The Australian’s opinion editor, Nick Cater, tries to explain away the grassroots reaction against Alan Jones with the jarring assertion that “social media…are the domain of insiders” (“They shop, they vote and they listen to Alan Jones”, 8/10). Social media are freely available to everyone, unlike the tightly controlled messages of traditional media. For example, callers to Jones’ show, whom Cater disingenuously cites as evidence of Jones’ support among “outsiders”, are carefully vetted before being allowed on air to ensure they will toe the Jones line. If any others slip through, Jones’ finger is ready on the red button. Talkback radio has always been phoney and will not survive the more democratic new media.
The Australian’s news report that our “border protection regime was dealt another blow” (“High Court blow as judges sideline ASIO on asylum”, 6/10) is sensational and inaccurate. The ruling merely allows security assessments to be reviewed, avoiding repeats of the Haneef case, and puts the government back in charge of ASIO, as it should be. The decision does not entail the release of anyone with a negative assessment, and has no impact on “border protection”. It is, however, a victory for transparency and human rights.
There is a striking contrast between the justifiably cynical reception of Labor’s “Real Julia” rebranding by The Australian and other media, and their uncritical regurgitation of the Liberals’ “Sensitive New-Age Tony” spin-fest. Frankly, it makes me want to regurgitate too.
Judith Sloane’s account of recent OECD activities (“Sludge-producing OECD has outlived its welcome”, 6/10) makes a convincing case for Australia’s withdrawal from the organisation – from an economic libertarian, climate-change denier point of view. For the rest of us, it actually makes them look pretty good.
It is disappointing that even Peter Van Onselen’s otherwise balanced account of the history of superannuation under successive governments (“Labor losing edge as champion of superannuation”, The Australian, 6/10) fails to mention a crucial fact: the government’s recent proposal is not to cut into super but to remove a large and unfair tax shelter enjoyed only by the wealthiest 1%, saving the taxpayer tens of billions of dollars – an astute piece of policy which seem to be a taboo subject at The Australian.
The Australian has published a range of opinions on Alan Jones’ latest atrocity, including the perfectly valid view that he was wrong but it was free speech, and that he has apologised so let’s move on. Odd then, that The Australian did not air such views last year during its protracted, months-long crucifixion of Larissa Behrendt over an off-colour but significantly less vicious tweet.
Frank Furedi (“Don’t wink at the nudge plan”, The Australian, 5/10) paints a truly terrifying picture of a looming dystopia in which governments make people become organ donors, drive safely or give up smoking through persuasive “nudge techniques” rather than compulsion. I hereby call for a ban on all such techniques, including advertising of every kind. Or does Furedi only object when the techniques are used for the public good rather than private profit?
It seems Jim Ball (Letters, 4/10) has already decided the outcome of his proposed Abbott-led inquiry into the ABC: a “clean-out of the organisation from top to bottom”, and putting Alan Jones in charge of the resulting asylum. In other words, a Soviet-style political purge. Please keep these ideas coming, because as the electorate begins to apprehend such prospects, the likelihood of an Abbott government diminishes.
The Australian’s editorial warns us to “expect tax increases on the long-term retirement savings of workers” (“Political interest rates are highest in the wrong areas”, 3/10). From what quarter should we expect this? It can’t be from this government, whose proposal is to reduce the anomalous tax concession for the wealthiest 1%, to the same level as the rest of us enjoy.
It’s time for some perspective to balance the “hands off our super!” hysteria. Australia’s richest 1% currently receive a 30% tax break on their contributions, almost twice what those on ordinary incomes get, and at an annual cost to the taxpayer of $30 billion and rising. The government’s proposal to reduce this concession to 15% will partially level the playing field. But the 30% perk will still apply to those earning from $180,000 to $300,000 a year, indicating that, if anything, the changes do not go far enough. Super was never intended to be a tax shelter for the super-rich.
Paul Kelly shows commendable candour as a conservative commentator by admitting that “Gillard has long been subject to unfair, often misogynistic attacks” (“Hypocrisy rules but both sides of politics are courting danger”, The Australian, 3/10). But clearly he has little time to listen to the radio, if he can seriously assert that “Labor, in effect, has declared war on Jones and 2GB”. This is back-to-front. For years now Jones and his company have been running a round-the-clock anti-Labor diatribe with no regard for balance or decency. What we are seeing now from Labor is a late defensive manoeuvre.