Comprehending the Great Big New Health Debate

The tone was set at the beginning when a smiling Kevin Rudd shook hands with a scowling Tony Abbott.  I saw three different photos of the handshake; all were the same.  Did anyone see a smiling Abbott?  Was this another Latham moment?  Abbott seemed to be spoiling for a fight, a bare-knuckle no-holds-barred street scrap.  That’s the style of the pugilistic politician.   He knows no other.  Yet he didn’t get what he wanted today.

Like PK in the Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One, Rudd skipped around Abbott, boxing positively, adroitly avoiding Abbott’s wild negative swings, riding his angry and at times vicious punches, and landing a few stinging blows himself.

As we seem to be a society obsessed with winning and losing, who won?  That depends on your criteria.

As a well argued debate such as might be witnessed in a debating society, it was not a classic.  There was little cut and thrust over significant points, except perhaps the Government’s accusation that ‘the Coalition ripped $1billion out of the health care system’.  More of that later.

As a debate where new aspects of policy were exposed, it was largely ineffectual; little new emerged.  It was never likely that would be so as that was not the purpose of the debate.

It is more appropriate to rate it as a political debate; it was always intended to be just that.  That is what was set up in parliament last week.   Rudd and Labor wanted to portray Abbott’s and the Coalition’s flimsy health policy and to expose Abbott’s negativity and the Coalition’s obstruction. 

In my opinion Rudd won the political debate by a country mile.  Others will disagree; I would like to see their rationale.  Rudd came across as a man with a policy, and was agreeable, smiling, positive, well informed, and willing to be collaborative.  Abbott came across as having a poorly developed policy, offering only a promise of one before the election, and was angry, aggressive, sullen, at times surly, and overwhelmingly carping and negative.  Those in studio audiences using the worm rejected Abbott’s approach and applauded Rudd’s.  The worm can and probably will be ignored as a gimmick by those who reject its findings or its implications, but to do so would be foolish.

What did you think?  No doubt there will be many expert opinions advanced by the commentariat, influenced by what they hoped would happen. 

Paul Kelly gave a balanced commentary on a video on The Australian website. He said Rudd had the best of the debate and Labour would be pleased, but threw Abbott a crumb for making the point that Rudd’s policy was ‘not a transforming policy’, and giving him the excuse that it was hard debating when he didn’t have a health policy.  Poor Tony!

Peter Hartcher wrote a telling paragraph in the SMH in Worm tales: Negativity works against Abbott: “Each leader played to type. Kevin Rudd played the positive leader with a plan. Tony Abbott played the negative opponent with a gripe.”  He added: “But so long as Rudd radiated leadership and positivity, so long as he kept working the vein of public worry over hospitals, he was on winning positive proposal of his own, his negativity invited a matching negativity from the voting public.”   He concluded – I don’t understand why: But while the debate worked better for the Prime Minister than for the Opposition Leader, that doesn't mean Rudd has won the argument.”  Really!

In the SMH, Mark Davis in Leaders go hard on an issue that really counts wrote “In their five-minute prepared openings, both men chose the most obvious gambits from the political playbooks.  As the incumbent and still relatively fresh-faced Prime Minister only two years in office, Rudd went for the big picture and the vision thing.  But he also cleverly personalized the complex issue of hospital reform for voters, retailing stories about his own childhood and linking these tales to concerns today's parents have for the health of their children. As the Opposition Leader installed by his Liberal colleagues to sharpen differences with the government, Abbott played the negative card as hard and as often as he could. He attacked the Prime Minister's trustworthiness, accused him of telling lies, and branded him too incompetent to fix something as complex as the hospital system.”

The ABC’s online network editor Gillian Bradford in The worm declares victory for Rudd said: “Mr Rudd held tight to his successful formula focusing on ‘country hospitals’, ‘rich or poor’, ‘mums and dad’ and even ‘join with us in the positive’.  The worm loved it. Several times it went off the scale for Mr Rudd. Not once did it reach such heights for Mr Abbott.  Some Labor insiders thought Mr Rudd was ‘crazy brave’ to take on this debate.  But the worm has spoken, the gamble paid off.”

On The Drum Barrie Cassidy said in Positivity the best policy as Rudd tweets ahead: “Kevin Rudd looked like a prime minister and Tony Abbott behaved like an opposition leader. Unusually for Rudd, he didn't waste a word. Even though the topic can be complex, not once did he leave his audience behind. He stayed positive throughout and eschewed the temptation to ‘stay on message’ by simply mouthing annoying clichés, the stock in trade of federal ministers these days.  You don't need a worm on the screen to tell you that negativity doesn't work in debates; but when you see it as we did today, it brings it home with a thud.  Abbott couldn't take a trick. In order to take some of the wind out of the Government's plan - and that's all it is - he had to attack Rudd's record and point to the limitations of the proposal.  But without one of his own to promote, it came across as a whingeing, carping exercise. And not a very pleasant one at that. If only he could have seen the worm, then the alarm bells would have gone off.”

On The Drum Unleashed Tim Dunlop in Substance trumps speedos said: “Today's debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott on the subject of health care reform was an unequivocal disaster for Tony Abbott. To the extent that we haven't any feedback on how the public responded to the two leaders, we have to rely on the ‘worms’ provided by Channels Seven and Nine and, despite some degree of difference between the two stations, the overall results were unambiguous: Kevin Rudd won hands down.  This is somewhat surprising in that we have been treated to a veritable avalanche of opinion from various sectors of the media since Mr Abbott took over from Malcolm Turnbull (remember him?) that the voters were sick to death of the ‘nerdy’ Kevin Rudd and were warming to the ‘authenticity’ of Mr Abbott.  These have been the key elements of a media narrative that argues that people somehow were growing to hate the bookish, long-winded and wonkish Kevin Rudd and were embracing the allegedly more appealing, down-to-earth and macho Tony Abbott.”

In The Australian Joe Kelly wrote in a piece PM will change health funding policy to save regional hospitals: “Kevin Rudd will consider changes to his public hospital takeover plan over fears of cost rises and closures of regional hospitals. The Prime Minister conceded that the Victorian model of charging for services had not worked for country hospitals and pledged to change his system if the same problems emerged.”  Rudd did say that, but he and Nicola Roxon have been saying this for a fortnight, emphasizing funding will be adjusted to ensure that  no small hospital will close.  Other reporters have commented similarly – where have they been?  Joe Kelly didn’t offer a ‘winner’.

Hugh Riminton of Ten News gave the points clearly to Rudd.  Mark Riley of Channel Seven gave it to Rudd and Gary Morgan on that channel said Rudd was a clear winner.  Channel Nine’s Laurie Oakes believes that the contest was closer than the worm suggested, but gave no reason for his view.  He conceded that Rudd probably won, but that Tony did pretty well.  Channel One’s Chris Uhlmann, who compèred the debate, gave an even handed appraisal, but favoured Rudd’s performance.

On this blog site we have been critical of the partisan backing given to the Opposition by some of the journalists at The Australian.  Bushfire Bill’s last post Why is Kevin Rudd so unpopular – Polls, popularity and the Icarus Syndrome spells this out.  Maybe the efforts of The Oz backfired today. 

Today’s editorial in that paper We need answers, not accusations on health, begins by trying to debunk the accusation that the Coalition ‘ripped 1$ billion out of the health care system’ during the time Abbott was health minister, an accusation he vehemently denies.  The editorial begins: “The big fat lie being peddled by the Rudd Government – that Tony Abbott ripped $1billion out of the public hospital system – falls on three counts.  First, the Opposition Leader can scarcely be accused of gouging the states when he was not even health minister at the time the funding was done”.  Can you believe an editor could write that?  What the Government is saying is that it was while he was health minister he ripped out the funds, not before that.  The fact is that a 6.3% annual increase in health funding to the states was promised in 2003 but only a 5.3% increase was delivered during Abbott’s time, which amounts to $1billion less than promised.  Call it what you will – the Coaltion short-changed the states; the Government calls that ‘gouging’.  Today for the first time, during the debate, Abbott conceded that there was a reduction.

The Australian then said “Second, the so-called cut was a relatively small reduction in previously projected increase in funds to the states.”  A relatively small reduction?   $1 billion dollars – really?

Finally the editorial says: “And third, the $1billion-plus reduction over five years from July 2003 was designed to partly offset John Howard’s subsidies to private health funds, and thus to private hospitals.”  So that’s the justification – why not wait to see if the subsidies actually achieved that outcome?

It concludes: “The Rudd Government is desperate to attack the Coalition’s credentials on health and hospital spending, but it will have to do better than this.”  No it won’t.  This will do and today it did.  Abbott may not thank The Oz for urging his denial on to the point where it is clearly ridiculous.

Then today we find that in creating its spurious graph of expenditure, the Coalition had included monies contributed by the Rudd Government.  Having exposed this, the graph was withdrawn from the Coalition website and was not used in today’s debate.  In any case, the graph Coalition members were waving around is grossly truncated, a dirty statistical trick used by those who wish to make results look much better than they are.  With much of the columns missing it deceives the viewer into thinking the bits at the top mean more than they do.

So The Oz, in urging their man on, did him a disservice; it should take note.

No doubt there will be other learned critiques in tomorrow’s press; I wonder what Shanas will say?

So how do we appraise today’s debate?

Many of you have already expressed your views on the previous piece; here is a chance to do so here.

It seems that Kevin Rudd is fully back to his 2007 form.   While he exhibits that, and Tony Abbott relies on negativity, carping criticism and unconvincing alternative policy, he will flounder around, flailing his arms wildly, landing few blows, and exhausting himself while Rudd waits patiently to land the killer blow.

Federal politics changed ominously for the Coalition today.

What do you think?

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Kim

23/03/2010Based on this predictably poor performance, I don't believe that it will be long before the press turns on Abbott. He's been a one-trick pony, and we've seen his one trick a few times now. The press are fickle, and once the 'Abbott is negative, obstructionist, and has no policies' narrative takes hold, they'll flog it to death. Based on today's comments by Rudd and Swan, the Labor party have now chosen to take this line with the press. I believe Labor's new 'paint him as against everything' tactic will work, because it has a lot of truth to it. Abbott's (should I say Minchin's) Liberal party is petty, obstructionist, and the policies that they have come out with are bizarre and counter to classical liberalism (direct government intervention vs. an ETS, and an off-the-planet maternity leave policy). Then again, they dumped classical liberalism with Turnbull, so I'm not surprised. I wouldn't be surprised if Abbott doesn't make it to the next election, although he probably will. The only thing he has going for him is that everyone knows becoming leader of the Liberal party now is political suicide. On another note, I saw Red Kerry mention the decline in Rudd's approval rating on the 7:30 Report. This boggles my brain every time some journalist brings it up. Interpreting a drop in approval from stratospheric to merely high as the beginning of the end strikes me as either blatant sensationalism or denialist wish-thinking. Truly weird.

Grog

23/03/2010Nice summation of the debate AA. I thought Paul Kelly's report was pretty fair (nice amount of gravitas!), and Cassidy was spot on. It was good to see Tim Dunlop back writing about politics.

