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A maddening country

December 2023, no. 460

A maddening country

December 2023, no. 460

Why did Australia vote against the Voice referendum?

Alastair Campbell – former communications chief to former British prime minister Tony Blair – blames the media. Speaking on his The Rest is Politics podcast, Campbell likened Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s rogue interventions in the debate to the misinformation he saw in the Brexit campaign of 2016:

Dutton claimed the referendum was rigged … [and] the media didn’t really challenge him on it. They covered it as a big row, a little bit like what we had in [the] Brexit [campaign] where lies were told and the lies then became part of the narrative. And the media is no longer part of that self-righting process within politics. And this, I’m afraid, has been one of the consequences of Trump, Johnson, Berlusconi, et cetera.

Campbell has a point. The traditional media is struggling to keep up with the post-truth antics of politicians. And, with the United States gearing up for another presidential election and Donald Trump currently leading in the polls, the political climate is likely to become wilder.

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Comments (3)

  • Joel, I am sure you would agree that it is not the job of the media to take a particular line on an issue. The level of cynicism about the Voice referendum in the community was palpable from day one, whatever the polls may have suggested to the contrary.

    It inevitably became a referendum on the concept of reconciliation. Who in their right mind would think that was an appropriate thing to have a vote on?

    As to your claims about John Howard, I stand by my view that it is absurd to attribute such powers to such an unremarkable figure. One might just as easily attribute the present qualities of the Labor Party to Kim Beazley, but how would that be helpful or explain anything?
    Posted by Patrick Hockey
    09 January 2024
  • Patrick, what on earth do you mean by “a more compliant media”? And, regarding Howard, you’re dead wrong.
    Posted by Joel Deane
    04 January 2024
  • The idea that John Howard created our present national consciousness is so absurd that I'm rendered a little lost for words. Likewise the notion that if only we had a more compliant media all would be well.
    Posted by Patrick Hockey
    21 December 2023

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