14 April 2014

Good news for the confused

It's good news week
Someone's found a way to give
The rotting dead a will to live
Go on and never die

- Hedgehoppers Anonymous Good news week
You fools! You ingrates, you Fairfax readers! After all Mark Kenny and Michael Gordon have done for you, you go and claim that the science of Tony Abbott somehow isn't settled.

Mark Kenny has long been on a mission to make you think well of Tony Abbott. Long after it was clear that there was no story with Julia Gillard, her former partner and his AWU slush funds, Mark Kenny was flog-flog-flogging it. He got his official title, chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald, only because of his inexplicable failure to land a Walkley. Kenny helped pioneer the syllogism that eventually spread around the press gallery like a dose of the squirts:
  • Julia Gillard makes announcements;
  • We in the press gallery want to establish that Julia Gillard's announcements have no credibility;
  • Tony Abbott basically gainsays what Julia Gillard says;
  • If Julia Gillard says anything, it is only as a foil for Tony Abbott; therefore
  • When Tony Abbott says something, he isn't just another politician - boy, you can take it to the bank.
All that led the Liberals to eat their own dog food to this extent:

When you are dealing with people who have trust issues, the very last thing you should do is overreach like that with a statement that you know - and that everybody but the press gallery knows - can only ever be bullshit.

This also explains why Mark Textor's gobbet (no I won't link to it) about trust and slowing down the media cycle is such utter crap. Tony Abbott is not the dependable sort of guy to restore trust, either in word or deed, and in pretending otherwise Textor et al were setting him and the nation up to fail. Governments always react to developments whether they like it or not, an obvious truth that cannot be accommodated in Textor's silly Fueherprinzip. For example, whoever is responsible for the media strategy surrounding MH370, and its effect in losing all trace of the actual aircraft, can be fairly regarded as a) having followed the Textor playbook unswervingly, and b) an idiot who has gotten in the way of big and important issues of global significance.

Once Abbott, and those around him, started believing their own press to that extent, there was no way they would or could ever go about the necessary business of getting over themselves. There was no way that the press gallery, having invested so much in their success, could simply engage the political clutch and revert to voice-from-nowhere political neutrality. The press gallery and Abbott were, and are, in it together.

This is why Kenny got all giddy with this - I mean, I ask you. If a journalist in North Korea or Egypt came out with something so cloying, so treacly, you could assume they'd been tortured or their family had been threatened. Kenny just does what he does because he's a suck. He does it in the hope that he'll get little drops in the lead-up to the Budget, looking less like some fearless source of truth than some yapping lap-dog.

In that position, you stake everything on the object of your obsequiousness going from triumph to triumph. This is what Peter Hartcher got right for a couple of years after 2006 with Rudd. Not so Kenny, firmly in the basket of a hot-air balloon which has already begun its descent. Look at the path of Kenny's columns immediately after he had laid what was left of his soul so bare:
As Bushfire Bill says, any more successes like that and they are done for.

Politically Homeless pioneered the disdain for Australian polling data that has since been emulated elsewhere, and this remains regardless of which ways the polls pitch and yaw. Opinion rendered as 'hard data' by pollsters really is an example of what Orwell called "an appearance of solidity to pure wind". US polling data enables a level of granular examination that can be relied upon by people like Nate Silver, but Australian polling does not. Kenny does his best befuddled Shanahan at the poll data before him:
The degree of voter disenchantment suggests the government has again squandered the goodwill which had ebbed in the lead-up to Christmas, but was thought, now, to have been recovered.
There is no such thing as a double or repeat squander. The very idea suggests either fraud, or mistaken counting in the first place (note the passive voice - who, exactly, thought it had been recovered?).
... the government has paid for a month in which its central economic policies such as repealing the carbon and mining taxes and crafting a fiscally responsible budget were allowed to be swamped by self-inflicted political controversies.
No, this government has shown that it really has no agenda other than repealing two taxes that only really affect a few very big and wealthy companies. Once they lose that focus, they are lost pretty easily: Brandis' shout-out to bigots, Six-buck Dutton, the safe pair of hands that had been too grasping, etc. The repeal of those taxes is this government's sine qua non, its Godot, without which there isn't much going on at all. And again, the passive - "were allowed to be swamped" - to describe such an active, swaggering government.
In Western Australia, where the Greens succeeded less than a fortnight ago in having their sitting senator re-elected following a well-fought campaign ...
Having failed to sneer the Greens out of existence, he tries to worm his way in with a party that will clearly be a political force for as long as Mark Kenny will have a job in the press gallery.
Labor's dominance on the two-party-preferred basis is being driven by the Greens' support and by a noticeable shift in voting intention between the cities and the non-capital city votes.
That really is the key sentence in this sorry drizzle of a column.

