The Press Council considered a complaint about three online articles published in The Courier-Mail, headed “Brisbane house flipper’s alleged secret life as drug trafficker" 8 July 2021, "’Hectic’: House flipping accused drug kingpin’s texts, associates" 8 July 2021 and "’WTF just happened?’: ANOM text messages revealed" 24 July 2021.
The Press Council considered a complaint from Lisa Guglielmucci concerning an article published in The Daily Telegraph headed "Liar cleric's fresh call'" in print and "Disgraced Hillsong singer Michael Guglielmucci launches homeless charity" online on 3 April 2021.
The Press Council considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article headed “Lockdowns show Australia has lost its marbles” published online by The Herald Sun on 30 June 2021. The article was an opinion piece in which the columnist was critical of lockdown policies.
The Press Council considered a complaint from Jordan Shanks-Markovina about an article published by The Daily Telegraph on 21 September 2020 headed “Friendlyjordies: Labor members concerned by leader’s links to YouTube star” online; and “Labor Leader’s Controversial New Friend” in print.
The Press Council considered a complaint from Bayside Council about an article published by The Sydney Morning Herald in print on 31 October 2020 headed “$1b lost in council merger failures” and online headed “‘Rates will have to rise’: Council mergers in crisis as losses mount”.
The Press Council considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by a reader’s letter published in the Byron Bay Echo headed “Midwife quits” on 17 April 2021. The letter stated “… Work with lies and deceit at all levels has led me to despair. I am very good at my job as midwife. You would want me to take care of you. You would be very safe in my care. ‘The jab’ cannot be called a vaccine. It will kill and it will make people very sick with autoimmune disease, which will manifest in many types of diseases. Please do not acquiesce.”
The Council notes that while letters to the editor are very much an expression of the letter writer’s opinion, publications must nonetheless comply with the Council’s Standards of Practice in relation to letters they select and edit for publication. While the Council accepts that there have been reported cases of deaths associated with a particular type of vaccine, on the information available to it, there is no evidence to support the writer’s emphatic comment that vaccines “…will kill and it will make people very sick with autoimmune disease” is accurate. Accordingly, the Council finds the publication failed to take reasonable steps to comply with General Principles 1 and 3.
The Press Council considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article published by The Australian Financial Review online on 9 May 2021 headed “Apollo Global MD contracts COVID-19 in Sydney”, and in print on 10 May 2021 headed “Apollo Global MD Pizzey contracts COVID-19 in Sydney”.
The article reported “Investment giant Apollo Global Management managing director” is the “Sydney person that has been diagnosed with COVID-19”. The article reported that the person, “who is one of only two full-time employees at Apollo in Australia, is still suffering COVID-19 symptoms and is suspected of catching the virus from a returned US traveller.” It also said the person “is understood to be the mystery shopper who ducked into two Sydney-based Barbeques Galore stores on Saturday, May 1, and then his local butcher, in a shopping trip that has since been documented by NSW Health as part of its contact tracing protocols. It is understood the person went to Barbeques Galore looking for a new barbecue, but also as part of his firm’s due diligence on the retailer.”
The Press Council considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by readers’ letters published in the Great Southern Weekender headed “Still infectious” on 22 July 2021 and “Lockdowns not the answer” 29 July 2021. The 22 July letter stated “The drug Ivermectin has been passed for use in treating COVID-19 infection…” and the 29 July letter stated “…the most prestigious medical journal in the world, “The Lancet”, has published a study indicating that the COVID-19 vaccines are only 0.84 per cent effective.”
The Council notes that while letters to the editor are very much an expression of the letter writer’s opinion, publications must nonetheless comply with the Council’s Standards of Practice in relation to letters they select and edit for publication. The Council considers that, on the information available to it, the letter writers’ comments concerning Ivermectin and vaccine efficacy rates are inaccurate and based on an omission of key facts. Accordingly, the Council finds the publication failed to take reasonable steps to comply with General Principles 1 and 3.
The Press Council considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article published in The Daily Telegraph online headed “Retired porn star sparks Surry Hills apartment block controversy” on 11 November 2020.
The sub-headline of the article stated “A noisy retired gay porn star has been told to behave and show respect to his neighbours after police were called four times, causing angst in his apartment building”. The article went on to report that “[r]esidents at a landmark apartment block in Sydney’s gay heartland have been told to show more respect after reports a retired US porn star was sparking conflict by working from home”. The article reported that police “had been called four times this year to the same apartment” and that “[i]t is understood the calls have all involved ‘concern for welfare’” and “[o]ne involved an argument between the porn star and the boyfriend he is staying with”. The article also included an embedded video of Mardi Gras 2020 and an image of the rainbow flag flying over “Sydney’s gay community in Darlinghurst”
The Press Council has considered a complaint from Jared Owens on behalf of Hon Kevin Rudd about an article published by The Australian headed “New Chinese era of living dangerously” online on 29 November 2019; and “Radical new Chinese era signals years of living dangerously” in print on 30 November 2019.
