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Day to Day Politics: Murdoch’s mysterious millions.

Saturday 22 July 2017

1 What a mystery it is. In the last budget $30 million is given to the Murdoch owned Foxtel. There is no explanation as to what it’s for, who authorised it, or why. Even the Telecommunications Minister Mitch Fifield has not the slightest idea as to how it got into the budget.

Or so he reckons. $30 million just doesn’t appear in the budget papers without some sort of discussion. No paper trail exists. A spokeswoman for Mr Fifield said the decision to give money to Foxtel was part of the Turnbull government’s broader media reform package.

The most plausible explanation I have heard so far comes from Director of the Australian Shareholders Association Stephen Mayne who said he believed the government gave Foxtel the money to avoid making an enemy with the Murdoch media.

”Because the free to air networks were all getting a licence fee cut in the budget and the government wants to keep sweet with all of the media,” he said.

They didn’t want to have an enemy in the Murdoch’s so they just gave them $30 million and then had to come up with a reason.”

They just gave them $30 million of taxpayer’s money.

No oversight as to how it could be sent. No agreement. No obligation. They certainly know how to spend our money. $90 million for ill-treating refugees. $200 million for a plebiscite to find out what we already know.

Surely when you give a company the size of Foxtel there would have to be some guidelines, some terms and conditions, some deliverables. At the moment we’re just in the dark as to what they are, if indeed there are any.

Three years ago the Abbott government was going to close down the Freedom of Information (FOI) office until Turnbull came along, in a fit of grandiose righteousness, and saved it.

But any attempt to find out about Murdoch’s millions via the FOI office have been met with blank stares.

Doing a ‘Turnbull/Transparency’ search on Google rewards you with 10 references to transparency.

And that’s only page one.

When Turnbull replaced Abbott as Prime Minister he immediately promised a more open and transparent government. This is another failure. The $30 million was rather succinctly buried in the last budget.

For the Minister to refuse to comment implies he is incompetent, a fool or plain dumb.

”A Freedom of Information (FOI) request filed by ABC Radio Melbourne’s Mornings program, seeking correspondence between Foxtel and the department, was declined on the basis of no such documents existing.”

”In declining access, the Legal Director for the Department of Communications and the Arts “refuse(d) access to the requested documents under subsection 24A(1) of the FOI Act, as I am satisfied that documents falling within the scope of your request do not exist”.

This is but one example of the lack of transparency and the born to rule way in which this government is treating its constituents.

The dog ate my homework excuse will no cut it with the wiser voter.

2 For those who didn’t click onto the link I provided to Sean Kelly’s piece for The Monthly Today last Tuesday, here is some more of his description of Peter Dutton.

”Last month, Dutton defended his new language test for would-be citizens, saying that in its objections Labor was confusing two different types of tests. A world-leading languages expert said, in fact, both tests required the same level of English.

In May this year, after Yassmin Abdel-Magied had unreservedly apologised for a controversial tweet about Anzac Day, Dutton applauded the ABC for axing her TV show, and said, ”One down, many to go.”

Also in May, after Fairfax journalists went on strike to protest sackings, Dutton said productivity at Fairfax had gone up during the strike, and urged people not to read Fairfax papers.

In April, seeking to justify his citizenship changes, Dutton said you’d expect migrants to send their kids to school. When it was pointed out to him that this was already required by law, he had no answer. He also said domestic violence offenders should not be let into the country, but was unable to explain how existing police checks would not pick up on this.

Also in April, Dutton agreed with radio host Ray Hadley that Newspolls were a fair measure on which to judge Turnbull’s performance, and that at some point that would affect his leadership.

In December last year, Dutton told Hadley that the story of a school that had not sung Christmas carols at its year-end assembly made his “blood boil”. Attacking political correctness, he said, “We need to rise up against it.”

In November last year, Dutton implicitly condemned an entire migrant community, spanning generations, when he agreed with Andrew Bolt that Malcolm Fraser had made a mistake back in the ‘’1970s in resettling Lebanese–Muslim refugees.

In August last year, Dutton said refugees were setting themselves on fire as a way to get to Australia.

Also in August, asked whether there would be an investigation into reports of abuse on Nauru, given the PM’s speedy response to allegations of abuse in the Northern Territory, Dutton responded, “Nauru is not part of Australia, so this is an issue for the Nauruan government.” He also described the reports of abuse as “hype”.

