The Rehabillitation

Michael Gordon wrote this morning:

It is a measure of the immense level of faith and hope that is still invested in Turnbull that, each time, there has been a tendency to rationalise the setbacks as part of some cunning plan that will deliver later on

Clear thinkers will notice Mr Gordon taking one step away from “The Media”…  i.e. “that Media, over there”. They may not think we’ve noticed it, but the first stage of the self-rehabilitation of media commentators is to refer – obliquely or directly – to the media, as if they are not part of it.

Hartcher does this all the time. And now many more are doing so in regards to Bill Shorten, the latest being Gordon.


We all mocked Lenore Taylor (of all people!) saying that the State Income Tax brainfart was so stupid that it MUST have been part of some overarching strategy that Turnbull had in his genius head, which we mere mortals could only begin to guess at. So Lenore guessed, and The Insiders all nodded sagely. It was a brilliantly oblique move to make fools of the Premiers, while making a fool of himself. Something Malcolm must have been been workshopping, honing and mulling over for months.

Except he forgot to tell ScoMo, and the Treasury mob, who presumably were about to be asked to tear up Budget 2016, Draft No. 7 to make it seem like a plan. And all less than a month before B-Day (early B-Day, that is).

Funny wasn’t it? This was the exact spruik that came out first thing next day, this time from the mouths of Liberal MPs at doorstops, as justification for the waste of an entire COAG premiers’ meeting. It was their Talking Point for the day (and that’s about as long as it lasted, such was its brilliance). Oh well, onto the next investment opportunity.

Either Lenore and The Insiders inspired them, or it was the other way round. Whatever, it shows that incest is not yet a dead art when it comes to political commentary.

It was Lenore, reportedly a “good journalist”, still keeping the faith that Turnbull is a tactical and political savant: the person best suited (in view of ScoMo’s comments on Shortens actual suits, literally “best suited”) to govern Australia.

But Lenore is a fading breed. Even Elizabeth Faralley of the SMH – she of “Prime Minister For Life: Malcolm Turnbull” fame – is backing off.

It’s a process of gradual and complete reversal of opinion, that the Press Gallery bozos think the mob won’t notice. Well, I and many others here, noticed straightaway, right from the start.

There was also another column this morning by some SMH numpty called Tom Allard: No more zingers: Shorten finds his voice at last. It was one of the most repulsively condescending pieces I’ve ever read on Bill Shorten, or any other politician.

It lasciviously covered all “the usual suspects” – Shorten’s low personal rating, the almost impossibility of him ever winning a chook raffle, much less an election, the “Albanese Challenge”, “anonymous party sources” talking-down Shorten’s ability to do anything at all, regulation references to Shaun Micallef’s”brilliant” comedy routines lampooning Shorten’s zingers etc. etc – and ascribed his apparent revival path in the minds of the ordinary punters down to conjurer’s tricks: a voice coach (who just happens to be a maddy who sings in funny voices), and slick political salesmen (read “tricksters”) in the background who are pulling the real strings… plus, of course, Turnbull’s inexplicable gaffathon of the past two months.

See? It’s nothing that Bill Shorten did himself: it’s other people… voice coaches, spivs and spin doctors, and the Enlightened One From Point Piper not quite being on top of his game lately.

No credit was given for the very sensible policy of letting your enemy shadow box with himself and slash his own political wrists, rather than deflect attention by the Abbott-like “Lookatmoi! Lookatmoi!” tactic. No reference was made to history, i.e. that Turnbull is known far and wide as a know-all brainfarter from way back who has never successfully led any kind of political movement in his life (as opposed to Shorten, who’s made every post in his career a winner), and that some of the voting class just might be aware, or might become aware of this.

No reference was made to the fact that you can’t just change leaders and dance anymore in the Labor Party, an idea with which the “anonymous party sources” let on to Allard they might be dallying. Gee, it was a close thing! But they let little Billy survive. What good chaps! Maybe later?

In truth, a leadership challenge now would mean a cynical and completely disruptive change of party rules solemnly entered into to even get to a caucus challenge: a challenge that would incidentally play right into the hands of the Tories, and de-legitimize any new leader who benefited from it, immediately, for any number of reasons (not the least of which would be the plonkingly mocking articles that Tom Allard would no doubt write about a “resurgently dysfunctional Labor”). But the journos persist that such a consuming apocalypse might happen. Oh, for the old days of “bring it on” leadership stoushes at 3pm, after a Crean interview at 10am.

They want to write those articles, make no mistake, but at the moment the meal is all potato and no meat. Bill Shorten is annoyingly not conforming to the “Human Dad Joke With The Squeaky Voice” meme. They thought they got rid of him at TURC time, but he just keeps bouncing back. All those “questions that need to be answered”… got answered, and thrown in their collective maws. How “quaint” – as Aguirre puts it.

So, there’s still a way to go in getting a majority of the Press Gallery into line, thinking positively about a Labor victory, something worth considering for more than its novelty value. Far be it from journalists like Allard – who has most likely never led anything more than a soccer team (if that) – to stop criticising Bill Shorten, who has  led one of Australia’s most rambunctious unions, organizing it into an effective and efficient fighting force as a result, and who now has gotten a defeated, decimated and demoralized Opposition ahead in the feted Newspoll horse race against the member for the Cayman Islands, while the Gallery was too busy writing hagiographies to the PM’s magnificence.

The reality is that Shorten is refusing to play the media’s game, they way they want him to play it. He actually defends himself. The horror! He actually refuses to stand down when some trumped up minor Age hack demands he does so. He persists when a has-been, harumphing old judge descends to threatening him in public for being too truthful in his evidence (as he also threatened Julia Gillard). Shorten keeps on fighting and trying, and now it seems, is starting to show measurable success that confounds, confuses and contradicts the established Media “line”. He comes up with the policy they’re all demanding he comes up with – even if they mostly call this “running a scare campaign” at this early stage in the Rehabilitation of Bill.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. As long as they get it right in the end, I for one will take that as a win, even if it is grudging, slow, a bit heckly and somewhat half-hearted. Because, for any Gallery reporter or political commentator to admit he or she was wrong – so often wrong in so many ways – is still something to be talked about, something worth noting, right here.

After all, it’s difficult not to note something that’s up and chewing your arse so hard.

555 thoughts on “The Rehabillitation

  1. Labor will not let Australia become the only advanced economy in the world to allow its steel industry to die with the announcement today of a six point plan to secure metals manufacturing industries including steel-making in Australia.

    A Shorten Labor government would:

    ensure Australian standards are upheld in federal government-funded projects and support local producers meet certification standards;

    seek to maximise the use of locally-produced steel in federal government funded projects and put in place regular reporting of usage levels;

    halve the thresholds for projects required to have an Australian industry participation (AIP) plans;

    double the funding for the Australian industry participation authority and appoint an AIP board;

    ensure Australia’s anti-dumping system has the right powers and penalties in place; and

    create a national steel supplier advocate.

  2. Andrews has a go at Can’t Do Waffles

    Victoria will go it alone on the $5.5 billion Western Distributor project, with no funding from the Turnbull government.

    Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed this month’s state budget will set aside $1.46 billion over four years to complete the project, which will connect the West Gate freeway to Citylink.

    “Although it is unheard of for the commonwealth government not to invest in a project of such national significance, the Labor Government is providing certainty to the community by allocating the $1.46 billion required over the forward estimates,” Mr Andrews said.

  3. Snot on AM

    What Julia Gillard did is she promised money that wasn’t there and what we’ve done is we’ve gone through this methodically and we’ve determined what the taxpayer can afford and what we’ve been able to do through our own savings and strong fiscal consolidation work.

    Apparently, needs don’t come into budget planning.

  4. A very exciting time to be a Sherrin

    Shanghai: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared AFL Australia’s “most exciting football code” as he kicked of his visit to China to announce a home-and-and-away game will be played in China next year.

    Oh well, when you have a very limited vocabulary …

    • And just in case you don’t geddit

      “It’s a very exciting day for a very exciting game in the most exciting place in the world,” he said.

    • He can get stuffed. i already follow the most exciting football code, played in some of the most exciting places, on some of the most exciting days in the world.

      Has the man never heard of the World Cup, The Women’s World Cup, the Beach football World Cup, the Para world cup, the Indoor Soccer World Cup, the Street Football championships, the homeless people’s football leagues etc?

      The AFL is starting from a long, long way back. About two centuries I believe.

    • That is brilliant.

      Interstate people might not know, but Baird is determined to build a whopping huge stadium in Moore Park. Sydney does not need this monstrosity, but Baird wants it. He wants league games played there, and smaller local grounds flogged off to developers. No-one is going to drive all the way into the city to watch their favourite team play, it’s just too much trouble, and too expensive. The stadium is a white elephant already. But that’s the NSW government for you, corrupt to the core.

  5. I would like to hear Joe6pack’s opinion of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal’s proposed minimum pay scales for truck drivers.

    This issue is very confusing.

    As far as I can tell, the case against it is summed up this way:

    Owner-operator drivers say the new rates threaten their livelihood because they don’t apply to big transport companies that employ their own drivers.

    So it seems that the issue turns on the difference between the pay and conditions of drivers on award rates employed by big national companies, compared to those of owner-drivers and contractors.

    From my limited understanding, most truck drivers in Australia are covered by the Road Safety Remuneration System (RSRS), either as an employee driver or a contractor driver: info here

    Driver awards and payments are summarised here:

    The proposed new regime for contractors is set out by the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and
    Contractor pay rates are laid out in Appendices A and B here

    These tables are really opaque to non-specialists. Joe6pack would understand them.

    These figures never appear in articles in the main strteam press, and I doubt even the truckies are across them.

    Neverthelessl, the independent truckies may have a point. I’m open minded on this issue.

    It seems to me that the payscales enjoyed by truckies working for the big companies, which are mandatde by awards as listed in the link above, should align with the new rates as proposed by the RSRT.

    As I said, all very confusing.


  6. Barnaby Joyce and that legal stoush with Tony Windsor –

    At the time he [Barnaby] also cast doubt on the sincerity of Mr Windsor’s opposition to the project, saying: “I always find it surprising that someone who is a multimillionaire, because he sold his property to a coalmine, is now the champion talking about stopping a coalmine.”

    Tony Windsor, a few weeks ago, setting the record straight –
    ‘I have never owned or sold a coalmine to anyone’

  7. The best headline I ever saw was in a sports story from the old Sydney Sun newspaper.

    A player called Robbie(?) Burn who was nearing the end of his career had not had his contract renewed by South Sydney Rabbitohs at the end of the season. They were dithering about it, and while they did, Mr Burn look around for other clubs to give him a game.

    The Sun’s headline was (all in caps in those days):


    Laugh? I nearly split my sides.

    My mate worked as sports journo on The Sun. He and I thereupon set about trying to top it. We decided to write a headline suitable for the old Daily Mirror, a raucous sex-soaked rag owned by Murdoch.

    Naked blonde in death pact with mystery lover
    League star named

    London, Saturday…

    We never got to inventing the actual story, but in those days (and now, come to think of it) you couldn’t go far wrong with some tits, a blonde, a murder and a League “star”, even if he did play third grade, under-21 for the Dorrigo Dingos. “LONDON, Saturday” was de rigeur, naturally.

    My mate is now a very highly respected senior writer for the Observer in London, interviewing the likes of Muhummad Ali and high-falutin golf and cricket players. He travels the world doing what he loves: writing about sport.

    He got married a few years back, and so of course I haven’t heard from him since.

    Ain’t it always the way?

  8. From above, Morrison:

    What Julia Gillard did is she promised money that wasn’t there and what we’ve done is we’ve gone through this methodically and we’ve determined what the taxpayer can afford and what we’ve been able to do through our own savings and strong fiscal consolidation work.

    It’s far, far too late for Morrison to pretend that this government is in any way responsible or methodical. And he’s not going to fool anyone by making any “what we can afford” claims. The deficit is blowing out, and I’m seeing nothing in the works that’s going to do anything about it. I’m seeing a lot of class warfare, but little else.

    And what a grab-bag of empty phraseology! “Promised money that wasn’t there”, “gone through this methodically”, “what the taxpayer can afford”, “our own savings”, “strong fiscal consolidation” – none of that guff means anything at all. It’s just wallpaper.

    It’s really, really simple. You take the money in and you use it to provide services. That’s all there is to it. If there’s not enough money to provide the services (and of course there is, but that’s another matter), then you find the money. And that means you don’t dare talk about tax cuts, for anyone. And you do talk about closing tax loopholes.

    If you can’t or don’t want to do that, then you need to at least pretend it’s what you’re doing. You don’t go around blaming others, shielding your mates and mouthing empty words. That’s not government, it’s nowhere near it.

    • Make him PM forever!

      More part-time and fewer hours worked

      Bureau of Statistics data show the jobs growth was entirely in part-time work, with 34,900 jobs added, while full-time employment declined by 8,800, seasonally adjusted.

      This shift to part-time was also reflected in the number of hours worked, which slipped by 17.5 million to 1,632 million in March.

      Deutsche Bank economist Adam Boyton said the falling number of hours worked were a weak spot in otherwise solid data.

      “The collapse in hours worked in March (down 1.1 per cent month-on-month, up just 0.7 per cent year-on-year) and the fall in full-time employment (of 8,800) makes the March employment report weaker in the detail than the headlines,” he wrote in a note on the figures.

  9. @2gravel

    Things are going fairly well actually, so I hope. I’ve finished the first draft of the lit review for my thesis with 2 months to spare, so hopefully that’ll go well when I get feedback from my supervisor.

    Other than that, not much other things have been going on. I’ve shifted my focus in the wikipedia election project to Queensland and Western Australia because information for all other states seem to be currently available online. I’m as far back as the Queensland 1923 election currently.


