Archive for March, 2013

March 27, 2013

Is it time for Left bloggers to unite for a one-time Webzine to stand up to MSM bias?

I believe the fight to prevent Tony Abbott and his Tea Party boche ever forming government is the most crucial fight I have ever taken part in.

I can no longer sit around and wail “someone must do something“, that ‘someone’ is me.

Politicians are telling us to ignore the might and power of the multinational corporations that dominate Australian media… Bloggers will save us.

Rob Oakeshott (Ind, Lyne) says “I’m saying the consumer market will beat any proprieter hands down in our new media landscape. Governments can’t.”


Malcolm Turnbull (LNP, Murdoch, oops Wentworth) “Established players are under great threat. Rupert Murdoch, who is the great paragon of the honourable member opposite me, the member for Reid—he features in all of his speeches!—has said that the internet will destroy more profitable businesses than it will create, and certainly a lot of Rupert Murdoch’s businesses are very much under challenge.”

How can many, isolated blogs ever hope to compete with the power of MSM? For politicians to pretend they are in any way equal is disingenuous and is about defending the market reach of multinational media barons.

In the meantime, readers and media consumers are getting completely bored with partisan, one-sided, anti-Government lies that passes as news.

As Tony Windsor (Ind, New England) once said “I don’t read The Australian anyway. Our family still uses Sorbent.”

Is it too late to stop the creeping Murdocracy?

People say “But what can I do?

You make a suggestion, and they say “That would never work, let’s just stick with the status quo“.

Be the change you wish to see

Oakeshott is right, the Government can’t solve this crisis, only us, the consumers, can. We can create alternatives to Murdoch, Murdoch-lite (the ABC), and Mining and Gambling magnates.

PM Julia Gillard said to the media “don’t write crap. It can’t be that hard“. Since MSM didn’t listen, maybe it’s time the people Stopped Reading Crap.

Ok, so the people will stop reading the MSM crap, then what? what is the alternative?

I am proposing a One-time Webzine.

But, people say “I like the diversity of voices“.

This One-time Webzine wouldn’t silence that diversity, it would bring even more diversity together. ALP, Greens, unions, environmentalists, Lefties, centreists, traditionalist Liberals, independent, hard-core but anti Abbott liberals.

People say “but we don’t need something new, IA (a news and opinion website) will save us“.

Which kind of contradicts their love of diversity to say that two or three blogs and news sites are all we need.

Some people say, “I like searching out my morning news“.

Others say, I have a busy life, job, kids, volunteer work, social life, I don’t have time to visit a hundred blogs a day, to see if they have updated their blog, or visit a website only to see they are writing about the same scandal that 15 other bloggers thoroughly dissected that morning.

But people say “we don’t want to see our independence squashed“.

How would it be squashed? Do the contributors to a site like Huffington Post feel squashed?

People say “we don’t need anything else, the Guardian is coming, it will save us“.

Yeah, because between AIM, AFHP, IA, Guardian we get plenty of diversity, smaller voices are acknowledged, competition encouraged. Oh no, wait, we don’t get diversity, smaller voices are ignored and competition quietly fades away as clicks fall because the readers are visiting the bigger sites.

I don’t mean to sound like I am disparaging these sites, but isn’t having hundreds of smaller bloggers typing away in their own little niche corner of the internet while people champion the same handful of bloggers on the same handful of sites just mirroring everything they are complaining about with mainstream media?

I love those sites I mentioned, don’t get me wrong, I visited them often, but if we want diversity, how can we find it, if the diversity of voices are so small and unlamented?

Now, just imagine it – 100 or 200 or more!, smaller bloggers donating their best article or their most impactful to a One-time Webzine, with full sub-editing, beautiful yet easy to navigate layout, logical flow, and stunning design.

