He did it his way

There are countless commentators writing about the ‘Turnbull wreck’ and what might emerge from it.  Almost every hour brings some new angle.  At the time of writing on the evening of November 30, it seems as if the spill motion on December 1 will be opposed on principle by Joe Hockey, who said he would not challenge his leader, but will be carried; that Hockey will then feel free to stand for leadership, that Malcolm Turnbull will contest, and Tony Abbott too.   Hockey’s price for standing is said be a ‘free vote’ for Liberals in the Senate on the ETS, where it is believed there are enough willing to pass the Government’s legislation.  Because Tony Abbott opposes this free vote, he intends to depart from his prior intention not to oppose Joe Hockey.  A writer of fiction could not have conjured up a more astonishing tale.

Instead of analysing what has happened in the last few days, as so many others have done, this piece reflects on past observations and predictions.  Those who seek contemporary wisdom and entertainment should read Crikey’s Bernard Keane Hockey will lead the Liberal Party to disaster, his Could Malcolm Turnbull go rogue?, his Reflections on Turnbull and his party and Mungo MacCallum’s Why Turnbull is an uncomfortable fit, all great reading.

As far back as September 2008 The Political Sword wrote Will the real Malcolm Turnbull please stand up? that concluded "Given Turnbull’s character and self-confident style, the Coalition might be wise to allow him his head, and to accept that in so doing its leader will appear more authentic although at times he may cause his party some discomfort. Perception is more telling than policy purity.  It might be astute to let the real Malcolm Turnbull stand up.  The success of his leadership may depend on it.  But that would mean retreat of the Howardites, and abandonment of the fervent preservation of the Howard legacy.   Turnbull’s success may depend on how likely this is." 

A few days later The Turnbull Report Card 10 days in concluded “...to date Turnbull deserves ticks for sharing his background with the public, for being a smart and articulate campaigner when promoting his strongly held views, and for his aggressive performance in the House, even if not always based on sound information and a well argued case, even if founded on outright populism.  But where he falls short is when he is not on his favoured turf, when he’s challenged with uncomfortable facts, when he attempts to advocate causes in which he does not have his heart, and when he has to defend untenable positions.  As political life abounds with such circumstance, unless he can overcome this flaw, he will have difficulty convincing the people of the merit of his approach and his capacity to manage a nation beset with many contemporary challenges and complexities.  Leading a nation is so much more complex and demanding, so different from life at the bar and managing a merchant bank.” 

In early December TPS wrote Why does Malcolm Turnbull make so many mistakes?  It concluded “History may show that Turnbull’s biggest mistakes are underestimating Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan, perpetually insisting they ‘simply don’t understand’ financial or economic matters, consistently condemning their every move, changing his tune whenever it suits him, flying in the face of competent economic intelligence, failing to exercise strong leadership, continuing to make political points at a time of unparalleled financial turmoil and steadily losing credibility as he does, indulging in obfuscation and circumlocution while avoiding answering questions asked by interviewers, and most significantly failing to notice that the people are not behind him”.  

Opposition ship docks for repairs written later in December, concluded "A combination of lack of purpose, weakness of character, insufficient muscle and diminishing authority, and an ego-centric certainty of the correctness of his own position coupled with an unwillingness to listen, is lethal in a leader.  How long can he last before the murmurings among his crew and the critics begin to further erode his position?  Shanahan’s article aligning Captain Turnbull with Captain Nelson may be the beginning, although he hasn’t quite been able to bring himself to the point of suggesting Captain Turnbull’s commission might be near its end.  Meanwhile Sub-Lieutenant Hockey shines through as the most plausible, personable, articulate and effective crew member, one who would make a good captain.  With youth on his side, with a mind open to contemporary thinking about strategy and tactics, he might be the answer to the HM Opposition’s yearning for a return to naval power.”

By February 2009 TPS wrote What is Malcolm Turnbull up to?  It began "An alternative title could have been ‘What is the Coalition up to?’ but it seems as if opposing the Government’s  economic stimulus package is Turnbull’s initiative, possibly urged on by the young Turks in the party room who want to take the fight up to Kevin Rudd.  This is understandable as it has looked as if the Coalition has too often rolled over in front of the Rudd steamroller.  But why pick the economic stimulus package against which to flex his muscles?  A coincidence or a carefully crafted action?  He is said to have had two-thirds of the party room behind him, but that means one third were not, amongst them, as we understand it, Nick Minchin and Fran Bailey in the most marginal seat in Australia.  With that level of non-support, Turnbull would need everything to go according to plan.”   History proved it to be not a smart move.

