Republican Party schism: Is the Tea Party leading the GOP into electoral oblivion

To the outside world the the dazzling buffoonery and extravagant self-regard of the Trump presidential campaign is the clearest indicator that the Republican Party might be travelling a dark path, perhaps to a dead end.
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How could a man so clearly suited to reality TV and real estate rather than presidential authority be leading the polls in a race for the nomination for the Grand Old Party?

But in DC the clearest sign of the same malaise is not Trump’s early success, but the crucifixion of the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, and the party’s catastrophic failure to replace him at a vote this week.

In American politics, the House Speaker is a position of extraordinary stature. The Speaker is second in line of succession to the presidency after the Vice-President. And unlike the VP, the Speaker has real power.

As Speaker, Boehner is the highest elected member of his party; in effect if not title he is the Republican Party leader, at least until a candidate for the presidency is nominated.

He is also a man not unknown to express his emotions in public.

A fortnight ago Boehner, a Catholic, wept as he welcomed Pope Francis to the chamber to become the first ever pontiff to address a joint sitting of the US Congress, and an hour later he wept again as he escorted the Pope onto the Speaker’s Balcony of the Capitol Building to greet the 50,000 well-wishers who had gathered on the National Mall to greet him.

The following day he strode into a press conference room in the bowels of the Capitol singing, actually singing, “Zip a doo dah, zip a dee day,” and quit his miserable job.

Fear and loathing

Boehner ascended to the speakership in 2011. This was just after the 2010 midterm elections, which had resulted in a sweeping success for the Republican Party after it waged an all-out campaign against Barack Obama, and in particular against Obamacare.

When the votes were counted the Republican Party held control of both houses of Congress and 31 governorships across the country.

It had been a campaign marked by fear and loathing. Obama, it was said at town hall meetings set up by the Tea Party movement (attended by grassroots, but often quietly funded by anti-tax billionaires) across the country, was planning to set up death panels across the country to kill off the elderly.

The President, it was claimed by elements of this far-right movement, was variously a communist, an anti-colonialist Kenyan, a Muslim Manchurian candidate. (Indeed 43 per cent of Republicans still believe Obama is a Muslim.)

Looking back on how such nonsense took hold in the mindset of a major party, people point to different causes.

Some blame Fox News, which championed the Tea Party and gave voice to fringe elements. Some blame racism. Others point to fears stoked by the crippling recession that threatened to wipe out the livelihoods of a generation of working and middle-class Americans, particularly those of the manufacturing belt that had created the American century.

The same people felt threatened by rapidly changing demographics and mass immigration.

There is doubtless truth to all these explanations, but it is probably worth noting that mistrust of established politics and rising extremism has been a phenomenon experienced not just in America, but in Europe and to an extent in .

In any event, the effect on Congress was immediate and profound.

The incoming class of Republican congressmen and women in 2010 contained a hard-core minority that had campaigned not just on defeating Obama, but on defeating Washington itself.

The GOP establishment soon found the hardliners were utterly unmanageable, and that their demands were often radical enough that they threatened to do damage not only to the President’s agenda, but the Republican Party, and the very institution of Congress.

They sought not to govern, not even to oppose, but to wreck, to literally diminish the government and prevent it from going about its business.

They were and are loyal to the Republican Party only to the extent that they can harness the party to achieve these goals.

At first the gulf between the anti-government Tea Party and the small-government Republican establishment did not seem to be too great.

This was because the establishment had already embarked on a policy of total obstruction to all Obama initiatives. This strategy, which breaks with the modern American tradition, was settled upon at a meeting in a DC steakhouse called the Caucus Room held by the Republican strategist Frank Luntz and attended by GOP congressional leaders on the very day of Obama’s inauguration.

Those in attendance – including former speaker Newt Gingrich and future Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan – had just seen a crowd of a million people cheer on the National Mall as Obama swore his oath of office.

The sight had horrified them. Obama, they decided, presented an existential threat to the GOP, and he needed not only to be blocked, but discredited.

So at first the coalition between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment worked together in blocking the White House agenda.

The cracks started to show in 2011 when the Tea Party freshmen embarked on a strategy of hostage-taking.

Unless Obama agreed to their demands for tax cuts, the GOP would refuse to pass authority needed to allow the administration to pay the nation’s debts.

Plunging into default would be catastrophic, potentially putting the nation and the world back into the pits of the great recession they had not yet recovered from.

Just the threat of it was enough to prompt Standard & Poor’s to strip America of its AAA rating for the first time.

“The downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges,” the agency observed at the time.

Obama made concessions, and the debts were paid, but Obama vowed he would never again give in to a group that he said would take the nation’s economy hostage for their political gain.

And he never did, but the Tea Party never gave up on the tactic.

In 2013 it coerced Boehner into threatening to block monetary supply unless Obama repealed his signature healthcare reform. Obama refused and the government shutdown for 15 days in October, costing about $24 billion or, according to Standard & Poor’s, 0.6 per cent of annualised fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth.

The majority of the public rightly blamed the Republican Party.

A government employee protests over the shutdown at the US Capitol in 2013. Photo: Karen Bleier

This year the Tea Party right, now organised as the “Freedom Caucus”, is demanding that the Republican leaders shut down the government unless Obama pulls $US500 million federal government funding from Planned Parenthood, the reproductive health, non-profit organisation that provides healthcare – including abortions – to poor women across the country.

Boehner has refused, not because he has any love for Planned Parenthood – he is a pro-life Catholic – but because he knows the tactic will not work. He knows Obama will refuse, the government will shut down, the public will blame Republicans.

Two of the most respected scholars of Congress in Washington, DC, are Thomas Mann, of the Brookings Institution, and Norm Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute.

Writing in The Washington Post about a Congress that not only does nothing, but also tries to prevent anyone else from governing, Mann and Ornstein were unsparing: “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticised both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

Some time this year, Boehner decided he had had enough. Though he was as conservative a man as had occupied his position in a generation or more, he spent his weeks being white-anted and heckled by Tea Party elements of his own party as a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and his weekends travelling the country raising funds for them.

So after he met the Pope, Boehner announced his resignation – while singing – and the Freedom Caucus cheered another success.

Then, on Thursday, Republican members gathered to elect a new leader, and it was universally accepted that Kevin McCarthy, a man to the right of Boehner, would walk into the job.

Instead, he pulled his candidacy in the very meeting that was expected to elect him. There are two competing rumours about his resignation – one, that right-wing Republican elements planned to spread rumours that he had had an affair, and another that he had refused to bow to Tea Party demands that he again force a shutdown.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, pulls out of the race for Speaker. Photo: Drew Angerer

The chaos within the Republican Party in Congress is being amplified outside it.

With America congressional districts so effectively gerrymandered, Republican members and candidates no longer fear attack from the Democratic left, but from the Republican right.

This has led to the party becoming increasingly divorced from mainstream politics.

