Tag Archives: media

Australia’s Political Culture Is Failing Us, So Elect Independents

[Published at Independent Australia, 3 Nov.]

Helen Haines and Voices for Indi

Our entire mainstream political culture – the old parties, tribes and labels, the media, the commentariat, the adversarial process, the petty squabbling – fails comprehensively to serve our needs and insults our capabilities. Independents offer a glimmer of hope, and we need to get more of them into parliament.

The Coalition Government is with little doubt the most vacuous, incompetent, deluded, irresponsible and malicious of our short Federated history. This is the rabble Labor failed to defeat in the 2019 election. Labor still seems to have little idea what to do, and anyway they have been complicit in a great deal of the damage done to our society since 2001, and in the neglect of urgent issues.

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The Far-Right ABC

[This was written ten days ago and I thought it was dead and gone. But lo, my reliable Independent Australia eventually got around to it. By the way it’s worth seeing the video of George Lakoff there, if you have 35 minutes to spare. He elaborates the ‘strict father’ and ‘nurturing parent’ world views that lie behind ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ attitudes.]

Steve Bannon

The ABC is pandering more and more flagrantly to the Far Right.

Monday 3rd of September was a good night for the Far Right on the ABC. There was a 45-minute exclusive platform for Steve Bannon, alt-Right champion and Trump booster,  in an interview on the Four Corners program. Later Q&A, which regularly includes at least one Far Right panel member, had three out of five, including – spare us – radio shock jock Alan Jones, as if he needs another megaphone.

This while the ABC is re-running a version of “It’s your ABC” featuring nostalgic clips of the Bananas in Pajamas and the lovely Noni of Playschool. Only it’s not our ABC any more. It has been the Liberal Party’s ABC for some time.

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A System to Support Healthy Communities: Policy Ideas

Most of us do not want the world our society has become. It is too frenetic, too stressful, too superficial, too unequal, too acrimonious, too violent, and getting worse. Surveys show we want more time with family, friends and community1. More than 90% of us would prefer a greener, more stable society2, where the emphasis is on cooperation, community and family, more equal distribution of wealth, and greater economic self-sufficiency3.

Many studies now show that for a more fulfilling life, and to restore the planet to health, we need to restore connections with each other and with the natural world. Our emotional and physical wellbeing are best served by a small, supportive community and by regular connection with the living world around us. Caring for the natural world requires us, or some of us, to know each locality intimately4.

Local communities can only be stable and healthy if they have a viable local economy. Many studies show local businesses recycle a large fraction of wealth within the community, whereas businesses owned nationally or globally drain wealth to a distant few. For our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing we need to tilt the balance back from global to local5. We will still want many national and global activities, we do not need to be isolationist nor 100% locally self-sufficient. However we do need to be in control of the larger-scale activities, and they need to be supportive of strong and healthy local communities.

So we need to think about a different system. Below are some of the things we will need to change if we are to create a system that supports strong local communities, healthy living and a healthy planet.

These ideas may serve as a framework for a Progressive party or movement.

Read the whole essay.

Precious Media

Bob Brown has named it, the media are being precious.  First, they whine, people complained about Gina Rinehart buying a few media shares, then Treasurer Wayne Swan got stuck into the gang of three miners for using media as their personal megaphones, then the Finkelstein media review recommended some actual, semi-government enforcement of abuse rectification.  Oh, the outraged howls of injured innocence!

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Media Ownership: by Us, The People, Directly

[Published 7 Feb on ABC’s The Drum Opinion.]

Gina Rinehart’s evident intention to own large chunks of our media is focussing many minds on the question of media ownership.  However most of the discussion does not properly recognise the special role of the media in our society, and canvasses only variations on concentrated ownership by very rich people, usually with an implication that ownership by government is the only alternative.

The media are the means of social conversation in large societies.  They deserve to be accorded special status, like the courts.  Ownership could be widely distributed among those served by each outlet.

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The Real Howling Mob

[A condensed and modified version published at Eureka Street, 7 Feb.]

The Australia Day “riot” at the Lobby restaurant in Canberra was the subject of hysterical misreporting – I know, I watched it.  We would be wise not to dismiss this episode as just another example of media sensationalism.  Rather, it is symptomatic of a growing nexus in Australia of fear, hysteria, racism and ignorant ranting.

These phenomena are rapidly degrading our capacity for decency, our democracy, and even our perception of reality.  We are moving rapidly away from the decent, laconic Aussies of our stereotyping, and into being a fearful, intolerant, nasty and brittle society.

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Aboriginal protest, rattled security and a dragged Prime Minister – Australia exposed

[We happened to witness a demonstration last Thurday, “Australia Day”, which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet, with convicts, and so of course also marks the beginning of the dispossession of Aboriginal people.  I gather pictures of our Prime Minister being dragged by a security man have gone around the world.  I have sent this account to media, we’ll see if it gets a run.]

[Posted on The Drum, 30 Jan.]

The bias, hysteria and divisiveness of our public political conversation is never far from view, but this week I encountered it first hand.  I watched the Aboriginal protest unfold at The Lobby restaurant.  The event reported in the media and reacted to by many commentators is a lurid parody of what actually happened.  Perspective and balance are hard to find.

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Labor and the Media: Obstacles to a Decent Society

Two major Australian institutions are in the spotlight at the moment, the Labor Party at its annual national conference, and the media in an enquiry prompted by the Murdoch press’s excesses in Britain.  However the deepest problems with them are rarely acknowledged.  The Labor Party has become an obstacle to good governance and to a tolerable future for Australia.  The media have become more superficial, divisive, and regressive, and they are eroding our open and democratic society.

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