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The most important vote in a lifetime

March 15, 2013

By Barry Tucker                    15 March, 2013

I believe Australians are facing the most important national election of their lives.

I cannot recall a time when the outcome of a national vote was so vital for the nation’s future. That may seem to be an unwarranted suggestion. There does not appear to be any obvious crisis confronting the nation. But that is the very reason why September’s election is so critical. The reason that the populace at large may not be aware of an impending crisis is the same as the cause of the crisis: the behaviour of the mainstream news media (MNM).

In a nutshell, the news media has criticised the federal Labor government almost to the point of death, while virtually ignoring the reckless negative, lie/fear/smear campaign of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Why? The News Ltd controlled news media wants the business agenda of News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch implemented, including the destruction of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the National Broadband Network (NBN), although, to be fair, they haven’t admitted it – they just ceaselessly campaign on those matters and others.

As for the rest of the MNM, they have picked up on the fact that the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is not popular with voters because she rolled the tyrant Kevin Rudd, is a woman, has red hair, is an atheist, lives with her hairdresser boyfriend in The Lodge, has chosen not to have children, changed her mind about carbon tax in order to deliver a government (thank you), was a lawyer, sort of talks funny, called Mr Abbott a misogynist, wears jackets and now, god forbid, wears glasses (“because they help me see better”). It’s nothing substantive, just a vicious circle that feeds on itself.

As things stand the question of more or less news media control is not an issue that will be among those decided by the national election on 14 September this year. The Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, is in the process of ramming weak legislation through parliament as I write this. It’s not the legislation the country hoped for in the wake of the News Corp ‘phone hacking scandal in the UK, which saw the death of the News of the World, the arrest of numerous people and, in this country, the Finkelstein Inquiry and the Convergence Review. Nonetheless, the news media cries foul.

To be more accurate, one segment of the Australian news media, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, controller of some 70% of newspapers, plus part ownership of Newspoll, AAP, Foxtel, Ch10 and much more, is howling in protest.

DailyTele

The reaction of News Limited’s executives and front pages has been extraordinary and unwarranted, with objections being passed off as “Oh, that’s just typical tabloid journalism.” Well, no, it isn’t. It’s overdone to an outrageous degree and ultimately pointless – but still damaging. Ironically, the damage done is to News Limited itself because anyone with any sense is long past taking seriously any of its newspapers, least of all The Daily Telegraph.

No news medium likes the idea of any form of control and always howls “Freedom of the Press” at any suggestion of further regulation. It’s weird that the MNM has the solution to regulation in its hands, but doesn’t use it. That solution is the Code of Ethics – a set of 10 or so guidelines that are fairly common around the world.

The Code of Ethics is a powerful tool, when properly understood and utilised. If I want to, I can wield enormous political or social power by rigorously applying the Code. By reporting fairly and objectively, by conducting myself in an honest way, I guarantee I can bring any miscreant politician to their knees. I am not sure I can do it as quickly as another reporter or medium running a biased smear campaign.

Let’s shift focus for a moment. The Liberal National Party (LNP) Opposition has been criticised by the government, the Left-wing in Social Media and the Fifth Estate for not releasing policies. They are wrong. The Liberal Party and the National Party have announced policies. In the case of the Liberals, not in as much detail as voters would like. The Liberal response is that fleshing out can’t be done before Budget information is available, and that’s quite reasonable. In this country, Opposition parties do not release policies well in advance of polling day so any criticism on that score is unwarranted.

The federal government has released and enacted policies and regulations, hundreds of them, and for the most part they have been passed without serious opposition. That’s quite an achievement for a hung parliament that, according to Mr Abbott, “… would find it difficult to function …”, or words to that effect. Or, alternatively, Mr Abbott’s view on this is just another example of his tendency to be negative and destructive.

Which brings me to Mr Abbott. I have written about him before, many times, and I am sick to death of the creature. He has worked as a volunteer teacher in remote Aboriginal communities (and tonight released a policy on Aboriginal assistance which I’ve yet to study but sounded promising). He raises money for breast cancer research in his Pollie Pedal project. He’s not a misogynist, merely an old-fashioned Catholic. Apart from that, I cannot find anything good or nice to write about him. A recent 60 Minutes (Ch9) program focussed on whether or not Mr Abbott was a changed man. Voting on 60 Minutes’ Facebook page on the question: Has Mr Abbott changed? attracted 5,000 votes, with a 39% Yes, 61% No result. You may not know about that poll and for that you can thank the biased MNM, which is not in the least interested in any negative view of Mr Abbott.

Mr Abbott has not changed because he is running precisely to the schedule he outlined after the last federal election. He planned to bring the government undone as quickly as possible, believing it would collapse under pressure. The next phase was to be “the policies of the nice Mr Abbott stage”, which is what we are seeing now. Strictly according to plan, no change. Mr Abbott needs to be seen as someone who has changed and is the stuff women dream about because he is, in fact, a modern woman’s nightmare. It’s that old-fashioned Catholic thing again and plenty has been written about Mr Abbott and his attitude towards women, their bodily functions and their role in the world. To his credit, he plans to introduce the most generous paid maternity leave scheme this country has ever seen, but I’m not sure this country’s employers can afford it. If they protest loudly enough, it won’t happen.