Views that once would have been considered radical are now orthodox in the GOP, and the new orthodoxy has taken hold in the presidential primaries, which have so far been dominated by Tea Party-style outsiders – people like Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

Trump made his name in the Tea Party movement as a champion of the “birther movement”, claiming that Obama was ineligible to serve as president because he was not a true American citizen.

He has leveraged this into a presidential campaign built on a platform founded on three preposterous promises – that he can wall off Mexico, that he can make Mexico pay for that wall, and that the US can round up an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants, detain them and then remove them.

Carson, who trails Trump, has made his political impact in the party not so much with preposterous promises but with preposterous statements: Obamacare is worse than slavery, the Holocaust was exacerbated by gun control, evolution is a fairytale.

Next in the polls comes Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, who leapt in the polling by reiterating false claims made about Planned Parenthood by a pro-life group.

They claim to have video evidence that Planned Parenthood profits by selling the body parts of babies born alive and then murdered. The claims have been dismissed as untrue by every fact-checking organisation that has waded through the hours of tape they have provided.

Carly Fiorina, former chairwoman and chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, is a 2016 Republican presidential candidate. Photo: Daniel Acker

Fiorina is unbowed by this evidence, and in this post-modern primary campaign she is being well rewarded for her dogged insistence that fiction is fact.

These three are being trailed by establishment candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. But even these two have bowed to the new orthodoxy.

Bush, son and brother of a president, insists he is a DC outsider, and like Rubio he rails against abortion and denies climate science.

Both have backed away from previous commitments to reform the immigration system, both have advocated tax cuts as the best means to address deficits, a policy dismissed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and described by Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, as “voodoo economics”.

Also in the mix is senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party champion whose strategy so far consists of appeasing Trump supporters in the hope he can scoop them up should Trump implode.

Cruz has gone so far in this effort as to endorse the conspiracy theory that swept the Republican right this year that under the guise of military exercises known as “Jade Helm”, Obama planned to use US Special Forces to invade Texas and imprison dissidents in Walmart outlets.

Cruz said the theory was worthy more study. “My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise,” he told Bloomberg.

So far most observers still predict the insurgent campaigns will fade out over the northern autumn and winter and candidates like Bush and Rubio will come to the fore. But it is unclear how much damage they will have done to the Republican brand in pandering to fringe elements to survive.

And in Congress itself the Freedom Caucus remains utterly unrepentant.

Asked what the renegades wanted to support a candidate for the Speaker’s chair, Dave Brat, the Virginian who took down former House majority leader Eric Cantor in 2014, said: “We want rules, policy, process. We want that on paper ahead of time.”

That is to say, they want the lot – they want total control of the House Republican Party.

After Thursday’s blunder a movement was launched to conscript Ryan, the fiscal hawk, as a compromise candidate who was thought to hold universal regard.

Even as he said he didn’t want the job, a far-right movement against him was formed.

Hours after he announced his withdrawal from the race for the Speaker’s chair McCarthy was asked by the conservative National Review if the House Republicans were ungovernable. “I don’t know,” he said. “Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom.”

He was not alone in his dismal outlook.

“It is total confusion – a banana republic,” the New York Republican Peter King told The Washington Post. “Any plan, anything you anticipate, who knows what’ll happen. People are crying. They don’t have any idea how this will unfold at all.”

And so the Republican Party is heading into the election year split and, so far, leaderless, while the Tea Party cheers at its success at destroying the leaders of the party it occupied as a host organism in 2010.

Boehner has agreed to stay on as Speaker until the mess is sorted out.

After he quit, but before he later agreed to hold on, he told colleagues: “I had this terrible nightmare last night that I was trying to get out and I couldn’t get out. And a hand came reaching, pulling me.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

The El Nino crisis you’ve never heard of

You’d think that with the Ebola outbreak, the Syrian refugee crisis and the Nepal Earthquake we’ve had enough gut-wrenching humanitarian emergencies for one year. But a fresh crisis is brewing in the Horn of Africa and the cause is very familiar to ns: El Nino.
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The warming sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean – dubbed El Nino – is causing dryer than usual conditions in eastern . On Thursday the Bureau of Meteorology warned its impact is likely to intensify in the months ahead stoking the risk of drought and bushfire. This El Nino is so strong it has been described as “Godzilla” and much of the country has already experienced scorching October temperatures. But El Nino is also playing havoc in the Horn of Africa. It has been blamed for the failure of crucial mid-year rains across vast swathes of Ethiopia triggering what the United Nations calls a “slow onset” emergency.

The number estimated to be in need of emergency food assistance in drought-stricken regions of Ethiopia has surged from 4.5 million to about 7.5 million since August. More than 300,000 children are already severely malnourished and the UN warns that 15 million people could need assistance by next year. Food shortages are set to worsen over the next six months as the El Nino event keeps large parts of the country dry well into 2016. In neighbouring Somalia a further 855,000 people are reportedly in need “life-saving assistance” and the UN warns 2.3 million more people there are “highly vulnerable”.

It’s only four years since I witnessed first-hand how devastating drought in the Horn of Africa can be. In mid-2011 I travelled to the Dadaab refugee camp near Kenya’s border with Somalia to report on the food crisis gripping the region. The massive camp had been swamped by tens of thousands of destitute Somali farming families desperate for food and water. I was shocked by how many malnourished children were not receiving help.

In an attempt to highlight this I visited a group of newly arrived families living in makeshift humpies on the outskirts of the camp and asked if I could check the nutritional status of their young children. I did this by measuring the circumference of the children’s mid-upper arm – one indicator of undernourishment.

Within a few hours I had identified about a dozen badly malnourished children under five years who were not receiving any medical treatment. It was frustrating that better assistance was not available – if I could find these needy children surely the international humanitarian system could? But the lack of resources in the camp was symptomatic of the sluggish donor response to the 2011 Horn of Africa food crisis.

That year aid agencies issued warnings months in advance that drought-affected communities were becoming more and more vulnerable. Yet the response was slow and indecisive. Things got so bad that famine was eventually declared in parts of Somalia. A report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health found more than 260,000 died during the food crisis, the majority of them children.

It looks like the trauma I witnessed four years ago is being repeated. The Ethiopian government is responding to the worsening food crisis but most international donors are yet to heed the warnings.

“It’s like everything we witnessed in 2011 is coming back again,” one frustrated aid worker in Ethiopia told me. “How on earth are we going to feed 7½ million people for six months because the next harvest is not until June? And how do we treat 300,000 kids with severe acute malnutrition? Not only is there no funding but we haven’t procured any food. Even if we had the money, the food procurement pipelines are long and slow … so we’ve found ourselves looking down the barrel of a gun – there’s simply no money and no food in the pipeline.”

