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Thomson and Slipper: desperate times for a desperate government

The Gillard government has been, in policy terms, a good one. It’s not up there with the Hawke-Keating or early Howard governments, but its economic management has been better than both of those courtesy of the steady hand of Wayne Swan, Treasury and the independent RBA, and it has accumulated a substantial reform agenda in its limited period. Prime Minister Gillard has also delivered where Kevin Rudd only talked.

But the political tactical judgment of the Prime Minister and her ability to communicate with voters has always been profoundly flawed. Today’s events look like the desperate measures of a desperate government.

Nothing materially has changed about the HSU situation or Craig Thomson’s circumstances that would seem to justify the government jettisoning him to the crossbenches.  Nothing has changed from the point when Julia Gillard was declaring full confidence in him. Now, despite continuing to wholly reject the accusations against him, he’s out, joining the ever growing ranks of independents on the crossbenches.

Ditto Peter Slipper. It’s only a day or two since Julia Gillard declared Slipper should be back in the Speakership once the issue of his Cabcharge usage — a matter that has attracted hilarious levels of forensic scrutiny from a Press Gallery that avoids such analysis when it comes to actual policy — was resolved. Now he’s out “for a further period of time”, whatever that means – that’s the sort of bizarre usage that we’ve grown used to from this government since 2007. Pressed to explain the phrase this morning, Gillard deferred to Slipper himself. Who, it should be again noted, also rejects the accusations against him.

Gillard’s justification for her reversals is that she wasn’t aware of how much voters were concerned about the standing of Parliament until she returned to Australia from her Anzac Day travels. At that point she realised, she said, “a line had been crossed” — another line that has already entered the rogue’s gallery of Gillard pat phrases.

The only line that has been crossed has been within the PMO, where a beleaguered Prime Minister and her staff have reflected on Labor’s dire polling, the Prime Minister’s even worse personal polling, and the growing feeling of sleaze around the government and Parliament.

The government’s backflip on Peter Slipper was a result of feeling compelled to stand by him in the first place, because by turning its back on Andrew Wilkie, a man with whom the Prime Minister negotiated and agreed a deal, the government had left itself hostage to Slipper’s reputation. It wasn’t the elevation of Slipper to the Speakership that was the problem, but the fact that the Prime Minister promptly used that to renege on her deal with Wilkie. If you’re going to swap your votes in Parliament, best to make sure the one you’re getting is more reliable than the one you’re rejecting.

As for Thomson, that is a problem wholly of Labor, and the labour movement’s, making, and one that Labor has allowed to drift for years, particularly after it was sent into minority government.

Yet again, whether true or not, Ms Gillard is left looking like a politician who will do anything to preserve her position, regardless of consistency, regardless of whatever agreements she has made, regardless of the cost. Much of that has been driven by the compromises and dealmaking necessary to minority government, rather than reflecting on Gillard’s political personality. But when coupled with the circumstances in which she came to the Prime Ministership, the way she treated Wilkie, and her inability to fulfil her commitment to address the issue of asylum seekers, it is profoundly political damaging for Ms Gillard and her government.

The stench of death increasingly pervades this government. It may limp all the way to August 2013. Thomson, after all, apparently intends to continue supporting the government. But voters appear to have made up their minds, at least about the Prime Minister. And there’s no evidence she has the political judgment to turn that around.

In which case, over to Caucus.


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  • 1
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    This article is just perfect. I am surprised that the colonial flag waving “bogan” hasn’t yet posted the usual non-cognizant “drivvel”. Just a matter of time I guess?

  • 2
    Fran Barlow
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    This government has done a tremendous job in covering up its successes and poisoning the well more generally.

    The gulf between the quality of its policies and the quality of its public politics is truly awe-inspiring. Pokie reform — an issue with which it could have embraced and royally wedged the opposition from the moral high ground has been turned into yet another exemplar of their unprincipled dealing. It was forced upon them and dumped in a show of weakness before the clubs to parallel and underline their weakness before the mining profiteers and big polluters in 2010.

    Abbot doesn’t deserve to win in 2013 — nobody deserves that — but seriously, the regime deserves to lose. I wish I could imagine how that could happen.

    The hung parliament in 2010 was about as close to that as possible.

