Repost on request from Sep 2009. News Ltd have once again manipulated Australian politics to the point an ex-employee is running for PM of Australia next Saturday.
Yesterday I discussed my gut reaction to a segment on Fox News in the US on one of their cable TV talk shows. As an Australian watching another (ex)Australians television network instructing people what to hate about 'other' Americans, I have to take issue with this.
It may be that too often though that one watches the personalities on Fox News Network, Bill O, Hannity and Beck without remembering that the station itself and the organization is ruled by a single man. The overriding ideology, what you are seeing which is labelled as News, is simply a public airing of the belief structure and comes with the express approval of one man. This gives that individual incredible power over public opinion and it is international influence where this power is wielded.
Rupert Murdoch, 78 years of age, born in 1931 and raised in Melbourne Australia, only became an American out of convenience in 1985 when he was 54 years of age.
On 4 September 1985, Murdoch became a naturalised citizen to satisfy the legal requirement that only United States citizens could own American television stations.
Now I don't know about you but if you have lived 54 years of your life, NOT a citizen of a country and change your citizenship simply because it allows you a way around the existing laws in a country, then you are not really going to consider nor defend that country as your national home now are you? And certainly not as much as someone who was born, raised and had also raised his or her own children on American soil.
Conversely, if you abandon your place of birth to resettle to another country and change nationality, particularly at an advanced age and already with adult children, do you really have any patriotic loyalties anywhere?
Recognizing this, that this is a man without a true country, one which he feels and maintains a connection with the people, makes it a little easier to understand how he could spread his message of intolerance throughout the world as easily as he does.
His father Sir Keith Murdoch was heavily in debt when he died in 1952, but possessed within a private family trust a considerable number of newspaper shares, some of which may have actually belonged to The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd. The trustees, in consultation with Rupert's mother, Lady Murdoch (now Dame Elisabeth Murdoch), were forced to sell many of the shares and other property in order to pay death duties and repay debt.
At the age of 21 Rupert, his mother and 3 sisters lost their Father, Sir Keith. Up until this time Mr Murdoch and his family life had been one of wealth and privilege, however Mr Murdoch returned from Oxford, England, following his fathers death in 1953 to a family which found itself burdened by debts due to this inopportune demise. At such a young age having the triple burden of losing a father, finding your inheritance was not what you thought and also your mother and sisters imperilled by sudden lack of wealth, what happens to a young mans dreams and aspirations?
Does one go from an attitude of looking forward with hope to what the future has laid out for him, to one of taking what he can to provide for his family, never backing away from a fight, and coveting those things he once believed he was entitled in life?
This is something only Rupert Murdoch would really know, however, at the age of 21, Mr Murdoch was thrust into a position of great responsibility becoming the managing director of News Limited. One could say someone thrown in the deep end. Rupert was an incredibly motivated individual, it seems, 'a dynamic business operator', according to Wiki, and proceeded to target and takeover suburban and provincial newspapers throughout Australia. At the age of 32, he fought and won a four way struggle for control of a New Zealand newspaper against some powerful international media magnates including Lord Thompson of Fleet, who eventually saw success in partnership with J. Paul Getty finding oil and gas in the North Sea. And in the same year, 1964 Rupert Murdoch established Australia's first national daily newspaper, The Australian.
During this time, Mr Murdoch was learning well the advantages of using his media properties to influence the politics of the day and the pay offs he could achieve. Not incremental pay offs either but those able to change the direction of your fortune by a large measure.
Murdoch found a political ally in John McEwen
McEwen repaid Murdoch's support later by helping him to buy his valuable rural property Cavan, and then arranged a clever subterfuge by which Murdoch was able to transfer a large sum of money from Australia to England in order to finalize the purchase of The News of the World without obtaining the required authority from the Australian Treasury.
Jumping forward to 1974, Mr Murdoch now aged 43, had already accumulated the ability to influence much of the public opinion throughout Australia, and recognized at this point just how powerful his news organization could be in the world of National politics.
Consider the following exerpts from Wikipedia on Rupert Murdoch:
In 1972, Murdoch acquired the Sydney morning tabloid The Daily Telegraph from Australian media mogul Sir Frank Packer, …
Murdoch threw his growing power behind the Australian Labor Party under the leadership of Gough Whitlam and duly saw it elected... in 1972 on a social platform that included universal free health care, free education for all Australians to tertiary level, recognition of the People's Republic of China, and public ownership of Australia's oil, gas and mineral resources.
Rupert Murdoch's flirtation with Whitlam turned out to be brief.
As the Whitlam government began to lose public support following its re-election in 1974, Murdoch turned against Whitlam and supported the Governor-General's dismissal of the Prime Minister.
When given the opportunity to influence the Australian electoral process through public opinion, Murdoch is instrumental in getting a new government elected. He then flip flops with his support, deciding that he doesn't like the direction of the governments programs, but rather than wait for elections to come around again and the people choose to vote Whitlam out of power, Murdoch turns on the DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED government he initially backed and through his Australian media empire is instrumental in turning public opinion on them so much so they are constitutionally dismissed.
