Saturday 30th of August 2014

dirty little secrets ....

dirty little secrets .....

The illegal eavesdropping on famous people by the News of the World is said to be Rupert Murdoch's Watergate. But is it the crime by which Murdoch ought to be known? In his native land, Australia, Murdoch controls 70 per cent of the capital city press. Australia is the world's first murdochracy, in which smear by media is power.

The most enduring and insidious Murdoch campaign has been against the Aboriginal people, who were dispossessed by the arrival of the British in the late 18th century and have never been allowed to recover. "Nigger hunts" continued into the 1960s and beyond. The officially-inspired theft of children from Aboriginal families, justified by the racist theories of the eugenics movement, produced those known as the Stolen Generation and in 1997 was identified as genocide.

Today, the first Australians have the shortest life expectancy of any of the world's 90 indigenous peoples. Australia imprisons Aborigines at five times the rate South Africa during the apartheid years. In the state of Western Australia, the figure is eight times the apartheid rate.

Political power in Australia often rests in the control of resource-rich land. Most of the uranium, iron ore, gold, oil and natural gas is in Western Australia and Northern Territory - on Aboriginal land. Indeed, Aboriginal "progress" is all but defined by the mining industry and its political guardians in both Labor and coalition (conservative) governments. Their faithful, strident voice is the Murdoch press. The exceptional, reformist Labor government of Gough Whitlam in the 1970s set up a royal commission that made clear that social justice for Australia's first people would only be achieved with universal land rights and a share the national wealth with dignity. In 1975, Whitlam was sacked by the governor-general in a "constitutional coup". The Murdoch press had turned on Whitlam with such venom that rebellious journalists on The Australian burned their newspaper in the street.

In 1984, the Labor Party "solemnly pledged" to finish what Whitlam had begun and legislate Aboriginal land rights. This was opposed by the then Labor prime minister, Bob Hawke, a "mate" of Rupert Murdoch. Hawke blamed the public for being "less compassionate"; but a secret 64-page report to the party revealed that most Australians supported land rights. This was leaked to The Australian, whose front page declared, "Few support Aboriginal land rights", the opposite of the truth, thus feeding an atmosphere of self-fulfilling distrust, "backlash" and rejection of rights that would distinguish Australia from South Africa. In 1988, an editorial in Murdoch's London tabloid, the Sun, described "the Abos" as "treacherous and brutal". This was condemned by the UK Press Council as "unacceptably racist".

The Australian publishes long articles that present Aboriginal people not unsympathetically but as perennial victims of each other, "an entire culture committing suicide", or as noble primitives requiring firm direction: the eugenicist's view. It promotes Aboriginal "leaders" who, by blaming their own people for their poverty, tell the white elite what it wants to hear. The writer Michael Brull parodied this: "Oh White man, please save us. Take away our rights because we are so backward."

This is also the government's view. In railing against what it called the "black armband view" of Australia's past, the conservative government of John Howard encouraged and absorbed the views of white supremacists -- that there was no genocide, no Stolen Generation, no racism; indeed, whites are the victims of "liberal racism". A collection of far-right journalists, minor academics and hangers-on became the antipodean equivalent of David Irving Holocaust deniers. Their platform has been the Murdoch press.

How the Murdoch Press Keeps Australia's Dirty Secret


addendum .....

The Labor government has shown a lack of leadership on human rights issues, with discrimination against indigenous communities, asylum seekers and refugees worsening over the past year, Amnesty International says.

The group used the publication of its annual report to criticise the government and highlight areas of concern, including the proportion of indigenous people, especially juveniles, in prison; the failure to introduce a human rights act and the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

Plans to send asylum seekers to Malaysia, announced last week, were also slammed.

"If Julia Gillard is determined to do a deal with Malaysia to accept these refugees she at least needs to ensure the country signs up to the UN convention that deals with these people," Claire Mallinson, the national director of Amnesty International Australia, said. "Asylum seekers die of disease in detention in Malaysia and we have evidence of people who are fleeing torture being beaten with sticks, including women."

Ms Mallinson said 2010 had been a year of "missed opportunities and backward steps" for the government. While it had introduced a plan to reduce violence against women and children, as well as legislation to ensure the death penalty could not be established in any state or territory, these were "small victories".

"If you are Aboriginal you are still 14 times more likely to be in prison than somebody who isn't and the proportions are even worse in juvenile detention where half of those locked up are indigenous. We are at risk of failing another generation of indigenous people unless we make them a priority," Ms Mallinson said.

Elsewhere, the rise of social media has left corrupt regimes around the world ''looking over their shoulder'', the report says.

Amnesty slams Gillard over poor human rights leadership

relentless ineptitude .....

It is a truth universally acknowledged that News International is paying the huge legal fees of convicted phone-hacker Glenn "trigger" Mulcaire as he struggles to evade lawsuits from his victims.

News has had countless opportunities to deny this, and the only logical inference from its evasive silence is that the Digger is indeed bankrolling the unemployed ex-jailbird.

Since all Mulcaire's legal manoeuvres in recent months have been designed to prevent the whole truth coming out, this rather undermines NI's recent public apology for its misdeeds and the company's professed commitment to helping police establish the facts.

After all, "Trigger" could speed up the Yard's investigation no end - and save the taxpayers thousands of pounds - by volunteering all he knows: who commissioned him, and when, and over how many years.

Although NI wouldn't be breaking the law footing Mulcaire's bills, what about the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) code of practice to which the company is signed up? Section 15 of the code says no payments may be made to witnesses in criminals trials "once proceedings are active", and that "where proceedings are not yet active but are likely and forseeable, editors must not make or offer payment to any person who may reasonably be expected to be called as a witness".

Proceedings against some Screws executives are indeed now forseeable, and it is likely that Mulcaire will be called to testify. But no one should hold their breath waiting for the PCC to investigate this apparent breach of the rules. Throughout the hacking saga the record of the commission and its embarrassing chairwoman, Baroness Buscombe, has been one of relentless ineptitude. After swallowing NI's "lone rogue" defence and condemning The Guardian "exaggerating" the scandal, Buscombe recently had to offer a High Court apology - with 20,000 pounds damages plus costs - for recklessly libelling Mark Lewis, defence solicitor for some of the hacking victims.

The task of defending Buscombe's pitiful record falls to the PCC's chief spin-doctor, Jonathan Collett, whom she has described as "a terrific communications guy". Fortunately, he's used to tough assignments: between 2005 and 2007, the period covering the original phone-hacking inquiry and the trials of Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, he was head of public affairs at.....News International.

Stephen Mayne