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Tag Archives: Independent media

Independence: it’s all ours

Judging by regular and somewhat repetitive comments that have been sent to our site’s Facebook page it appears (still) that many people have absolutely no idea what the word ‘independent’ means. Otherwise we wouldn’t receive comments that dispute our claim to be independent. For those that cannot grasp the meaning of the word . . . this is what independent means:
  1. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker
  2. not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous
  3. not influenced by the thought or action of others
  4. not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.
  5. not relying on another or others for aid or support
  6. rejecting others’ aid or support; refusing to be under obligation to others.

Yep, that’s us. No-one owns us, no-one sponsors us, and no-one tells us what to do.

We are not affiliated with any political party, although some of our authors do belong to the ALP and some to The Greens.

Some of the other criticism we attract is that we’re left-wing.

So what?

A number of our critics seem to think that independence means you have to be balanced between left and right.

Does it? Do you see that balance in the Murdoch media or other right-wing journals? Of course not.

They are entitled to write about whatever they want. So are we.

If we want to write about the horrors caused by the Abbott Government then so be it. Some people seem to take exception to that as judged by the number of messages we receive telling us so. Well bad luck.

If the Abbott Government is replaced by a Labor Government who are just as bad as the current incompetents then we will no doubt expose them too. Independence gives us the license to do that.

Our independence also means we will not obliged to reject a submitted article just because it is not aligned with majority opinion, left or right. Perhaps some of our regular critics – those who don’t like what we write about or keep telling us what we should be writing about – might like to take the opportunity to submit a civil article for consideration.


What is independent media and should more people be switching to it?

media5One of my Facebook friends by the name of Corrine Harrison is Studying for her Bachelor Arts Politics/Communications at Charles Sturt University, Queensland. She recently wrote an essay about independent media. I thought it worthy of sharing on THE AIMN.

In a world where media oligarchies prevail, an increasing number of independent media outlets are flourishing. Without means of corporate investment advertising their products, nor the incentive of a political party bias, how is it that these ‘revealers of the truth’ beyond the commercial media propaganda, are continuing and maintaining their uprising? This essay discusses the past and present 4th estate model, it’s relevance to today’s society and why more people should switch to independent media for unbiased, impartial information.

Independent media comes in many forms. In recent years there has been a surge in social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs. This has seen a rise in public interaction with journalism outside of the traditional news delivery methods such as newspapers and television. The last two decades has seen a drastic reduction in media plurality. These merged corporations have a preference towards neo-liberal political ideals and their reports invariably reflect their political bias. Readers with alternative political and social values seek out impartial news providers with views and information more aligned with their own or at least offering an alternate opinion. The main feature of independent media is its impartiality and focus on reporting the full story based on facts and research. The overall aim is to ensure full disclosure of occurring events to keep the public genuinely informed. The impartial nature of independent media is also reflected in its ownership. A mixture of self-funding by the writer, philanthropic foundations and reader subscriptions ensure the ongoing circulation of many publications. Crowd-funding campaigns raise money from everyday citizens with a vested interest in stories or projects that may otherwise be overlooked (Weiss, 2014). With no corporate associations to cloud the judgement of the writer, articles are free of agendas beyond the reported details of the story.

Whilst not commercially dominant, independent media secures its voice by providing current news in an unbiased way. It offers a sound and trustworthy platform, largely due to the reputations of individual reporters being at stake. This applies to qualified journalists as well as those individuals simply interested in disseminating and dispersing the truth in the process of seeking it for themselves. Many share their findings on Facebook pages dedicated to their specific area of news or political interest. Others are politically and socially active and simply comment on large news outlet’s posts in a bid to balance out the information disclosed in the article. They may also do this out of a personal sense of duty to have the all angles heard. In many cases, this commentary is also out of frustration at the one sided or sensationalist reporting when there is much more to the story than has been declared in a mainstream article.

This version of independent media is increasing and could play an important part in repairing the decline in community we see at the hands of mass media. Interaction with strangers to share ideas, refine values and pass on information garnered elsewhere would counteract the misleading reporting along with the overall fear instilled in readers by the commercial outlets for the sake of sales. This also means the dispersal of news can also occur indirectly. One person being affected by a report they encounter in their newsfeed could see them respond by sharing it on their timeline. Their contacts may not have seen this news had the original reader not passed it on and by doing so a certain level of peerage is attached. It is as though they have recommended that article and as such, the contents carry more weight when passed on within this medium- be it from a friend, family member or a colleague. This is a worrying concept when much of the mainstream news is one sided, sensationalist and noneducational.

The ability to share information instantaneously on these sites can see an inaccurate story spread quickly and widely. The source of the information can also become lost and with the mainstream media’s fast turnaround in news, it’s unlikely the story shall be refined or followed up further. The result is a misinformed public that spread misinformation on behalf of the media corporations.

Each click through is also advertising revenue for the publications business associates. Many articles have hard hitting headlines that are purposefully misleading and even false to entice the reader to click through to the article’s page on the provider’s advertisement ridden website. Alternatively, rather than reading the article and analysing the contents, the reader assumes the deliberately misleading headline is true and shares the message based solely on it.

The publication has its message spread and their advertiser’s messages are exposed. The fact the public is misinformed now, can be rectified in a few hours’ time with an updated story that will generate yet more click-throughs and misinformation. With the general population turning to such sites as Facebook and twitter for easy access to news, the major news sites not following suit in regards to solid reporting and transparency narrows the gap of readership competition further. Plurality shall also be restored as more people become frustrated by having wasted their time on what have become known as ‘click-bait’ articles. In addition, the rise in alternative newsreaders also sharing their findings on social media sites means the views of the independent writer are out there, re balancing the public sphere. In light of the above, it’s safe to say that independent media fills the gap of non-disclosure created by mainstream news reporting.

Printing deadlines, political biases, pressure to ensure sales of newspapers amongst others, all serve to hinder the quality of news disseminated by commercial media. Independent news readers recognise the need for impartial information to garner a realistic perception of all events- local and international.

Public confidence in commercial media is low and continuing to decline. Misrepresentation of facts and errors in reporting often go uncorrected. Grammatical and spelling errors cast a light on hurried compilation further adding to concerns of legitimate and conscientious reporting. When pressed for an explanation for the recurring mistakes and misrepresentations of facts, Journalists and Editors point to strict deadlines and staffing issues as well as simpler reasons such as careless writing, inexperience or just poor editing and reporting. (Dailysource.org, 2014)These issues point to the oligarchic nature of today’s media. The need to deliver results to commercial partners, such as advertisers and shareholders, means reporters have to cut corners and pad out stories to draw the reader in. These poorly researched articles lead to a misinformed public who, when the full details do transpire, feel betrayed and frustrated for believing the initial reports. In contrast, independent reporters gain no benefit from exaggerating the truth. Their relevance lies in their presentation of the facts and research beyond instant reporting.

Being self-regulated means a fast turnaround in publication. However, not having a big corporation to hide behind if their article turns out to be incorrect is where the pressure lies in the absence of printing deadlines. Again, this reiterates the need for absolute transparency and detailed research before publishing a story as an independent writer. In terms of genuinely informing the public, independent organisations are significantly more effective than commercial outlets. In studies conducted to gauge the educational abilities of commercial and independent news, a trend of half to two thirds of mainstream media readers had misunderstood the reported situation compared with less than a third of independently obtained information. (Daily Source, 2014)This misinformation reappears during election time. Many readers of mainstream news are bombarded with spin and party politics. The party values and policies go untold in favour of easy reporting of politician spats and the power play tug-of-war.

This leaves people misinformed and/or uninformed the day they cast their vote. With no understanding or knowledge of the policies and values relevant to particular candidates it’s little wonder the public are unhappy when the elected government do not, in fact, reflect their own personal values. The mainstream media outlets invariably have a political leaning and will aid their preferred candidate’s success to protect their own financial interests. With 80% of America’s daily newspapers belonging to the major outlets, it is easy to see how a symbiotic relationship benefits the state and that which has essentially become its mouthpiece (Daily Source, 2014).

This raises questions of action. Why do individuals use their current method? How difficult would it be to get them to change? What are the benefits of changing? Why do they continue to source their information from proven inaccurate sources when truthful, more educational options are readily available? The effects of the media can go some way to explain the difficulty in breaking free. Traditional Liberal views of the media are that: 1. Individuals can make their own choices and rationalise the quality of the news they read. In essence, “the audience is not an undifferentiated mass but is made up of complex and highly individual personalities”. (Errington and Miragliotta, 2007). 2. The readers influence the content since the outlets are privately owned and need to be relevant to their audience to ensure sales and 3. We live in a democracy where no one power dictates what is and isn’t available for readers to consume. That said, it’s worth noting that the mainstream media operates according the hypodermic model:

A concept where a single message is delivered and understood by a mass audience in such a way that once it is administered the response would be the same regardless of age, intelligence, qualifications or gender (Errington & Miragliotta, 2007). It suggests audiences have a level of disconnection to the information they are receiving which sees them unable to think critically and disseminate fact from sensationalism. This contradiction in the intent of the media’s message delivery should raise a flag and encourage the reader to seek more authentic information elsewhere since the traditional liberal theory does not hold true.

However, the hypodermic model is powerful and its power lies in the fact that its message is quickly and easily received leaving readers satisfied that what they have read has covered what they need to know. Again, alternative media outlets exist to redress the balance of truth and information lacking in commercial options. The difficulty lies in encouraging people to break free from the safety of the 4th estate model they are familiar with. They must be prepared to face the eventuality that the real news of independent media is not as easy to digest and the commercial offering, however, it is important to be informed and know the truth.

In conclusion, the evidence presented here shows a strong case for a widespread switch to independent news. This essay can be seen as a form of independent media by its research of existing knowledge of the subject, breaking down to more simple terms and collating those findings into one place as well as offering and referencing other opinions. It hopefully goes someway to causing a shift in the perception and habits of their daily news gathering for those who read it.

To involve many individual perceptions is an example of adhering to the traditional liberal values of independent media and living up to Mills’ expectations of basic human abilities (Errington & Miragliotta, 2007). Independent media providers have become the new gatekeepers guarding the public interest the media was originally intended to do. “Their work is so powerful, in fact, that such luminaries as André Schiffrin, longtime publisher of Pantheon Books and founder of the New Press, have stated outright that the independents — once dismissed and loudly reviled as marginal, leftist and naïve –“are now playing the classic role of fourth estate in our democracy.” (O’Connor, 2014).

