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89 responses to “Saturday Salon”

  1. Lefty E

    Now the leadershit is over, can someone explain what planet the media reforms strategy came from?

    Mike Carlton overviews:

    She can boast a string of good Labor policy initiatives, such as the national broadband network, the disability insurance scheme and the Gonski education reforms. Despite the howls of the Tories, the economy is indeed the envy of the developed world.

    But Gillard’s grasp of electoral strategy is abysmal and her failure to carry the people with her is complete. To wage war on every media baron in the nation, just six months from an election, was reckless bravado. When your reforms look like they were banged together on the back of a restaurant menu, and you blindside the crossbenchers whose support is crucial, it ranks right up there with the charge of the Light Brigade. The crowning folly was to throw out an ultimatum saying there would be no “bartering” and to demand that the bills should be rammed through Parliament in a week. Stephen Conroy, too, bears a heavy responsibility for this debacle.

  2. Lefty E

    Actually dont worry about it, Im in a not caring phase.

    I think when thats over, around next week, Im just going to focus my energies on the senate.

    Denying Abbott a majority there will be something at least.

  3. Damian (quog)

    I’m sorry, I support media reform, but for Conroy to say to the parliament “pass these bills or I will take my bat and ball and go home” is just a complete and utter abuse of the way parliament works. Again, the Gov, gets the policy ( sort of ) right but completely f***s up the political process.

  4. Jacques de Molay

    Stephen Conroy strikes again.

  5. zorronsky

    Early start for the dogs run around the neighbours lake is back on the mountain bike. Daylight saving finishes when? Later I’ll tackle Mackey,s Peak so still fit enough though it’s more of a walk these days. Can’t complain ..three quarters of a century in July. I try to not get overheated about politics but then the attitude of the forces that gather against the left when in government change the rules of opposition to warfare. Watch the change expected, and always given to proper parliamentary behavior when the shoe is on the other foot.Good morning!

  6. Terry

    The Ferguson family at war:

    Mr Ferguson’s brother, backbencher Laurie, hit out at Mr Albanese and Mr Butler. “At least he, Carr and Bowen have the courage of their convictions. As for Albanese and Butler, what gutless wonders”.

  7. Geoff Henderson

    The leadership problem would hardly be over; deferred at best until post election.

  8. patrickg

    Industry laments loss of Ferguson – no doubt. He was a hopeless mouthpiece for industry and a terrible minister – “Coal” Fitzgibbon was not much better. Neither will be missed.

    More broadly, I can’t be alone in being disappointed with Labor’s performance this week. Whatever you think of her as a person, her refusal to read the writing on the wall – she is one of our most unpopular PMs and will undoubtedly lead the party to huge defeat – is particularly galling from someone who insisted that she replaced Rudd because the “party had lost its way”. Sheesh, if it had lost its way back then, it must be in another flipping dimension now.

    Even if we get another PM before the election – regardless of who it is – it’s hard to believe any recovery is possible.

    I wish Rudd had run, and won. Whatever people think of him it is irrefutable he is far more popular with the public, and crucially in QLD – where this election will be lost.

  9. Fran Barlow

    I wish Rudd had run, and won. Whatever people think of him it is irrefutable he is far more popular with the public, and crucially in QLD – where this election will be lost.

    Deary me … another person lamenting that Limited News didn’t get its way.

    Your post panders to serious flaws in our polity — the focus on personality and heroes and elites. If you are a left-of-centre person, you should be concerned about that.

    You cheer the exit of Mar’n’ but cheer Rudd on … hmmm

  10. patrickg

    Ah, Fran, I did so miss your patronising. I’m sure it’s better Labor gets destroyed at the election because at least we’ll be pure or something, and we can all sit around shaking our heads about how stupid the public is.

  11. Paul Norton

    Terry @10, did you see the PS on Laurie Ferguson’s tweet bagging Albo for supporting “the anti-Palestinian attacks to save Marrickville”? In part that was doubtless meant for Laurie’s electors (which include many voters of Palestinian descent) but if there’s a streak of conviction to it it means that Laurie, along with Shaoquett Moselmane, now shares the title of Australia’s most anti-Zionist politician.

  12. Terry

    I would say that the leadership issue is resolved until Tuesday, when a Newspoll comes out showing a “2” at the beginning of the ALP’s ledger. At this point, the Crean/Ferguson meme that the current government has become addicted to “class warfare” and needs to find a way back to the “middle ground” will kick in with a vengeance.

  13. mindy

    No one else stepped up to take the mantle either patrickg, perhaps because they don’t want to be PM when the axe falls, if indeed it does. I still have faith in Gillard.

    As for Rudd not standing – I think he finally realised that many of his colleagues don’t support his return. I think that if he had enough support, even just a majority he would have gone for it. If indeed he is the saviour of the Labor party it would have been his duty to do it. So I don’t believe the support was there.

    Gillard will likely step down if defeated at the election and then Rudd has his chance again but more likely someone else will step up to be blooded I would think.

  14. Terry

    Paul @ 11, I did not see that. Laurie Ferguson’s tweets would seem to confirm the hypothesis that the grown ups have left the room. Perhaps they are trying to win the Rhiannon camp back from the Greens.

    The other argument, that Laurie Ferguson has discovered that he stands for more than his own electoral survival, is too weird to contemplate. He has shown few signs of that in a very long career as an MP.

