By Noely Neate
28 June 2013
Apart from excitement of Origin I have been pretty quiet on Twitter this week. The blood sport that has been our politics has been particularly unedifying and to be perfectly frank, has depressed the hell out of me. I don’t mean the fanbois type cheering of Rudd vs Gillard camps, or the glee of LNP supporters, I mean the fact that what has occurred is the culmination of 3 years of reality TV style politics that as a student of History, I am pretty sure is going to be looked back on as a shameful period in Australian Political AND Social History.
When I was young, maybe 11 or 12 there was a bit of a mini drama where I lived in regard to the ‘wogs taking over all the fruit & veg stores’, now, I went to a school with quite a few Italians, Greeks, Yugoslavs etc., and did not quite ‘get’ what the big deal was. I came home one afternoon and directly hit up the fount of all knowledge, my grandad. Needless to say, having been in World War II, working on the Railways most of his life and being like a lot of his generation, maybe not well educated, but well read, a very interesting conversation ensured. Basically he instructed me on the shameful period of Australian society & politics called the “White Australia Policy” and it’s lingering affects, as a ‘modern’ kid I was horrified. I found it truly hard to believe that Australians supported & thought that was a good idea. I arrogantly stated, “thank god we are smarter than that now”.
Reflecting back on that conversation, nearly 3 decades ago now, looking at what has happened during the 43rd Australian Parliament all I can surmise is that we as a nation have learned nothing from our history. In fact have a lot to be ashamed of.
I don’t know if the Gillard overturning Rudd came as a surprise to the Journo’s and they could not get past being filthy about missing out on that? Whatever it was, from dot it was inferred that something shocking had happened to this nation, we lost our elected Prime Minister, this theme continued verbatim. Seriously? Anyone who had been a journo for 5 minutes could tell you how many leaders have lost a party room ballot in the past 20 years alone? It is utter rot and was never the big deal it was made out to be. So I can only assume it was because they were caught on the hop & shock of all shocks, it was a woman. I won’t even go into the way Ms Gillard has been treated since becoming our first female Prime Minister. Many good articles, and by good, I don’t mean News Limited Deathstar articles, look at the shocking treatment that this PM has received. This tone that was set very early in the day, has ‘allowed’ the likes of Mr Abbott and others to somehow pour personal insult on this woman and for it to be acceptable public discourse? How do you think that Historians will view that in 20 years? What will our daughters & granddaughters think of that?
To the horror of the media Mr Abbott didn’t win the election. Quite frankly that was not in the accepted game plan. Worse, it was a “Hung Parliament” AND the nasty red-headed upstart proved to be a better negotiator than the anointed heir apparent. I highlighted the word “Hung Parliament” as the use of this term has been used by Mr Abbott & the media consistently to infer a sense of disarray, instability etc. in our Government. If you have not viewed the below I suggest you do, a lot of commonsense in regard to the “denigration of the Parliament”!
Fact is, as the media well know, once the deals are done it is just “plain Parliament”. It may be a minority, it may mean that true democratic process has to occur in dealing with minor parties, independents and the like, BUT it is ‘PARLIAMENT’. It is not Hung, it is not unstable, we don’t have tanks in the bloody streets (and yes I mean blood letting) and we sure as hell don’t have an unstable nation while politicians bicker for 3 months to even form a Government as happens in many nations. Yet, we have had this constant inference of chaos, which in turn is presented to the Australian public as fact. This has probably been one of the most reprehensible results of the past 3 years. We as a nation should have been proud that we have a strong democratic system, that we have a Parliamentary system that would be envied in many a foreign country.
You only have to read the foreign papers covering recent days to see the stark difference in reporting: New York Times – Australian Prime Minister Is Ousted by Party Rival “She also faced a relentless political opposition that worked hard to deny her the accolades a different leader with a similarly wide range of legislative accomplishments might have received.” Unlike our media, they honestly include the nasty side of politics in their wrap up, including mention of the famous misogyny speech AND how “Mr. Abbott had appeared at rallies alongside vulgar and sexist placards calling Ms. Gillard a liar, and worse.” OR Japan Today – Rudd ousts Gillard in Australian leadership ballot “Since assuming power, Australia’s first female prime minister endured near-constant speculation about her leadership.”
