Traditionally Western Australians buy only two newspapers — the only two available to them. The West Australian in the morning and the Daily News on the way home.
But there are people — and their number is growing — who realise that more than the Nullarbor Plain separates the West from the East. There’s also a communications gap which results, largely, from the West Australian Newspapers’ comfortable monopoly.
Neither The Australian nor the Australian Financial Review arrives in time to compete with the West — they’re not on sale until around lunchtime. But their readership is growing as more and more people become increasingly aware that the West tells them only what it feels they should know.
Take the Minsec business, for instance.
The West Australian, on January 25, 1972 reported a Press conference given by the official liquidator of Minsec, Mr J.H. Jamison. The West reported:
He (Jamison) asked unsecured creditors to be patient till Robe River’s new iron reserve totals were disclosed — which he expected within three months …
“When the ore reserve position is settled a sale may be possible at a price in excess of $1.15 a share.”
Readers of the West could be excused if they read this to mean that Robe River was re-assessing its reserves. Only if they read The Australian or the Australian Financial Review would they know that Robe River was going to get ADDITIONAL reserves.
The Australian reported:
Mr Jamison is pinning his hopes on getting $1.15 for the Robe share, and he bases this figure on the expectation the Robe River venture will be awarded new iron ore reserves within the next few months.
The Australian Financial Review reported:
Mr Jamison told reporters he would ask creditors to be patient until the company got the new reserves.
“I expect to hear about these reserves within three months,” he said.
“This is not based on just a thought of mine, but on information gleaned from proper sources — naturally one cannot anticipate a Cabinet Minister’s decision.”
Maybe this was just another instance of bad reporting by the West Australian. But people who watch these things say that the West is often guilty of indifferent reporting — or whatever it is. And maybe there is no connection with the fact that Hancock and Wright own a Sunday newspaper and could, by using their iron royalties, perhaps compete in the daily newspaper field.
Take another example. On December 3, 1971, the West carried a banner headline on its front page, “Court: Hanwright used mafia tactics.”
The story of Court’s attack on Hancock and Wright occupied 28 inches on the front page and continued with 27 inches on page 10. A total of 55 inches.
A week later the Premier (Mr Tonkin) said in the Legislative Assembly, “there was no known evidence in any Government department of mafia-like tactics having been used against the former Premier or any Ministers in the former Government.”
Tonkin’s statement appeared on page 13 and it occupied only six inches.
And apparently the West didn’t believe Mr Tonkin. A few days later, in a leading article, it said: “The State Government has evaded its responsibilities in deciding against appointing a royal commission to investigate allegations that the mining partners Lang Hancock and Peter Wright had used standover tactics and intimidation in their dealings with the previous Government.”
In the article the West did admit that:
It is surprising that the Leader of the Opposition, Sir David Brand, and some of his former Ministers were opposed to a royal commission …
It is astonishing that the Brand Government did not have the whole matter thoroughly investigated when it was in office.
Its failure to do so is no reason why the Tonkin Government should sweep the matter under the carpet. It should think again. On one hand the rights and responsibilities of Government are involved; on the other, the reputation of two internationally known men …
One wonders, if the West was so concerned about the “reputation of two internationally known men”, why Mr Tonkin’s denial of their mafia-like tactics didn’t receive the same prominence in the West as Mr Court’s original and unsupported allegation.
One wonders, too, why other statements in the Legislative Assembly failed to find room in the West. Here, for the record, are a few, taken from Hansard:
Mr Grayden (Lib. South Perth): Has the Minister (Mines Minister May) experienced mafia-like tactics from Hancock and Wright?
Mr May: Definitely not.
Mr Young (Lib. Wembley): I am not making this speech on behalf of the Leader of the Oppositon. My own belief is that the inquiry should be made on all facets.
Mr Graham (Deputy Premier): Including whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition threatened overseas firms that if they held talks with Hancock and Wright they would be investigated too?
Mr Young (Lib. Wembley): The last Government did everything possible to get Hancock and Wright to the table.