Barnes, R. (2014). What You Think Of Us: The NM Reader Survey Results | newmatilda.com. [online] Newmatilda.com. Available at: https://newmatilda.com/2011/07/13/what-you-think-us-nm-reader-survey-results Dailysource.org, (2014).

Current Problems in the Media. [online] Available at: http://www.dailysource.org/about/problems#.VBEW8MKSzuR [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].Errington, W. and Miragliotta, N. (2007).

Media & politics. 2nd ed. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press, pp.41-51.O’Connor, R. (2014). Independent Media Goes Mainstream. [online]

The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rory-oconnor/independent-media-goes-ma_b_3052763.html [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].

Weiss, J. (2014). How to raise funds for your independent media startup | IJNet. [online] Ijnet.org. Available at: http://ijnet.org/stories/how-raise-funds-your-independent-media-startup [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].

Can we make a difference?


Image courtesy of memecreator.net

In January this year I got an email from Michael (site owner for those who don’t know) saying:

“We had 1.95 million visitors in our first year and I reckon we’ll easily get 3 million this year.”

A quick look at the stats shows that, 4 months after that email, we look like going over 4 million views sometime this week, or even today if Victoria writes another blockbuster.  Her last story has had well over 400,000 views in two days.  That is over 2% of the adult population of Australia (and yes I realise some were repeat views but still, that’s a lot of people considering we only need to change 30,000 votes in marginal seats, or get young people to enrol, to change the government).

The wonderful thing about this site is the contribution made by the commenters.  I have learned so much from their insights, their knowledge and experience, and the many links they share.

People disagree at times but, in the main, it is done in a respectful, constructive way, unlike some of the pure vitriole I see poured out on Facebook.  Sometimes people are critical of literary style, sometimes of opinion or subject matter, and any errors are quickly pointed out.  This is a good thing as it improves what we do, though I would ask for a little leeway on typos as we do not have staff to help us and when proofreading your own stuff your eyes see what your mind meant.  Point out necessary corrections but do so with some empathy for we imperfect scribes.

This is not just a safe haven where “communist pot-smoking lesbians” can congregate in comfort or “tree-hugging atheist leftards” can spit venom about Tony Abbott.  This is an information exchange, an exchange of ideas, a place where the truth matters to us, as do tolerance and respect.

It would be fair to say that we generally share a progressive’s desire for social justice and that our regular readers tend towards the left but it would be wrong to think it is just a round of back-slapping Labor/Green devotees who think all things Labor/Green are good and all things Coalition are bad.  Those parties attract as much scrutiny and criticism as does the Coalition, at times even more so as we plead with them to offer a strong alternative message.  It’s more about the ideas and policies than the parties.

Great suggestions are made every day by people who genuinely want our country to be a better place for ALL Australians.  The occasional accusation of envy and class warfare does not hold water.  I have not seen anyone ever suggest that Communism would be a better alternative (though a philosophical debate can be mounted – shame about human greed and corruption), or that we should nationalise all industry.

If we could just stop this being a game played by two teams and started pooling our resources, think just how productive we could be in finding solutions to the nation’s problems both in the short and long term.  Think how much money would be saved if the political parties didn’t have to promote themselves and how much more constructively time could be spent.

For those Labor voters who want us to sit back and watch Tony implode so we can win next time, we cannot afford to let him wreak three years of havoc while we refuse to point out a better way.  We must force him to change his mind by offering alternatives that produce better results, informing the public, and making our voice heard loud and clear.

We were largely ignored when we marched in March – a disorganised rabble with no clear message and no official backing.  How wrong they were.  These were not professional protesters, they were not militant unionists, they had nothing in common at all except a growing unease about the direction this government was headed – and that was BEFORE the budget!  The grandparents got the ball rolling, the students picked it up and hit the line running.  The scientists are being as loud as scientists get, the teachers are campaigning, the medical fraternity is pleading to be given some say in health policies, the welfare and environmental groups are doing interviews and running court cases and protests and banding together to lobby the government.  Bloggers are typing their fingers to the bone while they drink endless cups of coffee as they surf the net to find and pass on the truth.

Anomander commented

“Unfortunately, large swathes of the population are lazy and take no interest in politics at all because it requires thinking. Easier to blithely accept the repeated lies and cast your vote for the one who seems to espouse your values rather than look deeper and doing the research into their policies and their actions.

In many respects, it is the populace who is also complicit in this situation. In refusing to engage with politics, in not wanting to expend the time and effort to look deeper than the superficial messages delivered by a compliant media, to analyse the policies and extrapolate the outcomes, we allow these kinds of sociapaths free rein to implement their evil plans.

We need a way to make people engage, to realise they are not powerless, to see there are other choices available, other parties, better candidates and outcomes that could better serve us all, rather than allowing a select few to run riot and dictate their terms and impose their ideologies onto us. It should be we who dictate our wishes to the government.”

A tsunami is small when it first starts.  We don’t need a tidal wave, just an invigorating incoming tide buoyed by the support of the people of Australia.

I salute you all and your contribution is appreciated and applauded.  This is a smart country, we just have to get Tony to listen.  Keep learning, sharing ideas, and spreading the word.  The picture at the beginning of this article may seem optimistic but the more I see the more I believe…..the tide has turned.

Fred Phelp’s son: I understand why people are happy my father died.


Author’s Note

This is a repost of a piece I wrote around six months ago. I am re posting because of the death of the evil person who was the catalyst for writing it. Also because of the current interest in the proposed changes by Attorney General George Brandis to Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. For those who are vitally interested in this subject I would first like to recommend you read two other points of view on the subject.

The first is by guest writer for The AIMN, T J Curtis who argues that we have sufficient free speech. The second is by Daniel Ward who argues that there should be no limits to free speech. That if people want to make fools of themselves then then they should be given ample opportunity to do so.

Both are scholarly and wonderfully articulated. In fact one could easily agree with either.

I think mine differs in so much as it is more an earthy expression of experiences relating to the subject. In any case it is a debate of many voices.
free speech2

“We will never truly understand the effect Free Speech has on an individual until we have suffered from the abuse of it” (John Lord).

Free Speech or Licensed Abuse

Most Australians would never have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church. It is a church of hate that is anti-almost everything socially progressive. However it saves its most vitriolic and vile hatred for gay people, Catholics and Jews. On a regular basis they picket the funerals of gay service men. Although they don’t limit themselves to gays.

In fact, WBC members say that “God’s hatred is one of His holy attributes” and that their picketing is a form of preaching to a “doomed” country unable to hear their message in any other way.

In 2011 they picketed the funeral of Matthew Synder with placards like “Thank God for dead soldiers”,” You’re Going to Hell,” “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11,” and one that combined the U.S. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi, with a slur against gay men. The fact that Matthew was not gay was irrelevant because the churches founder and homophobic Pastor Phelps believes that God is killing American soldiers as punishment for the nation’s sinful policies.

Now Matthew’s father Albert took exception to this malevolent behavior by a Christian Church. After all he was suffering the realisation that is every parent’s nightmare: The death of a loved child. And the personal grief must have been an ordeal in itself, let alone the added agony that these protests evoked.

So he sued Phelps and the church for intentionally inflicting emotional distress. He won $11 million at trial, later reduced by a judge to $5 million. The federal appeals court in Richmond, threw out the verdict and said the Constitution shielded the church members from liability. The Supreme Court agreed saying that ”A grieving father’s pain over mocking protests at his Marine son’s funeral must yield to First Amendment protections for free speech”.

All but one justice (8 to 1) sided with the fundamentalist church that has stirred outrage with raucous demonstrations contending God is punishing the military for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Some extracts and views from the judgement.

Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court, protects “Even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

The ruling, though, was in line with many earlier court decisions that said the First Amendment exists to protect robust debate on public issues and free expression, no matter how distasteful. A year ago, the justices struck down a federal ban on videos that show graphic violence against animals. In 1988, the court unanimously overturned a verdict for the Rev. Jerry Falwell in his libel lawsuit against Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt over a raunchy parody ad.

Justice Samuel Alito, the lone dissenter, said Snyder wanted only to bury his son in peace.

“Instead, Alito said, the protesters “brutally attacked” Matthew Snyder to attract public attention. Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case”, he said.

“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and – as it did here – inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker”.

Roberts said of Snyder’s reaction, at a news conference in York, Pa.:

“My first thought was, eight justices don’t have the common sense God gave a goat.” He added, “We found out today we can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity.”

But Roberts said the frequency of the protests – and the church’s practice of demonstrating against Catholics, Jews and many other groups – is an indication that Phelps and his flock were not mounting a personal attack against Snyder but expressing deeply held views on public topics.

While distancing themselves from the church’s message, media organisations, including The Associated Press, urged the court to side with the Phelps family because of concerns that a victory for Snyder could erode speech rights.

He said it was possible he would have to pay the Phelps’s around $100,000, which they are seeking in legal fees, since he lost the lawsuit. The money would, in effect, finance more of the same activity he fought against, Snyder said.

I have been following the frequent outlandish behavior of this church and its leader for some time now and I often shudder at its evilness. I also wonder at what inclines judges to make these sorts of judgments and I also despair at the elevated prominence free speech plays in making them. And how human dignity can be devalued to such utter unimportance. I am shaken by the insensitive calmness of those seeking to uphold the right to free speech.

On Q&A this week I watched George Brandis try to make a case for free speech by saying that we should be judged by what we allow people to say rather than by what we don’t. How simplistic. That people should have the right to insult, harass, humiliate or offend simply because it is their right to freedom of expression is alarming. And they need to be protected by law in doing so. This is why we endure the likes of News Ltd, Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones.

What is missing here is not the individual’s right to free speech, but the way in which he/she does so. If we live in a collective (society) then what does the individual owe to the collective? In the same way that labour comes before capital, collective rights and freedoms must come before the individual’s right to free speech. And the individual’s right not to be abused by free speech surpasses the individual’s right to use it. Maggie Thatcher is famous for her statement; “There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich” (Paraphrased)

This of course is completely wrong because the individual cannot exist outside of the collective and its morals and ethics. Therefore, for the collective to work harmoniously individuals must be constrained by the ethics of truth and decency otherwise free speech is not really free speech. It is no more than licensed hate.

In Australia (and by comparison the USA) the pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.

The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest. In the United States, the first amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry. In a democracy the right to free speech is given by the people through the parliament. However it is impossible to legislate decency.

Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view.

After all the dignity of the individual (or individuals) within the collective is more important than some fools right to use freedom of speech to vilify another.

