Grassroots spark catches winds of change: @jansant reviews #NoFibs 2014 coverage of #auspol

No Fibs editor Margo Kingston comments on her 2014 highlights

So, the second year of No Fibs is nearly over. Personal highlights? It’s hard to go past getting back on the ground after so long to report civil disobedience at the #leardblockade (my first Twitter report, No Fibs tribute). As a print journo it was thrilling to report live, and to report the frontline of grassroots citizens’ action on climate change at Australia’s first blockade of a new coal mine. Much of my work was Twitter portraits of Australians who’d travelled to the Liverpool Plains to take a stand, and these portraits proved that this was not a campaign of ferals but of Australians of all ages from all walks of life (The Guardian: Twitter portraits from the frontline).

I used my experience covering #indivotes last year on Twitter and No Fibs to establish and promote the #leardblockade hashtag at a time when the campaign was on its last legs due to Whitehaven moving in quickly early in the new year. At year’s end, after I thought more than once that the campaign was lost, it’s still strong and still gaining momentum, in part due to Twitter.

Margo Kingston at the #leardblockade

No Fibs editor Margo Kingston at the #leardblockade in January 2014.

After self-funding a pilot CSG citizen journalism project late last year, this year I committed to cover and support the #Pilliga #Bentleyblockade and #protectgloucester campaigns in country NSW on Twitter and No Fibs. Many citizen journalist Tweeps wrote for us on their frontline experience and on the issues. I used the Tweeted Times to create newspapers on these campaigns so interested Tweeps could follow developments on a daily basis. Citizens’ reporting on Twitter, No Fibs and other websites meant the mainstream media was not needed to cover the daily news, and I feel this reporting encouraged the mainstream to report and break stories now and then (See Reporting grassroots greenshoots when faith in establishment politics dies).

And I got arrested for the first time since joining the Right to March protests against the Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen a long, long time ago. Funny what life dishes up (Mass arrests at #leardblockade, Getting #leardblockade arrested: WTF is journalism and who’s the extremist?).

Oh, and I won my complaint to the Press Council about the Daily Telegraph’s coverage of the Ashby judgement.

But the highlight of 2014 for me was Twitter’s #SPCSunday campaign early in the year, where people bought SPC for meals on Sunday and posted their pics and recipes. I’d just come back from the #leardblockade needing a break when Linda Drummond tweeted me the campaign idea, and worked full time for a week to promote it. Who can forget Abbott’s awful decision not to contribute $25 million to ensure a huge injection of capital by the parent company to save the loss making SPC, Australia’s last fruit processing outfit and the backbone of Shepparton and its farmers.

Linda Drummond

Linda Drummond tweeted Margo Kingston with the campaign idea #SPCsunday

The mainstream media moved on quickly, but #SPCSunday saw Tweeps deepen the story by exposing SPC’s long fight against dumped foreign fruit and the fact that imported fruit did not have to meet the same health standards as our product. The campaign also exposed the big supermarkets as failing to give SPC a fair go on its shelves, and saw them sign contracts with SPC to use their fruit for their home brands. SPC’s managing director credited #SPCsunday with ensuring its survival (No Fibs #SPCsunday archive).

There’s nothing better than millions of Australians joining forces to save a country town. Inspirational.

Early this year I decided that No Fibs’ future was as an all volunteers pro-am site, whereby writers worked to a professional standard. We also moved away from sub-editing and asked trusted writers to upload their work according to a guide created by Mike Burge (@burgewords).

I figure that while the energy is there No Fibs will thrive, and when it’s not, it will die. This year No Fibs’ fabulous #indivotes reporter Wayne Jansson (@Jansant) became our chief reporter, co-ordinating our coverage of #MarchinMarch and later marches, and the #Peoplesclimate protests. I feel we’ve become a site for activist Australians wanting to make a difference.

Our geek Tony Yegles (@geeksrulz) continued his great work managing and improving the site (and publishing my work as I’m still a Luddite), and Mike Burge helped new writers learn to self publish. We also welcomed David Marler (Qldaah) as a regular columnist, and his detailed updates on Queensland politics were a great addition to the site. I see his work as my contribution to coverage of my home state, the greatest State when it comes to wild politics.

I’m a Twitter addict and No Fibs is a Twitter-based site. May Twitter grow in strength and power next year. Australia needs it.

No Fibs top 15 most read pieces in 2014

  1. Morrison and Abbott named in International Criminal Court submission on #refugees: @jansant reports
  2. Dear Gina @e2mq173 responds #DearGina
  3. Tony Abbott on why he left the priesthood (published March 2013)
  4. Why Murdoch’s media is gunning for your NBN (published February 2013)
  5. Mystery over ‘Blue-tie Man’ deepens, France baffled: @Qldaah #auspol
  6. Visiting concentration camps in Utopia: @burgewords interviews @GGeorgiadisRN on ‘that’ comment the DIBP didn’t like
  7. They call me Bob – Follow the mystery trail on the LNP candidate for #StaffordVotes: @Qldaah #qldpol
  8. Press Council upholds @margokingston1 complaint against @dailytelegraph on #Ashby
  9. Surprise!!! Coles and Woolworths can’t be trusted @e2mq173 comments
  10. March of the open-hearted: @Sally_Owl tells the inside story of #MarchInMarch
  11. Sour grapes of Liberal wrath as #MurdochMafia target #Indivotes: @jansant comments
  12. Duopoloy retailers: their dirty secret about private label @e2mq173 comments on #SPCsunday
  13. Tony Abbott’s final swipe at Neville Wran: @e2mq173 comments
  14. Are Australians struggling with cognitive dissonance over #asylumseekers? ASRC’s @jj_juliajacob comments
  15. For Fr Rod Bower (@FrBower) Christmas is the “G” word, the Universal More, whispering ‘#illridewithyou’


Jan Bowman (@GriffithElects) reports on Coalition support for a mandatory Medicare co-payment after Australian Centre for Health Research (ACHR) announced it had included the suggestion in a submission to the Abbott Government’s Commission of Audit.
Dr Glasson’s New Year’s Medicare resolutions: @GriffithElects reports

No Fibs editor Margo Kingston (@margokingston1) begins her live coverage of the #LeardBlockade on Twitter, with regular reports posted on No Fibs. Margo’s determination to cover #LeardBlockade would lead to her arrest and a charge of trespass in March. Margo explains why, after seeking legal advice, she pleaded guilty.

Jan Bowman began our coverage of the Griffith by-election in late November, the bulk of the campaigning and coverage was during January, with the by-election held in early February.
Read the #griffithvotes archive.


In the last week of January, the Abbott Government announced it was going to allow iconic Australian brand Shepparton Preserving Company (SPC) to die a cruel needless death. Our last remaining canned fruit processor, a victim of a high Australian dollar and a flood of cheap imported canned fruit, was denied critical assistance, perhaps because it wasn’t a sponsor of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s (@TonyAbbottMHR) Pollie Peddle.

The ensuring battle saw local Federal Liberal Sharman Stone MP (Murray), accuse Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey of lying, after they claimed union pay deals were the reason SPC was in trouble.

I live not far from Shepparton, locals were predicting the death of Shepparton if SPC was forced to close.

No Fibs citizen journalist Amy Feldtmann (@AmyFeldtmann), who grew up in near-by Dookie opened our coverage.

Journalist Linda Drummond (@LindaDrummond) contacted No Fibs editor Margo Kingston with the idea for a campaign, #SPCsunday, to save the cannery, which Margo took to with gusto.

The over-whelming public response to the campaign meant that despite Abbott and Hockey, an Australian icon and (quite likely a) town was saved.
Note: Linda Drummond is now also a No Fibs event live tweeter.

In a controversial piece, Michael Burge (@burgewords) explores what’s left for main stream media and professional journalists in the age of social media, where everyone’s a publisher. In suggesting the inclusion of this piece, Michael said:

I came to this piece after a week of depression, wondering why on earth I had chosen a career – journalism – which was in its death throes. Then I worked it out – we are all journalists, and we’re working for the social media moguls for free with every post, every seflie, every tag … I almost lost friends over this piece.


