Monday, October 10, 2011

An Un-Appealing Prospect

THIS IS worrying:
THE below article was the subject of a decision of the Federal Court on 28 September 2011 that it contravened section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). To view a full copy of the Federal Court decision please access the following link:
That just-added announcement on the Adelaide Now web site precedes an archived copy of Andrew Bolt’s celebrated column, “It’s So Hip To Be Black”.

News Limited has until Wednesday to appeal Judge Mordy’s ruling that the columnist is guilty of being less than kind to white Aborigines. Does the warning’s addition to the page indicate that News Limited is unlikely to appeal? Readers with legal backgrounds who might care to interpret the announcement’s sudden appearance are welcome to do so in comments. But at the Billabong, anxiety is mounting.

A month or so ago, a trivial error in Glenn Milne’s column about our PM’s fling with a union swindler saw it pulled. All it took was a couple of presumably threatening phone calls to News Limited chieftain John Hartigan and down the memory hole it went, its disappearance marked only by craven apologies published even on News Limited web sites that did not carry the original article. That decision reeked of cowardice, not to mention a disregard for the sanctity of a free and inquiring press which Hartigan claims to hold dear. To all intents and purposes the voting public now has no way of learning more of home renovations paid for with siphoned funds, of $17,000 worth of frocks, or of the honesty of a woman who, although 35 and a rising Labor lawyer at the time of her relationship with thre light-fingered Bruce Wilson, now invokes the excuse of having been “young and na├»ve”. The Fairfax press will not pose those questions, having long ago been colonised by journalists and editors who barrack for causes, not unfiltered truths. The ABC is marginally worse, as anyone who has witnessed Jonathan Holmes urging viewers to file complaints against Alan Jones and others will surely appreciate.

That leaves only News Limited. An imperfect champion at the best of times, it was at least prepared to have a go. If it fails to appeal the Bolt ruling, perhaps in the hope that a supine silence might make the coming ordeal before the press inquiry less painful, access to truth in Australia will be well and truly stuffed.

Two days remain before an appeal must be lodged. If it isn’t, then Hartigan might want to consider a supreme irony: Up until now conservatives have indulged News Limited’s domination of the Old Media marketplace, preferring to view Hartigan’s company as the sole source of alternate perspectives. But if it is now in retreat on matters of principle and open inquiry, why not support its dismantling?

We would be better off with half a dozen different and competing press proprietors. With any luck one of them might boast a decent set of balls.


  1. "But if it is now in retreat on matters of principle and open inquiry, why not support its dismantling?"

    Yes, exactly. News Limited is far from being a friend of conservatives (unless they happen to own a mine, trucking company &C). It's arguably not as bad as the other mainstream outlets. Maybe it's my mixed Caledonian/Jewish roots, but as far as I can figure we might as well tear it down and shake and bake a new lot.

  2. It's always darkest before the dawn, so the saying goes. But with a profligate government beyond all reason, a Judiciary that supports a side that is doesn't hold freedom dear, I think we are in for a very rough couple of years.
    It's time to dig up our stored weapons, and make sure they work.

  3. WINSTON: Don't think the time is quite yet ripe for guns, which make an awful noise and might foil the cat's hunt for mynahs, which drive off milder-mannered native birds from the Billabong's garden. But it is time to join the appropriate political party and start making a hell of a lot of noise at branch meetings about those same subjects. We owe Abbott's elevation to the Liberal rank and file's contempt for Turnbull. The key is to keep up that pressure.

  4. It was reported that Bolt would not himself be asking his employer to appeal. Fair enough. In one sense it is improper for him to make such a demand so credit to him.

    I am not a legal expert to know how appellable Mordy's judgement is. How do you appeal someone taking offense? Mordy's assessment of 'tone'? What's the objective measure? (and therein lies the odiousness of this appalling bit of legislation; he who sooks and has the most power...or the most money...wins. And recall that the the plaintiff's legal team all acted pro bono. News Ltd which has a business to run had to fork out $000s of thousands just to defend itself)

  5. Anonymous October 9, 2011 9:32 PM (I do wish commenters would have the imagination to use a proper pseudonym) makes a valid point. News Corp is a business and has to make a commercial decision. It will weigh up its legal advice,as well as other factors, such as the real risk of being dismembered by the government headed by Bob Brown (Gillard is merely the PM - similar power relationship as between Putin and Medvedev - we all know who's boss there) if it doesn't knuckle under.

