Is Rudd tying the bootstrappers’ shoelaces for them?

 

 

If Kevin Rudd thought Insulgate was going to go away with a mea culpa, he was wrong. Note that I refer to ‘Insulgate’... the beat up, the bootstrap, not the reality-based situation.

We have seen recently the first (and perhaps the last) attempts at factual examination of the death and fire statistics in the insulation industry. Possum started it off in Pollytics. There was also an independent report in The Australian Financial Review last week analysing OH&S statistics. The Age chimed in on Wednesday with another piece (which borrowed some of its points from Possum, with appropriate acknowledgements).

These have been like water off a duck’s back as far as the rest of the media is concerned. They’ve got their meme, and they’re sticking to it. There appears to be a wilful refusal to consider an alternative point of view, even if only to rebut it. As far as the media is concerned, the factual situation of the Insulation Stimulus Plan is established. Anything else is irrelevant to the main story.

What is ‘the story’? The story is not necessarily that the government provably botched the Insulation Stimulus. The story is that the media have decided on the story. Without an external factual reference, one which is presented in rational context, the media’s coverage can only be self-referential: they are writing up what each other thinks about the Rudd government. They are bootstrapping.

At the heart of this is the oft-quoted concept of perception being ‘everything’ in politics. You hear it trotted out regularly, as if it’s not only some kind of law of nature, but rightly occupies that status. We are seeing at the moment a momentous battle between fact-based reality and pure perception. For ‘perception’ read: ‘opinionation’.  Opinionation has become more important and easier to manufacture than messy facts, which if they don’t, or might not fit the meme, are ignored.

Recently on The Poll Bludger there was one commenter who was in twitter communication with a young gallery journalist called Latika Bourke Bree Roberts, who works for radio station 2UE network DMG. It was fascinating (in a scary way) to read Bourke's Robert's points of view. One of her twits (perhaps an appropriate description in her case) was that she believed she didn’t need to read the Minter Ellison Report. Here we had a parliamentary press gallery participating journalist actually saying she didn’t need to read fundamental source materials on which she was basing her criticism of the government.

 

(Note: a commenter pointed out I had the name wrong. Apologies to Latika and the opprobrium is transferred to Bree)

 

While this may be her problem to some extent, we can say with certainty it is definitely Rudd’s problem too. Journalists and columnists are just making up the news as they go along. For politicians, if that practice gets too out of control they’re in dangerous waters.

Two examples: an AAP story regurgitated on the Herald site on last week told us of ‘thousands of electrified roofs’. A few days before, this figure’s early ancestor was ‘up to 1,000 roofs’ extrapolated by Greg Hunt from a surveyed figure of 17 roofs out of 700 early on in the bootstrap’s progress. Dennis Shanahan turned it into a solid ‘1000 roofs’ and by the time AAP had finished with it, it had become ‘thousands of electrified roofs’. The figure must have been made up. How else could 17 actual roofs become ‘thousands of electrified roofs’?

On Thursday an article in The Australian referred to Greg Hunt having "scores" of complaints (i.e. minimum 40, with the implication of more than that) from Insulation ‘victims’ about installation that did not ever take place and therefore needed Federal Police investigation. The actual figure? From Greg Hunt’s mouth: ‘at least a dozen’, later confirmed at 13. The Australian just made it up.

Why is the media doing this?

Because they can.

Kevin Rudd has given them permission.

Last Friday Rudd conceded their view that politics was all perception by admitting to just about everything they had said about him and his government. He admitted the Health program was nine months late when that was not the case. He demoted Garrett, thereby legitimizing all their crazy accusations about the Insulation Stimulus plan after the fact. He wrote off the GFC response as ‘context’. It was as if Rudd retrospectively pardoned them for their sins.

The idea was put about that he did this to clear the decks of Insulgate. But it was too late. In the last couple of days every second journalist has asked him the same tedious question:  “If you completely botched Insulation, how can we trust you to do Health properly?”

They were lining up to put it to him. They know he won’t answer the question by saying:

 

“Gosh! You’re right! How can we be trusted to get anything right. Thanks for making me realise that!”

... but the sting is in the question, not the answer. It is a taunt that they know he must put up with. That stupid, pointless enquiry of the Prime Minister has become, overnight, a mandatory rite of passage for any self-respecting journo. If Rudd had tried to clarify the facts, to put them in context, he would have been accused of having a ‘glass jaw’, or ‘coldly dissecting the tragedy of four young lives lost’. As the articles that tried to establish the facts were ignored, Rudd would have been vilified as a shabby excuse-maker. He was not prepared to take on this fight, but I believe he should have been.

More dangerously for Rudd, the unanswerable question, the gotcha du jour, has become the basis of much of the opposition to the Health initiative. Rudd is like a skydiver, plummeting towards earth, who cannot open his emergency chute because it is tangled in the flapping wreckage of his main canopy. The bootstrapped Insulation fake scandal has become the seed of the coming Health fake scandal. We have been told Rudd has bet the farm on Health being a winner. And who will be judge of whether it is successful? The same people who either don’t bother to read or wilfully ignore reality, relying instead on their own groupthink version of events... the same people Rudd has oxygenated.


Health, in the time interval of 48 hours has become ‘all disaster, all the time’. Of course, there are many who think it is a great concept, a first, a historic reform. The 7.30 Report the other night had a serious, informative interview with three stakeholders who were in sometimes cautious, but nevertheless broad agreement that it was a sound idea and an encouraging start. But we are not hearing from them anymore.

Instead, now we’re hearing that nurses are objecting, local hospitals will be summarily closed, taxes will have to be raised, the states are in revolt, it is taking too long, it is too hasty, it will cost too much money, they aren’t spending enough, it is too complicated, it is simplistic and lacking in detail and, of course, if they can’t do insulation, how can they do health?

To my mind Rudd made a bad decision to go through with what is called his ‘mea culpa’ on the weekend. It has only encouraged his enemies to go harder, and to use his retrospective legitimization of their fairy stories as now rock solid proof they had gotten it right all along. I predict it won’t take long until the next big policy release is received with, “If he can’t do Insulation or Health right, how can he do anything?” The new bootstrap will build on the established one.

Rudd’s giving into the media’s confected claptrap – seemingly just to make it go away – is ultimately a recipe for the abrogation of government. Achievements don’t matter, analysis of reality doesn’t matter: only bootstrapped opinions and perceptions, carefully seeded by an antagonistic media, matter. Rudd’s mea culpa may well lead to disaster, used as the raw ingredient for a feast of fiction, cooked up in a lazy nihilist kitchen by cynical chefs whose party trick is to spit in the soup and brag about it amongst themselves.

In my opinion the government had the media battle won last week, but they panicked and sought to buy off their enemies with a cheap and (worse) unnecessary concession. Insulation would have been forgotten by now, a distant bleat by an Opposition bereft of ideas, clinging to their one possession like dogs with a bone. Rudd has allowed them to get away with murder when he almost had them in the bag. This is why so many commentators called his Insiders mea culpa ‘extraordinary’. They couldn’t believe their luck.

However, it’s perhaps not a total defeat. There may, and almost certainly will come a time when the public will have had their fill of negativism and of Tony Abbott on dirt bikes doing the Action Man thing. One more near-miss traffic accident or lost-in-the-wilderness stunt and he’ll become a laughing stock, if he isn’t already. The public will want to see performance, not circus tricks. There is also the possibility that, given free rein by Rudd, the media will go too far, that their closed-loop fantasies will finally become so ridiculous that they won’t pass the laugh test. Maybe Rudd wants to gee-up the troops, to shake them out of their poll-based complacency. I recently saw one hypothesis that Rudd was deliberately making the choice between himself and Tony Abbott as Prime Minister starker, to focus the public’s mind. There are any number of theories as to how this is a brilliant Machiavellian tactic which will deliver an even more glorious election victory.

But, in my view, Rudd’s needless surrender, made at the point of victory, has nevertheless set the clock back. It has taken the nation’s attention off the merits of new and much-needed Health policy and has allowed the media to frame everything in a gilt-edged, bootstrapped fairy story about how roofs catching fire, metal staples and toxic batts have somehow brought the nation to its knees... no matter how remote the connection.

The saddest thing is that it has served to re-enshrine the position of an ailing mainstream media’s perception as paramount in our political discourse, as opposed to a balanced discussion of verifiable fact. In today’s media reality is not the story. The story is the story. Rudd gives this monster a new lease of life at his, his party’s and his supporters’ peril.

Well, that’s what I think. How about you? I’m hoping somebody out there can convince me I’m wrong.

 

* Note: Lacing methods in the graphic are from the excellent Ian's Shoelace Site ... where you can find out not only why your shoelaces are always unravelling, but you can also drive yourself nuts trying to copy the techniques illustrated! A visit to the site by those out there who are shoelace challenged is highly recommended... or just check it out if you want to have some fun reading about something seemingly completely trivial on the one hand, but (when you think about it) quite important to everyday life on the other. 

  

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mick smetafor

6/03/2010i too was very disappointed in this apology,indeed the failure to aggressively defend their achievements has been a mark of this lot.i wonder if they have been too complacent because of the high polling and the farce of an opposition so far,but what we have now is the" true history" being written by rupert and co.

janice

6/03/2010Well BB, I won't be the one to convince you that you are wrong because I see it much the same as you. Having said that though, I don't think the outcome will be quite as negative for these reasons: 1. Whichever way the media spin it, Rudd's overboard mea culpa did take a bit of the wind out of Abbott's sails. 2. A good percentage of voters who were influenced by the media beat-up yet not able to believe absolutely that Minister Garrett had done something so wrong that he should resign, felt comfortable with Garrett's demotion (just in case he might have been responsible for some part of it) and relieved that their Prime Minister stood up and took full responsibility. 3. Rudd is no fool and I just cannot believe he'd have gone down this path without thinking it through. Whilst the media and the opposition are making hay with repeated references to the 'botched' 'failed' 'bungled' etc insulation programme, when all investigations are completed and there is a string of prosecutions against dodgy installers etc, they will all have eat their words. Certainly, there will be no apologies from the media or from Abbott and his cronies, but voters will note that and place a 'big fat minus sign' against them.

Neil

6/03/2010Your theory depends on the voters believing in the insulation "scandal". If the million plus households who got free insulation are happy about it and don't believe their houses are going to burn down then the whole basis of the medias attack fails. If they tell all their friends and neighbours that the insulation scheme is not as bad as the media are making out then insulationgate does not mean hospitalgate.

Bushfire Bill

6/03/2010[... when all investigations are completed and there is a string of prosecutions against dodgy installers etc, they will all have eat their words.] The first prosecution was concluded yesterday. The company, ABC Insulation, was fined $10,000. They have been in business for 10 years and are definitely [b]not[/b] a dodgy fly-by-night outfit set up by the Romanian Mafia. In theit own defence ABC claimed to have [i]employed[/i] a couple of dodgy sub-contractors the very da of the fire, who presented credentials in the form of references, but who disappeared after the house burnt down that night (as you would, I suppose). So, according to the company, the indirect connection goes like this: [i]Dodgy sub-contractors > fake references > reputable company > not their fault[/i] From the Telegraph story: [i]Heslop issued a public apology to the Roklicer family, but in turn blamed sub-contractors he claimed installed the faulty goods. Heslop blamed two of his sub-contractors for the charges, telling the court the fire was his one blemish in a perfect 20-year record in the business. ... [b]Tell us your insulation nightmares and send your photos to online@dailytelegraph.com.au[/b][/i] So I guess [b]You Know Who[/b] is guilty after all? Just add... [i]> Garret to blame... QED[/i] to the chain of causation and you have the media's meme re-established. Unfortunately for ABC Insulation, the magistrate did not see it this way. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/property/insulation-chaos-this-familys-life-left-in-the-ashes/story-e6frezt0-1225837505050

Bushfire Bill

6/03/2010[i]Your theory depends on the voters believing in the insulation "scandal". [/i] thanks for that. Good point. However, Rudd certainly appears to believe they believe it.

Michael Cusack

6/03/2010I agree with Neil above. The Press have had a highly satisfactory group wank and are now lying back sated and self satisfied. Not too many outside the wanking group know or care very much. The footy is about to start and Bingles boobs are taking the interest of most of the tabloid readers. The press only reaches those who are interested enough to have considered or entrenched views and their views are unlikely to have been changed much by the wankery. I agree with you strongly about the Rudd cave in. I was astounded that he would surrender just when the considered articles were starting to be written and they were showing him and Garrett to be in the clear. He gave absolution to the press and invited them to sin whenever tempted. They wont need a second invitation.

Rx

6/03/2010Perhaps we're being a bit hard on Kevin here. I'm pretty sure that WHATEVER he'd done, the media would have criticised him. If apologised, they would hold him over a barrel for it forever-and-a-day. If he'd not apologised, but vigorously defended his government's record in the face of the insulationgate beat-up, they would have been running headlines screaming: "Arrogant PM defends death program" Look, for all we know he has internal polling (focus group findings) indicating that what people want to hear - rightly or wrongly - is contrition from the government, to 'atone' for the "electrified roofs", the "deaths of roof workers" and the general "fiasco" perception that has been whipped up by this disgraceful, sordid, conservative media. It's pretty-well known that governments (and Oppositions) these days place focus group research in a pivotal role their PR strategies. Might I suggest, giving KR the benefit of the doubt here - that that's what he's done? Still, I share your anguish, Bill, at the injustice of it all. The sooner the Murdoch news sites go behind a paywall the better. The ABC is hardly any better - they are also running a pretty blatant campaign against our government.

