When news emerged of the first Australian soldier’s death in Iraq, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson decided to immediately face the media. But after a series of bungles, too much bad advice, too much spin, too much willingness to make media appearances without having any facts to offer and finally a missing body, Nelson was left stranded on the doorstop with both army boots firmly in his mouth. It was an early message to the upwardly mobile Minister that the portfolio involving people getting in harm’s way is a potentially explosive one. Propaganda, as any effective military leader knows, is a crucial ingredient in the art of war. But as Minister Nelson has discovered, dodging the media bullets can be a painful business. For services to public relations disasters, Brendan Nelson is the recipient of Crikey’s Political Blunder of the Year.

Crikey readers say:

“The Queensland Liberal Party for, well, just being the Queensland Liberal Party, and to Bruce Flegg for not knowing whether he’d be Premier or not if his party won the most seats.” — David Thackrah

2005 Winner: Tony Abbott for his “premature ejaculations over the son who wasn’t”.