Posts Tagged Australian Labor Party
Part II of my comments on the Gina Rinehart saga, this time focussing on press freedom. The first one, focusing on her as a female business leader, can be found HERE.
GINA RINEHART has bought 20% of the shares of Fairfax and is demanding three seats on the board. Listening to the way some people are talking about this, you could not be blamed for thinking that press freedom is over in Australia. To refute that claim, I would first like to juxtapose the following. First, a quote from our esteemed Foreign Minister Bob Carr and one of his colleagues in the Senate:
“We’re not being coy or raising this in the abstract — it’s about whether it’s in the public interest for a change of control to occur at Fairfax,” [Greens] Senator [Scott] Ludlam said. … “People seem to be frozen in the headlights,” he said. “I think it’s important we take action rather than wring our hands and let the market take it where it will.”
His comments came as Foreign Minister Bob Carr entered the media ownership debate, warning that a Rinehart takeover of Fairfax would “degrade” the quality of the publisher’s mastheads.
“I think Australians would be entitled to be very, very concerned. I think it would be impossible to separate her position as a controlling influence on the board, if it comes to that, a controlling influence, from the way the paper behaves,” he said. ”The independence of Fairfax, which has been its glory, its boast, its pride, would be diminished.”
Second, something that a Pakistani journalist wrote a year ago (read the full story, it’s very good):
WE have buried another journalist. Syed Saleem Shahzad, an investigative reporter for Asia Times Online, has paid the ultimate price for telling truths that the authorities didn’t want people to hear. He disappeared a few days after writing an article alleging that Al Qaeda elements had penetrated Pakistan’s navy and that a military crackdown on them had precipitated the May 22 terrorist attack on a Karachi naval base. His death has left Pakistani journalists shaken and filled with despair.
And third, a news report from earlier in the week:
An Iranian journalist who advocates ties between Israelis and Kurds has been missing for 11 days, NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Wednesday, expressing concern for his safety.
“We fear the worst and we urge the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government’s authorities to do everything possible to find Mawlud Afand,” the group said. “And we therefore call for an immediate investigation into this journalist’s disappearance.”
NOW I would like to take a second to ruminate on the freedom of the press. The freedom to express any view is possibly the most important aspect of any democracy. Without the ability to make an informed choice based on accurate information, “democracy” is meaningless – you can vote, but you have no idea who or what you are voting for. The press play a vital role in scrutinising the government and reporting on its activities to the general population, as well as conveying the discussion and debate surrounding ideas in public life.
There are, however, some justifiable limits to free expression. For example, it is illegal to say or do something that encourages another person to commit a criminal act. Preserving the “glory” of a media company that is about to go insolvent, however, is not a justifiable reason to begin limiting the freedom of expression.
Fairfax is going out of business. That is extremely important and seems to have been entirely ignored by the ALP and the Greens. At the current rate, there will be no more fairfax in a decade. When people express concern at Rinehart’s control of Fairfax, they really only care about the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald. The lamentations for our society’s debate are coming from a particular kind of inner-city elite that doesn’t generally listen to Fairfax radio (or anything that’s not the ABC) and certainly does not read any of its rural papers.
The Age and the Herald are not making any money. They have lost their revenue from classified ads and have suddenly discovered that no one actually wants to pay for their articles. They are now going to tabloid format and anticipating being phased-out completely, as well as firing all their senior editorial staff and cutting 1,900 other staff members – and that’s without Rinehart. Why is that? I think the Australian said it best:
The myopia that predominates at Fairfax has seen its broadsheets cater, almost exclusively, to a conclave of left-leaning professionals, public servants and activists situated in inner-city Sydney and Melbourne. Rarely do they report on the shift of economic power to the north and the west of the country. They do not understand the mining boom and ridicule the idea of workers from the states in which they publish chasing the opportunity to work in the most dynamic area of the economy. Their reporting of Aboriginal Australia is confined to Redfern or St Kilda rather than exploring the important stories that can be found across the continent. Too often they focus on inner-city anti-development protests rather than life in the sprawling suburbs where most people live. A cafe opening in Western Sydney that serves “good coffee” is considered a novelty. They editorialise in favour of the latest fads and praise the Greens, who, the Herald argued, had inherited the “mantle of leadership in progressive politics”. Both papers usually champion negativity, embrace a culture of complaint, oppose economic progress and push the limits of social reform. They have missed most of the major political stories in recent years, such as the discontent over the resource super-profits tax or the lead-up to the coup that felled Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership.
