August 22, 2010

Post Election Blues

The 2010 Election may go down in history as the biggest non-event in Australian politics that left an electorate at once disillusioned, incensed and depressed at the thought that either of the cardboard cutouts that were put forward as leaders will represent our country.

But rather than pointing frustrations at the politicians who by virtue of their vocation are prone to lying and to studiously not answering questions, the collective finger of disappointment and annoyance is pointing at the media. And it’s about time too because the mainstream media in this country has quite frankly lost the plot.

Just consider the ad for Channel Nine’s election night coverage, with an expert team led by… Karl and Lisa from the Today Show. Come on! If that isn’t an indication of how low the media has sunk in terms of credibility taking two morning-show hosts and positioning them as political experts, then I don’t know what is. Or was Nine’s election night coverage meant to be a joke? Given the tone of the coverage in the lead up to the election which could be likened to the same celebrity nonsense that you would expect in a story on what Lindsay Lohan’s mother had for breakfast, maybe it was a joke. But I don’t feel like laughing and nor do many other citizens if the chatter on talkback radio today is anything to go by.

I tuned into ABC radio this morning to hear three callers in a row, and respected political journalist and commentator Mungo MacCallum, say the media were the worst offenders in this pseudo-election campaign. The media turned this election into a tabloid headline worthy of nothing more than lining the Budgie cage. So-called political journalists didn’t nail either Gillard or Abbott on any of the hard questions.

What happened to the media’s traditional role in keeping the politicians honest? Of asking hard hitting questions about policy and intention, rather than the state of Julia Gillard’s relationship with her hairdresser boyfriend, or Abbott’s choice of swimwear? Are these really questions that Australians want answered about the next leader of our country, the person that is going to represent Australia on the global stage, the person that has the power to make critical decisions that will affect our future?

When both ‘leaders’ talked about stopping the boats, no one asked basic questions that might help the Australian people to make up their own minds about the need to stop the boats or not. No one asked how many people flee to Australia each year risking their lives and their families in hope of a better future? Nor did they ask either party how they proposed to stop the boats. There was little if any reportage that gave both sides of the argument. Bias was rampant and information given in sound bites. How can anyone make an educated decision when you get 30 seconds of paid political rhetoric?

On the economic questions there was equal silence from journalists on both sides of the political fence. How many journalists wrote stories and filed reports on how the Libs were going to create a bigger surplus than Labour? What were they going to cut from essential services to facilitate this surplus?  Where was the money coming from? 

Whereas the politicians stuck to their script and remembered everything they’d learned in media training, journalists clearly forgot the basics of their profession – research, ask questions, check facts, check them again and then write an unbiased report.  That may be hard to do if you work for News Corporation, who surprise, surprise supported the Libs again this time around (what concessions Mr. Murdoch may get if Abbott gets in are not made public but you can bet he isn’t touting the virtues of the Libs out of the goodness of his heart). Or for Fairfax who, said one news report, sided with Labour. The mere fact that the media acknowledge the blatant bias should send alarm bells to every thinking person in this nation. Can we trust the media?

Now we have two weeks or so to wait until we find out which Party will form government. And you can be assured the media will treat that debate with the same diligence, scrutiny and impartiality they’ve shown for the election campaign. Why don’t they save us all the trouble of tuning in to the nightly news and reading the newspaper and fast track to the question that is no doubt on the lips of our most intrepid reporters - what colour curtains will Gillard’s partner, or Abbott’s wife, choose for the Lodge?

August 19, 2010

New articles

Both the July and August feature articles in Pro Photo are now loaded onto my website - - enjoy!

August 14, 2010

Enough of the Fear Campaign

I very rarely make public comment about politics, it is not a subject that interests me largely because I don't have any real respect for politicians. But I can't be silent on the Australian 2010 Election, which should be called Election by Fear. Both parties want us to be afraid of everything from rising taxes to dying from cancer - one of the most outrageous ads of this campaign has been Abbott's claim that the Labour Party's health policies will see more Australians die because they can't get medical care.

But the issue that has prompted me to speak out is the Stop the Boats campaign. Abbott and Gillard are as bad as each other with their pejorative rhetoric around the asylum seekers - which in reality don't add up to more than a few thousand people a year, desperate people who have been driven from their homes by true fear, by true terror. What are they guilty of? Seeking a better life for themselves and their children. I am so ashamed of Australia's policy towards these people, our lack of compassion as a nation, our closed-mindedness and our selfishness. 

Abbott and Gillard would have you believe that these traumatised human beings - remember they are people just like you and me, wanting to shelter and feed their family and live their lives in peace - are going to take away our freedoms. Rubbish. We are doing that ourselves by our lack of ability to think beyond what we are told, to stand up for what we know is right, to extend a helping hand to someone for no other reason than one human being helping another in a time of need.

Stand up for Australia and say no to this backward policy that will send us back to the dark ages. Stop the boats? No. Stop the fear mongering and recognise it for what it is: a smoke screen to hide the fact that between the two major political parties they don't have a policy worth debating. They are both resorting to the most basic political ploys - tell the electorate who is to blame for their woes, instill fear and anguish, and promise that they will do better. History dictates that we, as an electorate, should know better than to fall for that tired old play yet again.

End wasteful spending - on the diatribe of fear
Welcome the boats - extend a helping hand and show the world what Australians are made of - compassion, intelligence to cut through the political rhetoric and the guts to stand up for what is right.

August 05, 2010

Feature article on UN photographer Martine Perret

The August issue of Pro Photo features my interview with Martine Perret as the cover story. I met Martine in Fremantle at this year's Foto Freo festival. She was exhibiting photos from her essay on transexuals in East Timor. This is her story.

August 04, 2010

Pro Photo feature on Foto Freo is out

Thanks to Claire Martin, Amy Stein, Narelle Autio, Joy Horwood-Cooke and Magda Stanova for their time and their awesome photos. Writing these articles are food for my creative soul.