The West Australian Government really dislikes the West Australian newspaper.
This week the Carpenter Government considered launching two more cases against the newspaper with the Press Council. The Government has the taste for it. It won a case recently and has launched another which it expects to win next month.
It’s a sign of the Government’s growing frustration with the West Australian, which it now considers as “hostile” due to what it describes as its “built in bias.”
But in WA, where the conservative parties are described as “weak as piss,” the West Australian has become the effective opposition.
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It’s a role the editor, Paul Armstrong, seems to relish and which the Government increasingly hates him for.
A Government insider told Crikey that Armstrong has a “zealous approach” and a “one-eyed view of the world.” He said the editor “walks, smells and looks like a Young Tory” and has a “lack of goodwill”.
“Essentially The West Australian is totally unfair in the way it treats stories,” the insider said.
One of the stories that raised the Government’s ire this week was Monday’s page one article on spin doctors. The West claimed the Government was spending vast amounts on its spin machine.
The Government retorted that the report was nonsense because the West had included every single member of every single minister’s office, including more than 40 receptionists, telephonists and admin people in its figures.
“There’s no F—ing balance. You don’t expect people to roll over and publish everything you give them but with the West, it’s all hostile.”
The Press Council has been kept busy thanks to The West Australian. Armstrong has been the subject of seven complaints during his four years as editor. The Australian newspaper became embroiled recently when it criticised Armstrong’s handling of a health story in January when the paper got several facts wrong.
The Oz explained that the WA Government had resorted to the Press Council to get even with Armstrong. In response Armstrong filed a separate Press Council complaint against The Australian.
An insider at the West Australian said yesterday that Paul Armstrong can be given credit for keeping the Government accountable and for serving it up to them. He says Armstrong has “serious ambitions” for the paper and doesn’t see it as just another tabloid. He adds “When you open the paper you’ll never die wondering where it stands on the issue.”
The Government insider reckons the West Australian is not above retribution if it complains and for this reason he concedes that the Government probably won’t pursue its latest complaints.
“What’s the bloody point?” he asks.