First, there are realignments going on between Labor and the Greens, conflicts and allegiances far more profound than anything seen on the left in the 1950s. Second, the idea that this government stands or falls in regional Australia - not in western Sydney - could enable a sharper focus on why this government reacts as it does, thus improving the way politics is reported.

Or not:
"It has been an important week for our country," [Abbott] said in his weekly Facebook message.
Given that we can read Abbott's Facebook messages as and when we choose, what is the point of Kenny and his supporting edifices of Fairfax and the press gallery in merely relaying social media content?
"My hope is that in the years ahead Australians will see first-hand the benefits of closer, freer trade with Asia – through more jobs, more affordable goods and services and even closer bonds with our north Asian friends and neighbours."
That's what they all say. Really. There is no news value in such banality.

Keating and Howard relied more and more on staged foreign-policy events when they were on the way out. Rudd, a former diplomat, staked everything on the Copenhagen conference and was shirtfronted by the Chinese: the people we thought he understood better than anyone. When Gillard negotiated tradeability between the currencies of China and Australia, it was too late. Now Abbott, having failed in his first foreign policy forays, has gone straight to vacuous posturing with no intervening period of achievement.

Note that Abbott mentions not a word about immigration, even though South Korea and China are important sources of migrants to Australia. Not a word about cultural exchange, or that "new Colombo Plan" stuff. Note also that the press gallery don't follow it up, not wishing to embarrass Abbott.

Why embarrass the Prime Minister when you can embarrass yourself? This is the approach taken by Michael Gordon, who has never recovered from his unrequited man-love for Keating, and who should simply shut up until he can work out what's going on:
Call it counter-intuitive. Tony Abbott enjoys the finest week of his prime ministership and goes backwards, Bill Shorten goes on leave and goes forward, and disenchanted Coalition voters park their votes with the Greens.

And that's just for starters. For all the talk of primary producers benefiting from freer trade, the big drop in Coalition support has occurred outside the cities, in regional Australia ...
So regional Australia is outside the cities now?
Then there's the fact that Labor, after recording a record low vote in the West Australian Senate re-election and being under pressure on multiple fronts, finds itself in an election-winning position in two-party terms if an election was imminent, which it is not.
What, exactly, is the "fact" that Gordon promised? Is it the truism that Senate votes can be different to "election-winning" (House of Representatives) votes? That negation at the end is Lewis Carroll stuff, except it is Gordon who can't both hold onto his prejudices and work out what's going on.
For all the seeming contradictions in the latest Fairfax/Nielsen Poll, two points are clear.

The first is that the Abbott government remains deeply unpopular, having surrendered much of the support that delivered the emphatic victory at the last election.
No double-squander here. Like Kenny, Gordon was one of the few people who believed Abbott when he made the claims in that picture above. Gordon, Kenny and the press gallery then presented the 2013 election as though both major parties were offering the samey-same outcomes, but that Abbott had more credibility. They were wrong on both counts - and these are the guys who see Abbott up close on a regular basis. If they're wrong about that, about what might they be right?
The second is that there are plenty vying for the attention of voters whose inclination more than two years out from an election is to disengage, with no consistent pattern in thinking emerging other than the fact that neither side has a clear ascendancy.
Voters aren't disengaged from education, or jobs, or health. Voters are disengaged with the fatuous way that these issues are (mis)reported. Michael Gordon and Mark Kenny are, in part, responsible for that disengagement; it represents professional failure on their part.

