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Tag Archives: Daily Telegraph

You can’t fight an ideological war by shutting physical borders

As news came out yesterday evening that a Syrian refugee passport was found next to one of the terrorists in the Paris attacks on Friday, predictably the media pounced, and all the right wing refugee-demonisers came out in force. Our very own stop-the-boats-fetishest, Tony Abbott, spoke with his media team – the Daily Terrorgraph, sorry Daily Telegraph – who today published an article with the following headline:

Former PM Tony Abbott warned IS terrorists are hiding in a flood of refugees
(Daily Telegraph – November 15, 2015)

And Abbott wasn’t the only one. US Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz came out on his personal blog yesterday saying:

We need to immediately declare a halt to any plans to bring refugees that may have been infiltrated by ISIS to the United States.” Ted Cruz – November 14, 2015

Never mind that the French government has yet to validate that the terrorist was the actual owner of the Syrian passport. Never mind that at least one of the other terrorists was a French national, and that his father and brother have been arrested. Never mind that the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier this year were both born in France. And even more importantly – never mind that the terrorists perpetrating these attacks are the same people that refugees are fleeing from because they too, have been victims of these terrorist groups.

Clearly none of these actual facts matter to the likes of Abbott and Cruz. According to their logic, this attack could have been prevented if only Europe had stopped the boats, had forced tens of thousands of refugees to stay and face almost certain death at home or risk starvation in the already overcrowded refugee camps along the borders of their home countries.

The idiocy of this proclamation is astounding. It reflects the fact that many of our political leaders – and those in the media – have yet to grasp the fact that this is an ideological war being fought in an age where there are no borders around information, no borders around ideologies.

Prior to the advent of new communications technologies last century, governments could – at least in theory – stop information flows across borders since information had to be physically carried across by a person (whether as a book, document or a an idea in someone’s head). But in this century, people don’t have to connect in a physical space – they can connect in cyber space. Ideologies can cross any border they like with no passport, no visa, no stops.

NoFloodwatersMayCrossHere Suggesting that having stronger physical borders will have any impact on the battle against these horrific terror attacks, is the equivalent of suggesting that you could stop flood waters from overflowing by putting up a sign instructing them not to.

The reality is that we are living in a different time – a time where there are no borders around ideologies. Strategies that focus on defeating terrorists groups with traditional warfare strategies alone are doomed to fail as they don’t take into account that at its core, the war against these groups is not a physical battle, it’s an ideological one. And ideological battles are not won and lost on battlefields or at borders, they are won and lost in people’s hearts and minds.

This article was originally published on ProgressiveConversation.

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 refugees Nauru 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’]

Is Murdoch Australia’s Biggest Sleaze Mogul?

paul Barry

I am but 50 pages into the Paul Barry biography Breaking News and the overriding impression one gets from these first few pages is that Rupert Murdoch recognised very early in his pursuit of fame and fortune that sleaze sells.

His publications in other countries are currently under investigation so I will confine my remarks to his Australian publications.

The profitability and popularity of every publication he owns depends on sleaze, be it the intellectual variety of The Australian or the gutter filth of The Daily Telegraph.

He realised early that the opinion he generated via his publications gave him influence in political circles and with it the power to manipulate it for his own benefit. The recall of favours rendered is always implied and never spelt out. It’s safer that way. Age has not wearied him but the times have. The advent of the Internet is but the beginning of the end. The Internet does not convey sleaze (I’m talking newspapers) as well as big boobs on page three of a tabloid. And those of the left should not assume that he supports any ideology other than the one that will give him what he wants in the circumstances. He supported Whitlam’s election and dumped him with an anti Labor campaign three years later. Whitlam was not for kowtowing to any media barren. And he supported Rudd in 2007.

Reuters in the past week reported that the Murdoch Australian newspapers have experienced a 25% advertising revenue decline on top of a 22% dip in sales. Is it any wonder based on the gutter trash it serves up? Have the advertisers decided they no longer want to be associated with sleaze? Is it reflecting on their product as it did during the Alan Jones sexist exposure? Has the reader’s tolerance for smut reached its limit?

So how does a proprietor arrest the decline? One way is to become sleazier, more titillating, more outrageous, and shocking. They can also increase the lying and spying and the omission of truth. In the case of The Australian they could choose to be even more biased. If that’s possible. Take for example Nick Cater’s (journalist for The Australian) reply to Tanya Plibersek on Q&A Monday night: “If you want to make this a war, we can”. Or Murdoch’s trashing of Australian sporting legend, Ian Thorpe’s reputation while at the same time accusing the ABC of being unpatriotic.

Another choice is to over a period of time transpose your paper into an on-line newssheet. The problem there is that you have to charge a fee and as this blog has proved there is an abundance of excellent writers ready to opine about issues for free. News and information is readily available so why should anyone pay?

Yet another choice is to discredit your opposition and seek a monopoly. Murdoch in partnership with the Abbott Government are doing their best to achieve this with their ferocious attacks on the ABC. Given the community support for the public broadcaster this is also doomed to failure.

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Malcolm Turnbull has issued a thinly veiled warning to the ABC to correct and apologise for errors, as senior cabinet figures voiced outrage and backbenchers seethed over the broadcaster’s handling of claims that asylum-seekers were deliberately burnt by defence personnel. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison yesterday demanded the broadcaster apologise for “outrageous slurs” against the navy while Joe Hockey revealed he has been so angry on occasions at ABC coverage he had called managing director Mark Scott to say “this is outrageous”.

One is apt to ask if the same outrage could be extended to the Murdoch Media who threaten our democracy with so much power that they can see people dismissed and governments elected.

And consider this from Crikey.com:

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s revelation that the government is mulling dumping the “two out of three” rule in our media ownership laws is more welcome news for News Corporation — albeit a bit like sending a leaky boat to rescue a drowning man.
Since the election, the government’s initial media policy forays have closely followed the script some of us suggested prior to September 7. In particular, the ABC has been the subject of extraordinary attack editorially — with both Turnbull and Treasurer Joe Hockey inappropriately calling ABC managing director Mark Scott to complain about ABC news content — and reputationally, with the Prime Minister himself engaging in a carefully-structured attack designed to delegitimise the broadcaster.

Turnbull flagged this week that changes to the anti-siphoning laws — which are still betwixt and between following the failure of former Labor communications minister Stephen Conroy’s comprehensive reform package — are under consideration, which opens up potential benefits for News Corp’s half-owned Foxtel — although old hands will know that any changes to anti-siphoning usually harm, not help, pay TV. Turnbull could do worse than run with the guts of Conroy’s package, which introduced an element of common sense into what is in essence a profoundly anti-competitive piece of regulation favouring the free-to-air TV cartel.

Day after day the Murdoch media empire exposes its monopolised gutter filth, acting like a dog on heat seeking to justify its gutter crawling journalism. It isn’t working. Truth could, but mud raking has made Murdoch’s fortune. He knows not decency so he cannot try it.

And the political journalists at these excuses for newspapers would know that they only retain their jobs on the basis that Murdoch is paying them to write merely what he demands them too. They have no choice. In other words they prostitute their professional ethics for money. They also know that the life of their jobs is dependent only on the lifespan of the owner.

But what about self-promotion that might work.

Comment should not be cheap
The Australian
December 04, 2013 12:00AM
REGARDLESS of what he is writing about – the Gallipoli centenary, Labor’s existential turmoil or the policy pratfalls of a new government, as he is today – our editor-at-large, Paul Kelly, brings his penetrating insight and peerless authority.

The Australian is blessed with writers such as Dennis Shanahan on politics, Greg Sheridan on foreign affairs, John Durie on business and Judith Sloan and David Uren on economics, and many others in the top rank, who have lived through the big moments in the nation’s history and are able to provide readers with a sense of perspective, knowledge and balance on the issues of the day. Along with experienced editors, they allow us to cut through the noise and tumult of a frenetic news cycle to explain events.

Yet that can’t be said of all media outlets, especially when seasoned journalists are being traded for ones unable to see beyond the dazzle of the instantaneous fix of Twitter or web-first publishing. These callow reporters and trainee talking heads are setting the pace at Fairfax Media and the ABC, with their “breaking” views and zippy analysis five minutes after something has happened.

We can see the crude results in the way the Abbott government is being portrayed as bad, mad and chaotic by the baby faces in the press gallery and beyond. To date, the low-point of juvenilia was struck by John van Tiggelen, editor of The Monthly, old enough to know better but clueless about Canberra, who wrote about the Abbott government’s “onanistic reverence for John Howard” and described it as “this frat party of Young Liberals who refuse to grow up”.

This twaddle would be harmless if these ill-informed innocents were on the fringes of new media, learning their craft in the minor leagues. Alarmingly, these infantile musings reflect the priorities of their organisations: it’s a reverse-publishing model, which sees the trivialities of Generation Y setting the agenda for once-venerable newspapers, which traditionally served older, educated, middle-income readers in Sydney and Melbourne.

No wonder Fairfax Media editors have lost touch with loyal readers and the respect of the old-hands still in the newsroom. At the ABC, Triple-J alumni have wrested cultural and editorial control in the face of insipid leadership from managing director Mark Scott and his news director, Kate Torney. You wonder if anyone’s really in charge at Pyrmont, Docklands and Ultimo and how long this idiocy can last.

Well it looks like that hasn’t worked. What’s left? That’s the big question.

I have a suggestion. Just close shop and save a lot of money. But I’m sure the board will do that anyway when the stench leaves the boardroom.

