Time for Gillard to put away funny hats, fluoro vests

What do you do when your tactics are completely failing and defeat is looming?

Richard Farmer

Crikey political commentator

Taking the bait. What do you do when your tactics are completely failing and defeat is looming? Some people might decide to try something different but not the Australian Labor Party. Its response to medicine that makes things worse rather than better is to increase the dose. The government of Julia Gillard is now a victim of its inability to stop playing politics in the way dictated by its opponents. The Prime Minister seems to believe she has to respond to the bully-boy tactics of Tony Abbott in kind. Insult is matched by insult; distortion by distortion; spin by spin. Running the country is reduced to a series of corny photo opportunities The topics for this unedifying national debate are chosen by the Liberals and Nationals. And if opinion polls mean anything at all then Labor is sick and getting sicker. A radical change in approach is called for. It is time for Labor to become the serious ones that avoid the gimmickry of modern perpetual campaigning. Forget the 24-hour news cycle. Stop the farce of what they these day call "the doors" where members repeat the carefully crafted and meaningless attack or defence words of the day. Actually answer Opposition questions in parliament as they deserve to be answered, with a brief yes or no normally, without the debating school rhetoric. Abolish Dorothy Dixers from your own side. Let Labor backbenchers actually think for themselves and seek information about things of interest to them rather than raise subjects some whiz-kid thinks will make for a telling grab on the nightly television news. Let Tony Abbott bore everyone on his own. Put away the funny hats and fluoro vests. Keep the Prime Minister in her office most of the time and let her out to give an occasional speech that actually says something. And instead of those door-stop interviews, schedule a formal press conference once a fortnight. An inappropriate oration. The national conference of the Institute of Public Administration is the kind of occasion I have in mind for prime ministerial appearances. Julia Gillard was the guest of honour there last Friday to deliver the keynote Robert Garran Memorial Oration. It was a perfect opportunity for her to reflect seriously on the way Australia is governed but instead the assembled academics and public servants were treated to a speech that was more appropriate to a Labor Party electoral rally.  Instead of recruiting yet more press secretaries, this government needs some thinking staffers who can craft prime ministerial views into something worth listening to. Unless, of course, there are no such views for a speech writer to work with. The Crikey Indicator. To put into context those opinion polls that look so disastrous for Labor, here is the latest view of the market as summarised by the Crikey election indicator:

Form an Australian branch! Swiss politics now has an Anti PowerPoint Party. Matthias Poehm, the party's founder, has his eye on October's election for his campaign to outlaw PowerPoint presentations. He claims that €350 billion could be saved globally each year by ditching the scourge of public speaking. ANZ to Japan? If I was a share buyer, whenever I read of an Australian company about to expand its operations to another country I would get extremely nervous. So many times the move offshore has been a way of destroying shareholder value. Even though I am not a shareholder in anything, I do get extremely nervous when the company of which I read is a bank for banks that get things terribly wrong and ends up costing taxpayers their money along with that of their owners. The cause of my apprehension was the Financial Review piece yesterday suggesting that the ANZ has eyes of the purchase of a bank in Japan. I cannot help remembering the total stuff-up that was made of the last international expansion into India by the ANZ with the purchase of National and Grindlays. I can but hope that our banking regulators are being especially vigilant. The Gillard mansion. Bob Hawke used to talk of his house’s Murdoch wing and its Packer pool and other assorted additions that came as a result of successful defamation actions and if I am any kind of judge, Julia Gillard will not have to worry about financing a new residence when she ceases to be Prime Minister. The column by Glenn Milne in The Australian yesterday and some related pieces in the blog of Andrew Bolt should be sufficient to cover the cost of a comfortable retirement mansion. The Oz was at least quick off the mark to remove the offending column from its website (although I am sure there will be cached copies of it somewhere if you cannot find a hard copy of the actual paper) and will use that as an argument to mitigate damages. And this morning there was a tiny version of the same apology on the editorial page.

Blogger Bolt was not so quick. He put the apology on his site but kept displaying the offending words that The Oz declared to be "untrue". But I notice that he did remove from the blog the edited version of the statutory declaration that the pack of Gillard haters were spruiking as being the evidence that would bring down the government.

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7 thoughts on “Time for Gillard to put away funny hats, fluoro vests

  1. Lady White Peace

    In all my years of being a voter, I have never, repeat never, been interviewed by someone doing a survey on ; who I would vote for … so question, who do the people who run these survey’s and polls actually call their family?? their Friends?? nobody just make it up ??

  2. Bill Hilliger

    Hear, Hear on taking the bait. It’s about time that in response to the seemingly constant and inane hectoring during question time, and many other instances by the so called media, the government politico’s should just answer as appropriate in the circumstancewith a “yes; no, in the fullness of time, etc. and move on. And yes, when constantly being reminded of the poor showing in the polls just say “at present we are the government, and if we lose the next election, then so be it; in the mean time we are making decisions that we the government believe to be right for the Australian people. Ignore the Allan Jones’ and other megaphone screamers, including the loopy wingnut and that shrek looking fellow. If the Liberals truly believed the polls, they would have Malcolm Turnbull as their leader. It is also time to taked a close look at the relevance of the current political / party advisors and replace them with people who are a bit more street smart and not just driven by the next poll result.

  3. zut alors

    I unreservedly support your suggestions for improved governance and resisting Abbott and the 24 hour news cycle setting the pace. However, I fear it’s way too much to hope for.

  4. GocomSys

    “Time for Gillard to put away funny hats, fluoro vests.”

    Yes, suggested something similar to her several month’s ago.

    Tell the PM directly not to take the bait, stop kissing babies and shaking hands in shopping malls. Not only does it look ridiculous, it is a waste of time that could be better spent. Remember the “Pop-up Johnny syndrome”? Wherever you looked Johnny Howard would be on the telly. It became so annoying that people got sick of watching him. If somebody needs to go out that’s what ministers are for. The opposition’s policy cupboard is bare and their leader is a joke! Why aren’t you making inroads. Think about it.

    Contact her:


  5. david

    Interesting Mr Farmer you made no mention of the Bolt dummy spit, the crap written by one of your (ahem) collegues the drunken piss head gnome, the news ltd non apology for Bolts ludicrous ascertion he was going to bring the Govt down, another mate of yours,…what sort of spine as a jurno do you have ? Oh sorry I shouldn’t talk about highly respected news gatherers such as the prigs employed by the disgraced Murdoch News Ltd…I await your learned response.

  6. Gavin Moodie

    I second the motion to establish an Australian branch of the Anti PowerPoint Party.

  7. AR

    As many as have pointed out the banality of the government’s performing monkey responses to the ever madding Monk antics, its lack of vision (hard to have direction without a goal) etc, have also surmised that there is little (read NO) hope of any change – how could there be given the times serving, seat warming apparatchiks hoping to become the nomenklatura.
    The ALP is terminal and has been dying since the hawkeating era when Sussex St began ignoring, then denigrating and finally crushing those local branches that they couldn’t stack.

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