May 24, 2012 | Graham

Give blogs to us, not tame think tanks

News that no-one visits the two blogs that the federal government will give $53,000 over three months to a couple of think tanks to run is hardly surprising. We foretold it all 13 years ago when we set up On Line Opinion and The National Forum, and it’s been confirmed many times since.

Online publishing and engagement is a specialist field and it requires not just specialists operators, but organisations that bring their own audience, reputation and ethos.

Governments are generally hopeless at this sort of thing, so the federal government was heading in the right direction, but with the wrong operators.

If you were going to outsource your blogs, why wouldn’t you give them to an organisation that:

  • Already publishes widely in the areas you are interested in
  • Has an established audience of 80,000 influential readers with a propensity to comment and engage
  • Performs widely respected online research with a panel of 13,000
  • Pioneered online political consultation in Australia – we hosted a series of discussions on the way forward for Labor involving Mark Latham, Carmen Lawrence and Lindsay Tanner in 2002
  • Understands not just social media, but viral marketing
  • Has a reputation for fierce independence and impartiality
  • Is so efficient it has dispensed with even the smell from the oily rag?
It’s ironic that at the moment we’re running a feature on the bequest of Labor to the nation, and despite offering a free kick to any Labor member or supporter who wants to publish on our site we’re scratching for content.
Quite simply we think that Labor has a story to tell, but I’m finding it frustrating finding anyone to tell it.
It seems this government  not only doesn’t know a good thing when it sees one, but is happy to invest in a couple of duds.
But we don’t hold any grudges. We’d even be happy to help the Lowy Institute and the Australia Institute of International Affairs make a success of their own efforts…for a fee. But this site and this site aren’t going to cut it.



Posted by Graham at 5:41 pm | Comments (16) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Has it ever occured to you Graham, that Govts do not want the truth.They want the means to spin themselves out of trouble.They want think tanks to fit their particular agendas,not independant thinkers who can improve the lot of the masses.

    This is one of the reasons why Labor is going down the toilet.

    Comment by Ross — May 24, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  2. Certainly has Ross, but I can but put us out there. I think our online consultation on the future of the ALP was up there with best practice. I’ll have to job Hughie Brown’s elbow. He was the one who ran it. Had a good ALP pedigree, so a more diplomatic choice than me even though I did a lot of the behind the scenes work.

    Comment by Graham — May 24, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  3. Graham I think Labor are using OLO very seriously, although not quite in the way you foresee or hoped for.

    The way that a stream of Labor thinkers/supporters, as distinct from the usual suspects, continue to appear for a couple of months or so, talking up even the most ridiculous of this governments actions & policies tells us so.

    These people I believe, are detailed to push the Labor point of view. The fact that they always agree forcefully with every government line indicates to me that they are probably government staffers. No mere supporter could agree with everything either party promoted.

    Do these people burn out quickly? Or are they removed from such a confronting display of the truth that they must be relieved, before they become converted/contaminated?

    Comment by Hasbeen — May 25, 2012 @ 11:07 am

  4. Yes Graham,you have kept standards high over the last 13 yrs but be careful of those with big pockets that now seek to buy your success.

    Zibigniew Brezezinski the chief policy adviser to Jimmy Carter says that there is ” A global political awakening” and OLO is part of this new awareness.Stay independant even in the face of oblivian.

    Comment by Ross — May 25, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

  5. Graham do you think that it would be a good idea for the Govt to spend time listening to the nonsense and whinging that seems to be the refrain of so many of your contributors – eg Hasbeen. Not that there is anything wrong with Hasbeen; he is sometimes somewhere near correct, but his name – and his disdain for other people – says it all. For a psychologist anyway.

    I don’t think that I am the only one who has noticed that quite a few of your contributors, as well as the commenters, don’t really have much insight into the problems Australia does have; they seem to mistakenly think this is the US or something and we are up the creek. In reality, Australia is doing well – yay Australia!

    I think many of your commenters read only The Australian and perhaps Quadrant; that would be on one of their good days, when their cognitive juices are flowing particularly well. They don’t seem to have any idea that there are two sides to any question; it’s one eyed partisanship all the way.

    Very seldom do they offer constructive opinions backed up by evidence and a logical argument. Often they are not even prepared to respond with courtesy, and interest in the opposing viewpoint. Oh, forget that last one, of course they wouldn’t be interested in the ‘other’ viewpoint. There is only one truth isn’t there and you on the right have always known what is right and wrong.

    Love your site though, many laughs to be had and there are some very intelligent and well-informed people who consistently do offer useful ideas, presented with rationality and kindness.

    But, your site is not up to scratch for serious ideas. It would make us look like a doofus nation. I do think you ‘should’ get funding though but wouldn’t you worry about serfdom? Govt support is the road to serfdom. you know that.

    Welfare inevitably leads to the destruction of taking responsibility for yourself. Don’t get sucked in as Ross above says. I agree with Ross and his expert source for the idea that there is a ‘global political awakening’. Well sort of.