Bolt Protecting Abbott, My Response

bolt2

A fortnight ago my wife and I visited my son and his family in Melbourne. One day I was sent out to buy fish and chips. Invariably at take aways there is an assortment of reading material. There before me was a copy of the Herald Sun dated Tuesday 24 September. Australia’s biggest selling daily. I skipped through it and was taken with the absurdity of it. This was not a newspaper but a titillating piece of twaddle with the appearance of cheap girly magazine masquerading as a newspaper.

I persevered until I came across a piece written by Terry McCrann about the NBN and concluded that compared with the many articles I had read on the subject by various bloggers it was at best light weight.

The experience reminded me of when in a writing class I attended we would discuss journalism Andrew Bolt and the Herald Sun or the Daily Telegraph would always be at the centre of our discussion. The course facilitator, herself a former journalist would observe that the articles were written for the intelligence of thirteen year olds with the attention span of six year olds. And rarely more than 300 words. As a journalist she had little respect for Andrew Bolt whom she said didn’t know how to construct a challenging sentence let alone use thought provoking words.

As it turns out last Thursday I was perusing the headlines of the Murdoch on line news and came across an article by Andrew Bolt titled “Don’t expect Tony Abbott to get a fair go” with the sub-heading:

IT’S NOT a month since the election, but there’s already an epidemic of Abbott Derangement Syndrome.

I chuckled at the obvious protectionist implication of the headline and clicked on the link expecting it to be behind a Pay Wall. Instead I got the full text. I read it three times and I thought to myself: “This man reputably gets paid a million dollars a year to write this drivel while I and others like me write for nothing (it’s an injustice) and it’s better than this crap”.

ADS indeed I thought to myself, more like PBP, Protected by Propaganda. So I thought I would make a brief comment on each point.

Following is the full text of his piece. My comments are in bold type.

The symptoms: an unshakable belief Tony Abbott is evil or a buffoon, even if your lying eyes tell you different.

I have concluded that I might suffer from a mild form of ADS. I don’t hate him but I do think he is a lying buffoon. I don’t have a capacity for hate and your line about ‘’lying eyes’’ has me completely puzzled. Is that one for the 13 year olds?

Oh, and he’s an expenses-rorting crook.

Well all the evidence would imply that this is the case so I’m not sure why you are suggesting otherwise.

The most bizarre example of ADS occurred on the Sydney Morning Herald’s website only today.

Under the headline “Vladimir Putin gives late Tony Abbott cold shoulder at APEC”, the Herald suggested “a new iron curtain dropped between Russia and Australia” when the Prime Minister turned up late to the opening of the APEC meeting in Bali.

Yes that’s perhaps in poor taste but at the same time I am wondering if it ranks anywhere near the front pages of the Telegraph during the recent election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seated next to Abbott, had been “frosty”.

Yet directly under the headline was a video showing Putin and Abbott bantering and laughing.

I suppose if you were to only read the Murdoch press you might be left with the impression that this is so. Fortunately I read very little of it. This piece is a good example of why I don’t.

It is now a sacred myth in Labor that no Prime Minister ever suffered more abuse and media misrepresentation than St Julia Gillard.

I would suggest that most fair minded Australians would say she was given a pretty hard time Andrew. The fact that you don’t says more about you than her. The need to use ‘’St’’ is disingenuous, gives your bias away and is only being titillating and inflammatory.

“Gillard has faced serial abuse as a woman on a scale I believe is unprecedented in modern politics,” complained John McTernan, her communications director . . .

Many people agree with that. Perhaps you mix in different circles or see the world through the eyes of European opera or through privileged class institutions. There are no left wing shock jocks or journalists with your acerbic tongue. Didn’t one of the shock jocks suggest that Julia Gillard be placed in a hessian bag and taken out to sea? It might be an idea to ask women their opinion.

Abbott hadn’t even been sworn in before a new Facebook site – “Tony Abbott – Worst PM in Australian History” – savaged him as “a misogynist, sexist, homophobic pr—, a bully, a racist, a liar  . . . “. It has 170,000 “likes”.

Of course you would be aware of the many hate pages during the Rudd/Gillard reigns. Perhaps you chose to overlook them. In any case 170,000 is a lot of people. A decent journalist might ask: “Why is it so”? Based on his own words it’s a fair summation of his character.

Other Facebook sites were worse. “Tony Abbott should be assassinated” was created from an office at the Geelong Trades Hall.

And the name of the graphic artist who produces all those filthy Murdoch front pages is? Or better still the editors who condone them. It’s important as a journalist to always be balanced.

ADS hit the mainstream media, too. The Age even promoted “ethically produced” T shirts from columnist Clementine Ford with the slogan “F— Abbott”.

Whilst I don’t agree with it, it is a commonly used word of expression these days. Perhaps you are out of touch Andrew. A fellow named Pickering comes to mind. He is also on your side.

The ABC’s Q & A website left up a tweet about performing a sexual act on Abbott and The Drum vilified him as a religious bigot who denied evolution and wanted to “score points against the ‘feminazis’ and ‘poofs’ “.

He is by his own confession wary of poofs (not a term I would use) and there are ample comments he has made about women to suggest a form of sexism. Didn’t see the Q&A comment so I cannot comment. I have a list of his lies and misdemeanours if required. And there is one gay fellow who liked to frequent public toilets in London who seems to have his ear.

Meanwhile, Catherine Deveny, a Guardian writer, boasted on Twitter how her teenage son hated Abbott, and published a photograph of his profanity-strewn poster.

Didn’t see it, so no comment. However, I do hope you realise Andrew that Abbott may have as many haters on the left as Gillard had on the right. Perhaps as a journalist you should be a little more impartial.

ADS also seems to have distorted media coverage of Abbott’s first weeks in office, producing a disconnect between what Abbott does and what journalists say he’s done – as with that “cold shoulder” furphy.

For instance, when Abbott won a deal from Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to fight people smugglers, journalists suggested the Prime Minister had in fact caved in.

The Herald even wondered if Abbott was “paving the way to ditch his controversial boats turn-back policy”, even though Abbott repeated “we reserve the right to turn boats around” and had just returned two boat loads of “asylum seekers” to Indonesia.

The statement that ‘’we never had a tow back the boats policy’’ amounted to a lie of monumental proportion when placed besides a mountain of evidence that they did. ABC fact check perhaps. And of course the two boats you refer to were rescues, not tow backs.Andrew when you tell a lie you take away the other persons right to the truth.

And he has spent a lot of time apologising for all the insults he hurled at the leaders of Indonesia and Malaysia when opposition leader. Acts of contrition I think he called them.

And now there’s this beat up over Abbott’s expenses, much also informed by ADS – a conviction that when Abbott does something, it must be wrong.

Am I to read into that that he is beyond criticism of have you not chosen your words very well? Or is it just sloppy writing?

The Prime Minister is attacked for claiming $1700 in travel expenses seven years ago to attend the weddings of Liberals Sophie Mirabella and Peter Slipper – expenses he’s now repaid.

Abbott has decided to continue with the current system under which parliamentarians claim expenses. This means that the rorting will continue and the already abysmal view the public has of its politicians will be further eroded. And why did he repay the money if he thinks the system is ok? $1700 and the rest.

Abbott argues that as then Leader of Government Business, he felt obliged to go to his colleague’s weddings. I’d have to be paid to socialise with Slipper, too.

I think they were best mates at the time. And there are probably many who might say the same about you. Me included. And the second sentence seems to be out of context with the first. You are suggesting you would go if you were paid. That figures.

Is Abbott wrong? Well, Labor’s Kevin Rudd and Simon Crean claimed expenses to attend the 80th birthday party of former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, which is even less defensible.

Yes you are correct. They shouldn’t be claiming expenses for such events. I don’t know why you need to emphasise Bob Hawke’s birthday with such sarcasm but then then no one does hatred like the right.

If there’s a sin, it lies not in Abbott but the rules.

Yes that’s correct but when you know the rules are wrong why rort them. Especially if you are the party leader. In a previous comment you described it as a beat up. Now you are saying it’s a rules problem. Which is it?

Abbott is also attacked for claiming expenses for going on his annual Pollie Pedal and competing in the Port Macquarie Ironman.

He has abused the system over a long period claiming expenses while flying around the country promoting his own book and participating in events that were nothing more than public relations exercises aimed at self-image.

Again, Labor’s Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan used the Prime Ministerial jet to attend to Grand Finals. Why is it fine to claim expenses for watching community sport but not for joining in?

In your own words. If there’s a sin, it lies not in Abbott but the rules. Or is it a beat up? The conflicting way in which you write makes it impossible to comprehend any logical thought processes.

These expenses are actually an old story and until ADS kicked in it was generally accepted Abbott was mixing sport with politics – projecting the Ironman image, engaging with community groups, raising money for charities and visiting places (like Port Macquarie) in marginal electorates.

Oh dear Andrew, it’s been on social media for yonks. Mixing the two was the conflict of interest that people were talking about.

“It’s campaigning genius,” admitted the Guardian’s Lenore Taylor four months ago when discussing Abbott’s Pollie Pedal bike rides for charity.

You’re misusing her words. She was suggesting that in campaigning terms it was genius, not rorting the system in the process.

Abbott sure thought so: “If an election was held tomorrow in Port Macquarie, I think I’d win,” he gasped at the end of one Ironman, which he uses to promote the McGrath Foundation and usually combines with a function at the town’s hospital.

Many people give of themselves for charitable reasons but they don’t self-promote at the same time.

