June 2022

Frank Avis by | July 11, 2022 | 2020s Politics

No great drama in the latest radio ratings with Ben Fordham leading 2GB to another solid victory ahead of the FM-ers KISS and SMOOTH. The main interest in the second half of the year appears to be whether Kyle and Jackie O can pick up another couple of points and challenge Ben in Breakfast.

A bit of ancient radio history attached with an autographed photo of Mike Walsh from the old Mike Walsh Show at 3XY. I'm sitting here with memories of over 50 years ago recalling the old team of Mike Walsh, Frank Avis, Barry Seeber and Pam Peters with the occasional guest appearance by our beloved Chief Engineer, Wally Chamberlain, if somebody accidentally left the studio door open.

Mike Walsh

And can you allow me another bit of nostalgic licence to include a really nice "thank you note" from a bonza bloke "Gentleman Jim (Sir James) Hardy, the Olympic yachtsman and the man who led our original mission to take the fabled America's Cup, through the 70s.

Sir James Hardy

Well the voters have spoken in Election '22 and it ended pretty much as all the scribes predicted, including Yours Truly. Anthony Albanese sneaked across the line on preferences while the Greens and assorted "independents" took the Liberals to the cleaners in the inner city. It was a nightmare for the major parties with Labor ending up taking office on a primary vote of around 33%, something that hasn't happened in the post-war era. We'll be governed by a party that 67% of the population didn't vote for. This is the new political reality. Letter to the Editor writer David Rose from WA drew our attention to this, observing that Canberra would have to deal with a new player, "a climate class with their lattes and laptops". Commentator Chris Kenny calls them, "the fake Independents, who effectively argued that somehow, they could alter the nation's climate and limit our suffering from natural disasters. The proposition is an absurdity but what is even more preposterous is that the Liberal Party never challenged it." Actually I didn't see any signs of the Liberals challenging anything. The opposition started its campaign about 18 months ago, a clearly orchestrated plan, involving Labor, the Greens and a bevy of climate change advocates who mounted a massive operation aimed at demonising Scott Morrison. The message was clear – whatever was wrong with the world it was all Morrison's fault. COVID, the bushfires, the floods, the rising cost of living – blame ScoMo. Look at what he did over COVID - having the audacity to tell Beijing that we needed to have a transparent enquiry into how it started. Is he stupid – triggering all those Chinese retaliatory trading responses? Doesn't he know how to lie down and let the Chinese tanks roll over the top of him? Then there's the alleged rape of a staff member in Parliament House. Where was ScoMo? Why didn't he run to her rescue? Where's a Prime Minister when you need one? This message was repeated and repeated, proving the old advertising adage, "If you repeat the message often enough, and long enough, they'll believe it". They did. The problem is no one challenged it.

The LNP Election campaign is one of the most astonishing exercises in my experience. There was this recurring theme of "it won't be easy with Albanese" which sounded like a lot of negative, luke-warm waffle. And who wants to spend thousands of dollars with a theme mentioning your opponent?

The Government campaign was like being trapped in a lift forced to listen to Victor Silvester's ballroom orchestra playing his top Fox Trot hits from the 40s. You couldn't call it colourless, it wasn't that good. Anybody with any experience in mass marketing could have told them that they had to go all out positive. Get out and plug the amazing economic comeback since the epidemic – unemployment down below 4% – Australia's back folks – we're one of the hottest economies in the world. This wasn't the time for a Bill Lawry innings of survival: get Victor Trumper out there team, to start whacking the bowlers back over their heads. No, not a sausage. ScoMo was treading water and whatever happened to his front bench team – Josh Frydenberg and Peter Dutton? Were they out there defending their leader? I don't know if any tactic could have kept the LNP in power but, struth, couldn't they have gone down with a bit of fight? I don't know who organised this alleged campaign but they need to return to their original career – almost certainly in accounting. At least Albo managed to scratch out a majority of 77 seats, which means the new Labor Government won't be forced to depend on a field of one-trick ponies.

