Leading article Australia

Questions not asked

5 February 2022

9:00 AM

5 February 2022

9:00 AM

The questions put to Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the National Press Club this week, lobbed at him with all the grace and dignity of a Gazan teenager tossing a Molotov cocktail over a border fence, by those who are meant to be the cream of our nation’s journalists, ranged from the asinine to the fatuous to the repugnant. Well done, fellow scribes. Those questions do not bear repeating here, suffice to say that second-hand and unsubstantiated personal smears alongside ‘when did you stop beating your wife?’ style questions demeaned the press gallery far more than they did the Prime Minister.

Moreover, the contrast between those spiteful, innuendo-laden questions and the soapy froth with which the Canberra press gallery lathered and massaged opposition leader Anthony Albanese the previous week was, equally, an indictment on the so-called professional standards of those employed by the ABC and the left-leaning mainstream media, whose job (and in the case of the ABC whose legal responsibility) is to approach political debate in a fair and balanced fashion.

Yet again, those on the centre-right of politics are forced to ponder what on earth the Liberal party is up to. By refusing to de-fang (defund?) the national broadcaster after eight years in power, the government only has itself to blame for the constant attacks and political damage it and individuals within its ranks suffer at the hands of these hardcore, hard-left, single-minded political campaigners posing (not very convincingly) as responsible journalists.

How many times does the Prime Minister have to be mocked on the national stage before he and his minders realise that they don’t actually need to show up at leftist events like the National Press Club, or trot on down to Ultimo to face ritual humiliation, in order to talk to mainstream Australians?

But above all, what this recent charade demonstrated is the utter failure, as Ramesh Thakur spells out in his column this week, of the Fourth Estate to hold this federal government and indeed all our state governments accountable where it genuinely matters; namely, on the clear abuse of power and authoritarian over-reach during the ‘once-in-a-century’ Covid pandemic. And the economic pain and destruction needlessly wrought on everyday Australians and small businesses through lockdowns, internal border closures and curfews.

This theme is picked up by Mark Latham as well, as the NSW One Nation leader in his column ridicules the Covid bedwetters supposedly from the centre-right of politics who have become captive to the endless fear-mongering of the overly-zealous health bureaucrats and their supine political overlords.

One Nation’s Senator Pauline Hanson has called for a Royal Commission into the abuses of power during the Covid pandemic, and this week on our Flat White online magazine our Editor-in-Chief Rowan Dean listed just a few of the questions that such an inquiry might address. Alas, as readers have pointed out, with the Liberals, Nationals, Greens and Labor all basically on the same ticket when it comes to supporting excessive Covid restrictions over the last two years, it is unlikely a parliamentary majority will ever agree to a Royal Commission of any sort regarding the pandemic. Instead, the narrative will continue around what Sanjeev Sabhlok identified on Flat White earlier in the week as ‘the big lie’: that Covid is a terrifying and existential once-in-100-year pandemic requiring the dismantling and suspension of democratic safeguards and pre-planned measures.

As Rocco Loiacono writes in this issue, already one well-respected media outlet, the British Medical Journal, has broken ranks with the mainstream leftist media and is demanding that all relevant Covid vaccine data be released for scrutiny.

That our own supposedly elite press galley appears more interested in trivia and smears is a crying shame, but entirely predictable. There are many, many questions that need to be asked about the pandemic and the way our various governments reacted to it. The appropriateness of the severity of the restrictions and harm done to everyday Australians, not to mention our long-term economic well-being, can only be properly judged by a full and frank appraisal of the severity of the disease itself and an honest appraisal of how wrong the models were from reality. Basic questions such as the exact numbers of those who died ‘with’ as opposed to ‘of’ Covid must be answered.

Every Covid death is a tragedy. But it is hard to avoid the conclusion that our politicians and their bureaucratic bodies are hell-bent on continuing to sell us the fear and panic that has been repeatedly peddled throughout the last two years. This they do as a means of justifying measures which at the time were highly questionable (just check our back copies) and now look evermore reprehensible and ill-judged.

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