But with all this concocted rage over a few thousand dollars of expenses, Abbott’s achievements so far go largely unreported. Funny, that.

I suppose when you are very wealthy you don’t suffer confected rage. It’s only the taxpayers who wonder where their money goes. And it’s hard to find anything on the topic in the Murdoch press. Lying by omission perhaps.

Truth is, Abbott seems to be making a difference already to boat arrivals.

Perhaps it’s because of the Labor policies that were put in place during the election and the LNP adopted. Really Andrew you are writing like you have to meet a deadline. This surely cannot be serious journalism.

He also came out of talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping vowing to fast-track the stalled free-trade negotiations.

Well he did say he would do a deal on a ‘’whatever we can get basis’’

He’s saved money by dumping the Climate Commission and is reforming the National Broadband Network disaster. The latest Morgan poll shows business confidence at a three-year high.

The latest Morgan Poll shows Labor leading the Government on a TPP. You should check it out to put things in the right perspective.

As a journalist, repeat journalist who thinks he knows more about the climate than the scientists themselves it is not worth commenting. But for what is worth I offer this thought. ‘In terms of the environment. I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’

On the NBN. “The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow”.

Amazingly, Abbott even got a laugh this week out of grim Putin, although you wouldn’t read about it.

ADS, you know.

I have to say I got a laugh out of this particular piece of journalistic nonsense. Any real journalist wouldn’t put his name to it.

Tony Abbott is being protected by Andrew Bolt’s Propaganda. That’s all it is.

But what else would you expect from the newspaper where the truth goes to die.

In summary, if a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements then dismiss the article as having no cogency. Finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.

Well I enjoyed that. I might do it again. Does he really get paid a million bucks?
Common Michael you promised.

Transforming Tony Abbott

Image from smh.com.au

Image from smh.com.au

Something truly remarkable is happening in Australian politics. The Australian Prime Minister who was as opposition leader a person devoid of character, is now attempting a personality conversion to rival nothing hitherto seen in an Australian leader. During his tenure as opposition leader he used colourful aggressive language. He was bullish in his attitude to others, particularly to the female Prime Minister of the day. His negativity was legendary. He was a repetitive liar by evidence and by his own admission. He held in contempt procedures of the House of Representatives and the conventions it upheld.

Prior to becoming Opposition Leader his reputation was of someone with a gutter mentality determined to obtain power at any cost. One month into his term of office we are expected to believe that he has transformed into a mild mannered, cultured man of some distinction. Walking the global stage as a gentleman with noble intent.

We are expected to put to one side the old Tony Abbott and embrace the new one with unbridled fondness. Well I am all for self-improvement. I like to think I have practiced it all my life. But in this instance I will not be conned with this nonsense.

As I see it, he has spent the first month rather stupidly apologising for his behaviour as Opposition Leader. His much publicised trip to Indonesia was shrouded in vagaries about asylum policy. It amounted to an apology for all the internal chest beating and political bravado aimed at the Australian public for the purpose of gaining power, but at the same time offending our neighbours. The statement that ‘’we never had a tow back the boats policy’’ amounted to a lie of monumental proportion when placed besides a mountain of evidence that they did.

On top of that he has this week apologised for offending Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. All because of his robust campaigning before the election. He said he was offering ‘’an act of contrition’’.

In an interview in 2011, Mr Abbott said: ”Imagine taking boat people from Australia to Malaysia where they will be exposed almost inevitably to the prospect of caning.’’ The reader will recall that at the time the Gillard Government was trying to broker a deal with Malaysia. Abbott would have none of it. There were many speeches in the House of Representatives. Joe Hockey’s was memorable.

”I will never, ever support a people swap where you can send a 13-year-old child unaccompanied to a country without supervision, never. It will be over my dead body.”

It was a time when Abbott could have been part of a solution. Instead he chose to be part of the problem and has played politics with the lives of people ever since.

Now we have him flipping around Asia grovelling to all and sundry with these undiplomatic declarations. Repairing relationships damaged by his own deeds. Apologising to leaders he openly offended while opposition leader but in doing so, saying that the purpose was purely for reasons of domestic political consumption and advantage and that those seeking asylum were the last thing on his mind. ‘’I think they understand’’ he said of the leaders.

And of course at APEC he kept his host Indonesian President Yudhoyono and the rest of the leaders waiting 20 minutes while being late to the first meeting. On top of that he is snubbed by Russian President Putin after missing his birthday celebration, and by all reports had a very icy official meeting later.

Some might say that he is being refreshingly honest. I would say his apologies are the confessions of a veritable liar. I wonder if he has the capacity to be as straightforward about his lying to the Australian people.

It seems it is one thing to in opposition insult ones neighbours and another to apologise for doing so in government.

So we are left (as if we didn’t know) with the impression that the Prime Minister is fully aware of how he lied for three years but really doesn’t care. Just accept me as I am now. I am a transformed man.

I know we play our politics aggressively but am I truly to believe that he now wants us to accept that it was all just playing a game. That it really is okay to blatantly lie and inflame situations (the budget is in crisis) on the basis that, we just play our politics hard and that in some way legitimises it.

And he continued to make a fool of himself by declaring that Japan is Australia’s “closest friend in Asia”, elevating the former World War II aggressor past both China and Indonesia. Whatever happened to diplomacy?

Then he declares that he will pursue free trade talks with China telling Chinese President Xi Jinping he will deal on a ”whatever we can get” basis. What on earth would the diplomats traveling with him think?

So after a month in office what are we to make of Abbot’s makeover? He promised ”no surprises, no excuses” and that he would take politics of the front pages of the dailies.

Instead we have this scandal over expenses with the Prime Minister at the forefront of the accusations. He pays back some cash and considers the matter closed.

And on top of that dismissively suggests that the press should simply drop the subject. The fact is he has a history of abusing the system.

When he was a back bencher he was always complaining to the speaker about the size of his pay cheque. He has abused the system over a long period claiming expenses while flying around the country promoting his own book and participating in events that were nothing more than public relations exercises aimed at self-image.

All this at the same time prosecuting Peter Slipper for similar offences. Added to that is the fact that he will not disclose who it was who asked the AFP to investigate Slipper. The question still remains. Why is he fronting court while Abbott and others are getting of scott free?

And of course we shouldn’t forget Abbott’s unrestrained pursuit of Craig Thompson and his credit card which appears to have had about as many grey areas as a politician’s expense account.

In this current debate I am surprised that no one has raised the question as to why the office related expenses for Abbott’s Office for the period 1 January to 30 June were $916.000 compared with $294.000 for Gillard over the same period.

Why is it that all of a sudden the fourth estate is highlighting this abuse of process when blogs like the AIMN has been discussing it and similar issues for months? Even years.

One possible answer is that (and it is noticeable if you follow the political discourse) when Abbott made his ‘’politics off the front page statement’ ’the subject of expenses abruptly raised its head.

Why we might ask. It is simple if you think about it. New Tony thought he could now make himself immune from criticism. New Tony would make things right with the world. New Tony had the protection and approval of Murdoch and Fairfax. The honeymoon period would be an eternity.

He miscalculated one thing.

In part he owes them for their support. He may not have become Prime Minister without them. Off the front pages indeed, I can hear them saying.

In the concoction, the recipe that is called leadership there are many ingredients. None more important than integrity, positiveness and the ability to trust and delegate. But it is truth that glues it altogether to create character.

He should be judged by his own standards and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Authors note Friday 11 October:

Mr Abbott has decided to continue with the current system under which parliamentarians claim expenses. This means that the rorting will continue and the already abysmal view the public has of its politicians will be further eroded.

The subject seems to have disappeared from the pages of the Murdoch Press.

Did the boss ring?

Afterthoughts of an Abbott Victory

afterthoughts

Many issues arise from the aftermath of the recent election. None more important than the political apathy that grips the electorate.

There is something fundamentally wrong when, despite a huge recruitment drive by the Australian Electoral Commission, 1.22 million citizens failed to enrol to vote and 400,000, or one-third of the non-registrants, were aged 18 to 24.

Additionally, 760,000 House of Representative’s ballots were informal – about 6 percent, – up more than 0.3 percent from the 2010 election.

It would appear that a large portion of eligible voters no longer have any interest, or confidence in the institution of our parliament, or politics in general for that matter and have succumbed to the Abbott negativity and Labor’s infighting.

One can hardly blame them given the events of the past three years. It has done great damage to our democracy.

The big challenge for both parties should be to engage more people in the process. I use the word should because I fear the right of politics has little interest in doing so.

But the wipe-out of the Labor Party as predicted by the pollsters did not occur and it highlighted the implausibility of polling small samples in individual seats. Just another thing that needs to be addressed before the next election.

The irregularities that enable single interest individuals to gain seats in the Upper House also need to be looked into as a matter of urgency. Some interested parties have already put forward some ideas and these need to be debated.

Now that the dust has settled we can take a dispassionate look at the election results. The fact is that Labor did not suffer the resounding defeat that many commentators have suggested.

The landslide argument doesn’t stand up in light of the figures. The figures simply do not support the assumption.

Fifteen of the Coalition’s new seats are held on very thin margins. Eleven seats have margins of less than 4000 voters. In essence, the election was a lot tighter than was first proposed. In effect, this means that it would only take about 30,000 people to change their vote to change the government.

This, of course, puts paid to any thoughts the Prime Minister might have of a double dissolution for whatever reason. It would be too risky. Remember Bob Hawke tried that in 1984 and went close to losing to Peacock.

