On behalf of most who comment on this blog site, congratulations Ms Gillard on the re-election of the Labor Government and of yourself as Prime Minister. Those who have supported Labor through its first term and who have admired the good work it has done, are relieved that it has another term to complete its current program and implement new policy initiatives.
We have heard the claims of illegitimacy coming from the Opposition and partisan journalists, but, like you, we know there is just one parameter that gives any government legitimacy, and that is the number of votes it can command in the House. Although the Opposition likes to quote the primary vote and the two party preferred when it’s ahead (which at present is one day in three), using those parameters as justification is just games playing.
Those who doubt that the Government will last long and make predictions about why it will fail or how it will fall, simply do not know what they are talking about. There is no recent federal precedent, and where there are state precedents they have worked well. Predictions of doom are simply wishful thinking by many, or just the usual media sensationalizing. We know you will ignore such ill-informed comment.
We know you will not be daunted by the hyperbole that our media enjoy so much, such extravagant language as ‘elected by the skin of her teeth’, ‘saved by the independents’, ‘Gillard at mercy of four unpredictable men’, ‘a fragile government at massive cost’, ‘sublime chaos’, and ‘after wooing the Indies, Gillard must now woo us’. The media thrive on conflict, think too often only in terms of winners and losers, and most journalists have not even started to get their minds around the new paradigm. Annabelle Crabb made a start in The Drum
in Never mind the conflict
, let’s report the parliament. Political journalists ought to read and digest her advice, but probably won’t because they are captured by the 24 hour news cycle and the demands of their editors and proprietors.
We applaud your decision to not be governed by the media cycle in future. We were gratified by the comment you made late in your interview with Barrie Cassidy on Insiders
last Sunday: “Well I think there's an obligation on news organisations in the modern age to act ethically and responsibly and report the facts.” We support your willingness to confront journalists when they ask questions in a rude or antagonistic way, when they focus on trivialities, and when they ask leading questions fishing for the answer they want. We hope you will castigate them when they attempt ‘gotchas’ or ask ‘rule in, rule out’ questions. We are pleased that you refuse to be intimidated by the likes of Kerry O’Brien and Tony Jones, who tore into Kevin Rudd so cruelly. Frankly, we are sick and tired of rude, aggressive, antagonistic, trivializing journalists; politics is too important for this unseemly behaviour.
It is especially commendable that you have been re-elected despite an antagonistic media and a hostile national newspaper, The Australian, with its well-disciplined coterie of attack dogs intent on emphasizing the negatives and omitting the positives, no matter what the subject. Sadly our ABC has taken to following the News Limited tabloids in all their negativity, about which Mr Denmore has commented so pointedly in a piece in his new blog The Failed Estate: The Opposition Says…
We hope that you will devise a media strategy that will neutralize the pernicious influence that the MSM exerts on political life in this country. The media will kick and scream; indeed it has started already, but the more it screams the more you can be sure the strategy is on target.
One problem Labor has had in its first term has been communicating its achievements, explaining its plans and achieving the endorsement of the public. This was particularly the case with the ETS. We know that the Abbott-led negativity about the reality of climate change and his Great Big New Tax mantra were very hard to counter, and that when it comes to taking the hard decisions, because most prefer the easy option of doing nothing, the public is willing to be convinced that action is unnecessary anyway. As interest in taking action about global warming waned, as willingness to pay for that action in other than a token way diminished, and as the Copenhagen conference faltered, Labor was persuaded to postpone the ETS. That turned out to be a move which angered many electors, turned them towards the Greens, and reduced Labor’s electoral impact. We do not know who was responsible for this decision but it has been hinted that it was the Sussex Street group that included Karl Bitar and Mark Abib.
We understand too that this group has a major influence on party tactics, campaign strategy and internal king-making and dethroning. Although erroneously labelled ‘faceless men’, they are not all that visible to Labor supporters, working as they seem to do in a subterranean way to influence Labor’s face to the public. We are weary of their influence and trust you will take steps to make Labor internal workings more transparent to ordinary citizens. If these same people are responsible for the campaign tactics and strategy, they need replacement, as perhaps does Hawker Britten. If a longstanding Labor pollster such as Rod Cameron says in his Lateline
interview on 8 September Labor campaign panned by pioneering pollster
that this was Labor’s worst campaign ever, something radical needs to be done right away, as campaigning for the next election starts now. In retrospect it is unthinkable that a Government that has achieved so much so quickly and saved the nation from recession, business failure and crippling unemployment has had to scramble so desperately for re-election. It should have been a cakewalk. If those responsible for building on that could not do so, they lack the competence in public relations that is needed for electoral success.
We were taken by your approach to your new ministry which makes a lot of sense. Of course, some academics are apprehensive about the absence of the words ‘education’ and ‘research’ in the ministry titles as if that means those areas will be neglected, and some medical people concerned with indigenous health are querying what the changed titles mean for them. Grog’s piece in Grog’s Gamut The Cabinet PIcks and Pans
is a sound appraisal of the changes and an insider’s perspective on how they may affect the public service. The images of those appointed are nicely illustrated in The Notion Factory
in The Labor Lineup
As expected, the Coalition has pushed the ‘plotter’s rewarded’ line, faithfully echoed by a compliant media. An unbiased appraisal shows that far from that, the appointments have been made on merit and past performance. We feel sure that the memory of a near-death experience will galvanize all appointees to apply themselves assiduously to their responsibilities. Of course this morning on ABC radio Greg Hunt was still banging on about Peter Garrett being ‘promoted’ for his ‘incompetence’ in the Home Insulation Program – Hunt just can’t let that go. He’s still harping on the number of warnings Garrett was give, the fires and the deaths, the Coalition’s intent to push legislation to inspect every home insulated, and the need for a Royal Commission. Yet in the next breath he’s saying the Coalition will be ‘constructive’! Pigs might fly.
We hope that when the Coalition line up is announced that the Government will apply the blowtorch to it and expose its deficiencies which are inevitable since it has such indifferent talent. The finance shadows have performed badly, foreign affairs has been poorly served by Julie Bishop, and Peter Dutton was out of his depth in health. How the Coalition will attempt to manage these deficiencies will be fascinating to contemplate.
So we see a new era for Labor and our nation under your leadership. Your strength, your consultative style, your capacity for fruitful negotiation, your ability to lead strongly, and your determination to take no more babble from the Coalition and no more rubbish from the media, augers well for the time ahead.
We wish you every success. There are many, many supporters in the electorate who are right behind you.