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Tag Archives: News Limited

Day to Day Politics: Where did Murdoch’s readers go and what about the election?

Saturday 13 February.

Author’s Note.

This week’s announcement that News Corp’s revenue has declined for the fourth successive quarter has sent a shiver down the spine of the newspaper industry. It is now in its inevitable death throes. Further cuts will now have to be made in his Australian publications and when the traditional hard core readers have passed on what will be left.

This is a repost of an earlier.

Recently I found myself without access to the internet. It only lasted a day and a bit, thankfully, but it did bring home to me just how reliant I am on it. The pause however, did give me reason to think about how very differently I consume information now as opposed to say 10 or so years ago. It also gave me reason to think about what influence old media, and in particular Murdoch newspapers, might have on the next election.

I have been a prolific reader all my life and not to fill my brain with a daily dose of anything newsworthy might lead to withdrawal symptoms. Habitually at 6am I would be awake waiting for the familiar thud of the Melbourne Age dropping onto the driveway. Together with a hot cup of green tea my day was put in perspective.

With the advent of the internet it all changed. Both the reader and the media proprietor now find themselves in a vastly different arena.

Where as in my case I relied on The Age to provide the entirety of information about my many and varied interests I now find I have unlimited access to anything and everything I want to know. It is simply astonishing just how much the webb has changed the world.

Now I wake at six (a lifelong habit) turn on the ipad, check the weather, my email, post some thoughts on Facebook and then peruse the newspapers, but not before seeing whose writing what on THE AIMN. In fact my newspaper reading is now limited and specific. I hone in on what I want to read and move on. I don’t subscribe to pay sites because there is ample quality information available on free sites and blogs. For example I look with contemptible curiosity at the headlines on The Australian site just to see the outrageous unmasked bias. I can peruse any newspaper in the world.

The interesting thing about the decline in sales and influence of Australian newspapers has been how they have responded. On the one hand Fairfax decided to cut costs, lower its journalistic standards, change its size and be a little more tabloidish. On the other hand Murdoch, who had made his fortune on smut decided to prostitute his publications by becoming even more offensive and provocative. It hasn’t worked. They both now opine rather than report.

So in terms of political influence Labor has little to fear from the nefarious front pages and slanted editorials of his tabloids. The recent Labor victories in both Queensland and Victoria have highlighted News Limited’s growing irrelevance to the electoral process.

Last year, the total daily circulation of all Australian daily newspapers was a little over 2.1 million, fully one million lower than it was at the turn of the century. When you take into account the growth in population post Second World War the decline is even more specular. In 1947 two copies of daily newspapers were sold for every five people. In 2014 the figure was 1-14. So now, Murdoch with a 60% share of the Australian circulation can only attract 4% of the population to buy his rags.

And the point of course is that the readership is rapidly ageing and disproportionately Coalition. They are voters who are locked into their political preferences. If you analyse any poll you will find that 60% of the Coalitions support comes from those over 65 and 60% of Labor’s from the under 40s. Hence it’s unlikely that Murdoch is influencing the younger voters. The group that gives Labor the best chance of winning the next election. And with so much support coming from a rapidly ageing cohort the right must be concerned as to where their future voters will come from.

Recent surveys by Essential Research also suggest that even those who read the Murdoch tabloids have little trust in them. Of the major newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald constantly score 70% trust with The Australian on 60%. But the three Murdoch metropolitan tabloids are only trusted by a little over half of their readers. The Herald Sun 53%. The Courier Mail 54% The Daily Telegraph at times fell to 41%. This of course means that those who buy this tabloid filth must do so for entertainment or sports. Certainly not for reliable reporting on politics. Habit may be another factor of course.

So, if all the research is correct, Murdoch only reaches less than 10% of the voting population which is about half the reach they had when they so blatantly supported Howard in 2001.

There are a couple of things to remember when discussing Murdoch’s political influence. The first is the flow on effect. The Australian is the shock jocks first point of call every morning and whatever bias is on for the day is quickly absorbed by the presenters of untruth.

Whilst the shock jocks have substantial audiences the fact is that the average listener can be likened to the average Murdoch reader. Elderly and set in their ways.

The Australian loses around $30 million every year and it is difficult to imagine it continuing production after the mogul dies. It is also difficult to expect that it doesn’t exert some influence on television which still attracts a sizable audience of uncommitted voters. Again it must be said that television audiences are now older. The young have deserted it for the internet, games or streaming media.

The second factor in all this is that whilst there has been a dramatic decline in the sales of newspapers and readership there has been a corresponding rise in the readership of their websites. Tabloid newspapers however have not been able to successfully merge their image into the digital market. It may be a graphics thing where internet news demands some form of visual and quantifiable sophistication.

Research also shows that Australian newspaper web sites have high traffic rates but whereas we might assume the average readership of the print edition The Daily Telegraph might have a 15 minute duration. Visits to its website are a lot shorter. As little as thirty seconds or so. So, it’s fair to assume these visits wouldn’t have much political impact at all.

There is no doubt that Labor can expect the full treatment from Murdoch at the next election. Anything from filth to fantasy. Everything will be magnified out of proportion, images crudely photoshoped to show leaders in the worst possible way together with lie after lie after lie. There is no doubt they will be as crass as is possible. But the big question is. Given all the evidence, what sway will they have?

There was a time when you would do nothing to offend the mogul but instead ingratiate oneself. Perhaps it’s time to call a spade a spade and tell the Australian people just how un Australian this American citizen is. Tell them he should not be imposing his Republican Tea Party ideology on us and that it’s about time he started to pay some tax in Australia. In other words call the mongrel for what he is. A pathetic self-serving power hungry bastard who believes you can control people with words calculated to gain favour with conservative governments.

The decay of traditional news media and the rise of digital media has meant that the young have not been touched by the Murdoch cancer. Instead they are forging opinion based on information sourced of themselves. And in doing so have dramatically reduced Murdoch’s sphere of influence.

He may preach from the high alter of propaganda but only reach the already converted but he is certainly not winning over any new adherents.

Some findings from the Essential survey.

How much trust do you have in the following media commentators and journalists?

Lauri Oakes 71% Sarah Ferguson 51% Tony Jones 51% Mark Riley 51% Michelle Gratton 49% Neil Mitchell 49% Chris Uhlmann 46% Andrew Bolt 38% Alan Jones 29%

The most trusted newspapers were.

SMH (70% a lot/some trust) and The Age (66%). The least trusted were The Telegraph (46% a lot/some trust), the HeraldSun (48%) and the Courier Mail (48%).

Overall, trust in media has fallen a little since this question was asked last year – however rankings remain much the same.

The most trusted media were ABC TV news and current affairs (63% a lot/some trust), SBS TV news and current affairs (61%) and ABC radio news and current affairs (58%).

The least trusted were internet blogs (20%) and commercial radio talkback programs (34%).

How much trust do you have in the following institutions and organisations?

AFP were top with 68% the ABC had 58% at the bottom on 16% and religious organisations 25%

Don’t ask me how the AFP got there.

My thought for the Day

‘Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity’.

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Two things I have trouble with involving the Abbott Government … all right, three!

Negativity-21 OK, I know it’s obvious, but I want to know why Justice Heydon can say that there was absolutely no reason for him to disqualify himself for accepting an invitation to be the guest speaker because – as he points out in his sixty seven page justification – it doesn’t demonstrate that he agrees with the politics of the organisation where he’s going to speak.

