Now we find out how the recruitment of Peter Beattie came about. Plus other bite-sized morsels of the campaign.
Campaign reading: The recruitment of the latest star candidate. Dennis Atkins has another of his insightful pieces in the Courier Mail this morning explaining how the recruitment of former Queensland premier Peter Beattie as PM Kevin Rudd’s captain’s choice came about. His “Party Games: It’s a big show, but recruiting the media tart could turn sour for Rudd“ explains how when the Labor team looked at polling from Queensland a couple of weeks ago there was a glaring problem: while seats like Brisbane and Bonner on the bayside were very winnable, Forde to the capital’s south was not.
“Rudd and his strategist Bruce Hawker tossed the problem around, and Hawker suggested Beattie might be the answer.
“About a week ago, Rudd called the former premier and put the proposal to him. Beattie knew he’d have to convince his wife Heather and asked for time. He didn’t need much.”
“As the now-bipartisan chant of ’Stop the Boats’ has grown shriller, it has encouraged a more strident venting in the wider community of undercurrents of xenophobia and racism that shame the nation’s long-standing ethos of fairness, tolerance and humanity.
“Equally pernicious is the extent to which the news media have been mired in this increasingly ugly debate — mostly failing to robustly challenge the politicians and sections of the public joined in the cycle of scaremongering and too often pouring fuel on the flames of prejudice.
“The Rudd government’s rebranded Pacific Solution — under which all new boat arrivals will be sent directly to Papua New Guinea and Nauru for processing and resettlement — has exposed a fresh low-water mark.
“Implicit in the government’s message to those contemplating the perilous voyage is not only that Australia is of out bounds for resettlement but that PNG and Nauru are deeply unpleasant places to wind up in — a fate, if not worse than death, at least much worse than sweating it out in the crowded refugee camps of Indonesia.”
On our journalist of the campaign honour board there are three new comers this morning with the Sydney Morning Herald pair of Peter Hartcher and Ross Gittins just in front of the growing field.
Campaign in pictures. Tony Abbott was the clear winner in the photo opportunity battle this week. The Prime Minister spent too much of his time playing at being a Prime Minister dressed in his suit, though he did salvage something by winning the pictures with kids category. The Opposition Leader dominated the fluoro vest and funny hats category and was a narrow winner when it came to wife and family. During the previous two weeks Kevin Rudd had been well in front.
Campaign listening: Alan Jones on 873 2GB. If the interview had been on the ABC it would surely have featured prominently in this morning’s papers, but it wasn’t. Alan Jones, the breakfast broadcaster so many love to hate while so many in Sydney love to listen to, was the one who interviewed the Australian-born Papua New Guinean and recently retired politician Dame Carol Kidu about Rudd’s Papua New Guinea asylum seeker solution. The interview first went to air yesterday morning but was replayed at length before the start of this morning’s offerings, which featured extracts from it as well.
The whole thing is is well worth a listen. In short Kidu, a former minister and opposition leader who was married to a chief justice, made a measured and convincing case that resettling thousands of refugees in PNG just could not happen. “I don’t see how we could possibly settle thousands of refugees,” she said while explaining the difficulty involved in even finding land to house them in a country where the government owned little of it. You might not agree with Jones’ assertion that it proved Rudd was “a fake”, but after hearing this story his description of the PNG solution being designed to get Rudd up until the election seemed convincing to me.
Not so convincing to me was the expected Jones outrage at the audacity of Labor choosing former Queensland premier Peter Beattie to be its candidate for the seat of Forde. During his couple of hours on air there were continual references to previous comments made by Beattie about Rudd. And if that was not enough there was a conspiracy as well. It was all union official Bill Ludwig’s doing, you see, as a way for the Australian Workers’ Union to get its revenge on that Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten for backing Rudd against their woman, ex-PM Julia Gillard.
Almost by way of light relief there was a call for owners of dangerous dogs to be sent to jail and, in a show of political bipartisanship, Liberal NSW state Mining Minister Chris Hartcher was dismissed as a bloke who should not be in the Liberal Party, in the ministry, or in the parliament for what he was trying to do to planning laws in an effort to favour coal seam gas and coal companies.
Other views: blogs and tweets of note. A selection of views from the blogs, social media, comments on Crikey stories and letters to the editor. In The Conversation Mary Crawford, who was the Labor member for Forde from 1987 to 1996 and is still member of the ALP, wrote with her current cap as an academic at Queensland University of Technology on “Old dog, new tricks: can Beattie save Labor in Forde?”. Of the shock entry of Beattie into the federal election campaign as the Labor candidate for Forde, she wrote:
“It sends two clear messages to the people of Forde. After coming out of political retirement at the age of 60, Beattie would not be running if he thought he couldn’t wrest the marginal seat off the sitting Liberal National Party candidate. And he would not be going to Canberra as an opposition backbencher – so he must believe that Kevin Rudd can win. Both messages offer a fillip for Labor suporters in a very tight campaign, in which Forde is one of Queensland’s must-win seats for Labor to stay in government.”
John Passant under the heading “You Little Beattie“ on his En Passant blog wrote how, “unable to campaign on real working-class policies, Kevin Rudd is running a surprise a day campaign to throw Tony Abbott off song and force him, perhaps, to do something other than mouth platitudes and sound bites. Today’s surprise was the resurrection of ‘I will never ever stand for office again’ Peter Beattie … Will workers buy it? I doubt it. What will Beattie do on unemployment, underemployment, long working hours, poor pay, high debt? Nothing much, other than Labor spin. He has form on not addressing working class concerns. … Peter Beattie is just another rotten right-wing neoliberal Labor Party politician. His return to haunt the working class in Forde is a metaphor for Labor today.
The Crikey Daily indicator. This morning’s Crikey election indicator — Labor 21.9%, Coalition 78.1%. Labor up 1.4pts on the day.
And by another measure. On the news.com.au site they have another way of looking at campaign winners and losers based on what people are tweeting. Apparently Poll Pulse tracks live the conversation on Twitter using “a sophisticated algorithm to rate the positive or negative tone of ‘tweets’ containing key words such as ‘Kevin Rudd’ and ‘Tony Abbott’.” The reading this morning: