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62 responses to “Roundtable: post-election politics and what the broad left and progressive movements can do about it.”

  1. paul walter

    As Paul says, “teh left” is actually a broad church, to use an old Howardism. If you want a good example of the “narcissism of small differences”, watch the left go to town on itself, now that the election is done.
    What do lefties do?
    Understand that other lefties, let alone people outside the left, may have a different viewpoint on a given issue at a given time- don’t get sucked in to internecine feuding, whilst the tabloid right steals another march- next time Abbott will get in.
    Locally, be greatful. The greens got a good boost this time round and labor has survived for the moment, buying Australia time until a strong senate takes up next year. Understand what globalisation and multi culturalism could be, against what they are now; also enviro and social policy.
    Realise there is a point to it, in the bestowing of the same opportunities we had as kids for the next lot coming. We are not duped by fundamentalism, we could be the people on which the continuance of a healthy society may depend.
    Also accept that Australia is atypical rather than typical of the world; we are wealthy when so many more people are poor. This will lead to further consideration of newer and complicated debates emerging, involving population, population movement globally and management and control of resources. They have been tricky debates already, but we must continue to talk amongst ourselves ’till something is worked out that our consciences can live with, without at the same time beggaring up the economic/ecologic base for the future.
    There is no sign that a tendency toward accumulation and concentration of power and resources occurring over the decades has abated, even in the wake of failed wars and the speculation-induced finacial meltdown of 2007.
    Quite the opposite. The nasty campaign waged by the tabloid msm and Abbott, also the arrival of the vile Cameron government in Britain, reveals that the establishment itself was damaged by its own fantasyland antics and is now both vengeful and in need of recuperation of its financial losses due to its feverish gambling habit, up to 2007.
    They are not cute.
    They want government to do a Thatcher and reward themselves with further corporate and middle class handouts and tax cuts at the expense of ordinary people both here and in the third world. They are happy to make racists out of us and play off the generations and sexes against each other thru divisive wedge politics.
    Understand, these people ain’t funnin’.
    And at their worst, they are a threat to civilisation and a civil society as wqell as themselves.
    The price of freedom is vigilance.

  2. Peter Mc

    I should have felt happy about the announcement yesterday with this new government but instead I felt a lot of rage against the ABC. Their coverage of the announcement was so right wing it was outrageous. We need to mobilise to do things to change the ABC and media laws. We just saw the media nearly bring down a very successful government and as Possum points out they in concert with the right wing camp, will keep trying until they succeed. I’m worried about the damage they will do and we must do what we can to get at least some of our media back so that people can see what is really happening in this country and be engaged by it rather than isolated from it by this cynical view of politics as a kind of punch and judy show that our media present to us.

    Write letters, make t-shirts, demonstrate outside the ABC (NO MORE PUNCH AND JUDY!!), get the Get Up people involved, whatever. There is a narrow window of opportunity here in which something might be done I think.

  3. Chav

    Despite talk of ‘agrarian socialism’ I assume that the ALP will swing even further to the right, particularly on social issues, to avoid upsetting the country independants?

    In that case we need to be organising extra-parliamentary movements, in particular to put pressure on any possible right-ward drift by the Greens reps.

  4. tigtog

    @Chav, do you have any actual evidence that either Windsor or Oakeshott are fiscally/socially “conservative”, or are you just making assumptions?

  5. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    I assume that the ALP will swing even further to the right, particularly on social issues, to avoid upsetting the country independants?

    No. Oakeshott has described himself as a “social progressive and a economic conservative.” And Windsor doesn’t strike me as being more socially conservative than Gillard herself.

  6. Chookie

    Last night on ABC Sydney, Robbie Buck was doing an excellent job of being truly even-handed. He had a couple of guests who knew what they were talking about (Mal Peters or the NSW Farmers’ Association was one — he lives in Windsor’e electorate; the other was a Victorian Regional Development Consultant & farmer, but I didn’t catch her name). Whenever anyone ringing in was too one-sided he’d put the opposite side of the picture to them. It was enlightening to me: the guests saw the NBN as a solution to population drain from RARA. I hadn’t realised that.
    So today I will write an appreciative comment to the ABC.

