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Fake news? We should be so lucky.

By James Moylan

It has been interesting to read the Australian Press report on the Fake News scandal breaking in the US. The hypocrisy is astounding but not unexpected. At least some of the mainstream press agencies in America occasionally try to report the facts without resorting to spin; in Australia all we have is Fake News. 24/7. Year in year out.

Our mainstream press is owned, lock stock and barrel, by big corporations. Yet Aussies seem to be more than happy to stick their snouts into the rotting pile of garbage they spew out every day.

‘Tut-tut’ we say as we read a report about Mr Trump threatening to build a wall on the Mexican border, while our government is running a hell-hole concentration camp on a tropical island nearby.

‘Horrifying’ we comment over our morning coffee as we read of neo-Nazi sympathisers on the fringes of the American election campaign, while we elect a bunch of neo-Nazi sympathisers to our Senate and watch as our government fawns all over them.

‘Only in America’ we wryly observe as we watch the newly sworn in US Senate try to dismantle Obamacare, while our government has been slowly throttling Medicare, attacks the unemployed, removes dental assistance for the poor, defunds Legal Aid, and spends an entire term of government sacking public servants, stripping away their entitlements, and refusing even modest wage rises.

‘Thank God we’re are Aussies’ we sigh as we read about Trump stacking his cabinet with rich appointees with vested interests, while our government is being run by an ex-merchant banker who could likely buy and sell Donald Trump.

‘The President won’t release his Tax Returns’ scream the headlines in our biggest papers, while our PM keeps a billion or so dollars earned from being a corporate raider in secret bank accounts in overseas tax-havens.

We sold our press to the top end of town long ago. Fake news? We should be so lucky. In Australia we live in a bubble where our press assures us, every day, that up is down and the right is always right. At least in America they actually get to read some genuine reporting every now and again. In our country, when a corrupt multi-national mining conglomerate buys the rights to build the biggest coalmine in the world, and the Qld government does its best to give them an interest free loan of one billion dollars of our money to construct a rail link, to ship our coal to non-existent Indian markets; the response has been silence. Even a little bit of fake news regarding these matters would be better than none.

When a Cabinet Minister is caught blatantly rorting her expenses so she can flutter on our out-of-control property market; the front page of the Australian spends a full week excoriating the leader of the opposition for daring to use his parliamentary expenses to bring his family along with him while campaigning for government. Fake news? ‘How horrifying’ we mutter. Yet in Australia all we have is propaganda.

Every day all our mainstream news outlets are singing from the same hymnal about how we need to further entrench the influence of the rich and powerful. Terms like ‘tax reform’ have become a shorthand for cutting the taxes of the already well-off. ‘Welfare’ is depicted as a hand-out and negative gearing as a way of assisting the poor struggling masses. Centrelink is no longer an agent of national compassion but rather a method for punishing the indulgent and feckless poor for daring to interrupt the long lunch of the entitled.

We have all been taken for suckers. We have collectively rolled over and let the press barons tickle our tummies while the corporations strip mine our wide brown land and dismantle our democracy. ‘Socialism’ has become a dirty sneer that government ministers throw at anyone sitting in a gutter asking for a crust.

The unfortunate and inescapable truth is that we are living in a land that is run by big corporations, for rich owners, by entitled, bigoted, white, politicians, where the whole of the mainstream press is simply a propaganda machine devoted to distraction and disinformation. So don’t giggle at what is happening in America. They are following our lead; not the other way around.

Sometime in the next few years the card castle that is the Australian economy will come tumbling down. When the crazy over-inflated property market crashes we will find ourselves living in a country where we exported all the profits of the long mining boom, or allowed them to be funneled into the pockets of the rich, even while we let our political masters dismantle the industrial base of our country and export all of our manufacturing jobs overseas. We now live in a country in which the entire economy is built on the shifting sands of the housing market. When the property market finally deflates, as all bubbles in the history of the world have deflated, we have nothing to fall back on.

Turnbull and his ilk will still have their fortunes tucked away in hidden bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, but all the middle-class who have extended their credit cards on the basis of ludicrously over-hyped property values will suddenly discover themselves sitting next to the unemployed in a gutter. Finally the ruling class in Australia will have generated the sort of world they have dreamed about. Everyone, apart from them, will be part of the underclass. We will have hundreds of thousands of unoccupied houses across our country that will at last be affordable, yet nobody will be able to afford to live in them. The illusory savings invested in super and being managed by the top end of town will have dissipated like smoke in a breeze as our stock market crashes. Bankers and property moguls will be forced to retire; overseas. I hope you already have a big vege patch planted. It might come in handy.