Ad astra reply

6/03/2010BB As we are both aware, we don’t see Rudd’s [i]mea culpa[/i] in quite the same way. Here’s how I see it. To me there are two crucial aspects. The first is whether or not the [i]mea culpa[/i] was genuine. If it was not, then it will be concluded that this was just another cynical political ploy designed to garner support. Rudd’s opponents and his antagonists in the media will likely draw that conclusion. Others, more neutral to Rudd, might be inclined to that view because a [i]mea culpa[/i] is so unusual in politics. The [i]Insiders[/i] panel last Sunday labelled it as ‘extraordinary’, extraordinary because politicians don’t do this – they obfuscate, they bluff, they give any justification of their actions they think plausible, they skirt round the issue. And because they behave in this way the image of politicians as devious and Machiavellian is reinforced, and trust declines still further. They never concede that they are behind schedule or that the matter is more difficult than anticipated; they never say they will have ‘to lift their game’. The [i]mea culpa[/i] [b]was[/b] unusual. In my view it was genuine. Some of you might disagree. It is a hazardous business second guessing another person’s motivation for saying or doing anything because it’s a subjective judgement and therefore unprovable. In that case one opinion is a good as another. So when I say I believe Rudd was sincere and genuine I trust you will respect that opinion. If it was genuine, the second crucial aspect is why did he do it? As janice and Rx point out, Kevin Rudd seldom does anything without careful consideration. He is not a ‘shoot from the lip’ type of person. Everything is well researched and actions such as this would have been tested in focus groups. The groups would have been asked which they prefer – politicians who concede that they are behind schedule, or that a task has turned out to be more difficult than anticipated, or that an action has not turned out as expected, or those who do the opposite, who deny that anything is amiss. My guess is that most would express preference for the former, and that this is why Rudd decided to be upfront, even if that meant losing some skin in media commentary. He knows that ultimately it is the people’s opinion that counts, not the media’s. In my opinion, although it felt uncomfortable listening to his [i]mea culpa[/i], I believe Rudd’s frankness will resonate with the public. What we tragics feel might not correspond with what ‘normal’ folk feel. While rusted on Coalition voters will regard it as yet another reason for not voting for him, swinging voters will likely give him credit and see him in a new light, different from the run-of-the-mill politician. Rudd is an enigma to the media because he doesn’t follow the usual script, but is less so to the general public, who, if one can judge from his continuing high approval ratings, like him and regard him as a good bloke. The media like to point to his falling ratings, but seldom point out how high they remain after two years as PM despite all the scorn heaped on him and all he malevolence directed at him by them. In summary, I believe Rudd’s [i]mea culpa[/i] will be a positive rather than a negative for him. Although it has and will continue to fuel fiery comments from some in the media, who is listening to what they say? Fewer and fewer – that’s why the media is so concerned about its future.

Ad astra reply

6/03/2010Neil Is this your first comment on [i]TPS[/i]?. If so, welcome - come again. You make a valid point - the many, many people who are satisfied with their insulation will negate some of the adverse publicity the media has promulgated. Personal experience beats what the media say, any day.

Michael

6/03/2010The most significant part of "Kevin07" was the "07". Kevin Rudd is well into the 21st Century and how it works 'out there'. Most political commentators, and the Conservative side of politics, are still mired in Howard-era behaviours. The immediate recourse to Latin as they all rushed to trundle out the phrase "mea culpa" to try and make a point designed to reach the bulk of Australian voters demonstrates just how Old World the Right really is. And how lost in the past the self-revering (and their acolytes) senior members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery are. Facing the petty-minded politics of an Opposition lost in its own mediocrity, dealing with representatives of old media (print and TV, yes, TV) rapidly being superseded by more immediate social and information technologies, Kevin Rudd is going direct to the voters with all the media formats available to him, old and new. Traditionalists might hate to see a PM being 'one of us', may even hate the very idea, but such folks are those who wish to see a country's leader as the all powerful problem-solver. Someone they can hand over every problem the country (and by extension, themselves) faces, to magically solve. To ‘make it better, daddy’. Such thinking is childish, and essentially neurotic, because it aggrandises big-man leadership over all else in a political system. So long as any culture looks to 'the strong man' to rescue 'us', that is a culture refusing to to take responsibility for itself. Kevin Rudd is a politician, in and working the 'game'. But, at least, he addresses the Australian electorate as partners in his politics, asks them to bring their voices, their wishes, their gripes, to the political process. The Opposition, and those of the media sliming along in their wake, want only to confect outrage amongst people over every Rudd government policy. But they seem to be finding the Australian 'lynch mob' almost impossible to raise. Because Australians know a beat-up when they see one. Or two. Or three. Abbott and his cohorts are fulminating along in Coalition policy free mode at the moment. Once they begin to have to spell out their policies as an alternative government, as the possible holders of the reins in Canberra, that's when the public will really know what the options are. With Abbott strutting around as the Conservatives 'big man' who really seems to believe he is the most suitable model for being any sort of man in this country, the voting public will have a decision to make about the prospective national leader after the next election - support the man big enough to admit he's made mistakes, or the man who whinges about everything the other man says and does, with not the slightest hint of humility about him at all? Except when he lispingly declares that he is not perfect, with every millimetre of his body language screaming out his certainty of quite the reverse.

Bushfire Bill

6/03/2010Michael, thanks for your contribution. You wrote: [i]With Abbott strutting around as the Conservatives 'big man' who really seems to believe he is the most suitable model for being any sort of man in this country, the voting public will have a decision to make about the prospective national leader after the next election - support the man big enough to admit he's made mistakes, or the man who whinges about everything the other man says and does, with not the slightest hint of humility about him at all?[/i] Well, "mea culpa" comes from the Catholic [i]Confeitior[/i] prayer of confession, as in, "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" ("Through my fault, through my fault, through my grievous fault"... and Action Man Tony Abbott has been doing a lot of that lately himself. Perhaps Rudd is just trying to out-[i]mea culpa[/i] the Straight Talker, putting Tony's petty "Lord, I have sinned" admissions concerning sex, envy and lust on the campaign trail (and just about everywhere else) into proper perspective? "My confession is bigger than your confession, Tony. Beat [i]that[/i], ya mug!" My worry is that Rudd will be too successful in admitting so much has gone wrong, and perhaps might convince enough slow thinkers out there that nothing can ever go right again.

Ebenezer

6/03/2010BB I to did not agree with Rudd doing the “MiaCupla” in fact I refused to watch it. Then I asked myself this question, what would Howard or the Opposition have done in the same situation? Howard would have argued until he was blue in the face they made no mistakes and it was a Labor scare campaign combined with an over reactive compliant media. He then would have found a middle ranking public servant to hang the crime on. Never admitting fault of any kind for any thing was one of Howard’s major failings. With Rudd admitting they had made mistakes and could have implemented things better he takes the heat of the “insulgate” affair and leaves clear the way forward to the health reform package. The apology from Rudd would have made no difference to how the Coalition and media responded and portrayed the Health imitative, in their mind Rudd and his government are incapable of running the country no matter what they do. Only a few short months ago the Weekend OO was proclaiming him the Australian of the year due to the management of the GFC. In the mind of the average voter they have seen a PM not frightened or to arrogant to take the blame (albeit in my mind a contrived position by the joint “Bootstrapping” (to use your term) of the MSM and coalition) for the imperfect implementation of the insulation program. That is a refreshing thing for the public to see even if the MSM pooh pooh it. It is something they never saw in 12 years of Howard. So I don’t pretend to be able to convince you otherwise to your opinion but it may be just something to think about. Thanks Ad for letting BB guest post on your blog. I enjoy reading both your views. Cheers Eb. :) I havent read the other replies yet so I will post this then read posts. Sorry if I repeat other views.

Ebenezer

6/03/2010Spelling for "Mea Culpa" above sorry.

Bushfire Bill

6/03/2010Ebenezer, I'm perfectly willing to be convinced. In fact I i[]want[/i] to be convinced I'm wrong. You wrote: [Only a few short months ago the Weekend OO was proclaiming him the Australian of the year due to the management of the GFC.] And only a few short days ago the Daily Telegraph was writing in an editorial that the Health Plan was a good idea and deserved a genuinely fair hearing. Since both those editorials both papers have given Rudd such a head-kicking on every subject under the sun, including the GFC response and the Health policy, that I'm amazed (in weak moments) Kevin is still on his feet. You sort of have to open the window and look out onto the street outside to make sure he hasn't been burnt at the stake and his gizzards tossed to rabid dogs. Editorials and stunts like the Tele's and the Australian's are part of the bootstrapping process, called [i]The Phoney Compliment[/i] or [i]Damning with Faint Praise[/i]. They are used as counterfoils to anyone who claims the papers are 100% biased against their victim. Rudd and/or his policies are set up like 10-pin bowling pins so they can be all the more "regrettably" knocked over.... "Ah yes, a good idea, sadly botched by an inept government..." Have we [i]ever[/i] heard of Rudd being described as, "Kevin Rudd, this newspaper's Man Of The Year" since that one editorial, buried on a slow news day in January? Have we seen one glimmer of light in favour of the Health policy in the Telegraph since its laudatory piece: "As is well-known, this paper supports the Health policy", for example? The ABC, careful to pick up from The Australian the inappropriate use of a metal staple in a roof somewhere, or the slightest twitch of a Shanahan eyebrow, didn't even mention the Man Of The Year business. Neither did any other news outlet. They all knew it was a fake.

Acerbic Conehead

6/03/2010BB, thanks for reminding me about the "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" bizzo. We had our own version: "me a cowboy, me a cowboy, me a Mexican cowboy". lol

Bilko

6/03/2010BB IMHO I agree Kevin should not have apologised nor demoted Garrett who did no wrong. He has let the Libs have a minute victory for the wrong reasons. The blame was at the pointy end of the insulation scheme, and he should have said so, and then he should have gone on the attack casually mentioning just a few Fiberal instances, he had 12 years of background to select from, deaths in hosp speared at the Mad Monk and then done a number on a few other of this pale shadow of an opposition front bench. What in heavens name are his staffers doing to earn their paychecks?. Many of my comments have been related to the lack of responses to the media and coalition diatribe. It is Labor that has been the Government for two years for crying out loud, not the other mob so start acting like it before they are overwhelmed by the Murdoch inspired Goebbels style conspiracy.

Bushfire Bill

6/03/2010[i]What in heavens name are his staffers doing to earn their paychecks?.[/i] I wrote a few posts back that Rudd tends to sign off on bullet points and thereafter treat them as constants, e.g "ETS 80% approval". TICK. That always sounded dodgy to me as about half of these would have been Coalition supporters. As soon as they found a champion in Abbott, they reverted to type, instantly wiping out a little less than half of the ETS's poll support. The trouble will come when Abbott tries to re-badge WorkChoices and is forced to flesh out other areas of Coalition policy vacuum. I also console myself with the fact that the Coalition has no viable policy on Climate Change. What they call a "policy" is only an uncosted bullet point. Similarly, their "local hospital management" Health policy is of not much more than "footnote" standard. What the Coalition have failed to explain is how they will legislate for these "local boards". Any such legislation will be inextricably bound up with the funding and proprietorship of each hospital. If the states complain, then there will be a Rudd-style stoush with the states. There might have to be a Rudd-style referendum to settle such a turf war. Horror of horrors, we might even have the AMA criticising the plan, or new taxes that have to be collected. None of this potential for conflict has even been hinted at by either the Coalition or the media.

HillbillySkeleton

6/03/2010BB, You know, I think you ARE wrong about the mea culpa as weak-kneed surrender monkey. It's just my humble opinion, but I believe that if the PM had left the Insulation loose threads dangling out there it could too easily have been laced into the narrative of the Health Policy release. That is, without his abject grovelling to the Press Gallery AND the parliamentary wing of the Party, as it was said to have been directed to, the hyenas would not have felt sated by their kill, and would not have been prepared to be as positively receptive to the Health plans. Such that, we could have been seeing lines like, "Here's a PM who won't even admit that he got one big policy initiative wrong, how can we trust him to not be arrogantly hubristic in his gung-ho implementation of the Hospital Plan?" Now, I admit that we are yet to see the colour of their money in the Press Gallery when it comes to the campaign proper, even though some are saying that the campaign proper started on the day the PM released the Health policy, but if the commentary, in the main, this week is anything to go by, then I think the PM might be out of the woods when it comes to the Press Gallery 'Blame Game', which started when they must have decided at the beginning of the year that it was time for a payback campaign, as we have all heard that they were 'Not Happy, Jan' at the arrogant and condescending behaviour being meted out to them by the Young Turks in the PM's Office in Canberra. The Press Gallery wanted them to eat Humble Pie, and publicly eat it the PM did. I believe if you did a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the opinion pieces since the Health announcement you might find that the tenor of the tomes is less acerbic and heated, and less just, flat-out angry towards whatever the PM does or says. You might also find that the only ones who are really trying to keep the, "If you can't do Insulation, then how can you do Health", line going are the recalcitrants like Attackerman, and the Opposition. Even Bill Leak's cartoon in today's Australian is not as nasty as I would have expected. Anyway, time will tell. I just hope that, at the end of the day, the media companies realise that they will get more out of a returned Rudd government, not only in indulgences, but also by way of a happier, more prosperous populace willing and able to consume and pay for their products, than they will out of a 'Cruella De Ville in lycra' government led by Tony Abbott. And, when it all comes down to it, the bottom line is king for them.

Bushfire Bill

6/03/2010Hillbilly wrote: [i]It's just my humble opinion...[/i] HbS, we are ALL here to exchange ideas and listen to each other. Please don't feel the need to preface your remarks with "It's just my humble opinion". Disagree all you like, and as vehemently as you like, as long as your opinions are presented in a reasonable manner (which, in your case, they always are anyway). Don't ever be be cautious of disagreeing with the main poster's opinion. I sincerely mean that.

HillbillySkeleton

6/03/2010BB, In answer to how Abbott might get his Local Hospital Boards idea up, I imagine he'd use Howard's reliable tool of the Corporations Powers and a compliant High Court to give each, privately-incorporated but run for 'the mob' Public Hospital, legitimacy. How many of Howard's old mates, such as Paul Ramsay, would be salivating at the thought of owning 1, or 2, or more of our 'Public' Hospitals?

