Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No Pleasing Steve Gibbons MP

UP BENDIGO way, Federal Labor MP Steve Gibbons is very upset about Fairfax falling into Mrs Rinehart’s hands – if a valueless property being lifted from the brink of ruin can be described as “falling”. Gibbons would like a bit more law and regulation to keep the Phage and Silly on the right track, as he sees it, and proposes to bring such an initiative to the floor of the House. With Wayne Swan and sundry others all leaping to the defence of the media company that has been so very kind to them, the argument for government control and sanctions is being couched in terms of the need to preserve “quality journalism”.

Well the thing worth noting about Gibbons is that he is no particular ally of Fairfax as it exists at the moment, he just doesn't like free speech. Indeed, a year ago, he was getting stuck into the Fairfax-owned Bendigo Advertiser for “appalling journalism”, its crime having been to report a CFA officer’s opinion that BER-funded renovations to a local school had increased the fire risk.

When people like Gibbons talk about protecting journalism, what they actually mean is protecting themselves from scrutiny and rebuke -- any and all scrutiny and rebuke. The Fairfax crisis just gives them a chance to come across all pious while doing so.


  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.June 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Good catch there Prof. What a sanctimonious little urd this Gibbons man is. Oh dear me, sorry, I just dropped a t. And yours such a genteel and well-ordered site too, Prof. I really should stop littering it with missing consonants.

  2. Glad you are back prof ,I need your help to foce jooliar to grant Julie Ann whosname plitical assailem or something like that.she could put him up at the lodge ! He and Timmy could hide in the shed .contact her if interested.

  3. I notice he's conspicuously silent on the journalistic integrity of Pravda...sorry, I mean 'our' ABC.

  4. Too right Bunyip. Also see the comments by various Greens apparently calling for some sort of legislative solution to stop Rinehart getting rid of the Fairfax charter of independence. The best way to have an independent media company is if the Greens control it, apparently.

  5. I hate to prick your bubble, but you miss the point. This binary crap whereby some line up behind News Limited and some behind Fairfax is a sideshow. What is relevant is concentration of ownership.
    Remember the late sixties and early seventies? The corporate media had it in for Billy McMahon, and Coalition policy in Vietnam. Remember how the media lined up back then? I do – I had a personal involvement.
    My father stopped sending me the Oz in 1970 when I was in 7RAR because he thought it would do me no good to read their coverage.
    Few would disagree that the corporate media had a major influence on the outcome of the war in Vietnam.
    Was that clear media bias ideological nonsense? Was it OK for the US (and the Australian media back then, especially the Australian) to be so one-eyed on the topic?
    Did this put the lives of Australians in jeopardy, and devalue the sacrifice of those at the sharp end?
    If it was ideologically driven, then maybe if media ownership hadn’t been conglomerated into a few large organisations (then as now), there would have been a more even spread of opinion on the war and its justification. Maybe public opinion, both here and in the US, would have supported our involvement longer. Maybe returning veterans in both countries wouldn’t have been humiliated in the way many were.
    The problem is not bias, but concentration. I don't have problem with bias, or because I disagree with what is printed.
    What concerns me is the concentration of media ownership in fewer and fewer hands.
    This is toxic for any democracy. We are pretty close now to the oligarchic model of media power seen in Russia and the UK. News Limited is particularly dangerous because it is multinational. It has obviously held the law in contempt in the UK, and this trend will continue - all power corrupts - absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    The remedy is to break down each corporate media conglomerate (including the ABC) to a size which doesn't threaten elected governments. We elect our government - we don't elect our media. It’s OK for governments to fear the voters. It’s not OK for them to fear the corporate media. Put simply, that is a dangerous abuse of corporate power.
    No one media organisation should own more than one Australian daily, and more than one style of media. Ownership newspapers should be separated from television and radio. Remember “Pravda”? What we have now in this country is in effect two versions of Pravda. We’re probably fortunate in that as it stands, they tend to follow opposite ideological paths. This is not guaranteed.
    Corporate ownership of electronic outlets should be limited to one outlet (print or electronic) per state. National and transnational media ownership is dangerous to democracy and free expression.
    Bloggers are the future. With a few exceptions current journalistic standards are a joke.

    1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.June 21, 2012 at 7:54 AM

      Well, you said it Numbers, bloggers are the future. There's plenty of choice, 'cos even you've got one. Stop worrying.

    2. Dood,

      Fairfax is still listed on the ASX.
      You, and anyone else concerned about concentration are free to buy as much of the company as they like.
      Talk is cheap dood.
      Money / mouth, you can guess the rest.

