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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 14 November 2008
Day 2 of press tantrum over energy assets sees dummy spit at News Corp
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: nsw govt

Well, it's turning into one of those days again. Pulling the weeds, managing middle age ailments, when the ABC runs a brief line or two at 11 am: The editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph has resigned. Such a short story yet so significant in context.

Some of that context appears in this google for a start:

You get the drift - Penberthy has been a player in the meat grinder that is NSW politics.  A crucible that reaches red hot temperatures. Other metaphors come to mind - live by and die by the sword.

As the ABC reports below, News Corp's editor has blinked in a power struggle in two respects - political power over who decides govt, and also who decides policy on public energy assets. 

We were always going to do another post on the 'big press tantrum day 1' after our penultimate post: Some things we noticed in the Sydney press today:

* Although both newspapers run negative front page stories they are both fairly thin. One about single deck train purchases (Fairfax), one about a so called "Labor MPs in Budget revolt" (Daily Telegraph).

* But the front of the Herald is mitigated by rebel MP Stewart looking more 'conspiracy fetish' and 'Walter Mitty' by the day. Fair or not. And as every administrative law student knows any judicial review in his favour in the Supreme Court just means a re-run of the process by the same decision maker - Rees, Ronaldson SC or whoever. Stewart's political capital is arguably going backwards faster than the Rees premiership.

* The front of the Tele is mitigated for Rees by the page 4 breakout with a classic Liberal Party newsletter demographic - newsagent from Campbelltown. No lost Labor voter there. Then there is the story above with a shopping list of "must do" and tucked in quietly is sale of $10 billion in public energy assets. Which is the whole point of the campaign against Rees to deliver $10 billion in assets into private corporate hands. It's a free market ideological thing. A fairly bizarre editorial claims this in fact would be to "take on the top end of town on behalf of the little guy". Little guys like investment banks and foreign energy multinationals? That's confusing.

* Nor does Tony Stewart MP get off free in the Telegraph either. This graphic shows his ALP Right amigo and factional prop ex PM Paul Keating is being trashed for not supporting charity while on a lifetime PM's pension. You can't play in the public life of the nation Mr Keating and not pull your weight for charity. Talk about basic politics.


* Then we have Simon Benson in the News Corp tabloid misconceiving Australian history comparing NSW in Premier Jack Lang's time in 1932 with Rees in 2008. Foolish because in those days NSW had the stature and size of a national govt, and the feds were the beggars. Today tax and budgetary roles are reversed along with revenue base. Apples and oranges Simon. Bad history. The irony is that this is Paul Keating's history lesson via ABC radio some years back.

* Peter Hartcher in the Herald conspicuously displays his political economy credentials in the main opinion piece.  As if in riposte to our sledge about big press weak grasp of political economy in their trantrum of yesterday, but likely a coincidence. Patronising as Hartcher is, his piece is quite informative of why the federal Opposition attack on Rudd economic governance is misconceived, as arguably the News Corp tabloid gets it wrong versus the NSW Govt economic governance. Hartcher mentions our Australian good fortune regarding

  • strong company profits
  • low unemployment
  • fat order book
  • $10.4B federal budget stimulus
  • 20% fall in dollar for export sales
  • 30% fall in price of petrol
  • echo of other western countries' stimulus packages
  • RBA dramatic interest rate cuts

Which apparently lends to PM Rudd powering along in the polls. Certainly Rees is not so blessed in NSW but he's in there swinging and it's News Corp who look to have blinked today.

Richard Ackland the Fairfax legal writer adds salt by noting despite the News Corp led Right to Know Coalition not one journalist has applied for tape recordings now possible in any court. And this all round sledge of Big Media morality:

The media has always suppressed things when it suits; it just wants a wider choice of things to suppress.

The spokesman for ARK is News Ltd's corporate affairs and PR man, Greg Baxter, who for seven years held a similar job at the asbestos and building products group James Hardie.

Last month he spent a gruelling time in the witness box during the Australian Securities and Investments Commission civil penalty suit against 10 former executives and directors of the company. Bret Walker, SC, cross-examined him and made him look a bit of a goose. Not a line of this appeared in News Ltd's newspaper The Australian.Who can forget Channel Nine's former boss Eddie McGuire in 2006 rushing to seek suppression of the publication of an affidavit that embarrassed him and other executives?

Then there was the ABC board's decision not to publish Chris Masters's Jonestown and to fight "freedom of information" applications for information about its complaints-handling processes.

And at Fairfax whatever happened to that profile of Wendi Deng?


* Punters on the rail might have noticed something more than the daily press of concern to wonky obsessives: There was a security blitz Tuesday evening on the public rail system. It's reported in part on page 11 of today's Terror. We say a big bunch at Windsor and Blacktown last Tuesday evening. 900 arrests all up says the little report. We think this might be the equivalent of road works in the last 6 months before a local council election (engendering a sense of - finally we get some govt attention around here), only this time it was rail security and a mini budget for the State Govt.

Posted by editor at 11:44 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 14 November 2008 3:44 PM EADT

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