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Channel Eddie, April 5, 2005


The Age, June 20, 1981.
Two moustach-ay. Comin' up on tha side.
When an American friend sits through A Current Affair and assumes he's just watched the news.

Is that:
  • A negative statement about the state of US TV News?
  • A negative statement about Australian "Current Affairs" advertori-- sorry, "journalism"?
  • Some indication of the mental games TV plays on us? The swapping of signs; the ads pretending to be news, news as advertisments, reality TV pretending to be worthwhile..
The continued hyperbole about speed cameras continued last night as old Raymondo did his best Mike Moore impersonation, lamenting that people who've had speeding fines won't get their money back.

"Mmm... Yes, but I suppose they won't."

Where's an even-handed big-picture view of the statistics? Where's their mentioning that NSW has made the point of lowering fines and increasing demerit point deductions? Where's an actual balanced bit of, well, anything? Especially when ACA now has the ominously Fox-News esque "No Fear No Favour" tagline, shouldn't they at least try to APPEAR reasonable, rational and balanced? Shouldn't they actually do some investigation rather than just interview the NMAA and try to find a couple of people who got dodgy tickets?

"Mmm... Yes, but I suppose they won't."

Actually, on the topic of the NMAA, why are they getting interviewed anyway? ACA must be desparate for interviewees; these guys come across as royal nutcases:

From http://www.aussiemotorists.com/speeddebate/nondrivers.html:

You probably think that the official propaganda sounds plausible. Speeding we are told is dangerous. Those who profit from speeding tickets seem to blame exceeding the speed limit for anything from increasing crash risk to being a factor promoting tooth decay. Messages about the dangers of "speeding" are often followed by comments that the government doesn't want the money they just want to promote safety.

Sorry, what? In Victoria that bit is definitely patently false. The TAC do the road safety ads, and they don't profit from speed camera fines. The TAC's sole commercial interest is to reduce the amount they pay out. That's either by:
  • Hardcore legal battles (someone I know used to work at a well known law firm, and often on the other end of TAC cases.. apparently they're hellish to deal with in court.)
  • Or just simply REDUCING THE NUMBER OF ACCIDENTS.
That's all they're interested in, saving money. Not making money from speeding fines, not deliberately victimising drivers in some orchestrated communist plot to deprive every good, god-fearing suburbanite of their intrinsic right to drive their Landcruiser down the median strip of the Burwood Highway at 160km/h while talking on their mobile and finishing off the end of a slab...

Now in NSW the RTA run what I like to call attempted TAC ads -- from what I saw of them up there last year they were too tryhard MTV glossy to be shocking, and too tryhard hard-hitting to be anything other than alienating, the old Brechtian verfremdungseffekt -- so being that there's no Vicroads/TAC style separation in NSW the situation may be different, I'm not sure. But at least in Victoria the argument is bullshit.

Some gems:
http://www.aussiemotorists.com/faq/mopolicy.html

Why should people who don't let the conversation distract them be banned from using the phone? The benefits of legal mobile phone usage include the driver's ability to summon help to an accident scene, schedule appointments, obtain directions while driving in unfamiliar territory, organise help with mechanical problems without the potential safety risk of leaving the car, and report accidents and drunk drivers.
Sorry, what? You're suggesting people report accidents while moving? They don't get out and render assistance, just ring the police and say "Oh, by the way, about 5 minutes ago I saw an accident back there.. sorry, no, don't remember what the car looked like.. sorry, no, not sure what intersection."

And what do we do, determine some remote method for detecting whether people are distracted? Would that apply to the guy I saw today in a blue holden ute driving from Collins St up Macarthur St, swerving all over the road? Would it apply to the two cars in a row I saw a while back run a well-and-truly-red light on Elizabeth Street crossing over Little Collins? The first was on the phone, the second just playing the sheep. Would it apply to the guy the other night on the phone driving a truck turning from Alexandra Pde into Brunswick Street northbound who mounted (and went across most of) the footpath, then had to reverse to get back onto the road?

http://www.aussiemotorists.com/faq/ttpolicy.html

We oppose any added costs on people who are already paying for roads.

http://www.aussiemotorists.com/faq/rgpolicy.html

With today's communication technology there is no reason that vehicle registration could not be administered privately. This would result in more competitive and thus fairer prices. Car insurance companies could tender for the work. Legislation can be put in place to ensure full disclosure of car registration details to appropriate authorities.
But wait, if private companies are getting the registration revenue, who pays for the roads? Oh wait, what's that? Registration doesn't pay for roads? Neither does petrol tax? It's general revenue and council rates? Then what about medical expenses from accidents, from emissions? What about loss of arable land to freeways? What about the expense of distant foreign wars to keep the oil flowing? True cost economics, anyone?

