Wednesday 20 2017
Having a coffee with a friend (Ian) and I mentioned how badly we are being governed. “What about Gillard?” he retorted? “Media beat up,” I answered. “Murdoch principally, and the ABC to some degree.” He couldn’t agree with that. Arguing that:
“I think that you over-estimate the extent to which the Murdoch media influences the political discourse in the age of the internet and social media. That said, I don’t see the ABC as being anything but of a left-leaning persuasion as it has always been and Fairfax was only beginning to be openly critical of the Gillard government because it was performing so badly that to do otherwise would leave them open to being a propaganda arm of the ALP/Greens. You are clinging onto the notion that it’s all the fault of a hostile media like it’s a life-preserver from the Titanic but you seem blissfully unaware or in denial about how cold the waters had become under her dysfunctional government.”
Later, when recalling the conversation and his statement, that quote; “The ABC as being anything but of a left leaning persuasion as it has always been” I thought in part it maybe true but it should be remembered that Hawke and Keating both continuously complained of ABC bias.
Anyway, I thought Ian doesn’t watch much of auntie or if he does, he does so with his eyes closed. It is obvious to any discerning viewer that at the time there had been a shift in how political news was presented. More often than not we found that Abbott’s opinion got precedence over the PM’s statements.
In addition there seemed to be more guests of a right persuasion on political programs. I concede that social media and sites like this one were making inroads into the influence of newspapers and this is evidenced in the decline in sales which continues today to the point that Murdoch has withdrawn from the counting survey.
But I recalled Ian saying that any media company with 70% share of the market, that, “its influence is over estimated” is ludicrous.
Ask any CEO if they would like 70% of any market. I know what the answer would be. In any case it would not be allowed in the US.
By inference he was suggesting that its journalists like Andrew Bolt also have an over estimated influence. And we know that’s not the case. He in fact he has a huge influence. The Australian loses an enormous amount of money annually.
If it didn’t have influence why does he allow it to continue? And it is jokingly refereed to as the official news-sheet of the LNP. Murdoch is not the sort to let a dollar slip through his fingers. Sure, the influence of the Internet and social media is now biting into his influence but it does not as yet rival mainstream media.
To say that the vile tabloid headlines of the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph are overestimated shows in itself a denial of the power of a headline. Particularly in their frequency.
When we use the words “dysfunctional government” what is it that we actually mean? As I understand it the word dysfunctional means “not operating normally or properly” so lets see if this is the case with Gillard’s government.
The Gillard government was elected according to all the requirements of the Constitution. It was a minority government that survived with the support of independents and the Greens. After two years (despite all the predictions) it survived and ran its full term. It was never defeated on the Floor of the House and passed in excess of 400 pieces of legislation.
Some of which were major reforms. The carbon price, the Gonski reforms, and NDIS being just three. All this in a minority setting. I would venture to say they could be arguably the most successful reformist government this country has seen. If you think that is an exaggeration, think again.
How many governments can you name that have legislated four major social reforms like these?
So where is the dysfunction? It’s a perception that the mainstream media like to perpetuate. Allow me to use one of my quotes. “Life is about perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be.” Perceptions are manipulations brought about by telling continuous lies or by using extreme negativity on a continuous basis.
As Hitler said (or was it the propagandist Goering) that if you tell a lie big enough and often enough it will become the truth.
From day one Julia Gillard faced a storm, no, an avalanche of criticism from a media hell-bent on her removal and an opposition leader who besides being a confessed liar was of dubious character and negativity. Still is, in fact.
This has been proven so since, by his performance as Prime Minister and his subsequent disloyalty to his own party when replaced by Turnbull.
And of course a Parliament where the government behaved deplorably. Don’t believe me, then consider these snippets and comments from Malcolm Turnbull about the media.
“Dumbing down complex issues into sound bites, misrepresenting your or your opponent’s policy does not respect ‘Struggle Street’; it treats its residents with contempt.”
“Hopeless, confused, hyper-partisan” debate about climate change.”
“Fox News in the United States is an example of how commercially successful that strategy can be as are some of the shock jocks in Australia,” he said.
“Newspapers and other media were resorting more to commentary and opinion and more to analysis of the effectiveness of political spin than to analysis of the substantive issues.”
“Saying that as news organisations came under greater cost pressures, good reporting which held governments and oppositions to account “was diminishing”. Instead, he said, At the same time, there was more media “narrowcasting” — strident partisanship aimed at like-minded consumers.
“For the last two years the questions from the Opposition have been almost entirely focused on people smuggling and the carbon tax,”
“First, the cynically exploitative — his terminology — campaign against the Republic 12 years ago,a campaign” he was referring to Abbott.
“A lie is a false statement known to be false by the person who utters it. This may be a deliberate misstatement of fact and we were discussing [such as] ‘I did not have sex with that woman’. Or it may be a false statement that the speaker has no basis for believing to be true: ‘Tony Abbott has a secret plan to reinstate WorkChoices.” But, he said, a change of policy is not a lie”.
Thus Julia Gillard had not lied about the carbon tax before the last election. She had, for political reasons [the need to get the support of the Greens to take government] broken a promise.
Turnbull endorsed some form of public fact-checking, presumably meaning through organisations like those which exist in America, and analyse the pronouncements of public figures and the media in a strictly non-partisan way.
