In my last piece, I looked at how Scott Morrison appeared to have lost the support of the man who truly runs Australia. There we looked at the column published under the name of Morrison’s dog, which left the Prime Minister beaten and bloody in an alley somewhere. This time, I want to look at NSW, again using the Errorgraph as the example. Similar to last time, I do not have the link to the article, but someone in my household buys this rag and so I have photos of the appropriate pages.
The Takedown, Part One: Joke Headline
This is hardly new for the Errorgraph: puns are common in their headlines. But this one takes advantage of quite possibly the worst name for a Health Minister: Brad Hazzard. Seriously, did no one think this through? Regardless of that, the front-page headline reads
YOU’RE OUT OF ORDER
Ok, that was my line. Referring to the unfortunately named Health Minister as Health Hazzard is supposed to come from satirists and critics. Not some public tantrum from Australia’s uncrowned king because incompetence makes his preferred political brand look bad.
The rest of the front page deals with quite a lot of truth for this rag. It says, in part
Epic advice fail let limo drive us to disaster.
Now Health Minister says the rules are just a ‘guide’
Legal Eagle slams lax language, calls for reform
Jesus: so much truth, and against an LNP minister. All of that is true: the advice was lax and the language left much to be desired (it used the word ‘near’ for Pete’s sake). These were little summaries off to the left of the front page. The beginnings of the article are interesting as well. A former leader of the DPP commented that the orders were unenforceable due to their imprecision. Minister Hazzard, according to the article, now says the rules are ‘given as a guide’. The placement of these two sentences next to each other implies a causal link that I am not sure is there, but I digress. If the two are linked, it is quite the copout from the Minister.
The Takedown, Part Two: The DPP for the People
The aforementioned former DPP leader had this to say about the health orders, specifically around wearing masks
[A rule requiring mas-wearing] “near” a shop or cafe is “too imprecise for a regulation that imposes criminal responsibility on any citizen”
Amen. How can the word ‘near’, which has not, to my knowledge, been defined, serve as the basis for a fine of $1000? This is Keystone Cops stuff right here. The Errorgraph then restates Hazzard’s claim that the rules are merely ‘a guide’. The Errograph did some actual journalism (shocking, I know) by asking about enforceability, and Health Hazzard accused them of looking for ‘loopholes’ in the orders. It is rare that I defend the Errorgraph, but when the orders have holes that you can drive a 747 through, the question should be asked. Also, talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Mr. Hazzard, fighting back against Telegraph personnel? Taking your life in your hands, much, Sir?
The former DPP official then had this to say, effectively driving the nail in
[Listing] “outdoor recreation” as a reasonable excuse to leave the home also creates confusion in the community. For some people, simply sunbathing may be their idea of outdoor recreation
Right. These orders have lacked precision from the start, seemingly because the Premier is unwilling to do what Mr. Andrews in Victoria did and enforce a ‘hard lockdown’. The exact reason for this is not clear, but I suspect it has something to do with LNP donors.
Calling for Hazzard’s Head: The Editorial
In a scathing editorial buried some 16 pages in, the Errorgraph Editor outlines some of Mr. Hazzard’s greatest hits, including this gem
Health orders are given as a guide to help the community get through what is a very difficult time. Some of them are precise and some of them are not
Yes, apparently he really said that. But the point of the editorial comes two sentences hence when the editor writes
There’s a chance Hazzard may retire at the next election. The Premier would be wise to accelerate this process
There it is, right there. An open call for the Premier to sack Mr. Hazzard. Since the election is taking place in 2023, that is surely what it means. The Minister has lost his master’s favour, and all that is left is for him to leave, with encouragement if necessary. But we live in a democracy remember. Before anyone suggests that this is merely an editorial, nothing gets printed in that rag without approval.
What is Going on Here? Analysis
For a publication that so often engages in blatant LNP propaganda, something is wrong here. As the title of this piece suggests, I would speculate that this article is the NSW version of the First Dog column. What is different here is the lack of anonymity. This was out and proud in the paper (including the front page) rather than buried. Rupert Murdoch is once again defending the Liberal Party as a brand, and some actual journalism also happened. This proves once again that objective, critical coverage of the LNP is possible, but that this partisan pandering propagandist chooses not to do it. Another point of note is the fact that this directs attention away from the rampant corruption within the NSW COALition. But credit where it is due: a broken clock is right twice a day and this piece, in rare form for this rag, is accurate in both its criticism of the health orders generally, and of Mr. Hazzard specifically. Rupe is still defending the Liberal Party as a brand, but it did result in some actual journalism.
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