Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘Murdoch’

My people’s petition for Abbott to reveal his other IPA policies

In Federal Election, Ideology, IPA, Liberal Party, Tom Cummings on April 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Petition   Tony Abbott  Leader of the Opposition  Clarify which of the IPA s 75 policies the Coalition plans to implement.   Change.org

By Tom Cummings (@cyenne40)
April 15, 2013

The Australian Labor Party is often accused of being at the beck and call of the unions. Of course there is a decent element of truth in this, in so far as they both tend to focus on workers rather than corporations, and the historical links between Australia’s unions and the ALP are many. However, in recent years those links have weakened (although never broken) and the dynamic of today is different than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

But what about the Liberal Party? What of their affiliations, their preferences? They have always come across as friends of industry and big business rather than the workers; their focus on ‘getting what you pay for’ is well in keeping with their conservative ideology and reputation.

The difference between the ALP and the Liberal Party in this respect is that, while the former is vilified for their union associations, the latter is largely forgiven for their industry bias. This may well be because the corporations they support are largely responsible for helping to shape and drive the public perception of such things, although that is a situation that is rapidly changing as non-traditional news outlets gain popularity and credibility.

But the Liberal Party of today has stronger, more visible links to the conservative side of town through its leader. Tony Abbott makes no secret of his relationships and associations with certain individuals within the Catholic church, the media and big business; and his fondness for sound-bites ahead of policy has left a vacuum that his friends seem only too happy to fill.

Nowhere was this more obvious than at the recent 70th anniversary dinner of the Institute of Public Affairs. The IPA is not well known to the majority of the public, yet this ‘independent libertarian think tank’ had News Ltd boss and IPA member Rupert Murdoch as their guest of honour. Right-wing commentator Andrew Bolt was the MC. Cardinal George Pell and mining magnate Gina Rinehart were in attendance. And Tony Abbott himself gave the speech welcoming Murdoch to the occasion (Murdoch’s ‘class war’ speech is published here).

One of the most frightening things about that night is that Abbott joked about a list of 75 policies that the IPA had published and encouraged him and his party to adopt. He listed which policies his Coalition had already taken on board: abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax, privatising Medibank and slashing the public service were just a few.

“So, ladies and gentlemen, that is a big ‘yes’ to many of the 75 specific policies you urged upon me in that particular issue of the magazine….but Gough Whitlam I will never be!”

 – Tony Abbott

The question here is this: where will Tony Abbott stop? How many more of the IPA’s radical policy suggestions entitled ‘Be like Gough’ will he adopt as party policy, before or after the election? We all saw last week what happens when Abbott tries to be creative with policy; the alternative NBN announcement with Malcolm Turnbull was an unmitigated disaster. How likely then that he will resist any further policy announcements for as long as possible, only to cherry-pick from the list the IPA has so kindly put together for him?

Because that list, and the 25 additional policies that the IPA subsequently released to make it an even 100, make for truly terrifying reading. It is a libertarian vision for the future, one without safety nets, one without protections, and one without regard for the individual.

That’s why I started a petition, calling on Tony Abbott to clarify which of the IPA’s 75 policies the Coalition plans to implement. Of course I have no illusions that this petition will ever reach Abbott, or that even if it did, that it would make an iota of difference to his actions. A friend of mine called it their “favourite useless waste of time” petition, and I can honestly see why!

But some people are reading it.  Some people are seeing the list of 75 IPA policies, are seeing that Tony Abbott is already committed to implementing a number of these policies, and are concerned. Already the petition has attracted more than a thousand signatures… far more than I thought it ever would.

Because the common wisdom is that Tony Abbott will be prime minister before the end of the year. We need to think about that, and scrutinise what it will mean. It’s not good enough for him to hold all his cards close to his chest and promise that life will be better under his government. We deserve better than that; we deserve to be told.


Sign the petition now:

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@sortius on how and why the Coalition’s NBN policy is designed to fail

In Kieran Cummings, NBN, Telecommunications on April 12, 2013 at 4:19 PM
Created by BushfireBill @BushfireBill

Created by BushfireBill @BushfireBill

By Kieran Cummings (@sortius)

April 12, 2013

Since the release of the Coalition’s broadband policy on Tuesday it has become clear that the policy is designed to fail. Even if taken at face value it is clear that the plan will not be able to meet its targets. So why devise a policy destined to fail?

One simple answer is to keep the ‘free market’ free – free from regulation, free from anti-monopoly legislation and free from responsibility.

The policy itself is made redundant by the three separate reviews the Coalition is planning for the NBN – a strategic review, an ‘independent’ audit and a cost/benefit analysis. Having these codified into the policy ensures that no matter the promises made, the Coalition can build a case to limit or even cancel the rollout, or cancel it in line with its 2010 election policy, using its long-running austerity narrative.

Who will do the reviews?  I’d guess Peter Costello. After his Queensland Commission of Audit, we can assume that the Coalition intends to use the same tactics to remove any case for change to Australia’s telecommunication network.

This will set Australia back decades under the guise of ‘economic management’. With broadband speeds barely reaching 13Mbps on average in Australia, & Akamai’s data transfer caps reaching a measly 4Mbps, the Coalition cancelling the NBN would have dire consequences for Australia’s digital economy.

Who will benefit from a negative outcome? The people who benefit from slower broadband speeds are legacy content providers like Foxtel. With over 70% of the population covered (but only 30% subscribed) to Foxtel’s pay TV service, the NBN is a direct threat to their business model.

