Gina Rinehart govt to bring in bill of attainder?
Something strange and rather ominous is happening in Australia. The Gillard government plans to do something no democratic government should.
It's trying to work out how to gag the media. They are especially targeting one newspaper-The Australian.
Now for most of history, a national daily newspaper was a pipe dream for such a large country.
But back in ‘64, Rupert Murdoch decided to start a national newspaper - even before the technology was ready.
He kept the newspaper going at a loss for decades.
The Australian took on causes even before they were fashionable.
Such as aboriginal disadvantage.
They ran with others, like the republic, which turned out to be a dead loss.
Most importantly The Australian has given both sides a go.
And thrashed each side when they believed they deserved it.
But the Gillard government can't take it.
Just as they can't take the daily exposure of their failings by talkback radio - especially by 2GB’s Alan Jones and Ray Hadley.
This is dangerous stuff.
The government is now working out ways to control the media, to make it more compliant.
They talking about a star chamber- called a media council -to do the controlling.
Then there's to be a a special law to deal with Gina Rinehart.
We haven't had special laws against individuals since the bills of attainder. They were used to declare someone guilty of a crime, often treason. Without a trial. And then they were executed. They were declared unconstitutional in the US. This bill of attainder against Gina Rinehart is to stop her acquiring Fairfax. The camouflage is to be a so-called public interest test. It will be a political interest test. Is this acquisition in the political interests of the Gillard government? And now we have the extraordinary news that Fairfax’s chief executive,Greg Hywood, has refused to sign a letter of protest from media organisations to the government. He told The Australian “We're not about to sign a form letter penned by News Limited to deal with the problem it created for the media industry in this country.” The problem The Australian created for the media? What does he mean? The media doing theirs job – exposing government failings and not just publishing government press releases -creates a problem? Isn’t this the clearest reason for Fairfax to grab the help that Gina Rinehart is offering. Fairfax is in a mess because the ownership that is the board long ago abandoned its responsibility. It handed over control of its once proud journals of record - the Herald and The Age - to left-wing journalist collectives. And in their now dire financial position Fairfax is panicking. Fairfax is desperately screaming out for leadership. Leadership of the sort that Murdoch offers News Limited. Isn’t it time to give Gina Rinehart a go?