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Trying for Pyne and Entsch accountability on @MRowlandMP baby leave

In Ideology, Industrial Relations, Liberal Party, Margo Kingston, Misogyny, Paid Parental LEave on May 21, 2013 at 1:45 PM
Refused leave to look after her sick daughter: Michelle Rowland with daughter Octavia Chaaya and husband Michael Chaaya. Photo: Supplied - The Age

Refused leave to look after her sick daughter: Michelle Rowland with daughter Octavia Chaaya and husband Michael Chaaya. Photo: Supplied – The Age

By Margo Kingston

May 21, 2013

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about the Coalition’s May 16 response to the revelation of its decision to refuse Labor MP Michelle Rowland a pair to be with her ill baby.

Christopher Pyne, the likely new head of government business in the House of Representatives,  and Warren Entsch, the likely chief whip in an Abbott Government, made several false statements to the public about the matter which they have not withdrawn. Neither have apologised to Ms Rowland for relying on that false information to question her behaviour as a mother. Mr Abbott has not been questioned about their behaviour, and Mr Pyne has sought to erase his statements from the public record by failing to post the transcript on his website

http://www.pyneonline.com.au/category/media/transcripts

I believe it is a baseline responsibility of political journalists to require that politicians tell the truth to the public. If they don’t, more politicians will lie more often, and the public will be more misinformed than they already are. It’s an accountability responsibility of the fourth estate which involves seeking to uncover the truth and insisting that politicians who have not told the truth correct the record and explain the reasons for their falsehoods.

Last Thursday, May 16, News Limited papers published the news that Mr Entsch had refused Ms Rowland’s request for permission to return to Sydney early to be with her sick baby.

Press gallery journos on morning duty outside the doors of Parliament House, and the gallery, led by Fairfax media, Nine news and ABC radio, did a strong job getting most of the truth and the lies on the public record. Due to Pyne’s transcript cover-up, the record of his doorstop was missing, and I published it after Fairfax online editor Tim Lester kindly sent me the audio feed available to the Press Gallery.

But hey, the issue blew up on budget reply day and Press Gallery journos moved on. Fair enough – there’s a lot fewer of them these days, and they have many more platforms to fill.

So there’s a gap that new media needs to fill. We can’t do the job as well, of course, because we aren’t backed by big media employers and thus don’t have the power to pressure politicians to answer our questions. But we can put on the record the fact that politicians who have misled the people have been asked to correct false statements.

My first step was to DM Ms Rowland asking her to write a piece detailing her version of exactly what happened. And that’s when I realised that there is yet another factor in play in the brave new world of public affairs that I hadn’t comprehended – the social media pressure on politicians not to pursue stories to protect themselves from harm.

Ms Rowland said she didn’t want to write about her ordeal because she had already been falsely accused of playing politics with her child and needed to move on. As a result of statements by Mr Entsch questioning the quality of her care for her baby, she said she had been bombarded with tweets and emails saying, among other things, that she was heartless mother and would be referred to DOCS (the NSW Department of Children’s Services). ‘I don’t want crazies to mess with my mind on this. I’m a first time mother and this is the first time my baby has been this sick.’

She was happy to give me the facts as she knew them, and I talked her into letting me quote her for this story.

So here we go. Read the rest of this entry »

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MSM outrage-shaming: What’s it all about?

In Alison Parkes, Democracy, Federal Election, Fifth Estate, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Journalism, Misogyny on May 9, 2013 at 10:46 AM

By Alison Parkes

May 8, 2013

This piece is written in response to these three articles which have appeared within the past couple of weeks

1)  Hooked on outrage in the Twitter wars  by Jacqueline Maley, 20 April Fairfax

2)  The left takes a turn for the ugly as power slips through Labor’s grasp by Chris Johnson, 28 April Fairfax

3)  Feminist backs Abbott on ‘calibre’ comment  by  Heath Aston and Jonathan Swan, 7 May Fairfax

What these three articles share in common is a criticism of how people, particularly those on the Left, use Twitter to express outrage at comments made by Tony Abbott, Alan Jones, and the politician Dennis Jensen. These three articles use outrage-shaming to mock the reaction of the Left to insensitive and offensive comments from the Right.

Outrage-shaming occurs when people in mainstream media (MSM) use it as a pulpit to shame people on Twitter over their outrage or reactions to a event. Recent articles based on outrage-shaming have targeted the Left, women and the working class, groups that have traditionally been shamed into silence for breaching the polite rules of society.

