Saturday, 13 February 2021

Quotes of the Week


 Since the start of the 46th Parliament, there have been about 538 divisions in the lower house. Just 18 of those divisions have occurred to pass legislation. A staggering 233 have occurred to prevent Opposition MPs giving speeches. That means government MPs have voted more times to silence their political opponents than they have to make laws – by a factor of 13.”  [Labor MP for Watson Tony Burke, writing in The New Daily, 28 January 2021]

 For those concerned about the cumulative impact of Fox News in America on the radicalisation of US politics, the same template is being followed with Sky News in Australia. We will see its full impact in a decade’s time…..At its core, it has delegitimised the twin pillars of the enlightenment: empirical fact and rational argument. The assault by Fox News on both as “fake news”, the culture that validates the world of “alternative facts” and the adulation of far-right “opinion” as somehow co-equal with (or superior to) scientifically established truths, all undermine the foundations of an informed citizenry in a functioning democracy. It also creates a political environment that is increasingly receptive to the world of fantasy, conspiracy, identity politics and extremist religious views no longer anchored in any common foundation of evidence and reason. The result is not just the creation of two warring political tribes based on different concepts of economic interests and social values, but two different conceptual worlds that can no longer communicate with each other because they no longer speak a common language. Murdoch’s Fox News has been central to this process of dividing the way in which Americans talk with each other for nearly 30 years. Most importantly, its net effect has been to delegitimise the democracy itself in the eyes of many Americans. It has created a radically divided country where the possibility of rational compromise has become progressively impossible between the warring tribes that Murdoch has sought successfully to create. This weakening of the American democracy, and the fracturing of the republic on which it rests, has dealt more damage to the global standing, influence and power of the United States than the combined efforts of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. Murdoch’s template for America, culminating in the political crisis of 6 January 2021. It’s a template which Murdoch has believed would maximise his personal, business and ideological interests – by demonising the agency of government; undermining essential government regulation; and most importantly by minimising corporate and personal tax. Trump achieved all three. It’s also Murdoch’s vision for Australia.”  [Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, excerpt from written submission to Australian Parliament, Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications, Inquiry into Media Diversity in Australia]

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