    What is happening is a growing global awareness of how wrong the neo-liberal ideas were; that the merger between conservatives and the ‘greed is good’ brigade was an unholy alliance that brought us great material wealth at the expense of psychological and spiritual health and wealth and it came at the expense of the family and other foundational structures of European civilization.

    Hopefully we will be able to reconstruct something that works for everyone from the remains of all those awful 20th century ideologies.

    Comment by Julie Thomas — May 26, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  6. Julie Thomas,you have no idea about the depth of my consciousness. You are a light weight in terms of political and social awareness.

    If you want to educate yourself,see this site;

    Comment by Ross — May 26, 2012 @ 10:27 pm

  7. Julie, if you want to have arguments with people on the forum, why not have them there, not here? It’s not appropriate to try to victimise someone like Hasbeen who is on another site and can’t even respond to your comments because he doesn’t know they are being made. And it’s inappropriate to single someone out like that anyway.

    I think the discussion on OLO is up there with the best, and would actually show the rest of the world what Australians can do. But I wouldn’t think of keeping the conversation just on the basis of forum comments where you do get a lot of lowest common denominator intellectual thought. I’d use our surveying techniques as well.

    As for slavery – when you’re providing a service for a fee it is a lot different than being owned. I’d be happy to take the government’s money without being worried it would compromise my independence.

    Comment by Graham — May 27, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  8. Graham, I’m quite sure Hasbeen can look after himself and if he is bothered by my criticism – which I doubt – he would be a hypocrite to complain as he does far more character assassinations than are warranted lol.

    Ross your site does not work? Like your ideas? But thanks for your analysis of my ability to understand the current situation; I am humbled by your obvious superiority in the area of … well, in all areas of intellectual discussion I suspect that you think you would ‘win’ hands down.

    So little insight some of us have into our limitations.

    Comment by Julie Thomas — May 27, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  9. Sorry Julie Thomas, The correct site for Global Resarch is not .com/

    Comment by Ross — May 27, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  10. Julie, I’ll delete any further comments about Hasbeen. You’re continuing to mention him is hardly a demonstration of the high intellectual debate you apparently favour..

    Comment by Graham — May 27, 2012 @ 5:17 pm

  11. Julie Thomas.I view OLO as a like between the reality of Global Research and the ordinary populace who have no idea of how they are enslaved.

    OLO has articles of enormous range that the popular media will not even consider.OLO cannot print the reality in one swoop, since the general populace won’t believe it.

    The left/right paradigm is contrived to enslave the masses.Google “The Secret of Oz” by Bill Still.’The Wizard of Oz’ by L Frank Baum for told the GFC that now oppresses much of our humanity.

    Comment by Ross — May 27, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  12. Oh dear Graham, you seem to showing your authoritarian/conservative/patronising colours by threatening me with deletion. You are silencing me on a topic that I think is essential for any useful public discussion site; the topic of what constitutes a ‘good or useful’ way for people to talk to each other. Forgive me for using a real example of non-productive, but very amusing, style of interaction.

    Ross, the new link works and I agree with your concern for the way the world is going wrong; the issues raised on your site are very scary but my understanding of the ‘real’ problems are from a different perspective.

    It is such a complex and confusing world that I think we all need to keep talking about our particular individual concerns but also to ‘listen’ and try to understand why other people disagree with us.

    As a psychologist, my focus is on the way we humans behave toward each other; my beliefs and expertise are in the area of understanding how our unexamined assumptions influence our behaviour without us being aware of these unconscious assumptions we make.

    People are different, but the differences we have should not be seen as a ‘war’ which one side needs to win; it would be better for us to negotiate a position on morals/values/ethics that we can all agree on and then we can have two different ‘sides’ of politics who disagree without the nastiness and personal attacks.

    Comment by Julie Thomas — May 28, 2012 @ 7:40 am

  13. Julie,it is very simple.Make your point but don’t indulge in personal attacks.

    Comment by Ross — May 28, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  14. Ross

    You would expect a psychologist to have better honed her skills to influence and help other people. Alas! intellectual snobbery and personal attacks appear to be more her style. Ah well….

    Comment by Kay Kelly — May 31, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  15. My only qualification -“Ancient of Days” – my foundation – a non religious follower of Jesus Christ – my anguish is that looking into the past I see the breakdown of the Bibical knowledge of righteousness which leads to moral anr/or ethical collapse of a male/female famil life and now I fear for the young as history suggests political anachy will follow. I wonder what would happen if the face of politics at question time in ‘Oz’ had one side became NON adversorial and ignored the other by offering us encouraging and truthful leadership concerned only to be servants to the people

    Comment by Wal Tresise — June 4, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  16. Don’t worry about defending me Graham. I have spent a lifetime carrying people like Julie without a problem, after all they are pretty light weight.

    I was finding it very amusing watching Julie.

    She has absolutely no idea of what motivates me, or even what I think or believe. It really is amusing watching people who have to blurt out their qualifications, to try to make themselves, or their opinion more respected.

    Comment by Hasbeen — June 7, 2012 @ 2:03 am

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