Speaking of the dreaded foreigners, I would like to go into the Asylum seeker issue, but really, too depressed, as that is another flogging to nowhere. The beat-up that just keeps giving. If you believe the polls, that is the biggest issue we have in this country. All I will say is, yeay sure! How many in this nation actually know, hell how many have even met an Asylum seeker? If we had responsible reporting this scare mongering would have been nipped in the bud years ago, another period of our history that is yet to finish, but will be looked back upon with disgust.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I am actually one of the few on Twitter who despise the derogatory all encompassing term of MSM (Mainstream Media). Apart from the ultra conservative News Ltd Deathstar talking heads, the majority of ‘reporters’ that we actually read & see on TV are decent, hard working Journalists. My ire is directed at the Editors of the papers & the Producers of the Political Affairs we see on TV, don’t even get me started on the sub-editing done overseas because it’s cheaper. The rise of Reality TV and it’s sound bite, manufactured ‘personality’ rubbish has infected our ‘news’ cycle as well. Therefore these people in charge of disseminating the news are driven by ratings & ad revenue clicks, not honestly informing the public of matters of importance as should be their primary mandate. By the way, can anyone explain to me what the license obligations are of being an official News outlet?
I am sure there are many issues that will be raised by journalists with producers or papers that would be of national concern, yet can see the top bloke (face it, normally a guy), saying “Yeah yeah, that is a constitutional concern, but sorry, Border Protection is the go at the moment, shitload of clicks on those pages, come back to me with a few choice quotes from Scott Morrison and we might have a goer, actually if you can get a seriously inflammatory quote from the nutter, might even give you front page”… This has resulted in a lack of real news, lack of information disseminated to the public and sadly the lack of investigative journalism we used to have many years ago. Like our politics, short-term ‘popularity’ all hype and no substance, is more important in today’s media.
So even in the dying days of this term of Parliament, when the media and nation should be reflecting on what has been achieved, how wonderful it was that we had finally had a female Prime Minister, how robust our system of Government is, and looking forward now to an election and what ALL* the candidates and parties have to offer, what do they all plan for this nation etc.,? Instead, on a historical day in this nations history we get this grubby reporting from columnist Ms Miranda Devine which is not only poor form, but a breach of the media rules in Parliament “4.6 if you want to look it up” with an invasion of privacy with this photo “Former prime minister Julia Gillard kicks back with a cup of coffee after Rudd takes her job“.
Sadly the system is stacked against the public actually doing anything about what you think is wrong. Mistakes like Ms Devines above are actually rare. In fact, the reporting with slanted connotations, lack of full information, innuendo etc., is all legal. Technically. That is the biggest problem, it allows those in power to shape the news to our detriment. The below is a perfect example. David Speers is actually the head honcho of the Press Gallery, yet note the use of “…again”, like Mr Rudd has been accusing Mr Abbott of negativity for 3 years, seriously, the bloke had only been back in the job for 10 mins…
Rudd attacks Abbott for negativity…again
— David Speers (@David_Speers) June 27, 2013
Now if Mr Speers had chosen to tweet “Mr Abbott calls for an election… again” that would have been a better use of the “OMG how many times do we need to hear this old chestnut again” connotation. I for one would love a buck for everytime that line has been trotted out. But hey, can’t scare the people & keep up the ‘unstable’ Government narrative unless Mr Abbott can repeat that verbatim in the newspapers and on our TV screens nightly?
Do we really want to live in an Australia where Malcolm Farr’s point 10 in “10 things Kevin Rudd will do differently to Julia Gillard” is not a reflection on the calibre of his writing, is instead a sad, yet valid reflection on what too many Australians think, even if they don’t want to admit it?
Take a ‘normal’ family to The Lodge. The residents will be a church-going married couple and the PM’s spouse will have a full-time job, to the satisfaction of voters who objected to Ms Gillard’s domestic arrangements.
For anyone who is thinking I am being ‘precious’ about the state of our media, the reporting standards, and the sheer ‘base’ attitude of this nation – as face it, unless there was a market for this hyped up reality style reporting we would not be getting it, which is even sadder – I will leave you with the following tweet with the top 3 articles in the Age today. Classy, still kicking the ex Prime Minister, even while she is down AND still no real reporting or policy in sight AND sadly, this is a Fairfax publication, not even the dreaded News Ltd that we would expect this from…
No cheers today, just sad reflection and a quiet hope that many in this nation, both in public life and privately also reflect on the past 3 years with an open mind and endeavour to be better human beings so we can have a better Australia, not the rabid racist, homophobic, sexist and truly ugly one we currently have.
PS. Plea to media, would be nice if we could go old-school for a change… *We have more than 2 parties in this country, know it spreads you a bit thin, but if you could ask your bosses if you could cover more than 2 party preferred crap, that would really be a service to the Australian Public.