The 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, commonly called The Dismissal, refers to the events that culminated with the removal of Australia's then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, by Governor-General Sir John Kerr and appointing the Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Fraser as caretaker Prime Minister. It has been described as the greatest political and constitutional crisis in Australia's history.
Using a series of recent scandals as justification, the Senate announced it would defer any voting on the annual supply bills that appropriated funds for government expenditure until the Prime Minister called an election for the House of Representatives.
So by the time Mr Murdoch is 43/44, he has had the experience of being actively involved in first getting a government elected then destroying a democratically elected government bypassing the democratic process altogether. He does this via the influence of his media enterprise.
Also note the tactic adopted by the opposition party was one of complete non-cooperation in the parliamentary process. In other words they became the party of 'NO', sit still, refuse to do anything in order to cause a crisis and get the government prematurely dismissed.
They destroyed the democratic process and Rupert was right there assisting in pulling the levers.
How does one top this for such a motivated and driven man? Rupert expands internationally of course and having already seen in action his media empires ability to control public opinion, Murdoch always figures prominent with those who eventually climb to positions of great power over the populace.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, Murdoch's publications were generally supportive of the UK's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. At the end of the Thatcher/Major era, Murdoch switched his support to the Labour Party and the party's leader Tony Blair. The closeness of his relationship with Blair and their secret meetings to discuss national policies was to become a political issue in Britain.
In 2006, the UK’s Independent newspaper reported that Murdoch would offer Tony Blair a senior role in his global media company News Corp. when the UK prime minister stood down from office.
Rupert Murdoch discovered very early in life that through his media establishments if he helped out politicians, the favors would be repayed in multiples.
That if he ever chose to take down a government, such as he did by turning his newspapers negative on Gough Whitlam after having previously supported him and thus been bought into his confidence, he could. He would also be very aware that this would give him control over the democratically elected governments actions and influence over the policies they adopted.
In other words, the power that Rupert Murdoch wields through his media empire is more than any politician could ever hope for.
If Murdoch decides to help, you'll do OK.
If he decides not to help, the other guy will win.
And if after a short time, after he has laid the ground work to make you and the general public believe he is supporting you but he actually intends to destroy your government, he will.
These things have already occurred throughout Rupert Murdoch's life so he would believe them to be true and the power that he wields over nations empirical or absolute.
Now consider someone who uses the press to create public sentiment amongst the general population enough to get a government elected or dismissed. That influencing politicians to bend to your will is an activity you have partaken in consistently. What about if you have a business whose employee practices you don't agree with? Along with being brutal to those he targets, Murdoch does not have any concern or compassion for those surplus to his business needs.
A personal Anecdote
Back in the 1990's I worked on a project in Australia. Being a young tradesman, an electrician, I was a member of the Trade Union. The project I was working on at the time had multiple buildings being constructed and as a result the company who owned the plant had decided to contract the individual areas out to about 3 or 4 different electrical companies. The fact was all the electricians were doing essentially the same work on the same site, on the same project, at the same time but for different electrical companies.
What the company who owned the site did though was make sure that every sub contracted electrical company paid their workers different hourly rates.
After a period of time the union discovered that electrical workers in building A were earning about a dollar less an hour than electrical workers in building B. Further, the company which owned the site had made sure that the electrical firm which had the most workers had over 50% of the electricians, a majority and they were being paid more than the smaller contractors. In other words, the intent was to keep the peace via majority being treated favorably, deliberately discriminate, to hopefully divide and conquer.
I was working for the larger company.
The company which owned the site refused to negotiate in good faith to get the pay disparity addressed and bring the guys doing the same work as us up to the same hourly rates. So after the union had exhausted all means possible to get the organization to see the inequality they had introduced, deliberately it seemed, we voted as a group to go on strike, withdraw our labor.
We all figured the company which owned the site would see that what they were doing was discriminatory and correct the problem.
However what happened was this. Within about 2 weeks the main company had gotten together with a major law firm and hired people to deliver threatening legal documents, maybe a summons or a writ, that threatened individual union members with delaying the project and would claim financial damages which would run into millions of dollars. These people who delivered the summons were serving them on the wives of some of these men, or on to the children of some others and in my case as I was still a young guy, to my mother.
They then followed this up with a concerted media push to sully the workers and union reputation in the press, and additional phone calls to the wives and homes of the protesting workers. Pure and simple intimidation and the tactics of inciting fear.
Prior to the strike, we had been waiting some time for the large machine we were installing to turn up on site. It was discovered later that it had turned up only a few days before the company finally agreed to talk and 7 weeks were up.
So we had around 130 men, 50 or so who were those subjected to pay discrimination, and the other 80 with nothing to gain except equality for their counterparts, going on strike to demonstrate that this form of pay discrimination and union busting was unconscionable. We all lost 7 weeks pay, many had difficulty paying the bills, the mortgages or putting food on the table, the only one who really won was the company as it had given itself breathing space to get their new machine shipped and through customs. They had the law turned loose against the spouses and children of the workers to further scare these tradespeople and look for a way to divide their resolve.
