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Please be sure to read this more recent article of MARCH 4th, 2005



The media in Australia and around the world is a dangerous, deceitful, two-faced, lying entity which is accelerating our path to destruction.

 It pretends to inform us while actually keeping the truth from us.

by Vivienne Legg

May 10th, 2004


And it's getting worse. There is a continued push for relaxing of the cross media ownership laws in Australia, which would permit most of our media to be owned by just two powerful individuals, swallowing up the Fairfax press, (the one remaining "independently" owned major player). Former Labor Party Prime Minister, Paul Keating, spelled out the obvious in an article on 23rd June 2003.  

"An enlarged media company will align its television and its print whenever it suits it. Not every day but when it really counts. Look how Rupert Murdoch's organisation cracked the whip in support of George Bush's campaign against Iraq.

All News Corporation's media outlets went flat out for it. And no reflection now about those missing weapons of mass destruction. Not a bit of it.”


Keating, the architect of the existing cross media ownership laws, was responding to assertions of a former Fairfax editor, writing for the Fairfax broadsheet, the Sydney Morning Herald, who amazingly argued,”… does anyone really believe either of those enlarged groups would harness their television stations alongside their newspapers as serious political propaganda tools?”

 Keating’s article concluded that, were it not for Fairfax's relative independence, his article would not be published at all. In fact the article wasn't published at all by the Sydney Morning Herald and instead was published by and then by ABC's Media Watch. (You can see it here )


 Australia already has the most concentrated media ownership in the western world.

In 2003 Margo Kingston, one of Australia's more outspoken Fairfax journalists, pleaded for people to oppose the media takeover in Australia by Murdoch and Packer. 

“Do you want Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer to run Australia? … Murdoch - the world's most powerful media mogul - already decides what's fit to print in Adelaide, Brisbane and many regional cities, where he owns the only newspaper. In Melbourne and Sydney he dominates the newspaper market and he owns the only national daily, The Australian. Even with the Harradine amendment, he could add news talk radio stations to his assets; with it he could add a TV network, delivering him almost total control of the national news agenda. Australia already has the most concentrated media ownership in the western world.

Kerry Packer is Australia's richest, most powerful businessman, and owns the dominant Nine TV network. The legislation would allow Packer to take over the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Australian Financial Review - newspapers owned by the Fairfax group. Fairfax is independently owned, and provides the only scrutiny of Murdoch and Packer apart from the ABC. …”

Kingston echoed Keating’s concerns, “As we saw during the Iraq war debate, Rupert Murdoch's papers around the world all ran a strong pro-war line, regardless of the individual interests of each country concerned. And now, in the United States, The United Kingdom and Australia, all three governments are trying to deregulate media laws to allow Rupert Murdoch to own even more media.” 


Worse than the dangerous media distortion of the truth is the continued pretence that it is the truth, and that it serves the people.

Margo Kingston, who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald, explains that Fairfax has a charter of independence and code of ethics which distinguishes it from the others. But it still deprives us of the real news, Margo, while pretending otherwise. We have our own personal experience of this, which gives a frightening insight into how it must work across the board, and this on a mere issue of domestic importance, let alone on issues of global significance, like war and "terror". 

We, gaiaguys, have contacted the paper on different occasions drawing attention to our website exposé of the corrupt dealings of our local Federal National Party Member for Parliament, and the surrounding bipartisan cover-up of his corruption. In 1999, one reporter, Pilita Clarke, looking for information about Premier Carr’s “secret state”, responded to an email of ours. She said ours was an “excellent webpage” and she would take a closer look. 

But The Sydney Morning Herald will not report what we have uncovered. Apart from a brief cursory item about the Pine Brush National Estate land sell-off by the Minister for Natural Resources there has been no real coverage. Not the important detail about his National Estate nature reserve give away to a mate, his lying to the public about the nature of the land and it's value to him as a gravel source, not about the subsequent fraud by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, nor about the cover-up by the Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and lies to Parliament by two opposition party Environment Ministers and not on the Labor Premier’s refusal to release the results of an enquiry into the matter.  

What about the rest of the media? SBS television thought some of it worthy of a short segment. ABC’s Seven Thirty Report and 4 Corners (specifically Chris Masters of The Moonlight State fame) expressed interest too, though did nothing. (Local ABC radio did a few good early articles.) Is it too libellous?  Rather than exposing this powerful politician’s duplicitous corruption the media has allowed it to continue, while giving the public a false sense of security, enabling the now Federal Backbencher to take the position of Federal Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.   

But there’s more. Associated with this untouchable politician is a whole host of other corruption,  - police harassment, Ombudsman cover-ups, Law Society abuses and related development scandals on the North coast, as covered on our website. This information was provided by long term ex-cane farmer/whistleblower Bill McDonnell, who has tried to tell the media and state authorities all he knows about Causley's illegal dealings and the cover-up by the courts. Bill complains that never has he had any calls from any of the media – “not even to ask one question”. He and his wife are living in fear for their lives.

In fact in the early 90’s when the Pine Brush/Causley issue was dropped by an initially eager Labor Party, the North Coast Labor Party organizer, who had been discussing it with Premier Carr with the intent for raising it in parliament just prior to a state election, instead sent our files to the Sydney Morning Herald, where they were shredded. To this day National Party heavyweight Ian Causley, remains a powerful, locally unopposed political force. 

The worst of the sensational tabloid media entities barely pretend to be anything other. In a way, this is more honest than the "respectable" media like the Fairfax Press and the ABC that dangerously con us into a false sense of being intelligently informed. If you’re a media entity that is knowingly distorting the news, for legal reasons, or political ones, at least don’t pretend that you’re not.  

More dangerous still, in some ways than the deceitful “respectable” media, are those outlets that claim to be alternative, non-commercial, left wing, human rights entities, on whom we rely for the real alternative news. I mean, in particular, those who assert that they are bringing you the news. On the internet you can do a search on these supposedly socially conscious organisations’ sites. Try it and see how many of them are publicising the existing, mind-blowing and  document supported revelations of the U.S. based Disclosure Project - hundreds of military and government insiders pushing to disclose the truth about non-hostile Extraterrestrials, UFOs, the cover-up and related unbelievably massive global human rights abuses, including the accelerating erosion of democracy. Virtually none of these organizations have even touched on this. Why is that? Too embarrassing? Is it too inconvenient for sponsors, or worse? We certainly have informed many of these groups about the Disclosure Project.

