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54 responses to “The ABC’s pursuit of Wayne Swan on “leaks””

  1. Cuppa

    I recall with disgust the early days of the Grech Affair. Fran Kelly could hardly conceal her excitement with the prospect of Swan and Rudd being brought down for ‘corruption’.

    To this day her attitude remains one-sided and cynical. Call the Coalition to account for refusing to release their costings? You’re dreamin!

  2. hannah's dad

    ABC News online has 3 stories about the leak, all presented from the Lib point of view, with Robb quoted in the headline in 2 of them and a strong looking photo of Joe accompanying the third.

  3. HillbillySkeleton

    Fran Kelly has form. She is also the one who has been constantly chirruping that in her opinion(for the little that it is worth these days), she thinks it will be a one-term government.
    Fran Kelly used to have credibility. She’s fast shredding that. I just wonder what she’ll get up to in the next term of a Gillard government. The problem is of course, that she can’t be sacked. ABC political journos just go on and on and on. They think they are impregnable. They get an over-inflated sense of their own worth and people who want to listen to the ABC have very little choice about where to go for their political information when they are listening on the way to work, as other sources are even more biased.

  4. Ootz

    In school I was stuck next to a girl with similar overexcited and slurring speech. She had little concept of a world outside of her circus ring of a mind.

    Bring back Jennifer and stick Fran with the literary wolfs.

  5. Fran Barlow

    I’ve started calling the ABC — The Australian’s Broadcasting Corporation.

    That seems to where it gets its line of the day from. I really enjoyed Jay Rosen last night on Lateline. Leigh Sales looked most uncomfortable.

  6. caerdadh

    Thank God for Good Old Grats then! Each time Fran got aerated over Godwin etc, she chimed in with (to paraphrase) but yeah isn’t the real issue the coalition ducking scrutiny?

  7. Pavlov's Cat

    stick Fran with the literary wolfs.

    Anyone have any idea what this means?

  8. Ootz

    PC, swap Jennifer and Fran in their respective shows. Doubt that Fran can hold her own with Bookshow panel.

  9. PeterTB

    ABC political journos just go on and on and on.

    Perhaps you could get her preselected for a nice safe Labor seat?

  10. Cuppa

    She has featured a fair amount of literary content over the past year or two. The writings of right-wing reactionaries, that is.

  11. Ken Lovell

    Does anyone know what charges, if any, have been laid against Grech? To judge from the publicly available information his actions were about as serious a breach of a public servant’s duty as it’s possible to imagine, short of treason. If no action is taken because it might be politically awkward, we have truly moved to a US-style system of governance where political considerations over-ride the law when it comes to the politicians and senior bureaucrats.

    Regrettably but predictably, Steve Lewis’s career does not seem to have suffered from his role in the exercise.

  12. HillbillySkeleton

    Perhaps you could get her preselected for a nice safe Labor seat?
    Erm, that would be a nice,safe Liberal seat these days,boyo.

  13. hannah's dad

    Every time I catch a COALition supporter or newspaper attempting to reinforce their self created myth that the ABC is rife with ALP supporters I bring up the Friends of the ABC website which lists about 20 examples of Liberal politicians/officials/staffers who have worked or are working for the ABC or vice versa.

    There is another such example of an ABC person who is standing in this election as a Liberal candidate, I dunno if she is on the list.

  14. kuke

    Now that Swan has caved to carbon tax fears from the twonks, having brought in the MRRT in the wrong order, I simple can’t stomach him.

  15. Brian62

    Flash: Costings Leaker found cowering behind Siraf Khemlani and Godwin Grech in back office of Lib campaign office.More to come?

  16. tigtog

    @Peter TB – the last ABC journalist to jump ship to stand for election hardly went for a safe Labor seat when she knocked John Howard out of Parliament now, did she? Whether she’ll keep it this time around is not a safe prediction, either.

    Tired, tedious stereotypes. If Fran Kelly walked into an ALP branch meeting she’d probably crumble into dust as soon as she saw the party logo.

  17. HillbillySkeleton

    Poll Bludgers also complaining about Fran Kelly’s obvious Liberal bias today, and having to be called to account for her statements by Michelle Grattan.