Bushfire Bill

24/03/2010Julia used an analogy a fews days ago about someone promising to pay you $100 and they only paid $50... that was gouging. It was only today I thought of the best way for Rudd to express it: [i]Tony, you promised $11 billion, and you only delivered $10 billion[/i] ... short and to the point. But anyway... As this defeat sinks in, and it [i]will[/i] sink in, Abbott's precarious position will only become starker. He came to a policy debate without a relevant policy. He couldn't have fallen into the trap more readily if he had set it himself. His obnoxious stlye and pugnacious demeanour finally got him into the trouble many have been predicting. He went one dare too far. Around Coalition campfires tonight there will be grumblings. Who's next to front the Ruddernaut? Our best warrior has been humiliated. Who will be our champion? I am waiting for someone to cry, "I'm Spartacus!". In the meantime... [i]crickets...[/i] After today, I almost forgive Rudd for his [i]mea culpa[/i] (almost, but not quite).

janice

24/03/2010Well, I think this debate served to make a stark contrast between the two leaders. Rudd out classed his opponent just as he did in the 2007 election campaign and now we remember why the Rudd honeymoon didn't end. Kevin Rudd not only won the debate, he also wreaked havoc among his critics who've been desperately trying to destabilise his government with scandal-mongering beatups and personal attacks. It is interesting, I think, that Abbott's media supporters are reduced to making excuses for their man's poor performance. "He did well given he didn't have a policy" is one such excuse. Why, we may ask, does he not have a policy? What have they been doing since 2007 and why haven't they at least put some elbow grease into revamping the policy they didn't announce before the 2007 election? Both Bushfire Bill and Grog touched on the fact that Abbott has spent his time in opposition either writing a book or enjoying prolonged leisure time bike riding, swimming and pursuing his voluntary projects, all of which leave him little time to actually earn the pay packet from the public purse. No, putting in the hard yards to formulate a set of policies is not one of Abbott's priorities. Abbott can never be criticised for being a workaholic. It is also evident that Labor hit a very raw nerve when they "sullied" Abbott's record as Health Minister. How dare they point out a mere $1b worth of creative accounting. How dare they insinuate that Mr holier-than-thou Abbott would be accused of sleight of hand when dealing with matters relating to public funding of public hospitals.

Michael

24/03/2010Many commentators keep drawing on Abbott's pugilistic past for the vocabulary to describe his perceived strengths. The unfolding of the Health Debate displayed that the analogies are apt. He's a flyweight.

Tim

24/03/2010I think a few of the views expressed comments are a little extreme. Abbott will lead the Coalition to the next election without a doubt, this was no where near being a leadership ending event. It did however expose Tony Abbott to the cold light of day, and for once the punters got to see Tony without looking through the kind lens of a swooning media. What they saw was a politician without a real differential policy and without anything positive to say. The thing is Tony has the basis of a healthcare policy, the devolution of responsibility from the state to the local level, which is fundamentally the same as Rudd's. However Abbott is forced to be obstructionist and negative simply so he can differentiate a party without a true ideological base. Thus in order to offer an apparent alternative, Abbott has to be perpetually negative due to the non existent policy differential . The problem is it leaves him wide open to being painted as just another negative politician standing in the way of the public interest simply so he can score political points, death when facing the likes of Kevin Rudd. The alternative is irrelevance. This wasn't just a "bad day" for Tony, it was just Tony Abbott's and the coalition's vulnerabilities being exposed for everyone to see. It was a spanking no doubt. The worrying thing for the coalition is there is apparently plenty more to come.

Rod

24/03/2010That was not a debate it was a debacle. It was a major blunder for Abbott not to at least give some indication of where the Coalition is heading on Health policy. Even some broad principles would have helped. And that horrible chuckle in response to Rudd's offer to work together was not a good look. One major problem for Abbott is Peter Dutton. He is just not up to the job. Abbott needs to get some smart minds on this and fast. If he stuffed up the debate on Health so badly (something you would expect him to know something about)can you imagine what Rudd will do to him on education, industrial relations, etc? Having some experience in working around Parliament House in Canberra, I can say that anyone aspiring to being PM or the Opposition Leader must be a workaholic. Tony is not and it shows when he has to get across detail. That's not a criticism of Tony the person but it is of Tony the politician.

Ad astra reply

24/03/2010Grog Thank you for your kind remarks. I enjoyed reading your blog of yesterday – [i]The Health Debate – Kevin grins, Abbott grits and Journalists talk. [/i] http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/03/health-debate-kevin-grins-abbott-grits.html and recommend visitors to [i]TPS[/i] read it. It is very informative. First, you reproduced ‘the graph’ that the Coalition is using to demonstrate it increased health funding from 2003/2004 to 2007/2008. Of course it did, no one is saying otherwise. What Kevin Rudd is saying is that by reducing the agreed annual [b]growth[/b] of health funding to the states from the promised 6.3% to 5.3%, Tony Abbott ‘gouged’ $1 billion out of states’ health budgets. This is indisputable despite all the Coalition’s protestations. By saying it increased funding, without admitting the funding was less than promised to the extent of $1billion, is simply disingenuous. As if that was not enough deception, the Coalition added Rudd Government funding to the last column (the segment in black) and made out it was Coalition funding until caught out, whereupon the graph was taken off the Liberal website and the black segment superimposed on the last column. Not satisfied with that misrepresentation, it presented its graph in truncated form. Readers will note that the vertical Y axis starts at $6billion and goes to $10billion. Where is the 0 to $5billion range? This is the oldest trick in the book for distorting a bar graph representation of data. It makes the increase, in this case in funding, look greater than it is. So on three counts the Coalition is guilty of serious misrepresentation of the facts, numerical facts. This is dishonest and inexcusable, even for a political party. We have become used to politicians handling the truth carelessly, but when they try to misrepresent hard data such as actual figures, that is reprehensible, and in my view stupid, as they are bound to be found out. But perhaps they take the cynical view that even if they do get caught, so long as damage is inflicted on their opponents, they will have achieved their purpose. Next, note the photo of the handshake, which I mentioned in this piece. It is a metaphor of the respective attitudes of the two men. Finally, visitors to [i]TPS[/i] will enjoy reading your commentary, which is spot on, and the questions asked by journalists at the debate. The questions reflect the marked variability in quality among our journalists. For the poorest question, [i]TPS[/i]visitors should look at the one asked by Matthew Franklin; Mark Riley’s was not far behind. For the best, look at the ones asked by Laura Tingle and Andrew Probyn. But note that from journalists who complain incessantly about Rudd’s ‘verbosity’, how long, contorted and poorly constructed their questions were. Note how their political leanings intrude (Lyndal Curtis, Matthew Franklin and Jayne Azzopardi), and how off-theme some were (Karen Middleton’s question about out-of-pocket costs of health care), and how pointless was the question asking for an iron clad promise (Jayne Azzopardi). No wonder we despair about journalistic standards in this country. Finally, Grog I agree that Chris Uhlmann was a good moderator. He will get more of this type of assignment as long as he stays as balanced as he was yesterday Thank you for your continuing contributions to rational political discourse in this country.

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24/03/2010BB What I can’t understand is why the Coalition continues to argue that it did not reduce states’ health funding by $1billion over a five year period. It did. The figures are incontrovertible. And as mentioned in my response to Grog, they have compounded their deception by adding Rudd money to their graph and truncating it. It would be better for them to drop the matter completely and hope it goes away, although Rudd will continually hit them with their deception. But instead of hitting back, it would be better to ride the punch. In fact the message yesterday was that negativity, especially from Abbott, is electoral poison. Yet this morning it continues unabated. Having gone into the fight and having been mauled, they come back for more of the same. There’s an old saying: “If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else.” Instead they try to demean the instrument that measured their mauling, ‘the worm’, as being anti-Coalition, which the evidence on record shows is untrue. They are slow learners, but perhaps it’s not surprising with a leader that seems to have just one strategy – attack.

Ad astra reply

24/03/2010janice I agree. Abbott has not put in the hard yards developing policy. And even what he did develop in health, which he outlined a few months back, is still under wraps, presumably to be enable him to be a ‘small target’. But Abbott is a great sportsman – cyclist, surfer, Iron Man – just what we need in a PM. We certainly don’t want a workaholic do we? It is pathetic when his party and some journalists are using his lack of policy as a legitimate reason for his negativity: What else could poor Tony do – he didn’t have a policy!

Bushfire Bill

24/03/2010It wasn't a "horrible chuckle". It was an forced, theatrical, demon laugh. A terrible mistake to laugh at Rudd when he was talking about co-operation, no matter how you define "co-operation". Abbott doesn't want to be seen as co-operating in any way, because that would weaken the Opposition who have to maintain the hope that there's still a chance of their winning the election. Abbott's point about Rudd's offer of co-operation was that it meant "Do what I tell you" in Rudd's mind. Gee, and I thought Labor was the government and Rudd was the Prime Minister. Abbott has to maintain the illusion that the Coalition is not just an alternative government, but a [i]co-[/i]government, or better, a government in exile. his whole schtik on Insulation disqualifying Rudd from competentcy is that the amateurs can't be trusted not to stuff it up. Best not to do anything; wait until the election comes along and mercifully returns the professionals to their rightful positions of power. In the meantime carp and whinge without telling anyone what they would do. Not a bad strategy... if you're popular and appreciated. But the heart of the Worm's response was the goodwill the studio audience had towards Rudd, not towards Abbott. Whenever Rudd appeared the Worm started heading north, and stayed that way until Abbott came along again. In my last piece here I came to the conclusion that Rudd was indeed popular; perhaps not as popular as he was once, but much more popular than any other contender. Shaun Carney wrote the other day about how Rudd is not loved in the electorate... [i]Rudd is developing problems with the broader electorate related to his indirect, verbose style. He does not attract affection from voters. All the same, he continues to be the most popular political leader in the country. He might not be able to maintain that status as the year wears on; he seems to have his public persona switch locked on the "dull" setting.[/i] This is a recurrent theme in Carney's and several others' pieces: Rudd, while more popular than other politicians, "does not attract affection from voters". I don't know where he gets this from. Polls on whether Rudd is seen as "trustworthy" and "likeable" usually come up pretty well for the Prime Minister, putting these traits anywhere from the sixties to the eighties in percentage terms, depending on who he is being compared against. for example: http://newspoll.com.au/image_uploads/0607%20Personalities%20&%20Ozcar.pdf I would have thought quite high "likeable" and "trustworthy" results would put the lie to Carney's assertiong that Rudd "does not attract affection from voters". If they don't then certainly the Worm (and the Grub, Channel 7's version) did. As fur "dull mode", the Worm seems to think that "dull" gets the job done, while the alternative is OK for a drink at the pub, or a swim inthe surf at Manly, but that's about all. The Coalition's re-election strategy is starting off from the false premiss that Rudd is unliked, untrustworthy, anesthetically and toxically boring as well as being a total phoney, a chameleon changing his colour to suit the circumstances. The endless, one might say, obsessive examination of Rudd's "shaking" sauce bottle is evidence of this. One by one the journalists took their turns at amateur psychological analysis, over the period of about three to four weeks. Their conclusion? Rudd was a phoney when he was trying to be popularistic. He didn't do "ocker" well. He should stick to being a nerd. How serendipitous that Abbott is characterized as "entertaining and energizing" by Carney and other opinionistas, then antithesis of nerdy. Sop we have the gotcha: Boom! Boom! Rudd can't win, no matter what he does. Except yesterday he [i]did[/i] win. And it soon became apparent that he was able to pull the Worm and the Grub skywards by just opening his mouth. If I was a Coalition politician, observing the reaction to the nerdy, boring, phoney Rudd I'd hate to see how the nematodes would perform if Rudd was [i]popular[/i]! Today there will be a lot of journalists scratching their heads wondering what the hell happened yesterday. This morning even Shanahan was muted, confining himself to talking techo about the formalities of the debate's structure. He didn't nominate a winner, or even refer to winning. Piers Akerman cried foul on the Worm, saying it was biased towards Rudd which, when you think about it, is true, but not for the reasons Piers thinks. Abbott said the Worm is against all Liberal politicians, but it could be equally argued - until yesterday - it was biased [i]in favour of Opposition Leaders[/i], as most of the politicians that have benefited from the Worm's gyrations have been Opposition leaders (who just happened to be, coincidentally, Labor). In fact, the Worm favouring Rudd was the first time I can remember it smiling upon an incumbent Prime Minister in a long, long time. The Coalition is at a crossroads, whether they realize it or not. They have to decide whether to go even more negative or to roll up their sleeves and start consulting - business, nurses, medicos, hospital administrators and patients. But it seems the only doctors they have consulted have been spin doctors, not good enough if you want a viable Health policy that makes sense and has a chance of working. After Health professionals, patients and administrators, they then have to somehow muster their thoughts on Social Security, Industry, IR, The Economy, Infrastructure, Education, the Arts, Agrarian Reform, Water, Science, Climate Change, Defence and a thousand other areas that need attention. And they have only about 7 months to do it, having wasted the previous two years trying to trip the government up on gotchas, scandals, bootstrapped shock-and-awe media campaigns, personal abuse and negativity in the Senate. I ma sure that if the voters comprised only Murdoch hacks and self-styled opinion leaders at other media organizations the Coalition would win in a landslide. But yesterday the Worm and the Grub reminded us all - the Coalition snake oil salesmen and the Labor Nervous Nellies (myself included) - that there is life outside the offices of Big Media. It is called "The People", and the people seem to like the way things are going just fine.

