Senator Bob Brown has joined an army of concerned Tasmanian community leaders to express outrage at plans to edit The Mercury newspaper in Melbourne. The plan to export subediting jobs comes after two years of job losses at the Hobart metropolitan daily.

“The further gutting of The Mercury by Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited sabotages Tasmania’s best interests,”  Brown said. “News Ltd’s campaigns for transparency, openness and public accountability show up as farcical in light of this plunder of The Mercury’s well-being.

“On the next day of sittings, I will move for the Senate to call on News Ltd to reverse its decision.”

Brown’s deputy, Christine Milne, also a Tasmanian, said senior Tasmanian journalists, reporters and subeditors, had a better grasp of green politics because the state had been immersed in the environmental debate for  decades.

“Tasmania’s unique political history, landscape and environment needs the presence of locally informed journalists and editors to produce accurate stories that Tasmanians actually want to read,” Milne said. “Mainland-based journalists rarely understand the history or complexity of green politics as it has evolved in Tasmania.”

The Save Our Mercury campaign has drawn support from prominent Tasmanians representing a broad spectrum of the political landscape, including from Tasmanian Liberal stalwart Michael Hodgman, a traditional monarchist and conservative, to former justice minister and attorney-general in the Keating Labor government Duncan Kerr, a republican and progressive.

Former Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Damon Thomas has also thrown his weight behind the campaign. Denison MP and Iraq war whistleblower Andrew Wilkie, Hobart City Council alderman Marti Zucco and Walkley award-winning journalist Wayne Crawford are among others to publicly express concerns at the plan to export Tasmanian subediting jobs offshore.

Meanwhile, the Save Our Mercury social media campaign hit a snag last night when its blog was mysteriously disabled for up to “a day or two” because it tripped Blogger’s spam tracker.

The Mercury journalists fear this may be a drawback considering it has occurred in the critical two-day lead up to a public rally featuring six high-profile speakers on Thursday,  at Parliament House lawns in Hobart at 1pm.

*This article was originally published at Tasmanian Times

Peter Fray

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