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A protected species


Image by Victoria Rollison

Last Monday night, the ABC held a live televised debate to kick off the South Australian election season. I attended, eager to see how SA Premier Jay Weatherill performed against the incredibly weak Premier-wannabe, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall. Never heard of him? Neither has South Australia.

With the election coming up on March 15, depressingly, the Liberal Opposition is ahead in the polls. This is even after Abbott and Hockey bullied Holden into leaving, which will have a massively detrimental impact on the South Australian community. And even though Marshall is mimicking the negative-no-details-except-for-vague-motherhood-statements-about-tax-cuts-fixing-all-the-State’s-problems campaign that Abbott successfully used to win the Federal election, South Australians still seem determined to make the same mistake twice. On the subject of jobs, Marshall has promised to cut 5,000+ public service jobs, which like Abbott’s pledge, don’t seem to count as ‘real’ jobs as he also promises that there will be ‘more jobs’ under a Liberal government. And of course SA will have our own Abbott style ‘Commission of Audit’ after the election, for Marshall to identify new ways to slash and burn towards smaller government at a time when austerity could very quickly cause a deep recession. It’s incredibly frustrating to say the least.

What we have seen of Marhsall’s campaign so far are ads that don’t even mention his name or show his face, with mean, dark music, and a scary deep voice suggesting there are leadership tensions in the South Australian Labor Party. But I kid you not, they don’t even suggest an alternative Labor figure who is supposedly anonymously threatening Weatherill’s leadership. But hey, I guess it worked for Abbott to hype up Gillard versus Rudd, so why would the SA Liberals let a little inconvenience like no leadership tensions in SA Labor get in the way of a negative advertising campaign? Faceless men, and all that. (Talking of leadership instability, check out how the SA Liberals stack up. Pot Kettle Black? The only reason Marshall got the Leadership in the first place is because the rest of the SA Liberal Party had already torn apart more experienced contenders in a leadership war lasting numerous years.)

So with this hypocritical advertising campaign in mind, when the ABC debate Producer emailed the audience asking for questions, I submitted this:

  • Question for Steven Marshall: Tony Abbott won the 2013 Federal election with a very negative campaign. From what we have seen of your campaign so far, you are following his lead. My question is, do you worry that the South Australian public are looking for a positive alternative who has vision for the future, rather than someone who just wants to bag the opposing side?

It’s a tough question, but it’s fair. It goes to the very heart of Marshall’s bid to lead South Australia, and for that reason, I think the viewers deserved to hear an answer. But no. Even after a follow up email from the ABC Producer to again ask the audience for question submissions after I had already submitted mine, this one didn’t make the cut. So, in front of what felt like a heavily stacked Liberal audience*, the questions that were asked were, as usual, invitations to bash Labor, whether that bashing be with a big stick or a small twig. Anything would do.

We had questions about jobs and business tax cuts, two questions about mental health policy, niche questions about regional population growth, train services being disrupted on hot days (with no mention of climate change), a good question about the treatment of women in parliament, a Gonski question from Twitter and three vague vision questions, including one asking what the two candidates agree on. But what we didn’t have, and what we never see asked on Q&A or by an ABC journalists when interviewing politicians, is a question that could be considered a tough one for a Liberal to answer. When in the last few years, the hardest question Tony Abbott has been asked on the ABC’s 7:30 is ‘did you read the report’, it’s clear the Liberals, and in fact anyone from the ‘right’ will be protected as soon as they enter a conversation with our national broadcaster.

