Parliamentary circus continues

Does anybody seriously think that the Labor caucus won’t wait until the results of next week’s Budget sessions before any of the various ambitious operators decide whether to make their move or not? The punditariat are in a frenzy of speculation and denunciation of PM Gillard which has reached new heights since Craig Thomson announced his departure from the Labor caucus to sit in the House as an independent. They scent blood in the water, but if Gillard does manage to push the Budget through (since she does – just – have the numbers still), how much traction will any of this exercise in outrage have then?

So what’s next for the national soap opera? I’m not a fan of the Gillard government’s media handling skills (bungle after misstep after bungle), but their track record on getting their policies into legislation is fairly impressive (even if the policies themselves aren’t as progressive as I’d like). On the other hand the risks taken with not pushing through on pokies reform and the vote for Slipper as Speaker do seem to have ended as miscalculations, leaving the working majority on the floor hugely vulnerable now.

What are your projections for next week’s cliffhanger?

Categories: crisis, media, parties and factions


18 replies

  1. I am hoping that the budget gets through, although they may have to work on pokies again with Wilkie – who is sinking in my estimation every time he opens his mouth – and go from there. I think, and this really shits me, that the greater voting public is still having trouble coming to terms with a female PM aided and abetted by a compliant media. Actually a media who is actively campaigning to have her gone. She may have to step aside, and let the boys back in. FSM forgive me, last night I was wondering if Rudd making a comeback would make any difference then I remembered how many public servants would resign if that happened. I just don’t know what, if anything can save us from PM who know who now. There is the odd bit in the media about them not being ready for it, but not nearly enough.
    It is so bloody frustrating. My twitter feed is full of people pointing out that the Conservative Govt in the UK have taken Britain into recession with their economic policies, which are similar to what a Liberal government would have here. I don’t know enough about it to know if it would also put us into recession, but of course PM Gillard would get the blame for that. They’d be able to flog that dead horse for years.
    Even NZ isn’t the same option that it was, with their Conservative PM doing the best he can to drive them into the ground as well. Shit shit shit.

  2. I don’t know. I am totally beffudled. The opposition is catastrophising everything but then how did the Government handle two such dangerous situations so badly? I am lost and it’s been a while since I could say I felt that way about politics. Usually have some kind of sense of where we’re going and why.

  3. Befuddled. That’s how much of that, I am.

  4. The media are actively campaigning against Gillard, not dispassionately reporting the news. I hope that Gillard inflicts mortal damage on News Corp before the corporation kills her prime-minstership.

    I am old enough to have seen this before. Increasingly I am remembering the media frenzy about Khemlani that ousted Whitlam, although the CIA now take credit for his dismissal.

    Like Mindy I do not look forward to Liberals running the economy on an Austerity footing. We have been falling into recession for the past 20 months, despite Labor using expansionary economic policies.

    Like many people I am calculating how much damage the Liberals can do to my economic prospects and yes my income will fall as their policies contract economic activity

  5. Since you asked, ‘what’s next’ appears to be Clive Palmer running for LNP preselection.
    My favourite part? “Mr Palmer, who in 1984 was defeated by Peter Slipper for National party preselection for the seat of Fisher…”

  6. I don’t think there’s going to be a move against Gillard before the budget. Its too close to the budget and a change in leadership would result in chaos now. Besides, who are the alternatives now? The Gillard supporters went out so hard against Rudd last time and have given the opposition so much ammunition against him that he’s not really a viable candidate anymore (I think that was their intent too – to make sure that even if they lose the leadership control in the long term, Rudd doesn’t win). And after’s Shorten’s recent “I support what the PM said even though I’ve no idea what she said” debacle he’ll want to keep a bit more of a low profile for a while.
    But with all the noise, nothing much has changed. Wilkie has promised to pass the money bills through the parliament so the budget is not at risk. Gillard takes a bit more of a hit in backing down now rather than earlier. Not that I have much sympathy for her over Slipper – that really was a big own-goal. And not just losing the advantage of him being speaker in the long term, but also putting Wilkie offside.
    The whole “carbon tax lie” claim against Gillard has never been particularly strong, but now she has Wilkie popping up regularly talking about how she can’t be trusted because she broke a written agreement with him. And not only is that much harder to refute since its pretty much true, but reinforces the image of Gillard that the opposition wants.

