November 1, 2013

Editor’s Note

November Editor's Note

By John van Tiggelen

Rupert’s in town. Hopefully he’ll amble into a local newsagent and see himself on our cover. Perhaps, if we’re really lucky, he’ll tweet a response. Here at the Monthly we’ve long been fans of Murdoch’s Twitter account (see ‘Rockin’ Rupert’, April 2012). He’s just so grumpy. Whenever he tweets, it’s as if someone’s just rung his doorbell and run away.

The News Corp executive chairman arrived in the country last weekend, apparently. He flew into New South Wales and reported: “Riverina beautiful as ever, but whole state seems covered in smoke haze … Many homes destroyed.”

Murdoch needn’t have tweeted; his editors were on to it. As were fire crews. Though perhaps Murdoch was nervous. Somewhere down there, clad in bright yellow upwind of the conflagration, brave and ordinary as a British prince on a navy ship, was the man he expects will help to boost his Australian business interests, Tony Abbott.

The following Monday, the Australian reported on its front page that “if not for a couple of photos circulating on Twitter, it’s a fair chance” no one might ever have learnt that the prime minister had put himself in the line of back-burning. That’s their Tony: not just heroic, but humble, too.

The post-election transformation of the Australian, Abbott’s erstwhile employer, has been something to behold: from a pounding destroy-the-Greens, bury-Gillard, ridicule-Rudd, get-Clive posse to a nimble troupe of cheerleaders for the Abbott government.

Greg Sheridan, a close friend from Abbott’s days as a university jock, now writes as if kitted out with tights and pompoms. So, too, does Janet Albrechtsen – but then she always did look the star-jumping type. And they’re far from the only ones shouting “To-ny, To-ny, To-ny!” Hail the warm friendship between Warren Mundine and Nigel Scullion as they fix Aboriginal Australia. Bravo Twiggy for mucking in. Onya Scotty (Morrison) for blacking out news of those boatloads of coloureds. And isn’t Julie Bishop gorgeous? Never mind there’s just one of her; she’s as good as six women, as Don Watson appreciates. What a honeymoon they’re all having, Rupert’s boys (and Janet) and Tony’s boys (and Julie). You want to look away but can’t; there’s just so much frotting, it makes Game of Thrones look G-rated.

Speaking of love-ins, Murdoch’s here partly for his company’s employee-of-the-year awards. They’re called the News Awards, which are given for services to News, partly in order to pre-empt the Walkleys, which are awarded for services to news. Perplexingly, Tony Abbott has missed out on a nomination for a News Award in the lifetime achievement category. Of course, there’s always next year.

John van Tiggelen

John van Tiggelen is a freelance writer and the author of Mango Country.

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