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Tag Archives: ABC

Squeaky Clean

Rat with a gold toothPutting aside the fact that Julia Gillard was treated as a back-stabbing-murderess after she replaced Kevin Rudd as PM. Putting aside that she was labelled ‘the illegitimate PM’ even after she went straight to an election to let the ‘people decide’ and then won, but for some reason was then even more ‘illegitimate’ presumably because she led a minority government and it suited Abbott’s Liberals and their mates in the media to paint this as unstable when really it was the most productive government Australia has ever had. Putting aside the grand hypocrisy of none of these labels ever being assigned to Malcolm Turnbull when he plotted and schemed and white anted and undermined and destabilized and finally got what we all knew he wanted because he was quite openly campaigning for it: Abbott’s job. Putting aside that he hasn’t gone straight to an election and is instead intent of pretending he was legitimately chosen by the people to be PM when he quite clearly was not. Putting aside all these things which really make me so mad I could lose my mind, except that I won’t because it’s all so predictable that the Liberals would have their own leadership spill and it goes completely unnoticed by the mainstream media like a massive ‘meh’, when Labor’s leadership spill was the only thing the media wanted to talk about. For 5 years. What I really want to discuss today is the fascinating situation of Turnbull’s Prime Ministership where he can do NO WRONG, according to the mainstream media, and anything that does go wrong in his government is, incredibly, coincidentally, conveniently, somehow painted as still the last guy’s problem. Still Abbott’s fault. Except Abbott isn’t the PM anymore. Turnbull is. How the hell does Turnbull get away with this bullshit? He reminds me of the classic quote from the classic movie, Shawshank Redemption, but replace ‘Andy Dufresne’ with ‘Malcolm Turnbull’: Malcolm Turnbull – who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side. How? How is Turnbull squeaky clean after all the crawling through shit he’s been up to?

Take, for instance, the horrific and tragic case of rape victim and asylum seeker, ‘Abyan’. Dutton is in a bit of hot water over this. That’s not to say Dutton is in as much hot water as an Immigration Minister should be who has denied an asylum seeker, a frightened young woman, the dignity and human rights any human being deserves, for political gain. But there is some criticism of the way Dutton has handled this situation, such as here, here and here. And you will notice in this Dutton-criticism, Turnbull is either given a cursory mention, or not mentioned at all. As if he’s somehow not involved in this situation. As if he’s floating situation, detached, uninvolved, an innocent bystander. As if somehow Dutton wasn’t chosen to continue in his evil role of Immigration Minister in the new Turnbull government, and therefore doesn’t report to Turnbull like an employee reports to an employer, where the employer is ultimately responsible for the decisions made by that employee and liable for any damage done by that employee. Why is Turnbull not being held liable? How is he coming out of this squeaky clean?

Another example is the news this week that the rolling ball which Abbott started rolling in his ideological quest to eat away at the public’s ownership of Medicare by privatising some parts of it, with the ultimate goal of privatising all of it, is still rolling forward. I’m really glad there are news outlets letting us know about this treachery because it’s a really seriously important news story that all Australians would be interested in. But I don’t understand why articles about this news story, such as this one, fail to even mention the word ‘Turnbull’. Turnbull, who we all knows likes to talk, and likes to explain, and is even well known for his particularly patronising ‘mansplaining’ tone, which he no doubt uses because he looks down on all of us since we’re all poorer than he is, is completely silent on this issue. He’s had plenty of time to comment and as far as I can tell he’s made no comment. It’s really not hard to guess why he’s made no comment. There are two reasons: a) because he doesn’t want to be splattered in the dirt of this issue, having to explain why his government is considering turning our universal health sector into a profit making machine for potentially international companies who would then ‘own’ our health records and eventually may own our entire health system. And b) Turnbull loves this idea, and hopes if he keeps his mouth shut it will more likely slip through unscrutinised. Which it possibly will. Turnbull loves this idea both for ideological reasons and perhaps because he has money invested in the companies who will make billions out of taking over Australia’s Medicare system, money which will be filtered through the Cayman Islands, un-taxed and back into Malcolm’s pocket which is bulging with cash. Of course there is a class-war, and Malcolm’s pocket is winning.

Long-time readers of my blog will recognise that the longer my sentences, the angrier I am. My keyboard will also tell you that the intensity of my fingers hitting the keyboard is a fair indication of the level of blood boil going on. So yes, I’m angry about this ‘Turnbull getting away with swimming in shit, yet still being treated like the beloved-shiny-sparkling-glistening-in-the-sun-squeeky-clean-brand-new Prime Minister who can do no wrong’. I’m terrified the squeaky cleanliness will get Turnbull another Liberal term of government and all the horrors of his political agenda will come about, unabated by any real scrutiny, just like the media did when they betrayed the country by giving Abbott such a free pass. It’s not just News Ltd this time either. It’s also Fairfax, the ABC and even, inexplicably, the Guardian. I’m not asking for these media outlets to do anything except their job and their job is not to let Turnbull get away with zero scrutiny on issues damaging to Australians. Just do your jobs people. For the love of dog, just do your jobs.

 

Merry Christmas Gina and Rupert

If you go to Tony Abbott’s facebook page, at time of writing, you will find six threads about the Martin Place siege and one about the slaughter of innocent children in Pakistan.  Four days after its release, you will not find any comment about Hockey’s MYEFO.  That in itself should be cause for concern.

Tony Abbott has admitted he has little interest in the “dismal science” of economics and it appears he is hoping that applies to the rest of us.  He is sticking to his forte – death cults and shirt-fronting.

Despite telling us all to carry on our lives as normal, he seems determined to class the acts of one deranged individual as a terrorist attack on home soil.

When Australians responded by showing solidarity with the Muslim community through the “I’ll ride with you” campaign, the odious Miranda Devine found a new target.

“Thus it was that on Monday, while real people were suffering at the hands of an Islamic State-inspired terrorist in Martin Place, hashtag activists sprang to the defence of theoretical victims of an Islamophobia that wasn’t occurring.

The meaningless, narcissistic, one-sided nature of this “near silent encounter” perfectly symbolises the leftist ­approach to Islamist terrorism.

Denial, deflection, projection. They see themselves as morally superior to the rest of Australia, which they imagine as a sea of ignorant rednecks. In their eyes the threat is not terrorism but Islamophobia.”

This view was endorsed by LNP member for Dawson, George Christensen who tweeted

“#illridewithyou is a typical pathetic left wing black arm band brigade campaign, casting Aussies as racists who will endanger Muslims”

The colourful characters who frequent Andrew Bolt‘s blog joined in with a barrage of hate.

Whilst Abbott, Devine, Bolt and Christensen continue to pander to the minority of xenophobic racist rednecks, others have been commenting on the policy direction of this government and none of it is good.

Firstly, Joe Hockey has cost us $28.6 billion in foregone revenue over the forward estimates through his own decisions.

Carbon Tax                                                         $12.8 billion

MRRT                                                                    $3.4 billion

FBT on cars                                                           $1.8 billion

Tax on super earnings                                          $313 million

Work-related self-education                                  $266.7 million

Closing corporate tax avoidance                           $775 million

RBA                                                                      $8.8 billion (classed as foregone dividends)

Add to that his spending on Direct Action, the “war on terror” at home and abroad, and the extra spending on Operation Sovereign Borders and PPL and we would go close to wiping out his deficit of over $40 billion.

So when you hear the girlinator Cormann talking about Layboor’s debt and deficit disaster, understand you are being sold snake oil by a con man.

Speaking of con men, the G20 leaders must be wondering about our commitment to join the war on corporate tax avoidance which has been shown to be yet another example of Joe “over my dead body” Hockey’s ‘tell em what they wanna hear’.

The head of the Australian Tax Office, Chris Jordan, has described a tax lurk for multinational companies that is being retained by the Abbott government as having been “abused” by foreign corporations at a cost of “hundreds of millions of dollars” a year to the Commonwealth but Hockey, following consultation with the big four accountancy firms and the Corporate Tax Association, which represents the biggest listed companies, decided not to tinker with section 25-90 of the act.  And they had the hide to criticise Gillard and Swan for caving in on the mining tax though that was one time I found myself in agreement.

And they will have more pressure coming as the world insists that we take action on climate change.

During an appearance before a British parliamentary committee meeting held early Wednesday morning Australian time, British Prime Minister David Cameron was asked by an MP whether there was hope Australia would do more because “the new Australian government is in denial” on the issue.

Mr Cameron did not disagree and told the hearing there was hope Australia would step up its efforts.

