The Satchel Review - 18th May

By Liz Burke

At approximately 2:25pm yesterday a silent but collective plea from breaking news desks, entertainment reporters, and anyone with an active Twitter handle echoed around the nation. “Would everyone please be quiet, I’m trying to think of Wiggles puns!”

Minutes later, as the shocking announcement of the Wiggles imminent shake-up (a nicely spun rebranding of “break-up”) was confirmed, headlines emerged and skivvies were being thrown in and big red car keys handed over.

The kids' entertainment phenomenon’s fruit salad days were over. Three new recruits would join the last man standing, blue-skivvied Anthony Page, as it was announced Gregg, Jeff, and Murray, the yellow, purple, and red Wiggles respectively were to depart from the group. 

As the story developed, the Wiggley jokes didn’t matter anymore and the desire to cram “hot potato” into a headline subsided. The news websites got their punch line as it was revealed there was to be a Lady Wiggle: 22-year-old former back-up dancer Emma Watkins would don the yellow skivvy as the group’s first female recruit after the existing members’ victory lap, a national farewell tour before the handover at the end of 2012.

School kids were greeted with the news of the departure of their early childhood entertainers as they came up for air after the final day of NAPLAN tests for the year. More than one million years 3, 5, 7, and 9 students around the country sat the national three-day tests which prompted strikes, protests and boycotts of the controversial tests which aim to collate data allowing parents to compare student and teacher performances across schools, but constantly come for promoting test-driven schooling and putting kids under pressure while failing to providing accurate or relevant results.

But if students don’t get the scores they’re after, they can be comforted in knowing that if it doesn’t go to plan in exams, all would not be lost. You can either blame the Wiggles distraction, sue your school for not setting you up with the score you wanted a la Geelong school girl Rose Ashton-Weir, OR you can be the CEO of Yahoo. 

The internet giant’s embattled chief Scott Thompson was brought down a peg this week as news emerged he had churched up his resume claiming a computer science degree he never completed. Thompson was shown the door at Yahoo, slammed on him by disappointed shareholders and colleagues at the long-troubled company. 

From disgraced boss to disgraced boss facing criminal charges, former News International chief executive and News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks was angered by charges laid against her and her some of her nearest and dearest (husband, assistant security staff and chauffeur) who now find themselves embroiled in the inquiry Brooks’ husband has called a “witch-hunt”. Mrs Brooks will face trial for allegedly trying to cover up her knowledge of phone hacking by reporters at the News of the World.

Meanwhile, closer to home, phone hacking has found its way into another scandal as it emerged former Labor MP Craig Thomson may suggest to parliament he was the victim of phone hacking in an effort to exchange calls to escort agencies. The now independent member for Dobell is claiming he was set up after an 1100 page Fair Work Australia report found he had misused some $500,000 of union funds as head of the Health Services Union. The plot is set to thicken on the Thomson scandal on Monday as he delivers his critical defence speech to parliament.

Scandal continues to engulf the Labor party as fellow fund-misuser Speaker Peter Slipper faces the Federal Court over the sexual harassment of staffer James Ashby. Some off-the-cuff tweeting found Foreign Minister Bob Carr involved in the scandal as well, with Ashby taking complaints to the Human Rights Commission over Carr’s comments.

While Thomson and Slipper have each stood down from their posts, another controversial figure – though this one facing a media trial rather than a ‘trial by media’ – Kyle Sandilands, has been pretty much let off the hook following investigations into the 2DAY FM presenter sparked by his calling a female journalist who gave his TV show a bad review two terms that managed to be both misogynistic and derogatory all at once.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority announced on Wednesday it would impose a new license condition on the station aimed at stamping out offensive content, rather than banning derogatory comments against women as it warned it would in March. The decision comes as a disappointment to the army of Sandilands opponents who campaigned to have him sacked, and has reignited speculation over the power and effectiveness of ACMA, already highlighted in the Federal Government’s Convergence Review recommendation of the creation of a new media regulator.

While cricket couple Michael Clarke and Kyly Boldy had one over the media this week, keeping their highly anticipated wedding under wraps and releasing pics themselves on Twitter, news emerged that Vogue editor of 13 years Kirstie Clements would be replaced by current Harper's Bazaar boss Edwina McCann, who will take the reins at both the print and digital sides of the Australian fashion glossy. We wish them both all the best.

Across the pond in Dili, international diplomats are preparing to converge on East Timor to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the country's formal independence from Indonesia on Sunday. Following 24 years of Indonesian rule, UN forces have occupied the country since 1999, but will bid goodbye at the end of the year, after general elections in July and the appointment of a new prime minister and government. On Saturday, it will also inaugurate a new president, former armed forces chief and guerrilla fighter Taur Matan Ruak.

While an important milestone, the young nation is struggling to get on its feet, up to 183,000 of its people perishing under the harsh 24-year Indonesian rule, a further 1,000 killed after the independence vote was cast and the Indonesian military and anti-independence militias sought revenge. A political crisis in 2006 saw 37 people killed, and its first president, Jose Ramos-Horta survived an assassination attempt in 2008, during which he was shot.

Reliant almost entirely on oil revenue, much of the population of 1.1 million is still living in poverty and oil funds are failing to filter down to the streets, though a development fund is flush with petrol money. Whether glamorous Australian governor-general Quentin Bryce will bear witness to the underside of East-Timor on her visit over the weekend is a matter of delicacy. We can all be glad we are not sending Kyle Sandilands, while senior diplomat Bob Carr does time on the Twitter time-out chair.