An up-and-coming senior federal member of parliament attempted professional suicide earlier this week. The stains are permanent. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
This unfortunate career disaster was reported on the front page of yesterday’s Australian newspaper:
“Aboriginal leaders have described as disgraceful, divisive and ignorant an attack by Labor’s indigenous affairs spokesman, Shayne Neumann, about coverage of reconciliation in The Australian and other newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch.
“Mr Neumann, in remarks at the Garma festival yesterday, sought to link concentrated media ownership and past election coverage to the campaign against the Recognise movement for constitutional acknowledgment for Aboriginal Australians.”
So what did Neumann say in his talk to the indigenous Garma festival that was so alarming? He said this: “There’s too much power in the media controlled by one man who lives overseas.”
In using those words, Neumann broke the first immutable law of political survival in Australia: do not criticise News Corp or Rupert Murdoch in public.
If the hapless opposition frontbencher wants the correct talking points for any politician with survival instincts, he should refer to Tony Abbott’s speech at The Australian’s 50th birthday party last month:
” … there’s one urban myth that I believe I can and should kill: the claim that News Corp papers are ciphers for Rupert Murdoch … he may have become an American by necessity but he’s always been an Australian by conviction … no newspaper has more profoundly or more consistently shaped the intellectual life of our country … no paper more closely corresponds with the true spirit of Australia … long ago, The Australian found its authentic voice; that has helped governments and people to find theirs.”
That’s what you say if you want to succeed in politics in Australia.