So since I’m bitter and twisted about my question for Marshall being culled before it had a chance to be answered, I have three other questions that I would like to ask Marshall, which I can guarantee the ABC would never let me ask:

  • You spend a lot of your time talking down the South Australian economy. You even cite your reason for going into politics as being a very narrow mission to make sure your two children don’t leave South Australia when they become adults. My question is, don’t you think it’s bad for the South Australian economy to constantly talk it down, as the effect of consumer confidence can become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
  • Your answer to ‘how will you create jobs for South Australians’ is ‘I will cut payroll tax’. We see from the current example in the US that tax cuts do not create jobs, because the business owners just take the extra profit for themselves. There is no reason for business owners to hire more people just because they’re making more money. Growth in jobs comes from an increase in consumer and business demand. So how are you going to increase consumer and business demand to actually increase jobs?
  • Whenever you are asked a question about your plans as Premier of South Australia, you bring everything back to a discussion of the economy and how you will fix it with tax cuts. My question is, have you realised, or are you likely to realise sometime soon, that we live in a society, not an economy? And do you think it’s important for the economy to serve our society, and not the other way around?

It’s hard to know why the ABC goes to such great lengths to protect Liberals from answering these tough questions. I suppose it has something to do with the Liberals’ wish to cut jobs at the ABC, and to an ingrained bias towards Labor bashing (whether Labor be in power or not) under the guise of ‘balance’. Perhaps ABC producers have such trouble getting the Liberals onto their television and radio shows that the last thing they want to do is scare them away.

In South Australia particularly, we rely on ABC coverage of politics, as we’re basically a one Murdoch newspaper city. But what we get from the South Australian ABC is the same Labor bashing, Liberal free-ride that we see across the country. The South Australian election might be irrelevant to all other Australians, but I think you’ll agree that my questions for Steven Marshall would really be suitable for any Liberal politician in this country. Yet on a national scale, these questions remain unasked and for that reason, unanswered.

*The ABC producer for the SA leaders’ debate provided the following breakdown about the voting intentions of the audience. I stand by my personal observation from the number of people clapping in the audience, that the audience was heavily stacked to the right. I asked if I could bring two other Labor supporters with me but was told there were no more seats – so I’m not sure how come there were quite a few vacant seats around me.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Vic_Rollison’ show_count=’yes’]



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  1. Don Winther

    Weatherill did nothing to save Holden, he should go. Elizabeth will become a getto, SA your in trouble.

  2. Ausgaia

    You asked a good question, that I would have liked to have answered.
    I switched off half way through as it was so bias.
    We use to have a good show on 891 in the mornings where they use to ask pollies all sort of questions and were hard on them it did not matter if they were from the Lib or Labor party, Now a days it all bias towards the liberals. They talk over the Labor people and give the Liberals a free go, no difficult questions its sickening and is not getting any policy knowledge out of the liberals.

    I have stopped all together listening to the show after 9am I forget his name he is so bias that he needs to admit he is a member of the liberal (conservative) party.

    I think we are heading towards a Qld style of Government here and then the silly voters will be complaining because there are not enough public servants to do the jobs that they need to do.

  3. Don

    I laugh every time I see a Lieberal commercial on the screen, it is a carbon copy tactic of the Federal Lieberal party’s campaign. There is no mention on where the money is to pay for the promises, just like the Federals they have promised health and education will not be affected, and yet they are cutting here and there and everywhere, public service jobs are on the line, higher unemployment, with no policies to address this issue, there is a reason they have been in the backwaters for 12 years, constant fighting for the top job, and no political nouse.

  4. Tracie

    It looks like Labor will have to take the streets, if all the media are liberal members. Why has this country become such a biased, racist lot of ignoramuses?

    (I don’t mean anyone here, of course!)

  5. Victoria Rollison

    I’m sorry, what Don Winther? Weatherill did nothing to save Holden? It was Abbott who refused funding to Holden and Weatherill fought him over it for weeks until Holden eventually got yelled at by Hockey and left Australia. Weatherill stood up to Abbott and now you’re blaming him for Holden going? Isn’t this just so typical of lying Liberal voters. Even when Abbott has caused a massive problem, you find some uninformed excuse to blame Labor for it. Delusional Labor bashing is all you’ve got.

    Just to correct the record, it was Lib Leader spineless Marshall who stood next to Abbott nodding while he explained why Holden would receive no more Federal government assistance.

