Symptoms of media dysfunction

By May 20, 2019Media

In an analysis of the election result of May 18, Samantha Maiden, stating that the Labor Party was “trounced on Saturday night”. While use of the word ‘trounced’ would indicate some sort of electoral landslide, the Labor Party overall lost only a few seats, such that the Coalition will now have a majority of a couple of seats in the House of Representatives. Hardly a trouncing. Perhaps the most pathetic item in Maiden’s analysis is her effective parroting of the Liberal lie of the Labor’s dividend imputation refund plan as a “retiree tax”, which she did with the phrase “dividend imputation tax”1. She does include a link to an explanatory piece which demonstrates rather awkwardly how the system operates. However, this latter piece does not explain it very well and again uses a furphy put about by the government that a low taxable income is equivalent to a low income2. I have a very low taxable income, but live quite comfortably (without a franking credit refund). This parroting of government propaganda is symptomatic of the malaise affecting the mainstream media in recent years. I’d be less critical of Samantha Maiden if she had stated that the increase in the assets threshold for the government pension was a tax on the pension3. It is the same thing; either the cessation of getting a cheque, or getting a smaller cheque from the government.

Like Maiden, Fran Kelly referred to “Labor’s retiree tax” on Radio National’s Breakfast4, regurgitating the government’s electoral line but before the election. I cannot begin to understand why Maiden or Kelly would use this terminology, when the franking credit refund policy of the Labor Party was anything but a tax. These are a couple of examples of using loaded terms which overwhelmingly favour one side of politics. Do Maiden or Kelly think using such loaded terminology was unlikely to benefit one side of politics? Given that this terminology for Labor’s franking credit refund policy was used in the Coalition’s scare campaign, then they must be bereft of much in the way of common sense. Whether they used this terminology because of bias (theirs or their superior’s) or laziness, I do not know. Which of these doesn’t really matter; however, it does clearly indicate that they and the rest of the mainstream media need to pick their game up.




  • Jon says:

    Along similar lines to the Maiden and Kelly (who both should know better) gaffe: I rarely bother with ABC 666 local radio any more but I recently listened to one of their morning discussions on the franking credit policy. I shouldn’t have expected anything less after ABC local management dumped its best presenters and replaced them with wet-behind the ears new chums (apparently to attract a new demographic – what a huge failure that has proved to be) but neither the morning presenter Adam Shirley nor the new Canberra federal political reporter (don’t know her name) had any understanding of Labor’s policy and who would be affected and why. The dumped but highly skilled Genevieve Jacobs would have done her homework before embarking on any such discussion but not these two numpties. Then again Jacobs would make mincemeat of them on any topic because she did one thing they obviously don’t – she read up on her topics before she took them to air. One thing they could and should both learn from her is that preparation and at least some understanding of any topic is critical. That used to be situation normal in the ABC but in recent years the dedication and quality of Its presenters has really dropped off imo. I thought of ringing them but as I care little about the station these days I didn’t want to give them the impression that I was an avid or regular listener. Truth be known, if I wanted to ingest waffling mediocrity there are any number of alternatives.

    • admin says:

      I think you have hit the nail on the head. Journalism has suffered because of the drive for efficiency (doing more with less), after all most media organisations are private concerns all about making a profit. Similarly, the ABC has had its budget cut, such that they suffer the same strictures, if for a different reason. The journalists do not have the time to prepare for their assorted interviews/stories. If this continues, democracy is buggered.

  • Jim says:

    While I agree that obviously the franking credit policy was very poorly explained by the ALP it was too easy to claim that it was a tax and was clearly one of the reasons for the result of the election. Shortly after the announcement of the policy, I was talking to a friend who is an ALP supporter. He was against the policy because it was going to affect them–he is comfortable but far from wealthy and many people like him would have voted for the coalition. Basically the policy was a mistake and needs to be recognised as such. Another major problem was that the ALP were trying to have two bob each way on the Adani Mine proposal and hence looked very wishy-washy. The convoy led by Bob Brown was totally counter productive and indeed quite stupid.

    • admin says:

      I think you are probably right in most regards. It is hard to kick the pigs away from the trough when they have had their snouts in it for so long. It leads to much squealing. I have never been a member of a political party, but it seems the Greens are too concerned with the game, rather than the policies. That seems to be the problem with political parties; it is all about bums on seats, no matter who you screw in the meantime. It has got that way because there is no truth in political advertising legislation.

  • Jon says:

    I can sympathise with your friend, Jim. Poor bugger. Fancy being in the onerous position of having significant franking credits (if his returns were small he wouldn’t be concerned) and having to worry about paying zero or minimal tax, including no contribution to Medicare, while receiving handouts from the government. Sorry for the sarcasm and skepticism but I have no doubt the biggest whingers about the franking policy are those who are VERY comfortable. No doubt many of the wealthiest of them complain loud and strong about the “leaners” on social welfare even as they put their hands out for even more taxpayer-funded largesse themselves. I wonder how my parents survived on pensions and how they brought up four kids on a single average income but then I realise those were pre-entitlement days. Bowen’s big mistake was not putting a GROSS income test on the policy.

    Irrespective of that one policy how anyone with a fair mind and a little understanding of the disarray and lack of policy of the incumbents could vote for them astounds me and I’m not inclined to let any of them off the hook.

    • Jim says:

      An iron law of politics is that In order to implement your policies you have to win elections. What the coalition did in effect was to campaign strongly and successfully in the seats they thought they could win or hold. The ALP in South Australia did that for several elections where they actually lost the two party preferred vote but managed to hang on to some quite marginal seats and hence stay in government. It is not rocket science.

  • Jon says:

    The wisdom of hindsight is a wonderful thing, Jim. I thought Labor’s campaign was surprisingly good, especially as people (obviously not those who count – the navel gazers with deep pockets) were fed up with the negativity and dishonesty wanted to see real policy and action by government in lieu of sleaze, corruption and graft. Then again, I also GROSSLY over-estimated the level of decency and fairness in our society. In the end you’re correct. The appeal to the hip pocket nerve will always win elections over good policy, honesty and fairness. Good luck getting legislation through the Senate these days, though if you don’t actually make announcements prior to the election.

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