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Hugh Mackay

In this issue, Hugh Mackay replies to Richard Hall’s essay in last month’s issue and his reply is printed here in full, unedited, at his insistence – which was communicated to me by his lawyers. As a matter of principle, of course, ABR offers right of reply, which is indeed a regular feature of the magazine, most commonly through the letters to the editor. On this occasion, given Hugh Mackay’s insistence, ABR includes his 3,300-word reply as a special feature.

In his reply, which he calls a ‘rebuttal’, Hugh Mackay points out that The Mackay Reports are not ‘books’ and therefore wonders ‘why they got a run in ABR’. I am interested that Hugh Mackay appears puzzled that matters not in ‘book’ form should come into the domain of ABR.

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Advance Australia … Where? is such an eye-catching pun on Australia’s national anthem that it is no wonder that it has been used, with slight variations, as the title of at least eight books and pamphlets since World War II. Such publications have tended to express an individual author’s vision for the nation. In contrast, the latest Advance Australia … Where?, written by Hugh Mackay, mainly discusses current trends in public opinion, although it includes a few cautious predictions about the future and a number of suggestions for social reform.

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Turning off the Television by Jock Given & Media mania by Hugh Mackay

August 2003, no. 253

At a recent Australian Broadcasting Authority conference, federal communications minister Senator Richard Alston conceded that the early adoption of digital television in Australia had been ‘modest’. More impartial observers of the transition to digital broadcasting in Australia have been less restrained. ‘A digital dead-end’ and ‘dismal failure’ are representative of recent media commentary on the subject.

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Richard Hall, in ‘Debasing Debate: The Language of the Bland’, had neither the grace nor the courtesy to contact me when preparing his essay on ‘the language, methods and findings’ of The Mackay Report. Had he done so, I might have been able to caution him against publishing such false and misleading material. I could certainly have asked him to correct several errors of fact but, more importantly, I could have alerted him to the many misconceptions, misrepresentations, and untruths in his article which would inevitably destroy any value it might otherwise have.

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