“Australia will respond to international pressure and do more on climate change because it will not want to be seen as the “back marker”.”

The new revised GP co-payment has also been blasted.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has expressed its formal opposition to the Federal Government’s new co-payment model, labelling it a “wrecking ball”.

“That this should be instituted and ready to go by January 19 is, I think, absurd,” Associate Professor Owler said.  “Particularly when there has been absolutely no consultation on this issue.”

The OECD was also not impressed with Hockeynomics slamming his budget measures and stating that ‘close monitoring’ was required mentioning everything from changes to Newstart and pensions through to Direct Action, deregulation of uni fees, and choice of infrastructure spending.  They were particularly critical of superannuation tax concessions.  The overall implication was “you haven’t thought these measures through”.

And as Abbott has his photo taken in front of lots of Christmas trees, presents are being delivered around the country.

Up to 100 ABC journalists have been told they will become redundant and ADF personnel will face rent increases as well as other charges for live in accommodation and meals.

Australia has transformed into the global Scrooge just in time for Christmas, with spending on foreign aid set to plunge compared to other wealthy industrial countries.

An analysis of Treasurer Joe Hockey’s $3.7 billion cut to the aid budget announced on Monday – on top of the $7.6 billion cut in May – reveals that Australia’s generosity towards the world’s poor will fall to an all-time low.

Australia will soon devote a paltry 22¢ cents in every $100 of national income to foreign aid – less than half the amount spent by the Coalition government more than 40 years ago.

This is the news Tony Abbott and his band of elves don’t want you to discuss as they take from the poorest in the world to give generously to wealthy corporations and mining companies.  Gina and Rupert should be well pleased.

Utopia? Or dystopia?

I’ll start by saying I know I haven’t got a very good sense of humour. Things that other people find funny I often find embarrassing or sad. But I don’t really think my lack of sense of humour was the problem with this week’s episode of the ABC’s Utopia. It just wasn’t funny.

For those who didn’t see it, Utopia is about a quasi-government department called the Nation Building Authority, or Agency or whatever. In this week’s episode, the NBA’s attempt to build a container port is obstructed by an environmental impact statement that identifies the presence of an endangered grass on the site. There is also a second story running about the creation of an unnecessary, expensive, interactive all-bells-and-whistles website for the NBA, when some staff can’t even work out how to send an email.

So apparently we’re supposed to be laughing at two things. First, at public servants. Maybe you could argue that the NBA employees aren’t public servants as such, but they stand as proxy public servants. They variously have no idea what is going on, ignore the only person who has a clue, and are happy to ride their own expensive hobby horses to the detriment of everything else. In other words, a dose of public servant bashing. Now where else are we seeing that these days?

Second, we’re supposed to be laughing at allowing a small patch of uninteresting-looking grass to obstruct a major infrastructure work. When there is a meeting called about the grass, the department of environment sends about ten people (who are public servants), including one from an alpine park because although the port is to be on the coast, there is a river connecting it to the mountains. The NBA just wants them to go away, but the environmental spokesperson assumes there will be a working party set up and of course there is. How ridiculous! All this stupid green tape! What does it matter if some daggy grass disappears? Now somehow all that sounds familiar too, doesn’t it.

I gather that one of things the makers of the program wanted to do was to send up bureaucrat-speak, and the program does this quite cleverly. But why does that mean you have to set it in the pseudo public service? There’s bureaucrat-speak in the corporate world as well, you know. Why not try setting the series in a bank, where its financial advisers ripping off their customers? Too far-fetched you say? Maybe you’re right. Or if you want the show to be in a political environment, why not set it in a state or federal party organisation? You can’t get hold of enough brown paper bags? Pity.

My point is that it’s not funny to pick on victims that are already under the pump, particularly when they are being attacked by the rich and powerful. Is this really the time to have a go at public servants? Hockey’s budget ‘promises’ to remove 16,500 public servants over three years. And that doesn’t count the losses that could arise from the privatisation of processing Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits claims currently undertaken by the Human Services Department; at least another 20,000 could go. Being anti-public servant is such a lazy knee-jerk reaction. We want the services, and shouldn’t sneer at those who provide them.

As for making a joke of environmental safeguards, Tony Abbott would be proud. He wants to follow the example of Queensland’s Green Tape Reduction Act, and to hand environmental protection over to the states; there is currently a House of Representatives Committee enquiry into ‘streamlining environmental regulation, ‘green tape’, and one stop shops.’ No prizes for guessing what that will come up with. What we actually need is better environmental safeguards, regulations which do slow down major projects so we can be sure that they are actually in the community’s best interests.

I found the program off-key because I think it’s the rich and powerful that need to be satirized. The ABC does this sometimes. Auntie supports Clarke and Dawe, and in the past, The Chaser, both of which programs do make fun of the powers that be. There was of course also the cringe-worthy At Home with Juliawhich suggested that the ABC either had a political tin ear or a vindictive management. (So when are we going to see At Kirribilli with Tony?) The cast of Utopia is good; Rob Sitch for example, can be a very funny man. Utopia describes itself as ‘a satire about the difficult process of taking grand, uncosted, inadequately planned, fundamentally flawed schemes – and passing them off as “Nation Building”.’ And yes, that is something that we could laugh at – though I say that with some reservations – what reality is being satirised? Something called the NBA is just a bit too close to the NBN, and why buy into the Liberal agenda on that one? The ‘fundamentally flawed’ view of things was present in the episode. But it wasn’t the target that stood out for me. I saw public servants and environmental regulation in the gun – and I didn’t think it was funny.

Some Sacrifices Are Good, While Others Just Primitive!

“Asked about his threat on Wednesday to look for other savings measures that by-passed the senate, Mr Hockey said the government was working hard to get what it laid on the table through the parliament.

He agreed some of his budget measures meant Australians would have to make sacrifices.”

 

news.com.au 17th July, 2014

 

“Maurice Newman, who has been vocal in his climate change scepticism, has attacked governments, including the former Labor government, for pursuing “green gesture politics” by introducing carbon price signals in an opinion piece for the Murdoch-owned News Corp publication The Australian.

He likened the measures to “primitive civilisations offering up sacrifices to appease the gods”.”

Sydney Morning Herald, August 14th 2014

My rich friend picked me up today. We were going for lattes in spite of his obvious wealth. I mean it goes without saying that he’s very well off. He was driving a car and he was talking me over a kilometre to the coffee shop. When you factor in the return journey, that was well over a mile in the old scale  – just in case Abbott has returned us to imperial measurements by the time you’re reading this.

Of course, I asked him to pay for the coffee – anyone who can drive that far must clearly be able to spring for a cup of coffee for a poor writer like myself, but he seemed to have heard that the age of entitlement was over and suggested that as he’d already driven there then perhaps I should be the one paying for the coffees as people like him – the ones that own cars – had already contributed enough to the likes of me.

I had to admit that he had a point, so while I ordered the coffees he picked up the newspaper.

“Jihad Bludgers” screamed the headline.

“Mm,” I speculated, “surely The Herald-Sun isn’t suggesting that the jihadists aren’t working hard enough to make it happen.”

“No,” he explained, “apparently when they go overseas, the Government’s been cutting them off the welfare payments.”

“That seems a bit unfair. Why isn’t everyone on the dole stripped of their entitlements whenever they go on one of their overseas jaunts?”

“I think they would be, but I don’t actually think that people on the dole travel overseas all that often.”

“Right – so they’re not treating these people any differently. I guess they need to be careful how they report this, given the government’s broken promise on 18C, which we shouldn’t really consider a broken promise because he really meant it at the time and it’s only because of those bludging jihadists that he’s had to change his mind.”

“Yes, Andrew Bolt’s been writing about stopping Islamic migration for week’s now and because we haven’t removed 18C he can only vilify them on the grounds of religion, not which country they come from.”

“He hasn’t just been writing about that. Last week he was concerned about all the people writing anti-Semitic things about Israel.”

“Doesn’t he support the right to free speech?”

“No, it’s ok to be a bigot. But only if you’re bigoted against people he doesn’t like.”

“At least he’s consistent then.”

“Yeah, I can respect someone who has a different view, as long as they’re consistent.”

“Like Maurice Newman.”

“What’s he consistent on?”

“The only thing that matters is making money. That – and climate change being a myth.”

“No, I think you’ll find that’s not what he believes.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, he has an opinion piece in today’s Australian saying that we weren’t prepared for global cooling which is what one person is predicting, so I guess that means if the planet’s cooling then he must believe in climate change. Then he compared climate change measures to primitive societies making sacrifices to appease the gods.”

