28 Jul 2018

Never mind the China influence, what of the Murdock influence and how it's media feeds the Australian media in 2018

The Independent Australia
People coming to Australia from overseas are often surprised by the bland uniformity of Australia’s press. Newspapers, TV stations, radio stations ‒ even the supposedly independent public broadcasters ‒ all seem to run the same narrative, all the time.

Yet, despite Australia having one of the most concentrated media regimes in the world, Murdoch doesn’t have an absolute monopoly. He does own 60 per cent of the newspapers by circulation and the only cable TV network, but no radio stations or free-to-air television networks. That means all the outlets not owned by the News Corp behemoth could position themselves in a sizeable niche by running a different line to Murdoch — yet none of them. Even in the UK, where Murdoch owns around 40 per cent of the metropolitan press, there are other outlets − Channel Four, ITV, the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent, the Mirror − that each present a unique and individual view of the world, each tailored towards a specific demographic. In that way, they build brand loyalty and respect from their readership. This is a sound and long understood business practice.

So, why is Australia’s mainstream media different.

Partly, it is because of the way TV and radio stations work in this country. Very early each morning, producers will read through the major metropolitan newspapers to see what the “big stories” hitting the headlines are. Then they will direct their reporters to follow up on those stories. And, with Murdoch owning the majority of the newspapers, these stories will mostly be found on the front pages of the Murdoch press. It’s a simple ‒ basic ‒ numbers game.

Also, commercial broadcasters are pro-business − and therefore pro-conservative politically − for what they presumably see as obvious reasons of economic self-interest. None of the current owners of Australia’s commercial radio or TV stations seem to have ever thought that presenting a different perspective than Murdoch’s might make them more popular amongst the many people with that world view and thereby competitive against News Corp. Or that doing so might stop the galloping leakage of disgruntled readers and viewers to alternative online publications like this one. Then again, no-one has ever accused Australia’s big business of being innovative or intelligent.

But what about ‘Independent. Always’ Fairfax? The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald go to press at the same time as the Murdoch papers. Why is what they produce almost indistinguishable from Murdoch’s rightwing rubbish these days?

Well, that’s because, in 2017, the company unveiled a brilliant new strategy to cut editorial staff, focus only on “popular” content and move its editorial stance purposefully to the political Right.

25 Jul 2018

The government support for the national broadcaster is missing in action.

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Aunty is on life support, the government thinks we should turn of the machine.
She’s an Aunty to 25 million people who love her, we can’t allow this to happen

Exerpt from an article by Amander Meade

Today, government support for the national broadcaster – the most trusted and loved media organisation in the country – seems missing in action. 

The threat to Aunty’s remit is, according to some, existential. The official line from the ABC is that it’s business as usual. That global media disruption has compounded the pressure the ABC is under from the usual political and commercial forces. But with ongoing funding cuts, complaints of bias, government reviews, Murdoch media antagonism, internal instability, and a communications minister who is a member of a right wing think tank that advocates the end of public broadcasting, the forces against the ABC loom large.

First we had “no cuts to the ABC or SBS” before the 2013 election, than Abbott imposed a $254m cut after taking office. Malcolm, a communications minister who was seen as a friend of the ABC, ordered an efficiency review to determine how the ABC could make cuts without affecting programming.

Four years later Turnbull, now prime minister, imposed an additional $84m “indexation pause” – and ordered a second efficiency review.

What was wrong with the first one?”

Heading up this second efficiency review are former Foxtel boss Peter Tonagh and former Australian Communications and Media Authority acting chairman Richard Bean. Bean, a career public servant, is an obvious choice for his knowledge of the area.

The appointment of Tonagh however, by the communications minister, Mitch Fifield, was interpreted as putting a fox in the henhouse. Before Foxtel, Tonagh was the CEO of News Corp Australia, a company that makes no secret of its desire to see Aunty shrink.

