Chris Mitchell insists The Australian won’t be treating the next eight-and-a-half months as an election campaign. It’s a stunt, the paper’s feisty editor said in his paper today, and “some of the nation’s other editors need to grow up”. On growing up, we couldn’t agree more.

Some of Mitchell’s political journalists, too: Dennis Shanahan called it “Australia’s longest election campaign”, Christian Kerr had it as “the longest election campaign in the nation’s history” and Troy Bramston today called it “a marathon 227-day campaign”.

Amid date-setting, MP resignations and Craig Thomson’s arrest, the press gallery has gone into overdrive with stories reporting Julia Gillard is under pressure and her government is a burning wreck. As Bernard Keane writes today:

“In short, whatever her political motivations for doing so – and of course they existed – she treated voters, at least for once, like adults. But the reaction from the bulk of the press gallery to this rare fulfilment of their expressed wishes has been a tantrum.”

And that’s one long tantie if it continues until September 14.

Today the gallery is paying tribute to Michelle Grattan, the veteran leader ofThe Age bureau, who is leaving Parliament House for a job as an academic and writer for The Conversation. Her former editor Michael Gawenda told Crikey today:

“Sometimes I thought Michelle could be bolder in her commentary, but the upside is she can always be trusted.”

Trust: more important, surely, than the judgements some have made in recent days. They don’t make them like her any more.

Peter Fray

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