Who on earth is advising the Coalition on media strategy?

We all know Tony Abbott is ‘authentic’, which presumably means that what he says is what he really thinks.  We know with Barnaby Joyce, the great ‘retail politician’, that what comes out of his mouth is unadulterated Barnaby.  What rational media advisor would have created that talk?  But who determines what others in the Coalition say?  Is it the Coalition’s media advisors?  Whoever it is, how good is their advice?

The Opposition’s media approach is overwhelmingly negative.  It carps incessantly about the incompetence of Kevin Rudd and his Government.  It paints them as having no capacity to do anything useful at all, and insists that what they have done was not just useless, ill-conceived, badly implemented and incompetently administered, but harmful to the economy, the people and the nation.  The only credit the Opposition gives it is for racking up massive debt and deficit.  Everything else is an unmitigated disaster, a debacle, a bungle, a mess, a catastrophe.  Everything is negative.

It’s hard to envisage how experienced career politicians could be so totally hopeless and ineffectual.  What is more to the point, the general public simply don’t buy the story.

The media has accentuated the negativity.  News Limited outlets, particularly The Australian have gone out of their way to highlight what they see as the deficiencies of the Rudd Government.  Adverse headlines scream out stridently every day about another Government ‘debacle’.

Reflect on the unrelenting campaign The Oz has run about the BER, highlighting every complaint, every problem this 24,000 project stimulus measure has encountered.  That many complaints have been established to be unfounded does not put the brakes on its campaign or bring forth an apology; that genuine problems have been shown to already be under investigation by the monitoring authority established at the outset brings forth no concession.  Its unremitting antagonism continues to this day.

Think about the media coverage of the insulation saga.  As a flagrant example of disingenuous reporting, there has been no equal.  For every article pointing out that there were proportionally more ceiling fires before the insulation program began than after, there have been scores that vehemently condemn every aspect of the program.  Bootstrapping has been rife.  When Rudd relieved Greg Combet of some of his other duties to concentrate on fixing the insulation problems, instead of applauding this, Dennis Shanahan launched an indignant attack on Rudd for having the temerity to announce this ‘reshuffle’ on the eve of Easter: “The Rudd Government has stooped to new lows in media management in its efforts to shield the demoted Peter Garrett and keep the bungled $2.45 billion roofing insulation scheme out of the public eye.”  This man’s anti-Rudd rancour seems to know no bounds – he’s still after Garrett’s scalp.

What about boat arrivals.  Practically every journalist has sought to paint a negative picture about the arrival of ‘those people’.  Peter van Onselen’s article this weekend was a welcome exception.  The hundredth boat arrival was highlighted in several papers to ridicule the Government’s border protection policy.  It can do nothing right, nothing at all.

The Murray Darling water plan has been the subject of criticism at every step.  Everything Penny Wong does is wrong.  The now-quiescent CPRS has similarly been attacked and the fact that the Coalition blocked at every step Rudd’s efforts to establish it has not stopped its condemnation of the lack of progress, or stilled the castigation of Rudd for daring to say global warming is the ‘greatest moral challenge of our time’ when he has made so little progress in mitigating it.  The fact that progress towards mitigation has been obstructed does not lessen its moral imperative.

Even the Government’s shielding of the nation from the worst effects of the GFC gets no credit from the Coalition and grudging acknowledgement from the media, with some still whingeing about the stimulus, the debts incurred, the deficits to come and the interest rate rises.  Even this great accomplishment is not worthy of a decent tick.

The long awaited and electorally popular health reforms have had a lukewarm reception from the media; every problem, every disagreement, ever contrary view, every state premier playing hard ball has been highlighted.

And with the appointment this weekend of Tony Burke as Population Minister the Opposition has resurrected the pre-election accusation of ‘me too-ism’ – because it says it thought of the idea first!  Steel yourself for more of this schoolyard banter.

We know Tony Abbott has nothing but negativity to offer, but neither does Joe Hockey, or Barnaby Joyce, or Peter Dutton, or Greg Hunt, or Christopher Pyne, or Julie Bishop when she comes out of hibernation to actually say something.  The list goes on.  They seem to be programmed like automatons to utter words like debacle, disaster, catastrophe, bungled, flawed, incompetent, waste and mismanagement, rort, debt and deficit, all spin no substance, all talk no action, all promise no delivery.  Every sentence about the Government has to be littered with those expressions.  Someone seems to have told them – here are the words you must work into every comment you make about Rudd, his ministers, his Government, any initiative they announce, any program they begin, every statement they make.  You must never give them credit for anything.  And that is exactly what every shadow minister follows; it is only the odd backbencher that occasionally let’s slip something positive.  They are like robots uttering political profanities and monotonously chanting – eliminate, destroy, eliminate, destroy.

Yet the ratings of Rudd and the Government by several pollsters including the much-touted Newspoll, continue to be election winning even during the recent decline in popularity.  Possum’s Pollytrend is pointing up again for Labor.  How is this so?  How can those polled be so out of touch with the political ‘reality’ the Coalition and the media portray that they still give Rudd high ratings and his Government so solid a lead?  How can they be so stupid, so blind to ‘the total incompetence of the Rudd Government’, ‘the worst government this country has ever had’?

Could it be that the electorate is tiring of negativity?  Could it be that it has turned off such talk and has stopped listening, that negativity itself has become a negative for the Coalition?

Now every PR professional will tell us that negative political campaigns do work.  Campaign organizers insist they do; those on The Gruen Transfer on ABC TV assert that is so, and the effects of the anti-WorkChoices campaign during the last election seem to bear testimony to that assertion.  Given that some negative campaigns do work, are there some that don’t, and if so how can one pick them?

The Great Health Debate is a case in point.  Now we all know that the worm is not a precise instrument, but unless it gives results that are the reverse of the truth, unless it gives such unreliable results that it is worthless, its gyrations might tell us something useful about voter reaction, about voter preferences.  It behaves like a large focus group in which political parties place such great store.

Possum Comitatus has done us a great service by analysing Roy Morgan’s version of the worm, PolliGraph, which is powered by the Morgan Reactor technology.  Possum has done so in two pieces on Pollytics: PolliGraph Debate Drilldowns. Part 1 – The Overview and PolliGraph Debate Drilldowns. Part 2 – Tony Abbott.  They are essential reading for worm enthusiasts.

First, Possum acknowledges: “As a direct result of the very short period of time that was available to organise an audience panel to participate in the PolliGraph, the partisan balance of the audience had a slight tilt towards Labor, giving the responses we witnessed on Channel Seven during the debate a small but significant lean towards the ALP.”  Note that unlike Channel Nine’s panel of undecided voters, Channel Seven’s comprised a cross section of voters.

Possum’s first piece gives an overview where one of the most significant statements was: “Those over 50’s were actually a lot more volatile than one might expect when it came to their approval of Abbott. Not only were they volatile, but throughout the debate they were the cohort that reacted most negatively to Tony’s jokes.”

It was in his second piece though that the most interesting trends emerged about negativity.   Regarding Abbott’s supposed problem with women voters, Possum says: “Not only did male voters as a single cohort have lower generic approval levels of Abbott at the health debate compared to females, but both Liberal and Labor voting males had lower approval levels of Abbott’s performance than their respective partisan female peers.”  Later he says: “Not only were males generally less impressed with Abbott’s performance than females, but when it came to the magnitudes of their negative responses – when Abbott said something that caused a negative audience reaction – males really cranked that dial harder than their female counterparts.”  And later “Yet, not only were male audience members a problem for Tony Abbott. The cohort that was most likely to respond negatively to Abbott’s answers was the 30-49 year age group, particularly 30-49 year Liberal voters and particularly whenever the Opposition leader canned the insulation program or the school stimulus package.” and “The mention of pink batts and school halls was pretty toxic for males and Liberal voting 30-49 year olds. Another example of this line being dangerous for Abbott came in his closing statement. This time it was Liberal voting 30-49 year olds and Liberal voting males..."

There’s much more to read on Possum’s website, but these excerpts point to the distaste voters have for negativity, particularly males and the older age groups.

So does negative politics work?  We know that the negative anti-WorkChoices campaign was effective – polls and focus groups demonstrated that, and to the extent that election outcomes can ever be attributed to single factors, many agree that it was factor in 2007.  Why was this so?  Was it that the campaign was in the context of an election, that specific advertisements were employed, or that the Howard Government was already on the nose? 

