Davis Accuses ABC of Surpressing News

This is the item, from Graham Davis's Grubsheet. 

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 07:15 PM PDT
Getting itself in knots. "Our" ABC.
Getting itself in knots. “Our” ABC.
It’s taken Radio Australia more than 60 hours to broadcast a landmark speech given on Monday night to the Australia Fiji Business Forum by the Deputy Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop. (see previous posting) In that speech, Ms Bishop signaled a radical overhaul of Australia’s policy towards Fiji if the Coalition wins the forthcoming Australian election. But the evidence shows that Radio Australia chose to willfully ignore it, broadcasting instead two pieces on its public affairs program, Pacific Beat, that were highly critical of Fiji.
This morning, Grubsheet blew the whistle on this blatant act of censorship with the previous piece. At 5.14 AM Australian Eastern Standard Time, we sent the link to one of Julie Bishop’s principal advisors, Sam Riordan. At 6.21 AM, we sent the link to senior ABC executive, Alan Sunderland, who handles formal complaints on behalf of the news division, which includes Radio Australia. At 7.59 AM, Alan Sunderland sent Grubsheet an email saying he would “follow up”on the story and pointing out an inaccuracy in our original account. Then at 9.12 AM, Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat finally posted a large slab of Ms Bishops address, more than 60 hours after she’d delivered it. It ran it without comment. After all, what on earth could the broadcaster’s journalists say?
As detailed in the previous posting, we know that the Australia Network’s Pacific Correspondent, Sean Dorney, sent the Bishop speech to Radio Australia on Monday night. What happened to it? We still haven’t had an answer from ABC management. But we have clear evidence that senior Radio Australia journalist, Bruce Hill, knew about it but chose not to report it. Instead of broadcasting what was a major change of policy signaled by the Deputy Opposition Leader  were the Coalition to win the forthcoming election, Hill chose instead to carry an interview with a former Fiji opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, lashing Fiji’s Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, for his own speech at the Business Forum. Where Julie Bishop had praised Ratu Inoke in her speech, Mick Beddoes lacerated him. Bruce Hill needs to explain himself, as does the entire Radio Australia news team. Because without a doubt, it is one of the most blatant instances of censorship and news manipulation Grubsheet has ever witnessed.
The timeline above speaks for itself. Julie Bishop is advised, the ABC management is advised. Within a couple of hours, Radio Australia finds the “missing” tape and puts it to air. It is not good enough and the whole episode demands an explanation. There should be an inquiry into why Radio Australia chose not to broadcast a tape that was in its possession for nearly three days. There should be a inquiry into why the rest of the ABC – domestic radio and television, including the ABC’s 24 hours news channel – also ignored the story. Only Sean Dorney emerges from this episode with any credibility at all. Having faithfully reported Ratu Inoke’s original speech, he faithfully reported Julie Bishop’s speech for Australia Network. The rest of the ABC – including its overseas radio service – should hang its head in shame.


Contingent Consultants said…
There is something inherently fascist in the psyche of many Australians. It borders on the asinine. The candour of Ratu Inoke's speech was to be relished and savoured. We are not always good at seeing ourselves as others see us. Is that the problem? And when sensible women of intelligence come up with solutions which are pragmatic, equitable and just, that is too much to handle. We would prefer to stick to our planned agenda for the remunerated encarceration of refugees (of doubtless myriad motivations) on islands way to the North. This was the plan for Fiji back in the Dark Days of 2001 when we had quite enough to take care of at the time. A sort of displacement activity with contingent consultants, no doubt.
How naive can they be said…
So now we have the illegal human rights abusing Fiji junta setting Australian foreign policy and Graham Davis wanting to run the ABC. A bullying dictatorship and a little garden gnome bully with a napoleon complex. This is totally humiliating for the Australian Liberal Party. Is it really as naïve as it appears or is just someone totally out of touch with reality?
Crosbie Walsh said…
Scott has asked me to publish this for him. -- Croz
The facts about the ABC’s coverage of Opposition Deputy and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Julie Bishop’s supposed landmark speech promising a radical overhaul of Australian policy toward Fiji will become apparent over time.
However some information which is already available should be considered by people expecting a major change in the existing policy if the conservative Coalition is elected.
The first is that even if Ms Bishop becomes the Foreign Minister, she will not be Deputy PM. That position will go to the National Party parliamentary leader, currently Warren Truss. However should Barnaby Joyce succeed in his planned move from the Senate to the House of Representatives, expect a challenge to Truss’s position by Joyce. Young bull versus old bull is the easiest rural analogy for what is almost inevitable. Whatever happens in the National Party, Ms Bishop will automatically lose the Deputy PM position and be even less powerful in the government than she already is in the opposition. Her ability to determine such matters as foreign policy and especially foreign aid will be reduced.
Ms Bishop’s stance on the importance of foreign aid is well known but not clearly dominant in the current opposition coalition. If Joe Hockey becomes Treasurer, and his current attachment to balanced budgets becomes policy, it should not surprise if overseas aid is reduced substantially. Joyce, currently shadow finance minister, has already signalled this will be a target area for him in any government deliberations: don’t give aid overseas when there are poor people in Australia is his mantra. Scott McWilliam (contineued in the next comment)
Crosbie Walsh said…
Continuation of comment from Scott ...

