Naked Eye #1

I filled in on the Sun-Herald‘s political gossip column for four weeks over summer – not an easy thing to do when not much is happening! This one’s about the Copenhagen summit and Kevin Rudd’s Twitter, among other things.

The Copenhagen summit may have achieved minimal progress on climate change, but it has certainly produced a satisfying number of conspiracy theories. Was it China that derailed proceedings, like an evil Fat Controller? Or can we blame India for everything going horribly wrong, just as like to we do in cricket?

But the week’s best political conspiracy theory has nothing to do with Copenhagen. A YouTube video has been doing the rounds which alleges that Silvio Berlusconi faked his bonk on the nose from a replica of Milan Cathedral. It’s claimed that the scandal-stricken leader was attempting to boost his popularity, perhaps by adding wacky sound effects and featuring the clip on Italy’s Funniest Home Video Show.

If so, it worked – the Italian PM’s popularity has jumped nearly 10%. I’m sceptical, though – surely Silvio wouldn’t have gone to all that trouble to win sympathy from voters? He must have been trying to win sympathy from nurses.

Driving NSW taxpayers crazy

There’s been justifiable outrage this week at the Herald’s story that taxpayers are shelling out $2 million a year to former Premiers, including a chauffeur to shuttle Nathan Rees to and from that backbench of his. This figure will rise to tens of millions if, as I suspect, every single Labor MP is going to get a turn as Premier before the next election.

Now, our former Premiers should get some kind of victim’s compensation after they’re knifed by Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi. There are too many ex-Premiers nowadays for even Macquarie to employ. But what I can’t figure out is why they would even want a free driver in the first place. Surely they’d rather enjoy the fruits of their custodianship of NSW with unlimited free travel on our trains and buses?

Detailed programmatic Twittericity

Kevin Rudd’s always boasted had a commanding lead in opinion polls, but it’s amongst his fellow nerds on Twitter that his popularity is truly extraordinary. KevinRuddPM now has 844,724 followers who tune in for updates on his exciting excursions to watch Zombieland with his son and buy a birthday cake for “Swanny”. His former opponent TurnbullMalcolm is well behind with 18,683, while TonyAbbottMHR has a paltry 2527.

As usual, our State pollies are of considerably less interest. The official PremierofNSW account, which changes identity more frequently than Doctor Who, has only 2871, a mere 0.3% of Rudd’s tally. The only shock is that Twitter is the one place where Kristina Keneally is more popular than BarryOFarrell, who has 1671.

The Great Wall of Conroy

Despite widespread opposition, the Government is persisting with its plan to adopt the Chinese approach to internet regulation. And honestly, if the thing worked flawlessly, few would probably object. But in the real world blacklisting is riven with problems.

For instance, I’d like to ban Miley Cyrus’ website. As with many of the sites on the Conroy blacklist, it features a young girl alongside an older guy who’s genuinely disturbing, as anyone who remembers Billy Ray Cyrus’ singing career will recall. All I would have to do is persuade someone at ACMA that her work is offensive by playing them ‘The Climb’, and hey presto – she’d be blacklisted.

Actually, wait – that’s an argument in favour of the filter. But let’s not kid ourselves that banning a bunch of websites is going to stop the nasty stuff. All it’ll do is send it further underground, where law enforcement officers can’t find it.

Bangarooting Sydney Harbour

I don’t mind Richard Rogers’ controversial proposal for the Barangaroo site, even if the hotel seems a little high, but the idea of landfill is troubling. A government that’s already uncomfortably close to developers signing away a chunk of our harbour for yet another luxury waterfront development feels like a crossing of the Rubicon. And I mean literally crossing – I bet someone in the Premier’s office is developing plans to fill in the harbour from The Rocks to Kirribilli in a bid to raise some cash. Then again, NSW is the one place where adopting Dubai’s financial strategy would be an improvement.