Bushfire Bill

6/03/2010[i]How many of Howard's old mates, such as Paul Ramsay, would be salivating at the thought of owning 1, or 2, or more of our 'Public' Hospitals?[/i] But.. but... I thought (according to Matty Franklin), only LABOR put hacks, union bosses and time servers into hospital boards?!?!?! Seriously, I can't remember how they did it with the hospital in Burnie, but I don't think it was corporations power. I thyink they bought it outright didn't they?

lyn1

6/03/2010Hi Bushfire Bill Thankyou for another brilliant piece, already some excellent comments have been posted. I was upset with Kevin Rudd doing his "mea culpa" but thinking about it later, Kevin Rudd would have consulted with his advisere, the words would have been carefully chosen as Ad said a mea culpa is so unusual in politics. Janice I agree with all your reasons Michael Your write a very interesting comment Kevin Rudd or the Government has not set a foot wrong, Mr and Mrs public when they are talking about the apology in their lounge room will say this:. " What did Kevin Rudd do wrong, he shouldn't have to apologise I'm not changing my vote for that idiot quad bike rider, getting lost in the desert, putting other peoples lives at risk with his ridiculous stunts". The guy loves himself, He even put a giant billboard of himself in budgie smugglers up at mascot airport, ps they won't know that Getup did it. some links below: http://safetyatworkblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/aussie-politician-risks-head-injury-in-photo-op/ http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/fight-on-the-election-starts-now-20100305-pot3.html http://www.pipingshrike.com/ http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/ Some interesting comments on Pure Poison http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/03/05/weekend-talk-thread-march-5-7/ For a bit of fun: http://northcoastvoices.blogspot.com/2010/03/blogospheres-talking-about-tony-abbott.html http://www.abbottsarmy.com.au/lost-now-found/

Bushfire Bill

6/03/2010Just about to go out for dinner, so won't be arounfd for a few hours. I must admit some of the arguments here have me wavering. Keep them up!

macca

6/03/2010My take on the PM's " mea culpa" is that it wasn't made to/for the media, but via the media. Anectdotal I know, the guys I work with, truckdrivers...mid 40's to 50's, are pretty much in agreement; the insulation program was a bit of a stuff up in parts, Garrett can't be held responsible, a big media beat up, Rudd came out, acknowledged the stuff up and said he'd fix it. Consensus? Rudd stood up, copped it sweet, what more do the Opposition and the media hacks want? This general discussion around our "smoko table",would be repeated around many in our workplaces. These are the very voters that Abbott needs to win back. I believe he has a job ahead of him. Fortunately, though perversely, the Murdoch hacks will him more harm than good. What I think/hope that the PM is doing is wedging the media with the public. People really are pissed off with our current " journalists' and talking heads and the endless blather about gate this and gate that. Focus groups would have told his young turks that. I think this a tactic to turn the media on itself and I believe that the Government and the PM will " take no prisoners" in this regard. Given that the print media is virtually fighting for its life, the penny will drop soon enough. I may be whistling hot air up my own backside, but I believe the debate, in the not to distant future, will be the ethics, morality and influence of the Murdoch hacks and their ringmaster.

Ostermann

6/03/2010Hi all I once read an article which I wish I could find again, (will keep searching) I think it was his press secretary stating that on occasions Rudd will make what seems to be an outrageous comment deliberately, which will send the opposition into a frenzy, "in fact it is a bit of sport", he did this 3 times during the election in 2007, so is the "mea culpa" partly an appeal to the people, "shock and awe" to cut throught the insulation debate, and to get back on policy message also to show up the opposition's policy flaws by exposing his own at the same time. A little reverse psychology in play, this article in yestedays New Matilda" seems to think Rudd has his mojo back, http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/05/rudd-gets-his-mojo-working., so are we seeing Kevin Rudd struggling or a masterful political tactic from a politian who doesn't appear on the surface to play politics.

Ostermann

6/03/2010sorry guys I buggered up the link try this. http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/05/rudd-gets-his-mojo-working

lyn1

6/03/2010Hi AD and Bushfire Bill Ostermann thanks for the newmatilda link very enjoyable so looks like the apology has worked. Iagree with all of your comment, and I do think there was something that was said about Rudd throwing comments around to shock. like this sentence out of newmatilda. By making health reform a signature issue in an election year, Rudd has put himself in an excellent position to dominate the narrative throughout this election year.

Ad astra

6/03/2010Lyn1, Ostermann Thanks for the interesting links - great reading. It seems as if we are not the only ones entertaining the probability that there has been thorough strategic planning behind what Rudd is doing. While there is always an element of risk in any strategy, I think we can rest assured that he knows what he's about despite all the dire predictions and pontifications of his adversaries in the media. The media is mystified; it can't work him out. We'll soon know how his strategy is playing out. Next week in parliament will be fascinating.

Acerbic Conehead

6/03/2010BB, maybe Kev’s a Charlie Chaplin fan and knows how a self-deprecating approach can pay dividends. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsmHzAtOXZA&feature=related

Ostermann

6/03/2010AA Yep Parliament is going to be fasinating next week, the old asylum seeker "dog whitle" has been blown, it's election time!!! hang on to your ballot cards folks. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/govt-quiet-on-christmas-island-detention-20100306-ppcc.html lyn1 nice links thankyou, especially the fun ones

Bushfire Bill

7/03/2010Laura Tingle made a good point on Insiders this morning: what's the point of winning the day, or the week in the media if the public isn't better informed on major policy issues at the end of it? This goes for both sides of politics. A cheap sound bite from the Simpson Desert from Abbott means nothing, but neither does tough talk about taking on the states. It's "Abbott, Abbott, Abbott" on one side and "Rudd, Rudd, Rudd" on the other. Rudd's chief advisors are very young, and undoubtedly smart, but (perhaps understandably) their focus is more on media - and hence perception - than on concrete policy. We have seen very little from Rudd this week except posturing and playing to the cameras. You do get the feeling that policy takes second place to performance in their strategy. They seem obsessed with the "24-hour news cycle". It tires me quite a lot. I really do get sick of hearing clever but ultimately vacuuous playing of glib, media-orientated trump cards from both sides of politics. Where is Nicola Roxon? She's the minister, but Rudd has taken it upon himself to do all the batting, bowling, fielding, wicket-keeping, unmpiring and even carrying the drinks. Next he'll be rolling the pitch. I took Tingle's point that he needs to let his ministers off the leash a lot more. You can understand why, in the early stages of the government, Rudd didn't want anyone to drift off the reservation, but they're bedded down now and need to be given a freer rein to do their jobs and carry the weight of their portfolios on the "sink or swim" philosophy. One does get the feeling that Rudd does not trust his own ministers. He can't keep it up forever. Already he's admitting that things are getting bottlenecked in his department because he doesn't have enough time to deal with them. This surely has to stop? The suggestion was also made that Rudd caved in too readily when he should have defended his policy achievements, preferring to play some kind of media meta-game. By assuming responsibility for the Insulation business Rudd did take some heat off Garrett, but this also put the spotlight on Rudd himself. From my post you'll know that I think Garrett was doing OK, had actually made it to the other side of the river, drenched to the skin, tired, but still standing. I'm wondering whether Rudd wasn't jealous of all the attention Garrett was receiving and decided to make himself the centre of attention again as a result? But perhaps that's too facetious. The theory goes that Rudd is the best thing the government's got, and so his front-and-centre duties must therefore be more onerous. But unless he lets his ministers do more of the presentation of policies they're just gophers and not executives in a government. Until he lets go a little, then this situation will never change... and in my opinion it has to change. Rudd is already awake 20 hours a day. It can't go on at this pace. I'm hoping he doesn't see himself as the only competent person in the government with the rest just kids in the playground, needing constant supervision. In giving in to the media's demands, making himself the centre of attention, Rudd is also exposing his entire government to any weaknesses or even physical setbacks like illnesses or accidents he might suffer personally. About the only one he lets go is Julia Gillard. Her policy achievements have been outstanding and have fulfilled election promises pretty much to the letter and on time. She is Deputy Prime Minister, an executive position of import in its own right. True, there is a cynical undercurrent in the media of boosting Gillard to undermine Rudd (Alan Jones was shown doing this on Insiders), but there is also a lot of substance to Gillard's abilities. She has her own power base within the government and I don't think she or her supporters would take kindly to being told what to do at all times by Rudd's boy geniuses. The other ministers have lesser power bases. I don't know all the ins and outs of who's up who in the factions, but it does seem to me that they are not being permitted to work to their full potential. You'd expect Rudd's micro management style to be irritating to competent people, and there are reports (more often of late) that this is so. I can see trouble brewing if Rudd allows the media to completely run his agenda and to fall for the "Presidential" meme of running government. But the language his advisors speak is the same as that of the media. Rudd is not getting any advice to the contrary, and I'm not sure if that's a healthy state of affairs.

Bubba Ray

7/03/2010Personally I think that the PM’s “mea culpa” had very little to do with the insulation scheme and much, much more to do with the year ahead. The year that leads inevitably to an election. If there is one are where the government is vulnerable it is in failing to deliver on its promise, like most new governments. This is the line of attack Abbott is most likely to use, the government is underperforming – all promise and no delivery. Rudd has pre-empted the attack – it’s like being at a party where you are holding the audience spell bound with a charming anecdote or joke and just when you are building up to the punch-line somebody else steps in and tells it. You get to stand there with egg on your face while the interloper gets the laughs. Rudd has effectively stolen Abbotts punch-line. In a month or 2 down the track when the insulation scheme is off the front page and largely forgotten, Rudd’s recent apology will stand him in good stead. He is guarding against complacency and the protest vote that complacency normally brings. There might have been a tendency in the electorate to feel a little let down at the government’s lack of performance and remind them at the ballot box to do a little better. Except Rudd has told the voters he is aware of their concerns and that he will be doing a little better. Rudd knows that he has the next election as good as won, now he is trying to make sure that it is a big win. Pre-emptively countering a protest vote is a good way to start.

Ad astra reply

7/03/2010BB As I read your comment this morning, I began to reflect on how much airplay Kevin Rudd’s ministers are having. First it seems that the Presidential Style is established in Australia. John Howard exhibited it more and more through his prime ministership. Kevin Rudd is similar, although some would say more so. I doubt if we will see a retreat from this. Tony Abbott is the front runner for the Coalition with Joe Hockey and Barnaby Joyce bringing up the rear. Julie Bishop is rarely seen; he appearance on [i]Lateline[/i] last Friday was the first for a while. We occasionally see Christopher Pyne and Peter Dutton in TV interviews, and a variety appears on [i]Lateline[/i]. As you say, Julia Gillard has lots of exposure. She is widely acknowledged as being very capable of handling the media; I cannot recall her ever being upended, even by the most antagonistic interviewer. She has a large portfolio on which she is called to account by the media, and is Deputy Prime Minister which extends her ‘right’ to address virtually any subject. What about the others? You mention Nicola Roxon. She was on Laurie Oakes [i]Channel Nine[/i] interview this morning, she has appeared in several interviews since the health reform was announced, and she takes her turn on Q&A where she does well. Wayne Swan has not been as prominent this year as he was all through the GFC, as the prime focus shifted away from matters of the economy, but he’s still out regularly, especially after Reserve Bank meetings and announcements. We’ll see more of him as the budget approaches, and when the Henry tax review emerges. Lindsay Tanner is frequently seen in interviews related to his portfolio and on a range of other matters in programmes such as [i]Lateline[/i] where he performs almost as well as Julia Gillard. Stephen Smith is often seen on TV. Although initially it was perceived that he was overshadowed by Kevin Rudd, he now seems to be the go-to man for foreign affairs matters, although Rudd will make the big announcements such as, for recent example whaling, just as John Howard would have. Penny Wong has had a large amount of exposure over the CPRS and now Greg Combet is also. Peter Garrett who has suffered so much lately has appeared in interviews over the insulation saga and has acquitted himself well, as he did on Q&A recently and on First Tuesday Night Book Club. Jenny Macklin is often on TV addressing indigenous, family and community issues, and just a few days ago announced increases in pensions. Stephen Conroy seems to be getting a lot of airplay recently, and evoking some vigorous responses. Tanya Plibersek, although not in a high-flying portfolio, is often seen in interviews and was on Q&A not long ago. She performs well. Chris Evans is often called upon over immigration matters and the boat arrivals. Simon Crean, John Faulkner, Anthony Albanese, Robert McClelland, Chris Bowen and Mark Abib have modest exposure, but the others in the ministry less so unless their specific portfolio is involved. Although Kevin Rudd is considered by many to be a ‘control freak’ and thereby continually pulling his ministers’ puppet strings and giving them insufficient room to move and insufficient exposure to the public, my experience does not coincide with that perception. In fact TV channels complain bitterly about Rudd being insufficiently available to them and that he instead sends his ministers, when they really want him. Whether he trusts his ministers cannot be known. If one criterion is inhibiting their exposure to the media, that seems to be not a sustainable proposition, as argued above. Whether Rudd insists on ‘signing off’ on his ministers’ projects and initiatives is media speculation, although there may be truth in it. The meme currently gaining prominence is that he works too much, sleeps too little, attempts too much, and completes too little. David Penberthy pushes this line in [i]The Punch[/i] in [i] Has Kevin 24-7 been caught napping by a fresh opponent?[/i] On [i]Insiders[/i] today, Laura Tingle, whom I regard as a top journalist, hinted that Rudd’s ministers should be given a longer leash. Maybe she’s right, but how would that be manifest? What would he have to do differently? How would his ministers behave differently if he did? To return to my theme, my assessment, for what it’s worth, is that increasingly Rudd’s ministers are being given their head in the media and are generally performing well. What else he needs to do to devolve responsibility is a matter for debate. Many say he should; I would value learning how.

