Friday, November 7, 2014

Public criticism of Rupert Murdoch in Australia by Clive Palmer

Outside Australia, few people know of the Palmer United Party (PUP and its leader Clive Palmer. He is a new politician who formed his party after deciding that the conservative parties in Australia - of which he had been a life-long member - were either corrupt, inept, misguided, or all three.

This week, Clive Palmer unwound some of his feelings about Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation in a news conference. The video, released by The Guardian shines a powerful light on News. Clive Palmer on Rupert Murdoch

The video also offers some instruction on how Australian journalism works - against the etiquette of journalists elsewhere - with one (maybe two) journalists asking question after question, interrupting Palmer and making accusations in the form of questions. Palmer accuses them of being News Corporation stooges. Call it the robust Australian journalistic style, barely controlled and just like Australian Rules football.

Palmer pushes back and in doing so makes deep criticism of News - especially in Australia. For these views to be public are unique. For those of us in media studies in the critical community, Palmer's criticism is welcome.

Background:  Palmer is a House of Representatives member from Queensland. Sometimes referred to as "The Deep North," for the way its politics mirror some US politics from "The Deep South." Palmer seems a curious mixture of populist appeal with hyper-democratic instincts. For example, after 14,000 public servants were made redundant by the conservative Queensland State Government a couple of years ago, Palmer set up a fund to help support those who could not find work.

The "workforce reduction" in Queensland by his former colleagues in the conservative movement, was the point at which Palmer left the party and formed his own... a course of action open only to people like Palmer, who are self-made mining magnates with money to spend on pet projects.

It is easy to forget that the Australian Labor Party started in Longreach, Queensland. It began as the result of a strike by sheep shearers in 19890 who formed the Trade Union Movement. It seems that Palmer is tapping into the traditions of organized blue collar worker sentiment. Unlike other conservatives who use social issues to attract blue collar voters, Palmer has a broad approach to working people, including concern about their economic welfare. He seems very Australian, as the video indicates, with his comments about Rupert Murdoch being American yet running his Australian newspapers.