March was a memorable month for me. I’d mostly been in a No Fibs hibernation since covering the seat of Indi during the 2013 federal election. Still active on Twitter, I’d been watching a movement called #MarchInMarch slowly gain momentum in a similar fashion to the election campaign of Cathy McGowan MP (@IndigoCathy).

There were many similarities, a slow but steady build up of a diverse group of people, of different ages, with different political leanings, different issues, coming together all calling for the same things: an honest, transparent, inclusive and compassionate government that listens to people and values opinions.

The same sentiment that drove McGowan’s election campaign was also driving #MarchInMarch.

It was a genuine grassroots movement, started by a few people on social media, that grew into a massive action without engaging any of the usual suspects or any assistance from the main stream media.

Once it became obvious #MarchInMarch was going to be huge, I contacted Margo Kingston and asked if No Fibs was planning to cover it. Margo was initially reluctant, but after a bit of discussion, she agreed and asked me to coordinate the coverage.

In one of life’s strange coincidences, while chasing Billy Bragg for comment prior to the marches, I found myself at the launch of the Victorian Trades Hall state election campaign, which was pivotal to the election of the Andrews Victorian Labor Government in December.

During #MarchInMarch when over 100,000 marched, No Fibs had about 10 live tweeters around the country. Largely ignored by the media, No Fibs provided the only national coverage. In a sign we were providing news people wanted, my Twitter username (@Jansant) trended in both Sydney and Melbourne.

After the success of our #MarchInMarch coverage, we went on to cover #bustthebudget, #MarchInAugust, #PeoplesClimate and #OurABC rallies later in the year. Hashtags we’ve used and the Twitter usernames of our live tweeters have trended during these events in capital cities and nationally, proving the main stream media ignore grassroot actions at their peril.

Our capacity to cover these types of events is growing, we now have around 50 No Fibs event live tweeters around the country.

Also in March, Errol Brandt (@e2mq173) wrote an opinion piece in response to Gina Rinehart’s piece posted on the Australian Resources and Investment website: The Age of Entitlement – has Consequences.

Errol’s piece prompted an avalanche of discussion on social media platforms. The piece was also in the top 15 most read in 2014.
Dear Gina @e2mq173 responds #DearGina


Former NSW Premier Neville Wran, the Balmain boy who didn’t cry, a man that became one of the great political leaders of Australia, passes away.

Errol Brandt writes a tribute to Nifty, and a rebuke to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s pathetically denuded statement on his passing.
Tony Abbott’s final swipe at Neville Wran: @e2mq173 comments

One of No Fib’s most important pieces of the year came from Michael Burge (@burgewords). He spoke to George Georgiadis (@GGeorgiadisRN) about the Facebook comment that saw the Department of Immigration and Border Protection publicly threaten refugee advocate Vanessa Powell (@VanessaPowell25).
Visiting concentration camps in Utopia: @burgewords interviews @GGeorgiadisRN on ‘that’ comment the DIBP didn’t like

The event exposed the sinister side of the Abbott Government’s tax-payer funded “social media researchers’.

The incident confirmed what many Twitter users have suspected for a long time, the Abbott Government is watching us online and will shut down debate using any method at its disposal.

When a Government department threatens people on social media simply for documenting a moment at a protest, something is broken.

When a long time #auspol spam bot master and troll, that dresses in dozens of Twitter accounts, who most people believe to be a Liberal Party operative, claimed to have millions of #auspol tweets stored in a database, no one doubted the claim.

When (now Minister for the Environment) Greg Hunt MP (@GregHuntMP) was retweeted into top tweets by hundreds of fake accounts prior to the last Federal election, it was largely ignored by the main stream media.

When our Prime Minister’s Twitter followers are almost 50% fake, meaning half of his followers have been paid for in some way, something is seriously wrong.

And someone is paying for all these things.
It’s time we demanded to know exactly how the Abbott Government is using its “social media researchers”, because it looks like there’s an attack on democracy and free speech under way.

