Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Controlling the media

is back on the government's agenda again. 
The measures announced yesterday by Senator Conroy are, in anyone's book, unacceptable. If brought in they would effectively hand control of the media to the government - who could then use the measures to restrict the capacity of journalists to do their job and also restrict the free flow of information internally.
It would, unless they put in a Chinese style firewall, be impossible to restrict information coming in from outside the country. Could that happen? Some scaremongering individuals have suggested it. I doubt it.
It would however make it much more difficult for people to get information in a compact reliable form from sources close to the action. It is difficult to imagine what the Press Gallery in Canberra would be like. 
I  do not doubt however that the present government would like to see much greater control of the media and so would their partners "The Greens".  It is because the Greens hold the balance of power that the "inquiry" took place to begin with. They believe they have reason to loathe the media, that the media is "against" them and determined to give them an unjustified and unjustifiable hard time. Oh yes, they have been criticised - sometimes severely. Some of their views are left of the left wing of the Labor Party. Some of their policies are, to put it kindly, impractical. 
The Greens however wield power which is greatly disproportionate to the number of votes they gained at the last election. They may have "broken the alliance" with the government and "torn up the agreement" with the government but it makes no practical difference. They believe the legislation does not go far enough. Others, from the centre and right of politics believe it goes too far.
At least one independent has expressed doubts about it.
The government is, once again, behaving like a child who is losing the game it is playing. It wants to change the rules to suit themselves, so that they can be sure of winning. 
Put the proposed rules in place now and their chances of winning the next election increase dramatically - and they are already in a position to win if they handle things carefully.
I was given another oblique warning to curb my own comments the other day. I was - mildly - critical of the government's proposed literacy policy for schools. Just after the letter was published I had the not unexpected call from a stranger "advising" me of the error of my ways. It amuses me that they believe anything I write has so much influence - but perhaps every little negative counts if you want people to believe you are losing and that the rules of the game are unfair. 
Good sense may prevail and the necessary legislation may not pass. 
If it does not pass then we still need to be vigilant because the very fact that such legislation can be contemplated shows our freedom to speak is at risk.
If it does pass it may be the end of more than press freedom to report - perhaps even the end of blogs like this one.


Helen Devries said...

Big Brother is indeed with us...did you notice how the U.K. Leveson enquiry turned into an attack on blogging?
Oddly enough while Leveson was in Murdoch territory...

Anonymous said...

It's a mess - looks like Katter might support it - don't think Wilkie will but he might. The others might out of self interest - revenge. Chris