The Disclosure Project revelations, supported by a mass of declassified government documentation, have the greatest potential for achieving social justice on this planet, for in one go they expose the reality of the frighteningly powerful shadow government, and reveal the existence of the withheld, extremely advanced technologies (requiring no fossil fuels and infrastructure to run) which will enable us all to live, without pollution, in decentralised abundance, and turn this catastrophe around before environmental collapse and wars over resources destroys us.  

This year, even the Pentagon has produced a report indicating that environmental collapse is more of a threat now to global stability than terrorism. On the 24th February, The Observer quoted from the report, '"Catastrophic" shortages of potable water and energy will lead to widespread war by 2020. ' (One Disclosure Project witness, Col Tom Bearden, a retired military analyst, predicts it will be much sooner.) The Sydney Morning Herald reported, ‘Experts familiar with the report told the newspaper the threat to global stability "vastly eclipses that of terrorism"’.  

 So why the silence from the social activists and the alternative media?


On the 29th April 2004 Dr Steven Greer, Director of the Disclosure Project wrote,

"The crown jewel of secrecy is the collection of projects that deal with advanced technologies, energy systems, propulsion systems - and UFO matters - that, once disclosed, would end the need for oil, gas, coal or nuclear power. The corruption and secrecy surrounding this issue is like none other - it is in a class of its own."

(Actually you can add to that the institutionalised protection of high-level pedophile/child pornography networks, which is not unrelated to what the Disclosure Project, reveals.)

Dr Greer writes,  

-“Mass retail media - the nightly news, CNN, The NY Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Time and the like are less free on anything of real significance than the media of many third world countries - or even communist China.

We know, because we have beta tested the system. .."

The Disclosure Project does know. And we should have all learned from the Disclosure Project experience to date. The Disclosure Project witnesses, who include astronauts, aeronautical engineers, a former head of the British Ministry of Defence, NASA employees and deep insiders with high security clearances, joined forces in the late 90s in a push to provide evidence to the United States Congress on their first-hand experience with the UFO cover-up, existence of a “Shadow Government” and the fact that secret corporate/military projects have now completely escaped the control of Congress and the law and have control of this deeply sensitive UFO topic - and the advanced, withheld, technology that goes with it. Witnesses report the existence of “zero point" energy vehicles that require no fossil fuels to run - and shoe box size free energy devices being withheld that would make fossil fuel use completely unnecessary and that would, if released for general use, cause the decentralization of power in all senses of the word, bringing decentralised abundance and enabling the third world to rise out of poverty.  

Additionally, and very importantly, these witnesses reveal that the extraterrestrials involving themselves with Earth are not hostile, per se, but are concerned at our hostility and at how we are destroying our planet and threatening the cosmic neighborhood. This contrasts to the impression that has been created through the abduction hysteria. (The Disclosure Project has information about what’s behind this too.)  

Dr. Greer explains the media black-out,

 “In May of 2001, The Disclosure Project ( held a major international press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC. Hosted by legendary White House reporter Sarah McClendon, the event featured over 20 top-secret government, military, intelligence and corporate witnesses to UFO events and projects. No flakes amongst these: The witness testimony presented ranged from Brig. General to Colonels to a top FAA official. The National Press Club ball room was packed with media from around the world and the event was - briefly - reported on CNN, BBC, Fox and many other outlets.

This two-hour event was the most watched live press event on the Internet and eventually over 1 million people saw the event on the net. We called for a full investigation into illegal covert programs dealing with UFOs and covert energy and propulsion projects. Congressional hearings were requested and the media were asked to fully investigate the matter. Tens of thousands of people wrote members of Congress and the US President asking for full, open, honest hearings at which some of the over 400 military and government-connected witnesses identified by The Disclosure Project could testify. (The reader may read the testimony of over 5 dozen of these witnesses in the book Disclosure or view their testimony at”

”Senior producers at two Big Media networks, who had been briefed in advance and were planning major exposes in their newsmagazine programs, later told me that they were not allowed to go forward with their investigations or broadcast the programs. When I asked why, they simply said, "They just won't let us do it." And when I ask who are 'they', I was told, "Dr. Greer, you know who they are…"


the coverage was brief (just enough to allow for 'plausible freedom of the press', ...

Here, smoking gun evidence, official government documents and dozens of credible, corroborated, top-secret witnesses were presented to the world's major media - and Big Media did virtually nothing. On major stories, involving controversial matters, I am told the New York Times requires three points of corroboration. Here, dozens were presented, from men and women with impeccable credentials and high national security clearances - and they were not anonymous sources, but presented with name, rank and serial number! But the coverage was brief (just enough to allow for 'plausible freedom of the press', I am told by insiders) and then quickly taken down. And no Big Media entity was allowed to do serious follow-up investigations. And none have occurred up to this date.

Such 'editorial discretion' has been abused hundreds of times to keep big stories out of the major media. People do not realize it, but we already live in an extremely controlled and closed society that is micro-managed by an elite few - all the while looking populist, democratic and open.



The Australian press didn't cover the Disclosure Project either, although the group that controls the secrecy on this topic is trans-national. Australia is definitely playing a role in these beyond the law, high-tech military/corporate projects. Australia is listed, for instance, among nations that have secret underground facilities where these advanced technologies are being developed. And of course, Australia is, and will be, deeply effected by the revelations.


It sounds crazy… because the media keep it from us and ridicule it.


(This story, Who killed Bill Roy may hint at Australia's involvement in illicit, high tech, CIA related operationsThere is a media black ban, or “D notice”, on this story. )

 Dr Greer wrote,  "The quaint notion of a free press, serving as the Fourth Estate and watching vigilantly over the interests of The People is one of the great lies perpetrated by the government, and by the corporate media itself. Every insider knows this is a lie."

The Age, the major Fairfax newspaper in the southern Australian State of Victoria, is one that persists with the lie. In the April 2004 MELBOURNE Magazine interview by former Age Editor, Steve Harris, current editor Michael Gawenda, was quoted saying the following,

We should never forget that the public good and the public interest has to be what underpins everything we do at a newspaper like The Age. In a liberal democracy, the media remains the fourth estate; over and above how we perform commercially, how we carry out and deliver on that basic responsibility is how we should be judged.  

This quickly followed earlier statements in which Gawenda explained that the Age was (right from the start) always a business. (The Fairfax CEO, Fred Hilmer sees the papers as a business. Much is made of the fact that the Fairfax board is made up of bankers, not publishers.) The Age website reads, 

“…, The Age continues to build on its proud record of fearless and independent reporting. Recent changes to the paper to improve content and accessibility are founded on three core principles: to break news of significance; to cover major events in a manner that provides depth and context and delivers insight to our readers; and to provide the most respected forum for debating matters of public controversy and interest.” 

