Anniversaries Galore In The First Week Of December

The first week of December is a big week for political anniversaries.

Today, for example, is the anniversary of the swearing-in of the Rudd Labor government in 2007. Channel 10 News reported it this way:



Looking back at Rudd:

Some other early-December electoral anniversaries:

 


Who Says Abbott Should Flick The Switch To Positive?

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have one thing in common: Their lives contain the never-ending irritation of people telling them how they should do their jobs.

AbbottEven their summer break won’t be free of the buzz of gratuitous advice. As much as they must wish to swat it away, politics demands they feign nonchalance.

In their private moments, I kind of hope they rail against the indignity of it. After all, they’re the ones who entered the arena and made it into parliament. As they claw and scramble their way to the top, they must surely know that the rest of us would struggle, as the Americans say, to be elected dog catcher. “Walk in my shoes awhile, you have no idea,” they must sometimes think.

Gillard has had more than her share of advice this year but in recent weeks the political and journalistic establishment has turned its attention to Abbott. The message is a simple one: it’s time to go positive. [Read more...]


Karl Bitar Analyses Result Of 2010 Federal Election (Sort Of…)

Leaks and Mark Latham were primarily responsible for the ALP’s near-miss in the 2010 election, according to the ALP National Secretary, Karl Bitar.

Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra, Bitar said a belief that Labor would win the election, combined with disillusionment about the government’s performance, also contributed to the ALP’s campaign problems.

ALP National Secretary Karl Bitar at the National Press Club

ALP National Secretary Karl Bitar at the National Press Club

The government did not receive credit from the electorate for its handling of the global financial crisis, Bitar said.

Bitar said polling showed the ALP would lose 22 seats in Queensland and NSW alone, following the leaks and Mark Latham’s intervention in the early part of the campaign.

The government entered the election campaign “with a few political problems,” Bitar said, including the replacement of an incumbent prime minister.

Bitar said the Liberals succeeded in making Tony Abbott a “small target” and the election became “a referendum on the government’s performance and disunity”.

Bitar claimed that many voters who defected to the Greens in protest will return to the ALP “if Labor demonstrates good government”.

  • Listen to Karl Bitar’s speech and responses to questions at the National Press Club:

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[Read more...]


Day 24: The Government Resurgent

Thirty years ago this month, Azaria Chamberlain disappeared. Thirty years ago this October, the Fraser-led coalition government was elected to its third term in office.

The connection?

Yesterday’s News Limited daily papers splashed the story of jury notes from the Chamberlain trial all over their front pages. If newspaper front pages matter, what might have been the topic of conversation in work places and homes yesterday? Might the enduring mystery of what happened to an eight-week-old baby attract more attention than the federal election?

Last night, Julia Gillard appeared on the ABC’s QandA program. She performed well. The appearance came at the end of a day the ALP would have been pleased with. Just as the Fraser government fought back against a resurgent ALP in 1980 to win comfortably despite losing seats, there was a sense yesterday that the Gillard government is finally on the offensive. [Read more...]


Throwing The Switch To Burlesque

Parody and grotesque exaggeration are the key elements of theatrical burlesque. The entertainment genre is also known as travesty. As the Australian election campaign entered its final two weeks, political burlesque held sway over the weekend.

A Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers on Saturday morning showed the coalition leading Labor by 51-49. Labor was up one point but still behind.

By mid-morning, Julia Gillard was meeting with her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, in a secret location, somewhere in Brisbane. Unlike former US Vice-President Dick Cheney’s undisclosed locations, this one had little to do with national security but everything to do with managing the media.

Later, when Gillard appeared in the grounds of the Ballycara Retirement Village to face the media, the parody of political management skills fell apart. All that the assembled pack of reporters wanted to know about was Kevin Rudd. [Read more...]


Apathy And Anger: John Faulkner On Our Modern Democracy

The ALP’s former leader in the Senate, John Faulkner, says Australian democracy is “drowning in distrust”.

Arguing that politics requires commitment, patience, and a sense of proportion, Faulkner criticised Mark Latham’s for young people to reject organised politics.

Faulkner said: “Unless we have mature and realistic expectations of the possibilities of politics and the capacity of politicians, we cannot as a society understand or resolve the real problems within the political system. If our analysis is as shallow as Mark Latham’s complaints that people were mean to him, our solutions will be as self-defeating as his decision to take his bat and ball and go home.”

  • Listen to Mark Latham’s remarks at Melbourne University:

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

This is the text of Senator John Faulkner’s Henry Parkes Oration, at the Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts, Tenterfield, NSW.

In Australia today there is a dangerous indifference to politics accompanied by a simmering resentment of politicians. Citizens who haven’t enough interest in the democratic process to stay even vaguely informed of the issues of the day have only one profound political conviction: that politicians can’t be trusted. Politicians show reciprocal cynicism in an electoral climate where a lie about mortgage rates has more impact than the truth about lies. [Read more...]


Latham Interview With Denton Airs After Court Challenge

The first television interview with Mark Latham since he resigned as ALP leader in January has been broadcast on the ABC.

Mark Latham, ALP PariahThe interview on Andrew Denton’s Enough Rope program was scheduled for telecast next Monday but was brought forward to 8.30pm tonight following publication of leaks from Latham’s book, The Latham Diaries, in News Limited newspapers. The Lateline program also announced that it was intending to broadcast a separate interview with Latham on tonight’s program.

As political officianados sat down to watch the Denton interview they were greeted with this announcement that legal action had prevented the telecast. No details were given. [Read more...]