Murpack loses (for now)

The Senate voted to reject the Howard government’s media law “reforms”, with all 4 Independents as well as Labor, Democrats and Greens voting against. Margo Kingston (link via Tim Dunlop) has an excellent article on the saga.

As Margo points out, no other print media are giving this critical issue even cursory attention. They’re almost all owned by Murpack. If it weren’t for the Fairfax press, and to a much lesser extent the ABC, most of us wouldn’t even know the Bill was before Parliament let alone understand its implications. And that’s the whole point. If the Bill does become law (say, after a double dissolution election), that will be precisely the situation in Australia. You won’t even know about an issue if it doesn’t suit Murpack’s interests to tell you about it. That’s why I find the complacent reaction of so many otherwise intelligent bloggers (e.g. Scott Wickstein) so depressing.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Well said Ken,
I don’t believe any more comment is needed now except will you be now pigeonholed into the rabid lefty box because you have thought the best coverage was in the SMH and the ABC???

Gary Sauer-Thompson
2022 years ago

Ken,
I reckon that you owe the Senate an apology as well as the 4 Independents. They did not roll over as you implied earlier.

Your judgement was at odds with the tone of the debate in the Senate on this Bill.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

What happened to the idea that all these media rules were redundant because we’ve now got the internet, you see, and anybody can get any information any time and so we aren’t reliant on the old media any more? Local media monopolies are a thing of the past, you’ve got to understand, because anyone can now get their news from anywhere in the world.

So, just because we didn’t get to read about this debate in the Murpack press doesn’t mean it was suppressed. Not at all. You could just look at up the Times’ web site and read about it there. OK not the Times. It’s also owned by Murdoch. Well, you could read it on Le Monde’s web site. What’s that? You don’t read French? Well it doesn’t matter because, for some reason, they didn’t cover the story.

Well, you could read it in The LA Times. What’s that? They didn’t cover it either? Amazing!

But surely with yout broadband connection you could easily find some media outlet that will inform you about what’s going on. You don’t have broadband? Why not?

Because Telstra has kept the price so high. You remember Telstra. They’re Murpack’s partners in Foxtel, Australia’s dominant Pay TV network.

It’s all a bit of a joke. But not a funny joke.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

What do we make of the Fairfax Board’s stated support for the Alstonian position whilst Margo and her fellow employees took a dramatically different line?

Is Fred Hilmer just a wuss…or what?

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

This argument still doesn’t explain how people who are already subject to monopoly ownership manage to hear about things. South Australia, Western Australia, etc.

I’m not having a go at you Ken, I just think you are overexaggerating the effect a monopoly media has on the populace.

People who tend to form political opinions on the basis of issues and facts usually try a bit harder to find out both sides. People who always vote Lib/Labour aren’t going to have their minds changed by a newspaper.

The death of democracy has been greatly exaggerated.

Yobbo
2022 years ago

“You don’t have broadband? Why not?
Because Telstra has kept the price so high.”

Telstra’s prices are still high. It’s competitors aren’t. Telstra is instead trying to frighten new broadband customers into signing up with them.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Geoff,

Fairfax has tended to operate as something of a workers’ collective ever since the Fairfax family lost effective control. Neither Kerry nor Rupert operate in that way. You toe the owner’s line or you’re out.

Yobbo,

There is no part of Australia that has experienced the degree of monopoly and lack of choice that will apply if these changes go through and the ABC is simultaneously cowed into submission. Even cities that have always had only a single newspaper (which includes Darwin) have generally had access to several commercial TV stations and the ABC. Moreover, we’ve had national newspapers like the Australian since the 1960s. Thus you CAN currently access information and alternative viewpoints wherever you live. When just about everything in every part of Australia is controlled by just two men, things will be very different and much more restrictive. As I’ve said previously, this isn’t a left versus right issue; it’s an issue of basic choice, diversity and democratic freedoms that we should all care about.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Yobbo,

I know the West Australian reads and looks like a Murdoch tabloid. But it is independently owned. So you lucky people in the west do not actually have your local newspapers monopolised right now.

And, of course, you can read Margot Kingston on the herald web site for an alternative view, if you are so inclined.

But you won’t be able to if one day this bill becomes law.

mark
2022 years ago

I do believe this is one of her best ever columns; of course, I’m biased by the fact that I’m usually pointed her way by someone (e.g. Tim Blair) making fun of a particularly stupid thing she’s said.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Yeah, OK, but it all smells to me (have any of you folks read Dark Victory yet?). Doesn’t the whole bloody exercise simply increase the odds of the Coalition getting heavy duty media editorial support, come the double dissolution? What a Murpak carrot … and a Hilmer carrot, for that matter.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris,

I’m sure getting Murpack onside is part of Howard’s agenda in proceeding with this legislation. He operates on a number of different political levels, and few would deny that he’s a masterful practitioner of the black arts of politics.

But Labor has also been master of the black arts in its day. It wasn’t all that long ago (1990 or thereabouts) when all the pundits were marvelling at Labor’s seemingly impregnable mastery of marginal seats strategies etc etc, and when Richo was the unchallenged master of the black arts, doing “whatever it takes” to retain government.

Your comments seem to suggest that you regard Howard as unbeatable. He isn’t, although Crean almost certainly can’t do it. The wheel always turns in politics. Having just survived 23 years of unbroken CLP rule in the NT, when for most of that time Labor despaired of ever breaking the CLP stranglehold, we’ve all learnt just how fast the wheel can sometimes turn. Moreover, CLP dominance was secured by exactly the same tactics Howard is now employing. Indeed they’re being orchestrated by some of the same people (notably Mark Textor).

The point is that these tactics can be countered, and Howard’s unpopular potential DD trigger Bills provide part of the ammunition with which that can occur. But it can only occur with a competent leader capable of turning it to account and selling the message (both the positive and negative parts of it) effectively to the public. Crean is not that man. Of the current fairly uninspiring bunch, I actually think Rudd with Latham as deputy would be the best choice, with some experienced backroom black arts practitioners being brought out of retirement e.g. Richo; Gary Grey etc. With that team and backup, I actually think Labor could win the next election. Moreover, given that Howard seems to be going all out on a “crash through or crash” DD strategy, hoping to enact the entire conservative legislative wish-list in one foul swoop, it’s absolutely critical for Labor to see this as a make or break election. There’s no sign so far of any such orientation. That’s what I find so depressing.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Ken

I pretty much agree with that, although I will continue to despair till I see some capacity to counter form on the board. I guess my ‘dream team’ at the moment would be Rudd with Julia Gillard as the deputy: they are both proving to be excellent-articulate public advocates.

trackback
2022 years ago

Meeja bill? Bah!

KEN PARISH FINDS ME DEPRESSING, and he’s not talking about my bar tab either. He’s referring to what he described…