Six years on, and nothing’s changed.

The inimitable BK provided his much loved links today and one of them bears closer scrutiny…

“Jaqueline Maley with a long and reasonable article about the issues that will dominate this election year. Note how thin the Opposition’s stances are.

“Reasonable”? BK is too kind.

It looks like Maley’s spoken to Mark Textor pretty exclusively for her analysis (with Hawker-Britton looking on). It boils down to how things will “play”, from a institutionalized Liberal spruiker’s point of view, written up by the SMH’s “parliamentary sketch writer” as proper “journalism”.

On the Carbon Tax Maley posits that the punters will hold a grudge against Gillard for the “lie”, made in August 2010, even as they realize Abbott has been full of shit about the dire effects of the CT. As droughts and fires take hold over the next ten years, she assumes the punters will STILL vote against the government, even if it means their houses burn down and their water runs dry.

For someone who treats her own readers as if they have no memory, Maley now asserts they never forget anything.

“But that doesn’t mean voters have forgiven Gillard her carbon tax “lie”, and it doesn’t mean they are convinced of the value of the carbon pricing reform on its own merits.”

The same goes for the Surplus “promise”. Millions – amateurs and professionals – have been begging the government for relief from spending cutbacks. Swan, according to the experts with a vested interest in doomsaying, waited months longer than he needed to, just to make sure everyone was on board. He finally did what they were clamouring for him to do. And that’s dumb?

It’s so typical of a “parliamentary sketch writer” to obsess about broken promises, years old and now irrelevant, indeed welcomed in many quarters as sensibly and wisely broken. Yada-yada, I guess Jackie would say “It’s all about perception”.

No, it’s not. It’s a last fling Maley is having before she is forced to wake up and realize the public is concerned with outcomes, not the mindf**ks of political opinionistettes who see everything in terms of Journalists Club rules and regulations.

“Thou shalt not breaketh promises, for parliamentary sketch writers will … um …  houndeth thou for them, even if the public doesn’t… um … give a toss.”

How about this for a possibility? Labor convinces the punters that Carbon pricing is a good thing, is essentially un-repealable (without causing more chaos than it’s worth from something that’s now basically bedded down), that Global Warming is real – which it is, conveniently – and needs to be countered, and that ditching the obsession with Surpluses is not only a good thing as far as outcomes are concerned, but a good thing for the political process, breaking the chain of reflexive calls for a yearly credit balance no matter what. At least if she countenanced this possibility Maley would distinguish herself from the groupthink that passes for “political analysis” nowadays.

On IR, Maley believes (or is it Textor in her ear again?) that the public will welcome a return to Work Choices (in name or nature) because Craig Thomson is alleged to have used hookers nearly a decade ago and a Labor vice-President looks like he’s ripped off the same union.

She confuses the issue de jour of about a year ago, one of those that excited calls for Prime Ministerial resignations (along with Slipper, who I will come to later) and was classified as a government-busting scandal, with the more sanguine point of view that Thomson was only important because of the numbers in a hung parliament. Any attempt to make it bigger than that and to sustain this until, and throughout an election campaign is risky business, indeed.

The two – union power and petty union corruption – only seem to be connected, and that only in Journo World, a theme park where two flies crawling up a wall make it to the front page. If they crawl back down again, Peter Hartcher writes an obtuse leader and Michelle Grattan tells us either one could come out the winner (or maybe the cockroach will beat them both).

One – union power – protects all workers from the Americanization of our places of employment, which, given our stubbornly low jobless metrics and position as just about the world’s best economy, are things to worry about losing, and which are being worried about, even if the (paradoxically, heavily unionized) Journalists Club thinks it’s a trivial matter of what “she said” while “he said”.

The other, union corruption, can be fixed with a couple of court cases, fresh, clean union elections and stricter regulations. Then we can get onto millionaire Point Piper merchant bankers not being prosecuted for stealing the life savings of gullible self-financed retirees. Why one and not the other?

