Matthew Spong (carbonunit) wrote,
Matthew Spong


Check this out - the front page from todays Daily Telegraph. Sydneys most popular tabloid newspaper, a News Ltd publication, unrelentingly right wing, often called the Terrorgraph because of it's alarmist headlines.

It really caught my eye today with this headline. It's got an interesting back story. The news is about how the government is cutting a deal with the US to allow troops to train and be stationed in Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, on the tropical north coast. There's already a large navy port there, but this seems to be more of an army deal.

That's all very well, but this headline is also a reference to a line from a song by a band called Midnite Oil, once king of the pub rock bands in the 80s. The Oils had a strong left wing lean, often writing songs about indigenous land rights and US imperialism. This particular song was called US Forces. The first verse went like this:

US forces give the nod
It's a setback for your country
Bombs and trenches all in rows
Bombs and threats still ask for more.

The lead singer of Midnite Oil was Peter Garrett, an angular giant with a shaved head who came from surf culture and was notorious for his jerky spastic dance stye on stage. Garret went on to become a lawyer I believe, although there was no mention on the Wikipedia page, and then got into federal politics.

As minister for the environment, he presided over a government initiative to subsidise installing metal foil insulation into the roofs of houses, to cut down on the energy needed for heating and cooling. This became a fiasco when the media started investigating claims that shoddy installation of the conductive foil by contractors was causing house fires. The Telegraph lead the charge, as they usually do, and conveniently let the story die when it was revealed that there was only a slight statistical increase in the number of fires caused by foil installed under this scheme, and that Garrett had been doing his job and any blame was really the fault of his advisers and the contractors who were rorting the system.

The Telegraph has always hated him, and his recent policy of following the party line on environmental issues hasn't softened their ire. If anything, it seems to enrage them more, as though he can't even be a consistent target as a commie pinko. I would bet good money that this headline reference, to a now obscure and mostly forgotten song, was a deliberate stab in the back for him and his party. It really is fascinating that a large popular newspaper can have such focused ire and anger, to turn this important news story into such a well directed barb at a single individual.
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