So there’s no problem with him accepting the invitation. Got it! Except now the question is why he felt that he had to change his mind about speaking there. It might be perceived as bias. But now his ruling on apprehended bias is that a “rational” person wouldn’t see it as bias.

I guess, from that, one could infer from that as Heydon decided to change his mind about speaking then he isn’t a “rational” person.

We also learn that Justice Heydon is famous for not reading emails.

Which seems a clear link to the Liberals who have a reluctance to read anything (as Kaye Lee pointed out in “Less Shovels And More Reading” a few days ago).

While not reading emails or anything going to their office has been a popular pastime for Liberals since Peter Reith and the children overboard fiasco, I suspect that it may become popular for unionists in the coming days.

“Sorry, Justice Heydon, but I’m well-known among my colleagues for not reading emails, opening letters, checking bank statements or anything else you wish to question me about. I wasn’t aware of any of this and I don’t see how any rational person would expect me to keep track of what I’ve been doing when – as a union leader – everyone knows that I’m a bludger who never does anything but wage war on those poor multinationals who are providing jobs for Australians as part of their charity program.”

But I’m more concerned about the Fairfax “jihad”.

Yep, that’s right. Minister for Not Reading Press Releases, Mr Peter Mutton told everyone that Fairfax were waging a “jihad” against the Abbott Government. Which if you look up almost any definition of the word, is a wee bit confusing. For a start, surely they need to be Muslims to wage a “jihad”. Although Waheed Aly does occasionally write a column for them, so perhaps he’s converted Amanda Vanstone and Peter Reith to the cause. And Paul Sheehan. None of those columnists ever show the Abbott Government in a positive light.

Yes, yes, I know. Allowing such people to give you their thoughts does make the Abbott Government look bad. Anyway, the Petester wasn’t finished, obviously concerned that he didn’t have anyone at “hello”. Or “jihad” for that matter.

PETER DUTTON: I think it would be helpful if some of the commentators in the area, in this space of politics, started reporting on the incidents, as opposed to being players themselves.

I think there’s a huge move by Fairfax at the moment to try and bring the Government down, that’s fair enough. But they aren’t, they aren’t….

They aren’t supposed to be political players, they’re supposed to be objective reporters of the news and I think many of them have morphed into frustrated politicians themselves.

Yes, they should get back to simple reporting of incidents the way the Murdoch Press does. Then we can see simple reporting of incidents like the fabulous: “We Need Tony” or “Kick This Mob Out”!

Although I seem to remember that we were told that News Limited were a private organisation and that they were allowed to be biased. Fairfax, on the other hand (sorry Andrew Hastie but that wasn’t directed at you!), should stick to reporting the facts because, well, they’re being “helped by the ABC” according to Pete the Insignificant.

But I find it strange that he thinks that “commentators” should stick to reporting “incidents”. I thought the whole idea of commentators was to commentate, but I’ve always been a bit funny about words and their meanings. You know, I’m one of those that thought that when Abbott said that there was no difference between him and Rudd on Education, I thought that meant that he was saying that he’d implement the same policy, not that they both had a university degree. Or that no cuts meant that he wasn’t going to reduce the funds to pensioners, not that he wasn’t going to take a knife to them.

Still to be fair, all our Minister for Operational Matters actually said was that “it’d be helpful” if they stuck to reporting incidents. Objectively. You know, factual reporting. Using last Friday’s events maybe he’d be happy with something like this appearing in Fairfax.

“Operation Fortitude was called off when a clumsy worded press release caused people to compare the Abbott Government with Hitler and Stalin and to make comparisons between the Border Force’s black uniform with the Nazi SS. The press release wasn’t read by the Minister’s Office because they don’t have anything to do with the day to day operational matters, so they didn’t think that it was worth reading something sent to them. The Prime Minister assured us that he knew nothing.”

Yeah, that should make him happy.

That, and a decision by the media to stop reporting that there’s disharmony in the Liberal Party, because it’s not really news. People leaking. As Dutton himself told us, people could have a pretty good idea who was doing the leaking, and they’re doing it for their own ambitions and they should be sacked. But there’s no disharmony, and any attempt to report disharmony is just due to the Labor/Green/ABC/Fairfax/socialist/Jewish/alien/Islam/foreign/World Trade Centre conspiracy to bring down the natural rulers by refusing to mention that all they think about is Jobs and Growth And Security, and if you think about something often enough, then it happens. We all know that, we’ve all seen “Field of Dreams” and we know that if we build it they will come.

Mm, perhaps I should apply for a job as Tony Abbott’s speechwriter.

 

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My Thoughts on the Week That Was

w2 1 It’s difficult to criticise Labor’s proposal to impose the so called Buffet Tax on the rich when the Australian Taxation Office had found that in 2011-12 75 Australians earning more than $1 million a year had paid no tax at all. In fact combined annual incomes of those millionaires was $195 million, but through elaborate accounting tricks, the super-rich 75 had been required to stump up just $82 in total.

2 Research shows that Federal Coalition member’s annual expenses are on average $90,000 per head more than Labor MPs. Even allowing for the higher costs of incumbency it is an astonishing figure. No one doubts the validity of claiming expenses but this really has to be sorted out. Joe makes thirteen trips to his farm and Bronwyn attends Mirabella’s wedding all on the pretext that they were on government business. “The age of privilege is over” said Joe. “Crap” said Tony.

3 One of the regrets of my life is that in all probability Australia will not become a Republic in my lifetime. But Shorten is right to aim for 2025. And if you could make it sooner I would be immensely happy.

4 Bill Shorten is planning equal representation of the sexes in Parliament. Did he consult with the Minister for Women?

Sunday 26 August.

An observation:

“We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so?”

w5 1 Last week at the Premier’s retreat the PM appealed for a calm measured debate on the GST without any scaremongering. Sounds reasonable except he continued his scare campaigns on Asylum Seekers and Climate Change.

An example of this is Dutton’s announcement that if Labor won the next election hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers would invade our shores. We deserve better than these fools.

2 Australia remains the only developed country yet to announce what plan it will take to the global climate summit in Paris. So let’s not have any of these ridiculous scare campaigns. It should be pointed out that Labor has not actually announced a Climate policy and that despite criticising Labor for not modelling its policy-in-progress, the Coalition can’t point to any modelling of its own Direct Action policy because it has never done any – not when it was in opposition, nor when it was in government. During the last election, if I recall correctly, Abbott said he just wanted to have a crack

3 The cost advantage of non-polluting energy is rapidly increasing. Wind is already the cheapest, and solar PV [photovoltaic panels] will be cheaper than gas in around two years, in 2017. Wind will continue to decrease in cost but solar will become the dominant source in the longer term.

4 Speaking of leadership the latest Morgan survey reveals that Abbott is supported as Liberal Leader by only 13% and Shorten as ALP Leader by only 12%. The Libs prefer Turnbull by a whopping margin and Labor prefer Deputy ALP Leader Tanya Plibersek.

5 It just won’t go away. It has now been revealed that TAXPAYERS footed a more than $21,000 bill for Warren Truss to give a speech explaining the virtues of tightening the government belt and reducing expenditure after the controversial 2014 Federal Budget.

It’s our money, folks.

