As the Adam Goodes and Bronwyn Bishop stories played out, we were exposed to two different sides of the media
Over the past few weeks, we have seen the best and worst of the Australian media. Somewhere in between, the public has stepped in and made their wishes clear, such that the right outcome has managed to emerge. Though people are able to form their own opinions and judgement, the media can definitely influence, inform and educate the public.
The case of Bronwyn Bishop’s infamous helicopter ride and the larger issue of politicians’ perks exposed by the Fairfax media, started an interesting debate. The debate began on the note of whether it was overly indulgent of the former Speaker to spend over $5,000 on a helicopter to attend a party fundraising function, but moved on to the opaqueness in the system of politicians’ entitlements. Doubtless one sympathises with the 24/7 lifestyle of our politicians where they are under constant scrutiny. But it is clear that though there have been reviews in this area in the past, to date, the desire to resolve the issue has not seemed obvious. This extends to both sides of politics. One believes that this is more from a lack of desire to change the system, rather than an inability to find a solution. Until this area is cleaned up, one suspects that there will be more exposes and further embarrassments for the politicians. All power to the press to keep the politicians honest.
The worst in Australian media were the feral comments by well-known media personalities such as Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and Shane Warne on the bullying and booing of AFL player Adam Goodes. With few and incorrect facts, Jones was given multiple platforms to express his prejudiced views; Bolt had equally narrow vision on reality and yes, Warne, the sports commentator on Channel 9, showed us what a twit he is. In this saga, even the Prime Minister went to sleep and rather than lead from the front for all Australians, including Indigenous Australians, chose to remain well in the background. Would it not have been strong of him to shirtfront Jones when this issue started to ferment? Nevertheless, the public, led by an equally passionate media personality, Stan Grant, made their voice known loud and clear. The level of support for Goodes on his week off showed all that society will not tolerate such appalling behaviour.
While on the topic of Goodes, it was painful to observe how slowly the AFL responded to the whole saga. Perhaps if they had endorsed the Aboriginal dance which Goodes had done, then this whole issue would have been a nonstarter. There needs to be a rule book to be followed by all codes – AFL, NRL, ARU and Cricket Australia as to how to deal with situations like this.
It was delightful to see how NSW Premier Baird and Victorian Premier Andrews reacted and voiced their opinion supporting Goodes. Both politicians led by example and need to be complimented. Premier Baird seems destined to rise to larger platform than his current position.
Media, this paper included, set the tone and the content for much of our democratic discourse. But they also have a duty to contribute to the enrichment of society.