Added to all this is the fact that the first preference vote of just 75% for old parties in the House of Representatives was the lowest since World War II. Could this be the new normal?

The final count also suggests that the Murdoch influence (having thrown as much smut and crass images at Labor as possible) may have been vital when you consider the reality of how tight the actual contest was. It might, however, also mean that Social Media may have played an important role in preventing the anticipated landslide.

What does the immediate future hold?

Other factors are beginning to emerge that give some insight into what an Abbott government might look like and behave.

For example, after three years of the well-known slogan of ‘’stop the boats’’ being thrust in our faces, the strategy now appears to be, to take the issue from the front pages and the nightly news and turn it into an Army operational issue. By making the boats invisible. Perhaps like co2.

When governments deliberately suppress information on the pretext of national interest. One would think that the free press might be outraged. After all access to information is their lifeblood. Thus far in Australia, it would appear that the mainstream media has succumbed to the will of government secrecy.

As Annabel Crabb put it.

‘’My best guess is that the removal of boat arrivals from the daily news, and the deletion of their struggles at sea from the national ledger, are calculated to deprive the people aboard those boats of the last hope they had; a vocal contingent of Australian citizens who still looked at them and felt sorry’’

Or I might suggest it’s that if they turn a boat around and it’s a stuff up then no one will know.

When you consider other actions taken as being sworn in it is easy to see that the intent of this government is to be low key, very conservative and wherever possible avoid scrutiny. After being in the face of every Australian for three years there now seems to be a reluctance by Tony Abbott to reveal his face. Mr Abbott has scaled back his media appearances since he came to power and promised to deliver “a government that’s about the substance of getting things done, not about the theatre of putting things on the front page”.

This, of course, begs the question. What about transparency and the people’s right to know.

It also creates a conundrum for the mainstream media. After all, they have made an enormous contribution to his instalment as Prime Minister. Now he doesn’t want to talk with them. How they will react is anyone’s guess. My guess is that they will protect him.

The mid-year budget update seems to have been placed in the secrets drawer and won’t be revealed until the journalists are in their January sleep mode. Ministers now have to seek approval from Abbott’s office before appearing on television or giving interviews.

There is, of course, this frenetic attempt to put things in a conservative framework.

Usually, we would have a new Prime Minister on the front foot outlining his agenda for the next three years. Instead, we have a lot of symbolism like swearing one’s oath to the queen with your personal Bible. We have the image of a ‘’boys own’’ club.

Then there have been the sackings of some econocrats whose only crime was to believe in science. A lot of noise about scrapping the carbon tax which may occur in time to welcome other countries implementation of it.

Of course, there is the hiding of the boats and a delay on a final decision on broadband pending a couple of inquiries that could even recommend a continuation of Labor’s policy.

And of course, we had the destruction of science. In the past few days, Christopher Pyne has indicated a return to the old conservative attitudes of university education. And of course, there is much that will be looked into.

But where is the grand plan?

Where are the policies that will take Australia forward into a prosperous future?

There were no policies during the election and it appears they have none now. It seems they will implement those policies of Labor’s that had popular support. But probably framed in their own image.

But do they have any ideas of their own? What is Abbott’s vision for the country? Is it just a return to Howard’s relaxed state of political bliss? And please don’t give me this crap that he has only been in power for a short time. He has had four years to put together a positive agenda.

Could it be that he spent so much of that time being negative that positive thoughts became dead, buried and cremated?

As Ross Gittens puts it.

‘’It’s as if Tony Abbott believes returning the Liberals to power will, of itself, solve most of our problems. Everything was fine when we last had a Liberal government, so restore the Libs and everything will be fine again.’’

Why Labor Lost

Image courtesy of fbider.com

Image courtesy of fbider.com

Firstly

The truth of the matter is that my Party is at times its own worst enemy. For the six years Labor has been in power it governed well in spite of the enormous inconvenience of minority governance. This is indisputable when you look closely at its economic record, the legalisation passed and reformist policy from within a minority framework.

Its problems though did not originate from everyday governance. In this sense, it has been no better or worse than any other government.

Rather its problems stemmed from personality conflict and the pursuit of power. Politics by its very nature is confrontational and uneasy with those with ego who pursue power for power’s sake or those who think they have some sort of ownership of righteousness.

Labor had two formidable intellects in Rudd and Gillard. In fact, combined they would total much of the opposition front bench’s intellectual capacity.

It is one thing to replace a leader but a different thing when the leader happens to be the Prime Minister who the voters perceive they have elected.

Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing so it is easy to say that Rudd should never have been replaced. That Rudd undermined the 2007 election campaign and continued to undermine Julia Gillard for most of her tenure. He never showed the grace in defeat that Turnbull displayed.

So we had two leaders of sagacious intellect. One a ubiquitous narcissist, who couldn’t listen and who couldn’t delegate. On the other hand, we had a woman of immense policy capacity (and history will judge her that way) but would be hard pressed to sell a Collingwood Guernsey to a rabid supporter.

Minority government has enormous, day to day difficulties without having one’s leadership frequently undermined. And we can speculate about a myriad of other possibilities but it won’t change the fact that ego destroyed any chance Labor had of winning the 2013 election.

This is the main reason why Labor lost. Not because they didn’t govern well. As Tanya Plibersek said 10/10 for governance and 0/10 for behaviour.

But because life is about perceptions, not what is, but what it appears to be. We painted a picture of irrational decision making, of dysfunction and murderous disloyalty. Rightly or wrongly that is the perception. In other words, we committed political suicide.

Secondly.

There are of course other factors that contributed to our downfall.

Despite the growing influence of the Fifth Estate the Main Stream Media still packs an enormous punch. In advertising, the success of one’s spend is measured by the resulting sales. The media can measure its influence in the Polls.

Labor was the victim of the most concerted gutter attack ever insinuated upon an Australian political party, from all sections of the media, although one, in particular, News Corp, has gone well beyond the realm of impartiality.

Labor was drowned in an avalanche of lies, repugnant bile, half-truths and omissions. The media lost its objectivity and news reporting. It became so biased that it no longer pretended to disguise it.

The MSM has forsaken truth, justice and respectability in its pursuit of the protection of privilege. They printed and told lies with such reprehensible consistency that a gullible and politically undiscerning Australian public never really challenged it.

As a famous businessman once said.’’ I spend a lot of money on advertising and I know for certain that half of it works’’ Clive Palmer has won a seat because he had the money to promote himself. He proved the power of persuasion with money.

The Fifth Estate (including me) attempted to counter these nefarious attacks but in my view, we are three years away from reaching full potential.

Having said that I plead some degree of ignorance, and I must say, I am absolutely astounded at how many people participate in social media and the voice it gives them.

However, in three years’ time, its ability to influence the younger generation will have risen exponentially. Added to that will be a declining older generation.

Thirdly.

Tony Abbott successfully adopted an American Republican-style shock and awe approach in his pursuit of power. Mainstream media hailed him the most effective opposition leader in Australian political history.

This was solely based on his parties standing in the polls and said nothing about the manner in which he lied and distorted facts and science to bring about this standing.

Perhaps they should rethink the criteria they use.

On a daily basis and in the parliament he sought to abuse, disrupt proceedings and tell untruths that normal men would not.

His gutter style negativity set a new benchmark for the behaviour of future opposition leaders. Luckily though, he may be the only one of his characterless ilk, and future opposition leaders may be more affable.

However, the consistency of his negativity had an effect on an electorate in a state of comatose. From the time the election date was announced he portrayed himself as a different person. An indifferent public was fooled by this chameleon disguise. He was and still is by his own admission a liar.

David Marr used these words, to sum up, the character of this would be Prime Minister.

“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protégé with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change.”

“He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power, it’s been a waste of time.”

How one appraisers the reasons for Labor’s loss might differ from individual to individual and there will undoubtedly be many thousands of words written on the subject. For me, it can be rather succinctly summed up in a sentence or two.

A political party, union of workers, sporting team or board of directors is only as good as the total sum of its parts. A good leader facilitates, emboldens and inspires the team, but a leader with self-interested ambition can destroy it all.

This is the first in a series. Next week Labor reform.

Conduct unbecoming?

By now everybody would have seen the widely condemned front page (above) of The Daily Telegraph, but did anybody read the accompanying editorial rubbish?

I was directed to it via the Tele’s Facebook page where they boasted that:

It’s day one of the election campaign. and the Daily Teelgraph (sic) promises the very best, most up to the minute coverage and the hardest hitting opinions. Check out today’s editorial for a taste of what’s to come. http://bit.ly/15vS8er

Here is the editorial – titled Consign Rudd to the bin of history – that their illiterate social media editors encouraged us all to read. I too encourage you to read it, even though it’s a couple of days old now as it gives us an insight from Day 1 of how the Telegraph intends to ‘run’ this campaign:

DAILY TELEGRAPH “OPINION EDITORIAL”: ‘AT last, the power is in the hands of the Australian people to deliver a change of government and to rebuild Australia’s strength and stability.

At last, the opportunity looms to put an end to two terms of political chaos and economic decline.

At last, the time is up for Kevin Rudd and his Labor government.