.Not long after Michael Gawenda was quoted in Melbourne magazine, The Age ran a "special investigation"- a series of two articles, and another, which appear to touch on the Protected Elite Pedophile scandal in Victoria that gaiaguys and other websites have been trying to expose, and which we have attempted to report on in detail for the past 12 months. This huge story surrounds a horrific child abuse network involving politicians, media celebrities, police, business leaders and more, protected by police in various branches, and also protected by the Ombudsman's office, seemingly now with the current Premier and Police Minister's blessing. Not surprisingly, The Age, though producing a superficially impressive article subtly, but indisputably, played down, or omitted, the many examples of outrageous, documented corruption and refrained from elaborating on the role those higher up have played in allowing this cover-up to continue. And to date there has been no further follow-up. Almost no other media followed up either. 

Those individuals within the media who appear to take a bolder stance than others in getting to the truth, like Garry Hughes who wrote these aforementioned articles on police protection of pedophiles in April 2004, encourage us think that the media is doing some good work after all. But this only dangerously increases the power of the deception. Our faith is misplaced. Such individuals are deceiving themselves if they think this they are promoting justice, and they are deceiving us. Partial truth is not the truth. With it's coverage to date, The Age has actually concealed the real cause of the ongoing pedophile protection in Victoria - the tacit approval and cover-up by the Government, the Police Commissioner the State Ombudsman and the media -  where they should be persistently questioning these individuals for their reactions and undertakings relating to what is already exposed on our site and making it clear to the reader what this is really about. (And naturally, no-one will tackle the plainly real part the secret societies, (known to be well represented in policing, government and legal circles) play in the maintenance of this horror.

The coverage to date focuses only on the “allegations” of police protection of pedophiles and police “mishandling” and gives the impression that despite "problems" with the Ombudsman's investigations it can still be entrusted with further complaints. The heading of the first article reads “Police probed on child-sex abuse claims”. The opening line reads, "Victoria’s Ombudsman is investigating the alleged mishandling of police inquiries into child sexual abuse, including claims of corrupt police behaviour."  The main point of focus in this story should be that the Ombudsman’s office is still frighteningly and inexcusably corrupt and is protected by all those to whom it is answerable.  All evidence suggests the Ombudsman is not  investigating. Nobody is really probing the police. There is no doubt that the police have acted in a corrupt way. These are not mere allegations. All that follows in the article after that heading and opening lines has had the stuffing taken out by this introduction.

What did happen to those follow-up The Age “special investigation” articles we were expecting? Did The Age do just enough, as Greer says, to allow for "plausible freedom of the press" ?…(...And no Big Media entity was allowed to do serious follow-up investigations. And none have occurred up to this date.” )

Will we hear any more about the Victorian elite police and media-protected pedophiles? Virtually no other media picked up the story, with the tiny exception of one item by ABC radio and some relatively bold coverage by a small regional paper, The Leader, on the Mornington Peninsula. Interestingly, it is the small inconsequential newspapers, TV and radio organisations in the U.S. who are responsible for the little coverage the Disclosure Project is being given. 

Mr Gawenda will soon be working as Washington Correspondent for Fairfax. On the 16th April ABC radio announced he was leaving his editorial role, just after the the publication of those articles. We wonder if this was a coincidence. Interestingly, as I write, (6th May 2004) Fred Hilmer, Fairfax CEO, announced his resignation. 

Under the heading purposes and objectives, The Age website has the following, 

"The Age;"

The Record of Great Movements,
the Advocacy of Free Institutions,
the Diffusion of Truth,
and the Advancement of Man.


The Age under Michael Gawenda's editorial guidance, has upheld a long-term ban on reporting on the books and the persecution of Australia's number one Police corruption Author, Raymond Hoser.

In his book, Victoria Police Corruption -2, Raymond Hoser writes,

"A book the Police have attempted to suppress (The Hoser Files), details repeated cases of bashings, thefts, perjury, court fixing, cover-ups and other misconduct in the local Police, as well as gross failures of the Victorian Ombudsman's Office to act on proof of Police and other public service corruption. This book is perhaps the single biggest exposé of corruption in Victoria's recent history and yet the mainstream media have black-banned it ...."

 "Since the [above] piece was first written I, Raymond Hoser have faced and won a number of defamation actions. The Hoser Files has since been reported in the Australian, a number of Victoria's regional papers, various magazines and so on. As of end 1998, The Hoser Files had never been mentioned in either the Age or The Herald-Sun with staff at the Age claiming the book to be subject to a 'D-notice'." (The Hoser Files was published in 1995.)

Hoser is right to say, "One of the reasons there is so much corruption in Australia is because of the failure of the mainstream media to report on much of this...the Australian media has a lot to answer for".

The New Australia Times, Issue 13, reported that, " A previous editor of the Age, Mr. Steve Harris, went on Melbourne radio and said that he would not report on material from Hoser corruption books because it wasn’t credible."

Relying almost entirely on audio transcripts and government records, Hoser exposes not only widespread police corruption in the State of Victoria and New South Wales, but incredible steps taken by people in authority to suppress knowledge of it.

To quote Graeme Campbell, former MHR for Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, who wrote a forward for Hoser's Victoria Police Corruption – 2,   "While the Hoser case detailed in this book raises some very interesting questions, these may never be answered. Journalists I have spoken to say that even if they write the story, it would never get it published. Their editors would be forced to censor out the stories. So much for Australia's so-called free press.”

As further proof that Hoser’s work is credible, The New Australia Times has reported -  …” In fact both the Age and Herald-Sun...had regularly run material from Hoser's books, although usually without citing him as the source…

In 1998-1999 the Age went one step further by not only plagiarising material out of one of Hoser's books, but they even scanned in and used his photos. This was a clear and easily demonstrated violation of coryright and because no permission had been given to the paper to use the material, Hoser was able to sue the newspaper. As the facts were never in dispute, the Age had no real choice other than to pay up. The matter was listed for hearing in the Federal Court in late 1999, but before it came up for hearing, the Age paid up $10,000 in damages.”

Raymond Hoser’s books include Smuggled, Victoria Police Corruption 1 and 2 and The Hoser Files - The Fight Against Entrenched Official Corruption.  