Since WWII every conservative government in Australia has been an uneasy coalition between the Liberal Party and the Country/Country National/ National Party. Contrary to the popular objection to the current ALP-Greens-Independents government this is not the first time the country has had a coalition or alliance at the helm. The Liberal Party has never won an absolute majority of Federal seats in its own right and been able to govern without forming a conservative coalition with what are now called Nationals. Because of the need for the Nationals’ numbers in parliament, it is not unusual for the smaller party to determine government policy. Tails wag dogs in politics too. The more seats the Nationals contribute to any coalition government the stronger the anti-aid line is likely to be.
In most States the conservative parties are not close, with splits regular and constant occurrences. In Queensland there are now at least three conservative parties, with one of them internally divided between Nationals and Liberals. In WA, from where Ms Bishop comes, there are two conservative parties and support for foreign aid from National Party politicians, let alone other Liberals, is unlikely to be strong. The likelihood that Ms Bishop can carry even conservative politicians from WA along with her position is doubtful. The Hockey-Joyce line probably will win out even in what might superficially appear as her political base.
Last but not least, except for temporary moments no Australian government or foreign minister has ever regarded the South Pacific as a major foreign policy concern. This is unlikely to change should the current Opposition become government.
If the Tony Abbott-Scott Morrison line on asylum seekers prevails in the new government, that is `turn back the boats’ or let them sink when they can’t be turned back, then the numbers of asylum seekers making it to Australia will/could decline substantially. However events in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam and Afghanistan after the Allied military withdrawal have the potential to greatly increase refugee numbers world-wide so even the hardest of lines may only mean a temporary lull in arrivals. But at least since Ratu Inoke’s recent speech, it is hard to imagine that Fiji will be drawn into the Australian search for countries to take large numbers of asylum seekers. Fiji will remain of little concern for Australian foreign policy over the conservative Coalition’s most important immediate dilemma.
Bishop’s speech should be seen for what it was, a conservative pandering to its `natural’ constituency, commercial interests, in the run-up to the forthcoming election. Anyone expecting a radical overhaul should not bet their house and other chattels on it happening. Should next year’s election in Fiji not see whatever is the reincarnation of the last SDL-led government in power, expect whichever party/parties is/are in government in Australia to hold to the current anti-military regime line. Fortunately Australia’s and New Zealand’s significance in the region is on the slide and indigenous nationalism on the rise. Whether Australian foreign policy changes may not matter much anyway.

