Nothing shits Nature more than a vacuum. All empty or unfilled spaces are always filled as soon as natural forces get their act together. The phenomenon goes some distance to explaining why anyone at all got along to the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, but there is still so much that is hidden to science.

Scientists long ago figured out how television works. Apparently the idea was pinched from Ikea and involves breaking up the images and sending them out in little pieces to be poorly reassembled at the other end.

Television, from its beginnings, was intended to sell products. The earliest programs were brought to us by soap powder or morphine flakes or something and the only real change since then has been the huge increase in the number of products available.

Products are everywhere. And our lives are positively blessed and enriched by choice. Without choice our lives are pale and barren.

When the first bank opened people were happy enough to have a safe haven for their cash, as opposed to unsafe havens like Afghanistan or Iraq. Now there are several banks to choose from and our lives are so much the rosier for it. In the unlikely event that one particular bank is not providing a perfect service it is an easy matter to spend thousands of dollars and several weeks moving our business to a competitor who will ignore and abuse us in new and interesting ways.

Choice is always a good thing and its absence is always a problem. Look at the scourge of schoolyard bullies. Hardship is character building but lack of choice is a tragedy. Kiddies should be given a choice as to which thug they wish to have their lunch money stolen by. They could diversify: one to steal the money, one to land the blows, one to point out any unsightly facial features. It’s the smart decision and more and more kids are realising it.

Choice is useless, however, if we don’t know it exists. That is what television is for. Through its raison d’être advertising we become aware of the glories of alternatives. Men folk would all be suffering from the indignity of shaving with a razor with less than 5 blades, if advertising hadn’t alerted us to the existence of a better product.

Similarly, we would have had no idea that the Government was planning to bring in legislation giving every worker the right to be kept securely locked in a small cupboard at the Australian Embassy in Myanmar, if the Government hadn’t had the decency to spend $20 million of our money telling us about that legislation. Sure, the actual details of the new laws weren’t revealed but it isn’t the job of advertising to inform, merely to proselytise.

It is only the ABC that is holding out against the forces of choice as represented by advertising and, predictably, the usual bed-wetters are having a bleat about the suggestion that common sense be brought to bear, and the ABC be forced to show commercials.

If necessary, the introduction of this change could be subtle. What could possibly be the objection to Kerry O’Brien seamlessly pausing from his impertinent pretence that Government Ministers should be accountable, to drop into the conversation, ‘By the way, Minister, did you know that new Sunlike Crunchy Crumpets are 63% fat free?’ Only loonies would protest at this, and they should be ignored.

Just as the ABC belongs to taxpayers through their representatives in Parliament, so too do kiddies and it’s time we harnessed that abundant natural resource. Some forms of advertising are getting stale a fat tart in a sandwich board doesn’t cut it anymore but for many, there is nothing so sweet as a smile on the face of a young child. Accordingly, my Department is ready to start selling advertising space on the faces of schoolchildren, and some funds could be returned to Government.

Kiddies might be small and poorly formed but there is still plenty of usable space there. Cheeks and chins are obvious; teeth will sell well and can be sold again. Implement a shaved head policy and opportunities grow enormously.

The monies raised could be used to help those horribly under funded richest private schools that the evil Mark Latham so upset when he planned to rip away government subsidies from them thus robbing them of the opportunity to build any additional swimming pools or gymnasia and giving those subsidies instead to the undeserving tiny minority of schools housing the progeny of the 70 per cent of parents who don’t love their kids enough to send them to private schools.

About the Author
Senator Allen Coonan
is the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.