Just Political Language or the Tony Abbott Art of Lying

Tony Abbott lying it seems (image from abc.net.au)

Tony Abbott lying it seems (image from abc.net.au)

Lying in Australian politics – in particular the ‘Tony Abbott art of lying’ – has reached an unprecedented level. The Prime Minister and his cabinet are taking lying to such depths that it is not disingenuous to suggest that they no longer have a moral compass or understanding of truth.

Some time ago I wrote the following in a piece titled. ‘’Abbott Tells Another One’’:

‘’If this means I am saying he is a pathological liar then so be it. It’s not a nice thing to say about anyone but we are dealing with truth here. It’s not so much that he is a serial offender, he is. I think the electorate knows that and factors it in. The fact that he lies can and is easily supported by volumes of readily available, irrefutable evidence. (I can provide it if need be). However what is of equal concern is that the main stream media (the so called fourth estate) who are supposed to be the people’s custodian of truth, condones it’’.

Since being elected Prime Minister some political commentators have suggested he has made a genuine attempt to be Prime Ministerial. If he has it has been a forlorn attempt. He has been unable throw off a lifetime image of political thuggery, negativity and gutter speech.

As Prime Minister he has continued to lie in the fashion of an opposition that knows that its words can be lost in a mist of factual uncertainty and exaggeration. Oppositions can at times be forgiven for over exuberance. Governments and particularly Prime Ministers cannot.

It is the blatantly despicable and obnoxious manner in which Abbott does it that grates. On 12 February in question time he rose to deny that he said that he would spend the first week of his Prime Ministership with a group of indigenous people. The denial was indefensible and there would not be a member of both sides of the house who could justly defend him. Yet this flagrant misrepresentation of truth goes unreported in the mainstream media. Not to mention the misleading of parliament.

And it’s not just his lies that offend. It’s the silliness of his diplomacy when he uses phrases like ‘’goodies and baddies’’ to describe international conflicts. Or when he says Holden workers ‘’will feel liberated’’ after being sacked. Or “Let’s be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”

When a liar continues to lie and do so with such consistency and fervour one can only conclude that he is a person that believes his own bullshit. To use an Australian colloquialism.

Really one has to wonder if he is worse than some of those extreme right wing religious fanatics that blame natural disasters on gays. When an Australian Prime Minister says Australia is spying on a close neighbor to “help our friends and our allies, not to harm them.”, you have to wonder if he needs a manager because he has been handling himself for too long.

His Ministers also seem to have carte blanche to follow his example. George Brandis when asked about Abbott’s one million jobs target blames Labor and suggests there is a wages breakout working against them, the facts say that this is not the case but there is no withdrawal. Truth is the victim.

Kevin Andrews recent comments that we would become like European countries if we didn’t reduce our Welfare Assistance was lying at its worst because it was linked with fear and it lacked factual supportive evidence

George Brandis in the Senate makes the claim that the whistle blower Edward Snowden is guilty of putting Australian lives at risk. When the on line commentary site Crikey asks him for the evidence of this he is unable to substantiate his claim. Remember he had the gall to call Howard a lying Rodent. Then I suppose it takes one to know one.

Tony Abbott tells lies about workers benefits at Ardmona. The company refutes his assertions but he insists he is telling the truth. He insists that Cadbury is a different case in so much as the subsidy to them was for tourism. Video evidence confirms that he is lying but he rises in Parliament to repeat the lie. Remember the many company rejections of his carbon tax assertions when Opposition Leader.

He makes the following comment.

‘’All we are getting from the opposition is relentless negativity and one scare campaign after another.’’

I remember Peter Reith saying something similar on The Drum not long ago and all the panellists laughed. Including the conservatives.

In October last year Abbott said this.

“Can I just scotch this idea that the Coalition’s policy is or ever has been tow-backs … There is a world of difference between turning boats around in Australian waters and the Australian Navy towing them back to Indonesia.”

Scott Morrison said this.

Border Protection Command assets had, in the conduct of maritime operations associated with Operation Sovereign Borders, inadvertently entered Indonesian territorial waters on several occasions.”

Now of course we know they were both lying.

During a press conference at Parliament House, Tony Abbott was asked how it could transpire that professionally trained and highly skilled naval personnel could mistakenly sail, more than once, into Indonesian territorial waters.

We got this answer that suggests the Prime Minister could have made a fortune from writing comedy.

“Even people who are at the very top of their game… will occasionally make mistakes,” Mr Abbott replied, while praising the skill and professionalism of the Australian navy.

“Test cricketers occasionally drop catches, great footballers occasionally miss tackles and regretfully, there were a couple of occasions when this mistake was made.”

“On the high seas, all sorts of things happen,” Mr Abbott added.

“There are winds, there are tides, and there are other things that they’re focusing on.


Cricketers don’t need a GPS to play a straight bat. Nor should the government.
Secrecy is lying by omission.

To quote Barnaby Joyce.

“I know both the Treasurer and the Prime Minister well enough to know that they are not liars”

One lie does not justify another.

If a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information the public has a democratic right to be aware of, it destroys the very democracy that enables it to exist.

In his joint attack with The Australian on the ABC Tony Abbott had this to say.

“My concern as a citizen of our country is to try to ensure that our national broadcaster is fair, is balanced and is accurate”

At the same time the Murdoch Press was destroying the reputation of an Australian sporting legend in Ian Thorpe. The Prime Minister was silent.

Joe Hockey blames unions and wages on the demise of Toyota and reckons the company privately told him so. The company repudiates the suggestion but Joe sticks to his guns. A bit sus as we Australians are apt to say.

When Tony Abbott said this what did you think?

“You can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”.

“There will be no change to school funding under the government I lead”.

Then he made the following statement.

“The Coalition will deliver on its education election promises, not on what some people “thought” it was going to do”

I know what I thought and I know what I’m still thinking now. Lying deceptive bastard.

Some time back Tony Abbott told us that the best way to understand the truth of what he was saying was to have it in writing. Otherwise what he was saying was just idle chatter for an audience.

So now I’m a little confused. You see, now he is saying that what I thought he said is only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he says something and I take it to mean one thing, he has the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. It was only my interpretation of what he meant. I mean, did he say what he meant or did he mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant.

I know that I am 73 and I have the odd senior moment but usually I know what I mean and what is meant by what I say. I also know that people understand what I’m meaning.

I have done a Google search for an Abbott code breaker but it doesn’t understand what I mean.

I am deeply offended when people lie to me. When the Prime Minister and his ministers do it so unashamedly and with impunity I feel shame for their incapacity to comprehend the goodness of truth. They seem intent on destroying the discernment and astuteness of how we communicate. Indeed if the necessity for truth is eliminated from relationship, debate and normal discourse then a breakdown of society is inevitable.

If the mainstream media cannot hold Abbott and the government he leads to account then they are as complicit as he in his lying.

‘’It is better to be told the absolute truth than be controlled by lies’’.

Alan Austin has also written a great piece on this subject.

A 21st century Labor Party – our future depends on it

The Labor Party - our future depends on them (image by nla.gov.au)

The Labor Party – our future depends on them (image by nla.gov.au)

Another guest post from Stuart Whitman. National Convener of Local Labor.

It is possible to argue a similar case for acting on Labor Party reform as the former federal Labor government argued for pricing carbon and addressing climate change, there is no time to lose and that it is better to make small sacrifices now than painful ones later.

As noted in a recent Cosmos Magazine article IPCC reporting suggests we may have as little as 30 years left to get carbon emissions to a level where we have a chance to slow down, mitigate or adapt to global warming.

The alternative is a rapid spiral into catastrophic and potentially civilization-ending climate change.

Every term of an Abbott government is another 3 years robbed from that critical 30 years for Australia to work with the international community and perhaps take a lead in helping prepare for the transformational changes ahead.

The CSIRO has indicated that Australia will be one of the countries most at risk from climate change. However, by harnessing our great wealth and the talent of our people, we have the potential to become the model nation to show the world how to adapt.

Yet to be ready for the revolutionary transformation of economics and governance that will be required, we need a transformed Labor Party. This is ultimately what I believe the ALP reform campaign is about – building a Labor Party with the capacity not just to win elections but to reflect, help prepare for and equitably guide Australia through the massive economic, environmental and social shifts ahead.

We must reform and renew our political movement now to be able to ride the coming wave of 21st century politics and provide the good governance and leadership our country, and the world, deserves. And we need to have an honest conversation with our members, supporters and voters to achieve it, including articulating the stark realities facing us all many election cycles ahead.

This new politics employs pervasive technology tools to maximise the participation of individuals and communities in economic and government decision-making resulting in the widest distribution of economic and political power. The old adages of “think globally and act locally” and “all politics is local” rings true more than ever. It is the only solution to address the abuses of a corporate ideology that is wreaking havoc on our ecosystem and social equity.

The corporatisation of economic and political power has brought us to the precipice on which we now stand. Society and political parties should not be run like corporations with power and information vested in the hands of an elite board of directors.

Corporate models of power that concentrate decision-making in the hands of a few tends to stifle the possibility of a fair contest of ideas and a fair system of representation based on merit rather than just patronage. Corporatism disconnects decision-makers from those for whom the decisions are made and risks our being held hostage by short-term sectional interests.

The ALP was always intended to be a member-based organisation and a member-driven political movement. We are at our best when we are open and connected and brave. This will require re-organising the party so that Labor values, ennobling policy goals and diversity of experience is embraced and opinions, and at times dissent, arising from a broad membership representative of the broader Australian community is welcome.

This new broad-based and open ALP culture will succeed if it is founded on genuinely democratic processes that work towards reaching consensus alongside a system of governance that ensures the rule of law rather than the law of the jungle applies.

Corporate style politics in the Labor Party will become increasingly unworkable as the nature of politics itself shifts to more flexible, participatory models of governance while the electorate grows more volatile.

Genuine dialogue between communities and Labor policy-makers and members helps us avoid the trap of groupthink that would constrain the ability of our party leaders to respond to and accurately interpret real-time accurate quantitative and qualitative data that pervasive intelligent technology systems will generate. And decisions based on that stream of information must be framed by our Labor values and wide consultation as much as scientific rationale.

If we fail to become more sincere about internal and external dialogue and transparency in decision-making the ALP will be tarnished in the minds of electors as merely a machine that manufactures banal corporate marketing slogans. Sending signals to our members and to the electorate that our board of directors “knows what’s best for you” only contributes to growing disenchantment with the political process and infects society with a sense of frustration and powerlessness to all of our detriment.

The decades ahead may be a grave story of the unravelling of social order and harmony across the world arising from the greater frequency and intensity of natural disasters; diminishing financial capacity of even developed societies to rebuild following these disasters; conflict over rapidly depleting energy resources and arable land and clean water; unrest from lack of opportunity, growing inequality and the displacement of large populations. This pain will be felt most acutely at the personal and community levels.

