The election campaign, the $6,000 toaster and the media beat up

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, June 5th, 2016 - 24 comments
Categories: australian politics, capitalism, class war, cost of living, Economy, employment, Media, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, wages, workers' rights, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: , , ,

Over in Australia the Nation is in campaign mode. Politicians are looking for every opportunity to get air time and impress the electors with the quality of their thoughts and world views.

The Liberal Party has slipped into business as usual mode and is campaigning on corporate tax cuts worth $AUS 48 billion even though much of the benefit will simply flow overseas to foreign share holders.   The recent budget also contained a provision to lift the threshold for the second top tax rate from $80,000 to $87,000 to address tax creep.  You have to wonder at what stage will the right realise that trickle down does not work and change their ways.  But for now clearly the right’s backers have expectations that have to be met.

But the policy is meeting resistance with one recent response from an ordinary Australian dominating the campaign.

The show Q&A provides an opportunity for politicians, industry leaders and normal people to have their say very publicly.  On a recent episode a resident of one of Sydney’s outer suburbs, Duncan Storrar, questioned the fairness of tax cuts to the wealthy when he often could not afford to take his kids to see a film on the weekend. He is a low wage employee without job security struggling to make ends meet.

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Mr Storrar is a part-time truck driver with two daughters and a mental health issue. He earlier told Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer he had spent his whole working life on the minimum wage, distilling a common critique of the budget to personal experience.

“You’re gonna lift the tax-free threshold for rich people,” he said. “Why don’t I get it? Why do they get it?”

He was referring to the government’s move to lift the upper end of the 32.5 cent tax bracket from $80,000 to $87,000 – saving $315 a year for people earning more than $80,000.

It set in chain a series of awkward answers from Ms O’Dwyer, who could only wheel out the Turnbull government’s talking points on small business and trickle-down economics, and business lobbyist Innes Willox, who told Mr Storrar he “would not pay much tax” anyway, and that “not everyone can win out of every budget”.

O’Dwyer mentioned how the corporate tax cuts now allowed a Sydney cafe to afford a $6,000 toaster so that it could produce toast, lots and lots of toast.  Her response shows the intellectual paucity of the right, thinking that a piece of machinery that will do a job quicker and probably cout someone their job is preferable to actually making sure that an ordinary worker can take his kids out and afford to buy couple of pieces of toast.

Innes Wilcox, the head of Australia’s Business Lobby was even worse, sliming Storrar by saying that he paid no tax and implying he should be grateful.  Clearly not only is business keen on keeping ordinary workers on minimum wages augmented with Government support, they also wish to insult their contribution and suggest it is worthless.

The video is fascinating and the comments from the right were full of the same rhetoric we have been inundated with in New Zealand for so long.

The $6,000 toaster meme quickly caught on offers of help poured in. Someone set up a GoFundMe page Buy Duncan Storrar a toaster and at the time of writing this post the page had raised $60,000.

The responses were heartfelt and generous.  Clearly Duncan’s plight struck a chord.  Again from the Sydney Morning Herald:

User Jake Lee donated $48 and wrote: “They reckon this budget is saving me $6 a week or something like that. I don’t need it and sure as hell don’t deserve it as much as you so here’s a few months worth of tax cuts”.

Eddie Hughes donated $20 “for some popcorn for the girls mate”.

Q&A series producer Amanda Collinge tweeted on Tuesday night that people had been emailing from London wanting to send Mr Storrar movie tickets.

But then the right’s clobbering machine kicked into gear and in scenes reminiscent of what has happened here in recent years Mr Storrar had his background checked out and splashed throughout the media. A troubled relationship
With an older son was highlighted. Criminal convictions and a couple of jail terms for breaching court orders and making threats to kill were publicized.  And his personal finances were analyzed and displayed to show that in net terms he does not pay any tax.

And the culprit?  Good old Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

From the Guardian:

[Storrar’s] part in the story could have ended at this point, given way to a broader discussion of inequality in Australia – persistently increasing over the past decade – or of the limits of tax and welfare systems in a straitened economic environment.

Instead Storrar himself has become the focus of remarkably savage coverage, branded a “thug” in Melbourne’s Herald Sun and a lousy parent in the Australian.

On Friday, the ABC broadcaster Jon Faine grilled Damon Johnston, the Herald Sun editor, about the stories.

“I query your paper’s value system,” he said.

