Australian NEWSPAPER highlights
June 1999

reported by David Gans

Other items from the June 1999 Australian expedition:
Australia journal - dining - consumer products

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), June 13:

The 2" headline reads BAD LOSER. It is the story of the Yugoslav consul, who refused to take a field sobriety test by claiming diplomatic immunity. The story is told with frequent references to NATO troops entering Kosovo, etc. -- the assumption being that Mr. Kaludjerobic went out and got himself stinking drunk to drown his sorrows over his country's defeat. It may be true, of course, but it seems a bit presumptuous for a front-page news story to make the allusion.

Another edition of the same day's paper had this headline in the same size type: YOU CAN'T TOUCH ME.

Another major story of the day hereabouts is the opening of the new Olympic stadium. The burghers aren't all as thrilled as the media, though: in the Castro-ish district where we're staying, merchants have "FUCK THE OLYMPICS" key rings and t-shirts for sale. We chatted with the people at the next table during dinner the other night, and they were talking about the anticipated stresses on the infrastructure that will drive many locals to get the hell out of here come the Games. And everything is under construction in Sydney.

The upcoming marriage of Price Edward gets several kinds of play in the Sunday Telegraph, including a breathless piece about the ex-boyfriend of the bride-to-be ("Sophie's First Choice").

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, the woman whose baby either was or wasn't eaten by a dingo a few years ago, is calling for DNA testing of the evidence to prove the presence of dingo saliva. "But scientists would not be able to determine exactly when a dingo left its mark on the clothing," the reporter pointed out.

"Pit Victim's Son Gets a $2000 Tax Demand." A four-year-old boy, who was 20 months old when his dad was killed in a mine disaster, has been presented with bills for taxes on the $75,000 compensation he received and also the $155-a-fortnight mines insurance pension. "Addressed to master Jed Kaiser, the name on the envelope was about the only part of the demand the four-year-old kindergarten student could read."

Nice photo of the Pope rubbing his head wound.

"Teenager 'punched police dog on snout.'"

The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday, June 15:

Top story: "Phil Coles sin-binned" -- referring to the IOC member and former Olympian who was forced to resign from the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

"Carr in Labor stoush over jobs, services" (page 6) (I can't deduce from the story exactly what "stoush" means)

And it's not a headline, but in a seriously bitchy piece about Tina Brown's new magazine, Talk, contributor George Plimpton is referred to as "the veteran New York sports writer..."

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), Wednesday, June 16:

Page 3: "PM's guards asleep on job" - four security officers found drinking alcohol and sleeping when they should have been guarding the prime minister's house. "...firearms had been left on the office floor..."

Page 7: "Take us back to Kosovo" - about 50 Kosovar refugees refused to leave their buses and enter the Singleton Safe Haven camp, despite near-freezing temperatures. Kosovar refugee spokesman said Singleton was "no better than Macedonia. This is a good place for kangaroos, but not for humans." It's 500 meters from the barracks to the showers and toilets, and there is no hot water. And on page 10, a brief editorial titled "Ungracious act" calling the refugees' behavior "regrettable," a sarcastic column by Mike Gibson ("First the boat people. Now the bus people. Welcome to Australia. Is everything to your liking?"), and a nasty editorial cartoon.

Page 17: "Don't worry about koalas, the platypus needs help" - conservationists have been worrying about the wrong symbolic beast, according to the new director of the Australian Museum.

Page 21: "Brief notice for lowly strung" - "The G-string is coming out of the drawer to challenge Y-fronts and briefs as Australia's underwear of choice."

The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday, June 17:

Page 1: "Backlash to drug reform... takin' it to the street" - in response to the possibility of a recommendation that drug laws be relaxed, "an informal alliance of conservative church leaders, parents, councils and academics ... have launched a last-ditch barrage of lectures, public statements and rallies in a bid to shift public opinion" against "harm-minimisation." Anti-drug crusader Dr John Anderson "has spent the last five years spreading the message that marijuana is not a 'soft drug', has become far more potent and is implicated in many illnesses, including cancer and schizophrenia." Professor David Pennington, author of "Heroin Crisis," "attacks the local adoption of the US practice he calls 'narcopolitics,' in which public figures compete for the toughest approach..."

