Politics Analysis

Albanese victory signals sunset on Murdoch era

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Founder and publisher David Donovan explores the significance of the new Labor Government for Rupert Murdoch's stranglehold over Australia's media.

THE EXPERTS will slice and dice the impact of one of the most interesting election results in Australian history for some time to come.

A resounding victory for Labor. The expansion of the Greens in inner-city seats. The so-called Teal Independents winning almost every contest they were involved in. The rise of women in Parliament. A further decline in the primary vote of the major parties. A repudiation of One Nation. A slap in the face for Clive Palmer’s attempt to buy another election for the Coalition. A “humbling defeat” for Scott Morrison and the Liberal Party. A resounding kick in the groin for the Liberal Party’s lurch to the right since Abbott. All are worthy topics deserving of detailed sober analysis.

But Rupert Murdoch backing the wrong horse and the influential decline of his media tentacles is what I want to talk about here. Of all the issues, I believe this is the greatest watershed. A factor that, over time, will produce the greatest change for the better in this nation. 

One of the reasons Murdoch is so influential in Australia’s political landscape is because he is seen as the kingmaker. This reputation is deserved. For decades he has turned elections wherever his media interests are strong, primarily in the UK and USA. In this country, with the most concentrated media ownership in the western world – concentrated mainly in his hands – there has not been a federal election in which his media interests did not back the winner in well over a generation.

Until Saturday night, when despite the News Corp armada broadsiding Albanese and the Labor Party for six weeks with everything in their arsenal, somehow, incredibly, they won.

Murdoch's gargantuan newspaper network and Fox News-type cable network set the agenda that all the other mainstream media follow, including the public broadcaster. These days, especially the public broadcaster.

The ABC has become an odd offshoot of the Murdoch media, which it uses to benchmark its evenhandedness. The emasculated broadcaster is trapped in a Stockholm Syndrome-type situation with the Liberal Party. The more the national broadcaster tries to appease its captor by hiring more Murdoch staff in key roles and aping News Corp's coverage, the more the Liberal Party hate and punish it — with endless reviews, by appointing more cronies on the board and as executives and, most damagingly, through swingeing budget cuts.

On Saturday night, the ABC election night coverage had charmless host Leigh Sales and crestfallen fellow presenter Andrew Probyn, lamenting the decline of the Morrison Government and belittling Labor's victory.

When Labor's election win became clear, the remarkably graceless Sales narrowed her eyes at guest panelist Labor MP Tanya Plibersek and snapped: 

"What did Labor do wrong, that it's not a landslide?" 

“We won,” replied Plibersek simply, closing down Sales.

Meanwhile, Probyn opined on our behalf that: 

“...the Morrison Government will be remembered fondly.”

Like hell it will.

Longtime ABC political host and veteran journalist Barrie Cassidy was scathing of the coverage, tweeting:

‘Disappointed the ABC could not even congratulate Tanya Plibersek for Labor’s win but instead they should be embarrassed about the greens winning a couple of seats. Reset guys. You don’t have to be cowed anymore.’

Albanese was sworn in as Australia's 31st Prime Minister on Monday (23 May). The Morrison days are over. The Murdoch days may soon be too. And with them, the ABC may re-emerge blinking into the light, able to go back to being a free and fearless agent of the people.

A darkness is lifting; a new dawn after an endlessly long and frightful night.

Keep up with IA founder David G Donovan's regular column every Tuesday and follow him on Twitter @davrosz. Also, follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus, on Facebook HERE and Instagram HERE.

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