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Sep 15, 2010

The Oz versus the Greens: well beyond the normal News Ltd bias

Judging by their frantic self-justification, the penny has dropped at The Australian that they have overplayed their hand in declaring their desire to destroy the Greens. We're used to News Ltd's bias, but this is something new.


Judging by the frantic self-justification yesterday and today, the penny has dropped at The Australian that they have overplayed their hand in declaring their desire to destroy the Greens.

This is a significant addition to our understanding of News Ltd’s agenda. I predicted the day after the election that this secretive, unaccountable American and Saudi-owned media company would go after the Greens, but I never thought it would be baldly stated as an editorial goal of the paper.

It’s one thing to be biased in your coverage. The paper’s consistent partisanship and open hostility to Labor is taken as read by all except its most blinkered adherents — even, perhaps, by its own journalists, some of whom are prone to reassuring people outside the News Ltd bubble that they don’t really agree with many of the things they write and shouldn’t be judged on them. And to an extent it’s understandable, given the paper’s declining readership that skews much older and wealthier than even other newspapers.

But its declaration of war on the Greens is a whole step beyond that.

Doubtless at some point after that editorial, the penny dropped in the minds of News executives and Chris Mitchell that, having declared that the goal of the paper was the destruction of the Greens, nothing The Australian reported about the Greens could henceforth be taken at face value. Anything it reports about the Greens, or policy issues of concern to the Greens, is now automatically suspect. How can anyone trust it to report accurately on the Greens or environmental issues?

The ABC, which is used to taking its late night and morning news agenda cues pretty much directly from The Australian, will now have to vet and fact-check even the most anodyne report if it touches on a party that outlet has vowed to destroy.

Such a declaration can now not be withdrawn without inviting even more ridicule than has already been heaped on the paper. Thus the rather frantic tone of self-justification over recent days. In the single funniest editorial of perhaps the past decade, The Australian yesterday declared itself the victim of a conspiracy by the ABC and Fairfax to undermine its quality journalism. Perhaps annoyed that its clear intent to delegitimise the new Labor minority Government was identified so early, it declared that The Oz was the real victim of delegitimisation — delegitimisation of its coverage. Its media writers — who are front and centre on many a campaign of import to News Ltd’s commercial interests — have also joined in. Chief Kool-Aid guzzler Caroline Overington devoted most of her Monday media column to hectoring Laura Tingle and David Marr. And today Geoff Elliot ran a series of truncated quotes from “senior media professionals” to back the newspaper.

None of that will help: The Australian is condemned out of its own mouth — its political reporting is automatically biased, not just by the usual partisanship, but by an open declaration that it wishes to destroy the Greens.

An example of how they will try happened earlier this week. On Monday, The Australian put together a story about Greg Combet and his attitude toward coal, given its prominence in his electorate. A journalist from the paper called the Greens to invite them to respond to Combet’s comments. Sensing a trap, the Greens refused to cooperate, offering an anodyne comment about “building a working relationship” with Labor. Yesterday, according to the Greens, another journalist from The Australian called again to try to extract a more useable, aggressive quote about Combet and coal, and when the Greens refused again to play along, threatened to run a “Greens going soft on coal” story and ring around environment groups to elicit hostile comments about them. The Greens have mentioned the incident to environment groups and suggested they be on the alert for journalists from The Australian trying to manufacture splits in the environmental movement.

Impressive stuff from an outlet that claims it is being bullied by Bob Brown.

The Australian complains about “delegitimisation” of its coverage. The delegitimisation is entirely self-created, and started when it switched from being a conservative paper — for which there is a strong case in the Australian media landscape — to a partisan paper. But an open declaration that it intends to destroy, rather than accurately report on, an important aspect of Australian politics takes The Australian’s degradation of its own reputation to a new level.


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103 thoughts on “The Oz versus the Greens: well beyond the normal News Ltd bias

  1. Daemon Singer

    I do wonder whether it will come as any sort of shock to the Australian, that outside of the Liberal party and its coalition with the Nationals, most people who are actively involved in politics are actually quite smart, and I’m not talking about the politicians themselves, but rather those of us who come election time stand up and assist our chosen party at the polling place.

    I actually enjoy many things about The Australian, but I have to confess that its substantially right-wing bias has become somewhat tiresome over the last few years. Now to have them actively engaged in pulling a political party down, puts them in a somewhat invidious position vis a vis information reliability.

    Declining readership aside, their seeming incapacity to understand the needs of the current generation of news consumers must weigh heavily on the minds of their accountants when we all rush out in the morning with a cup of tea and sit down in front of a computer and read all three newspapers within half an hour (Brisbane-based). Added to that is the fact that we read those same three newspapers at no charge, and it seems the writing should be on the wall, even if it isn’t, for the Oz and their colleagues.

    One gets somewhat used to the Murdochs, the Fairfax’s et al screeching about whichever party they don’t particularly like, trust etc., But to have them come out so bluntly and put their political cards on the table is a somewhat new experience, at least to this reader. I’m not sure whether it was an accidental breach of the Chinese wall, or whether they are trying for a new look, but it sure does make reading the Oz a whole new ball game.

    One can only hope that the subs and friends of the ABC spent a little time looking about before sending items off to News 24, which would then have the capacity to make them look rather stupid, if it had come straight out of the Oz.

  2. Mr Squid

    I don’ think the Australian’s piece of self-debasement will have any effect on the ABC whatsoever. it too has set itself on a course of debauching every principle of ethical, honest, objective, independent and responsible journalism.

  3. Pamela

    I decided to personally blacklist The Australian by reading it online only- and never buying it. Sadly may be heading this way with what was once my beloved AGE.

    Just too much OLD PARADIGM- Bob Katter you have much to answer for!
    But seriously the old one -two political game is just so last year. Time for real discussion, reflective new ideas. Is this not why we decided not to give the bastards a free run? We are just over watching the kiddies fight.
    Time the media caught up and stopped alternately urging and reporting the puerile fights. The Coalition 2IC needs debarking- did you see her last night UURRRGH and Yes Fran- you are in there too.

    Still in luv with Crikey though…

  4. Jimmy

    You should also not discount the effect their blatant dummy spitting after labor was returned to their delegitimisation.
    Hopefully now they have been exposed we might be able to get some rational analysis of policy or is that just to much to ask?

  5. Scott

    The only way to have a truely balanced view point is to read the words of both the left and the right. The left is well served with the SMH/Age so it is only fitting that The Australian performs the role of mouthpiece of the right (at least it’s not the telegraph).
    I reconn the Oz should just stand behind it’s comments instead of trying to backtrack. Just looks weak.