    The South Australian Labor government has delivered many successful projects for this state – basically keeping the construction industry afloat as all the major projects in the city have been government funded for the past few years. Once this development spending disappears under the Liberals, this state will be in so much trouble, it is too depressing to even contemplate.

  6. Ausgaia

    You are correct Victoria,

    What have we got going for us at the moment.

    Royal Adelaide Hospital – a world class hospital instead of something out of the Victorian ages. (I always associated it with death when I was younger)

    Research establishment next to the hospital, glad the money got through before Abbot was able to get his dirty hands on it.

    Upgrades to QEH and Flinders. (removal from Flinders of funding for natal unit by Abbot) who cares if the babies die.

    The building of the matching road on the Southern Expressway which should be finished soon – typical Liberal they only built it one way.

    The Anzac underpass – still waiting South Rd bit from Torrens Rd etc Fed libs holding that up because they are trying to buy votes down south, Darlington can come in the future its going to be more difficult.

    Northern expressway which is making the northern outskirts drivable and reachable for the factories (if any are left under this Liberal Govt) with easier access to interstate markets. Drove on the overpass bit last Sunday its going to be fab.

    Oh the Adelaide Oval, all the back stabbing that went on there, but it is built and getting compliments from all the users.

    The public servants already overloaded without sufficient staff to do all the jobs and him promising more cuts – stupid man

    All the in fighting will still going on, but not reported in the one and only paper. and I could tell you a few stories about the Liberal pollies that would show the public how most children behave better than they do.

    could go on and on.

  7. Ausgaia

    Forgot the rail lines and the trams

  8. Möbius Ecko

    ..and Defence Industry, in which SA leads. I’m sure Abbott would love to move that to NSW to help out the hapless O’Farrell.

    Want to see Liberal failure, then look at O’Farrell in opposition and all the promises he made if he won government and look at O’Farrell in government with a long string of broken promises behind him and failing.

    Of course none takes the cake more than Newman, though Barnett and Napthine are nothing to crow about either, even by Liberal supporters.

    Thus the decline of the Liberal States, thus goes the way of SA and Tasmania under Liberal rule.

  9. Don Winther

    Victoria, Im not a Liberal voter or a labour voter although I did vote for Julia and I would have voter for her again but she didn’t get there. I certainly did not vote for The Rabbatt or little Jonny in the past. I believe Abbott to be an idiot and a thug, not a person to run a country. Was he any good as a Lawyer, good job for a bloke like him but not enough entitlements I guess.
    Weatherill could have dropped the GST on local built cars ( any things ) as I believe GST is a state government issue but that may be wrong. He could have created a media fight over raising import duties and put Abbott in the spotlight. we spent $20 billion on imported cars last year. He could confront Abbott about signing a free trade agreement with Korea the day before GMH announced they will finished manufacturing in Australia and will import from Korea instead because Abbott made it so easy for them.
    I’m not a Liberal vote and you should not make assumption, I’m just plain angry and disappointed to see what is happening to my / our country.

  10. Victoria Rollison

    Don, blaming Weatherill for Holden leaving after the hard work he did to try to convince Abbott (and Marshall) to provide the government funding that Labor had previously provided at the Federal Level is stupid. I’m so sick of people like you blaming Labor for everything. Seriously. Just look at facts. Weatherill fought to keep Holden in South Australia. Marshall supported Abbott in his decision not to give the car manufacturer funding. So how on earth can you blame Weatherill for Holden leaving? This is beyond ridiculous. It’s this sort of stupidity that made Abbott PM and looks very likely to make Marshall Premier. Please correct your ignorance.

  11. Jason

    Victoria, You forgot the “big story” the media were obsessed about other than important things like Liberal policy and costing and that was who signed Katrine Hildyard letter box pamphlet!
    I’ve had a few run ins on twitter with some of our journos and they all seem to have glass jaws and block you.