No Fibs editor Margo Kingston took the unusual decision to publish an anonymous piece. Written by a public servant, it deals with the ‘dob in a colleague’ policy formulated for its staff by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPM&C).
Silencing the ones who serve you: a public servant speaks out


A lot was written about Treasurer Joe Hockey’s (@JoeHockey) #Budget2014, but there was no better critique than that of former Rudd and Gillard Government Minister, Craig Emerson (@DrCraigEmerson). It was short and sweet, but expertly exposed the cruel and heartless soul of the Abbott Governments first budget.
The conservatives are back in charge, @DrCraigEmerson comments on brutal #budget2014

During the #BustTheBudget rally in Melbourne, Vivian Malo, of First Nations Liberation, quietly hung around the stage listening to speakers talk about “the lucky country’ and the “fair go”. Eventually, unable to contain herself any longer, she performed an intervention, taking the stage, she delivered one of the most important speeches on Indigenous issues for many years.

I was lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time and captured what I consider my most important photo of the year 2014.

An intervention from Gooniyandi woman Vivian Malo: "You stop hurting this land, you stop hurting my brothers and sisters, you stop locking us up". Photo: Wayne Jansson

An intervention from Gooniyandi woman Vivian Malo: “You stop hurting this land, you stop hurting my brothers and sisters, you stop locking us up”. Photo: Wayne Jansson


No Fibs citizen journalist, Lesley Howard (@adropex) wrote an excellent opinion piece on civil rights in Australia. If you didn’t read it, I urge you to take the time to read it now.
Civil rights and wrongs at #leardblockade: @adropex comments

No Fibs legal writer Joan Evatt (@boeufblogginon ) live tweets and then Storify’s former Health Services Union (HSU) official, Cathy Jackson’s attendance at the Trade Union Royal Commission (#TURC).
#TURC, Kathy Jackson and her day in court: @Boeufblogginon reports

Murdoch blogger Tim Blair, famous for trolling Margo Kingston during her Web Dairy days, was at his bestial and moronic dribbling best in June. His blog piece ‘Crown Our Crazy Queen‘ initially created a storm of anger on Twitter. That is until the #FrightBat’s took control and threw it back at the man child, with interest.

Today there are T-shirts, badges and all types of apparel for women so they can wear their #Frightbat’ness with pride.

Sarah Capper (@sarah_capper), policy, advocacy and communications officer at Victorian Women’s Trust and No Fibs contributor wrote a great slap down opinion piece .
Sheilas’ @sarah_capper: Feminist #Frightbats Unite!

Georgian opera singer Tamar Iveri compared gay people to “fecal masses”, when social media picked it up, Opera Australia were eventually forced to cancel her contract. In suggesting this pieces inclusion, Michael Burge (author) said:

we bay for homophobes’ blood, but is the Aussie showbiz industry really that honest about its same-sex-attracted performers?

Opera, give it to me straight: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on @Tamar_Iveri


Julia Jacob (@JJ_JuliaJacob), Director, sustainability at Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, kindly wrote an opinion piece. Without much of a brief, she came up with a gem which is in the top 15 most read pieces of 2014. Highly recommended reading if you haven’t already.
Are Australians struggling with cognitive dissonance over #asylumseekers? ASRC’s @jj_juliajacob

During July, Gosford Anglican priest Fr Rod Bower (@FrBower), began regularly contributing opinion pieces to No Fibs. Twitter and Facebook users know Fr Bower from his signs, which always feature heavily in #auspol.

Our ruling politicians claim a Christian moral superiority while at the same time attacking the most vulnerable, reading the thoughts of a genuine beacon of humanity puts their morals (or lack of) in perspective.

Fr Bower’s Christmas message features in the top 15 most read pieces for 2014: For Fr Rod Bower (@FrBower) Christmas is the “G” word, the Universal More, whispering ‘#illridewithyou’

At the end of July, an opinion piece written by Journalism Professor and No Fibs media writer, Mark Pearson (@journlaw), prompts a discussion about journalism ethics on the ABC’s Media Watch program.
Selling out ethical journalism: @journlaw on @theage secret recordings #springst
Media Watch episode


Indigenous Australian Natalie Cromb (@NatalieCromb), a Gamileraay woman, took up the offer to write our first piece for the #IndigBeat column. A lot was written about the impacts of #Budget2014, buy very little from the perspective of what it means to our first nations peoples. It was a timely and greatly appreciated contribution.
What #Budget2014 means for Indigenous Australians: @NatalieCromb comments

On a side note, if you’re an Indigenous Australian and interested in contributing to the #IndigBeat column, drop us a line.