I always laugh when people say cyclists should GITOFFTHAROOOOAD because they "don't pay registration".. and therefore somehow don't pay for the roads? Following their logic, I'm happy to pay a fee for my bike commensurate with the amount of wear and tear it does to the road.. it'd work out as very, very, very small change. Either that or vehicle registrations would be an order of magnitude more expensive.

But as far as ACA interviewees go, they're short on choices.. even the RACV and NRMA don't have a problem..
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/07/16/1058035071711.html

Speed cameras save lives, study finds

July 17 2003
By Chris Evans

...

"But most significantly it found that when a driver receives a traffic ticket, his or her risk of dying in a road accident is reduced by 35 per cent in the weeks after it was issued."

Last night the RACV - which has been a critic of the Government's policy - called for the proceeds of penalty notices to be invested in road safety programs.

"This shows that enforcement is an essential part of road safety strategy," said RACV general manager of public policy Ken Ogden. "But the community needs to understand that. It must see that enforcement is about road safety and not about raising revenue."

...

Anyway..

If you haven't seen The Fog Of War, and you have a need to know about the whole pax americana thing; the short-sightedness of US Foreign Policy (ie you live on this planet) you should watch it... but if you have, you'll recognise the style, and this is possibly one of the more interesting things I've seen of late:

I doubt that Welles' best efforts could possibly have accounted for the engineering marvel/horror that is Donald Trump's hair. However watching this, like watching The Fog Of War, gives you an appreciation for the human face behind actions that appear soulless. But then like with McNamara, it may be just atoning for past deeds or attempting to rationalise things...

Trump: The table getting larger and larger and larger, and he and his wife getting farther and farther apart, as he grew wealthier and wealthier... perhaps I can understand that.

Trump: ...in real life I believe that wealth does isolate you from other people...

Trump: It was a great rise in Citizen Kane.. and a modest fall. The fall wasn't a financial fall, the fall was a personal fall.. but it was a fall nevertheless.

Morris: If you could give Charles Foster Kane advice, what would you say to him?

Trump: Get yourself a different woman.
This is one of those cases where someone lays their problems out in front of you on a platter while thinking they're talking common sense. To live out your dying days a recluse in a wheelchair, rejected by just about everyone, is a "modest" fall? And Kane would have been fine if he'd found a different woman?!

Ominously, I don't think the site has been updated for a while, but the idea of Gorbachev discussing Dr Strangelove and Tarkovsky is intriguing...

3 Comments - [post a comment]

ACA vindicated - John Bennett, Saturday, September 3, 2005, 10:28 PM
I refer to your comments with respect to the ACA. "ACA must be desparate for interviewees; these guys come across as royal nutcases:
From http://www.aussiemotorists.com/speeddebate/nondrivers.html:

You probably think that the official propaganda sounds plausible. Speeding we are told is dangerous. Those who profit from speeding tickets seem to blame exceeding the speed limit for anything from increasing crash risk to being a factor promoting tooth decay. Messages about the dangers of "speeding" are often followed by comments that the government doesn't want the money they just want to promote safety.
Sorry, what? In Victoria that bit is definitely patently false. The TAC do the road safety ads, and they don't profit from speed camera fines. The TAC's sole commercial interest is to reduce the amount they pay out...."
You are being overly tough on the ACA not to mention the NMAA. If you did your homework you would discover that the TAC is a Victorian Government owned organisation.
Back in 2003 according to the opposition leader in an article in a major Victorian newspaper. (http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/08/1062901996789.html?from=storyrhs)
"Opposition Leader Robert Doyle blasted the Government for the increase, saying the speeding fine campaign was about preserving the state budget. The Government would collect $26 million in the June quarter in speed-camera fines, he said."
I have no actual knowledge one way or another but it does seem fanciful to suggest that the Victorian government doesn't get a cent now ... or do you consider readers so obtuse as to accept a play on words along the lines that this particular arm of the government does not specifically derive income from cameras so it can be said that they are not getting money? Unless you are playing with words your comments are patently false.
Oh yeah and then there is the conclusion: "That's all they're interested in, saving money. Not making money from speeding fines, not deliberately victimising drivers in some orchestrated communist plot to deprive every good, god-fearing suburbanite of their intrinsic right to drive their Landcruiser down the median strip of the Burwood Highway at 160km/h while talking on their mobile and finishing off the end of a slab..."
If someone driving at 160km/h gets off with a speeding ticket they would have to be former Premier Kennett. Anyone else would be done for dangerous driving NOT speeding. (Then of course it just gets worse for the defendant driving down the median strip and all). That type of speeding has nothing to do with speeding tickets (unless you are a Premier and he was not driving down a median strip).
Of course you keep going with your curious comments so I cannot resist your next one.
"Some gems:
http://www.aussiemotorists.com/faq/mopolicy.html