Why then does negative politics seem not to be working for the Coalition now?  Will it work better during the election campaign, will targeted political ads highlighting the same things work better than the diffuse negativity we hear every day, will negativity work as well against a first term popular government elected by the people only a couple of years ago?  We may be able to answer those questions with more assurance later this year.

The thesis proposed here is that at present the negativity that pervades almost every utterance of Coalition politicians and almost every section of the MSM is a turn-off for all except the most rusted-on Coalition supporters, and a cause of intense anger among Labor supporters.  And the swinging voters and even some Coalition voters, males and the older, seem to be not listening much anymore, and when they do they are angered and react negatively.

So why do Coalition members continue the negativity day after day, doorstop after doorstop, interview after interview?  Is this a spontaneous uncoordinated outpouring of aggression and resentment at its election loss, or is it an organized coordinated campaign orchestrated by the Coalition’s media strategists?  If that is so, contemporary evidence suggests they are on the wrong track and that the longer the negativity continues the more the Coalition’s fortunes will slide.  They seem to be flying in the face of the emerging signals about the negative effects of negativity. 

Maybe they are following the strategy now being used by the Republican Party in the US which has set about destroying Barack Obama’s presidency, no matter what damage that does to the economy, the health care system and the nation as a whole.  Aided and abetted by the new movement, The Tea Party, and the Murdoch media, they seem to be prepared to do anything that it takes to make Obama a one-term president.  Sound familiar?  In this country we don’t have a Tea Party, but we have the MSM, much of which seems set on the same path.

So we need to ask why the Coalition, lemming like, continues to rush headlong over the cliff of negativity to the seething cauldron of public disapproval below.  Who on earth is advising them to do this?

As the old adage goes, ‘If what you’re doing doesn’t work, try something else.’  But the Coalition and its media strategists don’t seem to have ‘something else’. 

It looks as if the Coalition desperately needs new media advisers.

What do you think?

 

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Neil

5/04/2010Negative campaigns such as the anti-workchoices do work. The coalition is not doing an anti-workchoices campaign they are doing an anti-everything campaign. One reason was to stop the rupturing of voters to the ALP and to keep support of the traditional financiers and rusted on supporters. They love the anti-everything. Most of their traditional values and policies were destroyed under Howard so the Libs don't stand for anything other than a vague against change conservatism. The anti-workchoices campaign worked well because workchoices was a very bad policy and had few supporters outside of the Howard government.Attacking good policies that have widespread support is much more difficult.

lyn1

5/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] New population minister a 'red herring' ABC NEWS http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/04/2863763.htm Libs Loose Plot on family entitlements, Lineagestevew, Steve Walker http://lineagestevew.blogspot.com/2010/04/libs-lose-plot-on-family-entitlements.html Abbott Ducks and weaves as he looks to land a knockout blow, theangle, Alex Scholzer http://theangle.org/2010/04/01/abbott-ducks-and-weaves-as-he-looks-to-land-knockout-blow/ The gloves are off for partisan politicos, Business Spectator, Alister Drysdale http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Kevin-Rudd-Tony-Abbott-Barack-Obama-healthcare-pd20100329-3Z6FQ?opendocument&src=rss Bahnisch & Warhurst on Abbott & Abbott on Abbott, Northcoast Voices http://northcoastvoices.blogspot.com/2010/04/bahnisch-warhurst-on-abbott-and-abbott.html What do you do if Your'e a bureaucrat attempting to win reelection, Peter Martin http://petermartin.blogspot.com/ Jan-March Newspoll says 53 to 47 , Peter Brent, Mumble http://mumble.com.au/

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5/04/2010Today's links posted to LYN'S DAILY LINKS http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/Lyns-Daily-Links.aspx

Michael

5/04/2010I don't believe that the Coalition does have media advisers who they are listening to for how to operate in the media on a 'many voices/ one message' basis. I believe that the negativity is entirely generated from within. Not as a strategy for re-election, but as a neurotic response to losing the last election. What the Coalition most desperately needs is new political talent. Only an internal party bloodletting, or ruination at the next election with fresh faces presented at the one after can fix that. So, no movement in the 'faded talents' side of Coalition business. What the Coalition needs slightly less desperately, but more importantly to voters, is across-all-areas-of-government policy. They have very little new policy because their real policy bank is Howard-era policy. They don't want to make this point-blank obvious because so much of Howard-era policy was soundly rejected by the electorate last time around. So they can't talk positively because to do so would be to hark back. We can see this with the Coalition statements on asylum seekers in boats - they speak of going right back to what "worked" under John Howard. They never actually say what their asylum seekers in boats policy will be if elected in late 2010 - they simply harp on how things "worked" under Howard. This, in fact, gives away what belief lies at the core of Abbott-led Coalition policy, and points to what underpins their constant negativity towards the Rudd Government's actions. Things "worked" under Howard, and by extension, 'us', in Abbott and his Howard-era refugees frontbench's thinking. But extending the thesis applied to 'their' refugees-by-sea policy across all areas of government would expose all Coalition policy as a whole-weave return to Howard. Linked to Abbott's constant reiteration that Howard's was a "great government", and that therefore an electorate that threw it out was either fooled or stupid, the Coalition's position that the current government can't make anything 'work' properly is meant to reflect glowingly on the idea of returning to power those who have shown they can make things 'work'. It's a neurotic position based on disbelief that they can have been treated so shabbily by voters, and as an extension of this belief, that the same voters will naturally come to their senses and return the Coalition to power as the 'real' government. The Coalition have no arrows in their quiver but old ones, so rather than expose that they have no policy but a return to previous policy (Abbott thought bubbles aside), they can do no more than go negative, attack the current government as being inexperienced, and incompetent. As a mob who can't make things work, run smoothly, or deliver the goods. Such a position can only reflect glowingly on the Coalition if, as clearly they seem to believe, voters ARE easily fooled or stupid, with no memory at all of the Howard Government or why they voted it out. The Coalition is politically bankrupt, in personnel and in policy. Until it addresses both issues positively, all it can do is whinge. In passing, while it can be defined as a "negative anti-WorkChoices campaign", that industrial relations policy was so demonstrably economically and socially flawed, so philosophically skewed against wage-earners, that was all that was needed to be pointed out about it. Labor and the ACTU weren't so much negative as forensic. If this were not true, Howard wouldn't have rushed to tinker with WorkChoices as the election loomed in 2007. Current Coalition negativity is all-embracing, all inclusive, and ultimately, self-defeating, because no-one seriously accepts that anyone, a government or an individual, is incapable of ever getting anything right. The message gets lost in the tone of its delivery, so all that comes through is whinge, not content. Negativity, through cue phrases or vocal delivery or hectoring facial features, simply turns off anyone listening or watching. The Coalition 'tar brush' is too wide, too soaked in bile, not to splash back on its wielders. That's what competent media advisers should be telling the Coalition's leaders and election strategists.

HillbillySkeleton

5/04/2010Very erudite analysis, AA, and might I bring to the table this equally perspicacious analysis, by Robert Parry, the journalist who exposed the Iran/Contra Affair to the world, on exactly the same topic as you have written about here, all about the equally reprehensible tactics of the Coalition's confreres in the US, the Republican Party: http://www.alternet.org/news/146277/the_only_republican_plan_is_to_destroy_democrats%2C_not_solve_problems__/?page=entire

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5/04/2010Folks Germane to this piece, do read one of Lyn’s links, an article by Alister Drysdale today in [i]Business Spectator[/i] titled [i]The gloves are off for partisan politics[/i] http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/Kevin-Rudd-Tony-Abbott-Barack-Obama-healthcare-pd20100329-3Z6FQ?opendocument&src=rss It begins: [i]“Politics in the good old United States of America is as feral, nasty, partisan and divisive as it’s ever been. Let’s hope it’s not heading on that same path Down Under. The issue is simple: partisan scare-mongering on healthcare reform, climate change, economic policy – any high stake issue – leads to a paralysis of decision making by government. The public form opinion from what they see and read and hear. And public opinion is easily influenced by any scare, any big lie.”[/i] Sounds familiar doesn’t it. Later he writes: [i]“The salutary lesson is that politics is partisan – and maybe getting more partisan, personal and nasty. Lies and scares and spin and evasion are all part of the daily developments that prime ministers (and presidents) have to deal with. That means if a prime minister believes deeply in a great big policy initiative these days (irrespective of the capacity or ability of the bureaucrats to actually deliver) then he must charge ahead despite the barbs thrown by opponents. “As Obama is learning quickly, you can’t let your opponents define your rule or your values. You have to take every opportunity – every medium – to argue your case and push back against the fear mongering. And that was one reason Rudd accepted Tony Abbott’s health care debate. And that’s how decent public policy has a chance of blooming.[/i] He doesn’t mention the negative effect of negativity. That may be the sleeper in this viciously partisan local debate.

