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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Thursday, August 11, 2005

The decline

Today's Sydney Morning Herald continues its slide into irrelevance. The lead page one story is about how new Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce - it should noted, a protege of recently deceased corrupt Queensland despot, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen - is threatening to cross the Senate floor over draconian government legislation, including industrial relations changes and the full sale of Telstra.

The paper offers this sub-headline: "Howard praises Joyce as good bloke."

Sorry? Let me get this straight. The Prime Minister offers irrelevant Australian lingo about Joyce and the "quality broadsheet" reports this as a major, page one story. Of course, its editorial is little better and although acknowledging some issues with the government's proposals, it argues Joyce should know his place.

The current wrangling of the Senate is largely irrelevant. The mainstream media seem to think that because one individual is making a large noise, it's the biggest yarn of the month.

Crikey's Christian Kerr got it right yesterday: "Something has changed in the Howard Government – and just saying “Barnaby Joyce, Barnaby Joyce, Barnaby Joyce” grossly oversimplifies matters." The media, as ever, takes the lead from the Howard government and refuses to actually see the growing numbers of disaffected Liberals. But it's much easier to highlight Howard's "fears" over his "reform agenda" - as the SMH says today - than actually discover the undercurrent of anti-Howard sentiment in its own ranks.

UPDATE: Let me make a reasoned guess that one of the main reasons this article is leading today - a feature about the David Jones spring/summer collection - is because David Jones is a major advertiser in the SMH. It's hardly news, after all.


Blogger Glenn Condell said...

It has been instructive to see the govt panic over Joyce. Howard has wheeled out his thugs, Heffernan and Tuckey, to slap him into line, but it has backfired. The sight of that big galoot Heffernan shirtfronting Joyce is not a good image for the govt, nor is Tuckey doing his block at doorstops. They should both be antiques in some museum of Political Jobbery by now. Jackie Kelly made a goose of herself too; particularly to any country voters who might have caught her selfishness on TV. Howard himself made a grave miscalculation spelling out Joyce's obligation to place party room above consituency.

Joyce has played them all off a break so far. He seems in comparison a reasonable human being. I don't care where he's from on the political spectrum - anyone who wants to keep Telstra in public hands, label food correctly and stop VSU has got me interested. He's doing what politicians should do - represent their constituents best interests.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:09:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

I agree, Glenn.

And when I heard the remarks and guffaws on the radio this morning I found myself thinking - who are these blokes that they reckon these schoolboy games are part of running a democracy?

Seriously, if people carried on like this within the company I work for they would get the arse in no time - not by the boss, but simply by virtue of no one tolerating their shit.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:27:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

The sight of Heffernan - already a thug after trashing Justice Kirby for no reason - was hilarious, in a twisted kind of way. As you say, what kind of democracy is merely supporting a party when your constituents don't agree? Joyce could be alright, too early to tell, though I suspect he won't be the only one causing Howard troubles....

Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:38:00 pm  
Blogger Armagnac Esq. said...

Both Age and Herald are surprisingly poor quality, seeing as though they are held out as the serious papers.

I have a dream.... and it involves someone, somehow, starting another national paper. High quality but in tabloid form so we can read it anywhere. Takers?

Thursday, August 11, 2005 6:05:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Mmmm, not sure if a new quality tabloid is the answer...Though, i know there are moves to introducc something like this in the UK and vague plans for here. Crikey's new owner Eric Beecher is involved. It's a long way off, though...
But hey, we certainly need a strong alternative to Murdoch and Packer, and Fairfax ain't it. Besides, the upcoming cross media laws will give all the media barons what they want. Ie. More.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 6:19:00 pm  
Blogger weezil said...

Whenever anyone mentions Heffo, I get this mental image of him yelling "whoop, whoop" and bailing down a flight of stairs to get away from the press corps.

You sure can't say Parliament in Australia isn't good value for your entertainment dollar.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 11:10:00 pm  

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