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How News Ltd despairs at Gillard’s success

Labor is looking more like a government than at any time since 2009. And some don’t like it — mainly the editors of The Australian and The Daily Telegraph.

There are times when one wonders exactly what is going on inside the head of Tony Abbott, an intelligent, well-educated and highly politically experienced man who periodically says the most bizarre things.

It’s as if deep within him there’s a raging id that, despite the best efforts of his conscious mind, once in a while manages to break through. This week he turned a perfectly sensible reflection about how good it would be to have representatives of remote communities in the national parliament into an insult to one of his own MPs and the impression he was categorising Aboriginal people by “authenticity”.

He did, however, have sufficient political nous to get on the front foot on the child abuse royal commission issue on Monday, and since then has repeatedly rejected the idea that sanctity of the confessional should always be maintained. For a so-called “Captain Catholic”, Abbott looks a lot like the rest of us.

In spite of that, talk has now turned to the need for him to change his strategy, or indeed for the Liberals to change leaders. That may be tricky in the short-term. Next week is a weird Parliamentary half-session, when the Senate alone will be sitting, probably guaranteeing the best Press Gallery attendance at Senate Question Time for years but depriving us of the usual formal political theatre of House of Reps Question Time; that returns the following week, the final of the year. With no immediate prospects for the normal end-of-year political killings (three years in a row! ouch!), it’ll be Christmas parties and those cloying end-of-year speeches when everyone declares how fond they are of the people they’ve spent most of the year relentlessly attacking.

Abbott did use this week to launch a small business policy, although it was more a policy to have a policy, since the policy was to increase the rate of growth in the numbers of small business; this morning he launched a discussion paper on online protection of children, which at least avoided the temptation to purport to regulate the internet. It’s a start in reversing the “relentless negativity”.

The Prime Minister spent the week announcing the royal commission, catching up with Hillary Clinton, having a successful community cabinet meeting in Brisbane mainly devoted to using Campbell Newman as a piñata and explaining to the Business Council the government’s narrative around the Asian Century white paper. While a lot of the focus of Labor’s return in the polls has focused on Labor’s effective targeting of Abbott, Gillard has looked a lot more Prime Ministerial of late — less reactive, more like she has a clear agenda and is capable of implementing it. There are still the usual Labor tricks and spin — the Gonski reforms bill is a childish piece of stunt legislation — but it looks more like a government now than it has at any time since 2009.

That of course isn’t welcome in some quarters. The possibility — discounted by so many of us over the last eighteen months — that Gillard could actually win the next election is now being seriously entertained. It’s a nightmare scenario that may keep two individuals, in particular, awake at night — Chris Mitchell and Paul Whittaker. A Gillard victory would be disastrous for The Australian and The Daily Telegraph in particular, because it would demonstrate their lack of influence. The Australian is losing readers and revenue and has been sacking staff left and right (OK, right and right). All it has left is its status as an influential outlet, one that other journalists, producers and editors (particularly at the ABC) feel obliged to take seriously.

Without that, it is merely a right-wing blog, a Catallaxy Files with more pictures and less intellectual rigour.

Thus the increasingly desperate smear campaign against the Prime Minister, on the back of orders to journalists to always ask the Prime Minister about the AWU matter. It even follows her overseas: at a press conference in Bali last week, The Australian’s Jakarta correspondent actually appeared to apologise in advance for raising it — the conference transcript reads “my second question is — because I am from The Australian  — with Slater & Gordon (inaudible) why didn’t you contact (inaudible)?”

A final point, possibly off-topic, possibly not. Malcolm Turnbull spoke in Melbourne earlier this week at the 30th anniversary of the Jewish Museum, and posted the speech online this morning. The speech, which has nothing to do with politics, is urbane, learned, witty and insightful. The contrast, not merely with Abbott and Gillard, but with pretty much everyone else in Australian politics, is enormous.

  • 1
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Gillard has looked a lot more Prime Ministerial of late — less reactive, more like she has a clear agenda and is capable of implementing it.” Anybody else think that this is largely becuase she has been able to get all the initiatives started by Rudd out of the way and now sheis onto things she wanted to do as PM?

    And Abbott’s “start in reversing the “relentless negativity”” is just more of the same. His plan to have more small businesses is like his goal to “get the econonomy growing again”, there is no policy to say how he would achieve his goal nor any reasoning as to whether his goal is of any value.