Images of malnourished children and parched landscapes in the Horn of Africa are all too familiar. The great Ethiopian famine of 1984 shocked the world and even spawned a new style of celebrity activism with Band Aid in 1984 and the Live Aid concerts in 1985. But Ethiopia is a very different country to the one convulsed by famine in the mid-1980s. Like many other African nations it has experienced years of rapid modernisation and rising living standards.

Even so, the combination of a burgeoning population – which has grown by more than 40 per cent to about 100 million in the past decade – and a critical dependence on rain-fed agriculture means the country is still very exposed to drought. Aid workers based in the Horn of Africa say they can already see a trend towards weather extremes and are alarmed that its just four years since drought triggered a major humanitarian crisis in the region. It underscores how vulnerable the region is to the long-term effects of climate change.

“Parts of the Horn of Africa are already some of the driest places on Earth and they are likely to get dryer over time due to climate change,” said Robert Glasser, the former director general of aid agency Care International. “We’re seeing evidence of these changes already.”

The looming crisis in the Horn of Africa will put additional pressure on an international humanitarian system that is already overstretched. Aid groups are grappling with the enormous refugee crisis triggered by the Syrian conflict along with major emergencies in South Sudan, Iraq, Yemen and the Central African Republic. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are struggling to rebuild after the worst Ebola outbreak in history while in Nepal tens of thousands are still homeless and dependent on assistance following April’s devastating earthquake.

But a repeat of the 2011 Horn of Africa famine must not be allowed. It will test the generosity of wealthy nations like .

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Kyle and Jackie O, Ross and John win top gongs at Chinan Commercial Radio Awards 2015

Kiis FM’s Kyle and Jackie Show won the best on-air FM team award for the fifth time. Photo: Supplied 3AW’s Ross Stevenson, left, and John Burns were named best on-air AM team for the fourth time. Photo: Source: Twitter
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Amanda Keller and Brendan Jones claimed another ACRA for their syndicated program, My Generation. Photo: Supplied

The biggest names in commercial radio partied like it was 2013 at the industry’s annual awards on Saturday night.

Four of the n Commercial Radio Awards top honours – the equivalent of a silver or Gold Logie – were handed to the same winners from two years ago. Indeed, most of the class of 2013 – Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O, Ross Stevenson and John Burns, Neil Mitchell, and Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller – already have a shelf groaning with ACRAs.

At the lavish Gold Coast function, hosted by actor and comedian Stephen Curry, The Kyle and Jackie O Show was named best on-air FM team for the fifth time since 2006. It’s the hosts’ first win since they defected from 2Day FM to Kiis FM, causing their former station’s ratings to plummet.

Despite Sandilands reputation for controversy, he’s (mostly) kept his nose clean at Kiis. Recently, the broadcasting watchdog dismissed a complaint prompted by him calling agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce a “wanker”, a “ponce” and a “gerbil of a thing” during an interview.

Melbourne’s top-rating breakfast team, Ross Stevenson and John Burns of 3AW*, won best on-air AM team, having taken out the prize in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Neil Mitchell, 3AW’s morning host – inducted into the ACRA Hall of Fame in 2007 – claimed best current affairs presenter for the fourth year running.

The weekly My Generation, also a 2013 victor, got another best syndicated n program gong. The show is hosted by WSFM’s popular breakfast presenters, Brendan Jones and Amanda Keller.

Ben Fordham of 2GB, who recently left Channel Nine’s Today show, got his second consecutive best talk presenter prize.

Triple M Sydney’s Paul Gallen, captain of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, won best newcomer on-air and Nova’s drive program Kate, Tim & Marty won best networked program.

Other major winners include Smooth FM’s Ron Wilson (best FM news presenter); FIVEaa’s Anne Stone (best AM news presenter); 3AW’s Tim Lane (best sports presenter); Nova’s Tim Blackwell (best music or entertainment presenter) and Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa (best community service project).

Veteran broadcaster and award-winning journalist Jeremy Cordeaux was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Cordeaux, now FIVEaa’s afternoon presenter, has spent more than five decades in print, television and radio.

The awards are organised by industry body Commercial Radio . A panel of judges – comprised of representatives from all radio networks, and from the advertising, marketing and engineering industries – chooses the winners.

*Fairfax Media, publisher of this article, owns or has interests in stations including 3AW, Magic, 4BC, 2GB, 2UE and 6PR. FULL LIST OF 2015 ACRA WINNERS

Note: category winners are denoted with the following letters: Country>Provincial>Non-Metropolitan>Metropolitan

BEST ON-AIR TEAM – METRO FM

Kyle & Jackie O Show; Kyle Sandilands & Jackie Henderson, KIIS 1065, Sydney NSW, n Radio Network M

BEST ON-AIR TEAM – METRO AM

3AW Breakfast; Ross Stevenson & John Burns, 3AW, Melbourne VIC, Macquarie Radio Network M

BEST ON-AIR TEAM COUNTRY & PROVINCIAL

The Morning Rush; Jon Vertigan & Maria Foundas, 3YB, Warrnambool VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Galey, Ross & Charli for Breakfast; Paul Gale, Charli Robinson & Ross Wallman, Sea FM, Gold Coast QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

BEST ENTERTAINMENT/MUSIC PRESENTER

Ashleigh Blucher; Power FM, Bega NSW, Grant Broadcasters C

Brad Wood; Sea FM, Central Coast NSW, Southern Cross Austereo P

Tim Blackwell; Nova Network, Nova Entertainment M

BEST TALK PRESENTER

Kate O’Bree; 2BS, Bathurst NSW, Bathurst Broadcasters C

Mark Parton; 2CC, Canberra ACT, Capital Radio Network P

Ben Fordham; 2GB, Sydney NSW, Macquarie Radio Network M

BEST CURRENT AFFAIRS PRESENTER

Mark Parton; 2CC, Canberra ACT, Capital Radio Network NM

Neil Mitchell; 3AW, Melbourne VIC, Macquarie Radio Network M

BEST SPORTS PRESENTER

Jock Brady; 3CS, Colac VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Phil Small; 2CC, Canberra ACT, Capital Radio Network P

Tim Lane; 3AW, Melbourne VIC, Macquarie Radio Network M

BEST NETWORKED PROGRAM

Country Today; Don Plenty, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

The Noise; Grant Broadcasters P

Kate, Tim & Marty; Kate Ritchie, Tim Blackwell & Marty Sheargold, Nova Entertainment M

BEST SYNDICATED AUSTRALIAN PROGRAM

My Generation; Authentic Entertainment

BEST MARKETING CAMPAIGN

WSFM Pure Gold Campaign; ARN Marketing Team, WSFM, Sydney NSW, n Radio Network

ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE

Radio Datacast; Dale Sharp, Mix FM & Sea FM, Maroochydore QLD, EON Broadcasting NM

Nova’s Red Room Global Tour; Robert Zamora & John Pearce, Sydney NSW, Nova Entertainment M

