The State Government has refused to introduce laws to protect journalists' sources unless The West Australian newspaper, sacks editor Paul Armstrong. Attorney-General Jim McGinty said The West Australian was the nation's most inaccurate and dishonest newspaper and until it lifted its standards it did not deserve shield laws. "The board of West Australian Newspapers needs to sack the editor. It is personally driven by a particular individual,'' he said.
Mr McGinty said standards were so bad at The West Australian that if a competitor emerged that could break the paper's monopoly, the Government would consider redirecting its advertising to foster competition. "I think it is in the interests of a healthy democracy that we have competition. The public would then have a choice not to buy a crap newspaper,'' he said. Until standards improved at The West Australian, he said there would be no shield laws in his state to protect journalists' sources. "With the shield go responsibilities. And when you get a newspaper that is bigoted, lies, cheats and deceives, my view is that you don't get the shield,'' MrMcGinty said.
Mr Armstrong said yesterday he "could not give a fat rat's arse'' about what Mr McGinty said about him. "Do I care? Not in the slightest. If he hates us it tells me we are probably doing our job and doing it very well, as I know we are,'' he said. "But I would care if McGinty turned around and said that (the) newspaper and editor are excellent. That would tell me, as it would tell Chris Mitchell (editor-in-chief of The Australian), that we are a long way short of the mark,'' Mr Armstrong said.
A very blunt Australian response that would be unthinkable in most of the world. Australia does not have a First Amendment but any serious attempt to hamper press freedom would trigger voter contempt so the editor could speak without fear. But the war continues:
"West Australian Newspapers has rejected calls by the State Government to sack The West Australian newspaper's editor Paul Armstrong. The Government - led by former television presenter Premier Alan Carpenter - yesterday escalated its war with the state's monopoly newspaper, repeating calls for Armstrong to be sacked.
But West Australian Newspapers chief executive Ken Steinke last night vowed the publisher would not be intimidated, attacking the Government's threat to shift millions of advertising dollars to any start-up competitor to the newspaper.... "One would assume taxpayers' money would be spent in a way that provided the best value for money - not according to which newspaper gave the Government the most favourable coverage," Mr Steinke said....
Armstrong also hit back at the criticism, comparing Mr McGinty to Stalin and saying the minister was using taxpayer funds to blackmail, threaten and intimidate a vocal but legitimate critic of the Government.
I think this is all a bit of foot-shooting on the part of the W.A. government. They have allowed their hate to overcome their judgment.
(For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)