“Oh, I thought the Business Council wanted Australians to make sacrifices to get the Budget back in order.”

“Yes, but that’s completely different.”

“How?”

“In the same way that the ABC is biased and how when they have people from the IPA on, they never give them a chance to speak on climate change.”

“You think the ABC is biased? Don’t they have to ensure balance?”

“They’re meant to. But I was talking to a man the other day who said that he tried to get on after a scientist had described Mars as a lifeless planet. This guy – Bruce, I think his name was – said he was writing a book about how Mars is populated by tiny bugs and this is why the Martians had to move to earth and infiltrate our political ranks. And when he asked the ABC to stick to their charter of balance, they told him to come back when the book was published. Which, of course, will never happen.”

“Because the Martians will stop its publication?”

“No, of course not. It won’t get published because the man’s a raving lunatic who refuses to send it to publishers for fear that they’ll change the words.”

“So why do you think the ABC should have given him time?”

“For balance. I mean, people who are raving lunatics have a right to be heard too.”

“But don’t they get heard in the letters section of The Herald-Sun?”

“I just think if it’s good enough for the ABC to interview Eric Abetz, then why should they draw the line at a man who thinks we’re being invaded by Martians?”

“Surely, they have to draw the line somewhere. Why on earth would you interview a man who had no qualifications on the subject, no evidence and no idea what he was talking about just to achieve balance?”

“Now just a sec, it wasn’t the ABC who did the George Brandis interview on metadata…”

Our lattes arrived. At this point we always stop talking, because I have it on good authority that all latte saucers are bugged so that the government can listen to the likes of me as we plot its downfall.

But trying getting that on the ABC!

 

 

A question of balance

JamesCarleton-e1405549218653‘Where’s the balance?’ I raged as I listened to ABC Radio National this morning. In yet another example of a run-of-the-mill interview that you might hear on any news media platform or channel across this country, James Carleton was interviewing a business owner about the Carbon Tax. This interview may as well have been produced and gift-wrapped by the fishing industry’s PR firm, it so reeked of one-sided bias. But that’s the thing about balance that the mainstream media just don’t get. Or just don’t care about. Or both. Balance isn’t the ability to find someone who wants to speak in favour of the Carbon Tax (if these people have been interviewed in the mainstream media over the last few years, I must have missed it) and then to balance the argument, interview someone staunchly against the Carbon Tax, like Carleton’s guest this morning. That’s kindergarten simple thinking on what balance might be, and they can’t even get this right. No, an intelligent producer and interviewer would aim to find balance in the very questions they ask, so to provide an insight into the two sides of an argument within the one segment of news that they’ve given over to a particular topic for a limited amount of time.

So let’s look at how Carleton might learn from this sloppy, unbalanced interview. First of all, it’s important that the audience know who is being interviewed in order to properly frame their ‘well you would say that wouldn’t you’ opinion. Carleton introduced his interviewee Gary Heilmann as apparently a ‘small business’ owner, the managing director of De Brett Seafood at Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Carleton explained that Heilmann’s business includes a tuna fishing boat, a fish processing plant and a fish and chip shop. Fine. But it’s often what is left out of such an introduction which is so lazy on the part of the interviewer and also most telling. Because a quick Google of Heilmann makes it very clear that he isn’t just some random small business owner who the ABC happened to come across to provide his views on the repeal of the Carbon Tax. Here he is quoted in the Sunshine Coast Daily, posted on Liberal Mal Brough’s website, bemoaning the Carbon Tax back in March 2013. Here he is on the ABC’s website in 2011, apparently representing his own business and other fishing operators in lobbying the government to provide $76 million in compensation because of the proposed introduction of a marine park. In this article on the same topic from 2011, the author writes that ‘Fishing operators such as Heilmann say drastic measures are needed because Australia’s waters are over-fished’ and makes the point that since many operators have gone out of business, licenses have been cut back to 115 and Heilmann has slashed his fleet from 10 boats to only 2. This time he’s talking about the Coles fish price-war (aren’t free markets fun?). Here he’s complaining about the Sunshine Coast Regional Council building a roundabout that makes it hard for his fishing trucks to get away from the port of Mooloolaba (how dare the council try to improve traffic conditions for people visiting the beach when Heilmann’s trying to move stock!). And finally, here is Heilmann defending against claims that fishers were raiding Gold Coast recreational fishing areas, in, you guessed it, his role as Managing Director of his company, and a member of a tuna fishing industry advisory committee. Wouldn’t this background as a fishing industry media spokesman have been helpful to the balance of Heilmann’s Carbon Tax interview?

So what questions might Carleton has asked so to at least challenge Heilmann’s pre-prepared-press-release-like rant about why the Carbon Tax is bad for his business and must-be repealed? What could Carleton have done to provide some balance, rather than offering nothing more than the perfect Dorothy-Dixer-like combination of questions which came off sounding like they had been written by Heilmann himself to keep his flow of ‘I’m anti-Carbon-Tax-and-my-opinion-is-important-because-I’m-a-business-owner’ script perfectly intact? How could Carleton have avoided the same-old-lame-overused-statement that was so perfectly rehearsed it sounded like Abbott himself had planted it in Heilmann’s head, when he said ‘governments… have simply managed to drive the cost up to the point where it’s just not worth being in business anymore because you can’t generate a return on the assets’. I know what you’re thinking. I know you’re thinking it’s not Carleton’s fault that Heilmann so perfectly slotted into the Abbott anti-Carbon-Tax narrative which brought us to this point tonight where the Carbon Tax is, devastatingly for the environment, about to be repealed. But it is Carleton’s fault and it’s every journalist’s fault who has given exactly this sort of interview all the airtime it ever wanted, without once asking a question that challenged the very basis of the argument about pricing carbon. What if he’d tried even one of these questions, just to throw an alternative argument into the mix and to provide some balance for the audience:

‘Being a fisherman, and clearly concerned about over-fishing, you must be concerned with the sustainability of not just your business, but also your family’s safety in the environment you live and work in. Do you worry that climate change will have a detrimental effect on the sustainability of your livelihood and the sustainability of the planet we live on?’

‘Do you think it’s appropriate for a government to put the concerns about business profit for a handful of business owners ahead of their concerns for the safety of our planet in an unstable climate?’

‘What policy would you prefer the government introduce to encourage large polluters to cut down on their carbon emissions instead of the Carbon Price, to change their business practices to ensure we limit the catastrophic effects of climate change? Or do you not believe climate change is real?’

‘Have you considered renewable solutions such as solar energy to cut down on your high electricity costs, in order to improve your margins and to make your business more sustainable as fossil fuels continue to deplete and grow in cost?’

‘If you can’t make a profit running your business in a sustainable way, is it time to think about doing something else and to stop blaming the government for every challenge your business faces? If you can’t run your business without producing unsustainable amounts of carbon emissions, isn’t it better for the community if you do try something different?’

If people like Heilmann don’t want to answer such questions, they can choose not to be interviewed on a national radio station. Someone else can be interviewed instead. How about me? I would be happy to answer balanced questions about a particular topic. But I would never be invited because I’m not a business owner or an industry spokesperson. I guess that’s the thing that’s most disappointing about Carleton’s interview in the first place. Journalists like Carleton never interview a nobody like me who has to actually live in the community where climate change is happening. The Carbon Price was not just some economic burden on large polluters. It was designed to try to save our planet. How about interviewing a member of the community on this topic, rather than a whinging-he-would-say-that-wouldn’t-he-self-interested-axe-the-tax-business-owner. Just for a change.

An apology to Lord Deben

For anyone who thinks the ABC shows left wing bias, I suggest you have a look at the disgraceful display by Emma Alberici on Lateline last night when she tried very hard to discredit the chairman of the UK Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben.

Her tone of voice the whole way through implied that this very eminent man was talking crap.  Her attack on him and her defence of Tony Abbott’s policies were humiliating and shown to be so by Lord Deben.

The appointment of far right wingers Janet Albrechtsen and Neil Brown to the Nomination Board for the ABC and SBS must have given Emma some pleasure, though Jonathan Holmes does not agree.  He said if Dr Watt, who made the appointments,

“thinks that these two are the most suitable people in Australia to ensure that appointments to the ABC and SBS boards are, and are seen to be, merit-based and non-partisan, he is profoundly stupid.

If, on the other hand, he has made the appointments at the unacknowledged insistence of Tony Abbott, he is pusillanimous.”

