Bollocks to that.
Tony Abbott is neither prudent nor sensible. It's a myth that the Howard government was. Abbott's sense of entitlement is ferocious, more so than a thousand welfare queens or a brace of miners, kept in check only by fear of letting so many powerful people down if Labor get back in through his indiscipline. Unlike Hawke with his alcoholism, Abbott can't face the fact that his default personality - all of it, pretty much - is the problem. The Abbott family (diddly dum, click-click) is foisting him on us because otherwise he'll mope around the house with them, asking hard and weird questions about their virginity. Should he attain the trappings of office he would be, as Hillary Clinton said of her husband, a hard dog to keep on the porch.
Then there'd be the usual pantomime about The Budget Is Worse Than We Thought, which will do for all but a few of the policies that Abbott has announced over the past month. The slow media is yet to discover Christopher Pyne's dalliance with James Ashby while Mal Brough gets screwed, not to mention Arthur Sinodinos' with the Obeid family; they think they'll cover this All In Good Time, underestimating the extent to which time is against them. The Coalition doesn't have the deep reserves that enables a third of the Cabinet to fall away and keep up with the competition. The press gallery are wrong to assume they do, or that it needn't come to that.
The slow media have no right to be bored with the pantomime, it is being put on for their benefit. The latest to fall into this trap is Mark Kenny. Just because Katharine Murphy has moved on from Fairfax, there is no need for someone to act all disdainful as though they are somehow above it: I hear you, they cry, and we're sick of it too; but like some ridiculous addict he just can't leave the junk alone. They can't go off and do something else, get some perspective because, dear reader, they're not above it all really. After all those years reporting politics they can't tell which bits are false any more.
One wonders what he would he make of the current dry argument over Australia's future?Not to mention the decline in language (and keep in mind I am posting this almost a whole day after that was posted. You can bet Fairfax have had plenty of feedback on that and other howlers, and they've ignored the lot.
But then, this is not really about Australia's future, is it?Yes Mark, every election is about Australia's future. You might not want to report it that way, but it is. That's why, when making decisions about who to vote for, it is necessary to ignore journalists or to wade through vast volumes of bilge in order to winnow out what was said, what was done, and what little from all that might work its way through to our lives.
Unable to see forward, voters are thus left ...Unable to see? Does he really believe, in spite of all the evidence, that press gallery journalists are indispensible to finding out how we are and shall be governed? What illumination does anyone imagine Kenny and his ilk are offering?
Mention 2010 and pungent memories flood back such as the leaks that stopped Gillard's campaign dead in its tracks in week two and lumbered us with the hung Parliament. Abbott's wooden stake through the heart of WorkChoices, via his melodramatic, "dead, buried, cremated" mantra was another big talking point.Note the examples Kenny gives, of campaign talking points crafted for clowns like him rather than for digestion by actual humans. As a senior journalist he had a responsibility to insist that he would never sink to such depths, but he's shirked that and blames others for his weakness.
And who can forget the bizarre "Real Julia" declaration - a more abject piece of repositioning has rarely been attempted. Of course, voters never forgot Gillard's "no carbon tax under the government I lead" pledge.
The current election campaign, however, has failed to live up to even these tawdry standards.
Rubbishy unsourced yarns have blown up like summer storms.When you've covered politics for as long as I have, you'll realise that press gallery journalists like Mark Kenny have lived on 'rubbishy unsourced yarns' for three years. He was the one who flogged Gillard-AWU long after even Abbott started looking sheepish about it. It's got to the point where you automatically assume that any report from Mark Kenny is a rubbishy unsourced yarn. This is why you smack him down when he comes over all lofty.
There was the claim that Rudd had berated a make-up artist, until it emerged that he'd done nothing of the sort. Another alleged that he'd postponed a national security committee meeting on the Syria crisis to film a celebrity TV cooking slot, until it turned out he hadn't.If I was a journalist I'd investigate whether the Liberal Party was putting those claims about, rather than passively noting them as though they came out of thin air.
The parties themselves can hardly complain. Constrained by Labor's blood-strewn path to the poll, its recycled leader has struggled to reconcile his role as the last PM's assassin against an ill-defined promise of "a new way". Labor still has not explained what this "new way" actually entails.Fair point, but if he did how would you know? Can you explain how the current education funding model works, and how the proposals from each of Labor and the Coalition will change the status quo? What do you mean, no? What do you even do on the bus all day Mark, play Uno with Kieran Gilbert or swap rubbishy unsourced yarns (RUYs) with cousin Chris?
On Tuesday, Rudd held a Sydney harbourside press conference to explain the plan to relocate the Garden Island naval base to Brisbane. It was already going off the rails, but running into a fuming NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, made it a train wreck.Quite the mixed metaphor for a shipyard. And "running into" O'Farrell? Oh, please. Do you even know how these things work? O'Farrell does, ask him.
Labor's troubled campaign has allowed Abbott to sail through with minimal pressure.No, a dumb and lazy press gallery has done that. Fearful editors afraid that Labor will not intervene to stop new technologies that undermine their business model have given Abbott a rails run for three long years.
His gold-plated paid parental leave scheme not only makes a mockery of the claim of fiscal prudence, it reverses the precept of the modern liberal democratic state where tax rates reflect people's capacity to pay, and where the least well-off are given assistance on the basis of need.That's all true of course. It was true three years ago too, when he first proposed it without consulting his front bench. And now he's done it again, to them and to the press gallery. Ask Mark Kenny if he can explain the PPL and why it's different to the Gillard government's scheme. Ask him why the model presumes a model of fulltime employment that is vanishing before our eyes, particularly for women - hell, ask Tony Abbott that, because Mark Kenny won't and neither will the morons who follow Abbott around and confuse themselves with journalists.
Kenny can't imagine why election campaigns can or should be different to this, but he remains convinced this kind of RUY reporting is all that you deserve. Fairfax's traditions of great journalism should be enough to force him out, but the contrast is not obvious because the organisation clearly has no pride in those traditions. People tell broadcast media vox-pops that they are tuning out from the media and making their own minds up. They tell pollsters it's pretty much 50-50 and they're disengaged, but with 3% margin of error you can textor that to a firm 52-48 without necessarily lying. There is no reason why the polls should be better than the journalism, but there is every reason why the journalism should be better than it is. All we need are different journalists.
People are voting against the media because they are not providing the information that people need to make a decision. In a democracy it is people who make the decision, not pollsters or journalists or other dingbats like them. The metrics that slow media uses to measure consumption - clickthroughs and guesstimate multiples of how many see a bought newspaper or see/hear messages pumped through the air - are deliberately shallow, treating all content as equally worthy. Politicians selling different messages have no hope with a media that takes them all at face value, striving for a mean centre which doesn't exist and hasn't for years.
If you think Stephen Conroy was mean to the media, what with Convergence and Finkelstein and his slapdash attempts to beef up the Press Council, imagine what will happen once politicians realise the media have stopped being a conduit for information and have become a bottleneck. Neil Chenoweth might be ready for Col Allan to turn, but he doesn't realise that Allan has nowhere to turn - not even to Murdoch, who will be inevitably disappointed by Allan's bullshit. Neither does Mark Kenny, nor Katharine Murphy, nor any of them really. The late Slim Dusty was wrong: there's nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear, than a pack of obtuse and banal journalists to whom even avid consumers of political content have stopped listening.