Ad astra reply

7/03/2010Bubba Ray I think this is your first comment; if so, welcome to [i]TPS[/i]. Please return. I take your points and agree with most of them. The perception that the Government has failed to deliver on its promises is one fostered continually by the MSM. Like all such assertions it is but partly true. Take the GFC – the Government promised it would leave no stone unturned to soften its effect and to preserve employment. It did that in a spectacularly successful way. For me, if it did nothing else in its first three years that would be enough to warrant re-election. But there’s so much more. We would have had an ETS had Tony Abbott not defeated Malcolm Turnbull and the ETS with it. We would have had changes to the health insurance rebate worth several billion to the budget had the Opposition not blocked it. We would have had changes to the student support scheme had the same Opposition not opposed it. The Government has completed the largest review of the health care system and the tax system for decades ready for implementation. One could go on and on. So the under-delivery accusation, while having some validity, is not as gross as the media and the Opposition portrays it. It annoys me that the latter will never ever give any acknowledgement at all that the Government has done anything at all - only bungling, incompetence, profligate spending, accumulating debt and deficit – on and on the tired recital goes. The media is not much better. Where has honesty and integrity gone?

mick smetafor

7/03/2010"Given that the print media is virtually fighting for its life, the penny will drop soon enough. I may be whistling hot air up my own backside, but I believe the debate, in the not to distant future, will be the ethics, morality and influence of the Murdoch hacks and their ringmaster." macca i only hope you are right.the malign influence of the randy old goat on the conservative side of politics here and the us and england is appaling

HillbillySkeleton

7/03/2010Fair points all who have made them today. I find it bemusing that no one yet has commented on the Joe Hockey interview on Insiders this am. I found it astonishing, to say the least, to hear some of the things he was saying in response to Chris Uhlmann's very pointed questions(C.U. is out of my bad books now as a result of that interview, it was a corker! Also as a result of his hosting of Insiders in its totality). Joe Hockey was saying that the Coalition will refuse to say, until after the election, where they will trim the Budget, and which spending programs will be cut by a future Coalition government(heaven forbid). Are we, as members of the electorate, going to let them get away with that, between now and the election? More journalists should be asking these sorts of questions of the Coalition's Economic team(tho' I don't think you'd get any sense at all if you asked Barnaby). It's just the sort of thing that thinking electors crave from the media, an inquisition, not a fluff job. Then, when you have extracted, like teeth, with the sort of surgical precision we expect from our best journalists, information which could be potentially damning, in the truest sense, and not the false hullabaloo that was created around the Insulation program, then we could be satisfied that we are getting the best sort of transparency out of our politicians, and our top journalists, as opposed to the Bootstrapping campaigns that Bushfire Bill loves to hate. Bring it on! I say! Let's keep holding our Press to account and demanding, 'Must do better'. Who knows, maybe the ABC HAS been reading some of the blog criticism of their performance lately and has sent out the word to, 'Straighten up and fly right'? All I can say is that it was a refreshing change this morning to be positively engaged by Insiders, and not have to put up with Bitchy Boy 1 or 2 blaring away with the Coalition's attack lines to the exclusion of the truth. I am so glad that Laura Tingle has agreed to come on Insiders, and Phil Coorey is a gem. Brian Toohey is still a bit nonsensicly anti-Rudd, for no good reason other than the joy he gets out of the sound of his own voice giving the government a whack. Still, you can't have it all, and he made a couple of good points in there amongst the persiflage. Now, compare that performance with Channel 10's 'Meet the Press', where our current bete noir, Fran Kelly was putting in a typically rancid performance alongside 'The Poison Dwarf #1', Glenn Milne(Poison Dwarf #2 is Steve Price). The poor old Deputy PM, Julia Gillard, must have thought that she had been transported to Planet Poison Dwarf. I can't understand it, but Paul Bongiorno must have been instructed by his Newscaf editor to go the tonk on the government and attempt to ridicule and shame Julia, as he is normally more respectful and considered. It didn't work, of course, as Julia is a class act, and the 3 Stooges act of attempting to throw Custard pies at her fell as flat as a pancake(to mix a couple of food metaphors). Maybe that's why, according to the last figures I saw for MTP, only 40,000 people tune into it on a Sunday morning, me being one of those political tragics, as I have to see what the jerky end of joournalism is doing and saying. Although, yes, sometimes they have the better quality journos on and they ask sensible questions. Finally, on Channel 9 we had 'The Sphere of Influence's' interview of the Health Minister. Simply put, Laurie Oakes was trying manfully to put Nicola Roxon on the spot about tax increases to pay for the Health changes, and she, being a fast learner, was having none of it. Which is why I can sort of understand why the PM likes to keep all the initial announcements of new programs by the government under his aegis. Just one tiny slip-up by Nicola the other day about tax and the Health plan, had to have the PM divert his attentions for the next 2-3 days to hose down the fire and get the messaging back on track. Nevertheless, he let Nicola back onto the field, and she did well. I think that's what the PM is learning to do, that is, if someone on the team does stuff up, then just give them a bit of counselling and advice and then let them back on the field of play again, instead of taking over and micromanaging. I hope so, because it works.

Bushfire Bill

7/03/2010Well, AA we're on the same side as far as election promises is concerned. I remember that it was a common complaint in the first year of the Rudd government that they were obsessed with keeping election promises. Several commentators even urged them to break some promises (e.g. tax cuts in the first Budget) in order to aid the economy. WorkChoices was repealed substantially, as promised. This happened during what I suppose we could now call the "Golden Age" of Coalition common sense, where they realised that they would be on a hiding to nothing for opposing every government initiative. The government is rightly praised for this (although not so much nowadays as before, the "news cycle" [i]has[/i] moved on, after all). Which brings a thought to mind: if the government [i]had[/i] got the Fuel Watch scheme through the Senate, and the ETS, and several other promises they made (but are now lambasted for not keeping), things would have looked a lot worse for the Opposition than 52:48. I'm disappointed that the explanations and the attacks on the Opposition for these bills failing - due to Senate intransigence and bloody-mindedness - are confined mostly to Parliament, as Parliament proper is simply not reported. We're lucky if we get 60 seconds on the nightly news of QT argey-bargey. We get zilch on Parliamentary debates, lively or not. There have been some telling speeches in the debates pointing out [i]exactly[/i] the negativism of the Opposition, but they have fallen on not so much deaf ears, as ears kept out of earshot. As a result we have supposedly serious commentators glibly stating that the government "failed" or "botched" these reforms and initiatives, with no blame at all going to the Opposition for blocking them so bloody-mindedly. In fact their intransigence is almost praised or, if not praised, passed off neutrally as some kind of fact of life that exists independently of malicious opposition for its own sake. It seems to be looked on as being a cry-baby, or expressing sour grapes if a government member simply points out that these reforms did not "fail" for want of hard effort and dedication to getting them through by the government. The ETS "failure" is the most galling example. The Coalition party room vote - essentially just a rejigging of its own policy from the last election anyway - had been taken and passed in ithe ETS's favour, after hard negotiations in good faith, only to see Abbott reneg when he was elected leader. How is that a "failure" by the government? It's clearly not, but that is the meme, it is seen as a disaster, a big blot on the government's record, part of a long list of broken promises. Rudd, instead of fighting for recognition of his government's genuine efforts to get this and other measures through, just chucked in the towel last Sunday and admitted to the alleged failure and many others. It bewildered me. It was as if he had agreed to participate in the "alternative history" version of events that the media have peddled, instead of standing up for his and his party's best efforts. What I'm getting at is that there will certainly be enough genuinely unkept promises, or promises not completely fulfilled to beat the government over the head with. Why did Rudd add to the list by pleading guilty to crimes his government had not committed, or for which there was a perfectly reasonable moral explanation that could be used to rightly shame the Opposition? How can it be just for an Opposition to wilfully block a bill (sometimes more than once) and then, in lock-step with an antagonistic media, mock the government for not passing the very same bill? How can the Coalition be allowed to profit from demanding the government keeps it promises when their vote in the Senate has been the precise instrument by which those promises remained unfulfilled? It shouldn't happen, but last weekend Rudd OK'd it retrospectively. If Rudd is not prepared to express outrage, why should the public?

Michael

7/03/2010Fran Kelly was particularly bone-headed and playing the Coalition mouthpiece on Meet The Press on Sunday morning, wasn't she? And you can just tell that Glenn Milne will follow up his "yes or no" trick questions with a text article lampooning the Deputy PM's 'inability' to duly answer his questions in monosyllables. The fact that his questions were phrased with such loaded content that Julia Gillard was likely to look naive and/or stupid answering either "Yes" or "No" was typical Glenn Milne disingenuousness. That she not only answered the questions, but exposed in each answer that his questions were loaded with blanks containing none of the gotcha "bang" he fondly believed was in them at all, was wonderful political television. I read somewhere recently that Kerrie O'Brien is a "septuagenarian", in his 70's. Is this possible? If so, has he let it out that he's thinking of retiring, and the 'take no prisoners' antics of Fran Kelly and her like at the ABC are all about putting up their hands for the chair on The 7:30 Report? I too, was also impressed with Chris Uhlmann on Insiders Sunday morning. He exposed Joe Hockey's windbaggery and evasiveness throughout the interview, and even managed to allow (with no malicious intent) Joe H to make an idiot of himself with his last words in the interview, "That's why I get the big money, Chris", relating to the possibility of confusing Belinda Neal and Deborah O'Neill's names. Perhaps an election looming is sharpening journalists' minds at last. Certainly political journalists do have to be at the top of their game in the heat of Federal elections, because there is often a lot of egg to go around for many faces if they try to sail through on bombast and self-importance.

janice

7/03/2010I wonder sometimes whether the media is trying to make Rudd conform to the sort of politician they've come to think of as the norm. To me it's a bit like trying to turn a lion into a tiger and not recognising that each is a cat with its own distinctive differences and qualities. PM Rudd is still an enigma to both the media and the opposition as well as many Labor supporters who are still trying to read and analyse him in order to file him in the correct box. Bushfire Bill, you and I are mostly on the same plane of thinking but on occasions our paths deviate a little on things on which I don't place too much importance. Like you I did not react well to Rudd's mea culpa (Ascerbic's "Me a cowboy" which amused me no end) and even sent Rudd an email to suggest he should have been a little less willing to bow so low without pointing out the government's achievements and the obstructionist behaviour of the opposition. I also think that when there is a hostile media rampaging out of control, there is no way they will listen to reason and everything the victim says becomes an "excuse". Rudd's mea culpa was meant to disarm them and to trust that the voters would see the truth. Unlike you, BB I don't believe Rudd is playing "the power of one" and holding his ministers on a tight leash. I am more inclined to think that Labor has a strategy which they've all agreed upon and are conscientiously sticking to. I may be quite wrong, but I think this is one of the reasons why Rudd remains an enigma to the media and his opponents. I noticed Laura Tingle this morning on Insiders saying she is unable to understand Rudd and why he did this or that, and why he has picked a fight with the states. Why indeed. Since I believe Rudd doesn't do anything without cautious thought, there will be a good reason behind this tactic.

Kersebleptes

7/03/2010I reckon that was simply Rudd's diplomatic past coming through. He saw his apology as a polite way to say "now shut up, you obnoxious nongs", while coupling it with the move of the program's management as a technical fix to point to. Of course his attackers have no diplomatic experience, and a virulent hatred of their opponent; so it simply encouraged them to chalk it all up as a glorious victory for the ages. Time will tell if it was the right move as far as the electorate is concerned!

lyn1

7/03/2010Hi Ad and Bushfire Thankyou Bushfire Bill for a great piece and your subsequent columns. All the comments on here are honest and well thoughtout. Kersebleptes I agree time will tell and I also believe it is Rudd's diplomatic past coming through. Joe Hockey was disgraceful on the insiders this morning, the media all day has not been worth reading. Looks like the next line from the MSM is going to be yawn:- There has been a longstanding and well-documented view within Labor circles that Rudd's workload and sleeping habits are so punishing as to be unsustainable. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/opinion/hyper-rudd-puts-opposition-on-dream-roll/story-e6frgd0x-1225837297901 Bubba Ray I love your comment, and like you I believe Rudd has stolen Abbott's punch line. Can't send many links today, except anyone that hasn't seen it already, might like to look at the ACTU's TV Ad launched today: http://www.actu.org.au/Campaigns/Dontgobacktoworkchoices/default.aspx

HillbillySkeleton

7/03/2010Kersebleptes, I think we also should factor into the equation that Kevin Rudd was a diplomat who worked in the Chinese Embassy, and thus may practice an Australian version of Chinese inscrutability and the politics of opacity, whereby what it looks like he is saying and doing can actually be interpreted at a subliminal level quite differently.

Bushfire Bill

7/03/2010Michael wrote: [i]I too, was also impressed with Chris Uhlmann on Insiders Sunday morning. He exposed Joe Hockey's windbaggery and evasiveness throughout the interview, and even managed to allow (with no malicious intent) Joe H to make an idiot of himself with his last words in the interview, "That's why I get the big money, Chris", relating to the possibility of confusing Belinda Neal and Deborah O'Neill's names. [/i] Uhlmann occasionally does impress like that. It shows that he can see the stupidity of the Coalition talking points, but mostly he stops short of probing too deeply. I suspect that Insiders is on some kind of unofficial probation with the government. Rudd gave them a national scoop (as you know, I think wrongly) and the promise of more to come may be keeping them on their best behaviour. Uhlmann today put the noose around Joe's neck and then Joe rezched over and pulled the lever. It certainly was refreshing NOT to see Pies, Bolt or Milne on the show. If their absence is permanant then Good Riddance!

lyn1

7/03/2010Hi Bushfire Bill Your words It certainly was refreshing NOT to see Piers, Bolt or Milne on the show. If their absence is permanant then Good Riddance How good was that more than refreshing, Did anyone watch Abbott on 60 minutes, please give us your opinion.

Paul of Berwick

7/03/2010It was a reset event - who are we talking about? Who has had the major "voice" over the last week? Well, we're talking about the ALP & the major voices are the ALP & media questioning the ALP. A week ago it was Abbott, Hunt, et al & the media blasting the ALP.

Bushfire Bill

7/03/2010Lyn, unfortunately Piers seems to be on leave as someone has taken over his column at the Tele temporarily. So his absence from Insiders is probably not permanent. Then again, if I was a conspiracy theorist I'd say that Piers took leave from the Tele so that someone like me would write the paragraph above, when actually he'd been sacked off of Insiders and was using "leave" as a cover. Paul of Berwick (welcome!) wrote: [i]Well, we're talking about the ALP & the major voices are the ALP & media questioning the ALP. [/i] Attention bought at too high a price from my viewpoint. If major health and education policies can't swim without floaties on their own, then they're not serious policies. If the quid pro quo of getting air time for them (mostly highly negative, by he way) is participating in media myth making and justifying bootstrap campaigns retrospectively, that's even worse. The coverage is negative and the government's ineptitude is established. Some victory.

