In this piece, Tony Wright leaves out the possibility that the Coalition might regenerate themselves by getting rid of dead wood. Peter McGauran and Philip Ruddock both entered Parliament in byelections following Coalition election losses. There are two reasons for this: first, there is no plan for regeneration and second, Tony Wright didn't get where he is today by imagining what might be.
The Brendan Nelson-Warren Truss Coalition is diving into a toxic stew
If you've written a boring and unimaginative article, it doesn't help anyone to waste dramatic imagery like that.
A lot of those voters are likely to be in a savage mood at being forced back to the ballot box so soon after the federal election.
Now you understand why Bennelong voters tossed out Howard. Mind you, there's the flipside that there's no point in having someone hanging around when they don't want to be there.
At 50, Peter Costello has a bit more time than the others to build an inheritance for the kids, probably in merchant banking or other parts of the corporate world that would be keen to have a former national treasurer on board. But that world is ruthless, with a short memory for achievements of the past. Costello can't afford to wait and watch his opportunities sail by.
Tony, Peter Costello did precisely that to the Prime Ministership of Australia. Merchant banks and corporate boards do not need someone who's going to wait until something falls into his lap, and neither do they want to cruel their chances with Labor governments by providing a bolthole for someone who kicked their arses for eleven years. Think, Tony, think.
Peter McGauran is 52, and his great love outside politics has long been the racing and thoroughbred industries. Once a jockey, a racecourse steward and a horse owner, the massive money lavished on horse racing in Dubai — or maybe Newmarket, in England — awaits his attention.
Yairs, after his stellar dithering over equine influenza I bet they can't wait.
In the back rooms, a rapid-transit view is crystallising ... That train of thought, according to Liberal sources, has led to a loose plan to hold all four byelections on a single weekend in February. The cost to the taxpayer and the pain to the Coalition would be over relatively quickly
It's called groupthink, it's called panic, it comes from the same bunch of clowns who blithely ignored Rudd until it was too late. A train does not crystallise, Tony. You're no more thinking clearly than they are, so what's the point of you?
Costello managed to keep the swing to the ALP in his Melbourne electorate of Higgins to a relatively small 1.3% last month, leaving him enjoying a margin of a bit more than 7%. Much of that, however, is attributable to his personal standing and the chance that Higgins voters could have produced a prime minister. It is not out of the question that the voters — even in a blue-ribbon area such as Higgins — could turn viciously anti-Liberal in a byelection with Costello gone, stripping the seat from Nelson's Coalition.
This doesn't explain why this mattered not at all to the voters of Bennelong. It would take a heroic effort for the Victorian Liberals to lose Higgins, such as if they preselect Josh Frydenberg.
The question bedevilling Costello, Downer, McGauran and Ruddock would be whether or not they should take the leap in the weeks before the budget — thus giving Rudd and Swan a blessed period where the media would concentrate on the Coalition's byelection horrors rather than the economy. Alternatively, to quit soon after the budget would likely grant Labor a greater budget honeymoon.
It's an indictment of the media that they can't snap out of the midset that Costello, Downer and Ruddock are still the master players while the Prime Minister and Treasurer can be excused for not focusing on the economy. A genuinely pathetic mindset. However, could be worse:
Victoria's Kevin Andrews, 52, dumped from Nelson's shadow ministry, is said to be utterly furious. He is, after all, Victoria's second-most senior Liberal after Costello. "Don't be too surprised if Kevin chooses to walk," one Liberal said. However, another senior Coalition figure dismissed such an idea, declaring that Andrews had come to politics in middle age (he was 39) and therefore had chosen it as his final career. In politics, everything, it seems, is in the timing.
Bungled WorkChoices, bungled immigration. No gratitude, some people! At least Andrews hasn't built a faction to wade into the Costello-Kennett miasma, but even so what he hadn't done defines the man and puts the lie to all that Teddy Roosevelt crap about the man in the arena.
Speaking of bungling, here's today's Jase:
I feel very confident that not a shred of evidence will be produced to prove me wrong.
Yes, he's finally found a bunch of Canberra people who don't rise to his silly goading, and he can't handle it.
Spend long enough in Canberra and you eventually get to observe these misfits at play. A more conspicuous bunch of odd-bods you couldn't imagine.
This is rich from someone who works in the Canberra press gallery.
Like the CIA, Australia's spy agencies are incompetent money-guzzlers and should be abolished.
Australia's intelligence agencies have far greater records of success on developments in our region than does the CIA, and it takes more than a bit of idle piling-on to realise that.
"Writing about spies and intelligence agencies occupied a large part of my career," wrote Knightley in his memoir, A Hack's Progress. "I do not regret it … but espionage itself is a dirty business riddled with deceit, manipulation and betrayal."
Which makes you wonder what sort of person would want to get into the business in the first place. Anyone who finds the idea of spending their entire working life not being able to tell a soul — not even their own families — what they do for a living is bound to be a fairly warped individual.
Politics and journalism are also dirty businesses riddled with deceit, manipulation and betrayal. What sort of person gets into those businesses, Jase?
As for foreign intelligence, there is no need to go beyond the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
It has hundreds of normal, well-educated people stationed all over the world who spend their days learning all sorts of interesting facts and gossip about the countries they are living in. And they send all that information back home in neatly packaged cables that inform policy-makers throughout the government.
Their performance on East Timor and AWB left a lot to be desired. Personally, I blame inadequate scrutiny from politicians and media, Jase.
It's time we put an end to this racket known as the parliamentary press gallery. To sustain a belief in the efficacy of press gallery journalism is to ignore at least 70 years worth of ineptitude, inadequacy and dereliction.