Ever wondered why the ‘mainstream media’ (MSM) has gone so easy on Scott Morrison and the LNP this election?
‘What’ you say? I thought they were remarkably even handed, he’s had some quite uncomfortable moments, and lost every debate!
Yes, MSM has gone incredibly soft on him (double entendre intended). In this post I’m going to talk first about some egregious corruption that should ensure that no one even thinks of voting LNP this election, and then cover why the media aren’t quite covering it that way.
First, here are some examples of issues where they have been kinder to the Morrison LNP than they were to the Gillard/Rudd Labor government. Much of this comes from the longer list at : https://www.mdavis.xyz/govlist/
A small sample of Morrison government corruption:
- The Morrison government used $800m for paying for carparks and sports facilities (many of which didn’t even qualify for the funding) as a bribe for voters to win the last election.
- The Morrison government responded by cutting funding to the national (fully indpendent) audit office that exposed this corruption.
- Given the narrowness of the election win, this tax payer money can be understood to have directly ‘bought’ power for the LNP. Yet, this has never been mentioned in the media.
- Implemented the ‘Robodebt’ system which cost more money than it recovered, mistakenly accused people of owing money and triggered a number of suicides.
- For comparison, the death of two workers in Labor’s ‘Pink Bats’ scandal led to a Royal Commission and a strong finding against the Rudd government. The LNP even redirected $4m from the Child Sex Abuse Royal Commission to pink bats because those deaths were to be taken so seriously. While a senate committee has called for a Royal Commission into Robodebt, the Morrison government has refused to engage one – and the media is strangely silent on demanding one.
- Paid almost $20m in incentives to encourage the sale of Port of Darwin to China, which Morrison now maintains that they had ‘no say’ over
- to which a vigilant media would respond: ‘why did you pay $20m of tax payers money to achieve that goal then?’
- And, maybe, be a little more cynical about who ‘wins’ out of their increased military expenditure.
- Despite promising a Federal ICAC in the last election campaign, the Morrison LNP has failed to table a viable proposal for that ICAC and voted against proposals, insisting that any corruption investigation be overseen by government (as in, let them run their own investigation).
- And well might this government fear an ICAC as they have repeatedly been implicated in shelling out money to their mates and supporters with no proper process literally dozens of times. Such as:
- $450million on carbon capture and storage projects – none of which were successful, and almost all of which were subsequently cancelled.
- $600m on new gas power plant that was not considered viable by the private sector.
- $15.5m on fossil fuel research.
- $39m to a naval boat manufacturer Austal for meeting key milestones when they DID NOT meet those milestones. However, Austal just happens to have donated $80,000 to the LNP that year (as opposed to a $1500 donation to the Labor party).
- $25k to a US defense contractor blacklisted for bribery.
- Paid a billionaire 10 times the market rate ($30m) for land valued at $3m a year later.
- $50m to APA to develop new gas projects. APA just also happens to donate to the LNP.
- $6.7m in Job Keeper to Harvey Norman, despite them quadrupling their profits during the pandemic. (Academics, musicians and artists got $0 from job keeper)
- $18m on a ‘leadership program’ for young libs, awarded to a shady company with no prior experience, without a tender process.
- Gave $10m of bushfire recovery money to a paper mill that wasn’t affected by the bushfires.
- $200k to a National party media advisor to take photos and videos of bushfire recovery.
- $423m to an inexperienced security provider ‘Paladin’ to supply Manus Island security via an illegitimate ‘limited tender’. The group had only $50,000 to their name when they ‘won’ the ‘limited tender’, so the government advanced them $10m to get started.
- $385m (eventually $1.6B) for a Brisbane construction company with only $8 in assets at the time… but happened to be a LNP donor.
- $443m to Great Barrier Reef foundation to ‘save the reef’ through developing business opportunities. This money was awarded without tender or applicaiton.
- $2.2m on scientifically discredited ‘water fans’ as a solution to reef bleaching.
