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September 27, 2014 1:07 AM   Subscribe

Australian journalists must ask what agenda they serve At the end of a week of much media hysteria about terrorism, the Senate passed arguably the most significant restraints on press freedom in Australia outside of wartime.
posted by Wolof (32 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Australia is a terrible place with a terrible government in bed with a terrible media magnate.

Fuck Murdoch for destroying everything good he ever touched, and ensuring that his harms will continue for generations. And fuck Abbott for being alive. He has not got one redeeming quality as a politician or a human being.

Australia, you're not the place you once were, and you likely never will be again.
posted by taff at 1:22 AM on September 27, 2014 [14 favorites]


Very sad to see our peace loving brothers this dark.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:25 AM on September 27, 2014


Also sisters.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:25 AM on September 27, 2014


Including dark brothers and sisters.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:26 AM on September 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay I'll stop trying to help now.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:27 AM on September 27, 2014 [17 favorites]


I'm not sure how peaceful we are any more. Abbott scaremongers about terrorism, and the next day people are defacing mosques and threatening Muslims.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:30 AM on September 27, 2014


Damn. No clickey - but didn't they just pass an Anti-Terrorism Bill that allowed FULL monitoring (spying!) on the internet?

I think they did.
posted by jbenben at 1:43 AM on September 27, 2014


The Senate passed such a bill, that would allow intelligence agencies to get a warrant to monitor an entire 'network' rather than a single machine or a maximum number of machines. 'Network' is undefined in the bill, suggesting that ASIO could seek a warrant for the whole internet and have it granted under the proposed legislation.

The bill must still get past the House of Reps, but since the Government has support from Labor, it most likely will.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:58 AM on September 27, 2014


We are, actually, capable of telling this story. It’s a story which demands the best Australian journalism can provide. But we need to take a moment to be clear about what the responsibility of telling it actually requires.
It requires us to seek truth, whether the truth is ugly and discomfiting or whether it is reassuring and soothing. It requires us to ask questions – a lot of questions – of very powerful people, without fear or favour.
Well, that's never going to happen as long as those 'very powerful people' and their friends own enough of the media outlets that the rest don't really have much influence.

Add that to the desperate race to publish everything first in an environment where a few minutes later is not publishing second - it's publishing so late that they might as well not bother and the slap-dash journalism we see today is not only inevitable, but it has become accepted, along with changing stories after the fact. It seems pretty clear that the approach is 'publish it now, we can fact-check it later'.

jbenben, I think you're referring to the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014, which has passed in the senate but not yet in the house of representatives, although it's pretty much guaranteed to do so. It apparently includes such nuggets as allowing ASIO to disrupt target computers, and use innocent third-party computers not targeted in order to access a target computer [source]. This seems to give ASIO the right to distribute and install malware on any computer or network of computers they choose, by my reading.
posted by dg at 2:00 AM on September 27, 2014


"...suggesting that ASIO could seek a warrant for the whole internet and have it granted under the proposed legislation."

Some might be cowed by this, other's might take it as a challenge.

The transparency is charming.

Signed,
NSA
posted by vapidave at 2:07 AM on September 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think I am ever not going to vote Greens, ever
posted by Quilford at 2:37 AM on September 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Australia is a terrible place with a terrible government in bed with a terrible media magnate.

Substitute UK or US for Australia and this is still true.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:40 AM on September 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Worst modern media magnate is clearly Murdoch. He makes Hearst look like a piker.

Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel every media outlet they can.
posted by vapidave at 3:17 AM on September 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just as long as the new laws do not interfere with Andrew Bolt's inalienable rights and freedom to say whatever bigoted things he pleases, as I know the Liberals hold that close to their hearts.
posted by drnick at 3:37 AM on September 27, 2014


I know we all like to blame Murdoch for everything (and trust me, I hate what he has done to the press in the UK and Australia) but the fact is this is not Murdoch's fault alone - Australia has really changed over the past 5-10 years, and not for the better. I say this as someone who left in 2009 and has been back for short visits twice since then. I don't know if it is the commodities driven bubble that meant a general escape from the GFC, I don't know if it really is media lead, or if it is just the more little-l liberal that seemed to exist post-Howard (which was in a way a harking back to the days of Whitlam) was a short aberration and the 'true' average Australian character is coming through again, but Australia is becoming a very parochial, mean backwater of a society.
posted by Megami at 4:10 AM on September 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


In a networked world, we can't have any of our allies with a semblance of privacy and freedom that would set a bad example .....cough.....weak point in our ability to fight Terra!
posted by lalochezia at 4:37 AM on September 27, 2014


I read the article this morning. I moved to Australia 10 years ago this November. The place has lost so much of the veneer of of a successful multicultural society over the last 2-3 years, it seems hard to believe. The current political climate makes me ill.