  • 3
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    The Labor Government is terminal and the only real question what sort of cancer will kill it

  • 4
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I think the government has done very well, but up against a relentlessly negative, one note opposition and a hostile media, all it would take was a couple of own-goals for them to start stumbling.

    I hope the Liberial numbers men are having a hard look at their current leader, could be that Mr Abbott’s position is not a stable as he would like as well.

  • 5
    Gleesoe Davoe
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Too true about comparing the analysis fo the cabcharge dockets to the press’ analysis of what’s actually happening in Parliament. The Gillard Government has got through more than Rudd even “talked” about. The “group think” of the Murdoch led press hasn’t given Mr Abbott any sort of sustained examination, aside from “Where’s Tony today?” and “What hi vis vest can we put him in today?” How about his latest effort to demonise people LEGALLY seeking asylum? Hardly a mention except fro David Maher.

  • 6
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    When Abbott finally gets the thing he wants, it will be the ultimate triumph of bullsh!t over mediocrity.

    And if everyone is sure this government is a circus, just wait for Abbott’s crew to show us what a really bad government can do to a country.

  • 7
    Meguire Bob
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like the pro coalition media has been disappointed again no early election

    message to Bernard Keane

    instead of this coaliton propaganda

    tells us what does abbott know and why is he hiding

  • 8
    Meguire Bob
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Bernard Keane

    what did abbott mean he knew slipper was a problem

    why dont reporters like Bernard Keane have the decency ot put pressure on him , instead of reporting nonsense

  • 9
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Geoffrey Robertson,
    Thy will be done.

  • 10
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Abbotts Abyss….. Abiff preferably. Bahahaha

  • 11
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    WEll the cab charge “scandal” is from 2002-03 and concerned his driver forging forms.

    And he was protected by Abetz and Howard.

    I always said as a PM she would be a disaster.

  • 12
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Gleesoe Davoe

    the number of bills passed is meaningless really after all Labor has a majority even if its is minimal

  • 13
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Will you stop picking on Rudd and his supposed only “talking”:/ You are getting as bad as the other nongs.

    A small problem got in the way – the GFC remember?

    And Gillard gave away to blackmail, pure and simple.

  • 14
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    And I want all journalists out of the cesspit of Canberra to stop leaching and feeding of the parliament.

    It”s the sameness of the Murdoch media rants that make it all so ridiculous and that old hag Grattan sounding just like Bolt.

    Homophobic bunch of clowns.

  • 15
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Gillard has taken the flack-whether you like her or not-for having the temerity to be the first woman PM in this country. Just as Obama is under attack from a phalanx of right-wingers who cannot publicly condemn his ethnicity.

    When you have so-called radio ‘stars’ stand beneath signs that proclaim ‘Ditch The Witch” and ‘Bob Brown’s Bitch’ you know she faces an unsurmountable and corrupt media.

    We are witnessing the vile News Corp debacle in the UK where the boss proclaims that it’s the politicians who pester him -who declared to Thatcher that he would not influence editorials yet calmly says under oath that one only need read “the editorials’ to get his views on politics and everything else he demands.

    We live in a country that has survived the worst financial crisis in decades yet it all means nothing and even Bernard Keane proclaims that it’s Labor’s own fault. It is not.

    PS: If Tony Abbott eventually wins the crown at any cost, anyone have a friggin clue what his policies are?

  • 16
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    BK’s languasge is also that of the popular media.

    “Limp all the way to 2013” etc ect blah blah yadda yadda.

    Reality is not faced-the numbers haven’t changed a jot except that Labor still has an extra vote despite the dummy spits from that loser Wilkie who will be booted in 2013.

    Esentially BK perpetuates the fantasies of News Corp and the hopeless Fairfax that now grovels in the gutter with them. It’s not BK’s fault but News Corp sets the agenda with it’s daily tabloids and the only national rag and everyone else must play catch-up even if it’s disputing what they claim. That is the truth.

