Duncan Storrar, the Geelong bloke who asked a question on Q&A last Monday and invoked the wrath of News Corp for his troubles, was the subject of Media Watch last night.
Host Paul Barry charted the rise and fall of the ‘new national hero’, pointing out that it exposes something very grim about how we treat those who question authority.
“Is this now what happens in Australia to someone who sticks their head up in public and exercises their democratic rights?” he asked. “Duncan didn’t ask to be a national hero or a villain, nor did he ask for our charity. All he did was put his hand up and ask a question, and he was crucified.”
‘Crucified’ is right: The Australian ran stories about how the Q&A ‘hero’ paid no tax, had a criminal rap sheet, and even found his estranged son to reveal the ‘truth’ about him. In the face of such scrutiny, Duncan was allegedly placed on suicide watch.
In a letter to Media Watch, Duncan hit back at News Corp’s treatment of him, asking where their duty of care was.
“I told everybody I talked to that I have just been to the Royal Commission and have serious mental issues,” he wrote. “Knowing this, the right wing press decided to write the stories they did without a care for me or my (now ex) partner’s mental health.”
He said that this experience had taught him two lessons:
- “If a person shows the powers that be to out of touch with the people, they will be dropped, probed and attacked in any way, with no thought to the mental wellbeing of their children.”
- “This exposing of your life and every discrepancy in it will be published, ruining your job prospects
(would you give me a job after a Google search comes up with the headlines of last week?) and will be
used as a example to keep people like me quiet.”
His letter indicates that he’s been speaking to lawyers to find out if News Corp broke the Mental Health Act.
He also used this opportunity to thank the Australian public for their support, and state that the $60,000 raised for him will go into a trust fund for his daughters’ education, and to various charities.
He ends his letter on this very poignant note:
“And finally, my question is still valid and hasn’t been answered, but more to the point there are a whole class of people out there. Yes we might have records, yes we might not be perfect, but society has forgotten us, the politicians and the media use us whenever they want to show why they need to be elected, but never do anything to help our plight. We are breaking down here and life hasn’t been this hard since before Whitlam for the underclass.
“Thank you Australia for all your support. I didn’t want this.
“Q&A is the only place where people like me can ask questions of our leaders and policy makers, and
as it’s so hard to see your politicians we don’t have any other contact with these people. As such, this is
the most important part of democracy I have available to me.”
If you are in crisis, please call Lifeline in 13 11 14.