Tuesday, March 28, 2017

No bias to fix at ABC, vows new chairman

And he really seems to mean it

The ABC’s newly appointed chairman, Justin Milne, has dismissed accusations of bias in news coverage, saying the organisation would continue to resist political pressure over its editorial output.

Speaking to The Australian in his first interview as chairman, Mr Milne said the broadcaster was fulfilling its role as a public service by presenting a wide range of political views.

“I don’t come to the job thinking I need to fix the perceived bias in the ABC because I don’t know that there really is a bias, but I imagin­e scrutiny of the ABC will continue — and so it should,” he said.

Criticism from former prime minister Paul Keating, current cabinet ministers and government MPs of an ABC bias on a range of issues was more often than not driven by personal ideology and a perception of bias, he argued.

“Roughly speaking, 50 per cent of the audience will think it is biased to the left, 50 per cent will think it’s biased to the right — it has ever been thus.

“The skill and test of the journalists and editors and staff at the ABC is to try to continually find that line down the middle.

“Generally speaking, as a punter and consumer of the ABC, it seems to me to be doing a very good job. I like ABC for news like all Australians do because the ABC attempts to be unbiased, it attempts to tell it right down the middle so it’s a good reference point for many Australians.”

Mr Keating said last year the ABC was “letting Australia down” with its presentation of news.

The public broadcaster has also come under fire from cabinet, including Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who has described ABC reporters as ­“advocates dressed up as journ­alists” for their critical coverage of the government’s detention policies.

Mr Milne, however, said it would not be his responsibility to be an overseer of the corporation’s editorial output or weigh in on programming decisions for shows such as Q&A, which critics say do not feature enough conservative voices.

“I think Q&A serves a purpose and it clearly stirs people up and creates an audience, which is part of the job of being a media organisation,” said Mr Milne, who admitted­ to watching Q&A only “occasionally”.

“I won’t be sitting there with a score sheet. I think it’s the job of the board to ensure the ABC continues­ to provide the service that the Aus­tralian people want it to provide and that is … an unbiased view of politics, current affairs­ and the zeitgeist.”

In his first comments since his appointment was confirmed by the Turnbull government last week, Mr Milne said he was fully supportive of ABC managing directo­r Michelle Guthrie, and said the ABC must do more to connect with younger audiences.

He also underscored the importan­ce of serving regional rural communities after savage cuts under Ms Guthrie’s pre­decessor, Mark Scott.

A former Telstra executive and longstanding friend of Malcolm­ Turnbull, Mr Milne has media and marketing experience that aligns with Ms Guthrie’s strategy to increase the public broadcaster’s digital media output­.


Political correctness has become the new truth

Rex Jory

THE Australia I love is disappearing. It’s been hijacked by faceless people who worship at the altar of political correctness and personal offence.

These messengers of the new morality paint themselves as victims. They believe they are entitled to compensation or apology if they are offended. They seek reward or retribution for the slightest inconvenience.

These self-proclaimed victims use social media with such devastating effect they have wrested control of the nation’s political, social and moral agenda. They tear down people who dare express a contrary view. They humiliate and intimidate anyone who challenges their beliefs. Megaphone politics.

They know best. Their view of Australia in 2017 must prevail. My way or the highway. Never mind that it is not the view of the majority of people.

These purveyors of the new morality are reminiscent of the racially-based Ku Klux Klan in the US. They plant a burning cross in the front yard of someone they accuse of breaching their often warped moral code while dressed anonymously in white robes and pointed hats.

They have crushed free speech and free expression by destroying community debate. People are now too frightened to say what they believe.

Political correctness twists and manipulates truth. It has become the new truth, the selective truth. Yet truth is no longer a defence. Just because someone expresses an opinion based on fact, they are not immune from being attacked and discredited on social media.

If someone dares criticise or even raise political, religious or racial issues which are contrary to the beliefs of the anonymous purists, the reaction and retribution can be swift and brutal. Often it resembles hate-speak.

Look at poor old Coopers, the beer makers. They were lampooned for being associated with a private discussion between two Liberal members of Parliament about same-sex marriage. The attack on social media was vicious. Then IBM copped it because one executive is in a Christian group.

Now they’ve turned on proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act which currently threatens freedom of speech.

The Kokoda Track in Papua-New Guinea has become a target, with words like mateship being quietly erased from the lexicon. Mateship has been replaced by friendship. Never mind the Diggers and their families — let alone the wider community — who are offended.

In the new social agenda, mateship has become hateship. It has transferred power from the individual and a structured system of authority to a faceless, intangible force fuelled by moral indignation.

We are no longer allowed to be involved in civilised debate or think for ourselves. If the trend continues, then as a nation we are no longer civilised.