Too loud, too much, too emotional, too public.

If you don’t like something Tony Abbott said, and take to Twitter to express your opinion, people who disagree with you will dismiss this as inappropriate outrage. This can be also called faux-outrage or confected-outrage by those who think the reaction has gone too far.

Say too much and MSM journalists will write a newspaper column about you. Keep your emotions under control, don’t react, stay quiet, don’t get angry, say nothing – most importantly, do not get outraged. The MSM will decide the narrative and context and the circumstances in which you will be outraged.

This outrage as a means of control is not new. For centuries moral panics have come from the elites – the wealthy, the law, the churches, the men – from the top down, and have covered everything from witches who could wither crops with just a glance and Muslim terrorists to satanic heavy metal or the evils of jazz or rap music, unemployed single mothers on welfare to people in boats. Moral panics have been used to control behaviour, kids and their music, widowed women who owned property, people who prayed to a different God or had no God. Groups are held up as an example of how not to live, to shame those who have transgressed the boundaries, into repenting. Shaming also serves as a warning of what might happen if you, too, think about breaking the rules. The latest moral panic in MSM is ‘The Left are using Twitter to express outrage.

Feminist Eva Cox described the Twitter reaction to Tony Abbott’s “women of calibre” comment, from ordinary users as well as Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek, as “an overreaction“. Sorry Twitter, you may react, just don’t over-react.

Of course you are entitled to free speech, be careful how you use it.

As Maley wrote in  Hooked on outrage in the Twitter wars:

Freedom of speech is one thing, but at a certain point in political debate you have to turn down the volume of the extreme voices at the edge of the debate, so you can have a reasoned one in the middle. You have to filter out the outrage and, even harder, not allow yourself to get outraged by the outrageous. –

So what if people take to their own Twitter accounts to express outrage?

People don’t always tweet expecting their conversations will be evaluated by mainstream journalists for levels of appropriate outrage.

And tweets that on the surface may appear to be an over-reaction aren’t always actually about outrage. Tweets can be used for humour, venting, sharing personal and painful experience and connecting with others. How different is this from the salons and cafes where people meet and talk, the turn of the century French Bohemian cafes or Dorothy Parker of the Algonquin Round Table and her acid-tongue put downs repeated to this day. Or the Pubs, the clubs and backyard barbecues and Sydney University Liberal Club president’s dinners.

Of course you are entitled to free speech, just not so outrageously public. Read the rest of this entry »

Is the world ready for PM Tony ‘what he meant to say’ Abbott?

In Federal Election, Misogyny, Noely Neate, Paid Parental LEave on May 8, 2013 at 6:48 PM
#WomenWithCalibre

#WomenWithCalibre

By Noely Neate

May 8, 2013

I was not going to go here, because all manner of Feminists, accredited and self-proclaimed, have had a say.  Some I agree with, some I think are getting hung up on exactly what many of us on Twitter are always complaining about, that is, focussing on a ‘gotcha’ instead of the actual merits of a policy.

I would love to be like some who try to be ‘above it all’, like the so-called ‘Legendary feminist Eva Cox’ (Mia Freedman’s words), though unfortunately, Ms Cox’s defence of Mr Abbott with “what Tony Abbott was trying to say in a somewhat clumsy way...” does not hold a hell of a lot of weight with me.

Ms Freedman chose a rather provocative title for her piece when she came out to bat for Mr Abbott, “I’m defending Tony Abbott. Let’s go.“, again translating what Mr Abbott ‘meant’ for us poor dumb punters as “He was simply making the point – albeit a little clunkily…”

Yet other articles have used various excuses for Mr Abbott such as “off-the-cuff”, “un-intended”. Even Paul Kelly on Sky a few weeks ago had to always interject with “So I think what you are saying…”

The fact is they are probably right, he really probably did not mean for it to come across as it did.

Tony Abbott would be an absolute moron to offend such a large proportion of the population intentionally, so to a certain degree I am sure that the example he used as to why this policy, The Coalition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme is so important, was basically just a brain fart.

Before I go further down the Mr Abbott’s all-time Bloopers road, let’s be above the petty gotcha’s and look at THE PPL policy.  To me it’s not very pretty…

Considering the Liberals are best mates of big business, it seems pretty stupid to be annoying them by smacking them with a Levy – (note the Libs are allowed to use the word ‘levy’ unlike the ALP or Greens levies, which are always ‘taxes’) – let alone telling them to fund this super duper ‘ladies’ special for him. “Australian Industry Group” has already publicly let everyone know they are not happy campers.