Ad astra reply

24/03/2010Rod Welcome to [i]TPS[/i]. I agree with you that Peter Dutton is not up to the job, and his grumpy whingeing personality is no help to him. You’re right – we need hardworking politicians – workaholics if you like; not those who have plenty of time to spend on a bicycle or in the surf. We need politicians that do the hard policy work. What we don’t need is an aggressive pugilistic approach to politics that eschews policy as something that can wait until the election.

Ad astra reply

24/03/2010Kim You may be right. Although journalists say Tony Abbott is a personable character and that they like him (more than they do Kevin Rudd), they will continue to support him only while they still believe he ‘can take the fight up to Rudd’. If they get the message that he is not up to the fight with Rudd (as was suggested persuasively yesterday), they will look for another, as a fight is what they want – it’s good sport and makes their journalistic lives less boring. Their problem is who could replace Abbott and do better. Joe Hockey? – unlikely; Malcolm Turnbull – unlikely to return while the conservatives run the party. So they may be stuck with Abbott, and stick to him unless his ratings decline. The next few opinion polls will be interesting. Rudd’s ‘unpopularity’ is the current media meme, the product of groupthink. BB has debunked this in his last piece and others are beginning to realize Rudd’s unpopularity is largely a media construction. But until his ratings begin to be restored nearer to earlier levels, no doubt that will continue.

Ad astra reply

24/03/2010BB Great contribution – you’ve nailed it again – particularly in your last paragraph. Until the Coalition gets around to formulating decent policy and telling us about it, they will get nowhere. Their carping negativity was shown yesterday for what it is – a turn-off for the average voters. There was supposed to be a policy unit under Julie Bishop; then it was given to Kevin Andrews, but what has it done? Maybe there’s a pile of revised and new policies to burst onto the political scene, but does anyone know what they might be? The Coalition’s policy paucity will continue to hold them back, and negativity and obstruction will continue to drag them down. It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to work that out. Yet we have a Rhodes Scholar as Opposition Leader. Why is he acting so dumb?

janice

24/03/2010Bushfire Bill, I'm damned sure that that forced, theatrical, demon laugh was recognised by one and all as what comes out of the mouth of the leader of a schoolboy gang when they're taunting a victim. It certainly made an impact on all those who were watching the debate and it didn't throw a warm light on Tony, especially as it was in response to a plea from the PM for conciliation and co-operation in working together for a national health scheme that will benefit the whole population in both the short and long-term. I agree with you that Abbott sees co-operation as fraternising with the enemy and he wants no part of it. He is not big enough nor astute enough to countenance the idea that some policies/reforms require the pooling of ideas, compromise and constructive debate in order to bring about the best outcome for the nation. I know just by listening to friends and ordinary people I come across whilst shopping etc that very few have a feeling of 'love or affection' for Kevin Rudd and some actually dislike him. To most people Kevin Rudd is not the sort of person they would flock to meet with at the local pub or, perhaps, even invite home to share dinner with the family. However his popularity with voters comes about because of respect. Respect for his ability, his intelligence and his passion to deliver the best outcome for every single inhabitant of this country. As an example there is little said about the Community Cabinets the PM and his team have been conducting around the country yet everyone I have come across who knows about them has marked the PM's chart with 5 stars. People like to think and feel they are included and have some input into the decisions a government makes. Yes, the coalition is at a crossroads. In fact I think they've already started taking the wrong turn but even with only a few months up their sleeve they could resurrect a little credibility out of the wreckage if they rolled up their sleeves and worked like navvys to get together something they can take to the voters during the election campaign.

bilgedigger

24/03/2010Nick Minchin is announcing his retirement from politics at the election and will stand down from the front bench now, giving Tony Abbott a chance for a reshuffle without losing face which he would have had he reshuffled before the election. The reasons given by Nick Minchin seem credible. His son was involved in an accident in January which will require a long rehabilitation. While I have no regret in saying that I am personally glad to see him leave politics, it is sad that it is under such circumstances. As to the debate and Glenn Dyer (at Crikey) and Possum's analysis of the wider audience who watched the debate (or will see re-runs), it is heartening to confirm that there is a wider public who see the "reality" of Kevin Rudd and not the confected output from the Opposition and wide segments of the media.

lyn1

24/03/2010[b]TODAYS LINKS [/b] http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/nick-minchin-quits/ DENNIS SHANAHAN KNOWS WHAT TO DO http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/minchins-loss-a-blow-but-gives-abbott-a-chance-to-fix-economic-credibility-with-reshuffle/story-e6frgczf-1225844781354 http://www.pipingshrike.com/ http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/24/the-sweet-science-of-debates-abbott-showed-up-for-wrong-fight/ http://www.domknight.com/our-health-care-debate-is-more-boring-than-americas-thank-goodness/ http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/24/125641/ http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2010/03/24/157605_opinion.html http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10218 http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/03/24/when-the-worms-turn-–-the-inside-info-on-audience-response/ http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/abbott-refuses-to-work-with-govt-on-health-initiatives/ http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/23/abbott-brawler-struggles-health-debate http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2854405.htm http://www.tweednews.com.au/story/2010/03/24/pm-finished-debate-on-top-of-abbot/ http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/24/are-our-leaders-showing-vital-signs http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/24/2854743.htm http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/worldwide-wingnuts/

HillbillySkeleton

24/03/2010"Kevin Rudd is a lying bully and is unfit for office." Tony Abbott, duly reported by Matthew Franklin, boot boy for The Oz. Sigh. When in doubt, go 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' upside down logical, go straight back on the attack and run to your nearest bootstrapper at The Oz. I can't believe that the writers(I say writers because I hesitate to use the term journalists for most of them), at The Australian can lower themselves so far down into the journalistic gutter to pander to the Liberal Party's(and the boss', no doubt), fantasies, which appear to entail them thinking up a new negative line for each day's paper, and defending the Coalition from themselves when they involve themselves in yet another Grechian SNAFU, such as the graph debacle. Labor shouuld be saying, "If you can't even produce a graph honestly, how can you be trusted to run the country?" Cruel, but true, and not dissimilar to the Coalition's own disingenuous parries. For an example of The Oz's true agenda, today we had them going big on the Asylum Seeker Scare Campaign, with the debate analysis marginalised, on the front page. Little do they realise that the audience's eyes are no longer confined to what they read when they buy the daily paper, and watch the nightly News, but that they are now free to roam all across the internet for their daily diet of political fare. Thus, with the audience no longer captive to their mastheads they are diminished in their power to persuade, and no amount of high-quality bootstrapping will do the trick completely anymore. Us 'Normal Joes' with our blogs and free-ranging discussion & interaction which they promote, plus the opportunity to hone our own powers of persuasion around the issues, are now able to hold the conservative boosters in the media to account in real time. They can try and keep up the Conservative bootlicking & bootstrapping campaign, with their blizzard of copy by biased opinion writers and journalists, but they are increasingly being held to account and put under critical scrutiny by the blogosphere. This should also continue unabated up to the election. We all owe it to ourselves and the concept of transparent and accountable democracy to stay up on the mark, and not let News Ltd. media outlets get away with Liberal-hued Blue Murder. This they are attempting to carry out, to see off a good, reforming government, after one term onlny in power, in order to be replaced by former leaders from the morally-bankrupt Howard adminnistration, such as Abbott, Minchin(going but will not be forgotten), Bishop(x2), Tuckey, Dutton, Pyne, Joyce, Abetz, Ruddock, Andrews, and the list goes on when you add their acolytes like Bernardi, Morrison, Mirabella, Mary-Jo Fisher, Hartsukyer, Stone and Jensen. Actually, as an aside, it is heartening to see some of the snall 'l' Liberals starting to publically break ranks with the big 'C' Conservatives; such as Joe Hockey standing by his man MT, when he crossed the floor and voted for the ETS, and when MT gave his speech supporting it on the floor of parliament. Also, Joe Hockey's own speeches, given recently, on God, and the Internet Censorship issue, and Terror Laws; and, interestingly, Dr Andrew Laming from Queensland, who publically supported the BER to the media. Look for these guys to make their move after the election. Nevertheless, this blog is about yesterday's Health Debate at the NPC. Suffice to say, as has been grudgingly acknowledged by the commentariat, the PM's post-partisan approach to politics trumped the 'Never Ever', 'Over My Dead Body' approach of Tony Abbott. Yes, we have by now all read the justifications for Mr Abbott's approach, provided for free to the Liberal Party post the event by the bootstrappers. But, do you think the electorate will buy it? I think not. In fact, I think yesterday's debate will prove to have been a watershed for the PM & the ALP, as, to my eyes, it appears to have broken the spell that the Murdoch Empire had over the electorate following the ascent to Opposition power of Tony Abbott. I certainly hope so, because that spell deserved to be broken. It is an artiface and against the best interests of the country, if we are to be honest. I also watched Insight, with Jenny Brockie, on SBS last night after the debate. She had gathered together again a group of swinging voters that she had previously had on the program, pre-2007 election. I found it fascinating. You were able to compare and contrast voters in real time with themselves from 3 years ago. What I noticed was how some of the previously hopeful & positive Kevin Rudd supporters had been 'programmed' to be anti-Rudd proclaimers. As those of us who try and keep the political debate in perspective know, not a lot of criticism of the Rudd government is based on fact. Instead, opinion is raised to the level of 'fact' by our erstwhile bootstrappers, and a fair few people seem to have swallowed the bait whole. I didn't find it unusual to hear them come out with the News 'lines', I must say, but what I did find strange was the initial reluctance of Rudd supporters to stand up & be counted in dfence of the PM. They seemed cowed by the loudmouths mouthing Coalition/News talking points. Eventually, the braver souls started sticking up for KR, but it took a while! And, almost every time they did, they were shouted down. Now I know why the Hitlerites were so successful, their own aggression encourages the unleashing of aggro in their followers, to be directed at the timid and reasonable. Anyway, the lady in the audience who had the last word made a telling comment. She exclaimed exasperatedly, that if only the Coalition would let some of the Rudd government legislation through the Senate then the electorate would at least then have the opportunity to judge the Rudd government honestly on how well their actions and policies were translating when put into practice for Australia. An honest, concise distillation. How refreshing! So, who needs all those puffed-up, self-important commentators in the Canberra Peanut Gallery anyway? (Except for Laura Tingle, Lenore Taylor and Peter Hartcher) :) We've got our blogs and our Internet!

