News Limited:

Mark Baker, Melbourne Press Club President, writes: Re. ” Mayne: AFR steps up as Chenoweth detonates big Murdoch bomb” (yesterday, item 1). Yesterday’s piece by Stephen Mayne is ridiculous and insulting.

In support of his bizarre thesis about some kind of conspiracy between Fairfax and News he describes my “cosiness with Rupert Murdoch’s Melbourne boss Peter Blunden” at last Friday’s Melbourne Press Club Quill awards dinner.

I did indeed have a brief and friendly chat with Peter Blunden at the start of the dinner. And I am happy to reveal all: I thanked Peter for his considerable support in preparing for that night’s presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Herald Sun veteran John Hamilton and I wished him a pleasant evening. And, while I haven’t gone out of my way to avoid him, it was the first time I had seen Peter since another Press Club event more than 10 years ago. Some conspiracy.

Mitchell Holmes writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (yesterday, item 5). Well done on the detailed coverage of the latest News Corp scandal. As usual however, First Dog’s cartoon steals the thunder with its summary of the issue and biting humour within a few panels!

Sweatshop legislation:

Roy Ramage writes: “There’d be no Sass and Bide under new sweatshop legislation” (yesterday, item 10). James Boston is right on the money. In March 2008 the Australian Labor government conducted an independent review of the industries, appointing Prof. Roy Green to head it. Terms of reference included, ensuring there were no impediments to the TCF industries benefiting from new technologies and innovation and to foster globally competitive industries based on Australia’s strengths and capabilities.

Meetings were held in each capital and industry leaders encouraged to come along. I attended the Adelaide meeting with several folks who had ambitions of boosting the Alpaca clothing area.

The loudest voices in the meeting were union reps. Each time an industry person spoke the union was quick to point out all the necessary compliances. The same when an industry spokesperson demonstrated barriers, there was the loud union rep holding forth. When asked if the same Australian union expertise could be applied to benefit our Asian cousins in the industry, the reps became very quiet. It seems they are only intent on helping the Australian TCF industries offshore as soon as they can.

At the time Minister Carr was asking for innovative approaches that the government might fund. Industry briefing papers were handed to the goodly Prof’s staff and we got a nice letter of thanks in May 2009. Among other points the letter’s final point said, “proceed with the TCF tariff reductions already enshrined in legislation”

Minister Carr’s Department undertook a similar consultative program again in June and July 2011. Innovation indeed!

Christine Metcalfe writes: How can the government do this in Australia? How can you stop an entrepreneur from starting up a business from home just because they happen to work in the clothing and footwear industry? Can we go to the Fair Work ombudsman? Can we take on the government in court? Let’s present one case and show how pathetic and ludicrous this situation is?

We have a pattern maker who works from home, in her garage, she has spent $20,000 on equipment, works for three companies. She earns $50 per hour, which one of the companies that she works for pays the super, holds back the 30 percent tax due to second job? Our pattern maker has worked in factories for more than 20 years. She has made a conscious decision to work from home to be with her teenage children. How dare the government now tell her she cannot do this, it’s unethical, unAustralian and it’s unconstitutional.

We have written, called and demanded that this law not be passed But every letter was ignored! Now what can we do?


John Kotsopoulos writes: There seems to a be a lot of discussion about what Labor stands for in the light of poor polling federally and recent electoral defeats at State level (yesterday, comments). It seems to me that nobody yet woken up to the fact that federal Labor has, either by accident or design, outsourced the  more radical aspects of its left agenda to the Greens.

As it is, the current arrangements between the parties are as close to a coalition as you can get without including Greens in the ministry. If one accepts this to be the case the pollsters should be adding the Greens vote to Labor as it does with the two parties that form the Liberal/National Party coalition. The first preference figures don’t look as scary any more, do they?

Strategic decisions on which seats should be contested and preference deals will need to be made to ensure that the effectiveness of every Labor and Greens vote is maximised and not diminished as has occurred to date.

Asylum seekers:

Brian Mitchell writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 11). When the news is bad for Labor, News Limited makes it front page and screams it from the rooftops. When the news is good for Labor, News Limited underplays it, buries it on inside pages, and then finds an angle, any angle it can, that is critical. Then it finds a story, any story, that is bad news for Labor and puts that on the front page and screams that from the rooftops.

Little wonder that a view has formed in the community that Labor can’t govern, despite all the objective evidence saying otherwise (an economy in good shape, major legislation through parliament, a coherent policy agenda that is being progressed).

This isn’t media conspiracy or tinfoil head stuff, this is fact, and Richard Farmer nailed it yesterday with the way News Limited treats the ‘good’ news of falling asylum seeker numbers. When the numbers are up, scream it from the rooftops, when the numbers are down, whisper it and “hey, look over there!”. The same goes for its treatment of economic data and even its coverage of Newspoll.

News Limited’s real power isn’t in the number of readers it has, but in the fact that lazy news directors of commercial radio and TV use the morning’s front page headlines to dictate what they are going to chase up that day. If only they charted their own editorial course, we’d be having very different conversations.

News Limited is campaigning full tilt for regime change in this country, in the interests of oligarchs. Let’s call a spade a spade, acknowledge the truth of it and stop pretending it’s a “news” organisation.

Kyle Sandilands:

John Richardson writes: Re. Vince Burke’s observations on Kyle Sandilands and ACMA (yesterday, comments). It’s not “shame on them all” Vince, but rather, “shame on us all” or perhaps, even more appropriately, “shame on all of us who do or should care”.

But Vince, who should care? As you yourself point out, “it’s all about the ratings”. Whilst there was a time when regulators, politicians, men of the cloth, indeed, even ordinary citizens, would have been up in arms over Sandilands offensive display and the attendant loss of “community standards”, it was left up to the media to work itself into a lather on this occasion. Apart from that, hardly a sound was heard!

As Crikey pointed out in its editorial, there was certainly no public outcry from 2DayFM’s audience of young women and the station’s advertisers initially only took flight because they expected a backlash to occur and didn’t want to get caught-up in it. But, as soon as the dust settled, it was business as usual: making money mate.

Sadly Vince, that’s the world we live in and the world we have helped create through our own behaviour. In my view, Sandilands was always a symptom, but never the problem: we’re the problem.

Beholden to Holden:

Glen Frost writes: Re. PM Gillard’s media release. I’m interested in the language used for this transaction — PM Gillard says it is a “co-investment” but why not use the phrase subsidy or grant? There’s no mention about what shareholding the government gets if it’s an “equity co-investment”, or when the money will be paid back if it’s an “loan co-investment”. It would be nice to know what type of “co-investment” has been made with governmen money.

I had hoped the various “cash-for-clunkers” deals around the world, not to mention car maker bail-outs in the USA, might have given our governments a simple message — the world has an over-supply of cars.

Why are we “co-investing” in things where supply is greater than demand? If we are beholden to the fact that so many jobs are at risk if Holden leaves Australia, why can’t the governmen tell GM/Holden to leave if it wants to and “co-invest” our money to convert the car factory to making something we need, like renewable energy wind turbines or bikes? Isn’t the green-technology revolution about transitioning our manufacturing from rust belt jobs to green tech jobs?

Is there a smart Crikey reader who can shed light on this please?

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