Letters to
the editor

Fairfax responds to Tracey Spicer

Few publications have done more to expose wrongdoing in the wake of the global #MeToo movement than The Sydney Morning Herald. Together with the ABC, the Herald uncovered decades of sexual misbehaviour by television star Don Burke, as well as multiple serious allegations about actor Craig McLachlan. These stories aren’t easy to do. They require genuine bravery from the women involved who take significant legal and reputational risk by making their stories of abuse public. They also require meticulous research and rigorous fact-checking by the media outlets prepared to publish their stories. In this context it was disappointing to read claims from Tracey Spicer in The Saturday Paper (“Starting the first Me Too inquiry”, June 30–July 6) that suggest somehow the Herald could have done more. Spicer’s article included an accusation that we ignored allegations about misconduct at our own workplace. We reject that emphatically. Spicer’s piece contains a number of inaccuracies. For example, we have never had a meeting in the Fairfax boardroom, and three other senior Herald editors were present at our first discussion; Kate McClymont was not. Spicer’s recollection of our conversations (of which she did not take notes) is also selective. But it is the substance of the article that is most concerning. Allegations about hundreds of individuals have been made in the past 10 months. During the course of the Herald’s work with Spicer, we were made aware of two individuals with editorial links to Fairfax. However, Spicer has never disclosed any specifics of the allegations she had received, nor provided any detail that could lead us to make further inquiries. It was made absolutely clear to Spicer by both Fairfax Media and ABC journalists that we would pursue any allegations if there was any evidence supporting the claims. To suggest otherwise insults our journalistic integrity. The work required to verify and establish allegations of this kind is intense, risky and requires time and effort. That’s why one of Australia’s premiere investigative journalists, Kate McClymont, was involved for the Herald. A number of stories have not been published because they failed to meet the necessarily high legal and fairness standards. Ms Spicer has done a great job as an advocate of the #MeToo cause but her piece misunderstands the fact the Herald is bound by those standards when investigating misconduct allegations of any kind. We continue to take the issue of workplace sexual harassment very seriously and Kate has a number of investigations ongoing. It was a failure of Ms Spicer and The Saturday Paper not to raise the specific allegations that were ultimately published with me or anyone else at Fairfax prior to publication.

– Lisa Davies, editor, The Sydney Morning Herald

Mumbo jumbo on economy

With his now shop-worn “jobs and growth” mantra, uttered endlessly in parliamentary question time to howling backbench approval, Malcolm Turnbull insists that corporate tax cuts are the only way to increase wages and employment levels for working Australians (Paul Bongiorno, “Aspiring squad lines up its targets”, June 23–29). In the simplistic model of complex social and human reality that is called “economic theory”, this is true. It has to be. It is logically and deductively necessary. In that closed world it follows because it must, and all conventional economists accept it. It is a basic presupposition of their trade. But is this so? Always? Under what conditions? Some credible empirical evidence, as distinct from doctrinaire theoretical and ideological assertion, needs to be produced to show how much of any dollar of tax “encouragement” to business – big, medium and small as their different cases may be – finds its way into employment opportunities and remuneration for the employees of these businesses. And how much goes to other things, including the maintenance and improvement of the lifestyles of businesspeople and their families. How much of their “aspiration” is merely a self-indulgent conviction that they are entitled to live in the pleasant conditions to which they feel entitled to become accustomed? The time for endless incantations of neoclassical economic mumbo jumbo and its credo by Turnbull and the voluble archbishop of that pure faith, Scott Morrison, is long gone. Facts please.

– Clive Kessler, Randwick, NSW

Waiting for contractions

Mike Seccombe’s piece on the background and ramifications of right-wing “think-tank” operations here, and in the United States, highlighted once again the self-defeating advocacy these organisations espouse (“Competing schools of bought”, June 30–July 6). Their belief in the economy as household means they advocate reduced government spending (along with tax breaks for upper incomers and large businesses). This in turn leads to contractionary policy, leading to increased risk of another GFC. Unless Labor, the Greens, and other progressive elements come to terms with this fallacy, they will be in no position to counter it, and provide a way forward. The federal government issues (owns) the currency. Taxation obligations mean that businesses and individuals are required to use it and earn it. The household fallacy means we’re set up for another crisis, potentially. Wealth has been streaming upwards for years, exacerbating this risk, along with high-leverage lending. To say we’re headed for interesting times is an understatement.

– Paul Keig, Wahroonga, NSW

Where do you get it?

Your paper is on the whole very good. However, and let us be frank about this, your comments on wines (Leanne Altmann, “The best of winter”, June 30–July 6) are savagely mysterious. How do I buy them? Please fix this awful absence of data, and keep it fixed.

– John McKenzie, Malvern East, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 7, 2018.

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