In May last year, after a second refugee in detention set themselves on fire, Dutton sought to blame refugee activists for inciting the act.

Also in May, Dutton said that refugees would simultaneously take Australian jobs and languish in unemployment queues. He accused those refugees of being illiterate and innumerate in their own language and in English.

In January last year, Dutton referred to a journalist as a “mad fucking witch” in a text message, then accidentally sent that journalist the text.

Finally, back when Dutton was the health minister, a reader poll for Australian Doctor magazine found that Dutton was the worst federal health minister of the past 35 years.”

Is this the sort of man you want literally dripping with power?

The debate around his appointment to head the Mega ministry that will combine our spy agencies, the Federal Police, Immigration and Border Protection seems to be that it was a political decision to, by giving him such massive power, it will adhere him to Turnbull.

These departments that Dutton will head are given billions and billions of dollars to protect us from the ravages of terrorism.

Given that ABS stats on deaths by terrorist activity for the period 1978-2014 show that 113 Australians lost their lives. Yes, that’s right. In 36 years 113 people have died from terrorism. By comparison this year around 730 will die from Domestic Violence and around 2500 will take their own lives.The government has spent over $33 billion on counter terrorism measures in Australia since 9/11. In that time 2 people have died in Australia from terrorism.”

It seems to me that the government is placing its faith in the wrong man simply to appear tough on terrorism and the aforementioned figures would suggest that if we really wanted to save lives we should re prioritize our spending.

A number of ministers apparently argued against the decision and none of the departments requested it.

3 An update from the Poll Bludger reveals that:

ReachTEL: 51-49 to Labor

The Coalition gets a better federal voting intention result from ReachTEL, although the result would be more typical of recent polling of preferences are applied as per the 2016 election result.

Essential Research: 54-46 to Labor

Labor maintains its wide lead in an Essential Research poll that also gauges opinion on party polarisation, same-sex marriage and foreign leaders.

BludgerTrack: 53.0-47.0 to Labor

A bit of a fillip for Labor in the latest reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, and also for Bill Shorten whose net approval rating has edged ahead of Malcolm Turnbull’s.

My thought for the day.

”Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh.”


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  1. Ella miller

    Mr. Lord thank you again. I can’t believe that all that money was given to Murdoch and YET they are bashing those who are vulnerable and struggling..Where is this country heading? How can the LNP be forced to justify the money to Murdoch? How can an election be forced?

  2. Terry2

    On the Dutton elevation to head of Homeland Security, I can only see this as Turnbull acknowledging the philosophy of Sun Tzu – and as adopted by the Corleone family ;keep your friends close but your enemies closer

    Dutton is a sworn enemy of Turnbull but he loves power and Turnbull recognizes this and rewards him with a powerful position to claim his allegiance.

    Do we need a Homeland Security department and is Dutton the right person to run it : of course not it’s all about politics.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Let’s not forget the $880 million payout to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation by the ATO for a very dodgy “restructure” deduction.

    “The restructure was funded by two cheques, totalling $3.27 billion, drawn on the account held by subsidiary News Finance at the Pitt Street, Sydney, branch of the Commonwealth Bank.

    However, the money flowed back into the account the same day the cheque was drawn.

    News subsequently claimed deductions for foreign exchange losses incurred because it later paid back loans denominated in US dollars in Australian dollars, which had fallen in value.

    A panel of judges decided in favour of News Corporation on July 25, but the money did not immediately flow because the ATO was still able to appeal to the High Court.

    The ATO’s 28-day window to mount an appeal coincided with the federal election campaign, during which Mr Murdoch’s newspapers ran heavily against the Labor Party and the then prime minister Kevin Rudd.”

  4. Kronomex

    Plain and simple brown nosing to The Rupert (all hail Rupert), the man who looks like a piece of liver that’s been soaking in formaldehyde.

  5. Joseph Carli

    Dutton is one of those vainglorious fools who waits for official appointment before he makes his fatal mistake of over-reach..wait for it, because it will happen.

  6. corvus boreus

    The icing on the cake of the government gifting Murdoch $30,000,000 courtesy of taxpayers (no strings attatched) is that the money is going to a company (Foxtel) within a corporation (Newscorp) that has been legally proven to systematically engage in corruption (bribery of public officials) and other forms of criminal conduct (eg electronic hacking).
    If someone has a history of criminality, you should probably tack on a few stipulations before handing them wads of cash.