Malcolm Turnbull’s intelligence, also written in February, made the point that intelligence is not a homogeneous attribute and concluded "...that while Turnbull has intelligence in some areas, he has poorly developed political intelligence, acumen, judgement, call it what you will.  The real question for the Coalition is whether he has the capacity ever to develop it.  Or will his universally acknowledged large ego and self-confidence render him incapable of learning from his political mistakes.  There’s not much sign of that so far.  If the prognosis is as poor as it looks, his party has a very fundamental problem.”

In June, Stop at nothing – Malcolm Turnbull’s fatal flaw?, extrapolating from Annabelle Crabb's Quarterly Essay, concluded "Many commentators have remarked on Turnbull’s impetuosity, his headlong incautious rush into situations that need careful thought, the absence of the ‘due diligence’ that one might expect of a legal man, his self-confidence and arrogance, and his lack of political nous.  The Political Sword has long contended that Turnbull is a barrister, a banker and businessman, but not a politician.  He continues to take his father’s advice: ‘keep on punching’.  He told his party room that the Coalition must continue to attack and attack.  That his reputation is being shredded day by day, even in the eyes of the media, many of whom have been supportive of him and the Coalition, seems not to concern him, much less moderate his action.  He seems to know only one way of proceeding – keep on punching.”  Events of these last few days vividly illustrate this.

Then in late June came the Godwin Grech OzCar affair, a sharp turning point downwards for Turnbull, from which he has never recovered.  TPS featured Don’t blame me a satirical 'Open letter to the people of Australia' to capture the delectable details of this sorry episode.

By August TPS was writing The Turnbull endgame? that concluded “To draw this long piece to an end, should we be surprised at the position in which Turnbull now finds himself?  Looking back over a year or more a pattern of behaviour has become clearly apparent.  Impetuosity, poor political judgement, ruthlessness and self-confidence not matched by political ability, that goes to his character, his integrity and his political wisdom, all of which are now highly questionable.  Is Turnbull’s endgame upon him?  ‘Endgame’ describes the last part of a chess game, when there are very few pieces left.  That looks like the right word.  It seems that only lack of a plausible alternative can now save him.”

By October TPS was writing What will Turnbull do now? about Turnbull’s attempts to engineer amendments to the Government’s CPRS: “But what if he can’t get his amendments, any amendments, through the party room at all?  That would be terminal for his leadership.  If a leader can’t command the support of his party over a matter to which he is so personally committed, how can he lead at all?  What would/could he do then?” and "Has Turnbull enough commonsense and political nous to see that all that lies ahead is more dissent, more corrosive comments from Tuckey and Co, more desire for another leader if only there was one around and even the remote chance of being extruded by his party, more media speculation about leadership, its favourite sport, more ridicule from Rudd and his ministers pointing to the rabble he’s trying to lead but can’t, something already well underway, more poor polls, and almost certain electoral defeat and loss of seats?  I suspect he has.  His doggedness may well be tempered by an intense desire to ease the pain and call it quits.  And if he can do that in a spectacular and relatively face-saving way, he might choose that out.  Turnbull has lost battles before.  When he lost the battle for a Republic, he said John Howard was ‘the Prime Minister that broke the nation’s heart’.  This time he could proudly proclaim that by not acting on climate change when at least two thirds of the people wanted action, he is abandoning ‘the Liberal Party that broke the nation’s heart’.”

After Turnbull written in TPS in mid October asserted “If I was forced to lay bets, although Turnbull's leadership seems fatally wounded, I would still punt on him surviving until the next election, only because the two most favoured replacements, Hockey and Abbott, are so wanting in the necessary skills, and the Liberal Party so impotent in managing the dysfunction it is experiencing.  The likelihood of the party extruding Turnbull seems much less than him walking away.  In that event however, I would now place Abbott as 'the most likely to succeed' Turnbull.  Not a great prospect!” 

Events have overtaken that prediction.  Turnbull’s handling of the ETS issue in the last few days, while laudable as an exercise in articulately and convincingly defending high principle, in defending a policy in which he has his heart, has been so poorly handled politically that he is about to be extruded as Leader of the Opposition.  The warning signs of impending doom have been flashing for many months.  The inevitability of his exit has been there for all to see, but like a slow motion train crash, seemingly impossible to avoid.  Turnbull’s characteristics have predetermined this outcome.

