The Godfather: Peter Corris on bad news days
On Friday 3 August I listened to The World Today on ABC Radio National and made notes. ABC radio is my chief source of news and I had the impression that I’d heard nothing but bad news on this and many other similar broadcasts for as long as I could remember. Was I mistaken?
The first item dealt with ICAC’s investigation of corruption allegations against politicians. With ICAC struggling against cuts, this was a long-delayed report. Three ALP members were found to be seriously in breach of the law and the egregious former Minister for Fisheries and Mineral Resources, Eddie Obeid, already in gaol, was named as suspect on other accounts. It was as though Michael Corleone had been elected to the US Senate to further his business interests and those of his family.
Next came an unsurprising but distressing finding that young people with mental illness were disproportionately likely to become homeless. Then a survey reported that addiction rates were higher among the LGBTI community than among the general population, with some presenting at 12 years of age. Most alarmingly, it appeared that some of the young adults had been introduced to the drugs by their parents.
The next item concerned Big Data, which I found difficult to understand. The upshot was that Australia is not as prepared for hostile forces to manipulate this data as it should be.
There followed an allegation that a particular and sizeable insurance company had somewhere managed to keep a profit, running to hundreds of millions, off its books.
Then to the US, where the stock market was down despite profits having risen and Donald Trump’s move to accept only skilled migrants. This, a plan only at this stage, is thought to be based at least in part on the Australian model. Not a cause for cheering here at home.
Following that was a heartfelt complaint from a woman whose daughter had died in Uganda, that she could not get any coherent information on the cause of death or assistance to return the body home.
My sinking heart was mildly uplifted by a report on an anti-cancer drug developed in Melbourne, which promised benefits for those with breast cancer. Its deployment, however, would be delayed for four or five years depending on clinical trials and, no doubt, commercial considerations.
The last item struck the only truly positive note. Australian winegrowers, apparently, are looking forward to an increased ‘crushing’ and to improving markets world-wide, particularly in China, for the higher-end-of-the-market product.
Overall, to judge from this program, it seems the world is a doleful place and, where not doleful, weird. The last report conjured up images of Chinese plutocrats in the one-party Communist state sitting down to a few glasses of Grange with their Mongolian lamb.