 "In the world today, the corrupt, dumbed-down and controlled Big Media is the central reason for significant investigations being killed, illegal secrecy persisting and major scientific breakthroughs being suppressed." (S.Greer)

Simply by keeping our eyes on the conventional news “services”, and without ever knowing about the Disclosure Project or stories like the Victorian Protected Pedophile Elite, we can see that there’s an insane, massive, war-fuelling global delusion being preserved by the media. The media has been virtually silent about the obvious fact that the US Air Force was stood down during the Sept 11 attacks and all the related material which points to insider co-operation. 

 Gore Vidal, Bush’s most vocal critic in the United States, in an article published in the London Observer on 27 Oct 2002 wrote, “We have only outdone the Romans in turning metaphors such as the war on terrorism, or poverty, or Aids into actual wars on targets we appear, often, to pick at random in order to maintain turbulence in foreign lands.” 

Vidal quotes Stan Goff, a retired US Army veteran who has taught military science and doctrine at West Point. Goff writes, in “The So-called Evidence is a Farce”, 

 "I have no idea why people aren't asking some very specific questions about the actions of Bush and company on the day of the attacks. Four planes get hijacked and deviate from their flight plan, all the while on FAA radar." 

“`By around 8:15am it should be very apparent that something is terribly wrong. The President is glad-handling teachers. By 8:45am, when American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower, Bush is settling in with children for his photo op. Four planes have obviously been hijacked simultaneously and one has just dived into the twin towers, and still no one notifies the nominal Commander-in-Chief.

`No one has apparently scrambled [sent aloft] Air Force interceptors either. At 9:03, Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower. At 9:05 Andrew Card, the Chief of Staff whispers to Bush [who] "briefly turns somber" according to reporters. Does he cancel the school visit and convene an emergency meeting? No. He resumes listening to second-graders . . . and continues the banality even as American Airlines Flight 77 conducts an unscheduled point turn over Ohio and heads in the direction of Washington DC.

`Has he instructed Card to scramble the Air Force? No. An excruciating 25 minutes later, he finally deigns to give a public statement telling the United States what they have already figured out -- that there's been an attack on the World Trade Centre. There's a hijacked plane bee-lining to Washington, but has the Air Force been scrambled to defend anything yet? No.

`At 9:35, this plane conducts another turn, 360 [degrees] over the Pentagon, all the while being tracked by radar, and the Pentagon is not evacuated, and there are still no fast-movers from the Air Force in the sky over Alexandria and DC. Now the real kicker: a pilot they want us to believe was trained at a Florida puddle-jumper school for Piper Cubs and Cessnas, conducts a well-controlled downward spiral descending the last 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes, brings the plane in so low and flat that it clips the electrical wires across the street from the Pentagon, and flies it with pinpoint accuracy into the side of the building at 460 knots.

`When the theory about learning to fly this well at the puddle-jumper school began to lose ground, it was added that they received further training on a flight simulator. This is like saying you prepared your teenager for her first drive on the freeway at rush hour by buying her a video driving game . . . There is a story being constructed about these events." 

Former British Environment Minister Michael Meacher added his assessment, reported in The Guardian, Saturday September 6, 2003. Following is an excerpt from his article,

“Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.

Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: "The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence."

For the detailed documentation, (selected from what has been published in mainstream media), that Sept 11, 2001 was permitted to happen, please study the Want to Know website

Why is there any question at all about whether the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq are just? Follow the above links for a mass of evidence on why the U.S. really went to war. It was partly for oil, of course, which the Disclosure Project revelations prove is now unnecessary for energy production.  However the elite are not about to share their secret if they can continue to stay rich on fossil fuel wealth.  

The persistent maintenance by the press of this facade is like a terrible dream.

Are people content to let it continue?

 Why is everyone acting so insane? Why was this documented information never given widespread coverage, but only reported in a couple of places and never followed up? Is anyone going to point out that the current U.S. enquiry into what Bush knew before Sept 11 is a total farce? Or is everyone going to sit back while whole populations are ripped to pieces and tortured in unjust wars based on demonstrable lies, greed for oil and world domination and worse? In the internet age, in this madness, many of us can search, intelligently, discriminatingly, for our own news. 

One Disclosure Project witness, Dr. Carol Rosin, a former spokesperson for rocket scientist Werner Von Braun, testifies to being at a meeting in the seventies where the first Gulf war was planned. Why has this astonishing single claim not been widely reported and scrutinized? Why has Greer not been interviewed in detail about his claims that numerous deep insiders have told him about a plan to crank up terrorism, a plan in which the September 11 tragedy was only a small initial part. Much worse is planned.  

The rulers of this world do not want the removal of fear and decentralization of power, and are apparently prepared to risk the whole planet in their insane pursuit of personal power. 

As Dr. Greer wrote on the 26th of March in his article “Going Tactical, 

 “We have abdicated our sacred obligation to provide for a good and sustainable future and allowed rogue and selfish interests to hijack our destiny. Will we persist in this madness? The solutions to these problems exist. But the 'special interests' that would deceive the public and our leaders are enormously powerful and ruthless. Shills in the media ignore, censor or ridicule the subject. And an army of paid disinformation hacks, pretending to be scientists, 'experts' and the like stand ready to hammer down any meaningful solution presented to the world. The task is, therefore, daunting. But the consequences of inaction are so dire, so potentially catastrophic, that every effort must be expended to correct the situation." 

The ban on reporting on the available information behind the cause of the “war on terror” and the related revelations provided by the Disclosure Project, (including on Shadow Government control of information released by the media) says it all.  

Blatant human rights abuses are occurring at all levels at the hands of the media. Like I said, many of us now have the option of searching for our own news on the Internet. And so do journalists. 

Good individuals within the media, especially the Australian media, have a choice. You can stop supporting these criminally negligent and two-faced media entities and, with what resources you have, join us on the internet with honest, credible, alternative coverage. We can turn this situation around if respected individuals make the choice to support truth, rather than deceit - before it’s too late. 

 It is because of the media inaction that web sites such as ours - not all websites, of course-  but websites that have depended on firm documentation, other evidence and rational logic -  are dismissed as nonsense.  

People think, "Why, if it was true, would the media not be covering it?" 

 The Disclosure Project information is the obvious example that we do not have democracy in the west, despite the propaganda, but are run by a criminal cabal who's self-serving, walk-over-dead-bodies mentality is bringing the planet to the brink. You in the media have a choice to help turn this around. Please help us before it’s too late. 