24 Jul 2018

They jumped the gun:- Dutton and Turnbull play the race card over girls death and they shoot themselves in the foot. Peddling fear doesn't work if you get the facts wrong.

Politics of fear is dirty look for the Coalition.

Commander Stuart Bateson(Vic police) has told 3AW the young woman's death had nothing to do with Sudanese gang violence, as had been suggested by some politicians.

"When we start to make an issue that is bigger than what it is and when we start to racialise and we start to target this specific community, that leads to some unintended consequences," he said.

"That means a whole community feels vilified. They often feel frightened to go out in public in groups, they're shouted out."

Premier Daniel Andrews told ABC radio Ms Chol's family "deserve fundamentally better than what they've been given over these past 12 or 24 hours".

22 Jul 2018

Consensus politics is being killed by conservative right wing extremists

Conservative Politics in Australian and England are taking a step back in time, the progressives are being labelled as lefties.

In Australia the new right is increasingly behaving in precisely the manner for which it lampoons progressives. Its politics start from the point of victim hood. Its persecutors are many – the media(ABC mainly), the elites, the liberal establishment, feminists, Muslims, migrants and of course the unions. Now they are adding charities to the list because they speak out about shortcomings in gov't policy.

The crimes of these tormentors are many: they are misrepresenting us, looking down on us, taking what’s ours, or in some other fundamental way undermining “our way of life”. Their critics are 'un-Australian'. Whether these grievances are real or imagined is less important than the fact that they are felt.

Criticism is what democracy is all about, not blind criticism driven by ideology.  Constructive criticism brings more innovation to gov't policy, if the dinosaurs of the right prevail 'good government' will continue to be second rate.

20 Jul 2018

Now because National security is bandied about with such enthusiasm it has become meaningless much like commercial in confidence. They both hide the truth!

When whistleblowers are prosecuted, it has a chilling effect on press freedom in Australia July 20, 2018 4.50am AEST

Johan Lidberg

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence.
Lawyer Bernard Collaery, who will be prosecuted along with his client, known as Witness K, for exposing Australia’s spying on Timor-Leste. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Fear is a tricky thing. It’s often hard to distinguish between what is real and perceived danger. US President Donald Trump, being more comfortable with autocrats than democratic leaders, is arguably a real danger to the world order.

But a former Australian spook blowing the whistle on our spy agencies eavesdropping on an impoverished neighbour to gain advantage in a business deal? Embarrassing for the government, absolutely. But dangerous to national security? Really?

The Turnbull government’s decision to prosecute Witness K (a former Australian spy) and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, is yet another example of punishing messengers speaking truth to power.

Witness K blew the whistle on Australia’s eavesdropping on the newly formed Timor-Leste government during negotiations over an oil and gas treaty in 2004. Not a good look, to put it mildly.

It used to be that when governments were caught spying, they denied the allegations then wore the embarrassment in the public eye. Not anymore in Australia.

Governments in Australia have become paranoid and cannot allow voters to know the truth anymore, for fear of embarrassment. It now falls under the umbrella of national security.

We as Australians now must wear that embarrassment for things done in our name.

National security has become a byword for cover-up. Now because National security is bandied about with such enthusiasm it has become meaningless much like commercial in confidence. They both hide the truth!

3 Jul 2018

Australian Public Service. The Yes minister mentality, outsourcing of expertise has undermined ethical structures of the service.

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Is the service permanently broken by political ambition that cannot tolerate dissent in any form.

An excerpt from an article By Richard Mulgan
Are the ethical structures of the APS sufficiently strong to withstand these pressures?

A common theme among my correspondents was that the APS had already lost a significant level of independence in the face of political pressure from ministers and their offices.

Politicians were less inclined to respect public servants' views Frank and fearless advice was in ever-diminishing supply as senior public servants scrambled to ingratiate themselves with ministers and to align their advice with powerful interests represented by politicians.