Sir Ian Crisp

24/03/2010‘Who won the debate?’ asks Ad Astra. Two distinct groups of Australians will derive the most benefit from the debate. The first group includes professional landscapers, professional gardeners, garden centre operators and those who potter around in their backyard gardens. All the people in that group rely heavily on a never ending supply of bovine excreta and Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott will maintain supplies of bovine excreta well into the future. The second group to gain most from the ‘debate’ is the growing list of insomniacs. The two alleged leaders’ babble and piffle had a somnolent effect on those who experience sleep disorders. A tape of the alleged debate was made and will be sent to every polysomnographic technologist to help in their important work. That is the impression I got from watching the debate. Notwithstanding my doctor’s advice, I tuned in and only antagonized my abulic mood. The moment I spotted Mr Rudd’s tie I let out a shrill yelp. I sent stills of Mr Rudd’s sartorial offence to Jonnie Lacroix, chief fashion guru at Barneys New York. He asked if Mr Rudd got dressed in the dark. I suppose that can be the only logical explanation. On a serious note why did both leaders insult us? Ad Astra said Mr Rudd focused on ‘country hospitals’, ‘rich or poor’, ‘mums and dads’ as if anyone in those groups matter. If they do matter why did Mr Rudd slip AUD$2.5 billion into an envelope and hand it to Indonesia? Could that money be injected into our ailing health system? If it can’t be used perhaps Mr Rudd might tell us why. And why are we allowing migrants into the country with HIV, cancer, and other maladies? Surely they’ll be a burden on our hospital system. We want debate but we want honest debate not professional idiots blathering on about an issue that should have been settled about 30 years ago. Mr Rudd appeared confused during the debate. He said something like ‘I am proud of this government’s achievements’. It was only a fortnight ago that Mr Rudd was apologizing for the underperformance of his government. So what is it? Is he proud of the underperforming government he leads or does he wish to apologise for his government’s achievements? It was a Barnaby moment. Ad Astra says he gained the impression that Mr Rudd won by a country mile. I thought he might say that.

You must be kidding

24/03/2010I thought you folks might like to read another side to what is being written in the emailsphere about the Government. I reviewed it and whilst it has some spin it seems almost factually right ... I'm sure you'll debunk it. What is intersting though is the Veteran's piece ... Enjoy Rarely has a government promised so much, spent so much, said so much, and launched so many nationwide programs, and delivered so little value for money and expectation. Two years of Kevin Rudd has produced 20 years of debt, and most of it cannot be blamed on the global financial crisis. This alphabet soup is self-inflicted. Asylum seekers. No reduction in arrivals; Christmas Island over populated and still they come which apparently is less than other countries ... so why is that? Beijing. Supposedly Rudd's strong point, the relationship with China deteriorated badly last year after a series of serious missteps with Beijing. Rudd was big on Hicks but very quiet on Hu ... why? Computers in schools. A million computers promised to schools, one for every student. This turned out to be much harder than it sounded. Around 30% completed. Debt and deficit. The Rudd government inherited a massive $90 billion financial firewall when it came to office, via a federal budget surplus, the Future Fund and two infrastructure funds. In two years the budget has gone from $20 billion in surplus to $58 billion in deficit. Net federal debt has gone from zero to a projection of between $130 billion and $180 billion. It took the previous government 10 years to dismantle the $96 billion debt mountain that it inherited. It took Rudd one year to build it back up again. ETS. The Copenhagen climate conference was a disaster. Rudd's emissions trading scheme is abstract, complex, expensive and polls show about 80 per cent of Australians do not understand or trust it. A T-shirt produced by Newcastle steelworkers distils the political problem: "Rudd's ETS: Higher Prices. Lost Jobs. 0.001 degrees cooler." Fuelwatch. Big promise, empty outcome. Grocerywatch. Ditto. Hospitals. Ditto. He is working on it but the 60/40 split will not end the blame game ... it can't. India disaster. Last year Australia degraded relations with the two emerging Asian superpowers. Juvenile justice. The plight of young Aborigines is worse than ever, with ideology trumping pragmatism. Children are shipped off to violent foster families while government exhibits a mesmerised inertia in the face of pockets of endemic violence. Kaiser. The aptly named Mike Kaiser, former ALP Queensland state secretary and state MP, became the umpteenth poster boy for the Labor patronage machine this year by landing a $450,000-a-year lobbying job with the national broadband network. The job was not advertised. League tables. The government's one-size-fits-all league tables for schools, plagued by glitches and misleading data, is another centralised scheme that serves as a substitute for tackling the union-imposed rigidities on teacher performance. Migration. Permanent migration to Australia surged 550,000 during the first two years of the Rudd government, the highest two-year increase in history. This is at odds with the government's rhetoric on reducing Australia's carbon footprint. It was also never mentioned before the election. National broadband network. Last year the Rudd government spent $17 million looking for a private partner to co-build the network. The process yielded nothing. The government will now build and operate the network itself at a cost of $43 billion. A money sink. Opposition theft. The Rudd government inherited the strongest budget position and banking sector of any major Western economy, which protected Australia from the global financial crisis. The government pretends this was all its own work. Power. The national solar power rebate is a political debacle. The GreenPower scheme has failed. The renewable energy trading certificates scheme is in disarray. Question time. Question time has blown out by 50 per cent over its traditional running time because of long ministerial answers and incessant points of order, while the time devoted to answering real questions, rather than Dorothy Dixers, has shrunk to less than 30 per cent of question time; a blatant corruption of the process. Roof insulation. Send in the fraud squad. A good idea gone bad. Rampant false billing and over-charging. Cowboys everywhere. People dead. Houses unsafe. Systemic overspending. A hapless bureaucracy detached from the realities of the building industry. School spending. The $16 billion Building the Education Revolution scheme is bloated with systemic overspending and over-charging. The problems were encapsulated by a builder who told me: "My company is involved in the BER work and it involves mismanagement, overcharging, schools being railroaded into decisions not in their interests, all hidden behind a smokescreen. It is the country's most expensive political stunt ever." Another money sink. Tax increases. The federal budget in May will begin to reveal the consequences of panic, hubris, overspending and waste as the government seeks to offset its profligacy with higher fees and taxes. Superannuation was just the start. Union power. The unions, having bankrolled Labor's election campaign in 2007, have received their payback, with an increase in union rights and powers. Union muscle-flexing is back, from the mining sector to small business. Endemic corruption, blackmail and violence in the building industry was finally curbed by the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Julia Gillard is shutting it down. Vanity. See B, K, O, Q and U. - AND VETERANS................. – AFTER THE TREASURER CLEARLY STATED THAT DVA DISABILITY PENSIONS WOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE HARMER REVIEW THE RUDD LABOR GOVERNMENT CHOSE TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST VETERANS BY EXCLUDING DVA DISABILITY PENSIONS IN THE 2009 BUDGET INCREASES. IN ORDER TO ‘SELL’ THIS INDEFENSIBLE POLICY THE PM’S MINISTER OF VETERAN’S AFFAIRS HAS BEEN FORCED TO INDULGE IN MOUNTAINS OF DISHONEST SPIN, BULLYING AND INTIMIDATION OF ESOs. Whitlamesque. Spendthrift programs. Empty rhetoric. Self-congratulation. Deficit spending. Debt blowout. Two years of the Rudd government produces 20 years of debt and poses the question: worse than Whitlam? X Y Z Generations X, Y and Z They will be stuck with the bill.

Amos Keeto

24/03/2010"While I have no regret in saying that I am personally glad to see him leave politics, it is sad that it is under such circumstances" Hear hear!

Sir Ian Crisp

24/03/2010Just when it appeared that the two alleged leaders would be more open and accessible to the voting public via these debates they have been halted. Mr Rudd is afraid of venturing into the deep end. Mr ah, er, um, Abbott has challenged him to a debate next week on the arrival of illegal boat people. He wants to debate Mr Rudd the following week on the roof insulation program. Very shrewd of Mr Abbott to pick his fights. Equally shrewd of Mr Rudd to respond that he is focused on health issues. It makes Mr Rudd look impuissant. The voters must be wondering if Mr Abbott was prepared to cop it around the ears over the health issue why won’t Mr Rudd cop it around the ears for his porous borders and roof insulation policies. The mere mention of illegal boat people, roof insulation, and, the BER causes the brown stuff to run down Mr Rudd's legs.

Ad astra reply

24/03/2010janice I agree that the Coalition is at the crossroads – it will have to change to regain traction. But with Tony Abbott the pugilist calling the shots, can it? He seems to know only attack and obstruction, and seems reluctant to spend the time needed to develop sound policy. He has got also to improve his image with the electorate, which showed up so poorly yesterday. I doubt if he is capable of the changes that would be needed to restore public confidence in him as a person and as a politician. bilgedigger The commentariat and the Coalition are painting one picture of Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott; the public are seeing a different picture of them both. This is yet another sign of the disconnect between the commentariat and the public. It explains why Rudd still enjoys such strong support in opinion polling, albeit less that previously, at the same time his demise is being predicted and aided and abetted by several journalists, especially in the News Limited stable. The electorate no longer believes what the media is telling them. This scares them as it jeopardises their sales, and in turn their journalists. So those journalists who are fighting tooth and nail to displace the Rudd Government and replace it with an Abbott-led Coalition, are doing so in order to establish what they see as a government more consistent with their personal views. They are supporting a losing cause. Lyn1 A great set of links, which I enjoyed reading. The consensus is that Rudd easily accounted for Abbott, despite the excuses offered by some, and notwithstanding the attempt to demean Rudd by quoting Abbott’s nastier comments extensively; Matthew Franklin is a case in point. Poor old Dennis Shanahan couldn’t bring himself to carefully analyse the debate, reached no conclusion as to who won, and satisfied himself with a discussion of the rules that ought to govern later debates. HillbillySkeleton I missed that forum. What you saw was groupthink operating, generated by the media. It takes courage for those who think differently to stand up in public and contradict the strongly held views of those programmed to think poorly of Rudd. But I have confidence that in their private moments they will reach a balanced judgement. Most thinking people, and swinging voters are often in that category, don’t like the media dictating to them, brainwashing them. So they will make up their own mind and vote accordingly. Sir Ian, COPS Your cynicism about politicians know no bounds. Your last paragraph leaves me in despair: [i]“Mr Rudd appeared confused during the debate. He said something like ‘I am proud of this government’s achievements’. It was only a fortnight ago that Mr Rudd was apologizing for the underperformance of his government. So what is it? Is he proud of the underperforming government he leads or does he wish to apologise for his government’s achievements?”[/i] Don’t you think it is possible at the same time to be proud of one’s achievements and yet apologetic for not doing better? Don’t we all feel that? YMBK I am not going to respond to your long and tiresome list of what you like to portray as the Rudd Government’s misdemeanours. The list serves only to remind visitors to [i]TPS[/i] of the tired mantras that the Coalition will trot out in the election campaign. I suppose we will have to suffer this boilerplate over and again. It might give you satisfaction posting it here, but don’t expect me to attempt a refutation, which you wouldn’t believe anyway. Amos Keeto The reason behind Nick Minchin’s departure is sad. It will precipitate a reshuffle, in which some commentators have urged Abbott to ditch Barnaby Joyce as shadow finance minister. But from Abbott’s comments tonight that seems unlikely – he said Barnaby "had done an outstanding job in drawing attention to Labor’s ‘debt and deficit’." Abbott must be struggling to reconcile his loyalty to Barnaby with his need for a competent shadow finance minister to counter Lindsay Tanner. That's his problem, one he made for himself.