On the contrary, it may also be a triumphant story of the resilience and capacity of human beings to adapt to meet those challenges with historic international cooperation, and the application of our ingenuity and new technological tools to finds solutions also at the personal and community level.

Either way, it is a choice we need to make now.

To attain the latter scenario will require a post-ideological politics where political parties are organised around common values, and decision-making depends on scientifically obtained and critically analysed evidence not old ideological dogmas or personality cults.

Effective political parties will be those that encourage an independence of thought within the party’s membership and openness to sharing ideas and information to sustain ongoing engagement between the party’s members with their communities.

The Australian Labor Party already has those critical values of fairness, justice, compassion and equity relevant to the new politics. We already have the talent to optimise and apply new technologies to more frequently and deeply involve our members in the development of the necessary policies. We have the resolve and hunger among our members and branches to more actively and meaningfully engage with our communities.

But we need an ALP organisation that does not lock us into outdated modes of thinking, or to corporate paradigms of concentrated top-down power. We must seize the coming year to implement reforms that empower our members’ ability to obtain information and evidence, think more critically, speak more openly and act more locally.

We need an ALP that is transparent, accountable and responsive to its members and upholds Labor values and encourages the fullest participation of members in party decision-making.

If we want Labor governments back in power soon so that the next 30 years are not wasted, and so that Australia can be a model country to help guide the world through the upheavals of climate change to come, we must become the party that embodies the participatory politics of the 21st century.

By mobilising the capabilities of as many of our fellow Australians as possible and engaging their trust and involvement in the political process through Labor membership and support we can rise to meet the unprecedented challenges ahead.

These challenges present us with the prospect of a world with increasing demand colliding with increasing scarcity, that can only result in inequality and conflict. It is the defining moment for our Labor Party that is dedicated to increasing equality, abundance and social cohesion, and we really do have no time to lose to prepare ourselves to lead Australia safely through.

Stuart Whitman, National Convenor of Local Laborimg-profile-stuart

Local Labor https://www.facebook.com/groups/locallabor/

Local Labor http://local-labor.org/





You’re Being Manipulated – Believe Me

Image by ebony.com

Image by ebony.com

“Purposeful manipulative social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil”

It seems to me that in my lifetime a lot of things have changed. But then change is one of the constant certainties of life. However, I am greatly concerned by how manipulated we have allowed ourselves to become. Let me canvas some of the manipulated changes I have experienced and make some observations.

Of course one’s age might bring a different perspective to how we view manipulated change. Obviously if you are very young you will have nothing to compare what follows with anything you have experienced. In other words your ‘now’ might be your norm.

For example, I happen to believe we are, as a society, more manipulated now than I can ever remember. You can see it everywhere. Murdoch’s manipulation by virtue of excessive media ownership. Political manipulation by institutions, lobbyists and corporations more powerful than government. The manipulation by television stations who would have you believe that mediocrity is excellence.

And manipulation by the blatant falseness of advertising. If you think about your everyday life you cannot avoid the fact that a lot of the things you do are manipulated in a way to influence your decision making processes.

I have been retired now for ten years and I have had time to think. In fact, if I had my time over I would not be the slave to the work ethic I had. Thinking is impaired by too much work. We spend so much time at it that we have lost the art of thoughtful observation and creativity.

It seems to me that we have more disposable income, so we think we need to have more things and we become confused with what we want as opposed to what we need. Of course we are manipulated into believing we need things because it creates jobs. Spend up big this Christmas. We are told that even things that are bad for us we are entitled to. I’m thinking salt, fat and sugar that are causing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and in the future might take half the nation’s income to pay the health bill. We have more leisure, but less fun, more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

But conservatives say it’s the individual’s right to free choice.

So we end up spending more but enjoying life less. But we still need the money of course. We have been manipulated into thinking we need a bigger house because Bill and Mary have one. But it will take two wages to pay for it. Who cares that it will mean a smaller family and less family time?

Our possessions have increased enormously. Nothing is repaired anymore. We have become the replacement society. But at the same time our appreciation of the value of our possessions has declined. We have become so manipulated by ‘Affluenza’ that we have forgotten what frugality means. We are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying simplicity. A consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having stuff, and has failed to teach us that doing things is more pleasurable than processing things.

We have confused the cost of living with the cost of lifestyle.

We live in a manipulated, failed economic system where unregulated capitalism (in the absence of anything better) rules the day. But we are manipulated into believing that this failed system is the best economic solution. It is however, a system where a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.

We want our children to have a better education and they are getting it. The current generation have more degrees than ever before. We have more experts, less judgment and more problems. Probably because education is presented as a means of obtaining wealth rather than as an altruistic pursuit that might better humankind. I call it manipulated competitive capitalism.

We now live in a society where science is respected to the point where it conflicts with the profit that capitalism demands. Then the conservative right together with vested media interests manipulates facts and distorts the truth to discredit it. The environment is but one area where we are being manipulated by un-credentialed fools who are tell us that science knows nothing.

By people like John Howard who would rather rely on his instinct than scientific evidence. It was probably his instinct that sent us to war in Iraq. A decision that certainly wasn’t evidence based.

I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’s environmental vandals. We have allowed ourselves to become so manipulated that we have lost all commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry as the best way of providing solutions to human problems.

The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation. We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to be manipulated and obstructed by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups.

Politicians manipulate truth because power is all important .They have lost any semblance of public morality and duty to the collective common good. And we have seen how they will even manipulate racial hatred if it advances their power.

These are the days of two incomes, a decline in marriage with more divorce, of bigger houses, with empty hearts. And a proliferation of kids with single parents.

Churches, because they mistakenly believe they have an ownership on righteousness manipulate people into believing that love and morality is exclusively a domain of religion. And they don’t allow their own immorality to impede on their self-righteousness. Added to this is the manipulation of minors by men of the cloth.

We have become obsessed with celebrity and the media manipulates us into believing that people of little virtue, talent or character are somehow important. More often than not because they have acquired notoriety, wealth or influence.

We have been manipulated into competitive living while at the same time we have forgotten how to laugh or even volunteer. Now what was the name of that family across the road? And we don’t comprehend the difference between manners and civility.

Enormous advances have been made in medicine and in the future discoveries will increase significantly. More drugs are available for many illnesses but the large drug companies manipulate who gets them and the price paid. There is however, much less wellness.

We have succumbed to domestic violence where men manipulate women. Despite some advances by women, men still rule the world and manipulate it to maintain their physical, academic, corporate and sexual dominance. And history records their manipulation as an ongoing incompetence.

People are living longer but are less happy and the incidence of mental health has become a social problem. We mumble a lot without saying much, we seldom love meaningfully and the joy of sex has degenerated into casual opportunism.

It is a time of enormous profits, little leadership, shallow thinking and superficial relationships. A time in which technology is making extraordinary advances but our intellectual reasoning seems unable to appreciate its capacity for good without the word ‘profit’ attached. We are conquering outer space and diseases, yet polluting our environment and our souls.

We allow ourselves to be manipulated by exaggerated, flamboyant rhetoric that is designed to heighten a sense of alarm, or simply to gain our attention.

Unscrupulous people manipulate our social behavior and the young fall victim to the persuasive influence of debilitative drugs.

And lastly, the purity of our playtime, our sport has been manipulated by the corrosive effect of money and drugs. And the cheats, in turn, manipulate us with their lies.

Consider this:

“We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence”

John Lord 2012.


Purposeful manipulative social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil.

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages . . . It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”.

Robert Kennedy, 1968

The Prince. Faith, Abuse and George Pell

george pell

Writing about politics or issues of social importance and making it sound thought-provoking requires elite skills. For me, two such writers are Don Watson and David Marr.

Don Watson first came to my attention as Paul Keating’s speechwriter. He wrote two of the finest ever Australian speeches. ‘’The Redfern Address’’ which spoke of the plight of Aboriginal people and ‘’Funeral Service for the Unknown Soldier’’ for the 75th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.

He also wrote the most definitive political biography I have ever read. ‘’Recollections of a Bleeding Heart.’’ Keating never forgave him for the revelations of his time in power. However, Watson produced a work that put the reader in the room so to speak.

Another brilliant work of his was ‘’American Journeys’’.  A book that explains the average American’s connection to their country’s politics and constitutional complexities that affect their daily life, like no other.

David Marr wrote ‘’Patrick White a Life’’,  an authorised biography of the Nobel Prize-winning author. I had not read any of Whites work when I read this work but I was taken by the intelligence of Marr’s writing.

For me, he is able to turn the mundane into something exciting. He does it with a clearly distinctive style that can at times read like the fiction of mystery. I read his book ‘’The High Price of Heaven’’ in which he describes the church as the enemy of pleasure and freedom. I found myself agreeing with him.

He has also written a number of Quarterly Essays. ‘’His Masters Voice’’ which addressed, as he describes it, the lack of public debate under John Howard. Another was ‘’Power Trip’’ which tackled the persona of Kevin Rudd and ‘’Political Animal’’ in which he applied his incredible ability, to sum up, the character of those he writes about. This time it was Tony Abbott.

“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.”

All of which brings me to his latest essay titled ‘’The Prince. Faith abuse and George Pell.” This is a compelling read. Marr doesn’t reveal anything new about the Churches abuse of children in its care.

What he does do is to chronologically place all the events in a sequence that brings reflection and clarity. He highlights the historic indifference of the church’s attitude. The cover-ups, the moving around of guilty priests. His writing puts the reader in a ‘’how would you feel if it were your child or indeed if you were in the child’s position.”

Whilst reading it I had to stop many times and reflect on the enormity of the sins of the fathers. More than once I shed a tear whilst uttering the word, bastards.

But this essay is as much about Pell (I don’t feel the need to be particularly aware of protocol and use his title) the man as it is about child abuse. When all is stripped back we see a man of very little love for flock but great love for the institution of church, the privileges that come with it and the power it commands. Consequently, Pell is adored by the church but despised by the people.

David Marr has this extraordinary way of summing up the individual he is writing about. He is fair but is more often apt to say what he thinks with a cutting tempestuous tongue.

‘’I wonder how much of the strange ordinariness of George Pell began fifty years ago when a robust schoolboy decided, as an act of piety, to kill sex in himself. The gamble such men take is that they may live their whole lives without learning the workings of an adult heart. Their world is the church. People are shadows. Pell is one of these: a company man of uncertain empathy. He has the consolations of friendship, music and a good cellar. And he has what inspired him from the start: a place at the highest level of the church and a voice in the nation. He has power. His mitred head nods politely as he passes.’’