The preferred opposition leader of the people went on to condemn the frequent use of the word “liar” in relation to politicians — another clear shot at Jones in particular, who dubbed the Prime Minister “Ju-liar”.
Note: These references were taken from articles by Mike Seccombe and Alan Austin September 10, 2012
Of course I might have added the fact that almost all of commercial talk back radio is controlled by right-wing extremist shock jocks with huge audiences. Are there any on the left?
And all the commercial television stations have a right-wing leaning. Not good for democracy where a diversity of views is an essential part of the process. As it stands now we have or are likely in the future to have a media consisting of totality right-wing views.
Diversity can be found on social media and is flourishing and gaining momentum. However main stream media still influences the broad population who are undoubtedly in a political malaise.
Back to the point that Gillard’s government was dysfunctional. It certainly had its share of controversies. The Thompson Affair and Peter Slipper and they had made errors of judgement in predicting surpluses and revenue from mining taxes.
But the truth of the matter is that they were no better or worse than most governments. Maybe better than some. They never lost a minister to any scandal in five years whereas Howard lost ten in his first term. He had an unjustifiable and unpopular war and the AWB scandal.
Some of the most significant legislated policies were the highly regarded stimulus program that prevented our economy from going into decline during the GFC.
Other programs included the critically important BER and HIP programs, the carbon tax/ETS, the MMRT, plain-packaging of cigarettes, health reforms, cancer centres, GP Super Clinics, pharmaceutical benefits reforms, disability insurance, Indigenous reforms, IR reforms, the National Broadband Network, an investigation into problem gambling and the list goes on and on. Of course Tony Abbott opposed most of the reforms because he believed that’s what oppositions should do.
Stuff the merits of the policy. So complicit were the MSM, that most voters would be unaware of the hundreds of other policies that have passed through parliament.
So how did they perform?
They managed the economy incredibly well. Unemployment was low – just above 5%; inflation low – within the RBA’s ‘comfort zone’; interest rates low – a 4.25% cash rate and public debt was also low – a small fraction of comparable countries; a healthy trade surplus; a strong Australian dollar; Triple A credit rating from all three rating agencies; massive investment in mining and related infrastructure; a growing economy despite natural disasters and the high AUD. and retail sales increased by 2% in January of 2013. What more did people want?
Did people want faster growth, better conditions for export manufacturers, and higher levels of confidence in the business community. The fact is that the Government’s record was a splendid, if not perfect one, the envy of the developed world.
It’s a pity the MSM at the time could not give some credit to many accomplishments of the Gillard/Rudd governments and make the electorate aware of them.
Howard and Costello wasted ten surpluses, spending nothing on infrastructure. Which is now a big issue in places like Western Sydney. And of course we should not forget that Costello lost 2.2 billion dollars of taxpayers money in cross-currency swaps. So the fact remains that all governments have pluses and minuses. None however in my memory has had its opposition found guilty by a judge of deliberately using the courts under false pretences in order to bring down a speaker and the government.
Now I expect there will be those who will return fire with a dossier of Gillard misdemeanours, but before you do please consider the wrong doings of your own party. I am simply making the point that in a minority setting the government performed remarkably well and by and large this can be put down to the tenacity and strength of will of prime minister Gillard
Abbott – with the aid of an obliging media – was able to create a deception because they were unaccountable to each other.
The media don’t think (for whatever reason) there was a need to scrutinise Abbott or his policies (whatever they were) and Abbott simply walked out on press conferences or made himself a small target because he never believed he needed to be accountable. He simply repeated his mantra that the PM was liar and her government was the worst the country has ever seen.
He never explained why and the media never asked. When he called Gillard a liar they never questioned his own litany of recorded falsehoods. Lets face it, his record (evidence can be provided) entitled him to be judged the biggest liar to ever paced the halls of Parliament.
Thus a perception was created by a political media who with a couple of exceptions must be the worst Press Gallery the country has seen. Misapprehension and misinformation stand in the way of any decent democracy and mainstream media let the Australian public people down and to this day it is still doing so.
My thought for the day
“Perception interpreted unwisely can result in a mistaken conclusion of reality.”
Some further thoughts
Kept Australia out of recession – Australia was one of the few developed nations to have avoided recession during the global financial crisis. The Government’s massive stimulus package kept the economy humming.
Raised the pension – Pensioners received a major income boost under the first-term labor Government. Single pensions rose by $30 a week and the couple’s by $10 a week last year.
Paid parental leave – An historic achievement after 30 years of campaigning. New moms now have access to a taxpayer-funded 26-week paid parental leave scheme at the minimum wage. *National curriculum – Driven by Julia Gillard as Education Minister, the national curriculum will deliver consistent course-work in English, maths, science and history. Children who move interstate less likely to be disadvantaged.
Axed WorkChoices – Dismantling the unpopular WorkChoices system will be seen as one the Rudd/Gillard government’s lasting legacies. The employment safety net and unfair dismissal rights were restored.
My School website – Welcomed by parents but unloved by teachers, My School gives parents detailed information on student performance in reading, writing, grammar and numeracy. Critics say it is too simplistic but parents have flocked to the website.
Emissions trading scheme – A major achievement after so many years of report after report. Finally action is taking place although the opposition is saying it will repeal the act if it wins power.
Mining tax – Thanks to the negotiating skills of the Gillard, a resources tax passed through the parliament.
NBN- We all know the problems now. Should have done it right the first time.