Sally McManus, fake news and 'free speech'

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(Image via linkedin.com)

McManus speaks for the working class and offers hope and this has enraged elements of the mainstream media, says John Passant.

SALLY MCMANUS represents everything that Rupert Murdoch’s rags, especially The Australian, despise and fear.

She is female and she is a unionist — a powerful unionist who talks about class struggle and the need for workers to fight for a better world industrially and politically.

Her election as secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) puts her in a very strong position to not only influence national debate but to change the direction of Australian capitalism and with it revitalise the union movement. McManus could be the grave digger of neoliberalism if she mobilises the working class forces under her, assuming they want to be mobilised.

Her election may represent a break from the 34 years of class collaboration that the ACTU has led and imposed. It may signal that the one-sided class war the bosses have waged against workers might be coming to an end.

This is not only because the trade union bureaucracy now understands that each concession they make and have made to the bosses only leads to more demands for concessions. The relentless attacks on workers are systemic and are driven by the employers’ need – in a world of declining profit rates – for some way to increase their profit rates. For example, by cutting real wages, sacking workers and making the rest work harder, developing labour saving devices, cutting company tax rates or slashing social welfare and public services.

Sally’s words resonate with so many because there are a large number of pissed off employees tired of the ongoing ruling class attacks on them. She expresses their anger and offers hope — at least rhetorically. As I have pointed out previously here on IA, her fighting words will come to nothing if there isn’t a strike campaign to defend and improve wages, conditions and jobs.

The clear working class content of McManus’ words and her elected position explain why conservative politicians and "journalists" from the Mark Latham school of journalism have been pursuing her relentlessly. Thus various conservative politicians have called her an anarcho-Marxist, a communist, with the Prime Minister going so far (so low?) as to "nearly" call her Sally McManarchist. A minarchist is a male, sexist, masculinist anarchist.

In The Australian, associate editor Brad Norington claimed he had an "exclusive" about McManus.

According to Amanda Meade in The Guardian, Norington's article implied:

… that McManus had faked her experience on her professional profile on LinkedIn'.

"The claim by ACTU secretary Sally McManus that she headed the student union at Macquarie University for more than two years is in dispute, with no records showing she ever held the post ...

On her LinkedIn "experience" profile, Ms McManus says she was president of the student union at North Ryde, in Sydney’s north-west, from August 1991 to August 1993, for '2yrs 1 mo'."

The article, according to Meade, claimed that "McManus had faked her CV".

Norington was wrong. He mixed up the student union and the student council — something a few minutes of research might have shown. Journalism 101 seems not to be part of any requirement for the paid hacks from the Murdoch open sewer when attacking those who do not agree with their ruling class warmongering.

At the McManus National Press Club address, Joe Kelly, a journalist from The Australian, asked McManus about the issue. She said the newspaper needed to do more research, had confused the student union and the student council and the report was incorrect.

Excerpts from Sally McManus' National Press Club Address via @sydneymorningherald.

Was there an apology from The Australian? Not at all. With more chutzpah than Tony Abbott – and in weasel words worthy of Malcolm Turnbull – the paper stated that McManus had clarified the position. She did no such thing. She reiterated what was on her LinkedIn profile and lampooned Norington and his newspaper.

Now as most readers will know, The Australian is pretty big on free speech — free speech for the one per cent anyway. I am surprised that they have not yet published my very "temperate" letter to the editor on Norton's article.

On a related matter, Murdoch’s minions sacked Mark Latham from his Outsiders programme on Sky News. As The Australian's Caroline Overington said, they did so for his potentially defamatory comments about fellow presenter, Kristina Keneally; for attacking another Sky News link man, Peter Van Onselen and his wife; for (in Overington's words) lying about successful comedian and media commentator Wendy Harmer; and calling a male teenage school student who made a video for International Women’s Day "gay". The former Labor Party opposition leader continues to write for Rupert’s bottom feeder, The Daily Telegraph.

The sacking presents a problem for the free speech nutters who forced Turnbull into defeat in the Senate over weakening Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. It has infuriated Rupert’s reactionary readers. Overington defended the sacking to them as being an example of the free market working rather than a denial of free speech.

By the way, Turnbull introduced the Racial Discrimination Act amendments in the Senate first, rather than face possible defeat in the House where up to five Liberals – moderates, or perhaps just arse protectors in marginal seats with a significant number of immigrants – may have crossed the floor.

The Senate debate on Section 18C showed us what it is all really about — white Australia and the right to be a racist.

Mark Di Stefano and Alice Workman in Buzzfeed set out '21 Things White Politicians Said During Australia’s Racism Debate', such as this from David Leyonhjelm:

"We have self-appointed representatives of Jewish Australians wanting to suppress Holocaust denialism."

Let that sink in. Leyonhjelm defends outright Nazis. The idea that words lead to actions is lost on these apologists for capitalism.

The Australian plays to a dwindling audience in a grotesque song and dance routine in the echo chamber of reaction. It is part of a wider fake news process which includes all the mainstream media, even when it is disagreeing with government or sections of the capitalist class.

Fake news is not new. Politicians and many in the mainstream media lied about weapons of mass destruction which "justified" the invasion of Iraq. They lied about "children overboard". They lie about Aboriginal people, about Muslims, about people on welfare. Their role is to divert attention away from the reality of growing inequality, of the ongoing disempowerment of workers, and the need to resist that McManus identified.

The Australian lies not just about Sally McManus, but also about the building unions that actually defend their members rather than roll over to the bosses. It supports the attacks on penalty rates, the minimum wage, public services and social welfare. It wants the Malcolm Turnbull-Nick Xenophon-Pauline Hanson tax cuts for businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million extended to big businesses above that figure. As a friend of mine put it, "Mr Creosote has his after-dinner mint".

In this age of fake news, there are progressive alternatives that give expression to the views of the 99 per cent — or elements of it. Independent Australia is one of them.

Let’s wipe the smile off the faces of the paid popinjays of profit

John Passant is a former Assistant Commissioner of Taxation. Read more by John on his website En Passant or follow him on Twitter @JohnPassant.

Signed copies of John Passant’s first book of poetry, Songs for the Band Unformed (Ginninderra Press 2016) are available for purchase from the IA store HERE.

You can help bring Dr Martin Hirst, Independent Australia and truth to Canberra here.

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