The Queensland public is being duded big time by the beat-ups, hyperbole and plain old fashioned media bastardry surrounding the Jayant “Dr Death” Patel “deal”. And as is often said about Iraq, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Accountability, good governance and the greater public good are at stake – but The Courier-Mail has nothing on the story today.
The issue here is that The Australian broke the yarn and the Courier, in fierce competition with the national daily on its own patch at the moment, is running dead on it. The rest of the local media takes some of their cues from the Courier, and so coverage has been scant.
The Oz has been its own worst enemy from the outset, breaking the story with an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that a proposal to have Patel return voluntarily to face charges was blocked because it would have been politically deadly ahead of the state election.
Since then the paper has run more beat-ups, exaggerations and a premature call for Attorney-General Linda Lavarch to resign – all of which makes the rest of the media wary about getting on the bandwagon.
It has also made it easier for the Beattie Government to dismiss the story, often with exaggerations of its own, like describing the Patel proposal as “corrupt, sleazy, a rort”.
Today’s story in The Oz, something of a “smoke and mirrors” job, at least shows that Beattie has adopted more positions on what happened than a cut-price working girl when the fleet’s in town.
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If Patel had returned voluntarily, taxpayers and victims would have been spared the expense and uncertainty of an extradition hearing. Which leaves some serious questions unanswered: Exactly why was a deal not done? Why could negotiations not have continued to reach a compromise? Has the independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who agreed with Patel’s proposal, been compromised? What (potentially improper) role did Beattie have in stopping a deal?
Seems it is too naive to hope that media outlets will put aside petty rivalries and cut the melodrama and beat-ups so that politicians are put under real pressure to give the public some straight answers.