The Wednesday before the Saturday election of 2007 was filled with Andrew Robb suggesting that 13 Labor candidates were fulfilling an office of profit under the crown, effectively being employed by the government is some capacity, something that would disqualify them from being able to become elected to Parliament. It all looked wreaked of desperation – of the 13 candidates mentioned by Robb, all but George Newhouse in Wentworth had airtight cases for being able to become elected; something that became apparent very quickly. The Newhouse issue never had to be tested as Turnbull retained the seat.
Bringing us to this day’s article in 2007:
Andrew Robb the Google Assassin
You can almost picture it; it’s late evening in the Coalition bunker, the details of the latest Oztrack had been delivered a few hours earlier and a melancholy haze has since settled over the leadership team. The results are grim, the outlook disastrous.
Win expectations have completely dissolved, the economy has disappeared as a high confidence Coalition issue and all of the major policy areas that are influencing voting intention have continued to move to the ALP side of the positioning chart.
The focus groups are showing that while Rudd is popular and seen as trustworthy and capable, the only chink in his armour is the uncertainty involved about the capability of the party he leads.
Andrew Robb through steely eyes and gritted teeth devises a plan. Not much of a plan mind you, a bit of a high risk plan as it turns out – but in these dying days of political empire, any plan that doesn’t involve Barnaby Joyce will do.
“How to enhance the uncertainty of the ALP that exists in the punters minds? How to disrupt the news cycle and get that damn Workchoices off the front pages? We can’t stick Howard in a cupboard for three days, we’ll have to do the former.” he thinks to himself.
Andrew Robb – the Google Assassin, opens his laptop.
After perusing the bio’s of Labor candidates and following up their work history, dirt was short on the ground. There were no dubious financial dealings to be found, there were no company or organisational scandals that the candidates were involved in. But The Google Assassin, while perusing the website of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary did notice that Tony Zappia, the next ALP member for Makin, still had his name listed on the site as being a board member.
“With all the pork we’ve handed out, surely we must have funded at some stage over the last 6 years an entire IT department for the ADS – this site wouldn’t be out of date“, the Google Assassin mused.
The window of opportunity opened, and the plan quickly grew. Gary Parr in Hinkler was still listed as board member of the Bundaberg Port Authority, Shayne Neumann the ALP candidate for Blair was still listed as a councillor for West Moreton District Health. A couple of hours of furious googling had produced a list of 12 ALP candidates that may not be eligible for parliament. Combine these with the current plan of attack against Newhouse in Wentworth and it must be a news leader. “13 is a serious number, and even if only two or three are found to be ineligible, the fishing expedition will pay off “, he thought. “Any flack received over the desperation of it will quickly be replaced by headlines of incompetence for the ALP over the final days of the election.”
The Google Assassin had his trap – and on Tuesday it shall be sprung!
Of course, things never quite turn out the way one hopes when you’re desperate. 12 of the 13 candidates as of early this morning had already provided the appropriate evidence on their resignations from these positions of “profit under the Crown”
Which gets me thinking, when Robb first went to the Google front page, did he press “Advanced Search” [& Destroy], or did he just go straight to the button marked “I’m Feeling Lucky”.
After the reaction from the media and Labor, and having the whole thing blow up spectacularly in his face, it’s hard to determine if he’s still feeling lucky, or just feeling a bit of tool.
The original comments thread to relive the vibe all over again can be seen here.