Mr Graham (Deputy Premier): Are you sure of that. For months the Minister (Court) could not even talk to them.
None of this appeared in the West.
An article in Nation in 1969 explained:
W.A. Newspapers has always been sceptical and uninterested in the colossal growth in the State’s North-west. This stems from an official news attitude within the organisation that has been expressed as: “What the average housewife in Perth doesn’t understand, we don’t print.”
In 1969 Hancock and Wright began publication of the Independent, a Sunday newspaper. A major reason for the partners moving into the publishing business was one which Nation included in its May 1969 article:
The trigger that set off the Hanwright train of thought of establishing a newspaper was remote from the world of printer’s ink. Mr Hancock, a station owner near the present Mount Tom Price operations, was once the operations manager for Australian Blue Asbestos, Colonial Sugar Refining’s operating company at the Wittenoom Gorge asbestos mine. When CSR closed the mine as uneconomic in 1966, Hanwright bought the mine, the town and the equipment for an undisclosed price, believed to be around $1,600,000 and announced plans to reopen the mine for iron.
Hanwright proposed to build a railway, port facilities and beneficiation plant. A journalist, Lloyd Marshall, working for W.A. Newspapers’ evening daily, the Daily News reported and commented on this signficant development.
Mr Marshall was summoned to the office of W.A. Newspapers’ chairman of directors, Mr S.J.F. Hocking, to be told that there was no iron at Wittenoom. Mr Marshall came from an old-established Western Australian literary family, he had done extensive work on developments in the north-west, and many of his view coincided with those of Mr Hancock.
Mr Hocking, who also runs the Kalgoorlie Miner in the Goldfields, is said to have had what he believed to be reliable information from a geologist that the iron potential of Wittenoom was nil.
Mr Marshall told Mr Hancock of his employers’ views, and this was apparently the straw which broke Mr Hancock’s toleration.
Later, when Mr Marshall announced his resignation, he was given an hour to clear his desk and told never to be seen in the building again.
Hanwright’s Independent is, as yet, no threat to Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times and, of course, it does not yet compete with the Melbourne Herald-owned West Australian or Daily News.
But Hanwright have said that the Independent will, one day, become a daily. This prospect of competition does not enhance the Hanwright partners’ popularity with the newspaper Establishment. But it has given them a voice, even though it’s cost about $2 million to date to do so.
- Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures
- Hancock's Australia
- Hancock on Government Help
- Wake Up Australia: Excerpts Part 1
- Wake Up Australia: Excerpts Part 2
- Lang Hancock's Five Point Plan to Cripple Australia
- Governments Consume Wealth — They Don't Create It
- Up the Workers! Bob Howard's 1979 Workers Party Reflection in Playboy
- Jump on the Joh bandwagon
- John Singleton and Bob Howard 1975 Monday Conference TV Interview on the Workers Party
- Governments — like a red rag to a Rogue Bull
- Lang Hancock's Pilbara-Queensland Railway Proposal
- Singo, Howard and Hancock Want to Secede
- Lang Hancock's Foreword to Rip Van Australia
- New party will not tolerate bludgers: Radical party against welfare state
- Small and Big Business Should Oppose Government, says Lang Hancock
- A Condensed Case for Secession
- Hancock gets tough over uranium mining
- Hancock's threat to secede and faith in Whitlam
- PM's sky-high promise to Lang
- Lang Hancock: "a catherine-wheel of novel suggestions"
- Govt "villain" in eyes of new party
- The spread of Canberra-ism
- Govt should sell the ABC, says Lang Hancock
- 1971 Monday Conference transcript featuring Lang Hancock
- Aborigines, Bjelke and the freedom of the press
- The code of Lang Hancock
- Why not starve the taxation monster?
- Lang Hancock 1978 George Negus Interview
- Party Promises to Abolish Tax
- Right-wing plot
- "The best way to help the poor is not to become one of them." - Lang Hancock
- WA's NCP commits suicide
- "You can't live off a sacred site"
- Hancock: King of the Pilbara
- Bludgers need not apply
- New party formed "to slash controls"
- Workers Party Reunion Intro
- Workers Party is born as foe of government
- Government seen by new party as evil
- Ron Manners on Lang Hancock
- Does Canberra leave us any alternative to secession?
