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Journalism

Feb 19, 2013

Leadership long haul: can journos last three weeks? You bet

There's no escaping the leadership focus of the print media: it's one of the few remaining ways it can engage consumer interest. There was a flood of it in Fairfax papers today.

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The vexing question for Australia’s political journalists is: have they gone too early? Can they sustain leadership speculation all the way until March 12, when Parliament resumes? There’s a Senate sitting next week, but MPs won’t be returning to Canberra for three weeks.

It’s a tough ask, but surely they’re up to it?

Although, a word of warning: for most of Julia Gillard’s prime ministership, journalists have been setting her deadlines and tests that she must meet or she’ll be out. So far, she has sailed resolutely right past all of them without losing her job. What’s to say the next three weeks won’t yield the same result?

And one must be a little concerned about Fairfax journalists. Right across the three major mastheads, from the most senior journalists down the janitor, they’ve been flogging yesterday’s Nielsen poll with all they’ve got. For a poll that told us nothing we didn’t already know from other polls, it’s been a great effort. If only Fairfax would pay John Stirton to run a regular fortnightly poll, we might actually be able to glean some trend information from it like we can from Essential, Newspoll and, for the completists, Morgan. Instead, we’ve had the sight of otherwise very good journalists pretending en masse that Nielsen has afforded a glimpse of hitherto closely guarded secrets.

To steal a line from Truman Capote, it’s not political writing, it’s political typing.

But plainly, this has dramatically skewed the political agenda. On Sunday Labor released a major manufacturing policy with which it intended to sell its credentials for managing the economy in the interests of working Australians. The policy has almost vanished without trace in the mainstream media, although John Durie in The Australian‘s Business section had some follow-up analysis today. Instead, political coverage is almost entirely about the leadership. Even those of us reluctant to talk about it find ourselves answering questions on radio about it, or writing complaining pieces like this one.

The capacity of major media outlets to create a feedback loop that alters the political agenda remains one of their distinguishing features at a time when they’re under threat on so many other fronts. People can rail against it all they like on social media, but Australian political journalism is structured to enable such feedback loops, courtesy of the dominance of a small number of companies.

Moreover, the failing health of our two big newspaper companies — never mind what partisan agendas they might have — means that leadership spills are one of the few remaining guaranteed ways to engage consumers and at least temporarily lift circulation and clicks. The ideal political world for our remaining newspapers in the few years they have left would be a permanently hung Parliament generated by annual elections filled with parties incessantly engaged in leadership spills.

That’s partly why a Rudd comeback so appeals to the media, because it increases the chances that the Liberals might reconsider Tony Abbott’s position if Rudd takes Labor into the lead.

It’s not all bad. Last night, Sky News held an election year policy forum focusing on education. Actual journalists talking about policy with informed, interested and relevant interlocutors. Sky can provide incessant leadership speculation with the best of them, but it has decided to direct at least some resources to discussing substantive policy issues. Our newspapers … not so much.

But we’re stuck with this model until the old mastheads expire and we find out the answer to that increasingly ironic question about where we’ll find quality journalism when newspapers are history.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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69 comments

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69 thoughts on “Leadership long haul: can journos last three weeks? You bet

  1. Jimmy

    Klewso – Yes The average punter is probably “too tied up making ends meet or in protecting what they’ve got” but if they were half smart they would realise being interested and informed about politics helps this situation.
    How is voting for a party that is cutting payments to lower income earners (generally the average punter) in rder to reward higher income earners in the average punters best interest?

  2. Hamis Hill

    Yes, the average punter sees it as a one horse race with the present government being nobbled by the media.
    The Labor party must by-pass this with a campaign to see the spirit of competition of the sporting world re-infuse the sphere of politics.
    The Fair Go! Missing from politics.

  3. klewso

    Jimmy (@ 56) I reckon your average punter is pretty disinterested in politics, either too tied up making ends meet or in protecting what they’ve got – and being predisposed to the party that promises that they’ll look after their interests.
    Leaving it up to the media (dependent on market share) to use their position to promote politics as they see fit – a position so easy to abuse, when vested self-interest is a priority, over society’s.

  4. Hamis Hill

    How is your sense of smell there, David?

  5. Hamis Hill

    The “hyperbowl” in the parliamentary press gallery is seriously blocked up but the atmosphere has been so seriously toxic for so long that the residents can no longer notice.
    They need to be evicted for their own benefit, it cannot be good for you!