"What you have to understand is that you have had a total black ban put on your website. Unlike you, we [in the mainstream media] have hundreds of millions of dollars to lose. We can't afford to get sued. I have a large staff to support who rely on their paycheques to feed their families. My first responsibility is to them." personal telephone advice from the (Multiple-Walkley-award-winning) editor of the Grafton Daily Examiner newspaper, Mr. Peter Ellem (source)






Sydney Morning Herald

AAP  (Australian Associated Press)

Murdoch backs Bush and wants troops to stay

April 7th, 2004

Media baron Rupert Murdoch today backed George Bush to win a second term, said Australian troops should see the job through in Iraq, and said he would push for changes to Australia's cross-media and foreign media ownership laws, despite shifting News Corporation to the US.

The News Corporation chairman said today the coalition of the willing had largely been successful and Australia needed to maintain its presence.

"We have no alternative - we must see the job through," Mr Murdoch told 2GB radio.

Mr Murdoch said the continuing violence in Iraq was isolated and had been misrepresented.

"I think it's been misrepresented. (There has been) tremendous progress in Iraq - all the kids are back at school, 10 per cent more than when Saddam Hussein was there," Mr Murdoch said.

"There's 100 per cent more fresh water. Most of Iraq is doing extremely well.

"There's one small part where the Sunnis ... are giving trouble and more by, I think, giving cover to international terrorists and people from the Taliban and from Afghanistan coming in.

"They're really trying to kill Americans, they're trying to kill people from the United Nations, anyone who is trying to come in and help get their country going properly."

He also said George W Bush would win a second term at the US presidential election in November because the American people strongly supported the president's efforts in Iraq and the resurging US economy.

"They're with him on that, completely. He's going to walk it (the election) in," he said.

"The economy's doing extremely well and there is an international crisis.

"You've got to understand, America was attacked. 9-11 changed America - it was a big moment in history."

When questioned whether President Bush had answered the terror threat adequately, Mr Murdoch said: "Oh yeah. I mean, they deployed all their resources, everything."

And Mr Murdoch said Australia had done the right thing in joining the US in the war in Iraq.

"And the Australian government stood absolutely firm with them. This country's got no alternative, it must stand with America."

He indicated he would continue to argue for greater freedom when it came to cross-media and foreign media ownership in Australia.

"We think that there is so much media now, with the internet it's so easy and so cheap to start a newspaper or start a magazine that there's just millions of voices," he said.

"We don't really have to worry; the old ideas of it being too concentrated, I think that's just fading away."

Mr Murdoch said the new primary listing in the US was expected to significantly expand the company's shareholder base and increase demand for its shares, hence driving the share price higher.

"It's already up," Mr Murdoch said today in reference to a 1.5 per cent rise by News Corp's American Depository Receipts on the New York Stock Exchange overnight.

"Everybody will be a lot better off."

Mr Murdoch, who gave up his Australian citizenship in 1985 to become an American, said that of the top five US media investment firms, three were predominantly index style managers and only had investments of about $US4 million in News Corp.

By contrast all of them, all of them had investments of at least $US900 million in Time Warner, Disney, Viacom and Comcast, he said.

Mr Murdoch said he believed the primary reason behind his company being undervalued against its peers was that it still had foreign issuer status in the US.

Influential United States broking house Merrill Lynch overnight threw its support behind News Corp's US incorporation, saying it should be a "huge positive" for share price performance.

"The company's foreign domicile and preferred share structure have hindered the ability of many large US-based institutions from investing in the company's shares," analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said.

"The likely inclusion in key US indices, as well as Australian indices, is very positive for shares.

"We anticipate the company will meet requirements for listing on the NYSE and will remain fully-listed on the Australian Stock Exchange."

While the move places control of several Australian daily metropolitan newspapers firmly in foreign hands, readers are not likely to notice much difference.

No major job losses are expected as a result of News Corp officially becoming an American company and there is unlikely to be any government pressure put on Rupert Murdoch to sell his media assets here.

News Corp shares rose 55 US cents to $US37.43 on the NYSE overnight.

Sydney Morning Herald Opinion Piece

Diversity would come from fewer, rather than more, media companies

October 25th, 2004

Greater resources would become available if the market was deregulated, writes Peter Bartlett.

Since the Government released its Review of the Cross Media Rules issues paper in October 1996 we have had much speculation on whether the media ownership rules would be changed. If the Government gains a majority in the Senate, this opportunity to set the media framework should be grasped.

The Howard Government has long sought reform in media ownership. In June last year the last attempt by the Howard Government to reform cross-media and foreign ownership laws was struck down by the Senate. That proposal sought to lift restrictions and allow proprietors to own two of the three media forms in any one market. Under existing laws they can own only one.

The cap on foreign ownership of Australian media companies (20 per cent of a television licence and 35 per cent of a metropolitan newspaper) was also to be removed, allowing foreign players to buy out local media companies, or start their operations in Australia, subject to a general "national interest" condition. This would bring media foreign ownership provisions into line with other areas of business.

The perceived common ailment of deregulation of media ownership is said to be a lack of diversity, a hypothesis that equates larger numbers of media organisations with a better media industry more able to serve the public interest. However, this summation of the complexity of the issues fails to recognise that diversity is not, and should not be, the singular objective of media policy. Diversity of itself is meaningless. Indeed, overt diversity can and will lead to poorly resourced and under-subscribed media organisations that lack relevance and the ability to serve the public interest.

To ensure a high standard of media requires high quality people and players, providing resources to investigate and follow up news, and able to weather cyclical storms. In any environment, after cross-media and foreign restrictions are lifted, obvious synergies between television, radio or print would result in a market of at least four providers of significant-scale media services to the public: three commercial media consortiums and the public broadcasting services.

These four organisations would be larger, more diversified, and contain the ability to provide more resources to invest in programming, journalism, content and technology. The result will be a more contestable, competitive market. Increased Australian Competition and Consumer Commission powers would ensure competition remains vigorous.

It has been argued that lifting foreign ownership restrictions on media organisations should occur before any relaxation of the cross-media rules to increase the pool of potential players. This is dangerous. It would send a message to Australian media companies that to grow you must either sell yourself to a foreign media organisation or invest outside Australia. It would only provide an incentive to take Australia's media assets offshore. Only a combined lifting of the cross-media and foreign ownership rules, thereby allowing Australian-based interests to consolidate, would have the required effect of a stronger, more robust and more relevant industry.

