Remembering Allan Whittaker on Anzac Day

Allan Whittaker, a Port Melbourne waterside worker, was wounded at Gallipoli on April 25 1915. Thirteen years later on November 2 1928, during the waterfront lock out, he was shot in the back by police on the beach at Port Melbourne. He died from his wounds on January 26 1929.

Allan’s brother Percy was also at Gallipoli later serving in France and Belgium. Percy was wounded three times and each time returned to the trenches. The youngest brother, Cecil, was killed in the French trenches in 1918. read more

Sausages and legislation

Bismarck is usually credited with the comment about making laws, as with making sausages, being best not seen. But the blog wonders what would be an appropriate analogy for its local Council.

Now the blog tries hard to ignore its local Council as much as possible – but like all elected officials backed by big bureaucracies – the Council persists in failing to ignore the blog and its life in the city. The blog has reported on some of these occasions over the years – on community consultation (a couple of times), the monumentally strange arts policy development (whatever happened to that?) and more recently changes to the parking in its street (see a blog a few weeks ago on community consultation). read more

Getting the balance right between veterans’ welfare and Anzackery

There are growing signs that successive governments’ obsession with the commemoration of Anzac Day and World War One is finally getting some pushback – including from the former Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy.

In the last quarterly issue of the Department of Veterans Affairs newsletter –VetAffairs which is distributed to about 220,000 veterans – DVA included an article justifying commemorative spending by citing it as a percentage of the total DVA budget. The fact that it published the article was indicative of some unease and was obviously prompted by various complaints from veterans about the spending. read more

Hyperbole and how it detracts from credibility

Unlike Donald Trump the people who ran the British Empire realised very early that understatement was a more effective communication tactic than hyperbole.

Certainly there was racism and awful exploitation (see Shashi Tharoor’s Inglorious Empire – or just watch the YouTube version of his contribution to the Oxford Union debate which preceded the book) but lots of aristocratic mumbling was a good way of hiding massacres, mass famines and contempt for the lesser breed and colonials. Indeed, the Brits did a good job of convincing many people (eg Tony Abbott and the historian Niall Ferguson) of the virtues of Empire. read more

The BCA and the Easter Bunny

Watching its granddaughter search for Easter eggs in the garden the blog suddenly thought how much the Turnbull Government’s and the Business Council of Australia’s arguments for company tax cuts were like belief in the Easter Bunny.

When you are young you believe passionately in the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas but after a while some kid tells you it’s not true, or worse you discover when half awake, that the eggs and presents are actually being left by your parents. The blog began to suspect the truth when it couldn’t understand why it couldn’t leave Coca Cola for Father Christmas and had to leave Passiona – which just happened to be its mother’s favourite soft drink. read more

Fake news and Gresham’s Law

At the recent Adelaide Writers Week an authors’ panel, sponsored by the Copyright Agency and moderated by its current CEO and former blog colleague, Adam Suckling, discussed the books that had changed their lives.

Interestingly all the speakers nominated a variety of books but were unanimous when asked about indigenous influence – nominating Sally Morgan. This may be a generationally-determined answer because when the blog tested the indigenous version of the question on a friend a few days later she nominated Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) who was more influential for her and the blog’s generation. read more

How not to communicate or consult

The City of Port Phillip provides a never-ending series of case studies of how not to undertake communications and/or community consultation.

Regular readers will remember how the Council created a new benchmark in issues management – failing to convince residents that action had to be taken on soil contamination in a local park. In all the blog’s decades in the issues management field it had never experienced a situation in which the usual proponents and opponents positions were completely reversed. read more

The conventional wisdom is always wrong

One of the most profound insights into everything from politics to the stock market is J.K.Galbraith’s observation that the conventional wisdom is always wrong.

The ongoing relevance, and power, of the aphorism was on display  over the weekend with the South Australian election and the Batman by-election. For a week we were told by the media that  the SA election would result in a hung Parliament and the Greens would win in Batman thanks to strong votes in the southern part of the electorate. read more

Gender and PR

While the public relations industry has a much better record on gender diversity, and penetrating glass ceilings, than many other industries the situation is still complicated.

It was often thought that female PR practitioners didn’t confront the glass ceilings that women in other industries did and that pay parity was common. Back in 2014 the blog reported on US and UK research which indicated that women were a majority of PR practitioners but they were not predominant in C-suite roles – except in many consultancies – and that salary levels were still not equitable. The blog suspects that the C-suite role and salary situations are still the same in large private sector companies and organisations although not the case in politics (well at least among ALP staffers) or the public sector. read more

What’s in an honorary title?

The Age recently carried an op ed by a Visiting Professor at UTS, Mitchell Landrigan, suggesting we need to be careful about granting honorary doctorates and claiming that recipients “may – forever more – call themselves Doctor.”

Up to a point Lord Copper and Professor Landrigan. In fact the custom is that a recipient should not refer to themselves as Dr, any more than an Adjunct Professor should refer to themselves as Professor, unless within the university or on university business, for example, speaking as an expert associated with the university. The awards can obviously be listed in CVs but not beyond that. The reaction to a former Canberra Department Head, Jane Halton, apparently using the Professor title is an example of how this rule has been interpreted. read more

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