Tommy the Teeth kick-starts legislation as Cash Conroy swallows merde muffin

The photo of Julia Gillard flanked by a taciturn Stephen Conroy in the Sydney Morning Herald told it all. Gillard was announcing new proposed legislation to ban the spruiking of live odds during sports broadcasts, two years after it had promised to crack down on the controversial form of betting advertising.

In the photo Cash Conroy looked as if he’d just eaten a merde muffin and it was no surprise when he came out later and said that television was struggling and “cannot give up betting revenue”. In The Age article written by Heath Ashton, Conroy is quoted as saying that “Labor has cut more than $250 million from the cost of doing business for television networks since 2010 but the industry can’t afford to forgo the advertising dollar of betting companies”. This revenue is estimated at $40 million a year. Cash went on to say that life had become ‘‘harder and harder’’ for the commercial free-to-air stations despite the government’s decision to halve the licence fees for them and award two free digital channels each.

All this is rather amusing. A Senator, allegedly a Labor Senator goes into bat for an industry that’s dished up a decade of simple news stew that has been heavily flavoured with proprietor prejudice and limited facts. Why would Conroy give them a break? Stuff them. Let them slip into the new media pond and if they cannot swim then let them sink. Would we miss another Current Affair or Footy Show? Perhaps Cash drives a Ford?

No, Cash Conroy has bigger fish to fry. Cash is of the right – a conservative – a big picture fellow. These are the ones who have read a few economics books and think the market with a little twist can be trusted to self-regulate. He is a catholic and was born in England. Enough said. He obviously doesn’t think imagination is an important character trait either as to listen to Cash speak on media matters is like listening to an accountant explain Section 79A of the Taxation Act on loop.

What is the most amazing thing here is that it took a short, suited spiv with flashing gnashers to get some federal legislative action on gaming advertising.

What sort of flimsy cheese-hearted politicians are these. According to a poll in the SMH 94% of people say that the restrictions are welcome news but a whopping 62% say they do not go far enough. Why would Gillard and Conroy go part of the way – why would they not drop their strides and get stuck in? Already the Chubby Checker of state politics, Twister O’Farrell has played them off a break by saying it doesn’t go far enough. Twister is calling for a blanket ban on gambling advertising during live sports events, as well as a crackdown on online betting, saying Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s reforms are ”far too little”.

So at a time when we see the Waterhorse brand trashed and struggling we see another brand struggling too. The Labor brand has been so watered down that it is unrecognisable. Once a value driven brand it is now purely poll driven. Tommy Waterhorse has the Liberal/National Party at tomato sauce odds of $1.05 and Labor, drifting and unwanted at $8. Labor is “off” and you don’t need Blue Tongue’s mates to tell you. The unregulated markets have spoken and told us that they have about as much chance as a bubble through a mincer.