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Get ‘em onside

In sport we quickly learn to play to the ref. All Black Richie McCaw is a master at it. If the ref isn’t penalising offside then why stay behind the last feet in the ruck? Netball umpires have individual interpretations of how much contact is allowed in striving for the ball or how far three feet is. Some cricket umps seem loathe to give an lbw decision. And their decisions can affect the outcome of the game as Manly Sea Eagles fans will tell you about last year’s grand final – that pass was forward!

Because the independent arbiter is so important to the game, they have come under increased scrutiny with mechanisms of review of individual calls and overall performance. Technology is helping them get it right with replays and hotspot and hawkeye and the like. Review panels assess performance and referees and umpires quickly find themselves dropped if they don’t do a good job of enforcing the rules competently and impartially.

In politics, the media is the referee. It is their job to scrutinise what our politicians are saying and doing and to call foul when necessary. This scrutiny should be applied to all government policies and procedures as well as alternative suggestions. Pertinent facts should be presented and falsehoods exposed.

Journalists are paid to research available information, to seek out expert analysis, to canvas options and opinions, and to present to the public an accurate portrayal of the situation in a way that non-experts can understand. It is their job to keep a level playing field, enforce the rules, and to penalise those who break them.

In Australia in recent times we have the referee not only ignoring foul play but actively promoting it. They are unashamedly wearing the club colours and making no effort to hide their bias. And it isn’t just one or two incompetent rogue refs – Bolt, Hadley, Jones, Devine, Ackerman, Albrechtson, Kenny, Cater, Henderson, Shanahan, Switzer, Whittaker, Murray, Savva…the list is endless.

Why haven’t these people been demoted? Where is the independent review panel that holds them to account? Is sport more important than the running of our country? When the ref has joined one team then the game is no longer fair.

Social media can only go so far in assuming the responsibility for enforcing the rules as it takes active participation to search for the truth. Mainstream media still has a considerable reach and must be reminded of their obligation to inform the public and to keep the bastards honest. To the Murdoch press and associated shock jocks I would say…

Get a pair of glasses ref – they’ve been doing it all day!

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  1. john921fraser


    Citizen America only publishes extreme right wing opinion dressed up as news.

  2. Joe Banks

    Kaye Lee, you are so right. My wife is always saying, “If this (politics) was a sporting event in Australia, they (the Libs, of course) would all be sent off or banned for life”. Parts of the media in this country can overlook the most abominable behaviour from the right of politics whereas the slightest breach of the rules in a game of cricket draws endless condemnation… It has to be said: Our political umpires and referees are sickeningly biased.

  3. Don

    When do we start singing the American National Anthem and have the Stars and Stripes on every flag pole, with that new very special Star that was once Australia but now called Turdoch County.

  4. CMMC

    Luca Belgiorno-Nettis might have some idea about who should be the referee.

    The Transfield executive has just resigned from the Sydney Bienalle board, due to protests from various artists about Transfield’s sponsorship of the event. (Transfield builds and runs immigrant detention facilities)

    Luca Belgiorno-Nettis also founded the New Democracy “think-tank”, fine bunch of people.


  5. Don Winther

    Kaye Lee, always love your thoughts but Im a bit confused on this one,
    “Journalists are paid to research available information, to seek out expert analysis, to canvas options and opinions” I really thought that’s what we pay the Opposition a lot of money to do. I didn’t know it was the job of journalists, I thought a journalist was payed to “present to the public an accurate portrayal of the situation” as you said.
    I also thought we payed the Government a lot of money and not journalists to do as you say “It is their job to keep a level playing field, enforce the rules, and to penalise those who break them”
    I have this silly idea that we the workers pay our tax to Politicians and Public Servants to run, manage and protect our country so we can grow and all share in and enjoy a good life, not just the Politicians and top Public servants. Campbell Newman gave himself a pay rise and is now on the same pay as Barack Obama he is only looking after QLD and ordering Pink Track Suits for his Bike riders. I think we are getting ripped off. Who agreed to him giving himself a pay rise?…… the opposition? ….. mmm I see the problem.
    Yes we do need and appreciate journalists accurate portal of the situation but journalists don’t have to run the country because we pay someone else lots and lots to do that for us.
    Just a Thought.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Don I agree it should be the politicians job to play the game with integrity but I no longer trust them to work together to do what is best for the common good. They have divided into competing teams who spend too much time sledging the other side, hoping for a fumble so they can scoop up the ball and score. The days of altruistic public service seem to be gone (with some notable exceptions). It was my frustration with politicians that led me to this analogy of needing an umpire. Who holds our politicians to account? It could be argued that voters do that but we can only work with the information we have – hence the role of the media as referee.

