Murdoch and the Aborigines

The phone hacking scandal in the UK is moving quickly. Senior media and police resign, and the storm starts gathering around Downing Street. The immorality of the gutter press is shocking but unsurprising; their illegal dealings with the police is likewise no news to anyone half-awake. The fact that it’s all been aired in public at last, with some genuine repercussions, seems astonishing. What’s happening seems somehow far more important than a general election in terms of shaping the political landscape of this country.

But John Pilger reminds us that a far greater Murdoch scandal remains mostly hidden Down Under:

The most enduring and insidious Murdoch campaign has been against the Aboriginal people, who were dispossessed by the arrival of the British in the late 18th century and have never been allowed to recover. “Nigger hunts” continued into the 1960s and beyond. The officially-inspired theft of children from Aboriginal families, justified by the racist theories of the eugenics movement, produced those known as the Stolen Generation and in 1997 was identified as genocide. Today, the first Australians have the shortest life expectancy of any of the world’s 90 indigenous peoples. Australia imprisons Aborigines at five times the rate South Africa during the apartheid years. In the state of Western Australia, the figure is eight times the apartheid rate.

Political power in Australia often rests in the control of resource-rich land. Most of the uranium, iron ore, gold, oil and natural gas is in Western Australia and Northern Territory—on Aboriginal land. Indeed, Aboriginal “progress” is all but defined by the mining industry and its political guardians in both Labor and coalition (conservative) governments. Their faithful, strident voice is the Murdoch press. The exceptional, reformist Labor government of Gough Whitlam in the 1970s set up a royal commission that made clear that social justice for Australia’s first people would only be achieved with universal land rights and a share the national wealth with dignity. In 1975, Whitlam was sacked by the governor-general in a “constitutional coup”. The Murdoch press had turned on Whitlam with such venom that rebellious journalists on The Australian burned their newspaper in the street. […]

Using the language of its soulmate the London Sun, the Australian derides the “abstract debate” of “land rights, apologies, treaties” as a “moralizing mumbo-jumbo spreading like a virus”. The aim is to silence those who dare tell Australia’s dirty secret.

Read the full article here.