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Tag Archives: Courier Mail

Careless whispers nothing to dance about

In my years of being old enough to know what an election campaign is, I cannot recall one so inundated with media tales of what unnamed persons have to say.

The number of stories quoting unnamed Party sources, primarily on Labor’s side of the political coin has been nothing short of staggering – nameless “ministers”, “senior party officials”, “party heavyweights”, “senior sources”, “powerbrokers”, “spokespersons” and the rest of that particular journalistic nomenclature.

It’s been incredible. For my part, I’ve been deeply cynical and skeptical about it. It was much easier to believe that a biased media was just making stuff up. Mind you, in truth, there’s no way to show they are.

Then came the Gillard leadership spill of June 2013, about which there had been whispers aplenty.

On top of that, we’ve come to learn that Kevin Rudd has a weaker bladder than Julian Assange. The journalists were seemingly vindicated.

But that leaves me, as a Labor supporter, with a terrible reality to face: Labor personnel are actively undermining their own party. It beggars belief but it seems to be the only alternative to media mendacity.

Has the relationship between Labor and journalists become too cozy, too personal, too endowed with self-interest and ambition to be tolerable? Or is Labor just politically inept?

Of course, the relationship between politicians and the media is a complex and important one, but I can’t help but think it’s become something corrosive to our political culture and especially dangerous to Labor.

Generally speaking, Journalists are supposed to report the news, not be part of it.

Brisbane’s Courier Mail ran a story today posing the question of whether it would have been better for Labor to have gone into the election campaign with Julia Gillard.

whispers

Courier Mail Website

Now, the story is pure, tabloid schlock, and goes so far as to use a manipulative photo taken from the funeral of Joan Child (Australia’s first female Federal Speaker), presumably just so they could slip in the Slipper.

It’s not the first time that the Courier Mail, or News Limited generally, have disrespected this sombre occasion in their opinion pieces. But the interesting and pertinent thing about the story is that it contains multiple quotes from unnamed Ministers and “powerbrokers”.

Just two months since the Labor Party dramatically switched its leader, some senior members of the Government are now complaining that Ms Gillard would have performed better than Mr Rudd.

 

The minister said Ms Gillard would have slowly improved Labor’s vote, while under Mr Rudd it soared and then plummeted.

 

“One of the questions that will be asked is would Gillard have met Rudd on the way down? In the end, we’ll never know,” the source said.

 

“She made mistakes, no doubt, and she made mistakes under pressure. But she was much cooler under pressure and she coped with a greater intensity.”

If based on recent history, we’re forced to accept that these quotes are real, one has to wonder out loud: what the hell is going on?

Why would senior Party figures be speaking to members of the Murdoch press in such a fashion at a time when Labor is busily pushing the idea that News Limited is out to get them?

Why would they be saying things to journalists that they know will result in damaging “news” stories? Are they mad? I simply cannot fathom it.

I invite readers to offer their speculations and theories. Heaven knows I could use a theory that doesn’t have me catching flies, mouth agape.

Joe Hockey Manages to Smear Himself

hockey

Image by heraldsun.com.au

The Courier Mail today ran a story revealing that would-be Treasurer Joe Hockey failed to declare a family interest for most of the duration of his Parliamentary life.

Mr Hockey declared the directorship of Steel Harbour Pty Ltd held by his wife, Melissa Babbage, in May last year among a series of “new positions” under spouse declaration rules. But business records show Ms Babbage was appointed to the role in 1998. Pecuniary interest register declarations are supposed to be made within a month.

What was even more interesting than the seeming disregard for public accountability, was Mr Hockey’s response to the story …

“As I become aware of my wife’s commercial interests I declare them, as is appropriate,” Mr Hockey said.

No, Sir, that’s not good enough. Setting aside the question of what it implies about a relationship that one can go over a decade without knowing about one’s spouses’ Directorships, the rules pertaining to the register of pecuniary interests are such that you have an obligation to ask your wife about them. But what’s most extraordinary about Mr Hockey’s response was his utter petulance, nay arrogance in declaring the revelation to be a Labor “smear campaign”.

Mr Hockey said: “The Labor Party has previously engaged in this type of muckraking and then been forced to correct such unsubstantiated assertions. It is a desperate action from a desperate government.”

No go, Joe. I mean, what “smear”? There’s no indication from you the story is incorrect. There’s no concession from you – at least none reported that I can find – that you erred significantly. No apology. No “oops”. Just a pathetic attempt to pass the buck to those who are simply pointing out that you have failed in an important area of public accountability. Is it too much to ask that you acknowledge the failure and offer at least a smidgen of contrition? It’s not the Labor Party asking this of you, Joe, it’s the Australian public (or at least those that think such things matter).

Earlier this year when Liberal heavyweight Arthur Sinodinos was forced to apologise to the Senate for failing to declare a bunch of Directorships, he at least showed some character. Can you, Mr Hockey, match that? Do you share a similar level of concern and regard for the principle of transparency in Government? It would appear not.

Even if were to come to light that you had expressed some sort of penitence it wouldn’t matter, as trying to make the issue about Labor and “smear campaigns” is a pathetic and cowardly way to attempt to abrogate your personal responsibilities. And you want us to support you as a future Federal Treasurer?

What’s also somewhat tangentially interesting about the Courier Mail’s story, is that despite the fact they were revealing a not insignificant failure on Joe Hockey’s part, they nevertheless saw fit to litter the story with photos clearly intended to show him in a positive way. Happy snaps of him and his wife, culminating in a fantastically irrelevant-to-the-story family shot of the couple and their children.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my news services, when reporting actual news, to not attempt to emotionally manipulate me, and how else is such a thing to be interpreted?