    People are starting to see through Abbott and until he actually has some policies that make sense he will contine this decline, Turnbull’s ruminations are far from coincidental.

  • 2
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, the Newscorpse is starting to smell. Seems Terry McCrann is now a caricature of himself with recent choice phrases such as: “Starting with the Big Lie that would have made Goebbels blush, the term Carbon Pollution.”

    Extra points for capitalisation.

  • 3
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Coaltopia - “Seems Terry McCrann is now a caricature of himself” This seems to indicate that Terry McCrann was once credible.

    That fool has no qualifications which is why he has to call himself a “business commentator”.

    I do agree that since the ALP has been in power he has become more foolish by abusing the RBA for getting it wrong (whichever way they went), abusing the govt for providing too much stimulous while simultaneously claiming that if you removed the mining sector we would be in recession (while also saying even with the mining sector we are about to go into recession) and claiming that the Carbon and mining tax are going to destroy the economy despite all evidence to the contrary - surely the only people who take him serously are those who beli eve Bo lt is the voice on the common man.

  • 4
    Peter Shute
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Agree with the tone of the article and so many writers forget that politics is such an uncertain science-things can change rapidly over a week.

    I do not believe the fortunes of The Coalition will change with a change of leadership. They need to go with Tony Abbott for good or bad.

    Good to see also Bernard Keane has included himself amongst the sceptics re Gillard’s fortunes. That’s all we ask of reporters-honesty.

  • 5
    The Pav
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Abbott’s abandonment of the :invilency of the confessional” is not a case of a genuine change of heart or that he actually believes it but is just another case of him abandoning his principals for political gain

    A bit like when he failed to marry his pregnant girl friend because it would cost him his Rhodes Scholarship.

    As to his small business policy…I read it & got hurt laughing…As you point out it is not a policy and that is only just the beginning of the problems with it

  • 6
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Nah, don’t get me wrong Jimmy, never liked his poison pen. I just think all these crusties are slowly starting to unhinge. Probably why they call him Terry McRant.

  • 7
    Martin Gregory
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    What gives you the impression that The Australian is an outlet that other journalists have to take seriously? It’s a joke - I would have thought that any serious journalists are torn between laughing and cringeing. Or both - anything to distance themselves from what passes as journalism in The Australian…

  • 8
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Martin Gregory - ” I would have thought that any serious journalists are torn between laughing and cringeing” you would think so but look at the reality, they all play follow the leader on news stories and for some reason they have decided the Oz is the leader.

  • 9
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    The good thing about the Australian is that it is not sucked into the Govt or any Govts spin. Thier journo’s can see through it and question every thing so much better than Fairfax, ABC etc.. Remember The Aust(especially Shanahan) knew what was going in relation to the knifing of Rudd and chose to report it where as many others did not even consider such a possibility.Very telling.

  • 10
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Taylormade - Can I assume you are being sarcastic becausr if you aren’t that comment is just stupid.

    Did you read Andrew Crooks article on here entitled “How The Oz missed the Rudd coup (rather than the other way around)”

    And the reason the Oz doesn’t get sucked into govt spin is that they don’t listen to the govt, they decide what the story is and run with it, regardless of the facts.

  • 11
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I reckon it’s that “conflict of interest” battling back and forth across the frontier of his mind.
    How can you be a politician and a “devout Christian”? Surely they’re mutually exclusive, unless you’re prepared to tell the truth all the time ….. and “in modern politics”?
    For a start there’s some “Code of Conduct(?)” about
    “taking the Lord’s name in vain”?
    “Bearing false witness”?
    “No other gods/graven images”?
    Or is that what confession is good for - once that’s all over, you can go out and start all over again?

  • 12
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Partisan hacks with a pre-prepared agenda and script do not make for a credible authoritative newspaper.
    The lack of integrity, or “ability to see through spin” while creating it makes it a comic, not a newspaper. Apologising to the PM while overseas for having to ask the same negative questions day in and day out by reporters is the same as the negative agenda of the party they are trying to persuade readers to elect.
    They tried and failed in America and they will fail again here. Murdoch owes big business big time now.

