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The tweets of Murdoch's self-destruction


Rupert Murdoch's tweets

Rupert Murdoch’s tweets about the Prince Philip knighthood were as bizarre as the knighthood itself. It’s clear that the Prime Minister will not comply with Murdoch’s wishes because they were expressed so publicly and in such a self-discrediting manner. 

But if his directions had been issued behind closed doors, they might have been taken seriously and acted upon.

Who is really in power is always an interesting, important and often depressing question. The common good so often has little to do with the way the nation is governed. In many areas of public policy, vested interests rule.

Former top public servant turned blogger John Menadue is often critical of the influence the multinational drug companies and other interests on government health policy. He wrote during the week that the reason reform is so difficult is that health ministers are in office but not in power. ‘The AMA has a long and dubious history in opposing key health reforms going back to its opposition to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme In 1942’.

Vested interests have stymied most, if not all, areas of policy reform in recent years, especially taxation. That has to be the only explanation for why negative gearing and superannuation concessions for the wealthy have remained untouched during the so-called budget emergency. 

Often the vested interests will manipulate public opinion with expensive public relations campaigns that turn the public will against the public good. That is the case with the mining companies and the super profits tax that was repealed by the Abbott Government.

De facto government by vested interests can be legal or illegal. Recently we have been witnessing the proceedings of the ICAC in NSW, and in the 80s in Queensland there was the Fitzgerald Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct. The Commission’s successful outcome led to the public interest and the workings of government being brought back into alignment, for a time.

The former Commissioner Tony Fitzgerald gave a rare and notable interview on Wednesday to the ABC’s Leigh Sales, in the lead up to Saturday’s state election. He said that as post corruption inquiry premier Wayne Goss set a new high standard for good governance, Campbell Newman has set a new low standard. 

Wayne Goss himself was an outstanding personality, a great leader, a man of great integrity… And then Beattie came in, and I'd say that throughout that period, from Borbidge, Beattie and then Anna Bligh, although I didn't watch a lot of it very closely, there's been a constant movement away, bit by bit, to the old-style politics.

Does it anger voters that vested and/or corrupt interests so often call the shots? Often it doesn’t because bad governance has become the norm and people lose sight of what they’re entitled to expect. It is only when corrupt or unelected powers become discredited that alternative possibilities become apparent and proper governance has a chance to flourish. The Fitzgerald Inquiry thoroughly discredited Queensland’s state government and a number of its instruments. It’s possible that Murdoch’s erratic and inopportune tweets will sow the seeds of his fall from power and influence. 

Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street.


Topic tags: Michael Mullins, Rupert Murdoch, Tony Abbott, Prince Philip, Peta Credlin, Tony Fitzgerald, health policy



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Existing comments

Murdoch's 'fall from power and influence'? Don't hold your breath; there's too much opportunity for synergy between governments of all colours and the media for that to happen soon.

Ginger Meggs | 30 January 2015  

I think you can let your breath out Ginger. The ABC’s Drum contributor, Tim Dunlop, has neatly exposed the waning influence of the mainstream media and especially Rupert Murdoch’s. (The Drum, 28th Jan) Referring to Murdoch’s mea culpa before Britain’s parliamentary committee inquiring into the shenanigans at his News Of The World (this is the most humble day of my life), Dunlop wrote: “I beg to differ. The most humble day of Rupert Murdoch’s life was the day he opened a Twitter account, thus admitting that all the newspapers and television stations he owns are no longer sufficient to convey his views to the world”. Amazing, isn’t it? Just as technology rendered obsolete the village cobbler, farrier, tailor, chemist etc, so also social media is reducing the mogul’s roar to just another piece of blather among the teenagers out in cyberspace.

Paul | 31 January 2015  

Good point Paul, and Obama's use of social media in his first campaign reinforces your point. What though with a PM who is IT illiterate and thinks social media is a variety of graffiti?

Ginger Meggs | 01 February 2015  

I think the general premise of this article about the adverse effect of powerful vested interests on the action of elected governments is spot on. Rupert Murdoch is perhaps, as others have said, beginning to find his influence waning. That would be a public good.

Edward Fido | 02 February 2015  

It should be of great concern to all thinking Australians that the Abbott government is so deeply entrenched in Murdoch's gargantuan pockets. Freedom of the press should not extend to such a predatory media conglomerate. It's the kind that spawn totalitarianism.

Alex Njoo | 02 February 2015  

Following on from Edward Fido, "effect of powerful vested interests on the action of elected governments" is spot on, and it can work for or against the common good. The smaller the pressure point of that influence, the more powerful it can be. In other words, larger organisations with many disparate voices under the umbrella are unable to bring as much pressure to bear as a more concentrated interest group. Which is exactly why 'peak bodies' can exert more influence. Which means Rupert is still most likely in the game if he plays by the old rules - so + to Paul's quote of Tim Dunlop re Rupert's most humiliating moment.
Motive for chiming in? - the reality that our voices mean little unless they can catch a momentum wave that results in a body with a peak voice that can exert pressure where it will be felt. No experience so no suggestions. The call is for a small group of individuals that can be seen as 'peak body' to act in concert for their own benefit and for the good of society. Their own benefit? Well, altruism rarely pays the bills. Where's our leadership outside government that can counter destructive corporate influences that presently get the ear of government?

MichCook | 02 February 2015  

Does it anger voters that vested and/or corrupt interests so often call the shots? No, not really. What should anger voters if if those voiced were listened to or, at worst, heeded.

Stuart Blackler | 02 February 2015  

TURNING ON THE WORD!With Rupert recently losing a huge bid for one company and then his power over News Corp, all that he has left is to twitter. Sorry, I should have said his 'right' to twitter! Who by the way should get the credit-a-lyn for knocking the wrong bird off the perch, or was it a Leigh Sales pitch that sends him twittering on the line?

Col Jennings | 05 February 2015  

Michcook- I think organisations like GetUp are the voice of the people and are having a great influence. Of course most MSM chose to ignore them- for how much longer I wonder?

Mairead deegan | 07 February 2015  

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