  18. HAN

    I think the criticism on Fran Kelly is partisan and unfair (and I am a Green/Labor voter). she did question Andrew Robb about the double standards coalition applied to treasury leaks, in the same way as she questioned Swan about his double standard over costing by treasury. I actually hoped she had pressured more on Swanning answering this question as he repeatedly avoided it. Swan’s insistence on Treasury costing of Coalition promises was valid on itself but also blatantly hypocritical as he famously submitted Labor’s costing only on the last day of last campaign.

  19. Russell W

    It doesn’t seem to occur to Fran Kelly and many other journalists that perhaps the public wants to hear real news and not constant speculation.If they want to indulge their particular obsessions they should get a blog.

    She’s really at her worst when there’s a “possibility” of a leadership challenge.

  20. Paul Burns

    Assuning Joe Hockey was telling the truth, we will no doubt see Treasury officials and/or Wayne Swan being arrested before the election. That, of course is highly unlikely – or to put it more directly, it ain’t gonna happen. Therefore Hockey and Robb are liars. So what’s new? We already knew they were liars. If the Chaser had a prize for politoicians who telling the biggest porkies, Andrew Robb would win it hands down, now that Ratty is no longer in the Parliament.

  21. tigtog

    @HAN, if this was the only time that people thought Fran Kelly showed bias towards the Coalition you’d have a point, but that’s not how it is – it’s a repeated pattern with her reports and interviews, that has been commented upon many, many times.

  22. Guido

    I think Fran should leave the ABC and do the same as Sarah Henderson. Then maybe we may get someone objective at Radio National Breakfast.

  23. Wozza

    What HAN said

    The actual issue, despite all the excited bleating about Fran Kelly, is costing of the Coalition’s policies, about which the level of hypocrisy of Swan (and of most commenters here) could hardly be exceeded given that Labor’s policies were submitted 24 hours before the election in 2007.

    For what it’s worth I would agree that the “leaker” excuse on Robb’s part is pretty feeble. Far better to say bluntly what is hardly deniable after the the mining tax fiasco, blatant Treasury manipulation of figures on stimulus spending impact etc – that Treasury has been so politicised under this Government that it would not be credible as an independent umpire.

  24. Paul Burns

    Oh, a treasury assessment that disagrees with Coalition policy is politicisation? Goodness me! Meanwhile under Howard we got a puppet ABC, a leaker like Godwin Gretch, (he was leaking long before Utegate) a gross politicisation of the Immigration Department to the point that it had to be reformed, persecution of the unemployed to the point people were cut off the dole and left starving and homeless … If I put my mind to it Wozza I could probably write 2000 words on the politicisation of the public service under Howard, but that acceptable isn’t it. eh, because after all the Liberals are born to rule.

  25. HAN


    I run a newsagency/post office myself and the nature of the job allows me the luxury of tuning in Radio National Breakfast everyday, 5 days a week, and 52 weeks a year, non stop as i start work from 5am delivering newspapers. Therefore I consider myself an expert on Fran Kelly’s program and I have to say overall she is non-partisan and balanced. My complaint is most times she didn’t pursue the politicians hard enough on their blatant double standards, distortions, lies (this applies to both sides of politics). I know the Greens are not perfect on this, but at least they are better than the two major parties.

  26. johnL

    Han at 19: This is a requirement originally put in place by the Coalition. Now while Labor was wrong to slide around this in 2007, it really is not an answer for the Coalition to say it no longer feels obliged to follow it, because its opponent did not three years earlier.
    That’s even greater hypocrisy and an insult to Peter Costello who thought it was a good governance measure.

  27. HAN


    I agree the Coalition’s refusal to submit costing is getting comical now. The tussle over costing is just another example of why the public holds such a low opinion of their elected representatives. The problem probably lies with the media which fails to pursue the politicians over these double standards they apply to election debates. i propose a simple rule: politician should not be allowed to move on the another talking point until they answer the previous question.

  28. Johng

    I wonder whether the ABC is so concerned about a coalition win that they want to be seen as being hard on the ALP regardless. From what I remember of this morning’s breakfast is that Fran et al were still talking about a close result even though the news had a story that the latest poll showed a strong win to the ALP (for what thats worth). Unless, it’s the opposite, and they’re all so disappointed in the ALP gov’t that they’re now giving it a hard time.