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5/04/2010Neil You make a good point. WorkChoices [b]was[/b] bad policy, and the people could see that. Michael You make the same point as Neil about WorkChoices. Thank you for adding so comprehensively to the discussion on this topic. You may be right – the Coalition is not listening to its media advisors. In fact it is hard to imagine that professional media strategists could give advice that is so clearly faulty. It’s probably the in-house media unit that is dreaming up its strategy. That happened when Malcolm Turnbull was leader around the time of the Grech affair, and resulted in replacement of the chief advisor. Maybe Abbott needs to do the same. HillbillySkeleton Thank you for your comments. The AlterNet link you provide adds to the apprehension we should be feeling as we contemplate the parallels between the approach of the Abbott Coalition and the US Republican Party. Robert Parry’s [i]The Only Republican Plan Is to Destroy Democrats, Not Solve Problems[/i] is a salutary pointer to what could happen, and maybe is happening even now in Australia. http://www.alternet.org/news/146277/the_only_republican_plan_is_to_destroy_democrats

johyn Ryan

5/04/2010I always thought The Marx Brothers were advising the Liberal Party on their policy,hence the lack of it. Hmmm then again maybe Karl Rove has a Summer sideline

Bushfire Bill

5/04/2010Just heard Greg Hunt on the radio saying Rudd “must” take immediate, personal control – within 24 hours – of the Barrier Reef cleanup operation, accepting full responsibility for the exercise in order to end the Blame Game. Garrett is clearly incompetent to do anything and should be kept completely out of it. Presumably if Rudd did this then Shanahan and his pals would wait a decent period, say 48 hours, and add Reefgate to Insulgate and BERgate as prime showpieces of the government’s inability to handle anything more complicated than a sausage sandwich. But it’s the chutzpah of the Liberals that, I have to sneakily admit, impresses me most. They are tanking in the polls. Their leadership is gone (many of them working for the Labor government). They have no policies to speak of. Abbott is off riding his bike somewhere or other. They rail against the “nanny state”, yet have “vowed” to subsidize nannies for the wealthy. Bananaby’s making toilet jokes to adult audiences… yet they still strive to promote the image that it is [i]they[/i] who are the arbiters of good governance and probity in public affairs, and that it is [i]the government[/i] who is screwing things up for them prior to the day when they inevitably shoulder again the weighty burden of running the country, beginning the long, exhausting process of cleaning up the mess Rudd, as they speak, is leaving behind him. Shanahan chimes in every week with some half-arsed twaddle about how, even though all the polls show the Coalition going down in flames, it is Rudd who should be concerned about his looming “oncer” status because a few cherry-picked metrics from polls three months old can be manipulated into a superficially encouraging position for the Coalition if you stare at them long enough. Manufactured outrage, manufactured concern and manufactured poll figures, plenary negativity, overlaid on an almosr brain-dead party and their media chorus line wandering the political wilderness looking for cheap thrills and messiahs to lead them back into power… somehow all this adds up to mortal danger… [i]for Rudd?[/i] See what I mean? You really do have to grudgingly admire their cheek, don’t you?

sawdustmick

5/04/2010Ad, it's called WEDGE Politics. TA believes that it worked for the Wedge Master for nearly 12 years and he still believes there is more mileage in this approach, sadly he is probable right to some extent. I believe the use WEDGE politics is a low act, nevertheless one should be prepared to fight fire with fire and if need be then Rudd should do the same. I was surprised when TA raised the possibility, no let me say the probability that Work-Choices is still part of Coalition policy. This is one area that Rudd could obtain a lot of traction of his own with voters, for most of us know that although TA's puppet master Minchin is leaving the Senate he will still influence the thinking of many Liberals. Minchin and Costello are two favourite sons of the HR Nicholls Society and the designers of Work-Choices. Both will be working tirelessly in the background to re-introduce this abomination of IR policy.

janice

5/04/2010[quote]The gloves are off for partisan politics www.businessspectator.com.au/.../Kevin-Rudd-Tony-Abbott-Barack-Obama-healthcare-pd20100329-3Z6FQ It begins: “Politics in the good old United States of America is as feral, nasty, partisan and divisive as it’s ever been. Let’s hope it’s not heading on that same path Down Under. [/quote] Well, it seems to me politics in this country became feral, nasty, partisan and divisive under Howard, and becomes more so with every breath Tony Abbott takes. Since the Coalition lost the 2007 election the remnants of the Howard mob have been hell bent to prove the voters got it wrong and denied them their right to keep on governing. As to who is advising them to go down the negative road, I think they are advising each other and taking comfort from their media cheerleaders such as Shanahan and Milne. They are shackled by policy inertia and blinded by a raw naked ambition to return to government to finish what they started under Howard's tenure. They are nothing but political terrorists who are prepared to destroy not only the Labor Party but the nation and its economy in order to achieve their ends. I believe that being completely negative will be their undoing. If anything came out of the Howard era it was that voters are now more discerning when placing their votes. They know a bribe when they see one and are now pretty good at smelling rats. They also know the difference between a good bloke down at the pub and one who has the brains and knowhow to be part of the team running the country. They can also tell a leader from a bootlace. So rabbit on Mr Abbott, keep on training for iron-man marathons and blowing thought bubbles into thin air, because this nation will not succumb to your tactics anytime soon.

Ostermann

5/04/2010Hi All Ad Astra you may enjoy this little website dedicated to our favourite media mogul http://www.newscorpse.com/ncWP/?tag=rupert-murdoch and this piece in regards to the Tea Party and Rupert http://jontaplin.com/2009/04/15/ruperts-pathetic-tea-party/ Negativity sells newspapers, Rupert is loosing money hand over fist, what were Tony and Rupert discussing over breakfast that morning? (thats better, got the conspiracy theories out of the way). It is a very good question though, who is driving the Coalitions thinking?, or is it just sour grapes after 2 years still. They sound like the jilted girlfriend/boyfriend always have, we must do anything to get them back, coupled now with a leader who has a massive ego and is addicted to natural stimulants, who only became leader as a last resort to remove Turnbull and not though choice. As for adopting the Republican Party tactic of partisan feral politics, we do seem to be seeing the same tactics employed here, well I guess if you don't have a legitimate policy to present to the people then create a policy of hatred and hope it carries you over the line. My question is not so much what does the coalition have to offer, but can they actually govern if they win.

Bushfire Bill

5/04/2010[i]My question is not so much what does the coalition have to offer, but can they actually govern if they win.[/i] Doubtful, given the talent they have. They have spent so much time doubling-up their bets on a quick kill - all the -gates, scandals, fake emails etc. - that now they have little time left to formulate actual policies. They're like compulsive gamblers, convinced they can win all their money back if only they can manage to stay around for one more spin of the wheel. The more they lose, the more desperate they will get. We're starting to see this now with the almost manic switching of attacks - one day health, the next boat people, then the BER, Insulation, subzuduzed nannies, giveaway PPL schemes, then Rudd is a toxic bore, a phoney. Then, when called on it, when they receive a few barbs back Abbott squeals like a schoolgirl that the nasty Mr. Wudd is saying naughty things about him. The polls don't tell a very good story. No problem. Just trawl through them for a glimmer of decontextualized hope and spin that as the new benchmark. As AA suggests, they really only must be impressing themselves. It's like the last crazy days in the Berlin bunker: champagne, dancing, a permanent party atmosphere. There were non-existent armies to deploy, pointless fights to be fought, posturings, jostling for advantage... anything to take their minds off the approaching calamity. I expect the public to start to drift away now. Abbott seems to have done his dash and they have very little left except imaginary thought bubbles. But in the coalition's imagination these crazy ideas will, one by one, gather all the disparate aggrieved voting demographics together, resulting in an unexpected triumph against the odds. SA women in the Gen-Y demographic, WA men with a mortgage aged 50-55, urbans, rural folk, disgruntled irrigators, radical right-wing Greens, families with a granny and 2.3 children who live in outer suburban areas of regional population centres. OK, so I made some of those up, but you get my drift, I hope. Shanahan today put the fine tooth comb through the Newspoll demographic breakdowns to come up with a big picture that showed Labor trouncing the Liberals easily, at first glance. But this was a rare case of the sum being [i]smaller[/i] than the parts. When Shannas went through the details he found good news hidden just about everywhere for Abbott. Abbott - the man who has done nothing but harangue the PM with boorish insults, the man with no policies, only bluster, the man who substitutes hard policy work with bike riding and swimming stunts, who has no depth in his Shadow Cabinet, who won the leadership by one vote - has somehow dragged the Coalition to within striking distance of the government... according to Shanahan. If you believe that, you'll believe anything. Yet they persist. Abbott has done very little except posture and preeen for the cameras, and throw out some nasty language, yet Shanahan would have us believe he's the new messiah (just as Turnbull was, and Nelson before him). Shanahan's [i]Icarus Syndrome[/i] theory would have us accept that the more popular Rudd becomes, the more precarious is his position. Abbott and his minions tell us that Labor is running scared... of what? A few cheap jibes and blanket negativity. They're going to fall apart soon. this kind of Pollyanna-ish instability can't last forever. It will be a sight to behold.