    I'm really coming round to the view that the natural rulers of states are totalitarian dictatorships, and the West's flirtation with democracy in recent times will be seen historically as an aberraion.

  6. (1) Here in Canberra, we deal with Indian mynahs by trapping them in a cage, and then, the first time the car is started in the day, placing the pests immediately behind the car's exhaust. A suburb populated by grannies achieved notoriety by severely reducing the bird numbers in an area adjacent to reserved bushland. (2) would someone please explain how to sign off using a proper pseudonym?

  7. the risk of being arrested:

    The ominous possibility of apprehended bias is serious grounds.
    Mordy would have surprised no-one had he disqualified himself.
    Ex Labor candidate.
    Ex or present member of the ALP.
    Well known Labor lawyer.

    Mordy is a follower or ex follower of a Labor party whose current leader has on a number of occasions at press conferences and speeches singled Bolt out as an enemy of the Labor govt.

    "Ships? I see no ships".

  8. An appropriate pseudonym:

    1. Choose a pseudonym.
    2. Type your comment.
    3. Beneath the comments box, see Comment as: Select profile, with a down arrow.
    4. Choose Name/URL.
    5. Type pseudonym (or real name if you are game!)
    6. Click continue. etc etc.

  9. Under the Federal Court Rules they have 21 days in which to appeal. The verdict was handed down on 28 September 2011, so the deadline isn't until Wednesday week, Professor.

  10. I am also very disappointed with the seemingly craven response of News when a serious fight for free speech would be more in keeping with a true crusader for that free speech.

    However, I bear in mind that News Limited as an organisation is fighting a serious, multi-front, war which puts its whole future at risk (without a friend in sight) and that nothing is more important to them than surviving that war. That survival is of vital importance to us also. 'Breaking it up' results in.....what exactly? Nothing to counter the Left narrative.

    That same war is being fought by a combine of interests which coalesce around the US and British position of News, with the US financial driver of the News empire being a ghastly spectre for the Left. Top rating newspaper in the States and an 800 million profit a year TV organisation. The UK operation has caused the gravest ethical bblow and until that is dealt with they are keeping their heads low.

    Now, in Australia, with a media enquiry about to take place and a crooked party in power with some very anti-News independents and Greens running the show, recommendations severely limiting free speech, cutting up News Ltd or handing billions to Left media would be passed and into law in an instant.

    No, News is on a hiding to nothing already and I wouldnt blame them for waiting out the UK scandal results and looking to get a fair media enquiry outcome.

    M Ryutin Sydney

  11. Oh alright, Professor.
    But you will let us know when we can construct the barricades out of surplus bird baths and mattresses?

  12. If lies and broken promises were tangible things Gillards would make a formidable barricade, keeping even Brownies greens out ,long live the Peoples Revolution.

  13. With any luck one of them might boast a decent set of balls.

    They might, but they would perforce be only one sixth or so of the size and potentially more easily crushable by the powers that be.

  14. Professor,

    I don't think you can yet conclude that News has caved in on an appeal, but the pressure on them not to must be enormous.

    An appeal cannot be instituted to the Full Federal Court until formal orders have been made by the trial judge. You will see from the orders made at the time of delivery of reasons for judgment that the parties were given until 5 October to agree orders amongst themselves or, failing agreement, to propose the terms of orders which they each contend should be made to give effect to the judge's reasons.

    I have seen nothing to indicate whether News and the applicant have reached agreement on the proposed orders.

    Here's hoping that they appeal and win.

    It is a melancholy thought that between 2005 and 2007 when the Howard Government controlled the Senate as well as the House it could have repealed this law but never got around to it. It shows the importance of acting when you have a chance. The Coalition has never been good at fighting the cultural wars.

    It is magnificent to see your blog resurrected.

  15. The Australian today (P2) says the HS has 21 days from when final orders are issued to appeal.

  16. Thankyou, whyisitso, for the advice.