Gerard McManus

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Gerard McManus is a journalist with the Canberra bureau of the Herald Sun, a Melbourne tabloid newspaper published by News Limited, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

McManus, The Greens and the Australian Press Council

On August 31 2004, in the lead up to the October 9 general election, McManus wrote a news article headlined "Greens back illegal drugs" reporting on many policies of the Australian Greens party. After the election Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown lodged a formal complaint on the story with the Australian Press Council (APC) the newspaper industry self-regulatory body.

In early March 2005 the APC released its decision. "The claims made in the original article were seriously inaccurate and breached the Council's guiding principles of checking the accuracy of what is reported, taking prompt measures to counter the effects of harmfully inaccurate reporting, ensuring that the facts are not distorted, and being fair and balanced in reports on matters of public concern," it wrote. [1]

The Herald Sun appealed against the finding. In an interview with the Media section of The Australian (another paper in the News Limited stable) Herald Sun editor-in-chief Peter Blunden bizarrely complained about Bob Brown calling a media conference after the Press Council made its finding public. "For him to call a press conference while it is subject to appeal is not right ... If Bob Brown seriously thinks tens of thousands of Australians changed their minds on a vote for the Greens based on a page three story in the Herald Sun, then he's in dreamland," he said. [2]

The Press Council's Chairman rejected the appeal. [3]

The Greens claim the article has be frequently used by their opponents since it's publication, who have distributed it on many occasions. [4]

McManus and Family First

The Catholic news magazine News Weekly later published a condensed version of a talk McManus gave at a Family First dinner in April 2006. [5] In it he stated "If Family First wants to be successful, it must be more than a political operation. It must encourage those groups which focus on particular battles in this war, but also educate them about the broader war of which they are part. It will fail if it focuses exclusively on a narrow range of issues. Quite simply, the Australian electorate is too small to sustain an effective, narrow-based single-issue party. What the electorate will sustain - and is clearly signalling it desperately wants - is a party which will be the fearless champion of ordinary Australians holding mainstream values." [6]

One of Family First's most frequently used campaign topics during the 2004 election was establishing itself as the party most dissimilar to the Greens, and attacked it's policies strongly. This is tactic still employed by the party.

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