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Sydney Morning Herald Mural



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PRIME MINISTER

FOR MEDIA FRIDAY/ 10 APRIL 1981

»T

SYDNEY M0RN3 NG HERALD MURAL

One h u n d re d an d f i f t y y e a r s i s a lo n g tim e in te r m s o f any

c o u n t r y 's h i s t o r y - and a m ig h ty lo n g tim e i n te rm s o f

A u s t r a l i a 's r e c o r d e d h i s t o r y . I t i s am azing t o t h i n k

t h a t T he Sydney M orning H e ra ld was a lr e a d y a h u n d re d y e a r s

o l d v/hen t h e H arb o u r B rid g e was o p e n e d . Few A u s t r a l i a n

i n s t i t u t i o n s go b a c k so f a r , w ith su c h c o n t i n u i t y / o r

commanding su c h a t t e n t i o n .

1 c a l l t h e H e ra ld an A u s t r a l i a n i n s t i t u t i o n b e c a u s e i t h a s

f o r so lo n g b een a n e s t a b l i s h e d and i n t e g r a l p a r t o f th e

A u s t r a l i a n s c e n e , p la y i n g i t s own r o l e i n i t s own way.

A u s t r a l i a n s e v e ry w h e re h a v e a lw a y s had t o t a k e a c c o u n t o f

t h e H e r a ld , and i t s v o ic e h a s a lw ay s c o u n te d ,

b ik e t h o s e whom i t c r i t i c i s e s , The Sydney M orning H e rald

w i l l o f t e n h av e b e en w ro n g , b o th i n i t s f a c t s , and in i t s

ju d g e m e n ts . T h a t i s i n e v i t a b l e , t o a - c e r t a i n e x t e n t , But

t h e u l t i m a t e m e a su re o f t h e c a l i b r e and q u a l i t y o f a

n e w sp a p e r i s t h a t nobody can ignore·, i t . Anti by t h a t m easu re,

t h e H e ra ld h a s a lw a y s ra n k e d v e ry h ig h in d e e d . H i s t o r i a n s

a s w e ll a s t h o s e in v o lv e d i n c o n te m p o ra ry a f f a i r s have a lw ay s

had t o t a k e a c c o u n t o f t h e H e ra ld .

The Sydney H e r a ld , a s i t was named f o r i t s f i r s t y e a r s ,

s t a r t e d l i f e a s a w e ek ly . But i t r a p i d l y i n c r e a s e d t o

tw ic e a n d th e n t h r i c e w e e k ly . And i n .UL4 0 i t becam e a d a i l y ,

o r w hat we c a l l a d a i l y i n t h i s c o u n tr y , f o r i t le a v e s u s

a lo n e on S un d ay s anti s o f a r a s 1 am c o n c e rn e d , w h atev er

e l s e I d o on S u n d a y s, t o b e l e f t a lo n e by n e w sp a p e rs i s

i m p o r t a n t , In i t s f i r s t i s s u e , on 18 A p r il 1831, t h e H erald

p ro m is e d c a n d o u r, h o n e s ty and honour i n i t s e d i t o r i a l

m anagem ent, t o ((e th e r w ith r e s p e c t and d e f e r e n c e t o a l l c l a s s e s .

And t h e H e r a l d 's e a r l y m o tto e s p ro m ise d in d e p e n d e n c e and

m o d e ra tio n a s w e l l . T h ese w ere h ig h a s p i r a t i o n s , in t h e b e s t

n e w s p a p e r - t r a d i t i o n s , a lth o u g h 1 h a v e some d o u b ts a b o u t

w h e th e r n e w sp a p e rs o r t h e i r r e p o r t e r s can e v e r h a v e been ·

d e f e r e n t i a l in t h e g a th e r i n g o f nevts, S in c e so many .

p ro m is e s wexre made i n t h a t f i r s t L e a d e r, i t i s i n t r i g u i n g t o

a s k why a c c u ra c y was n o t in c lu d e d i n t h e l i s t . The c i o s e s t

a p p ro a c h t o a c c u ra c y was th e s ta te m e n t t h a t "we have no w ish

t o m is le a d " . I w ould lo v e t o know w h e th e r t h e L e a d e r 's

com m itm ent t o a c c u ra c y was e x p re s s e d i n t h i s somewhat i n c l u s i v e

way i n o r d e r t o make s u r e t h a t p e o p le w ere n o t m is le d !