  • 13
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Are you sure Gillard was up here in Brisbane - there’s bugger all about in the local Limited News franchise “The Curry or Maul”?
    Then again, she was at some “community cabinet” up here, but there wasn’t enough negativity to report and amplify?

    Speaking of our limited news - see “Jerry Mander’s nephew(?)”, Tim, has been promoted to “Manuel’s Cabinets” after expelling Dr “Phlegm(?)”?

  • 14
    Pete from Sydney
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    the usual Bernard, a poor attempt at turning anything into a rant about News Limited….Crikey would be very short on copy if not for the constant News bashing, getting a little tedious…

  • 15
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    This is the most illegitimate,incompetent and dishonest excuse for a national newspaper we’ve ever elected…oh, hang on, that’s the government, sorry.

    As you were…

  • 16
    Edward James
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Labor from the top to bottom is still the Labor Party. The Labor Prime Minister has given an undertaking to have a wide ranging Federal Royal Commission, so far there is nothing from her or her government to flesh it out! The undertaking was made after Joanne McCarthy, police man Peter Fox and the Newcastle Herald. Acting in support of innumerable abuse victims, and their supporters. Many of whom have for decades been knocking on the doors of our Australian Parliaments without a worthwhile result. Exposed the bellies of our political allsorts to the fire of angry disenfranchised constituents. I do not forget the promise of a Royal Commission has been given by an identified lier. Edward James

  • 17
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy - So that was Andrew Crook or someone else from Crikey or Fairfax on the Lateline program I watched on the Friday night before the coup predicting it would all happen the next week was it ?? Funny i could have sworn it was Dennis Shanahan.

    Will always remember it, especially for the shocked reaction from Leigh Sales who was not sure she heard right and asked him to repeat it.

  • 18
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    taylormade - the beauty of making predictions of the demise of political leaders every week is that once in a while it actually happens and you can sit back and say I called that.

    You have to remember that this is the same Dennis Shanahan who this week has blamed Abbott’s terrible poll ratings simply on the ALP’s personal attacks on him, no mention of his lack of policy or his overblown predictions of the carbon tax coming back to bite or his numerous gaffe’s or his constant negative attacks are wearing thin or the govt taking control of the agenda with a positive agenda and tying it to the “Asian Century” - nope accoridng to this great political an al yst it’s just that the govt have been picking on poor Tony and the public are dumb enough to go along with it.

  • 19
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Oh and Taylormade if you read the article I referenced you would of seen the Shanahan “On the morning of the knifing, the gallery veteran wrote unequivocally that Rudd was “safe” from a challenge. Under the headline “PM’s position is secure, party’s is not”, he reported that “the school of thought that it would be suicide to engineer a leadership change has prevailed”:

    “Julia Gillard would not move against the Prime Minister. Rudd seems safe to lead Labor through to the election, whether parliament resumes in August or not and whether the election is in September or October.”

  • 20
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I disagree about Mitchell and Whittaker. If TA and the Coalition were elected in 2013 what would News Ltd use as daily fodder for their ‘reporting’? Papers don’t thrive on good news, it doesn’t sell. Which means Mitchell and Whittaker would face a conundrum - to survive they’d need to resort to attacking their darlings ie: TA and the Coalition.

    I’d rate that as quasi-cannibalisation. News Ltd is perfectly comfortable with Gil1ard as their target. In fact, she’s tailor-made for the boys in charge at News Ltd.

  • 21
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Will some bright person tell me what the Latin for “Never let the facts get in the way of a story” would be? If not too long we could email it to Rupert Murdoch as a suitable motto for the Oz.

    Good Article Bernard.

  • 22
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    KLEWSO: (11) Exactly. Well said.

  • 23
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    We’ll see how electable Gillard is next year with:

    1. Obeid Family (Labor Powerbroker)
    2. Bruce Wilson (Gillards Ex)
    3. Michael Williamson (Labor National President)
    4. Craig Thomson (Who has the full confidence of the PM)
    5. The never-never budget surplus

    Sounds like a perfect storm is brewing for Labor next year

  • 24
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Zut, they’d just go back to their night job, “24 Carat Conservative PR” (selling/assuaging policy, cherry-picking the evidence that supports their agenda and politics, and letting the other, embarrassing, contrary stuff fall through their cracks) - the core of Limited News Family Values - and kick at the shadows.