6 All things considered it’s been a good conference for the leader.

w6 Monday 26 July

A poem on the theme of domestic violence.

Maria, I called

I awoke with a throaty dankness Of alcohol overindulged Detestable stupidity And unmitigated sorrow

The why of it deserted me Memories vague but real I had committed a sin Of unforgiving evil

Then my conscience Spoke with morose meaning I had hit her a coward’s punch Destroying her exquisite smile

Maria I called to the silence But it prevailed God I said as if to mock my Self hatred

I pissed and staggered Through my regrets To the kitchen The stench of myself hit me

Where was she and The noise that children make Regret insinuated itself On the absence of love

She had written with miseries ink Just three words “The last time” on pristine white I cursed the grog but

Pathetically I sought the Next bottle of my degeneracy And took it to bed Contemplating the me I used to be

John Lord

1 Last week the PM was full of praise for a debate, without scaremongering, on the issue of the GST. It seems however that scaremongering is ok on climate change and it has begun already. An ETS is a tax he insists with the same enthusiasm he had for a leg of lamb or wiping towns off the map before the last election.

We all might ask though just what it is they are using to fund their nonsensical Direct Action plan. Answer: YOUR TAXES.

Then yesterday afternoon Malcolm Turnbull cut through Abbott’s slogans and semantics dominating the climate policy debate – pointing out that all policies to push low-emission electricity generation come at a cost to households, including the ones the government supports, and that the cost of renewables is falling. He went on to correctly talk about the costs of whatever scheme is adopted. The Coalition has never revealed its costings beyond its present scheme.

I repeat: “We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet”.

Remember the “historic and ambitious” climate agreement between the US and China, when Tony Abbott was left out in the ‘coald’?

Asked where the deal left Australia’s climate change policy, the expert adviser to the former government Professor Ross Garnaut said: “Exactly where it was before the US-China announcement – up shit creek.”

2 I do wish someone amongst all those Labor supporters who so detest Bill Shorten and his Asylum Turn Back policy would show me their alternate so that I might gauge the difference. The question always arises. What would you do?

3 Morgan Poll: L-NP support has slumped 3% to 46% cf. ALP 54% (up 3%) on a two-party preferred basis as the travel expense ‘misconduct’ surrounding Parliamentary Speaker Bronwyn Bishop’s incorrect use of taxpayer entitlements continued to impact negatively on the Government.

Tuesday 28 July

1 Bronwyn Bishop’s office claims she has to keep secret her meetings in Albury on the weekend she claimed travel expenses to attend Sophie Mirabella’s wedding. Sniff test, lie detector test, pub test. Take your pick.

2 Goodness, all the talk yesterday about more women in the Coalition ranks. Don’t they realise they have a minister for women and he also happens to be the Prime Minister. Why isn’t he taking some action?

3 This week’s Essential Poll and Survey sees Labor back on 53% and the Coalition on 47%. What can be read into it? Well this far out from the next election so many things can happen that you cannot view it as an indication of how people will vote. It’s only an insight into how people are thinking at the moment. It is a measure of this Governments unpopularity though that they have never headed the Opposition since the election.

This is what they thought of Bronwyn Bishop and the expenses saga.

25% think she should stand down while her expenses are being investigated, 19% think she should resign as Speaker and 24% think she should resign from Parliament.

34% of Liberal/National voters think she should remain as Speaker – 25% think she should resign as Speaker or from Parliament. A majority of Labor voters (59%) and Greens voters (55%) think she should resign as Speaker or from Parliament.

On Electricity costs

51% think their electricity bill over the last 12 months has increased, 33% think it has stayed about the same and 9% think it has decreased.

There were not substantial differences by voting intention or demographics – although Labor voters (58%) were a little more likely to think it had increased.

On the impact of the Carbon Tax.

More than 60% of voters think the former Labor government’s carbon price had no effect, or only a small effect, on electricity bills. Just as Abbott tries to rerun a cost of living scare campaign against Labor’s pledge to re-introduce an emissions trading scheme.

On Tax Reform

There was strong majority support for forcing multinational companies to pay a minimum tax rate on Australian earnings (79%), increasing income tax rate for high earners (63%) and removing superannuation tax concessions for high earners (59%).

There was strong majority opposition to increasing the GST (65%).

Wednesday 29 July

Posted my piece Where Did all his Readers Go?

1 Alan Jones opining about the character of Aussie rules player Adam Goodes. You have to put it in perspective of course. Goods is a champion player, champion human being who does a lot to further indigenous culture and represent his race. He is an ‘’Australian of the Year’’ and a fine one. On the other hand Alan Jones is a detestable human who delights in demining people. And he accepts paid millions to do so. How someone of such little character can judge someone with so much stretches my intellect somewhat.

2 Senior ministers, it seems, are ‘ropeable’ over the Bronwyn Bishop’s scandal saying it is damaging the Government.

Some charity should suggest an admission charge to the public gallery for the next Question Time to raise funds. Pressure is mounting on Bishop to resign but she won’t. Abbott is unlikely to force her instead relishing an all in brawl with the Opposition. In the meantime we can all sit and ponder just how it is we are being governed.

It would not surprise if today she says the dog ate her expenses homework-twice.

Who tweeted this?

After 2 interesting tram trips last night now on the 109 on Collins St to Sth Cross to get the train to Geelong to visit . . .

An observation:

“The simplest way to turn the profession of politics on its head would be to demand they tell the truth”

3 There is something cringe worthy about politicians delaying the inevitable. Abbott is doing everything possible to delay a vote on gay marriage. It’s not like it’s something new that requires more debate. The public has let the public know their feelings and they should act accordingly. All he is doing is making his Government more disliked than it already is.

Thursday 30 July

Bronwyn Bishop’s gratuitous empty apology to the Australian people on the Alan Jones (where else) program was too little too late. It does nothing for the public’s perception that politicians are openly rorting the system. She has further demeaned the position of speaker if indeed that is possible. Her bias as speaker is acknowledged by both sides of the political spectrum, as does all sections of the media. Her behaviour has reflected on all members of parliament and the Prime Ministers failure to dismiss her is yet another example of his lack of qualities as a leader.

Her credibility is now so tainted that she could not possible command the respect of the Parliament and its members.

The Leader of the House, Christopher Pyne, may well seek to protect her, particularly in question time, but an already tarnished, childish excuse for a demonstration of democracy will be further diminished.

There was a time when our Parliament exhibited some collective dignity and personal integrity. Abbott seems to have so trashed the conventions and principles of our Parliament that it no longer conforms to the traditions of the Westminster system.

A midday thought:

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”.

Friday 31 July

1 Has Mike Baird become our de facto PM. Firstly he makes the running on a debate for an increase on the GST. Something you would expect an incumbent PM to do. And yesterday he took on a plea for people to stop booing footballer Adam Goodes. In the meantime the leader of the nation remains silent on the issue.

Midday thoughts

1 Two issues dominated the week. Firstly the Adam Goodes’ saga occupied all genres of the media and many morally unqualified commentators opined their ignorance. It will be the subject of my next piece for THE AIMN.

2 Bronwyn Bishop continued to dominate the headlines and this morning Gerard Henderson was on News24 defending her. The point is this. Her performance as Speaker on any level of judgement has been abysmal. The expenses issue is simple the catalyst in calling for her resignation.

My view hasn’t changed. Bishop should resign and write her memoirs. I’m sure somebody MIGHT be interested.

Even today the PM said this:

“She is obviously deeply remorseful, anyone who saw her on television yesterday would know that she is a very, very chastened person indeed”.

Can someone tell me the medical term for delayed reaction?

And this is the week that was.

Malcolm Turnbull had the last word without saying a thing.

w10

 

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The Murdochracy

We are fighting a war on Climate Change in Australia, we are fighting a war against the strong scientific inference of climate change. It is a sad fact, that the absolute significance to changes in the earth’s climatic cycles are not acknowledged to the broader society.

Transnational media has been allowed to access false information on false pretences to formally and informally describe scientific consensus that is neither true nor conclusive. We are living in an age where it is these pretences that lead to the revulsions in public discourse. They perpetuate evidence to the people that anthropogenic climate change does not exist. We can attribute the gradual process of capitalist change to be an overt perversion of scientific reverence. Intelligent and scientifically minded individuals resist in vain, for the conservative social stance is both triumphant and celebrated, but why?

We can look to these clues with changes in social discourse, by examining the News Limited media. By examining News Limited we can incorporate a corporate capitalist phenomena, where an innate power for financial profit has lead to a democratic override, and the winner takes all. We are living in a time where neither a strong evidential basis nor bi-partisan approach will evoke change significant to stop the transgression of the multi-faceted 70% power distributed, Murdoch media. The shocking reverence of the situation is this: what you read, what you see and what you hear is all a representation of interpretivist opinion backed up by sceptics and conglomerate news bodies who seek to mandate public discourse – without true mass media approaches. These approaches are misrepresentations of facts and figures and bias which divulge the ever condensing incorrect views of climate change. These revered and conversely public trusted tabloids are the ones that are perverting the social justice. The very same justice that leads to the dilution and unstructured social opinion that not only persuades but integrates societal ‘know how’.

For those who are aware, this is what we know: it is not just the configuration of society that controls these aspects, and the dissertation of opinion underlying strong scientific background- as well as the complete and utter reverence that science can and should uphold. It is also something else; it is the greater understanding of complex concepts that are not transcribed in a proper ‘user friendly’ way or if transcribed at all. It is the external factor, the foundations of knowledge and the complexity of interpreting this knowledge to the people. I suspect the underlying consideration that we must address is the ‘denial’ and current ignorance that surrounds corporate body structures such as News Limited and the current Liberal Government and one Tony Abbott and their stakeholders. We can only deduce from these observations, a conformist acquisition, one, where media owned adversaries seek to ignore the evidence of climate change science for, their own initiatives for the favouring of their own financial gain.

For this idea to uphold, we must take into consideration the influence that transnational media can and does have on the wider public opinion. We must transgress this idea further, and consider the elements of . . . dare I say it . . . propaganda. Yes, propaganda! Consider this: it is not without thought that we go so far as to say, political factions of propaganda are truly evident in mass media.

Propaganda, whilst alluding the attitudes of political opinion also eludes the values and emotional upheaval of individual opinion; take for instance Adolf Hitler’s approach. As far as we know, we can see these attitudes transgress to the audience through the author’s personal epitomes and consumerist views. That is, through short worded slogans and repeated headlines that seek to optimize emotional and social relevance- often termed invoking the climate of fear, for example ‘Climate change not caused by humans” and “With Climate scientists like this no wonder we doubt”. A tactic that invokes contextual wording to interpret things that tug at fear and make people go ‘wow’, ‘The media doesn’t agree with experts why?’ But, does this transgress (mass media approach) to influence and persuade individual opinion? Does this really pervert public discourse?

YES and here’s why. We have only to examine the structure of hierarchy in Australian society, to exude confidence that indeed capitalist opinion has strongly and forthright berated the notion of climate change science. How, you ask? By decreeing the factual publication that follows it, in exchange for the more effervescent emotionally charged ‘writing on the wall’ and these short worded slogans are the misperceptions that invoke the general climate of fear. The wall has become no longer responsible for initiating freethinking thought or providing factual and progressive knowledge for adequate exploration of external stimuli, that is, exploration that provokes progressions in critical thinking before one accepts new knowledge. In place we have this wall, a safe cove r- a mask if you will, one that seeks to perversely calm and elude individuals away from real danger, pushing an agenda that ignores the kind of investigative thought that brought about the uprise of modern society, modern economy and scientific progression.

Indeed News Limited has exceeded these prospects, and further constructed a consumerist approach that not only constrains the individual, but also eludes them to the incorrect information that will eventually decimate social, emotional, environmental and political/democratic structure. News Limited will elude their audience to a point of no return in which case, we will see more than a group of troubled individuals with no free thought -but a group of troubled individuals that will vote according to these allusions that have propagated in their mass media world. The result you ask? Well, it’s a group of right winged zombies who neither understand nor amend their thought as to why they voted in such a contentious (conservative) way.

For all to see, News Limited got their wish, for the first time, democracy has failed and for the first time, transnational media came, crushed, killed and decimated an audience of free thinkers. News Limited poisoned their right to execute free thought or one that would favour their way of life. For the first time ever we see ‘tradies’, ‘parents’, ’single mothers ‘, ‘pensioners’ and ‘low-income earners’, vote against subsequent benefits that aim to target the particular struggle their respective bracket represents. What has Murdoch Media done? They have allowed Tony Abbot and his pack of liberal dogs to come forth for the kill and bring about the inevitable crumble of social justice. The Murdochcracy has created a new breed in society, once and for all-this new breed has gone against their own rights, their own free will and their best interests at heart- for favour of liberal conservative factions that aim to destroy the very things they are voting against . . . sound familiar? So, the political factions that were once opposition (for good reason), are thrust into power and News Limited epitomise these views with each passing day, so now, for the first time ever – a corporate capitalist structure has finally decomposed the walls of democracy and laid foundations of misadventure to the democratic right of the people.

That is right – you heard that right! News Limited has succeeded in diluting the values of free thought, transgressing ignorance and interpretivist views that assist with the consumerist/conservative approach to financial gain. One that is not in the best interest of social discourse, the best interests of the people and… not in the best interest of scientific reverence. So . . . the bottom line – all of this is not in the best interest for exposing the truth of Australia’s Changing Climate and the struggles that are yet to come. Is it propaganda? Has the Marino Wool from our jackets been pulled over our eyes? Australia’s climate is changing, so why has News Limited and it’s Murdochcracy been allowed to decide our fate?

*Author’s note-when I say ‘climate change’ I am referring to ‘anthropogenic (human induced) climate change; therefore, the sceptics view is: denial of ‘human induced climate change’.

 

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

(Or why we need the ABC)

abc

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

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

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

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

So why all the negative jawboning?

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

australia__s_contribution_to_the_asylum_seekers_by_wordswithmeaning-d56owrr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

murdoch-puppet_1940215i

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

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

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

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

no to refugees Nauru Detention Centre

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

march in march

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In short, we need our ABC.

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

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What If Bolt Had Been Given The Job…

Photo by meme generator

Photo by meme generator

Andrew Bolt’s Application to Host Media Watch

TO Mark Scott, ABC managing director:

…Don’t assume I’m not available. Hear that ripping sound? That was my contract for my Network 10 show.