  15. Chris

    LeftyE – well there’s always the possibility that the laws were never meant to pass, but instead act as a distraction – and attract outrage from newscorp papers which will help them a bit in the polls.

    Also there was a gift of millions of dollars in reduced licensing fees and a reduction in Australian content for the FTA TV. That won’t hurt going into an election.

    The one good aspect is that the ABC/SBS charter has been expanded to include online media as there is an extreme right-wing push to exclude them from that space in order to make it more profitable for commercial orgs – paywalls dont work very well when someone else is giving free access.

  16. Chris

    As for Rudd not standing – I think he finally realised that many of his colleagues don’t support his return.

    A close vote (with either Gillard or Rudd the winner) would have been worse for the ALP than Rudd not standing. What sort of authority would Gillard or Rudd have had if they won the ballot by just 5-10 votes? At least this way Gillard can publicly claim a decisive victory and support of the caucus even if it looks like the underlying numbers don’t reflect that.

  17. paul burns

    After a century or more I reactivated my Twitter on which I put a twit yesterday. 🙂 It was the first tweet I’ve ever made. Along the lines of “Hullo. I’m here.” Or something. WTF do I do now?

  18. paul burns

    Have sat up late reading Alexander Dalrymple’s Return of A King, a history of the first Afghan War. It was okay. Parts of it were very good. But I expected it to be a bit better.
    Now reading Andrea Wulf Chasing Venus. The Race to Measure the Heavens about the people engaged in tracking the 1761 and 1769 Transits of Venus. Not bad.

  19. Chris

    paul @ 17 – look for interesting people to follow! Lots of aus based new media types worth reading. I’ve found many of the Greens MPs worth following, most of the ALP and LNP ones are a waste of time as they just spout the message of the day and don’t really interact. Turnbull posts some interesting stuff though.

  20. paul burns

    Thanks, Chris. I really did not feel like following One Direction or Justin Bieber., Twitter’s suggestions. Though I rather like the way Bieber told all these kids to go and get tattooed.

  21. akn

    Just returned from two ingits of alpine camping out (with 4wd, not on foot) to escape the late heat and drink clean water.

    Independent Australia has a great piece on the rise of Richard Torbay and his rapid disappearance apparently since the Nats realised that his long and well known relationship with Eddie O, like Torbay also a Maronite, was on the nose:


    For mine, however, the interesting question is how Torbay, with no degree, became the Chancellor at UNE. Advice pointing towards academics expressing surprise, let alone qualms, about his appointment, would be welcome news.

  22. Paul Norton

    [email protected], that information about Torbay and Obeid could lead to speculation about the ways in which the internal politics of Lebanon, the intense interest in Lebanon’s internal politics taken by all of its neighbours, and the intense interest in the fortunes of Lebanon’s neighbours and guests taken by different elements of the ALP in NSW, might have come to bear on recent events.

  23. David

    It’s amazing how depressing it’s been after Thursday. To see a glimmer of hope for victory in September turn to dust. Definitely voting for the Greens in the Senate. It’s the only way to stop Abbott from total control of the country now. Totally gutless on Rudd’s part not to run. He should have done what Keating did. Keep chopping Gillard down until she was defeated. It might have taken two goes but at least there would have been hope.

  24. akn

    PN @ 22. Well I’ll be.

  25. Helen

    Paul – start by doing name searches at the top for people you already find interesting on the net. Follow them. Then follow people whose tweets you like who they retweet. RT tweets you find interesting informative or funny. Tweet links to interesting things you have read. Eventually it will be like being at a very interesting, large dinner party where you can block out any bores you come across.

  26. paul burns

    Thanks, Helen. I’m going to have tocopy that and put it on file somewhere.

  27. Liz

    Paul, it took me quite a while to get the point of Twitter. But, if you follow Helen’s you’ll find lots of interesting stuff to read.

  28. Paul Norton

    We all miss Bob Hawke. 😉

  29. j_p_z

    From the distant perspective I’m sort of surprised you folks in Oz are having all this political turmoil at this moment. I was under the impression that Australia navigated the financial meltdown and the recession skillfully, and that the economy was pretty sound. The stupid wars have wound down and I don’t believe you have insane mountains of debt or unfunded entitlements to fret about. True there’s always gonna be smaller-ticket issues to fight over, but I would have expected the general political mood in Oz to be one of relief and gratitude that you’re in a much less leaky boat than the rest of the developed nations. Why there’s apparently a street brawl instead, is a puzzler.

  30. paul burns

    Helen, Liz,
    S’pose I’ll be twitting away somewhere, soon.
    Drawn back to computer to fiddle round with footnotes and sentences of chapter I’m currently writing. (I do it all in hand about a paragraph at a time, then type it up, then at the chapter’s end when its typed up go through it ruthlessly to make sure a I have a clear through line – the one I vaguely have in my head for the chapter while I’m researching and writing- and make obscurities un-obscure and remove any infelicities of style. (I’ve taken to using the latter phrase so much its almost a cliche.)
    [Sighs] Back to the salt-mines.

  31. Fran Barlow


    I’m sure it’s better Labor gets destroyed at the election because at least we’ll be pure or something

    Purity in a sentence describing the ALP is an absurdity as well as a strawman.

