3 September 2013
Cuddlepie is orphaned by a freak gust of wind that sweeps him away from his mother’s arms, travelling across a great distance. He is rescued from a dreary fate by a kind Nut and taken in to live with his family. In this manner the two baby Nuts, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie become foster brothers. Growing up together in the bush the two become strong and fat. May Gibb’s illustrations depict them as little cherubs running along trees and through the grass, wearing a nut-shell for a hat. One day an old Kookaburra comes to the neighbourhood and tells a story about some mysterious creatures known as Humans. The two Nuts are entranced and Snugglepot decides to steal away in the dead night to find some, even though the Kookaburra has warned them how dangerous the large beings can be. Cuddlepie is more wary and insists on observing humans from a distance.
So went a story from May Gibbs‘ classic Australian children’s book series, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, the gumnut babies. The Human in the case of this cartoon is Rupert Murdoch who has been widely reported as wanting to destroy The Greens.
“[Rupert Murdoch’s] The Australian is astonishingly hostile to the Greens. They think the Greens are going to destroy Australian well-being and the Australian economy and they think of the Greens as an evil party or a totalitarian party or as a mad party or whatever.” So says Robert Manne in the February 2013 edition of the Quarterly Essay, entitled ‘Bad News’, which examines the political influence of Murdoch in Australia.
A subsequent interview with LaTrobe University’s Professor Manne was posted on that university’s website. Here are some extracts:
This year has seen unprecedented scrutiny of Rupert Murdoch’s empire in Britain, but what about in Australia, where he owns 70% of the press. Today I’m joined by Professor Robert Manne of the Politics Program at La Trobe University and author of the new Quarterly Essay, Bad News, in which he investigates The Australian newspaper, Murdoch’s lead political voice here, and how it shapes debate. Professor Manne, thanks for your time today.
So, set the scene for us and tell us about The Australian.
Well, The Australian is probably the most influential newspaper in the country. It’s a combination of a broadsheet, not a tabloid, but it’s also part of the Murdoch empire and the paper that Rupert Murdoch has used since he established the paper in 1964 to influence the direction of Australian politics, Australian values, the Australian economy, and so it seems to me to be a highly influential paper, particularly because it’s the only general national newspaper and one that television and radio relies upon in a way on a daily basis for the way they interpret the world.
What role did The Australian play in the rise and fall of the Prime Ministership of Kevin Rudd?
……. the caucus would have I think been influenced by this remorseless campaign that was in part personal and in part political, that was led by The Australian. So the essay gives a slightly revisionist version and says that The Australian should not be under-estimated as having played a role in undermining the Rudd Prime Ministership.
Has that trend continued to the Gillard Government at all?
Yes, very much so. Present politics is largely about this. The Australian never forgave Gillard for forming an alliance with the Greens. The Australian is astonishingly hostile to the Greens. They think the Greens are going to destroy Australian well-being and the Australian economy and they think of the Greens as an evil party or a totalitarian party or as a mad party or whatever. And once Gillard had signed an agreement with the Greens, in my view the paper became extremely hostile to the Gillard Government as well, or continued with the hostility that had built up under Rudd. And in the essay I analyse what I call a jihad against the Greens, and it’s interesting that finally a politician broke ranks and decided to take the risk of being overtly critical of The Australian, which was of course Senator Bob Brown, who finally had enough and has made his complaints about the bias of The Australian, both over climate change and over the Greens, has made it explicit and has taken on the paper. He’s probably the only politician apart from Stephen Conroy of Labor who’s done that. But the mood is now growing.
Transcript in full
April 2012 saw Bob Brown step down as Greens’ Leader, with the intention of quitting parliament in June. Senator Brown had said in May 2011 that he had no immediate plans to retire and cited News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch as a role model. At the time Mr Murdoch had turned 80. But Senator Brown has changed his mind. “Twelve or 18 months ago I did cite Rupert Murdoch as being a role model and say that I’d stay in it (parliament) to 2024 to catch up with his age. But I’ve watched his progress in the last 18 months and I’ve decided I changed my mind. So here I am.”
For Christine Milne, Brown’s successor, nothing has improved and Murdoch continues to influence public further towards the right with his papers’ anti-Green, anti-Labor, pro-Coalition propaganda. It is understood that Milne has no plans to resign … yet!