Ad astra reply

8/03/2010Folks Today’s [i]Nielsen[/i] poll in the [i]Age[/i] and [i]SMH[/i] shows eight out of ten voters support the Commonwealth taking a greater role in funding the public hospital system. http://www.smh.com.au/national/voters-warm-to-rudds-health-plan-20100307-pqlj.html Seven in ten Coalition voters and nine in ten Labor voters support a greater funding role for the federal government. Only fourteen percent oppose it. This will encourage the Government in its pursuit of its health reform agenda, and perhaps persuade the states to get behind a concept that the people strongly embrace. Of course the devil is in the detail and opponents will dig up enough problems to raise doubts. It will be interesting to see if the media will attempt to bootstrap these data to stymie the reform plan. The Opposition has got off with a characteristic prediction of ‘disaster’ if the plan is implemented. This poll might make it a little more circumspect. In my view, sooner or later Tony Abbott’s ‘oppose everything’ approach will backfire – the public will see it for what it is – mindless opposition, and over an issue as close to the heart of the voters as this issue clearly is, it will turn the tide of opinion against such opportunistic opposition. Of course Abbott will be buoyed by his improving ratings. As Michelle Grattan puts it [i]“Mr Abbott's approval has jumped 6 points to 50 per cent. This is the highest for an opposition leader since November 2008, when Malcolm Turnbull was on 51 per cent. It is in line with average approval of opposition leaders over the past 15 years. Mr Abbott's net approval is plus 9, up 6 points.”[/i] She goes onto say “[i]Mr Rudd leads as preferred PM by 57 (down 1 point) to Mr Abbott's 35 per cent (up 4).”[/i] The primary vote was tied and the was TPP 53/47, down a point from last month’s [i]Nielsen[/i] poll, and consistent within the MOE with the last [i]Newspoll[/i] 52/48. The polls are not as bad for Kevin Rudd and the Government as Rudd predicted they would be after the insulation saga. The question is whether that episode will wash out of the system as new initiatives in curriculum and health flow into the public consciousness. The former seems to have been generally well received by the media but we can anticipate a big media beat-up and a massive scare campaign (what an awful expression that is) from the Opposition. Hopefully this [i]Nielsen[/i] poll will stay the hand of the media somewhat, knowing that if it opposes health reform, it will be swimming against a strong tide of public opinion. Bootstrapping will be more difficult and much less credible.

Ostermann

8/03/2010Hi all If I remember correctly the bootstrapping started with Alan Jones getting his devout listeners to email their members in protest to the CPRS, so they had an abnormally high amount of emails moslty from NSW, which led the opposition to believe it was a national consensus, and the impetus to remove the small l leader of the opposition. The opposition at some point must have realised that they mis-read public opinion, and followed trough with a premature election campaign based on surface rather than substance, and in doing so trying to entice the Govt. into the same ploy, however according to the latest polling the Govt's. Health plan has voter support as did the CPRS. My fear is the Govt. will allow itself to try and fight an election based on this liberal doctrine, Scott Morrison is already playing the Asylum Seeker card again especially with the Indonesian President visiting and they want to make a meal of that one trying to pull at the Howard fear factor. Also this morning there is an e-mail from a brave Labor staffer who puts her name to it according to Glen Milne, hmmm Liberals and emails!!, read it for yourselves it could be real but me I'm dubious. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/rudds-thirst-for-a-headline-produces-hasty-and-deadly-policy/story-e6frg6zo-1225837966534

Bushfire Bill

8/03/2010AA wrote: [i]Hopefully this Nielsen poll will stay the hand of the media somewhat, knowing that if it opposes health reform, it will be swimming against a strong tide of public opinion. Bootstrapping will be more difficult and much less credible.[/i] Amen to that! Except for Glenn Milne... I don't think anything could stop his hatred of the Rudd government, except a straight jacket and gag. Milne's columns are becoming more like tabloid gossip columns than supposedly serious articles in the self-styled "national newspaper". Here's the opening couple of paragraphs: [i]NEXT time you catch that "cat's got the cream" look on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's face -- the one that tells you he's in charge and we're all the better for it -- try re-reading the e-mail reproduced below. It's a grave insight into the absolute chaos behind the scenes of the Rudd government and how the politics of getting re-elected this year is driving everything, and I mean everything, no matter how much Rudd keeps repeating that he is hard at work in the best long-term policy interest of the country. The e-mail was penned by a whistleblower inside the department responsible for the pink batts fiasco. This woman even had the courage to put her name to the document. More strength to her. The email is marked: "In Confidence. Senate Inquiry -- info from Department of Environment that might be of interest." You bet it's of interest.[/i] Gee, a Prime Minister wanting to get elected and using his policies as examples of why this should happen. Only in MilneWorld is this something to snigger at, hinting at perfidious undertones. The rest of the article goes on to tell us how it's really all Kevin Rudd's fault that the insulation stimulus wobbled, and throw in the hated Mark Arbib for good measure. Arbib was brought in to oversee the nuts and bolts of the program, allegedly at Rudd's request. Quoting a paragraph from an email sent to him by an anonymous whistle-blower informing him of the unsurprising fact that the program was more for economic stimulus than the environment, Milne lets us know who killed those boys... [i]If you care to read that paragraph again, I put it to you that was the one that killed four young Australians and despite the opprobrium Garrett suffered it was Rudd who behind the scenes was pushing an under-resourced bureaucracy to implement a program that was meant to get Rudd good headlines about his swift and timely response to he global financial crisis. The environmental bonuses were just as much tosh. As were the lives of the four kids just trying to make a buck.[/i] It seems hardly worthwhile to dissect this piece in detail. A few examples will suffice... Do we know they were all "kids"? Do we know they were all inexperienced and therefore vulnerable to the Arbib hatchet-man mentality? Milne doesn't care. Labor - Garrett, Rudd Arbib, it's immaterial - killed those workers, sure as little green apples. This may be the beginning of the "over-egging" phase of Insulgate. I doubt whether too many in Voterland care about it any more, certainly not with the vehemence that Milne thinks they do. Insulgate seems to be all they've got, which is not much. He ends the article with a plaintive cry: [i]Any other whistleblowers with views on the new heath takeover, I'd be happy to hear from you: milneg@theustralian.com.au.[/i] That direct email address could come in handy down the track. With Milne pitching in, this makes me more confident that Rudd and his government will survive Insulgate. Milne has never backed a winner yet. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/rudds-thirst-for-a-headline-produces-hasty-and-deadly-policy/story-e6frg6zo-1225837966534

HillbillySkeleton

8/03/2010So the Liberals and their mouthpieces in the media have found their new Godwin Gretch. I think the general public might be a bit more sceptical this time, don't you? I wonder if the government might launch another AFP investigation to track down the whistleblower, that is if the e-mail was sent from the Dept. of the Environment? They should. These residual Liberal luvvies in the Public Service are a public nuisance. It's all in the reporting by the bootstrapper, isn't it? As in, how scandalous that the PM wants to get re-elected!!! How wrong that he wanted to get semi-skilled workers into jobs quickly!!! Yawn. "Nothing to see here. Move along." Chief Wiggum

Kerry

8/03/2010Gedday all, If only Garrett et al had contacted and empathised/sympathised with the family of the first and subsquent "victims" then this whole media beat up would have been hamstrung at the outset. It's all very well saying sorry with 20-20 hindsight; the fault lay with not hearing the death knell in the first place - therefore I think the mea culpa was absolutely necessary, although I don't think the great unwashed (myself included) really thought much more about it - especially not this incessant navel gazing. Move on. Why do we need to know what makes Rudd tick? Oh dear, the media can't work him out! What the ?? Ooo he's micromanaging too much, oooo no he's not. The man's a human, like the rest of us - as is Tony Abbott. I often wonder what it was like before all this 24/7 crap analysis. The poor bastards on both sides of the fence must barely have time to think. Cheers Kerry

Michael

8/03/2010Icky icky icky, Tony Abbott and family on Sixty Minutes last night. I was left feeling that Channel Nine had just delivered a very subtle hatchet job on TA. From his "threatened" response to the topic of homosexuality, to one of his his daughters saying that they all tune out from Federal politics, and another on how "awesome" it would be to live in Kirribilli House. With a whole lot of other stops in between that made the man, while totally being himself, look just ever so faintly ridiculous. And Abbott's laughter as he walked along a corridor with Liz Hayes sounded like someone alive in a sealed coffin knocking on the lid to attract attention. Horror film special effects stuff. I hope someone at the ALP samples that laugh and puts it in their election advertisements. The combination of that laugh and the video of TA's "he wants to be bold" Black and White Minstrel dance in Parliament a few weeks back, displays just how lunatic this man actually is. Forget Putin, this bloke's channeling Boris Yeltsin! And scarier than that, with so much attention on him, all the other deadwood and lightweights on the shadow cabinet are skating past serious scrutiny.

Bushfire Bill

8/03/2010Gedday Kerri. You wrote: [i]If only Garrett et al had contacted and empathised/sympathised with the family of the first and subsquent "victims" then this whole media beat up would have been hamstrung at the outset. It's all very well saying sorry with 20-20 hindsight; the fault lay with not hearing the death knell in the first place - therefore I think the mea culpa was absolutely necessary,[/i] How do we know Garrett [i]didn't[/i] empathise with the workers' families? And should he have offered to (i.e. been proactive)? I'm not so sure. We keep getting bound up in the media bootstrapers' premiss: that because Garrett's department was the conduit for the funding, he and they were responsible. This is a bad habit (in my opinion) to get into. It would stop cold almost all government grants and stimulus programs, leaving them open to the longest of long bows in assessing blame by the media. The slightest fraud or mismanagement that could in any way be connected with death or injury would be trotted out every time. Milne makes a big point of saying that the scheme was economic and not environmental. It would be more accurate to say that the emphasis ws on economic considerations, with the environmental bit tagging on. It was better than shovelling sand from one pile to another (as, I believe, used to happen in the Great Depression on certain occasions)... and then back again tomorrow. But Milne's point in a way destroys his argument that there was some kind of dark agenda going on. Why insulation was picked was always up-front: the insulation program was part of the economic stimulus in response to the GFC, tailored to non and semi-skilled workers. The one thing that came out of Milne's piece this morning in any kind of newsworthy way was the allegation that Garrett was a beard for Arbib and, ultimately, Rudd. Maybe this is why he was only demoted and not fired, as it was not really his executive (as opposed to formal) responsibility? The ultimate point is that $2.4 billion was pumped into the economy, many were employed in spending it, and lastly it was not make work... good things were achieved. If, as Milne's whistle-blower suggests, a lot more time had been spent on planning then we may have had less deaths but more economic pain. Arguably, even one death would have gotten the bootstrapper off and running. What encourages me is that, despite Rudd's apology, there is still a modicum of attention being paid to Insulgate. It shows a paucity of policy energy in the Coalition and their media stooges. With Nielsen's poll this morning showing very encouraging support for the Health reform, the Coalition will have to do better than "a great big new tax" or "black arm-band history" allegations. The longer they keep on trying to work out the angles of Insulgate the better.

Kerry

8/03/2010BB I don't think for a minute Garrett was responsible - And if he had "contacted and empathised/sympathised" then don't worry, we would have heard - the MSM would have been all over it like the proverbial rash. It's obvious the dept was told about the death/s - else why bother banning metal clips?? It'll probably do you good to read Kenneth Davidson's piece in The Age today (sorry, don't know how to do a link). He used to be a good commentator on economics, but lately has turned into far right wingnut - but even he is saying kind stuff about the insulation program. As for Milne, I find his style insulting. And I'm not convinced he should place so much faith in an email. Do you?

lyn1

8/03/2010Hi Ad And Bushfire Bill Michael I couldn't agree with you more, the Abbott segment on 60 minutes was just awful. How about the hubris (TONY ABBOTT: I don't think I'm God's gift to politics, Liz. But you don't have to be God's gift to politics - I just have to be better than the other fella and I think I AM better than the other fella). Also poor taste showing Abbott piggy backing one of his daughters,with his budgie smugglers on. The laugh walking down the corridor at parliament house doesn't sound normal. You are right a video of the dancing and beating his chest in Question time along with laugh would make a good campaign ad for the Government to use. Here is the link to 60 minutes transcript along with link to Liz Hayes blog about the interview http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1020354 http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=1020354 Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton botched their response last week. This is interesting http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/08/virulent-strain-of-ruddivirus-coming-to-a-hospital-near-you/ Funny video about the death of newspapers http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/ Very interesting as usual from piping shrike: http://www.pipingshrike.com/

You must be kidding

8/03/2010A few blogs ago a wise blogger said that politics is all about the manipulation of perceptions and has nothing to do with reality. Most of the contributions that follwoed ridiculed that proposition. How interesting then to read the contributions on this stream and the concern about perceptions and the realisation that perhaps trying to manipulate the daily story can come back to bite sometimes. The trouble with the PM I would humbly suggest is that he thinks he is invincible (given his polling over recent times who would blame him) and he then went about doing and saying what he felt was right to maintain the perception he was in control. The problem with this poltical strategy is that you can't control everything and when a crack appears it turns into a crevice very quickly ... and like a dominoes stack they begin to topple ... to stop the tumbling this time the PM apologised for all the mistakes of his government in the hope that his comment will stop the cracks getting bigger. It didn't. It is interesting to reflect upon the commentary on this stream because attitudes have shifted from a few weeks ago ... strident and stoicism has been replaced with confused concern ... if we study politics we will know the trickle method of releasing to the media information ... if it's good information then the news stays positive and I suspect this is the PM's plan with health ... but if the trickle is bad then crisis becomes convected and loss of control of the story becomes very evident with the news centres feeding off each other to build a perceived problem until there is a circuit breaker ... such as a sacking etc. The problem the PM has is that he has used the apology circuit breaker but can't now go back and use it again this term ... the problem for the PM is that the apology didn't work which is clear from some of the writing here and indeed elsewhere. Now what to do ... with the Milne piece in the market and others now building a story around that piece, it now becomes the story. Unlike Grech, this is not an Opposition piece but a journalist piece and you'll see a different attitude from Abbott on this as opposed to Turnball. Add to this the consider piece from the QC from Queensland outlining some unknown yet revealing facts about health spending in the OZ today and I suspect the health issue will become a burden for the PM as opposed to the policy plus he wants ... remember perception Vs reality. The piece on unrest in the backbench last week means even more greater issues for the PM and this will filter into media stories thus more focus on the government now and not the opposition ... which I have argued for sometime is as it should be.