    FTR, nobody proposes purity, but some of us propose a modicum of sense. Insistently marching to the beat of your enemy’s drum and into places suggested by your enemy is unwise.

    and we can all sit around shaking our heads about how stupid the public is.

    Providing that activity is brief and followed by a cogent analysis of the provenance of the said stupidity and the development of a sound plan for mitigating it, I’d be happy to see that happen. Main courses and dessert need to be preceding by an entree you know.

    If OTOH, the best anyone can manage is “if only we’d put Rudd back in as News Limited and their allied yappy puppies suggested” then it will prove that the “experts” and self-styled psephs are every bit as stupid as the “public” and then some. The “public” at least have the excuse that the elite never seeks their involvement in public policy. Psephs are supposed to know better.

  32. Fran Barlow

    Main courses and dessert need to be preceding {ed} by an entree you know.

  33. Pavlov's Cat

    I would have expected the general political mood in Oz to be one of relief and gratitude that you’re in a much less leaky boat than the rest of the developed nations. Why there’s apparently a street brawl instead, is a puzzler.

    Not really. There’s one very simple answer.

  34. Katz

    Depends on which street brawl you are referring to Japerz.

    There’s the regular rumble between the Sharks and Jets. The Jets think they wuz robbed last time and have turned up this time with zip guns.

    More interesting is the intra-Shark war. Maria knifed Bernardo. And Bernardo don’t like it. It ain’t no happy family. The Sharks don’t know whether their biggest enemies are the Jets or other Sharks.

    Glad Hand is worried about how Saturday’s dance will go down.

  35. Mr. Eyesore

    akn @21

    Torbay was appointed as Chancellor of UNE following an ugly turf war between his predecessor John Cassidy and the then Vice-Chancellor Alan Pettigrew. This damaged UNE’s reputation and I suspect that Torbay was brought in as someone from outside the world of senior academia who could restore some calm and dignity to the position. Which he then proceeded to do.

    By ‘degree’ I assume you mean ‘formal qualification’. He holds an honorary degree of Doctor of the University. These are granted for outstanding service to the university in question, which he has certainly delivered.

    Sandi Keane’s article at IA was disappointing, to say the least. It combined National Party-sourced scuttlebutt (the tats and the family non-association with Eddie Obeid) with unsupported innuendo about ‘Uncle Eddie greasing the wheels’. Sigh. Just what the world needs – another gossip column.

    It looks to me as though he’s been set up as an unwitting stalking horse so that Barnaby Joyce can get the Lower House seat he craves. Hopefully the Nats will select someone – anyone – else. Me, I’ll be voting for Tony Windsor.

  36. Terry

    Rising tensions between Christine Milne and Andrew Wilkie have been an interesting sidelight of this week

  37. faustusnotes

    hey mods, I still seem to be spaaam-tastic!

    [I have been informed that you need to let Askimet know and ask them to stop you being spammed o_O ~ Mod]

  38. Liz

    The grown ups have the left the room? Oh, yes. Gillard, Wong, Plibersek; all hopeless children. Thanks for letting me know, Terry.

  39. Zabeel the Horse

    I hev duscovered thet Blek Kevuyar hes her own wibsite. I shell hev to talk to Sir Petruck ebout orgenisung one for me.

  40. Pavlov's Cat

    Liz @ #38: word.

  41. Liz

    Zabeel, I now own a tiny, tiny amount of one of your sons. He’s currently spelling after one prep in which he did a couple of nice sprints before going shinsore. I’ll let you know how he’s going. Our goal is the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

  42. Liz

    Yes, Pav. You can draw your own conclusions.

  43. desipis

    paul, do take care with twitter, that shit can get real.

  44. Paul Norton

    I have done Laurie Ferguson and, possibly, Anthony Albanese an injustice @11.

    Here is the actual tweet from Laurie Ferguson.

    It is clear that it was Darcy Byrne, not Albo, that Ferguson said “defended the anti-Palestinian tactics to save Marrickville”.

  45. Lefty E

    With the ministerial walkout, this has all the hallmarks of a Labor split, bar one: an issue to split over.

    History repeats as farce.

  46. Martin B

    With the ministerial walkout, this has all the hallmarks of a Labor split, bar one: an issue to split over.

    I think that’s a little over-egging it.

  47. Martin B

    I played a little game last night. I tried to think of the major reasons in the public mind why the Gillard government is unpopular or explanations for the same. I then ranked them in significance in my own mind.

    The main ones I came up with were: JuLiar; Waste; Debt; Boats; Thomson; Hung Parliament; Mining Tax; Misogyny; Mode of accession; Slipper; Rudd; Whiteanting; Media Bias; Greens alliance; Class; Deficit

    For me, the single biggest mill around the neck of the government is the perception that Gillard is a liar based on the ‘No carbon tax’ line. I also think that this is outrageous since a) action on climate change should be an ALP strength relative to the Libs and b) it seems obvious that the point of the line was to support cap-and-trade over carbon tax. I do not understand why the government was so atrocious in their own defence but I suspect that Gillard was thinking of two things: a ‘no-oxygen’ strategy, such as Bligh used in Qld over privatisations (and didn’t that work out well) and also that she knew that for constitutional reasons the fixed charge was being legislatively treated as a tax, so she felt she had to (almost) concede the point. She was being a lawyer.

