We are not above criticism but these attacks go too far

I am somewhat reluctant to write this note – which will be a defence of the journalism and its journalists – because reporters dish it out often and should be prepared to field some flak in return.

As I have told you many times before, the is not above criticism; we occupy a privileged place in Australian public life and that comes with obligations and responsibilities. However, I feel compelled to respond to two unfair and uninformed attacks levelled at international political editor Peter Hartcher and foreign affairs and national security correspondent Matthew Knott following the publication earlier this month of their series, Red Alert.

These attacks have been launched by former prime minister Paul Keating, and one of the ABC’s most high-profile public affairs programs.

Red Alert, a three-part examination of the most pressing national security challenges facing Australia, has generated mixed feedback, which I welcomed in my weekly note to subscribers last Friday. Some of you didn’t like the series and others viewed it a brave assessment of the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party and of Australia’s lack of preparedness to prevent these threats from spilling over into war.

Since publishing Red Alert, several important things have occurred. China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang has said war between the US and China is inevitable unless Washington waters down its strategic approach to the rise of Beijing. “If the US does not hit the brakes but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrail can prevent derailing, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation,” he warned.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also travelled to San Diego to announce the details of a major nuclear-powered submarine acquisition program between Australia, the United States and United Kingdom. The AUKUS deal – which at up to $368 billion over the next 30 years represents the biggest military spend in this country since World War II – was sobering confirmation that the security situation in the Indo-Pacific has deteriorated to a deeply concerning place.

Defence Minister Richard Marles summed up the situation well on Wednesday by saying we live in the most strategically complex and threatening period to exist since the end of World War II.

But for Paul Keating none of these facts are apparently relevant or worthy of consideration. Indeed, Keating has not just disagreed with how to respond to the rise of China but also dismissed the legitimacy of the and Labor in even posing the question in the first place.

In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Keating said the Albanese government’s support for the AUKUS submarine pact was the worst foreign policy decision by a Labor government since the attempted introduction of conscription in World War I.

He lashed Foreign Minister Penny Wong as a “seriously unwise” minister and dismissed her recent admirable efforts to repair Australia’s relationship with Pacific nations by ridiculing the lei she wore around her neck.

Keating also insisted China had no interest in upending the international system and would “fall over themselves” to have a proper relationship with Australia. Asked by Sky News reporter Olivia Caisley why he was so sure China did not pose a threat militarily to Australia, he replied “because I have a brain” and called her sensible question “so dumb it’s hardly worth an answer”.

Asked by the Matthew Knott whether he would criticise China’s treatment of Uyghurs and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and not just Labor and journalists, he replied Knott should hang his head in shame given he co-authored Red Alert with Peter Hartcher.

“You ought to do the right thing and drum yourself out of Australian journalism,” Keating said. He said the was a “newspaper without integrity”. “If I were you mate, I’d hide my face and never appear again.” Knott rightly told Keating the was very proud of its journalism.

Keating also described Hartcher – who recently marked 40 years with the – as a “psychopath” and “maniac”.

For years, we have laughed along with Keating as he hurls his trademark barbs. But it’s not funny any more. His attack on Wong, defence of the CCP and the Donald Trump-like abuse of journalists doing their jobs shows just how far removed from the political mainstream Keating’s views and behaviour have become.

However, he might find some support from the ABC’s program, which on Monday night ran an eight-minute spray against Red Alert. Host Paul Barry mocked the series as “alarming” and “extraordinary stuff”, described Hartcher as a “well-known China hawk”, repeatedly questioned whether the series discussed the issue responsibly and relied heavily on criticism from Keating.

professes to be the arbiter of good and bad reporting, but Monday night’s episode failed to adhere to the most basic standards of journalism because the program did not bother to ask us for a right of reply before putting the segment to air.

Media Watch also conveniently omitted that Keating had a long history of pro-China commentary. And while accusing us of warmongering, failed to mention a two-part series published by the ABC in February by global affairs editor John Lyons titled ‘What war with China would look like for Australia’. Funny, that.

We will write to the ABC demanding an on-air apology for hypocrisy and poor standards.

As for Keating, it’s disappointing that a man who has had such a profound impact on public life for more than 50 years now has nothing of substance to add on such a huge issue for our country.

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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