Justin Sheridan : Australian of the Year

Huh.

It’s been a while since tabloid TV done a hatchet job on teh unemployed. (Well, probably not, but not that I’ve noticed, anyway.) Last night, Frontline Today Tonight aired a segment devoted to Justin Sheridan, a 36-year-old bloke from beautiful Byron Bay, who seems to spend more of his time surfing than seeking opportunities to allow others to exploit his labour for profit looking for a job.

He’s my nomination for Australian of the Year.

Walkley Award-winning journalist former sports presenter Matthew White is TT Presenter in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

In his introduction, Tim states that “one in six Australians are now living off the dole”. Which is correct. Or would be, if the Australian population were reduced from just under 22,000,000 to approximately 2,000,000. According to the ABS: “In 2007, there were nearly half a million (478,300) unemployed people compared with 321,800 job seekers receiving labour market payments”. In other words, not ‘one in six’ but (approximately) 1.6% of the Australian population are now leading lives of luxury on the dole (in Justin’s case, $487 a fortnight, or the princely sum of $12,662 per annum).

But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story eh?

Speaking of which, the sterling piece very much in question was produced by (the bloody hard working) Tim Noonan.

Tim Noonan

Tim looks fetching in his yellow t-shirt; he’s also got form. In August 2005, Tim produced a ‘documentary’ for Today Tonight on the delicate subject of why Muslim yoof hate our freedoms, and, as Walkley Award-winning journalist TV personality Naomi Robson stated on the evening following the broadcast “no one could predict the public outcry over a young Australian Muslim’s comment on this program last night — that Muslims will never adopt the Australian way of life”.

Bloody Muslims!

Of course, in that other place called by some ‘reality’, the story is a little more complicated (see : ‘Unkind cuts’, Mediawatch, ABC, August 22, 2005).

Tim claims that “Centrelink abuse costs Australian taxpayers billions of dollars every year”. This is a standard trope of tabloid reporting, but again, that pesky thing called ‘reality’ intrudes. Thus:

Review uncovers only one dole cheat
Kerry-Anne Walsh
Sydney Morning Herald
June 6, 2004

Last June the Government announced a major crackdown on people who it said were wrongly claiming unemployment benefits.

A national review of 700,000 dole recipients would save taxpayers “hundreds of millions [of dollars]” and force “tens of thousands” off benefits, Employment Services Minister Mal Brough said.

“This will shake the tree like it has never been shaken before,” he warned.

A year later, and one solitary person has been found to be fraudulently claiming benefits.

The Government provided the figure to the Opposition following a written question.

Asked how many individuals since April 2003 had been found to be fraudulently claiming “the New Start Allowance, Youth Allowance or other allowance by claiming benefits when they were, for example, in paid employment”, the answer came back: one…

And so on.

In addition to surfer d00d, Tim’s segment featured two other talking heads: a private investigator (Ken(neth) Gamble) and a politician (John Williams).

Kenneth Gamble

When he’s not ‘working’ by sitting in his car and taking photographs of fair dinkum Aussies enjoying the natural wonders of this, The Lucky Country, Kenneth is doing other stuff. Like, what Den Hinch writes (September 18, 2002):

…the REAL story, the story that intrigues me, is what happened AFTER the rape charge was laid and before Millichamp went to trial.

A few people don’t emerge from this with much class or with reputations intact.

It ended with one of the players — NOT Millichamp — being sentenced to more than six years in jail this week.

You see Steve Millichamp’s lawyers, Kalus Kenny, instructed a Millichamp friend, private investigator Kenneth Gamble, to try (to put it crudely) to dig up some dirt on the alleged rape victim.

Like find out if she took drugs.

Flash forward to Sydney where one Simon Lowe, sometime lover of Lantana star Barbara Hershey, contrives to be in the same Bondi café as Ms Davies and some friends.

I’ll keep it brief. He sends her wine. He joins her table. He spins her a line that he is a wealthy songwriter. He borrows a friend’s sport car.

They go nightclubbing. She declines a weekend at a ritzy hotel. But more flowers, more wooing and eventually days later sex at her apartment.

Which Simon Lowe secretly videotaped. And then he threatened to put the porn tape on the Internet if she did not withdraw the rape charge.

