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Crikey says: smooth sailing for the government on boats

What’s it take to say “G’Day USA”? An awful lot of subsidised journalists. Inside the Fox News machine: what we learn from the Roger Ailes book. Is Fairfax’s climate warming on the op-ed pages? Plus Tony Abbott’s half-baked war on renewable energy. Adding up the cost of the Australian Open. And Guy Rundle on the cancer patient and the media power couple.

The natives are getting restless. If you think relations are bad between leaders and diplomats in Australia and Indonesia, they’d have to be warmer than the reception Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and his army lieutenant (general) Angus Campbell got from journalists at a press conference late this morning.

Reporters weren’t going to miss their opportunity to grill the government about its asylum seeker operations, not knowing when they’d get another chance. First Morrison refused to talk about it outside of weekly briefings, now he’s scrapped them altogether. Today’s may be the last for a while.

They peppered Morrison and Campbell with questions — is the navy towing boats back? Are detainees self-harming? How many boats are coming? — but they didn’t get many answers. “I’m not going to play that game,” was Morrison’s typically bolshie response.

You do have to admire the tactics. The Abbott government has put us on war footing, engaging the military and then using it as excuse to mask operational detail. As for the conditions in the offshore detention camps and sickening reports on poor access to medical aid and detainees hurting and starving themselves, that’s easily dismissed as unsourced claims from self-interested groups. It’s masterful media management.

Remember, most Australians reckon those seeking asylum aren’t being treated harshly enough. In that sort of environment, no matter the howls from some, it’s nothing but smooth sailing for the government.

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  • 1
    ernmalleyscat
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have to admire the tactics.

  • 2
    Wynn
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t find the tactics admirable, ‘masterful’, or even particularly clever. Pandering to the lowest common denominator (in both the electorate and media) doesn’t seem that hard.

    This editorial comment has a curious tone - almost approaching snide. I would’ve thought independent journalists would be reserving their admiration for those press colleagues out there trying to extract some answers and shed some light on despicable and dangerous conduct.

  • 3
    paddy
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I realise that the “full” team may not be back in the bunker yet. But when Crikey starts describing the current “Kafkaesque” nonsense that the Abbott Govt is spouting, as “masterful media management”. Then it’s time for the editorial staff give themselves a good kick up the backside.

    *You lot* are supposed to be holding the bastards to account. Not dispassionately reading out the notional score from the latest bloody poll.
    Pardon my ire. But it’s hot & nasty where I am right now. Plus I don’t enjoy watching my country’s Govt behaving like war criminals.

  • 4
    drmick
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    I am with Mr Cat.
    I don’t admire anything to do with this rabble. No human or animal would.

  • 5
    graybul
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Now we are on a WAR footing a la T A’S announcement . . should I worry if Military vehicles slow down when passing my house? Am even more curious . . Has The Lieutenant General authority to employ Security Powers covering arrest and detention of citizens, including prevention of citizens acknowledging or commenting upon the disappearance of a loved one?. Yes Crikey, when is something a joke or a game, or something all together more serious. Australia is changing . . and I’m not laughing or trivializing T A and Minister Morrison’s contempt for Parliament and the public’s right to know!

  • 6
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Paddy - my thoughts as well. Clearly the Crikeybot is being staffed by interns or whoever turned up. Not just the poor word choice of “admire” for something so despicable as the tories’ tactics (if these are tactics, whatis the strategy?)but the general blahhh of the content since the New Year return.

  • 7
    Electric Lardyland
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I do find the justification for Scott and Tony’s idiot game of dress ups, just a bit bemusing. I mean, what is the information that allegedly give the people smugglers some great operational advantage. That boats are arriving? Well, the people smugglers sent the boats: so I suspect that they know this already. That there’s mandatory detention for asylum seekers? Well, this has been in place since the Keating government: so I don’t think that is earth shattering news. That they may or may not be towing boats back? Well, this may or may not have been an often repeated election promise: so hardly any need for secrecy there.
    Anyone?
    Actually, now that I think of it, I’m just a bit surprised that we haven’t any news footage, of Super Tony on the bow of a naval vessel, wind in his hair, gazing manfully into the distance, as he personally keeps Australia safe, from the poor, the tired, the huddled masses.

  • 8
    CML
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Whilst I don’t for one moment find any saving graces in what this government is doing about asylum seekers, looked at dispassionately, “You do have to admire the tactics.”
    They have managed to convince a huge chunk of the Oz voter-land (probably a majority) that our borders are no longer open to all and sundry. They have ‘stopped the boats’!!
    Question is, how long will this last, and what has been done to the fabric of our society and our global reputation by their actions? What happens when the boats start coming again, as they inevitably will? A real war, perhaps?
    As I have said many times before, it would be far better to be honest about what is going on here. Repeal (or whatever the word is) the Refugee Convention in total, if that is what the electorate wants. At least the asylum seekers would know where they stand, and their disgraceful treatment would stop.
    But, as a voter, I would only agree to that if our humanitarian intake was vastly increased to something like 30,000/year. And we start facing our responsibilities in our part of the world, the Asia/Pacific region. For starters, that means looking after those Pacific Islanders who won’t have a livable country soon.

  • 9
    zut alors
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Give us a break, Crikey, we were hoping the standard of editorials would improve in 2014. Sigh.

  • 10
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    When it comes to our ignoring and transferring blame, for our combined inhumanity to our fellow man in need, which is best : Sticking our collective heads in the sand, or up Abbott’s “Morrison’s Fundament of Ignorance”?

  • 11
    drmick
    Posted Wednesday, 15 January 2014 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    How about Labour draw a line in the sand and say enough. You don’t like em; we do. This race to the bottom has to stop. They need to make a clear statement about humanity, and tie it to being an Australian; i.e a fair go for the poor buggers we help displace in a war that had nothing to do with us.
    Social justice; how perverted is a system where the 1% with the money, can convince a majority without the money, in a democracy, that the poor need less wages, less legal protection in case of an accident at work or in a car, to have less to retire on because you have helped the rich by giving them super tax cuts, and given up your right not to pay parasites, who you never see, who administer your super, (which you will now never see)to vote for them?
    Over to you Shortie………….Oh Oh, face palm. “There are less illegals because of our papua solution, not your concentration camps and mine sweepers drowning the evidence”. This has to stop.

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