There is "no consistent pattern in thinking emerging" from the press gallery; this is unlikely to change so long as moribund outfits like Fairfax resist turnover in both personnel and in the way they report politics and government.
Photo opportunities with world leaders rarely translate to higher approval ratings for national leaders ...
This is another one of those predictions that would have been more powerful before or during the event rather than afterwards.
... it is likely to take time for the electorate to process the value of Abbott's whirlwind Asian tour and the free trade agreements, either signed or in prospect.
Because the facile media coverage was so manifestly inadequate.
It is also possible that voters have delivered an adverse judgment on the bigotry debate, a debate we did not have to have, and on the decision to bring back the titles of a bygone era.
What 'debate'? To call it that, you have to assume that Andrew Bolt's readership constitutes a political constituency, which it doesn't. This was the mistake Howard made in 1998 and it almost cost him government. Abbott is much less deft than Howard; for a start, Howard could see that Brandis was a liability, whereas Abbott indulges him again and again (travel rorts, the bookcase, Tim Wilson, and now the soon-to-be-iconic s18 of the Racial Discrimination Act. What next?).
Nervousness about tightening eligibility for the pension ... help explain the drop-off in Coalition support among older voters.
It isn't just that, it's cutting off other options that is doing for Abbott. It's one thing to shut down the car industry if there is some efflorescence elsewhere, but there isn't. Abbott is all about slashing, not pruning. Older people want education for younger generations, and healthcare; I cut out the reference to PPL because it made Gordon look silly.

By this point Gordon is not in a position to make any declamatory statements at all, not even inane ones like these:
Not that there is comfort for Labor ... For both sides the budget looms as a crucial test.
Consistent with the rest of the piece, I was half expecting Gordon to flatly contradict those statements and then resign, but sadly it was not so. Instead, he puts the boot into Bill Shorten - but in doing that Gordon just reinforces his own confusion:
... almost one in five voters are not sure whether to approve or disapprove of the performance of Labor leader Bill Shorten, who is on bereavement leave after the death of his mother.
Do you think the press gallery has given voters the information they need to make such a judgment, Michael? Having explained why Shorten isn't making speeches or twisting arms in Labor backrooms, Gordon then says:
Shorten is right to say the party must change, but is yet to articulate how and when.
Why isn't he articulating that, Michael? Oh.

Mark Kenny and Michael Gordon are not a couple of blow-ins. They are senior members of the federal parliamentary press gallery. It is equally undeniable that they have no idea what is going on with our political system. Business journalists who didn't understand the stock market, sports journalists who don't understand individual matches or the wider competitions in which they are played, have no future. Yet, Fairfax have kept these numpties for too long in a press gallery construct that doesn't work for anyone. The reason why Karen Middleton can't find anyone to celebrate or support the press gallery is because, even at its best, it is bullshit.

When we become disengaged with their addled and fatuous commentary, apparently it is we and not they who have the problem. Yep, the political predicament we're in shows that we just don't appreciate all the hard work that Michael Gordon, Mark Kenny and the gang have put in.


  1. Andrew, you know that while Abbott said all of that immediately prior to the election, it was never presented as a billboard 'with signature'.

    As we know, if it isn't written down...

  2. Bravo!! No wonder they hate social media. he he

  3. Thank you again Andrew for an interesting and challenging piece. Your generosity in writing so frequently always astonishes. It is a pleasure to find fresh meat served up so enticingly, parsley sprigs, white paper frills.

    I was wondering if you or any other Anon could explain why TA, the person, seems to have the press gallery enthralled?

    Many of them write like old aunts and uncles clucking over a beloved boy. Wise beyond his years, that sort of thing. Tony being Tony. God he is nearly 60!

    It makes be feel quite faint.

    1. He takes them seriously, he flatters them, in ways that Gillard and Rudd never did. This doesn't lead to a better-informed public.

    2. Thanks Andrew, I agree but I think there is something else going on and I can't put my finger on it.

    3. Good work BB.

      I agree with what you have written.

      The coverage of The Leader's doings has the give-away oiliness of crude propaganda. In my opinion, it is propaganda.

      I wonder what sort of impression Abbott made in China.

      Apparently Chinese reporters were far more interested in the search for the missing airline than the FTA talks.

      Abbott did what he always does when he is out to impress. He gave every impression that the plane was about to be found.