  • 17
    Phil L
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    “In which case, over to Caucus”

    Agree with that, but it’s not the Labour caucus that needs to act (its already done that to miserable effect with the recent Ruud vs Gillard debacle) , it’s the libs who need to thank Tony for preparing the ground but tell him it’s time to move aside for Malcolm. The poll numbers would be irresistible, and we would have an election before years end and get to some sort of political normality

  • 18
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Excellent article; first rate. What Murdoch’s minions forget to work out is that if the government was only half as bad as the hired hacks make out. It would have been lynched. Whereas the same should be said for Julia Gillard, but squared.

    Governments can abound in crooks-John Howard and his shonky pals; religionists-half the Liberal Party; flagellated egos and treachery. However, one thing governments can’t be is squalid; not if they wish to remain in power.

    MARILYN: Yes, Michelle Grattan has become intolerable.

  • 19
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Do you suppose that one, anyone in the media rang the office of the special minister of state to find out if it is possible to rort a cab charge? Or what would the point would be because the member does not get the money and if the prices were inflated the MP would have less travel allowance and not be told why?

    Steve Lewis is an idiot. Really and truly and I wrote this unpublished letter last Sunday.

    “”I claim that my grandmother was murdered by Steve Lewis. She has been dead since 1984 and I can’t prove he did it, but I claim it anyway.

    Lewis’s latest beat up has it all. Homophobia, claims of harassment by a man with a history of harassing others, claims of overspending.

    Sort of like Godwin Grech was going to bring down Rudd and Swan yet that was all a lie.

    I reckon after the Pauline Hanson and Grech claims Lewis should have got facts instead of innuendo and claims that amount to he said, not I didn’t.

    Slipper has not once been charged with a single thing since he has been in parliament, the parliament and government will not fall but I bet that Lewis will end up with a bit more egg on his face to join that left by the “Grech”affair for one simple reason.

    Claims can be made by anyone but they don’t amount to anything until they are proven to be facts. Perhaps though Steve just is not aware that cab charge claims all have to be approved by the MP’s even when their staff use them, as they regularly do.

    What I smell is another Liberal party fit up and I have an alphabet they should remember – AWB and WMD for which lies and cover ups not one Liberal member was even chastised.””

    I think the air in Canberra has sent Grattan around the bend.

  • 20
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    “The Gillard government has been, in policy terms, a good one.”

    Hardly. The carbon tax is the key policy, and it’s a Pythonesque tangle of absurdities. It is also the chief reason this government is likely to be annilhilated.

    The castrated mining tax is another failure. Should have been rammed through early in Rudd’s term in its original form.

    Swan has done nothing much in the Gillard govt- apart from manufacture an artificial surplus which will further damage Labour’s prospects. Think Spain, Wayne.

    Other policies have been reasonable reforms- the kind of reforms Labour exists for.

    They’ll probably be corroded under Abbott. What a waste.

    As so often, Keane’s judgement is hasty, conventional and wrong. Wishful thinking.

  • 21
    Frank Campbell
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    “Michelle Grattan has become intolerable.”

    “I think the air in Canberra has sent Grattan around the bend.”

    There’ve been many such comments rubbishing Grattan on Crikey in recent months.

    Fact is Grattan is an ideal middle-of-the-road litmus test of opinion. She’s Fairfax, eschews hyperbole, a progressive but not wishful thinker. Grattan is empirical and generally fair. All qualities notably absent from Crikey. Crikey actively contributes to the collapse of progressive politics. Grattan merely records the shambles.

    No doubt she grieves at night.

  • 22
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Frank, she used to be but is now guilty of making mountains of hyperbole out of not much.

    Now Kate McClymont is making the astounding claim that Jeff Jackson denied using prostitutes and that is accepted but Thomson makes the same denial and he has to be lying and should go to the police.

    The Vic police said two years ago there is nothing to charge him with.

    The problem is that Kathy Jackson has turned out to be a rorting flake but McClymont won’t let her silly story go.

  • 23
    Julian Fitzgibbon
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    I don’t admire Julia Gillard particularly, but she has been dealt a particularly weak hand and it is oh-so-easy to criticise this or that.

    As to being bad communicators, if the Leverson inquiry tells us anything it is that once News Limited withdraws its support, Government tend to experience “bad luck” – and not just in the editorial page.

