Murdoch must act on his multicultural convictions
November 4, 2013 - 2:15PM
I have for a long time been incredulous at Rupert Murdoch's repeated denial of claims that he exercises far too much editorial control over his newspapers.
After reading his speech to the Lowy Institute in which he praised the virtues of Australian multiculturalism, I now wish he would exercise more editorial control. For it is nowhere but in Mr Murdoch's newspapers that multiculturalism is more heavily misrepresented and its virtues traduced.
For nearly two decades, multiculturalism has been a totemic issue for conservatives in their prosecution of the culture wars. Multiculturalism has routinely been used by News' columnists and opinion writers as a stick with which they caricature and beat up on what they perceive to be to the left; along with asylum seekers, same-sex marriage, the republic and so on.
Australia's self-professed “most widely read columnist”, Andrew Bolt, even goes so far as to conflate multiculturalism and immigration with crime and overcrowding in Sydney. In an article in The Daily Telegraph in May 2012, Bolt made a completely spurious connection between multiculturalism and immigration on the one hand and drive-by shootings and crime on railway stations on the other. After asserting that “some newspapers hide this distressing connection”, Bolt sarcastically suggested that we should, “thank them for that because we don't want more people wondering whether immigration no longer means just more lovely pad thai and kebabs, but also lumps of the unassimilated and resentful at late-night train stations”.
Having quite rightly said in his speech that having nearly a quarter of our population born overseas “means Australia is on its way to becoming what may be the world's most diverse nation. This is an incredible competitive advantage”, I hope Mr Murdoch has a quiet chat with Andrew Bolt and lets him know that poisoning the well against immigration and multiculturalism is not in Australia's long-term national interest.
Having found myself in agreement with Mr Murdoch on the subject of immigration and multiculturalism, I find myself having great difficulty reconciling the inconsistency of his claim to be both libertarian and egalitarian at the same time.
While there are differing strands of libertarianism, Mr Murdoch is likely neither an anarchist nor a libertarian socialist of the free-love variety. I assume he considers himself a libertarian in the tradition of those who favour individualism over collectivism, laissez-faire capitalism, a minimalist state and all its spin-off theories about trickle-down economics and how the poor are poor because it's all their own fault.
If so, how he reconciles this with an egalitarianism which must by definition insist that all people be treated equally, or an egalitarianism that insists on equal access to such things as health and education mandated by state support is beyond me. Australia's most recent and possibly only flirtation with libertarianism was the Howard government's Work Choices legislation, in which one of the hallmarks of egalitarianism, collective decision-making, was virtually outlawed. Voters saw the contradiction between their egalitarian instincts and the libertarian outcomes of those laws and quite rightly punished the government at the 2007 election.
Try as they might to claim otherwise, libertarian wolves who attempt to clothe themselves as egalitarian sheep won't pass muster with the Australian public. Even as the migrant I am, there's a few things I know about Australians': they know a fair go when they see it and they know when mutton's been dressed up as lamb.
Doug Cameron is a NSW senator and trade unionist.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/murdoch-must-act-on-his-multicultural-convictions-20131103-2wuvo.html#ixzz2jeXCWUbZ