Punish the wicked, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s not get too carried away thinking that scandals only happen to the Labor side of politics. If Textor/Maley think Craig Thomson and AWU are going to bamboozle the people into loving work Choices, begging for its return, over an alleged (but importantly not yet adjudicated and vigorously denied) bit of t’other by Craig Thomson, they’re even further gone than I thought.

Even without getting Textor’s imprimatur, I could think of another scandal that may provide some light relief for the punters: an LNP plot to bring the government down by dropping Peter Slipper, the Constitution’s highest parliamentary officer, into a homosexual honey trap that everyone in Canberra to the left of the Chair seemed to know was coming, at the same time as having no “specific knowledge” of it. This was followed by the wall-punching, Mr. “Sell Your Virginity Dearly” Abbott getting up in parliament to ask Madame Speaker-Thing to allow him to have a motion passed condemning… misogyny. After that came The Speech, something an insouciant Maley assured us needed to be taken in context… hers, of course.

I wonder where the pugilistic Abbott learned to lead with his chin?

Ashby-Slipper has already survived an almost impossible legal test: a successful accusation of abuse of process, an often argued but so unlikely an outcome for a court case that it makes hens’ teeth seem about as rare as an IPA talking head on The Drum, i.e. not.

If the Libs – including Textor/Maley presumably – believe a Federal Court finding that the fix was well and truly in re. Slipper is going to just disappear – has already disappeared – while 20 year old allegations that Julia Gillard had an intra-office tiff with her partners and was encumbered by a boyfriend with dubious (although as yet, again, unadjudicated) connections is going to get a guernsey as Scandal Of The Century, they may have to find their thinking caps, place them on their bobble heads, and use Velcro to keep them on in the storm that’s about to come.

A common way to cut a policy off at the knees is for a journo at a presser to yell, “Where’s the money coming from?” If there’s no money, then they don’t have to examine policy or do any serious analysis. They just shake their heads and waffle on about how “The Polls” say the voters reckon the government isn’t as good as Joe Hockey – he of “Interest rates will always be {too low|too high|out of control}  under Labor” – at managing the economy.

So Textor/Maley today throw out the tired line:

“But there will be natural voter scepticism around funding for the reforms. The review recommends increased funding of $5 billion a year (based on 2009 figures, which amounts to $6.5 billion in today’s terms) and no agreement has been reached with the states.

Textor says the Gonski review might be a talking point among Canberra’s press gallery, but it adds up to just that – talk.

“It’s seen by many as a bunch of recommendations and things they say they’re going to do . . . Have any changes resulted?” Meanwhile, he says, the Coalition can campaign on its “practical approach” to education and “proven ability to negotiate with the states”.

Note how Maley quietly divorces herself from “Canberra’s press gallery”, using Textor’s words? They’re the journos over there, those other ones, the ones who reckon Education is important, not the ones who know the Coalition has a “proven ability to negotiate with the states.” Presumably Textor/Maley are referring to John Howard’s stunning achievements with … um … let’s see… the Murray-Darling, for example? That was a brilliant success, eh? Unlike the miserable Gillard failures of actually passing the MDB legislation through the parliament, shaming the states into agreeing to co-fund the NDIS and her egregious lack of accomplishment at getting NAPLAN testing up and running. What a miserable record of “negotiating with the states” Labor truly has!

I could go on, but I have to go out into the garden and complete the breaking of my lower back shovelling compost for Her Indoors, so that it’s nice when she comes back from a zesty swim at the pool.

Suffice it to say this: before the 2007 election Jason Koutsoukis wrote weekly articles in the Sunday Age telling his readers in great detail how the Coalition had Rudd just where they wanted him: on a slab, prepped for vivisection without the anesthetic. They also had a dirt file on Gillard that proved beyond doubt she was guilty… of something. Never mind, the smear would do.

In 2007 it was scandals and meta-politics that were going to win the day for the Howard government. The Coalition’s default position was that their policies didn’t need to be considered because, well, everyone knew what they were. Jason eventually broke out of the thrall he had been in – for all I know a spell woven by the same Mr. Textor that has today been at Jacqueline Maley – and wrote the truth: the Coalition were on a hiding to nothing, and they relied too much on smear and innuendo.

Today, in 2013, little has changed.