lyn1

24/03/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for another excellent column, Ad we appreciate your writing very much. Now Tony Abbott, after making such a fool of himself in the health debate, has challenged Kevin Rudd to another debate (if Kevin Rudd thinks he did so well in the Health debate let's have one every week) next week on refugees and another the week after that on the pink batts. Abbott is such a smart alec, he knows Kevin Rudd is 24/7 and busy negotiating with the state premiers, Abbott is banking on Kevin Rudd refusing, so then he can go on camera saying Kevin Rudd has not got enough guts to debate me. SBS just showed a clip on Karen Middleton's report of Tony Abbott at the ocean with his surf board, Karen reports he is training for the triathlon. How come Tony Abbott has got so much time available to himself. Well I really don't think Kevin Rudd would hardly have time to eat his breakfast. Peter Van Onselen reports on Nick Mitchen's resignation and I agree with him http://player.video.news.com.au/theaustralian/#1449519232

Ad astra reply

24/03/2010Sir Ian, COPS Did you really think Rudd will let Abbott call the debate shots? Abbott is full of bluster; he can say that he wants debates on boat arrivals, pink batts and so on confident that Rudd will not agree to them, simply because he's calling for them. Then he will mock Rudd for refusing - we know this man well. Your imagery of Rudd being sh-t scared at the prospect of such a debate might amuse you, but if Rudd’s demeanour yesterday, and when answering questions on these matters in QT is any guide, he won’t be soiling his pants at the prospect of any debate with the man he comprehensively dealt with yesterday.

Michael

24/03/2010Tony Abbott has outed himself with his demand for a debate every week. Chief mass-debater. And what exactly is that running down the Opposition Leader's legs? Yes, I know, childish, but Sir Ian, why, why?

Sir Ian Crisp

24/03/2010Wouldn’t it be an act of courtesy for Mr Rudd to allow Mr Abbott to pick the topic of the next debate? It was the government that selected health as the topic of the first debate. It makes Mr Rudd appear mean and cowardly. Surely Mr Rudd would be keen to defend his fabulous illegal boat arrival policy and his successful roof insulation policy.

HillbillySkeleton

24/03/2010Ah, YMBK, you're on the drip e-mail feed from Conservative Coalition HQ and the eveready conservative blogosphere! Then you just transcribe it here. Now I get it. Don't believe everything you read, you know. That's the best advice I can give to you. :)

Ad astra reply

24/03/2010Sir Ian Courtesy - in politics - really!!!

Bushfire Bill

24/03/2010I suspect Abbott is addicted to exercise. He values it more than politics. I would like to see one of the Labor attack dogs say something like: [i]“Put your clothes on, Tony. Get off your pushbike, wear proper shoes and do some bloody work… and then we might debate you. Until get back on the job properly you’re wasting everyone’s time.”[/i] Abbott really does have to make a choice. He comes to a big debate, that he demanded, without any policy, expecting to be able to just bluff his way through it. The journalists assembled, and the pollies and the viewers (about 900,000 of them according to ratings figures out today) and what happened? A fizzer. Really, any more debates under these circumstances would be totally pointless.

Paul of Berwick

24/03/2010I thought the disconnect between mainstream people & mainstream journo's was one of Tony's first jokes. The commentariat laughed heartily, the proletariat judged it negatively.

lyn1

24/03/2010Sir Ian Crisp COPS The voters must be wondering if Mr Abbott was prepared to cop it around the ears over the health issue why won’t Mr Rudd cop it around the ears for his porous borders and roof insulation policies Because Tony Abbot has bigger ears.

HillbillySkeleton

24/03/2010Ad Astra, I think you'll find that Andrew Robb is in charge of policy development for the Coalition now. As a result, considering his wide experience, I expect them not to be too shabby by the time they are released before the election.

lyn1

24/03/2010Hi Ad and Everybody [b]FOR THOSE WHO MAY HAVE MISSED IT [/b] Some senior Liberals are concerned that their leader Tony Abbott is spending too much time pursuing his passion for sports and not enough time on politics. http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2010/s2855254.htm

Acerbic Conehead

24/03/2010I'm sure everyone would join me in wishing Oliver Minchin a speedy recovery. Also, I probably missed it, but I'm sure Sen Minchin has already called for the resignation of John Faulkner over the matter.

lyn1

24/03/2010Aerbic Conehead Great comment. You are a laught a minute, and spot on.

vote1maxine

25/03/2010TA is just a thug and a bully. Remember his despicable treatment of Bernie Banton? This episode exposed the true nature of the man. No amount of "window dressing", such as auctioning off his speedos for charity,can disguise this. He is unfit for public office of any description. His notoriety in public life WAS as Howard's attack dog. So his performance in the health debate was no surprise. I too was getting nervous by the turd polishing by the MSM of TA. The health debate has shown that no amount of polishing can make up for lack of substance, (Perhaps I'm mixing my metaphors rather badly. time for bed.)

Sir Ian Crisp

25/03/2010Maxine McWho, we do remember TA's treatment of Bernie Banton. However, those of us with a functioning memory remember Stern Hu. We also remember a very sad chapter in Queensland involving a young aboriginal lass and the shredding of vital files that detailed her allegations of rape. One minute aborigines are dismissed and the next we are apologising to them for the 'wrongs' that were done. Things that make you go mmmmmmmmmmmm.

janice

25/03/2010Lyn1, after TAs woeful debating performance I imagine more than a few are questioning the amount of time their leader spends actually doing the work he's paid to do. I have a faint suspicion that some journos are also wondering if it is wise to continue promoting (and excusing lack of policies) TA as an alternative Prime Minister when he puts 80% of his effort into his sporting pursuits at the expense of knuckling down to his proper job as a member of parliament. Abbott is allergic to real work - in fact he is, as my son quipped the other day "I love work - I can sit and look at it all day". Even his voluntary charity work isn't the roll-up-your-sleeves sort but more involving treks in the bush on quad bikes, swimming/surfing life saving and donating speedos to raffle for charity. SIC COPS - you are tarnishing your COPS award fella. I'm sure you see very well that the PM doesn't have time to waste on senseless debates with a person not interested enough in his job or or his party to knuckle down to working on a policy or two to put before the people whose votes he wants to pave the way to the Lodge.

Ad astra reply

25/03/2010BB, Lyn1, janice Tony Abbott’s preoccupation with sport is emerging as a problem for him. While exercise and sport are healthy pursuits, it stands to reason that if the Leader of the Opposition is spending a large amount of time in sports activity, he has insufficient time to carry out his paid job. What the Liberal Party needs now is sound policy, but the question is whether developing policy is Abbott’s forte, whether he has the skill, patience and perseverance to develop it. HillbillySkeleton, you point out that Andrew Robb is now in charge of policy development; he is therefore the third with this job in two years. He is sound and hopefully will have policies for Abbott to consider. They will likely be much better thought out than Abbott’s off-the-cuff efforts, the last of which was the PPL scheme. Clearly his lack of a health policy disadvantaged him in the debate, as it should have. If he turns up to subsequent debates similarly ill-equipped, he will suffer the same fate, as he will revert to negativity, which served him so poorly in the health debate. How long will the media be prepared to lay the blame for his poor performance on his lack of policy, as if that is a reasonable excuse? vote1maxine You remind us of Abbott’s role in the Howard Government – attack dog. It’s a role his pugilistic nature enjoys, and we saw it on full display in the health debate. Even the opening handshake portrayed it. The media, who enjoy a dog fight, may not be so enthusiastic after its preferred dog was soundly beaten in the health debate. But this dog did not go away with his tail between his legs; instead he was soon spoiling for another fight. So how long will the media put its money on the loser, when it likes to back the winner? Once it becomes apparent that it is backing a likely loser rather than what they thought Abbott was – someone who could take the fight up to the Rudd Government – they will turn away from him. If and when the media does, Abbott is doomed as his current status is heavily dependent on the media support he has enjoyed. If they do to him what they have been trying to do to Rudd, he is finished as a viable Opposition Leader. Sir Ian, COPS Sometimes your cryptic comments defy interpretation. What has Abbott’s remarks to Bernie Banton got to do with Stern Hu? Your reference to the aboriginal girl is equally incomprehensible.

Holden Back

25/03/2010So did Abbott not bring anything from his experience as Health Minister to the debate?

lyn1

25/03/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS [/b] [b]MOST OF THE TIME I TRY NOT TO PUT UP THE NEWSPAPERS BUT THE FIRST 4 LINKS WERE NECESSARY[/b] http://www.smh.com.au/national/hes-52-hes-superfit-but-abbotts-supporters-fret-about-the-track-hes-taking-to-the-top-20100324-qwtu.html http://www.smh.com.au/environment/libs-parental-leave-would-cost-business-twice-as-much-as-ets-20100324-qwty.html http://mosman-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/for-sale-1-set-used-sluggos/ http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/nice-line-tony-abbott-but-poor-timing-has-softened-its-impact/story-e6frerff-1225844974358 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/its-not-abbotts-role-to-agree-with-rudd/story-fn558imw-1225844962054 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/24/2855012.htm http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/03/25/why-are-voters-so-stupid/ http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/2010/03/labor-state-and-federal-are-extremely.html http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/25/the-media-tells-minchin-to-get-nickd/ http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2010/03/24/minchin-departs-mission-mostly-accomplished/ http://moderatelyleft.blogspot.com/ http://hoydenabouttown.com/20100324.7366/last-post-on-the-npchealth-debate/ http://trevorcook.typepad.com/weblog/ http://nickosdiary.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/whats-wrong-with-modern-conservatism/ http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/in-the-billinudgels-front-bar-theres-no-reason-to-bother-20100324-qwtg.html http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/03/23/abbotts-bingle/ http://larvatusprodeo.net/

Sir Ian Crisp

25/03/2010Ad Astra, you ask what has TA’s treatment of Bernie Banton got to do with Stern Hu. I was demonstrating that to serve you well memory needs to be all-encompassing. Bernie Banton was abandoned by TA just as Stern Hu has been abandoned by KR. And what’s the point of KR boasting about speaking mandarin if, when given the chance to use it, his voice becomes a soft susurrus, a mere whisper. My reference to the aboriginal lass was to demonstrate that I remember everything our grubby politicians are associated with; not just the Bernie Bantons.

lyn1

25/03/2010Hi Ad [b]Putting up "I'm against it" just in case somebody missed out[/b] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7cry-4pyy8&NR=1

Ad astra reply

25/03/2010Lyn1 Another great set of links. The newspaper ones were particularly interesting. The questioning has already begun about Abbott’s ability to debate, his capacity to ‘take the fight up to Rudd’, and his preoccupation with sport and fitness seemingly over political hard yakka. Unless he changes tack, gets down to hard policy work and shows he can match Rudd, his stocks with his party and with the media will decline. Once the rot sets in it may be hard to stop. Thank you for the You Tube link - very amusing. Sir Ian, COPS I’m surprised you even mention Stern Hu. The events of the last few days with his apparent confession of taking bribes seems to me to vindicate Rudd’s cautious approach and show Turnbull’s demand that Rudd ring the Chinese leader ill-advised.