“It’s as blunt and profound as that. Twice this week you’ve taken people with obvious mental issues … people who dare question people in power and positions of authority, and they get ground into dirt. What a way to conduct yourselves.”

Johnson shrugged it off. “If you’re going to be on the national stage in the middle of an election campaign, it’s equally legitimate to have your own past looked at, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Threaded through News Corp stories are similar attempts to justify its coverage. It appears to hang on a tweet from a Q&A producer, Amanda Collinge, who described Storrar on Tuesday as “a new national hero”.

“The ABC presented him as a ‘new national hero’ and a low-paid Aussie battler, but Duncan ­Storrar’s son, Aztec Major, paints a very different picture of his ­father,” the Australian’s Thursday story said.

“ABC hero to villain,” ran the Herald Sun’s Friday front page.

Four words – now deleted – but enough to turn Storrar, like Zaky Mallah before him, into an abstraction, fodder for a culture war between a media empire and the public broadcaster.

Storrar is said to be reeling, willing the spotlight to move on. He might take comfort from the Australian’s editorial the day it interviewed his son, that its coverage was not personal, just business.

“Storrar is not the issue,” it said. “We wish him and his family all the best.”

This event causes me so many feelings of deja vu as well as disgust, from the treatment of Natasha Fuller who had her benefit levels publicized by Paula Bennett to the whole Dirty Politics episode.  There has to be a better way.

24 comments on “The election campaign, the $6,000 toaster and the media beat up”

  1. Pasupial 1

    Beware of the guys in the locker room!

  2. Old Tony 2

    So how about a deal between the media and the political parties? The media will not go overboard in examining every nook and cranny of Mr/Ms Average Joe’s existence if s/he chooses to get involved in political debate, so long as the parties stop parading their activists/friends of, as if they were said Mr/Ms Average Joe?

    Not saying it happened in this case but certainly happens here. So often in fact that the first response of anyone who takes political debate seriously here is to google any apparently non-partisan person making apparently profound statements from the sidelines, especially when they are anecdotal.

    None of which detracts from the fact that I share with you an intense hatred of the way in which our lives can be shredded by information available in the ether.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      I agree with a lot of your comment but the suggestion that all political parties engage in this sort of smear attacks I will have to disagree with. The right are way better at this than the left.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2

      Fine words, Old Tony, spoiled only by the rank hypocrisy of voting for the Cameron Slater party then pretending anyone else has sunk so low.

      How about a pact for right wingers to stop lying in support of the indefensible? Fat chance.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    In what universe will businesses create jobs in preference to automating?

    Duncan did pretty well considering what he was up against.

  4. jcuknz 4

    +1000 micky and tony
    People complain about a lack of ‘investigating journalism’ but this shows it is there when the moneybags want it.

    • Whateva next? 4.1

      Aye to that!

    • tc 4.2

      Ummm no it’s where they don’t want it currently with Duncan getting a fair hearing and abc radio getting stuck into Murdochs lackey about the treatment dished out to Duncan by the rights media dogs.

      Imagine Natasha fuller,charter schools, sheep gate, PM offices budget and behaviour, bridges to nowhere etc getting some national airtime in an objective manner for nz to observe the abhorrent behaviour of this national govt.

      A good example of public media showing the reality with the rights media smearing and diverting. Whereas here it’s all smear and diversion and you can see why Turnbull is tasked with pulling public broadcasting’s teeth by wupert.

  5. save nz 5

    It’s clearly not an equal battle when the state and media can examine for Storarr and Fuller’s personal lives and tax details to attack them, but we have a prime minister that will not release his tax returns to be examined in the same way.

    Balance of power, people. Not in favour of the people.

    But this has happened thoughout history and throughout storytelling throughout history.

    In folklaw the under dog win, even in John Key’s favourite “NZ” book sic, LOTR.

    So maybe in the flash battle of money, power, media, politicians, accountants, lawyers, tax dodgers, super rich and rugby players will actually be defeated by a motley crew of under dogs led and supported by people who believe in something, mentally ill, defeated unslick and slightly divided politicians, the sick, the elderly, the poor, the disenfranchised, the failing farmers, the vilified teachers, the hardworking doctors, the journalists, the artists, the workers on PAYE and in my view an very important group to capture, the homeowners and families.

    It’s those hearts to capture.

  6. Anne 6

    This event causes me so many feelings of deja vu as well as disgust, from the treatment of Natasha Fuller who had her benefit levels publicized by Paula Bennett to the whole Dirty Politics episode.

