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Fluster and bluster from Beazley!

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MEDIA RELEASE WARWICK SMITH M.P. Shadow Minister for Communications

20 September 1991

Fluster and Bluster from Beazley !

The unholy mess of Fairfax and Labor

Last night's Lateline programme on the ABC was an amazing performance by Minister for Transport and Communications, Kim Beazley. It was full of fluster and bluster.

The ALP is in an absolute turmoil with regard to how it is to treat the Fairfax matter. Senator Chris Schacht claims to be taking the high moral position and a position of principal. In the same interview, Kim Beazley claims to be doing the same, yet they are totally opposed to each others particular view point!

The Minister accuses his colleagues of "intellectual sloppiness" and yet talks about wanting to not change goal posts when in actual fact his proposal as argued, is all about changing goal posts - the sloppiness is with Mr Beazley.

Another amazing element to emerge was that you had a senior Cabinet Minister disclaiming his involvement in the matter and passing the buck as quickly as possible to the Treasurer. Whatever happened to the concept of Cabinet solidarity and unity that is supposed to prevail in this Government? What is John Kerin's view about the "flick pass" from Kim Beazley?

How ironic to now have a Print Media Inquiry borne of a political deal underway and how hypocritical to be saying that this Print Media Inquiry is to focus on enhancing competition when at the very time the Government is in total confusion as to what position it should be taking on the biggest change in media ownership assets in this country's recent history.

Every thinking Australian should be concerned about the absurdity of the pronouncements that are emerging from the Government over the last several days.

The editorial of 'The Australian1 on Wednesday 18 September summed up well the "unholy mess" of Labor's approach:

"It is clear that the Federal Government's paramount interest in the sale of the Fairfax newspapers is neither the application of consistent media policy nor the advocacy of the principle of editorial independence...."

"... In Caucus there appears to be profound confusion about how to return the media to strength and diversity..."

"... Labor is trying to manipulate the process but is confused over the means and ends of such manipulation. It is hard to know whether Labor should be condemned or pitied ..."

The question I asked in the House of Representatives last Thursday was:

"In relation to the consortiums now vying for the Fairfax assets, I ask the Minister whether he has described the AIN bidders as 'uptown Melbourne establishment' and whether the obvious political bias underlying this remark is the basis upon which policy on foreign ownership of the print media will be made. I further asked the Minister whether or not his preferred option of lifting the limit on foreign ownership is designed in any way to favour Labor's mates."

Mr. Beazley still has not answered the question and refuses to do so and it is simply not good enough to "flick pass" the whole issue to John Kerin.

Contact: Launceston Office

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