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Federal Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority Act (2016)

By Jonathan J. Ariel - posted Friday, 7 August 2015

One reason Australia's alternative media is gaining readers, but as yet is not swimming in revenues, is because many people – both on the Left and the Right - agree that what passes for political reporting in the MSM has gone to the dogs.

Folk lament that the MSM generally no longer covers real issues, but merely treat politics like a variety show. And a bad one at that.

Witness the reporting of what has been branded by the Leftist media as "Choppergate"; the lavish spending by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bronwyn Bishop on travel related matters.


Fairfax Media, many radio stations and even the Right's Melbourne megaphone, the Herald-Sun, focussed on her $600 flight from Kingsford Smith to Albury in southern New South Wales to attend the wedding of Sophie Mirabella, the former Liberal member for the Victorian seat of Indi.

If asking the hard questions was the remit of the MSM, surely the two-week $90,000 European extravagance - where at least half the time was spent by the Speaker arguing the merits of her application for the presidency of the Inter-Parliamentary Union - should have been the media's relentless focus 24/7.

But sadly it wasn't.

And while centrist Sky News reported on Federal Labor frontbencher Tony Burke flying his family business class to visit the Top End for a lovely holiday on our dime as well as passing you and me the bill for flying his mum from Adelaide to Sydney (for $1,360, or ten times a typical Virgin Australia economy fare), these stories were poorly reported by Fairfax and just ignored by The Guardian.

As for Burke's wholly unjustified $840,000 spend on sprucing up his office, don't expect the Left to report, let alone condemn one of their own. So you see, it isn't "reform" some in the media want. Political kills are what they want. And that's a shame. It reflects woefully on those who think they are journalists, when really they are much less.

Canberra's journalists have many of the same faults they've always had. Much of the coverage is slanted; some of it is juvenile and the quality of writing, patchy.


To many observers the pack mentality of the press gallery is to focus more and more on trivia and to sensationalise rather than analyse. Even when the issues under consideration are vital to ensure the public doesn't lose faith in the erstwhile concept of democracy.

To a great degree the public has already lost faith in politicians; no doubt 'bout that.

So where to next for a prime minister struggling to get on top of the rorts fiasco?

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About the Author

Jonathan J. Ariel is an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He can be contacted at

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