Page 16: "The spy who came from the cold" - "Can it be a coincidence that so many of the funniest people in American movies are Canadian? Some would say you need a sense of humour to grow up in frozen Canada, but I suspect it's because most Canadians grow up observing American culture without being part of it. Satire may come out of resentment or contempt -- and satirising Americans is a blood sport in Canada, a form of ice hockey for the brain." - lead graf of a review of "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" by Paul Byrnes

The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday, June 18:

Page 1: "In the red centre, two hearts beating as one" - A mother and daughter reunited after 55 years. The pale-skinned, mixed-blood daughter of an Aborigine woman was taken away by the police when she was 18 months old as part of "an experiment to quietly introduce light-skinned children with Aboriginal blood... into the white community." Shirley Stirling-Curnow was told that her mother had died of sarcoma.

Page 7: "The green undies that trap a cheat" - "Japanese women are turning to off-the-shelf forensic science to trap cheating husbands." A gel is "surreptitiously rubbed into the husband's back before he leaves home. if the man has a shower during the day -- a tell-tale sign of an office affair in Japan -- the chemical reacts with water to form a blister." Underwear are sprayed with a chemical that turns bright green if traces of semen are present.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday, June 19:

Page 1: (photo caption) "Brave face ... Mr Kim Beazley wipes lemon meringue pie from his face after being hit by a student protestor in Melbourne last night. The Opposition Leader said he wished he earned as much as Microsoft's Mr Bill Gates, who was also hit by a pie."

Page 7: "Myth of potent cannabis exposed" - "A new report has debunked claims by campaigners against drug law reform that the potency of cannabis in Australia has increased by as much as 30 times in recent years."

Page 9: "Genetic food labels 'too costly'" - The managing director of the Australia New Zealand food authority suggests the cost of labeling genetically-engineered foods might be passed along to consumers, impairing "poorer people's ability to buy nutritious food." He also "admitted the food authority had not made any effort to determine the cost of such labeling. Nor had it asked manufacturers to provide estimates of the cost."

Page 30: "Egg fails to get a life in breast test" - "Oslo: A Norwegian woman has failed to incubate a bird's egg in her cleavage after a month of letting it nestle between her breasts."

The Sunday Mail (Brisbane), June 20:

Page 1: "The Game's Up" - "The Federal Government will review violent video games amid growing concern about their effect on children."

Page 9 - "You forgot something!" - "An 8cm blade was left in this man's arm and now he's suing for $200,000." Four years ago Robert Lindsay came to the rescue of an elderly man and was stabbed by teenage thugs. An "invalid pensioner," he was treated by doctors at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. Even though the police told doctors the knife had broken and the blade could not be found at the crime scene, they didn't bother to look for the blade in his arm.

Page 10: "Abuse sparks ref shortage" - Verbal abuse by spectators has driven many football referees, who get little or no money, to quit. Sidebar lists several incidents of violence by players or parents. This affects "Aussie rules" football, soccer, and rugby.

Page 18 - "Ekland doesn't forget her lines" - When she is interviewed, Britt Ekland insists on being photographed with digital cameras only, because that way she can "hover while the photographer performs while-you-wait wrinkle removal. And hover she did, while also overseeing the deletion of pics which didn't meet her 'standards.' 'She knew more about the camera than I did,' the photographer said."

The Sun-Herald (Brisbane), Sunday, June 20:

Page 3: "Exorcist murder charges" - "A Sydney mother poured five two-litre bottles of water down her four-year-old son's throat to exorcise the devil from his body, police alleged in court yesterday."

Page 7: "Now they're next to a firing range - Sounds of battle follow traumatised refugees even to Australian haven" - "Troops are conducting artillery training exercises next to refugee camps housing shell-shocked Kosovo survivors."