With the assistance of Abbott and Howard, the Catholic Church has managed for many years to avoid punishment for its sins. Even the God in which it believes has refused to punish.

You can make what you want of that.

As for Marr’s essay. Well, a free copy should be handed out to every person attending mass next Sunday. I often wonder (perhaps unfairly) why anyone would want to remain in an organisation that commits the most abominable acts of cruelty. But it seems they do.

David Marr is the multi-award-winning author of Patrick White: A Life, Panic and The High Price of Heaven, and co-author with Marian Wilkinson of Dark Victory. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Monthly, been editor of the National Times, a reporter for Four Corners and presenter of ABC TV’s Media Watch. He is also the author of two previous bestselling biographical Quarterly Essays: Power Trip: The Political Journey of Kevin Rudd and Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott.

Australia’s media problem (and how we can fix it)


A guest post by Chris Were.

Editor’s note: After reading this post you may easily form the opinion that The AIMN is promoting the efforts of a ‘rival’ site. This isn’t so. In the independent media there are no rival sites as long as we maintain our focus of providing a more balanced forum than the main stream media. We are, after all, supporting the same cause. I now hand you over to Chris:

Why did the Murdoch media have such influence over the recent Australian election and what can we do about it?

The real winner in the Australian election wasn’t Tony Abbott, but the American citizen that no one voted for — Rupert Murdoch. With headlines such as “Kick this mob out” overlaying a picture of Kevin Rudd, the Murdoch press presented a very one-sided election coverage that was as much anti-Rudd as it was pro-Abbott. Regardless of Murdoch supporting Abbott or Rudd, such biased political coverage is disturbing at best and at it’s worst, very destructive to a democratic country.

In Australia, 11 of 12 capital city daily papers are owned by either Murdoch or Fairfax, providing a monopoly over the public discourse on important issues.

We are living a modern age of blogging and social media, with access to incredible amounts of information, and yet it is the mainstream media that still sets the national political agenda.

This is wrong.

One of the greatest challenges in our modern era is to ensure the majority are well informed on the important issues of the day — which is not the case with the current media monopolies controlling the public conversation.

There is a wealth of great content being generated on websites such as the The Conversation, Australian Independent Media Network, New Matilda, Independent Australia, Macrobusiness, Delimiter through to bloggers such as The Failed Estate, Grog’s Gamut etc. However, despite these websites providing thoughtful, critical analysis and discussion, they don’t reach a mainstream audience.

In the last five years social media has exploded, with more than 2m Australians on Twitter and more than 10m on Facebook. While this has been a great enabler of discussion, it has replaced the water cooler or dinner table discussion rather than helped set the national discourse. The majority of political discussion on these mediums are still dictated by the narratives in the mainstream media.

An article published in the mainstream media will reach the largest cross section of our community. From the local plumber through to the lawyer across the road or the priest in the parish around the corner. When you run into the local plumber, it is quite likely they are familiar with the narrative of the local paper, enabling you to have a shared information base to discuss the issues of the day.

When visiting www.news.com.au, you are presented with celebrity gossip and the latest sporting headlines along with a dash of politics. Readers will naturally be more interested in some topics than others, but this aggregated news source ensures it is read by the whole community, not a minority.

The content of Australia’s new media websites need to be packaged in a simple, easy to access format and cover a wide variety of topics. This will allow the content to reach a broader cross section of the community and ideally, given a large enough audience, set the narrative on important issues.

Sure, those who are tech savvy enough can curate their own personalised news from Twitter, Facebook or even RSS, but those people (myself included) are the minority. There are numerous new media websites that produce excellent content across each category (sport, finance, gossip, politics etc.), but the audience has to actively seek out those sources.

Where is the simple alternative that show cases the best non-mainstream content in Australia?

It’s time this content was all in one place.

It’s time for us, the people, to claim ownership of the narrative.

It’s time the front page was determined by the readers.

And of course, it’s essential that those putting in the time, effort and research to write quality content are adequately paid for their work.

These are some of the goals of Newsflock. It won’t happen over night, but I’m determined it will happen. If you want to help or are a publisher who is interested in participating, get in touch via @newsflock on twitter or the Newsflock Facebook page.

This article was first published on Newsflock October 1,2013.

  • Chris Were

Afterthoughts of an Abbott Victory


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.’’

Two Weeks with Tony Abbott


‘’Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, so ill-informed of science, so oblivious of the needs and aspirations of women and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society?’

A week is a long time in politics. Tomorrow we will have had two with Tony Abbott. What can we deduce from his period in power thus far?

I wonder when Mr Abbott meets the Indonesian President whether in fact the “Turn back the boats” policy will actually be raised. And how will we go about buying their 750,000 boats? I assume we will use eBay, or maybe Scott Morrison will stand on the shore will a megaphone and a fistful of rupiah?

Then, of course, we have had five boats in six days since the election but zero headlines which suggests to me the normal honeymoon period accorded to new governments might cover the duration of the first term. Consider that. No, on second thoughts don’t. Just leave it to Rupert.

Now it seems that Morrison might not even reveal how many boats arrive. Now there’s open government for you.

And didn’t Joe Hockey tell us that the budget was in crisis and in need of urgent repair? Debt and deficit were out of control. Now it seems he is embarking on a stimulus package. And further to that, the much credited Costello Charter of Budget Honesty is no longer credible. It appears the mid-year fiscal outlook will be delayed until the January holiday period. At my age, I wish I could delay a thing or two.

What about his first ministry? Only one woman to be seen but of course, it fits in with Abbott’s anti-women statements and image. Julie Bishop has always been the deputy who got the job, if only as a token of female representation. This must be a monumental embarrassment to the conservative parties. Half of the population are women, so how are they to be represented?

By a middle-aged colloquium of wealthy middle-aged Christian males who have not the faintest idea of the needs and aspirations of young women in particular. They say that the cabinet is selected on merit. If that’s the case then it makes matters worse. Have they no women of merit? Not even one with more brains than Barnaby Joyce. And if that is so, how come three National Party members get a guernsey regardless of merit? If the Coalition believes that quotas for women would be demeaning, what does that say about their quotas for the Nationals?

Now I agree that parliamentary behaviour needs some attention but to elect Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker of the House when she herself has been guilty of the most flagrant breaches of the standing orders makes a mockery of Abbott’s desire to bring more civility to the house.

For Abbott to even suggest the need for more politeness when he alone over the past three years have been the biggest perpetrator in bringing the house into disrepute is extraordinary, or cunning. I think the latter. Or is he recasting his image?

Now about the new ministry. Bill Lord (not related) had this to say on Facebook.

‘’You probably won’t have even noticed, but Abbott’s cabinet does not have a Minister for Science, Climate Change, Energy, Youth, Disability, Status of Women, Aged Care, Mental Health, Early Childhood and a whole lot more of those things that I think most educated people would think are important. Instead, we have a Minister for Immigration and “Border Protection”. What do we need PROTECTION from? Half-starved men, women and children fleeing for their lives? I feel sick to admit to being an Australian. My only consolation is that I DID NOT vote for these crypto-fascists. Think that’s a bit extreme? Just wait six months’’

We have had a science minister since 1931. This just shows what a fraternity of oldish male luddites of a ministry we have with views unrepresentative of a vigorous forward-looking Australia. I know half of the government don’t believe in climate science, but this is going too far. I wonder if they know how to use pop up toasters. Really, no science minister and the only complaint on the government side is from a climate denier.

So in effect, there is no voice in this ministry for the disabled, nor one for the elderly, nor one for youth, nor one for the homeless. But there is a female Bishop to represent the collective views of millions of women. Well, t least we have two Bishops and an Abbott in case there is need of confession.

Now here’s a good joke: “what has nineteen men, one woman and doesn’t want emphasis put on science, mental health, disability or climate change?’ The punch line is Tony Abbott’s new ministry. The joke is on all of us.

Of course they all swore allegiance to a woman unlike Rudd’s cabinet who did so to the Australian people. I suppose Liz will be happy.

Isn’t it interesting that during the election there was never a women out of Abbott’s sight. Now there are none to be seen. Perhaps they are invisible. Just like that substance Tony keeps talking about.

Already Tony Abbott in his desire to slow things down gives every indication of looking over his shoulder at a past long gone.

Which of course does not go well for the ACT’s and the Northern Territory’s announcements that they intend proceeding with legalisation for gay marriage. What will Tony do? I bet Catholicism wins. Goodness knows what he will say to the new American ambassador when he arrives with his husband.

On top of that we were told that the conservatives plan to go ahead with their Direct Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions even though they have not the foggiest idea of how it works. We know from such imminent institutions such as the Grattan Institute and many other experts that meeting the 5% target of cutting greenhouse using direct action methods is highly improbable. So Tony Abbott really does need to come clean (pardon the pun) and tell the public the truth of his intentions. Does he intend faking some action and then dropping it altogether? Highly probable I think.

The decision to abandon the carbon tax might yet prove to be the single worst decision ever made by an Australian Prime Minister. How appalling it is that something as serious as the planets future can be reduced to people’s denial of science.

It rather reminds me of how for so many years the South Africans denied that HIV caused aids.

I can only hope that Labor sticks to its principles on this one and that it’s more difficult than unringing a bell.

Which in turn leads me to this unrepresentative swill that is called The Senate.

Richard Dennis of the Australia Institute has this to say.

‘’Ok – here is my serious suggestion for how to reform the senate voting/micro party preference ‘problem’. What if all parties who poll less than X per cent (I would go with 2 per cent) can only distribute, but not receive preferences from other parties. That would mean that no-one’s vote would ever be wasted, but at the same time it would give the micro parties an incentive to join together and work hard to explain their policies and earn primary votes rather than keep dividing into smaller and smaller parties in order to improve their chances in the ‘Senate Lottery’. Thoughts? Share if you like it’’

Then we had Malcolm Turnbull talking about a mandate on the NBN in the face of a 250,000 petition against the Coalition plans. The fact is Labor lost the election not on policy but because it presented a perception of dysfunction. Now it seems Turnbull will delay new laws until the new senate sits next July.

Under the Governments plan some suburbs and country towns will have a digital divide. Half of Ballarat for example has fibre to the home. How will the other half react when they find they will have to pay $5000 for the same service? And this will happen all over the country.
And of course the first few days saw the vindictive sacking of former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks before he could pack his bags for the states.

And who sacked him?