  6. tentomushi1

    “Some papers did engage in front-page editorialising during the campaign, but The Australian was not among them.”

    Oh boy did that comment have me laughing for a while!

  7. deconst

    Fox News was once a legitimate news organisation. I wonder how many parallels there are between its descent and the descent of the Australian.

    The recent antics of that newspaper and its parent company show how significant media anti-consolidation laws are in protecting diversity of opinion.

  8. klewso

    The Greens should be issued with tape recorders for all incoming phone calls.

  9. johnd

    Well, it’s nice to see that Rupert has ordered that the Australian should more closely emulate his crown-jewel news organization Fox News.
    Soon the Oz will be filled with pseudo journalists frothing at the mouth and declaring that Julia was born in Haiti and is a citizen of Bosnia, and so shouldn’t be allowed to be Prime Minister.

  10. D Smith

    @Klewso, under the Australian telecommunications act, you must notify the other party on the phone that the call is being recorded.

    I can’t imagine any of The Australian’s reporters wanting to be recorded. They’d probably report it as “Another attack on the Saintly Australian by those evil hippy, communist, stalinist, union loving, elitist, educated Greenies.”.

  11. Grogary Farino

    People should simply read The Australian and crikey.com.au; much like Goldilock’s final porridge, the mixture should be “just right”.

  12. klewso

    It’s funny how, under their own “Howard Media Ownership Laws”, and what they delivered, they still can’t seem to be able to “flourish” beyond the rhetorical, and still draw all this public flack and opprobrium, amid their own “engineered” lack of competition – while sponsoring and trying to sell their brand of government to the electorate at large.

  13. wilful

    The ABC, which is used to taking its late night and morning news agenda cues pretty much directly from The Australian, will now have to vet and fact-check even the most anodyne report if it touches on a party that outlet has vowed to destroy.

    hahahahaha. you jest, surely? we can only dream.

  14. Adam Gilbert

    I wear The Australian’s declining revenues, readership and relevance with pride!

    The whole sad episode of the OZ declaring blatantly and collectively of their intent to destroy a political party very telling. It is clear that they see the Greens and their progressive politics as hugely threatening. They know that at this election this Greens have cut-through in Australia, not just in the fringes.

  15. Damien

    The Australian is utterly discredited in my view and has been since the days of the Howard Government. I don’t know anyone who reads it who isn’t involved with one of the conservative parties to a greater or lesser extent. It’s a pity therefore that the ABC, and commercial TV, must look to it for a lead on national issues simply because there’s so little competition in the national print news space. This really helps the Murdoch papers to shape popular impressions of public policy. If you keep repeating the same fiction without being challenged effectively, it soon becomes the truth.

  16. Mr Denmore

    Anyone interested in this subject should listen to today’s radio interview with John Menadue on the failure of the media, during the election campaign – most notably the partisan sheet that The Australian has become and more particularly the echo chamber of the ABC.

    Menadue, it should be said, is a former general manager of News Ltd:


  17. Jimmy

    The fact that the Australians readership & revenues are declining is largely irrelevant, the fact is that the most popular papers in each state are all Murdoch owned and I can really only speak on the Herald Sun but it’s political commentary is also very right wing but lacks any seriousness at all (eg Andrew Bolt spent an editorial last week on his dog) so the Australian operates as an agenda setter of sorts. You only have to look at the BER to see thatit’s false campaign can very quickly lead to all other news sources referring to something as “troubled” or a “policy failure” based solely on the Australians opinion.

  18. Daemon Singer

    @Adam Gilbert: I agree. It’s a sad indictment on Australian media in general, but the right-wing elements of it in particular seem to almost take it as a personal affront when somebody other than the Lib/National coalition get up.

    Speaking of “get up”, the exercise by that pseudo-political body during the recent election must also have given them (the Oz), cause for concern, since by its very existence Getup is demonstrating that there are a lot of Australians are there with enough concern about the political process to want to involve themselves in it at a grassroots level with a view to being heard in the corridors of power, just for a change. I suspect it’s true to say, it certainly is from my perspective that once a political party is in power irrespective of what badge they wear, the people who put them there are simply ignored.

    Perhaps it’s time for such information organs as the Oz to take a long hard look at what people actually think rather than what they think people should think (based on their editorialising about whatever it is they want people to think about). In truth none of these media organisations believe any of us actually think, but rather are guided in our actions in an unthinking way by what we read in the media, and what we do as a result of that reading.

    @D Smith: it’s interesting to see the reaction one gets, when one informs the caller, especially a commercial organisation such as a telco or a bank that the call is being recorded. In general, they can’t get off the phone fast enough.

  19. Michael R James

    [WILFUL Posted Wednesday, 15 September 2010 at 2:37 pm |
    The ABC, which is used to taking its late night and morning news agenda cues pretty much directly from The Australian, will now have to vet and fact-check even the most anodyne report if it touches on a party that outlet has vowed to destroy.

    hahahahaha. you jest, surely? we can only dream.]

    Maybe I was dreaming this morning when –either on AM or regular ABC612, still half asleep I cannot remember–a newslady described the Turnbull appointment in terms exactly (not similar, exact word for word) in the Australian’s headline article (that I had read online just after midnight): “Turnbull brought in to bludgeon Labor over NBN”. And non, she wasn’t reviewing “what the papers say”, the ABC do not do that, intentionally.
    Wilful, it happens all the time–almost every single day on major issues. You need to pay more attention.

  20. shepherdmarilyn

    One OO journo threatened to sue me for defamation after someone else advised him I said he was knowingly lying about his source for the BER rants.

    What a hoot. How precious do these jerks have to be before they are laughed out of town?

    Like Paul Maley jumping into bed with the sinhala Ambassador here to create so-called scandals about “terrorists’ in the Tamil cohort. All those who went to Canada that Maley claimed were tigers got refugee status.

    It was not reported by Maley.

    And the OO wrote at least 4 editorials claiming that asylum seekers should be sent away, which was in direct contrast to the reality of the law.

    Everyone needs to read the book about Dr Haneef and then weep with despair – all the news outlets in this country take the word of the OZ and reprint it because apart from a few like Paul McGeough and some in the field over seas they don’t bother looking for news.

    It was wonderful to see Rudd off to Pakistan this morning after the 4 Corners program had me weeping over a tiny baby girl dying.