(There are two major controversies this week that have given every editorial cartoonist and lots of columnists a great gift: the IOC scandal involving Phil Coles plus the controversy over perks to be granted to IOC members at city expense when the Games commence, coupled with the stuff about the miserable conditions at the refugee barracks. Compare and contrast.)

Page 9: "Guests snub $250,000 gift" - Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones registered at Thomas Goode in Mayfair, where the least expensive item on the list was $212 coffee cup and the most expensive was an antique table and chairs for $250,000.

Page 23: "With a little help from my Friends" - "What is it about Friends that makes it the most popular TV show in Australia?"

The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), Tuesday, June 22:

Page 1: "Brothel doors to open next year" - Queensland has legalised brothels of no more than five rooms, only in industrial areas and "subject to random checks from a Prostitution Licensing Authority."  The Premier of Queensland "acknowledged the opposition of church groups but said he was dealing with 'facts not facades.'

"'The choice for us is simple,' Mr Beattie said.  'We either put our heads in the sand and pretend the real world doesn't exist or we make good decisions.'"

A related story on page 2 reports that eight church groups (Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, Salvation Army, Assembly of God and Mormon) signed a letter decrying the decision, and that "Sex industry lobby groups also were unhappy..." The former group warns of "an increase in family breakdown" and notes that prostitution "debases all those involved," while the latter (represented by SQWISI (Self-Health for Queensland Workers In The Sex Industry)) say the plan "relied on heavy police involvement which would waste millions of taxpayers' dollars and drive the sex industry underground."

And an editorial on page 12 is headlined, "Prostitution plan worth supporting"

Also on page 1: "Retiring Deer in the spotlight" - "Chief Stipendiary Magistrate Stan Deer resigned yesterday... [following] a Supreme Court ruling... that Mr Deer had improperly exercised his power in an attempt to transfer a fellow magistrate.... {Deer] said his decision to resign had nothing to do with the controversy..."

Page 4: "Bid to curb ambulance chasers" - A plan to ban advertising by personal-injury solicitors "and the introduction of a threshold on the claiming of legal costs."

Page 10": "Rail worker 'souvenired' body parts after accident" - Member of a clean-up crew pocketed part of a victim's scalp, and was convicted of "improperly interfering with a human body."

Page 12: "Toilet humour strikes ABC" - An ABC radio DJ was broadcasting from the network's tiny remote van.  he was right in the middle of an interview when a woman, one of many who mistook the van for an information booth, loudly demanded directions to a toilet.  After many attempts to wave her off, "Chris then did what all ABC staff apparently are driven to do sooner or later, he showed her his microphone."  "She was embarrassed and left but not before bellowing 'oh, sorreee.'"

Page 15: "Tickets slow to sell for Jacko's charity concert" - With less than four days to go, only third of seats have been sold for Michael Jackson's charity concert in Seoul.  Tickets start at 80,000 won ($100 Australian) and go up to 3 million won.

The Australian, Wednesday, June 23:

Page 1:  "Off with his head!  How the royal family doctored the frown prince" - The official wedding photo was improved with digital tools.  Prince William's smile was given a smile "after the camera caught him with a miserable expression.... Prince Harry's glum look became a cheerful smirk, while the Duke of Edinburgh was given a more open smile and his head was moved to the right to give a clearer view of the Duke of Gloucester behind him...."  (This story was reported on "The Panel," a weekly show somewhat like "Politically Incorrect," with the other big story grafted on: In their version, the captain of the World Cup-winning Australian cricket team was pasted into the back row of the shot.)

Page 3: "Sound and fury: note of discord over opera miming" - Opera Australia is planning to use pre-recorded music in a production of "Don Carlo" - not for the main score, but for a scene in which "13 onstage musicians [lead] a procession of heretics whoa re to be burnt at the stake..."  "Horrified musicians have even branded Opera Australia the Milli Vanilli of opera."  "Instead of paying $23,000 to hire casual musicians to augment the pit orchestra for the season of 14 performances," OA will pay $9000 "for a one-off recording by members of the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra."

