Volumes significantly lower this week as the parliamentary year wound down, but it was no friendlier for the governmen with some of the professional media and many on social media making much of normally supine breakfast television hosts asking some tough questions of the Prime Minister. Treasurer Joe Hockey continued to feel plenty of heat as well over the state of the budget and the economy in general, with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull supposedly preferred for his role by some government backbenchers. Many punters were claiming a shift in the zeitgeist, others may think it’s just a touch early for that call, but everyone agrees that the electorate as a whole is far more volatile than it used to be.

It was also a tough week for the government on the policy front, with the tertiary education reforms failing in the Senate and Education Minister Christopher Pyne coming under fire for an advertising campaign promoting them, while the GP co-payment was finally killed off, Health Minister Peter Dutton acknowledging that a $5 reduction in payments to GPs would have a similar effect.

The re-introduction of Temporary Protection Visas, with the trade-off of an increase in the refugee intake, the right to work while on TPVs and the speedy release of families from detention centres caused a great deal of angst among crossbenchers, in particular Motoring Enthusiast Senator Ricky Muir, but did pass the Senate, a quietly, quietly approach from Immigration Minister Scott Morrison seeming to be effective in getting the changes through, with many pundits declaring him as one of the best performers for the government in 2014. Most weren’t saying the same about Defence Minister David Johnston, who moved into the top 10 as the debate over domestic submarine and ship construction continued.

The two other ministers who have generally received good marks from the media, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb, were involved in a very inside the Beltway story, with Bishop allegedly outfoxing Tony Abbott over her desire to attend a global climate meeting in Peru, only to have Robb added to the trip as a “chaperone”.

Crikey Political Index: December 4-10

Lower volumes on talkback this week, the death of cricketer Phillip Hughes and other issues of more immediate concern to most callers than the political news.

Talkback Top Five

Lower volumes in online social media as well, although, as usual, asylum seeker issues and education reforms were far more prominent than on radio.

Social Media Top Five

Some of the audience interest may have been the fondly bickering couple routine, but Stratton and Pomeranz did also provide almost 30 years of good cinematic advice from two distinct points of view, clearly reflecting the proclivities of their audience on both SBS and ABC.

Comparison of media mentions

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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