Announcing the September 7 election date yesterday, Prime Minister Rudd tried to distance himself from Labor’s years of disunity and destruction. He now promises “a new way” and “new politics”. But Australians know that Rudd is absolutely tied to old Labor and its socially divisive and financially ruinous policies.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that confessed just three days ago that its most recent federal budget wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that has somehow turned Australia’s boom times into a massive and ongoing debt.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that punched holes in Australia’s secure borders and cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars by reinvigorating the vile people smuggling trade – one of the few economic sectors that will be unhappy to see an end to Labor’s rule.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that attempted to muzzle the media and to intimidate a free people into docile, compliant silence.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that didn’t keep its word on the carbon tax. A government that didn’t keep its word on delivering a surplus. A government that, in the end, didn’t even keep its word on the 2013 election date. The Prime Minister’s cabinet has already had its say. Fully one-third of the cabinet walked out on Rudd rather than work with him. Several Labor MPs prefer quitting politics entirely to the prospect of serving under Rudd’s leadership.

Now it’s your turn. We agree with the Prime Minister when he says that “the old politics of the past won’t work for Australia’s future”. The problem is, those old politics belong to Kevin Rudd and to history’s rubbish bin.

On September 7, Australia will indeed find a new way – by throwing out a government that has completely lost its way.

In 2007, The Daily Telegraph supported the election of a Labor government led by Kevin Rudd. Our argument then was that the previous Howard government had become weary and unimaginative, and that Rudd represented an opportunity for advancement.

Labor has squandered that opportunity, and is trying now to present itself as the answer to problems of its own creation.

The amount of spin implicit in the Prime Minister’s “new way” rhetoric is beyond anything ever achieved by Shane Warne. It’s a high-rotation insult to an electorate that sees through Labor’s brazen electioneering.

At The Daily Telegraph, we’re not going to cop it. Kevin Rudd and his Labor machine can save their tricks and distractions for the focus groups. We’re not going to play Labor’s game.

At the same time, we will place Coalition policies under exactly the same level of scrutiny. Labor is a known quantity, which is why they’ve lost support. It is up to the Coalition to win those voters.’

Now look at same paper’s published Code of Conduct. We need only be concerned with the sections shown below:

The policy of our publications across all platforms

This policy applies to News Limited and its editorial employees in both print and digital media platforms. It is an update of the News Limited Professional Conduct Policy which applies to editorial employees of News NSW; News Victoria, News Queensland, Davies Bros Limited, Advertiser Newspapers Limited and the regional and suburban newspaper and operations around Australia.

News Limited group publications aim for the highest editorial and ethical standards.

Editorial employees and contributors should be open-minded, be fair and respect the truth.

To this end, all staff need to be familiar with the policy detailed in the following pages, to follow the rules they contain, and to apply their underlying principles.

1. Accuracy

1.1 Facts must be reported impartially, accurately and with integrity.

1.2 Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate, fair and balanced.

1.3 Clear distinction must be made between fact, conjecture, comment and opinion.

1.4 Try always to tell all sides of the story in any kind of dispute. Every effort must be made to contact all relevant parties.

1.5 Do not knowingly withhold or suppress essential facts.

What a joke. Now, if you so desire, read the editorial again. There is not a lot in it that reflects the code of conduct so espoused. To the contrary, it is riddled with impartiality, inaccuracies, and conjecture. All designed, in my opinion, to encourage a vote against the Government. They are of course free to do this, but it would be preferable if the piece was filled with truth and accuracy, unlike the selected sentences from the above editorial, namely:

At last, the opportunity looms to put an end to two terms of political chaos and economic decline.

But Australians know that Rudd is absolutely tied to old Labor and its socially divisive and financially ruinous policies.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that confessed just three days ago that its most recent federal budget wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that didn’t keep its word on the carbon tax. A government that didn’t keep its word on delivering a surplus. A government that, in the end, didn’t even keep its word on the 2013 election date.

At the same time, we will place Coalition policies under exactly the same level of scrutiny. Labor is a known quantity, which is why they’ve lost support. It is up to the Coalition to win those voters.

Let’s look at each of these, starting with At last, the opportunity looms to put an end to two terms of political chaos and economic decline.

What decline? Here are the facts:

Australia is currently experiencing a very fast growth rate of 1.7%. This is the highest growth rate in the OECD and we recently achieved the milestone of 23 million people. That’s 15% growth – or three million people – since early 2004, when we reached 20 million.

Our GDP growth in Australia displayed the full brutality of the carnage being wrought on the world. Many experts and people on the street were convinced that, like the rest of the world, Australia would enter recession.

However, despite all the forecasts, Australia avoided entering recession in 2009. This isn’t to say we didn’t see the impacts. Growth went from above trend, at 3.75% in 2008, to well below, at 1.37% in 2009. Over the last 20 years, trend growth has been an impressive 3.25%.

The next impact was inevitable; with a 10.6% turnaround in revenue growth in the immediate aftermath, government revenue not only completely stalled, it went backwards to the tune of five billion dollars, or 1.5% in 2008. This was followed by a decrease of six billion dollars or 2.1% the following year. These were big falls, especially considering in the last year of John Howard’s pre-GFC government revenue grew by 9.1%.

This period, 2008 and 2009, is where all the damage was done and today’s budget still suffers from it. It was nothing government did. It happened the world over. We were fortunate we avoided recession, our unemployment peaked nowhere near expected and we kept growing.

This didn’t happen by accident. It required government to act to secure bank deposits and implement a world beating stimulus package that filled the hole in demand and kept us insulated from world events. It was a significant package of $52B, but we faced a significant problem and the response by the Australia Government was hailed by the IMF, OECD, World Bank and many economists as being a model response to the crisis.

We continue . . .

But Australians know that Rudd is absolutely tied to old Labor and its socially divisive and financially ruinous policies. And the evidence is where? Where are they socially divisive? How are they financially ruinous? See above: see how well our economy is doing.

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that confessed just three days ago that its most recent federal budget wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Did they really say that, or are those just your words?

Kevin Rudd is the leader of a government that didn’t keep its word on the carbon tax. A government that didn’t keep its word on delivering a surplus. A government that, in the end, didn’t even keep its word on the 2013 election date. But hasn’t your newspaper condemned the ‘çarbon tax’ from the day it was planned? Hasn’t your newspaper fanatically promoted Tony Abbott who has continuously threatened to repeal it? Hasn’t your newspaper been screaming for an early election since Abbott was defeated in 2010?

At the same time, we will place Coalition policies under exactly the same level of scrutiny. Labor is a known quantity, which is why they’ve lost support. It is up to the Coalition to win those voters. Oh, please, are we to believe that? Show us where you have ever applied any scrutiny to the policy-free Coalition. For three years you have been promoting Team Abbott but not once have I ever known of your newspaper to apply the blowtorch.

Why bother with having a Code of Conduct. Just be honest and openly declare your support for the Coalition, and perhaps try telling us why they’ll provide us with a better government. Or don’t you know?

We certainly don’t. Strangely, we rely on newspapers such as yours to provide us with facts that are reported impartially, accurately and with integrity. Otherwise you are wasting our time.

And this was only Day 1 of the campaign!

I’m guessing that your paper is going to lose thousands of readers, but is that important to you? Another guess: No. What appears to be more important is your desire to influence the political landscape of this country. Do you assume that that’s want your readers want?

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Murdoch hates Rudd: a reminder

Rudd

Image courtesy of abc.net.au

The Fairfax media and the social media have seized on the ‘rumour’ that Murdoch wants to wipe away Kevin Rudd’s chance of electoral success, in favour of Abbott; a win to Abbott would be a win for Murdoch, financially.

The barrage of frenzied attacks on Rudd from Murdoch’s News Limited media over the last few days gives this rumour some strength.

But this isn’t new. The Murdoch media is well oiled when it comes to attacking Rudd.

Let’s go back to September 2009, courtesy of Mungo MacCallum who wrote the following (reproduced below) in his article Rudd and the Murdoch Press.

“The most powerful man in Australia does not actually live in Australia. This, for many, is just one more reason to fear and loathe him. Much of Australia has never forgiven Rupert Murdoch for putting wealth and power above patriotism and deserting his country of birth to become an American citizen.

Political leaders find it particularly irksome. It was painful enough to be called into the media mogul’s Sydney headquarters, worse still to be invited to his rural estate – ‘Cavan’, near Canberra – to don gumboots and compliment him on his livestock. But to be summoned halfway around the world – to New York or, the ultimate humiliation, to one of his executive bonding retreats at Aspen, Colorado – is almost too much to bear.

Almost … but not quite. Those unwilling to undertake the pilgrimage have only to cast their minds back to 1975 to recall the terrible consequences of offending the Sun King.

The campaign waged by the News Limited press against Gough Whitlam during that year’s election was so brutal and single-minded that a number of Murdoch’s own journalists went on strike in protest. It was also overkill; in the somewhat hysterical atmosphere of the time, Whitlam was going to lose anyway. But the Dirty Digger’s Blitzkrieg undoubtedly made the result more dramatic than it might otherwise have been.

No sane politician, let alone prime minister, is going to invite an encore. For this reason, various Labor strategists are starting to worry about the simmering feud between Kevin Rudd and the Murdoch empire, concerned that there is a risk of eruption into open warfare.

Rudd and his colleagues have never tried to hide their distaste for the News Limited style of journalism, more than once accusing the corporation of deliberately distorting reports to favour Labor’s opponents. They have long since given up on some of News Limited’s columnists; you might as well try to convert Alan Jones. There is a particular contempt for what insiders describe as the Axis of Evil: Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, Piers Akerman in the Telegraph and Janet Albrechtsen in the Australian.

When Mark Latham called Albrechtsen “a skanky ho who would die in a ditch for the Liberal Party”, he was accused of bad taste, but he was actually just summarising the general sentiment of the Labor Party. And Dennis Shanahan – working within the press gallery itself – became a standing joke at the close of the Howard era, thanks to his heroic attempts to read hope for the coalition into a long series of disastrous opinion polls.

