22 July 2008

Colless' credibility collapses

Malcolm Colless has gone after the wrong issues and ignored the real ones. He is shaping up as the worst press gallery reporter since Koutsoukis. Minchin et al diminish their credibility by using Colless as their mouthpiece as they have here.
THERE is a growing belief among Liberal powerbrokers that the conservatives can win the next federal election due by 2010.

At the same time they are adamant that they must win the next NSW election to be held the following year or face a major credibility collapse. Both prospects turn on leadership, and not necessarily the present conservative leadership in either area.

You'd expect these strategists to be further along than they would appear to be. If winning depends on Nelson or O'Farrell getting dumped, then it should be well underway by now. You'd expect an article like this to have salacious details on who's met with whom and what deals have been done to effect the (apparently) necessary change.

Someone's credibility has collapsed Malcolm. It could be your own: for the moment your article is all source, no substance. It could be that of your "sources": they seem to be all rattle, no sabre.
It is clear that Labor has rebirthed political correctness as a shield to protect it from the economic impact that the Prime Minister's latest vision to change the world will have on the lives of everyday Australians. And this is being reinforced by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong's tireless mechanical recital repetition of this policy dogma with almost robotic precision.

"Political correctness" could mean anything, really, but in the above paragraph Colless seems to be pre-empting criticism of his portrayal of the dour Wong as a robot. Remember when patriotism used to be the last refuge of a scoundrel?
Already under severe pressure from spiralling increases in the cost of living, Australians are now being asked to prepare for more pain through higher prices for electricity and gas and other consumer goods under Labor's solution to the problems of climate change. In the face of this they can quite justifiably ask: What do I get in return for this increased pain? The answer is a warm inner glow by knowing that you are doing your bit to save the planet and making life more environmentally secure for future generations.

While the opinion polls unsurpisingly [sic] suggest community support for this motherhood issue they also show that most people don't understand what they are in for. The Government has already swung its advertising spin machine into gear to underpin its policy. But the real test will come when it starts to bite, particularly if it becomes clear that the Government is itself confused.

And so far the Government's response to the climate change issue has shown some alarming inconsistences.

The political question is: will a vote for the Coalition alleviate current and projecte economic difficulties? The answer to that is a definite no, as Nelson, Hunt and Turnbull say different things on different days and make it impossible for Australians under pressure to regard the Coalition as their shelter from economic and environmental storms.

That's why your "strategists" are kidding themselves, Malcolm. An inconsistent Coalition makes for a poor alternative government. Labor don't have to be perfect, they just have to be better than the "alternative".
It also threw $70 million at Toyota to build hybrid cars

Tell us that Howard would never ever have done that, Malcolm, oh go on do.
a more sensible, and less open-ended, approach would have been to provide a rebate to people who opted to buy hybrid cars. Demand would then have dictated supply rather than the Government setting an artificial target to score a quick political plus.

That would be more open-ended, not less. There is something environmentally silly about importing vehicles that may or may not provide a net emissions benefit, and would have no local spin-off for developing lower-emissions technologies.
To muzzle criticism of the Government's response to what Rudd calls the great moral issue of our time, the Prime Minister says the conservatives must be responsible partners with Labor in the future economic direction of the country.

The Liberals have got some serious soul searching to do on this question in terms of acting responsibly, he added. Rudd's interpretation of responsible behaviour is for the Coalition to side with Labor, rather than the Greens who, holding the balance of power in the Senate, have called for a much tougher stance on emissions trading.

And the Coalition's alternative is ...? Because they don't stand for anything, it's an entirely fair assumption that the Coalition will fall for anything.
But Rudd's decision to throw down the gauntlet of economic management in fact provides former treasurer Peter Costello with the opportunity to re-enter the political debate instead of twiddling his thumbs on the backbench while he polishes off his memoirs.

Because writing is hardly work at all, is it Malcolm? You'd know. It might provide the opportunity, but will Costello take it? It's silly to raise a question and then dodge it. If you were a press gallery journalist, a Canberra observer, you'd have those answers.
There would be no shortage of forums for Costello to deliver a major speech responding to Rudd's challenge on economic management. This would send a signal to the electorate and the party that he was back in the game.

There are no such shortages and nor have there been for the past nine months, Malcolm. Anyway, what game are we playing at here? Costello has remained silent while Labor has blamed the Coalition for putting the country in an economic mess. Costello said and did nothing on carbon abatement. Labor have Costello's measure.
It would also show that instead of carping about lost leadership opportunities he now intended to do something about it.

Liberal strategists are adamant that the issue of Coalition leadership into the next election must be resolved by the end of the year. But there is no broad, enthusiastic support for either the present leader Brendan Nelson or the pretender, shadow treasurer Malcolm Turnbull.

A move by Costello would certainly provide a circuit breaker to the seemingly endless, counter-productive bickering between Nelson and Turnbull.

