||Issue No. 177||09 May 2003|
Joining The Dots
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
Five years is what you'd reasonably expect to get as a sentence if convicted of armed robbery, and five years is how long the Howard Government has lumbered the ABC Board with professional goose and serial wing nut, Ron Brunton. Brunton comes to the job with an open mind. He already believes that the ABC is a part of the "left establishment" and is a "sucker" for "brainless comment" - i.e. opinions that fall anywhere to the left of Attila the Hun.
Hailing from the state that gave us Joh Bjielke Petersen, Mike "white shoes" Gore and Gordon Talliss, Brunton writes for the local Murdoch rag, The Courier-Mail and, more tellingly, for that pack of ideological nerds, the Institute of Public Affairs. Lesser known is his job as a spook. Brunton worked for the Federal Government's Office of National Assessments. It is not the first time Senator Alston has given Dr Brunton a job. Dr Brunton was a Liberal Party member in the 1980s and a research officer for the Victorian branch in 1981-82 when Senator Alston, who was on the selection committee for the plum ABC job, was state president.
He is a champion of what one media commentator called the "white denial industry", and his gutless attacks on anyone who opposes his view that all the natives need is a bit of colonising have showed up the shabby politics of this 'respectable face' of white denial.
Academic Raymond Gaita, who has been on the receiving end of Brunton's twisted logic, knows the viciousness of Ron Brunton's intellect. Recently he said: "Even when he expressed his disagreement over the issue of genocide, his tone was civil for the first time that I can remember." "Now, when I hear [Brunton] talk of a 'rigorous quest for truth', I feel a little sick."
Brunton is a big fan of the idea that Indigenous people should be 'more like us' and that any reports of genocide are overblown. This intellectual pickle had his hand in the murky politics that saw the cultural sensitivities of the Ngarrindjeri people literally bulldozed over the Hindmarsh Island affair.
While he may be confused as to whether or not wiping out indigenous culture was a bad thing he is a passionate defender of the English Aristocracy's right to Fox Hunt, which he sees as a 'tribal' activity. Paradoxically he's a big fan of Australia being 'egalitarian' - the word pops up constantly in his articles - buts it's an egalitarianism that involves everyone being like him. If John Howard wanted someone to drag Australia back to the fifties he's got the right man.
'Tally Ho' Brunton is a truly bizarre unit. He has called for organic food to be labelled as "poo food". Apparently natural fertilisers are dangerous because they contain shit. Well, he should know.
He also chastised those who opposed a "politician's republic" while arguing for Australia to abandon having a head of state. "A headless republic would offer the ultimate minimalist model, clearly avoiding the danger of an elected presidency becoming an alternative and destabilising source of power," says Brunton, and he had a novel solution to the problems created by an absence of democracy: "A national lottery could be established to select people to carry out a head of state's ceremonial duties for a week or a fortnight."
What more could we expect from a man who has privatised himself. The official release announcing the appointment praised Brunton's involvement in Encompass Research Pty Ltd, "an organisation engaged in anthropological and socio-economic research, concentrating on native title, indigenous heritage, immigration and environmental issues". This company was formerly known as Ron Brunton Research, a private company that appears to consist of, well, Ron Brunton.
No wonder he is a champion of contracting. After all, if you could write off your lack of brains as being your way of making a buck you'd come out in front in the tax stakes too.
A few years back Brunton took a break from putting the boots into Indigenous rights and public displays of his tenuous grip on reality to lecture the working classes on the evils of unionism. While he wasn't blind to the fact that "without union muscle to protect them, many workers will be vulnerable to exploitation", he couldn't understand why unions might be "eager to wind back much of the recent labour market deregulation." It escapes him that much of that deregulation creates the first problem.
He sings the praises of contracting with one eye on the fat paycheck from the loopy right and Rupert Murdoch and another on the tax advantages of Encompass Research Pty Ltd.. "People working under such contracts for services are free to negotiate their own pay conditions and times of work with those who engage them [oh really!], and are also responsible for their own leave and other matters that are normally the province of employers."
This moron has a strange idea of freedom, and no idea of the real power relationships that exist in the workplace. As the saying goes, 'the lion may lay down with the lamb, but the lamb won't get much sleep'. He then went on to defend the notorious scab herders, the Hammonds who have long regarded the Queensland Shearing Award as an unfortunate obstacle between them paying people in salt if they could.
As Federal MP Lindsay Tanner said: "The Howard Government's only justification for appointing Brunton is that he is involved in issues which are extensively covered on the ABC. On this logic a criminal would qualify to be on the ABC Board."
Our Tool Of The Week Ron Brunton is out of his depth and it is only a matter of time before this loose cannon returns the ABC to the kind of dumbing down and narrow mindedness associated with the regime of Jonathan Shier (rhymes with liar).
If you're concerned about a rabid right winger taking the reigns at the national broadcaster why not email Ron Brunton and let him know what you think.
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