The Australian character has been stripped and reconstructed in the image of political correctness. The Australian larrikin has become an endangered species. Whatever happened to Australia’s “have a go” spirit? What happened to our irreverent sense of humour? What happened to common sense and the brave “she’ll be right” credo which helped build this country?

The Australian community has fragmented. We are no longer a single, coherent society. People are judged on what they are, what they believe and not what they have achieved or contributed.

For too many people, the first reaction is to lay blame and seek compensation through intimidation or litigation. Whatever cloak they wear — race, colour, gender, occupation, age, religion, physical appearance — they claim the moral high ground.

I don’t begrudge people holding strong beliefs. That’s their right in a democracy. I agree with some of them. But I resent being bullied into accepting those views under duress — or remaining silent.

Those promoting victimhood and personal offence as the path forward have used social media to promote their agenda by fear and suppression.

It’s time those who have taken the alternative path of meek silence spoke out and exposed the politics of victimhood as a false god.

If not the face and character of Australia, the Australia I love, will be lost. At the moment the people with the loudest megaphone are winning.


Australia's conservatives looking to Asia to build new coal-fired power station in north

The Turnbull government has opened talks with Asian investors to build a coal-fired power station backed by its $5 billion northern Australia fund, as half the nation’s voters endorse the use of taxpayer funds to develop the project and improve energy security.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan is fast-tracking the plan amid a growing fight with Labor and the Greens over support for coal power, as cabinet ministers prepare to decide how to encourage big investors into the market.

Senator Canavan told The Australian there was a “high ­degree of interest” from Asia helping to develop the new power station in northern Queensland, arguing that finance from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund would be needed to give the project long-term certainty.

A special Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, ­reveals that 47 per cent of voters favour the use of federal government funds to help construct a new coal-fired power station to improve energy security, while 40 per cent are opposed and 13 per cent undecided.

Amid a push by environmental groups to block new coalmines and coal-fired power stations, the national survey finds that 35 per cent of Labor voters and 15 per cent of Greens voters support using public funds to ­develop more coal-fired power.

It also shows that 59 per cent of Coalition voters favour public ­financial support for the new power station, lending weight to Malcolm Turnbull’s declaration that coal must be one of the options in a “technology neutral” approach to fixing energy ­security.

The findings come as the Prime Minister and Scott Morrison crack down on electricity ­retailers in a new move to act on fears about rising prices, ordering the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to review the sector in order to get a better deal for consumers.

The Prime Minister and Treasurer will announce today that their response to the ACCC’s ­review will consider new measures to improve “reliability, security and pricing” across the sector.

As the imminent close of the ageing Hazelwood power station reignites debate about electricity shortages and price spikes, Labor climate change spokesman Mark Butler has declared there is no support from industry to build new coal-fired power stations in Australia.

The Australian Energy ­Council, which represents companies supplying electricity to 10 million homes, warns it has become “very difficult” to finance coal-fired power stations when investors are ramping up wind and solar projects as well as gas generators that provide baseload power with lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

But the government is determined to keep the coal proposal on the agenda by raising the prospect of funding from the northern Australia fund, which is also a potential source of support for the controversial coalmine planned for central Queensland by Indian company Adani.

Senator Canavan said there was “no doubt” of the rudimentary economic and commercial case for a coal-fired power station in northern Queensland but that the government’s challenge was to set the energy market rules to offer certainty.

“There’s clearly a risk of government policy changes in this area, and I think that’s a risk that’s been created by the Labor-Green(s) movement,” he said.

“Until last year there was bipartisan support for the future of coal in Australia but it was last year when Labor supported the Senate inquiry that said we should shut down all coal-fired power stations in Australia. That wasn’t the position of Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard.

“The decision by Labor and the Greens to move to the radical fringes of our energy debate and turn their back completely on coal, on our second-biggest export, has introduced an element of risk to potential new coal-fired power stations.

“It’s now a sovereign risk and the only people who can get rid of sovereign risks are the sovereigns.”

A Senate inquiry led by a Labor and Greens majority last year argued for an “orderly retirement” of the nation’s coal-fired power stations but the government believes there is strong support in northern Queensland for a new coal project at a time of rising electricity prices.

Senator Canavan is examining options for a new power station near the Adani coalmine in the Galilee Basin, in Collinsville, to add to an existing power station or in Gladstone near an existing power station and taking advantage of transmission lines that are already in place.

The Resources Minister, who is also the Minister for Northern Australia and oversees the infrastructure fund, rejected suggestions that the help for a coal-fired power station would be a “subsidy” that meddled with the market.

“I wouldn’t characterise it as a subsidy, it’s an investment. Governments for decades have invested in energy infrastructure; all the energy infrastructure in Queensland is owned by the state government,’’ Senator Canavan said.