  6. David Hand

    Hey Mike,
    I watched the Youtube clip.
    “Look over there! Over there, you fools! Not here! Nooooooo! Definitely not here! Nothing to see here!!”

  7. Hamis Hill

    Unblock the political sewer: Vote Labor!

  8. Hamis Hill

    Can the journo’s last three weeks?
    Will the sewer never stop overflowing?
    When the voting public, not an unreprentative smidgin, go to the real poll after a real election campaign, then the sewer overflow from journalists for the last three years will become very clear from the difference between the overflow and real reporting.
    Well one can only hope.
    The public is already noticing the broken pipes, come September they will know who is poisoning the political environment, they will know the source of the stench,
    and they will not be blaming Gillard.

  9. Michael Hilliard

    If you haven’t seen it yet go to youtube and check out Julie Owens at Westmead Millennium Institute (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqek48WWpRk) It’s a fine example of how important issues are of no concern to (most of) the media. Does anyone know whose asking the questions?

  10. David Hand

    Yes Jimmy,
    There is a consistent narrative in the Gillard government policy theme.

    They announce large big picture hand-outs to Labor voters with scant regard for how the money to pay for them will be found. They tell their followers that greedy billionaires and high income corporations will offer up the bounty.

    The greedy billionaires escape being squeezed.
    The greedy corporations don’t actually pay any more.
    Treasury changes its numbers by tens of billions of dollars every 2 months.
    The deficit keeps growing.
    Voters salivate ofer 14 September.

    Yep, a consistent narrative.

  11. Liamj

    Leadership speculation is all that the under-educated and overstretched print churnalists can manage. Nobody should pretend that the public gives a damn.

    Prediction – Gillard leads ALP to another minority win, but another 4 Independants (2 in Senate, 2 in Reps) make her life a comparative breeze. Abbott & Pyne elope to NZ, and Gina & Clive on-sell the LNP to a Chinese superannuation fund.

  12. Stephen

    Are you seriously suggesting that this Prime Minister’s problem is mainly a Fairfax problem?

    Fairfax is factually reporting on the electoral millions’ demonstrable problem with the PM, as it has a duty to do.

  13. puddleduck

    Bernard writes, “leadership spills are one of the few remaining guaranteed ways to engage consumers and at least temporarily lift circulation and clicks”

    Really? I don’t read any of that stuff. For all the reasons set out in your piece.

    So who IS engaging with it? Or have the papers got it really wrong?

  14. Jimmy

    Klewso – “Then when I vote for Abbott and he won – and things didn’t get better, they actually got worse, my circumstances suffered – I could blame “politicians in general” too?”
    I remember after 2004 talking to a mate down the pub saying I couldn’t believe after all Howard did, all the non core promises and the other fibs he could win in such a landslide, this bloke said yeah but all politicians L i* e.
    The same attitude is taken when Abbott admits you can only trust what he has written down, yet Gillard doesn’t really even no tell the truth when speaking of the price on carbon and is damned forever more.

  15. klewso

    David’s entitled to his opinion of course.
    Personally I reckon that if I was “Dave the (wage) Slave” (no relation), your average punter, not particularly interested in politics (who couldn’t tell a Brown for a Green; a Brandis from a Bandt; a Crook from a Perrett; or Ken Wyatt from a Wyatt Roy), just struggling to get the family by. If I was being constantly bombarded by negative “news” from a media with stories about “how bad things are”/”how it was all the fault of this divided, leadership-tension-riven government”, I’d be looking at the other side too? And then when I read all the uncritical things being written about them (as if there was nothing to be critical about from those usually so cynical journalists), what they were going to do, without any questions worth asking, I’d probably be persuaded to vote “Rupert’s Right way” too?
    Then when I vote for Abbott and he won – and things didn’t get better, they actually got worse, my circumstances suffered – I could blame “politicians in general” too?

  16. Jimmy

    Gavin – In Gillards govt, as BK has pointed out, there is actually a consistent story/theme in the policies which reasonably reflect labor values which seemed to be lacking for Rudd’s.

  17. Gavin Moodie

    Rudd as prime minister couldn’t maintain a consistent policy and couldn’t manage his temper, time, office nor decision making. In contrast Gillard as prime minister has got much important legislation passed.

  18. Jimmy

    Quigley Joseph – “But then most Australians don’t want such an exposition. They want a political stoush. A scandal. A titillation.” It is for this reason people think Gillard didn’t tell the truth when she said “There will be no Carbon Tax” and have failed to hear the part where she said “but I am determined to put a price on carbon”. Anyone who voted for the ALP thinking they weren’t going to put a price on carbon is an idiot, but most voters have very little knowledge of what they are voting for.

    Even now most people want Gillard out, not Abbott in, this means that after 3 years of outrage that “This is the worst govt in history” within a couple of years of an Abbott govt and him actually implementing the disaster that is his current policy platform the same people will start whinging and want him out.
    The difference is that the Libs will have a sympathetic media rather than a hostile one.

  19. klewso

    [Moderator – you can drop the first “draft”?]

  20. klewso

    Funny watching Foreign Correspondent last night – here’s Berlusconi (head of the “Bunga Bunga Party(?)” – what does that translate too? “Bread and Circuses”?), armed with 80% of the Italian media in his back pocket to reshape history to reflect better of him. Despite all his corruption, there are still voters longing to be back when he was running the country. It’s as if they don’t remember what he and his government were like, as if any such memory had been written over – all they’re being reminded of, in that bent viewsmedia, he controls, is the “good times”?
    So what happens if he does regain power and things went on their predictable way, downhill? They’d blame “the politicians”? The politicians his media empire would paint and blame?
    Would they blame themselves for their wilful blindness in wanting to be gulled into voting for such a state of affairs – so they could blame politicians for their circumstances later? Probably not?

    Meanwhile, here, under he watchful gaze of “Circus Oz” and the rest of the franchise, we have Murdoch owning 70% of our hard copy “viewspapers”, with family [“tentacles” (of course, sorry)] extended into our electronic media (including pay and FTA TV) – and the influential control of perception that “renders unto Caesar”?
    How’s that been used, in comparison for PMs? Howard (“Johnny Whopper” – with such “PBs” as “non-core promises”, his “Never-ever-land GST”; “ministerial codes of conduct” – that were like pulling teeth when it came to actual compliance, and still let a few big ones through; “Iraq”; “Patricks”; “Children Overboard”; “AWB” off the top of the scone), was many more times the liar that Gillard is, but compare how they’re remembered in his “image shaping catalogues”? When it was Howard they acted as apologists, assuagers and pardoners, indulging his “idiosyncrasies”, even playing up his “clever politics”.
    Compare that to the treatment they mete out to Gillard? For her it’s wall-to-wall ordure, cynicism and sniggering, pointing out her faults, using selected “facts” and “expert” opinion to justify their crucifixion.

  21. klewso

    Funny watching Foreign Correspondent last night – here’s Berlusconi (head of the “Bunga Bunga Party(?)” – what does that translate too? “Bread and Circuses”?), armed with 80% of the Italian media in his back pocket to reshape history to reflect better of him. Despite all his corruption, there are still voters longing to be back when he was running the country. It’s as if they don’t remember what he and his government were like, as if any such memory had been written over – all they’re being reminded of, in that bent viewsmedia, he controls, is the “good times”?
    So what happens if he does regain power and things went on their predictable way, downhill? They’d blame “the politicians”? The politicians his media empire would paint and blame?
    Would they blame themselves for their wilful blindness in wanting to be gulled into voting for such a state of affairs – so they could blame politicians for their circumstances later? Probably not?

    Meanwhile, here, under he watchful gaze of “Circus Oz” and the rest of the franchise, we have Murdoch owning 70% of our hard copy media, with family testicles extended into our electronic media (including pay and FTA TV) – and the control of perception that “renders unto Caesar”?
    How’s that been used, in comparison for PMs? Howard (“Johnny Whopper” – with such “PBs” as “non-core promises”, his “Never-ever-land GST”; “ministerial codes of conduct” – that were like pulling teeth when it came to actual compliance, and still let a few big ones through; “Iraq”; “Patricks”; “Children Overboard”; “AWB” off the top of the scone), was many more times the liar that Gillard is, but compare how they’re remembered in his “image shaping catalogues”? When it was Howard they acted as apologists, assuagers and pardoners, indulging his “idiosyncrasies”, even playing up his “clever politics”.
    Compare that to the treatment they mete out to Gillard? For her it’s wall-to-wall ordure, cynicism and sniggering, pointing out her faults, using selected “facts” and “expert” opinion to justify their crucifixion.