Reading predictions stretching back over time is salutary.  Those on TPS and those of its visitors who have added comments have been vindicated almost in their entirety.  Malcolm Turnbull has always insisted on doing it his way, and in business, banking and law this has resulted in him succeeding brilliantly.  On December 1, 2009 he will reap the rewards of unwisely applying this rule to the field of politics.

What do you think?

The Formula One Coalition Race

Every time it seemed a suitable time to comment on the leadership of the Coalition, the story changed.  Acknowledging that, like a fast moving Formula One race, there would never be a time when the prediction of the outcome would be extant for more than a brief period, I thought it wiser to point visitors to some contemporary pieces, mainly on Crikey, that spell out the ins and outs, the whys and wherefores of this complex ever-changing scene.  Unlike a Formula One race though, where all the cars are going in the same direction most of the time, the Formula One Coalition Race has vehicles going in several directions, sometimes reversing, sometimes opting not to be in the race at all.

Bushfire Bill has long predicted Malcolm Turnbull’s demise as Leader of the Opposition, although Guy Rundle also lays claim to being an early adopter of that notion when he says today: “Your correspondent picked it months ago, of course. While the dinosaur media was humming and haahing about Turnbull's chances, let the record show that we noted: 'Turnbull is dead’. The only mystery is why he lasted as long as he did.”

Anyway, what the media says today, and any comment I might make, may well be obsolescent by nightfall, so E&OE.

Bernard Keane in CPRS bottlenecks while Libs dither begins “So where are we at in the CPRS debacle at lunchtime?  Well, you might be surprised to know no one’s too sure.  Julie Bishop may have tapped Turnbull or may not. She is denying it.  It's understandable, because anyone going in to tap Turnbull on the shoulder should probably wear body armour.  Joe Hockey and Peter Dutton may be preparing a joint ticket, or may not.  I'm hoping Dutton doesn't become deputy because, try as I might and professional as I would want to be, I just don’t understand why anyone rates him. Connie Fierravanti-Wells resigned as shadow Parliamentary Secretary, if anyone is still counting.”   And so on it goes in entertaining fashion.  Read the full story here.

Bernard has a second piece: Libs search for their dreamtime martyrs that starts: “Leadership tickets are a dime a dozen round this joint at the moment. Last night it was the Two Tony’s Ticket, perhaps inspired by the Wednesday prospect of Kevin and Julia going up against Kevin and Julie. This morning it's Joe Hockey and Peter Dutton, because what you need as a deputy is a bloke who doesn't think he can hold his own seat.  The dream ticket of Wilson Tuckey and Bronwyn Bishop, alas, remains just that for the moment. But there's three days to go, so we live in hope.”  The rest is here.

Guy Rundle, writing in his usual perceptive and amusing style in Beyond the fatal quinella, there’s mention of Hannibal Lecter and the future Mrs Edelsten has this to say: “Malcolm Turnbull should obviously resign and go do something else with his life. It's over. And it's a measure of the times that between writing this and sending it to the Crikey bunker, Turnbull may well do so.  Your correspondent had always assumed that Turnbull was dead meat -- he was fatally wounded by the Grech affair. Without that disaster calling into question his judgement, nous and skills, he might have been able to survive the ETS brouhaha.  But the two were a fatal quinella. The past six months resemble nothing so much as a trail of blood across the tundra, the wolf who chewed through his foot to get free of the trap, bleeding out beneath a winter sky.”   Read the rest here. 

The ABC's Chris Uhlmann in The Liberal Catch-22 begins: “At the heart of Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 is a brilliant paradox: if you plead insanity to avoid suicidal bombing missions then you must be sane and can't be excused.” and later "There is an Australian inversion of Catch-22: if you want to lead the Liberal Party now you must be insane and shouldn't be allowed to.  By that measure, Joe Hockey is the sanest person in the Opposition because he genuinely does not want to lead it now. But he may not be able to avoid it.”  Read it all here.