Page 5 - "Art-felt petition wants head on a plate" - "A petition signed by 400 artists, gallery directors, academics and others will be presented to the National Gallery of Australia's council today in protest against the appointment of art critic John McDonald as the NGA's head of Australian art."

The Courier-Mail, Thursday, June 24:

Page 2:  "Marriage education to cost $1m" - Recognizing that "marriage breakdown cost Australia $3 billion each year through the courts, the social security and health systems," the Australian Government is planning to set up a pre-marriage education program.

Page 5: "Goo-goo gold" - The Teletubbies are now the  BBC's biggest foreign success story by far, having raked in #32 million.  "This is the first global brand from the BBC, but there are more in the pipeline," said a BBC spokesman.

Page 7: "Plan for a levy that follows you to your grave" - The controversial new Goods and Services Tax "will be on everything from newspapers, club fees and postage stamps," according to an analysis by Noel Whittaker.  "It will follow you to death, because a 10 percent GST will be added to the cost of funerals."

The Courier-Mail, Friday, June 25:

Page 3: "Caffeine may prove a Mars hit" - Caffeine may protect people from radiation, according to scientists in Bombay.  This could be good news for astronauts on long missions in space.

Page 4: "Lesbians' setback" - "The High Court ... upheld a Supreme Court decision that a lesbian couple who had been refused [in-vitro fertilization] services had not been discriminated against." The IVF service had denied services on the grounds that they only treat infertility.

Page 6: "Pin-up boys depend on calendar girls" - "When it comes to making their hearts flutter, it seems women are ruled by neither heart nor head.  According to scientists, their taste in men could have more to do with the time of the month."

Page 16:  "Title fight" - "Respect is about to become the law in Louisiana's classrooms... the legislature is about to pass a Bill requiring students to address teachers and other school employees as 'ma'am' or 'sir.'"

The Australian, Saturday, June 26:

Page 13: "There's nowt [sic] as queer as television censor-folk" - A British TV series, "Queer as Folk" - immensely popular in the UK and slated for distribution in France, Denmark and Sweden, and being pursued by several US networks - will not be shown in Australia despite the presence in the cast of a very popular Aussie actor.  "Why?  Because it features a sexually active 15-year-old.... 'Queer as Folk,' an eight-part soap, set in Manchester, abut two gay best friends and what happens when one of them gets involved with a youngster and the other with an older man..."

The Courier-Mail, Saturday, June 26:

Page 3: "Billabong silent as last sheep waltzes on" - "The last jumbuck has slaked his thirst down by the billabong of Waltzing Matilda fame."  Dagworth Station in northwestern Queensland was a sheep property for 130 years, but the last sheep was sold and now it is entirely devoted to cattle.  The song, by Banjo Peterson,  immortalized the armed conflict between pastoralists and striking shearers in 1894.  Three police troopers chased Samuel Hoffmeister, a shearer suspected in a shearing-shed fire; he was camped at a waterhole near the Diamantina River when, "according to the lyrics that later became legend, an unsuspecting jumbuck looking for a drink ended up in the tucker bag."  The mayor of Winton said "the legend would live on through the town's Waltzing Matilda Centre."

Page 11: "Prisoner grew pot for appeal" - A convicted rapist grew marijuana and sold it o two other prisoners to raise money to appeal a denial of parole.

Page 13: "Book scales down fish name search" - The Australian Seafood Handbook, launched with fanfare by the federal Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestries Ministry, will "make sense of the tangled nomenclature of Australian fish."  For example, what is called tommy ruff in South Australia is known as Australian Herring in Western Australia - "Not that it's real herring.  In fact, it's an Australian salmon.  But then, Australian salmon aren't salmon, they're perch."  So you see.  The standard edition lists for $39.95, and a waterproof edition is available for $75.