Mark, I want you to know I stand ready to serve when your current host, Jonathan Holmes, stands down by the end of the month, as I read…

From Andrew Bolt’s Blog, 2nd May, 2013

Sources tell me that Andrew Bolt wasn’t actually considered for the job of Media Watch host as there were a few technicalites with his application. The first was that he never actually submitted it – he only shared it via his blog. There’s a longstanding tradition in applying for jobs in this country that one doesn’t do it in via a national newspaper. (The exception to this being when one wishes to take over as leader of a political party. Then one may declare that one is available, that one has no intention of challenging for the leadership or simply tell a journalist that – off the record – there’ll be a challenge within weeks.)

So what if Bolt had actually applied and been successful? I suspect we’d have got something like the following:

Hello I’m Andrew Bolt, welcome to Media Watch.

After October’s ridiculous attempt by climate alarmists to politicise the NSW fires and to link them to their scare campaign, we now get this from the ABC’s news bulletin:

“HEATWAVE LINKED TO CLIMATE CHANGE”

The bulletin then went on to quote some Professor without pointing out that this person had a vested interest in the topic. He has been studying climate science for the past twenty three years. Hardly what I’d call a disinterested party. Of course, the usual suspects jumped on this story. From a newspaper which I won’t name because of the ABC’s ridiculous no brand names because it contravenes advertising policy, which, by the way, previous hosts of this show used to flout quite regularly, but my freedom of speech was supressed when I just mentioned in last weeks’s show what a great drink coke was and thanked Mercedes for the great deal they gave me on the car:

“MORE HOT WEATHER TO COME”

This hysterical article then went on to predict another five days of temperatures above thirty degrees, ignoring the evidence that last night cooled to a mere twenty two degrees. Then having softened us up, the opinion page had this letter:

“When is this direct action policy of Abbott’s going to start? This hot weather should get us all thinking”

Since when did weather have anything to do with the climate? This completely overlooks that fact that we’ve had weather going back to the time that Captain Cook first discovered this uninhabited land. And as for the letter writer’s obvious left wing bias in demanding thinking, well, it should be no surprise that the writer of this letter had, in fact, completed his secondary education. These sort of academics are good at twisting arguments, but most of my readers are down to earth folk who intuitively know that I’m right.

Of course, the ABC has been trying to suggest the world is warming for decades. Such as this from 1972:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNCM51-mFXI

Admittedly, that was the American ABC, but the point remains. Of course, we’re used to the Bolshevik view coming from the ABC, but now the so called “free press” has joined in. The latest IPCC evidence shows that these ‘warmists’ are just plain wrong. I call for all journalists at non-Murdoch owned papers to be sacked and the ABC to be privatised immediately.

Now, unto a rather troubling matter. Again, there have been complaints about Alan Jones getting some minor detail wrong and calls for him to be removed from the air. These sort of politically correct attempts at censorship must be stopped. So what if he’s a few degrees or a couple of hundred percentage points out – this makes no difference to his actual argument that certain people need to take a good hard look at themselves and would benefit from a sound caning. As an ex-private school boarding master, Alan knows all about the benefits of that. Freedom of speech is one of our most important principles.

Until next time, I’ve been Andrew Bolt and you people listen to the ABC so you must be wrong.

Good Night.

 144 total views

Meanwhile, in other news

I can’t help but notice how lazy many of the political journalists in the mainstream media have been during this election campaign. It is evident (to most outside their profession) that they exhibit no desire to ask questions, seek answers or do a bit of simple research. And as far as sources go, they have sunk to new levels of laziness. That we are seeing ABC journalists interviewing News Limited journalists and masking that as news is one case in point. Lately, however, they’ve been racing to less credible but easily accessible sources: Twitter users. Every couple of days we are now seeing stories built from what a person has said on Twitter. I’m not talking tweets from frenzied Twitter users like Kevin Rudd or Malcolm Turnbull, or for that matter Mark Scott, but tweets from everyday ordinary folk like you and I.

And oh how they spin them. All of a sudden one person’s tweet, and a few replies – and only those that are negative towards the government – is a scoop about the mood of every living and breathing Australian. It then becomes the major Labor bashing story of the day.

Well two can play that game.

I have grabbed a few random tweets, and in News Limited style present these as the biggest news items of the day.

Here is the first:

Tony Abbott to feel wrath of housewives

Twitter has gone into meltdown following claims that most housewives won’t be voting for Tony Abbott because of his inability to whip up a good Bearnaise sauce. With the election only a matter of days away, this is a huge blow for Mr Abbott as he tries to win a few last minute votes.

Liberal Ministers have been quick to defend Mr Abbott since Twitterer Blacksheep tweeted this damning claim:

“He’s the first person to put his hand up to cook the barbie at party functions and he does a damn good job” boasts an unnamed source, adding “he hasn’t lost a sausage yet”. His daughters also lept to his defence, proudly announcing that “Dad has always been able to pour his own milk on his Wheeties”.

However, this tweet indicates what has been suspected for a long time by many, that Tony Abbott has serious problems connecting with women’s issues.

One of our correspondents has recently been contacted by a source close to the Liberal Party with allegations that Tony Abbott has been witnessed swearing at a can of peas. He was observed, and I quote; “lost it” when battling unsuccessfully with the can opener before hurling the half opened can at the kitchen wall.

Clearly a person who cannot open a can of peas is incapable of being Prime Minister of this country.

Tony Abbott is reported to have blamed this misadventure on the carbon tax but was unavailable for comment. However, to a packed media, Peta Credlin – sporting an apron – issued the following statement: It was Labor’s fault.

And on it goes.

Here’s a second article:

Prominent Cardinal slams Tony Abbott’s Christian values

Catholics from all corners of Australia, including those of the highest authority in the land have been seen burning photos of Tony Abbott following suggestions by Twitterer Lyndel Darling that his misplaced Christian values should come under heavy scrutiny. In response to a tweet from Clinton McRobert, Lyndel tweeted:

The backlash is sure to be a blow for Mr Abbott in the closing days of an election campaign in which he hoped to shore up the conservative Christian vote. A prominent Cardinal, who refused to be named, supported Ms Darling’s suggestion that “Jesus would turn over his table”.

Senior Ministers have dismissed the allegations, with one suggesting this has all been a misunderstanding: “Just because Tony likes to see struggling families throw all their money into poker machines, supports wages of $2 a day for those employed by the mining magnates and is happy for boat people to be sent back to their country of origin and face possible death, it doesn’t mean to say that he has abandoned his Christian values. For Christ’s sake, people, he goes to Church on Sundays”.

Despite their loyal support, some party faithful admit that this will cause a massive swing against the Liberals at the election.

A spokesperson for the Government suggests that Mr Abbott “Needs a double dose of confession”.

In a rare gesture of solidarity, Muslim clerics have united with Christians in condemning Mr Abbott’s ungodly behaviour, reminding our correspondent that he has a history of displaying disrespect for their religion too.

Tony Abbott is reported to have claimed that this has been a misunderstanding which he blamed on the carbon tax, but was unavailable for comment.

And on it goes.

Here’s a third article:

Thousands ready to take baseball bat to Tony Abbott

Australia’s best kept secret is out! Nobody likes Tony Abbott anymore. Twitter DavidW2035 summed up the mood of the electorate when he tweeted that Tony Abbott should be shaking in his boots because people from all walks of life were lining up to punish him for his sins.