Aguirre

8/03/2010Just a small correction there, BB. The Twitter communication wasn't with Latika Bourke - it was with a commercial radio girl by the name of Bree Roberts. I don't believe she's a parliamentary reporter, just your common or garden reporter who made a comment about the issue on Twitter. You may have something else from Bourke, but the Bree Roberts one is certainly the one I recall. You always make good points, and are convincing here as well. But I do tend to think the issue would have been at about the same level of hysteria with or without the mea culpa. Rudd would still be getting the same "Why can we trust you with this when you made a mess of the insulation roll-out?" questions. There really was very little he could do to get it completely off the agenda. He may have been on more solid ground dealing with the questions, but the media just roll on anyway with scant regard to what the facts of the matter are. The question he has successfully defused is; "How can you fix a problem when you won't even admit that there is one?" And also; "How can you trust Garrett to fix the problem when he's the one who caused it?" None of that stuff - misleading as that line of inquiry would be - can be used against the Government when the scheme is reintroduced later in the year. He can confidently come out and say, "We dealt with that properly at the time, the appropriate measures were taken." In the longer term, what he did was the most appropriate response. And I think that he did it partly because he's not in this to play political manoeuvres, but to actually get some stuff achieved. Well, who knows if that's true or not - I'm just guessing here - but he did seem very keen to get that issue dealt with front-on, so that he could move on without unanswered lingering questions. Won't work twice though. He's played that card, and the next time there's a stuff-up he either toughs it out, or the Beattie comments will actually stick. He's got Abbott against him, a man quite comfortable with shape-shifting in order to find the spot squarely opposite the Government's position. He doesn't care - as he says, his job is to oppose, he can deal with empty promises and contradictory statements later on, when and if he finds himself having to deliver on what he's said (my bet is that we'd hear the re-introduction of 'non-core promises' if that ever happens). Rudd's at least got some of the opposition/media attack points off the table.

Bushfire Bill

8/03/2010First things first: As Aguirre points out, [i]The Twitter communication mentioned in the original post wasn't with Latika Bourke - it was with a commercial radio girl by the name of Bree Roberts.[/i] I plead guilty to mixing up my sources, just like some MSM journalists I've been criticising myself. But there the resemblance ends: Now that I've been informed of my mistake, I stand corrected and apologize to Latika. Bree Roberts is NOT a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. She's just an ordinary radio journo, working for the DMG FM Network, so I guess it's OK for her jump on the bootstrapper bandwagon. Ordinary journos have lower standards than the bastions of the Press Gallery, after all. On other matters... Golly gosh! I thought YMbK must have been run over by a bus! He writes: [i]... but if the trickle is bad then crisis becomes convected and loss of control of the story becomes very evident with the news centres feeding off each other to build a perceived problem until there is a circuit breaker ... such as a sacking etc.[/i] ... which is quite a good description of the bootstrap process, and with which description I agree wholeheartedly (who'd 'a thunk it?) Nevertheles YMbK doesn't seem perturbed that this artificial boosting of a news story - "feeding off each other to build a perceived problem" - is in any way egregious. That's where we part company. I prefer reality and rational analysis, not the hivemind, squid-brained, groupthink that passes for "journalism" nowadays. YMbK went on: [i]Add to this the consider piece from the QC from Queensland outlining some unknown yet revealing facts about health spending in the OZ today and I suspect the health issue will become a burden for the PM as opposed to the policy plus he wants ... remember perception Vs reality.[/i] Health become a burden for Rudd? With 80% approval (according to Mielsen)? That is something I doubt, despite my disagreement with his apologetic gyrations. Tony Abbott has, today, skewered himself by proposing another middle class welfare rort for new mums, whereby they would be paid the full amount of their salary up to a cap of $150k for up to six months of the post-maternity period: all finded by a 1.7% levy on business showing a taxable profit of more then $5 million, i.e. "Big Business". This is not means-tested, so presumably women earning $150k and over will be pulling in a cool $75k, care of your long-suffering tax payer. Why should these women be treated any differently from the receptionist on $45k, who sits just a few feet away from them answering the phone? Why are wealthy women's babies entitled to more subsidization than the offspring of less well-paid workers? Sounds like a prescription for the ruling class to make more Liberal voters to me. Clever Tony! And of course, there's "Tony Abbott's Great Big New Tax" on Big Business, er... sorry... a [i]levy[/i] (which when imposed by Liberals isn't a tax)... so that they can add these bills to their bottom lines and charge us, the consumers, more for goods and services. Bigger electricity bills anyone? Perhaps a surchage on Glad Wrap? How much will a leg of lamb cost under Abbott's raid on the coffers, Joe? For every dollar paid out in the Great Big New Baby-Making Tax levy, at 30c tax payable in the dollar a corporation will have to earn $3.33 to cover expenses just to keep their tax bill the same. Despite a reputation for largesse and public spiritedness, I wonder how Big Business is going to do that, other than to raise prices (especially since, according to and spruiked by the Australian, Big Business has recently called for a [i]reduction[/i] in corporate tax, paid for by increasing the GST)? Assuming a population of 21,374,000, to raise $2.7 billion, Big Business will have to make an extra $421.00 per person per annum (at cost to the individual) to cover tax outlays. As the receptionist and the account manager lie side by side in the maternity ward, I wonder whether the receptionist will muse on why her baby is worth only a third of the woman next door's child? As I said in my original post above, [i]The public will want to see performance, not circus tricks[/i] from Tony Abbott. Methinks he has mounted the trapeze and may be swinging in the breeze on this one... budgie smugglers or not.

lyn1

8/03/2010Hi Ad and Bushfire Bill Bushfire Bill you think Tony Abbott has mounted the trapeze and may be swinging in the breeze, budgie smugglers or not. Well I think this may be the clanger we have know was going to happen. Who is going to ask Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, how much will a leg of lamb cost under your parental leave policy. Channel nine Laurie Oakes reporting Tony Abbott not introducing any new taxes has been blown to dust. Sky News Agenda Heather Ridout not happy at all And here are the bootstappers: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/tony-abbott-says-every-working-woman-will-get-a-guranteed-six-months-of-paid-maternity-leave-if-he-wins-next-election/story-e6frf7jo-1225838210285 http://www.smh.com.au/business/big-business-shuns-abbotts-parental-leave-plan-20100308-ps8o.html http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/business-attacks-abbotts-paid-parental-leave-plan/story-e6frgczf-1225838315435 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/08/2839985.htm http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/abbott-upsets-business-with-parental-plan/story-e6frf7jx-1225838345692 http://www.news.com.au/business/bosses-to-fund-opposition-leader-tony-abbotts-parental-leave-plan/story-e6frfm1i-1225838219753

john Ryan

8/03/2010And so Col jacks up electricity by 18%,and the people that the Liberals Court and Col sold the Gas pipeline to want a 200% rise,and poor old Col and Court did not put any mechanism in place to stop these rapacious bastards. But says Col its not my fault it because Labour broke up Western Power,while failing to mention it was the Federal Liberals who made Labour do it under the competition guidelines. Trust Abbott sure can,he was in power when the GST that Cols moaning about was signed,because hes not happy about the allocation now,but he was happy to sign it with Howard,he now singing the states rights tune but when Howard and Abbott were busy centralizing power in Canberra where were Col, Court and all the Liberal senators and MPs from WA they were silent,the Liberal party are a bunch of hypocrites

Bushfire Bill

8/03/2010Tony Abbott on spruiking for paid maternity leave when he once said it would be over his dead body: [i]"I changed my mind."[/i] As I've said many times, you always know where Tony stands. Just don't blink.

Rx

9/03/2010Lyn1, Thanks for the links. Keep 'em coming!

Michael

9/03/2010Oh boy oh boy, that Tony Abbott is so mercurial, so responsive to individual's real needs, so 'there' for the Australian people. Just imagine a Prime Minister so quick on his feet and able to switch lifetime locked-in philosophical positions with such ease. Oh boy oh boy, oh joy. Urghh...

Ad astra reply

9/03/2010Lyn1 Thanks again for the links. You save us a lot of time scanning the papers. In this case the bootstrappers have based much of their pieces on the facts, more than is usual, and this time it's the Opposition that is the target, rather than the Government. This move by Tony Abbott seems loaded with booby traps, including alienating the traditional supporters of the Coalition, the business community, upon which it relies for much of its funding. I wonder will this out-of-the-blue announcement be Tony Abbott’s equivalent to Mark Latham’s ‘We’ll bring the troops home from Iraq by Christmas’?

lyn1

9/03/2010Hi Ad and Bushfire Bill This morning is very interesting trawling the newspapers, as Ad said boostrappers have based much of their pieces on facts. Here is our blogging friends This is Crikey has some excellent links http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/09/abbotts-new-nanny-state/ http://larvatusprodeo.net/ http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/ http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/tony-abbotts-great-big-new-tax/ Good video clips on here in case you missed anything http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/09/2840382.htm?section=justin Now the papers http://city-south-news.whereilive.com.au/news/story/business-group-blasts-maternity-leave-plan/ http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business-rejects-tony-abbotts-six-month-maternity-leave-plan/story-e6frea6u-1225838347265 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/joe-hockey-argues-abbotts-paid-parental-leave-plan-will-help-business/story-e6frgczf-1225838590991 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/tony-keeping-mum-on-his-big-new-tax/story-e6frg6zo-1225838442882 http://www.noosanews.com.au/story/2010/03/09/abbott-defends-parental-leave-plan/ http://www.dynamicbusiness.com/articles/articles-news/abbott-defends-tax-business-1165.html http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/1024665/coalition-to-boost-paid-parental-leave http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/business-anger-at-abbott-leave-plan/1770808.aspx http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2010/03/09/132401_most-popular-stories.html http://www.babble.com.au/2010/03/09/abbott-proposes-six-months-paid-parental-leave/ http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/6906604/business-savages-maternity-leave-plan/ http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/tony-this-is-the-mother-of-irresponsible-policymaking-20100308-psv8.html http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/abbott-lets-fly-from-left-field--and-gets-caught-out-20100308-psqp.html http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/taxpayer-to-be-left-holding-the-baby/story-e6frgczf-1225838424076 http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbotts-baby-plan-under-fire-20100308-psqc.html Wow I am having a great time, we are of the insulation program hope everyone enjoys the links.

lyn1

9/03/2010Hi Ad and everyone You must listen to 3 aw Tony Abbott wouldn't go on this morning, Neil Mitchell not happy. http://www.3aw.com.au/blogs/3aw-generic-blog/tony-abbotts-parental-leave-policy/20100309-pt7z.html

Bushfire Bill

9/03/2010I was disappointed to see that Abbott has not been questioned on the fundamental policy considerations, only the financing aspects. As a policy, I believe that paying social security beneficiaries on the basis of their lifestyle choice is wrong. The reason that has been trotted out by the policy's defenders is that higher earners have higher lifestyle expenses, mortgages, more expensive tastes etc. All true, of course, but why should the government pay for that? What possible moral or equity justification can there be to claim that the baby of a high income earner requires more money to bring it to 6 months of age than the baby of a low income earner? Also, basing the benefit on income does not tell us how unemployed people will fare, or those casually employed. Abbott's prescription does not invite discussion of the potential for fraud... how is someone's income calculated? Just from tax returns? Does it include overtime? The idea, while parts of it have superficial merit, begins to fray at the edges when policy, equity and qualification considerations are looked at closely. And this is without any consideration of the [i]chutzpah[/i] involved in the "low taxing", "straight talking" Tony Abbott justifying his about face by saying, "I changed my mind". This is the naughty boy again, confessing to his previous sin of being against paid maternal leave, asking us to accept his confession (and his backflip) at face value without paying any penalty, even to his credibility. There is a big difference between blurting out the first thing that comes into your head, and then the second, and then the third, and being equally sincere each time and mature consideration, planning and consultation, getting it right first time, or at least doing your very best to do so. We have policy changes and backflips all the time. But just saying, "I changed my mind", especially from the Straight Talker doesn't cut the mustard with me.

Ad astra reply

9/03/2010Lyn1 What a great collection of links. There's a consistency of story through this collection and little support for the Abbott plan. Neil Mitchell was pretty terse about the plan and Abbott's non-appearance. I suppose Abbott thinks that he's on a winner - I wonder who is advising him? We suspected sooner or later he would make a very silly move that would seriously erode his credibility - is this it? BB You're right, why is the social equity aspect not being addressed? Perhaps the 'great big new tax' is such a great journalistic opening that it is taking precedence. I'm amazed that after all Abbott's 'great big new tax' talk he would stick his jaw out inviting all and sundry to hit it. Is he looking for punishment to expiate his sins for changing his mind? Isn't it precious - Abbott castigates Rudd for his [i]mea culpa[/i] characterizing it as an attention-seeking stunt, a diversion; and now HE admits to changing his mind, to acknowledging that he got it wrong in 2002 when the 'over the Howard Government's dead body' utterance was made, and is now making up for that by doing it better, and therefore he begs for public acceptance, and presumably forgiveness for past sins.

lyn1

9/03/2010Hi Ad and everyone Reports still coming in Seems Tony Abbott is facing party revolt because of his announcement without consultation. Take a look http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/mps-express-concern-over-better-deal-for-working-mums-under-abbott-plan/story-e6frgczf-1225838636656 http://www.theage.com.au/national/abbott-faces-party-backlash-over-maternity-leave-plan-20100309-pu26.html

HillbillySkeleton

9/03/2010Hi guys, Don't know if you have heard about the hastily cobbled together to 'Stunt Man' Abbott's latest populist thought bubble, but he has now proposed a decrease in Company Tax rates to pay for his largesse for high income-earning females to be able to afford their nips, tucks and lipo before coming back to work. Will this sweetener work to shut up the Business lobby? Maybe. It's a high wire act to be sure. It's also bloody inequitable. I know if I was on the minimum wage and had just had a baby, how I'd envy those women in Tony's electorate who were being paid a motza to stay home with their bubs. They could afford all the best clothes, furniture and carriages, Kindy Gym memberships, and the rest, like nannies and even a holiday away to recuperate, while I was stuck at home barely getting by with my minimum wage subsidy. Talk about elitism, pure and simple. Anyway, isn't it counterintuitive policy, if you think that the ones who can most afford to subsidise the mum to stay at home for the first 6 months of a new baby's life, are the high income earners, and not the low, who need the money more, relatively? Also, I heard the Mouth from Manly on AM this morning saying, if you were on welfare, all you'd get would be the Baby Bonus, and not a penny more. Guess Tony doesn't want or need their votes, so stuff 'em! Nice.