    For the record – our aid to the whole of Pakistan has been about $40 million, during the war we spent $40 million as well but that was for the federal police to prevent any refugees daring to come our way while the Taliban displaced 3 million Pakistanis.

    OUr budget to rebuild the illegal concentration camp in Curtin was $143 million.

    For Afghans and Sri Lankans whose cases were illegally suspended.

  21. David

    johnd…some foul rubbish has already been thrown at Julia. Living in sin, barren, childless, an atheist in the Lodge, cant afford a handbag, what she wears, how she looks….its a bloody disgrace. I would have expected an outcry of protest at such shabby treatment of our PM, but no, apart from a few calls o talkback, a few blogs, hardly a whimper. Although our Liz and Shepherd Marilyn on these pages have been quick to support her. And the Libs dare to complain at Abbott being given a few descriptive names, he should be so lucky.

  22. Space Kidette

    Surely, this vindictive vitriol, which has become the trademark of the Oz and it’s stuck-up, holier than thou, lower than C-grade journalists, just has to wither and die soon. Although, I must admit that it has become my real life Dilbert dose every morning.

    I read it in anticipation of the hiliarious over-extension of the tiniest of details into sensationalist, life-threatening global dramatics that has me in absolute stitches most days. Would I ever buy an Oz – Never! Nor would I purchase any of it’s stablemates. Limited News will never see coin from my pocket.

    What is very sad is that the power of the media is being exploited to influence the mindless masses who do purchase this daily rag to determine the political outcome preferred by one individual. I am glad to see that the industry as a whole, has decided to beat up on these media dictators, and I am equally glad to see that Bob Brown is wise to BS being bandied about and his decision not to be ridden roughshod by those mindless journalists.

    As to what is happening with the ABC journalists – I can’t figure out what they have to gain by being Ruperts second mouthpiece. I used to be proud of the fact that the ABC represented truth in journalism and could be trusted to present balanced and factual reporting and analysis. Now I don’t even bother to flick over to Aunty – except for the Gruen Transfer and Spicks and Specks. Their news and current affairs I can read anytime at OZ online.

  23. john2066

    Yes, this is the beginning of the end for this bacteria strewn rag, as you correctly point out, partly owned by Saudi interests. How can you ever trust its coverage?

    The Australian has openly declared its hand – its ‘news’ is to be slanted and wont give you the proper story.

    All taxpayers should also be combing through the government ads section in the Weekend Australian , and aggressively challenging the govt departments wasting our money in this way.

  24. jimD

    Interesting that The Australian has chosen to admit their strategy of direct attack on a political party. Some of the comments above suggest that this is simply The Aus following the model of FoxNews in the United States, but this is not quite the case; Fox News hides behind a curtain of “fair and balanced” presentation of the news, and of a policy of “we report, you decide” (both of these are actual promotion slogans used by Fox News in the US). They are both ludicrously untrue, of course, but where did the idea come from? It could be something the loathsome Roger Ailes came up with to amuse himself, but it seems more likely it has come about through orders from Murdoch himself.

    It’s hard to say why Murdoch would want it this way: he is an old man, he is extremely wealthy, and were he normal, he would at this stage of his life be looking for legacy, presumably by insisting on quality in his news services, but in fact he has deliberately chosen the other path, leading the way for the US media to the bottom. Does someone like Murdoch really want the Tea Party to gain political influence, or a pinhead like Sarah Palin to win the Presidency? Can a man that smart be that stupid?

  25. Space Kidette

    Surely, this vindictive vitriol, which has become the trademark of the Oz and it’s stuck-up, holier than thou, lower than C-grade journalists, just has to wither and die soon. Although, I must admit that it has become my real life Dilbert dose every morning.

    I read it in anticipation of the hiliarious over-extension of the tiniest of details into sensationalist, life-threatening global dramatics that has me in absolute stitches most days. Would I ever buy an Oz – Never! Nor would I purchase any of it’s stablemates. Limited News will never see coin from my pocket.

    What is very sad is that the power of the media is being exploited and extreme bias is being used to influence the mindless masses who do purchase this daily rag to determine the political outcome preferred by one individual. I am glad to see that the industry as a whole, has decided to beat up on these media dictators, and I am equally glad to see that Bob Brown is wise to BS being bandied about and his decision not to be ridden roughshod by those mindless journalists.

    As to what is happening with the ABC journalists – I can’t figure out what they have to gain by being Ruperts second mouthpiece. I used to be proud of the fact that the ABC represented truth in journalism and could be trusted to present balanced and factual reporting and analysis. Now I don’t even bother to flick over to Aunty – except for the Gruen Transfer and Spicks and Specks. Their news and current affairs I can read anytime at OZ online.

  26. Space Kidette

    Sorry Guys, I only posted once – don’t know why it appear twice.

  27. michaelwholohan1

    @ Mr Denmore, I heard Menadue today.; he was measured commanding & should be heard by all. This man has been in all the places & knows.

  28. Peter Evans

    Good grief Scott, what makes you think the Fairfax papers are left-wing? Ridiculous. Just because the Australian is nutty right-wing doesn’t make it’s competitors automatically left-wing. The SMH and Age are moderately right-wing – certainly they are largely status-quo and pro deregulation of most things. The AFR is strongly right-wing, but, a few articles by IPA contributors aside, not on the nutty end of the scale like the Australian. There is no mainstream left-wing news and current affairs media in Australia. No large media organisation wants any sort of reform to society which would lessen the power of market forces.

  29. kakuru

    “The ABC, which is used to taking its late night and morning news agenda cues pretty much directly from The Australian, will now have to vet and fact-check even the most anodyne report if it touches on a party that outlet has vowed to destroy.”

    Shock-horror! The ABC has to fact-check its news articles! What’s the world coming to!

  30. baal

    Interesting that one of Miranda Devine’s last columns for the Sydney Morning Herald was a vilification of the Greens in Tasmania whom she characterised as ‘bullies’ harassing poor innocent Gunns. Clearly she was practicing for her new role for Murdoch’s rag. In her absence the odious Paul Sheehan will take up the challenge (he’s already had a go at poisoning Rob Oakeshott) but it remains to be seen whether the Herald will replace Devine (maybe they have) with a similar harpie.

  31. PoliticalTarot

    ‘The Australian’ is a total and utter embarrassment and disgrace. To directly state that their goal is to destroy the Greens goes far and away beyond what journalists should be doing – reporting the facts. If a paper leans towards one side or the other, fair enough (as long as the public can access BOTH as readily) but this is just plain WRONG.

    Dennis Shanahan has also come out and called the Greens policies “radical” and a polar opposite to “economic sense”. He dis not state how or why these policies are “radical”. This, along with most other articles from this paper, shows a woeful lack of research/refusal to present both sides of an argument.

    Also, to say that the SMH and The Age are left wing is a little idealistic, is is not? They sure aren’t judging from the coverage I’ve read. Thank goodness for people like Ross Gittins.

    ‘The Australian’ is just frothing at the mouth that it’s beloved Abbott and Conservative Co. were not voted in and since they appear to not understand what they SHOULD be doing as a newspaper they have resorted to the lowest type of sniping and criticism.

    And don’t even get me started on the handbag….

  32. Douglas Evan

    The Oz is running true to form with its attack against the Greens. The strategies its journalists have been using against the Greens have been used by them before in other circumstances. Bob Brown was quoted by Laura Tingle in the AFR “…The paper sees itself as a determinant of democracy in Australia. … It has stepped out of the role of the fourth estate to think it’s the determinant of who has seats in the Parliament and it’s time it was taken on.” He is right. Tingle may well have highlighted the real reasons for this latest flurry of disinformation and dirty tricks when she wrote on September 9 ‘…If nothing else, the government has a range of major policy issues to make with direct commercial consequences for News (Limited). …Those decisions start with the question of what the government does about a review of the sport anti-siphoning list which determines which sports can be shown on free to air and pay TV – for which you can read Foxtel. What happens to the national broadband network has long term implications for Foxtel and internet broadcasting. Government support for the ABC’s 24 hour news channel – which already has three times as many viewers as Sky News … is another commercial threat which fits into a global campaign News is running against public broadcasters.” There is ample reason to suppose that what is really driving the Oz’s campaign to destabilize a legitimate elected government is their desire to protect their profits.

  33. zut alors

    No handbag?!! Clearly not fit to govern.

  34. Cuppa

    There must be a Parliamentary Inquiry into the conduct of the media during the recent election campaign. The ABC must be put under the closest scrutiny of all because, out of all media outlets, it is the only one REQUIRED by Charter to provide a fair and meaningful product.

    Chief among the concerns which need to be publicly examined:

    Its slavish devotion to The Australians’ editorial line,

    Its unquestioning acceptance and presentation of Liberal talking points as gospel,

    The domination of its hourly radio news bulletins by Liberal spin (“The Federal Opposition says …”),

    Its pointed failure to give the Greens adequate and proportionate publicity,

    The encroachment of Murdoch mouthpiecs onto ABC airwaves in regular commentary positions (Milne, Akerman, Bolt, Kelly, Shanahan etc), which colours the ABC’s political coverage,

    The shoddy pursuit of ideological positions by various presenters, and their giving disproportionate airtime to wingnut commentators,

    The dominance of particular right wing, Liberal Party-connected think tanks (Institute of Public Affairs) of commentary slots at the ABC blog, The Drum,

    … For those interested in following up this topic, John Menadue was interviewed on 702 Sydney’s ‘Mornings’ about this topic. RECOMMENDED listening:


  35. PoliticalTarot

    No handbag no lodge! tut tut! I notice that Abbott doesn’t carry a briefcase much, however…

  36. rossco

    I think it is ironic that the more the Aus attacks the Greens the more their support goes up. There must have been a few of the hacks who found it hard to publish this weeks Newspoll.

    I am a Green living in WA and I get both the Australian and the West Australian. I am in my 60s and have always had a daily newspaper wherever I have lived. Getting my daily news from the net just doesn’t cut it for me.

    The West gives me local news and the Aust national and international news. I also look at Sky News, Crikey, various blogs, Lateline, Q&A, CommonDreams etc. If the Aus goes behind a firewall I won’t be affected.
    I think it is important to distinguish between “news” and “comment”. Where the Aus goes astray is having too many of its reporters inject comment into what should be news. You just need to apply your own b s filter when reading.

    What I find really frustrating, and I know I am not the only one, is the way in which the ABC just acts as a broadcaster for News Corp when it comes to news and current affairs.

    If the ABC did its own independent news gathering and broadcasting the Aus biased and misleading reporting would have very limited coverage ie just its direct readers.

  37. negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com

    This is why I subscribe to Crikey – where else would this story be written! Stick it up ’em Crikey.

  38. anony

    caroline overington? looks like her behaviour re: george newhouse/malcolm turnbull is now her standard procedure.

  39. Nick Gye

    George Meglogenis was put on the spot last Friday on Lateline , he was with Laura Tingle on the day of her article about the Oz. George is the best writer on the Oz, consistently informative. Informative is not something that the Australian is anymore, there’s just less worth reading in it.

    The Australian has a bully-boy approach; it’s sensitive to criticism and adopts an outraged and self-righteous tone, like in regards to the Laura Tingle piece. It’s ‘cut & paste’ column serves mainly as a vehicle to have a shot at its commercial rival, Fairfax.

    However, I am still subscribing as the West Australian doesn’t cut it for me. Though I am now buying the AFR every day.

  40. JaneGullveig

    Abbott doesn’t need to carry a briefcase, he carries a budgie.

    Aside from stupid humour, I must ask, is Rupert going senile?

  41. Turkey Tongue

    More than a few contracts are up for renewal at the ABC in the short term future.The top job among them.Hoping to see some new faces and fact based reporting return to airwaves,instead of the puerile regurgitation of OZ propaganda,neurosis editorials.

  42. nerk

    Peter Evans and Douglas Evan have it right.

    It’s easy to forget that media corporations are just that – corporations. They want what corporations want – which is profit. Their different brands are marketed to different demographics to increase market penetration, but they’re all fundamentally right-wing because all corporations want small government, low regulation, low taxation, free markets, etc so they can maximise profit. Yes, there are other issues overlayed on that – but it will always be a primal driving force in corporatised media.

    It’s not surprising that News Ltd – the biggest and most powerful – has carved out the Lib/Nat bias as its stomping ground given that it’s politically more expedient to go with the more right-wing of the major parties. What is surprising is that they’ve been prepared to drop all veneer of impartiality to fire this salvo at the Greens. It’s understandable that they
    should hate and try to discredit the Greens, but extraordinary that they should violate the journalist’s code of pretending to be neutral. I actually find it hard to imagine what they think they’ll gain through such a direct approach.

  43. johncanb

    I was so excited when I read Chris Mitchell’s editorial indicating that the Oz wanted to destroy the Greens. My friends couldn’t work out what I was on about, but I agree with Keane’s take that that editorial was fatal overreach. Hubris leads to a fall. With any luck he will do it again.