“We had to fight even for the right of dying cancer victims to get a speedy trial. I recall sitting in the WA Supreme Court in an interlocutory hearing for the test cases involving Wittenoom miners Mr Peter Heys and Mr Tim Barrow. CSR was represented by Ms Julie Bishop (then Julie Gillon). (She) was rhetorically asking the court why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”

Australian Doctor Magazine, 2007.

Why would you then be surprised at a cheap vindictive decision to sack Steve Bracks.

However that wasn’t the end. The day after being sworn in three department heads were sacked. Victims of long Liberal memories no doubt. They happened to believe in science.

I could have added a few more examples of what to expect from this new government. My wife however cautioned me to be more sanguine.

‘’Never be as negative as him’’ she said whilst shaking her fist at me.

The one redeeming feature of the fortnight was that at least Sophie Mirrabella has lost her seat. That might add a diminutive touch of graciousness to the house. But wait, later in the week I read that the LNP are blaming the lack of women and a science minister on the new member for Indi, Cathy McGowan. Figure that out.

Then someone on The Drum suggested that she lost her seat because too many of her constituents met her. That’s more like it.

Oh, and they have just announced a high court challenge on gay marriage, the Climate Commission is gone as to is The Clean Energy Corporation.

‘’Thanks love, yes I think I will have a couple of Bex and a lie down”

P.S. I was going to title this piece ‘’In Bed with Tony” but I thought that was taking things too far.

Letter from Birmingham City Jail

On the top row of my library shelves is a book titled ‘’The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought’’ It is a book that I re visit between making a decision of what to read next. It contains over 100 contributions. Essays from Karl Marx ‘’The Opium of the People’’ – Albert Schweitzer ‘’Reverence for Life’’ – the work oft quoted by Kevin Rudd ‘’Letters from Prison’’ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘’Autobiography’’ Other writers include, Solzhenitsyn, Schweitzer, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nietzsche. None however is more earnestly satisfying than Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”.

Martin -Luther King (image courtesy of blackpast.org)

Martin -Luther King (image courtesy of blackpast.org)

The world recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Kings historically important ‘’I have a Dream’’ speech but this masterpiece of literature. This sublime piece of eloquent prose is apt to be overlooked. King wrote this letter in longhand after being arrested and placed in jail. His words convey all the force of a man unrelenting in his desire for a better place in a world full of racism and bigotry. But he does so with a powerful, but dignified calmness that is breathtaking.

I never tire of re reading this masterpiece of writing. It stirs me that men of his ilk have written words that command attention. When we read works like this, we should do so with the view to being radically changed. This letter did so for me.

I mentioned Kings work to one of my Facebook friends who is an avid reader of fine literature. His name is Daniel Carr and this is what he had to say.

John – I hope you’re well. Just wanted to say thank you for recommending Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ to me. I somehow only got around to reading it this morning and have been reflecting on it all day. A beautiful piece of writing – and with such heart behind it!
The themes of just and unjust laws and the moral failure of telling a minority group ‘wait, in time’ were particularly resonant.
Anyhow – thanks again for passing it on, it’s always good to read something moving to keep our vigilance and fire up our spirits.

If you also want your spirits fired up here is the link.


You Can Quote Me on That

quotes 2

What follows is a collection of my quotations taken from the political blogs I have written this year. The more serious blog readers will say, this is not journalism. Stuff that I don’t care. I just I hope they make people think. about the importance of this election.

Perhaps you might like to nominate your top three. And feel free to use them as you want.

1 ‘’Tony Abbott if nothing else is a very colourful character. He is aggressive both physically and in the use of language. His negativity is legendary and he has little consideration for any ideas other than his own and says NO to his opponents policies regardless of their worthiness. He is by evidence and his own admission a liar of some regularity. Added to that he has a political gutter mentality and little respect for the institution of parliament and its conventions’’

2 “The GST burdens the poor and those with the least capacity to pay. It discriminates against the poor and the pensioners who are living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending the bulk of their income on the necessities of life—food, clothing, rent, heating, power etc”

3 “The right to participate in an election is the gift that democracy gives. Therefore, it is incumbent on the voter to at least have a rudimentary understanding of politics and to take an interest in the political landscape”

4 “Less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths”

5 “Both Malcolm Fraser and Malcolm Turnbull still have views that spring from old Liberalism. It’s just that current liberalism has morphed into far right Abbott style neoconservatism”

6 “Individual rights and freedoms in the United States seem to have surpassed the common good. In Australia, we are currently introducing a National Disability Insurance Scheme and even neoconservatives dare not stand in its path”

7 “When talking about the cost of living I think people get confused. There is a big difference between the cost of living and cost of lifestyle. A recent survey found that 56% of those complaining about the cost of living had taken an overseas trip in the same year. And a further 52% had reduced dining out from three to two times a week”

8 ‘Never confuse what you want with what you need.’

9 Tony Abbott at the National Press Club Monday gave every indication that if his Direct Action policy did not achieve a 5% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 there would be no further funding. Given that all the modelling suggests that a lot more money would be required. This to me is an admittance that the conservatives are not in the least fair dinkum about the issue and intend to waste about 3 billion dollars in the process.

10 “People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed) and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated”

11 “The common good should be at the very heart of every political philosophy”

12 ‘It is only when the health bill of this nation reaches unaffordable proportions that the government will legislate for a reduction in the amount of salt, fat and sugar in processed foods. But the conservatives will probably still oppose it on the basis of freedom of choice’

13 ‘’ Finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more’’

14 “Labor came before capital and is not related to it. Capital is what’s acquired from labor, and would never have come about if it were not for labour. Therefore, labour is superior to capital and deserves the higher significance.”

15 “With Barnaby Joyce gaining preselection for the seat of New England and Tony Windsor not standing it is highly likely Joyce will win. This will mean that when Warren Truss retires, Barnaby become deputy Prime Minister of Australia if the LNP wins. NO THIS IS NOT A JOKE”

16 ‘Never confuse what you want with what you need.’

17 “When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned voting decision. It is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.”

18 “The right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. If a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information necessary to exercise this right. It is destroying the democracy that enables it to exist”

19 ‘It is often difficult to distinguish a change of mind from a broken promise. Particularly in politics but to break a promise for the greater good is courageous”

20 “In the United States, the Republican mantra for cutting taxes and other policy initiatives seem to flow from their adoption of radical Christian fundamental belief. In fact, the GOP seems to be the mouthpiece for the extremities of right-wing Christian belief. When you set your principles and ideas on religious belief rather than reason then the politics of fear erode the common good.”

21 “You cannot possibly believe in democracy if at the same time you think you’re party is the only one that should ever win” I used to believe that.

22 ‘I think Clive Palmer’s intelligence matches his body mass, Highly inflated’

23 “In terms of politics. Sometimes we have to listen to what isn’t being said rather than what is being said”

24 ‘It is often difficult to distinguish a change of mind from a broken promise. Particularly in politics. It takes courage to change your mind for the greater good”

25 “The real enemy of neoconservative politics in Australia is not Labor or indeed democratic socialism. It is simply what Australians affectionately call. A fair go.”

26 “There are real known facts in the world”

27 ‘’Isn’t it odd that the countries of Europe have an open borders policy to people seeking asylum whereas we have a closed border policy. If the leader of the opposition thinks that we have lost control of our borders why does he not pressure the government to bring our troops home from Afghanistan to defend them.
It seems to me that Tony Abbott’s latest moves to escalate this debate might lead to him to not only being branded a misogynist. He is now dangerously close to adding xenophobia to his less than illustrious demeanour. Or is there a word for those who like to be intently disliked’’

28 “We live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an equitable flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level”.

29 “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”.

30 ‘’Let me put it this way. “When asked for a generalised opinion retailer Harvey Norman can only ever give it as he views it through the prism of his cash registers”

31 ”Even if you can’t turn all boats back, you’ve got to be able to bluff that you can,”

32 “Ask yourself. Does the culture we have, make us feel good about ourselves?”

33 ‘With any major initiative, a starting point is required. Otherwise, nothing can be accomplished.’

34 “Sometimes it is good to stop, think, evaluate and formulate one’s own opinion instead of being influenced by the media and those of others’

35 “Our lives have become controlled by the noise of the mass media. The sad thing is that we listen”

36 “Perception interpreted unwisely can result in a mistaken conclusion of reality”

37 ‘In the recipe of good leadership there are many ingredients. Popularity is but one. It, however, ranks far below getting things done for the common good’

37 ‘Never in the history of this nation have the rich and the privileged been so openly brazen’

38 ‘We must have the courage to ask of our young that they should go beyond desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial but greatness. That they should not allow the morality they have inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of evil minds”

‘We can become immeasurably upset by current events and at a later time wonder what all the fuss was about”

40 “Words have special meaning when they are written by the intellectually rich but mean nothing when written by the intellectually barren”

41 “In the information age, those who control the dissemination of news have more power than government”

42 “I feel people on the right of politics Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have hate on their lips and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile”

43 “This is our country and we will decide who comes here”
Tony Abbott The assassin of hope.

44 “The common good should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than the right”

45 “People often argue from within the limitations of their understanding and when their factual evidence is scant, they revert to an expression of their feelings”
46 ‘Free speech does not mean it should be free from ethics. Like truth for example.’

47 “The mainstream media will only ever print or say whatever is in its best interests. Then it might say something interesting and truthful”

48 ‘Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. There is one Melbourne newspaper that does it with impunity’

49 ‘It is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated’

50 ‘People often demand free speech to compensate for the freedom of thought they rarely use’

51 ‘It is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated’

52 ‘We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups’

53 “Until you are a victim of free speech you will truly never understand what free speech means”

54 “We will never truly understand the effect Free Speech has on an individual until we have suffered from the abuse of it”

54 “It is said of pornography (and I am not expert in this field) that in order to maintain the viewers or readers interest it needs to progressively become more outlandish – more tantalising – more seductive-more flirtatious-more provocative – more stunning and more enticing. And in their desire to maintain some dominance, that’s exactly what mainstream media is doing. It has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant”

Let’s hope the bloggers can pick up the pieces.

55 “There of those who like to opine about politics yet conveniently leave out the political consequences when forming it”

56 “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”

57 ‘Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it’

58 ‘When you tell a lie you deny the other person’s right to the truth’

59 ‘Truth is pure yet fragile and requires delicacy in delivery. There are however times when it needs some force to make it register’

60 “Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there is always pain in truth but there is no harm in it”

Don’t write crap

My observations of both the mainstream and independent media over this past week show just how far removed one is from the other.