Murdoch believes these tactics are quite acceptable and early on has waged his own battles against the working man.
The unions had been led to assume that Murdoch intended to launch a new London evening newspaper from those premises, but he had kept secret his intention to relocate all the News titles there. The bitter dispute at Fortress Wapping started with the dismissal of 6000 employees who had gone on strike and resulted in street battles, demonstrations and a great deal of bad publicity for Murdoch. Many suspected that the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher had colluded in the Wapping affair as a way of damaging the British trade union movement.
He also has plenty of reason to have built a misconception of the working man as someone to be battled either with force, bribery, cajoling or outright manipulation to win concessions and control over at all costs.
When you think about it though, the simple working man is no real challenge for Murdoch. His arena is one which powerful businessmen, politicians and enormous, established organizations are those which he chooses to team up with, do battle with or fool into a false sense of security.
In Australia for a lot of years, another media magnate, Kerry Packer, had held an equitable position to Rupert Murdoch but mostly in television and magazines, not so much newspapers. In the 1990's Murdoch was rolling out an international push to expand his pay or cable TV reach. In Australia this included going after the Rugby League cable television rights which were held by Mr Packer. Much acrimonious behavior ensued, court battles included, with Murdoch going 'all in' building, essentially from nothing, a completely new national rugby league and poaching players from the existing one by offering lucrative contracts. In other words in Murdochs strategic thinking, an 'all in' mentality irrespective of the disruptions caused, short term cost to his business, lies told or lives destroyed, is completely acceptable. In Murdoch's mind, the ends always justifies the means.
The corporate dispute commonly referred to as the Super League war was fought in and out of court during the mid-1990s by the News Ltd-backed Super League and Kerry Packer-backed Australian Rugby League organisations over broadcasting rights, and ultimately control of the top-level professional rugby league football competition of Australasia.
The same has been repeated wherever Rupert Murdoch has set his sights. Adopting the lowest common denominator, fighting in the gutter is encouraged, as every battle it seems is waged in order to win and destroy his target, or obtain serious controlling concessions. Take for instance his battle with Ted Turner, founder of CNN, which became very public when Murdoch was bringing the Fox News Network to life or a recent battle, again over sports broadcasting, with another Australian media magnate who has risen in prominence over the past few years.
The subject of Murdoch's alleged anti-competitive business practices resurfaced in September 2005.
Stokes claims that News Corp. and PBL (along with several other media organizations) colluded to force C7 out of business by using undue influence to prevent C7 from gaining vital broadcast rights to major sporting events.
Fox News Network - The Crowning Jewel for manipulating the public
Established on October 7 1996, the Fox News channel was designed to make use of the most eye-catching, attention grabbing graphics and unleash the adrenalin of its viewers to a high level, unseen in existing network news.
From the beginning, FNC has placed heavy emphasis on visual presentation. Graphics were designed to be colorful and attention grabbing and to allow people to get the main points of what was being said even if they could not hear the host, through the use of on-screen text summarizing the position of the interviewer or speaker and "bullet points" when a host was giving commentary.
Interspersed throughout the Fox shows are genuine 'human interest' stories intended to calm, to bring that adrenalin level right back down, alleviate some of the shock and outrage built during the talk show host segments. Fox News Extra is designed to take its viewers back to a place they can either see themselves in, or show such heart warming stories, that the viewer finds themselves feeling a sense of empathy, of connection with the people, places or subjects in the stories. Regular people often doing extraordinary things.
Fox News also created the "Fox News Alert," which interrupted regular programming when a breaking news story occurred.
Being a strategic thinker, and one never to shy away from long term payoffs, Newscorp bought its way into viewers homes by making sure that the cable service providers were paid a fee for each subscriber. In other words purchasing the heart and souls of its viewers.
To accelerate its adoption by cable companies, Fox News paid systems up to $11 per subscriber to distribute the network
As I explained above, Murdoch is merciless. When things didn't go his way, he took on another Cable TV operator, an American named Ted Turner. Luckily Murdochs games of trading positive coverage for political support in his business expansion plans were rewarded with the help of a guy named Rudolph Giuliani.
Time Warner selected MSNBC as the secondary news network, instead of Fox News. Fox News claimed that this violated an agreement to carry Fox News. Citing its agreement to keep its U.S. headquarters and a large studio in New York City, News Corporation pressured Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration to pressure Time Warner,
And then the fight got nasty.
This led to an acrimonious battle between Murdoch and Turner, with Turner publicly comparing Murdoch to Adolf Hitler while Murdoch's New York Post ran an editorial questioning Turner's sanity. Giuliani's motives were also questioned, as his wife was a producer at Murdoch-owned WNYW-TV.
Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner are long-standing rivals
I will not go into the misuse of a News channel during the Clinton years, nor what was planned in advance for 2000 but will mention that the Murdoch enterprise was used to make part of America believe it was acting in its own good, when in fact it was not.
