Category Archives: North Qld floods
by Jim O’Toole, editor-at-large
Lachlan Murdoch’s trademark Far Northern Queensland rag, the Cairns Post, is well known for not covering the real news. It does a great job by publishing its version of daily events often far removed from the real deal.
The editorial content of major dailies is driven by the biggest advertisers.
In the case of News Ltd the largest contributor to their contracting coffers is the grocery duopoly Coles and Woolworths.
Followed by the banks are all three levels of government and national car dealership display ads.
Since the advent of Gumtree and other internet advertising kingdoms, classified line ads have been savaged.
Murdoch is feeling it across the nation as internet news, often more plausible than his columns of opinion and skewed, socialist scribble take a big hit. The Australian is a notable exception.
No news by omission is another favourite.
Tabloid publishers have always claimed their display ads have to occupy 60 per cent of every edition to be viable, unless some cashed up national advertiser takes out lucrative, full pages.
The volume of ads determines the number of pages for each edition.
The Weekend Post of February 23, is indicative of dwindling advertising revenue. There are almost no national advertisers and only a few local ads for products and services. More importantly, for News Ltd, there are few government ads. Coles and Woolworths are conspicuous by their absence.
Is this a sign of the times? For the local economy it certainly is. The Far North has been dragging the economic chain for years while in the not so distant past, News Ltd has sucked hundreds of millions of advertising dollars from struggling businesses in the Far North.
For some advertisers there is no discernible benefit. The Townsville and north western floods will impact the northern economy for a decade casting an even deeper shadow over the small business sector.
Murdoch has other regional tabloids locked in his stable which often perform better than the Cairns Post. That’s because News Ltd has devoured almost all independent regionals throughout the nation. Any that might have been missed have gone to the Fairfax opposition.
Murdoch’s hand-picked Cairns editor Jennifer Spilsbury sits on the endless conveyor belt of scribes to be eventually disgorged by the New Ltd editorial monster.
In the heady days of Pauline Hanson and One Nation during the late 90’s any reporter then working for the Townsville Bulletin would remember when Lachlan Murdoch, in response to a favourable editorial by the then editor, rampaged through the newsroom.
“Kill the cow (Pauline Hanson),” he ranted. Then I was living near Townsville and this episode was related to me at the time by a friend who worked for the Bully.
I can’t remember the ultimate fate of the editor.
It more recent times it would appear a similar scenario is playing out at the Cairns Post with help from its former managers, by mostly running the Liberal line.
Rumblings among the business sector indicate some big players and a good deal of the smaller ones are sick and tired of the local Liberal member and his policy platitudes.
According to a media release from Katters Australian Party, Bob Katter and Robbie Katter announced senate candidates in Cairns on Friday. Cairnsnews got this release then one could assume, so did the others. A segment appeared on Win Television.
We remember a huge splash in the Cairns Post for the Labor senate candidate recently parachuted into Cairns from the Gold Coast.
This KAP show should have been a significant, newsworthy event for the Far North but a quick glance at today’s Cairns Post reveals nothing about the two Katters being present in Cairns.
There are assorted bits about fashion queens, council spats, irrelevant LNP crocodile yarns from the Gold Coast, sports beat-ups and Sams pies with Worcestershire sauce but not much about policies supporting the economic future of the north
Cairnsnews is not in the habit of making excuses for Murdoch mendacity but we will publish Friday’s political event in its absence from the hallowed pages of the Cairns Post.
After all, editor Jennifer Spilsbury makes the point in her opinion piece today:
“Newspaper companies are tasked with tackling very serious and important topics. Politics and crime to us is what roads, rates and rubbish is to councils.
But we do much more than that. We celebrate our way of life, proudly highlighting the very best of who and what we are and what we like to do.”
Commendable Jennifer, but what happened to the political news?
KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has urged the Prime Minister in Parliament to commit to low-interest reconstructed debt through his Reconstruction Board Legislation to help farmers in North-West Qld who are facing the worst natural disaster to hit the cattle industry.
Up to 500,000 cattle have died and thousands of people are now without an income for years – all a consequence of the years of drought then devastating floods.
Mr Katter has been on the ground and seen first-hand the extent of damage; within a matter of weeks, most of the farmers’ entire livelihoods – many going back generations – have been wiped out. A whole economy and backbone of QLD agriculture has been devastated.
“The Mid-West and Gulf provides one tenth of the entire Australian cattle industry; beef is Australia’s fourth biggest exporter,” Mr Katter said.
“It is now decimated by droughts, flooding and the resulting terminal health conditions. With no stock, massive existing debt and hundreds of thousands of rotting carcases to clean up, farmers will have no capacity to pay their mortgage let alone restore and restock.
“I have asked the Government to commit to a Reconstruction Authority, cutting existing debt by 30%, providing finance at government interest rates
“Without this minimal action North Qld’s calamity, its misery, it’s human and economic hardship will worsen exponentially,” Mr Katter said.
The Prime Minister has said restoration of the Qld cattle industry isn’t about trying to prop up an industry that doesn’t have a future, it is an industry that has a massive future for Australia, and the Government needs to be there to support and re-build that cattle industry. He has assured Mr Katter there was a recovery and restoration plan and they would work to assure the cattle industry was going to be as great as it was going to be in the future – if not even greater and a plan will come forth from the Minister of agriculture to address these issues.
Mr Katter has been working tirelessly to help see the north west and Gulf through the greatest devastation known to the cattle industry.