A clue to Alberici’s behaviour may be found at The Spectator where Neil Brown regularly spits his poison.  Two weeks ago, in a rant against people who suggest income inequality is a problem, he said

“It is like climate change, a defence for all seasons; whether we have cold snaps or hot snaps, floods or droughts, full dams or empty, good seasons or bad, it must all be due to climate change and don’t you dare deny the science, even if it is really religion.”

J. R. Hennessy describes Albrechtsen’s position on climate change as follows

“Albrechtsen’s position on climate change is emblematic of the general corporate position: it might be happening, but who are we to try and stop it? It’ll cost too much. Besides, humanity is pretty tough. We’ll probably survive a raise in temperature. A warmer climate might even be nice. It’s probably the worst middle-ground position in the history of boring centrism. To accept climate change as probably real, potentially our fault, but not worth stopping is hardly an opinion worth articulating. It’s a moronic, self-serving position best whispered in an otherwise empty room rather than trumpeted on the front page of a bad newspaper.”

No doubt we will be seeing a lot more of Lord Monckton back on the ABC.

So in closing, I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to Lord Deben for the ignorant rudeness he endured at the hands of Ms Alberici, and to assure him that there are many of us who agree with his assessment and will see it as our duty to global action on climate change to vote out these colossal fossils as soon as we can.

Oh and Emma, saying “with respect” does not compensate for you supercilious self-important arrogance.

Introducing the new “ABC free” AUSTRALIA … now with extra ignorance, selfishness and cruelty

(Or why we need the ABC)

abc

Since the coalition’s Murdoch lead victory in last September’s federal election there has been a palpable shift in our national narrative. The images of a sun burnt country forged by convict sweat and hard working immigrants is fading fast, and in its wake a new story is being fashion.

It is a tale of well intentioned, hard working corporations, (who really just want to keep us all employed), being squeezed by draconian regulations and pushed offshore by rampant, out of control wages. It’s the chronicle of a government being driven into the red, not by cutting taxes for the wealthy and turning a blind eye to the corporate “offshoring” of profits (read “legal” tax evasion), but by those lazy unemployed/disabled bludgers on welfare, and their “anti business” environmentalist buddies. It’s the saga of nation overrun by so called “illegals” intent on subverting our immigration laws for the sole purpose of suckling endlessly on OUR government teat, (Ironically most of whom are coming here LEGALLY as refugees).

These new LNP/Murdoch sanctioned mantras are repeated so often, and with such earnest conviction it seems people are finding it pretty damn hard not to buy into it. There are even those in the Labor party who seem quite happy to have joined the chorus.

I hear it everywhere I go, everyday Aussies out there parroting the coalition’s vitriolic hatred for anything even vaguely related to the unions, the unemployed, the environment, asylum seekers, disability pensioners, ABC lefties, foreign aid, etc.

So why all the negative jawboning?

Well, if you read the papers Australia has, up until our recent electoral liberation, been a nation under siege by left wing “special interests”! Because of this evil leftist scourge we have been forced to endure such indignities as the 2nd highest standard of living in the world (after Norway), the planets largest houses, one of the worlds best/most affordable health care systems, quality education, disposable incomes such that we can afford to be the be the worlds leading per capita emitters of of CO2, and the dubious privilege of ranking 69th in our per capita refugee intake (49th in overall terms).

australia__s_contribution_to_the_asylum_seekers_by_wordswithmeaning-d56owrr

When you lay it out like that it’s easy to see why we have all been so unhappy, we have been really suffering! Clearly something had to be done.

But seriously, something has happened to us. If you listen to the rhetoric, it would seem we are no longer a nation that strives for the fair go, but rather one that values our own perceived self interest above all other concerns.

I scratch my head and wonder, how did this happen? When did Australia become a place that embraces the social and political agendas of the most ignorant, selfish and cruel among us?

It wasn’t that long ago that Australian public opinion was DEEPLY CONCERNED with the environmental legacy we are leaving for our children. As recently as last year people seemed happy to talk about the scandal that is corporate tax evasion. There was even a time, in living memory, when refugees that came here by boat were welcomed with a broad smile and a hand up.

So what happened? How did the social and moral imperative get banished from our national narrative? Did it happen by accident, or by design? And if by design, then by who’s hand?

And then there’s the bigger questions. Exactly who’s interests are served by these apparent changes in our attitudes? And is anyone standing against the tide?

The sculpting of public opinion has a long history and there are many tools, such as fear and scapegoating, that have been used to great effect through out the ages. “Group think”, for example is an extraordinarily powerful weapon, (after all who wants to run outside the herd, everyone knows how dangerous that is). The truth however has never been a necessary component when seeking to sway the prevailing sentiments of the masses.

William James, the father of modern Psychology notably once quipped “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will not believe it”. This rather glib observation was most infamously put into practice by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, (a man on whom the power of the press was most certainly not lost), who used the simple “lie, repeat, lie, repeat, lie, repeat” principle to whip up the greatest genocidal frenzy in history.

More recently Goebbel’s philosophical musing “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play” has been turned on it’s head by the irrepressible Rupert Murdoch, our prodigal puppeteer d’jour, who, like some gruesomely wizened “whack a mole” has popped up here again to lead his relentless political cheer squad for which ever side will acquiesce to do his bidding. It would appear that, in spite of his meddling hand being beaten down in UK and much of the USA now being hip to the fact that “FOX NEWS” is an oxymoron, if you hand the old boy a monopoly he’ll show you he’s still got it.

murdoch-puppet_1940215i

One rather startling revelation that came out of the UK’s recent Levinson enquiry into press standards , was was that Murdoch had actively lobbied former UK prime minister John Major to change the Torries policy on the EU, lest he engage in willfully biased coverage in order to “hand the election” to Blair’s New Labor (a party/man seemingly more willing to do his bidding). Major refused to allow Murdoch to dictate policy and was duly slammed by the Murdoch press, who came out swinging hard for Blair.

So in spite of the Torries having had a clear lead in the polls up until Major’s “disagreement” with Murdoch, the Torries, (much like Gillard), found the power of a vindictive, inflammatory press mobilised against them simply too great to overcome. Blair was elected and the rest, as they say, is history.

While the Brits were duly outraged, you would think something so blatantly corrupt as seeking to dictate government policy in return for favourable press would raise a dubious brow from someone back here in Aus; but much like the “March in March” (a mysteriously unnoticed gathering of over 100,000 Australia wide) somehow it failed to be deemed newsworthy enough to make any significant impression on the Australian mainstream media.

So… If a media baron is dictating government policy in return for press support, but no one ever hears about it, is the political process actually being subverted? Probably, (but then who has time to worry about such things when we are all so busy hating and punishing refugees).

no to refugeesNauru Detention Centre

Or… If a crowd gathers in the city and no one is there to report it, did it really gather? Maybe it did in the hearts and minds of those who were there, but for anyone else, or in the archives of history?… Well maybe not.

march in march

We have been told a lot of things recently, (much of it negative), about everything from the unions to environmentalists, from asylum seekers to the NBN. And while it’s easy to put a question mark over anything a politician might say in an effort to popularise their chosen policy agenda; I can not help but wonder if a press core that is practically a monopoly, (and known to actively pursue it’s owners personal agendas), is actually telling us the whole truth, or even any small part of it?

Like many others I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’re being fed a grab bag of skilfully crafted misinformation, half truths and innuendo designed to direct our hostility toward the poor and disenfranchised, or anyone out there pushing for a fairer, more sustainable policy agenda.

According to the official story, Australians are apparently (on average) far richer than we were 10 years ago… but for some rather opaque reason we just don’t feel it.
I can’t help but wonder why that is?

Is it because we feel more entitled than we used to? (If we don’t have a car, a mobile phone, a laptop, an ipad, a kindle, a 50″ TV, Foxtel, Quickflix, a yearly overseas holiday, and at least 3 restaurant meals a week we think we are suffering an intolerable injustice?).

Is it that we are constantly being assaulted by the relentless negativity of a 24 hour news cycle, telling us that our unfettered access to “more stuff” is being threatened by the poor and disenfranchised?

Or maybe it’s that the wealth is only going to the top end of town, and no one else is reaping the benefit?

It’s perfectly understandable that when we are feeling squeezed we like to have someone to blame, but it is worth asking ourselves, is our anger being misplaced?