  • 25
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    An interesting article, but why does Mr Keane regularly pump up Turnbull’s tyres?

    Sure, he can give a speech, but don’t people remember how crap he was even as opposition leader? Utegate, Midwinter Ball strongarm tactics, Godwin Grech … I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

  • 26
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Geewizz - Issues 1-4 have been around for some time now and don’t seem to be worrying the polls to much and issue 5 is a long way from certain to happen.

    And once again you seem to be looking at politics over policy - do you think everyone is as ignorant as you?

    Ruprecht - While Turnbull made some blues as leader his appeal is that he is a rational intelligent mand who seems to have well thought out ideas for where he wants the country to go, when compared to Abbott these things are very appealing.

  • 27
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Gee, you have a very short list.

    Dry up.

  • 28
    The Pav
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy @25

    You need to look at Geewhiz’z comments in context.

    Morale is low in Abbotts’ office and they’ve just got to throw out any old slur they can.

    I mean they’re so depressed even the odious SBLAKE can’t summon up the energy for one of her usual slanders

    I mean if Geewhiz & Abbott’s office wants’ to make odious associations I suggest that this will be something the PM will easily win. All she has to do is point out that she is neither RC or from St John’s College & leave it at that.

  • 29
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    G’day Wizzie,

    Shouldn’t that read: 3:Michael Williams

  • 30
    The Pav
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Dear Zut @ 28

    I ignored the errors as one can’t expect anybody from Abbott’s office to get anything right.

    After all a domestic power bill exceeds their level of comprehension.

    If you pick up on the errors you’ll have no time for anything else

  • 31
    jennatilz mckrackin
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Bernard, the Australian hasn’t been “sacking staff left and right (OK, right and right)”. With the likes of GeorgeM leaving, I think a better way is to say that staff are leaving/being sacked left and right (ok, left and center)

  • 32
    Son of foro
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    All it has left is its status as an influential outlet, one that other journalists, producers and editors (particularly at the ABC) feel obliged to take seriously.

    Really? Why on earth would they take it seriously? The Australian stopped being a newspaper years ago.

    The Australian continues to lose readers - why pay for another Herald Sun when the original is doing it’s job just fine? - meaning Murdoch has to continue increasing the amount of cross-subsidising from other parts of his business.

    The key point, though, is that increasingly other outlets that rely on The Australian are also losing their listeners / viewers. Yes, I’m looking at you, Fran and Michelle.

    As its influence wanes to the point of disappearing, so will Murdoch’s willingness to cross-subsidise. The end result is obvious - hence Chris Mitchell’s increasingly bizarre and pathetic - and ultimately futile - attempt at regime change. I suspect he’s just had a glimpse of his future. And he doesn’t like it.

  • 33
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    The Pav - “All she has to do is point out that she is neither RC or from St John’s College & leave it at that.” I really don’t see either of those 2 things hurting Abbott that much, what does more is the Geoff Shaw Scandal in Victoria and the Minister who has just resigned in Qld - while Abbott isn’t involved in either it demonstrates to the electorate that neither party is immune to these sort of scandals and those 2 relate to actual member’s of parliament.

  • 34
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    The Pav @ 4.02pm: aw shucks, it’s a slow afternoon here and the temptation proved too great.

  • 35
    The Pav
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy @ 32

    I would like to think it wouldn’t as as much as I dislike Abbott I don’t think he should be stained by the recent developments ( although as a prominent catholic it could be a reasonable question to ask what did he do over the last few years about the issue within in his church? Did he make reasonable enquiry or did he merely accept Pell’s reassurances)

    However in the poisonour climate that Abbott has so significantly contributed people are starting to make wild associations. In such a cliamte he could get caught in the cross fire or perhaps it would be a case of “hoist on his own petard”

  • 36
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy, fair enough, but what is the direction he wants to take us in? socially conservative, economically conservative?

    Anyone looks better than Abbott, but is he better than Gillard? Would he support SSM for example?

  • 37
    The Pav
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink


    Like me perhaps….

    A case of “I can resist anything except temptation?”

  • 38
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    The Pav - IMO those who wold never vote for Abbott in the first place will lay the blame at his feet but those swinging voters that matter won’t make the connection - especially St Johns which most will have forgotten already.

    Ruprecht - Turnbull is on record as pro SSM - whether he can get the libs to come with him is another issue.

