UP BENDIGO way, Federal Labor MP Steve Gibbons is very upset about Fairfax falling into Mrs Rinehart’s hands – if a valueless property being lifted from the brink of ruin can be described as “falling”. Gibbons would like a bit more law and regulation to keep the Phage and Silly on the right track, as he sees it, and proposes to bring such an initiative to the floor of the House. With Wayne Swan and sundry others all leaping to the defence of the media company that has been so very kind to them, the argument for government control and sanctions is being couched in terms of the need to preserve “quality journalism”.
Well the thing worth noting about Gibbons is that he is no particular ally of Fairfax as it exists at the moment, he just doesn't like free speech. Indeed, a year ago, he was getting stuck into the Fairfax-owned Bendigo Advertiser for “appalling journalism”, its crime having been to report a CFA officer’s opinion that BER-funded renovations to a local school had increased the fire risk.
When people like Gibbons talk about protecting journalism, what they actually mean is protecting themselves from scrutiny and rebuke -- any and all scrutiny and rebuke. The Fairfax crisis just gives them a chance to come across all pious while doing so.