Stories that might be – should be – damaging to the Opposition are brushed off by the mainstream media (MSM) as mere leftie conspiracy theories, or, worse still, are somehow the fault of the Prime Minister or her party. Look at the menu-gate issue if you need further evidence of this. Or look at the reaction to the Prime Minister’s misogyny speech in Perth a few days ago.

Both are treated as nothing more as the Government playing dirty, divisive tricks.

The MSM and the right-wing fan club are going to great pains in attempting to discredit those individuals with the integrity to reveal the menu-gate affair; allowing freedom to the perpetrators of this heinous act.

Those in the independent media re more interested in the story and holding the offenders to account. And in doing so, ie, wanting to put on the table the actual story and the players involved, they are immediately pounced on by the right-wingers as belonging in a loony bin.

Where the independent media like to ask if a story is true and probe for supporting, the opposite side of the ring don’t bother with any probing questions. Instead of asking if it is true – if they are indeed interested, which I doubt they are – their immediate reaction is to attack the innocent messenger.

This site has been hit with a deluge of right-wing snipers, disturbed that we don’t toe the line of the right-wing press which must obviously provide them with a comfort zone. “How can you be independent when you religiously present a left view?” In other words: “Why can’t you be like the right-wing MSM and write crap?”

I have ferreted through my archives to find examples that show the MSM do nothing but write crap. Examples that show they are more interested in spewing forth right-wing opinion in the guise of news or information. It bewilders me that the right-wing protagonists find nothing wrong with the crap written by the media, yet they have no compunction in finding fault with the truth that fills the pages of independent media sites. Like their media heroes, I guess they have one interest only: ignore the truth and if it doesn’t go away . . . then distort it.

Perhaps they’d like to digest the three articles I’ve chosen (from many) to re-post here. Three articles that aim to remind people just how shockingly biased and incompetent the MSM are. Three articles that should encourage one to ask: “Why should I have a problem with independent media while evidence abounds that when compared with the MSM, they don’t write crap?” Three article that show that the MSM in this country exists in a parallel universe from reality.

The first was titled The shout heard round the world in response to Julia Gillard’s ‘attack’ on a misogynist Tony Abbott in Parliament last year. To the Australian media, misogyny wasn’t a bad thing and neither was Tony Abbott’s display of it. The big bad evil one was Julia Gillard for wanting to both expose it and stamp it out. Read on:

Julia Gillard might have stopped shouting at Tony Abbott but her words reverberated around the world.

Hence this post is not about the speech by Julia Gillard or about the man it was directed to, but briefly on the impact of it.

By now most of you would have digested some of the more celebrated responses – including those linked above – so I won’t cover old ground, however, one is worth mentioning; not for Julia Gillard’s stand against misogamy but for her often overlooked performances as a gutsy politician. The New Yorker wants performances like that to enter into American politics. They write:

So why is this among the most-shared videos [the Julia Gillard attack on Tony Abbott] by my American friends today? Purely as political theatre, it’s great fun. Americans used to flipping past the droning on in empty chambers that passes for legislative debate in this country are always taken in by the rowdiness of parliamentary skirmish. It could also be that the political dynamic depicted in the clip parallels the situation in the States: a chief executive who is a “first” took power after a long period of control from the right of center, and whose signature policy achievements have at times been overshadowed by personal vitriol. Or perhaps it’s that we are right now in one of the rare periods every four years where the American political process provides actual face-to-face debate between the leaders of the two parties. After his performance last week, supporters of President Obama, watching Gillard cut through the disingenuousness and feigned moral outrage of her opponent to call him out for his own personal prejudice, hypocrisy, and aversion to facts, might be wishing their man would take a lesson from Australia.

Similarities between our two political theatres abound. Julia Gillard has found a way to evolve from it.

But her attack on misogamy has attracted more responses than her parliamentary grunt. And oh how the responses differ. In one corner we have the international media, the social media and social analysts supporting her speech while in the other corner sits the Australian mainstream media going alone in its condemnation.

Yet in the Australian media all we hear about are the opinions of the Australian media. Elsewhere it is news. Here they are purely opinions.

To hear the praise coming from Australians one has to read an overseas newspaper. For example, the Irish Times provided a better and more balanced appraisal of Julia Gillard’s speech than that dished up locally. Where, in the Australian media, will you read such honesty as this?:

When Australia’s prime minister, Julia Gillard, told the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, this week that if he wanted to know what misogyny looked like he should pick up a mirror, it was seen by many women as a defining moment for feminism in the country.

“I almost had shivers down my spine,” said Sara Charlesworth, an associate professor at the University of South Australia. “I was so relieved that she had actually named what was happening. She was so angry, so coherent and able to register that enough is enough.”

It was the first time an Australian leader – and possibly any world leader – had delivered such a forthright attack on misogyny in public life.

Prof Barbara Pini, who teaches gender studies at Griffith University in Queensland, said it was a watershed moment. “It’s incredibly significant to have a prime minister powerfully state that she has experienced sexism and even more powerfully state that she will refuse to ignore it any longer,” Pini said.

“That the sexism which is so deeply embedded in the Australian body politic was named may give some women licence to express and seek to counter the sexism they have experienced in their working lives.”

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, one in five Australian women has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. A recent study by Monash University in Melbourne showed that 57 per cent of women who worked in the media had experienced sexual harassment. It said women were badly under-represented in top levels of media management, holding 10 per cent of positions, compared with an international average of 27 per cent.

The report’s author, Louise North, said her findings might go some way to explaining why much of Australia’s mainstream media concluded that Gillard’s speech was a political disaster. “PM will rue yet another bad call,” said one comment piece.

“Gillard’s judgment was flawed. All she achieved was a serious loss of credibility,” said another.

That response was in stark contrast to much of the commentary in social media and conversations between women around the country, which were alive with praise for the prime minister’s stance.

“Leader writers are generally white, middle-aged men and they have no perception of gender bias,” North said. “They don’t want to acknowledge that it happens within their newsrooms and they certainly wouldn’t be open to challenging some of those positions and changing the public discourse either.

Tim Dunlop, in his fabulous article on The Drum, The gatekeepers of news have lost their keys takes up the fight against the Australian media – one of the few in the media to do so – as he tackles the local bias:

The authority of the media – it’s ability to shape and frame events and then present them to us as “the” news – was built upon its privileged access to information and the ability to control distribution.

Collecting, collating, packaging and transmitting information – “news” – was expensive and thus the preserve of a small number of big companies, and we were pretty much bound by the choices they made.

But those days are gone. That model is a relic, though it still dominates the way the mainstream media goes about its business, and provides the template for how journalists think about their role as reporters.

When you have the likes of Michelle Grattan, Peter Hartcher, Peter van Onselen (paywalled), Jennifer Hewett (paywalled), Geoff Kitney, Phillip Coorey, and Dennis Shanahan (paywalled) all spouting essentially the same line in attacking the Prime Minister – a line at odds with the many people’s own interpretation of events – people wonder what the point of such journalism is.

It bewilders me that our mainstream media is taking such a vociferous and concerted stand against public and international opinion. The impact of the speech is lost on them. One could be forgiven for thinking they have an agenda. Regardless of how much they condemn the Prime Minister, the world isn’t listening.

Next we come to an editorial from the Herald Sun in a post that I titled, simply, Editorial bullshit. The editorial was nothing but a pack of lies and to the editor, obviously a pack of lies worth spreading. Read on:

I’m not in the habit of reading the Herald Sun’s editorial. Actually, this morning’s was the first one I’ve ever read and I curse the individual who suggested I do so. In future if I want to read what Murdoch’s editors are thinking about I’ll grab a copy of Mein Kampf.

This morning’s editorial was written by a person equally as mad. A clear-thinking person could not have written such bullshit. I will dissect it in parts to support my claim. We begin:

The Gillard Government has finally admitted what Australians have long suspected to be the case. Its promised Budget surplus was nothing more than a political fantasy.

Economic data made it clear Labor’s much promised surplus was unachievable. Yet the Prime Minister and Treasurer belligerently stuck to their mantra in what can only be described as a cynical political ploy.

They should have admitted the inevitable long ego. The economic decision is the right one, as the Herald Sun has consistently advocated in the face of falling revenues and slowing growth.

Let’s see if I understand this. The decision is supported by the editor’s newspaper and more or less expected by the Australian community. Nothing wrong there. Labor are responding to the economic data at hand and, again, I see nothing wrong there either. All of a sudden our editor sees this as a cynical political ploy, which means he does not read Murdoch’s masthead paper, The Australian who almost two months ago wrote that “For a second day, Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan have refused to directly guarantee a budget surplus in 2012-13“. Sort of admitting the inevitable, in a way.

The editorial continues with:

But the Government ignored all warnings and has damaged consumer confidence in announcing what they should have come to terms with months ago.

People will ask, not unreasonably, if they can ever trust this Government.

Where is the evidence to support this? The evidence I found was the complete contrary to that claim. From Roy Morgan Research we learn that:

The weekly Morgan Consumer Confidence Rating is now at 117.4pts (up 2.4pts over the past week). Consumer Confidence is now a significant 6.2pts higher than a year ago, December 3/4, 2011 — 111.2.

Driving the rise was more confidence in Australia’s economic future and also in personal financial situations compared to a year ago.

Australians are more confident about Australia’s economy over the next twelve months with 32% (up 2%) of Australians expecting ‘good times’ economically compared to 28% (down 3%) that expect ‘bad times’.

Now 33% (up 1%) of Australians say their family is ‘better off’ financially compared to a year ago while 29% (down 4%) say their family is ‘worse off’ financially.

Over the next five years 35% (unchanged) of Australians expect Australia’s economy to have ‘good times’ economically while just 18% (down 3%) expect ‘bad times’ – the lowest since May 12/13, 2012.

Australians are more positive about their personal finances over the next 12 months with 39% (down 1%) saying they expect their family to be ‘better off’ financially while just 18% (up 2%) expect to be ‘worse off’ financially.

Unsurprisingly, the editor took a swipe at Labor’s economic credentials:

. . . ineptitude and political cynicism was behind the promise of a Budget surplus. It was to convince voters Labor was in control of the economy when clearly it was not.

Meanwhile, in the real world outside of the editor’s office:

The OECD’s latest economic survey of Australia released today shows once again that our economy stands tall amongst its peers, with 21 consecutive years of growth, robust economic fundamentals and a positive outlook in the face of acute global challenges.

The OECD finds that, unlike many developed economies, the Australian economy remains resilient, with successful macroeconomic management contributing to solid growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, and strong public finances.

The OECD commends the Government’s “exemplary handling of the global economic and financial crisis” avoiding recession in 2008-09.

