The Burke Report

Liz Burke* rounds out the week in news and current affairs...

While the blazing sun and a ridiculously excited phone call about a certain delivery (to be explained in "12 Days Till Christmas") was enough to get me out of bed this morning, the ALP’s been shocked with a tragic wake-up call to review their asylum seeker policy this week.

A boat carrying at least 70 asylum seekers, now predicted to be holding up to 100 passengers, was destroyed on Wednesday heading towards Christmas Island. The official death toll last night stood at 28, and it’s believed that 42 have been rescued.

Though the search is on with defence forces and flying doctors trying to recover those who were on board, there is little hope for survivors and residents say bodies could be trapped in underwater caves surrounding the site of the shipwreck for weeks.

The news was met with mixed responses with commentators calling for compassion not politics. The Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt was not shaken by fellow journalist’s consensus to broach the subject in mourning rather than finger pointing. His early comments that the Government had “Blood on their hands” was met with some support and a whole lot of criticism. Too soon.

The Australian, soon followed by the ABC, decided this morning it was time to turn the Christmas Island disaster on a political course, calling for the ALP to review its border protection policy, backed by comments from Labor party president Anna Bligh and others dissatisfied with the Government’s response.

Even the entertainment news is struggling to bring good news today as Australia loses a literary icon. Bringer of bed-time stories and Australian classics, Harp in the South and Beatie Bow writer Ruth Park has died. One of Australia’s most awarded and well-loved authors, though actually adopted from New Zealand, as we tend to do with talented Kiwis, will also be remembered for her radio series and later books including The Muddle-Headed Wombat.

For those in a media black hole, Oprah’s Aussie fan club was treated to two live recordings of her talk show this week. Hugh Jackman was attended to by paramedics after a botched stunt on the show left him with a bad cut below his eye, which unlike his alias Wolverine, who he was attempting to channel in the stunt, he could not heal himself.

As well as Jackman’s appearance, Oprah’s audience was treated to performances from Bon Jovi, Jay Z, interviews with the Irwin’s and Olivia Newton-John, and lets not forget a parting gift of diamond and pearl necklaces.

Wikileaks warrior Julian Assange has also received a piece of jewellery, making for a nice early Christmas present. Though not quite as blingy as pink diamonds or Kalais pearls, Assange will be sporting an electronic tag since being freed on bail overnight. Although he fears freedom may not last long, believing efforts are already underway to move him into a position from which he could be easily extradited to the US to face more charges.

Also seemingly off the hook is disgraced DJs boss Mark McInnes, who has taken another top job as director of Sydney’s new “super race club”, to be formed early next year by the merger of the Australian Jockey Club and the Sydney Turf Club.

McInnes’ corporate comeback comes just six months after exiting his 13-year stint at David Jones after the multi-million dollar sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by DJs publicist Kristy Fraser-Kirk and later settled out of court. Again, perhaps too soon.

Yours truly,
Liz @ Girl With a Satchel