Tony Windsor reckons journalists are frustrated about not being able to get Australia’s elected representatives to bend to their will. The retiring independent MP launched a broadside against the media this morning, including shock jocks such as Alan Jones, for trying to dictate the terms of the hung Parliament.
In a packed, teary press conference at Parliament House today attended by senior press gallery scribes and a massive TV contingent to announce his resignation as the member for New England, Windsor blasted the media for its continual baying for an end to the Gillard minority government since its election three years ago.
They had blindly embraced Tony Abbott’s “rage”, suspending their critical faculties in the process.
“That rage has been maintained,” Windsor said. “Some of the shock jocks and some of the media people have wanted to drive an agenda, ‘let’s destroy this thing’. And the reason it thinks that is in some cases is that normally, irrespective of who is in a majority situation, some people within the media believe that they can actually dictate the terms. It doesn’t matter if it’s Labor or Liberal.”
Sections of the media, notably News Limited and Macquarie Radio’s 2GB, have been relentless in their denigration of the minority government, often resorting to desperate front-page splashes and editorials in a vain attempt to cure their impotence. Windsor was scathing.
“They haven’t been able to do that in the hung Parliament. They haven’t been able to do it. They haven’t had that influence,” he said.
“The community, when they’re driven by Jones and those people, they look at it as a contest between two parties. People did not understand the dynamics of the minority Parliament.”
While Windsor thanked the media on a personal level and “respected the work that they did do”, he revealed he battled with journalists from The Australian on a regular basis.
But the 43rd Parliament, while boasting the best committee process Windsor had seen over his seven terms across state and federal politics, did not escape scrutiny either.
He said the parliament should be condemned for its failure to negotiate a consensus on refugees: “I think all of us should be ashamed of ourselves in how this has been treated.”
And it had failed in its duty to settle on a carbon pricing mechanism given both parties’ commitment to a price on pollution. “It’s just a tragedy that we’ve found that as an issue to create fear in the community,” he said.
Windsor also said he could support Tony Abbott if a vote of no-confidence in an incoming Rudd government was put to the lower house. But he described such a scenario as unlikely.