It was interesting to watch Insiders yesterday morning (August 26th, 2018), with Barrie Cassidy hosting Annika Smethurst (Herald Sun), Andrew Probyn (ABC) and Shane Wright (West Australian) on the couch. One of the topics on which they touched (at 47.26) was the recent statement by journalist Chris Uhlmann (Channel 9) that ‘conservative’ media outlets Murdoch’s News Corp, Sky News and radio station 2GB were deeply involved in demonising Malcolm Turnbull, thereby setting off the omnishambles that was the Liberal leadership spill last week, which resulted in the replacement of Turnbull with Scott Morrison. They discussed it only in reference to the destabilisation of Turnbull. When asked about it, Andrew Probyn said, after snorting and stumbling, “It’s a difficult question, isn’t it”, seemingly ignoring the Murdoch pachyderm in the room. Even more ludicrous was Barrie Cassidy’s assertion that “If Peter Dutton had won the leadership, the one benefit for the Coalition, [or] for the Liberal Party, would be that these people would finally have turned their guns on Bill Shorten”. Where has Barrie been over the last 5 years? Has he not seen the numerous ‘kill Bill’ stories in the Murdoch media, of which I have highlighted but a few3,4,5,6,7,8,9? Or did he just have a sudden onrush of timorousness because Annika Smethurst was on the couch? She is a ‘ruperter’ from one of the most egregious of the Murdoch stable of what are inaccurately termed ‘newspapers’, the Herald Sun, or the ‘Hun’ as it is sometimes known, for its right-wing drivel. The Murdoch media outlets are indeed the cancer eating at the core of democracy in Australia10.
What this demonstrates is that the ABC has been cowed by the government, by the constant complaints against it when it does its job and holds the government to account, and by the installation of people favourable to the Coalition on the board and in the upper echelons of the organisation. This is one of the ways corrupt governments attempt to deflect attention from their behaviour; by co-opting or neutering the media. We continue to let this happen at our peril.
Covering up malpractice, and disabling all possible avenues for recourse, have long been favourite tools of the Australian legislature, bureaucracy and judiciary. I recall a meeting in September 2016 with UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst who advised that ‘Australia is the most corrupt country in the world’. He went on to say that there are many corrupt countries, but the expertise of Australian officials with covering up and disabling recourse puts this country in a very special position. For example, despite legislation protecting whistleblowers, they are an endangered species, despite legislation requiring all official entities to have an internal complaints review facility, there is no provision to enforce this, despite numerous watchdogs, there is not even one that is effective, despite claims of equal access to justice, there is NO real access to justice (anyone who disagrees is welcome to challenge a corrupt department or quango). To add insult to injury, we have a convention that unless specifically stated, legislation does not bind the crown, we see high level protection and immunities afforded to legislators, bureaucrats and the judiciary which render them unbelievably arrogant totally unaccountable, we see the judiciary completely ignoring the constitution and separation of powers. Australians have no civil liberties or human rights, even those rights contained in common law and international law are ignored. State governments have enacted legislation to disable dissent in privative clauses against judicial review, and fixated persons legislation, whilst the federal government has attempted to silence dissent by classifying dissidents as terrorists. It is the combination of numerous deliberately conceived and implemented measures to avoid any semblance of accountability and transparency which lead to the assertion that Australia really is ‘the most corrupt country in the world’.
I’ll have to read that Forst report. Thanks for the info.
Whilst there were at least two reports dating from 2016, the meeting with my group was a privately arranged event and not part of the official agenda. As such, I don’t believe the entire content is included in the public reports. We’ve had numerous communications with the UN and the ICC over a major human rights abuse issue in Australia and that is an ongoing matter which has to date only been partially resolved. I have yet to peruse the transcript of the recent UN report on Australia’s non-compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities however it is reportedly quite brutal.
The ABC is indeed running scared, and appears to be pursuing mediocrity rather than a middle line. They flogged the Rudd and Gillard governments mercilessly imo (sometimes reasonably, other times not so) and have failed miserably in recent years to similarly hold the conservative “governments” to account – despite the constant wailing of social media rwnjs about its “left wing” bias. Both Ulmann and Rudd hit the nail on the head – the biggest threat to democracy in this country isn’t conservative government but the lack of a quality and independent fourth estate and politicians who actually care enough to put their nation ahead of self-interest. One hopes that when Murdoch finally meets his maker his heirs will be more circumspect but they appear to be just as devious and untrustworthy.
Big party at Chateau Blot when Murdoch kicks the bucket.