In The Age Tony Wright in Ascetic warrior ready for battle says: “Tony Abbott, long known as the Mad Monk, transmogrified into a vision of the Grim Reaper as he swung through Malcolm Turnbull's office yesterday afternoon.  Those who have met him on a rugby field or a boxing ring know there is much of the ascetic warrior in the Abbott.  Malcolm Turnbull is a physically solid fellow, too, and no wilting flower. He would prove it within hours with a fighting performance of a news conference, declaring himself still the leader of the Liberal Party and vowing that his party would deliver on its emissions trading deal with the Rudd Government, whom-ever may try to deny him.”  More of Tony Wright here.

The Godwin Grech affair has resurfaced with the report of the Senate inquiry.  Although it did immense, and according to Guy Rundle irreparable damage to Turnbull, it has the capacity to do even more damage as Turnbull’s intimate and repeated contacts with Grech were documented fully in the report.  It may be the coup de gras, if one is still needed.  Michelle Grattan had this to say in Dangerous double life of Grech If you were writing a novel he'd be a difficult character to construct.  A senior Treasury official, slightly odd but competent, credible and respected, who has a separate secret persona as a political player, trying to bring down the Government for which he works.  The strange affair of Godwin Grech hogged the headlines for weeks, wounding Malcolm Turnbull terribly. The story struck again at Turnbull this week, with documents in a tabled parliamentary committee report about Grech's explosive appearance before the OzCar Senate inquiry.  This documentary evidence of the dangerous double life Grech led is spine-tingling. How did he manage to live such a lie? Was he often fearful, or high on the excitement of being part of the political game, a confidant of powerful Liberals?  The electronic trail shows that Grech was deeply involved not just with Turnbull, but also with John Howard's former right-hand man Arthur Sinodinos, now in the banking sector, and others with political connections. For Turnbull, the material is double-edged. It helps explain how Turnbull was taken in by the fake email - why would he suspect Grech? Yet someone more cautious might have wondered about such blatantly improper behaviour by a public servant.  It wasn't just that Grech leaked to the Opposition. He saw himself as a Liberal secret agent embedded with the enemy, spiriting out intelligence and advice, reassuring, exhorting, analysing.”  Read all about it here.

There’s plenty more, but if I don’t post this now, it will be out of date.

What do you think?


The sad state of Australia’s MSM

How is it that the only papers I could find while in Phuket and Singapore, The International Herald Tribune – The Global Edition of the New York Times, The Bangkok Post, and Singapore’s The Straits Times carried articles so much superior to those in most of Australia’s MSM?  Do they engage better columnists, or do they pay more attention to the quality of the pieces they publish?  Or are they less concerned with sensationalism and more with the unadulterated facts and balanced opinion?  It was refreshing to read them.  The account of APEC in The Straits Times seemed accurate, even-handed and informative.  Apart from some photos of Kevin Rudd and Therese Rein arriving at APEC there was little about Australia’s contribution. 

There was good coverage of the 20th Anniversary of the coming-down of the Berlin Wall, but there was precious little news from down under.  The Oceanic Viking saga did get a small mention, unlike the mega-play it got in the media here.  Has there been a recent issue that has attracted so much uniformed comment and fault-finding criticism?  When last was there an issue where most journalists had so little to offer, except perpetual nit-picking criticism?

The origin of the episode seems to have so receded into the background that commentators no longer mention it:  Indonesia received information that a boat carrying Sri Lankan asylum seekers was in danger of sinking in Indonesia’s search and rescue zone, and as it had no vessels in the area, asked Australia if it had, and if so, would it render assistance.  Customs vessel Oceanic Viking was nearby, and rescued the Sri Lankans.  The deal was to take them to the nearest port, but as accommodation was short there, the ship was diverted to Bintan.  It was there that local officials, in defiance of the arrangement made between the two countries, flexed their parochial muscles, refused to forcibly remove the refugees from the OV, and indicated they did not want to be a ‘dumping ground’ for refugees headed for Australia.  Australia too was unwilling to use force, and so the boat people stayed put.

