Herald Sun deploys WMD

An investigation by the Potoroo Review has found Melbourne’s Herald Sun deploying WMD (Wanton Media Deceptions). This time their WMDs were discovered to be a couple of grubby little articles that tried to link a number of unrelated crimes to forest campaigners in the Central Highlands. It’s just another example of logging industry inspired propaganda of the sort that’s likely to become more frequent in the lead up to the next Federal election.

‘Green guerrillas’

During winter, the Herald Sun ran several articles in which it claimed that ‘guerrilla greenies’ and ‘extremists’ had been responsible for blocking culvert drains, damaging the Mt Beenak fire tower, chain sawing a wooden bridge and spiking forest roads. As part of the WMD, the Herald Sun sought to prop up these allegations of an ‘orgy of destruction’ by enlisting a host of venomous individuals who were given free rein to rage and spit about greenies ‘putting lives at risk’ (blah blah blah) and ‘destroying emergency services equipment’.

Sensationalism rules!

And typical of how WMD tends to operate, the Herald Sun didn’t bother providing facts about these isolated incidents. Although they pretended that all the events mentioned in their articles happened over a short period of time, in fact the most sensationalized incident, the chain sawing of a bridge near Marysville, probably happened months before the journalists wrote their story.

To achieve WMD, the tabloid tried every possible angle to milk the bridge story: The bridge was on the National Horse Trail; public safety was threatened; horses could have been killed or injured.

FOI shows story a beat-up

Emails obtained from DSE under Freedom of Information make it quite clear that the damage was not part of the “orgy of destruction” because the cuts were not fresh and could be 12 months old.

Similarly, the articles attempted to depict the incident at the Mt Beenak fire tower as a mindless attack on safety equipment that had put public safety at risk.

The Police report for this incident has been obtained by Potoroo Review and shows that rather than being an act of vandalism, in fact the incident is being treated as a straight forward burglary that involved the removal of some equipment from a building near the fire tower. Contrary to claims in the Herald Sun, there was no damage to the fire tower.

Loggers block culverts!

And the blocked culverts and road spiking? Well, neither the DSE or the Victoria Police have any evidence linking these blockages to any forest protest groups. In fact, after the notorious Guerrilla Greenie article, one DSE official complained to the Herald Sun and stated that he has not blamed any green group for the incidents.

DSE photos showing the blocked culverts are interesting – apart from logs in the drains, they were already half blocked with sediment washed off clearfelled forests and logging roads. Despite this being far more destructive and ongoing it did not get any attention.

The ‘spikes’? The photo showed palm sized bits of packing case with staples or nails poking through; not exactly hard and fast evidence of deliberate attacks on log truck tyres.

I am sure that in the lead up to the next election, more WMD will surface. Be alert – be alarmed.


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