Peter van Onselen is an academic from Western Australia who came to prominence in 2007 when he co-authored a biography of John Howard, the Liberal prime minister who reigned from 1996 to 2007.
Nearly 14 years later, Van Onselen has graduated to become a journalist who writes a weekly column for the right-wing broadsheet, The Australian, and also functions as the political editor for the tabloid free-to-air TV channel, 10.
Recently, however, Van Onselen has shown that he is no journalist, but rather a political operative who looks to back his powerful friends when they need his help. And nobody has needed his help more than the attorney-general, Christian Porter, a close mate of his and a source for many of his stories.
Porter was recently accused of raping a woman in 1988, when she was 16 and he was 17. The woman, known as Kate, died by her own hand last year, and did not make a police complaint, though she did toy with the idea. She is said to have been a highly intelligent person, but the alleged incident appears to have taken its toll, and she was described by many as having some mental problems.
Tom Switzer is a right-wing writer in Melbourne, who is executive director at the Centre for Independent Studies and is a presenter on ABC Radio National.
He often writes in support of Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, for the simple reason that if he were to lose his current gigs, then he could go back on the Murdoch teat.
Thus his defence of Murdoch against criticism by two former Australian prime ministers, Malcolm Turnbull and Kevin Rudd, is not surprising. Sucking up to power is a common game used by writers who have an avenue to vent. Switzer has the Nine newspapers open to his rantings.
The veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk died recently at the age of 74, and his death means one of the Western world’s journalists who best understood the region has left the scene.
Fisk lived in Beirut for most of the 30-plus years he covered the region and reported the troubles in Northern Ireland before venturing out of the country.
He reported on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the continuing woes in that country. Fisk interviewed the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden thrice and also covered the US invasion of Iraq.
Some questioned his approach to journalism; he did not believe in getting opinions from both sides, so-called balanced journalism. Rather, it was his belief that the job of a reporter was to provide an outlet for the underdog.
His famous example was that of the liberation of a concentration camp. And he asked whether one should be expected to get a quote from a SS guard for balance, a query which nobody has attempted to answer.
Recently, the New York Times ran an article about Donald Trump having paid no federal income taxes for 10 of the last 15 years; many claimed it was a blockbuster story and that it would have far-reaching effects on the forthcoming presidential election.
If this was the first time Trump’s tax evasion was being mentioned, then, sure, it would have been a big deal.
Last month, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a taxpayer-funded entity, made several people redundant, due to a cut in funding by the Federal Government. Among them was Emma Alberici, a presenter who has been lionised a great deal as someone with great talents, but who is actually a mediocre hack who lacks ability.
What marked Alberici out is the fact that she had the glorious title of chief economics correspondent at the ABC, but was never seen on any TV show giving her opinion about anything to do with economics. Over the last two years, China and the US have been engaged in an almighty stoush; Australia, as a country that considers the US as its main ally and has China as its major trading partner, has naturally been of interest too.
For many years, Australia has been trading with China, apparently in the belief that one can do business with a country for yonks without expecting the development of some sense of obligation. The attitude has been that China needs Australian resources and the relationship needs to go no further than the transfer of sand dug out of Australia and sent to China.
Those in Beijing, obviously, haven’t seen the exchange this way. There has been an expectation that there would be some obligation for the relationship to go further than just the impersonal exchange of goods for money. Australia, in true colonial fashion, has expected China to know its place and keep its distance.
This is similar to the attitude the Americans took when they pushed for China’s admission to the World Trade Organisation: all they wanted was a means of getting rid of their manufacturing so their industries could grow richer and an understanding that China would agree to go along with the American diktat to change as needed to keep the US on top of the trading world. Continue reading “Managing a relationship is hard work”
In 1987, I got a job in Dubai, to work for a newspaper named Khaleej (Gulf) Times. I was chosen because the interviewer was a jolly Briton who came down to Bombay to do the interview on 12 June.
Malcolm Payne, the first editor of the newspaper that had been started in 1978 by Iranian brothers named Galadari, told me that he had always wanted to come and pick some people to work at the paper. By the time he got the oppotrunity to do so, he had been pushed out of the editorship by both the Pakistani and Indian journalists who worked there.
For some strange reason, he took a liking to me. At the end of about 45 minutes of what was a much more robust conversation than I had ever experienced in earlier job interviews, which were normally tense affairs, Payne told me, “You’re a good bugger, Samuel. I’ll see you in Dubai.” Continue reading “History lessons at a late stage of life”
When Scott Morrison led the Liberal-National Coalition to victory in the last federal election in May, he was greeted as some kind of superman, mainly because all the polls had predicted a Labor win, and by a substantial margin too.
All the political pundits crowed that this win gave the Australian Prime Minister complete authority to govern as he wished, and the chance to implement policies of his liking.
In the first three weeks of June last year, the ABC’s Sarah Ferguson presented a three-part saga on the channel’s Four Corners program, which the ABC claimed was the “story of the century”.
It was a rehashing of all the claims against US President Donald Trump, which the American TV stations had gone over with a fine-toothed comb but which Ferguson seemed convinced still had something hidden for her to uncover.