Margo Kingston told her Web Diary story to Tim Dunlop (@timdunlop) for his book The New Front Page. Margo published the interview for No Fibs readers.

Lesley Howard rips to shreds the IPA’s ‘report’ into the ABC’s coal coverage.
Innumerate or deceptive: @adropex dissects @TheIPA ‘report’ into ABC coal coverage #leardblockade

It came to the attention of No Fibs a few months earlier that a submission had been made to and accepted by The International Criminal Court, alleging crimes against humanity by members of the Abbott Government.

Surprised that no one in the main stream media had picked up the story, I eventually started to dig a bit deeper to find out who made the submission, try to obtain a copy of the full submission and get an expert opinion on the quality of it.

The resulting story culminated in the most read No Fibs piece of 2014.
Morrison and Abbott named in International Criminal Court submission on #refugees: @jansant reports

See also: Alleged abuse against #refugees outside ICC jurisdiction: @jansant reports and Wilkie asks International Criminal Court to probe members of Cabinet over #Refugees: @Jansant reports


Late in August, Fr Rod Bower’s #MarchInAugust speech at Gosford had set Twitter alight. Early in September he posted the transcript on No Fibs.
Speaking out at Gosford #MarchInAugust: @FrBower transcript

No Fibs co-publisher, Tony Yegles (@geeksrulz), writes about his No Fibs journey for Margo Kingston’s collaborative thesis.
There is an i in Team No Fibs: co-publisher @geeksrulz tells his #NoFibs story #MediaMargo

In a startling admission on the prime time television program 60 Minutes during September, Mal Brough MP told viewers that he had procured James Ashby to provide copies of former MP Peter Slipper’s diaries for him.

Graham Perrett MP (@GrahamPerrettMP) first referred Mal Brough, Christopher Pyne, Julie Bishop, James Ashby and Karen Doane to the AFP in December 2012. In February 2013, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said by letter it would not investigate until Mr Ashby’s application for leave to appeal, to be heard in May, was finalised.

In March 2013, Perrett again wrote to the AFP demanding they resume their investigation into possible criminal activity surrounding what’s become known on social media as #AshbyGate.

In September this year after the 60 Minutes revelations, Perrett once again wrote to the AFP requesting they finally investigate #AshbyGate. To date the AFP still refuses to investigate the matter.
Dear AFP, please investigate #Ashbygate at last, sincerely @GrahamPerrettMP

Citizen journalist John Englart (@takvera) began regularly contributing to No Fibs during the month of September. Previously helping No Fib’s out with event live coverage, John has been writing some great environment pieces and also provided fantastic coverage of the Victorian state election. He’s also a really talented snapper. Check out John’s archive.


In late September, The Australian’s Hedley Thomas, in conjunction with the Liberal Party, launched an attack on the young volunteers who helped Cathy McGowan MP unseat Sophie Mirabella in the 2013 Federal election.

A week later I wrote an opinion piece: Sour grapes of Liberal wrath as #MurdochMafia target #Indivotes: @jansant comments

The piece was in the top 15 most read pieces of 2014 and to my delight prompted Wendy Bacon to tweet:

Mary Sayed (@mary_sayed), an Australian born Egyptian, wrote a brilliant opinion piece in response to the short-lived ban on women wearing the niqab in Parliament House.
Once In a Lifetime (with apologies to Talking Heads) and #wish, a welcome uproar: @mary_sayed comments

The #MurdochMafia launching politically or commercially motivated spurious attacks on people to damage and or silence them has become the new normal.