Yet, even in the midst of the coming depression, our corporate press will still be willing and ready to tell us all about the latest antics of the Kardashians, and sell holidays to visit the bleached bones of the Great Barrier Reef, or invite us to invest in the latest get-rich-quick scheme. They will remain willing to endlessly tell us how our poverty is all our own fault for being a bunch of leaners not lifters.

We live in a country with the highest levels of personal debt in the first-world, with a vastly over-inflated property market, with stalling wages and no manufacturing base, where the palpable and apparent effects of global warming are visible for anyone with a pair of eyes, and where all of our mainstream press is owned by one or anther big corporation; yet we spend our days looking at America and shaking our heads?

In just a few tens of years all of the coal we have been exporting will return in the guise of climate change refugees. Directly to our north is an archipelago peopled by more than six times our total population which will be one of the first parts of the globe swamped by rising sea levels. And these refugees will all know exactly who is to blame for the global catastrophe, even if us Aussies have deliberately avoided even thinking about it.

Do you think that our children will be thanking us for the world we are bequeathing them? I look around and feel utterly ashamed of my generation.

I know that a lot of readers will be feeling indignant and be protesting that ‘it was not me’. That ‘I am not to blame’. But if we are not all collectively guilty; then who is?

‘Poor fellow my country’ does not quite sum it up. We are deep in a coal mine, wearing a blindfold, and we keep on digging. Do you think future generations will cut us a break? We will be despised. And the sad truth is that there is an awful lot to despise.

So, perhaps, before we read about Fake News in the US, and sink back further into our pool of self-righteous schadenfreude, it might be an idea to look around our own backyard and realise that most of the rest of the world rightfully considers modern-day Australia to be a land peopled with selfish, brutal, right-wing arseholes. A land where the population is happy to round up immigrants and deport them on a whim, lock up refuges in concentration camps, embrace any multi-national mining concern willing to bribe our politicians, reduce the Aboriginal population to beggars granted the right to occupy our prisons any time they feel in need of a feed, demonise any attempt to decarbonise the economy while simultaneously subsidising coal mines; and yet still peer down their long noses at the rest of the globe and call them ‘undeveloped’.

Don’t kid yourself, the majority of the world’s population looks at Australia and sees a modern day form of racial and corporate apartheid. After all; they aren’t living in a bubble.

Fake news? We should be so lucky.



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  1. 245179

    Freshly brewed coffee, sultana toast dripping in butter in my hand……..and reading this, well my anticipated enjoyment just plummited. I agree with the comment unfortunately, how far do we enter the dark side before the lights come on, it’s a fearful thought.

  2. Keitha Granville

    Tut-tut, horrifying, only in Amercia, thank god we’re Aussies – says this reader NEVER.

    We are happily skipping along the same road but I do believe there are many of us who are fighting to change paths. We keep reading and writing on AIMN, we protest, we circulate petitions, we bombard our MPs with emails and phone calls. Is it working ? Well, maybe a chink in the armour here and there. The fall from grace of Bronny, and now Sussan we can count as victoires. Hopefully they are just the start of the avalanche.

  3. James Moylan

    Somehow I do not think that this post is going to earn me any fans at all. But then that is not the intent.

    I cannot say that I am sorry to prick the bubble of your morning 245179 as that is the intent of the commentary.

    However note that this is a self-critique as much as it is a critique. The failure of the progressive forces in Australia is a collective failure. In fact, in many ways, I own our failure more than many as I have a soapbox where many others do not. Our descendants will not make fine distinctions. Our generation – left, right, and indifferent – will all be viewed in much the same manner; as selfish, self-obsessed, greedy, hypocritical, environmental vandals (sigh).

  4. Nigel Stanley

    An excellent summary of the dangerous state Australia is in at the moment. Thank you, James Moylan.

  5. Kaye Lee


    I think all of our readers are here specifically because they want the truth. I don’t think you will surprise or alienate anyone with what you have said – we all agree about the Murdoch press, the corporate greed, the environmental vandalism etc.

    But I cannot agree that America are following our lead. They are the masters of protection of corporate greed.

    I still, perhaps naively, believe that we can turn this around in Australia. I have less hope for the US.

  6. 245179

    Even my trusty ABC ( well, trusty with limits ) more and more causes me alarm. The “DNA” of my ABC is being undermined by new entrants, too often clones of the “commercial prima donnas”.