    I do however understand your point 🙂

  7. Jenny McKinley (@mckinj)

    I wouldn’t consider the media to be Referees, but Bronwyn Bishop in the House is meant to provide an impartial decision on the rules and she is not doing so.

  8. patsy

    and MADAME BRONWYN !!!!!!!

  9. Mike 1

    Jenny McKinley, Agree with You 100%, This B-tch is an obstructionist and should be banned from any assembly of Parliament. Her Liberal Kerosene ways, should be made clear to all that follow this distressful Party. Her wishful eyes at Chris Pyne, needs some clarification.

  10. Mike 1

    If we do have the Liberal Trolls swanning around this site, Could you please tell me what all the hand waving Abbott is doing at the moment means ? Repeat after Repeat, Crystal Clear ? There is nothing this Govt. does is crystal clear.

  11. Mike 1

    March in March People, It is so important to all our lives. You and I may have to give up some work time, I work 7 days a week (Part time). Hope to see as many as possible there, to say No Thanks Tony.

  12. Anomander

    Our media have become so ineffectual in this country, relaxing the media ownership rules is unlikely to make one iota of difference. I was listening to ABC Radio National early this morning and one segment was simply an alleged journo reading stories from the Australian and the Herald Sun. WTF?

    Not only are the media allowing the Libs to cheat, lie and steal, they have permitted them to make-up their own rules as they go along.

    Hell, if our politics was a sporting event, the media would be supplying the drugs, substituting false urine samples and rigging the tests to ensure the Abbott and his mates win at all costs.

  13. olddavey

    What a list of rogues. And this is supposedly the creme de la creme of Australian journalism.

    And as an aside a question was asked on Q&A last night about the lack of womwn in the LNP ministry And idiot Brandis came up with Cash, Nash, J.Bishop and for the icing on the cake the extremely talented Brontosaurus Bishop.

    You could have heard a pin drop before the laughter cut in.

  14. Mic

    Hadley, Jones, Devine and Ackerman are NOT journalists. They are “commentators” which conveniently gets them off the hook when it comes to BIAS. Unfortunately for the us, this means they can peddle their Far-Right Fascist Propaganda without being answerable to a higher authority (except Rupert and his ilk). Journalists are supposed to present facts. Disagree with them as much as I may like, “Commentators” are expressing “opinions”.

  15. Alan Smith

    Correction. It’s not the press that are the umpires/referees in the “sport” of politics. The Press is privately owned, and said owners are entitled to their own bias. Their job is to make money, not provide some kind of arbiter of political fairness. If a particular journalist or columnist subscribes to a far right ideology, they are perfectly within their rights to push that agenda. Rupert Murdoch, to use one example, is (in this metaphor) the supporters of one of the competing teams, and could hardly be expected to provide unbiased rulings.

    The arbiters (or referees, or umpires, or touch judges, or whatever we’re calling them in this analogy) are the people who vote. Yeah, that’s us. As the employers of politicians, we decide their destiny. Keep that in mind next time you are asked to make a decision (a decision, by the way, that’s far more important than offside or lbw!) – and don’t let the home crowd sway you.

  16. OzFenric

    Alan Smith, the analogy breaks down when you think about the flow of information. If we’re the referees of the match that is politics, then we’re sitting in the stands three miles away from the field and the only way we can see what’s going on is through a telescope that’s fixed to only give us a small part of the field at a time. And our telescopes have lights on them so the players can see when they’re being looked at.

    Okay, the simile is getting a bit laboured, but the basic problem is that we only see the small parts of the game that we’re spoon fed. It’s self-evident that the media is not acting as the referees – whatever a reasoning public might think their purpose *should* be. So what does that leave for a referee?

    I suggest that the only referee we have right at the moment is the Senate – but both sides are continually trying to buy the ref.

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