  44. Cuppa

    Calling Bernard Keane

    Would you please consider interviewing John Menadue for Crikey? As a subscriber I would love to read more of his critique of the media’s conduct during the election, including, especially, that organisation in which we all have a vested interest, the ABC.

    The more publicity that is given to his call for a Parliamentary Inquiry, the more likely it is to move ahead to reality.

    Thanks Bernard.

  45. baal

    MR SQUID – how rude and crude. I fear the look of Ms Ewart is the least of her shortcomings. She has no brains. One of the ABC’s cut and paste claque. Her partner? Was and maybe still is Barrie Cassidy. Enough said.

  46. dkr

    I’ll second CUPPA’s call for a Menadue interview. His interview on ABC radio today, while not exactly short at 15 mins, left me wanting more.

    It was the disgraceful performance of the News Ltd/ABC/Fairfax journalists and editors that prompted me to subscribe to Crikey last week. Crikey’s probative reporting and analysis deserves reward. The OO deserves to be used to wipe up puppy excrement.

  47. CliffG

    An friend’s unpublished (as so many are!) letter to “The Australian”.
    “With the latest election count in “The Australian” showing Labor with 50.08% and the Coalition with 49.92% of the two-party preferred vote, isn’t it time your “Letters” page reflected this near perfect 50-50 split?”
    But day after day we still get a 75 to 25 per cent right wing bias or worse in the “Letters”.
    If you want to see a more balanced “The Australian” end your susbscripton and don’t buy the rag!

  48. Mr Squid

    why am i unable to judge ms ewart on the same rubbish basis that the abc judges Ms Gillard, and presumably other women?

    the questions i have asked are the type of questions that now inform the new and obscene abc.

    the abc, and crikey, i might add, has been awash with the most dreadful steroptyping, especially during the election campaign.

    I fail to understand why one of the four estates of our society is not exposed to the same formal scrutiny that politicians, our churches, the judiciary and others are exposed to.

    we are a lesser society because we fail to do so.

    I read with horror recently that the independents are likely to recommend that journalists be given wider rights to hide their sources.

    I shudder to think what the unethical, self-serving, and dishonest scum at the Australian and the ABC will do with that.

    And don;t give me any nonsense about the ridiculous press council or the abc’s laughable editorial self-regulation.

  49. Mr Squid

    cuppa, points 1, 4, 5 and 6 are spot on. I’m no Green, but my local ABC’s lack of coverage of them during the election campaign was scandalous – and deliberate.

  50. Oscar Jones

    The Dirty Digger’s Diary has also been pushing the line relentlessly that all hell may break loose if some unfortunate Labour MP may be called to God but seems to forget that the very same thing may happen to the Coalition as well-putting them both parties back in the same position.

  51. harrybelbarry

    Fancy mentioning Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal , News ltd 4th Largest investor ? Maybe we need a new name for OO ? The American/Saudi Times . Abc ‘s 24 news was a disgrace yesterday when watching the Swearing in of labor’s team and then left half way though to cover Rabbot’s OLD team and his slagging off at Labor , again lying about who had the most votes , blah blah blah. WTF what was wrong with delaying it till after Labor’s coverage ? and 1 camera on Rudd for half the time ? Anybody that likes reading long articles , try the LOONPOND. Warning , they slag off OO.

  52. banistersmind

    I stopped buying the Australian, The Herald Sun, and The Advertiser long ago. Mainly b/c I was increasingly disgusted by the blatant partisan reportage but when I contacted them about my newly published novel in the hope that they might review it, all three newspapers laughed at me down the phone. The Aus went as far as to say “look dahling – unless you’re a Peter Carey or a David Malouf then we’re just simply not interested”.

    I realize this has nothing to do with this article but, it illustrates something…I think…well…actually it doesn’t at all really…

    I hate News Ltd.

  53. alan austin

    It is SOOO refreshing to see The Oz exposed and humiliated to the point it is lashing out to defend itself – at last. But what a pathetic defence.
    “There was no joint approach to the election. The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, the Herald-Sun and the Courier Mail backed the Coalition; while the Advertiser, The Sunday Telegraph and the Sunday Herald-Sun endorsed Labor,” the editorial asserts.
    This is a ludicrous claim. Yes, a minority of the Murdoch papers reluctantly conceded in their election-eve opinions that there was insufficient reason to change government. But not until after they had all in unison perpetrated appalling anti-Labor and anti-Greens distortions and lies for years – not just in their opinion pieces but in so-called news reportage.
    Even today’s (It is still Wednesday here in France) editorial continues the distortions: “What we are proud to own is the robust reporting that we published on issues such as the $43 billion National Broadband Network, the flawed Building the Education Revolution program, and the disastrous pink batts insulation scheme.”
    Commentators on economics and politics across Europe all look enviously at Australia’s Treasury and Cabinet for the extraordinary speed and effectiveness of their actions at the beginning of the global financial crisis. Australia alone, most analysts now agree, got the timing, the direction and the quantums of the stimuli right. And thus, alone in the capitalist world, avoided recession and the resultant burgeoning debt and human misery.
    To read The Oz, you would think Australia’s Labor Government was the world’s greatest failure. May the critiques – Bernard’s today and Jason’s earlier – continue and strengthen.

  54. baal

    The people who write columns for the Oz have a mindset that they think needn’t be justified. They are not journalists but opinionators who took their lead from the neo-con ‘revolution’ in the USA (excoriating small l liberals there or ‘the left’ elsewhere) culminating in the craziness of Fox and the Tea Party tribe. They pretend they are in touch with real people and that all liberals and the left are devious, dishonest and corrupt and they don’t really care how they express themselves because God and History are on their side. Or they are just cynics who like makimng mischief. Either way they are an evil bunch.

  55. Socratease

    The paper’s consistent partisanship and open hostility to Labor is taken as read by all except its most blinkered adherents — even, perhaps, by its own journalists, some of whom are prone to reassuring people outside the News Ltd bubble that they don’t really agree with many of the things they write and shouldn’t be judged on them.

    I had to read that twice. What a pack of grovelling hacks.