Whilst DavidW2035 nominates a date sometime in 2050 as the moment of Mr Abbott’s reckoning, sources within the Government suggest that the date could actually be much earlier. Twitter has exploded with similar suggestions.

This is a massive blow to Mr Abbott’s electoral chances as he was hoping to shore up the redneck vote before Saturday’s election and an electoral wipeout is expected.

Mr Abbott has gone into hiding and it is believed that this was the reason behind his decision not to appear on QandA this week alongside the Prime Minister. When pointed out that this tweet appeared three days after Qand A was aired, this was vehemently disputed by several prominent Liberals. A spokesperson who claimed insider connections with the Liberal Party has said that Mr Abbott would be happy to appear on the show in 2051 if mentally and physically capable.

It is worrying to the party faithful that DavidW2035‘s tweet has hit a raw nerve with so many. One senior Minister bemoaned that: “We knew Tony would be screwing the country up good and proper and send it rocketing back to the 1950s but we never expected people would actually hold him responsible for it. For Christs sake, even women who should be at home ironing are marching in the streets. It’s like a witch hunt out there”.

Meanwhile, sporting good’s stores contacted by The AIMN confirm that they have sold out of baseball bats.

It is understood Tony Abbott complained that the reason he is so unpopular is because he couldn’t stop the carbon tax.

And on it goes.

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 50 total views

An Open Letter to Fairfax Media Limited

Image courtesy of abc.net.au

Image courtesy of abc.net.au

To whom it may concern,

A great deal has been said about the media in Australia of late, especially with regard to political coverage. Most of it has been necessarily and appropriately critical. Many Australians feel that the media has failed them and continues to do so. Not even the people’s ABC has been spared, and rightly so. Its coverage of the current election campaign has been little more than a failed social experiment in journalistic sloth. Essentially reblogging stories from other news outlets regarding polls conducted by those news outlets is hardly journalism. Nor is posting Twitter feeds in the place of actual analysis. But you, Fairfax, are not innocent in this or removed from the public’s critical glare. Fairfax News unashamedly joined the Julia Gillard lynch mob and cheered at the gallows. The negativity that the Gillard Government faced from the MSM, right across the board, was unrelenting. Your anti-Labor leanings have noticeably softened with her departure, but there is still a great deal of work to be done if any kind of balance is to be restored to the presentation of political information and opinion in this country. I presume you care about that.

You would be studiously aware, no doubt, that the main focus of the public’s criticism has been News Corp. The reasons for that are as obvious as the glaring and daring headlines, transparent and tenacious as they’ve been in driving the Murdoch agenda to seat Tony Abbott in the Lodge. It’s surely incontrovertible that the Murdoch press has fully embraced the philosophy and modus operandi of the Tabloid Press. Australia has been confronted for too long with the jaundiced jabbering of pseudo-journalists of the Gemma Jones ilk, who would be far more appropriately assigned to writing gossip columns. Mind you, the difference between that and what is presently being offered as news is one measured in yoctometres. That the Murdoch Media Machine has made this choice, taking some of Australia’s most respected print media outlets with it, is plain enough. What may not be so obvious is the potential benefit that exists for Fairfax in this betrayal of all things intellectually and morally credible.

The gleeful abandon with which the Murdoch Press has thrown off the shredded rags of any vestigial sense of journalistic integrity has been most unedifying. Aren’t there laws about disrobing in public? But whilst the journalists of News Limited indulge in their collective streak across the playing field of Australia’s media landscape, a task goes unattended. A void has been created in the news market in this country, as well as in the hearts and minds of politically engaged and concerned Aussies. That void is simply one of reasoned, objective journalism that does not ignore the code of professional ethics governing it, but instead takes pride, both professional and personal, in adhering to it with consistent authenticity. It is that of a media that does not attempt to obfuscate the difference or blur the line between journalism and commentary or opinion; a media that does not set out to manipulate the perspective or emotions of its readers when reporting news; a media that seeks to report news rather than be the news.

I put it to Fairfax News that they have an opportunity to take that market share and fill that commercial and emotional void. Yes, news is resource heavy and doesn’t attract the profits enjoyed by other facets of the media, but no price can be put on the status and pathos afforded a respected and trusted news service. I assert in the strongest possible terms that in what is commonly known as the Mainstream Media, no such news service exists. You only have to look at the social standing of journalists to know this is true. People simply no longer trust you. And that is nothing less than a cultural tragedy – one that we ignore at our peril.

The demand for real, balanced, ethical journalism is alive and well. Australians all over this land are crying out for it – into their beers and into their keyboards, or in some cases both things simultaneously. The market for it is genuine and not just something artificially generated by the ephemeral passion and pandemonium of an election campaign. The significant rise of alternative on-line information sources is testament to this fact. Rest assured that if the Coalition should prevail on September 7 much of the public is excruciatingly aware – and some of it dangerously and naively unaware – that the Murdoch media empire will not provide the sort of scrutiny of Government that the people of this Nation require and deserve. Current circumstances make that patently clear. Neither the Murdoch press nor the Coalition are going to look that particular gift horse of reciprocity in the mouth. If they did, the stench of the halitosis might well render them as catatonic as Tony Abbott in an awkward interview.

This is a defining moment, I believe, not only in Australia’s political history, but also in its media history. Fairfax has the opportunity to capture not only a specific share of this media market, but also a place deep in the spirit of average Australians. It’s an opportunity for Fairfax to reverse, or at least mitigate the trend of cynicism directed at Australia’s media with respect to news and political coverage in particular. This is not hubris, nor is it excess maudlinism. It’s real. The need is real. The demand for that need to be met is real. Can Fairfax enter that reality?

Now, you may feel you already have a place there, and it’s true that to some extent you do, but you must surely also appreciate that the larger market share for real news and real journalism is not a mere abstraction but something tangible and there for the taking. This particular market, made available by Murdoch’s deliberate and seemingly joyous relinquishment of it, doesn’t require capital investment; it requires intellectual and moral investment. All it takes for that market to be in your hands is to heed the calls of the people and to meet their demands for better quality political journalism. I believe Murdoch has handed this opportunity to you on a gold plated, solid silver platter. Even Bargain Hunt couldn’t put an estimate on its value.

You have before you the opportunity to be the news service that Australians trust uppermost. You have the opportunity to return the craft of journalism to a place of respect in our communities. Please don’t underestimate or dismiss the significance of the absence of that trust and respect in Australian society. It has been socially cancerous. Cynicism is cancerous. Who can the people trust? It seems not the politicians. Nor is it anymore those whose brief it is to cut through the jungle of Machiavellian Madness and give us some clear, unbiased and informed vision into that which effects our everyday lives. There was a time when journalists appeared to feel the moral weight of meaningfully and objectively informing the community. There is a certain sentimental yearning running through the Australian psyche right now with regard to that time. You can either tap into that sentiment and become culturally relevant, or you can strip off and let it all hang out with the cavorting clowns of the Murdoch Circus.

As far as I can tell, only one of those options comes at any real cost.

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Careless whispers nothing to dance about

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

whispers

Courier Mail Website

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 86 total views

Conduct unbecoming?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The policy of our publications across all platforms

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

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

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

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

1. Accuracy

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

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

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

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

1.5 Do not knowingly withhold or suppress essential facts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What decline? Here are the facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

We continue . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this was only Day 1 of the campaign!