    I was rather amused to see Annabel Crabb in the SMH equating thinking it just possible that the timing of Slippergate having anything to do with News Ltd or Liberal interests with Princess Diana murder conspiracies or finding Mein Kampf a jolly rollicking read (it is of course pure coincidence that News Limited had all their FOI requests on Slipper’s cabcharges waiting to go when Ashby filed suit. Not that the cabcharges weren’t a legitimate story, just the way the two stories meshed together so neatly).

    I have no idea whether there was an element of collusion in the Ashby complaint or not. But it certainly doesn’t seem implausible that there might be or a particular dark or exotic conspiracy if it were true. To me it just seems like politics as usual.

    I am mystified at the hysteria of Annabel Crabb’s rejection of it. Shouldn’t the “Conspiracy Theory” card be saved for a more significant issue, like former heads of ASIO giving preference to Sky on bids for Australia Network, rather than wasted on such minor pieces of political payback?
    Or is Ms Crabb part of the great Anti-James-Ashby-Conspiracy-Theory Conspiracy? Especially as we now know she reads Mein Kampf.

  • 24
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Yes Bernard if only the government could message better, eh?

    That or you might benefit from a professional mental health assessment.

    It’s one or the other.

    On the bright side when Crikey finally goes belly up I’m sure you’d get a gig with the Green Left Weekly

  • 25
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Abbott when he is elected by the Murdoch mafia will be just as useless as Bailleau has turned out to be in Victoria.Be carefull what you wish for!Just look at the shadow front bench not half a brain between them.Still you get the politicians you deserve.

  • 26
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Could be the end of sleazy baloney.


  • 27
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    tzzz …. on the bright side, JamesK, you only have one and one half more years to suck it up …. hmmmm ?

  • 28
    Ronson Dalby
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    JamesK – “On the bright side when Crikey finally goes belly up I’m sure you’d get a gig with the Green Left Weekly”

    Just proves that bias is in the eyes of the beholder. We have numerous comments accusing BK of auditioning for Murdoch papers with his Crikey articles and along comes JamesK and makes him out to be a hard lefty.

  • 29
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink


  • 30
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    The LT issue for me now is how much of the government’s program will survive after the coalition (whether under Abbott or not) takes over-probably inevitably.

  • 31
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Iain Hall: “The Labor Government is terminal and the only real question what sort of cancer will kill it.”

    I thought you had to get a specific disease before being pronounced terminal.

    Seriously Bernard, why do you think this sort of stuff is going to persuade people to subscribe to Crikey? You sound just like the rest of the MSM.

  • 32
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Crikey could do some investigation into where Ashby got his money from and how Abbott’s dirt unit works

  • 33
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Let me offer this link on one of the government’s most industrious and nasty critics:


  • 34
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Oh, on the nuts and bolts (!) of the above post having dropped down to Canberra on the weekend for a 50th anniversary dinner of Inward Bound orienteering even held by ANU, and now playing catch up –

    The weekend Sydney press ran big (SDT) on Slipper driver prior conviction for fraudulent cabcharge, which was some breathing space for the govt, page 1 no less, as if to mitigate any future defo action by Slipper on the newspaper (?).

    The press also raised the budget profile without actually dropping the pollie scandals. Which brings us up to Sunday and what I presume was daily count down to the budget and yes the carbon tax/price which is a serious economic reform based on science aimed at nurturing global cooperation from our humble nation state. So I presume what has changed is the proximity to, and indeed sprint now to the budget finishing line for the PM. Will she make it to that profound achievement job intact, with surviving the GFC already in the saddle bag?

    Time will tell. Compared to these big picture perspectives (GFC, climate) all the rest is generally irrelevant. However I will say this for PM Gillard – in my humble political career I found that most of my key achievements were parallel with personal and career set backs. It may be the price of really making changes, compared with the ho hum politics of shifting deckchairs and relabelling who is in charge and the last fashion statement.

    Onwards to the June implementation of the carbon tax. Ride that fatboy on down to the ground and blow away the whiners and fossil fool dinosaurs.

  • 35
    Brock Mills
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    @Phil L – we live in hope..

    Even my wife, who barely has a passing interest in politics aside from watching Q&A, wants Turnbull as PM. I guess we can only dream of an Abbott implosion that re-instates Malcolm as the opposition leader.