  56. Scott

    Like most things Left and Right, bias all depends on where you yourself are standing. Perspective and relativativity determines whether you find something conservative or liberal. As a left leaning site, crikey’s readers find “The Australian” right wing (as do I), but not overtly so. I’m sure there are some on the far right that find “The Australian” quite moderate. It’s the the same with the SMH/Age. As someone from the middle right, I find it quite left leaning but understand why the deep ecologists find it too conservative for their taste.
    But isn’t this the advantage of media diversity? There is no need for an individual paper to be balanced, not when there are a diverse range of media sources (both online and paper based) out there for each reader to partake in. I can read articles from AFR, the SMH, The Australian, Huffington Post etc and get access to a wide variety of views on the news of the day. Surely that’s a good thing.

  57. guytaur

    Well now the scribes at The Australian have taken another blow. After declaring the Greens loony dangerous and not looking after the nations interest it finds Kloppers from BHP backing a Greens policy. The whole price on carbon thing.
    The right still seems to not understand the new Paradigm. That is they are held to account and cannot just come out and state things without facts to back it up. No matter how much the Oz tries to say otherwise.
    I believe this Paper is in fact responsible for the Coalition being out of power.
    It gives the right a security blanket and a false sense of dominance of the political debate.

  58. podargus

    We have always been regular readers of the Weekend Australian. No longer. We are now subscribers to Crikey and will be advising our friends to do the same.

  59. Douglas Evan

    Scott I think you are missing the point. The problem is not simply with the paper’s consistent neo-coservative bias but with the distortions, deliberate or otherwise, and the blatantly coercive tactics it uses in its attempts to ‘create’ the outcomes it wishes to report. It is shamelessly intervening in the political process in an attempt to overturn a legitimate election outcome it disapproves of. Screaming hypocrite at the Greens it drapes itself in the ‘national interest’ to conceal that its real motivation is commercial ‘self interest’.

  60. Daemon Singer

    One is forced to think back to the heady days of the Australian Federal police invasion of the Oz trying to gather evidence for a case against a man who is now a member of Parliament.I’m forced to wonder exactly what level of esteem David Wilkie holds the Australian in now.

  61. Daemon Singer

    @Scott: your points regarding left and right leaning are well made, however isn’t the idea of a newspaper to report the news rather than structure information it gleans from its so-called “research”, which it doesn’t appear to have much of any more, into reportage aimed at changing the minds of the large percentage of Australian voters to go to the polling Booth without really any idea of which box they are going to tick?

    How can any media organisation see itself as unbiased in its reporting of electoral condition, when, as in this case, it has said that one of the parties at least needs to be destroyed.

    I can’t see how they can expect to be taken seriously after this.

  62. alan austin

    Yes, Scott, Douglas and Daemon are correct. We are not talking about having a range of different political and social outlooks. Everyone welcomes diverse opinions.

    We are concerned about deliberate lies and distortions of factual events to prevent readers (voters) forming an accurate view of the world. This is extremely destructive for an open and free democracy.

    The Australian and several other anti-Labor and anti-Greens media outlets lie and distort routinely. An example (with apologies to those who read this last week) was in the run-up to the 2008 Gippsland by-election when Glenn Milne wrote a scathing news report about a local show which reportedly deployed a blow-up sex doll. As this show was promoted in the ALP candidate’s newsletter this was clear proof to Milne and The Australian that not only the local ALP candidate but Labor leader Kevin Rudd were totally unfit for office. It was a scathing personal attack on their immorality and depravity. Milne neglected to mention, however, that the production had actually been funded by the previous Howard Government.

    Although I have refused to buy The Australian since, I read regular reports of similar violations of the AJA code of ethics. But not in the outlets we usually describe as left-wing. Why not?

  63. Daniel

    The SMH/Age/ABC/whatever other so-called ‘left-wing’ mainstream news service hasn’t declared that it wishes to ‘destroy’ the Liberal Party, has it?

  64. Peter Evans

    Alan Austin, it’s not only the Australian. That prize schmuck, Peter Hartcher wrote a scurrilous piece of red-baiting bulldust in the SMH a couple of days before the election. It was preposterous and every bit as loony as anything in the Australian. The Greens are well hated by corporate Australia, and by extension, the media that relies on its patronage. One supposes they are seen as bad for profits.

  65. zut alors

    Peter Evans,

    As a great example of paradox it may well be corporate Australia’s much reviled Greens who deliver a carbon tax to one of the behemoths of industry (BHP). The Oz editor must be sharpening his knife for Marius Kloppers as I type this…

  66. shepherdmarilyn

    No-one has noticed yet but all 9 Greens senators have been confirmed now. Today they have another editorial in the OO demanding illegal offshore detention immediately and suggesting that we turn a legally binding humanitarian treaty into something they deem to be pragmatic, based it seems on the fact that almost every boat person is deemed by us to need protection.

    A whole, massive 6,00o in two years.

    Except we are racking, stacking and packing them at vast expense rather than actually assess their claims.

  67. shepherdmarilyn

    Today the ABC are running the precise whine about not enough prison staff for DIC’s and claiming it is because more are arriving when that is not true.

    On 30 July there were 2237 Afghans locked up without process.

  68. john2066

    What does ‘OO’ mean?

  69. PoliticalTarot


    No, they haven’t declared they want to destroy the Liberals. But if they did, it would only be fair. The Australian have publicly stated that they want to destroy the Greens and it is impossible to not notice their blatant Coalition bias.

    We NEED papers to report the facts on Labor/Greens policies and that is NOT what The Un-Australian is doing.

  70. shepherdmarilyn

    Over the top OZ. Left out the tt’s.

  71. Venise Alstergren

    “”The paper’s consistent partisanship and open hostility to Labor is taken as read by all except its most blinkered adherents — even, perhaps, by its own journalists, some of whom are prone to reassuring people outside the News Ltd bubble that they don’t really agree with many of the things they write and shouldn’t be judged on them. “”

    This is a farce. If the journalists at the Oz are, in fact, being self-deprecating and apologetic re their own wilfully skewed opinion pieces, perhaps they should put themselves out of their misery, and write under an assumed name, or put no name at all to the opinion piece.

    After all, it isn’t an opinion piece, if it isn’t your own opinion. N’est ce pas? And if it is someone else’s opinion, they should get the credit. N’est ce pas?

  72. harrybelbarry

    Bob Brown should wear a Bullet-proof jacket (like Howard wore) in public , as we are heading down the Tea Party road and the Ltd News owners are American/Saudi . We have our share of Wack jobs here too , and would piss off News Ltd.

  73. shepherdmarilyn

    Strange how the only senate seat announced has been the booting out of Fielding.

