Flat White

Insiders is insiders. How can they speak for ordinary Australia?

31 January 2021

3:40 PM

31 January 2021

3:40 PM

This morning I watched Insiders; the first episode of the year.

In the first 15 minutes, the three guests — Peter Hartcher, Shalailah Medhora and Katharine Murphy — made reference to what the Australia people want and what the electorate is looking for. They made their statements with absolute certainty. And of course they all agreed with each other.

My simple question is how the hell do they know what they claim with certainty to know?

The three may know –may know — the views of their SMH, JJJ and Guardian audience. They may know the views of the inner, inner-city cafe sets where they socialise. They may know the views of their unrepresentative Twitter followers. They may even know the views of the Canberra bubblers. But on what authority, data or expertise do they claim to speak for Australia?


Insiders has always been a profoundly anti-democratic program. Even the name is a giveaway. It claims to be news and current affairs. It’s more like a version of Big Brother where the cameras spend an hour trained on the most exalted ranks of the Canberra Bubble as they spout its inside received wisdom.

This immodest, uncritical and unsubstantiated guff is what lubricates the political sewerage system that Australia is subject to.

At least politicians have opinion polls to point to. Yes, opinion polls are mostly garbage, but it is better than the knitting circle chatter of Australia’s media industrial complex. Politicians are also informed by detailed market research they sometimes slip — decorated with their spin — to their pet journalists.

And of course, the grand David Speers did not challenge any of these “Insiders” as to the basis of their statements.

Australia is not monolith and Australians are not a homogenous blob. There are very, very few issues on which Australian’s agree.

6.00 pm update

The Australian’s media diarist, Nick Tabokoff, has also noticed Insiders peculiarly nauseating smugness, self-righteousness self-importance — and complete alienation from mainstream Australia:

The “final observations” segment on the ABC program Insiders has long been a fascinating insight into what Canberra journalists really think, as opposed to what they report.

One of the more revealing views about a politician came on Sunday morning from the Guardian Australia’s political editor, Katharine “Murpharoo” Murphy.

She offered a fascinating tribute to Mark Butler, who was ousted last week from the shadow climate change portfolio last week in Labor leader Anthony Albanese’s cabinet reshuffle.

“Just quickly, I want to say as a citizen, I want to thank Mark Butler for his service over a couple of terms at least,” Murphy said.

“He has been relentlessly on the side of the climate science. He has tried to do the right thing by the planet and by the country. And I think that anybody in politics who you can say that about is worthy of our thanks.”

But Murpharoo’s not the only one who’s gutted that Butler is no longer the climate change spokesman. Diary’s chats around government circles suggest some from the opposite side of the climate debate are equally unhappy to see him go.

Senior Coalition sources told us on Sunday they were “devastated” that Albo moved Butler to the health portfolio.

The Coalition reckons Butler has helped them to win three elections on the trot during his seven years in charge of Labor’s climate policies.

The Coalition sources say Butler’s environment policies helped Bill Shorten to lose the unlosable election in 2019, with the then Labor leader continually slipping up on policy costings during the campaign.

Even a Labor MP had a similar view on Sunday: “Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison want to thank him too — on behalf of the Coalition.”

Stephen Spartacus blogs at Sparty’s Cast where a version of this piece also appears.

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