Out of sight, out of mind

Comment & Opinion

By Barry Tucker                    6 December, 2013

Amongst the blur of intelligence-gathering leaks, diplomatic scandals, Gonski manoeuvres, carbon price ultimatums and debt ceiling negotiations, the plight of asylum seekers slipped just a bit further from the Australian public’s consciousness this week.

So begins an article by Paula Matthewson, in today’s online magazine The Hoopla. It’s about the plight of asylum seekers, who the previous Labor government (after a flip-flop) and the present Liberal-National Party (LNP) government (by adopting and adapting Labor’s policy) are trying to keep out of sight, out of mind.

Matthewson is concerned with the inhumane aspects of Australian governments’ policies on the issue of asylum seekers and with the present government’s ludicrous policy of limiting news releases of arrivals to a Friday news briefing. Indonesian news media (and people smugglers) know as much if not more about refugee boat arrivals in Australia as Australian journalists, well before the Friday briefings.

Matthewson mentions the Australian news media’s compliant kowtowing to the federal LNP government’s campaign of limiting news, but doesn’t get suitably enraged about it. This is the political party and these are the journalists who screamed blue murder over the attempt of the previous government to make some minor reforms to news media regulation. This government could not maintain its policy of secrecy and limited news for long if the news media adopted the sternly critical approach it should use — as it did with the previous Labor government.

There is one consolation and something to look forward to. No journalist worthy of the title likes to be denied a story. Gaps are appearing in the Coalition government’s cohesion and when the news media gets the whiff of blood in its nostrils it will go in for the kill — as it did with the previous Labor government.

Update, 27 February, 2014

Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has become an advocate for refugee rights since retiring from politics (and the Liberal party). He has proposed a solution to the asylum seeker/refugee quagmire.