Thursday, June 20, 2024

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeIssue 3Raw deal for Alice from NTG & Murdoch Advocate

Raw deal for Alice from NTG & Murdoch Advocate

2523 Advocate Gunner 1COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
Chief Minister Michael Gunner is accumulating some serious baggage.
There is the charade of the “scientific” inquiry into fracking that did not include the science of sociology, which would have disclosed how Territorians feel about the risks to their water supply, nor the science of economics, which would have disclosed how much each of us would get from the sale of our resources gained by using a controversial mining method.
Then there is the fiasco of the National Indigenous Art Gallery consultation which is closely linked to other two-faced conduct by Mr Gunner, the hand-on-his-heart assurance of supporting local enterprise.
Without calling tenders or seeking quotations, his government is spending tens of thousands of dollars  advertising Mr Gunner’s preferred location, Anzac Oval, with the American-owned Centralian Advocate newspaper.
The same paper declares as a journalistic “exclusive” the publication of a handout from Mr Gunner’s media machine. A measure of professional pride in their work held by the Murdoch paper’s reporters?
2523 Advocate Gunner 2On March 23 the Alice Springs News Online had a real exclusive on the subject: The chairs of the government’s steering committee speaking publicly for the first time on their advice which the government would go on to ignore.
The “EXCLUSIVE” claim branded the Advocate’s front page headline, pointing to the page two lead.
The report had no by-line, contained pretty well word for word the text from a media release by Arts Minister Lauren Moss, quoting Mr Gunner’s declaration that Anzac Oval would be the site.
That release was sent to the other media at 11:05am, well after the Advocate had appeared.
As the Advocate is printed in Darwin it had clearly been given the text days earlier, possibly in recognition of the publication’s antiquated production processes.
This seems to have become standard practice by at least sections of the government’s taxpayer-funded propaganda machine.
However, the issue of the public’s right – and indeed – need, to be informed by impartial and professional media is a cornerstone of our democracy and as such cannot wait until August 2020, the deadline for Mr Gunner to face the voters again.
Honourable media in this country comply with the Journalistic Code of Ethics. Four of its 12 points deal with monetary influence and include this requirement: that journalists “do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence”.
If a business demands “editorial support” for its paid advertising and the medium agrees, then a despicable act is being committed – by both the medium and its client.
When the same occurs using taxpayers’ money, then that is a serious corruption of our democratic culture.
The barrage of support by the Advocate for Mr Gunner’s unpopular choice includes this editorial comment in the Advocate of April 20, acknowledging the “vigorous” opposition to the Anzac Oval choice.
But  “the Government has taken out ads in this newspaper exhibiting its plans for the first class facilities [for rugby] – indeed far better than the current ones – that will be built when the Gallery is built,” intoned the editor.
“And now the codes are more than happy with the proposed facilities, calling them ‘sensational’.”
No sources are named by the editor who headed his piece “Information must be given freely”. Two of the four full page government adverts in that issue (there were others in Advocate editions) are made to look like editorial matter. The casual rate for a full page in the Advocate is $4000.
We are inviting the Advocate and the NT Government to respond.


  1. It’s one thing for the NT Government to promise “first class facilities [for rugby] – indeed far better than the current ones – that will be built when the Gallery is built” but it’s a tall order to expect the proposed new playing fields will match the quality of the existing turf at Anzac Oval anytime soon.
    Anzac Oval is reputed to be one of the best playing fields in Australia for the rugby codes; and one well-placed informant told me last week it is actually regarded as one of the TOP THREE in the whole of Australia!
    Given both the history of this site – the base for the Darwin Overland Maintenance Force during World War Two, an immensely important link to the national war effort – and the current national-standard playing field (incidentally, the first turfed sports oval in the Northern Territory), it seems to me a very strong case can be made for Anzac Oval to be the site of the NRL Match of the Day annually for Anzac Day.
    How about it, Alice Springs?

  2. I agree fully with Alex. We have so much history related to ANZAC school and oval. We need to keep these special sites as part of our town. It means a lot to us in Alice. The art gallery needs to be built on another site.

  3. Alex, the only thing we will have to do is to chain ourselves to the grand stand in protest.

  4. So, has Labor suddenly turned into a liberal party? Were we fooled at the last election into voting for Libs in disguise?

  5. There is a glaring omission in this Anzac precinct story, and that’s the why of it. We have two successful politicians in Gunner and Ryan insisting that theirs is the better offer, but they have yet to give us a compelling reason to follow them.
    Through their stubborness they have turned the proposed art gallery into a political football, a local tug-of-war, and to what end?
    Can the Heritage Council get the question of the oval’s and the school’s heritage value onto their agenda, and then seek a court order prohibiting any moves until their heritage value is resolved?

  6. Considering the NT government does not have the money to even finish the proposed “Culture Center” where is the money to build the other sports facilities going to come from and when?


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