I recently had one of those chilling moments when for a brief time I saw the future. It was just a second or two on BBC or SKY TV showing the Royal carriage trundling along the street during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Celebrations – a gold-encrusted carriage drawn by horses but Instinctively I said to myself, "This is completely inappropriate." In modern parlance, "bad PR". For a brief period I think I saw the end of the Monarchy. I sort of like the British Royal family – sorry but I have to admit it – all that history - Henvy v. Elizabeths I and II. It's all such a part of the British fabric but, honestly, I think it's gone. Once the Queen passes I've got this feeling the whole thing will just gradually dissolve to black. I mean here we are, millions of Brits can't afford to pay their energy bills (God knows what'll happen to them in the Northern winter). Millions are scratching to afford just their basic bangers and mash. The cost of living is catastrophic – food, petrol – it's all going berserk. COVID is killing millions (we're losing around 40 lives a day here in Australia) while Russia continues its barbaric invasion of Ukraine. And what am I looking at on British TV? A golden Royal coach parading down a street in London. Don't see that passing the pub test in good ol' Blighty.

At last a promising end to our long-running search for that elusive hot, new(?) TV crime drama. I am so excited. Recently I was reading a TV preview in an out-of-the-way publication where the critic went full-on about an LA-based detective series, Bosch. Trouble is he was talking about the 8th season coming up in 2022. What - a top rated TV crime drama, going into its 8th year and I've never heard of it? Not on my cable network, not on mainstream TV. Where has this little masterpiece been hiding? It took some hard sleuthing from our researcher Darleen who eventually tracked it down on something called Prime Video. We are half way through after several long, long nights and OMG it is gritty and glorious. Think Law and Order (remember the beloved Lennie?), NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues, even Dirty Harry. I'm promising you that, within 10-15 minutes, you'll be immediately in love with our lead Detective Harry Bosch, brilliantly played by Titus Welliver. And ditto for the rest of the team – Bosch's daughter, Harry's partner, his Lieutenant and a couple of laconic detectives, the Heckle and Jeckyl of the squad room, including the guy with the 1940s hat. Just sit back, relax and soak it in, ok? As Harry would say, "Copy that."

I was sitting with my partner Darleen watching her beloved Eels in the NRL when the defence had to take a kick from the goal line. The player sent a 40 metre drop-kick up the field. Later in the match, with the scores dead level and just minutes to play, one of the players attempted a field goal, which would have given them a one point win. Again, it was a drop kick. There and then the reality hit me: the only place I could see a drop kick in 2022 would be in Rugby League. One of the most iconic features of Aussie Rules had been deleted from the game. Over 100 years of watching the majestic drop kick had disappeared. Apparently a group of coaches – Norm Smith, John Kennedy Snr and Ron Barassi – decided the drop was too unreliable. It just mysteriously vanished. And the VFL/AFL – the keepers of the flame, the people who are supposed to protect the legacy of our game – apparently just sat there unmoved. How did we, the fans, let that happen? What about all that history. Fred Goldsmith grabbing the ball at full back and thumping a long, driving drop up the field, or Fred Swift crunching one to the centre where it was marked by Bill Barrott who pumped a massive 60-metre drop into the goal square. Watching Bustling Billy latch on to a big drop was like going to football heaven. What about Syd Jackson getting on to one in the centre square or Barry Cable letting fly from the half back flank to centre half forward? When Barry got to North Melbourne from the West, coach Ron Barassi took him aside and told him to forget the drop kick... Just replace it with the drop punt... Barry, the Prince of the Drop Kick and Stab pass just shrugged and said, "Ok Ron, you're the boss." Can you really just air-brush all of this from our treasured game?

"I despair of being able to convey to any reader my own idea of the beauty of Sydney Harbour. I have seen nothing equal to it in the way of land-locked sea scenery - nothing second to it. It is so inexpressibly lovely..." (1873)

—Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)

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This is the history of radio newsman Frank Avis who worked in the Australian electronic media from 1954 to 1996.


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