Recent developments in the IPTV (Internet Protocol Television)/OTT (Over The Top) market in the US and Europe mean Foxtel can see that its days are numbered as a virtual monopoly. The only way to prevent ‘cord-cutting’, a term used to describe disconnecting pay TV services, is to stymie broadband development.

The NBN’s plan to decommission Telstra’s HFC network that Foxtel runs on ensures that competition is fostered amongst smaller players in the content delivery market. Murdoch’s press has been very vocal against the ‘wasteful’ NBN since 2010, leading me to believe there’s more to the Coalition’s plan to deliver substandard services to Australian consumers than meets the eye.

The main take-away from Murdoch’s speech at the IPA last week was less regulation, less fostering of development and more ‘freedom’ for corporations. The idea that developing national infrastructure is ‘placating a nation’ is laughable, as there has been little to no development of broadband markets by private organisations over the past decade (transcript of Murdoch’s speech below).

It’s clear that News Ltd’s market reach would be drastically reduced if smaller content providers were able to gain a foothold in this lucrative market. Users would no longer be subject to the whims of a monopoly and Foxtel’s ability to use lock-in contracts would be diminished. Read the rest of this entry »

Can the cross bench deliver citizens accountability from newspapers?

In Margo Kingston, Media Reform on March 27, 2013 at 6:57 PM
Daily Telegraph Front Page 19 March 2013

Daily Telegraph Front Page 19 March 2013

By Margo Kingston,
March 27,  2013

What a predicament. All seven cross benchers and the Government are dissatisfied with the standards of newspapers and want citizens to be protected against their abuse of their power. Julian Disney, who heads the Press Council which administers self-regulation, believes there are ‘substantial problems with media standards in Australia’.

Yet nothing will be done.

Let’s quickly address the blame game. The area is highly dangerous for any government, which is why newspapers have escaped any regulation for so long (see the Finkelstein report on the tortured history of journalists‘ fight to get even limited self regulation).

The government has dithered due to splits in cabinet, leaks to Murdoch papers (presumably from Rudd supporters) and fears of retribution by newspapers clearly barracking for the opposition.

So Gillard and Conroy rammed through Cabinet a set of reforms they believed were weak enough to pass muster with the proprietors and sought to blackmail the cross bench into saying yes or getting nothing.

The plan blew up in their faces. Murdoch media led an overblown and vicious campaign against the reforms. The cross bench was unhappy with the detail and the minimalist nature of the blueprint and refused to meet the deadline. Gillard and Conroy said it’s over, let’s move on.

So the government does lose-lose, angering proprietors with no result. The Opposition makes it clear it will not countenance any strengthening of self-regulation, keeping it onside with the Murdoch media. The chance is lost.

The real losers are the people and good journos who need to be empowered by some accountability for bad journos. As Julian Disney said so eloquently at the Senate inquiry, ‘Absolute freedoms attack freedom’.

Newspapers get protection for journalist’s sources and exemption from the Privacy Act with no obligations in return. And evidence to the Senate inquiry showed that News Limited and Seven owner Kerry Stokes believe there is no public interest in what newspapers separate from self-interest.

Disney articulated the public interest – freedom of expression – and gave evidence that the media standards problem was so significant that newspapers actually impeded the free expression of citizens.

This occurred through distortion, suppression of key facts and opinions, factual errors and invasion of privacy. (The worst example of factual error during the media reform debate was when two senior news limited journalists doctored a quote to falsely accuse Senator Conroy of doctoring a quote.) Read the rest of this entry »

Independent media must take Fairfax’s place

In Fairfax, Margo Kingston, MSM on February 11, 2013 at 2:27 PM

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By Margo Kingston
Source: ABC The Drum
June 25th 2012

So, it’s finally over. Although it has been coming for a long time, really. What happened last week was just the full stop.

Decades of mismanagement and executive asset stripping now sees Fairfax on its knees, bending to Gina. And there is the real prospect that hard copies of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age will cease.

What next?

It is not on to have one big newspaper group in Australia. Fairfax hasn’t done the job of serious, gutsy competition for years, but at least it was there. Now that Murdoch has just bought the excellent online ‘Business Spectator’, that refuge for top Fairfax business reporters and analysts, that vehicle for getting the truth out about Murdoch is no more.

And where’s the protest at the prospect that he will control Foxtel by buying out Packer’s stake? He nearly got a similar prize in the UK until The Guardian finally broke through on phone hacking.

The challenge is much broader than Murdoch, of course. We’re going to be losing many, many journalists, and that means fewer competitors at the micro level. For example, there will be one film critic across Fairfax. And presumably one environment reporter, etc, etc. That gives enormous power to the few now covering special topics, in one way. In another way, though, it weakens their power, because if the boss puts the kybosh on a story, there’s no risk it will be broken elsewhere.

And with Fairfax, a creature of Gina or at best an online-only tabloid site, the ABC comes under enormous threat. What would an Abbott government do to funding? Think John Howard in 1996. Remember Murdoch lobbied hard in Britain to cut funding to the BBC. Without a well-resourced, strong ABC, there is no scrutiny. Just one agenda setter.

All in all, an awful state of affairs for Australia and our democracy. So what is the solution?

The way I see it, the various independent online media groups need to get together, pool their resources, and step up to become a genuine media alternative to Murdoch and the dregs of Fairfax. Media academics could also be around the table.

It will take real money, and as I’ve long argued, the best model is a trust with sufficient capital to finance a long-term project of creating the new Fairfax. I’d like to see Crikey, the Global Mail, New Matilda, and Online Opinion come together. And the best specialist bloggers need to be under the umbrella. Read the rest of this entry »