Warwick, we have a leaky dam where about 5000 people got a surprise message late at night:
January 2020 was the planet’s warmest January since record keeping began in 1880, achieved without an El Niño event being present.
Furthermore, we are also near the nadir of one of the least active solar cycles in the past century–a time when it is more difficult to set global heat records, due to the reduced amount of solar energy Earth receives.
28 major weather stations set new all-time heat records in January 2020, 19 of them in Australia.
On 6 February we had the highest temperature ever recorded in continental Antarctica at an astonishing 18.4°C at Base Esperanza. For context the Australian Antarctic Division says:
- average annual temperature ranges from about −10°C on the Antarctic coast to −60°C at the highest parts of the interior.
Near the coast the temperature can exceed +10°C at times in summer and fall to below −40°C in winter. Over the elevated inland, it can rise to about −30°C in summer but fall below −80°C in winter.
Late news: a new high of 20.75°C has been reached at Seymour Island.
4. Milford Sound gets really wet
Getting 250mm a day at Milford Sound is not news. The place gets about 6.8 metres of rain per annum, and it rains 182 days per year. Early this month they got a metre over about 3 days, but I can only find a couple of early reports like this one.
The 10th anniversary of our completion of the Milford Track is coming up. Milford Sound was certainly exciting. We had a violent storm overnight and had to be taken back over the mountains by helicopter. I might do a post when I get my cataracts done.
This is what the place looked like on our boat trip out to the sea and back next morning:
In advertising you often see glorious sunlight. There is a fair chance you will get something like the above.
Later that morning we saw this looking back to the mountains we had walked through:
5. Political follies
Bridget McKenzie always looked the brightest, most cheerful personality in the room. Now trhat her image is blurred and fading the others behind her are more clearly revealed.
That was from The Betoota Advocate’s Barnaby Joyce Has No Idea Who’s Leaking All This Sports Corruption Stuff To The Media.
Now they have inserted Scotty from Marketing in what looks like a genuine photo of the flooded Myall Creek at Dalby:
More seriously, Laura Tingle gives a run-down on the amazing perfidies executed by the government. Topping the ‘sports rorts’ has been the Female Facilities and Water Safety Stream, even more heavily skewed towards Coalition-held marginal seats, where yopu got swimming pools whether you wanted them or not, with no guidelines, no applications, no tenders.
In the senate inquiry evidence by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) was not pretty:
- The Prime Minister’s office had been involved in suggesting projects for the scheme, the ANAO said, contrary to what the Prime Minister had said in his explanation that his office was just acting as a post box.
Staff members exchanged “comfortably dozens” of emails, officials revealed, with the Prime Minister’s office making suggestions about funding.
“Suggestions directly about these ones, rather than those ones,” the ANAO’s Brian Boyd said.
“[For example], ‘These are the ones we think should be included in the list of approved projects’.
“Or passing on lists of applications, as to whether they could be included and those to be approved.”
Misleading parliament used to be a mortal sin in our politics.
Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens ask Why does democracy demand transparency?. I recommend this long podcast, especially the contribution of A.J. Brown is Professor of Public Policy & Law in the School of Government & International Relations, at Griffith University, Brisbane.
- The way that the Federal Government dismissed the report of the auditor-general — relying instead on an assessment conducted by Mr Morrison’s former chief of staff, Phil Gaetjens, and legal advice from the federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, neither of which has been made public — is alarming. This response to the findings of an independent public servant seems to be of a piece with the Prime Minister’s habit of brushing off scrutiny by relegating it to the self-interested world of the “Canberra bubble”.
Transparency is necessary for accountability. Why would Morrison hide these reports if they fair dinkum did what he said they did?
Aly thinks our democracy is so weak Morrison will get away with his diversionary tactics.
It all points to the need for Federal; anti-corruption body if we no longer take notice of the Auditor General.
Malcolm Farr suggested that Morrison’s mob were going for a model of ‘Federal ICAC’ that would work with the speed of continental drift. In other words, a knackered version that would inconvenience no-one.
Meanwhile Katharine Murphy wonders whether disunity really is death in politics. Each of the major parties appear to have irreconcilable internal differences on climate change, with Albanese’s mob tipping in favour of climate action, and Morrison’s the other.
That is worth thinking about.