  7. Don A Kelly

    Having an Australian passport was once a badge of honour. Not any more.

  8. Michelle Petrat

    100% correct. I have nothing to add. Australians are peppered daily with amazing breakthroughs in science, pharmacy etc..

    They are being told from the morning breakfast shows to night time TV, that it is the most amazing country on earth.

    Designed to have 95% auf Australians sleepwalk off the economic and social cliff.

    For the top 5%, perhaps.

    For the rest, no.

  9. Diana Lea

    So eloquently put….much more than I could ever dream of doing myself, yet every word is just as I feel, and have done for many years now. I am ashamed to call myself Australian any more, and this old girl here is one that will not be celebrating Australia Day on 26th January, not least of all because I agree with the people who consider it “Invasion Day”

  10. James Mason

    Spot-on James Moylan .. More articles like this dripping (not as a water torture, but a constant massaging message) into the ears of the ‘sheep’ will hopefully awaken them and the change/s towards honesty, truth and fairness for all will happen ..

  11. roma guerin

    Correct. Every word.

  12. jim

    Turnbull’s secret plan for big business to profit off domestic violence, homelessness services revealed

    5/6/2016,,,,,,The Turnbull Government has asked the Productivity Commission to investigate commercialising vital community services – a move that would divert scarce public funding away from supporting victims of domestic violence and homelessness services to shareholders of opportunistic businesses.

    160623 turnbull for profit not comm services meme1200pxwIn the days before the election was called, Treasurer Scott Morrison quietly directed the Productivity Commission to look into increasing ‘competition’ in the community services sector, and how to encourage for-profit providers to bid for Government funding of domestic violence and homelessness services.

    All news media has to go through the PMs office before airing.

  13. Miriam English

    James Moylan, brilliant piece. Except, like Kaye, I don’t think we’re following USA. Our paths differ. That doesn’t make ours any less dangerous though. We must turn this around.

  14. sandrasearle

    James, you certainly have written a great article today.
    I was born into the era of WW2 and there seems to me, to be a very large similarity to the lead up to WW2 with the amount of propaganda that was fed to the general public or should I say the ‘sheep’.
    We are being manipulated by rich corporates, our governments are being led by rich individuals who will do and say anything that will enable them to keep and grow their wealth. They will try to make us all believe that we can all be like them.
    Well, this little chicken certainly does not want my kids and grandkids to think that I follow that philosophy. My intention is to try to enlighten anyone who will listen to me about listening to those who use propoganda to keep the rich getting richer and in doing so damning the rest of society to hell.
    It’s about time for us all to stand up to all who want to feed us fake news and lies.

  15. helvityni

    Love your article ,James Moylan, spot on.

    Aussies are experts at criticizing other countries, whilst turning a blind eye on their own country’s short-comings…

    As a newcomer here I was surprised to hear that you must not talk about sex, politics or religion in a ‘polite’ company, yes but, no but, the company was not so polite.
    What was I supposed to talk about. Whilst waiting for a bus that was half an hour late, and saying how annoying it was, the common come-back was: if you are not happy with OUR busses, you can always go back where you came from… 🙂

  16. crypt0

    Excellent and timely article James … but then it would have been timely any time in Oz.
    It should be forwarded to anyone we know …
    It won’t make any difference to LieNP voters of course, but then, what would ?
    The UK has Jeremy Corbin, the US has Bernie Sanders …
    And Australia has ???
    Wall to wall murdoch press.

  17. guest

    It is frightening and embarrassing to see so many points of concern collated in one place. It makes us wonder how we have drifted into this situation and what could possibly be done to rectify the situation.

    One area of particular concern for me is Australia’s relationship with other countries. We have not dealt well with places such as Indonesia, which is predominantly a Muslim country; New Guinea and Nauru are regarded as vassal states where we employ our wicked treatment of refugees; India and China are seen a markets for coal, despite both countries retreating from coal consumption – and China, despite being a huge trading partner, is also seen as a potential enemy!

    Then there is the role of government in the running of the economy. Tony Abbott criticises Turnbull for not pursuing the Abbott government’s white paper on taxation, a shift from taxing production to taxing consumption – a policy which comes from an ideology which espouses lower taxes but not for consumers.

    In the WE Australian Abbott asks why consumers pay so much for energy when we have “the world’s biggest reserves of clean coal and natural gas”. He wants Oz to be “the world’s affordable energy superpower”.

    He is wrong about “clean” coal and ignores the reality of climate change. He does not ask about the cost of cooking the planet. It is a technique used by the ideologista to omit salient points in any debate in order to promote their own narrow self interest.