So what was Kevin Rudd and his ministers meant to do?  Much criticism against Rudd was generated but few commentators suggested a plausible solution.  The Greens and some Labor politicians said the asylum seekers should have been brought immediately to Christmas Island.  But why?  They were no more Australia’s responsibility than Indonesia’s.  The mere fact that they wanted to go to Australia did not make them our responsibility.  Moreover, what would the public, the Opposition and the media have said if Rudd had readily complied with the asylum seekers’ demands, and they were demands, and brought them to Christmas Island?  Rudd would have been condemned as weak, ready to be pushed around by asylum seekers, and pathetically ‘soft’ on border protection.  The Opposition and the media would paint him as an easy touch and all the talk about being ‘tough on people smugglers’ would have counted for nought.  It would have been a foolish thing to do and would have wrecked Labour’s border protection policy.  Greg Sheridan said just that.  I for one was affronted by the asylum seekers’ insistence that they would decide where they wanted to go, bringing back as it did memories of John Howard’s “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.”  If a country can’t do that, what integrity does its borders, both sea and air, have?

Crikey’s Bernard Keane took a keen interest in this matter and had plenty to say.  While most commentators assiduously avoided saying what ought to be done, as presumably they had no idea, and restricted their comments to criticism, which is dead easy and good journalistic fun to boot, he at least offered Rudd some options in a 9 November article Memo Rudd: an asylum solution, as follows:

“Compel the disembarkation of the asylum seekers by Customs personnel. This would have mixed political outcomes, drawing criticism from supporters of asylum seekers (the "humanes") and support from those antipathetic toward asylum seekers (the "toughs"). However, such a course of action is likely to alienate both local Indonesian authorities and the Indonesian Government itself. As the long-term cooperation of Indonesian authorities is critical to the success of Australia's broader asylum-seeker policy, this option would appear to be counter-productive given the small number of asylum seekers concerned.

“Dispatch the Oceanic Viking to Sri Lanka.  As Sri Lankan citizens, the return of the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka would be an arguable course of action, and one likely to draw support from the more vicious-minded ‘toughs’ in the community and certain elements in the media. It would also attract considerable criticism on the correct grounds that it is likely to be returning genuine refugees to the authorities from whom they are seeking refuge. Moreover, they would be less likely to disembark in Sri Lanka than in Indonesia, leading us back to the issues outlined in Option 1.

“Transfer the asylum seekers to Christmas Island. On the basis that the legitimacy or otherwise of the asylum claims of the group is not affected by the location in which the assessment is made, it makes no difference whether the assessment is made on Christmas Island or elsewhere. However, the demonstration effect of the success of asylum seekers who have been rescued in Indonesian waters on others who may attempt to reach Australia in unsuitable vessels may increase the likelihood of the loss of vessels and those aboard them. It would also be portrayed as a major defeat both for the Government politically and for its border protection policies.”

Arriving at no viable solution, he ended with a suggestion: “A possible resolution may be for the permit for the Oceanic Viking to operate in Indonesian waters to be allowed to lapse by the Indonesian Government, thereby compelling its withdrawal to Christmas Island. This would permit the Government to portray the transfer to Christmas Island as a legal and diplomatic necessity.”  Whatever its merit, this option had a ring of implausibility about it and in the event was not considered.  So for all his laudable attempts to be helpful he came back to where he started and concluded that Rudd was deep in the proverbial with no place to go.

But an option not canvassed by Keane – patience – turned out to be the order of the day.  It was exhibited by both the Indonesians and our Government, and eventually the asylum seekers left the boat reassured that they would be processed along the same timelines as apply on Christmas Island.

This was immediately branded by most of the media, hungry for an angle to hammer Rudd rather than seeking a way of resolving the impasse, as a ‘special deal’ to get them off the OV.  This was jumped on by the Opposition and represented by the media as something shonky because all the other asylum seekers in Indonesia, who by the way are not Australia’s unique responsibility, were not being offered the same.  Why should they be?  These were unusual circumstances: Australia had inadvertently found itself with people on one of its vessels, rescued from drowning at sea in a humanitarian exercise, but now resistant to disembarkation except in Australia.  Indonesia, having agreed to take them at the nearest port, vacillated, diverted the ship, and then allowed local officials to call the shots.  Why is Indonesia not being criticized for not honouring its deal with Australia? 

It is not surprising that Australia negotiated a ‘settlement’ with the asylum seekers, which turned out to be effective.  What surprises me is that such a fuss was made over what the media insisted was ‘a special deal’.  Who cares?  What does it matter if there was ‘a special deal’?  Mind you, Rudd might have saved himself much of the media angst if he has simply said that the special circumstances required special arrangements. 

Who then is upset by the negotiated arrangements?  The Sri Lankans are off the boat being processed by UNHCR, the situation has been resolved without further straining relations with Indonesia, the OV is on its way to continue its normal duties, and genuine refugees will soon be settled in Australia or perhaps another suitable country.  Problem solved. 