Why should people who don't let the conversation distract them be banned from using the phone? The benefits of legal mobile phone usage include the driver's ability to summon help to an accident scene, schedule appointments, obtain directions while driving in unfamiliar territory, organise help with mechanical problems without the potential safety risk of leaving the car, and report accidents and drunk drivers.Sorry, what? You're suggesting people report accidents while moving? They don't get out and render assistance, just ring the police and say "Oh, by the way, about 5 minutes ago I saw an accident back there.. sorry, no, don't remember what the car looked like.. sorry, no, not sure what intersection."
You really think that most people are better off with Do It Yourself Emergency Medical treatment than phoning an ambulance or police as they approach an accident scene? Or are we meant to rely completely on your being deliberately obtuse to the suggestion of a call for urgent assistance with your "5 minutes ago" straw man.
It gets better...
"And what do we do, determine some remote method for detecting whether people are distracted? Would that apply to the guy I saw today in a blue holden ute driving from Collins St up Macarthur St, swerving all over the road? Would it apply to the two cars in a row I saw a while back run a well-and-truly-red light on Elizabeth Street crossing over Little Collins? The first was on the phone, the second just playing the sheep. Would it apply to the guy the other night on the phone driving a truck turning from Alexandra Pde into Brunswick Street northbound who mounted (and went across most of) the footpath, then had to reverse to get back onto the road?"
Considering the examples you put after your question are you seriously suggesting that you or the police could not work out that the people were distracted without a law banning mobiles? I think you are having a lend of us. Interestingly one of your examples was of a person who was not on a mobile. This supports the point that people vary and the presence or absence of a phone is not the be all and end all. Some do not even need a mobile to pay insufficient attention to their driving. The problem is the inattention not where they hold their hand.
Happy Blogging! When you think of the ACA in future perhaps you should remember the old rule of politeness that if you cannot find something nice to say about someone do not say anything at all.
Darren! - Dr Henrik Ziegler, Sunday, September 4, 2005, 2:17 AM
OK, I'll respond to your claims one by one.

1. > You are being overly tough on the ACA not to mention the NMAA. If you did your homework you would discover that the TAC is a Victorian Government owned organisation.

As an NMAA member from Queensland, you're assuming I'm, like you, not from Victoria, and thus would not know without "doing homework" that the TAC is a Vic Govt. Department. But if you'd paid attention you'd note that I've mentioned Vicroads, I've quoted The Age several times (which you also quote, while implying that I wouldn't know it's a "major Victorian newspaper"), and I've only brushed on other states.

Of course the TAC is a government organisation. With corporatisation of government departments, said departments and government bodies are expected to be responsible for and account for their own revenue/expenses -- the TAC is not given money to demonise speeding, they're given money to use for accident compensation. If they choose to use some of that money to run a campaign attacking speeding drivers it's not some broad-base government conspiracy, their agenda is pure and simply maximising the efficiency of their dollar; ie reducing accidents thus reducing accident compensation payable, which their "If you Drink, then Drive you're a bloody idiot" campaigns of the early nineties demonstrably did, and dramatically so. I've actually met and spoken to one of the guys at Grey TMP who developed the campaign with the TAC when they first started their shock tactics stuff back in 1989. The premise was selling road safety as a product; not removing god-given rights of drivers or other fanciful conspiracy theories. The TAC's interests do not lie in some monolithic government agenda, they lie in keeping their own money flowing in the most efficient way possible. Which in this case is about minimising road accidents so they don't have to pay out as much compensation. You're arguing along the same 'monolithic government' lines as people who say, for example, "The Department of Infrastructure build freeways therefore they're not at all interested in anything related to PT". It's easy to say if you don't know anyone who works in/with government or have never done so yourself, but it's bullshit. I'd be willing to wager that it's you who haven't done your homework.