BRIAN WHITE MEMORIAL

Stephen Cenatiempo; 2NM, Muswellbrook NSW, Grant Broadcasters

BEST NEWCOMER ON-AIR

Claire Humphery; Snow FM, Jindabyne NSW, Capital Radio Network C

Clare Todhunter; Sea FM, Central Coast NSW, Southern Cross Austereo P

Paul Gallen; Triple M, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M

BEST NEWCOMER OFF-AIR

Justine Blacklock; Star FM, Dubbo NSW, Southern Cross Austereo C

Hannah Schadel; Star FM, Gosford NSW, Nova Entertainment P

Sophie Azzopardi; 2day FM & Triple M 104.9, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M

BEST SPORTS EVENT COVERAGE

2014 AFL Preliminary Final; The K-Rock Football Commentary Team, K-Rock, Geelong VIC, Grant Broadcasters NM

2014 AFL Grand Final; 3AW Football, 3AW, Melbourne VIC, Macquarie Radio Network M

BEST NEWS PRESENTER COUNTRY & PROVINCIAL

Sarah Weir; Hot FM, Tablelands QLD, Southern Cross Austereo C

Rod McLeod; Gold FM, Gold Coast QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

BEST NEWS PRESENTER – METRO FM

Ron Wilson; smoothfm, Sydney NSW, Nova Entertainment M

BEST NEWS PRESENTER – METRO AM

Anne Stone; Fiveaa, Adelaide SA, Nova Entertainment M

BEST DIGITAL RADIO FORMAT

Triple M Modern Rock Digital; Jaime Chaux & Jacqui Kassulke, Adelaide SA & Perth WA, Southern Cross Austereo

BEST SHOW PRODUCER – ENTERTAINMENT/MUSIC

Russell Torrance; Wave FM’s Hot Breakfast, Wave FM, Wollongong NSW, Grant Broadcasters NM

Laura Viglino; Jonesy & Amanda, WSFM, Sydney NSW, n Radio Network M

BEST SHOW PRODUCER – TALK/CURRENT AFFAIRS

Eddie Williams; Canberra Live, 2CC, Canberra ACT, Capital Radio Network NM

Harriet Glenn; Sydney Live with Ben Fordham, 2GB, Sydney NSW, Macquarie Radio Network M

BEST MUSIC DIRECTOR

Gemma Maddox; Max FM, Taree NSW, Super Radio Network C

Kiri Martin; Sea FM, Gosford NSW, Southern Cross Austereo P

Georgina Ingham-Myers; Nova 96.9, Sydney NSW, Nova Entertainment M

BEST PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Dave Drinkell; 3YB, Warrnambool VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Ross Turner; 7HO FM, Hobart TAS, Grant Broadcasters P

Mike Fitzpatrick; Triple M, Melbourne VIC, Southern Cross Austereo M

BEST STATION PRODUCED COMEDY SEGMENT

Raising the Rugrats Cup; Jon Vertigan, 3YB, Warrnambool VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Speak Up Granny; Luke Bradnam, Hot Tomato, Gold Coast QLD, Hot Tomato P

Peppa Pig Reboot; Dave Thornton, Jerimiah Busniak & Dan Anstey, Hit 101.9 Fox FM, Melbourne VIC, Southern Cross Austereo M

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Newcastle Earthquake 25th Anniversary; Nick Blanch, David Dollin, Ross McClymont, Nik Lawson & Mark Brewer, KOFM, Newcastle NSW, Southern Cross Austereo NM

Diary Of An Anzac; Tony Peterson, Cameron Forsyth, Chris Gregson & Matthew Summerill, 2GB, Sydney NSW, Macquarie Radio Network M

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION

Sophie Jackson; 3HA & Mixx FM, Hamilton VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters C

Jaxson McLennan; Star FM, Gosford NSW, Nova Entertainment P

Sideshow Mike Andersen; Triple M, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M

BEST MUSIC SPECIAL

OzMade for the 2014 ARIAs; Henry James, Sea FM, Devonport TAS, Grant Broadcasters C

Aussie Thongs Weekend; Al Dobie, Dennis Guthrie & Chris Crickmay, Gold FM, Gold Coast QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

Richard Wilkins & Michael Buble; Richard Wilkins, Peter Clay & Travis Evans, smoothfm, Nova Entertainment M

BEST STATION SALES ACHIEVEMENT

Sea FM & Mix FM Sales Team; Mix FM & Sea FM, Maroochydore QLD, EON Broadcasting NM

ARN Brisbane Agency Sales Team; KIIS Network, Brisbane QLD, n Radio Network M

BEST AGENCY SALESPERSON

Kim Kerton; Nova 100, Melbourne VIC, Nova Entertainment

BEST DIRECT SALESPERSON

Daniel Brewer; EasyMix 1467 AM, Mildura VIC, Grant Broadcasters C

Casey Gould; KOFM & NXFM, Newcastle NSW, Southern Cross Austereo P

Chelsea Teelow; hit107 & Triple M, Adelaide SA, Southern Cross Austereo M

BEST STATION PRODUCED COMMERCIAL – SINGLE

Stiletto Boots; Mena Soliman & Tony Dean, 5RM, Riverland SA, Grant Broadcasters C

ShedBoss Joke; Nick Giesen & Jacinta Keally, Sea FM, Gladstone QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

Westspecs – Shart; Matt Dickson & Carl Step, Mix 94.5, Perth WA, Southern Cross Austereo M

BEST STATION PRODUCED COMMERCIAL – CAMPAIGN

East Coast Juices; Cameron Horn, David Horspool & Anna Cook, 2GO, Gosford NSW, Southern Cross Austereo NM

Bucket O Beef; Darren Russell & Eddie Bye, Fiveaa, Adelaide SA, Nova Entertainment M

BEST SALES PROMOTION

Honda Lovin’; Bron Davey, Leilani Vakaahi, Benny Hope & Libby Daniewska, B-Rock, Bathurst NSW, Bathurst Broadcasters C

Galey, Ross & Charli’s $30k Buried Treasure; Emma Drennan, Andrea Hodgetts & Matt Innes, Sea FM, Gold Coast QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

Lion King FM; 973FM, Brisbane QLD, n Radio Network M

BEST MULTIMEDIA EXECUTION – SALES

IKEA; Michael Dargan, Tim Ross and Alex Dalrymple, KIIS Network, n Radio Network

BEST MULTIMEDIA EXECUTION – STATION

Sea FM Relaunch; Kasey Radatti, Sea FM, Maroochydore QLD, EON Broadcasting NM

Nova’s Insta Party; Jay Walkerden, Dee Curtis & Matt Jones, Nova 106.9, Brisbane QLD, Nova Entertainment M