  29. Johng

    Also as Peter Martin has pointed out the trick about the Charter of Budget Honesty is that the opposition have to submit their policies through the PM (The resources of the Treasury and Finance are available to the Opposition to cost its policies, but only after the election has been called and only if the opposition policies are delivered to the Prime Minister). It was alright when the Coalition were in power now it’s not so much fun. Maybe we need something like the American Office of Budget Management or whatever it’s called, an independent body to do this stuff.

  30. Fran Barlow

    Han said:

    Therefore I consider myself an expert on Fran Kelly’s program and I have to say overall she is non-partisan and balanced.

    I call Poe.

    The woman is a vacuous airhead with a predisposition to the Coalition view on things. Put her and Grattan together and there’s sufficient hot air to ensure that even the kind of verbal flatus of which Pyne and Hockey are capable goes unnoticed.

  31. Mobius Ecko

    Well if the Coalition want to pursue leaks how about we revisit the far more serious one where a Secret document was leaked to Andrew Bolt, and that one had indicators pointing all the way to Downer.

    Of course at the time that leak highly favoured the government wanting to invade Iraq no matter what and silencing a noisy insider who was calling attention to the lies and distortions the government were using in their arguments to go to war.

    The result of that leak cost Australian lives and cost the country billions of dollars.

  32. adrian

    Very good point @ 32.

    Re Fran Kelly and the ABC. Just as a farmer fattens a beast prior to market, the ABC is preparing itself for sale. What better way than to become a mirror of existing News Ltd outlets with the same viewpoints and attitudes, but a middle class gloss that will deliver just the right demographics that currents News Ltd products don’t quite reach.

    Let’s face it, most ABC journos would be right at home in Murdoch’s stable, and the few that aren’t are probably close to retirement anyway.

  33. bennyg

    One couldn’t be so cynical as to consider the possibility that the Coalition leaked the figures so they could then justify refusing to release other costings, could one?

    And Hockey’s promise that they will be looked over by “an independant 3rd party accounting firm” is laughable.

  34. Chris

    I had a relisten to the Wayne Swann interview and I think he (accidentally) led the way to questions about the leaks. As soon as he started banging on about how the Libs have refused to submit the policies for costing, it was pretty much inevitable that he would be asked questions around the reasons they are giving for doing so, ie. the leaks.

    But really this is all political theatre. Labor put theirs in too late to get costed last election, the libs are doing it this time and whoever is in opposition next time around will find some excuse to do the same.

  35. Mobius Ecko


    That proves Hockey lied in the debate with Swan about the number and timing of Labor submitting their costings last election.

    Also can someone explain why the Coalition had so few policies to cost as compared to the Labor opposition, and also why Costello is using a government website for party political purposes?

  36. Chris

    Mobius @ 36 – a quote from that press release you linked to:

    According to the Finance and Treasury website Labor submitted 32 policies for costing before the cut-off and 123 after the cut-off. 84 were submitted yesterday, and 20 the previous day. By submitting 104 policies with three working days or less to the election Labor knew, they could either not be costed or, if they were, it would be too late for any critical analysis.

  37. Mobius Ecko

    And that proves what Chris or have I missed something, which would not be surprising?

    I did read what I used as a link.

  38. jane

    An independent body to cost policies sounds good, providing it is truly independent. Perhaps to get an unbiased appraisal, the policies could be submitted without being identified as coming from either party. Maybe labelled A1 and so on.

    Or they could be submitted directly to Treasury, bypassing the PMO altogether. That could stop a lot of whinging of the type we’re seeing now from the Libs, although I doubt it.

  39. Chris

    Well it shows that Labor left the submission of most of their policies in the 2007 election until it was too late for Treasury to analyse them – pretty much what Hockey has been saying, and of course its what Swann is criticising the libs of doing.

    Or are you claiming that Hockey got the exact numbers of policies submitted late wrong? Does that really matter?

  40. Mobius Ecko

    Sorry Chris that wasn’t my point. Hockey lied about the number and timing to exaggerate the extent. I’m not defending Labor in this but it’s worse for the Coalition as it was their Charter of Budget Honesty, actually implemented to catch out Labor at the time but now come back to bite them.