  22. Hamis Hill

    Well done, David.
    Many a true paragraph written in satire.
    May we quote you out of context?

  23. Malcolm Street

    Once again, bring on the Grauniad! Show ’em what political coverage should be about. Hopefully it will be running and a substantial force well before the election. It will also finally give us a non-Murdoch national general daily to take on the Oz.

  24. yeah, eh

    Let ’em have their head. Like 2 year olds throwing a tantrum, they’ve got to need a rest eventually. And besides which, they won’t have a job within a few months, such are their employers’ scruples.
    Damien, I am questioning your allegiance.

  25. pedro

    Bernard, this is such an eloquent article. You are one of the few with a voice, but don’t actually do much to help what is actually a pretty good government,acting for the interests of Australians, but is getting remodelled to fit the ageing Murdoch’s Kingmaker model.

    Wait for the old media to die you say? With your power and influence as a well-respected political journalist (to me for one), aren’t you copping out on this issue? Politics aside 🙂

    Politeness intended and a reply hoped for!

  26. Joel

    I think you’re being a bit tough, expecting the nation’s media to inform their readers/viewers about policies and issues which affect their lives. That’s not what they’re there for. Which celebrities are banging this week, now there’s the real news.

  27. QUIGLEY JOSEPH

    Steady on, David Hand. I refuse to be included among “you all”. I’m not forecasting the demise of the lamentable ALP government. Or the election of the Coalition of anti-labour forces. My point is that if one is relying on the product of the journalists, reporters, commentators, and analysts in the mass media for an objective rational exposition of what is going on in federal politics one is relying on very dubious material indeed.
    But then most Australians don’t want such an exposition. They want a political stoush. A scandal. A titillation.
    Of course the ALP has some competent politicians. It is ironic that the best are not in the Cabinet.

  28. tonyfunnywalker

    The loss of good journalists is going to cost Fairfax dearly. The bullshit based in the last Nielsen puts them below the standards of News Ltd. Its all ratings driven and a load of drivel. It is sad that Fairfax can stoop so low. Roll on the Guardian at least for those of us that are still sane. ( and Crikey of course).

  29. Margaret Ludowyk

    Well the poor journos can’t speculate about the election date, they have to have something to write about. Lazy journalism it is. It would be nice to see some analysis of policies at some stage.
    But 7 months is a long time in politics – never give up!

  30. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    Geez, cause I wasn’t sick of it the first time….

  31. frednk

    Can’t even be so discussed that I stop buying their rubbish, did that years ago.

  32. David Hand

    Righto.
    You are all writing the obituary of the unlamented Gillard government.

    It was a good, visionary government brought down by untalented superficial hacks masquerading as journalists in the main stream media. The Press Gallery demonstrated its capacity to manipulate a change of government through its superficial, slanted reporting, focusing on the theatre of leadership rather than the substance of good policy, at the behest of Rupert Murdoch.

    You are all deluded deniers. Including you, Bernard.

  33. taylormade

    Bob Hawke v Paul keating. John Howard v Peter Costello. Kevin Rudd v Julia Gillard. It is nothing new.
    However was still surprising how hard the age went this morning.

  34. Hamis Hill

    To the extent that Australia is a democracy and citizens depend upon the media for their information then journalists who abuse this role, (to be in effect, un-elected politicians), are undemocratic and therefore un-Australian.
    If by this logic journalists are un-Australian whose interests are they representing, unelected as they are?
    Themselves? Their employers? Who?
    Who are these people? Certainly not those journalists who went on strike at The Australian in 1975 against Mudorch’s attack on the Labor government.
    Their successors have lost all connection with the concept of democracy and the fair go.
    How to teach them a lesson? Re-elect Labor. Otherwise the game is over; should the old media succeed in this aim to control the government do you think they will ever stop?

  35. Julia

    So. Over. It.

  36. shepherdmarilyn

    Why do people like Gavin Moodie claim it is Rudd who is undisciplined when it is Gillard who has stuffed up everything she touches as she tries to appease every nasty bogan and racist in the country with terrible policy decisions like Nauru and Manus mark 11?