    6 Greens elected has not rated a mention or the fact that the lieberals lost 3 and are down to 34.

  74. Venise Alstergren

    HBB: If, as an American, Bill Gates had tried to take over the MSM the average Ocker would have been furious. Yet Rupert Murdoch, as an American, has taken over our MSM without a squeak from the football fraternity.

    The minute he became an American-even if it was for taxation purposes-Rupert Murdoch should have divested himself of his Australian companies.

    To think our own Australian Broadcasting Company collects its news from an American company-a company which dictates the news we receive, and omits news which is relevant to us-is a sick joke.

  75. David

    Just heard Steve Conroy on the ABC give Turnbull a decent spray, reakons if Turnbull was the smart tech head he is trying to make out he is, he would stop lying about the speeds of wireless and tell the truth….am starting to like Conroys work very much, much the same as PM Julia asked a ning nong from the MSM at a press conference today if he had been out of the country for the last 3 years and missed what has been going on here…..ah delightful to hear.

  76. Daemon Singer

    @SPACE KIDETTE: at which point did you decide to refer to the “reporters” from the Australian as “journalists”? For the life of me I can’t see any reason to call them that.

  77. Turkey Tongue

    Kloppers is just looking to mitigate the cost to bottom line and shape,direct climate response towards uranium mining (oh the profits)and a reactor based solution. No thanks. I work in a menial job where one of my duties is to lay out News Limited papers for my social betters to peruse.Well besides having a great laugh every morning scanning the Oz,it also feels bloody wonderful to know my vote counted in removing a Lib and placing a Green senator (Larissa Waters) from QLD in the senate.Tory lock out in effect till 2017.

  78. Daemon Singer

    @SHEPHERDMARILYN: thank you for bringing to the attention of we the stinking masses the news (what glorious news it is) of the demise of the moron Fielding. Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful.

    I do wonder how the idiots that voted for him feel today though.

  79. Marrickville Mauler

    At least the House of Saud just bring us the “Australian” or as I think it ought now to be known, “the Saudi”. (From this perspective doesn’t the Murdoch climate denialist anti democratic agenda suddenly make sense as never before?)

    What they brought to the US isnt just Fox News: there are plenty of anniversary pictures from ten years ago to show where oil dollars end up. Exploding planes and lots of dead people of all faiths, colours and 70 plus nationalities.

    I know this looks like a rant, well it is. Rupert bin Saud, debaucher of democracies, should not be licenced to own media here. How do we get out of this?

  80. Ceteris Paribus

    The Australian couldn’t be a better advertisement of the need for public media.

  81. Space Kidette

    @Daemon Singer

    I stand corrected.

  82. Space Kidette

    It maybe that we don’t need to worry about the Australian, or even the other daily rags, in the long term. Research has shown that globally, more and more people are turning to social media for their news. Rupert et al have no control over the internet or social media. And try as they might to halt the declining sales by turning to paid online media, it may be too late to turn that particular juggernaut around, if people are getting what they need for free elsewhere.

  83. harrybelbarry

    Turkey Tongue , i too voted for Larissa Waters and stood toe to toe with the LNP tossers outside my local school for 12 hours handing out HTV cards and pushing the “Keep them honest in the Senate ” line. Caught them entering the school grounds wearing their LNP shirts twice and got a death stare from one, but told her the rules are for all of us. They were not locals , shipped in by Clive Palmer’s LNP from 40 klm away ? When i noticed my shade was shading them, i pulled it down and said welcome to Climate Change. I had a fun day, more people should try it.

  84. Turkey Tongue

    Harrybelbarry,they also dressed up in “Voting Green” tee shirts and decked the local (poll booth) state school fence line from end to end with anti Labour ads,far exceeding A.E.C guide lines on the bunting if what im told is correct.Jabba the Hutts dirty coal finger prints smeared over all of it no doubt.Scrutineers needed for every booth next time around.

  85. TonyA-the-Australian-Sarah-Palin

    Yes, The Unaustralian have shown their hand but come on, this is nothing different from their bile the last 12 months. As dangerous as they are, it is funny seeing ignorant silverspoons throwing hissy fits when their tactics don’t come off at the polls. They should look at Stoke’s Channel 7 model for stealth bias, which save up their negative bile for when Labour release positive policy. Anyway, anyone who reads The Unaustralian is feeding Murdoch’s pockets and therefore power. I don’t understand why people don’t ignore that fishwrapper! Worse, any puppet-journo who prostitutes themselves needs to get a life, seriously, what sort of person would do that? I thought people not living their own life finished last century sometime. But on the bright side, Fox is destroying the Republicans from within. Maybe Rupee MoreDich is a genius lefty at heart?

  86. baal

    For years people have been telling me I should read the Oz (esp the Weekend edition) because they have quite good articles. Every time I have followed their recommendation I have been appalled at the amount of mischievous bile that pours out of it. Those who are prepared to put up with the filth would probably think a sheet of used toilet paper is OK because parts of it are ‘clean’. I have bought that paper probably no more than three times in the past decade. but you don’t need to stick your face into the exhaust pipe of a motor car to know that carbon monoxide is poisonous. The Oz loses as much money every day as the Pope loses credibility – but if the Digger gets tired of subsidising it as a national ‘opinion maker’, it will eventually die in despair and dishonour begging in the gutter. PS has Miranda Devine graced its pages yet? She’ll have a hard time to outrun the odious Janet Albrechtsen. No loss to the Sydney Morning Herald that’s for sure.

  87. Florence Howarth

    “If you keep repeating the same fiction without being challenged effectively, it soon becomes the truth.” No, it does not become truth. It is only perceived as truth. A lie is always a lie. The problem is that it appears to work.

  88. Florence Howarth

    The Opposition may believe they are born to rule. This may not be true, but they do control the fourth estate. That is a powerful lever to get what they want. Today we have reports that the Australian is out to destroy the Greens. Is that a role of the media? I think not.

  89. guytaur

    I see that The UnAustralian has today got an article aimed squarely at Rob Oakshott. They make out it is his fault the Coaliton is throwing a temper tantrum over the possibility that Mr Oakshott might be speaker and walking out on the Parliamentary reforms.
    It is going to be interesting to see if the Abc follows this line or attacks it.

  90. David

    And how about this……

    [AFP says no to Robb request September 17, 2010 – 10:24AM


    Federal police will not investigate the leaking of confidential coalition costings during the election campaign.

    The leaked Treasury document, published by Fairfax, debunked the size of savings the coalition had estimated from dumping Labor’s national broadband network.