You are entitled to ask why the defence team for an innocent man would go to these lengths? Lowe’s defence team argued that Lowe’s actions were overzealous and opportunistic. Not part of any widespread and pervasive conspiracy.

But the facts remain: One member at the lower end of this grubby food chain has been jailed for more than six years for serious crimes including attempting to intimidate a witness.

Private eye Kenneth Gamble plea-bargained his way to a good behaviour bond. Kalus Kenny solicitors appear to have gone scot free and last seen Stephen Millichamp was lunching with an attractive young woman at a trendy South Yarra bistro last weekend.

Presumably he also picked up the tab for Slimy Simon’s seductive lunches in Sydney. And his fee.

And hats off to a brave, humiliated, young woman who stared down a blackmail attempt and still went to court — even though she lost. Again.

“Shame Kenneth Gamble, shame!” (See also : Six years’ jail for callous seducer, Sydney Morning Herald, September 17, 2002 | Lucky break for actor who became the villain, Leonie Lamont, Sydney Morning Herald, June 3, 2003.)

According to Tim, Ken has “spent years undercover as a Centrelink surveillance agent”; PR agent Lauren Lewis reckons: “Gamble has emerged a leader in foreign intelligence and surveillance. Working with a team of strategic alliances that form a global network that spans across 15 countries, Gamble is one of the few of a new breed of international private investigators able to meet the increased challenges of a world that is in the midst of history-making change.” Further: “RENOWNED INTERNATIONAL PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR AND CYBERCRIME EXPERT KEN GAMBLE OFFERS AMERICAN MEDIA A FRESH, IMMENSELY QUALIFIED AND GLOBALLY INFORMED VOICE THAT SPEAKS FROM A WORLD OF EXPERIENCE.”

To which all I can say is: WOW.

In November 1999, the HoWARd Government announced that it had awarded contracts to 21 private companies to spy on individuals suspected of the horrible crimes of “working for cash in hand payments” who had “not declare[d] their payments to Centrelink”; receiving “disability pensions [while also] claiming they are unfit for work”; and “fraudulently claiming more than one benefit at a time”. In February 2007, ‘Centrelink videos 800 people in fraud probe’ (ABC): “A Senate estimates committee has heard that Centrelink employed private investigators to secretly video more than 800 people suspected of welfare fraud in the first six months of this financial year…” In July 2009, the CPSU announced that it was undertaking a survey on Workplace Bullying.

Further disco on Centrelink surveillance is provided in ‘Mutual Obligation? Regulating by Supervision and Surveillance in Australian Income Support Policy’, Stephen Parker and Rodney Fopp, Surveillance & Society, Vol.3. No.1, 2005 [PDF].

Abstract

Through an analysis of speeches by government ministers, documents and regulations, this article examines the Australian national government’s surveillance of unemployed people through what is known as Activity Testing, and more specifically as Mutual Obligation. It seeks to merge the social policy analysis of Mutual Obligation with a surveillance perspective in order to delve deeper into the underlying nature of the policy and its implications for people who are unemployed. It does this by:

1. Outlining the neo-liberal political theory underlying these policies;
2. Illustrating the nature and extent of surveillance of people in receipt of income support, and
3. Employing Foucault’s concepts of the technologies of domination and the self to highlight the controlling and coercive aspects of Mutual Obligation in achieving certain of the Government’s political and policy objectives.

In doing so, the analysis will make visible something of the power exerted over the disadvantaged while subject to such surveillance.

John Williams

John Williams is a National Party politician, The Nationals Whip in the Senate and Senator for New South Wales. He made his maiden speech in the Federal Parliament on September 15, 2008, from which the following facts are drawn.

A failed student (John confesses that, despite being granted the privilege of attending University, the lure of the surf farm was too great, and so after three months he became a drop-out) and pig farmer (John couldn’t compete with the more ‘efficient’ Canadians on the labour pork market), John is from South Australia, and considers himself to be the ‘salt of the earth’. In addition to failing as a pig farmer, John also failed as an investor. Thus, like countless other ordinary Australians (presumably), in 1985 he and his family “decided to take a foreign currency loan in Swiss francs”. Unfortunately, “I soon found out that I was in more trouble than the early settlers”. Happily, John was eventually able to secure a financial victory in the courts.