  7. captainwise

    Perhaps the Government has a Premium Premium Diamond subscription

  8. Stephen Brailey

    God help Australia because it’s pretty clear our government is busy doing other things.

  9. Terry2

    When it comes to accounting for spending public money we have the still unexplained case of Border Force paying people smugglers wads of US Dollars to turn their boats around. A policy that could only lead to an increase in people smuggling as the people smugglers realize that they can dupe the asylum seekers and take their money and then get a furthe payment from Australian authorities on the high-seas.

    A policy on which Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection Michael Pezzullo under Senate questioning refused to either confirm or deny.

    During the Senate Enquiry Pezzullo also refused to outline the department’s involvement and when asked if the department had a budget for paying people smugglers, he said: “We have a budget to do the things we need to do.”

    This is the world that Peter Dutton created and thrives in. A world of secrecy and arrogant refusal to be accountable to the Australian electorate.

    We brought this on ourselves, folks.

  10. Wayne

    The “War on (of) Terror” is the Cold War of the 21st century. Keeping the public scared and misinformed like Menzies did will increase the LNP’s chances of clinging to power, even though their policies and performance are patently inept.


    “For the Minister to refuse to comment implies he is incompetent, a fool or plain dumb.” I think it goes a bit further than that. The Aust Constitution sets up ‘responsible and representative government’. Failing to keep account of spending is irresponsible government and unconstitutional. However, given the insipid nature of that document
    there is probably nothing that can be done about the gift to murdoch other than seek a review in the federal court under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act. i also think that a failure to keep records is evidence of corruption.

  12. Nick

    Malcolm Turnbull, in reference to a comment by Sally McManus, stated: “The rule of law is fundamental to everything that Australia believes in – democracy and freedom.” Then the government he leads bribes the Murdoch organisation with $30 million dollars! Just how corrupt are this mob?

  13. paul walter

    Kaye Lee.

    Other stories about this sort of stuff have cropped up for decades.

  14. Aortic

    I well remember a wonderful interview between the marvellous Dennis Potter, who was sadly on his last legs and the inimitable Melvyn Bragg. Bragg asked Potter what he would do if he met Murdoch. ” I would shoot the hugger,” was the reply. Shame is they never met.

  15. Freethinker

    I have never read what will happen regarding political orientation in the Murdoch imperium the day that Ruppert drop from the perch.
    Who are those ( apart of his son) that will run the show?
    What are their political inclinations?
    I out there any article about it or any of the bloggers have an idea?

  16. Jaquix

    We dont really need the Shareholders Association to tell us why Murdoch was given $30 million, but its still nice to hear their opinion is exactly the same as ours. Outrageous that so much be handed over to a commercial operation. Blatant bribery for favourable press coverage. The amount was actually over $32 million, and I dont think its been handed over yet. So time to lobby your MP so they know we are wide awake. Going mad on Twitter!

  17. MikeW

    Surely there should be an inquiry into why our government gifted $30 million to Mudrake with no strings attached. The ABC labor party and MSM should be all over this. No prizes for guessing the headlines at the Telelaugh and Foxtel at the next election.
    This is just a blatant misuse of taxpayers money and in effect a bribe. Federal ICAC now.

    Jaquix, if you are correct and the money hasn’t been handed over yet maybe someone more tech savvy than me could start a petition going exposing and stopping this misuse of taxpayers money.

  18. wam

    “For the Minister to refuse to comment implies he is incompetent, a fool or plain dumb.”

    In your posts the reverse is true. Should a minister reply it is a half truth by omission or a lie? Ergo to say nothing may be smart.

    My daughter spent many months paying a centrelink debt in Qld but when she shifted states she found an employee who ‘asked’ the right questions to find that she had been umderpaid by thousands. All that worry and scrimping because almost all the front line employees have no incentive or authority and just do what the screen says.

    Perhaps there was no correspondence between foxtel and ?? so the answer was accurate and relevant to the question asked

    What status do you give to answers that are what ‘one’ believes to be true?

  19. lawrencesroberts

    When Joe Hockey became Treasurer, the first thing that he did was a handout to media supporters. It wasn’t reported widely and Labor where in a state of shock.

  20. bobrafto

    Fifield didn’t know?

    In a quote in the Guardian he said ‘ …… will improve Foxtel’s subscriber base’

  21. Pingback: Human Nature - The New Establishment

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