    The other major issues that I see are the perceptions of waste by the government, the explosion in public debt and the perception of failure on border protection. This latter one is IMO likely to be a tricky issue for progressive politics to engage with for some time, but why the issue can’t be placed in its proper scale – small problem (if any) for Australia – is beyond me. As far as the other two go, why the governments economic performance through the GFC has ended up as a negative is also beyond me.

    The moderate issues I rank as the Thomson scandal, the constraints of dealing with the hung parliament (I think this has been good for decision making, but I accept that that is probably not a majority view), the problems with the mining tax both in its introduction and subsequently, a bit of misogyny in the community leading to double standards in judgement of a female PM, and the lingering sense of illegitimacy over Gillard’s ascension. Each of these issues I expect would have made an impact on the standing of the government but none in isolation should be a killer.

    The minor issues I judge to be the Slipper scandal, internal dissension and leaking by Ruddists, Media bias and non-scrutiny of Abbott (I think it is just a fact of political life that the scrutiny between Government and Opposition is asymmetrical) , the Greens ‘alliance’, the ‘class warfare’ rhetoric of the government (such as it is!) and the Deficit broken promise. I personally doubt that any of these have made a significant impact on the standing of the government.

    Now I imagine that a few people would disagree with my assessment of relative importance here. Any thoughts? Any major issues I’ve missed?

  48. Martin B

    And I point out that that is thinking about the negatives in order to contest them, I am not trying to bash the government here.

    In fact – if it’s not clear – what astounds me is that of the 4 big issues that I think play against the government in the public mind, 3 of them should be positives for the government and the other should be defendable.

    It’s also the tragedy that on the big one – climate change policy – both Gillard and Rudd have poisoned their own wells.

  49. Geoff Henderson

    Martin B you raise an interesting perspective.
    One of several elements common to those reasons/issues could be that they were/are for the most part unresolved, and remaining so.

    Tactics of spin have lost effectiveness – the citizens recognise it quickly and are weary of it. Ms Gillards uncompromising public demeanor goes beyond being “tough” and is perhaps seen as overly obstinate or insensitive to other opinion. Many issues continue – Thomson for example is still out there and seemingly with government complicity.

    Nothing seems to get resolved, so garbage just keeps piling up; an obvious conclusion is that there is a great big mess.

    Last week did not improve that perception. We have a deeply fractured government that needs to pull out a lot of rabbits if it could even hope for less than an electoral walloping in (or before) September.

    And the great legacy of all will likely be that an Abbott led government may well be unchecked by a well structured cogent opposition. Especially if the Senate favours the Liberals.

  50. Paul Norton

    Martin B @47:

    a bit of misogyny in the community leading to double standards in judgement of a female PM

    I’ll take this as my cue to try to tease something out that I don’t think I’ve seen discussed anywhere yet.

    John Howard has said that Gillard lacks “authority” as PM, and that this is due to the manner of her accession to the position and the situation of minority of government. Whatever we think of Howard’s explanation, I think it is true that many Australians expect the Prime Minister to display something called “authority”. I think is also true that in voters’ minds this quality of “authority” is not simply a matter of being able to get decisions made and have them carried out. There is a subjective, affective dimension, i.e. an expection that the person who is the repository of formal authority presents and comports themself in a way that displays the cultural markers of “authority”.

    Now in Australia there is little doubt that this affective conception of “authority” (or perhaps “authoritativeness”) is deeply gendered, as well as being coloured by other dimensions of ascriptive status. People without thinking associate “authoritativeness” with a certain tone and pitch of voice, a certain height range, physical bearing, modes of dress, permissable range of emotions and their expression, etc. – all usually blokey.

    This, of course, can only be eroded by the prolonged, society-wide experience of a critical mass of women in positions of authority in all aspects of life.

  51. faustusnotes

    I’ve been rendered spaaam-tastic again. Akismet doesn’t have contact details and the FAQ there doesn’t say anything about contacting them – just marking me not spaam is meant to work. Am I going to have to change my name?

  52. tigtog

    fauatusnotes, this is something we haven’t had to deal with for years. If I remember correctly, the last time it happened it took months for Akismet to change its mind about that person.

  53. tigtog

    P.S. changing your name won’t do much good if you still use the same email address, IP number and still want to link to your blog – WordPress and Akismet filter on all those fields.

  54. mindy


    That is their contact form if you want to take your chances.

  55. Fran Barlow

    Martin B:

    I wouldn’t want to add or subtract much from your list:

    JuLiar; Waste; Debt; Boats; Thomson; Hung Parliament; Mining Tax; Misogyny; Mode of accession; Slipper; Rudd; Whiteanting; Media Bias; Greens alliance; Class; Deficit

    Doubtless, these have each made measurable contributions to the parlous position of the regime. What has made them devastating is their synergy.

    As a troll/meme, Juliar is without peer in this list. It’s foundational to pretty much everything else, drawing together notions of inauthenticity and moral turpitude, the inconstancy of women, their unfitness to rule over men (and especially, to supplant them). The chatter about her relationship with Emerson was also very corrosive because it opened up a vehicle for viral infamy linked up with the apparent inauthenticity of her accession.