In terms of his political philosophy, John states “I have always had the opinion that you should run the nation the same way as a farmer runs the family farm… The family farm must be protected from foreign invasion and takeover. We have an obligation to protect Australia and to see that it remains a free and democratic nation. I congratulate the former coalition government for a real increase in excess of 40 per cent on defence spending during their time in government.”

Further:

The family farm cannot afford to pay wages when the person never shows up for work. So too with our nation. I believe that if you are in good health and are capable of working then you should work. I have seen many who are determined not to work. They are simply getting a free ride from the taxpayers of Australia. It is about time that they received a touch on the backside from a cattle prod to get them off their butts and doing some work.

I see workers at Inverell abattoirs who come from the Philippines, Korea and Brazil. All the employees in an abattoir work really hard. Yet just a few hours drive away I see areas on the coast where unemployment is up to eight per cent and nine per cent. In my opinion, if you are in good health and youth is on your side, you should not receive a dole cheque unless you contribute something to our nation. However, I believe that the genuine unemployed should have a safety net and should be helped through their tough times until they find employment.

Of course, it should be noted that (as of February 2008) just 3% of the Australian workforce is employed on farms. Further, that agricultural labour is very dangerous.

Detailed studies show a high rate of fatalities in the industry and a corresponding high rate of serious injury. Between 300 and 350 traumatic deaths of male farm workers and farm workers from all causes (non-intentional and intentional) occur each year across Australia. In 2003-4, amongst other industries, the agricultural industry recorded the highest number of work-related deaths. There are approximately 5500 – 6000 workers compensation claims in the agriculture and services to Agriculture sectors per annum… Australian Bureau of Statistics data for work-related injuries in Australia 2005-6 indicated that agriculture had the highest work-related injury or illness rate (109 per 1,000 employees) ahead of manufacturing (87 per 1,000 employees) and construction and mining (86 per 1,000 employees).

~ ‘Workers Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety in the Australian Agricultural Industry’, Robert Guthrie, Lisa Goldacre and Jennifer Westaway, The Agricultural Industry, Vol.9, 2007 [PDF].

In addition:

The agricultural workforce has a number of distinctive features. Compared with other sectors of the economy agriculture has:

• a high proportion of self-employed, family and casual workers;
• long job tenure;
• a relatively old workforce;
• a low incidence of post-school qualifications; and
• low employee wages…

Agriculture has a high proportion of relatively low paid employees compared with other sectors of the economy. In 2003, 68 per cent of all full-time agriculture employees earned less than $700 per week. This compares with 40 per cent of full-time workers across all sectors of the economy. Fourteen per cent of agriculture workers earned in excess of $1000 per week, compared with almost 30 per cent of workers in all sectors of the economy (figure 5.14). The median weekly earnings for full-time paid employees in agriculture in 2003 was $575. This was around one third lower than the median weekly income for all full-time employees ($769), making agriculture workers the lowest paid workers in the economy. The next lowest paid, on average, were employees in the retail trades ($600) and accommodation, cafes and restaurants ($610).

~ Trends in Australian Agriculture, Productivity Commission Research Paper, 2005 [PDF].

All of which tends to suggest that surfing is more funs than working for a farmer. That said, Justin has probably committed Centrelink suicide, so I hope he got paid for the privilege.

See also : Jobs Not Justice? (September 20, 2008) | Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs… (March 16, 2009).

Bonus!

Media Release : February 5, 2002 : Gutter Journalism Hoax Exposed

Last night the big guns of Tabloid TV fell victim to their own sleazy set-up tactics.

Both Channel 9’s A Current Affair and 7’s Today Tonight ran competing stories on the fictional group the “Dole Army”. They claimed to expose gangs of jobless militants inhabiting Melbourne’s drains, surfacing only to scavenge food from bins — and organising through the internet.

Today Tonight reporter Norm Beaman’s introductory voiceover began: “if it wasn’t true, it would almost be comical”. It wasn’t true and the joke’s on you, Norm.

These ridiculous stories of sewer-dwellers would have more accurately described the journalists themselves.