  7. paul walter

    The labor grouping could attempt to exploit the bogy of the independents to move rightward themselves (am thinking of Mar’n and the mining/timber lobby faction), but that would prove that labor was conservative, if it never forgot and never learned.
    I actually hope that Windsor and the other indies prove to be the worthwhile folk they appear to be. I got the impression they were saying they wanted an orthodox democracy rather than the sort of neolib craziness propose d by Murdoch, Abbott, etc outright and flirted with by the “New Labour” neolib sections of the ALP.

  8. jane

    Chav, are Windsor and Oakeshott on the right on social and other issues. Oakeshott in particular, while possibly not a lefty, is more left than right on social issues.

    Truss was interviewed on Breakfast news this morning, pushing the meme that despite the incredibly generous funding poured into regional Australia by the Coalition (he wasn’t prepared to nominate when this all happened), the ungrateful sods kept electing Independents.

    However, a performance full of hubris and unchallenged by the 2 blow-up dolls from the ABC.

    Gillard needs to seriously take a knife to the LIEberals ABC and the sooner the better, like yesterday.

  9. joe2

    I noticed Abbott said last night that he became less confident about his chances way back when the indys fronted The National Press Club.

    It would be good for those who still imagine them to be strictly “conservative”, or would naturally jump to the Coalition, to have a look.


  10. tigtog


    Gillard needs to seriously take a knife to the LIEberals ABC and the sooner the better, like yesterday.

    joe2 left this comment on the now-closed Gillard-government thread, so I’ll reproduce it here:

    There is some great news around that with a Gillard minority government likely to take us beyond june/july of next year.

    Procedures for independent appointments to the board will be maintained and hopefully see the end of 5 Howard appointments by the above date.

    This would include, Skala this October, changing the crucial board balance and later Newman in Jan. Then the end of Hurley and Windshuttle in June of next year.

    So natural attrition should start making a difference from next month.

  11. Peter Mc

    Chookie @ 6
    glad you enjoyed that coverage but what about the coverage of the “announcement” for 2 hours we had a journalist asking Barnaby Joyce (and no-one else) for his reactions. There where pannel discussions which where equally biased and the “special” news edition was dominated by Chris Ullman who proceeded to parrot almost all the right wing taking points that are now being taken up but the “Australian” today. No discussion about the opportunities or the potential for change. No perspectives from any point of view other than the politics-as-a-horse-race perspective. Possum describes the political reporters at the ABC as

    “that growing group of feeble minded cowards at the ABC whom appear to have lost any capacity for intellectual autonomy when it comes to independently assessing the dynamics of Australian politics.”

    As usual Possum is spot on.

  12. Kim

    Jeff Sparrow’s recent post is relevant to this thread:


  13. Robert Merkel

    tigtog, much as I would like to believe that Windschuttle et al are the ones to blame for the ABC’s sad performance, I think there are other factors that are equally at fault.

    The quest for “balance” from right-wing pressure might have encouraged the “He said, she said” journalism, but the lack of resources given the ever-increasing demands for content across a range of platforms is equally to blame.

    Nor is horse-race election coverage an inherently right-wing phenomenon.

    Finally, the complete lack of policy nous from much of the press gallery doesn’t seem to me to be a specifically right-wing problem either, though it certainly played into the Coalition’s hands this time around.

  14. mediatracker

    Possibly the most effective interventions would be if we didn’t all breath a sigh of relief and settle back in our chairs to engage in our normal role of armchair commentators.

    It seems to me that this is a time to become even more alert and responsive to the point of view that the media is pushing and to push back vociferously where there are as many misrepresentations as there have been over the recent past.

    Peter [email protected] points to some actions that can be persistently followed – “Write letters, make t-shirts………get the Get-Up people involved”. I’ve left out his comment about demonstrating outside the ABC purposefully because it is not just the ABC. I’m more inclined to push for things like financially boycotting news outlets, their vocal supporters in business; along with things like organising and participating in pushing out a stream of consciousness-raising regarding current issues into the media than has been the case in the past.

