Dec 10, 2012

Obama Birthers take over The Australian

The Australian's campaign against Julia Gillard, kicked along by its legal correspondent Chris Merritt, has descended into ancient history and smear. Former Labor leader Mark Latham investigates.

Mark Latham

Political commentator and former Labor leader

As a case study in the flawed reporting of The Australian on the union slush fund matter, it is hard to beat the work of Chris Merritt, the paper’s legal affairs editor. Merritt specialises in arguing the same point (that the Australian Workers Union Workplace Reform Association might have been a trade union) without ever proving his point.


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15 thoughts on “Obama Birthers take over The Australian

  1. drmick

    The rights and wrongs are irrelevant now. The low [email protected] have scraped the bottom of the barrel, picked up a smear and have created a skid mark in the minds of the ignorant and weak like themselves. They have achieved exactly what they set out to achieve; and like our legal system, (formerly our justice system), there is no justice, just lots of legal, (whatever that is?).

  2. John Bennetts

    Latham’s petty, well-researched, pedantic view of the world has quaint charm.

    Especially when compared with the slack logic and cherry-picked facts – and worse – of those who he targets.

  3. zut alors

    This piece should be instructive to The Australian that a little relevant research can be useful by saving reams of misdirected commentary.

    Can’t wait to read their star journos’ reports once the Barbara Ramjan defamation case gets underway in 2013. I hope Mr Latham is poised.

  4. Steve777

    I used to be a regular buyer of the Weekend Australian. I particularly enjoyed the ‘Inquirer’ section which contained a number of columns giving interesting analysis of the issues of the day. The Australian’s editorial position was always pro-Coalition, as were most of its columnists, but they had something interesting and useful to say. And as long as facts aren’t confused with opinion then an editorial position favouring one or other side of politics (or of any issue) is not a problem.

    A few years ago, things changed (maybe the election of a Labor federal government). The Australian started pretty much openly campaigning for regime change. In terms of fairness and balance it was often little better than its tabloid stablemates. As part of this campaign it started pushing voodoo climate science. I stopped buying it about three years ago.

    The Australian deserves to sink into oblivion. It won’t be missed.

  5. Pedantic, Balwyn

    Sadly The Australian has achieved its objective of denigrating Julia Gillard, just as they did with Simon Overland.
    As Essential has demonstrated today mud sticks; and few understand or are interested in the technicalities of the argument tabled by Mark Latham.
    Gillard haters will hate her more, those in the middle think she has something to hide otherwise why would Tony Abbott & Co go on and on about it? But of course that’s the point isn’t it.
    The country deserves better than this appalling lack of ethics by its Opposition.

  6. Roberto Tedesco

    Why bother with the facts when you’re only interested in pursuing a one-track vendetta?

  7. David Hand

    I thought you would have worked it out by now.

    The coalition went for Gillard in retaliation for her shemaless misogyny rant in October. The objective is not so much to get her convicted of a crime but to set up the election campaign around Union corruption and influence. The words “Gillard” and “slush fund” are now firmly embedded in voters’ minds. Expect the electorate to be reminded of it in the election campaign.

    I note you aren’t contradicting that. You’re just saying, “It’s not illegal to set up a slush fund”

  8. Lance Boyle

    Mark, I am hoping you were serious when you wrote this elsewhere.
    [Even in upmarket publications like The Australian  and Fairfax’s newspapers, errors abound – so many in fact I have decided to write a book about media incompetence, using Slater & Gordon as a representative case study.]

    I would suggest you contact Joanne Painter, ex-Age journalist, who rang the ABC Faine program to let it be known the very basis of the story below is factually incorrect. She never pulled a story.

    Indeed, she said if she had been ‘stood over’ she would have splashed it out, in a dramatic story. She was a fearless journalist now p.r. trainer and happy to let the truth be known about matters AWU which she was investigating at the time.

    This alleged misrepresentation by The Australian was not considered important enough by the ABC to report, in their news or current affairs, when the likes of Ralph Blewitt were waiting in the wings to be interviewed for another ‘no comment’.

  9. Malcolm Street

    David Hand – RTFA – the AWU campaign was going long before the Gillard’s speech. I’d attribute it to the Carbon tax coming in, the world not ending, and the Coalition looking for another equally dodgy one note.

  10. Phil Smith

    The WA Associations Incorporation Act, at the time, prohibited the incorporation of a trade union as defined in the Trade Unions Act. That definition is much wider than the traditional conception of a trade union. What Mark Latham side-steps are the objects of the AWU Workplace Reform Association. Despite Ms Gillard’s sophistry, the purpose of the Association (if one reads its constituent documents) was clearly to have a role in regulating workplace relations. If it was, on the other hand, really a body to hold funds for the re-election of union officials, then the tenor of its rules, let alone the “main purpose” (appearing on the application) and the subsequent public advertisement were all misleading. One might add that in this case too, the solicitor drafting the documents was clearly inept.

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