    Imagine a sensible leader who seems to actually consider policies and issues. The others may do that but you would never know from the way they talk

  • 36
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I agree with many comments-if Crikey is going to be an echo chamber that reacts to the talking points published by Fairfax & News Corp, then what is the point of it ?

    Grattan at it again today..saying Gillard must go. Where were these hacks when we sent our forces to kill Afghanis and Iraqis who had never harmed us ?.

    Where is the investigation into the new billion dollar disability policies announced by Labor 2 weeks ago ?. Why do we have trees lopped down to rabbit on about cabcharges ?

    We do not deserve this ghastly media.

    # Shepherd Marylin is correct : McClymtock perpetuates the myth that an accused man must prove his innocence and disappointingly Crabb mocks conspiracy theories despite conspiracies proven to convict Hanson, illegally bribe Saddam Hussein, set up Rudd in Utegate…political conspircaies abound.

    Still..most hacks will be unemployable in 10 years. Serves them right.

  • 37
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    “The stench of death increasingly pervades this government. It may limp all the way to August 2013.”

    The longer they hold, the greater the damage will be. If Gillard had stones, she’d call an election now, let Labor lose in possibly its greatest Federal Election defeat in history, then walk away and let someone else re-build the Labor party.

    Of course, now polling is as bad as it’s ever been after this, so hell, they may as well hold-on and prolong the damage. The sad thing is true believers think this is as bad as it’s going to get. So they’ll wait for the negative ruling against Slipper and have Gillard proudly stand-up relying on his vote. And they’ll wait for the negative ruling against Thompson and have Gillard stand proudly by him too, happily taking his vote from the floor.

    Tony Abbott is going to have the greatest election victory in Australian history. Congratulations Labor, you gave it to him – Gave it to him on a silver platter with your balls on top.

  • 38
    botswana bob
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    With leadership back on the agenda, Abbo better ring up his mate Pell and see if special prayers can be said to keep Dillard as PM. For him, she’s the gift that keeps giving.

    I never thought I’d agree with my former MP Lindsay Tanner but he was spot on about Dillard: a careerist. From the 4 CORNERS on the leadership coup its obvious she had been plotting against Rudd, her stance on asylum seekers is pathetic and there are those telling little matters: the refusal to apologize to Mrs Habib when recommended by the inspector of ASIO, the treatment of the UN recommendation about Stefan Nystrom and so on. One is left thinking the major difference between Dillard and Abbo is gender.

  • 39
    The Pav
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes I can see the PM’s mistake’s quite clearly

    Firstly she thought that by doing a good job that this would be recognised and she wouldn’t have to worry about spinning. She thought she could rely on the ethics of austrlain journalists to reprt accurately and to investigate and cahllenge with out fear or favour. OOPS. Big mistake ther

    Secondly, with regards to Mr Slipper shoe probably thought that as he was a sitting Liberal Mmber of good standing and endorsed candidate he was of good character.

    I mean everybody wants an impartial speaker don’t they?

    Another big mistake there. Just imagine anybody imaging a Liberal Parthy led by Abbott as having any decent character. I think what everybody is now saying is that no Liberal can be trusted.

    Tony Abbott is Australia’s Sara Palin

  • 40
    Michael Ward
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Julia and Kevin made the mistake common to all oppositions when they get elected: they wrongly assumed they were elected to implement their policies. They were, and remain, mistaken. They were elected in 2007 because (1) Howard was there too long, (2) Howard would not change WorkChoices, (3) Howard would not say ‘sorry’, (4) Howard would not ratify Kyoto, and because (5) cost-of-living + interest rates went up. Kev07 promised to make swing voters feel better by dealing with (1), (2), (3) and (4), and the RBA dealt with part of (5) and Kev had an inquiry into cost-of-living (along with everything else). All going swimmingly… until it came to implementation. ‘Swing’ voters did not want Kev to spend ‘their’ money on implementing (3) or (4), the interest rates eventually went up when the resources economy recovered, and the cost-of-living has continued to rise (because, as veeryoine knows in their heart-of-hearts, government does not control the economy, only economic policy). Tony will be elected because he is promising to make things ‘better’ – and voters will buy that in the same way they bought ‘comfortable and relaxed’ Howard in 1996 (provided Tony can stop Joe trying to explain what ‘better’ will mean in practice…). He will cut back on NBN (perhaps reducing costs – and performance – by $10bn), he will abolish the carbon tax (no net savings), the mining tax (hopefully, the States will jack-up their royalties to compensate), he will return tax benefits to the top 15% (those with household incomes over $150k pa), and will introduce more ‘flexability’ into workplaces. Oh, and he wlll find ‘the cupboard is bare’ in Treasury (the budget forecasts will be ‘another Gillard lie’, based on reduced growth forecasts that Julia ‘should have known’)… so he will defer the national disabilities scheme and his paid parental leave scheme wil apply from, say 2015 (just before the following election).