Here we are, literally seething with contempt for refugees, single mothers, greenies, protesters, students, socialists, the disabled, lefties, intellectuals and the all those former bank and manufacturing workers that have now joined the ranks of the unemployed. Meanwhile the gap between the haves and have nots is at an all time high. Our trusty government is busy reducing taxes for the top end of town, Corporate profits are breaking records left and right, (but strangely corporate tax receipts are not, Google, for example, had revenue of over $1 billion in Australia in 2012, and yet paid only $74k tax). CEO’s wages and share options continue to defy gravity, and our banks, whilst being incredulously profitable, are shipping jobs off shore faster than you can say “transaction fee”, and so it goes…

*(brings to mind a joke I heard recently: A banker, a Daily Telegraph reader and a refugee are out to lunch. The waiter puts down a plate with twelve biscuits on it; the banker takes eleven, nudges the Telegraph reader and says “hey watch it mate, that refugee wants your biscuit”)

Everyone knows trickle down economics is bunk, and yet we keep buying into the myth, lauding the lords and kicking the powerless. The cognitive dissonance simply staggering!

So my question is this…Who’s interests does this new hateful narrative really serve? Murdoch and his buddies in the 1%, or those of us in the mortgage belt?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not wholly blaming Murdoch. We all lobby for our own interests, and why should he be any different. What I am saying however is that a virtual monopoly concentration of Australia’s media in any ones hands is dangerous. We need visible, diverse mainstream media to give a balanced range of views.

We also need some measure of mainstream media presence that is not driven by profit, or dictated to by advertising revenue and share holder values. We need a media that is prepared to objectively challenge the veracity of the story as told to us by Murdoch, (and given the governments proposed changes to section 18c of the racial vilification act this is now more important than ever).

In short, we need our ABC.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’LetitiaMcQuade’ show_count=’yes’]

It seems that some in the Labor Party are talking to the ABC.. But I have my sources too!

 

“It is understood Mr Shorten made it clear to Senator Conroy the military commander deserves respect, but did not demand he apologise.

The ABC has been told this has surprised and disappointed several Labor MPs, with one saying the party should not defend the indefensible.”

ABC, February 26th 2014.

Well, here we go again!

I acknowledge that there are times when it’s legitimate to report what anonymous sources are saying. When the source is a whistleblower who is risking their job or their life to put the information on the public record, then there’s a reason for keeping their identity hidden. To report anything an unnamed member of Parliament said is not news, it’s gossip. Was it on the record? Why no names? Was it off the record? Why publish?

One could argue that the Labor MPs could be risking their job, I suppose. But one could also argue that by criticising Shorten to the media that they’re also risking their jobs, unless they’re planning to quit next election or in a very safe seat.

The thing about a statement like that is that it’s impossible to verify and therefore very easy to just make up. I’m not suggesting that the ABC did this. I’m just suggesting that when a news organisation publicises comments from unnamed MPs we have no way of judging their veracity. To move from the actual Shorten/Conroy situation to a few recent potential stories:

Imagine if a news outlet had published any of the following:

“Liberal sources say that Tony Abbott was happy when Toyota announced its closure.”

“Politicians on Nauru have confirmed that they’ve removed the Chief Justice in order to make sending asylum seekers back where they came from easier.”

“News Limited reporters admit to hacking in Australia but confident nobody would dare do anything about it.”

“Close friend of senior Liberal confirms that his wife was distressed to find after DNA tests that her children did, in fact, belong to her husband.”

“LNP sources confirm that Campbell Newman is, in fact, a robot”

In all of the above cases, the stories would be challenged. People would want to know who was making such an allegation. I suspect that no respectable news organisation would publish any of them unless there was some proof offered, or unless the source was prepared to go public.

But for some reason, “Labor sources” – even though anonymous – have been worthy of quoting for the past couple of years. Are Labor politicians the only ones who talk to the media? Apart from Sharman Stone who made public statements, is there nobody on the Coalition’s side of politics who quietly tells journalists over a drink that they think that Scott Morrison is a potential liability or that Tony Abbott has made a complete hash of Fiona Nash. (Now, there’s a sub-editor’s dream headline!)

Of course, the point is there doesn’t need to be. I can say that a source told me that Malcolm Turnbull is really unhappy with Abbott on a number of issues and is planning to count the numbers when the Liberals fall below 40% on their primary in their internal polling. Yes, in the context of everything else I’ve said so far, I don’t expect you to believe that anyone was prepared to say that to me. But you’ve no way of checking. However, the story becomes a lot less interesting if you discover that the person I’m quoting is my hairdresser and not a member of the Parliamentary Liberal Party. (Of course, if there’s a story in a couple of months where Turnbull resigns from Cabinet over this or that, citing priniciple, then my hairdresser becomes a much more interesting source!)

The reason that the journalist has a right to protect his or her source for the story is that this enables people to speak more freely and to help the media discover the truth. If an opinion or a reaction is quoted, then that opinion or reaction is only of real interest where we know who that person is. There’s no real story in writing that sources within the Labor Party were outraged at – for example – Joel Fitzgibbon being left out of the Shadow Cabinet, if the only source of that is Joel Fitzgibbon. Similarly, quoting an unnamed Liberal Minister who says that he feels they got it wrong by installing Tony Abbott and blocking the ETS takes on a new meaning if you discover the source is Malcolm Turnbull.

Somebody’s opinion may add to our understanding of the “News”, but not unless we know the motives and the qualifications of that person. “Several Labor MPs” has no more real meaning than “someone I know whose friend works in Canberra”. Notwithstanding the fact that the friend may be an impeccable source, it just doesn’t sound like the sort of thing one should repeat with authority.

ABC – its size threatens democracy according to Bolt, who frequently argues that size doesn’t matter!

 

From Blot on The Landscape’s Blog:

“The ABC would be very, very stupid to take this as a comfort rather than a threat:

TONY Abbott has cast doubt on whether an independent inquiry could finish the debate over bias at the ABC, predicting the broadcaster’s “political correctness” would always make him want to occasionally “throw something at the television set”.

Amid debate about the ABC’s reporting of abuse allegations against the navy, the Prime Minister yesterday declined to support Defence Minister David Johnston’s call for an inquiry into editorial standards.’

ABC apologists will say good, no inquiry.

In fact, Abbott has concluded what I reluctantly have, too: that the ABC simply can’t and won’t redress its ingrained Leftist bias. That leaves conservatives with two options: to simply accept that a massive state-funded media will campaign forever for the Left in breach of its charter, or to cut the ABC down to a less threatening size for a healthy democracy.

Guess which of those two alternatives most appeals?”

Less threatening size? For a healthy democracy? Now, I seem to remember reading from Bolt – among many others – that the size of Murdoch’s empire was no problem in today’s age of ready access to a variety of other sources. The fact that Limited News publishes over seventy per cent of newspapers – including the only ones in some cities – was no threat at all to our democratic system.

But then I also remember them arguing that there was no need for an inquiry into Murdoch’s operations in Australia – the goings-on in Britain were, after all, in Britain. There’s no need to think that the way an organisation behaves in one place should make one suspicious of them in another country. That would be like investigating a church because of a few bad apples in the bunch, or launching an inquiry into the whole union movement when corruption was alleged in a couple of unions.

Less threatening size for democracy? Now, I know some of you will think that he really means “less threatening size for Ruper’s intention to hold a monopoly on all newst”. But that’s unfair. There’s no evidence of that.

However, I’m more concerned at our Prime Minister’s desire to “throw something at the set”. (Perhaps, one could suggest that he throw something at the wall – on either side -beside the set.) It does suggest a certain frustration at what he terms “political correctness” – a shame that we weren’t given examples of the sorts of things he’s talking about.

I suppose that we could put criticism of the navy down as a definite. (Peter Reith did have a rather confused column today where he congratulated David Johnston for his passionate attempt to gain acknowledgement that he was in fact our Defence Minister by rushing to the defence of the Navy as soon as Peta had given him permission to speak. Reith then went on to tell us that the whole “children overboard” thing was because the navy had given him the wrong information and then that naughty ABC gave him a hard time when all that had happened was that those navy people had got things wrong.)

Similarly, Mr Abbott probably gets very annoyed when the ABC persists in calling people “asylum seekers” when the official edict is that they should be called “illegals” and the unofficial edict demands they be referred to as “dangerous desperadoes” or simply “those people”.

Then, of course, when the ABC demonstrate their clear bias by referring to the Opposition Leader as Mr Shorten, instead of “Electricity Bill” as the Government has suggested. And again, when they fail to mention that it’s the Carbon Tax that’s led to the car manufactures closing, even though they’re not ceasing production until well after the Carbon Tax is supposed to be abolished.

Yes, I can see that there’s a lot that could get Mr Abbott all worked up. My suggestion is that he should watch another channel or, better yet, not bother with the news at all, including making appearances on it. I know that he did try to make himself as scarce as possible after the election, and that seemed to have a positive effect on his approval rating.

