Noam Chomsky once said, ‘The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know. They don’t even know what’s going on at that remote and secret level of decision making’.
So where do you source your news?
If you were to only take the mainstream media companies as your news sources, you may be unaware that they act as a protection racket for malfeasance and corruption by the ruling class.
It’s one big club, as comedian George Carlin once said, ‘and you’re not in it’.
Without independent journalists, the public would be largely unaware of what the ruling elite do.
It takes a rare breed of person to constantly challenge the most powerful among us.
Meet Byron Bay resident, Walkley Award winner, and investigative journalist, Anthony Klan.
He’s a one man operation who publishes www.theklaxon.com.au, along with the occasional Klaxon newspaper, and he does it all on a shoestring and with the loyal support of subscribers.
Guide Dogs disaster
Recently, Klan blew the lid on Guide Dogs Victoria.
His investigations revealed that the charity delivered just 35 guide dogs in the 2020–21 financial year, while executive salaries and government funding for the operation have continued to rise substantially over the years.
‘Government funding to the charity increased four-fold over the past decade, while the level of service it is providing the public fell by 25 per cent,’ Klan The Echo.
CEO Karen Hayes, who publicly supported former treasurer Josh Frydenberg in his recent election bid, has since resigned and the close relationship between the Liberals and the Guide Dogs has since been exposed further.
He says, ‘Guide Dogs Victoria is, or at least was, one of Australia’s most trusted charities, but under the hood, it’s an absolute disaster’.
Klan told The Echo he moved to the area around two years ago, far from the Sydney bustle, to be closer to family, and for a change of scenery.
Foreign interference by China
He said he now gets followed around a lot less – something that had been occurring in his last few months at The Australian, when he was trying, unsuccessfully, to expose a major scandal over foreign interference involving the Chinese Government.
‘I would get my photo taken at cafes’, he says, ‘the tactic of course is to silence any criticism. Eventually I got fed up with being followed around’.
‘I kept it mainly to myself for starters, but in November 2019, highly-regarded former Sydney Morning Herald journalist and Beijing correspondent, John Garnaut, went public with almost identical experiences.
‘In one case, he and his wife were sitting in a Melbourne cafe and were targeted by four people clearly seeking to intimidate them; an incident they reported to Victoria Police.
‘Months later, Garnaut and his wife were in another Melbourne cafe, giving evidence about the incident to three plainclothes police investigators, and the same thing occurred – one of the police officers noticed they were being filmed.’
Prior to the recent federal election, Klan fundraised enough money to publish 40,000 copies of his own 16 page Klaxon newspaper.
It was distributed door-to-door in the safe Victorian electoral seat of then treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and the newspaper ran with a front page story claiming Frydenberg was covering up alleged nefarious actions of those in charge of the national corporate watchdog, ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission).
‘Despite dozens of requests for comment over 18 months, Frydenberg never replied to me. The top two bosses at ASIC, both Coalition appointees, departed after a major scandal and Frydenberg announced an “inquiry”,’ Klan said. ‘Three months later, Frydenberg released a document and said the men had been given the all clear.
‘Our investigations revealed this wasn’t true – in fact, three-quarters of the inquiry’s key findings had been secretly deleted from the document Frydenberg released to the public.’
In a former life as a News Corp (Murdoch) journalist, Klan quit and made a very public fuss when his editors refused to publish stories in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.
Australian editors refuse to publish his investigations
‘There were two major investigations that The Australian refused to publish, that were kiboshed by the editors’.
‘One was into the superannuation system. After my investigations revealed it was the major banks and financial institutions robbing the public blind – and not the so-called “union” or “industry” funds, as much of the media had been claiming for years – the whole investigation got scrapped. I couldn’t get the stories out, no matter how hard I tried.
‘The second was even more concerning, if that’s possible. I had undertaken a major investigation into foreign interference by the Chinese Communist Party in Australia, and my findings were enormously disturbing.
‘The investigations went to the heart of Australia’s national security, and heavily implicated both Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton.
‘I’m almost certain that if the stories were published, there’s no way the Coalition would have won the 2019 election.
‘And that’s precisely why they weren’t published – I am certain of that’.
Who holds the powerful to account?
As to Klan’s ‘go to’ media organisations who he believes are holding the powerful to account, he replies, ‘Michael West Media (Michael is a mentor and friend of mine, since working together at The Australian many years ago), Crikey (particularly Bernard Keane) and The Saturday Paper’.
Both The Guardian and the ABC are highly trustworthy and reliable news sources, and extremely important to the nation. Yet with a few exceptions (ABC’s Four Corners obviously) the ABC is currently too timid. The biggest problems we face are structural – the same old responses and coverage won’t cut it.
‘ProPublica and NPR in the US; ByLine Times and ByWire Times in the UK (which syndicates all The Klaxon’s articles); and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which does fantastic work, particularly on international tax avoidance (Panama Papers, Pandora Papers etc)’.
Australia sliding towards entrenched corruption
Holding the powerful to account and public trust are perhaps the most important aspects that keep democracy from slipping into tyranny.
Klan points out in his recent editorial that since 2012, Australia and Hungary have slid the fastest towards more entrenched corruption
He says, ‘Since 2012, no other OECD country has slid faster into corruption, according to one of the world’s most respected corruption monitors, Transparency International. Hungary and Australia are in a tie for last place, having fallen the fastest over the past decade’.
Yet it’s not all bad – there is an appetite among the public for change, and he adds, ‘Independent political candidates are riding a wave of popularity, retired judges are putting their foot down and calling out media misinformation, and the drums of an ever-closer Federal ICAC continue to beat steadily in the background’.