Nation Shocked After Brief Spate Of Journalism Breaks Out At Channel 10

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Scott Morrison tried to sell the tourism merits of a construction site in Western Sydney. Unfortunately, a unicorn – also known as an ‘actual journalist who asks probing questions of political leaders, rather than just reprinting media releases’ – was in the room, and called him on it. Chris Graham reports.

Channel 10 has never really been known for its big journalism. Or its quality programming. Or its ratings. It is, however, remembered for once being part-owned by Gina Rinehart, the daughter of a mining magnate who wanted to poison water supplies to black communities to sterilise Aboriginal people so the ‘half-castes’ couldn’t breed.

Courtesy of Rinehart’s influence, Channel 10 also did, for a brief period, showcase the stunning ‘alt-journalism’ of ‘convicted racist’ Andrew Bolt.

In 10’s defence, it’s not so much that it doesn’t have some good journos – Hugh Riminton has been there for years, Brett Mason (now SBS’s chief political correspondent cut his teeth there too), and there’s quite a few more worth feeding.

Sandra Sully, one of the longest serving and most trusted newsreaders in the country has served for many years at 10. Sully has had a pretty stellar career, and was the first journalist in Australia to report September 11 – indeed she reported it live on air, as it unfolded. She’s nudging 60 now (turned 58 earlier this year), and ordinarily we would call women of that vintage still working in the television-media industry ‘human detritus’. Or more to the point ‘old women’. And then we would sack them and ask them to go quietly, and if they didn’t then pretend it was about performance, then replace them with younger models. Sometimes literally models.

So kudos to Channel 10 for bucking the trend of the world’s most superficial industry.

But a few good journos aside, the station is not exactly known for its news content. Granted, Channel 7 and 9 are also both dumpster fires – see Married at First Sight and Sunrise  – but 10 has always enjoyed a special kind of trashy reputation.

But one Ten journalist, is fighting all that… or maybe he just woke up on the wrong side of bed, but whatever the case, senior reporter Daniel Sutton went toe-to-toe, and head-to-smirking-head with Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently, at the official opening of the “Western Sydney International Experience Centre”.

In a press release Morrison told reporters: “Locals and tourists will be able to take in Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport years before a plane even takes off with today’s unveiling of the world-class experience centre.”

Which is code for the Government spending millions of your tax dollars on a ‘viewing centre’ where people can watch the airport being built. Because construction sites (and fire trucks) are as exciting as fuck (when you’re five years old, or Donald Trump) and because this is the same Government (albeit with a new leader) that allocated 50 million of your tax dollars to celebrate the arrival of Captain Cook.

Which prompted Sutton at the ensuing press conference to ask (I’m paraphrasing), “Really? No, fucking, really?”

It’s a pretty entertaining exchange, and while Morrison handled it as slickly as ever (if he’s not the most unflappable, annoying spinner in Australian politics today I’d love to know who is) Sutton kept coming back at him. Which is his job. And which doesn’t happen all that often at staged, tightly-choreographed press conferences.

In the background, smiling and nodding like hostages in an ISIS video, was Finance Minister Matthias Cormann, and some random woman, who was in the shot precisely because I just described her as ‘some random woman’ (she is presumably the federal Liberal member for some seat out that way… I couldn’t be arsed checking).

Sutton was having none of it.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with three hostages including Finance Minister Matthias Cormann.

He asked Morrison what the government was relying on as an evidence-base, in order to justify spending so much of our money. Short answer: the evidence base is Morrison’s predilection for being perceived as a shameless cultural patriot and a nostalgic dag from a more innocent time… an era long before he shat himself at Engadine Maccas after the 1997 NRL grand final.

Or more specifically,Morrison’s case was that students would flock to the experience centre, just like when he was a kid and he was taken to Warragamba Dam. But that’s kind of the point – he was taken there (and, unfortunately, not left there). He didn’t really have a choice.

As a child, I was taken on an excursion to Warragamba Dam too. Four decades later, I still celebrate the annual anniversary of that trip (I call it ‘Warragamba Day-m That Was Fun’), such was the riveting nature of walking around and staring up at an enormous concrete wall.

But if I’d been able to go and look while they were actually constructing it… well, I’m almost certain I’d be an engineer or something similar today, just as millions of Australian kids will want to rush into construction after watching the western Sydney airport being built.

Sarcasm aside, the point is, good on Sutton for calling out another puerile Morrison government stunt.

The Australian school curriculum has more important things to talk about, and the Australian government has more worthwhile things to spend our money on.

Although, it would be nice to have so much money you could waste it on stupid shit. Like ‘international experience centres’. Or hundreds of millions of dollars in Channel 10 shares.

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Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.

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