Mr Abbott has announced that, if elected, he will abolish the “carbon tax” (carbon price mechanism, to become a carbon trading scheme) because of its disastrous effect on business, the cost of living and jobs. Business is not demanding its removal, electricity consumers are compensated and recent new job figures are the highest in 12 years. He will “Stop the boats”, regardless of Australia’s obligations to the UN refugee policy. No one and no existing policy or practice will stop the boats. Dealing with the causes of refugees fleeing their homeland could work, but that doesn’t seem to appeal to politicians.

Mr Abbott’s Coalition government will also get the Australian economy back on track and produce a surplus. He hasn’t said exactly how he will get the economy that is the envy of the civilised world back on the rails. That will be something to see. As for the prize of a surplus – everyone else is over it.

There might be more in the way of Liberal policies after the May Budget has been analysed and there’s some idea of what’s in the piggy bank. In the meantime I strongly recommend that you read through the list of 75 things the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has in mind for the re-shaping of Australian society.

IPA invitation

Note the security precautions: RSVP, photo ID and entrée card required.

The IPA is one of the founders of the original Liberal Party; its key executives, past and present, and many of its “fellows” (researchers and advocates) are Liberal Party members.

After checking out the IPA’s hit list, if you still have the stomach for it, run a Google search on neoliberalism and neoconservatism. Put it all together and you will have a good idea of the sort of government and social change that Mr Abbott will bring about. He will bring it about because there will be nothing to stop him – our erstwhile vigilant news media having sold its soul to the devil.

Montage creation by Lachlan John McKenzie

Montage creation by Lachlan John McKenzie

On the question of policy, I think the Australian Labor Party needs to put more thought into what it’s doing and where it’s going. I don’t remember voting for the hundreds of things that have been introduced since the last poll. I don’t remember voting for the re-introduction of the Howard government’s so-called Pacific solution to handle refugees – although formulating that policy was outsourced to an independent committee, which I see as a failure of government.

So, will you vote for Mr Abbott or the status quo? I’d go with the status quo. I prefer another so-called “hung” parliament because it has been quite effective and, apart from poker machine reform, it has done a reasonable job of sharing policy and power. If the new Democrats, Katter’s Australian Party, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, Australian Independents, the Greens and numerous Independents field the number of candidates they expect to, another hung parliament is a possibility.

In any case, unless you want to be treated like an honorary Catholic, I would recommend that you don’t vote for Mr Abbott.

Abbott eyes the Press Gallery

Mr Abbott plays to the Press Gallery

What did Tony Abbott say at the IPA dinner? Read the text of his address on Australians for Honest Politics http://bit.ly/10H44Ct

FOOTNOTE: In an article on the ABC’s The Drum Opinion titled “A sneak preview of the savage cuts to come” Jim Chalmers, executive director of the Chifley Research Centre, detailed who and what would be hit by IPA recommendations to save $23.5 billion.

Mr Chalmers referred to this article in The Weekend Australian, which listed Budget cuts, some of which the IPA has discussed with Liberal politicians and will recommend to an incoming Liberal government.

The Weekend Australian article by Adam Creighton was based on this paper by IPA’S director of deregulation,  Alan Moran. The story quoted Mr Moran as saying:

“We’ve highlighted areas for cutting that should be ‘no-brainers’, ones that demonstrably detract from social value by distorting the economy, duplicating State functions and diverting resources from more productive sectors.”

The Catallaxy Files (“Australia’s leading libertarian and centre-right blog”) linked to Mr Moran’s paper (a non-copyable .pdf that you can download) and published 24 responses below it.

In his article on The Drum Opinion, Mr Chalmers wrote:

“These [cuts] include cancelling the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, abolishing Fair Work and Safe Work Australia, almost halving the general research budget, cancelling all Commonwealth housing programs, eliminating foreign aid and the Human Rights Commission, slashing 23,500 public service jobs, abolishing agriculture, forestry and fisheries programs and privatising the ABC and SBS.

“No wonder shadow finance minister Andrew Robb keeps telling us the Coalition have all their policies ready to go yet they’re not outlining them until much closer to an election. The IPA’s cuts will stay in the top drawer until five minutes to midnight. But we now know they’re there.

“We also know from experience under [Premier] Campbell Newman, in my home State of Queensland, that the well-thumbed Liberal party playbook is to promise the world before an election then hack into jobs and services after the election, ideally under the cover of some kind of commission of audit headed by another former Coalition politician.”

Mr Chalmers is a former chief of staff to the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

The IPA’s agenda has also been referred to on the DESMOGBLOG website, devoted to “Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science.”

This is the link to that article: http://is.gd/pyxIeV 

=====

The other foot: In an article in The Drum Opinion on February 24, 2012, Professor Clive Hamilton reported on The shadowy world of IPA finances.

Prof Hamilton is an Australian author and intellectual. In June 2008 he was appointed Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, a joint centre of the Australian National University, Charles Sturt University and the University of Melbourne. For 14 years, until February 2008, he was the executive director of The Australia Institute, a progressive think tank he founded.