    There has been discussion this morning on ABC Melbourne with a representative of Ch. 7 regarding the high interest shown in politics in the past short while. The consensus between John Faine of the ABC and Steve Carey representing Channel 7 seemed to be that there was not the time or scope for analysis, even though the need for such analysis had been pointed out to them by at least one caller. This is an area which needs to be a push for better analysis. It is not enough for the media to say that they present two or more people from each side of the argument. What we end up with in these circumstances is a shouting match with each side claiming they are right (about whatever the subject is) and that the other side is wrong. That is just prostituting the airwaves to garner content.

    We need to be concerned more about filling the space with real content and factual analysis. This probably means that we need to do more research ourselves, to follow arguments at greater depth and perhaps to have space devoted on sites like this to lengthy factual analysis of issues representing all sides of an argument or issue.

    Whatever we do, we can’t do nothing.

  15. gregh

    Regulation of the media is critical – The Libs exploit that the media only deal with gossip – he said she said – so they can endlessly repeat lies over and over again and those lies will be endlessly reported as if they have substance. That was their media strategy leading into the election and that strategy is continuing. I can see no reason for them not to maintain that strategy.
    hence the media must be regulated to allow for the emergence of substantive journalism. The empires must be broken and the state media strengthened both financially and in independence from govt interference.
    However I think such a move is unlikely as Labor also like to exploit the media gossip machine. Hopefully though enough people will complain and enough labor types realise that this election (and the long lead up) demonstrate – yet again- that Labor cannot work the media to their advantage under the current system.

  16. akn

    In part this comment derives from Kim’s recent thread post subsequent to Possum’s comments about the frenzied and irrational response from “the dark underbelly” who support the Coalition.

    One thing that the broad left needs to do as a matter of urgency is insist on propriety from sections of the media. On another thread here at LP someone noted that a respondent on Bolt’s blog had made threats to firebomb Windsor’s electoral office. Making such a threat is against the law and it would more than likely be the case that publishing or broadcasting such a threat is also illegal.

    A tactic, then, to establish the democratic legitimacy of this government will be to insist that people who make or publish such and similar threats are appropriately prosecuted. I will be raising this with my Federal member (Alabanese) as a matter of urgency as I think the Labor spine requires a bit of stiffening on this sort of matter. I am unsure whether the Police (Federal or state) have the capacity to act independently on this sort of matter or if they must wait for the matter to be referred to them.

    Investigated and prosecuted it must be. We need to establish that the sorts of people who shelter under the umbrella of the Bolts and Joneses of this world that their reign of legitimating what is not even fit for a dunny door is over.

    This is a matter of defending democratically elected parliamentarians from threats and intimidation delivered with the complicity of sections of the media.


  17. Robert Merkel

    gregh, I think that regulating the media is a strategy that might have worked 20 or even 10 years ago, but it’s becoming increasingly untenable and by the time the NBN is finished will be utterly irrelevant.

  18. Peter Mc

    Nor is horse-race election coverage an inherently right-wing phenomenon.

    I agree but what has happened is that people have been progressively disengaged from politics by the “all politicians are liars and only looking out for themselves” style of reporting. In this vacuum anyone who wants to lie their way into power can do so without being challenged. So the horse race is seen as a kind of survival of the fittest contest. You don’t trust what they say but you vote for them if they seem tough enough to do the job. Politics is now like an episode of that awful “reality” TV show Survivor.

  19. tigtog

    Tim Hollo has a post up at Rooted which is on-topic:
    The best opportunity for renewables we may ever get

  20. Peter Mc

    mediatracker @ 14

    good points. My idea about protesting outside of the ABC is that it would create an interesting problem for commercial media. Do they report it? They would love to but would they like to messages being presented? The ABC would certainly be rattled. I think they need to be rattled and shaken very hard. Its no longer just the Howard appointments to the board that are the problem, its the whole culture of the ABC. Its “all impact and no resonance” as Robert Hughes once said.

  21. gregh

    [email protected] – I’m not convinced by the position of internet = replacement which is usually brought to bear when arguing that the time for media regulation is past. I’d love to see some evidence for net usage leading to a significant decline in influence of the historic mass media organisations on voting behaviour. We have had high levels of internet use in Australia for a long time so a trend to non-mass media sources as significant influences on voting should be apparent by now.

