As a prelude to tomorrow's Grand Final, I thought I'd do a quick round-up of a few outstanding matters. First, I heard back from Victorian Gaming Minister John Pandazopoulos about my proposal for betting on AFL player court appearances. There's also closure for Sam Newman's public indecency and a heads-up on an SBS documentary airing tonight (Friday, 29/9/06).
The Victorian gaming industry has a tireless champion in John "Panda" Pandazopoulos - no-one has done more to advance the interests of gaming shareholders than Mr Pokies. It's quite strange, therefore, that Panda wouldn't get behind my proposal to let people wager on the club that will next see a player appear in court. His stated reasons were:
The integrity of sporting competitions upon which wagers are made is vital for public confidence and is an issue which is taken very seriously by the Victorian Government. A betting competition such as the one suggested by you may be considered contrary to the public interest and may compromise the integrity of sports betting as the outcome is relatively easy to manipulate. (Ministerial Correspondence, 22/9/2006)
NB: My emphasis added. As I read this, Panda's saying that he regards it as too easy to manipulate the AFL players' appearances in court. This is profoundly disturbing for two reasons. Firstly, it suggests that lacks confidence in the integrity of people making decisions about whether or not players appear in court. As I understand it, this is the police sergeants who charge people (for most matters) and the government lawyers at the Department of Public Prosecutions (for very serious matters). What does he know about corruption in these organs of state that the rest of us don't?
Faced with an apparent lack of faith in the people deciding whether to charge AFL players, you'd think he might talk to his Cabinet colleagues about some sort of inquiry. Maybe even referring specific instances to the Office of Police Integrity. But no - and here's my second concern - he's instead worried about how this might impact on the "integrity of sports betting"! Get that? His reaction to the easy "manipulation" of the decision-making processes underpinning our law is to fret about the impact on gamblers. What about the rest of us? If police or prosecutors are easily manipulated in who they present to the courts, surely there are wider issues than a few betting agencies. Jeez, talk about a captured minister ...
Elderly footy commentator Sam Newman was slapped with a piece of wet paper by the toothless Australian Communications and Media Authority:
On May 6 on Triple M's Saturday Football program, the 60-year-old responded to criticism by asking an unidentified caller if they were at the game that day. "Yes I was," the caller said, to which Newman responded: "You're a f---wit."
[ACMA] found the program "did not meet contemporary standards of decency". Triple M suspended Newman from the program and has made the former Geelong star undergo retraining ... no further action will be taken. (The Age, 29/9/2006)
Just last year Triple M tried to rein in The Coot - apparently without success. What form does the retraining take, I wonder? Whatever they used last time obviously didn't take. Maybe the AFL has the right idea in lambasting the standards of footy commentary after all.
While the onset of Newman's "grumpy old man disorder" undermines respect for elders, it certainly helps promote early retirement. Not to mention legalised euthanasia.
Tonight sees the first free-to-air broadcasting of the controversial documentary Footy Chicks. With a limited theatrical release earlier in the year, this will be the first chance for many of us to see this harrowing account of what happens in the bars, toilets and hotel rooms after the match. From the seedy to the depressing, it's sure to be an eye-opener. Set your VCRs (or DVRs) to SBS, 10pm tonight (Friday 29th of September). My write-up to follow shortly.
Word Count: 668