The results of Crikey’s survey of 816 subscribers show that a woman is definitely preferred as Labor deputy, but it isn’t Jenny Macklin.

Kim Beazley took 33 minutes to announce his intention to stand as ALP leader last Tuesday – half an hour longer than Lincoln took to deliver his Gettysburg address. This says all you need to know about born-again Beazley, the fresh, energised wannabe Labor leader.

Seeking prolix relief, Crikey’s Canberra Correspondent spent a pleasant afternoon in Gellibrand yesterday enjoying a BBQ thrown by the local MP, Julia Gillard. She does a juicy lamb chop, and it takes her a good deal less than half an hour to fix up a mixed grill, wash and dress the salad and remind locals and the media why she’s still in this leadership race.

She even gives it to you straight when faced with a crisis: “Oh, sh*t!” Gillard declared as she dropped a snag in front of the hungry meeeja pack.

The media is playing Beazley’s tune now. The likes of Glenn Milne and Michelle Grattan are reflecting the views of the factional chieftans that it’s best to ease Beazley back into the job rather than risk an outbreak of fresh talent.

Beazley backers are putting the heavies on Rudd and Gillard to withdraw from the fight. As Rob Chalmers told his Inside Canberra subscribers on Friday: “Particularly important is the backing Beazley is receiving from union heavies, Bill Ludwig, Joe de Bruyn and Bill Shorten. They can threaten sitting members’ pre-selection, particularly Ludwig.”

Yet the notion that Beazley needs an overwhelming – or unopposed win – to unite the party is dodgy. Who was the last man to walk into the Labor leadership unopposed? Simon Crean. Doesn’t that name ring a bell.

How long before born-again Beazley stumbles and the media pack attacks?

Macklin slides under the radar screen

Jenny Macklin continues to get away with her attempt to slide back into the deputy’s slot under the radar. In their piece on Latham in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Fall of Knuckleman’, David Marr, Aban Contractor and Tony Stephens confirmed that Jenny knew about Latham’s illness.

“At New Year, it was Macklin’s turn to take holidays. She was in the loop. As she handed the acting leader’s role to Chris Evans, a West Australian who is Labor’s new leader in the Senate, Macklin told him Latham was recuperating from another bout of pancreatitis. Evans did not discuss this – or any – issue with Latham for another week. The acting leader was entirely out of the loop for the first week of the crisis.”

But in his otherwise entertaining piece, Marr fails to ask why Macklin proceeded with her holiday and didn’t advise Latham what to do. In fact, he wasn’t critical of Macklin at all. Apparently factional duds are preferable to excitable mavericks.

Marr did produce this bitchy sledge of rivals in The Daily Telegraph and 2UE newsrooms:

“Shirley Corbett and her friends were irritated by reports all week that Latham had been recuperating at home. They knew these reports weren’t true because they’d been at the Star of the Sea. One of Corbett’s friends rang The Daily Telegraph but when nothing appeared in the Confidential column after a day or so, she rang the newsroom at Sydney radio station 2UE. They fobbed her off. As Latham was facing the results of the medical tests on Monday, she was ringing this newspaper, which broke the story next morning: “Latham spotted in the lap of luxury.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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