I don't know if it's meant to be irony, social commentary or cheerleading. But the SBS is in the middle of the War Movie Season.
posted by michswiss at 4:47 AM on September 27, 2014


Remember that point some 5-10 years ago, when it became obvious that Putin's Russia had no intention of following the rules of liberal pluralist democracies, and took the rest of the world for folks for having cut them slack as such, but had had a harsher, more authoritarian ideal in mind all along? Well, this looks like Australia's Putin moment. Like Russia, Australia has authoritarian traditions to draw on, namely those of arbitrary rule by colonial governors, the administrative doctrines of the penal colony, and so on. Abbott seems to be exceptionally comfortable governing in such a mode; if his old boss Howard wanted to take Australia ball to the 50s, Abbott's sights seem to be set further back. His rhetoric about Australia as a team, rather than a diverse, pluralist country comprised of individuals with their own goals and views, is worrying. Finally, there is the way he self-employed presents as a Strong Man, with his feats of athleticism and masculine prowess (somewhat more modest than Putin's tiger hunts, but semiotic ally in the same category). I suspect that the political and cultural climate in Australia after 10 years of Abbott will look much like that in Russia after ten years of Putin.
posted by acb at 4:49 AM on September 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


A test of the Putinisation of Abbott's Australia will be what happens to Freya Newman, the whistleblower who revealed that a scholarship was invented for and awarded to Abbott's daughter. If she gets an exemplary punishment, then it's clear that any attack on the Abbott family interests is seen as an attach on Authority itself, to be severely punished.
posted by acb at 5:10 AM on September 27, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm glad at least one news editor still recognizes the power of oversight they hold as a member of the Fourth Estate, then.

For some reason, people think propaganda literally involves some kind of elaborate set of TV commercials about The Enemy, but just this recent spate Australian terrorism stories meets the dictionary definition of it. Purchasing and syndicating the distribution of (local) news content can have a chilling effect.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 5:49 AM on September 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


the 'true' average Australian character is coming through again

No such thing exists.

but Australia is becoming a very parochial, mean backwater of a society.

Nope. A shitty government was elected. That happens sometimes. Resist generalising, especially if you haven't actually been living here.
posted by Quilford at 6:39 AM on September 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nobody voted for Tony Abbott, they voted against Labor and the apparent train wreck it had become. And nobody voted for the majority of their nasty policies, apart from perhaps 'stop the boats' (though it's questionable whether that was a vote decider), because Abbott was very careful to explicitly say no cuts to education, health, pensions, superannuation etc before the election and then to attempt cut to all of them with the recent budget. The Liberals ran the line of we're not going to change anything really, and we're not Labor! Vote for us! And the fact nobody voted for or wanted most of the recent policies has been reflected in the extraordinarily low opinion polls for Abbott personally and the Liberal party generally over the last year, though they've had a small bump with this tough on terror crap. Numbers so low you have to go back decades to find comparable for the first year of a new government. This ugly government is not what people expected or wanted.

That said, the article makes many good points and we can only hope that the fourth estate does a better job and helps to reduce rather than inflame community tensions.
posted by drnick at 7:08 AM on September 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Abbott will most probably win the next election by an increased majority; he has unlocked the Strong Wartime Leader achievement, and if it was good enough to help that numpty George W. Bush over the line without recourse to vote rigging, it'll get him over. Especially since the ALP have effectively chosen to be the equivalent of one of the "opposition" parties in the Russian Duma, their purpose being to make a bit of noise from time to time, to enforce the government's agenda (especially avoiding being seen as siding with the Greens), and to go into the election promising to be just like our current Team Captain, only, you know, more Labor-flavoured. The ALP have abdicated, and the Greens are not up to being an alternative government (and, as the night darkens, will probably get what's coming to them before ever getting a chance of becoming an alternative party of government).
posted by acb at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nope. A shitty government was elected. That happens sometimes.

Seriously; the US had Bush and Cheney for eight years, and all the damage that went along with them.

And America is still trying to live down that reputation.

something, something "Obama has just continued their policies", "No he hasn't", etc derail. Now that's out of the way we can not do it.
posted by quin at 8:45 AM on September 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


My partner has Australian citizenship, and post-9/11, I've often hoped that my kids would end up making lives in Australia as adults.

I'm starting to doubt that it would make much of a difference, though - Australia appears to be quickly going down same road toward a suffocating, fascistic surveillance state that the US is ahead of it on. I hope average Australians are more effective at fighting back than Americans have proved to be.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Substitute UK or US for Australia and this is still true.

"Five Eyes Murders and Spies"
posted by Apocryphon at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2014


It's wonderful to see a journalist saying brave things about the state of journalism in their country.

Unfortunately, this got printed in a UK paper, not in an Australian paper; so the audience apparently isn't actually the country in question.

You see this with US journalists as well - occasionally they will print something very brave and honest about the state of politics and journalism in America - in a UK publication.

So either the paper in their home country(ies) aren't willing to publish such things (sounds pretty likely) or something else is going on. Regardless it's pretty frustrating.

Yeah, and while I despise Murdoch as much as the next guy, I think he's pretty much an easy scapegoat of the left (in many countries). Sure I expect his publications/broadcasts to be awful in any given imaginable way, but that doesn't account for the rest of the media.
posted by el io at 10:00 AM on September 27, 2014


el io: media ownership in Australia is highly concentrated, disturbingly so. The Guardian recently launched an Australia specific site (as far as I know currently online only, not a print edition) which is a welcome addition to the Fairfax/ NewsCorp dominated landscape.
posted by goo at 11:05 AM on September 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Technically the piece was published in the Guardian Australia so, you know, it is pitched directly at Australian audiences. It's hard to tell how influential the website is - I read it, as an Australian living abroad, and most of my friends read it (and some are even published in it) but I don't have current readership statistics. I know the Guardian launched an Australian edition because the Uk website was very popular in Australia, and compared to the Fairfax and Murdoch offerings it is relatively free of click bait or obnoxiousness.
I have no idea if the current wartime posturing from the Abbott government will work. They seem unpopular to me, but I'm a left-wing elitist latte drinker blah blah horrified by what's going on. This is a terrible, terrible government, driven by sinister ideologies and a near-pathological belief in their own right to power. That the Australian public apparently has deep, dark reserves of racism to draw upon isn't a surprise exactly although it remains a dismaying shock each time there are reports of anti-Muslim attacks or some new idiotic Cory Bernardi statement.
The ALP is better but not much, especially on asylum seekers.
Anyway I intensely dislike the characterization of Australia as a fascistic nation of xenophobic idiots, but it seems more and more accurate. I don't know what to do about it, any of it, and every time I read the news from home it's worse and worse.
posted by jasperella at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fantastic article. I hope journos and public alike listen to her. I've given up on Fairfax (News Ltd was never an option) and thus the Guardian, the ABC, Metafilter and Greens Facebook posts are my main sources of news. Different biases, but less nauseating ones.

Every time I hear about anti-terrorist lynch mobs I shudder. Then I think how much worse they would be if most Australians had guns. It seems like a small consolation, and I resent the hell out of having to thank Howard for that at the same time as being grateful that at least he got one thing right. Abbott could wish for as much.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:58 PM on September 27, 2014


Unfortunately, this got printed in a UK paper, not in an Australian paper; so the audience apparently isn't actually the country in question.

Actually, it was published in the Guardian Australia, a recent online-only venture that appears to be working out quite well.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:52 PM on September 27, 2014


The biggest issue with Abbot and the conservative government is the lack of opposition.
Shorten could not have a lower profile in the media.
Is the strategy to be a small target and let the Liberals blow themselves up?
How about we get some leadership (or alternative leadership) instead.
posted by bystander at 1:07 AM on September 29, 2014


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