xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: The truth shall set us free. But who will tell us the truth?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The truth shall set us free. But who will tell us the truth?

Lately the media has quite rightly been focusing on the boorish behaviour of Donald Trump.
On Friday we saw an Australian version of Donald Trump on national television. Unlike Trump, he is not really being castigated by the Australian media for his ignorant and bullying behaviour. He deserves to be.

I refer to Queensland Liberal Senator McDonald. This loudmouthed, outspoken bully is a member of the Senate Committee investigating whether Attorney General, George Brandis, mislead the parliament when he said that he had previously discussed with the Solicitor General of the Commonwealth his decision to make it law that everyone, including the Governor General and the Prime Minister, must first refer to him before they consulted the Solicitor General for legal opinions.
The Solicitor General, Simon Gleeson, says he does not support such a law and there was no  consultation.

Senator McDonald was not interested in finding out the truth of this important matter. He spoke over the top of witnesses and even over the top of Senator Louise Pratt, who was Chairperson of the Committee of Inquiry. Clearly, some LNP politicians have a very hard job trying to deal with females who are placed in positions of authority. In this case, Senator McDonald's boorish behaviour indicated that did not  recognize Senator Pratt as having any authority over him. He was overbearing and rude throughout.  He spent most of his time denigrating the Solicitor General, attempting to make his behaviour the focus if the inquiry.

The media should be highlighting (or would that be lowlighting) this abysmal performance from one of our elected representatives. McDonald has form as an acknowledged bully, especially where women are concerned. You may recall that Senator McDonald was the Chairman of the Senate Committee that hauled Human Rights Commissioner, Gillian Triggs, before it to grill her on her report about the Forgotten Generation.

Again, McDonald was not interested in the facts. He spent his time as Chairman bullying and attacking Ms Triggs, who remained remarkably calm and composed throughout his verbal assaults.
McDonald roundly criticised her report as biased. When Ms Triggs asked him if he had even read the report he proudly replied that he had not wasted his time reading such a biased, political document.
In doing so, he clearly demonstrated that he, as Chairman of the inquiry, had come to the hearing having already pre-judged the report, without ever bothering to read it.

One can only wonder what was the thinking of the people who appointed McDonald to be chairman of this committee of inquiry. Clearly, he was appointed for one reason only. He was an attack dog who would savage any witness seen as an enemy of the LNP.

Obviously, it was again with that thought in mind that Senator McDonald was placed on the current inquiry into whether the Attorney General, Senator Brandis lied to the Senate.

Unfortunately, Senator McDonald's arrogant and aggressive behaviour has not been highlighted in the mainstream media. Instead, the media has followed McDonald's red herring about Simon Gleeson having a telephone conversation with Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus during the election campaign.  Mr Brandis says he should have been notified of this conversation.

This telephone call took place during the caretaker, pre election phase, of government, which meant Attorney General Brandis had no role or real authority over the Solicitor General at that time. In any case, Dreyfus rang Gleeson to ask if Brandis had discussed the controversial new law with him before presenting it to the Senate. Gleeson told him that there had been no consultation and that was the end of the conversation.

It was not a call about a matter of law. It was not the case of the Solicitor General being asked to give a legal opinion. There can be no reasonable expectation that Gleeson would notify Senator Brandis, or indeed anybody else of such a conversaton.

But this telephone call was the main topic of the news coverage that night about the inquiry into whether Brandis lied to the Senate or not. The media were either sucked in by McDonald's Trump like tactics of distraction, or they are complicit in keeping the public uninformed of the really important issues. A frightening thought.

Just as frightening is the thought that later that  day, Senator McDonald probably enjoyed a few celebratory drinks in the Members' Bar, with his like minded colleagues congratulating him on how easily he had thrown the question about Senator Brandis' honesty completely off track. The media focus was now fixed, not on  Brandis, but on an respected and hard working public servant whose honesty has never been brought in to question.

A democracy requires more than just freedom of the press. It requires the press to print the facts, all of the facts. It requires the press to highlight shysters like Senator McDonald, who use bullying tactics and bluster to destroy the search for truth.

At present the Australian press does not appear to be serving democracy very well at all.

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