Time to be Alert … And a little bit Alarmed? – the @sarah_capper column

Yes, that’s right, last week Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the Government was raising Australia’s ‘terror alert’ status to ‘high’.  While technically this means a terrorist attack on Australian soil is now regarded as “likely”, the PM was quick to clarify that “this does not mean that a terror attack is imminent. We have no specific intelligence of particular plots.” Fast forward one week as Australians woke to the news of police raids on houses in Sydney and Brisbane. Almost 900 police were involved with 15 people detained and at this stage, one charged with conspiracy to prepare an attack, another charged with weapons offenses. Based on media reports, the […]

Labor’s Mark Dreyfus QC takes stand on #freespeech: Abbott and Brandis honour Voltaire only in the breach

[clear] The Coalition will never waver in its defence of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. — Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) March 13, 2013 Oh the terrible irony for George Brandis QC in fronting the latest Abbott Government attacks on free speech through its terror legislation. Brandis was one of several moderates in the Howard Government who stood firm behind liberal principles to oppose its draconian anti-terror legislation in 2002. As editor of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Webdiary I documented the true Liberal dissenters fightback in great detail; indeed it was their dissent which enabled the Labor Party to risk adding its voice to the debate. And in my […]

Seeking a Fair Go in a ‘World of Pain’ by @sarah_capper

It’s hard to fully comprehend, but just eight months after being elected, the Coalition-friendly News Limited broadsheet ‘The Australian’ ran with the headline, ‘Coalition in World of Pain’ emblazoned across its front page early this week. Sure, it was selectively quoting Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who had used the expression in justifying why the Government needed to make “tough” decisions in handing down its first budget, but nonetheless the Oz chose the headline to correspond with a story reporting the dismal Newspoll results in which voters declared it to be the worst budget in 20 years, and which gave Labor a 10 point two-party preferred lead over the Government. In […]

Abbott’s attack on ABC proves politicians are free press chameleons – @journlaw reports

[clear] By Mark Pearson  @journlaw 5th February 2014 Politicians are free expression chameleons. Regardless of their political colours, they are inevitably staunch advocates of a free media and the free flow of information while in opposition. When they win government they tend to shut down criticism and negative press by implementing policies and passing laws to limit scrutiny. We saw this happen in Australia this week Prime Minister Tony Abbott’scriticisms of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the eve of his government’s announcement of an‘efficiency study’ on the independent national broadcaster. Less than a year ago, the former Gillard Labor government’s proposed media regulations which risked journalists and media organisations being shackled by a new privacy […]

Can Libs hold Dunkley? @Gus_Barnes reports

View Larger Map Dunkley Seat profile By Angus Barnes, 13 August, 2013 The electorate of Dunkley was formed in 1984, and named after Louisa Margaret Dunkley, a trade unionist and campaigner for equal pay for women.  These beginnings align with a common perception of Frankston as a blue-collar city. The left-leaning electorate changed in nature in 1996 when the blue-ribbon Mornington suburb in the south was transferred in to the electorate in exchange for the northern Labor stronghold of Chelsea. Since then Dunkley has been held by Bruce Bilson, the Liberal Party sitting member. The contest Dunkley is well in train, with a 1% margin an incentive to make this […]

Freedom Wars: The George Brandis speech

ABC Lateline Interview May 7, 2013 Margo: Well here it is, the Brandis speech on free speech he calls the Freedom Wars. It is not online, so Barry Tucker rang the Brandis office and obtained a copy. Thank you @btckr. I have a feeling I’ll want to write a response soon – my boiling anger at his @Lateline interview on the speech has just about subsided enough to safely have a go. (UPDATE: My reply to Brandis.) Thursday 21 March – the last sitting day before Parliament rose for the Easter recess – will long be remembered as one of those days of frenzy and madness which infrequently, but memorably, punctuate the pages of our political […]

The Forgotten People

By Margo Kingston May 9, 2013 The day after Howard, Abbott and Brandis, among other Liberals, pulverised our freedoms for George Bush, they did it again for Chinese President Hu. This chapter of my book is Part 5 in our series of memory joggers for shadow Attorney General George Brandis, in the hope that he revises his recent speech this week proclaiming his Party a champion of free speech. Senator Brandis has rather oddly chosen not to publish the speech online so it can be freely read by voters, so for now check out the transcript of the @alberichi interview after he delivered it. In our time, we must decide our own belief. Either […]

Murdoch’s war: 175 generals on song

By Margo Kingston February 19, 2003 Rupert Murdoch is pro-war, and thinks a lower price for oil after Iraq is conquered will be better than a tax cut. After those comments (see Murdoch: Cheap oil the prize), a reader sent me Their master’s voice by Roy Greenslade in The Guardian, which reports that all 175 Murdoch editors around the world just happen to agree with their boss. It begins: ‘What a guy! You have got to admit that Rupert Murdoch is one canny press tycoon because he has an unerring ability to choose editors across the world who think just like him. How else can we explain the extraordinary unity of thought in his […]

Howard’s blueprint for Abbott to stifle dissent

By Margo Kingston March 12, 2013 This chapter from Still Not Happy, John! (Pengiun, 2007) is required reading for activists and people in non-government organisations which advocate for change. John Howard’s government systematically sought to stifle democratic dissent with the help of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA). Believe it or not, the Howard government funded the secretly funded IPA to produce a report saying groups who did not reveal their funding should not get government funding. Pressed to justify this hypocrisy, the IPA promised to disclose its donors but it never did. As the likelihood of a government led by Howard’s political son grows, I feel citizens need to […]