Let us encourage new entrants. Remove the public ownership of Telstra and let it decide whether it is in its commercial interests to compete in the media arena. The technological landscape bears little similarity to that existing when the cross-media rules were introduced. Let there be consistent regulation across all media and communication. Amalgamate the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Communications Authority.

Finally, we must realise that increased foreign investment and ownership would not lead to a usurpation of the Australian identity. With the increased pervasiveness of digital technology and the number of people accessing online news, current affairs and information, voices concerned with the retention of Australian control over the Australian media industry are increasingly misplaced.

Deregulation would extend to urban and rural Australia the level of diversity enjoyed in only a few metropolitan markets, namely Melbourne and Sydney. Australia deserves a deregulated media market which encourages competition, diversity and quality. The transformation of the cross-media and foreign ownership laws are reforms that represent proactive and sound public policy. Let us hope the latest proposals find their way through the Senate.

We have seen a vast change in the technology available to the media and all forms of communication. Regulation has not kept up with the technological revolution. Let us remove the shackles from the media. Let market forces prevail, subject to proper ACCC restraints. Let our media and communications industry compete in the world market.

Peter Bartlett is the national head of the media and communications group Minter Ellison, Melbourne.

Sydney Morning Herald

Index slams Australia's media freedom

October 27th, 2004

Australia has ranked dismally in a global index on media freedom released by Paris-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Australia could only manage 41st position in RSF's third annual index of press freedom, lagging behind some former Eastern bloc nations, including Hungary (28), Czech Republic (19) and Poland (32).

Regional neighbour New Zealand placed a respectable ninth and was one of only three nations outside Europe to rank in the top 20.

But Australia's lowly ranking came as no surprise after it came under fire in the RSF's 2004 annual report released earlier this year.

In particular, the watchdog criticised Australia's policies restricting press access to refugees.

It said in the report that the Australian government "continued to prevent journalists from covering the situation of refugees held in camps on Australian territory or in neighbouring countries".

The report pointed to the January 2002 arrest of ABC TV reporter Natalie Larkins, who was carted off and charged with trespassing on commonwealth property while trying to report on 300 hunger striking refugees at the Woomera Detention Centre in South Australia.

The report also criticised a number of other attempts by several groups to stifle press freedom.

It mentioned a case in which the NRMA launched legal action to try to force Australian Associated Press (AAP) reporter Belinda Tasker and journalists Anne Lampe and Kate Askew from The Sydney Morning Herald to divulge their sources in their coverage of a boardroom battle.

The case has since been dropped by the NSW motoring body.

And it criticised attempts by the federal government to free up cross media ownership laws and make the Australian Broadcasting Authority responsible for maintaining editorial independence.

European nations dominated the top positions in the rankings, with the eight countries sharing top spot: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Countries in east Asia and the Middle East have the least media freedom in the world, with North Korea coming at the bottom of a global index on media freedom in 167th spot.

RSF said that in states such as North Korea, Burma and China, and in Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, "an independent media either does not exist or journalists are persecuted and censored on a daily basis".

"Freedom of information and safety of journalists are not guaranteed there," RSF said in a statement.

It said a recent fact-finding mission to North Korea found journalists there were forced to serve the personality cult of dictator Kim Jong-il.

"Dozens of reporters had been 're-educated' for often minor supposed professional 'errors'," RSF said.

Meanwhile, Iraq proved to be the most deadly place for journalists in recent years, with 44 journalists killed since fighting began in March last year and ranked 148th.

The United States came in 22nd on the index, RSF said.

"Violations of the privacy of sources, persistent problems in granting press visas and the arrest of several journalists during anti-Bush demonstrations kept the United States away from the top of the list," the group said.

RSF said Cuba was the worst violator of press freedom in Latin America, coming in 166th. That was just above North Korea.

"All criticism of President Fidel Castro's rule is officially a crime. Twenty-six journalists arrested in March last year along with some 50 dissidents are still in prison," RSF said.

Sydney Morning Herald

Howard skips Clinton, dines with Murdoch

September 16, 2005

Prime Minister John Howard has skipped an official reception for Bill Clinton's anti-poverty Global Initiative in New York in favour of a private dinner with media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

With Manhattan traffic in gridlock because of this week's United Nations summit, Mr Howard does not have time to attend both functions and chose the News Corp owner over the former US president.

Mr Howard said planned changes to Australian media ownership laws would not be on the agenda over dinner.

He said while he did not support the current laws, he did not want to waste energy on devising changes if they were not likely to receive support within his government.

"If we can get an understanding on sensible changes that are good for the public and sensible, then we'll make them," Mr Howard told reporters.

"If we can't then we won't. I've said before that I do not intend to expend a lot of political capital on changes to media laws."

Mr Howard said he had never supported the current laws, which he accused the Hawke government of introducing in "a fit of pique" in 1987 to punish the then print and radio Fairfax group.

"I thought it was a bad policy then and I still think it's a bad policy," Mr Howard said.

"But it can only be changed if we can reach an understanding on an alternative policy, and if we can we will, if we can't we won't. It's not something that I regard as important as workplace relations reform and things of that nature."

Sydney Morning Herald

Murdoch looking to conquer internet

September 22, 2005 - 3:54PM

Global media baron Rupert Murdoch is steaming ahead with plans to dominate the internet, telling investors to expect his strategy for conquest to be unveiled within weeks.

The chairman and chief executive of News Corp told a US investors conference that the internet was still his number one priority and its revenue potential was enormous.

Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said Mr Murdoch expected News Corp's internet revenue to grow from $US100 million ($A131.39 million) this fiscal year to between $US500 million ($A656.94 million) and $US1 billion ($A1.31 billion) in five years.

The 74-year-old empire builder has recently held two internal News Corp internet summits and plans to release News Corp's strategy for entering internet search and voice markets soon.

"Mr Murdoch said it could be a matter of weeks for News Corp to decide whether to acquire or license/partner for search and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) capabilities," Ms Reif Cohen said in a research note.

"Also undetermined at this time is whether News Corp will pursue a portal strategy versus focus on each internet asset individually; although Mr Murdoch stated he does not feel that a portal necessarily helps internet expansion."

Mr Murdoch told investors in August that News Corp was on an aggressive hunt for internet assets.

He said the media conglomerate would spend up to $US2 billion ($A2.63 billion) to become a major player in the industry "very quickly".

News Corp began its internet onslaught in July - snapping up the US owner of, Intermix Media, for $US580 million ($A762.05 million) and launching a bid for Australian online property website

But says the $A2 per share offer is too low and has urged shareholders to reject the bid.

In August, News Corp bought Scout Media, the parent company of the number one US independent online sports network, and Scout Publishing, producer of 47 of the most widely read sports magazines in the US.

Earlier this month News Corp paid $US650 million ($A854.03 million) for internet games company IGN entertainment.

© 2005 AAP

Sydney Morning Herald

When world leaders meet, media moguls flex the biggest muscles

 September 23 2005

By Richard Ackland

THE last refuge for scoundrels is hardly a secret, so why should it be surprising that there's been a bout of flag-waving from the usual suspects? At a panel on the media at last week's Clinton Global Initiative, which was designed to grapple with poverty, religious upheavals and general misery, Rupert Murdoch had a swipe at his fellow panellist Richard Parsons, from Time Warner.

Parsons had been doing a bit of harmless boosting of his CNN global news subsidiary, which is in competition with Murdoch's more bumptious Fox News.

The News Corp chief said: "I don't think he [Parsons] watches CNN International, and I don't think anyone else does because it is so unwatchable and it's so anti-American."

It is a pretty gobsmacking remark, yet it didn't seem to excite much comment - maybe because Murdoch is hardly the first media mogul to be an ideological warrior. Nonetheless, the idea that the globe's most all-encompassing retailer of media thinks that his journalists and his various "platforms" have to be "pro-American" or patriotic, is worth noting.

It is quite conceivable that being critical of the Bush Administration has nothing to do with being "anti-American". However, the distinction seems lost on "the Dirty Digger", as he's known in London, and that suits George Bush to a tee since he's artfully wrapped himself in the idea that to be critical of him during the "global struggle against violent extremism" is to be critical of America and everything it stands for. For instance, it is no accident that the post-September 11, 2001, anti-terrorism legislation in the United States is called the Patriot Act.

It is faintly amusing, though, that Murdoch's avid patriotism was born of commercial necessity - he could make more money by being American.

It emerged also at the Clinton Global Initiative that Murdoch and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had been chatting the week before in New Delhi and that Blair said how unhappy he was about the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Blair denounced the coverage as being "full of hatred of America" and "gloating" at the country's plight.

Again, News Corp with its Sky news outfit is in competition with the BBC, which may explain why for a long period Murdoch has been critical of the Beeb, describing it most recently as a "government-owned thing".

Blair might have been sucking up to Murdoch, as heads of government do, telling him things he wanted to hear. In any event, Murdoch seemed pretty pleased with the information, because he was reported to be "chuckling" at the initiative when he said, "I probably shouldn't be telling you this" before gleefully recounting Blair's alleged huffy remarks about the broadcaster's coverage. No denial came from Downing Street.

That serious right-wing types, such as Patrick J. Buchanan, were laying into Bush about being too slow to get his act together might suggest that even if the BBC was being critical, it was not wide of the mark.

And talking of Murdoch's long list of global pals, it is pleasing to see our John Howard skipped his invitation to go to the Clinton Global Initiative and instead washed up for a much cosier din-dins with Rupert in New York last week. Of course, it was stressed that changes to Australia's media laws were not on the agenda.

Which, naturally, brings us right back home, where journalism is in quite a bit of trouble as fresh ink is being laid on Senator Helen Coonan's proposed new media laws. At the same moment serious allegations of oppressive, anti-competitive ruthlessness are being levelled at Murdoch's local offshoot in proceedings before the Federal Court.

The design of the Government's revamped media ownership landscape will lead to more concentration of power, less competition, fewer serious outlets and even fiercer moguls.

The Government's idea that fresh competition will spring from the internet is not the answer. Smaller publishers will be an interesting new force but the remuscled big publishers still will hog most of the traffic.

Just look at Murdoch. In 1998 he made an offer to buy an Italian TV station from Silvio Berlusconi . A Turin newspaper reported that Blair had rung the then Italian prime minister Romano Prodi to see whether his government approved. Blair's flack merchant, Alastair Campbell, denied it all, saying that the story was "crap".

It emerged that the correct version was that Prodi had rung Blair, not the other way around, to see what he thought of the deal.

The point is that Murdoch's capacity to get whatever he wants is already impressive. To give media proprietors of that reach and strength even more power seems crazy.

Even more so as we read the transcript of Channel Seven's case against News, and other media defendants, which alleges that many of the large players in the Australian media indulge in corporate thuggery on a daily basis.

But to bang on about this much more runs the risk of being tagged "anti-Australian". Time to stop.

(note from gaiaguys: It's interesting to note that the AAP article that can be found immediately preceding this one (above) was snagged off their "Breaking News" section, but seems to have been deleted within hours.)


Sydney Morning Herald

Media's watchdog role

Date: January 24 2006

Rather than calming public fears about crime, politicians appear to be feeding the panic, writes Michael Kennedy.


THE Premier, Morris Iemma, and his Liberal counterpart, Peter Debnam, are both talking tough about crime and, on the face of it, a serious problem does exist. But does this justify the use of New York Police Department-style "zero tolerance" policing?

When a decision was made in New York to embrace an aggressive policing strategy there were about 2500 murders a year in New York City alone. The reality is that in 2004 NSW police had to deal with 68 murders, a far cry from the 2500 in New York.

Recent events that have caused the public to be concerned about Middle Eastern crime have been amplified by talkback radio and aggressive competition among the various television networks to break news, at times any news.

While much has been made of an official police document released to the media regarding a gathering at the Lakemba Mosque, there has been little discussion regarding the maturity, credibility or objectivity of the officer who generated the initial report. A quick glance at the report would probably reveal that very little of the information was first hand, for example.

The more recent issue of a security video allegedly showing a group of Middle Eastern men attacking a youth at Cronulla raised uninformed questions regarding the public's right to know about video evidence while an investigation was still in progress. Quick arrests might appease talkback radio and maintain the rage among various competing party-political interests but, unfortunately, populist-political solutions seldom satisfy requirements that hinge on the rule of law and due process. In fact, political interference has many of the corruption characteristics that not so long ago were considered unacceptable within the same media and political parties.

Because the commercial media are not paid from the public purse, they are entitled to raise whatever issues they choose. Often this is a useful oversight tool, but in these circumstances it should not become a weapon. More importantly, politicians are paid from the public purse. The public is entitled to expect that politicians will use common sense to correct misguided or incorrect information that is fed to the public. Instead, Iemma and Debnam have taken advantage of this confusion and attempted to make political capital at every turn of events.