HillbillySkeleton

25/03/2010SIC COPS, Stern Hu wasn't abandoned by Kevin Rudd, he was given all the consular assistance that the Chinese would allow. Anyway, what is the corollary to your assertion that the Prime Minister 'abandoned' Stern Hu? That he organise a Jail Break for Mr Hu? I also note that you have left out any reference to the fact that Stern Hu has admitted guilt wrt the bribery allegations. So, are you actually saying that the Australian government should have intervened on behalf of a guilty man to get him off scot free? Just because he was a high-powered businessman? I think that's called Double Standards.

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25/03/2010Holden Black Welcome to [i]TPS[/i] Please come again. You ask: "...did Abbott not bring anything from his experience as Health Minister to the debate?" Nothing much that I could see, nor could anyone else. What he brought was the street-fighter's bare-knucle aggression, and the people didn't like it.

Bushfire Bill

25/03/2010Straight Talking Tony changes his mind... [i]again[/i]. [i]"Mr Abbott took to the airwaves of community radio station Joy FM this morning and was quizzed in a wide-ranging and lengthy interview on gay adoption, gay marriage, discrimination laws and homophobia. He conceded his comments to 60 Minutes were a "poor choice of words". "I think blokes of my generation and upbringing do sometimes find these things a bit confronting," he said. "But the truth is, as we get older, we mellow."[/i] Yeah, when we get about two weeks older in Tony's case. Classic Abbott: one story for the proles in the [i]60-Minutes[/i] audience and one for the fags on Joy FM. [i]""People close to me are gay and I'd like to think it hasn't made me love them any the less or treat them differently."[/i] He even threw in "some of my best friends are gay." A complete tosser, but will be be brought to book for this flip-flop?

Holden Back

25/03/2010Had Abbott been able to back up the braggadoccio with some policy - even Howard Government policy - and detail remembered from Ministerial days, the perceived outcome might have been very different. Now he looks like a populist lightweight who didn't take his portfolio duties seriously. I do remember thinking when he was appointed that it was going to be interesting to see what a headkicker could do against real entrenched power. Crushing One Nation was child's play by comparison to the health sector.

johyn Ryan

25/03/2010Your not trying to give that Heiner joke legs are you Sir Ian,I thought the only fool left in the world believing in that was Ackerman and the loony right,even Murdocks minions shredded that. As BB said what was Rudd going to do invade China,China's law is a matter for China we can jump up and down till your blue in the face,it wont make any difference he has Conuslar assistance,not a lot more we can do. Abbott got his arse kicked and the Murdock spinners are trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear,Minchin can see the writing on the wall,maybe Turnbull will make a come back after Abbott loses the next election badly

lyn1

25/03/2010[b]Joyce dumped from finance in reshuffle[/b] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/barnaby-joyce-loses-finance-spokesman-role-in-tony-abbott-reshuffle/story-e6frf7jo-1225845409177 http://www.smh.com.au/national/abbott-dumps-joyce-as-finance-spokesman-20100325-qzhh.html http://www.smh.com.au/national/abbott-dumps-joyce-from-finance-in-frontbench-reshuffle-20100325-qzgf.html http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1222202/Abbott-announces-reshuffle http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/25/2856292.htm?section=justin

bilgedigger

25/03/2010Ian Crisp - comments at 8.26 and 12.59 - As if your scatological references were not a sufficient indication of your febrile mind, you now attempt to add to your oeuvre a hackneyed old Liberal Party libel straight from the cesspit that is the mind of a certain Sydney commentator. Bring your thinking into the new Century.

lyn1

25/03/2010Hi Ad and Everyone Oh no! there has been foul play in the Liberal party, who would have thought. Seems Malcolm Turnbull, according to Laurie Oakes, did offer himself up for the job. Take a look http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/clandestine-campaign-ousted-me-joyce/story-e6frf7jx-1225845448641

Grog

25/03/2010Ay Barnaby: [BARNABY Joyce says a "clandestine campaign" was waged within the Coalition to remove him as shadow finance minister. ] And thus ends the experiment of the "retail politician"...

lyn1

25/03/2010[b]Hi Ad and everyone[/b] Hi Grog so much for the amazing praise heaped on Barnaby today by the Liberals, classic was Julie Bishop on ABC breakfast this morning (Gush, Gush, Gush) Barnarby is such a wonderful performer, but we really only like him this morning not this afternoon. [b]DON'T MISS GROG ANOTHER BRILLIANT PIECE THANKYOU GROG [/b] http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/

HillbillySkeleton

25/03/2010It looks like the brilliant 'Retail Politician' has been dumped into the 'Specials' bin. :)

lyn1

25/03/2010Hi Ad The Reporters have gone into a great big frenzy. Just a couple However, Mr Abbott said he would offer Mr Turnbull a senior role if the Coalition won the next election. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/abbott-ditches-joyce-for-robb/1786702.aspx Fran Kelly http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/25/2856416.htm?site=thedrum http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/blogs/rocco-bloggo/tony-abbotts-fighting-fit/20100325-qzmf.html

HillbillySkeleton

25/03/2010This is brilliant. It's from the Crikey comments today. I believe it is an attempt to favourably explain how the stimulus worked: John Goldbaum writes: It's a slow day in a dusty little Australian town. The sun is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich tourist from down south is driving through town, stops at the local motel and lays a $100 bill on the desk saying he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. He gives him keys to a few rooms and as soon as the man walks upstairs, the owner grabs the $100 bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher. * The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. * The pig farmer takes the $100 and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. * The guy at the Farmer's Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his drinks bill at the local pub. * The publican slips the money along to the local pr-stitute drinking at the bar , who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit. * The hooker rushes to the motel and pays off her room bill to the motel owner with the $100 . * The motel proprietor then places the $100 back on the counter so the rich traveller will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveller comes down the stairs, picks up the $100 bill, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town. No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Australian Government is conducting business today...'

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25/03/2010BB Tony Abbott is looking sheepish today after removing Barnaby from shadow finance. But what else could he do? So Tony will have to wear the ignominy of promoting him in the first place. He might think he’s solved the Barnaby problem, but he won’t be allowed to forget his poor judgement. Forgiveness for his error won’t be readily forthcoming and even his party is unlikely to give him absolution. How many more times will Straight Talking Tony, the You-Know-Where-You-Stand-With-Him Tony be able to change his mind and still be credible? Holden Back The head-kicker has kicked one of his own heads. Unless he can do better than he did this week, his days of effectively head-kicking his opponents may be behind him. john Ryan, bilgedigger I didn’t realize Sir Ian was alluding to the Heiner affair; I thought old Piers was the only one left thumping that drum. Nick Minchin is still there until mid 2011, so we can expect more of the Minchin influence during the upcoming election. That is likely to drive the Coalition even further into conservative territory. lyn1 A good collection of links to Abbott’s latest mind-changes. But he’s allowed to do that – as often as he likes. And we won't hear even a small [i]mea culpa[/i] to make this mind-change palatable. In the Fran Kelly link she sucks her readers in with the headline [i]Tony Abbott on the run[/i] http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/25/2856416.htm?site=thedrum and after conceding he lost the Great Health Debate, quickly hoists him up again with [i]"But two days later he's put that loss of momentum behind him and lost no time in acting decisively to reshuffle his frontbench after the resignation of Nick Minchin."[/i] Later she says: [i]"And the Opposition Leader is right - Senator Joyce is a talented politician who will inflict damage on the Labor Government now that he's free ‘to get out from behind his desk and travel right around the country spruiking the Labor debt message’. Shadow minister for regional affairs is just the portfolio for doing that, and to start causing trouble for Labor in a swag of regional and rural seats across Queensland and New South Wales in particular."[/i] So all is forgiven Tony, you’re on track again, Love Fran Grog Thank you for another beautiful exposé [i]Shutting the Barnyard door after the horse has bolted[/i] http://grogsgamut.blogspot.com/2010/03/shutting-barnyard-door-after-horse-has.html Our brilliant ‘retail politician’ will now be a travelling salesman in the back blocks, where hopefully he will do less damage to our economic reputation. HillbillySkeleton That’s how it works. Everyone’s happy. I thought The Pav’s comment was spot-on: [i]” Re The Government “No one produced anything. No one earned anything.” “This would have to be one of the asinine & pointless posts ever. “Firstly a pig was produced, fuel & feed used, drinks consumed & services (moral or otherwise) used “As nobody was paid one could reasonably assume that there was no currency in circulation (think rum rebellion). Governments role among other things is to provide money otherwise we are reduced to barter and we all no how ell that works. “$100 was injected into the system & it worked. Unless Mr Goldbaum is using the story to demonstrate how well the job is being done, which I somewhat doubt, all he has done is demonstrate his ignorance.”[/i]

Daisey May

25/03/2010OZ headline online circa 3PM, 25th of March- "Abbott Dumps Joyce From Front Bench" OZ headline online circa 4PM, 25th of March- " Robb Replaces Joyce In Finance Post" Joyce and the OZ. The gift that keeps on giving.

adelaidegirl

25/03/2010Ian, I won't dignify your "title". Stern Hu is an alleged criminal, Bernie Banton was a dying man. How dare you conflate the two! I'd like to disagree with the constant mentions of "the worm" as some Labor apparatchik. The worm was operated by swinging voters, so I hear. Challenge the commercial TV stations if you must, but the worm has no political leanings. It is merely a represenatation of some people's reactions to the debate. They liked Rudd and they didn't like Abbott and who can blame them! And, yes, let's see Abbott debate on asylum seekers. What is his solution? Lock children up for years? Turn them back on the high seas? Send the miliary to . . . He'd better watch it. Aussies have become a bit more empathetic since little johnny left - I hope. As to the Abbott-lickers in the media, they'll change their tune soon enough, without so much as a backward glance, if it suits them. Thanks so much for this blog. I was beginning to feel as though all the left-leaning, social conscience-y feeling had gone completely from the Australian electorate, except for me and mine. I sat with a friend recently who blamed Garrett for the insulation problems. I said, if the government supplies money for a job and a contractor does the job badly, who is to blame. Without thinking she said, the contractor. Touche. She admitted that she doesn't pay much attention to politics but seems she pays enough attention to be bootstrapped. I hear this all the time from colleauges (we're in one of the "caring professions") and it breaks my heart. Thanks again for restoring my faith.

Sir Ian Crisp

26/03/2010Girl, I won't dignify your state. I thought Hu and Banton were human beings and both worthy of respect.

