How the media got it so wrong in WA and Netherlands … Lesson? Don’t let social media replace reporting … Qatar beats OZ hands down in resources taxation … Israel bans me – Hooray! … Tel Aviv rolls out red carpet for “Duterte Harry” … Premier Gladys loses her shine …
One Nation collapses in the West
How many journalists resigned or were suspended this week in the wake of their hideously mistaken reporting of the Western Australia election and the Dutch election? None.
In WA the witless scribes informed readers/listeners/viewers that Pauline Hanson’s One Nation would capture up to 15% of the vote and take a suite of seats in the Upper House and perhaps win a few Lower House seats as well. In the event, Hanson won NO seats and secured just 4.9% of the vote while Labor triumphed with a swing of almost 10%.
Hanson’s cheer squad was led by female journalists who regard Hanson as some kind of persecuted “Joan of Arc” who has the “courage” to “speak out”.
The object of good election reporting is to listen to what political leaders are saying, and if it is complete rubbish – as Hanson’s thought bubbles usually are – say so. Also, interview the candidates as much as paying attention to the leaders. Hanson’s candidates are cranks, nutters, climate change denialists, xenophobes, homophobes and anti-vaccinationists – a veritable goldmine of colourful coverage. The press pack was too busy pushing Brand Pauline to notice.
Meanwhile in Amsterdam
In the weeks before the Netherlands election, the simple-minded mainstream media universally predicted a sweeping victory by the Islamophobic and anti-refugee pin-up boy, Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom.
Wilders, who is a co-thinker of Tony Abbott, Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz and Ukip founder Nigel Farage, campaigned on a programme of closing borders to all Moslem refugees; banning the Koran; and taking the Netherlands out of the European Union (Dutchit). With counting still continuing, Wilders’ vote looks likely to be LOWER than he received at the 2010 election. In other words, his nasty Islamophobic populism is going backwards.
Why did the hordes of correspondents covering the Dutch elections not pick up the fact that the bouffant blond-haired Wilders was on the nose?
The wildly inaccurate predictions in WA and Holland aren’t the first. The media got it so wrong in the US election when Donald Trump won and in the Brexit referendum when they all confidently (and inaccurately) predicted that Britain would vote Remain.
One reason is that they take their lead from American TV networks which are hopelessly ahistorical, impressionistic, shallow-minded and ill-informed. Their second source of information is equally unreliable: social media.
Today’s foreign correspondents put more weight on tweet traffic than interviewing voters: they based their reports on twitter feeds from nutters, government agencies, political parties and commercial companies hired to spread “fake news”.
The WA and Dutch upsets don’t seem to worry the Australia media. ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly is still excited by the prospect of neo-fascist Ms Marine le Pen storming the Elysee to become the first female French president.
The gas catastrophe
Australia will soon overtake Qatar as the world’s leading producer of natural gas. By 2021 Australia’s tax revenue from gas exports will be $800 million while Qatar’s feudalist rulers will receive royalties of $26.6 BILLION.
Who is smarter? Canberra and state politicians who have given away Australia’s natural gas resources to giant global energy firms, or the ruling Al Thani family in Qatar? While the Al Thanis are accumulating a vast sovereign fund – and, incidentally, supporting Sunni extremism in Iraq and Syria – Australian politicians have sold off gas resources leaving little or none for the home market.
Liberal, National and Labor politicians have sold off Australia’s gas wealth. What slings did they receive? What political donations? What favours, holidays, gifts and other luxuries came their way?
They claim that energy companies will pull out if Australian governments start to levy a properly structured export tax. Really? If the big US, UK and Asian firms want to leave – let them go. Take away their licences and let’s start mining and exporting natural gas ourselves. Australia could establish a publicly owned consortium called OzGas and all revenue would be returnable to the budget for homes, schools, universities and hospitals.
If Qatar can do it, surely it’s not beyond us.
I’m banned from Israel – Hooray!
Some good news at last – the Israeli government has banned me. A new law passed by the Knesset, an anti-democratic chamber of largely religious misfits where the calendar tells visitors it is the year 5777, bans all foreigners who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The new law was passed by 46 votes to 28 and applies to anyone who makes a “public call” for a boycott.
