Mark Latham at the National Press Club produced some strange events in the Great Hall of Parliament House just three days out from polling down.

From the second October 6 sealed section

What a weird event we saw this afternoon when Mark Latham faced the National Press Club’s finest at Parliament’s Great Hall.

Every time a hack got up to bowl up a question to Iron Mark, they made a silly aside about how integral their network/publication/radio
station was to the nation.

We haven’t heard such a round of journo self-congratulations since the late Canberra Times hack Bruce Juddery used to get up at press
Club Lunches and launch into a twelve minute oration cleverly disguised as a question.

Anyone bemused by the Press Gallery’s “all about us” attitude today may be interested in this relevant piece of background:

The journos weren’t indulging in public narcissism for the sake of it. This was a co-ordinated protest against the host broadcaster,

It seems that the ABC wanted to shut out all rival electronic media from today’s event. In a silly grab for control, ABC executive Walter Hamilton sought to ban all other electronic media from covering the event.

We’re reliably informed that as late as 20 minutes before airtime, the ABC said it wasn’t going to supply the split to commercial TVs.

Using an obscure fair trading clause of the Copyright Act, Wally tried to claim exclusive broadcast rights for Aunty. Press Club
heavies reminded Wally that the section may apply to broadcasting, but not to recording.

Insiders tell Crikey that fortunately the event was held at the Great Hall, not the Press Club, where the ABC owns all the broadcast
equipment and would have been able to enforce their crazy commercial media blackout.

Touche to our very good friends at the Press Club.

Jokes galore as journos try their hand at humour

By Kate Jackson and Stephen Mayne
From the 1st October 6 sealed section

Mark Latham delivered a polished speech to the Press Club this afternoon with a surprising emphasis on economic management but no new policies of note. But it was always going to be the questions from the hacks which would produce the colour and movement.

It was the Sphere of Influence who got the ball rolling with a little aside about his employer, Channel Nine, being “the national broadcaster”, and like with so many other political trends, when Laurie moves, everyone follows.

Hardly a journo took the microphone without adding some hastily concocted comment on their paper or TV station, as they vied for the title of lamest gag at a nationally televised press conference.

For Louise Dodson the SMH was “the papers for discerning readers” and Latham was quick to note that he got a copy on his lawn every morning. Malcolm Farr was somewhat less courteous to his wider readership with his comment about The Daily Telegraph, “serving Sydney and stuff the rest”.

Other notable humourists included Paul Bongiorno, “from Channel Ten, Australia’s Idol … we all have our dreams” and Mark Riley from Seven, “the Olympic network, now known as the Pauline Hanson can’t dance network”.

Karen Middleton seemed a bit confused with her geography calling The West Australian, “the true heart of the nation”, while Michelle Grattan played to her local audience with a quip about The Age and “Magnificent Melbourne”.

The best response, however, came from the ABC’s Michael Brissenden, who noted his employer was “currently broadcasting live across the length and breadth of the country”. Crikey quickly flicked over to see what Nine was screening and found that Oakes’s alternative national broadcaster was showing the trials and tribulations of Days of Our Lives.

The questions ran as follows:

Laurie Oakes – Channel Nine (“the national broadcaster”):
What do you say to Aussies not quite sure about you? Can they wait 3 years? Why did you dingo on a meeting with forestry workers in Tassie?

LATHAM: This produced his longest answer with a roll call of everything that Howard is destroying and only he can save. And he also met a delegation of forestry workers so there was no dingoing.

James Grubel – AAP (“the national wire service”):
Is his promise to bring the troops home by Christmas achievable?

LATHAM: The shortest answer of the session. We’re sticking to our policy.

Laura Tingle – Fin Review (“the national financial daily”)
You have quoted The Fin’s Spendometer often, why is it okay for you to spent a similar amount as the Coalition and that makes them irresponsible, while it not for Labor?

LATHAM: Bob McMullan will produce figures in the next 24 hours to back up my claims and show your spendometer, much as I’ve liked it during the campaign, has gone a bit off the rails and our promises will produced $2-3 billion in bigger surpluses than the government over the forward estimates.

Dennis Atkins – The Courier-Mail (“We’ve all been to Queensland”)
Wondered whether Latham believed there was any honour in winning the campaign but losing the election?

Louise Dodson – SMH (“The paper for discerning readers”)
You’ve said the election is a referendum on Medicare, but doesn’t your advertising concede that the government had scared voters on this issue?

Steve Lewis – The Australian (no witticisms, prompting a Latham “don’t be so modest”)
Industrial relations. Today Kevin Andrews announced 500 AWAs, Latham has said he will abolish AWAs, what will happen to those people already on AWAs? And is IR his Achilles heel in this election?

Malcolm Farr – Daily Telegraph (“serving Sydney and stuff the rest):
The Labor Party has in fact totted up about $29 billion in savings. Can you tell people how you would do that without losing jobs and services for taxpayers?

LATHAM: Made a joke about the Tele being “a paper of record” and basically said Malcolm’s figures were all wrong.

Paul Bongiorno – Channel Ten (Australia’s Idol):
The West Australian quoted Dr Carmen Lawrence saying it will be good to put interest rates up after the election. Are there any circumstances that you would agree with raising interest rates?

LATHAM: Predictably, that’s a matter for the Reserve Bank.

Michael Brissenden – ABC (“currently broadcasting to the nation”):
What do you wish for John Howard? Has he done anything good?

LATHAM: Lot’s of energy but he’s past his best and is fundamentally dishonest.

Stephanie Kennedy – ABC Radio:
A lot of votes are still undecided at this stage. Why haven’t you been able to convince the votes that you have what it takes?

Michelle Grattan – The Age (Magnificent Melbourne):
If you lose the election on Saturday will you be anxious to have another go in 2007?

Philip Hudson – The Sunday Age:
Can you meet your 5 per cent unemployment target and will you be a first time loser like Curtain and Whitlam?

LATHAM: After pondering for about 10 seconds he said that “history moves on”.

Chris Hammer – SBS TV (some lame quip about how they’re national too):
How do you rate the environment and the forests as an issue? Labor has been the only party delivering policies on the environment.

Karen Middleton – The West Australian (The heart of the nation):
Will Labor be hurt by the legacy of those 17 per cent interest rates?

LATHAM: It was at this point that Latham said the ABC was meant to be advertising free and it was terrible all these commercial media outlets were advertising their wares on national television. He then said Hawke had admitted his mistake on interest rates and Howard should also learn to admit errors.

Paul Starick – The Advertiser:
If you win on Saturday will you make a call to Bush? What will you say? Will you apologise for what you have said about him in the past?

Kieran Gilbert – Sky News:
Has there been anything in his campaign that you regret? No.

Mark Riley – Channel Seven (the Olympic network and the Pauline Hanson can’t dance network):
How big is your thumping great mortgage?

LATHAM: Won’t give you the exact amount but I had to pay out the first wife and buy my unit in Queanbeyan so you get the drift. We’re tipping it’s about $500,000 all up.

Ian Williams – Channel 4 British News:
How do you answer your critics overseas that by pulling Australia’s troops before Christmas you will be doing a Spain?

LATHAM: I’ve got enought on my plate dealing with local issues.