Broadcaster Ray Hadley, Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan and United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell (Image screenshots YouTube)

Will the Sky New ban from Victorian railway stations and Ray Hadley's own family troubles create pause for commentators at Sky News and News Corp? Asks Peter Wicks.

THIS MONTH, I was reminded of a time when Russell Crowe got himself a crew cut, donned all the Nazi regalia and starred in a little flick called Romper Stomper.

It was a film that was highly controversial and confrontational at the time. Now, however, people like Crowe's character, Hando, are not such underground figures. In fact, thanks to the likes of Channel 7 and Sky News, neo-Nazis like him are now becoming mainstream commentators. Perhaps it's fitting that Foxtel has made a series of Romper Stomper.

After all of the controversy when Channel 7 aired the views of neo-Nazi and leader of the United Patriots Front (UFP), Blair Cottrell, Sky News’ decision to invite Cottrell for an on-air chat had the appearance of deliberate dog whistling to racists. It is not clear what kind of legitimate political commentary Sky were expecting from a bloke who thinks every school classroom should have an Adolph Hitler portrait in it and brags of physically intimidating women, but fair to say that no words of wisdom left his lips that evening — or ever, for that matter.

This interview came shortly after Sky News commentator and News Corp columnist, Andrew Bolt, wrote a piece that talked of Australia losing its identity, taking aim at many races and creeds including Muslims and Jews. News Corp, in their wisdom, chose to publish the column and accompany it with an illustration that is reminiscent of a mural in England, which has recently been widely criticised for being anti-Semitic.

   

Illustration by John Tiedemann, Herald Sun, 6 August 2018

'Freedom for Humanity' mural by Kalen Ockerman (Image screenshot YouTube)

The outrage to the Cottrell interview was, no doubt, expected and Sky reacted quickly to try and stem the bleeding. Former Labor Minister Craig Emerson quit his position at Sky following the interview. The online activist group, Sleeping Giants, promptly started lobbying advertisers like Qantas to dump Sky after social media went into meltdown. Blair Cottrell reacted to the controversy by putting out a Tweet that joked about raping Sky host Laura Jayes.

However, it was the reaction of Victorian Transport Minister Jacinta Allan that caused the most controversy and perhaps showed us just how remorseful Sky News truly were and what they’d learnt from the entire ugly episode.

Jacinta Allan made a decision to change the channel on the television screens at railway stations in Victoria that were airing Sky News.

Allan stated:

"Hatred and racism have no place on our screens or in our community."

Rather than Sky News sitting down with the Minister and seeking to put forward a plan to ensure the promotion of neo-Nazis wouldn’t happen again, they instead aired guest after guest who stated that Jacinta Allan’s actions were nothing less than "fascism". Apparently, airing a neo-Nazi and normalising his views is forgivable, but changing the channel somehow makes you a fascist.

Seems like Sky News have learnt zip.

Someone else who appears to have learnt zip is shock-jock, Ray Hadley. But perhaps, now, he’s catching on.

Hadley’s son Daniel, a police officer, was arrested for trying to buy drugs earlier this month. Ray Hadley made desperate and teary pleas at a press conference, saying he wanted the world to know that his son Daniel had been battling mental health issues, and claiming he hadn’t seen any of this coming.

For me, it was a strange spectacle watching Hadley having a public meltdown. As much as I don’t agree with him on virtually anything, at the same time, I don’t like to see anyone go through this kind of mental trauma. If anything good can come of this, it is that Ray Hadley may learn to take his angry hat off from time to time and replace it with one of understanding. 

This public airing of the Hadley laundry took me back to 21 October 2014, when Ray Hadley put me “on notice”, primarily for publishing just some of the allegations regarding his son Daniel's behaviour. These allegations I wrote about for Independent Australia in 2013 could have been taken as a sign of trouble with Daniel, given they involved allegations of bullying behaviour, intoxication and violence. Instead, Ray chose to direct his attention to attacking anyone who didn’t take his word as gospel.

Daniel Hadley was busted for attempting to purchase cocaine and was found with 0.79 grams of cocaine in his possession. Given that NSW probably doesn’t need a coked-up cop with multiple allegations of bullying and a self-claimed mental health issue on the streets with a gun and a badge, he has understandably been suspended.

But back to cocaine. It’s the drug of the common man. The affordable high. At least you could be forgiven for assuming so if Daniel Hadley can afford it on the salary of a humble cop, right? Maybe we need a reminder that cocaine is not the common man's drug? 

Malcolm Turnbull’s nephew, Harry Hughes, a former staffer of Liberal MP and NSW Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, also hit the news this month after being busted with a similar amount of cocaine to Daniel.

The Australian, in reporting this cocaine bust, once again displayed where their bread is buttered, describing Mr Hughes as the “nephew of Lucy Turnbull” and leaving the PM out of the picture. Perhaps News Corp don’t understand the concept of how relatives work and consider family trees as something to do with potential logging sites?

The amount of cocaine found in both Daniel Hadley and Harry Hughes’ possession has an estimated street value of $200 — meaning a gram of it would cost someone about the same as a Newstart recipient is meant to live off for an entire week. Think about that next time you hear Ray Hadley talk about welfare recipients being drug addicts and bludgers, or Malcolm Turnbull saying that Newstart payments are enough to live on. It looks like they wouldn’t even cover a night out for his nephew.

If Daniel Hadley’s issues are mental health-related, then I certainly hope he receives the appropriate care and rehabilitation and makes a full recovery. I also hope that his father may gain a better understanding of the consequences of stress and take that into consideration the next time he thinks about bullying someone, or stigmatising part of the community on his radio program.

As for his fellow commentators at Sky and News Corp, I fear nothing can change their attitudes.

You can follow Peter Wicks on Twitter @madwixxy.

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