    Or are you thinking of other reasons Robert?

    But isn’t news.com.au the most hit .au site anyway?

  22. adrian

    Peter Mc is right – the ABC needs to be shaken from their complacency and reminded of the fact that we own the damn thing and pay these idiots’ wages. Anyone who has complained to the ABC knows the kind of pathetic response you get, and they need to be held accountable.
    The idea that the place will change when the remaining Howard board appointees are removed might make us all feel better, but as said above, the style and manner of reporting represents a deeply imbedded cultural problem that requires radical surgery.

    Kudos for the ABC for showing it, but this week’s Media Watch highlighted just how far the ABC has sunk when 4 Corners is used to air a blatant piece of far right propaganda from the US. Probably even worse than the actual program was Executive Producer, Sue Spenser’s disdainful and woefully inadequate response to Media Watch’s pertinent questions. Check out the Media Watch web site if you are interested in the details.

  23. Chookie

    Peter Mc @11, I made a comment to that effect. Buck’s presentation was exemplary — well, it was the standard we would have expected of everyone there 15 years ago — and he deserves encouragement. The ABC plainly don’t reward their staff for professionalism so the good guys deserve fan mail just as much as the bad guys deserve complaints. Fortunately I was working till late and didn’t have to put up with Barnaby; you can complain about him.

  24. jane

    Thanks, tigtog. I must have missed his comment. Pity we have to wait for natural attrition, though.

    Is it possible that Gillard has a plank positioned over shark infested waters the rest of the Rodent appointees could be persuaded to walk onto and pushed from?

    akn @16, couldn’t agree more. The likes of Bolt and the Parrot need to be made more accountable for propagating lies, gossip and innuendo as fact and for encouraging the sort of loony commentary and threats we’re seeing on Bolt’s site for example.

  25. brett coster

    It’s not only the ABC Board that is the problem; don’t forget that we have the most (or one of the most) concentrated media ownership in the developed world.

    Journalists basically have a career choice of Murdoch, Fairfax, ABC/SBS, Stokes, and whoever owns 10 as prospective bosses. Burn one, you probably burn them all.

    Whether this will free up with the NBN is pretty moot. At the moment the established newspapers are prevented from running free-to-air style news services on the web, although they are certainly trying to get more and more a/v content up on their websites.

    It would be great if the likes of Get-Up could get their own news channels up (coming soon, LP Live) but there’d be a fair expense involved.

  26. Peter Mc

    Chookie @ 23

    fair enough and its a good point that we should recognise the positive as well as the negative.

  27. Mad Dog

    I listen to ABC Classic FM nearly all of the time. They generally have news on the hour. Last night (7/9/10) the 7 pm news started, without a lead in, with a recording of Abbott telling two lies in his press conference, first, that the coalition had received more votes than Labor, and second that they had more seats than Labor. This was left to stand, with no comment. The news reader then began on the actual news, that O and W had supported Labor, and hence that Gillard remains PM.

    There is a cancer at the centre of ABC news, and it continually carries out acts of bastardry like this. I have been collecting direct examples for some time, since March in fact. Their most common trick is to take a straight story, about something the government has done, and headline it in non-peak times with a bland, even factual headline. A couple of hours later, they will collect a negative (of course) response from an opposition spokesperson, and create a headline with a direct quote of the negative statement, unattributed. The factual story will be amended so that the first several paras report the opposition criticism, and just a couple of small parts of the original story remain. This will then remain as their headline and story for the next many hours, throught the main evening bulletins on radio and TV.

    As a specific example, take the announcement of the Government’s NBN deal with Telstra. This is just one of many I have collected.

    Thodey (Telstra CEO) and Rudd held a joint press conference early on the afternoon of Sunday 20 June. This story appeared on ABC News Online:

    “Government strikes NBN deal with Telstra”
    Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:58pm AEST


    Within two hours, it had been removed, to be replaced by this:

    ‘No certainty’ about Telstra’s NBN deal
    Sun Jun 20, 2010 4.37 pm AEST


    The second version of the story removed nearly all of the positive, factual material, and substituted some entirely misleading lies about what the Government is buying, and tripe spouted by Robb, as is indicated by the headline. The final version, linked above, removes even more of the positive, and leaves virtually only opposition denigration. This version of the story was that which led the Sunday evening news, the following morning’s AM, and all bulletins throughout the day.

