Sarah Capper, Sheilas editor: Veteran political journalist and author Margo Kingston is back! And just in the nick of time with an election year upon us.
After some time off, Margo returned to writing at the end of last year, spurred into action when she heard Opposition leader Tony Abbott attacking the Prime Minister over the so-called ‘AWU’ slush fund. In her best-selling book ‘Not Happy John!’ (recently relaunched by Penguin as an e-book), Margo examined Tony Abbott’s own involvement in a ‘slush fund’ – with the dubiously named ‘Australians for Honest Politics’ fund that was set-up to bankroll court action against Pauline Hanson. Margo reminded readers of this with articles published on the Independent Australia website, and was then further encouraged back into writing when former Webdiarist Tony Yegles created a website under the same fantastic title of ‘Australians for Honest Politics’. Welcome back, Margo!
In terms of returning to a ‘virtual reality’, she explains:
After seven years in the real world I’m back in the virtual one until the election. Once I dabbled on twitter and realised the extent of the collapse of the mainstream media as an accountability mechanism, it was inevitable. So I have deferred the final year of my nursing degree, accepted the services of the geek who created a website, and got to work with fellow citizen journos. I’m excited to be again fulfilling my vocation, this time watching the death of the old media and playing a part in the creation of the new.
We hope to publish more of Margo Kingston over this election year and link readers to articles on her new site. In this piece for Sheilas, Margo looks at what’s been making news through Twitter over the last week – click on the links below to be redirected to articles:
On March 7, Australian Women’s Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe linked this post on Twitter:
I came across it on International Women’s Day. Grrrrr. It read to me like sour grapes from a columnist who had privileged access to the former Prime Minister John Howard, and was now pissed off from feeling a little, well, displaced.
Helen McCabe is an old friend – we did the road trip chasing Pauline Hanson in her 1998 election campaign – so in response, I tweeted:
Vigorous twitter talk ensued, and Helen asked for pieces – which she paid for – on why the phrase mummy blogger was not OK.
Zoe Arnold wrote ‘Why mummy bloggers are so much more than their condescending name suggests’ .
Kim Berry wrote ‘Don’t call me a mummy blogger’.
To Helen’s credit, she then used her gig on Network Ten’s The Project to put the wider world in the picture.
This is what can happen on Twitter.
I felt uncomfortable watching Tony Abbott use his sister to remake his image on Sixty Minutes.
So did Shelly Horton, Sydney party reporter for the Sunday tabloid the Sun Herald. She tweeted:
‘I don’t think Tony Abbott is a reformed woman-loving gay-accepting man. I just think he’s been media trained to be polished liar’.
Her personal opinion on the Abbott interview summed it up for so many that the original tweet was retweeted nearly 500 times.
She said she couldn’t understand why because she was just a punter and no political expert. Maybe that’s why she cut through. I contacted Shelly for more information and published her response on my website. I asked Shelly how she reached her opinion of Tony Abbott in the 60 Minutes story, and she replied:
‘I just felt riled looking at the Tony Abbott interview. To me he looked so uncomfortable trying to say whatever he had to say to get elected rather than what he actually believed. I thought his sister looked particularly uncomfortable.
‘I understand that they are blood and still love each other, but when he is so vocal about being anti-gay and anti-gay marriage and now to be saying it is OK to be gay but no to gay marriage – he sounded like he was cherry picking.
‘I based my opinion on the interview and his body language and the squirming he and his sister did.’
‘I would like to stress that I am not an expert and I am not voting for Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard, partly because neither fit my values. I am straight and in a relationship with a man. I marched in the Gay Mardi Gras this year and it was an incredibly positive experience.’ (Read more here).
I hope these examples show why I don’t waste time bemoaning the appalling state of the mainstream media and its clear and present bias in favour of Tony Abbott. This will be the first election heavily influenced by social media, and who knows what will happen.
I urge all who care about the result of this crucial election for Australia’s future direction to jump on Twitter and Facebook and play your part in shaping the debate.
I will follow the precept of American journalist Mary Kissel, aiming to make people who disagree with me feel compelled to read what I write. This is a time to reach out, not turn inwards, to be open, not closed, and to be flexible, not dogmatic. And it is a time to have fun while you do your bit to save the world.
My new website – http://australiansforhonestpolitics.wordpress.com/
My first political column in seven years – I can see clearly now
E-book of Still Not Happy, John! now available.