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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Friday, May 13, 2005

indicative of an attitude

More on the Eastley remarks on ABC's AM yesterday.

ABC accused of bias over poor-taste joke

Experienced ABC journalist Tony Eastley said it was a "figure of speech"; his boss, Greg Wilesmith, called it an "error".

But Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said a comment made by Eastley in an interview about the Vivian Alvarez Solon affair was "indicative of an attitude" at the national broadcaster.

Listeners to ABC radio's AM may have choked on their cornflakes yesterday morning.

While attempting to establish how the seriously injured Ms Alvarez Solon, an Australian citizen, came to be deported to the Philippines, Eastley came out with the throwaway line that Government officials dropped her off in the country - perhaps from a moving car.

Senator Vanstone took umbrage, saying his comments were "extraordinary" and "indicative of an attitude" at the ABC.

ABC acting head of national programs Greg Wilesmith swiftly removed the interview's controversial parts from the transcript and audio links on AM's website.

"In the course of the interview and in the course of a question, Tony had made an error," he told The Age yesterday.

"It seemed to us best to remove the error rather than allow the inaccuracy to stand."

Mr Wilesmith described Senator Vanstone's assertion of an "attitude" at the national broadcaster as "a nonsense".

"I don't think that Tony Eastley's interview with Senator Vanstone is going to affect the relationship between the ABC and the Government at all because clearly live radio has certain perils and on this day... there was a slip of the tongue," he said.

Eastley admitted that there were "sensitivities" between the ABC and the Government, although he dismissed the notion that there was a poor attitude towards the Government at the broadcaster.

"I'm not surprised (that the interview was changed on the website) because of sensitivities and the like between the ABC and this Government," he said.

"(The comment) wasn't meant in real terms - that an immigration official had pushed a woman out of a speeding car... I wasn't casting aspersions on any immigration officials or the department."

So what was he doing? Eastley and The ABC are in damage control mode.

Reminds me of an old bush ballad:

And when at last the journo spoke, and said, ‘Twas all in fun -
‘Twas just a little harmless joke, a trifle overdone.’
‘A joke!’ she cried. ‘By George, that’s fine, a lively sort of lark;
I’d like to catch that murderous swine some night in Ironbark.’

[apologies to Banjo Paterson]

Courtesy of Tim Blair and The Australian Immigration Department the censored part of the transcript of the Eastley/Vanstone exchange on the ABC's AM program is now available.
Decide for yourself. Examine the tenor of Eastley's remarks and questions [and his use of a classic sleight of hand redirection *] then consider Vanstone's responses. Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone...

EASTLEY: This woman has been lost for four years. Your officials dropped her off, by all accounts, dropped her off – the car was still moving perhaps – and no records have been kept as to where she was left in the Philippines, Minister.

SENATOR VANSTONE: With respect, with respect...

EASTLEY: It’s quite an extraordinary case.

SENATOR VANSTONE: ... to what you’re just – what you’ve just said is extraordinary. It is extraordinary. You said she was dropped off by all accounts. On your own admission it’s by the account of one person who realised two days ago who she was and has [indistinct]...

* EASTLEY: So you’re happy with the way this case has been handled, is that what you’re saying?

SENATOR VANSTONE: ... conversations. No, I haven’t, I haven’t said that. I think it’s extraordinary that the ABC would make a suggestion that someone was dropped off when a car was moving. It is indicative of an attitude, but I’ll refrain from saying any more than that. The record does show what happened. The record shows she was returned to the Philippines and was met at the airport by the Overseas Women’s Welfare Association. That’s what the record shows.

EASTLEY: And from there, no record kept of where she went?

SENATOR VANSTONE: I don’t have advice that there is a subsequent record from that. But of course at the time, when people were of the view that she was a citizen of the Philippines, there would not be a further record kept.

EASTLEY: All right, we’ll leave it there. Senator Amanda Vanstone, the Immigration Minister.

SENATOR VANSTONE: Well I’d like to say thank you, but the suggestion from the ABC that the Australian Government would drop someone out of a moving car leaves me speechless.

EASTLEY: It was a comment said in jest, which was probably not appropriate.

SENATOR VANSTONE: Jest? On a matter like this? Help me please. I don’t think this is funny.

EASTLEY: Well it’s unbelievable, the entire story anyway as it goes.

SENATOR VANSTONE: It is a very difficult story. It is a very, very difficult situation.

Note: Amanda Vanstone was not Immigration minister four years ago at the time of this incident.

...Go and sin no more.

12:41:00 pm