- $100m loan to BHP and Rio Tinto – because they need the money.
- While all this has been going on, the LNP has refused to legislate for transparency of political donations, loosened political donation laws and has increased the amount of government funding without proper tender process to $34billion per month.
So, considering all this, yes, the media IS going soft on Morrison’s government. And this is why…
Included in the campaign against accountability that the LNP has waged for the past 10 years, it has worked furiously to coddle the commercial media (Newscorp, Fairfax and Seven West) and undermine critical media and journalism.
In terms of coddling, ‘traditional’ media has been thrown into a crisis by the economics of search engines and social media – and long story short – the LNP government has raced to the aid of large media businesses. Note, not journalists (more about this below), but the billionaire business owners. The ‘News Media and Digital Platforms Bargaining Code’ could have offered rewards for insightful journalism that made a public contribution but, instead, it ended up guaranteeing some internet advertising revenue to the largest media companies in Australia – but not the ABC. This is the sort of legislation that is needed but the ‘shape’ of the legislation fits the issues described above – it favours the Murdoch press and big business. That has meant, in turn, that the entirety of the Australian commerical media has really opted NOT to go too hard on Morrison, who has been a great friend. I mean Morrison’s government even gave $345000 to News Corp to build a spelling bee website, there was no tender, no competitive process.
On the other hand, the LNP’s attack on critical journalism has been unprecedented. And I use that term pointedly. Unprecedented.
Like the unprecedented use of the AFP to raid ABC and Newscorp journalists who were collecting evidence of war crimes in Afghanistan and writing about increased state surveillance powers respectively. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-15/abc-raids-australian-federal-police-press-freedom/11309810
Like the unprecedented new laws
which mean Edward Snowden type leaks are punishable by up to 10 years of prison. No exemptions are made for anti-corruption leaks. If journalists report on anyone (including innocent bystanders) being killed accidentally or deliberately by security personnel, they will be jailed for up to 10 years.
The government has shown it means business on this by spending $2m trying to prosecute a whistleblower who leaked truthful information about corruption. It has also changed protest laws so that anyone who tries to object to the governments plans or policies will pretty much forfeit all their rights.
Like the unprecedented attack on the ABC, not just accusing it of not being on ‘Team Australia’ for making critical comments about war crimes, corruption and double dealing, but more importantly chronically defunding Australia’s most trusted source of news and information. The reason the ABC is so trusted is because it doesn’t replicate the cronyism and support that the Murdoch/commercial media does. For the same reason, the government thinks it is ‘left leaning’. No, it is the most objective and accurate source of news Australia has, and still the best source of honest journalists and journalistic training.
As I researched Australian’s media use during the pandemic, it became clear that Australians tend to turn to the ABC in times of crisis. Think of the pandemic, the bushfires, the floods. How reliant are we on the excellent journalism of the ABC at these times? And yet the Morrison and Abbott government defunded it to the tune of around $250 million dollars over the past 10 years. As a media scholar studying the proliferation of misinformation online, I can tell you that the quality journalism that the ABC offers has never been more crucial. So why defund it? Because it occasionally offers valid criticism of nepotism and corruption.
Finally, the Morrison government hasn’t just attacked critical voices in journalism, but also the training of critical thinkers (and journalists) in our universities. When considering how we could change university funding to encourage ‘job ready graduates’ the Morrison government ramped up the costs for training in journalism, critical thinking and anything else that challenged the ‘status quo’. For me, this is where the corruption becomes endemic – it is an attempt to ensure that not only does this government get away with it, but that future governments will too.
Don’t take my word on any of this, you can google any of these talking points and ‘do your own research’. At the same time check out https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/ and see how your local LNP member has voted on issues like a Federal ICAC and University funding just to check that I’m not smearing them. I’m not. This is what they are doing.
They are trying to destroy our democracy by making corruption endemic, and the media has been bought along for the ride.