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.’
‘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.