Labor Lines with Michael Pilbrow | March 15

Last Friday was a momentous day in our media, both nationally and locally.

Very sadly, it was the day that legendary cartoonist Bill Leak died. As well as his grieving family, Bill leaves behind an Australian community that has been entertained, inspired and provoked by his work.

Bill Leak was an incredibly talented cartoonist and artist, and he was fearless and provocative – challenging and ridiculing the powerful, whether it was depicting Kevin Rudd as Tintin or taking on radical Islamic terrorists. Shockingly, he lived the final period of his life facing death threats – and also legal threats.

The strange thing was that many people who tweeted #JeSuisCharlie after the murders of the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoonists in Paris were attacking Bill Leak over some of his cartoons. As a Labor person, I am committed to a free media as a crucial part of democracy as it is one way the powerful are held accountable. We can’t be selective or conditional about this, and we don’t always have to agree with our satirical cartoonists but the day their cartoons have to be approved by Government would be a very sad day.

LEGEND: Cartoonist Bill Leak, who died last week.

LEGEND: Cartoonist Bill Leak, who died last week.

Rest in peace, Bill Leak.

Last Friday was also the day that Yass Tribune senior journalist (and editor, photographer etc etc), Jessica Cole, finished up and moved to a new opportunity in Sydney. For the past three years, Jessica has led a small team that has kept the show on the road at the Tribune – keeping us informed about the news and telling stories about amazing people in our community all across the Yass Valley.  

Jessica’s hard-work and commitment to keeping our community informed were legendary – the long hours would have exhausted a lessor person long ago, but Jessica pressed on and, with her team, kept getting the papers out even when slings and arrows came from people unhappy with some aspect of the paper’s coverage.  

As Jessica moves to her new role with the NSW Government, I would like to wish her all the best and say thank you for serving the Yass community well. And I’d also like to wish Toby and Alix and the team all the best as they keep flying the flag for quality journalism in the Yass Valley.

 – Michael Pilbrow