News, opinions, information, graphics, videos, audio, political interviews, political profiles, marginal seat profiles, state issues, federal issues, local issues, take action checklist related to content, lots and lots and lots of links to other content within the Webzine and the original source (blog, facebook page, tumblr, or website), author acknowledgement / bio, profiles of some of the Left and Centres most active bloggers and blogs, extracts from news sites (limited at 10% by copyright laws), lifestyle stories, policy discussions, political speeches, historic speeches, a “DJ” (well, a list of inspirational, activism, human rights, workers rights song), important contact information for the election (eg. how to find your electorate, how to check if you’re enrolled, links for watching Upper and Lower houses federally, and at a state level), contact information for politicians, even cars, book reviews and recipes (if recipes can be political, red velvet cake? green vegetables?), a hard look at Tony Abbott’s plan for post election austerity, facts, facts, facts, a comments section, exclusive content and highlights from the best of the Left content creators.

Every contributor would be fully acknowledged, no copyright or ownership would be claimed. Each contributor would only contribute what they want to. Source blogs, pages, sites would be fully linked to. This is about helping people find new content and exposé content creators to a new audience.

A great big disclaimer section, featuring the line that “inclusion in the blog does not necessarily signify an endorsement of any of the other contributors or content”, in case there are conflicting views.

If a large number of content creators express interest in taking part, maybe the Greens and the ALP could be approached, told about the One-Time Webzine and then begged and cajoled for some merchandise as a reward/gift when the readership numbers hit a certain mark, for a randomly selected commentor and a contributor (This part of the idea needs some work).

ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY would change hands, either for the contributor or the reader. I would underwrite any costs incurred in getting the Webzine up and online. No sponsorship sought, no information or content sold, no advertising space sold. It would be about volunteers wanting to make a change to our current repressive media climate and providing an alternative.

However, if readers would like to make a donation, there could possibly be a donation page, with links to the Greens, the ALP, Tony Windsor, or some of the bigger blogs that do investigative pieces, or some other alternative.

But, people say, “we don’t need that, my blog already gets 100,000 clicks a day“.

I say, good for you. But please don’t tweet me your facebook likes, your blog clicks or requests for money, or I begin to feel like a walking-ATM and your own purpose for interacting with me online is to raise your click rate. And good for you, I am happy with your success.

But this misses the point, you’re successful, good for you. Not everyone is, but what they have to say is just as important, and many smaller blogs and websites disappear, writers give up, or can no longer find the time, and all that wisdom and insight goes with it.

A One-time Webzine is not about how many clicks on one blog, it is about the huge number of Left, centre, Green, Independent content creators are out there and bringing them together for a one time experience.

Being a One Time Event, content creators can choose one piece that says a lot about them, or recent stories, or something they think might have a big impact and donate that. There would be no ongoing commitment. Also, a one time issue would hopefully mean contributors don’t feel taken advantage of.

It would not be about the number of clicks on one site, it would be about the critical mass of content creators saying “I’m here, MSM, deal with it“.

It would give readers a chance to explore content from blogs that they might not otherwise see.

It would give people who want to make a contribution, but don’t want to run their own blog or website, a chance to do something to counteract MSM dominance.

What would a contribution involve: written articles, videos, graphics, behind the scenes website maintenance, spell checking, grammar checking, fact checking, liable checking, research, promotion, finding content, reading, commenting.

For anyone who wanted to be part of this, there would be a lot of opportunities to contribute – from creating content to being a reader. And all would be welcome.

Why would anyone do this, it sounds like a lot of work?
For all the reasons I outlined at the top of the page.

Take a look at this blog, I have been an outspoken critic of media bias and concentration for a long time.

I am prepared to do the behind the scenes work to showcase our bloggers and content creators on the Left and centre, because I do not need to feed my ego. I will need to feed my family after the election, this will be made increasingly difficult under and Abbott-led government.

It would also be a One Time Thing. If readers and content creators like it, then the discussion could move onto “what’s next?”.

I’ve raised this topic before, because I believe that it would be brilliant. I get overwhelmed with people saying they want to help and then nothing and I also get doomsayers who say we don’t need it, the Guardian will save us. I can’t keep pushing this idea. If you are interested, let me know. If you’re not, I will have to conclude that the majority don’t care enough about alternatives to try something new, or that the current system is good enough, or they know a better way.

Any feedback is welcome.

March 27, 2013

Did Malcolm Turnbull promise to privatise the ABC by selling to Murdoch’s SKY?