  12. Don Winther

    Sorry guess I was a bit upset about being called a Liberal voter. Did I blame some one for not standing up for Australian manufacturing, yes I did, every one of us. We’re all getting taken for a ride in the back of a mining truck full of our raw materials and jobs.We can’t even make a washing machine, nearly can’t make a can of pears. Now we can’t make our own transport because we have to have a nice even level playing field that does not exist anywhere else in the world. Great idea Keating. I didn’t vote for him either. Ford imported 200,000 cars from Thailand last year they didn’t take one of ours because there free trade agreement with Australia is a one way one signed by Little Johnny. Does any one know what entitlements Johnny gets know days?

  13. Don Winther

    Thanks Jason, I’d rather not know but I do have a fair idea. Just making a point on how over payed our factory workers are or used to be. ( Abbott / SPC )

  14. lawrencewinderWinder

    Depressingly interesting article VR… “7.30, Victoria,” ABC on Friday night was wall to wall Liarbrils. They even had Sarah Henderson talking about the plight of Geelong manufacturing. I don’t know why the Member for Corangamite (LIiarbril) would know more than the member for Corio, Richard Marles, (Labor).
    It would seem this repulsive and uncivil rabble are submerging us all.

  15. Pat

    Get real Victoria…….They are all bums. I was at school with part time Pat and look aghast at the union hack representing the people of the Port in the federal parliament. The federal ALP are a joke and the LNP are worse. What the polls and all other indicators are saying is that people despise ALL politicians. What about all the nepotism that is rampant with this lot. I cite two examples;

    Cronyism and the new Rann government

    Part-time Pat an embarrassment to SA government

    Methinks you might ask a few tricky questions of ALL bum politicians, Victoria.

  16. Jans

    Don Winther, I don’t think any state government could drop the GST on anything. It is a federal tax, and is administered by the ATO

  17. whatismore

    Thanks Victoria for another excellent article. ABC journalists under the leadership and editorial policy of Managing Director, Mark Scott (ex NSW Lib party staffer) helped install an Abbott government. Mark Simkin, for example, undermines Labor and protects the coalition almost nightly on the ABC news. Despite this, look at the thanks they’ve got from the government-threats and bullying. In the face of this, the ABC continues to protect the liberals.

  18. Don Winther

    Jans, yer I didn’t think it would be that easy. Anyway an import duty is the obvious way to protect local agriculture and manufacturing. GST just eats money. China protects its industry.

  19. Trevor Vivian

    A protected species.
    Welcome one and all to the dumb and dumber political reality.

    Who is dumb and who is dumber?

    The politician, the media and the voter.

    Howard’s ways relaxed and comfortable while the unfunded policy deception depended on no critical media while it entrapped all and sundry and Ftard Howard too after he destroyed liberal for Tory.

    Labor what an ungrateful bunch of ex union power hungry time wasters. Doesn’t matter state or federal, the party rules the minds of better men and women.

    Liberal/NP. Are the tea party supping on the misfortune of the fair go bastardised by ABBOTT and his wrecking crew. Australia No Way is their motto and you’ll be next.

    Dumb and dumber with a media story for you to get all agitated by.

    Party political machinery and one party rule all paid for by dumb arse electors hoping that their team will do it.

    South Australia has a lot going for it as has Australia but the game of politics played the Aussie way is crippling. The political parties love it while you bleed for their largess and patronage.

    Get a grip Aussies and stop playing the dumb and dumber game cause you are the loser here. Just watch South Australia and West Australia elections and listen to the spivs ply their lies for your vote.

    Sick is the body politic of the land of Oz.

  20. doctorrob54

    Abbott and Hockey will lead this country into recession and SA will lead the way,and in eighteen months time,you mark my words,they will still be blaming the Labor Party.
    Is there anyone out there that really believe it a coincident this shut down the Auto.Industry at the same time they signed a free trade agreement with South Korea.Soon most people,not me,will be driving cheaper,Sth.Korean shit boxes built to totally self destruct just on five years from new.
    We are a dumping ground for OS cheap produce,with a Lib.Gov.that has no intention of job creation,they fully believe the free market system will do it for them.