Although the OECD notes our economy is not immune from risks in the global economy, the survey notes that “[t]he current monetary and fiscal policy mix is appropriate to sustain recovery, and Australia is in a good position to respond to risks.”

The report also highlights that the Government’s fiscal consolidation is part of a re-balancing of policy which “implies less pressure on interest and exchange rates, thereby alleviating adjustment difficulties for the exposed non-mining sector.”

While we understand that not everyone is doing it easy, this OECD report today is another reminder that Australians have a lot to be proud of and confident about.

Would the Herald Sun editor be bullshitting? Of course he would. Here’s why:

Today, the Herald Sun renews its call for the Prime Minister to call an election in March to allow the Australian people to decide who should govern this country.

Yes, in other words let’s organise a distraction from Tony Abbott’s embarrassing performances and Labor’s jump in the polls.

The final post, Let’s focus on what’s important looked at the media reaction to Wayne Swan’s announcement some months ago that a surplus was unlikely to be announced in the May 2012 Budget. The Opposition were in an uproar over the announcement and the media were delighted to act as their mouthpiece. Meanwhile, economists were hailing it a good move but their opinions were suppressed by the Opposition’s compliant media. They couldn’t let the facts get in the way of some juicy propaganda. Read on:

Many of us are not surprised to learn that the Treasurer, Wayne Swan today announced that it was unlikely that Labor will be able to achieve the promised budget surplus in 2012/13.  For the purpose of this post I won’t go into any of the reasons or throw figures at you.

Economists are in unison, agreeing that the Government has done the right thing to drop the surplus commitment. Unsurprisingly, evidence of their support is very hard to find in our media online news sites. If you’re lucky you might catch a brief interview with one of them on TV. One of them might even be given the chance to explain why this is a good outcome.

The reason Australia was able to escape the Global Financial Crisis of a few years back was because it had the guts to spend money and thus create jobs. Again, I won’t go into that as we all know how Australia benefited from this bold, but necessary move.

Well, almost everybody knows we benefited. The exceptions being our Murdoch media and the Federal Opposition. And today we hear that this duo are still the world experts on the Australian economy. Today, their opinions take precedence over our economy. The online news sites are filled with nothing but their ‘valued’ opinions.

From that economic minnow Terry McCrann:

Wayne Swan’s decision to finally come clean and admit the bleeding obvious with the budget is just another cynical and dishonest move from a discredited treasurer in a completely discredited government.

It’s been blindingly obvious for months that there was no way the budget was going to swing miraculously from a massive $44 billion deficit last year to a tiny $1 billion surplus this year.

Indeed, it’s been obvious right back to budget night in May.

But Swan and prime minister Julia Gillard believed they had to keep promising a surplus, after her: “There’ll be no deficit in 2012-13 under a Government I lead”.

Swan quite deliberately brought the mid-year budget update forward, while the figures could still be massaged to still pretend to predict a surplus.

Even though the surplus predicted was pathetically, meaninglessly small.

Now he’s just as dishonestly chosen to tell the truth just before Christmas and the extended summer break.

Did McCrann focus on the economy? No.

BTW, how does one dishonestly tell the truth?

From ‘he who runs away‘:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said it was a “humiliating, embarrassing, nervous announcement from the Treasurer”.

Mr Abbott said the surplus was not a forecast – “it was a fact”.

“It has now been dumped,” he said.

“You just can’t trust this government to manage the economy. You just can’t trust this government to tell the truth”.

Mr Abbott said the Prime Minister made “two solemn covenants” during the election – the carbon tax and the surplus.

“She said that the day after she made the no carbon tax commitment. This second solemn commitment, this second covenant with the Australian people, dumped.”

“For three years they have been boasting of this surplus. Well, they don’t have that anymore”.

Did Abbott focus on the economy? No.

Even from Mr Eleventy:

Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said it is “not in the Labor party’s DNA to live within their means”.

“Taking out the garbage five minutes before Christmas is the way the Labor party operates,” he said.

“They are treating the Australian people with contempt.”

Did Hockey focus on the economy? No.

And this front page non-story ‘ha ha I told you so’ from an un-named news.com reporter:

Treasurer Wayne Swan:

“We’ll be back in the black by 2012/13, as promised.” (May 2011)

“The government remains absolutely committed to delivering our return to surplus as we planned.” (August 2011)

“We’ve nailed our colours to the mast.” (February 2012)

“Despite the tough global conditions, we remain determined to return the budget to surplus in 2012/13, and we will get there.” (March 2012)

Prime Minister Julia Gillard: “My commitment to a surplus in 2012/13 was a promise made and it will be honoured.” (April 2011)

“We stand by the predictions, the entries in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. We stand by the figures and we’re on track to deliver a budget surplus.” (November 2012)

Did he or she focus on the economy? No.

Of course they don’t want to focus on the economy. It’s going gangbusters and will continue to do so.

Well done, Mr Swan, on what is another bold move. I don’t care what you said previously. You have the good sense to act upon approaching change, rather than react after the change.

As an aside, I’ve never supported the need for such a quick return to a surplus as I believe it has been the Government’s hasty response to pressure from the media, the public and the Opposition. Unfortunately they are going to be under attack from all sides over this. It’s my hunch that the leading economists in the country – who support the move – will be gagged by the media.

Is it too much to ask that the critics try and focus on what’s important, ie, the economy?

PS: This announcement has really let Abbott off the hook. He’s happy to face the media again.

OK, I’ve only picked out three examples but most intelligent observers would agree that millions more examples are being produced on a daily basis. You just don’t find this sort of rubbish on the independent media sites. When the Prime Minister suggested that the media would gain some credibility if they didn’t write crap, it is clear that only the independent media heeded her call.



An invitation to Tony Abbott

Three months out from the federal election Tony Abbott must be very frustrated. He has only three months to tell us what he will do as Prime Minister but the mainstream media (MSM) cruelly refuse to hand him the microphone. He must be wondering why they’re not interested in asking him those little things about policies, plans, visions. I’m sure he has many. I’m sure he wants to tell us what they are.

If the MSM refuse to show him some courtesy then he has one alternative: the independent media. We would love to accommodate him. We’d love to ask him those questions that the MSM so rudely ignore.

Tony, we’re here to your rescue. Among the social and independent media your policies, plans and visions will reach an audience of hundreds of thousands of news hungry readers. At least those readers will be privileged to hear first hand what to expect from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

So we invite you to speak to us.

I know that political parties keep a very sharp eye on political blog sites so I know that someone in the Coalition will be alerted to this post. Could that person please inform Tony Abbott that we want to speak to him? He could always get in touch with us here at The AIMN and following on from that we can arrange an interview with the independent media groups. It will provide Tony with the best opportunity to proudly announce what he has, to date, been robbed from doing: answering questions.

We, and only we, are interested in revealing Prime Minister Abbott to the electorate prior to the election. And I’m sure that Tony Abbott is desperate for the electorate to know more about him. How can he hope to promote himself through a lazy, uninterested, incompetent mainstream media?

By talking to our keen ears we can hear of – and propagate – the election-winning policies that are currently being stifled by the media. At last he’ll find an audience to hear him out.

Hence, Mr Abbott, we offer this invitation to you to come and talk to us.

Allay the fears of many undecided voters who have not had the opportunity to learn what you stand for, especially given there is a possibility that you might control both houses of Parliament. Some people are petrified at this prospect and the devastation you might create because of your inane personality, your reliance on Catholicism and the simplistic minds of your shadow cabinet. You can dispel those fears, which is something the MSM have not given you the opportunity to do.

Your vision is worthless without public support and yes, we are here to support you.

But let’s cut to the chase. Talk to us, on more than anything, about the Institute of Public Affairs; that free market right wing think tank that is funded by some of Australia’s major companies and closely aligned to the Liberal Party. There are rumours in the electorate that every one of your policies, plans or visions has been generated from the influence this think tank has over your party. And while the MSM are not interested to discuss this issue with you, we are.

In an article by the IPA titled Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia the authors suggest that:

“If he wins government, Abbott faces a clear choice. He could simply overturn one or two symbolic Gillard-era policies like the carbon tax, and govern moderately. He would not offend any interest groups. In doing so, he’d probably secure a couple of terms in office for himself and the Liberal Party. But would this be a successful government? We don’t believe so. The remorseless drift to bigger government and less freedom would not halt, and it would resume with vigour when the Coalition eventually loses office. We hope he grasps the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the political culture and stem the assault on individual liberty.”

It is the essence of that last sentence that particularly grates people and the following list gives people the wrong impression of the havoc you might cause. Here’s your chance to undo it. A chance denied by the MSM.

1.   Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
2.   Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3.   Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
4.   Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
5.   Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
6.   Repeal the renewable energy target
7.   Return income taxing powers to the states
8.   Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
9.   Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
10. Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
11.  Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
12.  Repeal the National Curriculum
13.  Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
14.  Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
15.  Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
16.  Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
17.  End local content requirements for Australian television stations
18.  Eliminate family tax benefits
19.  Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
20. Means-test Medicare
21. End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
22. Introduce voluntary voting
23. End mandatory disclosures on political donations
24. End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
25. End public funding to political parties
26. Remove anti-dumping laws
27. Eliminate media ownership restrictions
28. Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
29. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
30. Cease subsidising the car industry
31. Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
32. Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books
34. End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
35. Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
36. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
37. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
38. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
39. Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
40. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
41. Repeal the alcopops tax
42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams

43. Repeal the mining tax
44. Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
45. Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
46. Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
47. Cease funding the Australia Network
48. Privatise Australia Post
49. Privatise Medibank
50. Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
51. Privatise SBS
52. Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
53. Repeal the Fair Work Act
54. Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
55. Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
56. Abolish the Baby Bonus
57. Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
58. Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
59. Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
60. Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
61. Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
62. End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
63. Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
64. End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
65. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
66. Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
67. Means test tertiary student loans
68. Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
69. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
70. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
71. Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
72. Privatise the CSIRO
73. Defund Harmony Day
74. Close the Office for Youth
75. Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

Of course, some of those have very little bearing on the electorate. But some have a massive impact. You have been denied the opportunity to discuss these issues with the MSM while we in the independent media have been screaming for you to have a say. So come along and meet with us. Let us be the microphone that blasts your message across Australia. I doubt you’ll never get another chance.

We’d love to chat with you about the above, plus much more. You might even take this as an opportunity to re-affirm that WorkChoices is dead in the water. Put our minds at ease. You can only do this through bypassing the MSM.

My thanks go to John Lord whose article “Public apathy and 75 ideas to make you shudder” inspired this invitation to Tony Abbott.

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