Did Malcolm Turnbull promise to privatise the ABC?

Did Malcolm Turnbull rule it out?

In his own words:

I will say this: the ABC is a perfectly appropriate entity to deliver the international broadcasting service for Australia. Most international broadcasting services are delivered by the public broadcaster of the relevant nation. There is nothing wrong with that. They were awarded that contract when we were in government. We made no complaints about it. But you have to ask yourself: what government in its right mind—with a rational, business-like mind—would preclude itself from ever making this job contestable? Even if you took the view that the ABC was, all other things being equal, the appropriate body to provide this service, why would you want to put yourself in the position that, if the ABC proposed at some future date to provide the service at a price or on conditions that were unreasonable or too expensive or too over the top in some manner or other, then you could not say to the ABC: ‘That’s not good enough. You’ve got to sharpen your pencil. We’ll put it out to tender’ or ‘We’ve got the power to put it out to tender’? Why would you preclude yourself from being able to do that? That is exactly what the government has done. It is a rather bizarre turn of events, because it was only a few years ago that the government apparently thought that a competitive tender was the best way to award this contract and actually held a tender. Then, because the government did not get the result that at least part of it wanted—it seems the other part did want the result that was delivered—it aborted the tender and ended up having to pay, we understand, well over $2 million in damages and compensation to Sky. It was really a hopeless failure of process.

emphasis added

In this quote, Turnbull is having a go at the ALP for NOT selling government assets to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation-owned SKY.

Yes, it is true that Turnbull speaks in long sentences that don’t seem to get to the point, I’m sure smarter people than me can interpret this better.

Would the ABC be privatised? The Liberals wouldn’t rule it out. It’s OUR ABC, very soon to be Murdoch’s ABC?

Not exactly a promise or a policy, but if the Liberals refuse to rule it out, then there is always the chance they will rule it in.

SOURCE: Malcolm Turnbull’s speech to Parliament during debate over Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Convergence Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013, Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2013, Tuesday, 19 March 2013, Hansard

image created for TurnLeft by TurnLeft

March 26, 2013

Goodbye MSM, it’s not me, it’s you. I’m just not that into you. We need to break up.

Dear MSM

We need to talk.

It’s not me, it’s you. We need to break up. It’s not that I’ve found something younger, newer, shinier, it’s just that you’re unable to meet my needs anymore. It’s time I moved on.

You might have thought everything was going to well, every morning we would sit and read the newspapers, which, face it, are really yesterday’s news and celebrity gossip, then every evening we would settle down while the 6 o’clock news played. It was our quality time together.

But you’ve change. You’re not who I thought you were. I mean, I always knew you had right-wing leanings, but recently you’ve gone the Whole Tea Party, and started dressing up in Freikorps boots with little double lightning bolts insignia on your shirts.

You took me for granted. You fed me bullsh!t and told me it was prime steak.

You thought I’d always be around. You thought if you eliminated the competition that I would have no choice but to stick with you, no matter how badly you treated me. How wrong could you get!

I started spending time with others, I now know there is a whole world out there just waiting for me, while you’ve kept me cooped up in a little box of fear and xenophobia, just because it suited your personal agenda.

All my friends keep telling me “MSM are just not that into you anymore”, at first I didn’t want to believe them, I mean, we’ve been through so much together – Titanic sinking, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, a man landing on the moon, the deaths of Elvis, Princess Di, Amy Winehouse, our rights to privacy. But my friends are correct, you’re not into me, you’re into Tony Abbott.

We seem to have drifted apart, we no longer do things together. We just don’t talk anymore. You want to tell me about the Prime Minister’s shoes, I want us to talk about the Prime Minister’s policies.

You lie to me non-stop. You try to convince me that climate change isn’t real, but Weapons of Mass Destruction were. Ten years later, they still haven’t found any WMDs but the glaciers are still melting. And if you lie to me about something so obvious, what else are you lying about? Well?

You started holding things back, I knew there was something going on, something you weren’t telling me. I had to go sneaking around behind your back, and get my daily news from other sources. They understand my needs better. I mean, ‘Who is this Ashby I keep hearing about?’