They continue to run on sensational headlines that come to nothing. they continue to cling to the belief that John Howard – who not only lost office, but got chucked out of his seat as a bonus – is on the comeback trail. Not the man himself, but his successors – Abbott, Hockey, Robb, The Puff Adder, Mesma, The Poodle, that bloke from Queensland who’s never asked a question, the stylish Truss, the Human Caricature, Barnarby Joyce, and of course the glamourous Lady Bronwyn Bishop – will stage the revival.

The question that seriously needs to be asked about the next election is: “Are they serious?”

Continuous polling snapshots show the Coalition still in the lead, yet the gap is narrowing. To any reasonably sentient observer that would mean the government is gaining. Yet the Gallery continues to frame its blather around a conservative lead in the polls that is dwindling, the smug spruikings of hired guns like Textor, and an Opposition leader who is about as popular as a fart in a knife drawer, and who has never, ever been popular.

They are up against a party and their leader who have accomplished so much, given the incessant harping, whingeing and moaning from the media and political opponents alike, plus the millstone of a hung parliament strung around their necks.

The media see no future for themselves as they sit in their empty offices, working double shifts to meet the 24 Hour News Cycle. So why not bring everyone down to their level?

The Opposition, stenographed through the media, mindlessly trash-talk the economy into near-recession, then seek to blame the government, without producing alternative policies, except gimmicks like subsidized nannies and more highway bypasses.

A lot can happen in 8 months and it doesn’t necessarily have to be all in the Coalition’s favour, no matter how hard the media push that barrow. Abbott leaves us with a picture of… sameness. Same faces, same policies, same tactics, same telecommunications infrastructure, same negativity. They, and their supporters, have made the fundamental mistake that the Republicans made in the recent US elections: they believe their own publicity.

Also believing the publicity is Jacqueline Maley, who would be better off finding a new career as a waitress, rather than in her chosen, but dumbed-down profession. After all, they say Hospitality is the new boom industry.



463 thoughts on “Six years on, and nothing’s changed.

  1. From the UK, which has just experienced a second record heavy rainfall year…. So many countries experiencing climate records of one sort or another. Coincidence?

    I went to my local food swap today with French beans, shallots, chives etc, came back with a baboca, plums, rhubarb and lettuce seedlings etc. Up yours Colesworth.

  2. Jacqueline Maley, I have noticed, very wisely, does not link to her own work on Twitter. The feedback, would not be something she would care to ponder in between her tweets of Oprah love.

    Great piece, BB. I think she sees her role as holding the fort, against the barbarians, while Peter Hartcher is away. Kind of sad, really.

  3. This tweet from Emmo is a classic.

    Craig Emerson MP ‏@CraigEmersonMP
    .@JustJen64 It’s hard to believe, but LIB supporters have spent a day on twitter backing Abbott view that 1 tonne of CO2 is weightless.

  4. Thanks BB, I was waiting for your retort to that article. Maley lost me with “The government will probably play it (carbon pricing) as a non-issue”.

    She may be right, but I would have thought the issue now has a long list of positives for the government since the legislation has been introduced so smoothly, with very little hitches, and has already made a mockery of the Liberal hysteria and downright lies.

    The government can talk about all the goodies, such as raising the tax free threshold that the carbon permits allowed them to fund. They can contrast their own acceptance of climate science with Lib intransience. They can state that most economists see the market as the most efficient way to move to renewable energy, and point out that renewable energy is now more price competitive.

    Looking to the future they can remind people that in a few years the permit system will convert to an ETS, which was ALP policy at the 2010 election, and will allow Australia to plug into global efforts to reduce emissions. (BTW, the original ETS policy had a one year fixed price, the current system has a 3 year fixed price… hardly enough difference to call a lie).

    Meanwhile, they can go harder on Coalition promises. How will the Coalition be able to maintain the tax reforms when they lose the funds from carbon permits? And how with they fund their own Hodge-podge of emission reduction pipe dreams?

    So given all that, will Australian’s really want the hassle of reversing such good policy? Will they really think that Abbott’s pledge to make removing carbon pricing his first order priority, including calling a DD if need be… as something attractive to vote for?