  • 41
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    The opening 2 paragraphs (and Fran Barlow’s response) sum it up pretty well.

    It seems odd, though, that one government can be so obviously astute at finessing significant legislation through a tricky parliament, and yet so abjectly awful at PR. You’d think these would be at least slightly complementary skills. It’s hard to believe it’s the same people.

    I thought Bob Hawke was supposed to be in the Gillard camp. Whatever you thought of his policy platform, he was a master at sidelining the media/opposition and talking direct to the electorate. At the other end of the spectrum, Howard embraced the (Murdoch) media to the point of symbiosis. Gillard could sorely use a few tips from either of them, although I’d say Bob is marginally more likely to answer the phone :)

  • 42
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I do get sick of commentators claiming that Gillard reneged on her deal with Wilkie.

    She would have delivered the Labor vote for pokie reform, but Wilkie failed to get any support from other Independents and this made the actual voting on the matter pointless.

    The fact that a Bill on Poker Machine Reform did not become reality is Wilkie’s failure, not the PM’s.

    As for the ongoing business of Craig Thompson – well it is to the shame of the Press gallery and the Coalition that he has been declared guilty without even being charged with anything and have blackened his name to the point where he has had to suspend his membership of the Labor Party. If he eventually is found to have not done anything wrong I trust that all those braying for his blood are just as vocal with their apologies.

    Abbott’s position regarding Slipper is completely morally bankrupt, and it was interesting to see how he was left looking like an idiot on ABC news24 this morning. Whenever he is just left without any intelligent response he reverts to his pour-hate-on-Gillard routine. What a shallow and unprincipled man he is.

  • 43
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I joined Crikey for good unbiased information, after reading the article decided I might as well as stayed with the mainstream papers, which I cancelled in disgust

  • 44
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m struggling to work out what the PM values. Forget the words and look at the actions.
    It’s not religion (being an atheist). It doesn’t appear to be family (I know I’m going to take a hit on that one, but no marriage and no kids raises a bit of a question mark). The environment doesn’t appear up there, since she was dragged into the Carbon Tax by the Greens. It’s not Gay rights. It doesn’t appear to be refugees or foreign affairs/aid. It certainly isn’t Free Trade. Maybe Education? (though the teachers federation might disagree after the Myschool website came online)
    So what’s left? The Western Bulldogs? Unions? Work? Money? Hardly the stuff of folk songs. Maybe she values nothing except winning?
    It probably explains why she gets great results at the negotiating table. It’s easy to do a deal when nothing is ever off the table.
    People vote for politicians of strong conviction and strong beliefs, preferably shared beliefs. That is why a Gillard led Labor party is not going to bother the scorer at the next election (except in Victoria…those Bulldog supporters will turn out).

  • 45
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    tzzzz. aha … pmfff…. ahhhhh….. BAAAHahahahhhhh, Sarah !! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh

  • 46
    Fran Barlow
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    even Bernard Keane proclaims that it’s Labor’s own fault. It is not

    Sadly, it is, largely. The rot started seriosuly in late 2009 with Rudd’s attempt (well it may have been Sussex St’s attempt, bu all the same) to play politics with carbon pricing instead of just going with Garnaut’s proposal and having done with it. He could have presented the Libs with an ultimatum — pass it or we go to a double dissolution in November/December. Rudd could have run on that and having to have continuity to see through Australia’s response to the GFC. They would have caved or been obliterated. At the time even Abbott was advocating caving.