Commissioned police in NSW are on productivity contracts that include 12.5 per cent bonus entitlements of their salary, accrued over three years. With this in mind, there should be no surprise that, to some members of the NSW Police executive, there is a vested interest in maintaining the moral panic that we have serious problems with policing issues that can be quantitatively measured, including gang-related crime.

A key ingredient often overlooked in the debate about policing in NSW is the fact that the Police Commissioner has a contract under which he is required to reduce the public's fear of crime. This depends on whether the public's perception of crime is shaped by reliable information. Or perhaps it is shaped by the moral panic associated with questionable media coverage, which is given an additional spin by the party-political system.

Get-tough initiatives may address some criminal issues. However, the initial promise by Bob Carr was that the Government would also get tough on the causes of crime. Yet, so much time is spent convincing us that we have a crime problem that there is no recognition of the causes of crime other than the rhetoric that individuals have to accept responsibility for their actions. This is despite the fact that individual responsibility is never extended to what occurs on the floor of Parliament. Politicians are free to fan the flames of race-based discrimination or sacrifice police officers without suffering the consequences of their actions.

The question that is seldom asked is: "Do we really have a problem?"

In a highly politicised organisation such as the NSW Police, the moral-panic strategy also takes the spotlight away from two of the prime causes of crime, which are poor urban development and unemployment.

Do we have a problem with crime? On a micro level it is hard to say that we do not have any problems. Are some of these problems related to ethnic crime? Of course, because by and large these are the marginalised communities who are economically vulnerable.

The real dilemma is that with the politicisation of law and order every headline is about minimising electoral damage or maximising an electoral opportunity. Meanwhile, the underlying problems that lead to crime remain untouched.

Dr Michael Kennedy, a former police officer, is an academic with the Social Justice and Social Change Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney. He also lectures in policing at the UWS School of Social Sciences.

Sydney Morning Herald

Media reforms whittled down to a runt

Date: June 30 2006

Colin Kruger


MEDIA and Communications Minister Helen Coonan was forced to concede that most of her media reforms package would be delayed indefinitely.

The backdown follows her statement a fortnight ago when she unveiled what she described as an "ambitious timetable" to push through all the reforms by the end of this year.

While some reforms will need to be passed this year, Senator Coonan said yesterday other crucial parts of the media package "will need a great deal more attention and detail". But she declined to elaborate on a new timetable for their passage.

The sudden change of heart follows a meeting between the Prime Minister, John Howard, and News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch last weekend.

Mr Murdoch recently withdrew his support for the media reforms and blasted the proposal, which he said favoured free-to-air broadcasters. Mr Murdoch is now proposing complete deregulation of the industry or no change at all.

Shortly after the meeting, on Tuesday, Mr Howard said the Government would not waste a "an enormous amount of time or political capital" to get the media reforms passed.

But Senator Coonan refused to concede the package had been killed.

"An end date hasn't been decided by the Government, we will shortly be looking at the package to see if the framework can be adopted," the minister said. "Then there will be quite a lot of additional work that will need to go into some subsets of the package."

The package included measures to encourage the switchover from analog to digital television by 2012 and scrapping cross- and foreign-media ownership rules. The Government also proposed to auction spectrum for up to 30 new digital channels and introduce multi-channelling on free-to-air TV.

Senator Coonan also played down a setback on the telecommunications front with Telstra executives now discounting the likelihood of it reaching an agreement with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on its proposed fibre-to-the-node network.

The telecom has floated a Plan B through the press that would involve meshing its cable network, DSL broadband infrastructure, and 3G wireless broadband services.

"My understanding is that he [Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo] hasn't yet rejected the possibility of FTTN and is continuing discussions with the ACCC on that particular proposal," Senator Coonan said. "However, if those talks don't come to fruition, obviously the Government welcomes different approaches, different investments by different players."

Sydney Morning Herald

Freedom of press under attack from all sides, says report

Date: April 25 2007

Erik Jensen and Mark Metherell


THE Australian media is more restricted than it was 12 months ago, an annual report into press freedom has found.

"Things are certainly worse, things have been getting progressively worse over the past five to six years," said the federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Chris Warren. Pressure on press freedom had increased since September 11, 2001.

Official Spin: Censorship and Control of the Australian Press 2007 lists 19 areas in which the media's ability to report freely has been constricted. The report was compiled by the union and highlights restrictions caused by policy-making, law enforcement, government comments and public actions.

In a new development, journalists working in the federal press gallery would have to undergo police checks under a proposal being considered by Parliament's presiding officers.

If reporters do not submit to or fail the vetting procedures, on grounds such as previous offences indicating a potential threat to national security, they would be refused security clearance and unlimited access to most areas of Parliament.

The Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services, Hilary Penfold, said yesterday police checks were to be extended to all workers in Parliament except MPs and she did not see why journalists should be excluded. She said she was not aware of any evidence that journalists were a risk. "We don't want to wait until something goes wrong," she said.

The report on press freedom

describes new media ownership laws as "a real threat to vigorous and balanced public debate", as is the possible introduction of content regulation laws that could lead to banning of thousands of online publications.

Mr Warren said powers to monitor reporters had increased in the past year, with a telecommunications bill passed in April last year giving ASIO the power to tap journalists' phones.

Sydney Morning Herald

Secrecy eroding public's right to know

Date: October 6 2007

Jonathan Pearlman

THE director and part-owner of Fairfax Media, John B. Fairfax, has attacked recent curbs by the Government on press freedoms, including the erosion of freedom-of-information laws and the prosecution of journalists for refusing to reveal sources.

In a speech in Victoria yesterday, Mr Fairfax, the former chairman of Rural Press, said he was concerned about "an accelerating slide to secrecy in government" and a weakening of the safeguards for a vigorous free press. "Over the past two or three years, ever so slightly, day by day … our newspapers and our journalists are being prevented from doing our job, which is, first and foremost, to serve you," he said.

Mr Fairfax, whose family established the Fairfax stable in the 19th century, sold out of the group in 1987 during the ill-fated takeover by his cousin, Warwick.

Last year he became the director and largest single shareholder of Fairfax Media, which resulted from the merger of Rural Press and John Fairfax Holdings.

Mr Fairfax said a recent High Court decision which blocked an attempt by The Australian to access Treasury documents under FoI laws had "tipped the scales towards secrecy in government".

"When a minister issues a conclusive certificate that a document should not be made public, that decision is effectively beyond appeal," he said. "It makes a government decision unreviewable, and places the executive beyond accountability of the courts on a fundamental issue."



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