    Let’s keep in mind that from the very start of 2010 (well before Gillard was widely talked about as a short term replacement for Rudd) Abott elected to run a populist campaign based on the then Rudd regime’s proposal for “a Great Big New Tax”. “Tax” is for populists, an example of a four letter word despite having only 3 characters. Populism also tends to de-authenticate women who are not mothers, wives or in other traditional roles. So when Gillard came to power, she was, for populists, inauthentic almost by definition. That her accession was so swift, rather than the result of a campaign, and a consequence of factional agreement (including those outside the parliamentary party, such as Howes) greatly buttressed angst over inauthentic power. That the face of this power was a woman was damned near perfect.

    In this context, her declaration in August 2020 against having a carbon “tax” may well have been seen by her as essential, but her subsequent concession in February 2011 that she wouldn’t quibble over terms again drew togather this foundational meme — that like women in general, she was conniving, self-serving, disrespectful of legitimate authority, indifferent to the ordinary person’s desire not to be taxed and so forth. Her ostensible identity as a non-Christian and non-mother — a women “barren by choice” stripped away even the restraints misogynists usually observe and allowed her to be mercilessly portrayed as a figure of sexual disgust. (see here for example, if you have the stomach for it, Larry Pickering’s site. I recommend you don’t). Even her status as ‘bogan queen’ doesn’t even protect her from populists, because even populists expect their PM to be a class above them, rather than an identity from which they (as “aspirationals”) are in flight. Rudd’s nerdiness hits that standard, whereas Gillard’s long nasalised vowels and inflection don’t.

    People also widely see themselves as selecting a PM, and the fact that the PM was chosen, apparently, by two relatively obscure independents again sat within the meme of inauthenticity.

    With the idea firmly established that the regime was inauthentic and dishonourable, all other events where there was any doubt at all came to redound against it. Boats? Policy failure in an area of populist angst. AWU — union “corruption” and her accession via Howes and the “union controlled ALP. HSU, Thomson? the same. Obeid? McDonald? Again, the link to her accession via the “faceless men” and “the factions” (both quintessential exemplars of inauthentic power) is clear. In the minds of many — the fish stinks from the head. Her double-crossing of Wilkie by the installation of Slipper was in this context, thematic — she is not to be trusted — albeit she was merely pandering to the Registered Clubs movement. That Slipper also was revealed as dodgy and possibly a sexual harasser, was manna from heaven for the populists.

    One can unpick these things of course, but few have the time or the interest, and self-evidently, the Murdoch-led media which above all exist merely as organisation points for implementation of various boss class goals aren’t interested in any of that. What they want is to be seen as critical to the making and unmaking of regimes and their policies (eg the mining tax, poker machines, the NBN etc — and to do that they must insistently break regimes, or at least, subvert them. If they can’t do that, then the various fractions of the boss class will seek elsewhere for control of government and those loss-making presses will close.

    What we have here is a perfect storm, substantially of Rudd/Gillard’s making, but in which almost every point fits the anti-regime narrative, or can be so crafted by the combined resources of the right. In such circumstances, mere salient facts don’t matter a damn, because the baying hounds will silence reason and make even mere thinking about politics painful for most people. The Murdochracy has the bulk of the populace in a place where all they can do is feel — and they are hurting. They just don’t realise yet that the bulk of their pain comes from the sounds of those wailing hounds rather than their own minds.

  56. Lefty E

    I think its mainly down to two things: the first is old ground, but true nonetheless: the mode of accession, which saw punters feel left out of the process. They understand we have representatives, not delegates; and westminister not presidential arrangements: but nonetheless they expect the give a leader their imprimatur.

    I think we’ll see Napthine and Mills struggle accordingly as well. I dont however think theyll have quite as tough a time of it as Gillard – and here’s where all the other points already raised come into it, including some special viciousness and questioning of her authority as a woman.

    But I’d bet money in 3 figures they’ve no better chance of re-election than she does though. My bet is the punters will kill all outbreaks of NSWitis, on principle until it stops.

    The ‘moral’ of the story: Major party affilaitons are no longer strong enough for tribalism or ideology to overcome leader-based forms of legitimacy.

    The 2nd, which was partly raised above in terms of the CO2 price defence (or lack of it), is what Id call the near complete failure to even attempt to sell *any* policy at all. Its very much an ‘insiders’ cabinet – and there’s obviously a lot of work to be done in engaging the cross bench, which, with the mysterious exception of the media reform, has mostly been done.

    But no major policy agenda has come out with the sort of “how to explain this to the punters simply” effort that used to be considered mandatory with major change. Not since Rudd. GIllard tends to leave it to Ministers – a useful post-Rudd corrective in inception, no doubt – but its gone too far the other way. I cant recall a single snappy phrase in 3 years. What little there has been has been “what you’ll get” and not much about “why we are doing it”. Media reform in particular had nothing for the punters. Literally zip!

    Its a shame the ALP couldnt reach some accomodation which saw Rudd as the politics and communication leader, Gillard as policy leader. But that’s all history now.

    My overall take is that Gillard is lucky Rudd blinked last week: my sense is it would be come within 5-10 members, and would have been fatal to her despite winning, and in the short-term too.