Well, I support BDS on the grounds that I oppose apartheid. I joined the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) in London in the 1960s to fight the all-white Boer regime and I joined the BDS years ago when the Israeli Zionists started to legalise racism against Palestinians. Consider the following:
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime has approved 6,000 settler homes on the army-occupied Palestinian West Bank since US President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January;
- The Knesset voted to introduce new laws on February 6 to allow settlers to build on Palestinian land illegally stolen from Palestinian families;
- Trump’s new ambassador to Israel is his close friend, bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, who is head of a US Zionist “charity” supporting settler expansion;
- The boycott is supported by thousands of Jews around the world. Will they be banned from travelling to Israel too?
- The ban applies to active members of Jewish Voice for Peace in the US whose executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson said: “My grandparents are buried in Israel, my husband and kids are citizens and I have lived there for three years, but this Bill would bar me from visiting.”
- The Knesset is now considering legislation to strip tax exemptions from non-government organisations (NGOs), i.e. charities, that accuse the Israeli army of committing war crimes.
Emboldened by Trumpism, the Netanyahu gang have rejected talks on a two-state solution with the Palestinians with Naftali Bennett, leader of the ultra-fanatical Jewish Home party, saying: “There is no way that I am ever going going to allow a Muslim state to be created on my mountains, looking down on my airport and my capital.” While his colleague “Justice” Minister Ms Ayalet Shaked remarked: “More peace talks meet Einstein’s definition of insanity.”
In one sense, she’s right. No responsible government will start peace talks with an opponent who declares that his aim is to destroy you. On the other hand, Britain held many such diplomatic flourishes down the decades with Indians, Egyptians, Chinese, Malays, Greeks, Cypriots, Kenyans and Irish republicans. All were dedicated to the overthrow of British colonialism but it didn’t end the negotiations.
Israel’s gangster regime has a “one-state” solution in mind but it’s based on a Jews-only Greater Israel. It is predicated on the expulsion of the Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank and from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
What a wonderland of tolerance, liberty and fun. Or Einstein’s definition of craziness?
Guess who’s coming to dinner?
While I join the Israeli banned list, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has joined the guest list. He has accepted an invitation to visit Israel as the honoured guest of Prime Minister Netanyahu who was recently Malcolm Turnbull’s guest in Sydney and Canberra.
Since assuming the presidency nine months ago, “Duterte Harry” has passed a law allowing police to kill drug users and dealers in public with impunity. They have summarily executed more than 7,000 people, according to official figures.
The charmless thug has compared his killing campaign against drug addicts to Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust during World War Two, portraying himself as “Hitler’s cousin”.
Isn’t it fitting that one of most loathed louts on the international stage is on the Zionist state’s guest list? It is a case of like attracting like.
Uncertainty over Gladys
NSW political news doesn’t always receive the prominence it deserves. Last weekend, when WA Premier Barnett’s Coalition was thrashed in the State Election and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s political fate was sealed, was such an occasion.
A speech by NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance was underdone and underplayed. He accused senior ministers in the Turnbull government of engaging in “the politics of survival” and urged his NSW ministerial colleagues “to get on with some proper reform”. “We’ve got inefficient state taxes all across the board and they need to be looked at in the context of national reform.”
Constance has a cheek. Coalition politicians have been rolling out this kind of mealy-mouthed rubbish for decades; the phrase to study is “in the context of national reform”. It is a statement of the bleeding obvious but it is also meant to be an escape clause: Constance and his Liberal mates all say “we have to do something about stamp duty, negative gearing and the unfair GST funding, but we need the Commonwealth and all the States to support us”.
By the way, Constance is a former NSW Treasurer – so why did he decide to barge into the Treasury portfolio currently held by Dominic Perrottet? Methinks the overly ambitious Constance is disappointed with the fledging premiership of his friend Gladys Berejiklian and is waving his credentials as a possible successor. By the way, Premier Berejiklian suffered a notable political setback a week ago when her parliamentary secretary Catherine Cusack resigned with an angry email complaining against the Cabinet promotion given to former Upper House president Don Harwin. Cusack is a veteran party toiler and Greinerite policy wonk whose Irish Catholic temperament doesn’t embrace the concept of team work.
Today’s health warning
Marathon runner Ed Whitlock died in Toronto on Monday, March 13. He ran his last 26.2 miler in October last year. He was 86.
Lesson of the Week
Archbishops, bishops, priests and vicars regularly attend ceremonies to bless warships, warplanes, tanks and missiles. But they refuse to bless marriages between same sex couples who are in love with each other.
Is organised religion sick or what?