xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: Trumpism is alive and well in Australia.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Trumpism is alive and well in Australia.

I am saddened to say that Trumpism is now alive and well in Australia. Donald Trump thrives on saying outlandish things, which are then widely reported in the media. Trump’s outlandish statements are not refuted by journalists, who should be asking questions and seeking the truth of the matter.

Victoria Rollison, writing for The Australian Independent Media Network on September 29, observed that Trump is allowed to state falsehood without any real media scrutiny. She says of the US media, “They are the Dr Frankenstein to the Trump monster”

Well, in Australia, our media is just as bland and unquestioning. Trumpism is alive and well in Australia. Politicians may say what they like. The media reports, but does not refute, the many falsehood.

On Wednesday, September 28, South Australia suffered the most severe storm in its recorded history. Lightning put a power station out of action and cyclonic winds knocked over several power transmission towers as if they were matchsticks.

With severe outages occurring, the state’s power grid shut down, as it was designed to do, in order to protect life and property. Of course, this resulted in massive disruptions and inconvenience across the state. Brave men and women from the State Emergency Service swung into action, heroically dealing with the situation in fearful weather conditions that were, in many cases, life threatening.
In view of this disaster the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, went on National television to address the nation.

Did he refer to the unprecedented weather event that had shut down South Australia’s power supply? Did he thank the brave SES workers and other volunteers who were working in dangerous circumstances to restore the state’s electricity grid? Did he offer his government’s support to South Australia in what was obviously a national emergency?

No, he did not. Instead he blamed the Labor party and Labor state premiers for having policies that encouraged the establishment of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. This, said Mr Turnbull, was the cause of the South Australian blackout. 

Assuming the role of a populist demagogue like Donald Trump, Prime Minister Turnbull, spoke of people stuck in lifts. People with fridges full of rapidly rotting food. People stuck in traffic because the lights were out. People in their homes huddled around some candles.He did not address the facts, instead, he appealed to people's emotions to make his purely party political points. According to the Prime Minister of Australia, all of this had happened because South Australia produces 40% of its power from renewable energy.

It was pure bunkum. It was Australia's version of Donald Trump. Look at a very bad situation and blame your opponents for it. It was done for crass political purposes. The fact is, it would not have mattered if all of South Australia’s power was produced by coal, gas, oil or nuclear fuel. The storm would still have shut down the power grid. The blackout was not problem of power supply. It was a problem of power transmission. A power house was disabled and several transmission towers had been destroyed.

The media, as it always seems to do these days, repeated Mr Turnbull’s story without any qualifications or questions seeking the truth. Subsequently, the media story was not about the storm and the power blackout, it was about renewable energy being an unreliable power source.

The media reported Mr Turnbull’s blatant politicising of the South Australian storm without any questions.Turnbull’s line was quickly taken up by other self-styled experts. South Australian Senator, Nick Xenophon, quickly jumped on the Turnbull bandwagon saying, “Heads should roll.” Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, also took up the cudgels against Labor’s renewable energy policy,  blaming it for what had happened in South Australia. Australia's  self styled Expert In Chief, Andrew Bolt, also hopped on the band wagon, blaming Labor's renewable energy policies for the blackout.

What is worse, the ABC, which used to value its reputation for objective journalism, followed the barking mob. In an an "Et tu Brutus" moment it joined in the political point scoring. Senior ABC journalist, Chris Uhlmann, reported that renewable energy had caused the problem, as did the usually reliable Sabra Lane, who ended her story by saying in effect that there would be far reaching political ramifications caused by "the renewable energy problem".  The renewable energy problem? Where were the facts? Totally disregarded. Who wants the facts to get in the way of a good old political stoush between the Liberal and Labor sides of politics?

Even the West Australian newspaper editorialised on Friday morning about how right Mr Turnbull had been in highlighting the unreliability of using renewable energy sources. It even mentioned the high cost of power in South Australia, inferring this was also due to the use of renewable energy and Labor mismanagement. However, many would say the high cost of South Australia's power is due to a previous state Liberal government’s decision to privatise the state’s power generation. The West Australian failed to mention South Australia’s privatised power for profit scheme, probably because WA Premier, Colin Barnett, is actively thinking about doing the same thing. Trumpism triumphs when the media plays along.

During the federal election campaign, I wrote about Australia’s Toadying Media. (http://noelswriting.blogspot.com.au/2016/05/the-toadying-media.html).Today’s journalists seem to have no desire to examine the issues and seek out the truth. They seem content to just take whatever the politicians say and print it as if it was from the Gospel of St Luke.

To a large extent the media gives us our world view. We only have to look to the USA to see how a compliant, sensation seeking media has given almost 50% of the voting public an unshakeable belief in Donald Trump, a carpet bagging salesman selling several different brands of snake oil, which he claims will fix all of our problems.

Well, it seems to me that one of the biggest problems you can have in a free society is a media where journalists are too lazy, or too fearful of losing their jobs, to investigate what politicians tell them. Journalist who cut and paste press releases and fail to seek, discover and report the truth

Mr Turnbull’s resorting to cheap political point scoring, in the face of a national emergency, does him no credit whatsoever. The same can be said for those who swallowed his story without question.
The Irish parliamentarian, Edmund Burke, against the bloody backdrop of the French Revolution and growing civil unrest in the American colonies, warned the British House of Commons that, “It is sufficient for the triumph of evil that just men do nothing.”

We can only hope and pray that there are still a few just men and women left in our media who will not enable Trumpism to triumph. Who will not be happy just to peddle populist platitudes and downright untruths. We need journalists who will examine the issues and present the facts of the matter. Otherwise, Trumpism will triumph, to the detriment of us all.


  1. Our Government might be going through a rough period...but think about the USA...God Bless America

  2. Unless the Australian media lifts its game we can look forward to emulating America in the years to come.A major problem is that the media will not give a lot of publicity to any news which casts adverse reflections on organizations that advertise in newspapers or on TV. The ABC, once fearless in this regard had been neutered by Tony Abbott(remember 'No changes to the ABC'), Malcolm Turnbull and the appointment of an ex Murdoch employee as CEO and several arch conservatives on the Board. It is not really OUR ABC any more.


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