    Lets never forget the disgusting treatment meted out to David Cunliffe. They trolled through every aspect of his life looking for dirt and unlawful behaviour and all they could find was an eleven year old piece of paper which noted that some chap called Donghua Liu once contacted him over an immigration matter. So, they made up a pack of lies about it and the MSM lapped it up!

    I want to see Labour and the Greens remind the populace of this pattern of behaviour at every appropriate opportunity, and to acquire a copy of last election’s National Party boat advertisement for future purposes.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1


    • D'Esterre 6.2

      “You have to wonder at what stage will the right realise that trickle down does not work…”

      They don’t realise it because they’re not the ones waiting at the bottom for the trickle that never comes.

      Anne: “I want to see Labour and the Greens remind the populace of this pattern of behaviour at every appropriate opportunity, and to acquire a copy of last election’s National Party boat advertisement for future purposes.”

      I want Labour and the Greens to stay above the dirty politics stuff. I want them to refrain from retaliating in kind when the Crosby Textor playbook is used by the government and its apparatchiks. We know what that looks like now; we won’t be fooled.

      • Anne 6.2.1

        No suggestion of retaliating in kind D’Esterre. But there are plenty of words and deeds committed by members of this government of which “the populace” need to be reminded. Many have shown in the past to have very short memories, so it is up to the Opposition to remind them because one things for sure… the MSM won’t .

  7. Olwyn 7

    All over the world now people have had a gut full of of the neo-liberal tyranny. Australia has in many (but not all) ways dodged the worst of it, and it would be a tragedy if they voted for the strong version of it that Turnbull is eager to unleash. I very much feel for Duncan Storrar: while he can take no comfort from the Australian’s editorial comment, he can perhaps take some comfort from the fact that he has punctured the urbane, centrist image cultivated by the neo-liberal Turnbull. Turnbull may be able to distance himself from Abbott’s eccentricities, but not so much from O’Dwyer’s smug, heartless comments.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    You have to wonder at what stage will the right realise that trickle down does not work and change their ways.

    That would imply that the RWNJs actually care that anything works when they’re really only interested in making the rich richer.

  9. adam 9

    Love the condescension from the business guy. Entitled much.

    Trickle down clowns.

  10. whateva next? 10

    ” There has to be a better way.”…there is, stop competing and start cooperating, just as Andrew Little has done, at last someone is thinking about the bigger picture, light at the end of a long dark tunnel

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1


      It is through cooperation that we reached the top of the food cycle. Cooperation that allows us to live full and meaningful lives.

  11. One Two 11

    The shift is gaining momentum

    Not a political shift, but a shift in consciousness and understanding

    The momentun can’t be stopped, it will not be stopped and the establishment is fighting for its very survival. The establishment is losing, and they know it!

    The world is changing for the better because the lies which have had protection in the shadows for so long, are now out in the open with nothing but sunlight for company

    Consciousnes rising on 360 degrees, and its beautiful

  12. Wensleydale 12

    I don’t know why people are surprised at Duncan’s treatment. This is how the right-wing political/business machine works. If you start calling attention to their dubious activities, you’re initially laughed at and written off as one shrieking lunatic with an axe to grind. However, should you land palpable hits, start garnering attention in the media and begin attracting like-minded souls, they wheel out the big guns. They trawl through your finances, work history, relationship status, driving record and anything else they can access in a concerted attempt to find something with which to discredit you. They’re tenacious and they dig deep. The hope is that by smearing you in shit, they’ll distract everyone from acknowledging the open sewer of incestuous corruption that comprises the relationship between right-wing politics and big business.

    • Whateva next? 12.1

      First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win.

  13. Observer Toke 13

    The Future of NZ Housing

    The Government has hardly built a house because it is not in their interest to do so.

    If they keep the housing demand high (by not building houses) then a median house in Auckland will cost $2, 000, 000 within a very short time. It’s what they call a Portfolio.

    Asian Immigrants will pay that amount without turning a hair. UK investors will too, because the Pom Pound is over double the value of a Kiwi dollar.

    So a house here priced at $1 million costs a Pom only half of that. A house here priced at $2 million costs less than $1 million to a Pom.

    John Key and Billy English (greed Incorporated) say in plain language whenever they can: “bugger the New Zealanders”. And the Tory Caucus shouts “Here Here” “Here Here” “Bugger our fellow New Zealanders”.

    Wages won’t rise – that’s Tory Policy – Rents will rise massively – that’s Tory Policy.

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