Malcolm Turnbull appears on Q+A on Monday (Image: Supplied)

Good feud guide redux News Corp Australia has responded to Malcolm Turnbull’s Monday night evisceration of The Australian‘s Paul Kelly on Q+A by playing with semantics. In a statement, it has rebutted Turnbull’s assertion: “Your newspapers were saying [the catastrophic 2019 bushfires were] all the consequence of some arsonists.”

This unsubstantiated statement is blatantly untrue. The facts demonstrate starkly the falsity of Mr Turnbull’s claim.

During the bushfires period, The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Courier-Mail and The Advertiser published 3335 stories about the bushfires between September 1 last year and January 23. Only 3.4% mentioned ‘arson’ or ‘arsonists’. In this same period, news.com.au also published more than 300 bushfire stories, of which only 16 mentioned arson, equivalent to 5%. Not one of these small number of stories stated the bushfires were ‘all the consequence’ of arsonists.

News Corp spokesperson

So who’s right? We turned to the archives to check — not the statistics on the number of stories, but what was in the big stories and the impact they had. Here’s what we found:

Policy on the run A month ago the Queensland government quietly amended the Local Government Act 2009 to allow casual vacancies to replace mayors if they quit in their first year. And, with unseemly speed, that exact situation has occurred in Rockhampton. Mayor Margaret Strelow resigned after a finding of misconduct relating to a trip she took that was paid for by Adani.

Under the new rules she’s been replaced by eccentric local (and staunch anti-Adani activist) Chris “Pineapple” Hooper. So because the law didn’t bring about a convenient outcome for the government it has to be changed again so that Hooper can be ousted.

Shi may be the donation I can’t forget Look, the baseline of student politics is so fundamentally prone to farce and oddball decisions that it takes something particularly striking to get our attention. So congrats to University of Sydney for some truly striking oddness at last night’s final Student Representative Council meeting.

The meeting started with co-general secretary Abbey Shi being censured and asked to return her stipend for three months of complete absence from her role during the second semester. Shi was, of course, not there for that bit, but as the Zoom meeting concluded, Shi joined and offered, by way of an apology, a $50,000 donation. She was forced to clarify, that yes, it was “a five and four zeros”. She immediately became a great deal more popular.

Elsewhere, a shout-out to the Socialist Alternative for passing practical student-focused motions on refusing to support a Joe Biden presidency and condemning the British Labour Party for suspending Jeremy Corbyn.

Graun granola Spare a thought for Nicholas Jordan. He spent eight months compiling a detailed investigative piece and found a sympathetic publisher in The Guardian to give it prominence, only for it to fall during one of the craziest news cycles of a year not short of crazy news cycles. Allow us to do our bit to put that right. We present: Muesligate.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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