When he was at The Daily Telegraph, Paul Whittaker made a fine art out of hit pieces about Clover Moore, the City of Sydney’s leftie lord mayor, as Crikey has rather enjoyed previously pointing out here, here, here and here. But even now that he’s editor-in-chief at The Australian — a national paper closely read in Canberra, and with its highest circulation in Queensland — it seems Boris is reluctant to leave his old enemies list behind.

Almost every day this week — which is Whittaker’s first week on the job — the Oz has had a go at Clover Moore in some form.

Moore got off lightly on Monday. But by Tuesday, the Cut and Paste column quoted from a story in Monday’s Tele about Moore having “slugged … taxpayers a whopping $10,000 to fund a controversial left-wing revue that attacked Christmas as being bad for the environment”. A “council insider” was quoted describing the Climate Change Variety Hour as “the emotional uplift of a car crash or Mein Kampf“.

And then Moore actually did something. On the one-year anniversary of the Sydney Lindt Cafe siege, she said what had happened “wasn’t a terrorist event”. “This was a one-off, isolated event by a mentally ill man with a violent background who shouldn’t have been out on bail.” The Oz’s story on this outrage made its front page.

Showing somewhat more rigour than the Tele usually showed when attacking Moore, the Oz rounded up a range of people of different backgrounds to slam Moore’s comments. NSW Deputy Premier and Police Minister Troy Grant said the comments were “a shame”. “I am offended on behalf of all police and emergency personnel who placed their lives on the line for the public good.” Meanwhile, Liberal Sydney councillor Christine Forster (yep, Tony Abbott’s sister) said they were “unnecessary” on the day of mourning and said she viewed what happened as a terrorist event. Quotes from several others were also rounded up to support the classification and dispute Moore’s characterisation. Cut and Paste also had a go at Moore over the same issue.

By Thursday, the Moore attacks were the Oz‘s editorial.

“Ms Moore suggested that attributing the Martin Place siege to terrorism was to risk dividing our society. This insults the public the Lord Mayor is supposed to represent.”

Although, to be fair, the editorial wasn’t all about Moore. “Her self-censorship is remarkably common in progressive cohorts,” it continued.

Cut and Paste also had an update on Moore. Naturally.

Today it’s a goodie. In a red-ink exclusive, Troy Bramston has taken a break from writing about political history to slam Moore for the $2 million the council spent on private end-of-year parties at the Sydney Opera House over the past three years. Labor councillor Linda Scott opposes the parties and told the Oz they were a waste of ratepayer money. Stories about the City of Sydney’s supposedly wasteful end-of-year parties have been a regular fixture at the Tele for a few years now, but it’s the first time they appear to have made the Oz.

So this week there were six articles on Moore. And how many were there under former editor Chris Mitchell? In the two weeks of December before Whittaker took over, the Oz ran … not a single story mentioning her, according to Factiva.

In all of November, there was just one mention in of her, in an interview with property developer Stanley Quek. In October, there were four articles. Two were from AAP about New South Wales councils fighting forced mergers, one was about urban sprawl in Sydney, and the other was in a profile of Paul Keating by Kate Legge (Keating blasted Moore for being opposed to the Barangaroo development, or, as he put it, for bowing to “sandal-wearing, muesli-chewing, bike-riding pedestrians without any idea of the metropolitan fabric of the city or what Sydney would lose if Barangaroo were to fail”).

Meanwhile, how many articles about Clover Moore did the Daily Tele run this week? Crikey counted 10. New editor Chris Dore is giving Whittaker a run for his money on the Moore beat.

Peter Fray

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