    I seriously fail to see how it can possibly remain a winner for Abbott.

  5. Rossmore,
    The Tory parties, worldwide, are becoming crazier as time goes by because they have to. If they don’t keep on the Clown suits and honking their horns and squirting people in their faces with their flowers, people soon become bored. Especially in this day and age of the internet. It’s either that, or get some sensible policies to interest people. And we know that ain’t happening. Anyway, it’s the sort of subterfuge they have had to perfect in order to get past people’s guard against the sort of draconian policies they institute once they have gotten their sleazy hands back on the levers of power again.

    I mean, what is the humane justification for those Tory UK, or Republican Party, policies anyway?

    It’s just vile, vindictive, demeaning stuff. They could save as much money in the Budget if they closed tax loopholes and eliminated subsidies for business. But you don’t see that, do you?

  6. C@tmomma:

    – “How long do you think these shysters in the Canberra Press Gallery, with their now well-worn schtick, obvious even to Blind Freddy, can keep it up?

    We know how they do it. We know why they do it. We know it when they have done it. They have been pinged so many times now for it you would think they would be a little shame-faced about it and want to strike out on a new path, like say telling the truth of the matter, in order to actually maintain an interest in their work from the readership.

    I mean, is this stuff actually popular with those who click on to the Fairfax websites? Are there people still so gullible, in this age of the World Wide Web, that they don’t yet have the likes of Ms Maley, and her ilk, sussed?”

    The trouble Fairfax has got is that theirs is the market that’s going to get squeezed. The Murdoch press might be able to hang on to the segment of society that are resistant to change – after all, conservatism is the brand they’re selling. But Fairfax set themselves up for years as an alternative to that, something a little more progressive, a little more left. Their audience is more likely to broaden their news horizons, and more likely to supplement their news feed with opinions from blogs etc. There really is no ‘sole’ source of news./opinion for anyone who takes more than a cursory interest in it.

    I don’t know what they’re trying to achieve at the moment. I can’t see them presenting anything that’s attractive to the average news consumer. It’s got the faint whiff of processed meat about it. At least Murdoch publications are drowning their processed meat with sauce and cheese and sugary bun to make it palatable. Plus they’ve got the advantage that it’s all their audience have ever known. Fairfax readers are used to their meat tasting like meat, and they’re not going to eat that crap for much longer.

  7. Interesting comment on the Australian media cocoon that we are wrapped in by Andrew Elder:

    The cocoon thing is a real dilemma. The Oz are in the fortunate position where they will be backed by a mogul no matter what, until he dies.

    The Australian media need to make out that the contest will be close. This is why they are not going hard over Ashby, because to cut down Abbott will probably mean a resurgent government and a predictable election.

  8. Re the Guttenberg site. the books for download are not taking royalties away from authors because all the books on the site are out of copywrite.

    I signed up some years back as a proofreader, the books are scanned and then go through stages of proofreading by volunteers.

  9. C@tmomma, that Elder quote doesn ‘t make a lot of sense to me. If the media need to make out the contest will be close, where the hell were they when the polls got out to 58-42? They had no interest in a close election then – in fact they were more interested in ‘election now’.

    I reckon the reasons behind the Ashby silence are a lot shadier than that.

  10. Aguirre,
    Maybe, when the results were 58-42 they were having a bet on an early election being a distinct possibility. I mean, Abbott’s ‘the ground is going to collapse beneath your feet’ schtick was working quite well for him at that time, and the Coalition had their strategy mapped out to lead to that eventuality. They panicked the horses in the electorate well enough.They just thought they could pressure Julia Gillard into folding and didn’t realise she was a better high stakes Poker player than all of them combined.

    Although I do subscribe to your thesis that there is more to the Ashby silence than meets the eye.

  11. Channel 7 6pm news had a very positive segment on the benefits to many people arising from the tax-free threshold being increased from $6000 to $18200. Everyone was as happy as Larry but I think it would be a real winner for the Government if they can reinforce that this reform flows from carbon pricing.