    4. Whilst I applaud Andrew's skewering of the press gallery I can't say I can agree with his assessment that their inability to critique this government is based on Abbott's flattery.
      Abbott is a poor media performer when placed in the inquisitorial cross hairs and prefers to avoid questioning wherever possible.
      He also appears to lack any great personal charm and often appears nervous in social settings so that he comes across as stilted and ill at ease.
      The result is a Prime Minister who refuses to take questions, refuses to answer questions and often bizarrely physically runs away from questions.
      How is being treated as a mushroom in any way flattery?
      I think Andrew is much closer to the truth when he suggests, that the press gallery gave this numbskull the thumbs up prior to the election and now don't know how to polish a very stinky turd.


  4. ernmalleyscat15/4/14 7:45 am

    I thought it was telling that in that edition of the Herald where they spent pages fretting about why such a popular government and PM weren't, well, popular they yet again completely ignored the weekend protest marches.
    To have tens of thousands of people from a wide cross section of the voting society regularly taking to the streets to show disapproval of government policy or management and to ignore it is one thing for a newspaper of record and analysis. But to then be surprised that that disapproval is expressed in polls is just weird.

    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I thought I was going mad, but you have summed up my concerns and sentiments perfectly. At the risk of grovelling - thank you thank you

  5. my only comment is to say i agree with you 1000% bravo

  6. Andrew thank you for another piece on our inadequate press gallery. I now watch and listen to these dumb clots give their take on this government and after watching insiders have decided the mob are a waste of space as well or reading Michelle Grattan on TC she may as well just print Abbott press releases.

  7. Bushfire Bill15/4/14 10:06 am

    While Mark Kenny is a favourite target of mine, as well, we shouldn't forget Mark Simkin's contributions during the Free Trade Junket.

    He'd have been more honest if he'd sung his lines. At least then it would have been obvious that he was out to spruik a hymn of praise.

    It is now clear there was never any doubt that this trip would be declared a success, indeed a *brilliant* success, no matter what happened.

    While Kenny ran with the "Tony Comes Of Age" line (one he tried to use unsuccessfully before, back when Abbott nearly killed Australia-Indonesian relations), Simkin confined himself to "Tony The Hero" stuff: they negotiators were at loggerheads until Tony turned up; Tony was just about personally searching for the lost plane. Tony stared down the bad North Korean guards.

    On MH-370, for days the ABC ran with the same story: "Tony's got a secret". Gradually Angus Houston's name slid further and further down the page until it eventually fell off. By the end of last week, Tony was in operational control (or at least that's the impression they tried to give). Never get between a camera and Tony Abbott when there's a chance to be spruiked as a hero. It's just a pity it seems to have crashed in the ocean... otherwise Tony could have put the fire out himself.

    It was pretty impressive show, for a couple of deals that didn't get very much for very many (and in the China case got nothing at all).

    Beef tariffs down from 40-odd% to 20-odd% *over twenty years*; and nothing for anyone else except car sales spivs after the loss of import tariffs on Japanese cars (which I expect to be fully swallowed up by "unforseen price rises" in other areas).

    Pretty soon the Free Trade Deals had become "a foot in the door". Expect to hear soon that there is "yet much hard work to be done", "devil in details" etc. etc.

    Angus Houston has already made a grey, sombre re-appearance, so I guess Tony's gazumping of him on MH-370 didn't turn out so well, either.

    In the end what did we get? Jamie showed that Labor-hatin' Packers are still Labor-hatin' Packers by writing off Gillard and Rudd successes that even Mark Kenny was prepared to concede were pretty impressive.

    Most of the Australian agricultural sector got nothing and what the beef industry got may help the *grandsons* of cow cockies, but not the actual cockies themselves, anytime soon at least.

    MH-370 is still parked in a hanger on Diego Garcia (or on the bottom of the Indian Ocean, if you're a *real* conspiracy nut).

    The Libs got a smack across the chops in WA, despite telling everyone a big Senate by-election win was important because it would allow them to get their legislation through. Maybe the WA punters actually took him seriously?

    Joe Hockey dudded the pensioners who voted for him.

