Father Chris Riley, founder of charity Youth Off the Streets, drew some flak yesterday for appearing in a Clubs Australia flyer endorsing the clubs industry’s opposition to the Government’s proposed poker machine regulations.
Riley has been an enthusiastic supporter of the clubs industry for many years, and works in partnership with them to do good charitable work. The clubs, in return, have been enthusiastic supporters of Youth Off the Streets. But just how enthusiastic have they been?
To counter the criticism that Riley is a shill for the clubs, he came prepared with a statistic to show how minimal their involvement was. Clubs’ donations to the charity were variously reported as 0.5% of total donations or 0.2% of the total budget. Insignificant, right? In a radio interview with Adam Spencer, he said the figure was 2%. Funny that it’s not the same figure, but it’s still no big deal.
In his submission to the Productivity Commission’s gambling inquiry, Riley proudly revealed his charity had received more than $3.5 million in funding from the clubs industry in the eight years from its inception to the submission in March 2009. That’s about $435,000 a year. Suddenly it’s not such small change.
For this figure to be 0.5% of total donations, Youth Off the Streets would have to be pulling in around $87.5 million a year. Sounds like a lot. And it is. In the 2009 financial year Youth Off the Streets received $8.3 million in donations and $6.8 million in 2008. One assumes they were lower in previous years, rather than higher.
It took me about five minutes of Google and high-school maths to discover, by its own figures, Youth Off the Streets did not receive 0.5% of total donations from the clubs industry. In fact, it was more than 5%. (I’m indebted to blogger cyenne for the link to the Productivity Commission submission.) If someone threatened to take away more than 5% of your income, you’d think twice, wouldn’t you?
So let’s be clear. Riley is spruiking for the clubs industry and lying about the extent to which said industry bankrolls the charity he runs. The information that proves he is lying is publicly available and easy to find. Does any of this get a run in the Australian media? Of course not.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has used the Big Four banks’ current (at time of writing) silence about cutting interest rates in line with the Reserve Bank’s cash rate as an excuse to beat up the government.
“(The banks) should be passing on rate cuts in full,” he said. “That’s what happened under the former government.”
Is that right? Not according to George Megalogenis, who wrote in today’s Australian:
The banks have consistently short-changed home borrowers over the past decade. The pattern of meanness repeats whether the Reserve Bank is easing or tightening monetary policy – some of the cuts are held back, while the increases are passed on with a premium.
One of them has to be wrong. Who do you believe?
Aside from George Megalogenis’s very roundabout criticism of Tony Abbott’s statement, no one in the media appears to have questioned it. They all quoted what Abbott said, because he said it, and that’s news. But is it true? Not my department, say the journalists.
And here’s the point, Australian journalists. If your entire intellectual value is being able to cut and paste from press releases and prepared statements in an interesting order, you’re doing a bang-up job. But if your job includes things like checking facts and doing research, even to a small degree, you should all be sacked, because you’re really shit at it.