Ad astra reply

9/03/2010Lyn1 What a leader: [i]“Tony Abbott has apologised to Coalition MPs for failing to consult them over his paid maternity leave plan. Describing it as a ‘leader's call’, Mr Abbott told MPs that ‘sometimes it was better to ask forgiveness than permission’".[/i] So Tony can apologize and ask for forgiveness as often as he likes and hopefully get it, but for Kevin there’s none. HillbillySkeleton Coalition members are always playing the ‘politics of envy’ card against Labor. They can expect it now to be played against them. The longer this saga goes on, the deeper he gets himself into it

lyn1

9/03/2010Hi Ad and everyone Here is another interesting column for Bernard Keane, Tony Abbotts Great big new tax, love the topic name http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/09/tony-abbotts-great-big-new-tax/

Bushfire Bill

9/03/2010[i]Is he looking for punishment to expiate his sins for changing his mind?[/i] No, I think he doesn't expect to be punished. It's part of my (now not so wacky) theory about the sacrament of Confession giving Catholic schoolboys a get-of-of-jail-free card. Of course the fine print says you have to be sorry and have to be prepared to do penance, but the initial impression we Catholic schoolboys all got, in our naiveity, was, "Wow! I can sin, see father, and then go out and sin again! And it only costs three Hail Marys!" My contention is that Abbott has never made it past this naive, schoolboy view of Confession. And if there's one Tony abbott really needs its the release valve of finding it so easy to confess his sins. He's a naughty boy. He goes around spouting naughty words like "crap" and "shit-eating grin". He muses on campaign trail sexual adventures, tells us how he's beoken all the Commandments except the one he hasn't had the opportunity to break and get away with (murder). Now he's told us - just like the naughty, cheeky boy he is, "I changed my mind." We all used to get away with this kind of thing as kids, especially if we had some style and pizazz as little boys or girls. Our aunties used to think how clever we were for being able to charm them when we'd done something terrible! But eventually most of us met someone - in the schoolyard or sitting at the examiner's desk - who wasn't so enamoured of our style and was ready to thump us for it, metaphorically or actually. I suppose Abbott's antics are refreshing in a quirky sort of way compared to the "nerdy", hard-working Rudd, his admiration of process and his seriousness. But performing circus tricks, stretching everything to the breaking point, is no way to run a country. Abbott is setting himself up as a novelty act, the cheeky boy who likes to see how much he can get away with before someone takes him aside and explains reality to him. and if we haven't got a sin to accuse him of, he'll dredge one up. Oh isn't Little Tony [i]clever[/i]! “Tony Abbott has apologised to Coalition MPs for failing to consult them over his paid maternity leave plan. Describing it as a ‘leader's call’, Mr Abbott told MPs that ‘sometimes it was better to ask forgiveness than permission’". Exactly fits the profile! Do the naughty thing and then when you're caught beg for forgiveness. So far it's worked, sort of, for Abbott, but I wonder how much longer he can keep trying to out-Latham Latham, or should I say out-Abbott Abbott.

Ostermann

9/03/2010BB "Describing it as a ‘leader's call’" Didn't Malcolm Turnbull get dumped for making a leaders call?. Having being married to a woman who went to Catholic Girls School as a non catholic, in fact no real denomination, she used to me "say yep go out sin say 3 hail marys go out and do it again", so long as you say the 3 hail marys alles ist gut.

mick smetafor

9/03/2010y'all might get some enjoyment out of this site,one of my favourites. http://loonpond.blogspot.com/

lyn

9/03/2010Hi Ad and everybody Mick Smetafor thanks for sending us Loon Pond's blogg link. I too think it's a great blogg too, funny, clever and well written. he has them all sorted out

Ad astra reply

9/03/2010Folks Essential Research Report just out for this week: TPP 54/46 – Labor up one point from last week. There are also a number of interesting additional questions. http://www.essentialmedia.com.au/Media/Essential_Report_090310.pdf

Colen

9/03/2010Is this topic on the bootstrappers or politicians. I love it. If you believe the majority of the press are supporters of the Monk forget it. BB I remember in a previous blogg you stated you were impartial!!!!!!! Rudd brings out policy on health that even his state government counter parts are critical of and you all shy away from saying one word in criticism. T A states a social policy that big business is critical of but is supported by working mothers and you all condemn him. There are large benefits in that mothers can be with their children during a crucial period of their development. Have any of you contemplated that or are you all old fuddy duddies and lost the plot. Watching your veggie patch grow so that you feel good about your carbon savings.

HillbillySkeleton

9/03/2010Colen, It's not the fact of the proposition of a Paid Maternity Leave Scheme by Tony Abbott that I object to. It's the fact that the wealthiest women in our community will be inequitably supported throughout the first 6 months of their child's life. Especially galling is the fact that they are the ones who can best afford to support themselves.

lyn1

9/03/2010Hi Ad and everybody A few more interesting links for everyone http://www.thepunch.com.au/ http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2841000.htm http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/03/09/oh-gerard/ http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2841000.htm Ad did you believe the gall in question time today, Tony Abbott and the Coalition, every question about their Parental Leave policy, and all these fake workers circumstances, The Government had a great time. Oh and it's not a tax it's a levy, what did Sharman Stone at the doorstop say, we call it an investment in human capital, something like that.

Ad astra reply

9/03/2010Lyn1 When David Penberthy say a Coalition policy is a stuff-up, you know it must be. Abbott has made a serious mistake; will it turn out to be a tide-turning Latham moment? We'll sees QT was amusing today - Abbott and Co seemed to lead with their chins and got hit with every question. I couldn't get the Unleashed link to work - kept getting a 'can't find page' message.

lyn1

9/03/2010Hi Ad and everybody Got no idea what happened to the drum link, anyway here it is again and another one for good measure. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2841000.htm http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/02/22/torquemada-in-lycra/ http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/09/2841206.htm chaotic approach to managing the affairs of his own party shows that he cannot be trusted to manage the affairs of the Australian nation

lyn1

9/03/2010Hi Ad I forgot Grog on Question time,absolute must read for everyone, here it is http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/03/on-qt-all-mothers-are-sacred-especially.html

Ad astra reply

9/03/2010Lyn1 Many thanks - interesting pieces. Tony is building up quite a collection of adversaries.

Bushfire Bill

9/03/2010[i]"T A states a social policy that big business is critical of but is supported by working mothers and you all condemn him.[/i]" You must admit, Colen, that the irony of the "low tax" Tony abbott proposing a Great Big New Investment In Human Capital was stark. As well as the contrast between "Over my dead body" of yesteryear and born again maternity leave champion. I suppose "That was then, this is now", eh? What I'm saying is that Tony Abbott asked for it and he's copping it. "Supported by working mothers"... what tosh. How do you know? A couple of interviews in The Australian? A happy-pic somewhere? Please don't offend our intelligence. Tony's own economic shadow ministers didn't even know about it until yesterday. If what you're saying is that [i]some[/i] working mothers - presumably highly paid ones - support it then that's understandable. But try explaining to the [i]other[/i] working mothers, the less well-paid ones, why their baby is worth less than their boss's. It's bad policy, it's a bad precedent, and it is rightly being condemned.

Ethistan

10/03/2010Hi Ad, Been reading your blog for quite a while now and enjoy it, you and BB and Lyn1 and HBS always try and back up what you say with evidence are are even handed with dealing with the trolls like Colen and YMBK. I just wanted to say, one of the things that struck me about Abbott's announcement was the "I realised my daughters will be negatively affected by it so I changed my mind" comment. So it doesn't matter that many people would be better off with paid maternity leave and it gives parents the opportunity to spend time with their child, but if it affects your family? Well, you better make sure it caters to people on $150,000 a year so your kids will benefit from the scheme. The man is such a hack...

Bushfire Bill

10/03/2010Welcome to TPS, Ethistan. We especially like long time lurkers to come in from the cold! You make a good point. Tony's proposal was made partly because his daughters (presumably actual - or wannabee - high wage earners) might be inconvenienced. He is valuing well-off womens' babies more than low paid womens' babies. He has not accounted for stay-at-home Mums. He has not accounted for part-time, penalty rate-dependent or casual workers. He did not consult with his party, and when he did they clearly received several different versions of the policy. He about-faces on tax (thus throwing away one of his major planks of criticism of the government), and backflips on the actual policy. Yet he thinks all he needs is "MY daughters would like it", an "I changed my mind" statement and that Catholic schoolboy rubbish about it being "better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission". It's your classic naughty boy, sinned-and-will-sin-again hypocrisy. Holy Warriors have a dirty job to do, so they need confession, and need it often. Abbott is daring us to take him seriously. It's a classic "Let's see what I can really get away with" ploy.

Colen

10/03/2010I enjoy being a troll. Just to upset the even handedness of those like Ethistan. You responded to my comment about Abbott. What about Rudd's new wonderful health policy. What benefit is going to be derived by those in the waiting lines. Where is he going to get all the additional revenue from to finance his policy. He is going to try to fight his election campaign on health. Well he better be ready to to fight it on debt and deficit as well. Why shouldn't those who pay more tax benefit. They don't get any other social security benefits even though they fund it. Every one has a minimum level of income to maintain their lifestyle or are you saying if my wife gives up her highly paid job which contributes to our mortgage, the schooling of our other children and all our other costs, she should forgo this and the family should regress financially. Your proof that it'is not being supported by other women? Oh, they won't it's all a Liberal con. It must be all the reports your reading in Crikey. In which case to even things up take away all social security except for the elderly and disabled and let the lazy bludgers work for their supper. If there is such a desperate urge to provide jobs then I have a job for any one who needs employment. Let them dig a trench and put in a pipeline from Queensland to S A to transport all that surplus water they have instead of letting it all wash back into the sea. Queensland usually have a flood nearly every year. Let one of our 3 Environmental Minister's come up with with one useful idea. Sorry, they are not allowed to, the control freak in Canberra, needs to make sure an original thought which is not his dies a sudden death.

Colen

10/03/2010By the way AA. There is a problem with your links to Blogocrat, Crikey and Grog's Gamut. They appear to be hooked together. I'll take the Thank you now.

mick smetafor

10/03/2010the smh has plenty on the unrest in coalition ranks this mornings headlines but strangly the oo has hidden the story and strange as it may seem dennis has it that our bloke stuffed up, but so did rudd so there!

janice

10/03/2010What would we do without our Tweety Bird providing us with all those links? Thank you Lyn1, I do appreciate them.

Rx

10/03/2010Mick S wrote: "the smh has plenty on the unrest in coalition ranks this mornings headlines but strangly the oo has hidden the story" __ The story seems to have conveniently disappeared off the front page of ABC News Online too. Can't have anti-Abbott material on display for too long, apparently. Though of course, as soon as he opens his big mouth to attack the government again, or verbalise his latest thought bubble, he will be back front-page and centre for days and days.

janice

10/03/2010Well, despite the efforts of the media kingmakers to promote Abbott as a credible alternative Prime Minister, the muddle-headed "straight-talker" has lead them all like lemmings to the edge of the cliff. The man has to be a sandwich or two short of a picnic to announce something of such magnitude as his maternity leave scheme, without consulting his shadow cabinet or running it by his backbenchers for their reactions/consideration. Did he knowingly do this because "permission" might not have been given or did he go out on the edge of the precipice because he is delusional enough to think he'd be hailed as a brilliant conviction politician? Did he simply pray to his God to send him a winning policy, dream up the scheme in the night and take it as the gift he'd prayed for? Quite frankly, the scheme is a dog and the man is verging on insanity.

lyn1

10/03/2010Hi Ad and everybody Janice thankyou for your kind comment and Rx too. Most of the newspaper links are on this page from Crikey, have fun everyone. http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/10/abbott-gives-birth-to-a-national-debate/ This is interesting http://www.dynamicbusiness.com/articles/articles-news/hockey-parental-leave-tax-1178.html Here are best bloggs so far today: http://moderatelyleft.blogspot.com/ http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/ http://www.pipingshrike.com/ http://clubtroppo.com.au/2010/03/09/10563/ http://www.sauer-thompson.com/

lyn1

10/03/2010Hi Ad This site has a link to The Political sword: http://laberal.blogspot.com/2010/03/tony-abbott-big-business-and-maternity.html Looks like all the political journalists, I call Abbotts army have been thrown out of plumb bob. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/abbott-betrays-a-core-liberal-philosophy-20100309-pvuc.html http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/upsidedown-insideout-parliament-wonderland-20100309-pvwx.html http://www.smh.com.au/national/coalition-colleagues-livid-with-abbott-over-lack-of-consultation-20100309-pvua.html http://www.smh.com.au/national/rabbit-out-of-the-hat-leaves-everybody-staring-at-goats-20100309-pvue.html http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/malcolmfarr/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/is_abbott_a_maoist_or_a_margaret/ http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/abbott-makes-same-mistake-turnbull-made-20100309-pvww.html http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/abbott-seeks-backbench-forgiveness/1772038.aspx http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/leave-it-alone-abbott/story-e6frf7l6-1225838917902 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/shock-horror-not-quite/story-e6frg71x-1225838886031 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/tony-abbotts-baby-redraws-battlelines/story-e6frg6z6-1225838882614 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/dont-slug-business-for-maternity-leave-blueprint/story-e6frfhqf-1225838882213 http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/at-a-loss-over-abbott-20100309-pvos.html http://www.smh.com.au/national/a-nappy-change-designed-to-wedge-labor-and-woo-women-20100309-pvud.html