It’s the Liberal Party, isn’t it? Well! Isn’t it? I knew you liked her more than you liked me, the way you’re always kissing her asp… or python, or cobra. It was that old carbon price octopus squeeze. I knew it.

There was traces of Liberal party lipstick on your dictatorial demands.

Face it, you don’t even give good headlines anymore. It’s like you’re just going through the motions.

You’ve become bitter, twisted, vengeful, hate-filled, vacuous. You’ve become obsessed with bringing down the democratically elected government to the point you can’t focus on anything else. Unless its Lara Bingle’s naked body.

I deserve better.

But every time I turn around you’re there, with your lies and mendacity. You’re on my radio, my newspapers, my TV, my computer, my books. You’re even in my bible*. You are now taking over my politics and the education system. You’re smothering me.

I need some space.

I thought I was ready to be with one media exclusively when we got together but I’m not. I haven’t lied or cheated, or hacked murdered girls phones, or bribed police, or stoodover politicians, or editorialised the planet into an illegal war for oil, and I don’t want to, so I need to make a clean break or I’m afraid I’ll start to become like you. I’m sorry I’ve led you to believe I could be more committed. I can’t.

I’m way too good for you.

I’m way out of your league. You would be lucky to have me.

Could our relationship be salvaged? Is there any point giving you a second-chance, even though I know you will only lie to me more and let me down?

What do your friends say, they know you better, Malcolm Turnbull (‘The Minister For News Limited‘) came to your defence, told me I shouldn’t listen to our democratically elected government, told me that only you could save me. Turnbull told me that the ALP Government’s media reform laws (technically: Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Convergence Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013, Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2013) would hurt me. He said
The Daily Telegraph is free to be as biased as it likes. Its readers can decide not to read it, they can be appalled by it, they can cancel their subscription, they can throw it in the bin or do whatever they like, but it is free to do that. Source: Hansard

But I know that he doesn’t have my best interests in his heart.

Throw it in the bin? Sounds like it should be a good idea, except that would involve paying for it first in order to have it in my hand to throw it in the bin.

Even faux-freedom from you still has a price to be paid, and that is not real freedom, is it?

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had some advice, on how you could win me back. “Don’t write crap, It can’t be that hard” (NPC, 18/07/11) but as it turns out, did keep writing crap. Clearly you didn’t want to win me back.

And now, I’ve moved on.

After all this time, everything we saw, everything we did, I have only one thing to say to you:

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish & Chips wrappers.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, gute Nacht

* For those who don’t know, Rupert Murdoch owns the bible. His publishing company Harper Collins has the exclusive rights to the New International Version bible. Rupert Murdoch was also made a papal Knight by the Pope in 1998.

* Some lines in this piece were inspired by Douglas Adams “Hitchhiker Guide To The Galaxy’, The Sound of Music, Doctor Who ‘The Stolen Earth’, and Tony Abbott’s carbon price scare campaign beat up.

March 23, 2013

Australian Media readjust reality and tell you ‘It’s Your Fault’ if you believe them

A funny thing happened on the way to Question Time on Thursday, the last day of Parliament before the break. There was a challenge [edited to correct: not a Challenge, but a Spill] to the Prime Minister that was nothing more than shadows.

The Australian media had spent the previous two years wishing and hoping and cajoling former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to challenge for Prime Minister. He fell for it once, last year and was soundly defeated in leadership ballot, Gillard won by a vote of 71 to 31.

Thursday was another half-hearted attempted to replace PM Gillard with former PM Rudd and nothing changed.

This post is not looking at the how’s, why’s or who’s of the Rudd versus Gillard media mess, but the confusion of facts told to the Australian public about what actually happened on that day during Question Time.

Did Tony Abbott fail yet again in his question for a Suspension of Standing Order or did the Prime Minister face a No Confidence motion? Perhaps the answer to that depends on how you want to spin it – an incompetent Opposition or Government.

Even though I was listening to parliament and Question time on Thursday (“Spill-day”), I thought I had a pretty good idea of what had happened. Tony Abbott interrupted Question Time to call for a Suspension of Standing orders to debate that the House declares no confidence in the Prime Minister.

