Aug 13, 2014

iSentia index: Federal ministers struggle with words and NSW ICAC claims two more scalps

It was a week of gaffes and general embarrassments for MPs at state and federal level.

Patrick Baume

iSentia Group Communications Manager

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s coverage leapt by more than 50% this week, grabbing four times more coverage than anyone in the chasing pack as he attempted to keep the focus on international issues -- the disintegration of Iraq and the threat of terrorism at home -- while some of his ministers got tangled up in the details and some unrelated foot-in-mouth adventures. The Iraq focus and US joint meetings also pushed Defence Minister David Johnston into the list and seemed to help the government in one poll out this week, hard not to think the PM is comfortable to have some of the focus taken away from the still seemingly dire budget negotiations. We’re not sure whether the Attorney-General spent much of the week pondering the metaphysics of metadata, but the media definitely decided it was a tough week for George Brandis, as he struggled to convince them why the government needs to have access to everyone’s browsing data. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull was pulled into the debate as well. Brandis also had to cop the axing of his planned changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. Workplace Relations Minister Eric Abetz leapt up the rankings, almost entirely thanks to his comments linking breast cancer to abortion in an interview on Channel 10’s The Project, which he belatedly tried to step away from following widespread condemnation, including from some of his Liberal parliamentary colleagues. The NSW Liberal Government's problems at ICAC stepped up another notch this week, with Newcastle MP Tim Owen admitting to receiving a cash donation from property developer and now Newcastle Mayor Jeff McCloy, with Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwell joining Owen in resigning from parliament today over allegations of illegal funding of their campaigns. The byelections in the two formerly safe Labor seats just six months from the state election probably won’t be a comfortable time for Premier Mike Baird.

Crikey Political Index: August 7-13

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