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

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Murdoch hates Rudd: a reminder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author’s comment:

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

 123 total views

Haters want to hate

It’s clear Australian voters aren’t rational, but do they have to be so blatantly mindless as well? When I say voters, I’m currently referring in this context to the people recently polled by ReachTEL and whose responses contributed to this headline on News.com:

“Voters trust Opposition Leader Tony Abbott most to deliver NDIS, poll reveals”

I had to read this a couple of times before I believed what I was seeing. The figures in the article state that 57% of the poll’s respondents trust Tony Abbott to deliver the NDIS, more so than they trust Julia Gillard. Surely, even someone completely rusted onto the Liberal party, even Peta Credlin, even Gina Rinehart, even Rupert Murdoch, even Alan Jones, even Tony Abbott himself must see the inanity in this poll result. The NDIS is Labor’s policy. It was the work of Bill Shorten, and only with Julia Gillard’s support did it have any hope in hell in getting a name, let alone being successfully implemented. Tony Abbott supported Labor’s NDIS policy after many months of non-commitment, only after it became obvious that if he didn’t, he would be seen as the scrooge we all know him to be. But just because he supported it, does not mean he gives a crap about it. He never raised such a scheme as even an idea when he was in government for many years. And when the policy did finally pass the lower house, much to the joy of the Labor MPs who worked tirelessly to make it happen, Tony Abbott and his team weren’t even there to see it happen. Because they couldn’t bear to be seen celebrating a policy win by the Labor government. A Labor government policy. So on what far off planet do these voters live if they think Abbott would be the better person to deliver a policy that was designed and successfully passed through the Parliament by Gillard’s Labor government?

At this point I’m pretty much ready to say to Australian voters, wake the f*ck up. Could you really be so misinformed by the Murdoch, Fairfax and ABC press, so out of touch with the policy platforms of the two major parties, and so ready to hate everything Julia Gillard does, that even when her government successfully implements a policy of huge national significance, you give Abbott the credit?

Perhaps this isn’t just a sign of an electorate that is completely uninterested with the roles played by the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in delivering the landmark NDIS policy. Perhaps it’s a sign of just how disengaged ordinary voters are from, well, political reality.

I guess it’s these same voters who haven’t twigged that the Carbon Price is designed to save them and future generations of their family from the effects of climate change. It’s these same voters who refuse to equate Murdoch’s campaign to bring down the Gillard government with an agenda to destroy the NBN, a technology that puts his Foxtel profits at risk. It’s also these same voters who don’t understand that Gina Rinehart hates the Mining Tax not because she wants to make enough money to keep employing more workers, but because she doesn’t want to pay tax on her super profits. Because she wants to keep the money from the sale of Australia’s resources for herself. These voters are probably willing to support policies that they do understand, such as the Gonski school funding, but they’re still not willing to give Gillard the credit for designing and delivering such policies. Gillard is damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.

The other truly frustrating part of this whole messed up situation is that Abbott supporters never have anything nice to say about Abbott. They only have bile to spew at Gillard. Ad astra is right, propaganda directed at the Gillard government is spreading hatred throughout the electorate. This hatred is making the electorate crazy. Here’s a challenge for any Abbott supporters who come across this post and decide to make a comment. Please tell us why you support Abbott, without mentioning Labor or Gillard. I dare you.

 

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 54 total views

Savings, savings, savings

“Human beings cannot comprehend very large or very small numbers. It would be useful for us to acknowledge that fact.” Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize-winning psychologist.

Numbers have always fascinated me. Or rather, I’ve always been fascinated by people’s inability to understand them. If that sounds arrogant and as though I seem to think I’m better than everyone else, so be it. That seems to be a way of making oneself popular these days. For the past few years, the Liberal Party have been saying that they’re just so awesome and that the current government is just a pack of losers, and that they should be government and that they were robbed. Strangely, if they were the team that lost a Grand Final nobody would be impressed by their behaviour, but in politics, it seems to be a way to win people’s hearts and minds.

But I digress. Numbers. Really big ones. Like the budget deficit. It’s really, really big. It’s scarily big. Until you break it down. Then it just becomes mildly scary. Or as one News Limited paper told us last week, the total interest on the Government’s deficit with cost every working Australian about $5 a week. Or $250 a year. Mm, that’s about a day’s wage for some people, an hour’s wage for others, and if Gina gets her way, a year’s wage for anyone in her employ.

Of course, the figure that fascinates me today is the $75,000,000,000 dollars of savings the Liberals have identified over the next five years. That’s a lot. But the first thing that they’ll do, of course, is add to the bureaucracy. From the Liberal Website:

Commission of Audit For the 1st time in 16 years, we’ll immediately establish a Commission of Audit – to identify savings and efficiencies in all areas of government so we can start delivering real and sustainable budget surpluses into the future.

Mm! So they’ll spend money working out how to save money. Or to look at it another way, they’ll create a new bureaucracy that’ll work out how to get rid of the other bureaucracies.

Perhaps, the Liberal slogan could be: We guarantee that we’ll take more off you in tax than we’ll give back in services, because that’s what a surplus means!

Or

Over the past forty years, Labor have given you Medicare (bank), Superannuation, the NBN, the NDIS, and next they’re trying to implement Gonski. Compare that to our proudest achievement: the GST! And we promise we won’t put that up in our FIRST term of Government.

Or (to break down a really big number).

Over the next five years, we promise to take $15,000 off every Australian! Sorry, we promise to save $75 billion.

 

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What I’m told by the Canberra press gallery

Recently the Canberra press gallery has attracted some criticism for reporting stories which consist of nothing but quotes from unnamed sources. But surely the events of yesterday vindicate them completely.

Without these sources, nobody would have been aware of the likelihood of the Leadership spill. Then the public would have been shocked to discover that Gillard declared all positions open. In fact, the public may not have even known that an election for the Labor leadership had been held. Or rather, not held, because of the fact that nobody else stood.

Now that the principle of quoting from unnamed sources has been established as a legitimate way of reporting what’s happening, I feel quite comfortable in reporting the following:

  • A media executive told me that there would be a merger between Fairfax and News Limited called “FairFox”, which will run a campaign supporting Tony’s right to “No”.
  • A senior public servant confirmed that they were ordered to make summer hotter this year to justify the Carbon Tax.
  • A Liberal source confirmed that at least two of their current front bench have died, but the media haven’t noticed yet, so they figured it was best not to point it out.
  • An unnamed environment group told me that they have evidence that there is a Liberal plan to turn brown coal into food.
  • A scientist told me that there are things on Television that are controlling our brains and compelling us to change our behaviour. He referred to them as “ads”.
  • A reporter told me that they have been forbidden from asking Abbott specific questions on “Downton Abbey” because it might demonstrate that his claim that he enjoys watching it is a lie.
  • A Rudd supporter assured me that there would be a challenge today once all the Gillard supporters have gone home.

I can’t verify all of these. Neither can I tell you who said them. But I figured it was my obligation to let you know, because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t!

