Politics Analysis

Laura Tingle – and News Corp – call Australia a racist country

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(Cartoon by Mark David)

Laura Tingle calls Australia a "racist country" just as News Corp calls Australia antisemitic — or in other words, racist. So why is News Corp angry at her? Dave Donovan examines Australia's racist credentials.

THE ABC'S LAURA TINGLE has caused consternation and outrage at News Corp and its acolytes over describing Australia as a “racist country” at the Sydney Writer’s Festival.

Meanwhile, this same News Corp has been airing a documentary hosted by former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, deploring the alleged rise of antisemitism in Australia.

This is very much the sort of cognitive dissonance exhibited by the Murdoch media, most especially when it comes to the ABC and its staff. It’s an ideological thing, and their ideology is about crushing the ABC and having an even greater media monopoly, thereby making even more money.

In response to this News Corp bullying, chief political correspondent Tingle was swiftly censured by ABC news director Justin Stevens, who said her comments did not meet the ABC’s editorial standards. News Corp then claimed the ABC had conducted an emergency meeting, which was promptly denied by the ABC — neatly demonstrating News Corp's own version of journalistic standards.

The simple statement that Australia is a racist country should not really be a controversial one. The below does not profess to be exhaustive evidence, but merely a brief snapshot of some of the evidence.

Since Federation in 1901, for instance, the White Australia policy was one of the few policies agreed on by all parties and major players, who all pursued it rather enthusiastically for close to 70 years. It was not until 1967 that the original inhabitants of this land – previously mostly presumed to be heading for extinction – were even recognised in the Constitution. Then there were all the massacres, poisonings, the Stolen Generations, the Frontier Wars and our very own genocide in Tasmania.

In more recent times, we have had a Prime Minister, John Howard, who openly defied the clear historical record to deny the systematic persecution of Indigenous people in Australia. He declared, dog whistle always at the ready, that he did not subscribe to the “Black Armband" view of history and set about winning what he called the “Culture Wars”. Of course, he was merely restating the front page tagline of this country’s most popular ever magazine, The Bulletin: 'Australia for the White Man'.

Howard set about making Australia, once again, much less welcoming to migrants with his policies and infamously said asylum seekers were throwing their children overboard in the Tampa Affair — which was false. Australia did not much support the notion it is not a racist country when it repeatedly elected Howard’s Government for a decade. Naturally, Howard features heavily decrying the rise of so-called antisemitism in Frydenberg’s Sky News “exposé ”.

Following Howard’s term, during the Rudd Government’s Apology to the Stolen Generations, several Coalition MPs walked out of Parliament in protest. This included the current alternative prime minister, Peter Dutton – at whom some of Tingle’s original comments were directed – regarding him currently stalking the nation spruiking the notion that most of the country's ills can be ascribed to migrants.

The same man who (along with Scott Morrison) callously executed subsequent Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “Stop the Boats” policy. And who was heard joking to a smirking Abbott and another subsequent PM, Scott Morrison, about climate change causing water to lap at the door of Pacific Islanders. Dutton also derided Lebanese people as illiterate, thundered about African gangs in Melbourne, and worked tirelessly to help bring about the failure of the recent Voice Referendum.

[You can read about Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison's racist records in the unabridged version of this article in the members-only area HERE.]

Whilst it’s true that Australia has had some relatively positive times in terms of anti-racism – such as under prime ministers Gough Whitlam, who started the ball rolling on Indigenous land rights with Vincent Lingiari; Malcolm Fraser, who rolled out the welcome mat for refugees fleeing the Vietnam War; and Paul Keating who pursued land rights following the Mabo decision, as well as his powerful Redfern Speech – Australia’s racist history and present is undeniable.

Tingle mentioned the historical record in a response to this latest pile-on, while stating cogently that racism is still a very major Australian issue:

Without even going into the historic record, there is also ample evidence that racism remains a particular problem in our legal and policing systems. A coronial inquest underway in the Northern Territory has become mired in an expose of racism in the NT’s elite policing unit. Racism and racial profiling repeatedly show up as an issue of concern in our policing and justice systems.

It is the considered contention of this publication that Australia, while being as just demonstrated, a palpably racist country, it is not fair to say its people are intrinsically racist. Because most of the worst periods of racism in the nation were led by its political leaders and powerful players, and then amplified and implicitly supported by its dominant media enterprises.

As Tingle added, people are (surprise, surprise) led by their leaders:

Political leaders, by their comments, give licence to others to express opinions they may not otherwise express. That does not make them racist.

Tingle should be applauded for stating the easily apparent, not censured by her employer and excoriated by other, deeply conflicted media.

A prevailing media that, in fact, will, on the one hand, make a documentary about the rise of a form of racism in Australia, then denounce one of our leading commentators from a different entity for saying Australia has a racism problem.

It is precisely this form of arrant, irresponsible inconsistency and hypocrisy that has led to many Australians suffering from cognitive dissonance and has definitely not helped stamp out racism — which is itself a regrettable mental imbalance.

This is not the whole story! Subscribe today to read the complete article and access all our work.

You can follow founder and director Dave Donovan on Twitter/X @davrosz. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter/X @independentaus and Facebook HERE.

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