But all this is par for the course, what Rudd himself might call the “normal argy-bargy of politics”. In recent times, though, the to-and-fro has become more particular and more serious. Rudd has been able to brush off many of the attacks against his ministers and the policies of his government, but when the concerted forces of the Murdoch press moved against his integrity it hit him where it hurts, both politically and personally.

Rudd is jealously protective of his image as a sincere prime minister.

The Opposition, of course – with the help of its cheerleaders in the media – has tried to portray him as a shallow, malleable politician, lacking both principle and conviction: all spin and no substance. But it is clear that the public does not see him that way. Indeed, a recent letter-writer to the Sydney Morning Herald explained Rudd’s longstanding ascendancy in the polls with one word: Integrity.

So when News Limited threw its considerable resources behind what became known as the ‘Utegate affair’, Rudd cracked. The accusation that he had given special favours to the car-dealer John Grant in return for – of all things – a beaten-up truck, was simply unacceptable and, when the email on which the charge was based was proved to be a forgery, he hit back.

Asked during a press conference for his reaction by Matthew Franklin, who had helped to drive the story in the Australian, Rudd responded in terms rather more measured than he had been using in private:

I think, what a number of people have said to me, Matthew, around the place is where have we kind of got to, when you have major papers like the Daily Telegraph, the Courier-Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser running on their front page that the prime minister of the country is corrupt, and then secondly the editors it seems not having sighted any original document in terms of this email, and thirdly, it turns out that, that email is a forgery, I would have thought a few people would want to know how all that happened, what sort of journalistic checks were put in place for that to be the case, or is it simply being sort of airbrushed from history?

 

I think the other thing which sort of comes up is, I mean, the usual accusations when political leaders respond to factually inaccurate reporting in the media, in this case in those papers that I referred to, is to accuse the political leaders in question of having some sort of glass jaw. It may simply be that what people want is just some basic answers as to how that might have happened, that’s a pretty basic thing.

 

The other thing I saw the chief executive of your own news organisation do yesterday was, in responding to this, indicate that somehow the deputy prime minister was raising these matters because she’d felt set upon by your newspaper over the coverage of the Building the Education Revolution stuff. Well, all’s fair in love and war, I mean, you guys will take whatever editorial position you want on the Building the Education Revolution and that’s been the case.

Rudd described this treatment of Gillard as “journalistic retaliation”. In other words, it had gone beyond Utegate: Rudd now saw it as a concerted campaign.

The Australian immediately struck back: one of its less scrupulous hit men, Glenn Milne, devoted an entire column to vilifying Rudd. And the paper’s dedicated sneer column, ‘Cut and Paste’ (which seems to exist purely for the purpose of trivialising or denigrating views to the left of the soup spoon), redoubled its attacks on Rudd and his defenders.

One of the constant accusations was that Rudd did indeed have a glass jaw: he could dish it out but he couldn’t take it. It is true that, since becoming the leader of the Labor Party, he and his staff have seemed both clumsy and overreactive in their dealings with the media. One explanation may be Rudd’s background in the Queensland arena, where the journalists (“the chooks”, as Joh Bjelke-Petersen once called them) are rather less aggressive than the Canberra press gallery.

The current stoush between the PM’s office and what is arguably the most forceful and influential constituent of the fourth estate is not a good sign. Rudd began, as quoted above, by referring specifically to three of the Murdoch tabloids, but later widened his attack to include “the Murdoch press” generally, perhaps implying that the campaign was being led by the man himself.

This is unlikely: these days Murdoch regards his Australian operations as pretty much on the fringe and allows his editors the kind of independence that their predecessors only dreamed of. An obvious example of this, is Murdoch’s support of the use of short-term stimulus packages to combat the global financial crisis, while his Australian economics writers (Michael Stutchbury in the Australian, in particular) have been highly critical.

Also, Murdoch declares himself a true believer in climate change, but the Australian has become a haven for sceptics and deniers. The anti-Rudd push, if it is coordinated at all, is almost certainly locally driven.

This may not give Rudd much immediate solace, but at least he is unlikely to suffer the kind of vendetta that was the fate of Gough Whitlam. Murdoch may well have disapproved of many aspects of the Labor government of 1972–75, but the ferocity of his onslaught was driven at least partly by a desire for payback.

The Murdoch papers had campaigned vigorously for Labor in 1972; indeed, their bashings of the incumbent prime minister, the hapless Billy McMahon, were almost as ruthless as their monstering of Whitlam three years later. And shortly after Whitlam took office, Murdoch appeared on the doorstep, claiming his reward: he wanted to be appointed to the plum diplomatic post of high commissioner to London, with the proviso that he be allowed to continue all his business operations – including running his media empire – from the official residence on the Strand.

Whitlam, outraged by the demand, refused point-blank and shortly thereafter cancelled a coal mining project that Murdoch had underway in Western Australia, on the grounds of “national interest”. The rest is history.

Kevin Rudd may find it inconvenient to have to make the trek to the United States to pay his respects, but he has reason to be thankful that Rupert Murdoch now pursues his insatiable ambitions from somewhere a long way away.”

Author’s comment:

Did Mungo provide a crystal ball for his readers to gaze into the future: September 2013. Unwittingly, it appears he has. Conversely, he has given us some history to reflect upon. History, that over the next month, will be repeated . . . with venom. We won’t need much reminding that Rupert Murdoch does indeed hate Kevin Rudd. Just keep an eye on his Australian media over the next few weeks if you have any doubt.

Someone has well and truly lost the plot

That fine custodian of moral virtue, Piers Ackerman, is mostly known for his frothing-at-the-mouth appearances on ABC Insiders most Sunday mornings and as a journalist for The Australian and a couple of other magnificent Murdoch journals. The Australian, we are reminded, is the masthead of Murdoch’s media empire in our country. It espouses to be the pinnacle of decency in the Australian media landscape. I found this summary of its wonderfulness:

The Australian is this country’s leading news brand. The editorial values focus on leading and shaping public opinion on the issues that affect Australia, its residents and the Australian business environment. Led by a team of highly credible and experienced journalists, editorial themes cover economic, political and social issues.

Unparalleled national and international news and business sections are supplemented by indepth business to business sections such as; Australian IT (the largest newspaper IT section in the world), Higher Education, Media, Aviation, Thoroughbreds. As well, lifestyle, arts and sports sections balance the read for our independent thinking and influential readership.

The Australian brand is globally recognised as a leader in media innovation. The brand has evolved into a multi-platform offering for both its consumers and its advertisers by taking full advantage of the many techonologies available in the marketplace. From a refreshed, smart broadsheet layout to full gloss executive lifestyle magazines. From an up-to-date by the minute guide to news around the world via The Australian website to the fully interactive iPad application, online and iPad editions are refreshed throughout the day.

The Australian newspaper is published Monday to Friday.

A word from our Editor-in-Chief

The Australian was born in July 1964 as a bold venture in national journalism, vowing to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”.

Today, it retains that sense of adventure, covering the affairs of an island continent, with reporters across the country and foreign bureaus throughout the region and around the world. It is read by Australians from Broome to Burnie to Cooktown, and is published at six print sites around the country.

As the national broadsheet, our core areas are federal politics, international affairs, business, sport, the arts, technology and education. To do our job, we must stand above other sources of news and information.

We strive to be first with the big national stories. We aim for factual reporting and penetrating analysis. We seek to take our readers beyond the “spin” of the political, business and sport press release machinery.

Chris Mitchell

Keep this piece of propaganda in the back of your mind: to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”.

Two newspapers in The Australian’s stable are The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, where Piers Ackerman is given the freedom to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”. They promote Piers as being:

. . . one of The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph’s best-read columnists since 1993. One of the nation’s most respected journalists he has worked in New York, London, Washington and Los Angeles.

Well someone has well and truly lost the plot.

Here is Ackerman’s latest piece from The Australian, “Piers Akerman hits back at his critics following the ABC Insiders program”. I have highlighted those sections that do not to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”.

The chattering classes whipped themselves into a lather Sunday afternoon claiming that I raised questions about First Bloke Tim Mathieson’s sexuality on the ABC Insiders program that morning.

Rubbish. The ABC’s producers had conservative Perth shock jock Howard Sattler’s repugnant interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard listed as an item for Insider host Barrie Cassidy’s discussion to open up the question of whether she had been exposed to sexism during her career.

Do the sneering Left and the Twitterati really believe that it is possible to discuss the Sattler interview without touching on its subject matter?

What seems to have enraged the Left-wing blogosphere is that I said the Parliamentary press gallery had been asking the same sort of questions when Gillard and Mathieson’s relationship first came to light as Sattler had raised last week.

That seems to have infuriated my fellow panellists, former Fairfax journalist Lenore Taylor, now writing for some Leftwing online site and my News Limited colleague Malcolm Farr, who with Cassidy denied ever hearing such a thing.

I have never made any suggestions Mathieson’s sexuality. I don’t deal in tawdry topics.

Mathieson is in fact a very good friend with one of my long-standing mates and over the past several years we have been scheduled to meet for a weekend lunch, with or without his Significant Other, but diary conflicts have prevented such a felicitous engagement.

Yet there is no greater rumour mill in the nation than the federal press gallery – which in recent weeks has been relentlessly asking (I shan’t say what because I don’t engage in rumour mongering).

As I said the Sattler interview was unacceptable, that should have signalled my view clearly.