BEST STATION PROMOTION

Power Fm’s Schools Breakfast; Power FM, Muswellbrook NSW, Grant Broadcasters C

Room Rules; Hot FM, Townsville QLD, Southern Cross Austereo P

Kyle & Jack Give Back Wedding; KIIS 1065, Sydney NSW, n Radio Network M

BEST PROMOTIONS DIRECTOR

Stephanie Zalfelds; Sea FM & 2GO, Central Coast NSW, Southern Cross Austereo NM

Tim Dwyer; Triple M, Sydney NSW, Southern Cross Austereo M

BEST COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT

East Coast Radiothon for Snowy Hydro SouthCare; Kim Gardner, 2EC, Bega NSW, Grant Broadcasters C

i98FM’s Camp Quality Convoy; i98fm Convoy Team, i98 FM, Wollongong NSW, WIN Network P

Fitzy & Wippa’s Barry The Parody Bear; Ryan Fitzgerald, Michael Wipfli, Carlie Millican & Alison Eveleigh, Nova 96.9, Sydney NSW, Nova Entertainment M

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Rioting on Phuket after pair killed in motorcycle crash

A vehicle burns outside Thalang police station in Phuket, Thailand. Photo: Phuketwan Security forces take to the streets of Phuket in a bid to restore calm after the rioting. Photo: Phuketwan
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A youth argues with security forces personnel after the unrest in Phuket. Photo: Phuketwan

Bangkok: First a choking haze from distant forest fires ruined holidays and forced flight cancellations on the Thai resort island of Phuket.

Then video showing five security guards viciously kicking and elbowing two n tourists outside a nightclub on the island went viral on the internet.

Now, the island’s serenity has been shattered further as an angry mob surrounded a police station and set alight nine cars in protests at the deaths of two locals.

Hundreds of army reinforcements arrived from neighbouring provinces as a mob threatened to set the Thalang police station in central Phuket alight, with police cowering inside on Saturday and early Sunday.

Photographs from inside the police building showed police sheltering in an upper floor. Some windows were smashed.

Up to 500 people outside the building dispersed early on Sunday after a senior military officer promised that their grievances would be heard at a provincial hall meeting.

The online news site Phuketwan reported that a youth aged 17 and a man aged 22 died on Saturday when the motorcycle they were riding crashed.

Police said the pair rode off after being stopped by police on suspicion of possessing illegal drugs.

Gatherings of Thais and public protests have been rare in Thailand since the army toppled a democratically-elected government last year, after months of anti-government street demonstrations.

The ruling junta has moved swiftly to crush dissent, including taking away hundreds of people to military camps for so-called “re-education”.

The haze that has shrouded parts of southern Thailand from forest fires in Indonesia cleared at the weekend.

Meanwhile, the five security guards seen in video assaulting the Mildura men on an end-of-season football trip will escape punishment because the victims left Thailand without making statements to police.

Up to 25,000 ns holiday on Phuket each month.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

You can be cruel like Kevin Spacey when you’re Shaun Micallef in The Ex-PM

Politics with an edge: Shaun Micallef (left) as Andrew Dugdale in The Ex-PM. Photo: ABCShaun Micallef’s new sitcom, The Ex-PM, slyly takes slices off Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne, George Bush, Bob Ellis, Barry Cassidy, Bronwyn Bishop and Alexander Downer in just the first two episodes. Why is it so vicious? Micallef purports to be shocked. “I was trying to be family friendly, mainstream and warm and you’re saying it’s turned into a version of what I’ve done for the last 20 years,” he says in a hurt tone.
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Well, yes, although there’s also some well-paced farce, slapstick and a few drops of poignancy that show the influence of Micallef’s heroes Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Groucho Max, Neil Simon and Peter Sellers.

Micallef has been ‘s most successful political satirist of the 21st century (along with John Clarke, who also stars in The Ex-PM). His mockery certainly contributed to the loser image of Tony Abbott, while Bill Shorten is unlikely to recover from Micallef’s introduction of the term “zinger!” for his lame attempts at wordplay.

Micallef wrote the entire series of The Ex-PM singlehanded and says he didn’t want his portrayal of former statesman Andrew Dugdale to be a vehicle for mocking the current leaders of the nation.

“I’m hopeful you could watch it in 10 years’ time, or you could have watched it 10 years ago, and the observations would be applicable to whoever was in power at the time. We tried to have an equal representation across politics, from left and right, across the whole series, so you might have a little difficulty looking at him and saying which side of politics he’s on.”

But then again, he will admit that he takes some pleasure in the theatre of cruelty. “There’s a bit of an edge in it. The show that I’ve enjoyed most recently, maybe in the last three years, is House of Cards. I like Kevin Spacey as a performer and he’s got a really cruel edge to him. It’s apparent not just in House of Cards but in everything he does; there’s a cruel edge that I really like and I also find very funny. I’m not suggesting that Dugdale is as cruel and edgy as Spacey’s character, but there’s a certain pretension towards that. He’d like to see himself as a player.”

Does Micallef want viewers to like or dislike Andrew Dugdale? “It was a deliberate decision on my part to make sure he wasn’t too much of an ineffectual duffer. We do see that quite a lot in television shows. I personally am a bit over that. He can be a fool, he can take his eye off the ball, but rather than have him be stupid, I could have him being focused on something that isn’t helpful in the circumstances.

“The level of self-delusion isn’t the same as you see in a lot of shows. He does have moments of self-awareness but he’s probably overestimating what people might find interesting about him. One rule I had was when you see him get up and speak, he could believably have been prime minister. He’s not a complete idiot. It’s not a great stretch to see him as a normal human being that you could see elected.”

To ensure The Ex-PM was more “rounded” than his usual sketch shows, Micallef recruited actors rather than comedians.

“As we get to know the other characters, it becomes more of an ensemble piece,” he says. “Definitely it’s got a farce engine in it. But we had a drama director rather than a comedy director. Most of the actors are real actors rather than comedians. I don’t like working with other comedians. Maybe I feel like we’re all trying to go after the same bit of slippery soap. Actors are a little more disciplined than I am.”

Micallef is mainly out for laughs, but he hopes some viewers will find deeper meanings: “I’m speaking twice as fast as I would normally speak in real life. With the amount of lines I had, I really wanted to get them out at a clip. I figure if you’re doing three jokes at once, some people will pick one and some people will pick another. It’s a challenge to try and mix slapstick with jokes that require a bit of thought or a bit of knowledge to get the reference.”

And for the record, Micallef would like it known that he doesn’t have contempt for all politicians: “I admired the intentions and just the sheer gall of Whitlam. I also have a lot of time for Keating. And I look with interest and admiration at Malcolm Turnbull.” Until next year’s season of Mad As Hell, at least.

The Ex-PM starts on Wednesday, October 14, at 9pm on ABC1.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Dennis Waterman lost old dogs in New Tricks

Dennis Waterman, far right, has wanted to leave since the departure of his co-stars. Photo: SuppliedDennis Waterman has been playing semi-retired cop Gerry Standing in New Tricks for 12 years, but now it can be revealed that he’s been trying to get out since 2012.
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That was since other founding cast members Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong and James Bolam​ left the show.

