Christian Kerr writes:




Australian Story


has a problem. It used to be seen as a program that told honest
stories, but now it’s seen as a program you go to when you have a PR
problem and you want to look honest.

Yesterday we said we’d be kind – that we wouldn’t attribute motives to Julia Gillard’s appearance on Australian Story at the height of a preselection battle.

Well,
last night’s program was like bombing a bushfire with petrol. Gillard
looked loved, capable and competent. She also appeared to be grossly
disloyal. Or opportunistic, at best.

It was an extraordinary
program. Within eight minutes of it ending, AAP had a story running
slugged “Gillard lashes out at Beazley”. In seven lines it said it all:

Labor frontbencher Julia Gillard has attacked Kim Beazley
over his handling of a bloody internal factional war and the AWB
kickbacks scandal.

On ABC television’s Australian Story program tonight Ms Gillard says Mr Beazley has made mistakes.

In
wide ranging interviews with the program she also admits she has doubts
about not running for the Labor leadership after Mark Latham left politics last year.

Blame
Gillard or blame the editing, but Kim Beazley was humiliated by last
night’s program. He looked like a caretaker leader. This morning, Australian Story
told Crikey they moved the show ahead of schedule to coincide with
Crean’s preselection fight, but said no deal was done with Gillard
about the show’s timing.

Christ
knows who the minder was, but the shot where he appeared to be talking
while looking over his shoulder really resonated. The Labor leader
has to be on the lookout for daggers.

Timing is everything in
politics. Recognising and acting on the significance of events as they
come along controls political destinies. Kim Beazley was unable to do
this when the Tampa appeared off our shores and the jets hit the Twin
Towers.

In the last 24 hours, his leadership has been dealt
blows that are just as significant. The Hotham preselection and
Gillard’s shameless stunt have given his enemies not just one, but two
lightening rods for the charges against Beazley’s leadership.

Can he settle this down? Will Crean realise a nasty brawl is over and play his part for his party?

And
what of Gillard? Last night she said “Life rolls along”. It’s not a bad
attitude – but there are times when you need to be hands on. How she
reacts now will determine her real claim to the Labor leadership.

Meanwhile, Gillard is speaking tonight at the Sydney Institute.

More coincidental timing?

Peter Fray

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