    3. Numbers - you miss the point of capitalism. If you don't like or agree with something, don't buy it and eventually it'll go out of business if enough people feel the same way. Is this really so difficult to understand? If Gina wants to take a punt on owning a newspaper - and it's her money to do so - then she either has to publish what people want to read or it will also go out of business. You have the power as consumer, not the other way around!

    4. "Talk is cheap"
      That's exactly where you're wrong. It's expensive, and only the likes of Rinehart have the dosh to buy it. Buying influence is Totalatarianism 101.

  6. Welcome home Prof.

    Legislation along the lines wished for by the Greens would no doubt provoke a constitutional challenge based on the freedom of political communication, and there is good reason to think that it would succeed. Perhaps the government has been so informed, and would rather just make a threat to 'do something' than to see their bluff called.

    (On the other hand, the restrictions on free speech that flow from the law of contempt of court are justified, and the Roxon/Albanese attack of Ashby may well have crossed the line. Roxon's attack is aggravated by reason of her being Attorney-General, for the federal courts look to this officer to enforce the law of contempt. )

  7. The Old and Unimproved DaveJune 20, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    But surely, the Rine Maiden holds Hairy-Legs and both Bowers here.

    The usual suspects, those who will fight to the last ditch to protect Fairfax, must know that, should they balk or block her takeover of Fairfax, she'll just dump every single Fairfax share she owns on the market.

    Who would tell her "no" ? After all, they can hardly say she is unworthy to own 51% but please, please, don't sell what you own.

    It wouldn't be more than a flea-bite to her earnings, and she could hardly be accused of market manipulation when she's taking a deliberate loss, not a profit.

  8. To: the members of the Fairfax Keyboard-workers'Collective,
    Sydney, NSW

    From: Your Fairfax Board

    Sorry to interrupt. It has been drawn to our attention that your members may be in breach of the Fairfax Charter of Editorial Independence, Northern Version.

    In case your internet connection has already been terminated, the relevant section requires your Board to:
    "acknowledge that journalists, artists and photographers must record the affairs of the city, state, nation and the world fairly, fully and regardless of any commercial, political or personal interests ..."

    Nevertheless, at the top of page one of today's SMH we read:
    Rinehart media muscle stumps Swan
    This headline, demeaning to both the Treasurer and Mrs Rinehart, distorts the unremarkable fact that the Commonwealth Government lacks the power to treat directors of public companies like junior public servants - or copy boys. You provided no evidence to support the assertion that Mrs Rinehart "muscled" Mr Swan, or anyone else, supposing that were your justification for favouring the introduction of serfdom for the rich.

    We are led to the inevitable conclusion that the basis for this regrettable exercise was the "political or personal interests" of those involved.

    Our legal advice is that this conduct is prima facie a breach of our Charter. At present the Charter is the most valuable, possibly the only, asset possessed by our SMH masthead. If a Director committed such a breach it would require his or her resignation. Your members' breach can not be treated lightly.

    Perhaps those responsible would like to be the first of the 1900 unaffordable staff to leave the building?

  9. Indeed. They want the taxpayer to fund a(nother) sycophantic media organisation that will give Labor and their friends an easy, unquestioning ride. Anything else is not "quality journalism" generated from "editorial independence" and "diversity of ideas".

  10. 1. Mme Gina signs the requisite document(s) after receiving assurances that words such as 'accurate' and 'objective' are in operation.
    2. Mme Gina gets her three board seats.
    3. A error is made in a report concerning Mme Gina; Mme Gina declares all agreements voided and institutes "Operation Lamentations".


  11. It is understandable that Gibbons is upset. The Gibbons are on their way to extinction, the primate from Bendigo is no exception even given his 60% / 40% 2PP result in 2010.

    1. As my name sake above points out, Gibbons is gorn... He resigned after the last election as the ink on his renewed membership of the House of Reps was drying.

      The Liberal Party's pre-selection for the Federal Division of Bendigo opened today.

      There is a strong field whilst Labor's offerings are just more of the same; a 'progressive’ lawyer, a union official and a twenty-something railway shop-steward.

      All as equipped to represent the diverse people of this electorate as Gillard is truthful and Gibbons is to comment on Fairfax and freedom of speech.

  12. ABC will need to announce their own refugee policy, or face being overwhelmed by the sheer number of asylum seeker claims.

    Marr & Gittins can always go the Mungo route, reduced to drug-addled piecework at $200 a pop on the drum.