As life gets tougher for newspapers, there’s an even greater temptation to wield the egg-beater as a means of generating attention. Which is the only plausible explanation for the bizarre campaigns being waged simultaneously by The Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph to blow up parliamentary democracy in NSW.

The SMH‘s terrorist manifesto comes in the form of a petition for its readers to demand “a mechanism to call an early election” fifteen months ahead of the four-year fixed-term date. It begins with the admonition “We, the people, believe the State of NSW is being neglected” and concludes with the words “I support the right of the people of NSW to call an early election”.

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The Tele‘s petition is even more pompous in tone — “We the people call on Her Excellency Professor Marie Roslyn Bashir AC CVO, the 37th Governor of NSW, to dissolve Parliament and bring on an early election” — and even more ridiculous in logic.

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In the days when they had muscle, newspapers used to run campaigns that sometimes achieved genuine and important reform. That’s because they were based on intellectual rigor and built on editorial credibility, not merely created as “look at me” gimmicks.

Today, as they grasp for relevance in their dotage, the Herald and Tele are running campaigns to demolish constitutional democracy in NSW that are absurd and positively embarrassing.

Peter Fray

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