- Bury Hancock Week
- Ron Manners on the Workers Party
- Lang Hancock on Australia Today
- Hancock and Wright
- Lang Hancock on Environmentalists
- Friends of free enterprise treated to financial tete-a-tete: Lang does the talking but Gina pulls the strings
- Lang Hancock, Stump Jumper
- Lang Hancock: giant of the western iron age
- The Treasury needs a hatchet man
- We Mine to Live
- Get the "econuts" off our backs
- 1971 Lang Hancock-Jonathan Aitken interview for Land of Fortune (short)
- Gina Rinehart, Secessionist
- 1982 NYT Lang Hancock profile
- Enter Rio Tinto
- Hamersley and Tom Price
- News in the West
- Positive review of Hancock speech
- Lang Hancock International Press Institute General Assembly speech, Canberra, 1978
- Australia's slide to socialism
- The Great Claim Robbery
- Why WA must go it alone
- Lang Hancock in 1976 on Public Picnics and Human Blights
- MILLIONAIRE PUTS MONEY BEHIND SECESSIONISTS
- Resource Management in Australia: Is it possible?
- The gospel of WA secession according to Lang Hancock
- Crystal Balls Need Polishing
- Minerals - politicians' playthings?
- John Singleton-Ita Buttrose interview (1977)
- Boston Tea Party 1986 style, hosted by Lang Hancock and Bob Ansett
- Singo says Lang Hancock violated Australia's 11th commandment: Thou Shalt Not Succeed
- Singleton: the White Knight of Ockerdom
- Tactics change by Hancock
- Lang Hancock complains to Margaret Thatcher about Malcolm Fraser
- 'Phony crisis' seen as 'child of politics'
- Lang Hancock on nuclear energy
- Lang Hancock beats the left at their own game on civil liberties
- Lang Hancock's Favourite Books
- 1977 Lang Hancock Canberoo poem
- Hancock's playing very hard to get
- Hancock proposes a free-trade zone
- An Open Letter to Sir Charles Court
- John Singleton 1976 ocker Monday Conference Max Harris debate
- Lang Hancock in 1984 solves Australian politics
- Lang Hancock on the Workers Party, secession and States Rights
- Lang Hancock asks what happened to Australia's rugged individualism?
- Precis of Ludwig Plan for North-West
- Announcement that Lang Hancock will be guest of honour at the Workers Party launch
- Lang Hancock's March 1983 attempt to enlist "former presidents of nations and heads of giant companies" to save Australia
- Lang Hancock asks us to think how easily environmentalists are manipulated for political purposes
- Invest in free enterprise
- Democracy is dead in Australia and Lang Hancock's education
- Lang Hancock Incites Civil Disobedience
- Hancock sounds call to battle Canberra
- Mining policy a threat
- Over Whitlam's head
- Lang Hancock suggests that newspapers don't give space to politicians unconditionally
- Lang Hancock on saving Australia from socialism
- Secede or sink
- Australia can learn from Thatcher
- John Singleton. Horseracing. Why?
- How Lang Hancock would fix the economy
- Lang Hancock: victim of retrospective legislation
- Lang Hancock supports Joh for PM
- Hancock seeks miners' tax haven in the north
- The Ord River Dam
- Why Lang Hancock invested in Australia's film industry
- Lang Hancock's 1983 letters to The Australian: Lang's precedent for Steve Jobs, renaming the Lucky Country to the Constipated Country, and more
- Australia's biggest newspaper insider on manipulating the media
- 1980 Lang Hancock-Australian Penthouse Interview
- Canberra: bastion of bureaucracy
- Pilbara can be the Ruhr for South-East Asia
- 1982 Lang Hancock-John Harper Nelson Interview
- Australian elections are one of the greatest con games in history
- Our leaders are powerless