Many journalists have been employed to create low-value non-stories around leadership speculation, an unsustainable business model if ever there was one.
How many hectares of screen real-estate (or hectares of actual forest) were sacrificed to Howard-Costello speculation? It began in about 1997, when the novelty had worn off Prime Minister Howard and a few hacks had not quite adjusted to Life After Keating. It did not end for another dozen years: Costello never challenged Howard for the leadership, he didn't even challenge after Howard had lost his seat (when he would've had no opponents: some challenge) and was accused of plotting up to the very point that the exit doors in Parliament House hit his backside on the way out. Every bit of reportage on that issue was wasted.
Then, Kevin Rudd went from having the shine taken off him to being dead meat within a few weeks. The entire US State Department knew that Rudd had become hated by his party, and having read Machiavelli they knew what it meant for a leader to be hated. The Australian parliamentary press gallery had no idea until David Marr's catty Quarterly Essay (i.e. not a daily news outlet, like the one that actually employs him), and then most of the action took place over a single night. It was too late for the press gallery to be getting new insights at that point so they all wrote the same story, faceless men ooh-ah.
If you could sum up the political situation in a sentence, it would be: Labor people are concerned about their polling but nobody is scuttling around doing any numbers to depose Gillard. There. I've written the story so journos don't have to. Now, can we get some journalists in to dig around for some other stories using some actual journalism?
At some point Julia Gillard will cease to be Prime Minister. It may be that there will be real moves against her. Until then, it would be nice if the fearless sleuths of the press gallery found out what was going on at the same time as the US embassy.
As for this, Gillard needs to do three things:
- Announce that refugees arriving here will be dealt with on shore, with full UNHCR input and access to those that want it;
- Call Abbott out for proposing a course of action that's illegal and cruel. Conservatives can handle the accusation of cruelty, it was water off a duck's back with Tampa in 2001 and it still is today. The impracticality and illegality, though, that's how you hit conservatives where they live. They believe in following the rule of law and being practical, not airy-fairy, so for Liberal policy to be illegal and impractical will be devastating and demoralising; and
- Say that she doesn't trust Abbott. Abbott says one thing and does another all the time, why should she negotiate with him? Call him a flake. Make that float-like-a-butterfly stuff count against him. Make herself out to be the responsible adult in this governing business, following the law and doing a difficult job under trying circumstances.
If, after all that, you're not as edified as billy-o, try one bogan from Adelaide picking on another, but without the beer and chunder. A man must have a hobby but I still think Hicks was stupid to alight on jihad; that said, for all his bluster, you know Kenny would snap like a twiglet after 48 hours in Gitmo. a) and b) above apply here too, in spades.