    The problem was that the ALP treated this as a piece of triangulation. They wanted a carbon price that we Greens would spurn as a polluter pay day — allowing the ALP to differentiate themselves and take all the credit. They also wanted a deal that would wedge the Turnbull-led Libs between the deniers and the accepters of climate change. They fancied busienss being lined up on both sides. It was all much too clever, and so when the final shabby deal was done, the deniers in the Libs knew that they only had to roll the leader to forge a senate bar to hte program and hand the government a defeat. That tide in the affairs of men that Brutus spoke of so eloquently in Julius Caesar was lost. The regime had lost its nerve despite having an impregnable position.

    Similarly, Rudd went to water on asylum seekers at the time. Instead of claiming the high moral ground — we are better than this — he pandered to the xenophobes and bigots, calling “people smugglers” the “scum of the Earth”. As bizarre as it sounds, he thought that this would put him ahead of the curve and that hordes of ignorant reactionaries would be added to his polling. All this did of course was hand the LNP — which has always had a lock on this demographic — a stick with which to beat the regime senseless. They became the examiners of the regime on this issue, and unsurprsingly, they were marking poorly. Every arrival was a story and with Rudd’s words, it went to the heart of the regime’s competence. Yet the regime never had a chance of “stopping the boats” or even turning them around except by resort to measures that it could not contemplate. So this was a massive own goal.

    During the new year Rudd proceeded to accept the meme that HIP and BER expenditure was a farce. He sacked Garrett and then declared that they’d “get a whacking in the polls”. He predicted right. This Peter Beattie strategy didn’t work. Rudd should have pushed back — arguing that both HIP and BER were good programs — part of what softened the blow from the GFC and likewise amounted to “nation-building” — and accusing demanding why the LNP wanted to deny kids quality infrastructure and householders cheaper electricity bills. Instead, he went to water.

    When Rudd finally announced the indefintie deferral of the ETS this was another bitter blow. Now what he’d referred to as a defining moral issue had been dumped in an apparently panicked attempt to halt sliding polling. He was handing Abbott the rails run here. When, aghast, he saw that this too hadn’t worked, he wheeled out the RSPT from henry and with almost no warning, wore it like a badge of honour. Unsurprisingly, Big Dirt which, alongside, Big Filth smelt blood pulled out all stops to hobble the regime with even more rightwing populist trolling. Even here now the regime was still ahead. It had blundered badly but the RSPT was at least something it could run a left-populist campaign on.

    Then came the killer blow. Sussex St was now in full retreat and when they dumped Rudd in favour of Gillard it was clear to most who was really running the country. It was no longer the ALP but a nasty cabal of Big Dirt, Big Filth, Big Print and their playthings which now included the spivs from Sussex St. Confidence in the ALP declined still further. Gillard’s rewriting of the RSPT to the MRRT gave up about $70bn in revenue. Abbott wanted to forsake the lot. This was the ugly dutch auction that the regime had authored — a government of the rich, for the rich and perhaps soon enough, by the rich — one whose most unambiguous animus was not at them but towards — asylum seekers. They had dumped a winning first term PM to prove that they too were a bunch or ignortant cowardly reactionary clowns. They would go to an election spitting on the only worthy things in their record.

    And from there, things scarcely got better. Gillard ran what was possibly the most inept campaign by a government known for decades. “Real Julia”? It was almost crafted to be mocked. Instead of slapping down Oakes at that famous press conference — challenging him to reveal his sources — she let him troll her. She allowed her folks to imply that Rudd was leaking against them, when there simply was no evidence at all of that. She pulled the “East Timor” solution to asylum seeking from her nether regions and was embarrassed when that didn’t survive the campaign. In the end, she was probably lucky to get as close as she did, but the truth was that the ALP had snatched near defeat from comfortable victory.

    Nor did the ALP do better post election. You might have thought that they’d have been chastened, if not by the near death experience then by the reality that they now had to work with Independents slightly to their left. They might have embraced change and set their course in a decidedly new and more progressive direction — on asylum seekers, on the mining tax, on fiscal policy, on carbon policy, on Afghanistan, drug law reform, gay marriage, the Murray Darling, on media convergence and accoutnability and on g@mbling. Instead of appearing to have been forced into it, they could have declared their enthusiasm for it and pressed forward. They’d have offered a clear policy difference from the Liberals. Abbott would have been reeling if the game had been played like that.