  37. Michael Hilliard

    Most of the media is just junkfood – people know it’s bad for them but they still keep consuming it.

  38. QUIGLEY JOSEPH

    For most political journalists in Oz, politics is a blood sport. And it’s personal. For most sports journalists sport is partly about the game, but since the game takes up only a couple of hours (with the possible exception of a cricket match (Test or otherwise), the journos have to find stories (preferably scandalous or criminal) among the players. And so we have a parallel, parliament takes up only a few hours during sitting weeks. And sitting weeks are only a small part of the political year, so journos have to find stories (preferably scandalous or criminal) among the politicians. Policies are boring and require exercising the little gray cells. And the majority of Australians who pay attention to the mass media want video, pictures, short sharp catch cries. Media proprietors know their customers and they supply them with what they tolerate and digest and their editors and journalists provide them with their vitamin-free news pap on a daily basis. Australia has the politicians it deserves because most Australians want their politics to be delivered in the same way their sport is presented to them – a clash of personalities where anything goes, and with the exception of a racehorse, no athlete or team should win all the time. That would be boring.

  39. Damien

    Whingeing about it won’t change a thing. The only thing that will is changing the game. The PM has to break the cycle and that may mean putting the Party before her own ambition. Not easy for any politician, or anyone else for that matter. If she does, she’ll get another go in a few years, if not she’s gone for good and will take everything, even the washing from the lined with her.

  40. Gavin Moodie

    Thanx Jimmy

    I’m pleased to have avoided all of that rubbish.

  41. klewso

    Further Jimmy, how often do we get to see “opinion” devoted to NOT sniggering at Labor/the Left, or devoted to sniggerig at the conservative side of the fence, with the same intensity – in these papers devoted as they are to what they are? PCP’s and all?
    Such contrariness is edited out by these information gate-keepers.

  42. klewso

    “Lemming meringue”?

  43. Jimmy

    Gavin – I read the Sun most days and I can tell you it is very Coalition Biased and since Gillard announced the date of the election it has gone into overdrive.
    We have had articles about how Abbott thinks of Melbourne as his second home, a strange rehash of the AWU saga with no new info, the dya after Gillard announced the fronmt page read “Election Farce” and many others.
    In the opinion section we have Blot who amongst other things has had 2 pieces blaming the drugs in sport issue on Gillard, Terry McCrann writing his rubbish a couple of times a week, Miranda Devine gets a run on a Sunday, Jeff Kennett has a piece once a week plus there was an editorial which read something like “We all want to get rid of this terrible Gillard govt but it would be nice if Tony gave us some idea of his policy if it isn’t too much trouble.”

  44. kraken

    It is hive think of the worst kind. They missed the leadership spill that really counted, so have spent the last two and a bit years pronouncing the imminent fall of the PM. Rigorous policy analysis is passe when your audience is awash with distracted souls who have a concentration span of your average gnat. We have to rely on serious economic journalists such as George M and Ross Gittins, and not the rubbish that passes for political commentary, for rigorous analysis of the state of the body politic. Its a shame to see Lenore Taylor fall into the pit as she is one of the exceptions.

  45. klewso

    That’s right Jimmy, opinion is not news – we already know what the opinions are of most of this gallery of pink galahs (dominated as it is, to overshadow the competition, by what particular media behemoth), they keep repeating “Rupert wants his cracker”.

    Daly – agreed, Rupert hates democracy that doesn’t do what he wants. And this way he can pull strings (by managing publicity and PR) to influence legislation, without facing the electorate.

  46. Daly

    I can only hope the ALP have an excellent social media strategy which allows them to tell people what Julia has accomplished in minority government over the past two years against Tony Abbott’s lazy nay saying.
    Agreed the press gallery are Tony’s PR machine and Julia has none.
    The policy she announced has the support of industry and has not been reported anywhere. So it sinks without a trace, just what Rupert and Fairfax want. Same as all other policies and implementation by this high achieving ALP and independents government.
    No questions for Tony, who will be a disgraceful lazy PM, beholden to Rupert and Fairfax in all their media formats.
    Rupert hates democracy. This is the government the people of Australia elected. The coalition is just that: two parties who agree to work together in government, both in a minority of seats, but when has a journo from the press gallery pointed that fact out?