    It’s probably a good thing that elections would be held as soon as possible. It just doesn’t help much at all preventing a council being elected until 2020.

    Matthew Guy meanwhile is still being a prat. Also I wouldn’t be so sure about Lyons being re-elected. By now it should be obvious to all that he’s just a Liberal dressed as some weird clown that’s also revealed to be incompetent by the report.

  11. I tell youse, this trend is a happenin’ thang.

    Waleed Aly still can’t bring himself to give Bill Shorten any credit at all for Labor’s resurgence in the polls, and in the public’s mind, but he’s starting to realize Labor’s strategy is not just a scare campaign.

    So chalk up yet another Rehabillitation column from a reluctant commentator, sorta, kinda without Bill (the word “Shorten” is only mentioned twice, and those mentions are in consecutive sentences):

    The thing about Labor’s policies is that they’re mutually reinforcing. Like them or not, they’re coherent.

    Of course, these things are only properly tested in government. But if the times came to suit John Howard, it’s possible they’re slowly coming to suit Labor. That’s probably why it’s now unafraid to call time on the liberal consensus that has made it an irrelevant political force. A consensus, ironically, it helped create.

    Read more:

  12. Labor rules out playing silly buggers in the senate next week.

    Labor will vote down building watchdog bill, paving way for double dissolution
    ALP’s Senate leader Penny Wong says it will not delay the Australian building construction commission bill: ‘We’re ready for an election’

    Ball now back in Waffles’ court. Will he carry out his DD threat or will he go to water?

  13. Careful what you wish for, Waffles!

    Labor has announced it will vote down rather than delay the bill reintroducing the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC), paving the way for a double-dissolution election.

    On Thursday the Labor Senate leader, Penny Wong, addressed what Labor would do with the ABCC bill when parliament resumes on Monday

    Three senators – John Madigan, Ricky Muir and Jacqui Lambie – have confirmed they will vote against the industrial relations bills. If each sticks with this position that would sink the bills..

  14. Antony Green is of the opinion that a double dissolution would weaken the Coalition in the Senate.

    The reason being for this is that to elect 6 Senators in a DD, a party would need 46% of the vote (as opposed to 43% of the vote to elect 3 senators in a half-senate election), meaning the Coalition would be hard pressed to get that number in most states. And the crossbench might not be that reduced in number at all in the end, with Xenophon and Lambie in the wings, as well as sitting senators like Leyonhelm and Muir possibly having more support than what would first appear.

  15. I have got a hundred things going on at the moment, but I will attempt to put up a post, in my clumsy fashion, on Sunday about the RSRT and my understanding of it.
    I am against it and will be quite happy if it is abolished.

  16. I need to make a correction to my Sun newspaper headline from above. I got the name of Mr Burn wrong.

    The headline should have read:


    … which I think makes it even cleverer (whoever wrote it is now long forgotten).

    And it wasn’t “Robbie” Berne it was “John” Berne.

    The headline was penned in 1977, and John Berne left a couple of years later to play for Easts, so it most likely the same bloke.

    Apart from that, I have a photographic memory. Total recall, as youse can see.


    The other good thing about this little piece of nostalgia is that it made me nostalgic for my old mate, and we have now re-established email contact. He’s in Monte Carlo, covering the tennis, poor bastard.

  17. I’ve blundered upon how to set the you tube piece of Mascagni’s “Cavalleria rusticana” so it can be played with the words of the lament in that new piece on my blog if you want to give it a try now..I know it was a tad complicated before, but I hope I have fixed that…blogsites work in mysterious ways!

  18. Another complete backflip from the idiots in charge. Another Labor policy copied.

    Last November Sussan Ley mocked Labor’s plans for an increase in tobacco excise, saying it was a tax on the poor and a ‘grab for money’. This came complete with heart-rending words about the poor souls who desperately need their ciggies to cope with life.

    I wonder how she feels now? Will she change her tune and say increasing that tax is a necessary health measure designed to get people to give up smoking?

    They really do think we are stupid, don’t they.

    Cigs up! Turnbull government tax turmoil leads to traditional tax hike

  19. Regardless of what we think about the pros and cons of the RSTS there’s this –

    And this – Bob Day is one of the founders of the ICA. Both he and Leyonhjelm are IPA members.

    JUL 12, 2014
    Estranged bedfellows: Bob Day and David Leyonhjelm
    The two new ex-Liberal crossbench senators were meant to make the government’s life easier. But Bob Day and David Leyonhjelm have their own radically right-wing agendas.

    • I think it was tried before, in the form of the Grey Power party in the late 1980’s – early 1990’s. The idea was never really successful, even though they got a lot of the vote in the WA 1989 election, they never won a seat.

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