Simply put, Fairfax in its current form is not a viable business and it has to radically transform or perish.
RINEHART, HOWEVER, has spent somewhere in the region of $200mln on Fairfax shares. That, to Fairfax, was a sorely needed cash injection. Fairfax shares have dropped from over $5 in 2007 to around $0.60 today, who knows where they would be without Rinehart? She bought the company valuable time and could potentially have kept it afloat.
Think about that. Fairfax’s metropolitan papers’ current editorial policy is beloved by the kinds of people currently in power (left-leaning, highly educated, wealthy, inner-city elites) but not popular enough amongst Australians in general for them to actually buy any papers. Rinehart is investing heavily in this company and would therefore benefit from the company becoming profitable and would have a duty to prevent the company from going insolvent. She is being asked to commit to having no say over the editorial policy whatsoever. That seems absurd.
It is natural that a person who holds 20% of a company should have some representation on the board – after all, the company’s success is her interest. Fairfax’s main product is determined by its editorial policy, so the board should have a say in what that is and how it is produced. No company directors could sit by and watch their company continue to produce a highly unprofitable product – this is actually a breach of their duty as company directors. They have a right, and indeed a duty, to prevent this.
WHICH LEADS me to another point: Rinehart has a multi-billion dollar mining company to run, she’s not exactly going to be spending her days in the Herald newsroom commissioning articles and reprimanding disobedient journalists. I also very much doubt that she will be going through each edition before it goes to print and vetting every article. The actual degree of editorial control she can/will exercise is highly questionable, especially as certain columnists, editors and correspondents are strongly entrenched in Fairfax and are key selling-points. I very much doubt that the Fairfax opinion writers can effectively be “silenced” by Rinehart – more likely, they would jump ship.
Therein lies the most important point, which is also worth putting in bold: no one is being forced to buy Fairfax papers. Who cares if they become glorified mouthpieces for Hancock Prospecting? The audience will move on. From where I sit, there is no shortage of aspiring journalists or new media outlets. The media is probably less monopolised now than it has ever been before.
If the Age and the Herald go the way that the ALP/Greens are predicting, their current writers and editors will find work elsewhere and their audience will follow. The Fairfax papers would never be able to compete with the News Ltd papers in the right-wing tabloid market, so they would become completely unviable and would probably be shut down.
THE REAL threat to freedom of the press comes not from Gina Rinehart. As a result of the Rinehart bid, both the Greens and the ALP are advocating some kind of “fit and proper person” test to be implemented for someone to control a media company. Essentially, they are making it illegal for Rinehart to control Fairfax because they don’t like her views.
That is blatant government censorship. Who the hell gave Stephen Conroy the right to choose who can and cannot own press outlets? The people who can decide whether or not Gina Rinehart’s views are worth listening to are those who opt to buy her papers, not our elected representatives. It’s not exactly like having some influence over Fairfax would be tantamount to a media monopoly, there are still plenty of outlets out there to vilify Rinehart (the ABC is going nowhere, so we can hear about how fat, ugly and greedy she is for the next decade).
This is complete government overreach. This is an open assault on our democracy. This is putting into place a system whereby the government can prevent anyone who disagrees with them from having a podium to express their discontent. The problem in Pakistan and Iraq is not that the “wrong” people own the media, it’s that the government is intervening to prevent people from expressing anti-government views. Sure, this legislation is not the same as journalists disappearing and turning-up dead, but it is symptomatic of the same kind of thinking: that “we are unpopular, but we are right and we are in power, so we can stop them from talking because they’re wrong”.
That is extremely dangerous. Australians need to wake up and see where the real threat is.
#auspol, ALP, Australia, Australian Labor Party, Australian politics, Bob Carr, champagne socialists, free speech, freedom of expression, Gina Rinehart, Greens, inner-city elites, latte-sippers, politics, press freedom, Scott Ludlam, senate greens, Umar Cheema
I finally got round to reading the controversial “anti-billionaire” essay by Australian treasurer Wayne Swan in The Monthly. There were some connotations there that seemed uncomfortably familiar. Something about the language he was using really made me concerned.