Enough of this. There are more important stories to write about at the moment. For instance, does anyone know where Schapelle spent her first night of freedom and what she ate for breakfast? Let’s face it, now that “Breaking Bad” is over, there’s a large gap in many people’s lives.

Words Matter – But Don’t Call Rupert Murdoch Un-Australian

Image by shirtoid.com

Image by shirtoid.com

“Paid parental leave is a workplace entitlement, it’s not a welfare entitlement, and that’s why it should be paid at people’s wages in the same way that sick pay or holiday pay is paid at people’s wages.”  Tony Abbott

Then, is the entitlement in this sentence from Mr Hockey, different?  “I say to you emphatically, everyone in Australia must do the heavy lifting. The age of entitlement is over, the age of personal responsibility has begun,”

Words matter.

“We will strive to govern for all Australians, including those who didn’t vote for us.” Tony Abbott on being sworn in as PM

Of course, when you think about it, it’s a fairly meaningless statement. Can one ever imagine a PM announcing: “We will govern for those who voted for us, the ones who didn’t can please themselves about whether we’re the government or not.”

Yes, I know that Tony is trying to imply that he’ll be trying to help everyone. He does go on to say:

“We won’t forget those who are often marginalised; people with disabilities, Indigenous people and women struggling to combine career and family.

“We will do our best not to leave anyone behind.” 

But I can’t help wondering what it means to not be left behind. I mean, where are we going apart from into the future. And, if anyone’s been left behind when it comes to the future, does that mean that they’re stuck in the past? Mm, stuck in the past, now where have I heard that…

Then again, our Prime Minister – who it’s alleged dropped out of the priesthood when he discovered that, even if he achieved his ambition of becoming Pope, some Catholics would still consider God in charge – did suggest that the ABC was un-Australian when it reported certain stories. Should one conclude that – in governing for all Australians – the government won’t be governing for those who are “un-Australian”? Surely, if all those foreign owned news outlets can suppress stories that are unflattering to Australia, then surely, surely the ABC should do the same.

For example – apart from the un-Australian ABC – should we also consider those people who gain citizenship here but still want a connection to the country of their birth, in-Australian? Now, I don’t mean our English PM, Abbott, who argues against a republic and wants to maintain our links to Britain. I mean, Italians and Greeks who cheer for their heritage in the World Cup instead of the Socceroos.

When one takes on the citizenship of another country, one should forget all affection for one’s previous homeland. Take Rupert Murdoch, who after renouncing us to become a US citizen has never shown the slightest concern about Australia. He’s the sort of role model that we want for our migrants.

Cory Bernardi had it right when he expressed concern about Muslims who want to impose sharia law which is opposed to sexual permissiveness, promiscuity and gay marriage. We shouldn’t allow Muslims to tell us what should and shouldn’t be allowed in Australia – that’s the job of Christians like him.

Words matter. They have meaning, but when Joe Hockey says that we all have to the “heavy lifting” I have no real idea what he’s talking about. When Abbott talks about being “un-Australian”, I find it as confusing as when he suggested that the asylum seekers were “un-Christian”. When Barnaby Joyce talks, I’m just confused!

So when we hear that the age of entitlement is over, that wages are too high, that penalty rates are unnecessary and that because some unions are corrupt we need a Royal Commission (why was there no Royal Commission into the AWB?),  I can’t help but wonder if Joe’s actually saying that the age of work place entitlements is also over. We were told that Work Choices was dead. How long someone tries to argue that meant eliminating choices in work was part of the Liberals’ mandate?

Words matter.

“Language is a Virus From Outer Space”

Doors

“Language is a Virus From Outer Space”  William S. Burroughs 

I read in one of the comments that this site was “a joke”. Whenever someone disparages something by calling it a joke, I often ask them what’s funny about it.

“Nothing,” they invariably reply.

“Then why did you call it a joke?” I politely inquire.

“Because it’s ridiculous/stupid/dumb/(consult thesaurus rather than have me go on)” they splutter.

“Then why didn’t you say that, because by calling it a joke you implied that there was something that I wasn’t getting.”

“I’ll give you something in a minute,” is often their response at this point.

Of course, I’d like to think that rational engagement will change people’s minds. I’d like to believe that people are capable of taking in the evidence, the arguments and distinguishing fact from opinion, then coming up with a reasoned reaction to whatever’s under discussion. I also like to think that Santa will still give me presents even though I stopped believing in him. Sadly, I doubt that any of things are likely to happen.

Listening to callers on the ABC today – many who supported the ABC, by the way – I was struck by the thought that I often have. Why are the Right so angry? The Left, even when we have an allegedly left wing government, have a world that’s full of unfairness, so they always have something to be potentially angry about. And, even though I totally disagree with them, for the three years of the Gillard government, there was the argument that Tony Abbott should be Prime Minister because the Liberals got more seats than Labor. Or rather the Liberals when you add them to the Nationals got more seats than Labor, but Labor cheated by adding seats from other parties and Independents to give themselves enough seats to claim government.

Yeah, Opposition sucks. So I can understand someone being angry, even if I think that they have no right to be.

But why are they still so angry?

How dare the ABC report unsubstantiated allegations from people with a vested interest in making the navy look bad!!!

Well, how do you feel about the unsubstantiated allegations about Julia Gillard? Or even Craig Thomson?

That’s different.

How?

You’re not going to defend that pathetic, dysfunctional government, are you? You Labor types are all the same. Labor are the worst party in the history of the world.

Look I haven’t even said that I voted Labor…

You didn’t vote GREENS? They’re even worse.

I didn’t say I voted for anyone, but how can The Greens be worse than the “worst party in the history of the world”?

The Greens are the worst party in the history of the universe!

*           *            *

At this point, should one attempt to point out that, for now anyway, the world is still in the universe? Or will it just lead to a diatribe about that not being the point and that I’m attempting to change the subject which was the ABC bias against the Liberals, Australia, Australians, Andrew Bolt, the Flag, Rinehart, the Monarchy, the IPA, heterosexuals, cigarettes, men, millionaires, billionaires, Murdoch, free speech, racists, non-academics views on climate change, people who drink beer, people who ring up to abuse their presenters and the way they keep reporting things that would be better left unreported.

When Tony Abbott asked whether you believe the navy or the people trying to “break Australian law”, it was the sort of question that we asks ourselves every time conflicting versions of an event are broadcast. (I would suggest that Abbott’s phrasing of the question invited bias.) Undoubtedly, many people will believe that the navy is the more trustworthy source, but surely there’s a danger if the national broadcaster decides not air accusations simply because they’re coming from a group that may have a vested interest in misrepresenting events. If that vested interest is clearly exposed, we can make up our own minds. Should the ABC, for example, refuse to report the concerns from groups opposed to wind farms because many are simply NIMBYs or refuse to run any statements from the Business Council?

And, if there were mistakes or inaccuracies in the reporting of the recent incident, they should be corrected. However, to argue angrily that the ABC shouldn’t report accounts because they may not be true seems a little rich when it comes from the same people who were repeating allegations about Julia Gillard from twenty years ago.

Ah, as I said earlier, I’d like to think that reason and rational thought would influence people’s thinking, but instead it’s often emotion and gut feeling. And that makes me disappointed, angry and frustrated.

Which really is a joke, when I think about it.

The corrosive influence of Murdoch divides and conquers

Image courtesy of antinuclear.net

Image courtesy of antinuclear.net

The shadow of Rupert Murdoch and his loss making propaganda machine looms large over the Abbott Government and its far right agenda.

The victim of the agenda this time? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The beloved Australian institution, often affectionately called “Auntie”, is under coordinated attack from News Corporation’s Australian newspapers.

Tony Abbott recently gave his friends in the media the all clear to enter full attack mode after he said to his mate Ray Hadley at 2GB that:

” . . . the ABC instinctively takes everyone’s side but Australia’s.”

It is clearly an outrageous statement. But why should this surprise anyone? He’s prone to making those.

He was obviously irritated by coverage that was damaging to his government in relation to the Snowden leaks and allegations of abuse perpetrated by the Australian Navy against asylum seekers.

Before I go any further, I should probably take you back a few steps.

The ABC has traditionally been in the crosshairs of most conservatives — who want to control the whole media agenda. To them, compared to the one-eyed coverage from Australia’s Murdoch-dominated conservative press, the ABC is “left wing biased”.

In most reasonable Australian’s minds, however, the ABC provides fair, balanced and award winning coverage. Immeasurably better than the frothing right-wing Orwellian “fair and balanced” coverage provided by Murdoch’s Fox News at any rate.

