This review of The Weekend Australian for 28-29 March 2015 will minimise content analysis and instead record the broad topic, especially the ethnic or religious groups being discussed and whether the item is positively or negatively oriented towards them.
Section 1: News
The front page was dominated by articles dealing with ethnic and religious issues. While there was an even split between ethnic and non-ethnic articles (3 each), the former occupied 229 column centimetres, the latter took up only 94. The indigenous theme provided the large page 1 photograph, of 78 column cms.
Natasha Bita, National Education Correspondent. “Civil society remade: citizenship becomes a fluid idea at school.” News. Ends p. 2; 44 + 51 col. cms. Reports Kevin Donnelly’s criticism of a new national curriculum that relativises the meaning of citizenship. Donnelly claims that this fits a pattern of “anti-Western bias” and a “pejorative view of Christianity”. Criticism also came from Anne Twomey, the professor at Sydney University who heads the Constitutional Reform Unit at the University.
Matasja Robinson and Rick Morton. News. “Pearson’s beacon of hope.” Ends p. 8; 41 + 37 col. cms; photo on p. 8, 48 col. cms. Reports another plan by Cape York Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson to ameliorate the dysfunctions of indigenous communities. The plan is described as an “opt-in” that would “sweep aside 50 years of failed social policies and create a formal legislative compact between Aboriginal people and government”. The report does not identify Pearson’s plan as a form of treaty. But it does state that in 2012-13 Australian governments spent $30.3 billion (6% of total direct spending) on indigenous peoples. That was $43,449 for per capita, compared to $20,900 per capita for non-indigenous Australians.
Amos Aikman. “Amid the dust, thirst for success.” News. Ends p. 8; 27 + 32 col. cms.; 75 col. cms photo, p. 1. Reports examples of Pearson’s plan at work, with high hopes.
Nicola Berkovic. “Indian cook wins $200k for ‘slavery’.” News. 62 col. cms. Reports the mistreatment of an Indian cook, Dulo Ram, brought to Australia to work in an Indian restaurant under the temporary skilled migration program (457 visa). The trafficked “slave” worker was awarded substantial payment to be provided by his ex-employer, Divye Kumar Trivedi.
Rosie Lewis and Dennis Shanahan. News. “ALP xenophobic, reckless: Robb.” 27 col. cms. Reports Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb accusing Labor leader Luke Foley of xenophobia and recklessness in cautioning against selling NSW’s electricity infrastructure to foreign buyers. Foley suggested that if China was the buyer, it might spy on the Armed Forces and cut power to them. Penny Wong, opposition spokeswoman for trade and investment, criticised Robb for damaging Australia’s reputation with his remarks.
Section 2: Inquirer
Page 15 (first page of section)
Paul Kelly. “Radical blueprint to end passive welfare.” Opinion. Ends p. 18. 56 + 88 col. cms. plus a photo of 65 col. cms. Kelly discusses the latest plan from Noel Pearson to overcome indigenous dysfunction.
Natasha Robinson, Cultural Affairs Writer. “As policies fail, Aborigines want to be responsible for themselves.” Opinion. Ends on p. 18. 36 + 82 col. cms. Adopts Pearson’s view that Aboriginal dysfunction is due to passive welfare, stating that “the white man’s charity is yet to loosen its strangling grip . . . eroding Aboriginal freedom, entrenching passivity and sustaining a flourishing industry.” Despite massive expenditure by governments, outcomes have been minimal. Inequality remains high. More than twice the number of children are being taken from Aboriginal parents than during the “stolen generation” program. Robinson, like Pearson, assumes the cause is “the wide gulf in opportunity”.
Kevin Donnelly. “The school textbooks that gloss over jihad and leave Christianity smouldering at the stake.” Opinion. 102 col. cms. Donnelly reviews several textbooks being issued to Australian schools, alleging that they are biased against Christianity and in favour of Islam. The texts include Jacaranda, SOSE Alive 2 (2004), Oxford University Press, Big Ideas Australian Curriculum History 8 (2012), and a publication of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies at Melbourne University, Learning from One Another: Bringing Muslim Perspectives into Australian Schools (2010). Donnelly is an educational consultant appointed by the Abbott Coalition government to review the national curriculum produced by Rudd and Gillard appointees.
Sam Lipski and Suzanne Rutland. “On a night for refuseniks, Hawke brought Palestinian conflict to the party.” Book extract (Let My People Go: The Untold Story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89, Hybrid Publishers). 192 col. cms., including a photo 21 col. cms. Described the relative policies towards Israel of two prime ministers, Bob Hawke and John Howard. After many years of support for Israel, sometimes alone and requiring courage, Hawke tarnished the special friendship of the Jewish leadership in 1988 because in a speech he drew an analogy between the Jewish refuseniks of the Soviet Union, the Palestinians in the occupied territories and black South Africans. They all yearned for freedom, Hawke said, and urged mutual recognition on acceptable conditions between Israel and the PLO. “With a few words, [Hawke’s] public persona changed from the Jewish state’s most passionate admirer in Australia to its sorely troubled critic.” These words also “ended more than a decade of friendship, business partnership and collaboration on Soviet Jewry between [Hawke] and [Isi] Leibler.” At the same event Howard did much better, praising Israel unconditionally. He would forge “a much stronger connection to the Melbourne Jewish leadership and to Australian Jews generally.” “Howard grew in stature” and when he became prime minister was held to be the most pro-Israel occupant of that position, showing greater enthusiasm than Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser and even Bob Hawke.
Editorial. “Migrants and investors are driving property markets.” Opinion. 37 col. cms. The newspaper continued to advocate a “Big Australia”. To maintain Sydney’s position as a regional financial hub it should welcome foreign investors and promote population growth by catering for a high migrant intake.
Bill Leak. Cartoon. 48 col. cms. Implied that NSW Labor leader Luke Foley was a racist and a hypocrite in the state election campaign. Shows Foley stating: “Vote Liberal if you want your government taken over by racists and your jobs taken by Chinamen.” This referred to Foley’s criticism of the state government’s plan to lease 49% of the electricity infrastructure to private business, in particular the national security risks of Chinese ownership.
Section 3: Business
The only ethnic story was an opinion piece recommending that corporate board trading with Asia include a member with knowledge of the region.
Section 4: Weekend Australian Review
Greg Sheridan. The forum. Page 2. Opinion. 61 col. cms., including 23 col. cms. cartoon by Jon Kudelka. Sheridan once again takes up the anti-British theme by deriding the Prime Minister’s return to imperial honours – knights and dames. He repeatedly calls the practice ridiculous without supporting argument, but implies the argument that British honours contradict Australian egalitarian values because they suggest that the recipient is “inherently superior” to those without. Sheridan declares himself otherwise an “admirer” of Tony Abbott but that his decision is “the most culturally mistaken of any in his life”. He contrasts this to Alfred Deacon’s resistance to foreign honours. The piece does not discuss the factors of identity or tradition or reward for public service.
Section 5: Weekend Australian Magazine
No ethnic affairs discussed.
This Weekend Australian carried 444 column centimetres of ethnic content in the news section, just over one page or 7.6 per cent of 14 pp.). It carried 706 col. cms. in the Inquirer section (1.7 pages or 17 per cent from 10 pp.), and 61 col. cms. in the Review section (a marginal proportion), not counting the overwhelmingly Anglo subjects, themes and authors. The identity groups receiving attention (all positive) were Aborigines (several articles), Christians (Donnelly) and Jews (Lipski and Rutland). Remarkably, domestic Islamic issues received no treatment.