. . . / 2

2

A t a l l e v e n t s , fro m a s m a ll b u t a m b itio u s s t a r t . The Sydney

M orning H e r a ld w en t on t o become a f i n e n e w sp a p e r, c e r t a i n l y

one o f t h e f i n e s t i n t h i s c o u n t r y , I w ould go on t o sa y t h a t

f o r a s m a ll an d w id e ly d i s p e r s e d com m unity, A u s t r a l i a n s have

b een re m a rk a b ly w e l l - s e r v e d by good n e w s p a p e rs . D uring m ost

o f t h e H e r a l d 's h i s t o r y , n e w sp a p e rs w e re a lm o s t t h e o n ly

v e h i c l e f o r s p r e a d in g new s w id e ly and q u i c k l y . R e ce n t d e c a d e s ·

h a v e s e e n d r a m a ti c c h a n g e s , w ith t h e a p p e a ra n c e o f r a d i o and -

t e l e v i s i o n a s e n t i r e l y new m eth o d s o f news d i s s e m in a t io n , '· ^

a lth o u g h th e y h a v e i n many r e s p e c t s dx-awn s u b s t a n t i a l l y upon -

n e w sp a p e r t r a d i t i o n s . W ith o u t q u e s t i o n , t h e b u s i n e s s b o t h 'o f

g e t t i n g new s and g e t t i n g i t o u t , h a s b een r e v o l u t i o n i s e d s i n c e "

the" tim e when t h e H e r a l d 's w h a le - b o a t w ould p u t t o s e a a s soon

a s a s a i l w as s i g h t e d i n o r d e r t.o b e t h e f i r s t t o g e t th e

o v e r s e a s new s.

1 am n o t s u r e t h a t t h e c h a l le n g e t o n e w s p a p e rs , f i r s t from

r a d i o , t h e n from t e l e v i s i o n , h a s yet. b een f u l l y m e t. The

c a p a c i t y o f t e l e v i s i o n t o p r o v id e t h e news i n s t a n t l y , h a s

l e d n e w s p a p e rs t o t h i n k t h a t t h e f a c t s may b e t o o s t a l e f o r

t h e b r e a k f a s t t a b l e . T h is i n t u r n h a s le d t o a g r e a t e r

e m p h a sis on comment i n t h e n e w s p a p e rs . B ut 1 b e l i e v e t h e p o i n t .

h a s b e e n r e a c h e d w h e re t h e f a c t b e in g commented on i s "sometimes "

h a rd t o f i n d . T h e re i s s u r e l y a m essa g e f o r newspapex*s h e r e ,

e s p e c i a l l y s i n c e t h e p r in te d " word h a s no r i v a l i n s t a t i n g f a c t s

p r e c i s e l y . P e r h a p s t h i s e x p l a i n s th e - p a r a d o x w h ich a r o s e in

many p e o p l e 's m in d s d u r in g t h e j o u r n a l i s t s ' s t r i k e , when

p a p e r s w e re b e in g p ro d u c e d b y s t a f f labour., and w ith l i t t l e

com m entary on t h e new s, h number o f p e o p le s a i d t o me t h a t

t h e r e w as m ore t o r e a d i n t h e p a p e r s a t t h a t tim e .

1 su p p o s e t h a t o n e way o f r e a d in g t h e h i s t o r y o f t h i s c e n tu ry

w i l l b e t o s e e i t . a s th e a g e o f c o m m u n ic a tio n , a n age o f

d e v e lo p m e n t and e x p e r im e n ta tio n i n new fo rm s o f com m unication-, a n ag e when we t r i e d t o e x p l a i n t h e v a lu e o f c o m m u n icatio n , and

t o a s s e s s i t s p o t e n t i a l i t y a s a way o f m o d e ra tin g c o n f l i c t .

On t h i s 1 5 0 th A n n iv e rs a r y , i t i s te m p tin g t o t r y t o look

a h e a d f o r a f u r t h e r ISO y e a r s , and t o a s k w hat r o l e ........—

n e w s p a p e rs w i l l h a v e th e n . The q u e s t i o n i s o b v io u s ly

u n a n s w e r a b le . And yet. 3 b e l i e v e t h a t i t w ould b e a tra g e d y

f o r t r u t h an d h o n e s ty i f t h e p r i n t e d word c e a s e d t o be th e

p e rm a n e n t r e c o r d and t h e u l t i m a t e a u t h o r i t y . Words n o t

w r i t t e n down can in d e e d b e " m is c h ie f a f o o t ” , and i t i s more

"th an .. .150 y e a r s s i n c e m ankind becam e aw are o f t h a t f a c t . Of

c o u r s e , t h e w r i t t e n word i s n o t e n t i r e l y i n n o c e n t o r h a rm le s s

e i t h e r , a n d t h i s b r i n g s me back t o t h e H e ra ld from t h e a n g le

o f i t s com m entary On a f f a i r s .

