The Murdoch-Abbott Megaphone

Post written by Susan Connelly
12 July, 2014

On July 11, 2014 Clive Palmer and the Palmer United Party Senators pulled the biggest swifty so far on the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, forcing the expected scrapping of the carbon tax to be delayed. The PUPs, all Robin Hood look-a-likes for the moment, were grandstanding for all the tax offsetting perks to remain in the people’s pockets. Similar endowments have been used by all recent Governments to woo people’s support, rewarding them for simply existing. Should bring in a few votes, I suppose.

Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Telepathy was in high dudgeon: editors, commentators and letter-writers scrambling to outdo each other in weeping for our democracy, lamenting the terrible mistake of the election last September (tell me about it); a Greek Raucous of doom and gloom, even raising the prospect of a double dissolution broom.

By the evening news, however, the Abbott battalion of spin doctors had spun him a face-saving thread. “It’s situation normal,” he said, smiling wryly at the Australian democracy at work despite a few little limps by an inexperienced Senate. But if looks could kill…..

Trouble is, the Blarney Brigade were too late to stop the Tele foaming at the mouth, doing its daily deed as Government Megaphone.

This “newspaper’s” edition of Friday 11.07.14  consisted of 112 pages, 30 of which were concerned with Australian news along with four opinion pages. Twenty-one per cent of column inches (21%) of that section of the paper consisted of ringing endorsement of the Government in relation to the Senate debacle being played out, and of asylum seeker policy, with one article continuing the relentless Murdoch attack on the ABC. The rest of this section and opinion pages were made up of advertisements (45%) and general interest stories e.g. tragedies, crime and other assorted reports, none political (34%). One short article on page 22 reported on Tony Abbott’s unnecessary and offensive remarks about the skills of Japanese soldiers during World War II. Other than that, the “newspaper” proclaimed, commented on and endorsed current Liberal/Coalition policy. There was no alternative view on anything, except on the question “Is it a silly idea to marry yourself?”.

And just hours before, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, “Australia will speak up in defence of peace, liberal values and the rule of law”, citing the risk of causing offence in Beijing as being a possible price to pay for being ”committed to freedoms and committed to international norms.” Here is the Australian Government claiming the high moral ground over human rights with China while refusing to let its own people, the UN or a Senate Committee know the whereabouts of 153 asylum seekers, and all the time being outfoxed by a political unknown from Queensland.

The exploded hubris of the Prime Minister is one thing, and Prime Ministers come and go. But the mutual grovelling of the current Australian Government and the Murdoch Press should put a pin in any illusions we may have about either of them.

Susan Connelly

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