    Also it doesn’t answer my question as to why LNP policies were also late in 2007 and why they had so few policies as compared to Labor.

  41. Mobius Ecko

    The Age November 21, 2007

    Both sides cry foul on costings

    Skimming through the PDF’s supplied by Costello it certainly appears Wayne Swan was in part right in that article linked above. It also shows the Coalition opposition are more derelict now than Labor was in 2007. So much so they had to use or manufacture a ‘leak’ to have none of their policies submitted for costings under a legislation they introduced with a lot of fanfare.

    The PDF’s also show that not only did Labor have far more policies and programs than the government of the time they had far more than the current opposition. Are Coalitions a policy free zone except for the pork and dog bones they throw out there?

  42. David Irving (no relation)

    I was amused at Fran Kelly’s reaction to accusations of bias this morning. She seems to think that all you need to do to provide balance is engage in an accountuing exercise involving a bloke with a stopwatch for each political interview.

    Equal time is not the same thing as balance.

  43. Johng

    Re my earlier 30. I meant the Congressional Budget Office not the OMB, sorry.

  44. Chris

    Mobius @ 41 – sorry I misunderstood. I agree its worse for the Libs since they setup the system in the first place, though I don’t see that Labor has any real moral authority to demand they comply since they didn’t. Its really a storm in a teacup irrelevancy.

  45. PeterTB

    I bring up the Friends of the ABC website which lists about 20

    …and ignore the longer list of more prominent ABC Labor supporters that I provided to you a month or so ago.

    It’s like you’re in denial

  46. PeterTB

    The PDF’s also show that not only did Labor have far more policies and programs than the government of the time they had far more than the current opposition.

    Perhaps because they promise the world, and don’t deliver much? Speaking of which, have a look at Getup! tracking Kevin’s promises.

    Shame it’s not available when we need it most – don’t you think?

  47. Mobius Ecko

    That would go equally for the LNP PeterTB, except the difference is the Coalition say a lot but none of it has any meaning from the outset.

  48. PeterTB

    self created myth that the ABC is rife with ALP supporters

    Here’s that link, in case you have misplaced it.

  49. hannah's dad

    Thanks for that PeterTB

    Now lets see, from that article from that paragon of accuracy and objectivity the OO, I get persons who have worked for the ABC and either Lib or Lab as:

    ALP 16
    LIB 5

    The Lib names are:


    Now if you, or the OO, had gone to the Friends of the ABC website:


    you and the OO could have added a few names missing from the Lib/ABC list above [in addition to the 5 above].

    Such as:
    Peter McArthur
    Bruce Webster
    Cathy Job
    Vicki Thompson
    Ian Cover
    Bob Messenger
    Grant Woodhams
    Ken Cooke
    Eoin Cameron
    Cameron Thompson
    Scott Henderson

    Plus the woman, Sarah Henderson?, referred to in a comment above.

    The myth that the ABC is an ALP site is just that, a myth.

  50. hannah's dad

    Sorry I accidentally omitted the name of Chris Nicholls from the ABC/Liberal list and I think there may be a misspelling in there occasionally.
    Doesn’t matter much, its not like I’m a Murdoch journo obssessed with accuracy.

  51. PeterTB

    HD. If you check back you will see that my position has not been that there is a left bias at the ABC. My position is simply that there is not a right bias.

    The ABC right bias issue was introduced on this thread @3 and @6 above, and I waded in merely to counter that “self created myth” as you might so pithily have put it.

  52. tigtog

    I very much doubt that the ABC has any particular distinct bias as an organisation. Every single person who is part of it will, no doubt at all, have their own distinctly personal biases that do not march in a hiveminded lockstep on a variety of issues operating within an assortment of paradigms, not just the simplistic left-right bias.

    i.e. no matter what other people are or are not thinking and doing at the ABC, that says diddly-squat about what Fran Kelly is doing and thinking.

  53. David Irving (no relation)

    tigtog @ 53, I don’t believe Fran Kelly is doing much thinking at all – that’s the problem. She epitomises the lazy journalist.