Margaretta Pos writes:

On 17 March, the day before the Tasmanian election, the influential Hobart Mercury announced it was backing Labor incumbent Paul Lennon in the poll.

The
Premier must have been pleased to get the nod, especially when he woke
up and read the very positive editorial “No reason to change,” that
began:

Tasmanians have enjoyed unprecedented growth and prosperity
over the past four years. We have gone from an economic basket case to
a vibrant, confident community. Our population decline has been halted,
the old millstone of public debt has been all but erased, Tasmanians
have a can-do attitude to life and work, and we have a lifestyle other
Australians envy – and want to share.

It concluded thus:

Mr Lennon’s gaffes, when weighed against the Government’s
economic record, are not the stuff that bring down governments. Despite
health and forestry being significant issues on the campaign trail,
Tasmanians finally will consider who is best equipped to handle the
economy – and that can only be Labor. But no matter what Tasmanians
decide, when they wake up on Sunday morning they will find the sky
hasn’t fallen. This state will be the same agreeable place it has
always been.

But now Tasmanians are entitled to ask: did
Lennon know that ringing editorial endorsement was coming? And did the
Premier influence the paper’s editorial stance – given that just a few weeks after the election The Mercury’s chief leader writer has announced he’s going to work for the Lennon government?

Chief
leader writer and letters editor Norm Andrews told Crikey this morning
that he’s jumping ship to take up a role as senior private secretary to
Steven Kons, the new Attorney General. He’ll be joining his wife Sue
Bailey, a former Mercury reporter and media adviser to Paula Wriedt and two other ministers, on the Lennon payroll.

This morning, Mercury
editor Garry Bailey (no relation to Sue) said he did not think the move reflected badly on
his paper. “The editorial writer does the bidding of the editor,” he
said. “And no, it’s not a bad look. People are entitled to move jobs
whenever they wish. Norm is the consummate professional. In every case
the editorial is the opinion or the agenda that I set.”

Just another case of His Master’s Voice?

Peter Fray

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