Chief among the critics is the far right “think tank”, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) — a lobby group for hire. The IPA is able to act as mouthpiece for its business sponsors without any requirement to disclose who they actually are, whilst pretending in the media to be a venerable independent research institute. In truth, this is nothing more than a scam and a corporate rort — but don’t expect the Abbott Government to announce a royal commission into that any time soon.

Many people may not be aware that Rupert Murdoch’s father Keith helped establish the IPA — which itself, in turn, helped establish the Liberal Party. Indeed, Rupert was much heralded guest speaker at the IPA’s recent 70th anniversary celebration.

A cosy and closely intertwined relationship indeed.

The guest list at that event reads like a progressives nightmare — Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart, Andrew Bolt and, of course, Tony Abbott.

The IPA is, without question, politically partisan lobby group that works closely in tandem with the Liberal Party and its corporate sponsors — including its public relations arm, the Murdoch media.

The IPA have been very open in saying they want the ABC sold off and again spruiked this desire recently as part of their wish list for Abbott to undertake.

In fact, in a brazen display of political pork-barrelling, the Abbott Government recently appointed the stereotypical smug self-entitled Tory Tim Wilson, the former IPA director, to a $325,000 role as a Human Rights Commissioner — what Attorney General George Brandis calls his “Freedom Commissioner”. More Orwellian phrases from this Government.

Wilson, during his time at the IPA, actually called for the end of the Human Rights Commission (HRC). He is also someone who went on countless episodes of ABC’s The Drum calling for “smaller government” and an end to “government waste” — yet was delighted to drop his job at the IPA in an instant to receive a cushy Government sinecure. Hypocrisy much?

All this would all be light and shade, apart from the fact the IPA is believed to be heavily financially backed by Rupert Murdoch. This is difficult to establish because, as mentioned, they refuse to officially acknowledge who funds their “think tank” and its operations. However, we do know the IPA have received the foreign media mogul’s largesse in the past.

The IPA is many things, but one of them is most certainly not a think tank. It is an agent and agent provocateur for far right vested interests.

These attacks on the ABC are part of a long term Murdoch desire to delegitimise the highly respected institution in the minds of Australians and legitimise the cuts at the ABC the IPA and Murdoch want — chiefly to hamstring a competitor to Murdoch’s foreign-owned propaganda outfit.

And this is an agenda to which Abbott and his cabinet will surely oblige.

High on Murdoch’s wish list is to pick up the $250 million 10 year Australia Network contract. Whether he gets this is yet to be seen, but there appear to be moves by the Abbott Government to strip it from ABC and maybe even shut it down.

Why all the efforts to please the IPA and Murdoch?

Well, the Liberals, for the most part, owe the fact they are in Government to the the Murdoch network. The biased coverage of News Corp Australia’s newspapers during the last 4 years – and most particularly the election campaign, as steered by Murdoch apparatchik Col Allan of New York Post fame – was instrumental in getting Abbott into office — an office he simply never merited.

That’s what makes these developments most galling.

The Abbott Government is apparently concerned about bias at ABC and yet they give the Murdoch press a complete free pass to act in the most irresponsible manner possible on a range of fronts — whether it be political bias, climate change or promoting its own business interests.

If this is about the standard of media in this country, isn’t it reasonable to expect them to look beyond Liberal Party self-interest?

Critics of the ABC will say there is a different standard expected because it is taxpayer funded organisation, but isn’t it reasonable to expect all media – whether funded by taxpayers or not – to act in a fair, reasonable and ethical manner. The Murdoch media fail that test on a daily basis.

And do we really want a country where media considers blind patriotism before the any other consideration?

As usual, the corrosive influence of Murdoch divides and conquers and moves the agenda ever more to the right.

Make sure to keep an eye on the IPA and their wish list. I suspect more of their wishes will come true by virtue of a keen and willing government.

The vigilant among us need to keep them to account and shine a spotlight on how they collude and cooperate.

We don’t want Murdoch becoming in Australia what his mates the Koch Brothers have become in the United States, which is exactly the way it’s heading.

This article has also been published on Independent Australia under The ABC, the IPA and Abbott’s debts to Murdoch.

Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

Andrew Bolt and Cane Toads, Both As Indigenous As Each Other!

Image

Compilation by author

A few days ago, Andrew Bolt shared a rather strange idea:

“I AM an indigenous Australian, like millions of other people here, black or white. Take note, Tony Abbott. Think again, you new dividers, before we are on the path to apartheid with your change to our Constitution.

I was born here, I live here and I call no other country home. I am therefore indigenous to this land and have as much right as anyone to it.”

Of course, that caused a bit of a controversy. And, I am aware that Bolt thrives on controversy and does so deliberately – because let’s face it when it comes to his place in the media, it’s really all he has. Yes, I’m sure that some of you will say that if you just ignore him, then he’ll go away. While I can see some merit in that argument, I also think that lies and misinformation need to be challenged. Otherwise, we end up with things like Jon Faine telling a talkback caller that the Liberals took the sale of Australia Post to the election as one of their policies. Does anyone remember that? The sale of Medibank Private was tucked away in their fine print, but I can find nothing nor can I remember anything about it.

And so to the word “indigenous”. People are arguing. Some are saying that “technically” he’s right. However, I can find no definition to support even a technical argument to enable someone to argue that he or she is indigenous, simply by virtue of being born in a place.

The Oxford Dictionary defines it:

originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native:

the indigenous peoples of Siberia 

coriander is indigenous to southern Europe

If someone can find a definition that includes zoo animals which are born here, then I’ll be willing to concede that Bolt is as indigenous as a cane toad. (Or almost, cane toads have been here for several generations now).

But Bolt is not content with manglng the word indigenous in order to inflame and insult. He goes on to quote Tony Abbott, before twisting history:

“If we had known in 1901 what we know now, if our hearts had been as big then as now, we would have acknowledged indigenous people in the Constitution back then,’’ he said this week.

This is nonsense. The writers of our Constitution no more lacked heart than do people today. The difference is they were inspired by the creed that all citizens — those, at least, we admitted — are as one before the law.

True, they did not always live up to that ideal (although, contrary to popular myth, they granted Aborigines the vote in all states where they had the franchise).

But even if we don’t always follow our moral compass, the answer never is to break it. Changing the Constitution to divide Australians between the “first” and the rest — on the basis of the “race” of our ancestors — is not just immoral and an insult to our individuality.

There is much in this that’s highly questionable, but his assertion that “although, contrary to popular myth, they granted Aborigines the vote in all states where they had the franchise)” can’t be allowed to go unchallenged.

Section 41 of the Constitution ensured that people who already had the right to vote weren’t disenfranchised by the new Federal Parliament.

 ‘No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State, shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of Parliament of the Commonwealth.’

Its main impetus was to protect the rights of women in South Australia who had already gained the vote. As a by-product it gave rights to a number of others, including “non-white” migrants who had arrived before the “White Australia” policy and Indigenous Australians if they already had voting rights.

While two states specifically excluded Aborigines from voting – Queensland and Western Australia, others did little to make them aware of their rights or to encourage them to enrol.

The initial interpretation of Section 41, by the first Solicitor General was that franchise rights only included those who were on the role at the time of Federation, meaning that no new Aboriginal voters could be enrolled. While this was challenged successfully in 1924 by an Indian man who’d been rejected as a Commonwealth voter in spite of being enrolled at State Level, the history of the  voting rights of Aboriginal people is not as simple as Andrew Bolt implies with his throwaway line about “popular myth”. It wasn’t until the 1967 Referendum that the voting rights were ensured; to suggest otherwise, is to be mischievous.

But Bolt has always been one for contradictions. He suggests that he just wants us to be all one, but points out that both the judge and the prosecutor at his trial were Jewish. Not that he has a problem with that – it’s just that he thought that such people would understand the dangers of an oppressive government trying to shut down free speech. However, a media organisation should never use its free speech to “aid the enemy” by publishing allegations about who’s being spied on – even if it’s us – or  which suggest that our navy has treated people roughly when turning their boats around. In the case of the ABC, the whole organisation should be shut down or sold off for daring to publish that which the public has no right to know. A celebrity’s hacked phone records, however, are no reason to launch an inquiry which may inhibit the media from doing its job.