But have Rudd and his Immigration and Foreign Ministers receive a pat on the back from the media for resolving this matter?  No. Instead it seized on the fact that the women and children, who were to be housed in a separate building alongside the housing for the men, which they have been, found that there were bars on the windows, hardly surprising as it is part of the detention complex.  Soon there were women holding their children up at the bars visibly manipulating these circumstances to advance their cause and put pressure on the Government.  The media was eagerly complicit with countless photos of smiling children ‘behind bars’.  What was it trying to say?  That Rudd has broken his promise that women and children would be held separately?  But he hadn’t. That Rudd had deliberately placed children ‘behind bars’?  But he hadn’t.  The separate accommodation offered happened to have barred windows, something the Australian Government could not alter.  Whatever the message, the media was determined to paint Rudd in a poor light.

The media was irresponsible too in its handling of our relations with Indonesia.  Rudd never used the term ‘Indonesian Solution’ – the media coined it, much to the annoyance of Indonesian authorities who resented the idea of Indonesia becoming a repository for asylum seekers in the manner of Manus Island and Nauru.  So while Rudd was negotiating his way through the treacherous waters of international diplomacy with our nearest neighbours, the media was stirring resentment among them.  Moreover, it painted Indonesia’s detention centres in a very poor light, something that offended the Indonesians.  Do the media accept any responsibility in this regard?  No.  And when President Yudhoyono postponed his December visit to Australia, the media interpreted this as a rebuff over the OV affair.  But only this morning on Insiders, a video clip of a statement of an Indonesian minister refuted that.

Rudd has had heavy criticism and scorn heaped upon him over this episode.  Not unexpectedly, the Opposition has tried to capitalize on it, but why has the media been so caustic?  Rudd was labelled as so panic stricken by what seemed to be a Newspoll that reflected badly on his asylum seeker policy and actions (which being an outlier, it didn’t) that he ‘hit the airwaves’ with blanket coverage of his policy.  Perhaps he hit the airwaves because he was determined to get his policy through.  Some journalists, and maybe some of the public, found the ‘tough on people smugglers’ but ‘humane towards refugees’ contradictory, which it isn’t as any high school student could attest, so Rudd put extra effort into getting it across, which is what he needed to do.

Some said he was hiding behind bureaucratese when he read a letter in Question Time from the Immigration Department describing the processing arrangements on Bintan as ‘non-exceptional’, meaning they would be processed according to the usual Christmas Island timelines.  Apparently ‘non-exceptional’ is a term with which journalists are unfamiliar, and therefore the object of cynical journo humour. 

Rudd has been described as weak, uncertain of his policy, and having handled this situation ineptly.  Brian Toohey, in the current Weekend Australian Financial Review, accuses him of ‘self importance’, of using a quick visit to Indonesia for Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s presidential inauguration “to insist that Yudhoyono take an unpopular decision to let Australian customs vessel unload 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers at an Indonesian port rather than Christmas Island” which later in the piece he acknowledges was the ‘initial agreement’.  Toohey avows that “Rudd continued to demand that Yudhoyono should risk his own political capital by sticking to the initial agreement.”  This was at the conclusion of Toohey’s article on ‘abuse of power’, about which I suppose he thought this example made a fitting end.  How factually correct is Toohey?  How could he know Rudd forced Yudhoyono to make a decision he did not wish to make?  He doesn’t say.  We’ll never know.  But it did make a good climax to the piece, and that’s what really counts!

Amid all the shouting and tumult, all the condemnation and disapproval, all the denigration and censure of Rudd and his handling of this matter, there has been precious little sound advice and wise counsel offered by the critics, who frankly don’t know the answers, don’t know what to do, don’t understand international diplomacy, and seem barely able to judge public opinion.  Apart from a fall in personal ratings, there has scarcely been any significant change to Labor’s ratings since this event, as demonstrated on Insiders this morning when Barrie Cassidy showed the average TPP figure of 56/44 had been steady over many, many months.  The people seem more balanced in their views than most commentators, a sad reflection on much of our media, which by comparison with the overseas papers mentioned earlier, looks paltry, ill informed, mediocre, sensationalist and worst of all, adversarial.  What a sad state of affairs.

None of those overseas papers were Murdoch papers, Is there a message there?

What do you think?