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Jul 16, 2011

Greens want inquiry into media.

Cartoon: By Zeg.

Greens leader, Bob Brown has called for the government to hold an inquiry into the media and the activities of Murdock’s News Ltd after the British, News of the World hacking scandal. Bob tends to be federal parliament’s Inquiry Caller in Chief. Mention a subject, and Bob will find a reason for a parliamentary inquiry to be held into it.

Brown isn’t worried about the fact that there are no allegations of impropriety by the companies Australian operations. This is no surprise as just over two years ago he was calling for tougher gun laws here because of a couple of shootings in the US and Germany. There is no explanation of why he felt that if we were allowed to have guns, we would immediately catch a plane and commit mass murders in Atlanta, and Hamburg.

Now that the Greens have the power to dictate the agenda of the government they have come under some fairly thorough scrutiny, and aspects of their policies that have previously had a pass are now seeing the light of day. After criticism of his party Bob now believes we need to lift out of the gutter some of the stuff that's appearing as opinion or news commentary in Australia.

Independent member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott was on TV last night supporting Brown in this. Rob has been complaining for a while about what he sees as News Limited targeting him. It has been noticed for some time, that in News Ltd publications he tends to come across as a complete imbecile, while in the hands of the more respectable media like the ABC and Fairfax he only appears to be a blithering idiot, or fatuous twit.

Gillard says that she is open to the idea of a review. It is reasonable to expect that anything that will distract the public from the abysmal record of her government will be welcome, especially if it can point to a new villain to be hated.

Of particular interest is that while the heat over here seems to be on Murdock and News, the Age, a Fairfax newspaper has been having a field day over the last week with daily headlines on the issue. The Age is in fact the only paper in this country with any current hacking allegations against it. It is understood that the AFP is considering whether to launch a formal investigation into The Age's conduct, after receiving a complaint from the Victorian branch of the Labor Party:

(THE editor-in-chief of The Age, Paul) Ramadge last night defended his paper's use of the ALP database, which catalogues personal details of all voters registered on the electoral roll. In some cases, it includes assessments of political leanings and correspondence they have had with the party. The Age accessed the database from its own computer terminals using an unauthorized password provided by an undisclosed source.
"This story came through entirely appropriate journalistic methods," Ramadge said.
"Entry to the ALP database came via a whistleblower who raised concerns about private information held on it. "This whistleblower had authorized access to this material and we reported in the public interest."


  1. I noticed The Age published an article on Gordon Brown's 'poor us, evil journos hacked their way to our son's medical records - we cried and cried afterwards' speech in the week. At best it was uncritical and overly sympathetic for something that wasn't clearly an op-ed, and at worst I'd call it biased and shithouse journalism. No mention of the fact that The Sun rebutted Brown's accusation pretty effectively by revealing that it was another parent of another child with cystic fibrosis who knew the Browns, and who'd signed an affidavit to say he was the source. No mention that The Sun also claims it sought and received permission from the Browns to run the story, or that they could easily have killed the story if they'd wanted. No mention that the cystic fibrosis story came out at a good time to generate sympathy for Brown when a pet think tank of his was being investigated by the Charity Commission (a coincidence of timing, of course, but one which may have given him a motive to allow the story to run). No mention of the fact that the Browns stayed pally both professionally and socially with the Murdoch press in general and the Murdochs and Rebekah Brown in particular for at least two or three years after the story ran.

    I've read some shit in The Age but that one took the cake. I don't think it was reporting so much as taking the opportunity to put the boot into their main competition while portraying a lefty pollie, albeit a foreign one, in a sympathetic light. Poor socialist pollie, aaaahhh, evil right wing media bastards, boooo hiss. Unfortunately Gordon Brown is possessed of a kind of reverse Midas touch and is rarely a good horse to back. These odd inconsistencies in his 'oh, woe, how the gutter press have wronged me and mine' routine are so glaring that they've given Murdoch ammunition to fight back with.

  2. Thanks for this information Angry, it certainly adds a bit of perspective to all this. I tend to find the British press overly strident and tend not to bother with it much.

    News of the World tended to remind me of the old "Melbourne Truth" which was a supermarket tabloid some years ago.

    It has been mentioned that the 9/11 reports are based on rumour from one unnamed source, so it will be interesting to see if that one has any legs.

  3. I'd bet on the 9/11 thing turning out to be all smoke and no substance. Just seems like it would have been impractical to do the same trick in the wake of the WTC attacks and all the confusion soon afterwards, and if it had happened it also seems unlikely that it would have taken ten years to emerge. Had it had more recently I can't see there'd have been much chance of there being any voicemails to find and seems like old news anyway.

  4. David Flint was the head of the Australian Press Council and the ABA and has an item in the Australian today, "Anti - Murdoch politicians can't stand the heat."

    The guy is no Murdoch fan but is pretty much calling bullshit on this.