Hansard bears that out:

Source: Hansard

There was an application to suspend standing orders, from Tony Abbott, seconded by Julie Bishop. The Prime Minister spoke, then

Speaker Burke called: The question is that the motion be agreed to.

This was voted on and result AYES 73 (2 majority) NOES 71 with PAIRS 2

Speaker Burke: The question is not carried by an absolute majority of members as required under standing order 47.

It seems like another failure from Tony Abbott.

I had the misfortune of reading Labor’s political dysfunction reaches new heights, March 21, 2013, an opinion piece, by Lenore Taylor, Chief Political Correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald (misfortune because it confused me as to what actually happened, Ms Taylor is an insightful commentator) .
It [the Government] had to stare down the no confidence motion against the Prime Minister in the Parliament when everyone knew it was considering an internal no confidence motion against her in the caucus room just hours later.

The Government did what now? They stared down a No Confidence motion? I didn’t remember that.

So, I did what anyone does when confronted by something they don’t know: Asked for the wisdom of Twitter.

@turnleft2013: anyone follow politics out there? was there a no-confidence motion y’day? the things that you miss when the media focus on gossip

When informed by people on twitter that it was an application for an SSO – suspension of standing orders – I tweeted the reason for my confusion

@turnleft2013: lenore taylor in fairfax says it was no confidence, not SSO, how can a newspaper get something so basic so very wrong

Ms Taylor corrected my misunderstanding
did not say it was no confidence motion, said they “stared down” one – ie Abbott tried to put one, failed on sso
Source: here

No where in this article does Ms Taylor mention it was a suspension of standing orders to debate a no confidence motion. A word search shows neither of the phrases “SSO”, “standing” or “suspension” are not used.

I misunderstood, and Ms Taylor corrected me, but how many people out there reading it also got the wrong impression without the benefit of being personally corrected of their misunderstanding by the article’s author.

At this point, I have no idea what was voted on.

You know, Ms Taylor, I once stared down a tiger, well, it wasn’t an actual tiger, it was a kitten, but it would have been a tiger if it wasn’t something else. The ALP Government might have stared down a No Confidence motion if Tony Abbott’s SSO stunt wasn’t a complete failure.

For those uninterested or disinterested in politics the impression they get will be of a No Confidence motion in the Prime Minister and / or the Government, not another failed SSO – suspension of standing orders – from Tony Abbott.

I don’t think this is mendacious, and I think the rest of the article is up to Ms Taylor’s usual high quality, however, I do think someone reading that who doesn’t watch Question Time, they might get the wrong impression. I do watch Question Time, and two days later, am still not sure what happened – was it an SSO or No Confidence?.

I did not @ her (for those who aren’t familiar with twitter, when you @ someone they get notification they have been mentioned), and I did say the newspaper got it wrong, not Ms Taylor. However, I wish some people in the media spent as much time fact-checking their articles as they do fact-checking what people say about them on social media.

Disclaimer: this is what happened from my understanding, it may be wrong on some points, but from an outsiders perspective this is what it looks like
Disclaimer 2: I still think Lenore Taylor is one of the best political reporters this country has left, just that one section could have been less confusing

March 21, 2013

Senator Doug Cameron speaks about abuses of power by tabloid journalists

March 20, 2013

What Prime Minister Gillard Told Tony Abbott About Freedom Of Speech

Too often “freedom of the press” is really about “freedom to bully governments, lie, target political opponents, cover up, promote other businesses”, too often it is about “free market” not “free speech”.

Now that the Opposition have decided they were elected to Parliament to represent the business interests of the Murdoch family and not the people of their electorates, the public rights are disappearing at the hands of the Murdoch media desire to dominate everything we see, read, hear, click, and know.

Mr ABBOTT (Warringah—Leader of the Opposition) (14:39): I have a question for the Prime Minister. … and now she proposes the most draconian regulation of the media ever. How can people ever expect better judgement from this Prime Minister?

Ms GILLARD (Lalor—Prime Minister) (14:39): Once again, the Leader of the Opposition finds himself absolutely incapable of dealing with the facts, even when they have been provided in the answer to the question before from the opposition. So, let’s go through it again for the Leader of the Opposition, who most clearly was not listening to what I said before.