  57. Martin B

    The main reason that I don’t think that “Mode of Accession” is a major issue is that she did get a bit of an immediate poll bounce, and it didn’t really seem to be all that prominent in the 2010 election campaign. I think that there is a significant element of retrospective evaluation in the MoA argument. If she had been successful, it wouldn’t be much of an issue, but when she is unsuccessful it is an additional line of criticism. So I see it as being subsidiary to the governments performance in other areas.

  58. Martin B

    Oh, and Paul @ 50: Yes. I very much agree.

  59. Pavlov's Cat

    Paul @#50: yes, me too.

    LE said My overall take is that Gillard is lucky Rudd blinked last week: my sense is it would be come within 5-10 members, and would have been fatal to her despite winning, and in the short-term too.

    Given what an arse Bob Ellis is you might want to take this with a grain of salt, but FWIW this is from his diary of the day:

    7.30 pm

    … Another MP is there besides Shorten and reveals what tte numbers were.

    Sixty to thirty-seven.

  60. Chris

    Media reform in particular had nothing for the punters. Literally zip!

    Yes the examples trotted out were Murdoch vs the ALP rather than unfair press or intrusion into privacy of the non famous people.

    Martin B @ 57 – I think the MoA angle has influenced how popular Rudd continues to be though. Whether they liked him or not beforehand there’s a section of the community that feel he wasn’t given a “fair go”. So at least in polls he gets a sympathy vote.

  61. Lefty E

    Well, the simple fact of that a 1st term govt – which had nearly always been ahead in the polls – didnt win a majority raises a lot of suspicion that the ‘unusual factor’ of a new PM was a major problem in the end.

    This was a truly unusual event in anyone’s political lifetime. We all breather a sigh of relief when Oakeshott’s filibster ended and forget how disastrous that was for a first term govt, and I think, forgot how obvious a factor the new leader was in terms of traction.

    Oh and lets not forget Murdoch trying to restore Rudd: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland-voters-angry-at-kevin-rudd-coup/story-e6freon6-1225884678324

    Having only had their own leader since December 2009, the LNP perhaps wasnt in a position to push it as hard in August 2010 as they will this year, but people care less about LOTOs. I do recall a lot of LNP noise of “faceless men, political execution at night”. Abbott was publicly predicting they would do it again, with stuff like “They can execute a leader but they can’t execute a programme.”

    I think that latter quote was from his campaign launch.

  62. Lefty E

    Pav, many others say it was a lot closer. Most say low 40s at least.We wont ever know for sure, as people like Bob Carr were clearly onboard, now running a mile. The whole idea, we now gather, was that the ‘Creanites’ (of which there arent that many) might even get them over the line. They didnt come along.

    Crean himself was clearly thinking it would be high enough to damage so much that others rolled over in the party’s interest at the ballot. He said as much on 730 that night.

    There’ll be many attempts to play down the numbers now, but with frontbenchers like Butler (and his factional numbers) and Carr having converted, and everyone in the NSW right except Tony Burke behind Rudd, it was going to be enough to damage Gillard a lot.

    Hence my point: she’s fortunate it didnt proceed.

  63. Martin B

    I think the MoA angle has influenced how popular Rudd continues to be though. Whether they liked him or not beforehand there’s a section of the community that feel he wasn’t given a “fair go”. So at least in polls he gets a sympathy vote.

    Yes, I agree with that.

  64. Lefty E

    Well, me too, and the fairly obvious corrollary that it was contributing to Gillard’s unpopularity. 🙂

    Looking ahead: one thing that *may* yet occur is that Gillard gets a new tick among the electorate to do with toughness, now she’s seen them off. Its pretty clear, I think, that where she may have been tarred with “face-challenged” allies in 2010, no one can fail to see her own personal steel in the latest recurrence, nor probably in 2012.

    I wouldnt rule out a new boost for her on that score.

  65. Terry

    Tea Party activists boycotting FOX News for being too left wing.

  66. Martin B

    the fairly obvious corrollary that it was contributing to Gillard’s unpopularity

    No, that reasoning assumes it’s a zero-sum game between Rudd and Gillard, which it need not be.

    But as I detailed above, I don’t doubt it has a measurable impact on JG, I just personally think it’s a second order issue. If she could get the top order issues sorted, it wouldn’t be a problem.

    As you know, I think the only narrow path to victory lies in the government finally persuading the electorate to give them some credit for their achievements. I can’t see how this can happen on Carbon Tax without some incredibly Beattiesque ‘straight talking’. I no longer have confidence that Gillard can carry this off, but I think changing leadership this close to an election makes it very hard to talk up the record (as we found out in 2010!)

  67. faustusnotes

    Mindy, wouldn’t it be strangely ironic if Akismet’s contact form registered me as spam, so I couldn’t make the de-spam request?

    Tigtog, this wasn’t a problem at all in LP’s last incarnation, and Akismet says that the problem should go away once I’m fished out of the filter. It’s very strange … but hopefully a few more de-spaamings and I should be good …

  68. Lefty E

    Easier to talk up the 2007-10 record though, which is the one that will save them, IMHO.

    I agree with your pessimistic assesssment of their chances. On that slender bridge of hope, Id place making it all about the economy from here on in, if they are to win.

    If they can do that, and really get inside Australians’ heads about low interest rates, GFC averted but a perennial threat, low unemployment, and what they risk in terms of Newman style cuts under Abbott = austerity = economic collapse elsewhere in the OECD, they still have a chance.

