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

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6 Comments to “Australian Media readjust reality and tell you ‘It’s Your Fault’ if you believe them”

  1. The ridiculous hysteria displayed by journos and media in general over the past few weeks has been very telling. Anyone who thought we don’t need regulation of the media must be, at the very least reconsidering.

  2. We are constantly told that bookmakers odds are the real guide to what is going to happen (just product placement advertising really).
    Well I wish I had put some money on the Prime Minister, Rudd was even money to win and the PM $6.

    • Odds might be a better indicator than anything the media experts come up with. With Rudd and senior ministers leaking to the media “unnamed senior labor sources”, it will take a lot of work to regain the trust of some Labor voters.

  3. Yes, it seems easy to forget that words mean what they mean, and not what we might on odd occasions wish them to mean. Take for example the word “challenge”, as used in the second sentence of this well-intended article.

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