“We approached them with exactly the kind of story they love and they lapped it up like dogs,” said the Dole Army’s Emma Goldman. “They enjoy nothing more than victimising the poor and unemployed. We did it to avenge the Paxtons.”

“We also wanted to publicise our website, www.dolearmy.org” added Kool Keith. “And it’s worked — the website has received literally thousands of hits since the stories went to air last night. That’s thousands of unemployed people now better equipped to deal with the inhuman Centrelink bureaucracy — and we’d like to thank these TV shows for helping us get the message out. Not to mention the $1000 Today Tonight paid us which will help keep the Dole Army website alive.”

The shamelessly ratings-driven bully tactics of these two programs are well known — A Current Affair were publicly embarrassed by their hatchet job on the Paxton kids, the Robert Bogucki ‘banana chunder blunder’ and, most tragically, by Benny Mendoza, a repairman who committed suicide after ACA accused him of poor workmanship.

Mike Munro is not known for his honesty but the following closing comment surprised even us: “let me assure you that we did not pay anyone from that charming and courageous pack back in the Dole Army.” We’ll give Mike the benefit of the doubt and assume the producers neglected to mention the 30 blank digital videotapes (worth $360) they gave us in exchange for a video of masked figures pretending to play Cluedo in a tunnel, and the $2000 they offered us to deny Today Tonight a chance at a follow-up story.

Today Tonight is also no stranger to the invented story paraded as fact — the infamous ‘Majorca Skase Chase’ report was mocked up in the theatrical district of Barcelona. True to form while shooting the Dole Army expose, the TT crew happily colluded in setting up a fake drain dwelling in an above-ground brick factory.

“There are bludgers who are in work and there are bludgers who make millions of dollars. There are people who don’t want to work. The reality is we can’t put everyone in work. There wouldn’t be a percentage point difference in the unemployment figures if every person desperately wanted to work, unless you’re going to get down to sub-third-world wages. Why do journalists dish out this crap? It’s pathetic.” (Former MP Phil Cleary, in reference to the ACA/Paxton saga).

Also! Demonising youth of today tonight, Jason Sternberg, The Age, April 13, 2005:

Young Australians don’t watch TV current affairs. It’s easy to see why.

…Following the Macquarie Fields riots, A Current Affair asked viewers to believe generational jihad was imminent with a report on attempts by the international terror group Class War to recruit the area’s young people.

That some of Australia’s most influential media regularly portray young people as threats to the nation impacts significantly on youth culture, youth policy and law-making. It also has real consequences for democracy…

Added Bonus!

NB. The September 2009 edition of Film Ink includes a ‘retrospective’ on the film Idiot Box (1996), from which the footage to the above video (a cover by The Mark of Cain of the song ‘Degenerate Boy’, originally performed by X) is taken. The film *ed Ben Mendelsohn (among others), who you may remember from such films as Beautiful Kate (2009).

Extra Added Bonus!

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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26 Responses to Justin Sheridan : Australian of the Year

  1. james says:

    Good on you surfer… The amount of money wasted on bringing rubbish into this country, eg, the middle easterners, asians, black africans, indians and the list goes on… Australians will never know the cost of this waste, we owe these people nothing… many of them from evil and violent cultures… Come on treasurer Swan, tell Australians how much money is wasted on this rabble from overseas… Go surfer, you are an Aussie, there’s not many of us left, enjoy yourself while we still have a country.

  2. james says:

    No, way, i speak the truth… Good on you Justin…

  3. @ndy says:

    “james”,

    You are very silly. Surfing was originally developed by Hawaiian islanders. Australian citizens come from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, India, and many other places. Waves don’t care what colour you are.

  4. m says:

    [m: my email is fuct at the moment — sorry. try: chummyfleming[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]au.]

  5. Thomas says:

    I’d bet that if he was presented for Australian of the Year, and it was a matter of referendum, he would win.

  6. alicia says:

    Justin the great Australian — keeping Byron Bay’s surf culture alive. I actually know this guy he isn’t as bad as what he was made out to be, editing is a true journalist’s gift. Believe it or not he worked for some time last year no it didn’t last but he’s not the only Aussie to lose a job over the past year either so give the guy a break as Australians we all have the right to get assistance from Centrelink it’s not as if he is breaking the law.

