News that Australia's richest woman, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has moved to gain a majority share in Fairfax has sent shockwaves of anger and suspicion throughout the commentariat.
Acting Green’s Leader Christine Milne was quick to express her dismay. “This is a national scandal. If you have a couple of people using newspapers as a mouthpiece, that is a real problem. For years, we in the Greens have had a total monopoly on all discussion about climate change and the long-overdue, successful and hugely popular implementation of the much-loved carbon tax, which is going to solve the global problem of an overheating planet that we daily see all around us destroying the lives of millions of people and obliterating entire species as massively populated islands disappear beneath the waves before our very eyes. The last thing a democratic, vibrant and free press needs is someone who disagrees with us."
Recently returned from her “Rehabilitation and Re-programming Retreat” on the shores of the Volga, fellow Greens senator Lee Rhiannonovski went even further. “For years, we have had a direct conduit to the oppressed, latte sipping masses of the inner cities thanks to our close ties with certain sections of the Fairfax media,” she said. “The idea that this should be put in jeopardy by someone who represents hard-working, successful Australian entrepreneurs and members of the capitalist conspiracy to give people jobs and keep our economy strong is an absolute betrayal of everything we believe in.” As she was whisked away in her government limo to attend a taxpayer-funded banquet at Marrickville Town Hall in honour of the brave Boycotters of Max Brenner, the Senator made it clear that she would not sit idly by and watch greedy, self-interested minority groups try and influence the mainstream press.
Breaking his self-imposed vow of silence from a cave on Cradle Mountain, reclusive hermit Bob Brown was in full agreement. “There is only so much hate media that a sane person can put up with. There is a real danger that this nation will now be lumbered with even more hate media to, er, hate.”
Defending the move, popular comeback kid Kevin Rudd was keen to point out that he completely disagreed with his parliamentary colleagues. ““Can I just say this? I am proud that there are many hugely successful and well rounded women billionairesses who have made their mark in this country, and I think it is about time we had one of them running my local newspaper.”
But his comments found little favour with the rest of the cabinet. Prime Minister Julia Gillard sounded a note of caution. “What I am doing is building a new economy, which means it will be nothing like the old economy. So if people think they do whatever they like just because they know how to turn a decent profit in the old economy then they’d better think again. In my new economy, thanks to the mining tax, the carbon tax, Fair Work Australia, the unions, the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the squillions blown on the NBN there won’t be any profits left for anyone to make. Gina included.”
Echoing his leader’s comments, Wayne Swan was keen to point out to reporters that the budget would definitely be returning to surplus in 2012-13. “What people like Gina must understand is that she may have a surplus $200 million to splash around pretending to be a media mogul, but she’s not the only one with a surplus. Courtesy of my brilliant skills – recognized globally – as the World’s Greatest Treasurer I intend to have the budget back in the black by at the end of May at the absolute latest. Hopefully to the tune of at east $76.32 cents.”
Speaking from New England, where he was attending the opening of the latest Philippe Starck designed and marble-floored wing of the Tamworth hospital – the visitor’s waiting room - Independent MP Tony Windsor was dismissive of the sums involved. “$200 million is, quite frankly, pocket money compared to the vast amounts I and my electorate have recently, er, pocketed,” he said, cutting the pure silk ribbon with a pair of diamond-encrusted platinum-plated scissors.
“There is nothing wrong with this at all,” agreed Senator Stephen Conroy. “With any luck, I may also be able to persuade Gina to personally invest in the NBN, which would bring the number of our subscribers up to four thousand and one.”
Stephen Mayne, of Crikey fame, was quick to sound a note of alarm. “The idea that anyone can just come along and set up their own media outlet is an affront to all we journos,” he said.
In other news today, shares in Andrew Bolt went through the roof.