Acerbic Conehead

5/04/2010AA, the Coalition brains-trust must have read your column, cos they have just appointed two new high-profile media advisors. They are none other than those two old drag queens from Oz Fab, Glenn ‘Patsy’ Milne and Dennis ‘Eddy’ Shanahan. Barnaby Joyce has been appointed by the Coalition as the liaison person. Eddy: That was a lucky break getting that contract with the Coalition, Patsy darling... Patsy: Yes indeed, Eddy sweetie – I reckon we were down to our last crate of Veuve Clicquot...heh...heh... Eddy: So what’s the plan then darling, for helping out those misfits...erm...new clients of ours? Patsy: Well, it’s really quite simple, sweetie – Barnaby’s been toiling away in his glorified garden shed and produced a swine flu serum. He wants us to put some in Nurse Nicola Roxon’s jug of water when she addresses the Press Club this arvo. When she’s drunk it, she’ll go down with swine flu and we issue a press release saying, “Health Minister tells so many porkies, she goes down with swine flu – will Labor be able to keep its snout in the trough much longer?” Eddy: What a great wheeze, darling... Patsy: Yes, I reckon its fool-proof – now lets crack open another bottle, sweetie – with Barnaby’s cheque, there’s one or two more where that came from...hee...hee... [a couple of hours later, at the Press Club, Nurse Nicola is about to give her address on the government’s Health Policy. Eddy Shanahan has already slipped a drop from Barnaby’s swine flu phial into her jug of water. Meanwhile, Patsy Milne has found the thermostat and turned the heat right up. Nursie has not even started her talk and she’s drunk half the jug already! Patsy and Eddy gleefully await the imminent onset of the symptoms. However, waxing most lyrical, Nursie rabbits on about how, in its second term, the ALP government will cure the common cold, produce an inoculation for teenagers that will prevent zits, and issue on the PBS a new variety of wine, Pinot More, which over-60’s males can drink copious amounts of before bed-time, without having to get up ten times a night for a pee. The applause in the Press Club is rapturous. Worryingly, however, for Patsy and Eddy, Nursie is showing no signs of swine flu symptoms, even though by this stage she has skulled the whole jug. Eddie decides to text Barnaby for advice] Eddy’s text: ...as you prescribed, I put a drop of the swine flu serum in her jug, but nothing’s happening... Barnaby’s reply: ... a drop!!! The instructions on the phial clearly said you had to bung in the whole lot for it to be effective...you are a prize idiot...you should stick to ‘interpreting’ Newspolls... Eddy’s reply:...sorry, Barnaby...its just that when I interpret Newspolls I always see a drop in support for Labor...so, I automatically presumed it was the same for the amount of your swine flu serum... Patsy: Oh, don’t worry about that bumpkin, darling...more importantly, I’ve just had a closer look at the check he gave us for being media advisors...remember he said he was going to pay us 400 dollars – well, the clown has added three extra noughts to the end...hee...hee... Eddy: Yeee...hah! That should keep us in Dom Perignon for the rest of the month, sweetie... Patsy: Sure will, darling – but before we head off to the bottle shop, we better earn our pay by issuing an amended press release about Nicola’s policy outline... Eddy: Good idea, sweetie – what do you think it should say? Patsy: Well...what about...you can’t make a sick nurse out of a sow fear...

lyn1

5/04/2010Hi Ad Another excellent, enjoyable piece by Grog [b]BIG AUSTRALIA, SMALL MINDS GROG'S GAMUT [/b] http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/04/big-australia-small-minds.html

Bushfire Bill

5/04/2010This was interesting... http://www.newscorpse.com/ncWP/?p=1608 Murdoch owns Newspoll, too.

Ostermann

5/04/2010BB you are right and I did follow you, and as we can see the opposition are as yet not in the race, really, I guess given Murdoch's attempt's to change the consensus reality of the polls namely through his print outlets here and via his champion Shannahan, with a desperate opposition who will do anything to win back the coveted crown, it is a question I was asking myself aloud more than anything. What if and could they? News corpse! I nearly fell over when I found that site, we are not alone, and Andrew Bolt wants our very own Fox. http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/dear_rupert_can_we_have_our_own_fox_news/

Ad astra reply

5/04/2010john Ryan There’s a puff piece about Karl Rove in [i]The Weekend Australian[/i] that paints him in a favourable light. The only mention of his nasty political plays was Valerie Plame affair. Now I wonder why [i]The Oz[/i] would publish such a piece? BB Greg Hunt is sickening. He talks like a school prefect giving orders. No matter if it’s the nation’s PM, he ‘must’ do this or that, and he must do it immediately or within little Greg’s specified time frame. The reasons for his orders are explained away as being necessary because of someone’s incompetence – thus Kevin Rudd must take personal control. Of course Rudd should have been at the helm of the Chinese freighter guiding it out to safe channels in the deep blue sea. You wonder sometimes what Rudd does with his time. There it was, a Chinese freighter carrying that great export earner coal to China needing competent seamanship, and Rudd is riding horses. Shameful, as Greg baby would say. How Hunt can go on uttering this nonsense week after week yet having no one at all taking any notice of him defies explanation. Several have commented on Shanas poll-pressing efforts today. Usually reliable sources report that for Easter Dennis was given a blood-out-of-stone extractor to replace the worn-out one he’s been using since 2007 when it began showing signs of strain in the latter days of the Howard Government. This one is made of toughened steel so that no matter how hard the stone at least a smidgin of blood can reliably be extracted. The last [i]Newspoll[/i] though was its Achilles heel. No matter how hard dear old Dennis turned the extractor screw, not even a single blood cell emerged to give comfort to the Coalition. Now, armed with his brand new super blood-out-of-stone extractor and some old [i]Newspoll[/i] figures he was able to extract a little blood for the Coalition to give it a little Easter joy. No matter that the figures are superseded, joy is joy, never mind how evanescent. sawdustmick You’re right, it is wedge politics, learned from the master.. But if Tony Abbott, Nick Minchin and Co really believe they can successfully re-reintroduce anything that vaguely resembles WorkChoices, they may find that they themselves are seriously wedged. Two can play that game; they lost last time, so trying again would be crazy brave, but after all that’s Abbott’s style. Bring it on. janice That is a truly alarming piece, as is Robert Parry’s [i]The Only Republican Plan Is to Destroy Democrats, Not Solve Problems[/i] another pointer to what could happen in Australia. www.alternet.org/.../the_only_republican_plan_is_to_destroy_democrats It sounds like Tony Abbott’s game plan. I hope Kevin Rudd and his team are onto this and ready to counter it – fire with fire. We can contribute in our own small way via the blogosphere by continually drawing attention to this ever-present danger. Ostermann That was an interesting piece, again pointing to the pernicious Murdoch influence. The Republican/Murdoch strategy is to destroy Obama’s presidency, not to improve his legislative agenda for the benefit of the nation. AC What a delightful piece, you really have a talent for satire. Shanas and Glenn M are perfect subjects for satire – you’ve done them proud. Does anyone excepted the rusted-on Coalition supporters take any notice of them any more? Your punch line “...you can’t make a sick nurse out of a sow fear...” is brilliant Lyn I’ve added Grog’s beautiful dissection to LYN’S DAILY LINKS.

