It was hard to forget The Australian’s aggressive campaign
against the summer closure of the NSW justice system in 2004-05,
especially given the subsequent detailed complaint
lodged with the Press
Council by NSW Attorney General Bob Debus. The paper followed up with
some similar coverage this summer, claiming credit for the improved
work rate of NSW judges.

Then you have the paper’s attacks on The AFR for taking too many days
off over the Christmas-New Year period and this even extended to a dig
at Crikey in Strewth on Wednesday when the following appeared:

Give ’em a break

Over the past couple of years journalistic gadfly Crikey has
waged a campaign against The Australian Financial Review for not publishing
during the week over Christmas. This year there was no such campaign, possibly
because Crikey itself, for the first time in its history, took two weeks off
(although it did publish a special the day that Kerry Packer died). Stephen Mayne, who set
up Crikey before selling it last year to Text Media, admitted “gotcha” when
challenged by Strewth. New owner, former Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne
Herald editor Eric Beecher, explained staff “`took the opportunity to stretch
our legs and stretch our brains.” It’s called a holiday.

Well it’s “Gotcha” for The Australian as well today which failed
to produce its usual Friday legal section. The AFR published a three
page Legal Affairs section. What must all those NSW judges think of
such hypocrisy from the Murdoch flagship? It’s January 20 for goodness sake, where are those lazy legal hacks?

We asked The Australian to explain their actions and managing editor Martin Beesley replied as follows: “The Australian’s legal section returns next Friday, January 27.
Since when did The Fin set the agenda on anything?”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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