In other words, Colless' sources are not Liberal strategists - they are Liberal groupies, hopin' and wishin' and prayin' that the captain sleeping below will rise and lead them to victory rather than just scribble in his bunk. This is reinforced by Koutsoukis-like dreaming:
It would also dispel the perception that Costello has no stomach for the hard task of leading the Liberals out of Opposition, a view reinforced by his decision to duck the leadership mantle after the Coalition's election defeat last November.

Having shown that he's a federal politics joke, Colless turns his glass eye to Macquarie Street:
Meanwhile in Nelson and Turnbull's home state of NSW senior Liberals are unimpressed with a recent public comment by state Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, praising Wong and Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

Responding to a question on ABC TV's Stateline program about his ideal guests at a hypothetical dinner party, O'Farrell said that along with Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, he would include both women, whom he admired. "I don't agree with much of what they say, but as politicians I think they're representatives that the public could and should be proud of," he said.

Liberal strategists believe that O'Farrell's media handlers need to develop a tougher public image for the Opposition Leader if he is to convince the NSW voters that he will deliver the policies needed to rescue the state from appalling mismanagement under the existing Labor Government.

It's all very well for them: O'Farrell will have to work with a Federal Labor goverment (oh yes he will, given that Colless' hopeful premise is crap) whereas "Liberal strategists" won't. Federal Labor will do all they can to prop up NSW Labor, but O'Farrell can blunt this with his avuncular and reasonable demeanour. Morris Iemma has been busy cultivating "a tougher public image", so has Michael Costa and all of the other jokes and muppets in the NSW government. If those "Liberal strategists" think that O'Farrell needs to be more like Iemma and Costa, they need their heads read. They certainly have no credibility as "strategists".
There is a message for O'Farrell in the leadership flakiness within the federal parliamentary Liberal Party.

There sure is. You're seven points ahead of Labor, Barry, and once you win the next election could you come and show us how it's done?

The same journal featured even more hysteria, this time from John Black about Gippsland. You'd think the guy had never seen a byelection before.
it's difficult to make projections of a Gippsland by-election result on to urban marginals at a general election.

Yes, John, it certainly is. Even more so when you're this stupid:
it's a lot more plausible than greenhouse science to say Labor is in trouble in its outer urban marginals, especially those which have a more activist religious constituency

I doubt that the Coalition are in any position to win religious voters back. Eleven years of Howard learning all there was to learn from US Republicans, shovelling millions at church schools and charities - and Rudd undoes it all with a couple of articles in The Monthly. Nelson or Turnbull can't win those voters back, and as I said Rudd can counter Costello. Amateur small-scale psephology vs climate change science? I doubt it.
In Ryan, earlier in 2001 there was a big swing of almost 10 per cent against the Liberals; following the retirement of long-serving sitting Liberal John Moore for what his constituents clearly thought were insufficient reasons ... Substitute ETS for GST and you have Gippsland 2008. The point here however, is that it took Howard five years to get to Ryan, but Gippsland has taken the Rudd Government only seven months.

Yep, and in Gippsland it hasn't even been a year since McGauran had been re-elected. I'd suggest that the then government was in worse trouble at that byelection than the current government is now. The ETS isn't the reality that the GST was in 2001, and the government did not lose Gippsland: Ryan is the safest Liberal seat in the country's third-largest city.
In Gippsland the threat of electing Nelson as prime minister was irrelevant and Labor's two-party preferred vote in the real world dropped by enough to cost Labor the government if repeated at a general election.

So you can forget using the present national opinion polls of voting intention as a means of projecting the next by-election result.

The next byelections will be in Mayo and Lyne: the former, and possibly both, won't be contrested by Labor. By your own admission this renders them irrelevant. The national opinion polls assume a general election, the capacity to change government, an opportunity which a couple of byelections just don't provide: it's not fair to make national polls bear a burden they have not claimed. Nice bit of straw man work John.
And if Nelson goes and the international economy is unchanged by 2010 ...

And if your articles were any more tenuous, John, you'd be no better than Malcolm Colless. Or his sources.


  1. Colless doesn't have any credibility to lose. I assume they found him locked away in some News Ltd vault. The guy can't string a coherent sentence together. Or think a coherent thought.

  2. Why there seem to be all these Liberal cheerleaders in the Press Gallery and Labor has none?

    Anyway, I am from Vitoria, but it seems to me that the Liberals should win NSW. And that's not a bad thing for Rudd.

  3. Guido: NSW and the Feds do tend to do-si-doh politically. Think Wran and Fraser, Greiner and Hawke, Carr and Howard. As to the cheerleaders, I think they're just the last of the rain dogs.

    Mark: I was going for the alliteration as per Colless' column, and like Koutsoukis or Milne his problem is the sheer poverty of his sources.