Australia has been locked into a cycle of inaction around the major issues facing the nation. Manipulation of the political system by vested interests on climate change and inequality has seen little progress achieved on these important matters affecting the nation. Conflicts of interest in Australia are entrenched within media and government. A lack of transparency around political influence within the two party preferred system remains the elephant in the room. On top of this, the loudest voice in the room via media interest is the Murdoch news organisation with its monopoly of newspapers across the land. Murdoch is a rabid right wing media mogul, as seen by the content on his Fox News and Sky News Australia TV networks. Objective coverage of the news is so far from what viewers get via the Murdoch press it would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious concern for the country.
Concentric Media Landscape in Oz
Australians are the not the sharpest tools in the shed, as evidenced by the concentric media landscape dominated by Murdoch.
Both sides of the political spectrum stand in the shadow of the rich and powerful. The loudest voices in the nation call the shots to the detriment of the many voiceless denizens. Conflicts of interest in Australia stand out like the bloody obvious to anyone with half a brain.
Why Do Australians Fail To Comprehend Who Decides What They See?
We, as a nation, have lost a broader societal view of ourselves and institutions. Large sections of the nation have been bought off by the opportunity to become richer much more quickly. In the same way, that when you work for a company who pay your wages your voice is often muted when it comes to the actions of that corporation within the community.
Rarely will you view stories on these channels and broadsheets that contradict the commercial interests of its advertisers. Generations of Australians have now grown up within this controlled media environment and know no better or different. The great free press of our western democracies are a joke really, as they don’t exist in practice.
Stagnant Wage Growth in Australia
The recent realisation that wages in Australia have stagnated over the last 30 years has taken a long time to wake us up from our slumber on this issue. The power of unions has been diminished greatly over the same period. The correlation between these phenomenon’s is another blind spot in the Australian psyche. This is no accident; however, vested interests and their right wing political minions have driven the anti-union agenda diligently. Unions have been effectively demonised in this country over the last few decades by the Murdoch media. Australians have become apathetic and overly placid in their workplaces. Look at Qantas under the guidance of Alan Joyce, where a once proud organisation has been gutted by divisive employment contract practices and union-breaking manoeuvring.
The Albanese government has been recently elected after a decade of LNP administrations at the federal level in Australia. Under Abbott, Turnbull, and Morrison our nation has become an unfairer and less equitable place to live. Tax rates for the rich have been flattened to introduce a more regressive style of income tax – Australia’s main avenue of tax revenue. The right wing philosophy of shifting the tax burden to the poorer majority of Australians can be seen by the stage 3 tax cuts. Similar policy shifts have been witnessed in the UK under the Conservatives and in the US when Trump was president. The right wing political parties in western democracies are driven by vested corporate interests. Their narratives are always about reducing government spending and taxing, despite institutional inequality within these countries. Identifying a bad guy is the name of the game in this political narrative. Inflating the presence of corruption within unions and large sections of underserving poor amid minorities are two of their favourite tropes. Enabling wealthy Australians to feel better about paying less tax and ignoring those struggling to feed their families is all part of the right wing stratagem to win votes. Getting elected on the basis of divisiveness and entrenched inequality does not faze this side of politics. Feting those people who truly believe that they are more deserving and entitled to a larger slice of the pie is ultimately a recipe for civic unrest and disaster. Watching what is happening in America right now is the beginning of the end of the American empire. The bitter divide between Trump driven Americans and those on the blue side with Biden is ugly and dangerous. The January 6 riot and attempted coup at the Capital is something hard to fathom for an Australian. Murdoch, of course, was front and centre via Fox News in fanning the flames of civil unrest in America at this time and continues to do so. Radical social conservatives find their soap box on Fox News.
We will see a Murdoch driven campaign against any changes to the industrial relations regime in Australia. Multi-employer enterprise bargaining for the feminised employment sector involving areas like childcare, aged care, and other traditionally low paid jobs is a policy shift being put forward by the Albanese government. Any influence and power clawed back by unions will be hard fought by business groups and the right wing side of politics. Scare campaigns will be mounted about wide spread strikes paralysing the nation – in fact they have already started. You can sense a certain tentativeness in the actions of the newly elected ALP federal government. They are scared of being the focus of a rabid attack by the Murdoch led press. The fact that energy prices in Australia are at record high levels because of the war in Ukraine and are predicted to rise even further by more than 50% for electricity and gas is a major problem for the Australian economy and government. Inaction on this will erode any early goodwill the electorate have for the Albanese government. The gas companies are making record profits from the sale of the gas they have unearthed from Australia.
“According to data sourced by the Greens, 28 gas companies collectively earning $77 billion in revenue and $482 million in taxable income paid no tax in 2019-20.
Like US-owned ExxonMobil, owner of 25% of the Gorgon project. $15.5 billion in revenue in 2019-20. Taxable income: zero. Company tax: zero. PRRT paid: zero.
Or US-owned Chevron, owner of 47% of Gorgon, 64% of Wheatstone and 16.7% of the North-West Shelf. $15 billion in revenue. Taxable income: $169 million. Company tax: zero. PRRT: zero.
Or British-owned Shell, owner of stakes in NW Shelf, Gorgon and Prelude: $5.3 billion in revenue; zero taxable income, zero company tax, zero PRRT.
Woodside, at least, pays some tax: $11.1 billion in revenue, $3.1 billion in taxable income, $454 million in tax, no PRRT.”
- Bernard Keane, Crikey, April 2022
Australia is a joke, a bad joke for us citizens, when compared to places like Norway when it comes to the national share of our resources. Morrison and the LNP sold us down the river for peanuts and ALP governments did likewise prior to that. State governments of both political persuasions have been at the forefront of these decisions. Our elected officials have not valued our resources responsibly and one wonders about the kick backs provided under the table for these individuals. Conflicts of interest in Australia – self-interest in particular over real service to the nation and people.
Australians are busy beavering away paying off bank loans for their overpriced houses. Australians are busy looking away when stuff like this is going on day after day. “Not my problem and not in my remit,” is the national zeitgeist. The limited perspective of us all is complicit in the ongoing state of affairs in this nation. Rich and powerful people and entities are siphoning off the wealth of our land. Their influence within the political system is determining the lack of voice for ordinary Australians in the workplace and within our society. Things are getting worse on this score, which is why we have low wage growth and companies achieving record profits at a time when inflation and the cost of living are terrorising poorer Australians. We have just come through a global pandemic and repeated natural disasters across the eastern seaboard. Why don’t these companies bear some of the cost for these losses? Why is it they can raise their prices to ensure ongoing profits at the expense of government and the general populace? Supply side inflation is plaguing economies globally and here in Australia. The Reserve bank is rapidly raising interest rates in a bid to dampen demand to reduce inflation. A recession looms over our economy and who pays most severely during these economic downturns? The ordinary Australian of course. The woman and man in the street whose wages are already not keeping pace with the CPI.
The nation elected the ALP as an alternative to the 10 years of what we got under the LNP, will we have the fortitude to stand by and let them make the changes necessary? If our governments cannot act decisively on issues like climate change and inequality, nothing will change or progress for the better. Sitting on your hands and talk without action will only make matters worse when it comes to a rapidly changing world. Stopping the exploitation of our resources without adequate taxing is an important step in the right direction. Waking up to the overt influence of vested interests in government and media is essential if Australia is going to reverse the trend toward extreme inequality.