Quite frankly, I can’t understand why the Left gets itself so wound up about sexuality and gender issues when it publicly preaches these matters are irrelevant.

That’s my position and always has been. What people do in private is up to them.

What angers me more than the phony outrage of the aged feminists and class-and-gender war warriors is that the Sattler interview was deemed worthy of comment when there are so many more pressing national issues.

Not least the fact that the Australian navy and customs ships are too busy ferrying illegal people smuggler boats to Christmas Island to pick up the drowned bodies of those who were unsuccessful in making Labor’s lethal voyage.

Or the fact that the Prince-in-waiting Kevin Rudd is equally to blame for Labor’s blow-out Budgets, waste and failed policies as Gillard, the woman most ALP MPs hope he rolls.

Outrage from the Left – don’t make me laugh. Campbell Newman and his immediate family were subjected to a barrage of falsehoods concocted by Labor during the recent election and some of those who endorsed the rubbish have now found refuge in the Prime Minister’s office, just as the phony race riot of Australia Day 2012 was concocted there.

As I said at the end of the show, addressing Gillard (who wasn’t watching), I intended no offense.

I meant it. Just as I now say I will never be intimidated by the baying of Labor’s politically correct lickspittles who were ever so silent when this government was trying to muzzle the news media during its current term.

I repeat, I don’t draw up Insiders’ agenda, the ABC did because a conservative shock jock had made a fool of himself and been sacked.

They ignored the offensive nature of the charge in their attempt to further gore their quarry.

Many of you will find nothing wrong with that. He is simply sharing his opinions, even though they don’t provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”. I think, more than anything, he’s letting us know that he doesn’t like the Left or any class or group likely to fall into the Left category.

But he doesn’t leave it alone. His article was reproduced on The Telegraph under ‘Sexuality rubbish a tawdry affair’ where readers were offered the opportunity to debate the article with Piers himself. There one can see first hand that Ackerman has no intention of providing “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”. I produce some examples below:

In response to:

Piers,
I believe your wife is a female…correct? Well, does that make her a lesbian? THINK !!….that’s if your narrow-minded, blinkered, one-eyed, right-wing extremist attitudes allow you to.

Ackerman wrote:

THIS must be the stupidest comment ever submitted, Chris. This is the sort of logic that brought the destruction of border protection, the installation of pink batts, the Budget surplus we never had and Gonski, you must be channeling the brains trust of the ALP.

I agree with Ackerman that it was a stupid comment, but don’t you just love how he turns it into some Labor bashing?

Someone wrote:

Did you ask Tony why his sister is gay? Did you ask Alan Jones whether he is gay? Are you gay? Never seen you with a woman and has never been discussed. Don’t care what you do or Alan Jones and rest of you so called commentators. When did journalists become commentators? Your a journalist. Come out to the country sometime and look at real people with real issues. and yes there are gays in the country maybe you will fit in. Wasn’t that personal maybe that’s what the PM thought?

Ackerman, quick to blame the Lefties responded with:

Being a homosexual or a heterosexual has never been a big deal with me, Bathurst, but it seems to excite the Lefties no end. I have always been interested in the issues the ABC would prefer not to deal with – such as Labor’s failure.

Ackerman, so far, hasn’t answered many comments but when he does the majority of them are used as a vehicle to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”, which in his opinion is to demean anyone on the Left that breathes. Here are more of his rants:

And as for your pathetic smear, go and get your shilling from the ALP, they run the only smear operation I am aware of.

Interesting, Andrea. The first woman in parliament was elected by conservatives. The first female office bearer was conservative. Elected and appointed on merit. People aren’t afraid of women. They don’t like Quota Queens though and they distrust Labor losers like Gillard, Kirner, Bligh and Lawrence. With good cause.

Carol – if Anne Summers is not an aged feminist, I am a carrot. I would have thought that applying age as a descriptor might have excused her peculiarly bilious form of feminism. If you suggest not, I guess mit is just pure nastiness on her part.

Mark, why wouldn’t everyone feel entitled to feel superior to those on the Left when the evidence of the Left’s disastrous policies and philosophies is abundantly evident.

So The Australian vows to provide “the impartial information and the independent thinking that are essential to the further advance of our country”. Yet they put Piers Ackerman to work on the farm. Goodness me, someone has well and truly lost the plot then.

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Murdoch Censorship Gives the Lie to ‘Freedom of Speech’ Claims

Mr Williams, CEO of News Limited in Australia says we do not need to worry about the domination of the Murdoch press because we now have digital media! “Let’s see if it works” said Dick Smith.

Read Dick’s subsequent probing letter to Mr Williams:

Kim Williams AM
CEO and Managing Director
News Limited
2 Holt St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Via Email

Dear Kim

Murdoch Censorship Gives the Lie to “Freedom of Speech” Claims

I believe your personal campaign against proposed government media reforms is hypocritical as it is your organisation that is largely responsible for this reaction by our politicians.

You claim, “We are in danger of limiting the full reign of freedom of speech which we cherish and keeps our democracy on its toes.” This is, to put it plainly, claptrap. Your organisation constantly limits freedom of speech and even censors paid announcements when it is in your commercial interests to do so.

You say we shouldn’t worry about your organisation’s dominance of the media as a diversity of opinion can now be had through digital media. Could you be referring to this type of opinion from a popular online site:

“The news industry is failing us; owned by self-interested corporate media barons who put profit before principle. Today’s news is more interested in generating sensationalism and controversy than fulfilling its historic mission of educating the public and our democracies are in danger as a result.”

Never have truer words been said, but where can we read them in print?

Personally, I would prefer that the government’s planned media reforms were not necessary, but I can see why they are being proposed. Many Australian politicians and leaders have told me they are scared of the power of your organisation, and so they should be.

I believe your threats of High Court action are a smokescreen to deflect criticism from the real issue: your organisation’s biased and intimidating reporting. You have one agenda only – the pursuit of ever-increasing profits for your shareholders. You have absolutely no interest in anything other than this and you should admit it, not make false claims implying your prime concerns are freedom of the press and democracy.

I hold the quaint belief it is incumbent on media owners to ensure their papers and broadcasting channels behave responsibly and in the public interest and show leadership on important issues that affect us. And while calling governments to account, they should not so intimidate politicians and public officials that they interfere with the process of rational debate and good policy. Your organisation has clearly failed this test.

I do not need to remind you of the corrupt and criminal activities of many of your proprietor’s employees and their associates in the UK. What is never mentioned is that this has come about as a result of the unwritten “Rupert Murdoch agenda” that if your people don’t achieve ever increasing circulation and profit growth they will lose their jobs.

I must make it clear that I do not blame your journalists; I have found most to be professional and fair-minded. It is obvious that they “self-censor” what they write knowing that if they ever reveal views that are in conflict with your proprietor, then their careers will be brief. This is at complete odds with your claims of ensuring free speech and being concerned about threats to democracy.

And I’m on to you. When friends ask me why your organisation runs such opposing views on climate change – from Fox News’ claims that it’s all bunkum to The Australian newspaper occasionally claiming it’s accepted science – I am able to say, “it’s simple. It’s all about making more money. They have worked out they will get more advertising and make more money on Fox News if climate change is debunked using sensationalism whilst they are likely to get greater circulation and more advertising dollars if The Australian shows a different view, so staff are directed accordingly”.

In effect, your organisation promotes views that meet the prejudices of your audience so as to maximise profits. This is not promoting free speech – it is abusing it.

And it sure works. Your organisation recently declared a 47% profit increase when the people you make most of your money from, the middle and lower income earners in the United States, are doing it tough with record unemployment levels and housing foreclosures. No wonder the “occupy” movement exists.

Of course, I know the pressure you are personally under. If you don’t keep sending ever increasing profits to New York you could suddenly be sacked – just like former Daily Telegraph Editor, Gary Linnell or Herald-Sun Editor, Simon Pristel.

It may not be so serious if your boss, who has so much influence in Australia, was respected and trusted by most Australians. The opposite is, in fact, the case. Just recently he was voted as one of the least trusted. He was placed number 97 on the Readers Digest “Who Do We Trust 2012” list. Only an errant footballer and a foul-mouthed shock-jock were held in lower esteem by the Australian people. Of course, you made sure there was no mention in the Murdoch media of this as all of your journalists worldwide “self-censored” on this issue. Once again, what about your “freedom of the press” claims?

And now to the subject which I am vitally concerned about and that your journalists have self-censored as it is at odds with your “grow profits at all costs” agenda.

That is the need for major debate and planning by our leaders on how to move to an economic system that does not require perpetual growth in population and the use of resources and energy. You are an educated and intelligent person and would know that our present economic system is not sustainable as the earth’s resources are finite and we are clearly heading for challenging times. Yet I have not once seen in a Murdoch publication an editorial which covers this important issue.

It’s even worse than this. Your organisation actively attempts to suppress coverage on the issue, and many politicians have also told me they are not game to mention that our present system of economic growth is unsustainable knowing they will be ruthlessly attacked by your organisation.

Because you fail to show responsibility in this important issue, I prepared a paid “announcement” (see attached) to run in the Daily Telegraph about my Wilberforce Award and the issue of growth and offered a $5,000 reward to a journalist who could get the issue covered in a Murdoch paper.

Almost predictably, the Daily Telegraph refused to run my paid announcement unless reference to the Murdoch press was deleted, and you supported this decision. This was clearly censorship. Of course it was all kept secret and the Australian public never got to hear of your actions. This is just one example of your suppression of ideas that challenge your corporate agenda. How many other views do you censor in order to meet your profit objectives?