Many in the twittersphere consider Rupert Murdoch and his media empire to be the propaganda arm of the Liberal Party, or perhaps the Liberal Party is the political arm of Murdoch’s empire. Either way, Mark Pearson’s had enough and explains why.
Why The Australian is un-Australian: all ego and little heart: @journlaw comments

As part of our #ClimateWarriors coverage, No Fibs citizen journalist and regular event live tweeter, Nicola Bell (@Sikamikanico), joins the #ClimateWarriors in Newcastle and describes what it’s like to live on a rail line in the shadow of the world’s largest coal port.
Living with coal, @Sikamikanico joins Pacific #ClimateWarriors to blockade Newcastle Port. #leardblockade

With the passing of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Michael Burge pays tribute to the giant of Australian politics and explains how Gough touched and changed the life of a conservative family.
The man who dismissed dismissal: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #GoughWhitlam

Prior to the 2013 Federal election, former independent New England MP Tony Windsor (@TonyHWindsor) gave the then Member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella, the “nasty prize”. Windsor also provided Mirabella’s main rival for the seat, independent Cathy McGowan MP, with an endorsement.

For Mirabella, Windsor’s words kept repeating during the campaign like a bad vindaloo, for McGowan, they were a gift that kept giving.

Although Windsor had threatened to travel to Indi to help McGowan campaign, he never did. However he was a guest speaker at the Voices for Indi event, Indi talks Democracy.

Ever since the election, because of the impact Windsor’s words had on the campaign in Indi, I’d wanted a photo of McGowan and Windsor together, in the seat of Indi. Perfect opportunity.

Independent Member of Indi Cathy McGowan MP and Former Independent Member for New England Tony Windsor. Photo: Wayne Jansson

Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan MP and Former Independent Member for New England Tony Windsor. Photo: Wayne Jansson

Ethics was a big part of the discussions during Indi talks Democracy. Dr Simon Longstaff AO, Executive Director of the St James Ethics Centre was another guest speaker. Lesley Howard wrote the report on what was an extremely interesting and thought provoking event.
Participation antidote to cynicism: the #indivotes democratic revolution, by @adropex

Note: The rise of grassroots rural independents continued in December with the suprise victory of independent Suzanna Sheed (now) MLA (Shepparton), in the Victorian state election.

Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining continues to be a massive concern around the country. Former independent MP Rob Oakeshott (@RobOakeshott1) enters the debate and comments on the heavy handed tactics used when a social license doesn’t exist.
Think Global, act local to #protectgloucester from #AGL #csg, says @RobOakeshott1


While speaking at an Asylum Seeker Resource Centre event in Melbourne, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (@MalcolmFraser12 ) calls on young people to leave the old political parties behind and start again.
Former Prime Minister @MalcolmFraser12 call for new #auspol party of values and decency. @Jansant reports

Malcolm Fraser calls for young people to create new political parties. Photo: Wayne Jansson

Malcolm Fraser calls for young people to create new political parties. Photo: Wayne Jansson

United States President, Barack Obama (@BarackObama), delivers a subtle yet stinging rebuke to climate change recalcitrant Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Speaking at the University of Queensland during the G20 in Brisbane, Obama’s speech was a clarion call, especially to the next generation, to take control of our environments future.
Obama’s Brisbane climate clarion call to Australia and the world

John Englart predicts a win for Labor’s Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) in the Victorian state election, but with a difficult Legislative Council.
Victorian Labor looks to Government as hung Legislative Council likely: @takvera on #vicvotes

Ill feeling within the Victorian Coalition over covert and overt National Party support for McGowan during the 2013 Federal election, spills over into the Victorian state election.
Northern #VicVotes at war as Libs payback Nats for McGowan #IndiVotes support: @Jansant reports


No Fibs interview with Ellen Sandell MLA (@ellensandell), the new Greens State Member for Melbourne.
Greens #springst MP @ellensandell a scientist sick of anti-fact politics: @jansant interview

With the release of #MYEFO, the slashing of funding for climate change programs, infrastructure and mitigation continues.
Climate, Environment Boards, Foreign Aid slashed by Joe Hockey in #MYEFO says @Takvera

Fr Rod Bower comments on Australia’s continuing cruel and inhumane refugee polices.
When has the suspension of the rule of law ever been a win for humanity? asks Fr Rod Bower @FrBower

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  1. Loving your work. Thank you.

  2. Joy Cooper says

    Excellent year, Margo..