April 29th 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Taking stock of the wheat scandal

EDITORIAL: Watering Australia: a national priority

BORDER PROTECTION: Why Australia needs naval, air force bases in Torres Strait

NATIONAL SECURITY: Lives endangered by latest intelligence leaks

ENVIRONMENTALISM: How the Great Barrier Reef is mismanaged

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Labor misses the bus / All is vanity / Kosovo's mafia / When the bills come in / Open season on Christianity

REGIONAL ECONOMIC POLICY: The end of international economic cooperation? (Part 2)

PERU: Latest Latin American country to turn left

SCHOOLS: The choice so few parents can afford

MEDIA: ABC's Easter assault on Christianity

THE WEST AND ISLAM: No alternative but to defend our values

Social cost of unfettered capitalism (letter)

Robert Manne's media critique defended (letter)

Why have a Department of Foreign Affairs? (letter)

CINEMA: Caped crusader for the know-nothing left: V for Vendetta

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Robert Manne's media critique defended (letter)

by Warren Roche

News Weekly, April 29, 2006

John Barich's review of the book, Do Not Disturb: Is the Media Failing Australia? (News Weekly, April 15, 2006), makes a number of assertions that weaken the integrity of his review.

Barich seems troubled that a Catholic Murdoch journalist has the temerity to call Health Minister Tony Abbott "the mad monk". Barich conveniently overlooks the fact that Abbott himself is one of the most resourceful and prolific "name-callers" in the political business.

Barich instances the virtuous campaign by Melbourne Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt and a few of his journalists mates who are "forever demanding higher moral standards from the media". Bolt has been under investigation for leaking "top secret" security information, allegedly conduited from inside the Howard Government, to put "dirt" on the former intelligence whistleblower Andrew Wilkie. So much for moral certitude.

Barich's breathtaking comparison of the supposedly superior "treatment of illegal refugees under Howard and Vanstone" (mobile-phones/ air-conditioning, etc) to the black holes of Northam and Bonegilla, for post-war refugees is absurd and naïve.

Refugees at Northam and Bonegilla were interned for a number of months, compared with the current inmates at Baxter, Silverwater and other centres, many of whom have spent several years with children in incarceration behind razor wire. The Bonegilla refugees were free to travel to Albury-Wodonga for shopping and social outings.

Barich declares that Robert Manne is engaged in a "facile attack" on The Australian's foreign affairs editor Greg Sheridan for defending Iraqi General Georges Sada's claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Sheridan's recent articles betray a man digging deep for some form of rationalisation. In the meantime, there is more compelling evidence mounting over the extent of organised lying by Bush, Blair and Howard.

When the NCC celebrated its 50th anniversary in October 1991, Robert Manne was the principal speaker for the occasion.

I do not think that there has been a substantial ideological shift in his thinking. Some people are prepared to think further than others; others think just as far of what they want to believe.

Warren Roche,
Wauchope, NSW

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