06 September 2010


Whenever you see conservative Liberals roaring like lions, ask yourself: why are they doing this? It is not to intimidate their enemies on the left, it is not to attract those who are uncommitted but open to their cause. The reason why conservatives make defiant assertions and demand submission to them is to keep in line their fearful, clueless, sheep-like minions in their own ranks.

Most of this is the same stuff Abbott was saying for the past six weeks. The three people this was aimed at could be forgiven for rolling their eyes.

[The Federal Government] lost its majority and its legitimacy but it still has not lost office and might actually cling to power through ruthless exploitation of incumbency.
Just like Howard in 1998.
Still, if they decide to back Labor - or decide not to decide (which amounts to the same thing) - they will be endorsing factional warlordism, the political execution of an elected prime minister, and the kind of incompetence that produced the roof batts tragedy, the school hall rip-offs and a $43 billion commitment to turning back the clock on telecommunications without even a business plan to justify it.
This is designed to keep pissed-off Liberals angry at the other side. The only alternative is to have them ask questions of the geniuses who made willing voters in NSW flinch at the very idea of returning a Coalition government which:
  • Can only manage when things are going well;
  • Makes no long-term provisions for the country other than the Future Fund;
  • Would be run by Tony Abbott, who doesn't want to be there and knows he's not good enough;
  • Can't do high-school maths and doesn't think economics is important, while asserting its competence over this area of policy; and
  • Still does not know why it lost in 2007.

Then there's this drivel:
Then there's the Greens' commitment to reducing irrigation and turning at least 30 per cent of Australia's coastal waters into marine parks.

A Labor/Green alliance spells doom for regional Australia's economic base. The slightest move towards Green defence and foreign policies would put the American alliance at risk.
This is the sort of thing Liberal leaders say at State Council meetings: when they say this sort of thing publicly they just look stupid. The estimable Grog has skewered this already. This is so stupid that Julie Bishop and Greg Sheridan would be prevented from saying it out of Mutually Assured Stupid, a fear of detonating a fissionable quantity of stupid that would melt down the entire politico-journalist complex.

The Coalition is best placed to provide effective government for the next three years and to protect voters from a premature return to the polls.
In NSW and Queensland, voters chafe against the "protection" provided by the state government. It's politicians who need protecting from voters, not the other way around. If transactional Gillard holds it together against bombastic Abbott, it will be Libs and Nats in marginal seats who'll need protecting.

Then, there's the Michelle Grattan Prize for missing the point, and what more worthy winner than the doyenne herself. The reason why Wilkie turned down $1b is because Abbott was already $11b in the hole. A new hospital and whatever else for Hobart is about as non-core as it gets.

Writing an article like that without mentioning economic irresponsibility simply isn't helpful in helping readers understand what is going on: it places undue weight on Canberra tittle-tattle and particularly on the Coalition's non-existent coalition-building skills. That kind of stuff can't even be justified in terms of "selling papers" in an age of plummeting readership: it's tiresome and repellent.

Then, there's this:
Mr Oakeshott declined to bite back following criticisms from Liberal MP Warren Entsch that the independents were dragging their feet and seeking to extend their "five seconds" of fame.
So Entsch makes 'criticisms', like a reasonable person, while Oakeshott 'bites' like an animal?

The independents don't work on "fame", they work on getting things done. Once again, it's the oldies in Liberal ranks who are impatient: Wyatt Roy and Greg Hunt aren't champing at the bit for the KOWs to come 'home'.

In other election news, a new poll has revealed most Australians would prefer another election over a hung parliament, regardless of which party the independents decide to back.
Oh, really?

The telephone poll of 1000 people, commissioned by the Sydney-based public relations and lobby firm Parker and Partners and published by News Ltd, showed 56 per cent of people now want another election.

It suggests that even if Ms Gillard or Mr Abbott manage to form a minority government, with the support of the independents, it would be a government not supported by the majority of voters.

Voters were asked whether they now supported a hung parliament or would prefer another election.

A total of 56 per cent said they would prefer another poll, with Western Australia recording the highest number of people - 66 per cent.

NSW had the least number of people wanting a new election, with 53 per cent.

A poll of 1000 people across a nation of 22,300,000 (did they go through the P&P rolodex?) is pretty scant, particularly when there's nothing to give confidence in spread of respondents an representative samples. If you're going to pull a pissant stunt like this, at least give it some credibility.

Parker and Partners rode high as the only Liberal lobbying firm during the Howard years but has struggled since. When founder Andrew Parker sold out and left the country at the peak of the last boom the P&P gig was pretty much up, with nobody but Sarah Cruickshank left to mind an increasingly quiet store.

These results suggest the second week of negotiations with the independents have really tested the patience of Australians," chief executive of Parker and Partners Sarah Cruikshank [sic] reportedly said.

Only lobbyists: no harm done. The public, who created this pox-on-both-your-houses, seems fascinated as to how this is playing out: nobody is whingeing about Tweedledum-n-Tweedledee and from Canberra there is absolutely no triumphalism. The media's insistence that this is anyone's game while Abbott is passive-aggressively dealing himself - and with a Liberal government go P&P's chances of an upturn - out of the game, just shows how little use "insider" journalism can be.

"The community appears frustrated that the government is being so publicly held hostage by a handful of vested interests, and the risk for the independents is that they are now perceived to have overplayed their hands."
Without vested interests, Sarah Cruickshank has no job. What she calls "vested interests" aren't paying her, aren't consulting her, aren't treating her as important. Cruickshank is about the same age as Peter Dutton but unlike them, she has revenue targets to meet and the clock's ticking down on this quarter. She and her drinking buddies do not constitute a "community", certainly less of one than the Cloncurry CWA or the Wauchope Chamber of Commerce or Uralla Probus, or whomever else may have more clout in Canberra these days than people like Sarah Cruickshank. Tony Windsor and Bob Katter have been playing high-stakes games since Sarah Cruickshank was giggling her way through Young Liberals; her risk assessment about overplaying a game she can barely comprehend did not come from her poll, and her experience isn't worth a damn, so why is this even news?

The journosphere reported on the wrong issues, and now the political game has changed in ways that nobody in the press gallery or lobbying could have imagined. What we're seeing here is an attempt by people to control a situation they can't understand, let alone report on or help "vested interests" navigate.

In some ways, it's great: all your doyen(ne)s floundering and shedding facades like Christchurch shops. Laurie Oakes reduced to jowl-wobbling outrage, Paul Kelly from interviewing global statesmen to sub-Ellis windbaggery, Grattan and Milne keeping it lite-n-trite because ephemera is the only thing they can be sure of. In other ways, though, the Fourth Estate has gone and you have to piece it together using scraps and snippets and a residual sense that any situation that upsets Alby Schultz and Sarah Cruickshank can't be all bad.


  1. "The Michelle Grattan Prize for missing the point"

    Oh geez, I nearly snorted my coffee through my nose when I read that line!

    Excellent post again.

  2. Great post. Thanks for the background on Parkers. And your last 2 paras sound like Hunter S Thompson minus the bible quotes