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Groundhog day as some media indulge in anti-Green spin

By Vivienne Wynter - posted Wednesday, 20 July 2011

I nearly choked on my kangaroo curry the other night watching the commercial television news anchor ask viewers: "Who is running this government?"

This question was posed in an introduction to a story about the Greens announcing the Renewable Energy Agency, prior to the Carbon Tax announcement.

Several other mainstream media outlets parroted Tony Abbott's lines in similar fashion, parading for all their ignorance about Australia's multi-party democracy and some reporters' lazy willingness to let Mr Abbott write their news copy.


I don't know why I was so shocked.

When I worked for the Australian Democrats at the peak of their popularity with "nine senators in 1999," some sections of the media were similarly outraged at the temerity of a minor party for being so damned effective and popular.

Who did we think we were? Legitimately elected political representatives or something?

I thought that over a decade later more members of the media might be more literate about the democracy we live in, which is based on proportional representation and gives all Australians the right to be represented in the National Parliament.

That means that the party representing around 13 per cent of Australians has the right to vote, negotiate with the major parties and independents and make policy and legislative announcements when and how they see fit.

That means, Seven News, I am speaking to you now, that in a multi-party democracy, all elected representatives, including the National Party supported by fewer than five per cent of Australians and the Liberal National Party (LNP), supported by fewer than 10 per cent, and the Greens, supported by almost 13 per cent, all have a right to act as elected representatives.


The party that forms government does not get to tell the other elected representatives what to do, how to vote, when to make announcements or how to act, particularly when the party that forms government does not have an outright majority.

There are these things called 'the cross benches' and the members of parliament who sit on them represent actual voters and the government of the day, and ideally the media has to respect that.

It's not a totalitarian system.

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About the Author

Vivienne Wynter worked for the Australian Democrats from 1996 to 2001 and for the Queensland Greens on the 2010 Federal Election Campaign. She is a freelance writer based in Brisbane where she also teaches media studies at Griffith University.

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