  47. Gavin Moodie

    True, there is a nice big pic of Tone and daughter Bridget, this one with his arm around her, but it was still relegated to page 8. But I don’t often peruse the Boston Bun let alone read it, so it may well support the federal Coalition and damage Labor more prominently on other days.

    Again, based on this very limited skim, the Sun doesn’t seem to be supporting the Baillieu government strongly.

  48. Jimmy

    Gavin Moodie – “Except the Melbourne Herald Sun, where the federal Labor leadership story is a few column inches of moderate reportage on page 8, where it belongs.” They can’t fit it in around all the “How good is TOny Abbott” stories.

  49. Jimmy

    Klewso – I have no proble with Opinion pieces as long as they are shown as opinion pieces.
    What is worse is the constant “news” articles that clearly express opinions, eg “Gillards disaterous …” etc.

  50. Gavin Moodie

    Except the Melbourne Herald Sun, where the federal Labor leadership story is a few column inches of moderate reportage on page 8, where it belongs.

  51. CML

    @ Damien – I agree with your comments.
    I would like to add that I’m sick and tired of all these “Kevin Rudd is destroying the Labor Party” stories. I think the rest of them are doing a good job of that, with or without Kevin’s help.
    There was a story on ABC radio this morning that Kevin had attended a number of functions in Melbourne yesterday, and ALL journalists and photographers were banned from attending these places. They even had bouncers there to make sure the journos couldn’t get into the venues. And Kevin Rudd did not give any interviews, or answer any questions. (This story came from Tony Wright of Fairfax). So what exactly do those (above) who criticise this man want him to do?
    Kevin Rudd was apparently down in Melbourne attending fund raising dinners and visiting schools etc., at the INVITATION of local members. He is the biggest drawcard the ALP has right now, and I think they are lucky he even bothers after the way he has been treated.
    Why don’t most of you get a life!

  52. klewso

    Think of the trees we could save if they didn’t include their opinions of “what this means” in their reporting?

    We don’t necessarily share those personal opinions of theirs, that seem just as or more important than the news they cover with their view – we can form our own, if they could just trust us with the raw materials.
    The only difference is more of us might not vote “the Right way”?

  53. Holden Back

    I was once at a party and met a guy whose job was doing various card and sleight of hand tricks as part of the entertainment at high-end night-clubs. His biggest occupational hazard was alpha males who had to prove that they could do the same tricks. They never could, and would get huffy, his defense was the tricks were all he could do, unlike the Masters of the Universe he was being paid to amuse.

    So the moral of the story is: have pity on the Press Gallery – it’s all they can do.

  54. zut alors

    Sure they can last three weeks. They have infinite capacity to confect unsubstantiated drivel.

    One day soon some of them may wake up to the fact that injecting romance into their thin plots will earn them a better living as writers for Mills & Boon.

  55. Tom Jones

    I am sick of having a new poll every week which leads to navel gazing by the MSM which seems to substitute for any kind of analysis. The industrial policy launched by Julia Gillard was swamped by negative comments in the news reports I saw. I still have yet to see the actual policy reported.
    Kevin Rudd’s supporters who wish to see him re-installed are doing every body a disservice, and if they are seeking out reporters to encourage instability will only have themselves to blame when they lose their seats – although no doubt they will point the finger elsewhere. If there is a change it has to be to another person as there is no going back now. The media also took a leading role in the change from Rudd to Gillard and I remember at the time the constant undermining of his leadership played out in the press month after month.

  56. Gavin Moodie

    @ Damien

    I agree that federal Labor’s electoral prospects currently do not look strong under Gillard. But Labor needs Gillard’s leadership to implement Gonski and the NDIS.

    Even with the polls as poor as they are for Gillard I’m not convinced that Abbott would win the majority in the Senate he would need to rescind the carbon price and all of Labor’s other achievements.

    @ Hazel

    I also am looking forward the the Australian edition of the Guardian.

  57. john2066

    Typical press gallery rubbish. They are physically incapable of writing about policy.

  58. Hazel

    This mornings Herald was appalling. I know that ’cause I looked at the ipad for 10 seconds. The delivered paper, for the first time in 30 years, remained wrapped in the plastic and was dumped in the bin. Fairfax is even doing Kevin Rudd a diservice, portraying him as a slimy, predator…which he may well be. Why do I expect more of Fairfax? If they had no Kate and no Ross, it’d be indistinguishable from the australian. All polls, no policy. Its lazy, lazy journalism. Bring on the Guardian!

