Friday, May 23, 2014

Budget grumbles -1. Media

It's Interesting that after the disastrous budget, the Murdoch media is currently working overtime to vilify students and disability pensioners, and whilst it makes a welcome change from the prejudice directed towards asylum seekers and the lies surrounding their issues, it's no less repugnant. They are however providing a wonderfully rich resource for teachers, particularly those working with English, clear thinking, logic, media and even maths students. 
The ferals are revolting

There is no room for misunderstanding the reaction expected of the reader, who is now primed to agree and demonise those who are protesting, without having any idea who they are or what they're protesting about.

The Daily Telegraph directs us to focus on a small group of presumably angry protesters and a prominent policeman. Did the photographer or some other person encourage the people to point dramatically? Is the policeman placed there to remind us that ferals need to be kept in their place? A quiet, orderly protest isn't nearly as dramatic as one with "action". 

One wonders how the picture has been cropped. Who was to the right of the person in purple? Was it someone older who’d benefitted from the free education enjoyed by many of the Prime Ministers generation and who believes that a well resourced and equitable education system, available to the whole population, makes for a strong and vibrant society? Was it a man under 30 living in an area of high unemployment, wondering how he'll support his family if he's laid off. 6 months without unemployment benefits is a long time. What has been cropped is just as important as what has been highlighted.

The huge headline LIVING ON EASY STREET is dramatically placed under the action shot of people pointing.  A cursory glance would imply that living on easy street refers to those vile and scary 'ferals' - it doesn't, and is completely unrelated. Nothing about the disastrous poll, nothing prominent about the diverse and valid reasons for the protests. No insight provided for curious readers.

In contrast, note the almost sombre tone of the Sydney Morning Herald where poll results are placed prominently, reflecting the strong and angry reaction by ordinary, everyday Australians to the budget. Further information is provided for those choosing to delve further. 

Everyday Australians targeted
For some details about how ordinary, everyday Australians, our neighbours, and others in our communities will be affected by this unfair budget look here. There you'll find some of the figures that which are usually shared openly on budget night. 
More than one third of the budget cuts - $6 billion - fall on the middle quintile of households, earning $45,000 to $63,000. 
■ Families with school-age children are the hardest hit. Across all income groups, they will lose $15.9 billion over four years, more than 90 per cent of the total. 
■ Low and middle-income sole parents suffer worst of all, losing between 10 and 15 per cent of their annual income - $4000 to $6250 - on family earnings of less than $60,000 by the time the changes to welfare take full effect in 2017-18. 
■ The burden rises sharply for families with children over the four years of the budget. For example, a sole parent earning $60,000 with children aged eight and 12 will lose $1808 in annual income in 2014-15 and $6278 in 2017-18. 
Low- and middle-income earners, especially those with school-age children, are hit hardest as the family tax benefit for single-income families is abolished and indexation is curbed. 
And that's fair? To target low and middle income earners yet not the wealthy?


The Daily Telegraph ran a front-page story about there being more people on disability in NSW than died during the World Wars. 

In what way is this relevant? In what sad world is encouraging readers to further marginalise and sneer at disability pensioners, rather than show compassion and understanding  considered acceptable?

Apart from them apparently running the same divisive line a few years ago, they chose a picture of a long queue of people appearing to line up to receive their disability payments. Placed carefully next to a picture of diggers we're encouraged to agree - Diggers did it tough. They suffered. Disability pensioners aren't as worthy as them. 

It turns out this photo is a fairly common piece of royalty-free stock imagery. A Google image search finds this and this and this. It's not related to real Australians on pensions.
But it's too easy to just cruelly vilify those on disability support, and imply that they're bludgers rather than give accurate, reasoned and intelligent insight into the real issues. There's a more thorough assessment here.

This kind of manipulation appears designed to influence and deflect the anger so many feel against the cruel budget. It's a blatant attempt to discredit our fellow citizens who have genuine concerns about how they'll manage with a variety of cuts and persistently increasing costs. These tactics target those least able to respond, and look like a smelly smokescreen to take people's minds off the real issues of inequity, unfairness and a wider gap between the have's and have not's that will be the outcome of the budget . 


Is everybody really being asked to help with the heavy lifting?

Who isn't being supported by this budget? What happened to the end of the age of entitlement?

Is the government able to maturely handle the anger directed at them in response to their unfair budget? Do they need the Murdoch press to shield them by pointing the manipulative finger of outrage towards those negatively affected? (rhetorical question) 

When mining companies were threatened with a fair tax, they used their extraordinary financial resources and complained loud and long. Why is it ok for exceptionally profitable, multinational mining companies to protest, yet not ordinary Australian citizens? Is anyone in government able to explain, without resorting to predetermined cliches, why those least able to pay are being hit hardest, while those most able are barely touched? (another rhetorical question)

to be continued... here Budget Grumbles 2. Education and unemployment.



Jon Roder said...

Thoughtful and well put Sue.

Sue Travers said...

Thanks Jon, much appreciated!

gaurav manral said...
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gaurav manral said...
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