Friday 24 Sep 2021 | 22:16 | SYDNEY
Friday 24 Sep 2021 | 22:16 | SYDNEY

Press gallery stifling climate debate


Sam Roggeveen


14 July 2011 14:32

More evidence, if it were needed, that the notoriously tight discipline of our major political parties is often enforced, not by the parties themselves, but by the media.

According to Michelle Grattan and Ben Schneiders, 'Malcolm Turnbull has undermined Tony Abbott's attack on the government by again exposing opposition divisions over carbon policy.' Turnbull's sin was to repeat to an ABC journalist the well-known fact that Tony Abbott has several times changed his mind about emissions trading. Then Turnbull repeated something else we've known for years, that he personally favours a market-based approach. Remember, he lost his leadership and crossed the floor on the issue.

So, Turnbull has re-stated two things that have long been on the public record, yet that somehow counts as 'stirring the pot'. It's considered newsworthy that Turnbull is 'staying in line because he is in shadow cabinet and loyal, rather than agreeing with the policy.'

But really, how could it be otherwise? It would be all but impossible to get every parliamentary member of a broad-church political party such as the Liberals or Labor to agree on any given policy out of conviction rather than party loyalty. That's the norm, not the exception.

Yet when such a commonplace truth is 'exposed' it counts as news because it apparently shows disunity towards the leader. And the result? We get a narrower national debate because intelligent contributors such as Turnbull are punished by the media for engaging in it.

Photo by Flickr user Halans.