  21. Kerri

    And Doctorrob54 the LNP with the free trade stuff, will allow other countries to sue us for legislation that damages their brands!!
    The first litigants will undoubtedly be the tobacco companies. We are definitely headed down the sewer now tha adults are in charge. More like patients in charge of the Asylum.

  22. Shaun J

    For Gods sake look at all of you (Victoria included), bitching about labor/liberal, yes liberal is the vilest of the vile, but standing back and looking at the right wing controlled labor versus liberal, they are two sides of the one coin. Stop and think, vote Green, their policies are well thought out with the 99% in mind not the 1%, give them a go they can’t do any worse, and maybe having them in power for a term will make the other two come to their senses.

  23. whatismore

    Totally agree with Doctorrob54’s theory about the demise of the auto industry and the signing of the free trade agreement with Korea.

  24. Cottos

    Hi Lyla,

    Yes I totally agree. The article below by Victoria Rollinson refers to the way the ABC treat the coalition as a protected species. BUT all is not lost-a huge swing against LNP in the Queensland by election in Redcliff. Click on the comments.

    I think I have finally given up on the ABC. It’s nothing more than a mouthpiece for Abbott and his mob. It doesnt matter when you turn on either Channel 2 or 24 you get a gutful of Abbott or some other Minister (in front of a nice official looking background) pushing another diabolical policy.

    I have just seen Abbott given full time on camera telling us why he’s going to trash a century old tradition of not exposing previous government’s private cabinet records on the insulation program. What made me sick was the way the ABC treated it. After giving Abbott a long uninterrupted press conference on the issue, when Mark Dreyfus came on to attack it, he was given about half a dozen words and the camera went immediately to scenes of insulation bats being installed in houses. This continued providing distraction for Mark’s entire presentation..

    I have noticed this is a continuing practice of that media outlet (not to forget the “technical difficulties”) when Labor Shadow Ministers or the Leader come on, contrary to the way they treat Abbott and his Ministers.

    I have reached the stage I am reluctant to tune in to the ABC now. I am beginning to not care if they do privatise this bloody outrageous biased institution.

    I am fast becoming convinced we are well on the way to becoming a fascist dictatorship.

  25. Philip

    …..I am fast becoming convinced we are well on the way to becoming a fascist dictatorship…. yep

  26. Mauricio

    The ABC and SBS have been bending over backwards to the LNP-Lieberal Nasty Party for quire a while now and failing to even question LNP announcements-eg “we dont have enough money for Medicare any more”-Janice Peterson on SBS news.In fact the country is going through the biggest boom it has ever and perhaps will ever have.That money is going to the top 5% through Abbott policies.We are heading away from being the country of a Fair Go very very fast..Gina the LNP sponsor wants $2 per hour wages while she sits on $40billion.Clive Palmer is willing to sacrifice the Barrier Reef for his greed and Murdoch just pocketed $920 m after a case which the Abbott government directed the Tax Office not to appeal! Can S.A be this foolish/deluded/misinformed???

  27. bjkelly1958

    While I agree with the vast majority of your contention, Holden was not bullied into leaving SA. It was a corporate decision from Detroit. They pulled out of Germany too, and it wasn’t in any trouble.

  28. Don

    bkkelly1958 Holden were willing to stay in Australia as long as they received Government backing, the final straw came when Hockey stood up in parliament and dared them to make a decision, why were the Government having a report into the car industry if they are pushing Holden to make a decision even before this report was finished and tabled, Detroit made the decision only hours after Hockey made that comment, if you don’t call that bullying then you certainly look through rose coloured glasses.

  29. Don

    Sorry typo that should have been “bjkelly1958”
    He also said at the same time the car industry would no longer receive any government funding, even that statement was before the report as well, all it was is an attack on unions and wages, pure and simple, bullying manufacturers to either tow the party line and cut wages and conditions or receive no support, I would challenge anyone to try and live on the minimum wage or below, at the same time support a family, pay off a house or rent, put kids through school, and if they had their way the abolishment of medicare, putting more strain on low workers living costs, the only protected species is the top 1% of Australians, the rest are left to support and pay for all their whims.