Ad astra reply

5/04/2010The Parry link seems not to be working, so I'll try again. http://www.alternet.org/news/146277/the_only_republican_plan_is_to_destroy_democrats

Daisey May

5/04/2010Thanks to Ad and all the other regulars for this timely post. With my amateur psych 101 hat on I can only guess that sections of the MSM and the braying dogs at the OZ in particular really want Rudd to win and for Abbott to be trounced. Prior to the last election and all through Rudd's tenure, the slipshod guff that has been thrown at him has only made him more popular. From stellar heights to a still quite spiffy margin in the polls I can only conclude that the MSM can see what the punters can see in the current Coalition front bench and are doing their level best to keep these halfwits from getting their ample derriers onto the treasury benches. Political journos who should know better and read these blogs know they are being ridiculed up hill and down dale for all this fourth rate commentary. Yes it stings but they can hardly pull out of the Kamikaze attack now can they? Dennis is so infuriated he has been lead into the delightful trap of defending himself in a national daily newspaper against an enemy he says is inconsequential and unduly partisan. We know they read these blogs regularly which brings me to Peter Van Onselen. Yes he wrote quite well about asylum seekers but not long after I posted a piece about the wisdom of launching the Henry Tax Review whilst Abbott peddled around the country on a charity ride, a curious article appeared in last Saturday's OZ. In it he warned about the "risk" of such a tactic. A 'risk' thought I. What risk? From a political and tactical angle it would be perfect. News Ltd papers are going to lambast the report and paint it in an unflattering light anyway. In any even the timing of the release of the report and the snarling dogs at News will be drowned out by all the other coverage and Abbott will either be forced to abandon his ride or stick it out while Rudd and co. will be able to stick it to him politically. Rudd gov clean and sober suited with policy heads down and bums up. Abbott the opposition leader monkey suited with camera angles of that wobble board arse of his saying to all and sundry "oi, get a gobful of your next PM all sweaty and hairy and Ironman-like decked out in lycra yet again" If they let him go on this ride with no counter media strategy then It will be their media minders who come in for a blast when Abbott climbs back in the polls.

Ad astra reply

5/04/2010Daisey May If you’re right about much of the MSM wanting an Abbott Coalition to be trounced, they are going about it in a strange way. Shanas and Milne inject their anti-Rudd venom into most of their pieces; can they really want another Rudd Government? Whatever they want, a trouncing may be what Abbott will get the way he’s going. He and his shadow ministers are playing the people for suckers, believing they will swallow their disingenuous negative account of everything the Rudd Government does. The electorate is not stupid as the Coalition paints it in electing Rudd in the first place. They can see a con a mile away. Underestimating the intelligence of the electorate is the most basic mistake in politics. I hope you’re right that the political commentariat do visit blog sites and thereby get a feeling for what the Fifth Estate thinks about politics and their critique of it. It will be interesting to see Tony Abbott, alive and alone, on [i]Q&A[/i] tonight.

Ad astra reply

5/04/2010Folks Have you heard the latest Nationals ad launched today? There's not a negative word in it. Maybe the lights have gone on for The Nationals, if not for the Liberals.

Rx

5/04/2010AA wrote: "It will be interesting to see Tony Abbott, alive and alone, on Q&A tonight." I recall instances when Liberals have been on Q&A (for example Turnbull), the audience appeared to be stacked with Young Liberal-types, who asked 'convenient' questions giving the opening to the Liberal guests to get their Talking Points out and/or attack the government. They're the heaviest users of propaganda in Australian politics, so I fully expect them to try to again manipulate the open nature of the program, using Party plants in the 'audience' to ask leading questions of the pre-primed guest. They'll stop at nothing. Observe the headlines in the day or two following Abbott's Q&A appearance. If the Liberals manipulate the program as I suspect they will, this will be apparent in the nature of the coverage/reporting the Abbott episode gets.

mick smetafor

5/04/2010whatever the dirty diggers faults,stupid isn't one of them,so i reckon he realises the current opposition isn't viable but he is playing a long game.he will attack the government till the cows come home and eventually the effort will start to work.the electorate will sooner or later tire of the current government and thats when the ground work being done now will start to take effect.people will nod sagely"yeah i always new they were hopeless"they will say,their opinions having been nicely primed by months maybe years of ruperts propaganda.

Ad astra reply

5/04/2010Rx We've seen some promotional clips of the Abbott appearance on Q$A, but as it's supposed to be live, I don't know how they got them. There's bound to be Liberal plants, but there should be as many Labor supporters. We'll see. mick I suppose they have to play a long game, but I'd bet they are hoping for a victory this year. But I doubt if the people are gullible enough to be fooled by Coalition spin.

Acerbic Conehead

5/04/2010Thanks, AA. Yes, the two old draggies had a great time at the Press Club today. With Patsy sporting an even higher and more expansive beehive than usual, he was mistaken for Bronny Bishop. Consequently, those journalists of a more advanced vintage gave them a very wide berth. However, Eddy and Patsy didn't take it personally, as they were able to hoe into all the unconsumed grog on the surrounding empty tables.

Grog

5/04/2010Good addition of Lyn's Links AA. MacYourself at home has a nice, quick blog on Scott Morrison, pointing out that he was once in charge of Tourism Australian - in fact he was the men behind the "Where the hell are you campaign". And now he is behind the Libs campaing to keep people from coming here. http://moderatelyleft.blogspot.com/2010/04/cronulla-where-beach-meets-bogans.html

Sir Ian Crisp

5/04/2010May I start by saying a big ‘thank you’ to the boys and girls at Possum Comitatus for telling us what the ‘worm’ was thinking. Should I look out for the ‘worm’ handing out how to vote cards at my local polling booth at the next federal election? Ad Astra, you’re getting pretty lazy as summer winds down. Your latest piece “Who on earth is advising the Coalition on media strategy?” is a rehash of previous Ad Astra articles. Some of them are listed below: To quibble or not to quibble • Posted by Ad astra on October 16, 2008 A hopeless Government? Ask the Opposition • Posted by Ad astra on April 24, 2009 The Coalition’s Budget Rap – deficit and debt, deficit and debt • Posted by Ad astra on May 13, 2009 Will the Coalition ever learn? • Posted by Ad astra on July 2, 2009 Are Coalition scare campaigns running out of steam? • Posted by Ad astra on August 19, 2009 The dark art of opposing • Posted by Ad astra on September 10, 2009 Disingenuousness resurfaces • Posted by Ad astra on October 7, 2009 The Grumpy Old Denialist Party • Posted by Ad astra on January 25, 2010 I don’t think you’ll accuse yourself of plagiarism so there is no penalty to pay. However, you’ll have to lift your game by giving us some fresh material. Daisey May, we already have an amateur psychiatrist/psychologist/tarot card reader here at TPS so your services are not needed. Her post has mysteriously disappeared.

lyn1

5/04/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for another brilliant piece, careful well thought out column, with an excellent topic for us all to talk about. Bushfire Bill has a spot on point, [quote]My question is not so much what does the coalition have to offer, but can they actually govern if they win. Doubtful, given the talent they have.[/quote] Michael I couldn't agree with more ( I don't believe that the Coalition does have media advisers) Tony Abbott and the Liberal party are cranky and miserable, I just watched Graham Morris and Bruce Hawker on PM Agenda Sky News, Graham Morris is miserable, Bruce Hawker calm and measured. Acerbic Conehead you are delightful. In case any one on here missed Alan Ramsay's column 2 years ago, this is one sentence and I think it sums them all up. [b]Howard's cronies should join him in the wilderness Alan Ramsey November 26, 2007[/b] [quote][b]the nastiest, meanest, most miserable, self-absorbed Commonwealth government to blight Australia in living memory, Rudd out-campaigned him, with discipline and immense energy, like Howard has never previously been thrashed in his 33 years in political life.[/b][/quote] I agree with John Ryan, [quote]I always thought The Marx Brothers were advising the Liberal Party [/quote] hense my posting of the You Tube Video recently. Daisey May you are a wonderful contribution to this blog, I love what you have to say. Grog thankyou for the link, yes you see they are all miserable, downright nasty, cranky and objectionable. I notice Tony Abbott is not saying Prime Minister Blah Blah anymore.