A war and the build up to a war is a great way to trigger adrenalin in people, keep them tuning in and thus boost ratings. Fox was relentless in its case for invading Iraq and were rewarded with elevated ratings.
During the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all 175 Murdoch-owned newspapers worldwide editorialized in favor of the war. Murdoch also served on the board of directors of the libertarian Cato Institute
FNC saw huge growth in its ratings during the early stages of the Iraq conflict. By some reports, at the height of the conflict they enjoyed as much as a 300 percent increase in viewership, averaging 3.3 million viewers daily
I recently visited the United States, at a time when a fantastic measure, covering all Americans so that they are able to stay healthy, was working its way through the parliamentary process. I have previously tried on 3 occassions to explain the health care we, in Rupert Murdochs mother country, where he got his start, Australia have enjoyed for well over 35 years.
Australia - Public Health-Care since 1975
10 reasons why an Australian prefers universal health coverage
Exxon makes $50B deal in Universal Health Care Country
In fact if you remember back earlier when I told you that Mr Murdoch helped destroy a democratically elected government in Australia, it was about the same time as Universal Health care was introduced... he destroyed the government who introduced it.
Medibank was the name given to Australia's system of universal health insurance when it was first created by Gough Whitlam's Australian Labor Party government in 1975.
Murdoch threw his growing power behind the Australian Labor Party under the leadership of Gough Whitlam and duly saw it elected....
....in 1974, Murdoch turned against Whitlam and supported the Governor-General's dismissal of the Prime Minister
This has me thinking is Rupert Murdoch doing it again?
Has he pretended to be non-combative, almost empathetic to Barack Obama and of course Australia's new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, waited until they were elected and is his next big challenge to have them thrown out in disgrace by convincing people of some great outrage that is simply blown out of all proportion?
There are a number of indicators that Murdoch is trying to poison the democratically elected governments public profile in both these countries, not wait for elections and let the people decide and by extension destroy democracy once again. Maybe this time he'll finish off once and for all rule by the people for the people and make it rule by whatever the hell Fox News wants.
Lets first examine Australia.
John Howard, like George W. Bush, was in power for much of the start of the 21st century. Howard, elected in 1996 remained in power until the election in 2007 or 11 years. Almost the entire time of George Bush's tenure.
Throughout his administration, Howard pursued the politics of using 'wedge' issues to keep Australians clearly divided on issues not necessarily those directly impacting ordinary people, but issues which ignited passion and easily delineated positions ie you are working with us or against us. Adrenalin politics.
To win his second term in office the wedge issues included starting an argument over whether or not Australia should become a Republic and elect our own head of State replacing the Queen.
In 1998, Howard convened a Constitutional Convention which decided in principle that Australia should become a Republic.
He also kept the issue of apologizing to the indigenous population, Australia's Aborigines who had been subjected to bad government policies in the past, alive so as to maintain a 'wedge' issue which he used to political advantage.
Throughout his prime-ministership, Howard was resolute in his refusal to provide a parliamentary "apology" to Indigenous Australians as recommended by the 1997 “Bringing Them Home” Report. Howard argued this was inappropriate
On indigenous Australian's gaining rights to native title over the land
Following the Wik Decision of the High Court in 1996, John Howard's government moved swiftly to legislate limitations on its possible implications through the so-called Ten-Point Plan.
And destroying unions high on the governments agenda.
The Australian waterfront dispute of 1998 was a severe and protracted industrial relations dispute... Patrick Corporation had the support of the Howard Government
To get elected to a third term, illegal immigration, asylum seekers were used as a political wedge. Where the government deliberately distorted live pictures of a boat load of asylum seekers being shown throwing their children off a boat called the Tampa. As it turned out, they had been instructed to do so by the authorities.
The Children Overboard affair was an Australian political controversy involving public allegations by Howard government ministers in October 2001, in the lead-up to a federal election, that sea-faring asylum seekers had thrown children overboard in a presumed ploy to secure rescue and passage to Australia.
The government was able to portray itself as "strong" on border protection measures and opponents as "weak"
Howard was also assisted in winning the election with the 'National security' message because of what happened on September 11 2001.
Howard had first met US President George W. Bush in the days before the September 11 terrorist attacks and was in Washington the morning of the attacks
The same message of National Security along with elevating the Howard governments achievement in building a relatively strong economy were used to claim his fourth term.
Howard claimed that Democratic nomination candidate Barack Obama's stance on the war would encourage terrorism in Iraq
And just to keep this relevant to this piece consider these two comments. One before the 2006 Australian election where John Howard was elected for a fourth term...
Murdoch lauds PM's 'courage and vision'
And one during his fourth term, prior to the lead up to the election where John Howard was defeated...
Howard should quit while he's ahead: Murdoch
Kevin Rudd was elected to government on November 24, 2007, defeating John Howard who had been in power by that stage for 11 years.
As the rhetoric has ramped up on Fox News Channel in the United States against Barack Obama, so it has also ramped up in Newscorp Newspapers in Australia against Kevin Rudd.