    The cunning part about his, of course, is that Scott can point to even-handedness, in that there was a pro-government story, and one which ‘put the opposition’s point of view’. What is not mentioned or measured is the prominence, and simple longevity of the two stories, ostensibly about the same topic. One is hidden early on a Sunday afternoon, when nobody is watching or listening, and the other is plastered all over the evening bulletin, the next morning, and on into the next night.

    This pattern is repeated over and over. There is definitely organisation and intent involved. Over and over, there are two or more versions of a story. First a government announcement, reported straight, with a bland objective headline. Then a short time later, a new ‘anti’ headline, and destructive lead in paragraph or two, with much of the original remaining. Then often, a few hours later, there is an even more biased story, with quotes from opposition spokepersons, and a strongly partisan headline.

    Last night the added destructive headline was as blatant as possible, a recording of Abbott lying about the vote and seats. This false line has been continued this morning.

    This is the way ‘their’ ABC works, and the evidence is crystal clear in their own archives.

  28. Peter Mc

    Mad Dogs work here is great and here is a post by Cuppa on Poll Bludger that is useful also.

  29. kuke

    Thanks TigTog @19 – though like Robert’s comments on the blog, I prefer the carbon price option.

    Bill McKibben on Grist is asking for non-violent, non-destructive direct action ideas for climate activism.

    Of course, I don’t think it should be the exclusive domain of the left – maybe connected persons can rally ex-Libs/Nats who are sympathetic to their offspring’s future to become climate action spokespeople.

  30. adrian

    Great post Mad Dog, and I hope it helps in negating the lie that ABC bias is just due to laziness or lack of resources. It is deliberate organised policy and has been for some time.

  31. jane

    That’s why Gillard has to take urgent and immediate action to rid the ABC of these trolls and replace them with staff with integrity and honesty.

  32. Ron

    As people here are saying, Robbie Buck last night on ABC Sydney was excellent. It was the first time for a long while I can remember thinking to myself I’m really hearing genuine topical discussion without the hint of bias.

  33. billie

    chookie @6 I think Robbie Buck might have been talking to Cathy McGowan. Anyway I’ll see if I can listen to it

  34. skander

    I think one of the most important tactics is to call out the right wing media as just that at every possible opportunity. We have seen the Greens in particular, and the indies in the last week, correctly casting The Australian as Right-Wing Barrow-Pushers. Labelling commentators and bodies such as the IPA as “conservative” or “right wing” is the first step to getting some transparency in the media and comment in this country, rather than assuming that an audience is educated enough to know a particular point of view, or segment of the political spectrum, is being advanced.

  35. paul walter

    Robert Merkell at 13 rightly reminds us how complex and entrenched the swing to the right over the last generation has become and some of the results. The problem with the ABC situation is no longer the board, they were trojan horses.
    As with many situations post Howard, the cancer has been deeply planted in the organisational structure, in the form of coercive surveillance and micromanaging of journos by a colonising team of conservative executives bent on subdueing the indie culture of public broadcasting. Think of Scott, Tim Dalton, Marco Basso and so forth; so many Corrigans following the blueprint set down with the Corrigan Web Dock caper of the late nineties esxcept that this is a colonisation of a once cornucopian source of ideas rather than mere material production.
    The management they replaced had been interested in quality programming and the interests of public broadcasting and its public.
    The current crew are stand over merchants dedicated to the smashing of that mechanism and dumbing down of the ABC.
    The spawn of the devil have survived, prospered and multiplied and the best representation of the current mentality would be Conroy himself.
    If labor had been genuine, it would have had someone like Duncan Kerr as a minister for public broadcasting rather than than a barbarian like Conroy, because for neolibs public organisations like the ABC are a curse and ignorance is bliss.
    Some, resorting to (neglected) history call this sort of phenomena “fascism”, altho it is relatively embryonic at this time. But from proto and crypto fascism the poison ivy of genuine fascism could easily outgrow.

