Someone showed me an e-mail they received from the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA). This organisation is the trade union for those involved in journalism, acting, theatre and amusements. It was registered in 1992 and was formed from the merger of the Australian Journalists Association, Actors Equity of Australia, and the Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association, with the later inclusion of the Symphony Orchestra Musicians Association1. The e-mail was in response to the two raids by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on journalists, namely Annika Smethurst who works for the Murdoch’s News Corp and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation2.
The e-mail included a quote from the MEAA media section president Marcus Strom, which, in part, says: “A second day of raids by the Australian Federal Police sets a disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom. This is nothing short of an attack on the public’s right to know. Police raiding journalists is becoming normalised and it has to stop. These raids are about intimidating journalists and media organisations because of their truth-telling. They are about more than hunting down whistleblowers that reveal what governments are secretly doing in our name, but also preventing the media from shining a light on the actions of government…. 2
Yesterday’s raid [on Annika Smethurst] was in response to a story published a year ago. Today’s raid [on the ABC] comes after a story was published nearly two years ago. Suddenly, just days after a federal election, the Federal Police launches this attack on press freedom. It seems that when the truth embarrasses the government, the result is the Federal Police will come knocking at your door…”2
It is heartening to see journalists realising what is at stake here. They rightly note that the AFP are seemingly used as an instrument of the Coalition, to be used at the latter’s whim, “when the truth embarrasses the government”, and not as an instrument of law enforcement. It is a shame journalists did not see what was at stake when they rarely if ever pulled up Coalition politicians when they lied during the election campaign3. It is also a shame that some journalists did not see what was at stake when they actually adopted the epithets the government used to lie to the populace4. It is also a shame that journalists did not see what was at stake when they were all quite happy to roll up when alerted about the raid on the Australian Workers Union offices5,6.
It is a shame that journalists have only realised that ‘truth embarrasses the government’ after the election, not before, when they let the Coalition escape scrutiny time and time again. This is especially true when the Coalition have adopted the Trump methodology of bald-faced lying, allied with unquestioning support by the Murdoch media and intimidation and crippling of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I can almost hear you say ‘but Smethurst works for Murdoch’, and so she does. It means one of two things, the Coalition have finished with Murdoch because he has served his purpose; or it is a smokescreen and Smethurst will be cleared of any ‘wrongdoing’, while her informant, if revealed, will be dealt with in secret, as this government wants to do with all whistleblowers. I think the latter is most likely.
Because of the lack of scrutiny before the election, we will now be subjected to another three years of the most corrupt, incompetent, anti-democratic federal government in (my) living memory. That is the greatest shame.