Waterman will finally get his wish in episode two of the series that starts this week on ABC.

“What astounded me was how total strangers would come up to me and say how obvious it was that we loved working together,” Waterman told Britain’s Radio Times. “You think the audience shouldn’t be able to see that deeply into us. And they were right – we were all having a great time together.

“This is no slight on the new cast, but everything did change really dramatically and suddenly when Amanda and Alun left.

“I’d already signed up for the next season. I did ask Amanda if I’d look sad carrying on after everybody else had quit and she said, ‘Don’t be daft’.

“And then my wife started buying another bleeding house and I had no option. But it wasn’t the same. Great TV shows are like rock’n’roll bands – you mess with the line-up at your peril.”

Waterman agreed to film the first two episodes of season 12 only when the producers promised they would be written by his favourite writer, Julian Simpson.

Simpson publicly protested in 2012 when the original cast claimed they improvised much of their dialogue, so we’ll find out if Simpson has forgiven Waterman from the way he sends him out of the series, in what Radio Times describes as “a finale that’s pure prime-time spectacle”.

New Tricks starts on Saturday, October 17, at 7.30pm on ABC.’God’ takes a step down

When you’ve been God, it’s a bit of a step down to become merely the chief justice of the United States. But Morgan Freeman was happy to lower his status for the sake of making Tea Leoni​ president.

In this week’s episode of Madam Secretary, Leoni’s character, Secretary of State Elizabeth Faulkner McCord, becomes acting president when Air Force One, carrying the president, goes missing (apparently the vice-president and the president of the senate and the Speaker of the House are unavailable). Freeman appears briefly to swear her in.

Freeman is Hollywood’s go-to guy whenever a movie or TV series needs a character with credibility and charisma. He won an Oscar for Million Dollar Baby and he’s worked his way up from president in Deep Impact to God in Bruce Almighty (until replaced by Jim Carrey).

He also happens to be an executive producer on Madam Secretary, so he was around when the writers needed a chief justice. Freeman says: “The casting director said, ‘OK, we’ll get Morgan to audition. Maybe we can make that happen.’ So, I actually auditioned”. He was judged competent enough for the role.

Tea Leoni found him surprisingly frivolous to work with.

“Everybody behaves better when Morgan is there. He’s really fun. That would probably be surprising to others, because when we think of Morgan, we think more of the president or God, but he’s very fun. He’s charmingly playful.”

Later this season, the former US secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, will appear as herself.

Madam Secretary resumes on Wednesday, October 14, at 8.30pm on Channel Ten. Critics Snipe at an easy target

Channel Seven’s new crime show, The Player, has attracted the best treasure trove of bad reviews since Channel Nine’s recent disaster Stalker (now cancelled).

The Player stars former action hero Wesley Snipes, who is hoping to earn enough to cover his bills for unpaid taxes from the US government. Most US critics are predicting the show won’t last long enough for that. Here’s a sampling of the best of the worst reactions.

The Hollywood Reporter: “The Player seems like a very bad action-movie-dream set in Vegas where shooting stuff, blowing stuff up, driving cars fast and also fighting very well is more important than plot or believability … basically absurd, with a dollop of stupid on top and a whole bunch of empty tossed in for filler.”

The New York Times: “Plenty of TV shows get by, and even succeed, with equally preposterous plots, but not with a cast full of personality-free characters. Fans of the tax-evading Mr Snipes, if there still are any, will be disappointed that his character is limited to wearing finely tailored suits and delivering omniscient-sounding lines in a blank voice.”

Variety: “It’s all just a glossy excuse for a lot of high-speed chases and fights, informed by the seemingly futile hope that the program’s tone and look will appeal to The Blacklist audience, which merely suggests some confusion as to why people responded well to that show. Even without the absolutely tortured nature of the premise here, the characters are stiff to the point of being laughable.”

The Huffington Post: “I might have tried harder to get past the bad taste that situation left in my mouth had the rest of the show not been fairly paint-by-numbers and generic, but as escapist hours go, there’s not a lot of meat on the bone here.”

The Player starts on Wednesday, October 7, at 9.30pm on Channel Seven.

For more, go to smh整形美容医院m.au/entertainment/blog/the-tribal-mind.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 to visit Melbourne and Sydney in 2017

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is doing a four-day round-trip cruise from Melbourne which makes an inaugural call at Kangaroo Islandincluding an inaugural call at Kangaroo Island.
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Bergen in Norway with Creative Cruising.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is doing a four-day round-trip cruise from Melbourne which makes an inaugural call at Kangaroo Islandincluding an inaugural call at Kangaroo Island.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is doing a four-day round-trip cruise from Melbourne which makes an inaugural call at Kangaroo Islandincluding an inaugural call at Kangaroo Island.

Oceanwide Expedition’s ship MV Ortelius in Antarctica.

Sea Princess in New Zealand.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is doing a four-day round-trip cruise from Melbourne which makes an inaugural call at Kangaroo Islandincluding an inaugural call at Kangaroo Island.

ITALIAN PASSIONS

Uniworld is one of very few river-cruise companies that sails Italy’s Po River, and its two itineraries on River Countess, the 10-day Gems of Northern Italy and 15-day Gems of Northern Italy have been extended for 2016. Highlights of the journey might include a Milan city tour, a visit to Verona, wine tasting in Valpolicella​ and culinary experiences such as a Chioggia​ market visit with a do-it-yourself mussel-harvesting experience. The cruise also includes a full-day excursion to Bologna, with a pasta-making demonstration and rare after-hours access to St Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

Phone 1300 780 231. See uniworldcruises整形美容医院m.au. ANTARCTIC SKIING

Here’s one for active travellers who think cruising is a sedate affair: ski mountaineering in Antarctica. Oceanwide Expeditions is offering passengers a chance to experience this strenuous and technical activity, which sees mountaineers climb snow-covered peaks while roped in small groups, before skiing back down again. Certified mountain guides supervise the activity. Good physical condition and some mountaineering experience is required; ropes and carabiners, harnesses and ice axes are provided. Ski mountaineering is available on two February 2016 sailings on MV Ortelius​ from Ushuaia​ to the Antarctic Peninsula.

See oceanwide-expeditions整形美容医院m. ROYAL VISIT

Cunard has announced special Queen Mary 2 voyages from Sydney and Melbourne in 2017 that let travellers experience the famous ocean liner on short itineraries. A four-day round-trip cruise from Melbourne in February 2017 makes an inaugural call at Kangaroo Island, while a five-night round-trip cruise from Sydney, also in February 2017, heads to Tasmania and features an inaugural calls to Port Arthur and Hobart. The two cruises are part of a 118-night world voyage that also includes a maiden call to Busselton​ in Western .