Now add in the fact that for the first time in forever there is dissent in the ranks. The Liberals for the past few years have been ‘tighter than (fill in the blanks)’ yet we now have three MPs and counting, and more muttering that they are not happy little vegemites, going against what they call “sound Liberal policy”.  So, close to an election that is not a good look.

I am not sure why Mr Abbott is staunchly defending his policy. There does not seem to be any good reason, as we have a Maternity Leave policy in place that is adequate and most women I know are more interested in ensuring actually they have a job to go back to AND have affordable and accessible childcare when they do. So to put so many offside when the only ones who will really benefit are a few highly paid female executives seems pretty dumb.

For people who keep saying ‘business is paying for it, not taxpayers’, you are delusional.  There is no way in hell a Liberal Government is going to put a tax on their best mates, the 3000 big earning companies in this country, without them getting a concession at a later date in some way, shape or form.  If they don’t publicly fight this policy then you know that the nudge-nudge, wink-wink deal has already been done.  When big companies get any sort of business concession that means less revenue for the Government and we taxpayers fill in the shortfall. Not to mention they will also double-dip (as banks tend to do) and pass on the so-called extra levy to the consumers of their products.  So in fact, you, the taxpayer, will probably pay for Mr Abbott’s gilt-edged PPL twice.

So why does Tony persist with his PPL? Chatting over a glass of wine, all we can come up with as a reason is that Margie suffered when she had to leave her job to have Tony’s daughters and he has promised her that his expensively educated daughters of calibre will never have to suffer the deprivations she did. Who would know? Read the rest of this entry »

Using Thatcher’s death to rewrite history, past and present

In Ideology, Misogyny, News Limited, Sarah Capper on April 18, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Thatcher-loc

By Sarah Capper, Sheilas Editor

Source: Sheilas
18 April 2013

When Germaine Greer penned a piece on the late “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin for the Guardian shortly after his death from a stingray puncture, it was followed by howls of protest from all parts of the globe. Greer ended her ‘barbed’ take on the much-loved ‘Aussie legend’ with:

“The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing 10 times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn.”

As a result, Greer was lambasted as insensitive, cruel and GASP, “unaustralian” for daring to write such a critique. Some called for her to be banned from entering the country again. The National Portrait Gallery replaced a picture of Greer with – you guessed it – Steve Irwin.

In such situations, the assumption is that we should never speak ill of the dead, even if those who have died have been major public figures and divisive ones at that.

Former British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher was indeed one such public figure, who at the helm of the United Kingdom during the 1980s presided over policies which had huge impacts on the people she governed. Her passing last week led to a barrage of global tributes from political leaders of various persuasions.

In response, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that “as a woman, I am admiring of her achievements on becoming the first woman to lead the United Kingdom”.

Locally, conservative columnists took the opportunity to elevate the memory of Britain’s first and only female PM as a chance to sink the boot into Australia’s first and current female Prime Minister.

Under the headline ‘JULIA’S NO MAGGIE’, News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt lambasted Gillard’s response to the news as “pathetic and graceless”, as “Thatcher never sold herself as a victim or just a representative of her gender”.

Bolt used his column to have another spray at Emily’s List, a terrible organisation in the eyes of the Bolt’s of this world, which, god forbid, aims to support progressive women in political positions within the Australian Labor Party.

Referring to an Emily’s List function two years ago, Bolt quoted Gillard at the event as saying she “didn’t get here [to be Australia’s first female Prime Minister] alone … I think of all the women who made my journey possible … a century of activism by women of matchless courage and resolve.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard labels Mr Abbott a misogynist.

In Misogyny, Tony The Geek on December 29, 2012 at 1:37 AM

The Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard made the most important speech of 2012. The speech has now been seen and praised all over the world by men and women alike.

It was included in the Google Zeitgeist video and received 2,193,819 views just on this ABC video alone. No other video the ABC has ever done, comes even close to this one.

Here is a storify feature which covers the whole impact of the speech.

[View the story “Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard – Speech of 2012” on Storify]

Speech

Thank you very much Deputy Speaker and I rise to oppose the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition. And in so doing I say to the Leader of the Opposition I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.

The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation. Because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror. That’s what he needs. Read the rest of this entry »