    • Bernard Keane is particularly perspicacious today in The Power Index:
      Teaser: The Labor government’s lost the authority and audience to deliver a compelling, influential message – and has handed the ability to dictate the national debate to the Opposition in the process.

      The Prime Ministership is the controlling position of public debate. From it, the incumbent can shape the national agenda, set the subject for the national political conversation and explain to voters where the government and, with it, Australia is going.
      There are three aspects to this soft power. One is having a compelling, influential message. Two is having the authority to deliver it. And three is a receptive environment.
      The Gillard government currently has none of those aspects.

      Keane claims that the rise of machine politics in Labor in recent decades, where the factions no longer truly debate principles of policy but rather just negotiate the disposition of the spoils of power, has left the current party woefully short of people who know how to dispute effectively, and thus they flounder when confronted by concerted opposition.

      But another factor confronted Labor: a media environment far more hostile than that in which the Howard government operated. This was partly the creation of Kevin Rudd himself: the high-handed way in which his office treated the Press Gallery was bound to backfire on them the moment Rudd’s popularity began slipping. Moreover, as Lindsay Tanner later argued, the media cycle itself was becoming more and more problematic for politicians, driven by a vicious circle in which media trivialised politics, politicians trivialised their communication in response, and the media responded in kind.

  7. That is part of the problem, the other part of the problem is that having been out of power for a decade, all the old media relations people from the previous Labor government had either left or were quickly replaced with Rudd’s bright young things. Unfortunately those bright young things did not have the media savvyness of the old guard and with Rudd’s wish to control the media it all went south very quickly. Not that the old guard would have had it all their own way – I’m not sure anyone really was ready for the 24hr news cycle, but the inexperience of the young team was to the detriment of the Labor government. With a less hostile media they probably would have gotten up to speed, but with the media against them and seemingly all Abbott-a-go-go it they never got the chance. I’m starting to wonder if Abbott does get in if the media will suddenly start scrutinising or whether this ignoring of his lack of vision, policy, anything will continue to be ignored?

    • Not that the old guard would have had it all their own way – I’m not sure anyone really was ready for the 24hr news cycle

      Pandering to the news cycle with the timing of press releases to hit certain editions seems to me to be the root of the problem – it gives the hacks an inflated sense of their own importance, and the longer the politicians keep on doing it the greater the hacks’ perceived power becomes. That’s why they no longer value straight reportage – it’s all about framing a narrative, and the preferred narrative right now is Gillard government in a tailspin.

  8. I don’t blame the coalition for slamming the govt on their mishaps in job allocations, but I am thoroughly sick of the “liar” theme. I feel like I learned at a very young age – say 12, which is early for politics – that politicians lie. I can’t recall the last time a leader wasn’t hauled over the coals for not following through a core/non-core promise or for back-flipping on a “we will never” promise. So I find it thoroughly infuriating that the media hasn’t called Abbott on this double standard (not to mention its miraculous longevity as an argument) as it only reveals their bias.
    I am disappointed in the Labour party though: there was so much potential in Gillard’s leadership and I’m looking resilience for their mistakes. I wish she would bloody stand up and lead, be impressive, but I can see they’ve not much to work with right now, like the Keane quote above says. It’s absolutely lamentable considering were doing ok in the current financial climate and policies are progressing. But *who* and *where* is an actual Labour party? A team for the lower and working classes? Surely not everyone considers themselves middle class so much that representation has become so warped?
    After after all the disappointment, I still cannot bring myself to vote liberal with Abbott and his sexist, old fashioned views at the helm. To have him represent us would be like having your embarrassing uncle at the UN. He makes my skin crawl and I don’t trust the Liberals to care for the breadth of our community. Who’s left to respect?
    Anyway, that’s a poorly formed opinion and probably poorly informed to boot. But that’s about all I can say when I’m too dismayed to read the articles properly. I really do want Labour to be impressive! C’mon guy! Bootstraps!