    That said, I genuinely have no faith in their capacity to communicate anything to voters. At this point, I just hope they do it well enough that the Senate doesnt come in play.

  69. Pavlov's Cat

    That said, I genuinely have no faith in their capacity to communicate anything to voters.

    Well, that is by no means entirely their fault; if I’d been writing Martin B’s excellent list I would have put ‘media bias’ higher up, but it’s not just that, it’s the mindless baying for headline blood and the desire to be players and make news instead of reporting it. I have heard, on the radio, press conference after press conference where some new policy announcement or other activity, like the PM’s visit to the Pacific Highway project in Bangalow the day after the spill, has been utterly ignored by the baby journalists who have completely ignored the subject matter of the occasion and have said absolutely nothing except Wah wah leadershit, wah wah Kevin.

    This has been happening since Day 1 in 2010 when Julia Gillard was announcing a major new Aged Care policy and some idiot opened the batting with ‘Prime Minister, why didn’t you make eye contact with Mr Rudd?’ Paul Maley from the Australian did this, asking a strictly domestic leadershit question, with Bob Carr in the States at a joint press conference six days ago with John Kerry that was supposed to be about various international affairs, in which some of us are actually quite interested and about which we would have liked to hear more, if the media had had the slightest interest in telling us about it. But that was the moment that made it into most of the TV news.

    So I can’t for the life of me see that it’s the ALP’s fault that they haven’t “sold their message” or in other ways communicated well when their message is usually blocked at the first hurdle. The only reason the world ever saw and heard or heard much about the PM’s speech in response to Abbott’s breathtaking accusations of sexism and misogyny was that it happened in QT and was being televised anyway, and even then most of the media outlets afterwards implied that these words had been brought into the debate by Gillard, just as they’re now suggesting that the events of Thursday were all her fault. And even when good journos ask good questions, the Murdocracy fails to publish the answers.

  70. Liz

    Very true, Pav. Gillard’s ‘inauthentic’ method of becoming leader is only inauthentic because she’s a woman. She is immediately behind the eight ball because of her gender, and as Fran has pointed out her inauthenticity is exacerbated by her single, childless status. Not a proper leader. Not a proper woman.

    Of course, this then feeds into the ‘Juliar’ trope and all the comparisons to Lady MacBeth and claims of backstabbing etc. the media then continues feeding on this, usually to the exclusion of policy issues. I believe the NDIS legislation was passed last week; a really major and good reform. Yet, it would be hard to know that actually occurred. Is that Gillard’s fault for not communicating clearly? Or was there a little issue of a leadershit challenge? It’s clear that Rudd has a huge amount to answer for in the damage that he’s caused to this government.

    As for what the actual figures were; no-one knows because there wasn’t a vote. I’ve read many different versions of what occurred last week. Obviously the pollies involved speak from a position of self- interest, so none of us can quote figures with any certainty.

  71. Lefty E

    Very true, Pav. Gillard’s ‘inauthentic’ method of becoming leader is only inauthentic because she’s a woman.

    I partly dispute this: my guess is Napthine and Giles will also struggle in the polls, and I’d wager now that neither will be re-elected.

    I do think revolving leadership become an unhealthy part of the political culture since. Its diffficult to compare how a man may have been treated in the same circumstance as Gillard, since the circumstance had never previously occurred in a first term.

    That fact alone should leave us questioning whether it is *simply* about gender. We have no comparator.

    That she has faced a barrage of additional hurdles as a woman I certainly dont contest.

    I must confess, Im not a big one for the Murdocracy theory, since every ALP leader in my lifetime has faced hostility in that quarter, and not least Rudd. People seem to have forgotten how the GG got its name in the Howard v Rudd campaign, and how Rudd frustrated them with his connection with the public.

    How this govt managed to have Fairfax and ABC treat them almost as badly makes me wonder if it isnt something about the govt’s own approach, or even that its just inherently difficult to get the leadership genie back in the bottle once its out.

    Perhaps things will change now. No leadership story can be credible now before September at least. Up till now its been all too credible: fact is, the media ended up being more or less right about much of it, as tiresome as that fact may be.

  72. Liz

    Lefty E, have you heard Napthine called inauthentic? Have you heard about him knifing Baillieu? I certainly haven’t, because it’s ‘different’.

    I’d suggest that one reason that the media is so off-side with Gillard is that the Rudd camp has been destabilising the government by relentlessly feeding negative stories to journos and in a media age in which everything has to be instant, journos can’t resist them. If you doubt this, listen to Laura Tingle and Chris Uhlmann on Late Night Live, as Brian had pointed out. Rudd never had to cope with anything like this.

  73. Russell

    Fortunately the LP archive will show that at the time, and just after, of Julia Gillad becoming PM, I pointed out the sexism involved in the commentary, because now I will say that she, and the ALP, seem very authentic indeed. That part isn’t sexist. There’s been plenty of remarks about the real Julia vs the zombie. I have a Kiwi friend who says that Helen Clark was much better at conveying a genuine belief and drive – people were convinced that she was doing what she believed in.

    So there’s the presentation problem …. and there’s the ALP’s problem too, the endless, sickening spin. Do you remember that education legislation they passed recently that said absolutely nothing? The final clause was something along the lines of ‘nothing in this legislation binds anyone to do anything’.