    Abbott goes on to say that Oz is a country living beyond its means. The irony is that it was Howard who introduced pork-barreling as middle class welfare.

    Tellingly, the Editorial in the same issue reminds us that what Abbott advocates he did not achieve in his own term as PM

    Grace Collier raises the issue of taxes on housing by referring to an HIA report in 2011 which gives suggestions to remove taxes on housing, thus reducing the cost of new housing in Sydney from $639,533 to $371,617. But of course taxation on housing is “the second largest taxation contributor of all sectors in the Australian economy.”

    As I see it, so much of the chaos we perceive around us is achieved by the powerful pushing their own line while too often the ordinary citizen is left in the dark, blind, ignorant and obediently submissive.

    Naomi Klein tells us (2014) “…there are certainly lessons to learn from the transformative movements of the past…social mobilisation…Activists were, quite simply, everyone.” (p.459)

  18. kerri

    Good article James Moylan. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words.
    I agree the US is following us in terms of appointing a loudmouth bigoted quarter wit for leader.
    We did that in 2013 and were stupidly wooed by the banker in the nice jacket.
    Has anyone caught up with Michael Moore’s 100 days of resistance?
    A really good idea from a very active activist!

  19. James Moylan

    Thank you all. I was prepared to be castigated and yet was rewarded with considered opinion and reasonable response. This reflects badly upon myself yet paradoxically makes me feel much better.

    My next column will be aimed at addressing how we might make a concerted effort as a collective of interested individuals to reduce the power and impact of the corporate press in our country. While I will leave most of my comments regarding this matter to the substance of my next column I will take this opportunity to point out that one of the more significant avenues available is the one I occupy right now and which all of the respondents above have taken advantage of.

    AIM is a wonderful resource that is of significance not only individually but socially. The editors and regular contributors provide a necessary contradistinction to the capitalistically inclined and ideologically right wing orientated corporate press. So I urge all readers to contribute to this site even if only a very few dollars. It will make you feel better whilst simultaneously assisting in supporting and further disseminating ideas which might help bring about much needed change in our polity.

  20. Bob Johnson

    I agree with everything in this article. It’s depressing. The worst is that the LNP are hell bent on being a carbon copy of the US Republican Party, glad handed by the likes of Rupert Murdoch with his FoxNews there and The Australian here( & now Sky!)
    There’s the problem.

  21. Andreas Bimba

    Yep, and yet Australia could have been the best place in the world to live for all.

    During Whitlam’s government the capitalist elite got scared of higher taxes, environmental regulations, consumer protection regulations, higher wages, labour laws, strikes, militant unions, a growing welfare state and declining profits.
    They redoubled their efforts to replace social democracy with neoliberalism and corporate rule not just here but throughout the world and after four decades they succeeded so well the economy is contracting due to extreme wealth concentration and neoliberal austerity.

    Mass unemployment, rising living costs, degenerating government services and the total failure to deal with global warming will eventually spoil the image of the neoliberal era and its political representatives even with the mass media ‘Ministry of Truth’ continuing to do its utmost to fool the electorate and the pendulum will one day swing back.

    We cannot however just wait for good times to return but could help by working to get the money and corporate influence out of politics and to better inform the electorate.

  22. stephentardrew

    Great red. Thoroughly agree.

  23. David Spry

    No argument from me.
    But by what means do we return to the principles of the Whitlam years?
    We have to be honest and realistic about the consequences of Gough’s fall, particularly the erosion of the Labor Party’s commitment to the Australian people.
    Modern Parliamentary Labor spends too much time trying to rub shoulders and network with the establishment. They have not tried to change our economy or right any of the serious social wrongs for too many years for them to seriously expect to be trusted.
    Their internal mechanisms at both State and Federal level are so complex and require so much compromise that they guarantee that strong, intelligent leaders will be eliminated long before they will have a chance at party leadership.
    No faction wants a strong leader from another faction and the factions no longer share enough principles to act cohesively. Too many of their parliamentarians are more interested in their own careers than effecting change.
    I have voted Labor at many elections and would like to do so again, but I would like to do it with confidence in their commitment to the sustainable future of Australia.
    An example of my disillusion is the support by Queensland and Federal Labor for the huge new coal mine referenced in the above article.
    There are not enough people committed to responsible reform within the Labor party.
    We have to ask ourselves about what mechanism we can use for change if we no longer have a reliable peoples party.
    There is a lot to be done.

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