    In fact, the only indication that last week was Abbott's "Best week evah" was that the Press Gallery all agreed with each other that it was. Hence the puzzled, almost hurt looks, and the use of "counter-intuitive" in discussing the poll results ("counter-intuitive" also used to be Grattan's favourite word, as she used it to describe Labor poll wins in the dying days of Howard's government). That Ol' Black Gallery Magic just ain't workin' like it used to. No amount of witchcraft can make Tony Abbott or his government likeable. There's a simple reason for this: nearly everything Abbott utters needs a lawyer's skills and talents to parse it. He's never straight with anyone. There's always a catch or a loophole. Just about the only group that (at least claim to) take him seriously are the pPress Gallery. For the rest of us... meh... there's not enough hours in the day to pore over the fine detail. Let's just assume he's a liar.

    As for the Press Gallery... how many journalists does it take to convince a nation? More than the number available, apparently.

    1. Simkin is what Dorothy Parker, over at Loon Pond, would call a "knob polisher" - no biting of the hand that makes the junket from him

  8. Andrew, this column would have been much more convincing had you not written on March 4 last:

    "There is no progress to speak of toward a trade deal with China, apart from the say-so of Abbott and his staff. The idea of a free trade deal with Japan has made no progress since 1957. As far as the governments of China and Japan are concerned, no progress has been made, and recent comments by the Chinese government have been clear that they do not regard a China-Australia trade deal as a priority (especially given Australia's involvement in the TPP process)."

    Since the election you are becoming more like an op-ed journalist with every post - changing your T-shirt to suit the moment. Better be careful Fairfax might offer you a gig.:)

    1. There was no evidence then. It was all hush-hush, and no journalist could or did penetrate the veil of secrecy.

      That first sentence stands up, BB. Look at the proof from the Chinese side; they may have a bit of extra motivation after Japan and South Korea, but they are still running their own race. As for Japan, it isn't clear that the concessions on their side are substantially greater than the incremental deals done since 1957.

      Note that unlike Gordon and Kenny, I make predictions before the event rather than afterwards.

    2. Was ironic that on Mar 6, only two days after your post, the Chinese premier told the National People's Congress in Beijing that China would be accelerating trade talks with Australia. But in journalist op-ed land one is not expected to acknowledge errors, so you are on safe ground :).

      Am no fan of Hartcher's but when I read your sledge I thought it was a bit amateur in that Hartchers contacts would extend to the Trade public servants putting these deals together - certainly would not be confined just to the say so of Abbott and his staff ffs. If he was talking to a minister it would have been Robb.

      As for Kenny - he has been in full on Abbott derangement mode since the election as I am sure you know perfectly well. Reached its climax recently when he wrote a splendidly egregious and bilious attack on the worth of Abbott's Oxford degree. It seems that, perhaps reassured by Hugh White, Kenny joined the trip with expectations that Abbott would make an idiot of himself in front of 600 business and academic leaders. Instead the opposite occurred. So we get this suck response from him with more to come I suspect.
      Moral of story - columnists underestimating the Abbott take care lest they find themselves in quicksand.

    3. I'd appreciate a link to that speech, if you have it.

      Kenny has not been as strongly against Abbott as he was against Gillard, not even close. I read it as him being mildly miffed that News Ltd get favoured treatment and that he isn't the press gallery player that others who have held his title had been.

      As to underestimating Abbott - he's got where he is by default. Haven't seen a lot of real steel or brains, he's keeping one step ahead of a series of inadequate opponents, if that's what you mean.

    4. When Gillard had a successful trip to China (which I assume has set up Abbott's 'success'), M Kenny promised us that she wasn't going to get any credit from him because something something Kevin Rudd

    5. http://www.smh.com.au/business/china/china-to-accelerate-australia-free-trade-agreement-20140305-346su.html

    6. Gawd Andrew - it's your hero BOF who turns out to be the flake!

  9. After reading M Kenny's tirade against embittered "Lefties" who "don't get" Abbott, it's been amusing to watch him furiously fighting a rearguard action as each "leftie" prediction comes to pass

  10. How many journalists does it take to change a light bulb? None! You don't need light when you are wearing a blindfold.

  11. "In Western Australia, where the Greens succeeded less than a fortnight ago in having their sitting senator re-elected following a well-fought campaign, the party's vote has reached an unprecedented 27 per cent – more than double the 12 per cent recorded at last year's " election.

