Murdoch ‘ruperter’, Rachel Baxendale, has published an attempted hatchet piece1 on Labor frontbencher Tony Burke the day after he delivered a powerful speech in the House of Representatives repudiating the racist ‘final solution’ maiden speech by Fraser Anning in the Senate2. The timing does make you wonder whether Baxendale’s piece was directly in response to Burke’s speech.
Baxendale’s piece refers to Burke, who was then federal Environment Minister, chartering an aircraft at a cost of $7,600, to travel to the Tarkine wilderness in 2012. Baxendale says the plane flew from Burnie to Waratah, back to Burnie and then to Hobart a couple of days later. This was, according to Baxendale, after GetUp lobbied Burke to block two mine proposals in the area. Baxendale states that Burke kayaked with GetUp’s founder Simon Sheikh and hiked with Environment Tasmania (ET) director, Phill Pullinger1. Given the environmental focus of both GetUp and ET, and the fact that the former was instrumental in getting Burke there in the first place, this is unsurprising.
One of the funniest parts of this article states that Burke gave Dr Pullinger’s organisation $2.4 million in grants through a process that has been compared with Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg’s decision to give the Great Barrier Reef Formation $444 m without going to tender. If you do not find the comparison between the $2.4 million and an amount 185 times that mind boggling, you either work for Murdoch or you read his ‘newspapers’ and actually believe what they say. On top of this, Baxendale then states that Burke’s wife worked as a GetUp campaign manager between March 2011 and January 2012, and she was Burke’s chief-of-staff from 2009 to 2011. Baxendale then states that the relationship between the pair did not begin until the end of 2013 and she was not involved in the Tarkine trip1. Why would Baxendale mention this, when it is of no consequence given that Burke’s now wife worked for GetUp well before the Tarkine trip and even longer before their relationship began? It is because Baxendale is seeking to indicate a false equivalence with the shenanigans of Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion3.
Further on in the article, Baxendale states that Burke led the charge against former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop over the $5200, 80km helicopter charter flight to a Liberal fundraiser1. That anyone could think this other false equivalence between Burke and Bishop is even vaguely sensible just beggars belief. Burke was actually looking at the Tarkine, which was to be considered for heritage listing4, which is part of the business of the Department of the Environment. Bronwyn Bishop was using taxpayers’ money to travel to an event solely to raise money for her political party5. These are not even remotely similar. If Baxendale wrote this of her own accord, you would have to wonder about her self-respect. If she did this under instruction from the hierarchy at the Australian, you have to feel sorry for her.