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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Conservative commentariat become the story as power tectonics shift to Rudd's ALP?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: election Oz 2007
Second chance ... David Hicks's children, 14-year-old Bonnie and 12-year-old Terry, with their mother, Jodie Sparrow.

Picture, lifted from SMH via Ch9 dated May 28 2007, captioned as "Second chance ... David Hicks's children, 14-year-old Bonnie and 12-year-old Terry, with their mother, Jodie Sparrow. Photo: Channel Nine"

Yesterday we wrote of the re-inflation of the Hicks 5 year 'incarceration without trial' scandal coincidentally timed just after a gruesome mass murder in Pakistan (and refer gripping SBS Mark Davis report on Dateline last night) well known for Taliban nasty sympathies.

(Perhaps of greatest worry for such as Benazir Bhutto's credentials as a political leader is that she could imagine a 15 hour ride through 2 million supporters over about 20km could in any way be a secure journey. How irresponsible is that? But Bhutto is not the only irresponsible or reckless pollie playing with lives for careers.)

There is a fascinating internal big/new media power game underlying this Hicks echo of the Pakistan atrocity story. Imre Salusinzsky hints at one aspect in his column yesterday in The Australian - Print warriors turning on themselves | The Australian

Imre is a very bright and whimsical fellow. His piece refers to prominent commentators Andrew Bolt, Gerard Henderson, Janet Albrechtsen, Piers Akerman, Dennis Shanahan, Michelle Grattan:

"What appears to be upsetting the commentators is that the polls have not followed their past course over the last nine months before the election by shifting in the Coalition's favour. Uncertain, they have become more polarised about how the Coalition should mount a rescue operation.

This schism has had a definite geographical flavour too as Sydneysiders such as Henderson and Akerman have stuck with Howard, the hometown Prime Minister, while Bolt and Grattan have backed Melbourne-based Costello.

Henderson added to the geographical divide on Lateline when he attacked Melbourne's The Age for being openly hostile to Howard. "

Ho hum, the professional media obsessing about themselves again? Well maybe but there is another more malevolent front in this jostling of  guppies swimming into the gills of whichever Big Politician they think will win. There is the issue of proper news work.

For instance yesterday Imre's own newspaper made a grotesque and clearly defamatory attack on Channel 9's Ray Martin who presented and defends the worm device during the recent Leaders Debate as here:







The editorial is even more sincere in its personal attack on that nice Ray Martin:

"In May, journalist Ray Martin said he was outraged that "unlike Tony Blair and the Brits, we didn't insist that our terrorist suspects - (Mamdouh) Habib and Hicks - be brought home and released". Now, Getup executive director Brett Solomon is complaining about political interference and demanding a judicial inquiry. .... It is time for Hicks's cheer squad to face up to his ugly crimes and recognise that enough public money has been spent on delivering justice to a man who was dedicated to violently overthrowing our system of justice."

It's one thing to jostle and sledge eachother in private but publish defamation against professional rivals in a national newspaper? That suggests willful malice. So what's the underlying motive for this spite? Is it just the normal jockeying for the sinecures of reflected power well described as "the drip" whereby favoured journos get a good story feed from the winners, or something more?

Here is our sad theory:

News Ltd ie The Australian are dead scared having barracked for the Iraq War for many years of being responsible for a suicide bomber retaliation here in Australia, as well as the worst foreign affairs blunder in our history. When the ALP's short lived leader Simon Crean stood against the Iraq War in 2002 and stood fast in its criticism of our US ally, The Australian condemned the ALP and Crean in many ways crueled his own career while the Bush and Howard regimes were ascendant. But now they are on the nose. 

In this sense The Australian is severely burdened now both with dogmatic support for a failed war in terms of guilt and shame but also fear of retribution on Australians here somehow as per the atrocity in Pakistan .

Seemingly to displace that shame and fear they run a beat up about David Hicks the stereotyped trainee terrorist on page 1 no less yesterday .....

Report: Cheney 'struck Hicks deal' with PM

PM denies striking Hicks deal THE Prime Minister today denied striking any deal with the US over the release of former Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks. 

The focus of the story is fairly weird: The govt trenchantly denies subversion of an already joke 'US legal process' bitterly alleged by a military prosecutor who has resigned in disgust. The Australian runs an editorial attacking Brett Solomon of Get Up for repeating a call for a judicial inquiry into 'the whole' Hicks affair. Solomon no doubt was instrumental in lobbying for Hicks return to Australia:                         


Amid fresh allegations today of direct political interference in the plea deal that saw David Hicks home and jailed until just after the federal election, GetUp has reissued its call for a proper judicial inquiry into the Government’s handling of the David Hicks case.