    That's from the last of the Kenny links.
    Dunno where he gets the 12% from, the Greens scored 9.7% at last year's election in WA and the best in any state was 10.8%.

    I expect journos to get such detail correct.
    Or am I missing something?


  12. Andrew, when I left the Press Gallery more than 20 years ago, it was populated by hacks who caucused after every event to make sure they got the "line" right. They reported in terms that the ordinary punter could not understand, they were in the thrall of Hawke and Keating (particularly Keating) and they thought an outsider could never report politics because they "just didn't get it". I look around today, and so many of the faces that were there 20 years ago are still there (including the aforementioned Mr Gordon). And very little has changed.

    1. An admission of professional failure on their part, surely. Well done for getting out.

  13. Andrew, your choleric disposition is to the fore again. Do you and members of the MSM meet for Friday night poker? Is there a chance that Kenny, Gordon, Porter, Maiden and others owe you some money?


    1. They owe me some journalism. Hardly choleric to want that, surely.

    2. Touché Andrew

  14. Thanks Dan for your insights as an ex "hack".

    While watching Q and A last night...

    Miss Jacqui emerged from P.U.P

    Yes..she's ill informed and to many a "bogan" however the elitism displayed on the panel and via twitter was astonishing to say the least.

    Sorry...but that's the real world in all it's passionate glory

    I wouldn't vote for her but the panel was so condescending and patronising including the erudite Ms Wong.

    Tsk tsk tsk

    Private school fee careers for some.

    1. Ah Yes, Miss Jacqui's excellent analysis of the Climate Change Debate - "half of the scientists say one thing, the other half say the opposit" - not an exact quote, but I think that was the gist of it.
      This from a lady who wiill have a potentially decisive vote on the future of the Carbon " Tax" and therefore our future.
      Shouldn't she be disqualified from voting on that issue until she learns better?

    2. So to point out that an *elected representative* in our upper house of parliament is ill informed and uneducated is "elitist" and to argue against her (ill informed) populist views is "patronising"? Oh give me strength. If someone is a bad politician, they should be called on it and I haven't seen any evidence that Lambie is capable of handling the immense privilege of a Senate seat.
      I can't even understand your last sentence, if it can be called that. I suppose you'd say that's "elitist". Down with legible language and capable, educated politicians! The "Real World" (TM) rules!

    3. Helen...thanks for your reply.

      Remember Paul Keating?

      Just to clarify my point again

      There are many well educated idiots in politics that are selfish careerists and contribute very little to their communities.

      Andrew has written extensively here about breaking the Student Union political model of the professional politico class that has little real life experiences.

      That was my point.

      My sentence structure may be easier to read if I wrote this on a normal computer.

      Excuse the grammar but pedantics aside I want educated professionals with a career that includes a strong business acumen outside in the real world.

      I've seen too many individuals who fit into a weird political mould that are emotionally
      stunted adults who are creepy idiots.

      Look at the failure of the asylum seeker issue .

      Ambition took over their duty of care for children in detention.

  15. Mr Kenny is a nasty piece of work.

    He's also suing one of The Chaser Teams production company.

    Sook .




    1. That's Chris Kenny, not Mark.

    2. Correct...

      News ltd versus The A.B.C.

      Why engage in such blood sport?

      You look like a bunch of selfish fools and the public are watching while eating popcorn for the next installment.

      GET Over yourselves!!

      You're denigrating our media.

      No wonder his son spoke out...

      The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...lol!

  16. VoterBentleigh16/4/14 7:29 am

    How foolish the Government now looks for denouncing the ABC for reporting on the same matters as 'The Guardian' on the basis that Snowden was a "traitor", given that 'The Guardian' and 'The Washington Post' have both won a Pulitzer Prize for revelations regarding the National Security Agency.

  17. It's said that you can't a polish turd(s), Clearly Mr Kenny knows of a secret that you can polish turds ...and that is with a pen. News has just come to hand Mr Fatty O'Barrel has just resigned as NSW premier. Talk about ICAC being set up to embarrass the Labour party, so far it has claimed Mr Sinodinos and Batty O'Farrel. Yo, ho, ho a hunting we will go.

  18. Once again you have exposed the hollowness of the Press Gallery and the corner that they have painted themselves into.