Scott MacWilliam
You were right, Messrs Buckland and Williams in 1983 said…
Is there to be a 'next year's election in Fiji'? If so, why is the water main between Nagado and Lautoka in pieces? Are there water trucks regularly and in a programmed way delivering water to: Lomolomo/Vuda/Saweni/Dreketi and all places in between to Lautoka? No there are not. We have checked this morning. For those of us who attended the Commissioning of the Vaturu Dam and then, the same day,were witness to the break out of water spouts through tarmacadam all the way to Lautoka as the water was released under pressure, the memories are not just poignant they are truly galling. How can we still be in a place where mains are failing and treated water is being wasted in such an irresponsible way? This is the legacy of our iniquitous, neglectful past! Something substantive has to change. Maybe Hon Julie Bishop and her Coalition Associates have been moved to see reason? Water which is treated must be delivered daily by UN Convention to civilians and they must know where to access it. Even those with tanks and automatic hookups are 'out of water'. The elderly, children, pregnant women and the sick must be assured of daily clean, treated water. Two more days to go, we are being told. Yet on Thursday, we were informed by the Water Authority of Fiji: midnight. Thirteen years into the twenty-first century and we still have not got it right? Sainiana Waqanibete you fiercely insisted on a fix? Where are Messrs George Buckland and Owen Williams who in 1983 were still around to gently remind us at the Commissioning of the Vaturu Dam that the infrastructure required timely attention to upgrade and maintain it, appropriately. What was in place then was patently inadequate. They were right and that was......... thirty years ago!
We are waiting.............. said…
Restoring credibility once it has been trashed through a failure to fully and transparently inform is near to impossible. If it concerns a vital resource, essential to family life and business functioning, maybe never. Any politician worth his/her salt knows this. Messrs Buckland and Williams, highly trained and experienced water engineers knew this. The ADB and the funders of the Vaturu dam, the politicians in power at that time, were informed. Those of us who worked in Team Fiji on the Vaturu Dam back in the early 1980s had no doubt about it. Now for the Good News: Water was restored this morning to the areas of the West devoid of it. Yet, for a full three days and nights there has been: no regular, timely information about this most unfortunate incident nor how it came about. How it came about is relevant. Revisit SMART. How SMART are we? Discuss. No water trucks have visited even daily all the settlements and groups that we have spoken to: only once and even then the time of availability was unknown. Those who called WATER AUTHORITY OF FIJI (some in their mid70s, the elderly and not-so-well)were told they would be 'listed'. Nothing eventuated. We ensured that the WAF was called every three hours for updates. But the information released was: inaccurate/incoherent/when tested found to be wildly 'off-the-mark'. This will not do. Vernacular radio stations (which were formerly fountains of coherent and sound information even in the 1980s)were also found to be sorely wanting. This also will not do. Most of the country was unaware of the saga unfolding on our doorsteps and in our houses: Why? Our own Good Neighbour ensured that we had, on our own network, photographs daily of progress and information at least three times a day on possible/probable time of restoration of supply. Our area is inhabited by visiting yachties, tourists, oil companies and their personnel, many retired persons who are ailing, young families and lots of Fijians: all need treated, reliable water supply and information which is accurate/timely/SMARTLY-delivered. Well done, FIJI WATER with your donation to the Lautoka people in need. We have relied upon you and you have not been found wanting: many of us have purchased water for a full three days for dozens of employees). The anxiety provoked by a failure of delivery of bottled water to the Marina was for a while intense. There are lessons to be learned from this event. They must be. There is never any excuse to be made for a failure of the Duty to Inform. Information must be disseminated widely and accurately and in a consistent way. NO WATER - is a potential risk to many vulnerable and even not-so-vulnerable people especially to small children and babies and the sick. Common sense should tell us all these things and we should go out of our daily comfort zones to ensure that no one is found professionally wanting. If they are, and we must ensure we investigate well, take them to task and TELL US THAT YOU HAVE. We can assure you, we are waiting.........
Addendum said…
An addendum to the comments made by Scott McWilliam: if any political party in Australia were to now decide to ignore the South Pacific as a foreign policy concern, they would be gravely in error. The Asia Pacific region needs to be viewed in its entirety. Meaning? Gaps represent risk and are not a good idea. The South Pacific region can no longer be pushed into a convenient gap for whatever reason. This is self-evident. Risks obtain: these risks are becoming more relevant and significant daily. Making up for lost time would be a smart idea and surely in Australia's self interest? Reparation is the key word....a great deal of repairing to be done and not only to water mains!
Graham Davis said…
A little garden gnome with a Napoleon complex? If you insist. But if you think it's ok for the Australian taxpayer funded broadcaster to bury stories it doesn't like, then I can't help you. You are blind to reason. The timeline says it all - protest, acknowledgement, correction. An Interview that hadn't seen the light of day was suddenly broadcast. No explanation, no inquiry but tacit acknowledgement that someone - perhaps several people - hadn't done their jobs properly and the ABC was vulnerable to the charge of suppression. The lights were suddenly switched on. The gnome had done his job.
The farcical focus on sport......... said…
Who knows what the Australian taxpayer-funded ABC is up to? But the Water Authority of Fiji, one is informed, was busy playing Volleyball and was out celebrating a win with a party when someone ought to have been telling the residents and hard-pressed ratepayers of Lautoka that they still had to wait (some of them) until 2100 hrs Sunday night for full restorate of their water supply. We shall expect fullsome tax and rate rebates on this one. On the issue of what is surely an OHS matter: the sustainable and predictable supply of treated water to a civilian population, an inquiry is required. "Mens sana in corpore sano". The preoccupation with sporting activity has become more than farcical. For what is the point of having a 'healthy body' if the focus of the mind is "all over the place"? WAF needs to get its serious act together. An apology or two, or three might not go amiss. Telling us on Thursday that water would be restored at midnight was quite simply ..... a lie. Never, never allow anyone to lie to you twice! And always SMARTLY verify your information. It might save a life!
Objectivity my ass said…
Great job Graham for exposing how ABC journalists try to play God and suppress certain stories, and slant things in certain ways, all the while protesting their objectivity. Objectivity and media freedom have become convenient shield for errant journalists. When they engage in skulduggery and are caught out, they quickly cry objectivity and press freedom. Objectivity my ass!

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