  30. Pegaso

    No political party/Government was going to save the Auto Industry, the writing has been on the wall for many years.What they didnt do was prepare for the end by encouraging and supporting other developing industries.Conservatives in particular are guilty by not supporting investment in Science,Research and Development (CSIRO).They have traditionally not supported increases in education funding, Trades training, TAFE.
    Its interesting to read of perceived ABC bias to Conservatives in SA whereas over here in the East the perception by Conservatives is that the ABC has a Labor bias.

  31. revolutionarycitizen

    I wonder why so many of the left are so dishonest?

    The Abbott Government did not direct the ATO to not appeal the Murdoch decision, the decision was handed down in July under the previous government, who in all their wisdom decided to not seek leave to lodge an appeal, the deadline to do so passed whilst the government had gone into care-taker mode. Just another thing the former ALP government simply forgot to do.

    Also, no Year on Year earnings data for this government will be released until after the end of financial year, so to say the top 5% have earned or will earn anything more than they already do is a projection of personal bias, nothing else.

    Gina Rinehart is also a donor to the ALP, so if you think anything benefiting her would have changed if Rudd was PM you’re kidding yourself.

    Over 3,000,000 Australians live on the minimum wage, which is at the top of pile when it comes to minimum wages in the G20, higher than any of the G8 economies, and second only to Switzerland’s. Exactly how high do people want the minimum wage to be?

    GM in Detroit made the decision to close Holden, in accordance with its business restructure, the continuing ranting of those on the left stating other-wise is just another example of the fact devoid ideology over-riding rationality.

    Anyone who calls anyone or anything fascist should go write a thesis on it, to show the rest of us you know what it means, because quite frankly, the way those on the left use it and what it actually means is two very separate things.

    The Tobacco companies are already pursuing legal action against the Australian government for violating their intellectual property rights, although they probably won’t have much luck in winning that argument.

    The GST is a State Tax administered by the Federal Government, the proceeds are distributed to the states as per their agreement before the tax was implemented. To change the tax every state has to agree to the change.

    Which Australian government was the biggest agitator for Australia to move to a non-protectionist trade state?

  32. paul walter

    I suppose I get to comment, given that I’m South Australian. I will say, am fed up with both lots; Labor for being under the thumb of the developers and neolibs and the Tories for being
    Tories, which is to say Labor, only worse.

    SA Labor did NOT learn from the disasters in NSW and QLD (or Federally, as to the timidity that induces antagonism in the electorate) concerning privatisations and other neoliberal nostrums embraced by ALP politicians.
    That is why it is going to have its work cut out to defeat a rag tag of SA Liberals even more into Abbottism than Abbott is.

    All we had was our reputation and the promise that we would not do as the Liberal governments had done and turn the place over to rich mates at firesale prices. The politicians sold that down the river for a few developer contributions.

  33. Ricardo29

    There you go again rc being an apologist for the government.
    And as to ” how high do you want the minimum wage to be?’ How about high enough for people to live on? Australia is the worlds 13th largest economy but with a comparatively minuscule population. If the wealthy and businesses paid the taxes they should, if we taxed the profits transferred overseas, if we could find a way to tax the obscene profits made by the money traders, we would not only be able to ensure a decent minimum wage ( reflecting the cost of living) but also would be able to support those reliant on the welfare sector. However I won’t be holding my breath waiting for this hopeless rabble to do something.

  34. Reg Tartoosie

    Hockey did not bully Holden in to leaving as the decision was made almost 12 months previously.Hockey was trying to bring some honesty into the debate as the Labor party also knew about the Holden decision at least 10 months ago and was confirmed by a labor pollie who suddenly went quiet when asked to ex-plain more of what he knew.The Holden manager here in Australia was either kept in the dark by top GM management (which i doubt) or is a bare faced liar to the Australia government and people.The funds that Gillard offered to Holden ( 254 million to keep them here to 2020) was never actually paid, so it was all spin.

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