  36. hannah's dad

    People are funny.
    Funny peculiar, funny ha ha, funny cute.

    The local Greens candidate is all enthused.
    He got a good swing [5% I think] in a rural electorate that has a margin of more than 10%, maybe close to 15%, for the Liberals.
    The Greens fella had bugger all resources, a few thousand dollars I believe, mostly his own I gather and a couple of dozen people spread over, I dunno, a 100,000 s kms of rural electorate.
    The Libs wre everywhere, in every newspaper [there are about 9-10 here] on every radio station, at least 4 commercial stations, popping up on stobie poles next to Bob Day and breeding like rabbits in the letter boxes.

    Yet the young Greens fella got about 11% of the vote and a good swing while the ALP went backwards [last election they had a swing of 10% to them].

    The young fella wants to get prepared for the next election, state and federal.
    Get a strong Greens branch up and running, find some of those extra voters and ask them to be members and willing soldiers for the polling booths.
    Get some money in the war chest for ads.

    He’s got some good ideas, organisation wise, policy and principle.

    “But why? I asked him, “You can’t win, the best you can do is get a few percent extra and you’ll still be miles behind the ALP with the Libs over the hill and out of sight.
    You might have a decimal point of impact on the Upper House Greens vote but thats all”.

    And then he gave me some idealistic, naive, head in the clouds stuff about democracy, future of the kids, social justice and all that sorta stuff.
    And asked me to help.

    So I will.

  37. Harrington

    Yes great post Mad Dog @ 27 … and to this you could add two news headlines from ABC online today: ‘Minister quits Gillard Cabinet’ and Oakeshott home to face electoral backlash’. This would be great fodder for a critical discourse analysis.

  38. kuke

    I love that Hannah’s Dad!

  39. Chookie

    Billie @33, yes, Cathy McGowan sounds right.

    On weekday mornings, Classic FM and ABC Sydney radio share the same reader (John Logan?), so I suppose they broadcast news by State. Newsradio is, I think, in Sydney as well. I’m sure Mad Dog is right about the pattern of news on Classic FM, and am very glad someone has applied some analysis to it.

    If I get an interesting response to my Robbie Buck fan mail I’ll let you all know. The concern of Friends of the ABC is also good to know about.

  40. John D

    Looks like the main project for the left is to impose their will on the ABC in a way that makes Richard Alston look like a wimp. This is merely providing fuel for attacks linking the left to Stalinism.

    Surely there are more important things that the left stands for>

  41. akn

    hannah’s dad: that’s the way to do it.

  42. adrian

    John D – Please at least try to understand the basic point about the inadequacies of the ABC before committing yourself to comment, because @40 just shows that you have absolutely no understanding of the issues.

    A good place to start would be possum’s blog post mentioned elsewhere.

    Great comment hannah’s dad.

  43. John D

    Adrian @ 42: I am well aware of the problems with the ABC. But I am also concerned about the tone of many of the “solutions’ above. ABC autonomy shouldn’t be ditched just because “our” side is in power. It is the reason why I was so much against Alston.

  44. Peter Mc

    John D @ 43

    Actually what needs to campaigned for in the first instance is GREATER INDEPENDANCE for the ABC. Currently the board is almost completely affiliated with the Coalition. We need to encourage the parliament to pass the legislation that did not make through because it was nullified by the election. This legislation would make it necessary to appoint board members on merit – currently many members of the board have questionable CV’s in relation to their appointments. They where brazenly strategic appointments made by Howard.

    This has not similarity what so ever with Alston’s shameful intervention with the ABC.

  45. Fran Barlow

    Re: The ABC

    I am now of the view that the ABC should be specifically prohibited from running programs focusing on domestic news and current affairs. An exception could be made for historircal documentaries focusing on events that are largely at least 12 months old.

  46. paul walter

    Off topic, but since much time has been spent on calling for public broadasting reform, must point out a marvellous moment of “old” ABC tonight on 730 Report, in the form of a devastating unmasking of Ross Garnaut with his mining associations (Lihir Gold, ok teddy, etc), which stand in such dark contrast to his pronouncements on climate.

