Australia under the Liberal and National parties has generally become a corporatocracy1, where the only entities of consequence are corporations and those state bodies that are needed to ensure their unhindered survival: the police, ASIO, judiciary and, of course, a purchased government. The government are mostly a means for corporations to pass legislation they want, whether it be for damaging unions, decreasing penalty rates, decreasing corporate taxation, decreasing taxation on the wealthy, keeping internet speeds relatively low, or others. In addition to this, the government is becoming kleptocratic2, with assorted ministers using taxpayer funds as a source of personal enrichment. The government are also becoming increasingly anti-democratic, with legislation being proposed to hammer organisations that it believes threaten its hold on power, to favour those it considers to be ‘on its side’, to abolish organisations with which it disagrees, or to stack the boards of government organisations with those on which they can rely3,4.
Perhaps most egregious of all is the close relationship with Murdoch’s media empire, News Corp, which owns about two thirds of the print media in Australia. To call News Corp a news organisation is laughable as it is almost entirely a political propaganda arm of the Liberal and National parties. So appalling are its lies that this blog contains over 22 essays on articles in assorted News Corp outlets where the lies are obvious5-13. I do not subscribe to any News Corp publications, so I only see the occasional article; therefore, my essays are only the tip of the iceberg of lies from these outlets. One of the crop of News Corp lies most damaging to this country, both in its reputation and in the well-being of its citizens is that of climate change denial. Although Murdoch ludicrously maintained that there were no climate change deniers in his organisation, that is itself a lie, too. His publications are replete with denialism and I have written a few essays on the tip of that iceberg too. I combined them with a list of denialist rants from other News Corp watchers to form the basis of a recent essay, covering numerous editorials and ‘stories’ to show how monumentally false the statement from Murdoch is14.
While unrest is increasing around the world because of corruption and climate change denial, among other grievances, in Australia the federal and various state governments know this is coming here too. To counter that, they have mooted that protests will be somehow outlawed. The Coalition government of New South Wales has proposed a law ostensibly to protect agricultural activity, but the impact of the provisions will be significantly broader. The Bill would increase the penalty for “aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands” from $5500 to $22,000 and add a three-year prison term for people who merely “hinder” a business while trespassing. These laws are so broad they could see people like the Knitting Nannas slapped with $22,000 fines or even imprisoned just for protesting to protect farmland from gas exploration. They also could see community members imprisoned for protesting the forced removal of refugee children15.
The Liberal Tasmanian government has proposed laws which would allow protesters who disrupt businesses in Tasmania liable to spend up to four years behind bars. Late last year, the state government reignited a push to introduce laws it has labelled the toughest in the country. In October 2018, similar legislation was ruled unconstitutional by the High Court after a legal challenge by former Greens leader Bob Brown16.
At a federal level, Prime Minster Scott Morrison has branded environmental protesters as “anarchists” and threatened a radical crackdown on the right to protest in a speech claiming progressives are seeking to “deny the liberties of Australians”. That is rich coming from someone who is trying to shut down protest. In a speech to the Queensland Resources Council last October, the prime minister said a threat to the future of mining was coming from a “new breed of radical activism” and signalled the government would seek to apply penalties to those targeting businesses who provide services to the resources industry with secondary boycotts17. Morrison, termed these “indulgent and selfish” and stated that they pose a threat to the economy18. What all these Coalition governments are mostly concerned about is the ability of the fossil fuel companies to continue to be profitable, because these companies make huge donations to the Coalition parties.
A boycott is an effort to convince a significant number of consumers not to do deal with a particular business. It does two primary things. First, it creates a lot of negative publicity against the organisation being boycotted. Second, as a result of this negative publicity, it threatens the organisation’s bottom line – its profits. There are two kinds of boycotts: primary and secondary boycotts. A primary boycott is a decision not to buy goods or services produced by a certain company with whose policies you disagree. A secondary boycott is directed at a third party. That is, you refuse to purchase anything from someone who sells products made by the company you are boycotting19.
I was preparing a plan to attempt to decrease the lies, especially about climate change, spread by the Murdoch media, but have been beaten to it, thrice.
The first of these is quite straightforward, and is based on the various review sites available for people to express an opinion as to the quality venues such as restaurants, bars, airport lounges, shops, cafes, etc. Simply find out whether they have Murdoch newspapers (e.g. Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, The Australian) or show Murdoch media (e.g. Sky News). If they do, leave the joint and make it clear why you are leaving, then leave a review on such a site as ‘Google Reviews’20, and give them a very low rating.
The second is a bit more complex, is termed the NewsCorpse Campaign and is being run by the Mad F***ing Witches (MFW) group21. This has a two-pronged approach. The first of these is aimed at the companies or organisations that advertise in News Corp publications. This group have collated all the advertisers’ contact details and the task of any interested parties is to contact these advertisers and ask politely why they fund climate change denial by advertising in News Corp newspapers. Businesses currently advertising in News Corp publications will be listed as a climate ‘Foe’. However, if they withdraw their advertising from News Corp publications they will be listed as a climate ‘Friend’22. The contacting of advertisers was a technique that worked exceptionally well against the despicable Alan Jones, by causing his 2GB show to lose about 50% of its advertising revenue (I was involved in this). The second prong of the MFW campaign is to identify News Corp Free Zones. This entails checking out local bars, cafes, motels, restaurants, fast food joints, airport lounges, doctor’s surgery, dentist’s surgery, mechanic’s workshop, etc., and talking to the owner or manager and politely explain that they are supporting climate change denial by offering News Corp publications. Then, report the result of that conversation, and whether the venue will cease offering News Corp publications. Whichever they do, the business will go on a list as a ‘Foe’ or ‘Friend’ of a NewsCorp Free Zone22.
The third is a completely different approach, and this comprises a series of crowd funded stickers and stamps saying things like ‘Murdoch Lies’, ‘Stamp Out The Lies’ and ‘Murdoch Lies: Climate Denial’ and are presumably meant to be attached to News Corp publications.
Given the MFW’s track record, with SleepingGiantsOz24, in reminding advertisers of the disgraceful behaviour and climate change denial of Alan Jones, I tend to think that the second option will be more effective. Whatever happens, we need to make sure that Australia has a free and truthful media. Anything else is unacceptable. It seems that for this to happen, News Corp must disappear from the media landscape.