Bushfire Bill

10/03/2010Well, it seems my caveat in the main post, that Abbott would produce one too many stunts has come about. I was thinking about lycra-bound stunts of course, with or without the budgie smugglers. But Abbott has surprised even me with the stupidity of the maternity leave payments thought bubble. The budgie smugglers have taken the metaphorical form of a crazy scheme that values the babies of lower paid women less than those of high earners'. There are compliance and administrative issues too, but the elephant in the room is Tony's Great Big New Investment In Human Capital i.e. a new tax, which he said he'd never do. But that was then. This is now. Tony simply "changed his mind". In his quest to keep dancing around Rudd he has shown us nothing more than a propensity to negativism in all its forms and dreaming up crazy schemes. He's the naughty boy, seeing how much he can get away with, and then saying he's sorry when he goes too far. Tony thinks he can sin without consequence, simply by confessing afterwards and begging forgiveness. "Sometimes it's better to seek forgiveness than seek permission." Of course this raises the question, which must be in many voters' minds: "What [i]else[/i] has Tony got in store for us? What's his [i]next[/i] party trick?" And, following on from that, "If we forgive Tony for this will he take this as [i]carte blanche[/i] to just 'change his mind' on all his promises?" Try this thought experiment... If you had been asked, just last Sunday morning, what you thought Tony's Abbott's policy on paid meternity leave would be, what would you have replied? 1. Asked about the ideological position you would have answered, "He would allow it over his and his party's dead bodies." 2. On the Rudd scheme's chances in the Senate you would have answered, "He would be likely to reject in the Senate any attempt by the government to introduce such a scheme as being bad for business." 3. On the funding of any such scheme you would have answered, "He could not possibly justify funding such a scheme because it would increase government spending, and may even require the imposition of a 'great big new tax', even bigger than the 'great big new tax' under the ETS." How wrong you would have been... [i]or would you[/i]? Tony Abbott is supposedly trying to show that he is reliable and sincere, solid and trustworthy, a "Straight Talker", about whom you can say with confidence, "You always know where Tony stands." In short: Prime Minister material, a man capable of running a complex economy and society, and in whom you can place your trust. His antics this week do not serve to strengthen that image. Abbott is a confession-compulsive naughty boy who believes in pushing the limits of acceptable political behaviour as far as he can. When he is caught he believes he can just say sorry, ask for forgiveness, and that will - and [i]should[/i] - make it alright. After that, he can sin again with impunity, until he is caught once more. Then there will be another apology, [i]ad infinitum[/i]. It is a very immature, childish view of how to get on with people. So far he has been able to more or less get away with it because he has a cheeky smile and a disarming frankness. But sooner or later (and I think this week presages sooner) he will meet someone who isn't charmed. As it is, his party is furious, but they are half-heartedly backing him because they have little alternative. The voting public has no such restriction. If they get the idea into their minds that this policy is simply a charade, put up by Abbott so that he can use it to revert to his true position - anti paid maternal leave - by voting the government's measure down in the Senate, there will be absolute hell to pay. Of the three answers, listed above, Answer #1 - Abbott will permit such a policy over his dead body - seems to be the one that will most likely come about, followed by Answer #2. In opposing the government's policy by putting up a fake and more superficially generous one of his own Tony looks like he will get his wish: no paid meternity leave. If this is so then then sting in the tail may also eventuate: [i]over his dead body[/i].

HillbillySkeleton

10/03/2010BB, your analysis of Stunt Man's motives are absolutely spot on. This is just a stunt to avoid having to say that he will oppose the government's scheme 'over his dead body', which would lose him votes outright. So he proposes a scheme that is more generous but unlikely to ever see the light of day, either because he will use the excuse of Labor's Budget Black Hole' to bury it, and it will be his first 'non core' promise to be broken, or because the rest of the Party room will just wait until after an expected election victory to vote Tony down and impose a more business-friendly, taxpayer-subsidised 6 month scheme. I don't know how he will worm his way out of committing to pay high-income earners more than anyone else, but he is nothing if not resourceful. Of course, there is only one solution to his feint to allow the Coalition to vote against the government's scheme in the Senate and achieve this covert aim(plus pick up a few Brownie points for being more generous than the PM), and that's for the government to start negotiations now with the cross-benchers for an economically-responsible alternative scheme to last for 6 months but be funded by the taxpayer, with no discriminatory bias towards the wage differential aspect.

HillbillySkeleton

10/03/2010Guys, I thought you might be interested in reading that old political warhorse, and no friend of the PM's, Richard Farmer's take on Babbott's latest burblings on Paid Maternity Leave: 'Two in a week. Essential Report, like AC Nielsen earlier this week and Morgan 10 days ago, shows Labor still with a comfortable lead in the two party preferred vote. I expect Newspoll next Tuesday to move in the same direction and show an improvement by Labor. That things are not going as well for the Opposition as The Australian would have us believe is the only explanation for the risk taking behaviour of Tony Abbott. The Opposition Leader is clearly not interested in playing things safe. As he indicated on that 60 Minutes interview, his children know that every day that goes by brings an exit to politics closer.' Might I add that it is Newspoll weekend, and Abbott has thus far looked for a 'BBQ Stopper' to put the government off their game and his Coalition into the headlines to get his next bounce.

lyn1

10/03/2010Hi Ad and Bushfire Bill At last our government is going to attack the Coalition in public, for obstructing the Senate, Tony Abbott in particular. Also you will see where the Liberals are out in some electorates today, telling people that their hospital would close down if the health and hospital reform gets passed in the senate. another report says the Liberals are sending out flyers about closing down hospitals. massed Ministers press conference: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2010/03/10/massed-ministers-mull-over-obstructionism-meme/ http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/ministers-slam-obstructionist-liberals-20100310-py0l.html These are very interesting: http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/10/threatened-tony-has-opportunity-to-repent-in-budgies/ http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/10/battle-of-the-narratives-makes-for-distracting-viewing-or-maybe-not/ http://www.crikey.com.au/topic/tony-abbott/ http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/The-mother-of-all-policy-blunders-pd20100310-3DRLE?OpenDocument&src=kgb Note the video of Julie Bishop's stare on Q and A last Monday night http://www.menzieshouse.com.au/2010/03/abbotts-first-wobble.html

Ad astra reply

10/03/2010Colen Many thanks – I didn’t realize the links were messed up. The ‘sites of interest’ list is now fixed and updated.

Ad astra reply

10/03/2010Lyn1 janice is right – with your links you are a great asset to all who visit [i]TPS[/i]. Today’s batch was fascinating. While Fairfax outlets and several News Limited outlets were consistently critical of Tony Abbott’s parental leave proposal, [i]The Australian[/i] was predictably muted in its articles and its editorial ended [i]“At a time when fiscal discipline is awry, Mr Abbott’s idea is not as bad as some hysterical reactions suggest.’[/i] That should leave us in no doubt that [i]The Australian[/i] has set its sights on displacing the Rudd Government with the Abbott Government. If as its editorial states, it could believe that the Abbott proposal [i]”...hardly rates on the scale of irresponsibility”[/i] compared with [i]”squandering billions of dollars duplicating school halls and gymnasiums, propping up the car industry or wasting $2.4 billion on ceiling bats...”[/i], we now know exactly where it stands. [i]The Australian[/i] threatens an ugly anti-Rudd campaign ahead that we in the blogosphere need to counter at every opportunity.

Ad astra reply

10/03/2010BB Your analysis is plausible, and your response HillbillySkelton is germane. Tony Abbott seems addicted to forgiveness, the only price for which he believes is confession. His mindset is that no matter how many times he changes his mind, no matter how much he departs from Coalition policy, no matter how much damage he does to traditional supporters, no matter how fiscally irresponsible his ideas are, no matter how much he ignores his party room, all he has to say is ‘sorry, I won’t do it again’ and his sins will be expiated. His ‘naughty boy’ demeanour is unbecoming for a grown man, but as long as his party and the public let him get away with it, he will go on in the same way. And he wants to be Prime Minister!

Colen

10/03/2010Hi AA, It's a pleasure. When I posted last night it was a bit of tongue in cheek. I to put it politely was "pissed off" with Mr TA. I lived in hope he could take it up to the Government because they are currently running on battery power. MM had the petrol engine running, but he has stumbled and stumbled very badly with this policy. I guess I will have to wait for Mr Jockey or one of the new Liberal candidates to be elevated to some position of power after the next election. Not that I expected Rudd to lose this one.

Ad astra reply

10/03/2010Folks I have just listened to SBY addressing the Australian parliament. What a fine speech it was. This is an intelligent man, a sincere man, a politically astute man, and a man with the courage of his convictions and the guts to say it the way it is. I can’t yet see any transcript of it online but will post it when I do. If any of you beat me to it, please post the link. An Australia-Indonesia joint statement today is at http://www.pm.gov.au/node/6556 Here is Emma Rodgers reporting of his speech in [i]ABC News: Much to lose if friendship falters: SBY[/i] http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/10/2842046.htm

Bushfire Bill

10/03/2010AA wrote: [i]"... all he has to say is ‘sorry, I won’t do it again’ and his sins will be expiated. "[/i] But AA, he has promised to do it again, publicly promised. I think, somewhere in Abbott's childhood, he realised he could get away with murder if he just put a cheeky grin on his face and bluffed his way out of trouble. He is now applying this same principle to national politics. The good thing for the government is that he can't help himself. Tony Abbott has never grown up from the cheeky boy who could get away with murder by bunging on the charm and the fake contrition. There's also the element of the "Holy Warrior" in Abbott: someone who knew he would have to sin to achieve his ends, but who had been told he was a special case, God's champion, who would receive special and repeated dispensation from on high. Add these two things together and you have a critical mass. If Rudd made a mistake in apologizing, Abbott has committed a mortal sin by shooting from the hip with this (laughingly called) policy. The more I think about it the more I believe it's not genuinely meant at all. It's just a superficially more generous scheme, brought forward knowing it is hopelessly unachieveable, but which can be used a some kind of ideal, and then as an excuse to vote down the government's policy... thus arriving back at Abbott's starting position of 8 years ago: [b]no paid maternity leave.[/b] For that is what we will have a a result of all this: [i]no paid maternity leave[/i]. Mission Accomplished, Tony. Now for the "over my dead body" bit.

Ad astra reply

10/03/2010Folks If you missed it, the audio of the SBY speech is on the Emma Rodgers online page: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/10/2842046.htm [i] Listen: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's address to Parliament[/i]. At the beginning you will hear Kevin Rudd’s introduction and Tony Abbott’s brief welcome. You may be as disgusted as I was to hear Abbott, despite the dignified and politically neutral nature of the occasion, unable to resist having a sideswipe at Rudd by referring to past versus recent policies on asylum seekers, and to Rudd’s vision for a new regional architecture. This is the man who wants to be the next PM. Yet he seems unable to grasp the significance, magnitude and dignity of this occasion and its importance to relations between the two neighbours, and deliberately and carelessly contaminates his remarks with partisan political nastiness. Appalling.

HillbillySkeleton

10/03/2010Ethistan, Welcome! I love your Gravatar!

Ad astra reply

10/03/2010Ethistan Let me add my welcome to you. I hope you will be a regular contributor to [i]TPS[/i]. Thank you for your kind comments. They make our attempts to be evidence-based worth the effort. We’re not perfect, but we try. HillbillySkeleton likes your Gravatar. I’m intrigued – who is it and what is he carrying?

HillbillySkeleton

10/03/2010...'disgusted as I was to hear Abbott, despite the dignified and politically neutral nature of the occasion, unable to resist having a sideswipe at Rudd by referring to past versus recent policies on asylum seekers, ...' Yes, AA, I'm beginning to get the impression that Tony Abbott is a cross between Mark Latham, who sideswiped George Bush with coarse comments when he was in Australia on his official visit; Brendan Nelson, who used his reply to the PM's 'Apology to the Stolen Generations' as a political grandstand, tool to verbally beat up on the PM with, and dog whistle to the most base of Coalition constituentencies; and Malcolm Turnbull, who was always on the hop trying to catch out the Rudd government for misleading Parliament, in the Big Lie that would see them fall from grace and favour with the electorate. Essentially, Tony Abbott, and the Coalition he now leads, are just political grubs. His 'Cheeky Chappy' persona masks a Machiavellian Monk, whose agenda has been subsumed into 'Whatever It Takes' election mode. Thus, it was gratifying to hear Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa(who would have more experience than any other recent Indo. Foreign Minister of Australia and the Coalition), break with protocol and publicly come out against Abbott's new Asylum Seeker policy to turn the boats back to Indonesia. I just keep wondering how it is that adopting policies that see him going lower than a snake's belly and appealing, not to our better angels, but to our little devils, is so appealing to the electorate, as the polls seem to be saying? Of course, the complicit and enabling media has a lot to do with it. However, are people so stoopid that they believe everything they are told and that they read, contrary to what the cold, hard evidence suggests is otherwise the case.

Bushfire Bill

10/03/2010AA wrote: [i]Listen: Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's address to Parliament. [/i] It seems to have been deleted, AA. Not there anymore.

lyn1

10/03/2010Hi Ad Welcome to Ethistan, I am glad you enjoy Ad Astra's blogg, hope you keep putting up comments for us to read. You could chase that hack man (you know who) with a shovel. Interesting http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=node/3041 http://trevorcook.typepad.com/weblog/2010/03/is-abbott-really-a-liberal.html http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/03/10/abbotts-great-big-new-tax-on-everything/

Ad astra reply

10/03/2010BB The audio of SBY's speech is still there at the foot of the list under the photo, and they have added a video of the speech at the top. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/10/2842046.htm

Ad astra reply

10/03/2010Folks Tomorrow morning I’ll be posting a new piece [i] Is there a widening chasm between the Canberra Press Gallery and the people?[/i]

HillbillySkeleton

10/03/2010Short answer to your question, AA: Yes.

Ethistan

10/03/2010Hey Ad, BB, Lyn1 and HBS, thanks for the warm welcome. As for the gravatar, it is a screen capture from the game "Hitman: Blood money" of the main protagonist, Agent 47 in the hold of a ship holding a shovel. I have actually been reading your blog since you started it, linking off Possum's site, and I have found it really enjoying to read. I thought I might stick my head in for a change and say hello :)

Ad astra reply

11/03/2010Ethistan Thank you for your explanation of your gravatar. I'm not aware of the game. I'm glad you're enjoying [i]TPS[/i]. I've just posted [i]Is there a widening chasm between the Canberra Press Gallery and the people?[/i] which I hope you will also enjoy.
How many umbrellas are there if I start with two and take 2 away?