    I have to admit that my feelings initially were identical to yours:that the Credlin-Abbott relentless nihilism would be exposed for the sham that it always was. That type of approach did not usually succeed even at State level. I have seen media negativism by strings of coalition opposition leaders in three states. Mostly they led to nothing other than the loss of their leadership jobs. Kennett got lucky with Victorian Labor disintegrating, as did O'Farrell and Newman. Normally, you do need to have an alternative vision and purpose. That applies even more so at Commonwealth level where bigger decisions are made.

    Somehow Abbott escaped the fate of the vacuous state leaders he had so resembled. The Gallery helped achieve what should in theory have been impossible in an open democracy. That assumes that voters are relatively well-informed, and they were not.

    While part can be explained by the Murdoch dominance, it does not explain the rest of the media sources falling into line. Minor rationalisations have been explained by Abbott and Carr once being journos and knowing how to massage them.

    Hartcher and Kenny deserve all you have dished them with. I hadn't followed Gordon as closely as you have, but accept your analysis. I do have trouble coming to terms with the group speak that applies at the gallery. So-called doyens like Oakes are no better just because they'll occasionally dish Abbott. Mostly they'll conform.

    Worst of all, some that seem quite fair, like Taylor and Tingle, equally seem unable to break out from the group conformity.

    So we had the 43rd parliament producing a minority government beginning to deliver for the whole nation, yet presented as if under constant siege and bound to collapse. And we had Abbott barely able to string two sentences together presented as offering an alternative.

    The enormity of what they have allowed to be done to our country is only just beginning.

  19. Sorry to interrupt but just read a piece by Hartcher in the SMH. The man must be a fuckwit:

    "Whether his lapse was accidental or deliberate, the fact is that the Premier of NSW was brought down over an incidental detail."

    Hello? Anyone with a journalistic bone in their body would start from the position that the two had a closely guarded intimate relationship that was inadvertently revealed to the ICAC. What lies beneath? Not just between these two but in the broader LNP milieu. Hartcher is a too clever by half wanker.

    1. I liked BOF but it does seem he was far more matey with Di Geronimo than he's been letting on. The warmth of the note indicates that.

    2. He lied to an enquiry, is perjury 'an incidental detail', and not an actual crime involving jail time in journalist-world? On the other hand, the PM and his cabinet seem to think lying to the country or misleading parliament is like telling your wife her arse doesn't look big, so why would perjury be any different than a little white lie?

      I feel like I'm taking crazy pills sometimes.

  20. VoterBentleigh18/4/14 8:47 am

    Soliloquy to truth (apologies to Will)

    Partisans, Australians, countrymen,MSM, lend me your ears
    I come to wave goodbye to Barry, not to praise him
    The lies that men do tell live after them
    The good is that ICAC finds them out

    The Right Honourable Tony hath told you Gillard was a liar
    If it were so, it was a grievous fault
    And grievously hath Gillard answered it

    Here under leave of Tony and the LNP
    (For Tony is an honourable man,
    So are they all, all honourable men)
    Come I to speak at O'Farrell's fall.

    He was Tony's friend, but was found to lie under oath
    But Tony says it was an innocent, inadvertent memory lapse
    And sure Tony is an honourable man.

    The noble Tony says O'Farrell
    Hath brought many goods to NSW
    And has done an act of noblest deed
    The noble Tony says Barry did not lie
    And sure he is an honourable man

    I speak not to disprove what Tony spoke
    But here I am to speak what I do know
    You all did love truth once, not without cause,
    What cause witholds you then to support it now?
    O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
    And men have lost their reason!
    Bear with me;
    My heart is in the coffin there with truth
    And I must pause till it come back to me.

    Yesterday the word of O'Farrell might
    Have stood against the world. Now he is gone
    And none so poor to do him reverence
    Except Tony, Gerard and the deluded.

    O Master! If I were disposed to stir
    Your hearts to mutiny and rage,
    I should do Barry wrong and Tony wrong
    Who, you all know, are honourable men.
    I will not do them wrong, I rather choose
    To wrong the truth, to wrong myself and you
    Than I will wrong such honourable men.

    1. Damn it VB, I was going to use part of that as epilogue for my next post!