In the last couple of years, Australia has seen the emergence of our own distributional coalitions willing to use their considerable wealth to oppose good public policy and economic reforms designed to benefit the majority. The combination of industry deep pockets, conservative political support, biased editorial policy and shock-jock ranting has been mobilised in an attempt to protect vested interest. It’s reflected in how the Coalition under Tony Abbott has recently radicalised itself into an Australian version of the Tea Party, more than willing to kneecap Australia’s three-decade reform project for cheap political points.
There are many Australians of great wealth who make important and considered contributions to the national debate. I always welcome that involvement in the discussion of public policy whether I agree with them or not. What characterises the vested interests that I’m concerned about is how they misrepresent their self-interest as the national interest. There has been a perceptible shift in this country in recent years, and it is sadly very much in the American direction of stronger and stronger influence being wielded by a smaller and smaller minority of vested interests. Crucially, much of our media seems more and more inclined to accept that growing influence.
… The latest example of this is the foray by Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, into Fairfax Media, reportedly in an attempt to wield greater influence on public opinion and further her commercial interests at a time when the overwhelming economic consensus is that it’s critical to use the economic weight of the resources boom to strengthen the entire economy. Without a blush, her friend and fellow media owner John Singleton let the cat out of the bag when he told the Sydney Morning Herald that he and Rinehart had been “able to overtly and covertly attack governments … because we have people employed by us like Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones and Ray Hadley who agree with [our] thinking”.
I fear Australia’s extraordinary success has never been in more jeopardy than right now because of the rising power of vested interests. This poison has infected our politics and is seeping into our economy. Though these vested interests have not yet prevailed, every day their demands get louder.
… Instead of capitulating to the demands of the vested interests, and allowing the benefits to amass disproportionately to them, we have a chance to bend the extraordinary shift in the global economy from West to East to the advantage of all Australians. This is neither the fierce pro-market capitalism that got us into a global financial fix, nor is it anti-market socialist ideology. It’s simply the best way to keep growing Australia’s economic pie so ultimately we all end up better off. Ensuring the social contract does not erode is vital if we want to avoid a hollowed-out capitalism assured of its own collapse.
Then it clicked.
Wilhelm Marr, founder of the League of Antisemites, in Victory of Judaism over Germanism, 1879:
Highly gifted, with great flair for activities like these, the Jews dominated retail and wholesale trade as early as the Middle Ages and outwitted the hard working common folk.
The common people realized that their own sense of ethics was not shared by the Jews, because these, rather than striving for emancipation preferred to accumulate wealth.
… The same goal, disintegration of the Germanic state for the benefit of Jewish interests, is consistently pursued everywhere.
The daily press is predominantly in Jewish hands, which have transformed journalism into an object of speculation and industrial production, into a business with public opinion; critique of theater, of art in general — is to three quarters in the hands of Jews. Writing about politics and even religion is — in Jewish hands.
… After Jewish hustle and bustle had reduced journalism to a trivial but commercially successful enterprise directed at the mob’s liking of gossip and scandal, it had found the largest possible audience for its attempts at Judaizing. Centuries of a factual predominance of Jewish realism had done its preparatory work. Jewry dictated public opinion in the press.
…And in Germany, who carried off the prize of raw, material advantage? Jewry, represented by a handful of Jewish bankers; Semitic brokers. We Germans got the abstract, imaginary result — to be “Friends of the Reich”, to console us with the “Reich of dreams”.
… Starting from modest beginnings, [this Semitic people] outgrew you, it corrupted society in all of its aspects, squeezed all idealism out of it, occupies the most controlling influence in trade and daily life, penetrates ever more into public office, controls the theater, forms a social-political front and has left almost nothing for you, except raw labor which it itself has always shunned; it has tranformed talent into shiny virtuosity, pimpish advertising into the godess of public opinion and — rules you today.
… In our parliaments, where the topic of usury is paraded about as of burning importance, one can as usual, only hear — twaddle. The dogma of “individual freedom”, which really stands for the impertinence and gall of the most unbridled avarice, has become such a basic tenet of society, that our valiant representatives — what a despicable picture they offer — attempt to make an omelette without breaking the egg. Why! One might also have to curb the unbridled manipulations of big industry and of big capital and this is the reason why the question of usury remains without practical response and does not advance beyond theoretical resolutions.