  59. Damien

    It’s all terribly unfair that all the important Labor reforms are swamped by constant leadership speculation but I think it unlikely that all those respected senior Canberra journalists are simply making this stuff up and risking their professional reputations in doing so. It’s coming from somewhere. Reversal of the positive poll trends from late 2012 indicates that people can’t get past the Rudd leadership spill. It continues to taint everything the Government does or proposes. The PM’s expertise in managing parliamentary politics only adds to public perceptions that she’s a manipulator. Remember what perceptions of “trickiness” did to John Howard? Importantly, it Gives Abbott a clear run at the election – without the tough questions that should expose his many flaws. We’ve got to face it, if nothing changes, the Government is doomed and the PM should resign. Now. It’ll give some of the others with talent room to move and will break the curse. If not, the Government is sure to be be obliterated, sweeping away the NDIS, Gonski, fairer workplace relations and the carbon price come ETS. For the sake of pride and little else.

  60. klewso

    They could give him something shiny to play with, like a mirror? Or a bell for his tail? Those jouno’s could follow that around all day?

  61. Gavin Moodie

    I half thought this could be fixed by giving Rudd another portfolio under Gillard’s leadership, but he is too undisciplined. Labor will just have to deal with the media’s destabalisation of its leadership until the next poll showing that Gillard’s popularity has increased again.

  62. Andrea

    Can’t wait for the Guardian Australian website. Anyone know when it will be up and running? The Fairfax papers are just appalling.

  63. Jimmy

    Hunt Ian – Over the past month we have had the liberals toss out a couple of policies, ie exempt the northern half of the country from paying tax, build up to 100 dams that will possibly be privately owned, cut the school kids bonus, cut the low income super contribution and keep the high income earners super concessions and reverse the means testing of private health insurance rebate and FTB.
    If these policies got even the slightest bit of scrutiny they would be exposed and the voting public would start to turn from the libs – but that is why that won’t happen but instead the News ltd papers are basically Tony’s PR unit.

  64. Andybob

    The Fairfax paywall cometh. Yea verily it will sorteth out the wheat from the chaff.

  65. Hunt Ian

    Of course they can keep going. They even seem to write to each other: the game plan at Fairfax is to make life difficult for Julia Gillard so that the Labor Party restores Rudd and goes to an early election , which it will lose in a landslide that will cement liberal party policies for at least two terms, with changes to industrial relations along US lines, which everyone knows are so “flexible”. Laura Tingle writes a piece that seems addressed to Fairfax owners: you might think that Rudd will go to an early election but consider, he will desperately want a budget that will help give him some reputation for competent economic management (Rudd as leader: Rupert, do you forgive my story in the Monthly, just 4 years ago this month, telling us all to accept that the GFC means the end of neo-liberal policies?). This will mean that the election timing will remain much the same. So even if the Labor Party restores Rudd there won’t be an early election and an Abbott budget. And will anyone in Labor risk Rudd? Will anyone else want a glorious defeat? perhaps Fairfax should reconsider its strategy. Of course, this does not mean that they should stop bagging Julia Gillard for all they are worth. It is iikely that MSM will succeed in bringing down Labor. We all wait for their journalists to ask Tony difficult questions about the Carbon tax (which cities have shut down, Tony?), the mining tax and just exactly what he intends to do to the welfare state to put the budget back in the black, where of course it must be (low debt, low wages, “flexible” conditions, what could be more perfect?). Please do not hold your breath …

  66. klewso

    “When newspaper’s are history”?
    Where do we find them now – three doors down from “Rocking-horse-shit ‘R Us”?
    The current crop are more like navel-gazing knuckleheads, “I can type – therefore I am”?

  67. Ronson Dalby

    I just couldn’t get over the ALP leadership opinion pieces this morning in the Fairfax media. One big circle jurk (intentional!).

    I thought I must have clicked on The Oz by mistake.

  68. rossmcg

    Political typing, love it.

  69. Jimmy

    CAn they keep it up for 3 weeks, they have been going for about 3 years so what is another 3 weeks?!

    I still live in hope that at some point in the next 7 months the ridiculousness of the Coalitions policies might get discussed at some point but with every day of journalistic tosh that hope grows fainter.

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