Richard Alston wins anti-press freedom Orwell Award

Members of the Australian media paid tribute to those who make journalism so much fun when the MEAA announced the winners of the satirical Orwell Awards. The major ‘honour’ went to former Communications Minister Richard Alston.

The Orwells are given in recognition of those who have “demonstrated obstruction of the media and the public’s right to know.” The awards were announced at a media function at O-Bar in Sydney last night.

In keeping with the spirit of George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, the judges agreed on Alston as the worthy recipient of the Australian Orwell, “recognising his record on and extraordinary approach to media policy throughout his eight years as communications minister.”

The Gold Orwellian International Prize is awarded to Thailand’s prime minister, Thaksin Shinnawatra, who the judges say “shares the idea for shifting alliances, information control and the notion that while all of us are equal, some of us are more equal than others.”

Dubbed by the judges as the “the Berlusconi of our region”, the award recognised Shinnawatra as for “his repeated moves to intimidate and pressure Thai newspapers into self-censorship.”

Shinnawatra controls all television and radio in the country and has maintained sustained attacks on both local and foreign media based in Thailand.

A special commendation was given to the leadership trio comprising George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard “for the birth and global dissemination of Bushspeak.”

The winners were not there to accept their awards.