thewetmale

6/04/2010Apologies if i'm repeating what others may've said, i skimmed the comments but it's late and i really should go to sleep. As Laura Tingle has pointed out a few times, the parties are low on funds in general in the wake of the GFC and for the coalition i'd imagine this would only compound the state they'd have found themselves in when they lost in 2007. Come 2008 i'm sure one of the biggest realisations for the LNP was just how little resources they could hope to draw on in opposition, especially when Rudd and Gillard were bringing people like Heather Ridout inside the policy formulation tent. In this context the dumping of Turnbull was a particularly dumb move as he had been (reportedly) pulling in money that only he could earn. As a side note, given the born to rule attitude of so many LNPers, could anyone blame Turnbull for not wanting to share the polling he commissioned on his own? Would you give that kind of info to the likes of Julie Bishop or Nick Minchin? For the most part, in 2007, the LNP couldn't believe the writing on the wall and fell for the fools trick of listening to your own hype. The barracking from the likes of Shanahan only made this worse by providing a feedback loop. In that context is it any surprise that they'd be finding it so hard to grapple with the concept, that Labor are being looked at by swinging voters as, at the very least, a reasonable government that deserves a continuation of their contract? I'd put good money down to say that the coalition is running on fumes as far as media strategy and PR is concerned. Just think, do you think Barnaby clears his contributions with anyone? Who would Kelly O'Dwyer have spoken to before going on Q and A last week? The "brains" behind the Howard government have well and truly cleared out and now there are second and third rate individuals running their own shows. Worth considering is one of the only decent observations Annabel Crabb has ever made; that the class of '96 comprised many people who were never engaged in politics until Keating pissed them off. So they joined up with the LNP band wagon and surfed in on the landslide. Once in, all they knew was that Howard got them in and they'd stick to him through thick and thin. And what do you think is the result when a messiah like that is so comprehensively dumped? Or to put it another way, how many people on the opposition benches now have ever experienced life in opposition when an election victory wasn't looking inevitable before? Even Tony Abbott only came in during Keating's last term, hardly the best preparation for life under a new and popular Labor PM.

janice

6/04/2010Thank you for your comment above, thewetmale. Look forward to reading more from you on Political Sword. I went over and had a read of your blog, was impressed and will bookmark it for future visits.

janice

6/04/2010I gritted my teeth and watched Q&A last night fully expecting to see a stacked pro Abbott audience. However, it turned out not to be so and there was a lot of questioning about assylum seekers and boats. Abbott did not come across to me as being comfortable as he attempted to explain his position and his answers were peppered with numerous but buts and ums and ahs. On his drubbing during the health debate Abbott stated he erred in treating the debate like a "university debate or a debate in parliament" rather than talking to the people at home in their loungerooms. He went into "confession" mode thereafter seeking forgiveness for using the word "threatened" by homosexuality. Abbott used his appearance on Q&A to attempt to counter the mess he made of the health debate. Was he successful?

HillbillySkeleton

6/04/2010Janice, I'm betraying my prejudices here, but I just couldn't stomach the thought of giving a whole hour of my life over to watching Tony Abbott on Q&A. I watched the Comedy Gala on 10 instead! I flicked over to Tone and Tony once during an ad break and heard some Liberal boilerplate about Asylum Seekers. I probably should have stuck around...Maybe I'll catch up with it on iView.

HillbillySkeleton

6/04/2010I think we need to start putting certain moves by the Coalition together, as evidenced by the following articles, to get an idea of the bigger picture of where their rhetoric is trying to lead the electorate. Suyffice to say it is to a not very nice place: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/yellow-peril-racism-rears-its-ugly-head-20100402-rjsc.html http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/coalition-to-reduce-migration/story-e6frg6nf-1225850107901 Coupled with the Coalition's constant attacks on Asylum Seekers, it is becoming obvious to me that they are attempting to appeal to the same demographic of poorly-educated, intolerant and bigoted xenophobes that, according to the Marilyn Lake article, they have always attempted to co-opt to their advantage. Suffice to say it is entirely disingenuous as, whenever they are in power, it is the Coalition that relies on the cheap labour from increased immigration to fuel the bottom line of the companies' profits that their side of politics relies on for its wealth base. They are just more heartless in the way they approach the immigration issue, with their 'Temporary Protection Visas' and 457 Visas, which only allow the temporary migrant to reside in Godzone for as long as they are needed for the cheap labour they provide. This was also part of the whole of the WorkChoices labour market program. Might I also add that the Coalition appears today to have whistled up one of their chief apologists, enabler and facilitator, Gerard Henderson, to give Barnaby Joyce a fresh coat of Whitewash paint: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/laugh-at-your-peril-joyce-is-not-a-joke-20100405-rmyd.html?rand=1270475714366

Ad astra reply

6/04/2010janice, HillbillySkeleton After watching Q&A last night, my impression is that Tony Abbott is not ready for Prime Ministership, unprepared as he was to give cogent answers on a variety of issues. His supporters will argue that, being in Opposition, he ought not to be expected to expose his policies so far in advance of the election. Although I don’t hold to that view, last night he did not come close to reasonably answering questions of much less moment than policy questions. He was hesitant, as he often is, so unequipped to answer some questions that he left the impression that he had not thought of the question before, or that he had not given it sufficient thought. Some of the questions were difficult, focussing as they did on religious matters and homosexuality. Understandably, he found those quite difficult to address. One striking feature of his performance was that he avoided, almost completely, negative comment about Kevin Rudd and his Government, and the one time he slipped in the ‘great big new tax’ line it was not well received. He conceded that he was too ‘sharp’ in the Great Health Debate and that rather than treating the debate like an ‘university or parliamentary debate’, he should have been talking to people in their lounge rooms. At least he had learned that for this type of event negativity is a no, no. Whether that lesson will be applied more widely we will have to wait and see. But overwhelmingly Abbott looked and sounded like a man who is not nearly up to the job being PM, and indeed being Leader of the Opposition. It was obvious that he had spent too little time pondering the deep questions that leaders ought to address. He might do better if he swapped his budgie smugglers for a suit and his bike for a chair at his parliamentary desk.

lyn1

6/04/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] Ironman Abbott runs into an image problem, Mungo MacCallum, The Independant http://theindependentbrisbane.blogspot.com/2010/04/ironman-abbott-runs-into-image-problem.html Blood lust and resistance,Andrew Elder, Politically Homeless http://andrewelder.blogspot.com/ What readers think about the Abbott Soap Opera, Marcus Kuczynski, The Punch http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/what-readers-think-of-the-abbott-soap-opera/ Abbott says Coalition made a mistake,Bigpond News http://bigpondnews.com/articles/TopStories/2010/04/06/Abbott_says_coalition_made_a_mistake_448178.html Newspoll Quarterly, Possum. Pollytics http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/04/06/newspoll-quarterly-2/ In the Liberal Party of Australia the is a strong anti=immigration theme,Alex White http://alexwhite.org/2010/04/teabonics/ Abbott pushes for stimulus inquiry, DANIELLE CRONIN, Canberra Times http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/abbott-pushes-for-stimulus-inquiry/1794734.aspx Gerard Henderson, Barnaby Joyce, a dash of Tony Abbott, Loonpond http://loonpond.blogspot.com/ What Do You Expect, Chief Blogger, Right Pulse http://www.rightpulse.com/archives/1512

bilgedigger

6/04/2010Checking www.breakfastpolitics.com today I nearly choked on my breakfast when I saw a lead to an article in the Herald-Sun today - Susie O'Brien "It's never illegal to flee persecution" which takes a vastly different slant to the usual Herald-Sun approach. What's happening in the Murdoch media? Perhaps the Editor was just having a sloppy day and let an article through without cutting out all the true bits.

Ad astra reply

6/04/2010Lyn Your links have been posted to LYN'S DAILY LINKS

lyn1

6/04/2010Hi Ad and Everybody Malcolm Turnbull to Quit Politics,Dynamic Business,David Olsen. http://www.dynamicbusiness.com.au/articles/articles-news/malcolm-turnbull-to-quit-pollitics-1299.html

Bushfire Bill

6/04/2010Another one bites the dust. I've been predicting this for a while, except I thought he'd resign instead of being sacked as leader. That makes it 5 Coalition leaders Rudd's gotten rid of - Howard, Vaile, Nelson, Minchin and now Turnbull - plus one - Costello - who was so scared of Little Kevin that he didn't even try for the glittering prize, and went to work for him instead. Turnbull has given a big vote of confidence in what he thinks are the prospects for the Coalition next election. Not a bad effort for the toxically boring nerd from Queensland whose government couldn't manage a chook raffle, eh?

janice

6/04/2010I agree Ad Astra that Abbott is not ready for prime ministership and I would add that he never will be. He is completely out of his depth as party leader let alone putting himself up as the alternative prime minister. Frankly, I doubt he'd improve much even if he gave up the budgie smugglers and bike in favour of a suit and office chair - he just doesn't have that special ingredient(s) that sets a leader apart from the rest of the population. Abbott has no vision of what this country might look like in ten years let alone in twenty or thirty years hence. Like his mentor, Howard, he cannot see beyond the next election and like his church he is loathe to keep abreast with an ever changing world and confront the challenges looming by embracing new ideas that seek to find sustainable solutions.

janice

6/04/2010So, Turnbull is bowing out which isn't really surprising. I wonder if he really did offer to serve as Finance Minister under Abbott. It crossed my mind at the time that he must be a beggar for punishment to consider such a move. Like Bushfire Bill, I thought Turnbull would get out before he suffered the humiliation of losing the leadership but as it turned out the poor man wasn't too good at reading the signs of treachery in his colleagues.

thewetmale

6/04/2010Thanks for that Janice! I've had The Political Sword in my reader for a while but never found the time to be a part of the conversation here.

thewetmale

6/04/2010And just on Turnbull's resignation, i think there's something telling that Costello, Nelson, and now Turnbull have decided they can't hack time in opposition. Although they clearly had personal ambition as a driving force, surely there's something to be said for the fact that the players in the Howard/Peacock years stuck around and were prepared to serve the party. The Liberals have really lost a lot of institutional memory, the affect of which is that they have to re-learn the game of politics to a certain extent. This possibly isn't such an issue for Labor in general as union activities provide a natural political training ground, one that isn't there among the lawyers, doctors and small business owners that form the base of the Liberal party.

Ad astra reply

6/04/2010Sir Ian We should appoint you Chief Chronicler of [i]TPS[/i]. You really have a sound handle on past pieces. You chide me, not for plagiarizing, as I could hardly be condemned for re-using my own material, but of being lazy in not submitting original material, having expressed similar sentiments in several earlier pieces. As I had not looked at the pieces you listed before I wrote this piece, I re-read them and found the themes expressed therein consistent with the theme of this piece. In several I spoke of the unremitting negativity of the Opposition, no matter who was leader. So you ought to congratulate me on my consistency over the past years. But I guess your question is – why say it all over again? I would have thought the answer was obvious; for the first time we had evidence from a source other than opinion polls – the worm – about the effects of negativity. Polls are blunt instruments in gauging what has caused any particular change; probably the nearest we have seen in recent time was the collapse of support for Malcolm Turnbull after the Grech affair. But the worm, despite criticisms some have of it, did show immediate responses to statements made by both leaders. Unless the worm is discarded as useless, its gyrations ought to be given some credence, as indeed Possum did. In my view he is a gifted analyst of opinion polls, so his analysis of the worm should be taken seriously. It seemed to me to lend substantial ‘objective’ support to the negative effects of negativity about which I have written several times before. So Sir Ian, as new evidence emerges to support what I have been saying about negativity for at least eighteen months, I would expect you to insist that I reveal it. That is what I have done in this piece.

Ad astra reply

6/04/2010bilgedigger ‘Breakfast politics’ http://www.breakfastpolitics.com/ is a good resource for newspaper articles. Susie O’Brien’s article is a sound one, and coming on the heels of Peter van Onselen’s article at the weekend, is encouraging. Are we seeing a sensible reappraisal of the boat people issue, or will it turn out to be a false dawn – I hope not. thewetmale Welcome to [i]TPS[/i]. I hope you can find the time to comment regularly. Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to not contest the next election is not surprising as his chance of becoming leader within the time frame of his impatience was improbable. His stated reason for his decision – the abandonment by the Coalition of an ETS policy – will have an impact on that part of the electorate that supported an ETS but might have been dissuaded by the negative talk about it coming from Tony Abbott and the Coalition (a great big new tax). It may now think again. You're right when you say the the Liberals have lost and continue to lose much of the party's institutional memory. They are looking very thin on the ground.

lyn1

6/04/2010[b]TODAYS LINKS PART [/b]2 Jesus would’ve shunned Boat People” says Tony Abbott, by Reb, GutterTrash http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/jesus-wouldve-shunned-boat-people-says-tony-abbott/ Elections 2010: a festival of cruelty towards refugees?, Jay Fletcher, Socialist Alliance http://www.socialist-alliance.org/page.php?page=922 Jesus and Refugees, David Havyatt, Anything Goes http://davidhavyatt.blogspot.com/2010/04/jesus-and-refugees.html Tony Abbott on #qanda, Skepdad http://skepdad.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/tony-abbott-on-qanda/ Turnbull Quits, by Reb Guttertrash http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/turnbull-quits/ Oh no John Howard's "Tribute" to Turnbull, Peter Martin http://petermartin.blogspot.com/2010/04/oh-no-john-howards-tribute-to-malcolm.html Unfortunate that it came to this, Scott Bridges, Groupthink http://www.groupthink.com.au/2010/04/06/unfortunate-that-it-came-to-this/ Net Arrivals – Cheap Populism and Export Destruction, Possum, Pollytics http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/04/06/net-arrivals-cheap-populism-and-export-destruction/ The population debate goes boom, media wrap, Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/04/06/population-control-what-would-jesus-do/

Ebenezer

6/04/2010Abbott's, and the Liberals problem in general is, they keep under estimating the ability of one Kevin Rudd. Abbott and the MSM thought he would win the debate without any prep because he has no respect for his opponent, unlike Rudd. Rudd when opposition leader always showed due respect to Howard, that's why he beat him, + WorkChoices was the biggest turd of a policy ever foisted upon an Australian public. If they ever learn this lesson they may become an acceptable opposition. i hold out little hope of this dawning on them for a number of years yet. Cheers Eb. :)

lyn

6/04/2010[b]Hi AD and Everyone[/b] Grog with another wonderful piece, thankyou Grog [b]Turnbull Burning out and fading away, Grog, Grog's Gamut[/b] http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/04/turnbull-burning-out-and-fading-away.html

Sir Ian Crisp

6/04/2010Now we’ll have to suffer through endless encomia as Mr Turnbull makes his exit. The last word must go to Mr Turnbull himself who had a weak moment. He said there is no money in politics. Dear Malcolm, the usual tripe trotted out from pollies is “it is an honour just to serve the community”. Stick to the script Malcolm lest you reveal the true character and nature of the greedy, grasping, spivs who rely on the perquisites of an MP’s life to shield them from the harshness of real life.

Daisey May

6/04/2010First Minchin then Truffles and Kay Hull on the same day! If that isn't rats fleeing the sinking ship I don't know what else is. This is really too funny. It's tragic of course but if you present to the public as an impotent rabble then the voters naturally are going to laugh you off the face of the earth. I'm starting to look forward to Dennis Shannahans' fig leaf performances. It's horrible to speculate but I'm guessing the poor thing has nary a friend in the world to tell him he is a sad little joke in the world of journalism as voiced by Barry Cassidy on national TV a few weeks ago on Insiders. Why do he and his icky ilk bother? It must be soooooo degrading to have to write those articles week in week out just to be able to pick up that measly pay cheque each month. Couldn't he earn an honest living instead of distorting the truth beyond all recognition in a national broadsheet where everyone can witness the dreadful shambles that constitutes his reportage? Occasionally he writes quite well but those occasions are rarer then hens teeth.

Grog

6/04/2010Geez, you're quick lyn! But I did a double poster tonight! (actually a triple, but one was one films)