 

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Vote ‘Yes’ for the News Media (Self-Regulation) Bill

As you are no doubt aware, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wants his News Media (Self-Regulation) Bill 2013 passed by both houses of parliament by Thursday – the last sitting day before the May 14 budget. While the Coalition opposes the package of six bills, Labor is in talks with the Australian Greens and independent MPs to get it through the lower house. Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie has expressed concern about the freedom of the press and there was no change in his public stance after he met Senator Conroy. Mr Wilkie appears not to have much of a grasp on the legislation. If he refers to the Second Reading Speech he might recognise that the Public Interest Test does not suggest that the freedom of the press will be restricted. Do his fellow parliamentarians share his ignorance?

To the undecided MPs I might suggest you listen to Barry Tucker as to why we need this Bill passed (whether you understand it or not). After the disgraceful attempt to compare Senator Conroy with history’s most despised despots, Barry wrote:

The audacity! The hypocrisy! Shame! The Daily Telegraph’s front page protest linked federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to some of history’s hideous dictators.

Bit over the top, don’t you think?

All because the minister introduced some new Bills to mildly beef up the existing news media complaint procedures. Oh, and some independent review of ownership, or “diversity”, via a “public interest advocate”.

There’s the real rub. Independent overseers are only as “independent” as the government that appoints them — which means “not”. In my opinion, a very dangerous move in the case of media ownership.

In other corners of the community the minister has been criticised for pussy footing on the news media regulation, for giving politicians too little notice, for lack of sufficient discussion beforehand, for imposing a “no bargaining” deal — take it or leave it — and for insisting on a deadline. It does sound dictatorial, for such pathetically weak legislation.

In the UK, where News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch is fighting to save his business interests, it’s worse. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has shut down debate on news media regulation. He will introduce his own measures — by regulation — an amendment to a Royal Charter.

Some say he’s letting Rupert off the hook. It’s no secret that Rupert is universally despised as a muck raker following revelations of the ‘phone hacking scandal in the UK — and fears that the same thing is happening elsewhere in his empire.

It’s also spreading to other organisations, with two journalists and two former journalists of The Mirror group being arrested two days ago.

In Australia, News Limited CEO Kim Williams AO accused the minister of attempting to stifle Press freedoms. What really worries him is the Bills, if they become Acts, will hamper his boss’s plans to expand his already suffocating news media empire in Australia.

News Ltd boss attacks ‘Soviet-style’ media reforms

Mr Williams’ address was also reported in full in News Limited papers and on Michael Smith’s website.

Why wouldn’t any reasonably civilised community want regulation to prevent what was happening in the UK (tapping the ‘phones of murder victims, bribing police, politicians and military personnel) and regulate rubbish newspapers like the one above?

Veteran political journalist and ABC Insiders presenter Barrie Cassidy discussed the irony, or the hypocrisy, of Mr Williams’ bleatings with the ABC News24 Breakfast presenters. Mr Cassidy said Mr Williams had called for a public revolt.

I call for a much more severe limitation of the ownership of all newspaper, radio and TV media, in line with some other leading Western countries, and for tougher legislation to enshrine the public ownership and the impartiality of the ABC.

Australia has the most constipated news media ownership (apart from that controlled by a real dictatorship) and our democracy is paying the price for that. The politicians have allowed this to happen and it’s up to them to fix it properly and permanently with some appropriately stiff legislation. If they don’t they’ll pay the price because Social Media and the Fifth Estate is building up a head of steam and already has some victories in its belt.

It’s my bet digital media will be severely regulated long before print media.

Catch up with Mr Cassidy’s comments on the ABC’s YouTube channel

You’d agree that Barry raises far better reasons why we need those laws than the arguments raised by those who oppose it. Barry raises honesty and integrity, whereas the media empire’s argument is clearly based on power and money.

We, the people, want them stripped of that power. We really on you to represent the voice of ordinary Australians.

To everybody else, we can do our bit to get in the ear of the MPs who hold the balance. Tell them what you think. Tell them you support this Bill and the reasons why. Here’s where you can contact them (again, thanks to Barry):

Adam Bandt Twitter @adambandt

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/Adam.Bandt.MP

email adam.bandt.mp@aph.gov.au

Canberra (02) 6277 4775

FAX ACT (02) 6277 8583

Rob Oakeshott Twitter @OakeyMP

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Oakeshott/1415774696

email http://www.aph.gov.au/R_Oakeshott_MP

Canberra (02) 6277 4052

FAX: (02) 6277 8403

Andrew Wilkie Twitter @WilkieMP

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/andrewwilkiemp

Canberra (02) 6277 4766

FAX: (02) 6277 8579

Tony Windsor Twitter @TonyWindsorMP

emails www.aph.gov.au/T_Windsor_MP |

Tony.Windsor.MP@aph.gov.au

Canberra (02) 6277 4722

FAX: (02) 6277 8545

Craig Thomson @DobellThommo

No Facebook

Website http://www.aph.gov.au/C_Thomson_MP

no email !!!

Canberra (02) 6277 4460

FAX: (02) 6277 2123

Warren Truss

Personal website http://www.warrentruss.com/

PARTY website http://www.nationals.org.au/

Canberra (02) 6277 4482

FAX: (02) 6277 8569

Senator Barnaby Joyce

Email senator.joyce@aph.gov.au

Personal website http://www.barnabyjoyce.com.au/

Canberra (02) 6277 3244

FAX: (02) 6277 3246

Bob Katter @RealBobKatter

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/bobkattermp

email Bob.Katter.MP@aph.gov.au

Personal website http://www.bobkatter.com.au/

Party website http://www.ausparty.org.au/

Canberra (02) 6277 4978

FAX: (02) 6277 8558

Darren Chester

Canberra (02) 6277 4029

Fax: (02) 6277 8402

George Christensen

Twitter @GChristensenMP

Canberra (02) 6277 4538

Fax: (02) 6277 8508

John Cobb

email John.Cobb.MP@aph.gov.au

Canberra (02) 6277 4721

Fax: (02) 6277 8543

John Forrest

email J.Forrest.MP@aph.gov.au

website http://www.jforrest.com/

Canberra (02) 6277 4550

Fax: (02) 6277 8532

Luke Hartsuyker

email Luke.Hartsuyker.MP@aph.gov.au

website http://www.lukehartsuyker.com.au/

Canberra (02) 6277 4447

Fax: (02) 6277 8410

Michael MCormack

Twitter @M_McCormackMP

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-McCormack/100002102184276

Website http://www.michaelmccormack.com.au/

Canberra (02) 6277 4725

Fax: (02) 6277 8563

Mark Coulton

email Mark.Coulton.MP@aph.gov.au

Personal website http://www.markcoulton.com.au/

Canberra (02) 6277 4607

Fax: (02) 6277 8504

Paul Neville

email P.Neville.MP@aph.gov.au

Canberra (02) 6277 4940

Fax: (02) 6277 8559

Ken O’Dowd

Personal website http://www.kenodowd.com.au/

Canberra (02) 6277 4380

Fax: (02) 6277 8495

Bruce Scott

email Bruce.Scott.MP@aph.gov.au

Personal website http://www.maranoa.info/

Canberra (02) 6277 4949

Fax: (02) 6277 8421

Peter Slipper

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/PeterSlipperMP

email Peter.Slipper.MP@aph.gov.au

Website http://www.peterslippermp.com.au/

Canberra (02) 6277 4490

FAX: (02) 6277 8405

Tony Crook

email http://www.tonycrook.com.au/contact.aspx

Kalgoorlie Office

Phone (08) 9021 1241

Mobile 1300 772 061

FAX (08) 9021 1506

 

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