  9. Couldn’t agree more Alison.

  10. What is wrong with us?
    We have an economy that has more positives, going for it, than negatives, we have a government that is able to get their policy agenda through a parliament that is not the most ideal. We don’t have noticeable amounts of people getting kicked out of their houses or small businesses going belly up , like the US. Australia doesn’t have or seem to need the austerity measures of many EU countries and our unemployment figures are 1/2 that of both the US and Western Europe, yet the party that is in power is getting hammered in the poles that don’t matter, opinion polls and those that matter, elections.
    If we are noticed, at all, from overseas I would suggest that other governments would envy our economic situation.
    The ALP seem to have a habit of turning gold into lead and rose gardens into weed patches. Look, I heard this evening that they’re getting pilloried, already, for the disability insurance scheme. As much as I disliked Howard and his legacy, he seemed to be able to do the exact opposite, with ease.

    • we have a government that is able to get their policy agenda through a parliament that is not the most ideal

      This is surely the most important thing. Despite my referring flippantly to “our national soap opera” in the OP, politics is far too important to be viewed as a series of personality conflicts as the media likes to frame it. The reason they are there is to deliver a policy agenda, and the all the sturm und drang of back-corridor shenanigans is just grit in the gears.
      Obviously the back-corridor stuff needs a certain amount of scrutiny to sniff out whiffs of corruption in order to keep the political process on the straight and narrow, but I really don’t care that much, deep down, about who is backstabbing whom in order to climb the greasy pole (even though I’m as guilty as anybody of sometimes getting distracted by it).

  11. The ALP seem to have a habit of turning gold into lead and rose gardens into weed patches. Look, I heard this evening that they’re getting pilloried, already, for the disability insurance scheme. As much as I disliked Howard and his legacy, he seemed to be able to do the exact opposite, with ease.

    Very much agree Ken (and Mindy too, with the Rudd era style).
    Could the failing of Labour be a simple as a useless media manager?

    • It’s not that simple, Alison. It’s more about the intersection of a superficial press gallery and a political class reluctant to actually openly contest their ideas in front of the electorate. The kowtowing to the media cycle with carefully crafted soundbites has debased political debate – detailed presentation of policy is not rewarded with coverage on the evening news, so they’ve mostly stopped serious policy talk in press conferences as if it doesn’t really matter just because it won’t be shown in full on the telly.

  12. Is it just that it won’t be shown in full on the telly Tigtog or is it because what they say will be twisted and cut and’airbrushed’ around to fit the media narrative of the day?

    • Too true Mindy – the pollies quite rightly do not trust the media to report what they say accurately.
      The bean counters at the news orgs have decided that as long as the public is content with trivialised coverage of the political process, then it’s simply not worth their while to encourage the press gallery to report dispassionately and in depth – trivialisation as a soap opera gets the eyeballs passing over the ads more cheaply.
      There’s a nasty feedback spiral going on.

  13. You’re right Tigtog; the emergence of that crooked spiral happened a while ago, the pollies slackened their spines and we stayed quiet. They *should* have continued to present their policies and plans as throughly as usual, debate with their opposers and let the media document what they will. (I wonder whether the sound bite addiction contributed to the shift in demand for reporters and quality reporting…?) Looks like lazy principles on the parts of both the spokespeople and the media. I feel like what we get from the papers is the political equivalent of “Baby watch! Kate cupped her belly – Is she pregnant?!” You’ve explained it much better than I could.
    How do we teach them we want substance, genuine content and long-sighted planning? Keep watching Media Watch and Q&A?!

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