    “The Australian Federal Police has completed an evaluation in relation to a referral received from the Opposition Finance spokesman Andrew Robb MP in relation to unauthorised disclosure of financial documents,” a spokesperson told AAP on Friday.

    “The evaluation did not identify any Commonwealth offences.”

    The police decision did not stop Mr Robb from attacking the government.

    “The AFP’s report on their investigation into the leaking of a confidential Treasury note to The Sydney Morning Herald effectively confirms that the leak came from the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, or a senior member of his staff,” Mr Robb told The Australian.]

    Swan should now demand the Feds investigate Robb about that leak and get the ba—rd. He is now telling so many porkies trying to cover his ar-e he will get caught out eventually.
    Meanwhile on 2GB yesterday Hockey told the Libs own personal shock jock Jones the Feds were still very interested to investigate the ” leak “. Strange that 12 hrs later they found there was nothing to investigate. Why am I getting vibes that Hockey and Robb are running for cover. Go get em Swanee, its you they have been attacking.

  91. Florence Howarth

    I remember during the election when the “leak” was mentioned, that the police said they were still assessing the allegation. The Opposition went quiet after that. The Opposition was well aware that there was little likelihood of police action. They would have been informed of that early in the piece. Most have been in politics long enough to know it would not go far. Mr. Howard was great at using public servants as political fodder. This Opposition comes from the same mould.

  92. Venise Alstergren

    In November Victorians go to the polls. Today, Friday 17 September ’10, The Herald Sun launched its mega-campaign to destroy the Victorian Premier who happens to be, surprise, surprise, Labor Party.

    Personally I have little time for John Brumby, but he is widely appreciated in this state. If the Herald Sun is prepared to become really filthy in their campaign they may succeed in stopping the odds-on favourite.

    Oh, didn’t I mention it? The Herald Sun is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

  93. Venise Alstergren

    DAVID: Sorry to depress you, but Steve Conroy, as part of his religion, doubtless, is the prime mover behind the push for an internet filter. Just for the sake of our kids-of course!

    Oh yeah?

    Also, he is a hectoring bully-boy.

  94. David

    Thanks Venise 🙄 I am more confident with the Greens on board and the Indies that filter will be a lost cause for Stevie boy, to save face he will keep tring but its a no brainer…it is that stupid demented Robb I want to see brought down, the man has lost his marbles completely. I cannot see him getting through another year of politics.

  95. David

    Woops didnt mean the pokie tongue 🙂 thats what I get for playing around with your smiley thingies

  96. harrybelbarry

    Venise , you forgot that Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal also is the 4th largest investor in News Ltd and very Un Australian.

  97. Venise Alstergren

    HARRYBELHARRY: I knew the Saudi’s have a big stake in the Oz-I didn’t know the actual name involved.

    Under the nom de guerre of Globalisation, and going on our previous record, we should see Australia solely foreign-owned by two thousand and fifteen.

    If I were to list all of the foreign ‘investors’ who own a share of this country and its media, I’d have a publication as big as the Ocker Oz itself.

    It’s a great country except if you live in it. Cheerful aren’t I?

    Cheers V

    PS: I don’t see China, Japan or South Korea as having the same problem. These people really do love their countries. We just pretend.


  98. Daemon Singer

    @VENISE ALSTERGREN: one funny side of this whole process is that if we go as visitors to an Asian country, we can look around till the cows come home for an interesting piece of land to buy-but we won’t be able to buy, because most countries aren’t for sale. Australia stands almost alone in the Asia-Pacific with the possible exception of New Zealand in being quite happy to literally sell the farm to all comers so long as they have money. There is no requirement to prove public good, the only requirement is to put your money down.
    For a while there I believe there were some plans to stop Chinese investor owners buying here and then popping off back to China, and getting a rental return out of Australia, with no more effort than to flog your slaves hard enough and long enough to make you enough money to be able to fly to Australia in the first place.
    One of the great sadnesses for me in terms of the destruction of the Australian manufacturing sector (by the Howard government, not by the unions), is that we have set the situation in place where none of us care enough about our country to make a stand in terms of it being sold, because everybody with a block of land to sell, sends it off to auction hoping that the crowd of bidders will include Chinese nationals, because they are dripping with money, and are only looking for a place to spend. If in completing that spend they own a piece of another country, then good for them but I wonder what the reaction would be in mainland China if the government suddenly turn around and decided to sell blocks of land to anybody with enough money. Then we would see how long the Communist Party holds up wouldn’t we? Chinese at least have enough pride in their country to not be happy with the idea of selling it to foreigners. Why don’t Australians care that much about their country?

  99. Peter Evans

    Daemon Singer, has it occurred to you that countries are rather meaningless things? People can get all blue in the face about them, but most are accidents of history, and all are arbitrary. I can’t take the idea seriously.

  100. Daemon Singer

    @Peter Evans:
    I’m sure you’re right Peter, that they are rather meaningless, however having one as we do, puts us somewhat ahead of those who don’t I’m sure you’ll agree.

    Think where the Tamils would be, in terms of the Sinhalese if everyone regarded countries as somewhat meaningless. Perhaps you would be kind enough to be a little more specific on which idea you find it difficult to take seriously?

  101. Venise Alstergren

    PETER EVANS: Perhaps it’s just that I happen to have been born here that I value it?
    If countries are so meaningless I wonder why all countries endorse passports?

    People need a meaningless concept to nail themselves to a spectral* flag. Most people find religion fills that void. As an atheist, born of an atheist family, I prefer to relate to my country. Not unlike a bird going to its nest, I suppose. Come to think of it, birds have a quality that is sadly lacking in Australia. They don’t crap in their own nests.

    As for the way we allow our country to be dug up, tunnelled under, vaccumed (sic) out for the last remnant of asbestos, the last smear of fossil fuel-oil- and the last wisp of coal-dust. Added to which the way we allow fine rivers to become turgid streams, soil to be turned into talcum powder, and housing estates to be built where once there was fertile land reveals the complete disregard we have for this country.

    I hope I live long enough to see the last piece of land to be sold to a foreign country-the Chinese, the Americans, the Irish. Were not cheap, we’ll go to bed with anyone-The look on the purchaser’s face will be something to behold when they discover the title deeds which will reveal the fact that the land has already been sold to two hundred other people.

    There’s nothing wrong with the concept of a country-it’s just the people who turn it to dross.

    *word ‘spectral’ used because it has a certain alliterative quality. Ditto the revolting English ensign which lingers on as long as the heredity monarch we remain tied to, will ever have me feeling anything but a sense of shame. (As for the Oz anthem—chunder.)

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