What did Tony Abbott say at the IPA dinner? Read the text of his address on Australians for Honest Politics http://bit.ly/10H44Ct

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14 Comments
  1. Best last line ever Barry. Since you’re preaching to the converted, we need to transfer that line on to 1,000’s of sandwich boards to remind ‘others’ of the peril of voting for Abbott.

  2. Joy Cooper permalink

    Tony Abbott would have to be the scariest person I have ever seen aiming to become PM of Australia. The very woeful Howard didn’t have much in the way of talent in his ministry but the lot Abbott has surrounded himself with are abysmal.

    Maybe there is some sort of talent, (which I doubt), in the LNP backbenches but Tony doesn’t want to be outshone. We’ll never know as the current spineless media won’t tell us anything. At the moment, it is all “Julia will be gone by Wednesday” without any apparent sane reasoning for this bold prediction. Sheesh!!

    No wonder I am so pleased with my Murdoch Blocker extension. It works a charm. Just looking at the options, where you can elect to allow some of his empire to be seen by you, gives you an idea of the extent of his reach. It’s frightening.

  3. healing wanderer permalink

    In the world of politics I have seen many politicians changing their slogans and preferences, sometimes from one day to another.

    Their behaviour indicates that they act upon a gun pointing at them from behind the scenes. This is why I have come to the conclusion that if we wish to survive as mankind and to leave a liveable, sane world to our children, we need to start building a new system.

  4. Jenny Fallon permalink

    I am having such an internal dilemma. I have argued so many times that we should be voting for policies, that it is up to a team to choose its captain, it should not be about personalities…you all know the drill. And therein lies my dilemma. I had always dismissed Tony Abbott as silly…now I cannot get out of my head the vision of him hosting the G20 summit next year.

  5. Great read Barry..Honorary Catholic…priceless 🙂

  6. andyrob65 permalink

    Great piece Barry.

    I find it interesting that MSM, for all their banging on about freedom of speech, they, generally, don’t allow that on their online sites. They are generally paywalled, or their watchers, if you can comment freely, generally block anti LNP or MSM comments.

    The 5th estate needs to take up arms, more rigorously, about #ashbygate. That is such an obvious state of collusion between MSM and LNP, it is as clear as the nose on your head. Months and Months of front page hysterics, then Judge Rares’ decision, that implicated News Ltd and several LNP members and others, then nothing. Where is the integrity and unbiased reporting in that?

    That issue more than anything at the moment scares me more than anything. If we can let a COUP attempt go, unanswered, where does this fine country stand for the future?

    • Barry Tucker permalink

      You’re right. The Big End of town wants control of the thriving Australian economy and they are prepared to do anything to get it.

  7. mark delmege permalink

    Barry, MSM is the standard term why invent another… MNM ?

    • Strictly speaking, MSM is wrong and inaccurate. Mainstream is one word. People use “media” loosely when they mean “news media”. Mainstream News Media (MNM) is precise and accurate.

  8. Heather permalink

    Thanks Barry. As clear and forthright as ever.

  9. jane permalink

    Interesting and enjoyable post Barry.

    I know quite a few senior cits, I suppose I’m technically a senior cit, and I know this country will not prosper in any way under an Abbott government.

    As always, the LNP response to governing is to cut public services to the bone and hand those sectors to private enterprise in the stubbornly stupid idea that it will be more efficient and cheaper.

    Unfortunately, it’s usually done on the cheap and provides inferior overpriced service. I’d be quite surprised if that’s what people really want.

    andyrob65, the msm doesn’t do honesty, integrity, facts, truth or unbiased reporting. Lies, smear, innuendo, unfounded allegations and FUD is their stock in trade. Oh and phone hacking, they’re very big on that, apparently.

    • A response to ALL readers and commenters. You will notice the occasional [edited: …] comment in this blog and in Truth in News Media. I strongly encourage commenters to be polite and respectful. You can say whatever you want to say without being rude, insulting, abusive or using “foul” language.

      I spend a lot of time working on my blogs, carefully checking anything I can with the limited resources I have available. I WILL NOT allow my blogs to degenerate into the kind of dog fighting, insulting garbage that has destroyed so many websites that allow public comment. There are also legal implications of which you may not be aware but I am and I’m ultimately responsible for them.

      I have withdrawn a story from another site and replaced it with a swift kick in the rear for the people who caused me to do that. I won’t hesitate to block ALL comments on my two websites as a last resort.

      Australia is faced with the horrible prospect of a federal government led by Mr Abbott and the anti-social proposals of the Liberal/IPA “think tank”. Because we have a corrupted, biased and thoroughly unprofessional news media (in all its forms), we are left with social media as practically the only tool to fight and correct bias and give people accurate information.

      With the NBN, the ABC, SBS and ACMA on the IPA’s “hit list”, you can only wonder how long social media will be left untouched and unrestricted. We must be careful to treat the now precious social media network with the respect it deserves. Please think about these things before posting a comment.

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  1. The most important vote in a lifetime | lmrh5
  2. Just who the hell are the IPA? « THE PUB

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