The Threat Within
If there has ever been any doubt that Australia is in the midst of radical change that threatens some of our time-honoured freedoms, the latest report from Ray Finkelstein QC on media freedoms should awaken you from your slumber.
Its recommendations should alarm every freedom-loving Australian as it calls for a new quasi-government super regulator of almost all published content to ensure it doesn’t contravene the sensibilities of the left. After all, this report was in response to demands from the Greens and Labor that the media were exposing their failings unnecessarily and were becoming the ‘hate media’.
If the Australian Greens’ policies were even remotely sensible and if Labor didn’t turn everything they touched into a rotten, rorted mess, they’d probably get a better reception from the press.
Finkelstein’s proposal, which is strongly supported by Greens leader Bob Brown, is for this new body to act as regulator, judge and jury of almost all published content. This wouldn’t apply just to newspapers and television but to websites, personal blogs and even some Twitter users!
This newest version of Big Brother wouldn’t have to give reasons for any decisions it reached and the final determination would not be subject to appeal. This is just another proposal for an unelected, almost unaccountable body to determine what is appropriate to say, think or print outside the rule of law.
For those of us who have consistently campaigned against the mantra of political correctness that we consider already seeks to stifle dissenting opinion or viewpoints, this is a truly alarming prospect.
Columns and blogs like this one would be subject to the new regime because they attract more readers than the proposed regulatory minimum. That means that my views as a member of the Senate could be filtered to ensure they comply with the uber-comptroller of the media police. Not only could this be considered a breach of the time-honoured right and responsibility of parliamentarians to be able to speak without fear or favour, the principle itself is simply abhorrent.
In my time, I have been the subject of the wrath of the media. My views, while reflective and mostly supported by mainstream Australians, often don’t sit well with those who view the world from the rarefied atmosphere of the Canberra press gallery or our ‘non-partisan’ ABC.
However, the very suggestion that these opposing opinions should somehow be stifled or limited, even if it was to support my cause, would be the most outrageous breach of one of our key freedoms. So much so that it wouldn’t even be considered by any sensible conservative. Dissent and discussion are essential elements of the public discourse and a key element of our adversarial (but accountable) political system.
Why is it then that the self-same people who would scream the loudest against any attempt to muzzle the progressive voice seemingly support regulation of the conservative one?
The answer, of course, lies within the classic text that demonstrates the many failings of the socialist system, George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Then as now, the socialists believe that all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.