Don’t blame me

Open letter to the people of Australia

There have been a lot of nasty things said about me this last week, so unjust, so scurrilous.  You’d expect the Government to indulge in gutter politics, they’re Labor after all, but for journalists and even some of my Coalition colleagues to suggest that I messed up badly is just so unfair.  It’s not my fault – so don’t blame me. More...

Diagnosing cronyism

Cronyism refers to giving appointments of authority on the basis of friendship, or in this country mateship, regardless of qualifications, rather than through the practice and principles of meritocracy.  So to accuse Labor, and in particular Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan of cronyism over the OzCar affair is wide of the mark; they have offered no appointments.  Despite cronyism being a badly chosen descriptor, Tony Abbott was using it again this morning on Insiders accusing Labor of ‘capitalist cronyism’, whatever that is. 

A more appropriate accusation would be that they used political power to do ‘favours for mates’.  Whatever label political opponents choose to use in such circumstances, it will always be pejorative.  It will be used to condemn and to seek penalties, such as an apology, or a resignation.  More...

Stop at nothing – Malcolm Turnbull’s fatal flaw?

The events of the week have given new significance to the title of Annabelle Crabb’s Quarterly Essay about the ‘Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull’ – Stop at Nothing.  This piece is to draw comparisons between Turnbull’s past behaviour and that which he has exhibited in the last week. More...

The old rusty ute

‘Where there’s smoke there’s fire’ might have been more apt as a title, but no one will mistake what ‘The old rusty ute’ is about.  But as we know, it’s not really about the ute at all.  Those who know the story well might wish to skip to the analysis at the end. More...

The Costello exit?

Given his past history, it might not be unreasonable to query whether this is really his exit.  There is still eighteen months to go, so unless he becomes mute until the next election, or retires soon and brings on a by-election, we will hear more from him.  There have been several articles since Costello’s decision.  There is Dr Peter and Mr Costello by Tim Colebatch in The Age; End of an era as Costello goes by Phillip Coorey in the SMH; Howard damns Costello with faint praise by Peter Hartcher in the SMH; What will we do now that he's no longer not there for us? by Annabel Crabb in the SMH; an editorial in the SMH, He gave much, promised more; a Paul Kelly piece in The Australian, The great contender; and Lenore Taylor's Former treasurer nails debate. More...

The media to the PM – we have a problem

Prime Minister.  Listen carefully.  The media is powerful, very powerful.  Our journalists write newspaper columns that lots of people read; they create news bulletins and current affairs programmes that many people hear and see; they conduct talkback to which countless people listen.  We have enormous influence.  We can make and break governments and bring down prime ministers.  You should not get us offside.  We call the shots, not you.  You’re beginning to make us annoyed.  Watch it, we can get you, and probably will.

So here’s some advice.  If you take it, we might let you run a bit longer, but if you don’t, remember you were warned. More...

The sauce bottle saga

Can you believe it?  Here we are having public discourse about Kevin Rudd’s use of the phrase ‘fair shake of the sauce bottle’ – used three times in the one interview!!!!

First there is an academic argument about what the phrase really is.  Is it ‘fair shake of the sauce bottle’ or ‘fair suck of the sauce bottle’?  As an ex-Queenslander, I’ve heard both, but an academic, Sue Butler, whom I understand has something to do with the Macquarie Dictionary of Slang, insists the latter is correct, and patronisingly explains that Rudd has mixed two expressions ‘fair suck of the sauce bottle’ and one of the following: ‘fair shake of the dice’ or ‘more than one can shake a stick at’.  Her subtheme was that poor Kevin has got so much going on in his head running the country, he got his expressions mixed up.  More...

Have we just experienced a crucial week politically?

Last week was one of the most politically eventful since the election of the Rudd Government.  But how crucial was it to the future of the Government and the Opposition? 

The National Accounts for the March Quarter showed a seasonally adjusted growth in GDP of 0.4%, avoiding two quarters of negative growth and denying oxygen to those who wanted to call a recession.  Moreover, there was evidence that the fiscal stimulus packages had contributed significantly to that outcome, although favourable terms of trade had contributed even more.  Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan were delighted, like parents of a lost child on its return.  They had feared the worst and the onslaught of criticism that would have followed.  Their relief was palpable.  In contrast the Coalition was frustrated.  While it might be unfair to assert that Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey wanted recessionary figures, they were clearly disappointed that one of the main planks supporting their debt and deficit platform, namely that the stimulus packages had not been successful in avoiding a recession, had been denied them, at least for the time being.  In a media conference Turnbull took less than a minute to say he was pleased with the figures and several trying to make the point that the result was mainly due to the trade figures and had little to do with the stimulus packages.  The tiny graph he exhibited to the media to reinforce this point seemed to attract more amusement than enlightenment. More...

The Fitzgibbon affair – endgame?

They got their man.  But who are ‘they’?

First it must be accepted that Joel Fitzgibbon shot himself in the foot – several times.  So when it all boils down he has only himself to blame for his exit to the backbench.  The first-revealed misdemeanours of not recording gifts on the pecuniary interests register betrayed lack of attention to such requirements, an air of carelessness, but were forgiven.  The one that brought him undone was lack of probity in his relationship with his brother and his colleagues seeking Defence Department contracts for health care. More...

The media and the PM – is there dissonance?

“[His] answer, as always, is work and persistence.  His schedule of travel and engagements reads like an election itinerary.  Government sources say his advance teams are going flat out.  He never misses an opportunity to grab a headline, giving opinions on everything from Arthur Boyd to rugby league to the troubles of Phil Coles.  And day after day he is on talkback radio, striving to develop some kind of matey relationship with ordinary Australians that, Hawke-like, he so obviously craves. [He] is unlikely to achieve that bond with the electorate that, for a few years, Bob Hawke enjoyed, but it will not be for the want of trying.” 

Who is he? More...