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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

‘Thrown under a bus’: HEMP Party president sets record straight on Australian news report

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Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone.

Prominent Nimbin identity and HEMP Party president Michael Balderstone has told The Echo that he is ‘still feeling very bruised’ by a front page Australian newspaper (Newscorp) splash which featured him inaccurately on November 12.

He’s accused the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper of misrepresenting his comments over the Greens and says the reporter did not make it clear to him ‘at all’ how he was being quoted for the story.

The paper’s environment editor Graham Lloyd quoted Balderstone as saying the ‘Greenies have a lot to answer for over the incendiary state of the Australian bush’.

‘That’s complete bullshit – I did not say that,’ Balderstone told The Echo.

The comment is at odds with the fact that the Greens have never been in power at a state or federal level, and the newspaper offered no evidence that the Greens had resisted back burning.

Balderstone told The Echo that Newscorp’s Lloyd rang him ‘looking for someone to talk to about a fire story he was writing and told me how [Greens leader] Richard Di Natale was blaming climate change for the fires and the coalition was attacking him’.

‘I think that’s how he got that quote from me… I said something like, “Yeah they’ll cop it on the head, there’s been some Greens obsessed with no fires etc. I remember a few years back, someone wanted to ban fires”.’

Balderstone said it was ‘just casual conversation with me agreeing the Greens will get attacked,’ and he then suggested Lloyd ‘talk to a fire captain we both know’.

‘I had no idea he was writing down what I said’.

Balderstone also says Lloyd sent the paper the headline Country Gone Wild, ‘but the editors changed it to “Hippies blaming Greenies”… Which was nothing like what I was saying. I did speak to him about us white fellas ignoring the Aboriginal fire gardening wisdom, which he reported correctly’.

Balderstone added that Lloyd has lived in Nimbin for a ‘long time, but I don’t know him well.’

‘He feels really bad and embarrassed about it, like I do,’ says Balderstone. ‘Perhaps he’s been working for Murdoch for too long.’

Apologise unreservedly

‘I’ve since read the Greens’ forestry policy and it’s fine,’ Balderstone said, ‘and I apologise unreservedly to the Greens and Greenies I upset. 

The Murdoch daily flagship broadsheet The Australian reputedly loses $30m a year and in more recent times has been dogged by accusations of inaccurate and sensationalist reporting.

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  1. There are several places one can complain about the correctness or appropriateness of things in the media – any form of media. A search for ‘complain about print media australia’ shows the Australian Press Council , ‘Fair” and Department of Communications. There are others. I urge you Mr Balderstone to repor tthese immediately, andy one else upset about this should report it also.

  2. Michael, Murdoch’s “mess press” is a quiet
    Australian that never shuts up let alone
    gets things right – as in truth. It’s just his
    usual inaccurate blundering & an obvious
    Green-getting sham &, I’d say, using your
    name plus the Hemp Embassy to grab a
    reader’s attention. It’s too idiotic for words.

  3. ‘He feels really bad and embarrassed about it, like I do,’ says Balderstone. ‘Perhaps he’s been working for Murdoch for too long.’
    nah, not long enough to be a true server of Moloch, where the sociopath feels not at all bad or embarrassed about anything. maybe once smoked, but never inhaled.

  4. Good to see Hemp & The Greens sorting out this attempt by dodgy media to stir up a fight.
    A for the notion that Greens or Greenies have prevented hazard reduction burning – in one of the only local government areas where the Greens & allies enjoy anything like a working majority (Byron) I was the Councillor delegate on the Local Emergency Management Committee for several years. I never found myself questioning any hazard reduction proposals by the firies – let alone trying to interfere with operations. Neither did the Council as a whole ever interfere with operations.

  5. The point that jumps out for me with this story is no comment was sought from The Australian or Graham Lloyd, basic ethical journalism requires a right of reply. Bit of a case of pot calling the kettle black here Mr Lovejoy, people in glass houses and all that.

    • Rachel C, That all sounds very ethical. I hope you take the time to complain about Miranda Devine’s article in The Australian and syndicated out to local papers such as the Hobart Mercury, where she amplified this bit of editorial opportunism that supports her bad assumptions about Greens policies. I made a comment of similar tone to yours, criticising her, which took five hours of patient, calm editing, before it made the reply column, which is of course paywalled. I get in because I have a free ‘student subscription’ to the Oz and the Mockery.
      In short, you have a valid point, but don’t expect the Newscorpse media to follow your sensible rules.

  6. Maybe Michael Balderstone could stop looking for buses to throw himself under for a while. It’s not the first time his “misquotes” in the media have caused harm to the local community. Hopefully it’s the last

    • So there’s no case for Graham Lloyd to answer to?…….You play right into their very hands by attacking the victim with your quite personal and derisive (and indeed divisive) views. You even say the media have “misquoted” on MANY occasions (albeit suggesting it as an inaccuracy) – and not just M Baulderstone. Why is that not the issue to pursue? How about THIS media? Has he been misquoted again?

    • That’s kinda like blaming the woman with the short skirt for being a victim of sexual assault. No one ever asks to be misquoted. Yet it happens daily. How about we focus on holding biased media responsible instead of someone who’s dedicated his life to environmental justice


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