“Big fan of LBJ, me mum,” said Chris Uhlmann, journalist for the ABC’s Twenty-Four hour television news network. And that, perhaps, was the only thing of any interest in what must be regarded as one of the most boring exhibitions of television in decades. The topic? Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s journey to seek the Governor General’s permission to dissolve both houses of parliament. An election looms.
A twenty-four hour news station on a Sunday is bound to be desperate for material, and in a country where nothing much happens of global significance, apart from a desire to intervene in distant theatres at Washington’s behest, journalists tend to clutch at straws of commentary. The camera becomes, in that sense, the accessory to the dull speech and observation, a colluding agent in a spectacle of the dreary.
The ABC’s media chopper had been commissioned to supply dull aerial pictures of the drive in from the Canberra airport of Australia’s Governor General, representative of Australia’s dejure head, the Queen of England. ABC journalists embroidered the pictures with the obvious. “That is the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, coming off the plane.” Who else could it have been? Nothing as exciting as a conspirator inspired by a coup d’état.
Why Cosgrove has been bothered on this cold, rainy Sunday is that Prime Minister Turnbull has sought to push through legislation and failed because of an obstructionist senate, notably the bill that would create the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). By in large, the budget has also been opposed by the Australian Labor Party.