    To me both economically and socially he is more centre right, compared with Abbott being far right, and much more in line with where the libs were pre howard.

    On whether he would be better than Gillard is a bit of a moot point because if he came back I doubt he would be able to be true to his beli efs as the party wouldn’t accept putting a price on carbon for example.

  • 39
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Ruprecht, I’m with you mate, anybody who’s been following his pronouncements on the
    NBN ( misleading and just plain wrong) will realise he’s just like any other poli. He just scrubs up better.

  • 40
    Dogs breakfast
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    The possibility ….. — that Gillard could actually win the next election is now being seriously entertained. It’s a nightmare scenario that may keep two individuals, in particular, awake at night.”

    I was sure the next words were going to be Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd.

    You fooled me there BK.

    Gee Whiz, it’s not as though the Coalition has no hurdles in front of it.

    No policies, no articulate spokesperson other than Turnbull, Joe Hockey (I don’t buy BK’s line that he is starting to look more than a lightweight), a reputation for relentless negativity, no carbon tax bogey man, The NBN rolling out, budget sums that cannot reconcile with promises made, Campbell Newman.

    Nothing is set in stone here, both parties have a lot to conquer, but the point that Gillard is starting to look like a PM is not lost on me. She can carry Labor over the line by herself if she can maintain her focus, and she has some good back-up, particularly in Greg Combet, some older hard headed political nous from Carr, and some genuine policy achievements.

  • 41
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Not sure about your man-love with Turnbull. I’ll Never forget when he gave $10million to a Swiss company to investigate a way to have rain without clouds? As it turned out, the main invester of this fake science company is the nephew of Murdock and, Turnbulls main money raiser for political campaigns. Will you question him on this ?

  • 42
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    For all you Turnbull fans think about what he’s been saying about the NBN and then read this. http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2012/11/16/3634499.htm?WT.svl=featuredSitesScroller

  • 43
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink


    at the moment just allegations. Next year will be very public prosecutions. It’s a different kettle of fish and Gillard and Labors finger prints will be all over it.

    Check out how corruption has damaged Brand Labor NSW, the Opposition is unelectable for a generation.

  • 44
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Dazza - “Russian”?

  • 45
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy, not the way i recall it, when 1st questioned she came up with the line about playing full forward for the West Bulldogs and many journalists swallowed it hook line and sinker, but not my man Dennis.

    Zut Alors - “If TA and the Coalition were elected in 2013 what would News Ltd use as daily fodder for their ‘reporting’”

    I agree, the cut and paste section would diminish dramatically, no more backflips to write about. Maybe thier last hurrah will be if the budget does not return to surplus as predicted, imagine the treatment cut and paste is going to give that, may need a special edition given what is on record.

  • 46
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Suggested motto for Murdoch tabloids (and maybe the Australian): “omnino haec bona officere in fabula”

  • 47
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    They are making the same mistake as Fox News they are concentrating on irrelevance. The journalists are Abbott’s former colleagues and their sense on loyalty is sickening. The voters are not stupid they see what is going on and as Gillard continues to launch policies where the is commumity understanding and support she will continue to prosper. Jimmy you are right her body language has changed, she is eruduite and she is standing tall oozing confidence. She is kicking gaols and the Coalition hate it. Watch their faces in Question Time, they show impotence and irrelavence, boredom and frustration. They are shadow boxing as Gillard for all the low blows is now jabbing effectively as the Coalition tire and get more frustrated. The dispondency is not just at News Ltd.
    The game is slipping away, Rudd is off the bench as a support player not as captain but as a decoy runner. News backed him but he is no longer their man. Rudd has another agenda. I am reminded of the campaign “OBAMA is a Mislim” and how this screwed Romney ( who needs enemies when you have Fox News)and a few former Senators to boot.

  • 48
    Brian English
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Suggestion for Murdoch or any of his cronies: Futue te ipsum et caballum tuum

  • 49
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Pav - PLEEEZ do not mention that awful creature’s name - she might arise from the rightard swamp.
    It’s been so nice lately without that harpy harping.

  • 50
    Posted Friday, 16 November 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    There was a time when newspapers reported the news, and told us what the PM did. Not set the news and determined who the PM was. At least in this new paradigm I can help save the planet by not buying newspapers.