And sorry, but how does the Robert Doyle quote prove anything? This is the same guy who over 300 days ago promised to very soon explain how he'd fund the Mitcham-Frankston Tollway using government money, and he still hasn't. I'm not particularly interested in his maths, which doesn't really demonstrate anything cogent to the point you're trying to make anyway.

2. > "it does seem fanciful to suggest that the Victorian government doesn't get a cent"

I never said the Victorian Government doesn't get a cent, that's a strawman. I said the TAC doesn't directly profit. Speeding fines go into general revenue (for now). Yes, if you were to trace a dollar (assuming all dollars are concrete and continuously traceable things, which they're not) from a speeding fine it MIGHT end up with the TAC, but it might also end up with a legal service somewhere, with a hospital in Shepparton, with an arts grant, with public transport subsidies, with building a freeway.. with all manner of things. The NMAA claim that "Those who profit from speeding tickets seem to blame...." is completely irrelevant to the TAC. Road safety campaigns in Victoria (note I said "in Victoria", I'm not purporting to say anything about Queensland) don't derive their income from speeding fines. They derive it from general revenue, but have more of it to spend if there are fewer accidents.

3. > "If someone driving at 160km/h gets off with a speeding ticket..."

If you can't recognise hyperbole (160km/h), I can't help you. I'm not talking about speeding laws there, I'm talking about the attitude of groups like the NMAA that certain dangerous driving habits are intrinsically defensible and any campaign against or crackdown on them is some grand conspiracy of lies and fabricated evidence.

4. > "You really think that most people are better off with Do It Yourself Emergency Medical treatment"

For someone accusing me of rolling out straw men, that's a corker. I never said people shouldn't call emergency services. Rendering assistance for me entails stopping, getting out of your car, ringing 000 and explaining what's happened while checking to see if everyone's ok and if there's anything you can do. Not ringing 000 from a moving car, as the NMAA site suggests. You can't reasonably render assistance in any form from a moving car passing an accident scene by ringing emergency services. It brings to mind an instance the other week when I saw a car overturn after hitting a tram stop just around the corner, and the people in the next lane and behind the accident drove away without stopping to help. It's tempting to leave the scene when you CAN, to get away from the surreal experience that is seeing a car on its roof in the middle of a major road; those who were right there in their cars when it happened DID just drive on/around.. The people who rendered assistance and rang 000 were sitting in the pub across the street, or walking home (ie me). It was left up to a bunch of people on foot to block Nicholson Street to stop anyone from driving through the debris, when any one of the cars behind could have stopped to help. And from seeing a client 18 months ago crash their car into a fence while trying to schedule appointments on the phone with one of their clients -- trust me, 'scheduling appointments' while driving is utter stupidity.

5. > "Interestingly one of your examples was of a person who was not on a mobile."

Where exactly did I say "mobile phones are the only way people are distracted on the road"? I didn't. It's one dangerous thing drivers assume they can do while in charge of a potentially lethal weapon, I never said it was everything. Trying to normalise mobile phone use in a moving car is dangerous. I'm not saying that nothing else is. The point I was making was that drivers are already prone to distraction; normalising another distraction (or a suite of distractions as listed in the justification for mobile phone use on the NMAA site) is amazingly irresponsible.

Oh, and re the old "cannot say something nice about someone" line; if everyone followed that adage the world would be an extremely dangerous place. Conversely if ACA followed that rule, they wouldn't have a show. For the record, I can say, will say, and have said as much as I like (within reason, of course) about ACA and the NMAA, and if they have a problem with it, they're welcome to respond, as you have.

Going back to your heading though, how exactly was ACA vindicated? Your argument doesn't follow.
anonymous, Sunday, September 4, 2005, 2:53 AM
Dear John,

In reference to your last comment,

Happy Blogging! When you think of the ACA in future perhaps you should remember the old rule of politeness that if you cannot find something nice to say about someone do not say anything at all.

It becomes sadly obvious you are naive to any knowledge of the Blogsphere. Happy reading, you have a lot to do.