The doctrinarism of our Judaized society is an aid in getting around the cliff of usury. The impoverished members of every layer of our society remain victims of usury and of its corrupted German helpers, who with the help of Jews would love to make 20 — 30% per month from the hardship and misery of the poor!
Note: I am very aware that Swan did not mention Jews or Israel anywhere and his essay is not remotely antisemitic. I am in no way equating him with the architect of Nazi-style antisemitism!
What I am doing is illustrating that his style of rhetoric and the specific accusations that he is levelling at Reinhart et al are polemical, conspiratorial and reminiscent of some extremely dangerous ideas from an earlier era.
#justsaying, ALP, anti-Semitism, antisemitism, Australian Labor Party, conspiracy theories, economic consensus, Germandom, Germany, hate media, Jewry, Judaisation, Judsiam, League of Antisemites, politics, The Monthly essay, Wayne Swan
What’s this all about?
Major Karnage is a young professional based in Sydney, Australia. He may or may not be a part of some conspiracy controlling your media, depending entirely on how inclined you are to believe those kinds of things.
This is a guide to politics, culture, fashion, music, technology, mixed martial arts, TV and whatever the hell else he finds interesting.
But mostly Middle East politics, let's be honest. Maybe a little religion/Jewish identity mixed in there.
Note: Major Karnage loves feedback. If you have any comments, you can add them to the bottom of the page (but follow the "comments policy" above) or email them:
Search This Blog
- Public official makes precedented announcement wp.me/p1hgM0-wC 1 week ago
- Wow, perfect weather to sit and watch Fox News all day #FairAndBalanced 2 months ago
- Boston Bombings: looks like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were homegrown terrorists majorkarnage.net/2013/04/19/bos… #Boston #Watertown #Terrorists 2 months ago
- Boston Bombings: looks like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were homegrown terrorists wp.me/p1hgM0-wp 2 months ago
- Boston Bombing: Alan Jones was right!!! wp.me/p1hgM0-wh 2 months ago
- Roger Ebert, the Walking Dead, and the decline and fall of Fairfax Media wp.me/p1hgM0-w9 2 months ago
- Gawker blogger gawks at high school teen's humour wp.me/p1hgM0-w7 2 months ago
- How the 'Kashrut Racket' drives Jews away from practicing Judaism wp.me/p1hgM0-vW 2 months ago
- Reshuffling the gargantuan cabinet wp.me/p1hgM0-vT 2 months ago
- Five reasons why everything you have heard about the Israeli election results is wrong wp.me/p1hgM0-vK 4 months ago
What’s In My Head?ALP anti-Semitism antisemitism Australia Australian politics BDS current-events democracy economics Egypt facebook feminism Foreign Policy free speech Gaza Greens Hamas human rights Iran Islam Islamism Israel Jews Labor Libya Mahmoud Abbas media Middle East Muslim Brotherhood Palestinian Authority Palestinians peace process politics racism religion settlements Syria terror terrorism twitter UN US West Bank women Zionism
Most Recent Posting
- Public official makes precedented announcement
- Boston Bombings: looks like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were homegrown terrorists
- Boston Bombing: Alan Jones was right!!!
- Roger Ebert, the Walking Dead, and the decline and fall of Fairfax Media
- Gawker blogger gawks at high school teen’s humour
- How the ‘Kashrut Racket’ drives Jews away from practicing Judaism
- Reshuffling the gargantuan cabinet
- Five reasons why everything you have heard about the Israeli election results is wrong
- Is Christmas offensive? A non-Christian perspective
- June 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
Top Posts & Pages
- Why books are dying (and it's not just the Kindle)
- Roger Ebert, the Walking Dead, and the decline and fall of Fairfax Media
- Syria's style icon First Lady is killing it
- How the 'Kashrut Racket' drives Jews away from practicing Judaism
- Song of the week: Mashrou' Leila - 3ubwa
- Why I care about fashion and so should you
- Gay rights, the Israeli military, "pinkwashing" and a photo-gaffe
- Gina Rinehart and how self-styled "progressives" are keeping the boardroom male