I knew that if I waited long enough I would stumble on an item of public expenditure that was not a complete waste of money. And, hurrah, it has happened. The ABC has been spending money on sending Sami Shah to a speech therapist! Sami is the Pakistani comedian (why is there something strangely oxymoronic about that expression?) whom the ABC employed when they sacked Red Symons from the morning radio show in Melbourne. Trouble is, few people can understand poor Sami with his sing-song accent and those who can, do not want to listen. So it was wise of the ABC to enlist the services of the speech therapist to give us a fighting chance of understanding what Sami is talking about. But, so far, they should ask for a refund. However, Sami may yet be of value as evidence to rebut a particularly nasty accusation being made against the national broadcaster concerning its plan to launch a new website called ABC Lite, sorry, ABC Life. As you have probably read, the new website will be a broad, lifestyle site with its emphasis on recipes, pets, sex, fashion, health and work. As soon as the announcement was made, the predictable criticism was trotted out that the ABC was intruding into the realm of commercial media and was only interested in boosting its ratings. I asked Michelle Guthrie, the boss of the organisation, what her response was to that charge and she replied on Twitter: ‘We are NOT chasing ratings. Why, since we put Sami on the morning show, our ratings have DROPPED like a lead balloon. We are now down to HALF 3AW’s ratings and falling, and we know more about how to get rid of listeners than all other stations combined. NO CONSPIRACY’. She also took the opportunity of giving me a sneak preview of the contents of the new lifestyle site, I think because she knows she’ll get a fairer go from The Speccie than the fascist, alt-right media.
HOME ECONOMICS. The anchor person of this ground-breaking segment will be none other than top economist Emma Alberici. Emma will share her secrets on how to stretch the family budget: just ignore all taxes as if they don’t apply to you. And as for paying the rent or the staff, just ask the government for more money. Former senator Sam Dastyari will let you know how to get rid of those pesky debts that keep mounting up: just don’t pay them. And Emma has a special guest lined up, in fact another Emma, who will share her experiences on making the dollar go further.
FASHION. Are you off to a taping of Q&A? Make sure you dress for the part. For men: dress conservatively, as if you have just come from the banking royal commission; it will help getting into the audience. But a three-day beard, an earring and a few tattoos will show you are also a bit of an edgy type and on the correct side of big issues like The Stolen Generations, First Nations and refugees. Ladies: a multi-coloured turban and matching robes tells the world you are a sensitive, multicultural millennial and strong on Arab human rights. And, with spring on the way, Fashion Corner would not be complete without a sneak preview from Julie Bishop on what the well-dressed diplomatic polo-going matron is wearing to Davos this year.
UNI WORLD. A handy must-have guide to every university, complete with the clearly marked location of every trigger point, rape danger zone, safe space, crying room and trauma counselling centre on campus.
PETS’ CORNER. Guest star Emma H. will share her experiences on how just getting elected as an MP solved so many of her personal problems, like getting the dog walked and the bag emptied. She will reveal how this skill has been finely honed over the years by the ALP, particularly her former colleague in Victoria, Steve Herbert, who was so cruelly sacked by Daniel Andrews for ferrying two dogs to his country estate in the ministerial car. But Emma is not just a one-trick pony: she will also reveal how to avoid the hundred and one problems of balancing home and work when you have only four secretaries to zip you up and wash the dishes.
ADVENTURE HOLIDAYS. Plan your own trips to see the vibrant economy of Cuba, new uses for the armed drone in Venezuela, Zimbabwe’s creative new democracy and how the imams of Iran have restored law and order. And there’s a review of a great holiday book to read on the plane: Bronwyn Bishop’s Zen and the Art of Helicopter Maintenance. And, for the teenagers, a coupon that will go into the draw to win one of Vladimir Putin’s exotic chemistry sets that are taking the world by storm.
MY MORAL HEALTH RECORD. A real initiative, My Moral Health Record is an online summary of your key moral health information. It keeps an accurate record of your opinions on the key indicators of moral worth: refugees, the republic, the Voice, the Treaty, climate change, same-sex bathrooms and abortion. It simply checks if you measure up to officially approved beliefs and opinions and, if you slip behind on any of them, we will give you a gentle nudge. It can be viewed securely online by anyone, anywhere, when you apply for a job, vote or want go on Q&A. It’s so easy: you’re in, even if you opt out. And it is very secure: the system is run by the QUT computer lab.
RECIPE OF THE MONTH. Undoubtedly, Peter Hendy’s savoury mince; a quick little number to rustle up for secret meetings when you are planning to assassinate your Prime Minister. Mostly synthetic ingredients. Rapidly overtaking the Judas Cake.
Yes, there’s something for everyone on ABC Life!
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