Morrison, News Corp use Haigh’s piece in GT as a tool to seek ugly political gains
Published: Feb 17, 2022 10:33 PM
China Australia Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China Australia Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has launched a vicious disinformation crusade with its outlandish fabrications of the so-called "political interference" by China in Australia's upcoming federal election. Its media outlets have been making outrageous allegations about so-called China's supportiveness to the leader of the opposition party, to misinform and mislead the Australian people. It is a fact that the past several years have seen Murdoch media becoming an active political instrument or even a weapon to serve the dark interests of the far-right forces in Australia, and in recent days have increased the momentum to intensify their attack on Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's opponent by playing the "anti-China card." 

Morrison's approval rating reportedly fell to its lowest in nearly two years in January. And the new poll conducted between February 9 and 12 shows that he still trails Labor leader Anthony Albanese, Bloomberg reported. In a desperate attempt to reverse the downward drift, he and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp are exploiting all means to start a scare and smear campaign on China, bizarrely linking their "China threat theory" with the opposition party.

Global Times on Monday published an opinion piece written by former Australian diplomat Bruce Haigh, entitled "Weak Australian leadership inhibits potential relationship reset with China." It said Albanese "is not a lateral thinker, he is not creative, he will not be a charismatic leader…Albanese looks increasingly likely to win the election, not because of anything he has done but because Morrison's LNP is imploding, through corruption, failure to manage COVID-19 and a range of other anti-social programs and prejudices."

This op-ed has been lashed at by some Australian politicians and Murdoch's media outlets as the "smoking gun" that GT and Beijing are "interfering" in Australian politics. Sky News said GT "backs Anthony Albanese as Prime Minister as questions mount over Labor's ties with Beijing." According to news.com.au, referring to Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles and Albanese as a "Manchurian candidate" - an absurd remark that he was forced to subsequently withdraw - Morrison said "The Chinese Government has picked their horse and he's sitting right there,'' a ludicrous allusion directed at the Labor leader.

Anyone with basic common sense knows that opinion pieces by external authors and columnists do not represent the position of the newspaper itself. This is the practice of most media in the world. 

GT also reminds readers with the disclaimer that "opinions expressed are those of the writers alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Global Times."

Newspapers are forums for a diversity of opinions, reflecting a spectrum of views and stances. How could an article by a former Australian career diplomat reflect the Chinese government's policy? 

As an Australian citizen and keen observer of Australian politics, Haigh has every right to speak out his understanding and outlook in a media outlet of his choice. His recent GT piece reflects part of Australian public opinion on the "abysmal state" of the political reality in Canberra. Acting as one of the most enthusiastic vanguards in Washington's anti-China campaign, the Morrison administration has been fanning an anti-China frenzy, which has become even more enflamed during the election season.

The Morrison government is now brainwashing the Australian public by inciting fear and panic with shameless lies about China. The slightest opportunity for their myopic political benefits has been taken advantage of and magnified in distortion. Such acts are despicable and pathetic. Branded "a liar" and "a hypocrite" by political leaders from Australia and internationally, Morrison is no longer capable of decent political performance in an open and honest manner. 

With the ever lurking challenges from his most formidable internecine rival Peter Dutton, a far-right anti-China politician, Morrison has been frantically trying to act tough and rough by imprudently manipulating Australia's foreign policy to survive in Canberra's brutal "game of thrones." 

The "anti-China card" is Morrison's last resort to help salvage public opinion. Further impairment to Australia's relationship with China won't gain political benefits for him, only revealing his political immaturity and lack of political wisdom.

Bilateral relations between China and Australia have been undergoing an ever lower downward spiral since mid-2017. The previously mutually beneficial political, economic, social and cultural exchanges and cooperation have been spoiled and ravaged to the dismay and disappointment of the wider community in Australia.  

Canberra's politicians obviously need more political wisdom and sensibility, not further political power games, which would only wreak more havoc to the relations of China and Australia.

The author is president of the Chinese Association of Australian Studies and director of the Australian Studies Centre at East China Normal University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn