The bane of Tony Abbott’s life, former opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, shall use any occasion to remind everyone else he’s still (unfortunately) around. During a Deakin lecture given at the University of Melbourne last night, Turnbull basically agreed with the aims of the anti-Alan Jones and anti-conservative “Destroy the Joint” Facebook site.
That leads me to Alan Jones. Just when you thought he had exhausted the reservoir of abuse he reserves for Julia Gillard, he outdid himself, and we learned of it because of another smartphone.
More important, perhaps, the avalanche of condemnation that followed was delivered by thousands of Australians expressing their views online, especially via Twitter and Facebook, making it very difficult for Jones's friends and supporters in the media and politics to brush off that outburst as just another example of "Alan being Alan".
Thousands of Australians spoke for themselves via the social media. The names and email addresses of Jones's advertisers were circulated via the social media so that they could be urged directly to stop advertising on his program. And it worked. The mainstream media felt they had to react; in a sense the popular outrage evident in the social media liberated them to say what they really thought.
And the consequence has been without precedent. His advertisers have walked away. His Mercedes-Benz has been recalled. The management of 2GB has announced his show will be run henceforth without any advertisements at all. For the first time Jones will have something in common with the ABC.
…But in this case the effective response to Jones was not regulation, or less media freedom, but rather the use by thousands of people of the enhanced freedom afforded them by the social media.
Jones has complained that he has been the victim of social media bullying, saying that "if it happened anywhere else in society, this kind of bullying or harassment or intimidation or threatening conduct, the police would be called in".
But it is difficult not to believe that he is getting a dose of his own medicine. After all Jones has waged more than a few onslaughts against individuals and businesses and encouraged more than a few email campaigns of his own.
But it’s now been revealed by Andrew Bolt, that this anti-Alan Jones and Anti-conservative “Destroy the Joint” campaign wasn’t started by Jenna Price, but her pal, Sally McManus, a branch secretary of the Australian Services Union, and administrated by other women with strong Labor and union connections.
So Turnbull gives his progressive mates a free kick and again makes life tough for Abbott.
Now Tony Abbott will become the next Prime Minister of Australia. What we saw in the Queensland election last year was only a practise swing. Turnbull knows his chances of being PM are finished, but that won’t stop him whenever he gets a chance to cast his sinister shadow.
The smartest thing Tony Abbott should do with Malcolm Turnbull when he becomes PM is make Turnbull the “Minister for Cape Denison.”