The Sunday Mail, June 27:

Page 3: "Report reveals crime network" - American'style abridgements of civil liberties are on the Quensland premier's wish list for dealing with the "major and gvrowing" problem of drugs in the state.  Measures are in the works regarding: "civil confiscation of profits of crfime," "protection for covert police actions" ("To get at the drug lords, [the police] may have to sit around and share a joint or something to maintain credibility"), and "possible telephone inerception powers."

Page 5: "Dressed to kill" - a Brisbane shop owner is selling shirts with syringes sewn on the pockets.  "The Drug Arm has warned they send a message to kids that drug use is fashionable."  The shop owner says that in Japan, where the clothes were designed, "syringes symbolised terrorism - not drug use."

Page 7: "It's hell on heels for the stiletto brigade" - an excuse to fill a third of a page with a photo of a pretty model standing awkwardly on heels.  Aussie papers print a lot of photos of women - all properly dressed, mind you, but the pretexts are often rather diaphonous. (Model Chevonne Duncan has two full-length photos on page 3, illustrating a story about her battle with the designer of her prom dress, which split up the side two hours into the Big Night.)

Page 14: "Are we crushing our kids?" - " are being crushed under the weight of expectations.... lack of free time and the pressure of homework are leadng to despair."

Page 16: "Royal love in the heir again" - Prince Andrew and Fergie are said to be growing close again.

Page 19: "Towing rorts cut" - A tow truck operator "convinced [a woman] to sign over the registration after saying the car was worth only the towing and storage charges," then sold the car for twice what he paid.

Page 30: "Rorting right off the rails" - "A railway worker was paid $80,000 [over three years] in travel allowance for working an hour's drive from his home," raising a Parliamentary committee's concerns that "allowances were being rorted."

(The Australian National Dictionary defines "rort" as an "act of fraud or sharp practise; a lurk.")

Page 34: "Snoozer paid out" - "Nodding off during a tedious late afternoon meeting does not warrant instant dismissal, a Queensland court has ruled."

Page 59: "Sleep defence fails" - "An engineer who said he stabbed his wife 44 times while sleepwalking has been convicted of murder."

The Courier-Mail (Queensland), Monday, June 28:

Page 1:  "Hospital waste in local tips" - "Body parts and highly poisonous drugs are among tonnes of medical waste being dumped .... into landfills..."

The Australian, Monday, June 28:

Page 1: "Prince in love inspired by Bard's screen rival" - "Prince Edward got the idea for his new title, the Earl of Wessex, after seeing the charmless fictional character during a private screening of Shakespeare in Love with then fiancee Sophie Rhys-Jones, now the Countess of Wessex."  The Prince had wanted to be named the Duke of Cambridge, but courtiers ruled against him on the grounds that it was too senior a title for a man who is seventh in line to the throne. No one has been the Earl of Wessex since 1066.  It wasn't the character that attracted Prince Edward.  "According to a source close to the prince... 'He was aware that, by calling himself Wessex, he was forging a direct link between the House of Windsor and the country's first Anglo-Saxon kings.'"

Page 10: "Rocket Man in cash crash" - Elton John is having cash flow problems.  There is an 8-inch story from the Sunday Times, and on page 11 a bitchy item in the "Melba" column suggesting he release a CD of "revamped versions of his classic songs - Benny and the Debts, Someone Sold My House Tonight and Please Let the Interest Rates Go Down on Me"...

Page 12: Letter to the editor, headlined "Hack attack": "I am a hacker.  That is to say, I enjoy playing with computers - working with, learning about, and writing clever computer programs.  I am not a cracker; I don't make a practice of breaking computer security.  There's nothing shameful about the hacking I do. But when I tell people I'm a hacker, people think I'm admitting something naughty - because newspapers such as yours misuse the word 'hacker', giving the impression that it means 'security breaker' and nothing else.  You are giving hackers a bad name. ¶ If I were what you call a 'hacker', at this point I would threaten to crack your computer and crash it.  But I am a hacker, not a cracker.  I don't do that kind of thing!  I have enough computers to play with at home and at work; I don't need yours.  You owe hackers an apology; but more than that, you owe us ordinary respect." ¶ David Budge, Brunswick, Vic