The current opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull, has close business ties from years past with Rupert Murdoch's relatives.
During the 2007 election campaign, Turnbull announced that the then Government, would contribute $10 million to the investigation of an untried Russian technology that aims to trigger rainfall from the atmosphere, even when there are no clouds. The Australian Rain Corporation presented research documents written in Russian, explained by a Russian researcher who spoke to local experts in Russian.
It was also revealed that a prominent stakeholder in the Australian Rain Corporation, Matt Handbury, is a nephew of Rupert Murdoch.
Newscorp in Australia
These are the Australian Newspapers Rupert Murdoch owns:
Australias total population - 20,848,760
The Australian (Nationwide) - Readership 449,000
Queensland - Population 4,228,290
Community Media Group (16 QLD & NSW suburban/regional titles)
Cumberland-Courier Newspapers (26 suburban/commuter titles)
The Courier-Mail (Queensland) Readership 614,000
The Sunday Mail (Queensland) Readership 1,473,000
The Cairns Post (Cairns, Queensland)
The Gold Coast Bulletin (Gold Coast, Queensland)
The Townsville Bulletin (Townsville, Queensland)
Quest Newspapers (19 suburban Brisbane, QLD titles)
The Tablelands Advertiser (Atherton Tablelands and the Far North, Queensland)
New South Wales Population - 6,926,990
The Daily Telegraph (New South Wales) Readership 1,158,000
The Sunday Telgraph (New South Wales) Readership 1,758,000
Victoria - Population 5,246,079
Herald Sun (Victoria) Readership Readership - 1,467,000
Sunday Herald Sun (Victoria) Readership - 1,532,000
The Weekly Times (Victoria)
Leader Newspapers (30 suburban Melbourne, VIC titles)
MX (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane CBD)
The Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Victoria)
South Australia - Population 1,591,930
The Advertiser (South Australia) Readership - 542,000
The Sunday Mail (South Australia) Readership - 739,000
Messenger Newspapers (11 suburban Adelaide, SA titles)
Western Australia - Population 2,130,797
The Sunday Times (Western Australia) Readership - 840,000
Tasmania - Population 495,772
The Mercury (Tasmania) Readership 128,000
The Sunday Tasmanian (Tasmania) Readership 142,000
Northern Territory - Population 217,559
Northern Territory News (Northern Territory)
The Sunday Territorian (Northern Territory)
Readership statistics for these papers
Newscorp and by voting rights, Rupert Murdoch's almost complete domination of the press and public opinion in Australia is overwhelming. And he is very smart with the target markets he pursues.
The Australian, a National broadsheet designed for the political savvy. The Courier Mail, Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, Advertiser, Mercury are filled with general interest stories and elevate sports reporting to a very high level of importance. These papers have a high distribution amongst the working class. I should know, as they were pretty much the only paper I would read as a construction worker or tradesperson.
The Weekly Times is a national paper which is specifically written for the agricultural or farming community.
All of the provincial and local newspapers are just to complete the saturation and dominance within the Australian market place.
Of course this was no accident for Rupert with John Howard, Australia's previous Prime Minister, an active supporter of relaxing or eliminating our media ownership laws.
There are rules governing foreign ownership of Australian media and these rules were being considered for loosening by the former Howard Government.
So when the Murdoch Press machine chooses to tackle an issue, or politician, establishing conventional wisdom is not that much of a challenge in Australia with this level of concentration of the press.
Joel Fitzgibbon, Australia's defence minister
Remembering that the Howard Government was in power for almost 11 years, one has to recognize that in this time many public servants would have been appointed, trained and promoted within the ranks who owe their livelihood to his government (now out of power). In particular, defence is one area where government appointees of the day may have strong residual affection and relationships with the party which fought for and funded their activities for 11 years.
So it comes as no surprise that the following happened.
29 October 2007 the Australian Defence Force have a new fighter jet project operating which is not providing value for money. Four corners do an expose on this.
21 November 2007 opinion piece detailing the failings of the Howard government in relation to cost containment and making decisions based on fact relating to Defence department projects. In other words not focussed on results but political perception.
