|Issue No 34||08 October 1999|
The One-Eyed Propagandist
This week we shine the spotlight on the work of one of Piers' esteemed colleagues, Ian "the Cookie Monster" Moore, the man who writes the Daily Telegraph editorials that provide such a balanced view of contemporary industrial debates.
Without wanting to make light of another's physical disabilities, Cookie has a most apt condition for a man in his position - he is literally one-eyed. This characteristic shines through in Cookie's editorials, which typically begin with the line that unions are out of touch with reality and end with a condemnation of whatever they are fighting for this week.
Whatever the facts, the Telegraph faithfully sticks to this line, opening themselves up to serious problems when complex issues unfold like last week's rail strike action in the lead-up to State Conference.
Cookie fired his first shot on the Thursday under the heading "Carr must stand up to union ploy". The previous day's strike was "one of the worst acts of industrial bastardry in recent years". It had been "orchestrated under the nose of the NSW Trades and Labor Council as a prelude to the NSW ALP annual conference".
Why? Easy, says Cookie. The rail strike was all about forcing through the "outrageous proposal" to charge a service fee to non-members who receive a pay rise because of the work of the union they refuse to belong too. If only all proposals for user-pays met with the same resistance.
He concluded his first vignette by calling on Carr to embrace small business and "reduce the undue influence on policy wielded by a collection of unions whose philosophy and methods belong to a past century."
By the time Cookie was stepping up to the plate for the next day's efforts, it had been revealed that State Rail management had boycotted a hearing that could of averted the action and that a Scully staffer had asked Young Labor to drum up phoney opposition to the strike on talkback radio.
Both significant stories were run as separate briefs in the Terror - seriously downplaying the issues that handed the high moral ground - and then victory - to the union. Cookie ignored them too - linking the stoppage to another dream story for anti-Labor forces - the allegations of a bashing linked to branch-stacking claims.
Decrying a "resurgence of public sector industrial action", Cookie couldn't be bothered to ask what could force workers into unpopular strike action, instead using it as another tool to mount his anti-union thesis.
While the previous day the rail strike had been orchestrated to back the service fee resolution; this time the strike was the reason why the proposal should not be supported. "The unions' behaviour ... have demonstrated far more eloquently than any words why they are not worthy of support".
This was all exposed as rubbish when Scully admitted that State Rail management had gone too far pushing rail reform and the Premier agreed that better consultation with the unions was needed.
A mea culpa from the Terror? No way. These new facts merely became more fodder for Cookie's third and most confused attack. "Council a victory for unions" the editorial thundered - which may have suggested a positive analysis until you realise that the Telegraph rates unionists on about the same level as paedophiles.
The formation of the State Labor Advisory Council, in Cookie's mind, was a direct response to the wave of strikes that had been "orchestrated" (that word again) by the unions who are "by its nature" opposed to competitive tendering and restructuring.
The Council was "a method of saving face on the Conference floor", rather than a recognition that unions, who represent real workers, might sometimes have something to contribute to the economists and bureaucrats who drive government policy.
According to Cookie, the outcome was a unmitigated disaster: "instead of a respectable distance between the Government and the Labour (sic) Council, the government has brought it into the fold." What outrage! A Labor Government forced to talk to its industrial wing.
Looking at the three editorials as a series, each becomes more distorted than its predecessor. the . As the facts behind the strike and the sensible conference deal came to light, Cookie grappled to fit them into the false little box he had already constructed. Problem was they didn't fit.
It also shows why the Telegraph's general coverage of the week was so off beam, especially compared to the Sydney Morning Herald's analysis which picked the underlying problems with Scully's handling of rail even before his full complicity became public.
It's the difference between analysis and rhetoric. In an increasingly complex world, the rhetorician can end up looking very dim indeed.
Interview: A Crack to the Skull
Rail, Tram and Bus Union state secretary Nick Lewocki took on the Carr Government’s radical rail refrom agenda and walked away a winner. He looks back on the week the trains stood still.
Economics: Green Backs and Dirty Dollars
Paul Ehlrich says the real culprit behind the environmental crisis isn't so much the huge numbers of people in the world or conspicuous over-consumption in the West but an economic system that confuses price with cost.
Unions: Tally Ho!
A landmark meat industry decision might not have the impact the reith cheer-squad hopes for.
History: The Western Express
West Australian historians are undertaking a project to chronicle that state's rich rail history.
Republic: The Referendum: A Spot of Reading
John Passant looks a the propaganda passing as information in the lead-up to the referendum.
Indigenous: Australia Snubs Nose at the UN
The United Nations General Assembly will be told that Australia has breached an international convention on racial discrimination that Malcolm Fraser’s Government ratified 24 years ago.
International: Desert Flashpoint
The United Nations has confirmed that demonstrations were suppressed in Western Sahara last month.
Review: Temper Democratic
Humphrey McQueen has been a fearless critic of received opinions across a range of subjects for many years, and as a consequence has been criticised or more often ignored in debates in Australia.
Satire: Tax Cuts Come in the Nick of Time for Struggling Packers
Welfare groups have called upon on the Federal Government to bring forward the date of proposed capital gains tax cuts.
Labour Review: What's New in the Information Centre
Read the latest issue of Labour Review, a resource for union officials and students.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005