Ol’ Blind Joe
Shut up – or else
By Stirling Hamilton
‘TIS A sad tale today I tell, but true.
We could have won the Melbourne Cup but our own government have hobbled the favourite and are backing a broken down nag unfit to get a job doing a milk run.
Laura Tingle, the chief political correspondent of the ABC asked an anonymous and senior governmental figure if Morrison might call a truce in the culture wars.
The response came with a snort: “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“If anything, this government is more ideologically driven than Abbott”.Read more
Morrison can let Covid-19 make the cuts for him, and hence devastate the coalition’s longstanding foes – the public service, the ABC, the arts and the tertiary education sector – through government negligence rather than active measures.
Since Tony Abbott took office in 2013 after an election promise of no cuts to the ABC, coalition governments have withdrawn a total of $800 million in the broadcaster’s funding.
After six years of cumulative budget cuts by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison administrations, the total effective reduction in ABC funding will amount to $A105.9 million per year by 2022.
An ABC journalist lost their job the other day, one of hundreds to go this year, and thousands in the past decade.
But the departure of Emma Alberici as chief economics correspondent is not just a story about another job lost.
It’s a story of how those job losses are remaking Australian journalism for the worse and a sign of the growing conformity in traditional media, including the ABC.
In September 2018 a dossier compiled by then ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie was leaked, revealing an email in which Justin Milne, then chair of the ABC, told her to get rid of Alberici, declaring the government “hate her”.
Milne had been concerned also with the work of political editor Andrew Probyn.
He wanted Guthrie to “shoot” Probyn because the government hated him also and his continued presence was putting at risk half-a-billion dollars in funding for the ABC.
This message – mute your criticism of the government and government policy “or else” – has also been absorbed by arts and educational organisations.
Uni staff excluded
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg intervened three times to ensure universities could not access JobKeeper payments intended to keep their staff employed.
The situation became so dire that staff took voluntary pay cuts to try to save their colleagues’ jobs.
Revenue declines were estimated at almost $5 billion in 2020 alone.
The Liberal government has cut funding to TAFE by $3 billion since 2013, with the number of apprentices falling by 140,000 people over that same period, and the number of TAFE providers declining by almost 40 per cent in the past five years alone.
Basic services like water, energy, health care and education build the foundation for healthy, just and sustainable communities.
All over the world, citizens, public authorities and labour unions have been mobilising to bring these vital services and infrastructures back into public hands after a vicious period of privatisation, where financial profit was put before social need and the communities’ wealth.
Mass media throughout the western world are uncritically passing along press releases from the US intelligence community and ASIO because that’s what passes for journalism in a world where God is dead and everything is stupid.
Several reports about American funding of Australian organisations included the revelation that in 2018-19 the US State Department funnelled $90,000 into the coffers of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) through the London-based shadowy organisation, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
More recently, ASPI received a further $203,000 from the US State Department passed on by the US Embassy in Canberra.
It appears neither payment was publicly disclosed and both the payments and their clandestine nature are cause for concern.
ASPI is publicly funded, receiving $4 million in grants from the government and, it seems, additional lucrative contracts from the Defence Department.
It also receives significant money from arms’ manufacturers like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and Northrop Grumman.
With a staff of 50, it is one of the most well-funded think tanks in the country.
It is also influential, promoting itself as “an independent, non-partisan think tank”, the source of objective and dispassionate assessment.
This is obviously the reason why it receives so much attention from the mainstream media, with such spokesmen as Peter Jennings and Michael Shoebridge commentators of choice for both the ABC and SBS television.
Of even greater concern is their sudden, recent determination to make an enemy of our overwhelmingly important trading partner.
They are rabidly Sinophobic and never miss an opportunity to smear China and peddle fear.
In a move that could kill Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement with China and, potentially, multiple other university agreements, The Conversation reports that the Morrison government is seeking legislative powers to cancel foreign agreements with state, territory and local governments and public universities.
This is the most egregious foreign policy blunder since John Howard’s reckless decision to join George Bush’s invasion of Iraq and may prove even more consequential.
And it was all done without public debate or even comment from the lily-livered ALP opposition.
Was there ever a better illustration of following the lead of the United States even at the cost of Australia’s long-term national interest?
“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”– John Kenneth Galbraith economist, public official and diplomat (1908-2006).