COMMENT by Barry Tucker 19 March, 2013
FREEDOM. A one word headline says it all. Not really. Here’s one: Bulldust. Closer. Hypocrisy? Ah! Spot on.
Run them all together and I have an alternative introduction to this story: This cry for FREEDOM is BULLDUST and HYPOCRISY.
I am referring to the front page headline in today’s The Daily Telegraph. The story is an open letter to Australia’s federal politicians, more particularly the seven Independents.
It’s part of News Limited’s campaign against the news media regulation bills now being debated in the federal parliament. The newspapers are claiming the proposed regulations will control what they can publish — government sponsored censorship.
The article opens with a potted history of the early development of European settlement in Australia, up to the time of the adoption of a Constitution and a parliament. It’s at this point that the hypocrisy kicks in.
“They gave us a parliament intended to respond to the people. They gave us a system of democracy intended to deliver its citizens what they needed as the times demanded.”
Yes indeed. And eventually The Daily Telegraph emerged, fought battles for survival and devolved into what it is today: a bloody rag that seeks to undermine parliament and democracy and deny the people what they need as the times demand.
The article then appeals to the seven Independents whose mug shots appear alongside. These men, who hold the balance of power, “are charged with deciding … whether Australia remains a society with a vigilant Press uncompromised by State interference or whether we open the door to the dark days of history when the government controlled the people instead of the other way around”.
Do me a favour. As if the people control the government. In an ideal world maybe, but not in this one. Vested interests control the government and News Limited knows it.
Let’s put the above patronizing together and look again at the mug shots. There’s Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, the terrible twins who had the temerity to pinch seats from the born-to-rule mob. They’re on shaky ground, the pundits say, and might not survive a targeted Press campaign. Hint, Hint.
There’s Andrew Wilkie, the former spook who knows where the skeletons are and who’s cranky with the government because it dudded him on poker machine reform.
Then comes Bob Katter, with a brand new political party named after himself and planning to have a candidate in every federal seat on September 14 — election day. Could you use a little Press Bob?
Next, Adam Bandt — the lonely Green on the cross benches. Young, keen, as smart as a whip. He doesn’t need anyone’s help.
Then we have … oh look! it’s Peter Slipper. You remember him. The faithful servant who held his Liberal NP seat through several elections, became Deputy Speaker, then Speaker (some say the best in a long time) then nothing. A broken, bitter man, dudded by his party, scandalised by his former party and ridiculed with a rat face caricature on the front page of The Daily Telegraph. No apology yet.
Next and last … wow! it’s Craig Thomson. You remember him. Another victim of Freedom of the Press Barons. The man who was found guilty in a Trial by Media before he was even charged with anything. He was also caricatured on the front page of the Tele, with an overdone Pinocchio nose. The Daily Telegraph was hauled over the coals by the Press Council and ordered to apologise for this bit of FREEDOM. I don’t know why Mr Thomson hasn’t gone mad with all the abuse that’s been thrown at him by the news media. I guess he’s made of better stuff than his accusers.
Incidentally, the William [Charles] Wentworth referred to in The Tele’s potted history (the champion of justice, representative government, trial by jury and freedom of the Press) would be spinning in his grave if he could see what has happened to his legacy at the hands of The Daily Telegraph.