Phone 13 24 41. See cunard整形美容医院m. AUSTRALIA TO ARCTIC

Sailing from all the way to the Arctic Circle might sound improbable, but that’s just what Princess Cruises is offering on an itinerary that departs Sydney or Fremantle in May 2017. The history-making itinerary on Sea Princess will take passengers to 39 ports in 26 countries as part of an epic 104-night circumnavigation of the globe. Among them are four Nordic ports of call (Gravdal, Tromso, Honningsvag and Akureyri) in the Arctic Circle. The ship then continues to North and South America and crosses the Pacific back to .

Phone 13 24 88. See princess整形美容医院mBALTIC-BOUND

Creative Cruising is offering a Baltic Capitals & Norwegian Fjords cruise-tour package, departing on 30 April 2016. The one-of-a-kind round trip from Copenhagen includes airfares, one night pre-cruise and two nights post-cruise accommodation at the Admiral Hotel in Copenhagen, and a 16-night cruise on Norwegian Star. The itinerary visits the grand capitals of Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland and Sweden, as well as St Petersburg and the fjords of Norway. Availability is limited, so hop to it by the end of the month to get the best deal.

Phone 1300 362 599.​ See creativecruising整形美容医院m.au

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

The List: The top British male sitcom heroes

The unhappy couple: Sybil Fawlty (Prunella Scales) with husband Basil (John Cleese)Basil Fawlty – Fawlty Towers The irascible host of Fawlty Towers is possibly the most inhospitable hotelier of all time. Basil Fawlty existed for just 12 half-hour episodes during the 1970s, in what was not an entirely inaccurate portrayal of the warmth of British hospitality standards. Given Fawlty’s short fuse, it’s incredible that he (or John Cleese) survived the two seasons. A favourite meltdown is most definitely the “damn good thrashing” of his “vicious bastard” of a car with a tree branch.
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Del Boy – Only Fools and Horses Britain’s worst entrepeneur never failed to be a lovably cheeky character. Despite a long string of dodgy dealings, he never erred into mean-spirited or malicious behaviour but remained at the mercy of his materialistic aspirations as a flag bearer for ’80s culture. A devoted head of the household – with younger half-brother “plonker” Rodney, Uncle Albert and Grandad under his careful watch – his affectations and misuse of French were nothing less than endearingly hilarious (“Mange tout, mange tout”). Best moment: trying to impress a couple of women in the pub by leaning on the bar – “play it cool” – but careering through the open hatch.

David Brent – The Office  In common with Fawlty Towers in having just 12 episodes, The Office was a short but hugely sweet experience. Brent at times was almost unwatchable due to his cringeworthy behaviour. Ricky Gervais nailed the oblivious, falsely modest middle manager who is a familiar character in most offices. He produced dazzling motivational quotes such as: “If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven’t understood the seriousness of the situation”, and his iconic dance scene where he “sort of fused Flashdance with MC Hammer shit” remains his defining moment.

Rick – The Young Ones

More 1980s culture with a group of four unlikely housemates who reflected the anarchic rebellion against Thatcherite Britain. People’s Poet Rick was an obnoxious leftie student of Scumbag College with an inexplicable fondness for Cliff Richard and played with snotty, spotty glory by Rik Mayall. He was constantly the butt of slapstick jokes and disrespect by his flatmates, Mike, Neil and Vyvyan, the latter of whom said Rick’s name came with a silent “P”. Finest moment? His poem about Cliff: “Oh Cliff/sometimes it must be difficult not to feel as if/You really are a cliff/when fascists keep trying to push you over it.”

Edmund Blackadder – Blackadder

It is a wonder how this Machiavellian nightmare managed to engage viewers for so long and so religiously. Edmund Blackadder, who audiences followed from medieval England to the trenches of the First World War between 1983 and 1989, was wonderfully scathing, contemptuous and scheming, and a terrible bully to his lackey Baldrick (Tony Robinson). Rowan Atkinson’s rubbery features perfectly inhabited this wilycharacter. His biggest scene? Leading his men over the top to certain doom on the Western Front for the Blackadder Goes Forth finale, and reducing a nation to a quivering mess of tears in the process.

Jim Royle – The Royle Family

Far more interesting than the other Royal Family, this show which ran 1998-2000 was set mainly around the TV in the tiny living room of the Royles’ Manchester home, with patriarch Jim (Ricky Tomlinson) unlikely to move from his throne/armchair. Most of his grumpy conversation is peppered with his catchphrase “My arse!” and divulging all the details every time his visits the toilet. He also proved there was a fun side to him by busting some brilliant moves while stripping wallpaper to Mambo No.5.

Bernard Black – Black Books

It’s funny how so many favourite characters on sitcoms just hate people. In Black Books, which ran from 2000 to 2004 and was written by Dylan Moran and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, Moran plays Bernard Black, a staunchly misanthropic, possibly alcoholic, depressive, unkempt bookstore owner who hates his customers who he refers to as “time-wasting bastards”. One has to pay him respect for his dedication to a life of sloth and misbehaviour. The wine lolly? Genius.

Officer Crabtree – ‘Allo ‘Allo

An honorary mention goes to not the British actors pretending to be French or German, but the Brit pretending to be a Brit pretending to be a Frenchman. Gorden Kaye led the 1980s show as bumbling cafe owner Rene but it’s Officer Crabtree (Arthur Bostrom) who gets a nod here, playing the British spy posing as a French policeman with the worst, or best, skill for mangling words. Marking his arrival with his signature greeting “Good moaning!”, he also had a fine ability to ramp up the show’s already loaded innuendo and risque factor. As he put it so succinctly: “My lips are soiled.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Kids’ holiday reviews: Kidzcationz

Bella Tipping, from Dubbo, created the travel website Kidzcationz, where children give their ratings of holiday destinations and experiences.
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Bella Tipping, from Dubbo, created the travel website Kidzcationz, where children give their ratings of holiday destinations and experiences.

Bella Tipping, from Dubbo, created the travel website Kidzcationz, where children give their ratings of holiday destinations and experiences.

Is there anything more annoying than being outsmarted by a child?

Last week, I discovered a 12-year-old had developed a TripAdvisor for kids.

Bella Tipping, from Dubbo, created Kidzcationz after a holiday to the States.

“Mum was filling out a TripAdvisor review and she liked a hotel where we had stayed,” she says. “The fold-out bed I had was uncomfortable and the kids’ meals were the same old dried-out nuggets and pasta. To me, it was like the parents mattered, but the kids didn’t.”

So, I’ve taken a leaf from Bella’s book for this week’s column.

These are the top trips from 393 nine- to 12-year-olds on the Kids Board at app.boundround整形美容医院m.

SKIING IN NEW ZEALAND

Seeing the white stuff is a thrill, especially for kids more accustomed to beaches. Some of the best slopes in the world are only a short flight away, including Cardrona and Coronet Peak. “The runs are amazing, and so challenging, but there are also some great options if you’re not as experienced. Plus, you get to feel like you’re in Middle Earth!” says  Bound Round junior reporter, Isaac.

