Nov 16, 2012

How News Ltd despairs at Gillard’s success

Labor is looking more like a government than at any time since 2009. And some don't like it -- mainly the editors of The Australian and The Daily Telegraph.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

There are times when one wonders exactly what is going on inside the head of Tony Abbott, an intelligent, well-educated and highly politically experienced man who periodically says the most bizarre things. It's as if deep within him there's a raging id that, despite the best efforts of his conscious mind, once in a while manages to break through. This week he turned a perfectly sensible reflection about how good it would be to have representatives of remote communities in the national parliament into an insult to one of his own MPs and the impression he was categorising Aboriginal people by "authenticity". He did, however, have sufficient political nous to get on the front foot on the child abuse royal commission issue on Monday, and since then has repeatedly rejected the idea that sanctity of the confessional should always be maintained. For a so-called "Captain Catholic", Abbott looks a lot like the rest of us. In spite of that, talk has now turned to the need for him to change his strategy, or indeed for the Liberals to change leaders. That may be tricky in the short-term. Next week is a weird Parliamentary half-session, when the Senate alone will be sitting, probably guaranteeing the best Press Gallery attendance at Senate Question Time for years but depriving us of the usual formal political theatre of House of Reps Question Time; that returns the following week, the final of the year. With no immediate prospects for the normal end-of-year political killings (three years in a row! ouch!), it'll be Christmas parties and those cloying end-of-year speeches when everyone declares how fond they are of the people they've spent most of the year relentlessly attacking. Abbott did use this week to launch a small business policy, although it was more a policy to have a policy, since the policy was to increase the rate of growth in the numbers of small business; this morning he launched a discussion paper on online protection of children, which at least avoided the temptation to purport to regulate the internet. It's a start in reversing the "relentless negativity". The Prime Minister spent the week announcing the royal commission, catching up with Hillary Clinton, having a successful community cabinet meeting in Brisbane mainly devoted to using Campbell Newman as a piñata and explaining to the Business Council the government's narrative around the Asian Century white paper. While a lot of the focus of Labor's return in the polls has focused on Labor's effective targeting of Abbott, Gillard has looked a lot more Prime Ministerial of late -- less reactive, more like she has a clear agenda and is capable of implementing it. There are still the usual Labor tricks and spin -- the Gonski reforms bill is a childish piece of stunt legislation -- but it looks more like a government now than it has at any time since 2009. That of course isn't welcome in some quarters. The possibility -- discounted by so many of us over the last eighteen months -- that Gillard could actually win the next election is now being seriously entertained. It's a nightmare scenario that may keep two individuals, in particular, awake at night -- Chris Mitchell and Paul Whittaker. A Gillard victory would be disastrous for The Australian and The Daily Telegraph in particular, because it would demonstrate their lack of influence. The Australian is losing readers and revenue and has been sacking staff left and right (OK, right and right). All it has left is its status as an influential outlet, one that other journalists, producers and editors (particularly at the ABC) feel obliged to take seriously. Without that, it is merely a right-wing blog, a Catallaxy Files with more pictures and less intellectual rigour. Thus the increasingly desperate smear campaign against the Prime Minister, on the back of orders to journalists to always ask the Prime Minister about the AWU matter. It even follows her overseas: at a press conference in Bali last week, The Australian's Jakarta correspondent actually appeared to apologise in advance for raising it -- the conference transcript reads "my second question is -- because I am from The Australian -- with Slater & Gordon (inaudible) why didn't you contact (inaudible)?" A final point, possibly off-topic, possibly not. Malcolm Turnbull spoke in Melbourne earlier this week at the 30th anniversary of the Jewish Museum, and posted the speech online this morning. The speech, which has nothing to do with politics, is urbane, learned, witty and insightful. The contrast, not merely with Abbott and Gillard, but with pretty much everyone else in Australian politics, is enormous.

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72 thoughts on “How News Ltd despairs at Gillard’s success

  1. Jimmy

    “Gillard has looked a lot more Prime Ministerial of late — less reactive, more like she has a clear agenda and is capable of implementing it.” Anybody else think that this is largely becuase she has been able to get all the initiatives started by Rudd out of the way and now sheis onto things she wanted to do as PM?

    And Abbott’s “start in reversing the “relentless negativity”” is just more of the same. His plan to have more small businesses is like his goal to “get the econonomy growing again”, there is no policy to say how he would achieve his goal nor any reasoning as to whether his goal is of any value.

    People are starting to see through Abbott and until he actually has some policies that make sense he will contine this decline, Turnbull’s ruminations are far from coincidental.

  2. Coaltopia

    Yeah, the Newscorpse is starting to smell. Seems Terry McCrann is now a caricature of himself with recent choice phrases such as: “Starting with the Big Lie that would have made Goebbels blush, the term Carbon Pollution.”

    Extra points for capitalisation.

  3. Jimmy

    Coaltopia – “Seems Terry McCrann is now a caricature of himself” This seems to indicate that Terry McCrann was once credible.

    That fool has no qualifications which is why he has to call himself a “business commentator”.

    I do agree that since the ALP has been in power he has become more foolish by abusing the RBA for getting it wrong (whichever way they went), abusing the govt for providing too much stimulous while simultaneously claiming that if you removed the mining sector we would be in recession (while also saying even with the mining sector we are about to go into recession) and claiming that the Carbon and mining tax are going to destroy the economy despite all evidence to the contrary – surely the only people who take him serously are those who beli eve Bo lt is the voice on the common man.

  4. Peter Shute

    Agree with the tone of the article and so many writers forget that politics is such an uncertain science-things can change rapidly over a week.

    I do not believe the fortunes of The Coalition will change with a change of leadership. They need to go with Tony Abbott for good or bad.

    Good to see also Bernard Keane has included himself amongst the sceptics re Gillard’s fortunes. That’s all we ask of reporters-honesty.

  5. The Pav

    Abbott’s abandonment of the :invilency of the confessional” is not a case of a genuine change of heart or that he actually believes it but is just another case of him abandoning his principals for political gain

    A bit like when he failed to marry his pregnant girl friend because it would cost him his Rhodes Scholarship.

    As to his small business policy…I read it & got hurt laughing…As you point out it is not a policy and that is only just the beginning of the problems with it

  6. Coaltopia

    Nah, don’t get me wrong Jimmy, never liked his poison pen. I just think all these crusties are slowly starting to unhinge. Probably why they call him Terry McRant.

  7. Martin Gregory

    What gives you the impression that The Australian is an outlet that other journalists have to take seriously? It’s a joke – I would have thought that any serious journalists are torn between laughing and cringeing. Or both – anything to distance themselves from what passes as journalism in The Australian…

  8. Jimmy

    Martin Gregory – ” I would have thought that any serious journalists are torn between laughing and cringeing” you would think so but look at the reality, they all play follow the leader on news stories and for some reason they have decided the Oz is the leader.

  9. taylormade

    The good thing about the Australian is that it is not sucked into the Govt or any Govts spin. Thier journo’s can see through it and question every thing so much better than Fairfax, ABC etc.. Remember The Aust(especially Shanahan) knew what was going in relation to the knifing of Rudd and chose to report it where as many others did not even consider such a possibility.Very telling.

  10. Jimmy

    Taylormade – Can I assume you are being sarcastic becausr if you aren’t that comment is just stupid.

    Did you read Andrew Crooks article on here entitled “How The Oz missed the Rudd coup (rather than the other way around)”

    And the reason the Oz doesn’t get sucked into govt spin is that they don’t listen to the govt, they decide what the story is and run with it, regardless of the facts.

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