Date: October 23rd 2007
Author: The GetUp team

Kevin Rudd similarly is reported seeking clarification. The Greens too are worried about an oppressive control order after 5 years:


Tuesday, October 23 2007

Ruddock should leave Hicks alone: Greens

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock should rule out allowing the Australian
Federal Police to apply for a control order against soon to be released
David Hicks, Greens Senate candidate Sarah Hanson-Young said today.

"Phillip Ruddock should do the right thing by calling off the Australian
Federal Police," Mrs Hanson-Young said.

"Now that the Government is in caretaker mode, it has a responsibility
to consult the ALP about this key human rights decision. I hope the ALP
would not consent to this control order going ahead.

"Phillip Ruddock's indifference to David Hicks' imprisonment in
Guantanamo Bay for five years was a disgrace.

"During this time the South Australian community campaigned for David
Hicks to have a fair trial. This didn't happen.

"Now he's done his time -- so let's leave him alone.

"David Hicks simply wants to get on with his life and continue his
studies. The Greens believe he should be left alone by security
officials and supported in his rehabilitation," said Mrs Hanson-Young.

Contact: Communications Officer Gemma Clark on 0431 134 781*/


Who really doubts the Howard govt cynically adjusted his position on Hicks as the real politik breeze changed from against the Gitmo detainee 2003-2005, then for his return 2006-2007. As Get Up implies the US 'legal process' was always pretty dodgy. The Australian seems to be arguing in its editorial in the shadow of the Pakistan atrocity 'don't you dare demand a legal review of process or we will re run a smear on David Hicks (again), and we might just smear him again anyway'.

We understand PM John Howard was curiously very late to the cause unlike the pro war UK's Prime Minister Tony Blair, in many ways the common law country that sets the standard on such things as habeas corpus

But a page 1 story? And an editorial on 24th Oct 2007? We detect a paranoid bluster by The Australian against it's new and big media rivals, in particular Get Up, and 9.

9 famously gave comfort to Hicks family on his return to Australia as per the picture above of May 2007, and lately embarrassed pro Iraq War Howard with their worm device last Sunday at the Leaders Debate. In short 9 is becoming a very big pain in the *rse for the Govt and the 'Govt Gazette'.

The Oz editorial with link above brushes over the merits of a judicial inquiry of an unconstitutional 'military commission' rejected by the US Supreme Court yet supported by Howard for a long time. The Pakistan atrocity seems to be the latest politik figleaf for this very strange legal process in the Hicks case over 5 years.

Even the media analysis jarrs: Henderson sledges Ray Martin and 9 -  happily echoed in The Australian in Cut & Paste yesterday - claiming a weak news effort by 9. This was arguably true 6 months back but Laurie Oakes is looking fitter than in years, and fiesty. He is cutting swathes through the pomposity of the Press Council over the worm controversy. And catching a Howard gaffe "1916" not 2016 yesterday in the election round up on their tv prime time news, 1st story.

Similarly Ray Martin at 9 got the tv ratings last Sunday night as a presenter of the Leaders Debate and the general consensus of the public is the worm was useful. Their Sunday morning flagship Sunday political talky show is doing well (we notice this corroboration after posting here) in The Oz's own Media section, as is 60 Minutes with its usual tabloid fodder.

The Australian looks to be lashing out now, as the similarly pro Iraq War Coalition Govt meets its fate this election. It looks like Get Up have hit a very raw nerve with both the shrinking Howard/Downer Govt and with The Australian. The Australian is attacking as a form of defence just as they squeal and protest too much when Media Watch correctly embarrass them.

So as a lawyer we say, sure why not, bring on the judicial inquiry into the political backflip by the Howard Govt to get Hicks out of a long soul destroying 5 years in Gitmo after being quite comfortable to see him rot, contrary to the rule of law. But it likely must be after this election to avoid smears as pro terrorist as the The Australian implies in an ugly way.

Like many things such a judicial inquiry no doubt will follow the event of the election.

[ Or maybe not, with more detail here in the following days press sort of clarifying whether the Hicks or Haneef scandals will or won't be picked over when or if a new incoming ALP Govt takes office

- Haneef inquiry not a sure bet as Labor backs off on scrutiny - smh ...

while Richard Ackland as editor of Justinian legal magazine has no doubt the Hicks matter was dodgy: If it looks and smells like a corrupted legal process … - Opinion]

Posted by editor at 7:26 AM NZT
Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007 3:14 PM NZT

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