    Instead, they remained timorous, continuing to embolden Murdoch and the reactionary hordes. They continued to swear by fiscal austerity and “the surplus” — which, like asylum seekers in 2009 was well outside their effective ability to control. You can’t wave a wand and increase revenue so they were promising to cut programs — to please those who would never vote ALP and alienating many who would. Gillard went out of her way to abuse us Greens as inauthentic inner city elites — parroting Costello and Blot and the Murdochracy more generally.

    When in February she was asked why she was introducing “a carbon tax” despite having disavowed it — instead of repudiating this troll and dressing down the reporter as incompetent (this was no carbon tax) — she allowed it to run — and in one stupid moment endorded the biggest challeneg to her regime yet — the Juliar meme. She could have used this moment to push back, but she wilted. This is the measure of the woman.

    She also sympathised with reactionaries who regard asylum seekers as queue jumpers and ill-deserving of welfare and devised the egregious “Malaysian solution”. She covered the regime in odium. Yet there was more odium to come.

    Just as Big Dirt and Big Filth had spooked the ALP in 2010, so too in 2011 Big Spin running the same ignorant populist campaign that Big Dirt had done managed to spook the ALP again. Instead of honouring the deal with Wilkie, she tried a tricky manoeuvre to evade it. All this did was raise again the troll she’d given aid and comfort to in February 2011 over carbon “taxing”. Of all people, to have picked Slipper — someone with an embarassing history with expenses was really asking for trouble. It beggars belief that she could have been so stupid — but that is what panic will do.

    It’s often said that good government requires good opposition — but it’s often forgotten that the reverse is also true. Oppositions need only be as good as the government requires, and this inept and cowardly regime has demanded hardly anything of its rivals. Never once has it forced the coalition to pick a side in a debate, but rather, has allowed it to be all things to all people and to keep the focus on the government’s tenuous grip on office. Never once, when they might have, has the government confronted the Murdochracy but rather allowed them to run their own agenda. Nowhere have they attempted to bypass the media and communicate directly with the public a positive agenda. Nowehere have they pushed back. They have achieved political ineptitude on a grotesque scale.

    Gillard spoke of people perceiving a “dark cloud” over parliament but the truth of the matter is that the author of that cloud has substantially been the ALP. The coalition are repulsive hucksters and backed by the big end of town, it’s true, but they have been enabled by the ineptitude of the ALP, who have had ample opportunity to lear from their mistakes but have decliend to do so.

    It wasn’t rocket science. They just needed to to do the right thing and let the reactionaries please themselves. If they’d done that, even if they had not achieved a winning position, they’d have achieved things that simply could not be reversed — and that fact would sustain them even after a loss. Now, if they lose (which seems likely), they won’t even be able to say they went down swinging fighting the good fight and hoping in the longer term to be vindicated. It really will be the worst kind of loss.

    And people on the left will simply be scandalised at the chance they spurned.

  • 47
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Keane’s headline in another one of his diatribes: “Labor’s off message and out of soft power”.
    The headline should have read: “Keane and his media mates are off message and are abusing their soft power”.

  • 48
    Fran Barlow
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    And FTR, yes, Grattan is clearly in the coalition camp. I don’t see this as an ideological thing. I see her merely as an intellectually indolent poltical weathervane.

    Some people in “hospitality produce “junk food”. She “writes” for “junk media” and produce text-based and verbal dross with only the thinnest of attempts to make it appear as if these are her own “ideas”. These amount to punctuating her commentary with the phrases “I do think” and “really …”.

    Not the least of the things we need to do is to steer clear of junk media. Like its calorific counterpart, it is cheap, widely available and strongly flavoured. That said, it’s fuill of artificial flavour, colour and texture and conatins way too much of those bad fats. You can’t base an intellectual diet around that and if you consume too much you will pay for it in loss of intellectual condition and bad after taste.

  • 49
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Nice post Fran.

    Way back in the 90s, I used to think that Grattan had insight and was a worthy doyenne of the Canberrra media circus. But for a long while now she’s been almost as boring and insightful as Gerard Henderson. OK that’s too cruel. But still, time she retired.

  • 50
    joanne van der schoor
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Michelle Grattan needs to remember she is a reporter and not a player. Or is she?

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