These are familiar complaints,  in Canberra as public servants adjust to new pressures that have reduced ministers' interest in receiving impartial, sometimes unpalatable, advice from career bureaucrats. Especially for those who have worked in Westminster bureaucracies for a generation or more, the changes are self-evident and largely a matter of regret. Hence the widespread resonance of an argument that public service independence is under long-term threat.

Given recent developments in democratic party government, some of these changes cannot be reversed. For those concerned about protecting fundamental constitutional principles, such as due process and the rule of law, the task is to look beyond a lost world of public service preeminence in the formulation of government policy. Instead, they need to work out how traditional values can be preserved in settings that are significantly different from those in which they originally evolved.

One irrevocable trend, or set of trends, that has impinged on public servants' capacity to speak up for public service values is the increasing mediatisation of policy discourse. This includes such well-documented features as the 24-hour news cycle and the continuous election campaign, in which so much of ministers' time and energy is devoted to political presentation and persuasion in the media. It has also led to, and been fed by, the swelling ranks of political and media advisers that help ministers in their endless search for favourable publicity and political advantage.

1 Jul 2018

The great superannuation fee-for-all

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By Ian Verrender
Our pollies love to boast about our world-class super system. Except, the only thing world-class about it is in the amount of fees our money managers manage to rake off the top.
In the past decade, a little under a quarter of a trillion dollars has been siphoned off our retirement savings: $230 billion in the years since the financial crisis.
That's from a total pool of around $2.3 trillion. It's an extraordinary number and nothing short of a national scandal.
In 2016 alone, total fees amounted to $31 billion, according to research house Rainmaker.
Of that, about 26 per cent, or $8 billion, was for administration, $7.8 billion went to investment managers and a whopping $8.4 billion for insurance sold through superannuation funds.
As for the rest, financial advisors took around $5.9 billion while $600 million went towards asset consultants.
Why so much? It may come as a shock to learn that almost no-one in the industry is paid purely on performance. For the most part, fees are generated not by earnings but by the amount of money under management.
Given 9.5 per cent of almost every working Australian's salary is shovelled into the industry, the amount of funds being managed grows enormously every week. It's money for old rope.
Perhaps these gargantuan fees could be excused if our money mangers regularly produced world-beating performances. Sadly, that's not the case.
Mostly, they perform in line with stock markets. When markets are rising, they produce good returns. When they tank, as they did a decade ago, super members see their funds shrink. But the fees roll on regardless.

Turnbull says its a class war? Come on that's rich, given that low-paid fast-food, hospitality, pharmacy and retail workers around the country are seeing cuts to their penalty rates.

If there is a class war its being waged against the low paid workers, "the real forgotten ones".

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An excerpt from an article by Greg Jericho

Retirement age of 70? Well, that seems doable to one who sits behind a desk. The shift of jobs to the services sector? Well, after all, who would want to work in a factory? Low levels of industrial disputes? That must be good – let me quote some measure of international competitiveness while I pass over these record low wages growth and wonder at the coincidence.

It’s the type of thinking that has journalists asking “Is $120,000 the new rich” because that will generate a headline without even caring that it is more than double the median income.

And it is why I have little time for the theatre criticism that can infest political coverage where journalists writing for publications whose target audience is the very wealthiest in our society talk about how Labor’s “class war” attacks on Malcolm Turnbull are poor politics that won’t fly, and are divisive.

That’s pretty rich given today low-paid fast-food, hospitality, pharmacy and retail workers around the country are seeing cuts to their penalty rates.

Let us not fall into the trap of believing we can’t suggest that the situation and wealth of those in power has no impact on the policies they put forward, even while such policies actually benefit those same people who are putting them in place.

Oh no, we must instead keep to the (fair go)myth that Australia is some egalitarian paradise where our history is one of everyone buckling down and working together to forge a nation against the odds. Bugger the rum rebellion, put John Macarthur on the $2 note, and bask in the warmth of misremembered history.
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