This category contains 22 posts

All the cocks a’crowing, each on their own dunghill

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Welcome to the Year of the Rooster and Your Girl Reporter’s first post for 2017. In honour of the Lunar New Year I thought we’d kick off with a look at the prospects of some of the leading lights in our political firmament with a little help from the ancient Chinese zodiac. It makes as much sense as anything else that’s going on in this crazy old world. Continue reading


There’s a lesson from Brexit and how Britain regrets it

Regular viewers will know that Your Girl Reporter takes a winter break from the blog each year and here in Ipswich – west but not too far west of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia – the cold weather is finally here. Chill winds are blowing. A darkness is spreading across the Earth and the lamps are going out all over Europe. But while it’s nippy in the Ippy, the sun’s out and we are far away from events and their implications for the future.

And that’s a good thing. In these uncertain times there’s a lot of fear and ugliness and division about but, thankfully, not in my back yard which is going to get my focus for the next few weeks, bar a little trip to a local school for a vote and a sausage.

That’s how we do democracy here in Australia where voting is compulsory and polling stations are located conveniently close to where people live. As Your Girl Reporter observed at the last Queensland elections, the accompanying sausage sizzle – an important fundraiser for schools – is not an optional add-on. Continue reading

Australian election campaign no longer a one-horse race

And they’re off! After shooting himself in the foot with almost every step towards the starting gates it appears Malcolm Turnbull has managed to save a bullet for the starter’s pistol. The turnaround in the fortunes of our two political leaders since I checked out their Chinese New Year horoscopes in February, at the start of the turbulent Year of the Monkey, suggests this race is far from decided.

The first opinion poll of the campaign has the two major parties neck and neck with pundits predicting a tight race, but ultimately Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative Coalition is expected to prevail against the Australian Labor Party’s Bill Shorten.

But what do their Chinese horoscopes say? Your intrepid Girl Reporter investigates.

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Monkey business ahead for Malcolm, Bill and Tony

Zodiac wheelWhat does the Year of the Monkey have in store for 2016? Since it’s an election year I thought it would be fun to check out the Chinese horoscopes for our political leaders.

Our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was born in the Year of the Horse; the leader of Her Majesty’s (for now) loyal Opposition Bill Shorten was born in the Year of the Goat; and the unofficial leader of the disloyal opposition Tony Abbott is a Rooster. Your Girl Reporter had little choice but to investigate.  Continue reading

Words matter – but don’t shoot the press officer

The path from shrinking newsrooms to the bulging corridors of corporate communications and government media units is a well-trodden one. Many journalists, your own Girl Reporter included, have sought a crust by writing press releases. Some of them may even have been poorly worded. Continue reading

Exercising suffrage insufferable without a sausage

It was a bleak day for Democracy in Queensland on Saturday, 31 January 2015. As voters went to the polls, something didn’t smell right. An important element was missing. And its absence was to cost the premier Campbell Newman dear.

His decision to call a snap summer election meant most of the people responsible for maintaining this bedrock of our democratic process were on their long summer break. It wasn’t only Can-Do Newman’s party that was taken by surprise. 

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This machine still kills fascists

Any faint hope that a new year would shine a light in the growing darkness enveloping our planet was quickly shattered with the slaughter of a bunch of cartoonists working for an obscure publication in a language I never really got to grips with. The response from around the world was quick but not unequivocal. If the millions marching in Paris and elsewhere did so to affirm Fraternité and Égalité – and I like to think they did – that message was soon lost in the rush to claim the Liberté to offend.  Continue reading

A dangerous little question: Why shouldn’t Hong Kong people decide?

Why shouldn’t Hong Kong people decide what happens to Hong Kong? It’s a simple question with a straightforward and, I fear, unchanging answer – China won’t tolerate it. The received wisdom was that Hong Kong people weren’t interested in democracy, they just wanted to get on with making money untroubled by questions of politics, so why even ask the question.

Unfortunately for the received wisdom, every time the question was asked – no matter how obliquely – it was answered quite differently by the people most closely affected.

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O Power of Scotland, when will we see your like again

Reports of the death of democracy, friends, have been greatly exaggerated. An 11th hour boost to its flagging heart has demonstrated, just in time, that there’s life in the old girl yet. It turns out that giving people a genuine say in the issues that affect them works. The Scottish referendum simply didn’t play out as intended. It was supposed to be an easy skate home for the status quo. Instead, it turned into a genuine debate of some very complex issues which engaged a nation and captivated the world.

From the sidelines, for purely romantic reasons, I was shouting ‘yes’ – Just do it, Scotland. Make new groovy friends in the Nordic Circle and build something new on the back of your long history of innovation, entrepreneurial risk- taking and general doggedness and just do it.

Luckily for the Scots, I am merely an interested observer. I have a bit of Scottish somewhere in there, but certainly not enough in my mongrel mix to claim any skin in the game.

But the movement and colour of Twitter’s #indyref comment forum as it started to look like ‘yes’ might just get up got me thinking about the enormous presence of the Scots in the fading corners of the Empire from which I hail.  Continue reading

Clive and the carbon tax – the stuff of nightmares

It’s Abbott Hour, when I settle down to the ironing and think about how much more it would cost to get it done commercially because something something carbon tax.

Australia’s Minister for Women would, I’m sure, be pleased to know that I use this time constructively. As a female citizen of this great nation I’ve been worrying, as instructed, about the soaring cost of lamb roasts and the fate of my friends and relations in Whyalla.

After years of all this ironing-induced anxiety I was expecting a huge burden to have lifted this week when I settled down to press the current Mr Baxter’s shirts but the carbon tax is still here and now I don’t know what to think. 
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Your Girl Reporter is now filing as Maria Spackman at www.mariaspackman.com Same great content, whole new website. I’m leaving Sally Baxter up, as I can’t quite bring myself to let her go completely, but it’s time to honour my family name – and use it. Hope you’ll join me for the Further Adventures of a Girl Reporter. It’ll be fun.