Saturday, June 05, 2004

From "deputy sheriff" to "watchdog" 

Are we seeing the start of a new media myth in Australia?

This headline from the "Sydney Morning Herald": "Hill: we'll be US's watchdog in Asia."

The article, based on an AP newswire, doesn't actually quote the Australian Defence Minister, Senator Robert Hill, as saying that Australia will be the US's watchdog in the region. The word "watchdog" is in fact not mentioned at all. The actual story is quite prosaic:

"Canberra will help the United States to maintain its security interests in the Asia Pacific as Washington moves to realign troop movements in the region, Australia's Defence Minister, Robert Hill, said today.

" 'If we can assist in any way, then we will do it,' Hill said after a bilateral meeting with US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the sidelines of an Asian security meeting here."
But "watchdog" sounds good, doesn't it, with all its subservient connotations and canine associations (watchdog, lapdog, nice doggie, geddit?)

Remember the controversy about Australia being America's "deputy sheriff" in Asia? Except that of course the Prime Minister Howard never actually said it. But it too sounded good, and provided the media and John Howard's critics with some great ammo for cheap shots.

In the meantime, I'll be awaiting the transcript of Minister Hill's press conference with some interest.


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