The Australian’s election coverage:

John Penny writes: Re. “Gillard thanked us for being fair and balanced: The Oz editor” (Friday, item 2). I am astounded by the bizarre claim made by the Editor-in-Chief of The Australian newspaper, that Julia Gillard thought their coverage of the election campaign was “fair and balanced”. “Fair and balanced” is of course the slogan of Fox News, another right-wing product from the same American stable. “Stable” seems apt, in view of what a stable produces in large quantities.

When The Australian first appeared, I remember that media analysts thought that it could not pay its way, and would require subsidy from other parts of the Murdoch empire. But it was acknowledged then that the paper might be worthwhile for reasons of prestige and “political influence”.

Today, the paper’s paid circulation is modest, and seems to be fragile. My Uni student grandson was offered a year-long subscription to The Australian and The Advertiser for $80, about 13 cents a copy. Copies of the paper sit on shop counters and newsstands all over Australia. The subsidy needed now may be considerable.

But the papers that sit on counters are seen by millions of Australians. With their cleverly-slanted headlines, the front pages serve as political billboards to advance the interests of the paper’s owners, in trying to get elected a Government that will best serve those interests.

The key fact about The Australian is that it is not Australian. It is owned by an American company, News Corporation. This company has, inter alia, an important stakeholding from the Saudi ruling family. Crikey can perform a service, by bringing to light all important links between the owners of this company and their other commercial interests in Australia — and course links to any Australian political party.

Martyn Smith writes: In Friday’s Crikey Jason Whittaker reports claims from Chris Mitchell that Julia Gillard praised his papers “balanced coverage” during the recent election campaign. The editor of the “Former Australian” is missing the point.

As one of millions of potential customers of his paper I don’t care what Julia is supposed to have said. I know his paper’s coverage, and that of its stable mates, was biased, mendacious and mischievous and consider he should hang his head in shame. He’s not a journalists boot lace!  When the ALP considers it’s near death experience I hope that as well as looking at its many mistakes in the election campaign it examines News Limited bias too.

Dale Spender writes: I have stopped buying The Australian, it’s the only protest I can make against its flagrant bias and attempt to malign the government and now the Greens.

Barry Welch writes: The actions of The Oz and the rest of the Murdoch mob confirm that they believe in a mediacracy not a democracy.

Andrew Lewis writes: Perspective is an amazing thing isn’t it. Carolyn Whybird (Friday, comments) observes that while The Australian reported, the rest of you motley lot just backed Labor.

Regardless of your point of view, I would like to take Carolyn to task about a few things.

The NBN was costed, and it seems to be either $43b or $27b depending on your accountant, but she can hardly complain that it wasn’t costed. Tony Abbott must have said $43b a hundred times, and The Australian surely reported it, at least every other paper did.  However no cost-benefit analysis was done, which is what she might be talking about, but that is also true of every other government and opposition policy. Cost-benefit analysis is never done on policy, otherwise most of the decisions of the Howard government would have been still-born.

She also complains about going back 20 years to a monopoly. Respectfully Carolyn, we have always had a monopoly. A monopoly in telecommunications is an unfortunate necessity in Australia, and if you have to have a monopoly then it is best for all if it is in government hands.

Telstra’s monopoly position as wholesaler to the market while also doing business as a retailer has been a disaster for telecommunications, for city folk and regional types alike.  You can thank John Howard that we have had the monopoly for the last 20 years though.

But Carolyn is right. There are a lot of questions the media should have asked. I’m not that surprised by her lack of interest in the Coalition’s substantially errant policy costings.  Let’s keep in mind that the errors in the Coalitions costing would have paid for a quarter of the NBN.

Ark Tribe:

Ava Hubble writes: About 500 construction workers rallied outside the South Australian Magistrates’ Court in support of construction worker, Ark Tribe.  As reported in Crikey he faces a six-month term of imprisonment for failing to appear at a compulsory Australian Building and Construction Commission inquiry in 2008.

The general secretary of the construction division of the CFMEU, Dave Noonan, who is in court for the hearing, told Crikey that he does not expect a ruling today. By coincidence, the contract of the ABCC’s commissioner, John Lloyd, is understood to expire today.

Ground Zero:

Sam Varghese writes: Re. Friday’s editorial. Your editorial of September 10 states, in part: “The proposed site for a mosque, located near Ground Zero, …”

Get your facts right. What is proposed to be built is “an Islamic cultural centre. It includes a a 500-seat auditorium, theatre, performing arts centre, fitness centre, swimming pool, basketball court, childcare area, bookstore, culinary school,  art studio, food court, September 11 memorial, and prayer space that could accommodate 1000 to 2000 people.”

Also note that prior to the September 11 attacks “at least two mosques existed near the World Trade Center, and  several designated Muslim prayer rooms existed within the World Trade Centre buildings.”

And plans to build what was initially called Cordoba House and is now being referred to as Park 51 were “reported as far back as December 2009 at a location that was already in use for Muslim worship”; see  here.

How did I get all this information of which you seem to be blissfully ignorant? Heard of something called the internet? Look up Wikipedia and there’s all this and more.

Martin Ferguson:

Jim Green, national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth anti-nuclear writes: What a shame that Prime Minister Gillard missed the opportunity to move Martin Ferguson out of the resources and energy portfolio. Academic Clive Hamilton describes Mr Ferguson as the fossil fuel industries’ “point-man in the cabinet” and includes him a ‘dirty dozen’ list of people who have done most to block effective action to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Ferguson’s plan to impose a national radioactive waste dump on Aboriginal land in the NT has also been highly controversial and is now subject to a legal challenge initiated by Traditional Owners. Mr Ferguson has repeatedly refused requests to meet with affected Traditional Owners and his draft legislation overrides the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

The Prime Minister ought to have paid more attention to the election results — a large swing against Mr Ferguson in his suburban Melbourne electorate of Batman (previously the safest Labor seat in the country, now within reach of the Greens), and a 24% swing against the ALP in Tennant Creek, the town closest to the proposed radioactive waste dump in the NT.

Name Wilson Tuckey’s blog:

Brian Johnstone writes: Re. “Tuckey 2.0: Ironbar’s foray into the blogosphere” (Friday, item5). Do you really think this rubbish attracts readers. Why encourage this buffoon?

Andrew Pegler writes: Tell iron bar to buy some software to translate his vocal mumblings into words to save his typing problems. These are widely available and not too expensive.

Ben McGinnes writes: There’s no reason why we can’t combine Wilson Tuckey’s desire to use “Ironbar” in his blog name with an appropriate description (and pun).  I
suggest: Ironbarker (either with or without a preceding “the”).

Tom Cummings writes: It’s hard to past the 80’s pop homage of “Wilson’s Fillip”.

Anne Cooper writes: Tuckey talkin’ Turkey.

David Lenihan writes: Tuckey’s Tucker Bag

Kirill Reztsov writes: I think it should be called “Wilson Tuckey Files” or WTF for short.

Pedro writes: The IronBar & Grill.

Meemo Eldin writes: The Bush Tuckey Man.

Pádraig Collins writes: Tuckey Slapped.