Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Doing The Fairfax Twist

PERHAPS Alexander Downer and Phillip Ruddock really did express the views attributed to them this morning by the Fairfax press under the headline Lib Leaders Put Heat On Abbott.

Perhaps. But even a most cursory reading of the story below that headline suggests both Howard-era ministers might have had their words and sentiments subjected to that special form of torture, the Fairfax Twist. Here are the report’s initial paragraph, where the Big Assertions are made:
FORMER immigration minister Philip Ruddock has added to the pressure on Tony Abbott to do a deal with Labor on asylum seekers, saying a compromise could include Labor's preferred option of processing in Malaysia if that country formalised a promise not to return refugees to countries of persecution.

And another former Howard government minister, Alexander Downer, has called for a deal, saying Mr Abbott should let his team of shadow ministers sit down and talk with government ministers to break the political impasse on offshore processing before Christmas.
Now look at the actual quotes. Downer says, “the public want the government to do something about this.” Got that? The government, not Abbott.

And where does Ruddock stand? "In my view the government should seek to formalise its informal arrangements with Malaysia that people who are found to be refugees should not be returned to places of persecution … that might be a way they could reach a compromise without Malaysia being a signatory [to the UN Convention]." From this remark, authors Lenore Taylor and Kirsty Needham leap in the very next paragraph to the bizarre surmise that Ruddock has floated “the first suggestion the Coalition's stance could soften.”

Except, except, except … “government sources involved in negotiations with Malaysia this year said Malaysia was unlikely to change its legislation simply to please Australia's High Court…”

So what we have here, as usual, is Fairfax reproducing this vile government’s talking points, blaming Abbott for not supporting the problem its heroes created within days of the 2007 election and yet acknowledging that Malaysia, the party whose co-operation would be vital, is most unlikely to change the laws that have been and remain the chief sticking point.

Fairfax evinces much concern for the environment. Surely it could have demonstrated its principles by not wasting so many words and so much paper and ink to express a thought that might just as easily have  captured in a handful of sustainable, enviro-friendly words:

"Abbott won’t discuss a compromise plan the Gillard government hasn’t formulated, cannot explain and which would not fly in any case. Isn’t Abbott just awful."


  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.December 21, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Bunyip, this mess is just intolerable. Its results are unconscionable. And Fairfax are fools.

    Gillard has lost the capacity to govern. She cannot get the support of her Green fellow-travellers on this defining issue. Get the hell out ma'am PM to the Governor-General and call and election - you'll be booted by your Party soon anyway. Go gracefully, now, on a moral issue, and do the country a favour.

  2. Aww, Mum. Tony Abbott won't let us do government.

  3. Can any of our political commentators see any possible pitfalls for Abbott in accepting the government's offer to "sit down" to resolve this issue?

    No? Really?

    Instead it's headlines like "Abbott says 'no' three times to compromise on boat people".

  4. The SMH still has a couple of good writers, but Lenore isn't one of them. Costello's piece today is a searingly good one. The Libs stand accused by me of stuffing up the succession and losing their best performer. The anti-costello press were as shallow then as they are now in trying to undermine a conservative heavy hitter. The smirk they said, the smirk, as if that matters any more than the budgie smugglers. Besides, they, said, people don't like him. They didn't like him because he was as devastating in parliament as it gets, and he was impervious to their ill-educated gotcha attempts in interviews, usually showing them up as foolish. He had to be undermined, and they played their part. But the Libs all have to wear the main blame for not renewing themselves, not just Howard. For goodness sake, if Madonna and Bob Dylan can do makeovers and stretch their careers well beyong the normal, surely the Libs could have managed that fairly obvious manoeuvre. Prior to 2007 Labor was virtually unelectable. It would not have taken much of Costello"s talent to keep it that way.

  5. PhillipGeorge(c)2011December 21, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    I saw the headline and walked away shaking my head.
    When "righteousness" isn't a free gift, all sorts of things replace it.
    Like throwing bread from the back of a truck and watching people trample each other to death in celebration of your compassionate giving. Metaphors are inexhaustible.

  6. Mother G. The SMH has no credibility, think they have a special machine that sorts words into the most favourable order to suit Jules and her gremlins. No use complaining to then, they are as imprevious as the ABC

  7. Good pickup Professor.
    I also wonder why Abbott is called upon at all to see this issue through. Can't Gillard pass her laws with the assistance of her Greens and independents?
    Interesting that Fairfax has no comment on that score.

  8. This morning, Their ABC was in complete agreement with the Fairfax papers and featured their headlines on the morning news.
    I consider that it is most unlikely that the journalists writing this stuff actually believe that what they are writing is true.
    After all, aren't they all university graduates these days?
    Perhaps Logic and Ethics are no longer required subjects in the Communications schools. Could those subjects have been replaced with Sophistry and Obfuscation 101?

  9. Of course Fairfax will realise their error in that headline, "Lib Leaders Put heat on Abbott", and will print an apology........? Anytime in the next year or so right?

  10. "Isn’t Abbott just awful", is all that's is required for the Fairfax readers, or ABC for that matter .. it amazes me that they think everyone agrees with them.