  7. Barry says:

    He has my vote too. You may think he has talent in the water, wait till you see his artwork. This boy has talent to burn. What’s more, I know for a fact that he was grossly misrepresented. Go Justin, you’re a champ!

  8. chris says:

    Fuck Koby the Bra Boy, make The Sherro famous, better t.v. … I know the dude and he is a legend … the world always has haters … fuck ’em Justin do your thing …

  9. Bear says:

    I know Shero too, and we have had fall outs over the years, but bottom line: what a load of crap. I’ve seen Justin have doing many jobs. I also happened to shoot shots of Tim Noonan surfing those days in Byron when he was meant to be working. Tell us Tim, was Prime paying you for your time in the water? Better still, did you guys tell your superiors the truth about how the 4WD Kruger got damaged when you backed it up onto a rock in the Pass carpark? Well I guess not.

    Did you egg on Shero and tell him everything he wanted to hear and coach him on what to say? Well yes you did, because I overheard you. But hey truth doesn’t make for good journalism these days does it?

    Leave the guy alone, he’s a talented surfer and talented artist. But he also has a few problems, and gets over excited and easily lead. It’s very easy to take advantage of folks with problems and a few issues isn’t it Tim?

    But it takes character to give such people the support they really need to flourish. Why has Justin done the things he’s done? Because he has to survive in a society that sweeps anyone who doesn’t quite fit the mold under the carpet.

    I may just sit on my photos of Tim surfing when he was supposed to be working, for a while, or maybe I’ll give them to Shero to do what he pleases with. Yes, that does sound like a good idea. I’m sure Prime would also like to know that Tim Noonan gave Shero the camera to shoot Tim surfing for a while, no worries, just hand over the boss’s gear. Those cameras only cost about $90k or so.

    Good on you Tim you must feel so proud, you came up here to go to a buck’s party and get pissed, then when you found an easy mark in Shero you must have thought you hit the jackpot, a bloke who was speedy, easy to manipulate and keen to please for the camera.

    Noonan you are one weak cat, that’s for sure.

  10. woof says:

    If Shero does not want to enjoy the finer things in life then so be it. This is determined by money too some. He has happiness so how much is that worth to you? He does not need money to be happy like others. If he decides not to work creating struggle, stress & poverty for himself when we’re retiring then let the beach, sun & surfing relax his mind for now. Personally I like to spend money. Let him be & polis go crack a nice bottle in ya limo & he’ll let you be.

  11. Christine says:

    The only fraud involved here was by the interviewer and cohorts who set Justin up and edited out the full context of what he was saying. Anyone who knows Justin will know that his situation is legitimate, he has held several jobs, and that his talents extend beyond the surf. Being unemployed is not a criminal offence, but deliberately setting someone up through the media so that you can publicly crucify them surely must come close. Fortunately Karma is universal and has a long memory. Tim Noonan and cohorts have been micro-chipped by the Universe.

  12. Don says:

    Ah bloody hell. The hacks are at it again…

    A friend of mine who worked as a tape editor for one of these shows (back when they used tape!) resigned in disgust pretty much over one of these stories about ten years ago that involved, uh, some kids on an island or something refusing a job. He reckoned that it was total bullshit and the kids were totally scared shitless by the reporters about the horrible things that would happen to them if they accepted it, then when they refused it, the station did a hatchet job on them.

    Or something like that. (I think it was over that story.)

    He reckoned that basically the stations have a list of “stories” that they can pull out if they can’t find anything to report on, and “dole bludgers” is one of the easiest, because poor folk are everywhere. Pick one, stick an axe in their back and you’re on to a winner.

    And for the station there’s no risk to them. Poor folk can’t afford to sue. Poor folk don’t buy products from TV ads, so advertisers don’t care if they don’t watch (remember, it’s not the number of viewers advertisers care about, it’s the demographic of those users, and TV itself is not trying to sell you anything, it’s trying to sell you to advertisers). Ultimately, creating a nasty angry divide in the community helps television stations construct an audience that self polices the border between itself and the “others”.