Because of this, I have recently produced a magazine and I am printing 2.4 million copies to be inserted in daily newspapers. The magazine is entitled, “Dick Smith’s Magazine of Forbidden Ideas That You Won’t Read About in the Mainstream Media” – a copy of the front page is attached. The magazine is primarily intended to convey important messages that your journalists fear covering because they challenge your perpetual growth agenda.

As you control 70% of the print media in Australia, it’s obvious that 70% of my magazines will have to go in your newspapers. So will you reject my magazine as you did the original paid announcement? Let’s test your commitment to free speech.

Of course, I would normally write this letter to your boss, Rupert Murdoch, directly. However, in his last letter to me of 1 June 2011, he showed how sensitive he was to any criticism by rejecting further communication. This was because he was offended by my criticism of the Daily Telegraph for its front-page attack of Cate Blanchett when she dared to support the carbon tax. Isn’t it amazing – Rupert Murdoch tells people, “Climate change poses clear catastrophic risks” and claims he made News Limited carbon-neutral and he is treated like a hero by you and your colleagues, whereas Cate Blanchett is attacked so more papers could be sold and more profits made!

I am releasing this letter publicly, though I have been warned it is a high-risk strategy to criticise your organisation and that retribution will be swift. I wonder if you will instruct your reporters to come after me, just as News Limited did to its critics in the United Kingdom? But I think it is time to stand up to your bias and bullying and put your claims of “freedom of speech” to the test.

Yours faithfully
Dick Smith

Update: Here is the advertisement that the Murdoch media were too precious to publish:

Extra $5,000 reward for coverage of the Wilberforce Award in the Murdoch Press

The Murdoch press are absolutely paranoid about anyone mentioning that we can’t have constant growth in the use of material resources and energy.

What is even worse is the way our politicians appear to have been intimidated on this subject. Many politicians I speak to agree with the simple fact that we can’t always have growth and we need to move to a more stable system. However, a number of them have said to me ‘Dick, what you are saying is absolutely correct, but if I said it I would be crucified by the Murdoch press’.

I think everyone should be horrified at this. I think Rupert Murdoch himself would be horrified if he knew that free speech was being curtailed because people were frightened of his newspaper clout. My experience with Rupert is that he always wants both sides of an issue to be covered. It seems a pity that his Editors and Journalists in Australia don’t understand this.

The fact is we should be discussing all sides of the issue and acknowledging the fact that the growth we have had over the last thirty years cannot continue indefinitely. I am the first to admit that this growth has benefited people greatly, including Rupert Murdoch and myself. But it’s a simple fact that you don’t have to be a very good businessperson to be making more and more money in such a growth-fuelled environment – and we all know that one day there will be a limit to this growth.

It is very sad and also incredibly serious that we presently have a group of politicians, no matter how small, who agree with the important facts about this ‘growth reality’ but are not game to discuss it because they will be attacked.

Recently Barry O’Farrell, the Premier of New South Wales, stated that we would not have another airport in Sydney. He was attacked mercilessly by the Sydney Daily Telegraph. “How could someone doubt growth?” was basically the attitude of the Telegraph.

I have therefore decided on a special $5,000 prize for the first young person under the age of thirty who can get definitive coverage of the Wilberforce Award in the Murdoch press, including the fact that our present economic system, which requires perpetual growth in the use of resources and energy, is not sustainable.

So go for it! It must be possible. I am hoping that one day there will be a journalist working for the Murdoch press who is able to get the truth out and both sides of the argument will be fairly shown.

Remember, this is not a personal, emotive view of mine – it is a simple fact that we can’t always have perpetual growth in the use of material resources and energy in our finite world.

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In whose opinion?

An old friend, Nick, recently said that what was once news has now been replaced with a journalist’s view on the world. The journalist’s opinion is no longer secondary; today their opinions are the news.

Having spent many years in the USA and retaining an interest in their politics and their media, he commented that what he is starting to see creep into our media and presentation is this impression that the opinion of journalists is not only something nice to have for politicians, but is somehow more important to the public than the politicians and policies themselves. “Where have I seen that before?” he asked. Yes, FOX News, that world-renowned bastion of journalistic integrity known for it’s fair & balanced review of subjects. Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself. When that occurs, you start getting people carrying placards to political rallies, not about the policies they object to or want to see enacted, but bearing the name of journalists and thanking the heavens for their opinion.

His best guess is that it occurred when investigative journalism became too expensive compared to paying peanuts for the opinions of journalists, who then began to believe their own rubbish, and whose sense of their own importance grew to an unreasonble level not at all commensurate with their actual talent.

He summed it up:

You’d be excused for thinking today – going by a number of newspaper front pages, headlines and political commentary – that Australia had descended into Mad Magazine hell.

He cited, as an example, Julia Gillard. Rather than being hailed for her expert negotiating tactics and creating one of the most diverse governments in Australian history, we get instead from much of our media the type of reporting and imagery you’d expect from a bunch of attention-seeking, spotty misogynists, beer swilling and word wanking themselves into a fury in some American frat house . . . or a bunch of smart-arse UK toffs scoffing their ivory towered arses off by way of tabloid drivel. Again, his words.

The idea that Julia Gillard has become more than just a paragraph in the history books, Nick added, has really annoyed and frustrated plenty in our self-serving Fourth Estate . . . where public interest has fallen to the wayside as sensationalism, gossip and snarling have become the main courses served to the readers/viewers throughout the day.

He had often suspected that the MSM (mainstream media) in this country – much like the USA – have asserted as much influence as possible on Joe Citizen to have Joe vote for the party of their choice. They do this by ‘front paging’ the issues which support their cause. They don’t tell Joe who to vote for, but instead, what to base his/her vote on.

To test out Nick’s hypothesis I took a look at the musings of The Daily Telegraph’s much adored journalist, Piers Akerman. Musings is an appropriate word, however, I think “opinionated rubbish” would be more ideal. Here is a journalist who clearly is unable to write any article without lacing it with unsubstantiated opinion. He fits the bill of what Nick said earlier and which I’ll repeat again: “Where it is more important to know what a journalist (or more correctly, an “opinion entertainer“) thinks about a subject than it is to know about the subject itself“.

I started with Akerman’s “I watched a political show so comical it was a tragedy”. So was his journalism, a comical tragedy, that is. In his opinion, for example, the splashing across the front pages of our newspapers of the drug scandal rocking the major football codes was orchestrated by the Federal Government. Without any embarassment he sloppily writes:

While real characters appeared in the Obeid Family and Julia’s Disintegrating Party, stars of the new sports-based show have yet to be revealed.

Writers for the Dopiest Sports must name some key players if the series is to build on initial ratings.

Few viewers could resist a show which began with the boast of “the blackest day in Aussie sport”, but without some substance to support the claims, interest could fall rapidly.

Scriptwriters include the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The focus is on the AFL and NRL but main cast members remain shadowy.

As compelling as these programs are, there is the suggestion that the sports show has been rushed to air as a spoiler to woo viewers from the very successful Canberra saga.

Note his conclusion that “there is a suggestion . . .” without any indication of who might have suggested it. Note too, his earlier comment in the quote that “. . . without some substance to support the claims, interest could fall rapidly”. He wants substance, yet provides none himself. He is nothing more than a gossip columnist.

The next article I looked at was simply the same baseless opinion with the words re-arranged. Plus he was able to create some imaginary Labor figures to add some grand delusion to his opinion entertainment:

A number of senior Labor figures have compared the Gillard government’s performance over the past week with the dying days of the Whitlam government in 1975, marred by distrust.

Did he name those Labor figures? No. If they existed they could only be chased down for some facts, and facts conflict with opinions. But good old Piers, those Labor figures keep running to him. More appeared here:

Around the nation Labor politicians are shaking their heads and offering their critique of Julia Gillard’s decision to nominate an election date 226 days away.

Many are paraphrasing the catchphrase devastatingly used by slapstick comics Laurel and Hardy: “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into!”

I’d like to hear who those Labor politicians are and how many and who are paraphrasing the old comics. Again, those facts might get in the way of Akerman’s opinions. After all, he is the news. His opinions are greater than any worthwhile news event, any policy, or any politician.

Where there are no imaginary politicians on call to add credibility to an opinion piece one can rely on an un-named ‘distinguished eye surgeon’ to add support:

But Gillard’s new eyewear is straight out of central casting via focus group testing.

A distinguished eye surgeon told me that the new glasses were designed to mask Gillard’s heavy eyelids and give her the appearance or sense of a presbyopic school headmistress/grandparent and convey a knowledge/security/comfort/safety to the most primitive part of the brain stem.

That is, they were designed to create an image totally at odds with the Australian experience of her leadership and the nation’s knowledge of her character.

Goodness. I might phone a friend as well. Or I might bother half of the distinguished eye surgeons in the country and hopefully they won’t respond like a modelling agency. Akerman was ever so lucky to stumble across one who speaks his language. Or simply, shares his opinion.

Piers Akerman’s opinions are highly sought after. We see him on ABC Insiders most Sunday morning offering us nothing worthwhile. Just opinions. He well represents the mainstream media in this country. Like Nick said, a journalist’s opinion are no longer secondary in the news these days. Their opinions have replaced the news.

But there is hope and it comes from Akerman himself. He asks his readers this:

Please send all further examples of media stupidity to this site so they, too, can be entered in the judging to be held on the Saturday of the election or as soon as possible thereafter.

Perhaps he should read his own articles. There he will find a goldmine of data.

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