The Rorschach test of the Porter result If there was ever a perfect ringing example of the distorting effect of the media one consumes it would be Christian Porter’s defamation case against the ABC, which came to a resolution yesterday. New Corp’s Sharri Markson tweeted it was “not a great week for journalism at the ABC” and Channel Seven called it a “humiliating backdown”. So we can assume… what? A massive payout? A retraction and grovelling apology from the national broadcaster?
Well, no. The article remains online with a fairly neutral clarification appended — passively expressive that the potential “misreading” of the article to imply Porter’s guilt “is regretted” — and no damages were paid. Given Australian defamation law and the information the article contained, you’d have to say the ABC got off extremely lightly.
Of course, it’s in News Corp’s interest to report this as though the ABC has in some way lost, given it’s so far from the wipeout its commentators were predicting in March. But perhaps a more illuminating glimpse of News Corp’s view on the Porter case is the fact it, and Nine, are opposing the non-publication order of the 27 redacted pages of the ABC’s defence. This may be an indication that, whatever they say, they believe the real story is in what might have been alleged about Porter during the trial.
Nine times blue Look, let’s get this out of the way first. It’s good that Nine is trying to counter vaccine hesitancy in Australia with an easily digestible ad filled with some of its biggest stars, and the tagline — “This is our shot” — is a good one, which cuts through far better than anything the federal government has offered.
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But, could it not have found a single non-white person of the 17 it got on board to extoll the virtues of being able to travel again? This isn’t simply hand-wringing about representation (or out-and-out Eddie Maguire fatigue). As we saw during Melbourne’s catastrophic mid-2020 outbreak, a lack of diversity and tone-deaf messaging can have serious and lasting effects.
What the duck? Hey, speaking of Melbourne being under lockdown, are those of us for whom a trip to the supermarket represents the most glamorous and stimulating part of our week happy to hear that one of the reasons the Victorian government will let you leave your house at the moment is to go hunting?
As the prospect of getting out of lockdown anytime in the next three weeks starts to recede toward the horizon, where the thought of attending the gym is an impossibly sophisticated luxury, it’s a comfort to know that duck shooters are still able to get out and about.
The other Murdoch Over in Western Australia, departing Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Eeva Leinonen is making a tonne of friends on her way out the door. The university has spent $1.8 million changing its logo. This raised some eyebrows, as did the creation of higher-paying roles that report directly to her. This comes after cuts to staff and course over the last year.
Leinonen is the best-paid VC in the state, despite Murdoch’s standing as the smallest of WA public unis, and has been at Murdoch for almost exactly five years. That time has been marked by a hardball approach to employment relations — back in 2017 it successfully applied to terminate its workforce’s employment agreement, a hardball tactic that lowers the basis from which the employees can negotiate down to award minimums. It was the first time a university in Australia had employed the tactic.