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The West was forced to capitulate again this week on its “no more tunnel stories” policy.

It wasn’t a large article, it wasn’t punchy or incisive. But it was there. Chairman of The West’s board Harold Clough, of Clough Engineering that built the tunnel, may not have been pleased. Barrass might just have been a little-red faced. The editor of a small, independent local newspaper, the Voice, would have been pleased, though. John Arthur, former Daily News political hack and ex-chief of Labor’s government media office, has been running a couple of tunnel stories himself.

Arthur heard about Barrass’s memo from the owners of the cracked heritage homes (described as “loopy locals” in said memo, probably because they contacted Media Watch and Crikey about The West’s lack of coverage of their story).

He rang Barrass, curious that such a stupid missive could be sent far and wide, and got an earful. The little newspaper proprietor should get his facts right, or he’ll get the might of The West and all its assets and all its share dividends dropped on him from a great height, Barrass is rumoured to have said. Off the record, of course.

Great to see the bastion of free speech in Western Australia still holding up the principles. Can’t wait for the next tunnel yarn.

P.S. Barrass evidently said he was taking advice on suing Crikey, too. Funny – those who knew TB in his reporting days remember him going to jail for his ethics, and being pretty scathing of those who threatened legal action instead of coming clean.

Peter Fray

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