The Australian Capital Territory’s chief minister, Andrew Barr, has declared he hates journalists and is “over” the mainstream media.
The chief minister’s extraordinary assault comes after years of deteriorating relations with the territory’s sole newspaper, the Canberra Times.
Barr has at varied factors refused to take care of its native political reporters, expressed certainty about its imminent demise and spoken gleefully of cancelling his subscription to what he describes as a “daily rag”.
What passes for a day by day newspaper on this metropolis is a joke
But he appeared to broaden his assault on the mainstream media final week, whereas talking at a personal event for communications specialists.
A recording of his speech was leaked to the Canberra Times.
“I think I’ll begin with some pretty frank statements that may or may not shock some people in the room,” Barr stated.
“I hate journalists. I am over dealing with mainstream media as a form of communication with the people of Canberra. What passes for a daily newspaper in this city is a joke. And it will be only a matter of years before it closes down.”
Barr was articulating his government’s communications technique, which seeks to bypass conventional media and place elevated reliance on direct communication with voters, together with by means of social media.
In current years, the Canberra Times has investigated relationships between government officers and property builders, serving to immediate the institution of an area anti-corruption and integrity fee.
Its scrutiny of Canberra’s mild rail undertaking within the lead-up to the 2016 election additionally infuriated the Barr government, which believed the protection was one-sided.
Anthony Whealy, a former NSW supreme court docket justice and chair of Transparency International, described the feedback as “very concerning”.
“In a democratic country, once you shut down, muzzle or sideline the media, then I think you pave the way for corruption and maladministration to flourish,” Whealy informed Guardian Australia.
“We’re not a country in which that sort of thing happens. But you see it happening in China, in Russia, in Turkey, where there’s not a free press at all. This is just a tip of an iceberg that we’ve got to be very cautious about.”
The chief minister has not responded to an interview request from Guardian Australia. But a spokesman informed Fairfax that Barr was attempting to inspire the communications specialists to assume in a different way about getting their message out.
“The chief minister was challenging communications professionals to challenge us, inspire us and go beyond the ordinary and think of new ways to reach our diverse community, given the decline of the traditional media,” he stated.
A spokesman for Fairfax Media, which owns the Canberra Times, stated individuals who are held to account by the media “often find it not to their liking”.
“It is worth remembering the profound words of the United States supreme court in its landmark decision on media freedom to report – for the protection of ‘the governed not the governors’,” the spokesman stated.
The paper has, most of the time, editorialised in help of Labor governments throughout ACT elections. The 2016 election was a notable exception.
One of the extra memorable current assaults by Barr on the Canberra Times passed off in 2016, when the then opposition chief, Jeremy Hanson, questioned Barr over a “smell” that hung round his government. Hanson cited the paper’s reporting.
“I reject most of the assertions in your question, and I think most of them pertain to the tired old opposition leader … [and] a tired old journalism outfit that is in a decaying … form in terms of readership and interest,” Barr responded.
The feedback in flip prompted a withering response from the previous Canberra Times editor Jack Waterford. “Barr’s model of modern government is decaying and out of date, and he has not adapted to the times or to circumstance. I expect this news organisation will be around, in its multiple forms, as he goes out the door.”