    The corollary of this is they also need to hammer the fact that the LNP has admitted on a number of occasions (hopefully video of Hockey available) that they will reduce the threshold back down (and reduce pensions) if they roll back carbon pricing.

  12. CO,
    There should be plenty of footage of Hockey saying,wtte: “Why do you need compensation, if you don’t have a Carbon Tax?” Pointing out what that means will be Labor’s job in an election campaign.

  13. RE: The Tax Free Threshold, wasn’t that increased to 18 K on July 1st ?

    It was.

    The coalition is promising to wind it back to circa $5K. Good luck with that.

  14. Well, just saw Perks of Being a Wallflower. A very fine coming of age movie, based on the Stephen Chbosky novel, set in early 1990s Pittsburgh. A quite excellent soundtrack. C@tmomma, you’d love it.

  15. Another excellent piece Bushfire Bill.
    You briefly touched on the main reason I truly believe that when the voters are in the polling booth, pencil in hand the majority will not be able to bring themselves to vote for the coalition.
    That reason is the shocking cast of deadshits occupying the coalition frontbench.
    It would be hilarious but for the potential consequences of electing this talentless mob.
    The comparison is so stark, I really think the govt need to go much harder in pointing this out.
    For eg the fact that Bronwyn Bishop is shadow minister for seniors, everytime she opens her mouth or leaps up with another ridiculously spurious point of order a simple cry of “kerosene baths” should be enough to not only put her in her place but remind people of the ghastly, repugnant and washed up characters inhabiting the coalition frontbench.

  16. i should mention that most of the crap the Coalition has come up with dates from back when they were expecting to have massive majorities in both houses, and could just lord it over us. They’ve got absolutely no chance of getting away with any of their ‘austerity measures’ with a smallish majority. There’s little to no chance of them getting a majority in the Senate as well.

    I’d say they’ve quietly given up on winding anything back. The only reason they still talk about any of it is to keep their ‘Gillard lied’ story afloat. You can see from the Maley article that it’s still a central plank of their campaign preparations. In fact, to judge from what’s in the article, it looks like they’re going with:

    1. Remember when we were able to say we were great economic managers without provoking guffaws? Yeah, well we’re still that.

    2. We hope you like the way we trampled all over AS policy. There’s more where that came from.

    3. I’m telling you, the Carbon Tax is bad. Get it through your thick heads, you idiots.

    4. We’re going to cut everything back including the revenue raising stuff and the infrastructure. And we have nothing to replace it with. Honest, we really are. And we’re doing it because, well… Julia lied in 2010, ok? Isn’t that enough?

    5. We like low taxes. Well, we like talking about low taxes. We’re not sure how all that money stuff works, I’m not an economic-head.

    6. Look, sure, the ALP say they’re going to do policy things. And yes, ok, most of the time they actually do them. But the point is that… we are gooder at it, and we’re good at negotiating at the states. With the states. Whatever.

    7. I have an electricity bill from Mabel Glump in Perth…

    That’s a good, solid 7-point plan there.

  17. A rant from the UK on the tories policies re people with a disability by Tony Parsons, who if memory serves me correctly is an ex muso journo. Don’t agree with all his points, but stirring rhetoric anyways, hard to dispute.

  18. You know the Noalition is getting the wind up when Peta has to go public for her puppet.

  19. So Abbott’s women issues are biting, forcing his CoS to make an appearance in the msm to vouch for him?

    Loving it. They are worried big time.

  20. So Peta was happy with this response:
    “Credlin says she told Abbott before working for him in 2010: “I will just never agree with you on abortion. I think you are opposed to it … and you would ban it if you could.”

    Tony Abbott talks has been supportive of chief of staff Peta Credlin as she went through IVF treatments. Picture: Ray Strange

    But she said Mr Abbott replied: “Well that’s just bulls–. I believe it should be safe, legal and rare.”

    Numerous thoughts come to mind. Naive, first among them.

  21. Haven’t they tried to polish this turd once before? Something to do with Margie and a few puff pieces? And then he trotted off to Parliament to strut in his new feminist pants, and Gillard dacked him if i remember rightly.

