My complaints against the 7 Network are at an interesting point:
- According to the Attorney General’s office, there is no law against acts of Socio-Economic Vilification by the mass media.
- This opinion was also provided by the assistantant manager of the Australian Communication & Medi Authority’s investigation unit.
The mass media have a free shot at welfare bashing!
Not happy about that and want to do something? Well you can.
Write a protest email to the Media Convergence Review Panel and make your opinion (politely) known that you do not appreciate the fact that welfare bashing, i.e. Socio-Economic Vilification, is not unlawful. DEMAND that the committee recommend that this activity be banned when the legislation is revised and updated in 2012
I met the people on the committee when they were in Adelaide on August 5th and they really do want your opinion about issues such as this. I found them to open, interested and helpful and so please, if you email them, be nice to them. Do be BOLD, FIRM, STRONG in saying that Socio-Economic Vilification is just not on anymore but say it politely as they are likely to much more impressed than if you dump on them with a load of bad language.
In the meantime:
The code of practice does not require TV broadcasters to be Impartial; they can lie as much as they like and are only constrained by being sued for defamation. Got a spare million in your back pocket. I sure don’t. However, whilst media may not have to be impartial, Public Servants do and this opens the door to Centrelink’s general manager having to explain why he is happy to mouth off about welfare recipients who rip off the system but never talks about Centrelink staff who are ripping of welfare recipients by concealing the 6 Week Rule, i.e. if Centrelink makes a mistake and over-pays you, they have 6 weeks to find out and recover the overpayments. If they don’t find the error, you can keep the money!
At the worst, all you have to pay if this happens is the last 6 weeks of overpayments so if you have been overpaid $20 a week for 5 years, you repay $120, not $5,200, which means that you come out slightly ahead by keeping $5,080.
Welfare recipients do have rights, you just have to know them and fight for them.
Ron Medlicott (Christian welfare justice advocate.)