  47. paul walter

    Another thought, have had to stay up till “Business Latteline”, before I discovered that Gunns new management is looking to cease logging of old growth.
    Why wasn’t this on earlier, or was I watching the wrong news services ?
    Seems typical of something I discovered over a long period of time; that if you want to find the real news, half the time you have to go to the finance section, so to speak.

  48. Helen

    And then he gave me some idealistic, naive, head in the clouds stuff about democracy, future of the kids, social justice and all that sorta stuff.
    And asked me to help.

    So I will.

    LOL. Word!

  49. Peter Mc

    Fran Barlow @ 45

    I am now of the view that the ABC should be specifically prohibited from running programs focusing on domestic news and current affairs.

    This kind of view is precisely what Murdoch wants to encourage.

  50. tigtog

    Quick relevant link guys – looks like somebodys been paying attention to folks like us ranting on blogs: http://rescueyourabc.tumblr.com/submit/

  51. akn

    Paul Walter @46: that exposure on the ecological damage of Garnaut’s mines has been a long time coming. Another mate bites the dust.

  52. Fran Barlow

    Peter Mc quoted me:

    I am now of the view that the ABC should be specifically prohibited from running programs focusing on domestic news and current affairs.

    Then continued:

    This kind of view is precisely what Murdoch wants to encourage.

    I very much doubt it. What’s not to like about having your voice not only amplified at public expense, but politically laundered as fair and balanced since it’s on the ABC?

    How exactly would the left be worse off if one of Murdoch’s information backchannels were denied him? We would still circulate information over the web — it’s just that the disinformation we were up against would be from people flying under their own flag.

    Imagine it — no more vacuous repetition from Fran Kelly and Michelle I do think Grattan of the latest Oz meme.

    The thing with the election 2PP was case in point. Since Wednesday afternoon when the ALP edged ahaead I have been contacting the ABC by phone advising them of the AEC totals and why the record needs to be corrected, so as to preserve “balance” and “accuracy”, given that their journos were continuing to entertain both the legitimacy of the Indies decision and the government on this basis.

    Their response has been a big fat zero. One woman said: “who cares?” “Apparently, most of your journos” I replied. You could hear the shrug over the phone. They are in the coalition camp.

    It was the same this morning on AM. Speaking of the NBN they kept repeating the $43bn figure but refused to explain what it meant, nor did they bother, in an analytic piece in which there was an appeal to cost-benefit modelling, bother to even mention the structural separation issues. It’s simply so much easier, even in a peice ostensibly run in objection to “the low level of debate” on NBN, to simply repeat what most already know from reading the big print on the front of The Oz.

    Excuse me if I see no value in this. If the ABC is instead forced to admit that it can’t meet its charter in this area, we would be forced to re-examine how the public can acquire an intellectually robust organ for the propagation of matters bearing upon public policy. That is the kind of debate I’d like to see happen, but while the ABC pretends to do this, it simply can’t happen.

    Frankly, if Murdoch wants to add to his stable of political prostitutes, he ought to pay for them himself.

  53. Peter Mc

    Fran Barlow @ 52

    I agree entirely with your criticisms of the ABC – well up to the point where it is clear that their news reporting is no longer trusted by the public (just look at the reactions in comments to Scotts piece in the Drum). I do think however that it is worth saving. The state of the ABC is the direct result of intervention by the right and by a long standing campaign by the Murdoch camp to either remove the ABC from public ownership and buy it out, or buy it out by stealth (which does seem to be happening with various deals in relation to book publication and reporting). But with the new appointments that will come into the board we might finally get some change. Annabel Crabb’s startling admissions in relation to junk news reporting at the ABC indicate that the journalists know they have lost trust with the public (she doesn’t go far enough in her recognition of the problem but it is a change from whats happened previously).

    If we (on the progressive side of politics that is) let Murdoch win here what chance do we have in any other theatre of the media war? The right think they can make or break governments through their manipulation of the media and I for one do want to give them any ground in this battle. Its pretty high stakes in my view.

  54. adrian

    Fran Barlow @ 52 – very well argued, and I think that you get to the heart of the matter. The ABC is worse than useless because it provides a (very thin) veneer of independence and impartiality to the News Ltd view of the world.

  55. Peter Mc

    I should add that the tactic that Howard and the Murdock camp have used in relation to the ABC is similar to what Howard did to the Universities in order to hobble them. Starve them of funds and opportunity, put in place as many bureaucratic hurdles as you can, ask for the impossible and then constantly threaten that because their performance is so poor they’ll shut you down. Many academics have suffered personally from the strain of these tactics and I imagine the same would hold true for the people in the ABC. Its a kind of out-flanking maneuver. If you want to take it, cut off its supply, then discredit it, then buy it (at a reduced price).

    My concern is that if the ABC is criticised worthless or criticised without a great deal of strategic thinking, then the right media machine will swing into action screaming “ABC dysfunctional” and “ABC a waste of tax payers money” etc. This is precisely what Murdoch wants to happen and hence my original criticism of your statement.

  56. Peter Mc

    Fran Barlow @ 52

    your statements rest I think on the idea that the standard streams of information (print, telly etc) can be replaced by the internet. I know there are experiments with this in the US and in Australia we do have Crickey but I don’t see that the form the media takes can automatically give us a replacement to the resources of a news organisation like the ABC or the BBC. By all means we should have internet based reporting and analysis but that is not an argument for getting rid of a resource like the ABC. Can’t we fix it it? I believe and hope we can.

  57. Fran Barlow

    Peter Mc said:

    By all means we should have internet based reporting and analysis but that is not an argument for getting rid of a resource like the ABC. Can’t we fix it it? I believe and hope we can.

    That used to be my position, not so long ago, but this campaign persuades me that proud old news dog who went by the name “Olle” has left the building, and only the smell and its favourite basket reminds us that this was once amongst its haunts.

    We need a new dog in a new place — one whose nose is in peak condition, who barks when there are dangers and can even issue a warning nip, and that drops its ears and wags its tail at virtue. We need one still young enough to generalise and thus learn new tricks, and that is part dingo, and thus really good at solving puzzles and that believes that it belongs to nobody.

    Ok … enough with the doggy metaphor … Seriously, we need to stop being lazy and think hard about how we can devise a model of public information that has intellectual integrity, rigour and breadth.

  58. Mindy

    Andrew Olle died in 1995, and I’m not sure that the decline of the ABC has been going on that long, has it?

  59. Peter Mc

    Fran Barlow @ 57

    yes well all of this is a judgment call after all but I liked how far you can go with a metaphor. Only thing is that the ABC isn’t actually a dog but I do agree that it sure ain’t an ollie.

  60. Peter Mc

    BWT Fran isn’t the dog your are thinking of call “Schnitzel von Crumb”?

  61. JM

    [email protected] the decline in the ABC is not new but has been a gradual and compounding one over several years of the Howard Government, starting with the controversial regime of MD Jonathan Shier, along with the very odd dinosaur Richard Alston as Minister.

    Alston was probably best known both for his McCarthy-style investigation of perceived bias in the ABC, (though he never managed to find his “57 Communists”) and his reluctance to extend the range and speed of broadband because he had seen fast broadband in South Korea and according to him it was mostly used to download porn.

    And no doubt he checked his perceptions as thoroughly as Fred Nile examined the policies of the Sex Party.

    Mark Scott, the declared Christian MD and someone publicly associated with the Liberal Party, is just the latest in a line of Coalition-friendly bosses, whom with a board-ful of Howard appointees keeps the ABC moving backward with real action.

  62. paul walter

    It has to be admitted that the longer term decline of ABC tv and radio deteriorated parallel with the hegemony of radio and tv. Videos, then computers and then more sophisticated applications for computers split a once almost universal demographic.
    But there is no excuse for the way this has been employed as a pretext for dumbing down and underfunding, or impositions of tabloid formats and content. But the dominant ideology of the times has it that broadsheet journalism and public service TV are an mpediment to the free functioning of market forces, it seems, so shoot messengers to stop information.