    Good luck to him. If they really think that’s the way to go, they’re welcome to it. You can just toss it onto the pile of their shamless lies when they’re done with it.

  22. Tony Abbott on Abortion: ” I believe it should be safe, legal and rare.”

    And the scary word is rare

    What does that mean? No abortions if you are pregnant as a result of rape or incest?
    No abortions if YOU want one?
    No abortions if the mother’s health is at risk? Only if the foetus’ health is at risk?

    I don’t know, everything Tony Abbott says is so bleedin’ deliberately ambiguous!

  23. Key line from the Credlin article? This:

    “Intensely private, she has never given an on-the-record interview – until recently.”

    Tells you all you need to know about how the Liberals think they’re travelling.

    Aside from that, it’s a PR release.

  24. c@tmomma – its a US choice of words, I’ve heard it a few times. Bill Clinton used it.
    The ‘Safe, Legal, Rare’ Illusion
    Published: February 18, 2012

    AMID the sound and fury of the latest culture-war battles — first over breast cancer dollars and Planned Parenthood, and then over the White House’s attempt to require that religious employers cover contraception and potential abortifacients — it’s easy to forget that there is at least some common ground in American politics on sex, pregnancy, marriage and abortion.

    Even the most pro-choice politicians, for instance, usually emphasize that they want to reduce the need for abortion, and make the practice rare as well as safe and legal. Even the fiercest conservative critics of the White House’s contraception mandate — yes, Rick Santorum included — agree that artificial birth control should be legal and available. And both Democrats and Republicans generally agree that the country would be better off with fewer pregnant teenagers, fewer unwanted children, fewer absent fathers, fewer out-of-wedlock births.

    Safe and legal. And rare.
    By Caperton on 10.2.2012
    Since abortion first had a substantive presence on the Democratic Party platform in 1992, the standard line has followed Bill Clinton’s classic “safe, legal, and rare,” sometimes in so many words. The 2008 Democratic Party platform dropped “rare,” and it’s stayed gone in 2012.

  25. “Aside from that, it’s a PR release.”

    I’m assuming, what with the Herald Sun and now the Sunday Telegraph, this is another Murdoch newspaper blanket coverage?

    The last one worked so well…

  26. Leroy Lynch,
    I’m with the Democratic Party 2012 on abortion. ‘Safe and legal’ is sufficient as far as parameters go. Anyway, ‘rare’ by definition, in the hands of Tony Abbott can be a whole different ballgame to a Democrat.

  27. BB – it will be in all the tabloids, as Samantha’s Sunday articles usually are. I doubt it will be front page anywhere, but we’ll see.

  28. Yep News wanna soften Tone’s image. Fraid not Rupert. The horse has bolted on this issue. Abbot has No substance, no credibibility on this issue. The harder he and Credlin try the worse it gets.

  29. Of course Tony Abbott is opposed to abortion, and contraception, and RU486, and sex outside of marriage. Who cares what Pets Credlin says, she’s just making stuff up. Abbott is a very traditional Catholic male, so traditional he’s still back in the 12th century as far as women are concerned. Let’s look at his own life to see some examples of his beliefs in action.

    There was his stance against RU486, so backward and religiously biased that the whole parliament revolted against him to get it approved.

    Abbott believes women should not have sex until they are married – remember that virginity thing he said about his daughters?

    As a devout, mediaeval-style Catholic he is also against contraception unless it’s Vatican roulette and he well knows what happens with that method. It’s how his former girlfriend became pregnant. Just not to him.

    We also know he’s against abortion because it was out of the question when he learnt about that pregnancy.

    The one thing he’s not against is forcing young women to give up their babies for adoption. He was more than willing to hand over the baby he thought was his. No single parent benefit for her.

    And he’s selfish as all get out as well – he dumped his pregnant girlfriend because standing by her would have meant marriage. That would have ended his hopes for the priesthood and for a single men only Rhodes scholarship. So young Tony put his own desires ahead of the needs of someone he had been romancing for years. He has never changed, it’s still all about what Tony wants.

  30. Abbott needs to be asked: define a ‘rare’ abortion. In what specific circumstances. But he won’t be by this craven, weak MSM.

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