Thursday, 5 January 2012

NOT-SO-SILLY SEASON (Spectator leader Jan 6)

At the height of the silly season, it wasn't just Kyza, the abused pooch, who got tossed out the window. So too was Article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As the mainstream media fretted over every moment of Kyza's struggle to survive, they spent very little time monitoring a far more grievous assault - the outrageous attack upon our "right to know" by the Immigration Department.

Seasoned political observers have come to anticipate bureaucratic trickery in sneaking dubious measures through under the cloak of the summer recess, but the announcement that the ironically-named Australian Communications and Media Authority wish to censor the reporting of new boat arrivals by obscuring refugees’ faces - laughably in order to "protect their privacy" - takes the festive biscuit for sheer brazenness.

By the same twisted logic, there should be no further media coverage of Tahrir Square, the upheavals in Syria, civil unrest in Iraq, Iran or Turkey. No more pictures or footage of starvation in North Korea, abuses in Belarus, bombings in Helmand or deaths in Pakistan. In fact, in the interest of protecting individuals' privacy, why have any coverage of anything controversial or politically unpalatable at all?

May we respectfully remind both the Gillard government and ACMA that asylum seekers are either genuine refugees, who deserve and often plead for media attention in order to highlight the horrors they have escaped, or they are not; in which case they are economic refugees who have attempted to avoid scrutiny and identification by entering Australia illegally and therefore in the interests of national security warrant full exposure.  

Kyza the staffie is making a merciful recovery at the Baulkam Hills animal hospital. Meanwhile, in Australia at least, the right "to seek, receive and impart information through any media" is on life support.

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