Wni'wick F a i r f a x w r o te in 194 3 t h a t " t h e H e ra ld h a s alw ays

c r i t i c i s e d a n y and e v e ry p a r t y w h en ev er i t th o u g h t it- w rong".

T h is i s a n im p o r ta n t b o a s t f o r a n ew sp ap er t o be a b le t o make

even th o u g h 3 s u p p o s e t h e r e m ig h t h a v e been t h e odd o c c a sio n ■

when t h e H e ra ld m anaged t o t h i n k a p a r t y wrong i n o r d e r t o be

e n t i t l e d t o c r i t i c i s e i t . B ut i n a d d i t i o n t o c r i t i c i z i n g

w here c r i t i c i s m h a s been d u e , t h e H e ra ld h a s b een w i l l i n g ,

a g a in i n t h e w ords o f i t s f i r s t , l e a d e r - t o "p ro m o te -a n d recommend"

m e a s u re s d e v is e d f o r t h e p u b l i c w e l f a r e . And i f t h e H erald

. . . / 3

3

h a s te n d e d t o p r a i s e m e a su re s and p o l i c i e s r a t h e r th a n '

p o l i t i c i a n s and p a r t i e s , I do n o t h av e any g r e a t argum ent w ith

t h a t . F o r t h e s o c i e t i e s i n w hich t h e m a jo r n e w sp a p e rs make

i t t h e i r ., b u s i n e s s - t o d i s h o u t p r a i s e t o in d iv id u a l® -a n d p a r t i e s

a r e se ld o m f r e e s o c i e t i e s , an d th e y seldom e n jo y a f r e e p r e s s . ■ i

And nobody wto knows The Sydney M orning H e ra ld w ould e x p e c t Λ

I t t o d o a n y th in g i n any way d e t r i m e n t a l t o t h e freed o m o f t h e .

p r e s s . Long may t h a t e o n tim te . -

L a d ie s a n d g e n tle m e n , t h e a c h ie v e m e n t o f g iv in g t h e news t o " ϋ

S ydney, «and t h e r e s t o f A u s t r a l i a , f o r 150 y e a r's i s m a g n if ic e n t.

T h is , s u f f e l y . ^ i s t h e tim e , i f t h a t tim e h a s n o t a lr e a d y been * ‘r -

r e a c h e d , when g ra n n y becom es g i 'e a t g ra n n y . And we can sa y

w ith o u t d o u b t t h a t t h e m o st c o n s t a n t an d t h e c l o s e s t r i v a l

t o t h e a c h ie v e m e n t o f t h e H e ra ld i t s e l f i s t h e F a i r f a x f a m ily , '

___; w hich h a s , th r o u g h s u c c e s s iv e g e n e r a t i o n s , b e en t h e ow ner .

o f t h e H e r a ld f o r on e h u n d red and f o r t y o f i t s o n e h u n d red

a n d f i f t y y e a r s .

1 am d e l i g h t e d t o b e h e r e t o n i g h t , d e l i g h t e d 't o 'h a v e t h e

o p p o r t u n i t y t o pay t r i b u t e t o a g r e a t A u s t r a l i a n i n s t i t u t i o n ,

t o a g r e a t A u s t r a l i a n f a m ily , and t o a l l t h o s e new spaper- . .

p e o p le who h a v e p ro d u c e d t h e H e ra ld th r o u g h o u t i t s 150 y e a r

l i f e . 1 am a l s o d e l i g h t e d i s have b een i n v i t e d t o u n v e il

t h i s o u t s t a n d i n g m u r a l, w hich t e l l s j t h e H e r a ld 1® h i s t o r y .

The a r t i s t , S a lv a d o r e Z o f re a , h a s w ith o u t· .q u e s tio n done ·,

j u s t i c e b o th t o I d s own v e ry c o n s i d e r a b l e t a l e n t s , and t o

t h e - s t o r y t h a t w as t o be· t o l d , l t a k e much p l e a s u r e in

u n v e i l i n g t h i s m u ra l com m em orating t h e 1 5 0 th a n n iv e r s a r y o f

t h e Sydney M orning H e ra ld .

--o O o -'--