Another night, another Laurie Oakes bombshell. Last night Nine Network stalwart Laurie Oakes revealed the allegation that Julia Gillard opposed the government’s paid parental leave and a rise to the pension during cabinet meetings when she was deputy. Gillard was crowing about the two policies during Sunday’s leaders’ debate.
Currently, the government support a 18-week minimum-wage paid parental leave plan, but according to Oakes’ anonymous source Julia didn’t believe it was a vote winner. She also scorned the decision to raise the single person age pension by $30 a week, as “elderly voters did not support Labor.”
When Gillard responded that if the Liberals had allegations to make, they should put their names to them, Oakes replied: ”PM, you know this information didn’t come from the Liberals. You’ll need to look a lot closer to home.”
And that’s the most shattering element of Oakes’ scoop: who’s the leaker? And is this symptomatic of even deeper trouble within the Labor ranks?
These are serious accusations with serious consequences. As Michelle Grattan reports it in The Age, “Bitter Labor Party divisions threaten to derail Julia Gillard’s election campaign, with pro-Rudd forces suspected of leaking damaging claims”.
The West Australian was similarly critical “Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been accused of running a chaotic government plagued by vendettas”.
Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald reveals the importance of the sources “…the sources of the information on Ms Gillard’s positions are not Liberal members. The Channel Nine reporter Laurie Oakes told viewers his sources were ”closer to home”. The Herald’s sources are government members.”
Is Kevin Rudd leaking to Laurie Oakes again?
“Senior Labor sources have pointed the finger at ousted former Labor leader Kevin Rudd, and are concerned he has moved from denial to revenge,” claims staff writers at The Courier-Mail.
Kevin is going to be in trouble, says Tory Maguire in The Punch: “If it’s not Rudd rocking the boat it’s someone who’s a supporter of the deposed PM and their intervention comes at a difficult time for the Gillard campaign.”
Even if the claims are lies, the damage is done, writes Michelle Grattan:
Julia Gillard now appears to be the victim of a systematic attempt from within her own party to blow her campaign out of the water. Labor strategists must be terrified about what more there is to come. This introduces total unpredictability, and gives the opposition windfall ammunition.
“Julia Gillard told us the Government under Kevin Rudd had lost its way. Just 10 days in and some people are saying the same about Labor’s election campaign,” says Dennis Atkins in The Courier-Mail.
Apart from the Oakes bombshell, it was just another day in a campaign about the same old nothing, says Dennis Shanahan in The Oz. “A hugely over-cautious election campaign from both sides — where the two new leaders fence with each other, hoping for a mistake that will turn the tide of a meandering contest — is being stage-managed to death,” writes Shanahan.
Meanwhile Glenn Milne reveals in The Drum this morning that Tony Abbott’s book tour for Battlelines was paid for by the tax-payer, but so far there has been very little news from either side about it.
The balance is all askew in this campaign, warns George Megalogenis in The Oz:
Tony Abbott came to the Liberal leadership with more positions than the Kama Sutra. Julia Gillard took the Labor leadership without saying a thing. There has been too much Tony and too little Julia. The sum of these rhetorical opposites is a campaign without clarity, let alone conviction. It’s what you get when a former journalist is pitted against a former lawyer.
It’s just a war against personalities. “As fascinating as the presidential-style personality race between Gillard and Abbott will be, as fulsomely as it will fill media sound grabs, both sides owe the voters some ideas that are fully costed, and fully thought through,” writes Lenore Taylor in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Gillard continues to be harassed about her marital status and what role her partner Tim Mathieson will play in the campaign. Helen McCabe, editor-in-chief of The Women’s Weekly, writes on The Punch about wanting more of Tim: “voters expect to see more of their political leaders’ partners at election time and this is no exception. Which begs the question: are Labor Party minders hiding him and, if so, why?” The new Women’s Weekly with Gillard as covergirl is (co-incidence!) out today.
Much of Gillard’s success is because she is female, claims Janet Albrechtsen in a controversial column at The Oz. “Free from the sisterhood’s political correctness, let’s admit that she has pocketed a large part of the female vote and it has plenty to do with gender,” writes Albrechsten.
Former Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja warns in The National Times Julia that hell hath no fury like a woman voter scorned. “…Julia Gillard had better be aware that if she fails the high expectations of women, her gender will not necessarily save her. Far from it. Women can be harshest on women who let them down”.