    Unfortunately our surfer friend was unlucky enough to get caught in this shitty process.

  13. Lumpen says:

    Don, I think the ‘Island job’ may have been ACA‘s follow-up attack on the Paxtons. At least, I recall they did a very similar story on Bindi Paxton.

  14. Misha Ketchell says:

    I work for Media Watch on the ABC and want to get in touch with Bear, who posted above. If you see this Bear you can call me on 0438 838 175 or email [email protected].

  15. kewen says:

    Justin is a legend. He speaks the truth about the real waste in our society. His footprint is soft and in harmony with his environment. He has more talent and charisma in his little finger than the scumbag media leeches who tried to set him up and exploit him for their own nefarious purposes. They are the ones who should be on the dole because the ‘work’ they do is fear mongering, negative, manipulative, untruthful and generally worse than worthless. The money they are paid would be better off going into a ‘surf for the dole’ scheme! It would make for a more understanding and aware society.

  16. from the bay says:

    Fair enough Shero’s a decent happy chap, and certainly adds to the local character of our town, which makes it such a unique place. The only problem I have with this is I work very hard but only have 2-3 days [work] as it’s very difficult to get work in my area. I get the point, in that I too am not selling myself out and just working for the sake of it cleaning or something which I hate. However Byron is big on community, and I spend my free time volunteering, as do many other people I know that both study, work, or claim the dole. If you love the surf so much you should be involved in one of the clubs or even lifesaving if you’re on the beach the whole time, then you can help look after the community that looks after you so well!

  17. Wendy Sheridan says:

    Witnessing the public humiliation of Justin taunted as the Boardshort Bludger it was obvious to anyone who knows him that he was setup and betrayed by Tim Noonan – a master craftsman of deceit. All of those involved in the insidiousness of this telecast are well depicted in M. Scott Peck’s book titled People of the Lie. Here Peck gives a detailed description of human evil.

    Justin was deceived into believing that the telecast was about people’s “real lives”. On Noonan’s first approach, Justin sited the camera in his vehicle, and asked if Noonan could get him a job. He has extensive filming experience, a long history of passion with the sea, and many surfing titles. Noonan spent a week with Justin gaining his trust, during which time he stated to him “When Australia sees this they are going to love you!”. As the week progressed, Noonan’s own words were given to Justin to repeat with prompting, as appropriate for the “group evil intent”. Justin’s lengthy elaborations, his heartfelt comments and the truth of who he “really” is and what he “really” believes were edited out. With Noonan’s goading the program came into being through deliberate manipulation and victimisation. Justin was unaware that the intention of him being filmed and being interviewed was solely to be viewed as a shameful public spectacle, televised on Today Tonight. There is grief in betrayal – Justin came to feel like Tim Noonan had become a “brother”.

    Justin has an extensive and varied work history. Whilst still at school he was involved in mowing lawns, hat manufacturing and upholstering. Subsequent to this, he has been employed in retail, as a compositor, clothing screen print designer, draughtsman and field assistant, builder’s labourer, gardening and caretaking. He has a current history with employment agencies. When the recent injustice was perpetrated, he had been consistently looking for work and had references in his possession from previous employers.

    Justin lives in one room (which has rising damp), in a moderate rental property that he shares with an older male friend. He doesn’t own a car, feels healthy riding a pushbike, has no money in the bank and perhaps owns nothing of any great value to someone else. He is passionate about life in general – especially the surf, his small dog and his 4 year old niece. Justin has never exhibited a victim mentally and believes he lives in the “lucky country”. His childhood mates labelled him “the Prophet” because he always spoke the truth from his heart and possessed wisdom beyond his years. He taught himself to surf when he was very young, believing the sea to be his solace and his peace – surfing is his religion, his connection with Creation and the Creator.

    The Today Tonight broadcast was a deliberate public crucifixion. It was a despicable attempt to crucify a young man who knows more about “grace” than those who perpetrate harm could ever understand. The Today Tonight people, the Tim Noonan people, Kenneth Gamble people, John Williams people – “People of the Lie” … they may mock, jeer and abuse but they can’t touch integrity – they cannot take from Justin what is intrinsic.

    Mind-blindness is a condition known as “spiritual autism” – the condition of never being able to take the leap into other people’s heads or lives. Sorrow and suffering in life fashion people into better people, warmer people, humbler people, more compassionate and understanding people. Discernment is about choosing where to linger in life, where to return to, which experiences to encourage and which to set aside. Discernment means to sift by sorting, a growing feel for the differences and the beauty. It is an encounter with the bold, the attractive and perhaps the unsettling. It is a growing nose for the unique scent of truth – a growing sense that buried there among the mess, there are nuggets of pure gold. Lacking in discernment? Don’t despair… those who feed off dirt… there’s always hope… and faith… and love. These three attributes are theological virtues though.

    It would be a challenge for those involved to take action and make restitution for the harm inflicted, but that would mean the possession of other essential qualities, such as a conscience and humility.

  18. Brown says:

    ZzZzZzZz- Oh yeah, I was reading something. Wendy S.- Save that speech for your spaced out mates over your next chai and try sticking to the point more on the ol’ internet blog. It’s one thing sticking up for someone, it’s another ranting a load of c**p. Besides it’s not like he had to be coaxed out his shell for the interview- he was loving it, and it does not take a genius to work out what spin a news show would take on that story. Sure he will be loving the fame by next week if not already.

  19. @ndy says:

    People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983).

    Dr. Peck utilizes the integration of the deepest insights of psychiatry and religion to probe the essence of human evil. People who are evil attack others rather than facing their own failures. Peck demonstrates the havoc these “People of the Lie” work in the lives of those around them. He presents, from cases encountered in his psychiatric practice, unforgettably vivid incidents of evil in everyday life. This book offers a strikingly original approach to the age-old problem of human evil.

  20. kewen says:

    Brown, just cuz you have a little short span of attention and difficulty in reading doesn’t mean others do. Maybe it was a bit wordy for a blog but if you took the time to read it you might learn something. Point being Justin Sheridan was conned and manipulated by a bunch of hypocritical scumbags who have a lot less to offer society than Justin has!

  21. Karen says:

    Justin is well known to me.

    Shame on you Tim Noonan that you would abuse the trust of a gregarious, unsuspecting personality like Justin. You had the opportunity to tell his ‘real’ human story. Instead you chose to denigrate him for the paltry dollar.

    Justin’s story is one of perseverance in the face of hardship, and I personally would have found that story good viewing.

  22. @ndy says:

    On the one hand…

    Today Tonight is broadcast on the Seven Network. The Seven Network is owned by the Seven Media Group. The Seven Media Group is a joint venture between the Seven Network Limited (50%) and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (50%).

    Seven Network Limited is Australia’s largest media company. Its principal shareholder (approximately 40%) is Kerry Stokes. In 2008, Stokes was listed at No.785 on Forbe‘s magazine’s rich list, with a net worth of $1.5 billion, or $1,500,000,000 US. (Fourteen other Australians made it on to the billionaire list.) To put it another way, on an annual income of $12,662, Jason would have to live another 118,465 years before amassing an equivalent fortune.

    Considered a major player in the Australian media industry through his majority stake in the Seven Network, Stokes neverthless has a much more valuable asset in the selling and servicing of Caterpillar earthmoving and mining equipment. Already the biggest Cat dealer in Australia through his WesTrac. Stokes is busy building a replica business in China. Given the potential size of the Chinese market versus the relatively small size of Australia, it might not be long before the bulk of Stokes’s fortune is Chinese based.

    KKR is a New York-based company, which “has some $60 billion in assets under management, earning management fees as well as profiting from its direct interests.”

    On the other hand…

    Australia: where the poor are poorer
    Josh Gordon
    The Age
    September 20, 2009

    AUSTRALIA’S unemployed are experiencing poverty at a far higher rate than the unemployed in other developed nations.

    A report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has found that, even before the downturn, 55 per cent of jobless households in Australia were living in ”relative poverty”, on less than half the average income.

    By contrast, the average rate of relative poverty for jobless households in OECD countries was just 37 per cent.

    The report warned that, unlike those of other countries, the tax and transfer system in Australia was heavily geared towards helping working households, but was less successful at tackling entrenched poverty of jobless households.

