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Our media: puerile more than feral

By Syd Hickman - posted Thursday, 1 August 2013

The decline of mass media is usually blamed on the internet and easy access to new sources of information. While true in part it is also a convenient way to gloss over the failure of the product to keep pace with the audience.

Aging editors and journalists have proved more reluctant than the general population to recognise new realities and see the world in realistic terms rather than through the old idealisms they learned in university so long ago.

Coverage of the global warming issue is particularly puerile. When the PM announced we would move early to an emissions trading scheme so as to cut the cost of energy to consumers there was much discussion of the political implications of the move. But where was the simple point that the intention of the policy was to impose a cost that would change behaviour? If the government was going to lower the cost to the point where it caused no pain then the entire policy and its administrative machinery might as well be abolished.


The media effectively accepted the idea that tokenism was just fine. The government had to pretend to do something but no-one should take the issue seriously or even look beyond the next few months of political impact.

Staying with energy, the Australian media is apparently completely unaware that at least six nations now are developing mini-nuclear power plants that can be moved on trains, barges and even trucks. These are very safe and have enormous potential for our economy. They could be used at mine sites, to power high speed trains, and regional towns.

Gold mining in Australia is particularly energy intensive, (diesel and coal) to the point where it would be closed down if we were at all serious about curbing our use of carbon fuels. Mini nukes could provide an answer but don't hold your breath waiting for the media to notice any of it.

A lot of the coverage of China is breathtakingly ignorant. It is assumed the huge Chinese expenditure on infrastructure is some kind of stupidity or simple rorting. The fact that the Chinese have been building the world's most comprehensive base of alternative energy networks, by a large margin, while prices for the required metals are relatively low, is ignored.

Just recently a Chinese company bought up an Australian copper mine but where was the analysis of why the Chinese value copper more highly than anyone else?

The idea that the Chinese have got it right and we are going to pay a very high price when we wake up is a long way from the Australian media's view of the world.


In the endless articles discussing Gonski and education funding hardly anyone has mentioned the single most important point about the entire process. The Gonski committee made the judgement that cutting funding to private schools was too politically difficult so the vital big increase in funding to government schools would have to be covered by smaller increases to private schools, resulting in a massive bill.

It is hard to argue with that starting point given the gutlessness of our political leadership but it shapes the entire outcome. The reason the package is so expensive is that taxpayers are forced to give even more money to schools that have fully equipped TV studios, rifle ranges, numerous swimming pools and the best facilities that money can buy, while still having lots of cash in the bank. Could it be that leading journalists go along with this without mentioning it because they have all sent their kids to private schools? Where are the economic rationalists when you need them?

Anyone interested in the collapse of Egypt must go to foreign media to learn that any Egyptian government must bring in billions of dollars of externally provided aid each year if it is to survive. The Muslim Brotherhood relied on oil-rich supporters. The Army is supported by billions of "defence assistance" from the US every year. The population (which has more than tripled since 1960) has already exceeded any possible survival on the domestic economy and is increasing rapidly. The nation that fed the Roman Empire is now the world's largest importer of wheat.

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About the Author

Syd Hickman has worked as a school teacher, soldier, Commonwealth and State public servant, on the staff of a Premier, as chief of Staff to a Federal Minister and leader of the Opposition, and has survived for more than a decade in the small business world.

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