HillbillySkeleton

6/04/2010The Coalition never have been able to figure the Prime Minister, the Nerd from Nambour, out. Though I must say, there are at least some of their number who are figuring out that they can't figure him out, and so are facing the reality and admitting that they will not/can not win the next election, or maybe even the one after that...with PM Gillard leading the team onto the field? A daunting prospect to any rational MP. And so it goes. Today, Malcolm Turnbull and Kay Hull, tomorrow? Not who you want to hang up their spurs, that's for sure. Not even a Chinese Whisper about Bishop Beehive, or Bishop Nastypants, or Wilson Tuckey, or even, any of the members, new and old, of the Hard Christian Right, such as Kevin Andrews, Concetta Fieravanti-Wells, or Cory Bernardi, as they are the ones that need to go for the Coalition to have a hope of persuading the electorate to hand over the keys to the Lodge. I honestly believe that it is these members of the Coalition that are its Achilles Heel. The electorate is yet to be persuaded that they want a Conservative Christian Coalition running the country and implementing policies that are essentially antithetical to our secular, multicultural democracy, based upon the egaliatarian ethos of the 'Fair Go'. What befuddles me mightily, as it pertains to this blog especially, is how those who advise the Coalition can think that the electorate wants Howard Redux on Steroids. No one I know that votes Liberal really likes that part of the package, instead they are generally socially progressive, but economically conservative, and in the Prime Minister, the less one-eyed see their man for the job. You don't end up with a 2PP of 56-44 without some former Liberal voters continuing to back you after changing their vote at the last election. Which gets me back to my original thesis. The Coalition still don't understand the PM, or how he is not playing politics by any rules that they are familiar with. The Health Debate was a case in point, and a pivotal moment, as we will come to see it in hindsight, in this election year. Tony Abbott was blinded by the light coming from the Newspolls, and unfairly, really, being aided and abetted by Murdoch's media minions. Being a naturally vainglorious man, Tony believed the hype, as did many on the Coaliton side, and so the bragadoccio increased and the attack on the PM was ramped up, yet again. Which you would have thought the Coalition may have been a bit more circumspect about, after the Grech Affair. However, when you're having smoke blown up your backside it's hard to resist the pleasurable sensation. So, after the first 3 months of Question Time this year, where all Tony's antics seemed to turn to gold as he played to the Gallery, he, and the Coalition, decided on their 'Bring It On' Hairy-Chested Approach to bringing the Prime Minister low before the election. They taunted that he was 'All hat, no Cowboy', 'All spin, no substance'; so the PM brought out his Health and Hospital Reform package. The Coalition bragged that they had the PM "Rattled", and began challenging him to legitimise Tony Abbott as Prime-Minister-In-Waiting by allowing him to share the stage with the PM in a debate. Never once believing that the cowardly custard PM would accede to their dare. How wrong they were. The PM floated like a butterfly, and stung like a bee in the Health Debate. He may not have floored Abbott with a Knockout blow, but he sent him down in a screaming heap with the metaphorical equivalent of a severe anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting. Same result, different pathways. Ad Astra asked, 'Who on earth is advising the Coalition on media strategy?' Well, I know some of the specific answers to that question. Firstly, I have read that the media advisor in the Shadow Immigration portfolio is the same one who was COS to Phillip Ruddock when he was Immigration Minister, and wasn't that an illustrious time in our history? Such that we seem to now have new dog, Scott Morrison, but the same old tricks, courtesy of that person. In fact, she came back when Dr Sharman Stone was the former spokesperson, and that's when the bipartisanship on the issue of the Asylum Seekers and the changes to Border Protection, evaporated. I also noticed that when Tony Abbott became Opposition Leader, one of the first moves he made was to re-employ Howard's former major domo Press Secretary and Advisor, Tony O'Leary. I guess Abbott felt comfortable with him, and could count on him to mount a Press campaign that played to Abbott's perceived strengths of being the younger generation Howard. There are others, such as Chris Kenny and Peter Phelps, plus various former members of Howard's Dirt Unit that are floating around the Coalition's corridors, acting as fleas in the ears of gullible MPs. Their whip appears to be Brian Loughnane. All old lags from the Howard era, to a man and a woman. Which, as I pointed out previously, is the problem which the Coalition has yet had the stomach to confront and deal with decisively. There needs to be a purge of ALL the old lags. I actually believe that there is one Coalition MP, at least, who knows this full well, and is prepared to do something about it. That person is Alex Hawke. Sadly, his recent putsch coincided with Abbott's rise in the polls and so Abbott had the political capital to step into the breach and stymie Hawke's attempt to rid the NSW Liberal Party of the malign influence of David Clarke, and all he represents. Thus, in the end, the Coalition are going to have to face up to a few home truths, as Hawke has, and as those who are leaving have, and realise that they are unlikely to surf back to power at the next election. Thus, they have to undertake a renewal while they occupy the Opposition benches, work on policy as opposed to political stunts and wedges, and begin the necessary but cruel process of pruning away the dead wood from their tree, so that it may flower more bountifully into the future. Otherwise it will just wither and die.

Ad astra reply

6/04/2010HillbillySkeleton You do write very well, with great insight, and with inside knowledge of the goings-on in Canberra. I hope you might soon find time to write some original material for TPS, in addition to your very readable comments.

lyn

6/04/2010Hi Ad and Everybody Look at Grog's Gamut Grog I am watching you, I love what you write, and so do my friends on The Political Sword. I wish you could write on here with Ad and Bushfire Bill, just now and again if you haven't got time. Thankyou for telling us of another post, double "wammy" http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/04/rates-up-to-425-near-summit-or-still-at.html

lyn

6/04/2010Hi Ad Hillbilly Skeleton, your are just it. [quote]The Coalition never have been able to figure the Prime Minister, the Nerd from Nambour[/quote] What a great piece you have written, we are so lucky on The Political Sword to have so may wonderful contributers.

HillbillySkeleton

6/04/2010Thank you one and all! There's something about a day in the melting pot that is the Sydney CBD that sharpens the senses and makes you see the issues with renewed clarity. I actually had a lot more I could have said, but I forgot in that way you do when you write in the stream of consciousness mode. :) I imagine that I won't be able to help myself when it comes to trotting out the 'Collected Thoughts of Chairperson Skeleton', as the momentum builds in the lead up to the federal election. I must also say that I am truly inspired by all those around me here.

HillbillySkeleton

7/04/2010I don't know if you will have had the chance to read this piece in the welter of commentary that appears to be our daily lot to digest these days, but this editorial from the Sydney Morning Herald is so succinct, and distils the philosophical underpinnings of the population and asylum seekers debate so well, I advise you to take a little time to read it: Red herrings and island fever 'IT IS relatively straightforward to determine whether a detention centre for asylum seekers on Christmas Island is full. Less so when it comes to a whole continent. But it is absurd and inhumane to link one issue with the other. There are compelling reasons to engage in a national debate over Australia's population. That debate necessarily involves our annual migration intake, now about 180,000. Anxiety over gross numbers, as well as segments such as 457 visa workers and students on visas that promise a fast-track to permanent residency, has the potential to divide Australians profoundly. Debate over our population growth must be handled with the greatest political sensitivity. Creating a moral panic about ''boat people'' has no part in that debate. Desperate people crossing the Timor Sea may provide an emotive, pictorially appealing symbol, but the federal Coalition's attempts to link seasonal boat numbers with a serious discussion of Australia's growth evoke the worst dog-whistle politics of the Howard years. The numbers tell the story. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that 4750 asylum seekers tried to enter Australia last year (out of 383,000 worldwide). Those allowed to stay are the tiniest drop in the ocean of our migration intake, no more representative of Australia's rising population than they were, nine years ago, of terrorism or urban crime. Even overall migration is not the largest contributor to population growth. As a NSW government report published yesterday said, Sydney is expected to grow from 4.3 million to 6 million by 2036, but less than half of the increment will be migrants. At current rates fewer than one in 120 of Sydney's new residents will be asylum seekers. Conflating the population debate with asylum seekers is cowardly. Those who arrive on the boats are the weakest, poorest and most desperate - why else would they attempt such a journey? To single them out brings to mind wolves chasing the slowest lambs in the flock. Panic is a tool that appeals to politicians, but only the most craven yield to the temptation. Conservative politicians have done it before, successfully, while increasing and diversifying the inflow of migration in a loosely regulated way that only increased national fears. To turn those fears against the impoverished few on rudimentary vessels was at best hypocritical, at worst cruel. Even if no more boats arrived, it would make no difference to our concerns over whether 36 million in 2050 is too many, too few, or just right. Addressing those concerns is too vital to be undermined, or sidetracked, by the red herring of Christmas Island.'

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010HillbillySkeleton Could you please post the link to the SMH editorial [i]Red herrings and island fever[/i] as I'm posting a piece on boat people today and I'd like to include it.

HillbillySkeleton

7/04/2010This also is a thoughtful piece on migration, by Mirko Bargaric: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/migration-can-end-worldwide-poverty-20100406-rpaf.html

HillbillySkeleton

7/04/2010AA, Here's the Editorial: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/editorial/malcolm-out-of-the-middle-20100406-rpai.html

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010HillbillySkeleton Many thanks for both these links.

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010Folks I've just posted [i]‘Those people’[/i] a piece on the treatment of boat people.

hughesnet

7/04/2010Great post! I have to agree with Michael:"I don't believe that the Coalition does have media advisers who they are listening to for how to operate in the media on a 'many voices/ one message' basis. I believe that the negativity is entirely generated from within. Not as a strategy for re-election, but as a neurotic response to losing the last election. What the Coalition most desperately needs is new political talent. Only an internal party bloodletting, or ruination at the next election with fresh faces presented at the one after can fix that. " I couldn't have said it better myself.

Ad astra reply

7/04/2010hughesnet Welcome to [i]TPS[/i]. Please come again. Today's commentary surrounding Malcolm Turnbull's exit makes the same point - the Coalition does need renewal of its political talent.
I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?