The story here is that Washer has been nobbled. He has been pushing for many years to end mandatory detention and to deal with refugees in ways other than punishment; as a backbencher in the Howard Government and now in Opposition, he has shown consistency in his contribution to successive debates and flare-ups of issues concerning refugees.
Grattan has reported that he's done pretty much a complete about-face on this issue. Anyone who still had their journalistic curiosity about them would wonder why, and given the anodyne nature of his statements would probably need to undertake investigation beyond merely taking Washer's words at face value.
LIBERAL moderate Mal Washer, one of the cross-party MPs trying to get a compromise on asylum seeker policy, last night wrote off the group as "buggered".Washer has repudiated the position he stuck fast to throughout his career, and Grattan just takes it at face value. The term "buggered" is striking but hardly rich in policy nuance.
So much for Grattan's reputation in the journosphere as a fair and thorough journalist: only briefly toward the end of
Dr Washer, who last week said he would vote for legislation to allow the government's Malaysia solution if his vote could get it through, told The Age he now thought the government should "roll over" and accept the Coalition's position.That's rubbish, and Grattan should call it out (or at least do some analysis and maybe even some of that Good Old Shoe-Leather Journalism of which she is, apparently, the doyenne).
This is for processing on Nauru and the use of temporary protection visas. He said that course would put the acid on the Coalition if the policy did not work.
Journalists like Michelle Grattan would write it up as a victory for the Coalition. At a time when they have been caught out playing silly-buggers over Ashby-Slipper and Thomson-Jackson, at a time when they have failed to block a carbon price that wasn't as apocalyptic as first thought, they are clearly in need of a win to maintain the MSM narrative (which Grattan plays a lead role in determining) that Abbott is inevitably cruising to government. The political solution would mean that journalists would simply stop investigating the issue, considering it settled. News on asylum-seekers would be downscaled in prominence, just like it was in the Howard government - or even more so now that people like Washer aren't speaking out any more.
Look at that phrase "roll over". It is used in plea-bargaining in criminal trials where the defendant accepts a lesser punishment than the initial charge to spare them the risk and ordeal of a full trial. The Coalition may think that they're the prosecutors and the government the defendants, but there is no reason why a journalist of many years standing should adjust their reporting to such spin.
If the Gillard government were to reinstate Nauru and TPVs, one of two things would happen:
- If it succeeded, the Coalition would claim it as their triumph and an implicit acknowledgement of failure on the part of the government; and
- If it failed, meaning that more people took to more boats and ran greater risk of dying at sea, the Gillard government would be blamed for mismanaging the policy - giving the Coalition grounds to claim that only it can manage immigration policy.
The link between Temporary Protection Visas and fewer asylum-seekers is to ignore basic logical rules about cause and effect. You may as well wear your lucky undies to a day at the races as draw a direct relationship between the two. With all her experience and contacts, Grattan has no excuse for leaving it out of the story.
He had "moved on" from believing in the cross-party group, of which he and fellow Liberal moderate Judi Moylan were foundation members.Oh come on. A man does not just "move on" from a deeply-held conviction. Did Gough Whitlam "move on" from being sacked? Did Malcolm Turnbull just "move on" from the republic or human-induced global warming?
Dr Washer also said the reference group of parliamentarians being set up by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in conjunction with her expert panel headed by former Defence Force chief Angus Houston on asylum policy, was "a waste of time". "It all comes down to the politics in the Senate" and what could be got through there, he said.Well, yes it does - so why has he given up a decade-and-a-half of being part of such a process all of a sudden? That's where your story is, Michelle. Did Abbott's office convince him that a deal which did not officially involve the Coalition would scupper their chances at the next election? Was he threatened, offered inducements, to change his mind and his position?
Last week Dr Washer said that if the opposition declined to nominate representatives to this group, he would accept the PM's invitation for Coalition MPs to nominate themselves.
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne has dismissed crossbenchers' efforts to get a compromise as "faffing about". Mr Pyne, who is manager of opposition business in the House, replied sharply to an email sent this week from the office of Labor MP Steve Georganas on behalf of the group, inviting MPs to a meeting on July 24 to hear guest speakers on the asylum issue. The email referred to the "Cross Party Working Group on Refugees".Apart from the 'hand wringing', Pyne coul be describing the Coalition's own position, waiting for the government to accept the Coalition fantasy that the policy that didn't work for anyone in 2002 has all the answers in 2012.
In his response sent to MPs, Mr Pyne wrote: "This is not a 'Cross Party Working Group on Refugees'. The Coalition is not formally involved in any way … All the sitting around talking is just faffing about, hand wringing and achieving nothing."
When he was a moderate Pyne would often be accused of 'hand wringing' by rightwing oafs like Cory Bernardi. Now he thinks he can just pass on this accusation to those who recognise that neither the past nor the present policies work, and who are working on something that might work for the future. Again, Grattan just takes Pyne at face value rather than evaluating whether or not the Houston committee really is just a talkfest.
Is Pyne really some sort of practical action-man? Is his armoury of twaddle at Question Time not just so much "faffing about"?
The opposition has not said whether it would nominate representatives to the committee Ms Gillard is setting up. A spokesman for Mr Abbott said the opposition would respond to Ms Gillard's invitation to nominate three MPs "in due course".When you've been covering politics for as long as I have, you'll recognise this pantomime: the Coalition pretend to consider carefully requests that are put to them by the government in the name of bipartisanship, only to denounce them in the bratty terms Pyne uses above.
When you've been covering politics for as long as Michelle Grattan has you have no excuse, none, for this kind of po-faced transmission of bullshit. This is not "high-value journalism", and the veneration of this counts far more heavily against mainstream media than, say, their failure to embrace multi-digital platforms.
Given her efforts above, here is a not particularly extreme parody of Michelle Grattan covering the entire gamut of Watergate:
Reports indicate that White House operatives were involved in last week's break-in to Democrat headquarters in the Watergate. However, this has been denied by the White House.Michelle Grattan has done a quick pass over a story and got the wrong angle on it. She likes it when major parties unite behind their leader and dislikes members of the same party having different opinions about the same issue. What does the treatment of Washer by his own people say for the country under an Abbott government? Why did a seemingly tireless campaigner for rights and freedoms simply toss in the towel?
The continued insistence by several leading Democrats that White House operatives were in fact involved, despite official denials, is mischief-making on the Democrats' part, seeking to cover up the fact that Senator McGovern is well behind President Nixon in the polls ...
How do you tell when a once-revered journalist is past her use-by date? When was the last time a Michelle Grattan summary of a situation really showed the breadth and depth of her experience in summing up a complex situation simply (without being simplistic)? Can Fairfax bring forward her accumulated entitlements while still remaining solvent? I accept that