Alan Ramsey used his Saturday column in the SMH to really let fly at the Murdoch press after Friday’s Press Council finding against the Herald Sun for its outrageous Gerard McManus beat up on the Greens during the federal election campaign. Check it out here.

At the time, we produced the following commentary:

Murdoch’s anti-Green template

September 1, 2004

Has a template for attacking the Greens been circulated to Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids in an attempt to curb their growing popularity?

The Herald Sun’s front page attack on Bob Brown and the Greens over their drugs policy yesterday may have looked familiar to our NSW subscribers. This is what the Sunday Telegraph splashed with on March 2, 2003, just days after the NSW election campaign began:

Ecstasy over the counter – Revealed: the Greens’ hidden policy

DRUG users will escape penalty under a hidden plan by the NSW Greens to sell prohibited substances over the counter. So-called “party drugs” like ecstasy and speed would be sold in licensed drug shops, and registered addicts would receive free heroin under the policy, which is not included in the party’s State election brochures. The party is running third in opinion polls, and is expecting its best-ever result in the March 22 State election.

Jamie Parker, left, the Greens’ candidate for Port Jackson, the first Lower House seat it hopes to win, stood by the policy, saying: “Prohibition isn’t working.”

Now compare that to Gerard McManus’s effort in yesterday’s Hun:

Greens policy backs illegal drugs

Ecstasy and other illegal drugs would be supplied over the counter to young users in a radical policy framed by Senator Bob Brown’s Greens.

The Greens manifesto backs official supply of the dangerous drug ecstasy as well as state-sanctioned heroin and marijuana sales at what it calls appropriate venues. The ecstasy policy suggests distributing the drug to users while providing official information detailing the dangers of the drug.

About 15 people have died from ecstasy use since it hit Australia in the 1990s. The drug can cause severe psychological side-effects in some people.


CRIKEY: At face value, Brown got himself into a fight he really couldn’t win, but he’s clearly decided to take a stand that might just work. Murdoch’s minions will be reluctant to trot out the same blatant beat-ups now that the Press Council have flogged the normally more respectable Herald Sun in a way that has received a good deal of publicity, albeit not much in the Murdoch press.

At the time we thought Bob Brown might have benefitted from the publicity given that Uncle Ray had him on the following night, but the Greens leader now claims it cost them hundreds of thousands of votes. Like so many Bob Brown claims, that is an exaggeration although close to 100,000 is not unreasonable given the way the Liberals subsequently used the Herald Sun concoctions in their election material.

Don’t expect News Ltd to discipline McManus, who was obviously following instruction from thin-skinned Green-hating Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden. After all, both are just footsoldiers for the broader Murdoch left-bashing agenda. It is not surprising that the conservative Murdoch press beats up on the Greens given that News Corp is controlled by a man responsible for the consumption of more trees than anyone else in the history of the planet.