TSK TSK: The Age's Paul Austin is the great pretender

paulaustinpretender Ted Baillieu’s unofficial press spokescomrade Paul “The Great Pretender” Austin’s work often irritates us and he and running dog Royce Millar  has produced two appalling front-page examples of it in two days.

Yesterday, came Roycey’s unsourced and highly dubious claim that the public-private partnership for Victoria’s desalination water plant had fallen over.

A good story if it was true – and many development projects are struggling due to banks being very unwilling to lend right now – but it appears almost certain that it is false.

Bass Water, the responsible authority, has denied it on the record and emphatically. The project will proceed, no doubt with considerable argument over the terms of the deal but we are told on good authority that the multi-billion dollar infrastructure companies have no trouble raising funds, for the right project. And we can measure whether the desal plant is the right project for them by their ongoing interest in pursuing it.

How the statists of France produced rapacious big private water companies is one of life’s many delightful mysteries. But one thing they’re not short of is loot. And a deeply held, croissant fuelled desire to make more.

Victoria needs a desal plant. We might wondered whether that was true in the past. It might give us harder water that tastes funny but it’s better than having none at all.

Because of that need and our relatively wealthy society’s ability to pay for what we need, the desal plant is almost certainly going to be a good deal for those who invest in it.

From The Age’s world view, private investment in infrastructure like that is unwelcome as are desal plants generally because we should all go back to the caves rather than use the money and natural resources we have to keep the water flowing.

So they run a highly dubious – and soon to be thoroughly disproved – story on their front page declaring it dead.

It’s almost as if they write about the world as they dream it to be, rather than reporting news in the way traditionalists might expect.

And today from “Curly” Austin, an even worse effort. A yarn that explained the Liberals were having a crack at the Victorian government over bushfire warnings.

It relied on a document that was given to fire chiefs that warned of the fires.

Trouble was the story had already been written by Gerard McManus of the Herald Sun and was published there on page 17 on February 25. Here it is.

Andrew McIntosh has probably made a political mistake in pursuing the government over warnings. Not that he shouldn’t be critical of some things but I doubt most voters will question Brumby’s very hardcore warning on the Friday before the fires and government agencies’ actions even prior to that.

The warnings were there. They weren’t fully comprehended, that’s certainly true.

But McIntosh is just doing his job and having a go. The worst risk – we suppose – is not taking any. We think he’s better off waiting for the Royal Commission which will no doubt reveal many things the government would rather not be revealed.

It’s the Opposition’s job to oppose. It’s Paul Austin’s job to report news. Not to recycle his opposition’s story from more than a fortnight ago, badge it as an exclusive and pretend they obtained a secret briefing for the first time.

It’s journalism of the most deceitful and misleading kind.

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