Letting imagination run wild. Bring back Glenn Milne to write politics for the Murdoch Sundays is what I say. He was a paragon of journalistic integrity and virtue compared with the amazing offering at the weekend by “national political editor” Simon Kearney.

1-11-2010 ministerialindiscretions

The Kearney article alleged that “political instability has struck Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ministry over allegations about the personal behaviour of a Cabinet minister.” Yet nowhere was their even a hint about what the personal behaviour involved. Was a pedophile loose in the Cabinet room? A rapist? Or just a run-of-the-mill adulterer?

What the Sydney Sunday Telegraph could “reveal” was that, “in the first sign of trouble for the minority Labor government …  an MP has approached Ms Gillard’s office to raise concerns about a minister’s behaviour” and that “senior party figures are concerned by the allegations, fearing they could derail the Government’s one-seat majority.”

If the Kearney beat-up does not win this week’s Crikey Wankley Award I will be stunned!

Dealing with Greens. Learning to live with a party on its left flank is something the Labor Party needs to get used to. The Greens are not going to go away and nor should Labor want them to. Having another home for the ideological purists makes it easier for the party to keep occupying the central ground which makes it hard for the Liberal Party to win.

What is not a good tactic is to indulge in the kind of games that the Victorian ALP is playing in the current state election campaign.

1-11-2010 dirtyworkheadline

The Sunday Herald Sun story yesterday is the kind of unfair attack on a barrister, who did no more than his profession requires of him, that will encourage more people to vote Green rather than fewer.

Corruption in politics a big yawn. Academics from North Carolina State University reckon they have proved that campaigning on corruption gives very limited, if any, advantage. In recent years, North Carolina has seen multiple scandals involving high-profile Democrats — including then-Speaker of the House Jim Black and former Gov. Mike Easley. Over the same timeframe, there have been no comparable Republican scandals. However, opinion polling by university political scientists finds that the recent scandals do not affect people’s opinion on which party is best suited to reduce political corruption.

Specifically, the poll finds that 53% of respondents could name at least one political scandal over the past several years, and most respondents named a Democrat as being at the heart of the scandal. But the majority of respondents — 58% — say there is no difference between the parties when it comes to handling corruption. And 22% think Democrats would do a better job of limiting corruption, versus 20% who favor Republicans.

Furthermore, the poll found that the corruption issue had no effect on how favorably people viewed the Democratic party overall. “People who identified Democrats as being involved in scandals were no more likely to have an unfavorable opinion of the party than those who didn’t identify Democrats in a scandal,” says co-author Dr Michael Cobb. “The polling data show that the strategy of highlighting corruption has a marginal effect, at best. The most frequently cited Democrat associated with scandal was John Edwards, which has nothing to do with this election. This highlights the questionable nature of this strategy.”

About time. So a decade after Australia went to war in Afghanistan the Australian Broadcasting Commission is going to have one of its own journalists stationed there. Hopefully our major newspaper groups will eventually be shamed into doing the same thing.

Peter Fray

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