Paul of Berwick

26/03/2010Folks, On something different, but related - how is TPS going to handle the election? Will there be a section for daily links? Will it allow simply running commentary on issues? Will there be LNP-ALP discussion threads? I just think a bit of planning now on how we feel TPS will communicate & how we communicate through it regarding the election would be beneficial. Paul

Grog

26/03/2010An excellent blog on the Minchin-Joyce leavings by the always astute Andrew Elder: http://andrewelder.blogspot.com/

janice

26/03/2010Thank you Grog - excellent analysis from Andrew Elder.

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Grog Thankyou for link to Andrew Elder, excellent piece. Grogs Gamut link is on Crikey this morning, congratulations Grog. At the bottom of the page, under elsewhere. http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/26/abbott-reshuffles-the-deck-ditches-joker-joyce/

lyn1

26/03/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] Iron man must don a suit to be PM ( POOR DENNIS0) http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/iron-man-must-don-a-suit-to-be-pm/story-e6frg6zo-1225845496455 Abetz admits Turnbull fed him leaks from Grech http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/abetz-admits-turnbull-fed-him-leaks-from-grech/story-e6frgczf-1225845502328 http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2855832.htm http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/25/tiny-parliament-leaves-tasmania-short-staffed http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/blogs/the-razors-edge/the-greens--ignore-at-ones-peril/20100324-qvsu.html http://larvatusprodeo.net/ http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com/ http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/mr-shuffles-tony-abbott-drops-barnaby-from-frontbench/ http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/26/2856585.htm?WT.mc_id=newsmail http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/26/abbott-reshuffles-the-deck-ditches-joker-joyce/ http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10237 http://www.blogotariat.com/node/190631 http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/25/please-no-more-debates

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26/03/2010Daisey May Yes it is a gift that keeps on giving – there is another collection of articles featured in [i]Crikey’s[/i] summation this morning http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/26/abbott-reshuffles-the-deck-ditches-joker-joyce/ As expected dear old Dennis Shanahan in [i]Labor's crowing over Barnaby may backfire[/i] spins Barnaby’s removal from finance as a negative for the Government, arguing that it had urged his removal but that now that this was the reality it would be up against a more formidable Coalition finance team. We know that Dennis, but at least it will now be possible to have a sensible debate on finance rather than an Alice in Wonderland dialogue. Dennis ends with the predictable cliché [i]"It may be a case of being careful what you wish for - you just may get it.”[/i] Curiously, after the headline, Dennis did not mention ‘crowing’ again. Has anyone heard Government ministers crowing? No, it’s just Dennis bootstrapping – again. In contrast another Dennis, this time Atkins, of the [i]Courier Mail[/i], headlines his piece [i]Tony Abbott shows that he just doesn't get Queensland in dumping Barnaby Joyce[/i] http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/tony-abbott-shows-that-he-just-doesnt-get-queensland-in-dumping-barnaby-joyce/story-e6frerff-1225845476140 His thesis is summarized by his final paragraphs: [i]"Abbott can put as much spin as he likes on these changes but there is no glossing over the fact that he has humiliated one of the most senior Queensland Nationals – someone who has much greater recognition than party leader Warren Truss. It is a telling error because it will suggest to a lot of voters in Queensland that the Liberal leader doesn't have a genuine connection with voters north of the Tweed. “The federal election could be held as soon as early August which gives Abbott just four months to make his case with voters in the state that could make or break his bid for the prime ministership. Dumping Joyce is going to make that task a lot harder, especially in electorates like Leichhardt, Herbert, Dawson, Flynn, Capricornia and Hinkler.”[/i] There you have it from a Queenslander. Several pieces question the wisdom of leaving Malcolm Turnbull languishing on the backbench after he offered his services. adelaidegirl First, don’t let Sir Ian upset you. His response suggests that Stern Hu was not shown respect. That is not so. He was shown great respect in that the Government did not rush in as Turnbull said it should demanding his immediate release, but by showing respect for the legal system in China (of which the Government disapproves) the Government showed respect for Stern Hu’s predicament. Now, with Hu’s apparent admission of guilt, it seems the Government’s approach was exactly right. If the worm had favoured Tony Abbott, it would have been lauded by the Coalition as a true reflection of public opinion. Its reaction to the worm is as predictable as it is pathetic. Possum on [i]Pollytics[/i] has a full account of how ‘worms’ work in [i]When the Worms Turn – The inside info on audience response[/i] http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/03/24/when-the-worms-turn-%e2%80%93-the-inside-info-on-audience-response/ He points out that Channel Nine’s worm is activated by a large panel of undecided voters, whereas Channel Seven’s Polly Graph uses a cross section of all voters. It is disturbing that some in the electorate have swallowed the Coalition spin about pink batts, boat people, the stimulus, the BER and so on. This needs to be countered by the Government, as I suspect it will be during the rest of this election year, but also by blog sites such as this one and bloggers who see the cynical Coalition spin machine pouring it disingenuous comments out day after day. We even had Barnaby Joyce this morning on ABC 774 radio saying that Australia’s avoidance of recession had nothing to do with the stimulus or any action of this Government – it was due to what the Howard Government left behind, but most of all to the boom in China and India! He insisted all the Government had done was to run up debt and deficit. This deception, this illogic, this flying in the face of the facts, this disregard for the opinion of mainstream economists who credit the Government, is mind-boggling, yet it is what they will continue to shamelessly spin.

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26/03/2010Paul You raise a very important issue – how will [i]TPS[/i] function during the election campaign? My immediate reaction is that we will need to post more than two to three pieces a week. Bushfire Bill and I prepare our contributions as substantial analyses of contemporary issues. Because they run to one to two thousand words they take a considerable amount of ‘research’ and quite a lot of time to write. We would be unable to produce this type of article more often. The short, intensive, dynamic and ever-changing election campaigns we now have invite more frequent but shorter pieces related to the day’s or week’s events. We could have several pieces running simultaneously (but in the chronological sequence of posting) to which comments could be added for, say, a period of a week. The structure of this blog engine does not permit us to have a number of parallel mainstream pieces, but it can accommodate frequent additions to the one mainstream. Bushfire Bill, who with me provides the original content of [i]TPS[/i], will have a view on how we might modify the site during the election. I invite visitors here to suggest how we might address Paul’s question.

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26/03/2010lyn1 Dennis Shanahan seems to have had a dose of reality in his [i]Iron man must don a suit to be PM[/i]: [i]”Tony Abbott is at a pivotal point in his unexpected tilt at becoming prime minister and has to confront some of the basic issues that make him the ‘authentic Tony Abbott’ if he is to continue his political momentum and keep alive his unlikely hopes of defeating Kevin Rudd."[/i] Dennis is attempting to groom his Iron Man. The OzCar affair is another gift that keeps on giving. Paul Maley's [i]Abetz admits Turnbull fed him leaks from Grech: "Liberal senator Eric Abetz has admitted for the first time he was briefed in advance by Malcolm Turnbull's office about every major leak experienced by the Rudd government, prior to his questioning of witnesses during Senate hearings."[/i] Chris Uhlmann’s piece was particularly interesting. His comment [i]"I had a flashback to that fight [the Muhammad Ali/Joe Frazier fight in 1974) at exactly 1.20pm on Tuesday, 50 minutes into the health debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. At that moment, I got the strong sense that Mr Abbott had punched himself out. The fighter was being beaten by a boxer.[/i] This parallels my analogy of PK in [i]The Power of One[/i] who because he was a boxer was able to overcome every street fighter who challenged him. Chris concludes [i]”Kevin Rudd has come off the ropes. Tony Abbott needs to change his strategy.”[/i] Spot on, but can Abbott change – has he any other strategy?

Colen

26/03/2010AA Any man with 4 women in his household would be able to change.

Ostermann

26/03/2010Hi Ad Thinking about Pauls suggestion, maybe run an open thread for the election and review it in a piece post election.

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26/03/2010Folks Today’s [i]Morgan[/i] Poll TPP 56.5/43.5 http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2010/4480/ [i]“The latest Morgan Poll conducted over the past two weekends (March 13/14 & 20/21, 2010) shows the Rudd Government (56.5%, up 1%) strengthening its lead over the L-NP Opposition (43.5%, down 1%) [b]prior to this weeks’ televised health debate between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.[/b][/i]” Gary Morgan goes on to say: [i]”The high Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Rating (127.5, virtually unchanged over the past two weeks) continues to provide solid support to the Rudd Government. Historically, during times of high Consumer Confidence, Governments are very likely to be re-elected.”[/i] He also comments on Channel Seven’s ‘PollieGraph’: [i]”Channel 7’s telecast of the debate used a ‘PollieGraph’ (powered by Roy Morgan’s Reactor technology) to track an audience’s views on Rudd and Abbott during the course of the health debate. The verdict from the ‘PollieGraph’ was clear — Kevin Rudd clearly won the debate according to the people that matter — the electors. “The Channel 7 ‘PollieGraph’ showed that the positive messages told by Rudd struck a strong chord with voters whilst Abbott’s attacks on the Government’s record failed to gain any resonance with the audience and fell flat. It is clear from the ‘PollieGraph’ that for the L-NP to stand any chance in this year’s election Abbott must have a positive message to give the public and not resort to a negative campaign.” [/i]

Ostermann

26/03/2010Hi All Found this little gem from 2007, 5 weeks before the election. Maybe some truth to it post this election given that Tony Abbott was the rights last real chance. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2007/s2061432.htm

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Ostermann Thankyou for your link to lateline 2007 it's a big gem. Put's some light of Tony Abbott's leadership style, Howard policies made spur of the moment. John Howard is Tony Abbott's idol and mentor. Your link also put's light on maybe why (Eric Abetz after what nearly 12 months) has dobbed on Malcolm Turnbull. There is a lot more to Nick Mitchem's resignation than meets the eye, when one considers he is stll staying in parliament for the next 12 months. Costello praises the Liberal party yesterday, after his damming account about a week ago Barnaby Joyce reported yesterday a "clandestine campaign" was waged within the Coalition against him.

lyn1

26/03/2010[b]Hi Ad and Everyone[/b] [i]DON'T MISS IT[/i] Excellent piece by Reb http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/weekend-gab-fest-27/

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26/03/2010Folks If you have the time and inclination to read one of the best appraisals of the insulation saga, go to [i]A mess? A shambles? A disaster?[/i] by Rodney Tiffen, Emeritus Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, writing in [i]Inside Story[/i] http://inside.org.au/a-mess-a-shambles-a-disaster/. The subhead gives a taste of what’s to come: [i]” Most coverage of the home insulation controversy ignored history and avoided simple mathematics.”[/i]

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26/03/2010Colen Touché. Ostermann Yes, I guess a pre-election blog would need to offer an open thread. Your [i]Lateline[/i] link about the dying days of the Howard Government is a gem. I was taken by Peter van Onselen’s prognostications [i]“... the argument from moderates will be that it's been the conservatism of the Howard years that has ultimately contributed to its downfall. So, the party will really start to fight over the heart and soul of what it really believes in.”[/i] What would Peter now say about Abbott’s lurch to an even more conservative stance? lyn1 Great link to Gutter Trash’ fine satire.