“It’s not unusual and generally those investments have paid off very well. I think most Australians see the central role of government as being investing in infrastructure — roads, rail and energy.”

Senator Canavan said the investment would be comparable to Mr Turnbull’s decision 10 days ago to offer government support for a $2bn expansion of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.

The energy security committee of cabinet is waiting on a report into the electricity market from Chief Scientist Alan Finkel before deciding any changes to the sector, with energy security expected to gain a priority so that baseload power generators — including coal-fired ones — are assured a long-term return.

Senator Canavan is talking to Japanese companies that believe they could transfer their “high efficiency, low emissions” technology to the northern Queensland project.

Mr Butler is warning against the use of taxpayer funds for the rail line to the Adani mine or a new power station, claiming the long-term future for coal is one of decline.

“This is something the coal industry needs to deal with. We’ve said as a federal Labor Party we will not support taxpayers’ money going in to support infrastructure or pay for infrastructure around this (Adani) mine,” he said last week.


Pauline Hanson threatens to halt government's agenda over Queensland sugar dispute

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is threatening to hold the government's $50 billion corporate tax cut plan to ransom, saying her party will withhold their crucial Senate crossbench votes until the Queensland sugar dispute is resolved.

The challenge in the final sitting week before the budget follows Monday's Fairfax-Ipsos poll showing 44 per cent support for the tax cuts, a 10-year plan to reduce the big business tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent by 2026-27.

One Nation senators won't vote on government legislation until the Queensland sugar dispute is sorted out.

The plan was a centrepiece of Coalition's 2016 budget and re-election campaign.

Senator Hanson restated her threat on Monday to not vote for any legislation before Parliament until the government resolved a three-year crisis over sugarcane supply contracts in Queensland's Burdekin region, south of Townsville.

The Singapore-owned conglomerate Wilmar, which bought CSR Sugar's mills six years ago, is seeking control over marketing as well as milling, while growers want flexibility to use a single-desk system.

Until an agreement is reached, sugarcane growers have been unable to secure a price ahead of the June harvest.

The One Nation leader has previously ruled out doing deals to progress or block government legislation, including the reintroduction of the building industry watchdog.

The government had been expected to secure support for a cut for companies with a turnover of up to $10 million from One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team, while other Senate crossbenchers have indicated they could move up to $50 million.

The Fairfax-Ipsos poll found 39 per cent opposition to the plan.

Labor will back a cut only for companies with a turnover of up to $2 million, while the Greens do not support the lowering of the rate from 30 to 27.5 per cent.

One Nation's growing influence has put Coalition MPs, including local Liberal-National backbencher George Christensen, under pressure.

Senator Hanson blamed the ongoing stalemate on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his deputy and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.

She told the Seven Network on Monday the situation was a headache in north Queensland, where growers had "their backs to the wall".

"This has been going on for nearly two years now, especially since the end of last year, Barnaby Joyce promised the cane growers it will be fixed by Christmas last year and nothing has been done," she said.

She said Mr Joyce was "crazy as bat-poo" for not standing up for growers, echoing his criticism of Senator Hanson's comments calling for a Muslim immigration ban.

Fellow Queensland One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts will join his leader in the planned blockade.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said work was ongoing, including with industry and the state government. "I don't think Australians expect their parliamentarians to go on strike. I think they expect them to turn up to work and do the job," Mr Morrison told ABC radio.

Mr Morrison said One Nation was "a bit behind the play" on the dispute. He expected a draft agreement to be reached as soon as Monday.


Cafe slammed on social media for serving up 'racist' burger named 'Uncle Tom' - but owners say they did not know it was offensive

American sensitivities are often little known abroad

A newly opened cafe is at the centre of a racism row over the naming of a burger. Master Toms, in Brisbane's city centre, only flung open its doors less than four months ago but it has already found itself embroiled in accusations of racism, 9News reported.

The cafe has named one of its burgers Uncle Tom, which is also a derogatory term describing a black person who is considered to be excessively obedient to a white person. The name first came to prominence in the novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, in the mid-1800s. The novel, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, details the suffering of African-American slaves.

Customer Jonathan Butler-White, who noticed the name when he dropped by the cafe recently, said he felt a 'mix of disappointment and anger'.

'I think it's concerning but I don't think it's surprising,' he said.  'I did leave straight away.'

Mr Butler-White then made his feelings known to the cafe through social media who told him they were 'completely unaware' of the name's historical meaning.

Master Tom's manager Eduardo Cantarelli vowed to change the burger's name and update the menu.

'We really want to change that because that's not good for us, it's not good for the business,' Mr Cantarelli said.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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