The troubles with Auntie

I came across an article the other day that brought back memories of my years in Australia. There is quite a lot I miss about Australia – Vili’s pies, the warbling of the maggies, Christmas on the beach in shorts, dry summers, the vast land and the silence just outside the cities that stretches on forever – to name just a few things. Most of all, I miss my friends there. But there are two things I do not miss at all: the politics and the nanny state. And that brings us to the article. Auntie’s in trouble, you see. If you don’t know Auntie, you know nothing about Australia. Not really. ‘Auntie’, as we call her, is our national broadcaster, the ABC, or Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the name modeled off of that other ‘Auntie’ up North. And lately, she has been going through some rough times. Seems Auntie has lost her head, one Michelle Guthrie, who was summarily fired halfway into her five-year term. Why, we might ask? It turns out that the latter had refused to fire some journalists who had been less than salutary to certain conservative politicians in their coverage of politics in Oz. Horrors. But then, the man who fired her, one Justin Milne, ABC chairman, had to resign because of revelations that he had been the one pressuring Guthrie to fire the journalists and for other sundry reasons which are covered in the article. But before we get to the dynamics of the stoush, first, some background on dear Auntie and a quick look at her chart.

The ABC has gone through several permutations over the years. In 2012 we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the founding of the ABC, then known as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, formed by Act #14 of 1932, section 50. Thus the ABC came into being at midnight of July 1st, 1932. The chart is below (bigger):

This foundation chart has several interesting sub-features (don’t they all?), specifically, dwarf planets on key points in the chart. To start, we find Varuna on the ascendant. Any planet on the ascendant tends to ‘speak’ through or for the chart. Varuna is sometimes called the ‘all seeing eye’, hence its sigil. He was the god of the waters, associated with justice and truth. More than that, though, “Varuna is the guardian of moral law, one who punishes those who sin without remorse, and who forgives those who err with remorse.” Interesting, that, given the coverage of Australian politics. The Sabian symbol for the ascending degree is also interesting: “A man succeeds in expressing himself simultaneously in two realms.” The two-party system, maybe, sitting parties and opposition? The placement of Varuna is reinforced by Orcus, which has a similar yet more forceful action to Varuna, conjunct the Moon in the ABC foundation chart. The Moon rules the 4th house (opposition parties in mundane astrology) and is placed in the 2nd house, the house of self-esteem, among other factors. Just from this, we get the sense of the tone for the chart, which is to “keep the bastards honest,” which any good media outlet should do. But it also speaks to the organization itself to keep its integrity. When mainstream media is suffering its lowest ratings and lack of trust ever, the ABC is still the most trusted news outlet in Australia, but it is not without its critics.

News organizations are run by people, and because of that it is very rare to find one that does not display at least some bias at one time or another. The ABC has been accused of left-leaning reporting, and that does show in the foundation chart. Firstly it is shown by Uranus in the 1st house, marking a humanitarian/progressive temperament, Uranus also being trine to Jupiter. But the big indicator of the more idealistic soft-line leanings is the Sun/Venus conjunction on the 4th house cusp in sextile to Neptune. One of the criticisms recently leveled at the ABC was that it performed more like a news magazine than a hard-hitting investigative journalism outlet. And the aforementioned aspects would lend support to that view. Auntie can hit hard when she wants to, though, evidenced by the Mercury/Pluto conjunction square to Uranus, and with Mercury also in a distant, dissociate opposition to Saturn. But because of perceived bias by government officials, combined with the ever-present parroting of the need to cut costs by the same, and finally by the Thatcherite sell-everything-off economic ethic, funding to the ABC has been dramatically cut in recent years, with the loss of over 1,000 jobs in the organization as a result. What, then, do we see that would indicate the recent stoush that led to the head-rolling at the top of the organization? It is clear enough.

To start, transiting Saturn (chart) has been hovering around the Midheaven (MC) since the start of this year, crossing it first on 24 Feb, making its retrograde station opposite the organization’s Sun/Venus on 19 Apr, making its retrograde pass across the MC on 13 Jun, making its direct station on 7 Sep and will pass the MC again for the final time at the end of November. At the same time as all that was happening, Uranus made a square to the ABC Saturn starting within orb in July. It had been there throughout most of September. Saturn was joined by transiting Mars, completing the square to Uranus on the 23rd of this month, which is when everything exploded. So, there are two factors – the transit of Saturn across the MC opposite the Sun/Venus, indicating a reckoning that had to come, and secondly by the Mars/Uranus square to the ABC Saturn. The transit of Saturn opposite the Sun is one of the more difficult one’s anyone can have, and when we add to the mix the fact that Saturn rules the tenth house, then the scene is set. The ruler of the tenth is the sitting official, or officials. Auntie lost her head, and she is not a happy camper at the moment. The leadership problems have been exacerbated by meddling politicians, but what shows clearly is that there had to be a change of leadership and a clearing of the air at the ABC. The incident has sparked open rebellion from staff at the ABC against the management and a vote of no confidence in the same. We can probably expect some resolution of the conflict toward the end of the year when Saturn makes its final pass over the Midheaven and moves off the opposition to the Sun/Venus conjunction.

It would be a real shame and a crime against Australia if Auntie were to be sold off to private interests. That’s my two cents. I look at what has happened to the media in the US and UK under privatization and the results are pretty appalling, with the main media outlets becoming mouthpieces for government narratives, like the other Auntie in the North, or the Gray Lady in the US. We pride ourselves in Australia for being independent and calling it like it is. Auntie needs our support in her time of need. We need our Aunts to keep us informed and to keep the pollies on the straight and narrow. Decorum prevents me from using more colorful Aussie expression about what the government is trying to do to the ABC. National broadcasters should be owned by the people.

Featured pic: Asia Times

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