    We have legislation for an NDIS, but where is the funding? It seems a long time ago we voted for a NBN, but apparently there hasn’t been a connection in W.A., S.A. or the N.T. in the past two years. Credibility isn’t just a Rudd issue – promise and promise but poor in delivery – but an ALP issue, where saying things is supposed to get you the credit of doing them.

    At least you’ll be glad to know that I heard a discussion on the BBC this arvo about world leaders and their clothes and Julia wasn’t mentioned.

  74. Russell

    “she, and the ALP, seem very authentic indeed”

    …. should be very inauthentic indeed

    Time for bed.

  75. Pavlov's Cat

    fact is, the media ended up being more or less right about much of it, as tiresome as that fact may be.

    In the sense that, say, one half of a couple whinges and bitches and creates crisis after crisis and then when the inevitable split comes says See, I told you so, I knew you were going to leave me! — in that sense, yes, I agree. They were right about it, but they made sure they were right about it by carrying on in such a way as to make it more or less inevitable. I don’t think cause and effect are at all clear or separate here, although I agree that Gillard’s leadership was undermined from the outset so it was always coming.

  76. paul of albury

    Is there actual evidence of Rudd leaking relentlessly or does this meme just fit people’s expectations for him? Personally it seems as long as he’s there he’ll be a lightning rod for dissent but without getting out completely it’s unavoidable. But I haven’t seen him getting relentlessly caught, except in assertions which fit the asserter’s narrative.

    As far as the sexist treatment of Gillard I agree it constantly underlies the stories told about her, but I’m not sure how much difference it makes to her popularity. For the sexists who hate her it’s a powerful renforcement but I think these people are mostly rusted ons, and for everyone else the sexism kind of undermines their credibility. I think this distinction is why the misogyny speech’s public acceptance caught the press gallery by surprise, most of the electorate have had enough of the anti Gillard misogyny and were happy to hear it rejected.

  77. Geoff Henderson

    ” Gillard’s ‘inauthentic’ method of becoming leader is only inauthentic because she’s a woman. She is immediately behind the eight ball because of her gender, and as Fran has pointed out her inauthenticity is exacerbated by her single, childless status. Not a proper leader. Not a proper woman. ”

    These assertions are well and truly outside my experience. I know a lot of people who don’t hold our PM in high regard, but I have never heard talk that linked their opinion to her gender, fertility or “authenticity”.

    In fact, most have subdued (and reluctant) respect for JG, who can hiss back at the unholy level of shite that has been shoveled her way.

    Ask those people about the government that JG leads and they will waste little time trying to say it is good – the perception, right or wrong, is that this administration is terrible. As Martin B’s list suggests there are ample grounds for discussion about the current governments merits.

    Truth is, the labor gestalt, whatever it really is, has totally fumbled the opportunity.
    IMO, talk of authenticity, misogyny and so on is garbage best left somewhere else. Such talk does much to hinder the quest for much needed labor reconstruction.

  78. A. Swan

    [Snipped – surreptitiously morphed nyms breach the comments policy. ~ Mod Team]

  79. Geoff Henderson
  80. tigtog

    Just a quick moderator note to reflect a quick update of the OP: no doubt the news cycle will shortly become all-shuffle-all-the-time. While it’s been most understandable for this past Salon to be a post-mortem thread on #nonspill, we’d prefer all #shuffle discussion to take place on the latest Overflow thread.

  81. faustusnotes

    Given the nuclear-level stoushage going on around here this probably won’t get noticed, but I thought I’d let the mods know that I contacted Akismet yesterday and got a reply saying “fixed that for you” today. I think it worked, too. So, it doesn’t take months, apparently!

  82. tigtog

    Hurrah, faustusnotes! Good to see!

  83. faustusnotes

    Yes tigtog, now I can hold forth with all manner of ill-informed toss to my heart’s content. It’s like I’ve discovered the internet for the very first time! Now, where did I put that cat video…?

  84. paul burns
  85. jumpy

    Is this the same Wantok that posted here in the past? Good work anyway.

    COMMERCIAL projects pursued by PNG Sustainable Development Program have been a dismal failure – arguably due to poor oversight by a board headed by former chairman Dr Ross Garnaut and a lack of private sector expertise in senior management. By Wantok

    Always been skeptical of Dr Garnauts integrity, hope I’m wrong, a lot has been invested in that mans word.

  86. Tim Macknay

    Another reason why I prefer dogs to cats.

    But the dog would have eaten it!

  87. Liz

    That’s so funny, Paul. As you know, I do prefer dogs.

  88. FDB

    Cripes alive.

    Hot on the adorable furry heels of Stevie Nicks’ recent passing, comes the following Cat News From Carlton North bulletin…

    While my sister upstairs was at Springsteen last night her kitty Buster got severely gored in the belly by some unknown mishap, and now has to spend weeks in a cage, shitting where he eats and unable to exercise. She goes to Perth tomorrow for the long weekend, and “Good” Friday means no pet or hardware stores, so between now and 3pm we have to somehow craft said enclosure so it has an access hatch and enough room for a little bed and bowls and litter tray.

    And the first few days must be here in the downstairs, where he has been explicitly banned and made very unwelcome for years.


  89. jumpy

    There’s a hit song in that for a good Welch minstrel .