The article commented on Australia-China relations and the scale of Chinese foreign intelligence activities. It stated that “The development of the Quadrilateral Dialogue — involving the US, Japan, India and Australia — is one of many important developments. That the Quad recently held its first meeting at foreign minister level is encouraging. The decision by Rudd and his then foreign minister, Stephen Smith, to unilaterally kill the Quad in 2008, to please Beijing, was one of the most foolish and counter-productive foreign policy moves of any modern Australian government. It did immense harm to the Canberra-New Delhi relationship. It was a decision that had to be reversed and the Quad now enjoys bipartisan support in Australia.”
The Council is satisfied, based on all the submissions before it, that Foreign Minister Smith’s announcement in Tokyo on 1 February 2008 that “we are not proposing to add to the trilateral by including India…and that view is shared by the Japanese government” affirmed the Rudd Government was effectively continuing the Howard government’s position on the Quad as reflected in 2007 statements by Defence Minister Brendan Nelson. The position was consistent with the previous Howard government’s position and therefore not “unilateral”.
The Press Council has considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article published in The Herald Sun on 12 November 2020 headed “Islam butchers slaughter women and kids” in print on page 19.
The article reported that “Heavily armed Islamic militants have killed dozens of unarmed villagers in a campaign to establish a caliphate in southern Africa… Up to 50 people, including women and children, were murdered, with some beheaded and dismembered in a three-day rampage in north Mozambique.” The Council noted that prominent references to religious or ethnic groups in headlines can imply that a group, as a whole, is responsible for the actions of a minority among that group.
The Press Council has considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article published in print by The Sunday Telegraph on 14 June 2020 headed “Where’s the real justice?”.
The article commented on the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests in Australia in June 2020 concerning police behaviour and black deaths in custody. The article said: “The reality in this country – and the US – is that the greatest danger to aboriginals and negroes – is themselves” and that until “we address this issue, protests damning white police officers are nebulous”. In support of this view, the article said that the “protests are facile and irrelevant because police and indigenous deaths in custody are a small part of the complex jigsaw that goes into making black lives matter.”
The article referred to the death of four Aboriginal teenagers in a stolen car and asked “Where was the protection for four innocent children? Police say they knew the car was stolen and decided not to pursue”.
The Press Council has considered a complaint from Dr Michelle Telfer, the Head of Department of Adolescent Medicine at the Royal Children’s Hospital and Director of the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service (RCHGS), concerning 45 articles published in The Australian which appeared online and some in print. The complainant expressed concern that the articles contained inaccurate information, were unfair and caused her and others considerable distress. The first article complained about was published on 9 August 2019 and the last on 29 June 2020. The articles concerned the role of gender affirming healthcare and its application by the RCHGS; transgender children and adolescents; the safety and ethics of giving hormone treatment to young people experiencing gender dysphoria; what the articles referred to as social contagion amongst young girls identifying as transgender; rates of de-transitioning in transgender young people; and a call for an inquiry into a gender affirming model of healthcare for transgender young people.
The Council noted that it is unable to resolve the apparent conflict in research material relating to issues such as regret rates for hormone therapy, high rates of de-transition and social contagion. The Council also noted that while the Royal Australian College of Physicians was not undertaking a statutory inquiry, it was undertaking enquiries and is a national body. Accordingly, it finds no breach in this respect.
The Press Council has considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article published by The Courier-Mail in print on 30 July 2020 headed “ENEMIES OF THE STATE: Outrage as deceptive teens cause COVID chaos”.
The article reported “[T]wo 19-year-old girls with COVID-19 have been fined $4000 each after travelling to Melbourne and lying to authorities about where they’d been”. The article reported “Olivia Winnie Muranga… a cleaner at the now-closed Parklands Christian College – called in sick on Friday after days of feeling ill. Despite this she continued to socialise, visiting restaurants and bars in Ipswich and Brisbane, according to authorities. It is believed she even went shopping after she took a COVID test on Monday.” It also stated “[h]er travel companion Diana Lasu… has also tested positive”. The article appeared on the front page and included photos of Ms Muranga and Ms Lasu underneath the headline “ENEMIES OF THE STATE”.
The Press Council has considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by an article published by NT News in print on 14 September 2019 headed “Man granted hospital leave killed himself”.
The article reported on a coronial inquest of a young man who committed suicide “after being granted leave from the mental health ward at the Alice Springs Hospital despite showing symptoms of psychosis.” The article included information heard at the inquest, including details of the man’s history with mental health services, his discharge from a hospital’s mental health ward while apparently delusional, a prior suicide attempt and his subsequent suicide. Amongst the information included in the article was the location of the suicide and the method used in a suicide attempt, expressed in thoughts about suicide and in the subsequent article.