Ms GILLARD: I refer him to the respected international organisation Reporters Without Borders.

Ms GILLARD: I am dealing with a Leader of the Opposition who, of course, dismisses the work of climate change scientists, who brushes aside the work of senior public servants, and who never listens to an expert because he might be confronted with the facts. But I refer him to Reporters Without Borders and I presume that the Leader of the Opposition is not going to describe that international organisation as anything but genuinely dedicated to freedom of the press around the world.

I refer him to the fact that the country in first place in their list as best on freedom of the press is Finland, which has specific laws which dictate to media organisations that they must provide a right of reply and correct factual errors. What the government is proposing is far, far, far less interventionist than that. Finland has a press council which is 30 per cent funded. We are not proposing that the Press Council be anything other than funded by media organisations themselves.

Mr Pyne: I rise on a point of order. The Prime Minister was asked about her own judgement, or her failure of judgement over 2½ years. She should try to answer that question.

The SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Ms GILLARD: I am addressing the question because the Leader of the Opposition made an assertion about the government’s proposed changes for media reform. If he did not want me to respond to that then he ought not to have asked it. His having asked it, I am going to respond to it. The Leader of the Opposition is deliberately—perhaps I will withdraw ‘deliberately’ and say ‘misleading’—this parliament on the nature of these laws. I direct the Leader of the Opposition to international comparisons so he no longer goes around making absurd, false claims about these laws.

What these laws are about is more Australian content on Australian TV. I think that is a good thing. What these laws are about is enabling our great public broadcasters like the ABC and the SBS to be out there providing news and information in more ways in the modern age. I think that is a good thing. What these laws are about is, in one of the most concentrated media markets in the world, if there are further consolidations in media organisations—

Ms GILLARD: In one of the most concentrated media markets in the world, we are ensuring, if there is further consolidation, that there is an independent view taken about diversity of voices in our democracy. Finally, we are ensuring that Australians who have a legitimate claim have a press council to go to. (Time expired)

Source: Hansard, Monday, 18 March 2013

There is no guaranteed ‘freedom of speech’ in Australia, our ‘freedom of speech’ is implied only, unless you are confused with the US American constitution which does guarantee free speech.

The Australian Constitution contains these rights, speech is not one of them:
– right to vote in Commonwealth elections if you can vote in State ones
– freedom of religion, and prohibition of religious tests for Federal offices
– trial by jury in Federal cases tried on indictment
– “just terms” for the compulsory “acquisition” of property by the Commonwealth
– an ambiguously worded prohibition on discrimination against residents of other States

Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily Telegraph used a quote from US American president Thomas Jefferson to attack the governments plans for media reform.
“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” –Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson is a man who owned people, he kept people as SLAVES. Perhaps Jefferson is not the best source to quote in relation to defending freedoms.

We also do not have the same freedoms as the US Constitution.


Malcolm Turnbull has said “The Daily Telegraph is free to be as biased as it likes. Its readers can decide not to read it, they can be appalled by it, they can cancel their subscription, they can throw it in the bin or do whatever they like, but it is free to do that.”

So we can have the free press that our Prime Minister is championing or we can avoid biased media (which in Australia is close to 100%), and learn nothing about the world other than the biased not-news that Murdoch and his minions decide for you, as Turnbull says.

Read what we tell you or you are free to choose nothing – this is not what a free people’s media looks like.

March 14, 2013

How soon before Malcolm Turnbull goes the full Tea Party?

Text of tweets:
@JuliaGillard attack on 457s strikes at heart of skilled migration system. & hypocritical @johnmcternan – Aussie Aussie Aussie Och Och Och!

… as a descendant of Scots I say och aye to Scottish immigrants and welcome them all to our diverse multicultural society!

Mocking someone because of their accent is childish, and could be seen as a goose-step or two away from crossing the racism line. Especially considering Malcolm Turnbull’s own party leader, Tony Abbott was born in a foreign country, it doesn’t make for a good image.

Also, in case Turnbull was confused, you usually welcome someone by saying “welcome” (or some variation of) and not belittling their accent.