24 November 2007 Kevin Rudd and Labour elected in Australian elections
January 5 2008 Kevin Rudd warns defence that poorly performing projects he calls 'duds' are at risk of losing funding and support
January 30 2008 Joel Fitzgibbon strongly criticizes the department he now heads, Defence, for its past wasteful actions in respect to contracts let not delivering
February 19 2008 Joel Fitzgibbon criticizes the Afghanistan campaign as 'going backwards' claiming not enough resources are in country
March 5 2008 Joel Fitzgibbon axes a $1 Billion program to supply the ADF with Sea Sprite helicopters which had seen numerous massive budget blow outs
19 March 2008 Joel Fitzgibbon claims the defence department budget and finances managed by the previous administration for 11 years are “A Mess”
September 2 2008 Joel Fitzgibbon claims Australian SAS troops kept Taliban prisoners in a Dog Pen to which they admitted
October 7 2008 Joel Fitzgibbon supports claims of the British leader of trooops that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable
February 25 2009 The SAS pay bungle which is the responsibility of the SAS has been twisted into an attack on the minister. The $50,000 overpayments turn out to be the Depr of Defences fault
February 27 2009 the opposition party has 'misinterpreted' the SAS soldiers pay slips. They had already begun the public smear campaign
March 1 2009 Joe Hockey, opposition defence spokesman, claims that the SAS troops may resign over pay mistakes
March 3 2009 Joel Fitzgibbon 'at war' with his own department over the SAS pay dispute
March 26 2009 Joel Fitzgibbon has been investigated BY HIS OWN DEPARTMENT for staying at a Chinese businesswomans sublet apartment in Canberra
March 26 2009 Defence is asked to investigate itself of claims it was spying on its own department head
March 26 2009 Joel Fitzgibbon forced to apologize for failing to declare 2 trips in 2002 and 2005 he went on were paid for by his friend of 20 years, landlord Helen Liu
March 27 2009 Defence watchdog to investigate the defence department possible spying on Joel Fitzgibbons computer. ASIO also declares Helen Liu was not a person of interest.
March 28 2009 Defence Department Employees illegally accessed Mr Fitzgibbons computer
March 28 2009 Mark Fitzgibbons brother, head of NIB, claims that there was nothing untoward in his discussions with his brother over Defence department health care. NOTE: NIB do not have any contracts with DOD
March 29 2009 Further smear campaigning of Helen Liu as some sort of spy
May 30 2009 News Corp pre-empting claims that internal members of the Defence department DID NOT SPY on him
May 31 2009 News Corp use another paper to 'mock' Joel Fitrzgibbon as 'parading' as a fake soldier
April 1 2009 an independent review of the Defence department vindicates Joel Fitzgibbon claims that the soldiers DID in fact receive their pay despite the pay slips showing zero.
April 3 2009 NAB one of Australias largest banks form an alliance with NIB the company Joel Fitzgibbons brother is a managing director of.
April 4 2009 Article from a Non-Newscorp newspaper about the accusations of influence peddling from Helen Liu.
April 9 2009 News claims the Helen Liu's ties to 'The Chinese Government' are through the Bank of China who was her businesses banker
April 10 2009 Opposition figures claim Mr Fitzgibbon is a dead man walking. Note News Corp now use as fact “Chinese government linked business run by Helen Liu” despite the only link being they owned for a time the bank she banked with
4 June 2009 News Corp report on opposition claims that Joel Fitzgibbon had claimed accommodation allowance over 2 days when someone else picked up his hotel tab
4 June 2009 Joel Fitzgibbon resigns as Defence minister at a time when North Korea are being very threatening. In effect over a non-issue Newscorp puts Australia's defence at risk.
5 June 2009 the meeting turns out it actually had many insurance industry lobbyists involved, Joel Fitzgibbons staff did not inform him of it nor follow protocol where his brother was concerned.
5 June 2009 Joel Fitzgibbon explaining that he was targeted by DOD
5 June 2009 Newscorp paint the picture brining all the smears together in one nice neat package
5 June 2009 So the actual story is that his brother met a US insurance company head in Joel Fitzgibbons office with some of his staff memberspresent and then didn't tell him about it.
6 June 2009 Joel Fitzgibbons Father claims he was targeted by unfriendly DOD leaders as they did not want a civilian leading the department
8 June 2009 Opposition leaders claim they are not finished with Joel Fitzibbon
So a new minister who appears to be trying to shake up the budgetary discipline of the defence department, increase the level of accountability, first has inferences drawn that he is illegitimately working with a Chinese person possibly compromising his position.
Next, a pay dispute where the Defence Department overpaid our Special Armed Services soldiers and when the overpayments were discovered, somehow turns into Joel Fitzgibbons fault, the defence minister being responsible for disadvantaging our soldiers and heartlessly docking their pay.
At the same time slandered in the press for being a 'fake soldier'
Finally without his express knowledge or permission, Fitzgibbon's staff scheduled a meeting in his office between his brother, a high level manager of an Australian health insurance fund, and the US defence force. It was this meeting, knowledge of which was leaked to the press BEFORE Joel Fitzgibbon was even aware of it, eventually forced his resignation with the implication being pushed by the press that he was using his office to help his friends and family.
Although there was no specific ongoing thread where News Corp could be shown to have advance knowledge and thus have created this story, simultaneously something else was going on which, in my opinion shows this was act one in a two act game. First delegitimize the Defence minister and then....
Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swann, 'Utegate' and a forged email
OK go back to that last comment about opposition leaders not 'being finished' with Joel Fitzgibbon. This sounds like someone who has just destroyed the political career of a person, as Mr Fitzgibbon resigned on 4 June, simply seeking further retribution for what was simply a concocted outrage blown out of all proportion in the first place with the help in no small part of our press, Newscorp included.
So what were they up to?
At the same time as this witch hunt over Joel Fitzgibbon was going on, another story was being pushed in the press. Note I have tried to use all Newscorp releases here.
