Even by its own arguably compromised standards of impartiality, The Australian has outdone itself with its Stimulus Watch series of articles. Scrolling down, one finds an interminable list of almost single-mindedly negative contributions, many provided by the usual suspects with a conservative bias, such as Imre Salusinszky, David Uren, Pia Akerman (daughter of Piers) and Christian Kerr. Even despite its reputation for going tough on Labor and the broader left, I find it amazing that a publication of the stature of this newspaper can get away with such a one-eyed hatchet-job on the Rudd Government’s response to the GFC. Where is the balance? Where is the measured reporting of successes and failures – or the consideration of alternate points of view? Non-existent. Cut adrift from its ties to power since the demise of the Howard Government, Australia’s only national rag is increasingly looking like a bloated, low-brow version of Quadrant.
The increasingly tedious onslaught continues in today’s edition of the paper, with a rambling column from Malcolm Colless which takes aim at the public sector jobs created by the government’s stimulus spending. Upon reading, it becomes obvious that the premise of the column is driven in large part by the author’s hatred of government bureaucracy, itself likely driven by the author’s hatred of having to pay tax, characteristic of both the average Liberal voter and, utterly coincidentally, the average contributor to The Australian. A few ragged news threads regarding developments on the national broadband network are thrown together with a weary attack on the Rees Government in New South Wales to provide a strange, dove-tailing anti-Labor rant that provides precious little insight into the real state of affairs.
I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that the only people who could possibly enjoy reading such a relentless stream of one-eyed diatribes are diehard conservative readers, already committed to voting either Liberal, National, or worse. Everyone else, from the traditional Labor or Green voter to the swinging voter, is likely to be turned off in a big way, and I don’t think that is good for either the conservative side of politics, journalistic standards, or indeed the health of democracy in this country.
If people stop respecting an outlet, its content degrades in value and reach, regardless of whether or not some of the content is actually quality journalism. I don’t see how it is possible for any person interested in reading balanced political journalism to respect The Australian anymore.