However, the thing I find worrying is not the fact that Bolt has made a fool of himself with his inaccurate and inflammatory use of language. It’s that – for just a millisecond – he’s made Tony Abbott look good. Oh, I know that some of you will question Abbott’s motives about the constitutional addition, but that’s not the point. When Bolt starts criticising Abbott as being too trendy and left wing, it almost makes Abbott sound like he’s mainstream. (No, of course, not to you died in the wool Left wing socialist, latte-sippers who lap up sites like this 🙂 ). While we’re making effigies of Bolt to throw on the bonfire, we can be distracted from the fact that he’s not the one in government. In the end, Bolt is an irrelevant errand boy who’ll write what he’s told.

And yes, I am aware of the irony of spending an entire blog only to say that Bolt doesn’t matter. However, I make the simple defence that one can’t allow misinformation to spread, no matter who’s spreading it.

“Much has been accomplished when one man says ‘No’!” Bertold Brecht

That’s the thing about bias . . .

One of these is incapable of movement, one of them is incapable of thinking and one of them is a statue.

Quotes From Tony Abbott on SPC-Ardmona

“This government has a responsibility to stand up and fight for our domestic industries and the urgent processing of anti-dumping and safeguard action investigations should be the first step.”

“This is a government in chaos which is completely disregarding you at a time when they should be standing side by side with you and doing whatever they can to support you.”

Unfortunately, the quotes are from May last year, so he wasn’t actually talking about HIS government, but why should I let a little thing like that bother me? But if you want some other nice changes of tune from before the election there’s this on the ABC:

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BfJpIWrCcAAhMwa.jpg

And his tweet seems even more accurate now than when he made it:
“…at the end of the day, people are entitled to conclude that this government wants to bully its critics.”

It could be alleged that I’m biased against Tony Abbott, when I suggest that he is a two-faced liar, intent on returning us to the 1950’s – and I mean that in terms of wages and rights rather than social attitudes. However, I would argue that I have reached my conclusions after carefully considering all the evidence and that, for anyone to still support Abbott, they must clearly have a different agenda to the Liberal’s stated policies at the recent election.

But that’s the thing about bias. The biased person just doesn’t see it. I read a recent diatribe in the comments section where the person complained about aborigines – how they were handed so much which they just wasted and how fearful he was if he saw a “mob” of them in the street and how terrible it was that we weren’t allowed to have a WHITE channel (like NiTV) and, well, you couldn’t say things like this without people calling you a “racist”!

And so when Tony Abbott criticises the ABC, I find it hard to resist the temptation to argue that they only appear to be left wing, because of the MSM’s been so right wing.

However, I know that would be a mistake. To attempt to argue about bias is as futile as trying to pretend that Collingwood doesn’t get poorly treated by the umpires. (In the games I saw, there was not one free kick that the opposition deserved! But don’t take my word for it, ask any other Magpie member.)

The issue is not one of whether the ABC is biased or not. The issue is whether or not the government of the day is in a position to judge that bias. And whether there should be implicit threats to the ABC in the form of an inquiry into its “efficiency”. If anyone is seriously arguing that it’s just a coincedence that such a thing should be announced in the same week as Abbott’s attack, then the can join me at a Collingwood game and see people with a better grip on reality.

Assuming Abbott knew that an inquiry was to be announced and that it hadn’t just slipped his mind, did he not think that his comments might be construed in much the same way as you’d view someone saying: “I know where you live. And I have access to petrol!”

If the ABC starts announcing that we have to “Get Rid Of This Mob” and “We Need Shorten”, then it would be more reasonable to argue that it was overstepping the mark. But even then, the Coalition and various sections of the media cheer squad made strong arguments for the freedom of the press without government interference in recent years.

Is the reason that these principles now seem to be less important because we’re talking about the ABC? Or because we’re talking about a different government?

 

Mainstream Media – stick a fork in them and turn them over. I think they’re nearly done . . .

 

‘He (Chomsky) also disagreed that a platform in the mainstream media was necessary to influence the debate.

“If you take a look at the progressive changes that have taken place in the country, say, just in the last 50 years – the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, opposition to aggression, the women’s movement, the environmental movement and so on – they’re not led by any debate in the media,” Chomsky said. “No, they were led by popular organizations, by activists on the ground.” ‘

Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation, a term of art coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.

– See more at: http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/#sthash.SDinwq29.dpuf

The basic idea behind Disruptive Innovation is that a firm which is satisfying its clients and making a reasonable profit, doesn’t notice or acknowledge change until it’s too late to do much about it. A good example would be several of the old computer companies. They housed big computers, and people would bring work to them. When Apple started producing their “toys”, the old computing industry didn’t see that as a threat. These computers were too small to meet the needs of a business. And besides, why would anyone tie up capital to buy a computer when it was so easy to use a specialist firm. But before long, personal computers were powerful enough and cheap enough to change the way that people did business. Companies who acknowledged the future reality had a chance of survival; the others argued, until it was too late, that they were irreplaceable. Of course, I’m sure that there were monks arguing that the printing press will never take the place of hand-written books.

As I look at Murdoch’s attempts to deal with the disruptive effect of the Internet on his business model, I can’t help but think of the story of King Cnut (or Canute, as he is more popularly known)  – the king, who in popular folklore went to the sea and commanded the waves to turn back.

According to Henry of Huntingdon’s twelfth-century Chronicle of the history of England:

Tertium, quid cum maximo vigore imperii, sedile suum in littore maris, cum ascenderet, statui iussit. Dixit autem mari ascendenti, tu meae ditionis es, & terra in qua sedeo mea est: nec fuit qui impune meo resisteret imperio. Imperio igitur tibi, ne in terram meam ascendas, nec vestes nec membra dominatoris tui madefacere praesumas. Mare vero de more conscendens pedes regis & crura, since reverentia madefecit. Rex igitur resiliens ait. Sciant omnes habitantes orbem vanam & frivolam regum esse potentiam, nec regis qempiam nomine dignum praeter eum, cuius nutui coelum terra mare legibus obediunt aeternis, [Rex igitur Cnut nunquam postea coronam auream cervici sua imposuit, sed super imaginem Domini, quae cruci affixa erat, posuit eam in aeternum, in laudem Dei regis magni

For those of you whose latin is a little rusty:

The third, that with the greatest vigor he commanded that his chair should be set on the shore, when the tide began to rise. And then he spoke to the rising sea saying “You are part of my dominion, and the ground that I am seated upon is mine, nor has anyone disobeyed my orders with impunity. Therefore, I order you not to rise onto my land, nor to wet the clothes or body of your Lord”. But the sea carried on rising as usual without any reverence for his person, and soaked his feet and legs. Then he moving away said:  “All the inhabitants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, and that none is worthy the name of king but He whose command the heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws”. Therefore King Cnut never afterwards placed the crown on his head, but above a picture of the Lord nailed to the cross, turning it forever into a means to praise God, the great king.

But back to our modern day Cnut, Rupert Murdoch. If we examine his responses to the changes over the past twenty years, he has embraced those where he has perceived a chance to make a profit, and attempted to turn back the waves where he sees his profit under threat. His lack of understanding of the nature of the new consumer led to a poor investement in Myspace, but apart from that, he seems to want to apply the old models to his new products.

Photo: The Age

Photo: The Age

He was fully behind the attempts to enable regulators to shut down web-site providers whose clients were infringing copyright without understanding the logistical difficulties of this. And his determination to put his digital newspapers behind paywalls and stop the ABC giving us our news for free reflects an inability to understand that the world has changed. Many people will not pay for their news because they can get it for free. Others recognise that so much of what we call “news” is a perverse voyeurism into other people’s tragedies. Do I need to know that a truck has crashed into a bedroom in Queensland, or that a desparate man held police at bay for 16 hours in South Australia? Perhaps some stories may be a cautionary tale, but for most, it would in no way affect me if I never heard them. Political decisions which might have some impact on my life are often reported in so little detail that I need to seek information from other sources.

Rupert may be right when suggests that people will pay for “quality journalism”, but so little of what appears in his papers could be considered that!

The costs of printing and distributing newspapers was always a much greater cost than obtaining the stories (even allowing for the outrageous price of corruption these days), and the cost of purchasing a newspaper only partially covered these costs. The money was in advertising. So, I don’t see why a modern online newspaper wouldn’t be trying to ensure that their readership – and, therefore, what they can generate in terms of advertising – was as wide as possible even if that meant making it free. And, I expect that others will start to do this, even if the monolithic Murdoch empire will still try and shut them out, rather than compete.

Perhaps, he just doesn’t like the concept of things being free. It does seem to be his objection to the ABC. Or rather, the objection raised in his newspapers. Not that he tells them what to write. They just all reach the same unbiased conclusion because it’s Right.

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