Over the long weekend Crikey had a special Saturday edition of our
subscriber only email to keep Crikey fans busy. After all they did have all that extra time on
their hands. Here’s a sample of some of our Garrett coverage:

The Murdoch press vs Latham and Garrett

Subscriber email – June 12

Shock, horror! Did you see all Alan Ramsey’s efforts in the Saturday
SMH on the weekend? There is take one and take two – and not a transcript in
sight! Only a few quotes from Murdoch journos. Still, at least he’s
continuing with the Murdoch conspiracy theories so we know it really is
the beloved Lounge Bar Bore of the Gallery.

The Australian’s Paul Kelly copped probably his biggest public serve
from Ramsey who also gave Laurie Oakes a subtle backhander in revealing
that he and Kelly dined with the PM at The Lodge shortly before they
all headed to Washington.

Whilst Ramsey is feisty, but over the top, the Murdoch vs Latham story
is getting very interesting. Anyone who has read every Peter Blunden
election editorial over the years – and you can do it here – knows that
the Herald Sun is the most biased pro-Liberal mainstream newspaper in
the country.

When you combine this natural bias with personal animosity you get the
sort of blatantly one-sided coverage that has been thrown at Peter
Garrett over the past three days by Australia’s biggest selling

The Saturday Herald Sun was nothing short of a Garrett hatchet job. The
front page splash was “Garrett’s flip flop” and opened with the
provocative line: “Peter Garrett has taken just 24 hours to abandon
policies he held true for more than two decades.”

Buried in the splash was this line which explains a lot: “Mr Garrett
has refused to talk to the Herald Sun over many years, maintaining a
long-term stance of shunning the country’s largest-selling daily

Gee, we can’t see this ban being lifted any time soon given the
amazingly one-sided coverage so far. There was loads of opinion flying
from the commentariat today but no-one was as brazen as Gerard McManus
who, in the absense of chief political reporter and former Labor
staffer Michael Harvey, penned a separate comment piece for the Hun
declaring: “Mark Latham has made his first big mistake this week.”

McManus goes on to claim that it is a much bigger mistake than bringing
the troops home. We still reckon making Simon Crean shadow treasurer is
Mark Latham’s biggest mistake but the more experienced and respected
commentators are pretty evenly split and struggling to get a fist on
how the Garrett move will play out. This was Hillary’s first crack at
assessing the poll-effect of Garrett: Roll on the polls – post Garrett

You then had a big Saturday feature piece from McManus and rounding off
the Herald Sun attack was this savage editorial which dwelt on the
grass root getting shafted, Garrett’s voting record and the assertion
that he was not team player and “a ticking time bomb for Labor”.

Strangely, the editorial finished off with this line: “To survive in
politics, he will have to change his tune. It remains to be seen if he

But the front page splash was all about how he had changed his tune on
a few kew issues such as a pulp mill in Tasmania and American bases.
Mark Latham is living proof that a politician who cuts through can shed
old baggage and positions when stepping up. This is clearly what
Garrett is aiming to do.

Attacks on Latham in the Murdoch press are getting more and more
strident and Latham hit back at The Weekend Australian’s splash today,
which claimed he was softening his line on bringing the troops home.
Asked if it was a Murdoch attack, Latham simply said “it was an
inaccurate report”.

There is plenty of punishment that a Latham Government could mete out
against Murdoch if relations continue to deteriorate. We’ve already
seen the Carr Government’s new tax on rugby league clubs which will
cost News Corp’s NRL tens of millions over the years.

Peter Beattie’s QIC could vote its large stake in News Corp against the
move to America or a Simon Crean-controlled FIRB could simply block it.
Foreigners could be banned from bidding for the new television licence.
The new forced divestiture laws for the ACCC could be used to require
News Ltd to sell some newspapers. Telstra could be told not to sell its
Foxtel stake to News Corp.

The stakes are high and at one level it looks like the recruiting of
Garrett is seen by the pro-American Murdoch as a declaration of war by

In turn, Latham appears to be very determined and a great hater but he
is biting his lip and moderating his ways to get into The Lodge. After
that, we could return to those famous stoushes of 30 years ago between
a younger Rupert Murdoch and Iron Mark’s hero, Gough Whitlam.

Garrett the pragmatist

Bob Brown was fuming on Friday as his potential star recruit Peter Garrett raised the worker’s banner.

“Does Peter change the party on forests, or does he accede to the ALP’s chainsaw rules policy?” he demanded.

Brown claimed Garrett had exposed a split within the ALP on Tasmania’s
forests, saying that while some of the bruvvers believe just having the
bald bawler as a candidate was enough, others recognise the need to
protect almost a quarter of a million hectares of Tasmanian old-growth

He threatened that Green preferences would depend on policies on the
Murray Darling and global warming, as well as the Apple Isle’s forestry
industry – alas, somehow we can’t imagine them going to the Coalition.

Then he went all apocalyptic. “Poisoning of native wildlife, including
endangered species, fire-bombing of the forests, there’s just no room
in Peter’s thinking for that,” Brown said. “The question is, can the
Labor Party lock him in, or can he get them to green-up and genuinely
stop this disaster?”

Odd. We didn’t think that even Gunn’s used napalm in its operations.
And has Brown – and everyone else – forgotten Garrett’s deal with the
(wait for it) National Farmers Federation of less than 12 months ago.

Garrett, wearing his Australian Conservation Federation hat – and NFF
boss Peter Cornish issues a very civilised “Joint Statement to the
Prime Minister, Premiers, and Australian Community” outlining
“Principles for a Long-Term Australian Water Policy Framework and
Action Plan” on July 23 last year. Short memory, must have a short

You can read it all here and an outline is officially up under: ” Policies” at the NFF’s website

Could the wild rock ‘n’ roller really be pragmatism personified?

Garrett’s songs and the media

An Oil fan and political junkie writes:

Is it possible to start a running list of Midnight Oil song references

in recent media coverage of Garrett’s impending ALP candidature? So far
we’ve seen numerous references to Power and the Passion, and I think
the Age today invokes Read About It. I believe Tony Jones threw in
Powderworks (a lesser known, but excellent reference – with the great
line ‘There’s a Sh*t Storm a Coming’), and possibly Cold Cold Change
(or maybe it was just the film clip they showed in lieu of a comment
from Garrett). Jones also managed to segue into a story on US troops in
Iraq with ‘US forces give the nod’ (though he failed to follow up with
‘but do the Iraqi people think it’s a set back for their country’).

I can see potential for other songs such as Short Memory (referring to
the ALP’s poor history with recent celebrity candidates), When the
Generals Talk (describing discussions between senior ALP figures),
Stand in Line (when ALP headquarters tells the relevant branch to
accept Garrett as a candidate), Back on the Borderline (when the ALP is
unsure if it will indeed endorse Garrett) or even Don’t Wanna Be the
One (if Garrett decides not to run).

I’m not sure about post-Diesel and Dust references, ’cause I stopped
paying attention to Midnight Oil when they dumped their pub rock sound
for a folk-rock feel, and began to run out of leftie causes to champion.

CRIKEY: The Age even tried to run the line today that John
Howard’s nomination of Beds are Burning as his favourite Oils song
makes attacks on Garrett and Labor more difficult given his own
approach to Indigenous affairs. It should be established from the
outset in this Garrett debate that you can like like a song without
endorsing the lyrics, but the PM could clearly have picked something
more neutral.