The following is a priceless interchange between Senator Doug Comeron (the Chair) and two young advocates from the Institute of Public Affairs (Chris Berg and Simon Breheny). I think it says something about today's world of think tanks and wunderkind commentators (aka confident young ideologues):
CHAIR: Mr Berg and Mr Breheny, why should we give more weight to your evidence than to Mr Finkelstein's and Professor Ricketson's?
Mr Berg : The IPA has strong views; I think it is backed by research evidence. I do not think that the Finkelstein review was as intellectually coherent as some have claimed it was, and I do not think it is the be-all and end-all of media discussion in this country. I do not know why we would raise that up to being the definitive statement on the free press.
CHAIR: But strong views are not the basis on which to make deliberations; strong views are strong views.
Mr Berg : Absolutely; and I would be happy to send you a copy of my book, which details at great length the evidence that we bring to bear on this discussion, which is a historical and philosophical grounding on the importance of the free press and the historical and current threats to it.
CHAIR: Do you have a PhD in the media or something like that?
Mr Berg : No, I do not.
CHAIR: What are your qualifications?
Mr Berg : I have a Bachelor of Arts and I am doing a PhD at the moment at RMIT university.
CHAIR: In what?
Mr Berg : In economics.
CHAIR: So you have no qualifications in the media?
Mr Berg : In the media in general?
Mr Berg : I am a published commentator on all sorts of things.
CHAIR: A commentator—
Mr Berg : No, I understand—
CHAIR: I am asking about your professional base. I am not asking whether you are a commentator; we know you are a commentator. Mr Breheny, what about you? What are your qualifications?
Mr Breheny : I am currently a university student; I am studying arts and law at the University of Melbourne.
CHAIR: Arts and law—good on you; that is great.