Australian minister claims media 'jihad' against govt

2015-09-01 17:54
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Sydney - Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton claimed on Tuesday that sections of the Australian media were conducting a "jihad" against his government ahead of a by-election seen as a bellwether.

Dutton, whose department has faced recent criticism, said the national broadcaster ABC and Fairfax Media, publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, were campaigning to bring down the government.

"The reality is that there is a bit of a jihad being conducted by Fairfax at the moment," Dutton told Sky News.

Earlier in the day Dutton responded to questions about problems in the government by telling the ABC that journalists in Fairfax were involved in a "huge move" to "try and bring the government down" and added the ABC was helping them.

Dutton has been forced to defend his new 5 000-strong paramilitary Border Force that had to abandon plans to stop people on the streets of Melbourne over the weekend to check their visas, after hundreds of people protested.

He also had to defend the way Australian-funded refugee detention centres are run on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea after a parliamentary committee found conditions there weren't safe and said all children should be removed.

Dutton said the committee was "a witch hunt" dominated by opposition Labour and the Greens, and he has renewed the contract for the private firm that is running the two camps.

However Dutton said he would consider the committee's recommendations to allow more outside scrutiny of conditions.

Dutton's attack on the media comes as the government faces a by-election in Perth on September 19 that is seen as a test for the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Several media outlets, particularly Fairfax Media, have run leaks from unnamed ministers about moves to act if the government does poorly in the by-election.

The government has been behind Labour in opinion polls for the past 16 months and Abbott's personal approval rating has languished at around 35%.

A general election is not due for another 12 months, although the government can call an election at any time.

Read more on:    australia

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