    ”Australia’s tax and transfer system – targeted towards low-income earners – reduces the risk of poverty among working households by three-quarters, but is less successful in tackling poverty in jobless households,” the report said.

    While more than half Australia’s jobless households endure poverty, only 3 per cent of households with at least one person working were classified by the OECD as relatively poor.

    Highlighting the topic as a looming budget problem for the Rudd Government, the report also suggested the miserly Newstart system had encouraged the unemployed to try to shift into the relatively generous disability support system. It said receipt of the disability pension had doubled since 1990, with the biggest growth among the working-age population.

    The situation of Australia’s unemployed will deteriorate further today when the Government’s much-touted pension increase begins. The $32 a week increase for single age pensioners means they will now take home $335 a week, including income supplements.

    Newstart recipients will continue to survive on $227 a week – equivalent to just 68 per cent of the single pension, compared with about 75 per cent before the changes.

    Australian Council of Social Service chief executive Clare Martin said the $108 weekly difference between the two payments was ”extraordinary” at a time of rising unemployment and low rental affordability.

    She said it was clear the income support system needed to be overhauled as part of the tax system review being undertaken by Treasury secretary Ken Henry, with a single standard payment and add-on components for housing and disability.

    ”There should be a recognition that it takes a certain level of payment to actually survive on,” Ms Martin said.

    The Federal Government has argued that Newstart should not be compared to income support because it was designed as a temporary payment.

    Employment Minister Julia Gillard late last week acknowledged that past experience showed many people aged in their 40s and 50s who lose their foothold in the labour market never find employment again, suggesting they could be on Newstart for years until pension age.

    The report said about 44 per cent of disability pensioners had previously been on unemployment benefits and only a small proportion ever return to work.

    And, of pensioners who return to work, within three years three-quarters have either retired or are no longer working.

  23. @ndy says:

    On the third and fourth hands:

    Peter *hic* Meakin ish the Sheven Network’sh *hic* head of newsh and *hic* and current *hic* current affairsh:

    Meakin gets weekend jail
    The Sydney Morning Herald (AAP)
    May 31, 2007

    The Seven Network’s head of news and current affairs, Peter Meakin, has been sentenced to at least 14 months’ periodic detention for drink driving and dangerous driving.

    Meakin, 64, was today also banned from driving for eight years.

    The TV news chief, who faces spending his weekends in prison, immediately lodged an appeal.

    The offences occurred at North Narrabeen in Sydney on October 4 last year, as Meakin was driving his four-wheel-drive BMW home to Clareville after drinking two bourbons at work.

    Meakin accelerated past a random breath testing site in a bid to avoid being pulled over, forcing two police officers off the road, Manly Local Court was told.

    He was arrested after a police pursuit and returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.10, twice the legal limit.

    Meakin, who has twice been caught drink driving in the past, pleaded guilty to mid-range drink driving.

    He contested the dangerous driving charge, but the magistrate Jane Culver today found him guilty.

    “The defendant made a deliberate choice to proceed in his vehicle in a manner which he knew forced not one but two police officers off the road in efforts to avoid being pulled over for a random breath test,” she said.

    “The defendant did not want to be caught for drink driving.”

    From the Department of Nice “Work” If You Can Get It:

    Qantas ex-boss paid $11m
    Matt O’Sullivan
    The Age
    September 21, 2009

    Qantas’s former boss, Geoff Dixon, is expected to draw the ire of shareholders and staff for the second year running after it emerged today that he pocketed a salary of almost $11 million despite serving only five months as chief executive last year.

    Mr Dixon’s total salary of $10.7 million in 2008-09 – down 12 per cent on the previous year – included a base salary of $1.86 million and $657,500 in termination benefits…

    That’s just under 46,000 weeks worth of dole payments.

    For five months.

    Of “work”.

    As a CEO.

  24. buzz says:

    Ive known Justin since school and the days when he used to bum around Evans Head and do the same thing he is now doing in Byron. He has never been the type to commit to employment. Give him a break I say. He will be the one to regret his decisions when he meets a girl and needs to settle down and has no way of supporting a family. Its the typical Byron Bay lifestyle that has been the trap for a lot of young ones looking for the easy lifestyle.

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