Media Diversity, Broken Promises and the Return of the Ruby Princess

There have been calls for a parliamentary inquiry into media diversity in Australia, and generally, the behaviour of the mainstream media – and these calls have been made for about 20 years or so. The independent member for Goldstein, Zoe Daniel – and she used to work as a journalist before entering parliament – she currently has a motion in parliament, and that was introduced in early September, with secondary debates in the final week of the last parliamentary session about whether an inquiry should be held.

Australia does have one of the most concentrated media landscapes in the world, dominated by two companies – News Limited and Nine Media – there’s also issues with the Australian Press Council, and that’s funded by the mainstream media, and that’s the place where you can lodge a complaint about the media, and it’s pretty much close to useless, – and generally, the mainstream media in Australia tends to be supportive of conservative political interests. And if you’re not of a conservative persuasion, that’s not good news.

We’d highly recommend an inquiry into the media in Australia, and you’d expect that this is something that a Labor government would be supportive of, considering they’re usually on the end of most of the attacks from the media, whether they’re in government or Opposition – so what are they waiting for?

The Art of the Broken Promise

Politicians make a lot of promises, but it’s the broken promises that everyone tends to remember. Back in 1996, the former Prime Minister John Howard introduced the idea of core and non-core promises into the political vernacular, and that was after he broke some key election promises after finding out that he couldn’t keep them, and the media at that time seemed to accept this idea.

There’s been a lot of focus of Stage 3 tax cuts and broken promises – and the media has made it very clear to the public that this will be a big breach of public trust if Labor does repeal the tax cuts, while at the same time, it seems to be pushing them to break this promise well – but there are other areas where the Labor government is pushing the boundaries on what they promised or what they discussed in the last federal election campaign.

There are a few issues of broken trust up for debate – Labor promised to deliver an anti-corruption commission with teeth, but there’s now a few sticking points about transparency and public hearings; Labor also took the previous Coalition government to task about the secrecy of the National Cabinet – while they didn’t promise to release National Cabinet documents, they’ve closed down debate about making these documents public.

And they’ve also removed COVID isolation requirements, without releasing the medical evidence from the chief health officer to support this decision – and that’s one area that they also criticised the previous Coalition government on – and it seems that they’re now doing exactly the same.

All political leaders and all governments are going to caught out on these issues, so why do they keep making the promises they can’t keep, and sometimes keep the promises that they should be getting rid of, such as the Stage 3 tax cuts?

The Return of the Ruby Princess

The class action trial against Carnival PLC has commenced in Sydney, and that’s over the Ruby Princess incident in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, where 663 Australia were infected with COVID, and 28 of those passengers died – and the arguments for the plaintiff are that the entire incident wasn’t an accident and the ship should never have sailed at all.

There was a special commission of inquiry into the Ruby Princess, and that report was completed in August 2020, but it was a whitewash of a report, and couldn’t hold anyone responsible for the incident, but hopefully this class action trial will shine some more light on these events.

The Polls

And there was also a Resolve Poll that came out during the week – and again, not much difference in the polling from the previous month – Labor has 58% in two-party preferred voting, which means the Coalition is polling at 42% – Albanese is still preferred Prime Minister by 53% to Dutton’s 18%, and the net approval rating is 36 points for Albanese, and Dutton’s is minus 10 points.

And we have to remember that Albanese has similar figures to Dutton’s at the same point in his leadership against Scott Morrison – today, Albanese is the Prime Minister, and Morrison isn’t – so there is a little ray of hope for Peter Dutton.

But the interesting issue about this poll is that all key indicators – and that’s economic management, health care, aged care, and education – Labor is way ahead of the Coalition – and it’s even on national security and defence – and economic management and national security and defence are seen more as the issues that are owned by conservative parties – so even though there are issues for the Labor Party, and a lot of pressure piled on by the media and the Opposition, there’s a perception in the electorate that they’re actually doing well – and that of course can change quickly, and might change very quickly after the October Budget is released – but these polls are good for Anthony Albanese, and not so good for Peter Dutton, as they have been ever since he became the Leader of the Opposition.

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