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for the link to Rodney Tiffen, Emeritus Professor of Government and International Relations. This undoubtably the best piece I have read on the Home Insulation Scheme, see what the media have done. [quote]As interesting as the urgent emergence of these problems under Labor was their previous neglect. Insulation-related fires and electrocutions had been beneath the public radar for a long time, probably decades, and they only received news attention because of the political conflict surrounding the government’s scheme.[/quote]

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Ad Take a quick look at this it's only short. http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/172822/aussie-conservatives-urge-british-expats-to-defeat-brown [quote]Australia's centre-right Liberal party, led by Tony Abbott (pictured), is rallying its members to bring in expat votes for Britain's Conservatives at the coming election, calling for an end to Gordon Brown's "tired" government. The Liberals urged their members to encourage the more than 1.3 mln eligible British expats to vote for David Cameron's Conservative Party.[/quote]

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26/03/2010lyn1 In view of this foray into international politics, I wonder how much he is/was involved in the conservative onslaught on Barack Obama over his health reforms?

Ostermann

26/03/2010Ad and lyn1 This is what the Guardian thinks about Mr Abbott http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/11/the-abbott-portent-australia

Bushfire Bill

26/03/2010Re. Libs spruiking Conservative voting in the UK, I received this by email the day before yesterday from "Liberal HQ": [b]To: "BUSHFIRE BILL" <bushfirebill@careofconroyssheep.com.au> Subject: Are you eligible to vote in Britain? You're receiving this email because you registered your email with a Liberal Member of Parliament and indicated your interest in hearing from us. If you're no longer interested click here to unsubscribe instantly. View on your browser. Time is running out for UK expats to register to vote There are over 1.3 million British citizens living in Australia who are eligible to vote in the upcoming General Election - do you know any of them? Please pass this message on to any British citizen you know living overseas who is eligable to vote. Expats can help bring about the change the UK needs so badly. Any British citizen who was on an electoral register in the UK less than 15 years ago can register to vote in the General Election. The choice at this election: 5 more years of Gordon Brown s tired government making things worse, or David Cameron and the Conservative Party, with the energy, leadership and values to get Britain moving. For further information Visit: www.dontleaveyourvoteathome.com Call: 0044 (0)20 7984 8018 Email: michael.rutt@conservatives.com [/b]

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Ad [quote]Why vote for Cameron? Just look to Australia's AbbottThe Liberal leader offers a foretaste of a much nastier leader for Britain's centrist Tories[/quote] Ostermann thankyou for the link to the Guardian UK. Would you tell me your thoughts on the article. Ad what are what is your take in short simple words.

Ostermann

26/03/2010Hi All Well well what a week!, starting as what was aptly described as the "Rumble in the Jungle" or "Rope a Dope" comparing the debate between Rudd and Abbott and the Foreman - Ali fight in the 70's, the press crying into their keyboards trying to convince themselves they had backed the right horse that turned out to be a nag!!!, followed by liberals crying unfair Rudd was a bully, I didn't have a policy how could he [Rudd] do this to me, the worm was a communist plot, Minchin calling it quits, Barnaby not being dumped "Just moved" Eric Abetz distancing himself from Malcolm Turnbull "it was all his fault miss", Tanner [Labor] distancing himself [themselves] from the greens, thats confidence!!, Turnbull wanting back into the fold "I promise to be good miss", and finally Andrew Robb back on the front bench, oh and the best line so far, Labor are in turmoil and running scared, then the polls swing toward labor again this week. WOW! interesting times ahead folks.

Ad astra reply

26/03/2010Ostermann, lyn1 I foud Julian Glovers' [i]Guardian[/i] article hard to follow, but he seemed to be saying that voting for the Tories' Cameron was safer that voting for the Coalition's Abbott. It has been quite a week, and the election is still months away. Can we stand the pace? BB I read about Abbott's push to support the Tories; you present the documentary evidence.

Ostermann

26/03/2010lyn1 To me it reads like warning, Julian Glover seems to putting out that Cameron could end up like Turnbull and the UK ends up with an Abbott front for the far right

Ostermann

26/03/2010Ad It is a very hard article to follow I have had to read this several times since I first saw it, but my conclusion is that, it is a warning.

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Ad Thankyou for your reply, I too found Julian Glovers' piece hard , that's why I asked for your opinion in a few words and Ostermann's. I agree with you Ad, that's what I thought, but the main thing that came to my mind was, here is the Liberal Party with a Punch drunk leader who claims today (John Howard was the man of steel why can't I be Ironman) with no policies, putting money, time, effort, energy, into international politics, with our own election looming.

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Ostermann My last comment has crossed while I was typing. Excellent take Ostermann [b]a warning [/b]thankyou. Ad excellent also.

Ostermann

26/03/2010Hi all BB Nice email you have there, Please allow me my conspiracy theories What was Tony doing having a spot of breakky with Rupert? Long live the Murdochracy, we have to fight against those smelly socialists and sooky centrists, International politics, be buggered.

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Ad VERY INTERESTING DO YOU THINK LAURIE OAKES IS READING THE POLITICAL SWORD [b]LAURIE OAKES[/b] [quote]WINGNUTS - people on the lunatic fringe of politics - are winning in America. A new poll just about puts it beyond doubt.[/quote] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/editorials/beware-danger-of-us-disease/story-e6frfhqo-1225846161810

Ostermann

26/03/2010lyn1 Just finished reading "What Happened" written by Scott McClellan G.W.Bush's second press secretary, a very interseting read about the American Political culture and the press, there is an increasingly large percentage of Americans who watch Fox http://people-press.org/report/215/news-audiences-increasingly-politicized brought to us by none other than ??? http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/dear_rupert_can_we_have_our_own_fox_news/

lyn1

26/03/2010Hi Ostermann Thankyou for the links, [quote]brought to us by none other than[/quote], [quote]Rupert, can we have our own Fox News[/quote]? what's his favourite word astonishing.

Ad astra reply

26/03/2010Ostermann, lyn1 An interesting exchange of views on the Glover article. Laurie Oakes' article is a timely reminder of what havoc extreme and intolerant views can wreak in political circles. He should reflect on the possible effect of the extreme views the Coalition is expressing about the Rudd Government’s efforts to govern this country.

HillbillySkeleton

27/03/2010lyn1, That was an amazing article by Laurie Oakes. And in the Herald Sun too! Thank you for digging it up for us. If only the 'Sphere of Influence' could have a word to Fran Kelly about getting carried away with the propaganda put about by the Right these days, who increasingly appear to be hiding their extremist ideology behind effective button-pushing and inducement of mass psychosis in the electorate. Their buzz words, memes and mantras make me despair that we will lose the ability to calmly reflect on the issues, and instead become 'the Worm', reacting reflexively to externally-applied stimuli unthinkingly.

HillbillySkeleton

27/03/2010Tony Abbott can't be the 'Ironman' of Australian politics. His brain is too much of a 'Rustbucket'. :)

HillbillySkeleton

27/03/2010News Ltd. are determined to give their boy, Abbott, a leg-up. They've co-opted the big guns this weekend to recast the narrative: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/abbott-march-checked-by-a-dose-of-realism/story-e6frg6zo-1225846160109

Ad astra reply

27/03/2010Grog I've almost finished a piece [i]Why do journalists ask silly questions?[/i] which analyses the questions asked in the health debate. I've drawn on your piece [i]The Health Debate – Kevin grins, Tony grits, Journalists talk.[/i] for the questions and have acknowledged their source. Thank you for providing them so quickly after the debate and for your entertaining commentary.

HillbillySkeleton

27/03/2010Mike Carlton is obviously relishing the extra time he has now to think clearly: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/is-that-a-pretty-pollie-hiding-behind-the-budgie-smugglers-20100326-r2z8.html You've got to love the last line, quoted from the Letters to the smh: 'Tony Abbott is all Smuggler, and no Budgie".

HillbillySkeleton

27/03/2010In the same vein as the Howell Raines article, this one by Joshua Holland, combined with our knowledge of Abbott's covert enagement with the Conservative Party in Britain, as exposed in the Glover article, will add substance to our knowledge of the world-wide Conservative movement's push-back to power, and how they have used certian phraseology to act as a blind and counter to good policy from the Progressives. Also, bascially what hypocrites they are: http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/03/26/tea-partiers-hate-socialism-except-when-they-love-it/ Just insert 'Coalitioners', for 'Tea Partiers'.

Ostermann

27/03/2010HBS I love the idea of Abbott as a gay icon, somehow I don't think that was the audience he was trying to attract, after all he needed to fix his image amoungst women voters, opps!! got that one wrong.

lyn1

27/03/2010[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/03/26/media-briefs-how-ny-times-defamed-a-nation-ipads-at-the-ready-censorship-malaysian-style/ [quote]Not that you’d know Abbott’s had a bad week, if the roomful of typing monkeys at The Australian are anything to go by. [/quote] http://larvatusprodeo.net/2010/03/27/great-news-for-john-mccain-australian-edition/ http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/03/26/morgan-polls-and-turning-points/ http://www.ogilvypr.com.au/2010/03/tony-abbott-mistaking-crowd-audience/ http://horshamdirect.com/blog/?p=118 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7527366/Australian-conservatives-urge-British-expats-to-vote-Cameron.html http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/bull-at-the-gate-trips-up/story-e6frg6zo-1225846161647 http://politicalowl.blogspot.com/ http://triathlete-europe.competitor.com/2010/03/26/preview-neyedli-win-ironman-australia/

HillbillySkeleton

27/03/2010Ostermann, I also found this article interesting as an insight into the Conservative's tactic of frustrating the passage of Progressive Party's policies in the Senate: http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/03/26/dems-who-passed-health-care-enjoy-bump-in-approval-ratings-gop-not-so-much/ Basically, and I think that Conservative Parties would instinctively know this, any progressive Party's approval numbers will automatically go up once the electorate experiences the policies in real-time, on the ground.

HillbillySkeleton

27/03/2010A very enlightening article about why the ETS (or 'Cap and Trade' as they refer to it in the US), died: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/science/earth/26climate.html

Ad astra reply

27/03/2010Ostermann, lyn1, HillbillySkeleton Thank you all for your comments and links. They are a mixed bunch. Paul Kelly would believe he's being balanced in his comments. I think he's probably having a bet on the field, although he'd be having a side bet on Kevin Rudd. Mike Carlton is his usual acerbic self. The article on [i]Crikey[/i] about Shanahan's semantics is delightful. I wonder what he thinks when he reads such comments. I guess he's so nailed his Coalition colours to the mast that he doesn't care anymore. We should not be discouraged by the anti-Rudd boostrapping that will fill News Limited outlets; it will continue unabated until the election. I’ll be posting [i] Why do journalists ask silly questions?[/i] later today.

Grog

27/03/2010No worries Ad A - I couldn't be bothered going through all of Rudd and Abbott's answers, so I thought it might be interesting to have a look at the questions (though it took me ages to type out each one - I'm not the best touch typist!). Look forward to your piece.

Ad astra reply

27/03/2010Grog Many thanks - I'll be posting my piece later today. I'll be interested to have your commenta.

Ad astra reply

27/03/2010Folks I've just posted [i]Why do journalists ask silly questions?[/i] which critically analyses the questions asked by the ten selected journalists at the National Press Club debate last Monday on health and hospitals reform. I hope you find it an informative read. As we seem to attract spam to every open thread, I'll now close this one.
How many oranges do I have if I have 3 oranges and take ONE away?