SNORKELLING IN FIJI

With warm locals, affordable resorts, and endless water sports, Fiji is the most popular international destination for n families. Kids Board member Daniel says, “With so many awesome experiences, you’ll never be bored. My ‘must dos’ are snorkelling with the manta rays, visiting the mud baths and going on the Sigatoka Off Road Cave Safari.”

CULTURE IN THE TIWI ISLANDS

While Uluru is often the first choice for families seeking an Indigenous experience, the Kids Board recommends the Tiwi Islands, off Darwin. Lucy from Bound Round says: “There’s nothing more n than visiting the Tiwi people on the Tiwi Islands. Your eyes get opened to so much of their culture, that we should all be so proud of.”

STAY SOMEWHERE DIFFERENT

Kids love staying in lighthouses, tree houses, or zoos. “There’s something really cool about going to sleep listening to sounds you don’t normally hear at home. A lighthouse off the coast of Victoria is one of my favourite holidays of all time, hearing the waves crashing beside us at bedtime,” junior journalist Paris says.

GO WILD IN TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND

No matter how old they are, kids are intrigued by animals. Bound Rounder Mia says, “We’ve done a heap of holidays where we’ve come face to face with animals, but I’d have to say feeding a croc is high on my list of highlights. Oh, and diving in the Reef with all that amazing coral and fish of every colour!”

As for our kids, well, 10-year-old Taj reckons you can’t beat Club Med Kani in the Maldives because of, “all the awesome activities and beautiful beaches”, while nine-year-old Grace loves New Caledonia where, “you can practise speaking French, and eat delicious cheese”.

You might just have a budding travel entrepreneur in your family.

Maybe there are benefits to being outsmarted by kids…?

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Traveller letters: Qantas, there’s a huge gap between your air and ground service

Sounds of silence dinner at Uluru. Traveller letters, logo
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Traveller letters, logo

Traveller letters, logo

LA LA LAND

In a case of “don’t put your daughter on the [Qantas plane], Mrs Worthington”, my daughter recently ended up without a flight home from LA.  After a traumatic week of expensive telephone calls, long phone queues and constant broken promises of return calls, she swallowed her pride and independence and asked me to call Qantas for her.

Despite the airline’s professed support of women, it was amazing to see what a male voice could achieve. She got her flight back but the matter unfortunately did not end there, with Qantas changing her flight on the day she was to fly home and not telling her.

By chance she discovered the change before she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport.

Then there was baggage trauma, as she had relied on further misinformation from Qantas. Finally, she relieved it all in a long letter to Qantas because “Customer Care”  repeatedly told me they would “look after her”. All they offered was a bundle of frequent flyer points of little use to someone who, by then, “hated” Qantas.

Whilst it might offer good service in the air, Qantas’s service at ground level leaves a great deal to be desired.

Graham Devries, Melbourne, VICLETTER OF THE WEEK

The Sounds of Silence dinner was a highlight of a trip to Uluru several years ago, so it was good to see it included in the “Six of the Best” experiences at Uluru (Traveller, September 25). But one word of warning. On the night we attended, we saw people getting on the bus in their “going out to dinner” clothes.  This is not a good idea!

As the night goes on, because the dinner is held in the sand hills, the temperature drops rapidly and it becomes very, very cold. By the end of the evening, it was so cold that the drinking water in the glasses had frozen. The organisers provide some warmer gear and some fires, but diners should make sure they are prepared for the temperatures.

To fully enjoy the experience of the silence, the desert, the food and the amazing stars, just ensure you have enough clothes on and don’t forget your feet.

Joyce Currie, Wendouree, VICCARD SHARPS

We recently pre-booked a week-long stay in a Harbour View room at the Holiday Inn Potts Point in Sydney. A credit card imprint of my Visa card was taken at arrival with the assurance that the pre-authorisation amount of $50 would be released at the completion of the stay. On departure, I decided to pay $1200 for the stay on my MasterCard, rather than with the originally imprinted Visa card – a change that I carefully explained to hotel staff.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had been “automatically charged” a nightly authorisation tariff on my Visa card as well, which has yet to be released several weeks later. In effect, I paid double the hotel bill, once at departure using my MasterCard and unbeknownst to me and without my permission, with my Visa card.

Despite my club membership of the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), the duty manager told me to get in touch with ANZ Bank to try to get the Visa card double charges released.

This simply is not good enough. Does IHG take such a negative view of human character that they automatically charge your credit card a nightly tariff on the presumption that you will leave their hotel without paying?

Joseph Ting, Carina, QLDSCRAPES OF WRATH

I agree completely with John Garratt (Letters, September 25),  as I too have had problems with Europcar​ in the UK. Firstly I had to wait over two hours at Manchester Airport to collect an automatic car that had been pre-booked and paid for. OK, that happens.

Then I was informed by the staff that they had an automatic car available but, because it was of a higher standard than I had booked, I would have to pay  $130 a day, over and above what had already been paid, to rent it. Dreadful customer service.

On returning the car to Glasgow I was charged  $116 for a one-centimetre scrape on the wing mirror and (this bit added insult to injury) a further $58 administration fee.

Ewan McLean, Avalon, NSWSWISS BLISS

I want to thank travel writer Diane Armstrong for the recommendation of Kandersteg, Switzerland, published in Traveller earlier this year. It was, hands down, the most beautiful scenery I’ve come across in my many years of travel, and I would never have known about the town otherwise.

I, too, stayed at the delightful Hotel Bernerhof, and hiked a magnificent Oeschinensee trail. Perhaps I went a bit far by ordering the exact same sausages, rosti and apple Kuchen as Diane did at Lohner’s restaurant Restaurant Lohner, but that also turned out to be a winning idea.

Many thanks for inspiring a great adventure.

Hannah Fagan, Toorak, VicUNDER REVIEW

My partner and I recently completed a five-week trip Europe and after completing each sector of our journey I  posted a review of each establishment and city we visited.

Not having ever been one to post such reviews, I was astounded upon our return to discover some 800-plus views of the assorted posts we had made. It prompted me to think that there are other travellers who will appreciate and make value judgments before booking hotels or sightseeing adventures from the assorted reviews on TripAdvisor and other booking sites.

If we were able to assist at least one other person or group make an informed decision about their travel plans from our own experiences then we were happy to do so.

Tony White, Bexley  NSW

WE WELCOME YOUR TRAVEL-RELATED OPINIONS AND EXPERIENCES

The writer of the letter judged the best of the week will receive a Lonely Planet prize pack valued at almost $90, it includes The World’s Best Brunches, The World’s Best Spicy Food and The World’s Best Street Food. See www.lonelyplanet整形美容医院m.

Letters may be edited for space, legal or other reasons. Preference will be given to letters of 50-100 words or less.

Email us at [email protected]整形美容医院m.au and, importantly, include your name, address and phone number.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of ChangZhou Plastic Surgery Hospital.