Read All About It: Labor’s Ghastly Trash Rag

NOT CONTENT with having the ABC, the Fairfax press and (arguably) Crikey in its pocket, the ALP has cried foul at the level of favourable press coverage it is receiving; claiming its message “isn’t making it through the mainstream media,” Labor has called for donations — and an Editor — to set up its own “news” site. It might be called “Not The News” or even “The Blight On The Hill.” The sheer silliness of this belies a more sinister bent.

Former Prime Minister John Howard used to say of the ALP — as it burnt its way through leaders Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Mark Latham, Kim Beazley (again) and Kevin Rudd — that the problem with Labor wasn’t so much the salesman as it was the product.

I’d argue that later figureheads Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten make a mockery of Howard’s contention, with the cretin Rudd having well and truly proven him wrong. Even so, I’d love to know what Howard thinks of this.

The news yesterday that the ALP wants to set up its own “news” service would be laughable were it not for the ominously suggestive overtones of Stalinist propaganda it carries; it is also a tacit admission that anything the ALP has to say is so defective in terms of the public interest that it simply can’t pass muster in the court of public opinion on its own merits.

Not shy of booting own goals at will, ALP National Secretary George Wright’s email communique to Labor members yesterday that “you’ve told us that you can see the Labor message isn’t making it through the mainstream media and we have to produce our own news service” sounds suspiciously like an exercise in telling the punters what the party wants them to believe as a pretext to do whatever it likes.

Whether there is any real demand from the ALP membership to set up its own media outlet or not, this move will do the image of the party no good.

Claiming his membership wants more “factual” information about what Tony Abbott and the government are doing, Wright laments that because his party does not “get the big corporate donations the Liberal Party gets,” the Labor rank and file will have to dig deep in its own pockets to get the thing to fly.

(As an aside, I’d ask what the millions of dollars it rakes out of the union movement represent if not “big donations,” but let’s not let facts get in the way of a jaundiced ALP storyline — its stated thirst for “factual” information notwithstanding).

This has it all: an employment opportunity for “an experienced Editor” paying about $95,000 per annum; a monthly subscription fee of $22.60 per month; and the promise of “both useful and interesting” articles on “issues like the Commission of Audit” and “cuts to pensions.”

According to Wright, such a service promises “handy facts, interesting articles and video,” with the new Labor news service aiming to be “no nonsense” and “without the ‘filter’ of the mainstream media.”

After 20 years in and around the media industry, I’d love to know how Wright’s business case has established that $22.60 per month is adequate to get this thing running on a commercially sustainable basis; presumably such variables as how many subscribers he’ll snag, how much advertising revenue it will attract, the eventual staffing requirements it will demand and other insignificant, inconvenient considerations like production, marketing, wages, rent and fixed costs have all been hammered out over long planning sessions late at night and over a lot of coffee, nicotine and good malt whisky.

Then again, with such reassuring numbers as the $350 billion in debt Labor racked up during its last stint in office to go by, who am I to question its ability to get the fundamentals of its business case right?

Seriously, this should be dismissed as the hopeless joke it is.

For one thing, Labor’s “news” service — if it ever eventuates — promises to be the greatest single work of fiction ever foisted on an unsuspecting Australian public, although the names of Ern Malley and Ogden Nash spring to mind, albeit for different reasons, of course.

For another, the ALP’s attempt to either bring the Murdoch press to heel and/or to censor it out of existence during the tenure of the Gillard government is a reasonable pointer to Labor’s actual commitment to a free press, and to its refusal to allow any meaningful scrutiny of its policies and activities.

And not content to be called out for lying to the Australian public and being held to account for it, Labor now proposes to simply lie to the public without, in its own words, the “filter” of the mainstream media.

That statement alone should be enough for the electorate to realise that the more things change, the more they stay the same; the Labor Party’s record of honesty and fidelity to the voting public in office was truly woeful. Now, in opposition and faced with a parade through the Courts of senior figures both within the party and from the union movement it serves as the Heydon commission roars into action, the ALP has come up with its own crack-brained scheme to evade scrutiny altogether.

It won’t work, of course. Indeed, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Howard was right in one respect: the problem with Labor’s “product” is that it is constructed on a litany of self-serving lies and wilfully misleading spin designed to do nothing more than put the arses of its chosen vessels in ministerial leather, with nary a shred of genuine concern for either the public good or the trusting souls it expects will put them there.

In the final analysis, this is a red herring.

And I would simply point out that with the federal budget now imminent — and the full extent of Labor’s mismanagement about to be revealed in all its ugly glory by the Commission of Audit — as diversions go, this one is a stinker.

Still, when Bob Carr is Foreign Correspondent, Michael Williamson is reporting on business issues and Craig Thomson has his finger on the pulse of developments in the finance sector, who could resist a look?

For a sneak peek at Labor’s new “news” operations, click here.