Daily Media Wrap: Finally, a little bit of election spice. Yesterday Julia Gillard came out swinging against allegations she had not supported the paid parental leave and increase to the pension proposals in cabinet.
Finally, a little bit of passion about policy in a very bland campaign. Yesterday Julia Gillard came out swinging against allegations she had not supported the paid parental leave and increase to the pension proposals in cabinet after Laurie Oakes’ bombshell story on Tuesday night. She was in defensive mode at her hastily-called 9am press conference:
Of course I wanted to see a pension increase, of course I wanted to see paid parental leave…
I wanted to satisfy myself that they were affordable. I believe that is the appropriate approach to take … and it is the approach I will take to the future…
You can be passionate about doing something and hard headed in getting it done…
I will always, always examine expenditure proposals, examine them rigorously, hold them up to the light, ask every question, require every answer to get to the bottom of what we need to know.
Most of the commentariat agreed: Gillard “the fighter” is a good look.
No more mister nice girl, says Malcolm Farr at The Daily Telegraph. “The fluffy Julia Gillard who has daintily led Labor’s election campaign disappeared Wednesday morning and the combative Gillard took over and kicked a few posteriors. The difference? Anger.”
Dennis Shanahan at The Oz was grateful for a bit of spice in the campaign: “The Prime Minister got angry and was all the better for it. Gone were the slogans, robotic gestures and rehearsed lines.”
Gillard should be thanking Oakes, says Ben Fordham on Ninemsn, “The most important thing Julia Gillard did today was fire up… She didn’t look rattled for a single second.”
Finally, the real Julia Gillard stands up, writes Samantha Maiden at The Oz: “For the past fortnight, it’s almost as if the real Gillard has been put into witness protection. The lioness of parliament’s bear pit in question time has been replaced by a lamb. Having killed Kevin, the Prime Minister’s been going all-out to prove to the nation she’s as pure as her expertly laundered White Lady Funerals outfit.”
Peter Brent from Mumble agrees at The Oz: “This morning we saw something we hadn’t seen in Australia for over a month: a prime minister.”
It wasn’t just Gillard who benefited from the performance: “Ms Gillard’s defiant manner buoyed colleagues who had grown worried at the flat and scripted style she had adopted during the campaign,” writes Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Michelle Grattan sums it up nicely in The Age: “Most people thought this return to feistiness an improvement. Blood-pumping, anger-showing, but strictly on script. One MP said: ‘In some amazing way, today may be what she needed. That’s really Julia Gillard, and that’s what people want to see.’ The question is whether the punters will believe her.”
The spin didn’t convince everyone. “Someone, perhaps he’s from Queensland, is out to punish Julia Gillard. Her worst day as Prime Minister has come thanks to a malicious leak from within Labor’s ranks,” writes Phillip Hudson in the Herald Sun.
The gloss is coming off, says Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald, “The paint of Julia Gillard’s bright and shiny prime ministerial image is cracking and peeling under the searing lights of prime ministerial scrutiny.”
Gillard may now suffer the wrath of elderly voters, says the Herald Suneditorial. “While she evaded giving answers to some questions, Ms Gillard denied she told Cabinet that “old people don’t vote Labor”. It was a direct answer but it was self-serving, and cash-strapped pensioners may decide that Ms Gillard’s heart is very much overruled by her head.”
Whether or not Kevin Rudd is the Oakes’ leaker — the jury is still out and Gillard isn’t pointing fingers — this “rat in the ranks” story can still continue to damage her campaign, particularly since there is so little policy or anything else meaty for journos to sink their teeth into.
“This is all the more destructive in a low-volume campaign in being waged in an atmosphere of frustration and even boredom at the lack of vision and major policy ideas on offer from Labor and the Coalition,” argues Paul Colgan on The Punch.
It may be that just one — or at the most — a handful of malcontents within the Labor Party are driving the campaign against Julia Gillard. But it’s happening, it’s relentless, it’s vicious and it’s got powerful media support. If it keeps up, that’s enough to create at least a whiff of disunity within the Government. Disunity in its pure and naked form is death. Just a whiff of it is enough to make serious inroads into Labor’s numbers in some key marginal seats, particularly in Queensland.
It’s a delicate balancing act to keep this government together, writes Rebecca Wilson at the Herald Sun — “It is fast becoming horribly apparent why Prime Minister Julia Gillard broke all land speed records to get herself to an election. Within a fortnight of the announcement that we would go to the polls on August 21, Gillard and her Labor party colleagues are slowly but surely revealing their true colours.”
Is this a leak of BP proportions? “…the latest leak against Julia Gillard is a leak of the most smearing and unpluggable kind,” writes Lenore Taylor in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Annabel Crabb plays a game of political Cluedo, offering up all the whodunnit leak possibilities — Kevin Rudd with a knife in the rose courtyard? — “It was compelling to see Julia Gillard fire up with some serious fight today. Unfortunately for her, it was a fight picked by her own side,” she writes on The Drum.
Meanwhile, in news about actual policy, Tony Abbott yesterday announced a cut of 1.5% to company tax.