June 4 2009 Opposition declares intent to continue to pursue the possibility of influence of PM in relation to OzCar scheme. John Grant is Mr Rudds neighbour and long time friend who donated a ute to Rudds campaign. A $5000 ute at best
This was the ute.
Ridiculous right? Wrong. Remember, IMO this is Murdoch trying to shake down a democratically elected government.
News has been supposedly just 'reporting' on Joel Fitzgibbon's demise, but is now pushing the line that maybe the leader of the Australian government has a bit of corruption going on as well. Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge.
16 June 2009 And then this - calls for a senate investigation into 'Utegate' or PM Rudds and Wayne Swans association with Grant and OzCar
This is the 16th June. At this time in Australia, both Houses of Parliament were sitting, the Senate and House of Representatives, and there was a recess coming up for the month of July.
What possible legislation was scheduled for discussion?
One major one for June was the Carbon Pollution reduction Scheme. How convenient it would be if the legislation was not even discussed.
Now I don't usually do this, but the entire week of the 22 to 26 June I was home and watched parliament live on a new Australian Political Channel. Leading up to this however was a mock controversy created literally out of 'thin air' by the opposition party which accused the sitting government of corruption. They used this mock controversy to run out the clock completely on discussing any legislation related to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. In fact in the Senate, they voted Not to even bring the legislation up for a vote.
Amazingly the centrepiece of the contrived controversy, an email supposedly from the Treasurer's office, was able to make its way into the News Corp headlines before parliament and the story grew from there.
Jun 18, 2009 - Newscorp Headlines
Kevin Rudd facing allegations of misleading Parliament
Heat on Kevin Rudd over help for car dealer mate
Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan in row over car dealer
Old boys' network a headache for PM Kevin Rudd
PM's turn to face grilling over car dealer mate
PM faces car scrutiny
Turnbull denies threatening Rudd staffer Andrew Charlton
Wayne Swan, Malcolm Turnbull clash on Kevin Rudd and John Grant
Turnbull denies threatening Rudd staffer Andrew Charlton
New claims Kevin Rudd misled Parliament over car deal
Turnbull threatened staffer over OzCar: Swan
Rudd adviser Andrew Charlton says Turnbull called him a liar
Ford executive says Treasury gave him car dealer's number
Ozcar threat claim inaccurate, says Turnbull
Swan's office 'lobbied on behalf of Rudd mate'
Jun 19, 2009
PM's office contacted Treasury official on behalf of Kevin Rudd's ...
Treasury official speaks on PM scandal
Rudd, Swan misled Parliament - Turnbull
Rudd stands by car deal denial
'Email is a fake' states Rudd
Turnbull puts blowtorch on Rudd, Swan over ute claims
Seemingly innocuous email threatens to derail Kevin Rudd
The PM and the ute
Somebody's version wrong
Crisis endangers Swan's career
Official 'leaned on' to help Rudd's mate John Grant
Kevin Rudd orders inquiry into mystery email over ute
Turnbull should put up or shut up - Tanner
Turnbull denies making threats to top adviser
Kevin Rudd launches full enquiry into OzCar affair
Car dealer: 'I didn't ask for favours'
AND HERE IS THE CLINCHER
Turnbull: Swan should resign over OzCar affair
Wayne Swan hits back over OzCar email
Turnbull denies involvement
Police to check if utegate email was faked
June 20 2009
Police to investigate email
Malcolm Turnbull never saw Kevin Rudd email
Treasurer Wayne Swan has most to lose in ute affair
Kevin rudd and car dealer members of elite club
Openness is the first casualty
First political rule is don't lie
Three men and a ute
Treasurer Wayne Swan bought vehicle from Utegate dealer
Swan's job on line
Resignation speculation is 'absurd'
Rudd gives Turnbull email ultimatum
Produce email or quit - Rudd
Rudd tells Turnbull: Show us the email or resign
So whose story do we believe?
PM gives Turnbull 24 hours for evidence
Kevin Rudd gives Malcolm Turnbull 24 hours to produce 'utegate' email
Joe Hockey stays quiet on 'utegate' email
Turnbull claims Rudd distracting public
Jun 21, 2009
Gloves are off over Ute-gate
Which leader will emerge as Mr Clean?
Swan has questions to answer on Ozcar
Point-scoring unhelpful in hunt for truth
Ethics overboard in government attacks
Leaders aim to spin their way out of tight spot
Turnbull tries to hit a target too far
Let me try to explain what happened.
This was leading into the last week of Parliament sitting before the July recess. The opposition party fresh off the destruction of Joel Fitzgibbon over a rather mundane, normal meeting held in his office without his knowledge which just happened to have his brother who works at a major firm at it, creates a new story that a program being run in Australia as part of our Stimulus package, an emergency financial assistance package to car dealers which provides credit when the banks will not, had somehow been corrupted by the Treasurer of Australia to help, on instruction from the Prime Minister, a constituent they both knew.
The whole story based on an allegation by a member of Ford credit who claimed he was told to contact this said acquaintance. Further that Newscorp and the Australian opposition had upped the ante claiming an email had been sent by the Treasurers own department instructing that this 'friend' was to be helped. In other words serious allegations of corruption intended to take down a government and waste parliamentary time.
The fact was however that
a) The acquaintence never was assisted
b) Ford had previously received $122.4 Million last financial year from the Government and had still posted a $274.4 Million loss (Interesting to note this story has been scrubbed from News Corp site)
c) The friend had never requested assistance but his name was being dragged through the mud and others who had similarly been in discussion over identical issues were not.
d) The email allegedly proving 'corruption' turned out to be a forged email which it appears Newscorp had a forward copy of
e) The person who had presented the forged email turned out to be a previous employee in the opposition benches own staff when they had been in government
Now all this would be normal political meanderings in the life of a parliament, however....
On the very first day of the attacks in parliament, 18th June 2009, 14 of the first 20 stories came from all Australian markets and had been published that morning by Newscorp press by 6 different authors.
See full list of articles on this webpage.
When all was said and done, it was Gordon Grech a previous Howard government public service loyalist, Malcolm Turnbull in concert with Newscorp that tried to destroy a democratically elected government
Liberal senator Eric Abetz apology for Ute-gate debacle
Here is the primary reporters back track on his attempts to implicate the Australian Prime Minister and Treasurer with corruption charges which Newscorp used to try to take down a government. He still works for News, where once again accountability of this organization after it tries to destroy the political process has gone wanting. Nice bit of blame shifting though.
How Godwin Grech blew the whistle - and came to regret it
Now comparitively, remember this?
The inquiry was set up by Prime Minister John Howard, after allegations last year that the Australian Wheat Board paid US$220m in bribes to the Iraqi government. The terms of reference of the inquiry are restricted to the AWB and two other companies.
Thats right, John Howards government, when confronted with corruption at the highest levels of a major export firm which deals significantly with government departments, restricts the terms of reference to avoid any way it can be implicated that they might have had any knowledge or a hand in it. Nary a peep out of Newscorp, whereas a forged document demands blanket coverage with all resources thrown at it.
Again, so much for fairness in calling for accountability. With such a great friend in Rupert Murdoch, who rules the press scene in Australia, it was no wonder our previous Prime Minister was eventually given a nick name - "Teflon John".
Oh and after the full 2 week period of parliament had been frittered away, taxpayers money wasted on a forged document and fake controversy drummed up by Newscorp and the Australian opposition party, what ever did happen with any discussion on the CPRS?
"On three major matters before this parliament, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, alcopops and immigration policy, his authority is so undermined he cannot even unite his party and unite the Coalition in a single vote -- and they are so desperate on the CPRS they voted in the Senate to avoid voting.
Here is the link to Hansard, the transcript of parliament over these days, if anyone is interested.
After all that, this particular attack fell flat, have a look at what lines of attack the opposition have just regurgitated.
'A cash cow for smugglers'
Intervention 'abandoned', with no leader
Yes the opposition have reverted to the tried and true 'wedge' issues - Asylum seekers and Australia's indigenous population.
Yesterday I published a diary discussing my first few days in America and the contrast in the two countries I saw. One was real, I could touch it, interact with it, talk to it and either love it or hate it, the other one was being created right in front of my eyes by a media magnate only to fire up the adrenalin, incite hatred of the 'other side' in order to control the minds of Americans to work against what is actually an excellent thing for a country to have.
In the 28 days I was in the US, one of the things which I have been trying to figure out is why do people watch Cable news stations like Fox which preys on fear and encourages people to hate other Americans. Because to an outsider, the Fox news channel appears to be a constant multimedia smorgasbord of hatred directed at anyone Mr Murdoch it seems does not already control. But the people Fox encourages dislike and intolerance of are Americans. Murdoch is teaching people that the it is OK for Americans to no longer look beyond their differences and to forget about looking after their own, looking after each other, that it doesn't really matter any more.
Murdoch helped destroy the Gough Whitlam government circumventing the democratic process
Murdoch hires those people capable of convincing the population that his truth is the only truth. The presenters are essentially paid actors.
Murdoch paid $11 for each of his subscribers early on to purchase hearts and minds of American viewers
Murdoch has a stranglehold on many sporting forecasts which allows him to reach the working man. He uses the things he has learnt with his sporting media arms, where he has experts employed who know how to incite the passions of any side of a sporting engagement, in politics. He turns politics into a sporting match, one which once you have picked your team, it is hard, if not impossible to change the side you support.
These patterns of behavior, how News Corp is using its media enterprise in the United States, bear striking similarities to what it is doing in Australia. But the rhetoric is all the more dangerous in the US, as when I left I genuinely felt afraid that the dialog and framing of every story was intended to destroy the American peoples respect for the office of the President and devolving into something very scary.
The tactics the GOP and Fox News are engaging in are the tactics which were used back in 1974 in Australia, where the opposition simply refused to do anything at all on the pretext of corruption. Murdoch is using it again, but this time I believe if he succeeds the consequences to democracy will reverberate around the world.