JOHN MENADUE. How about a spill of the Canberra Press Gallery?

Jul 5, 2016


After the election the media is telling us how ‘Malcolm Turnbull’s authority has been shattered’; ‘Turnbull faces big Senate hurdle’; ‘numbers don’t stack up in the Senate for a joint sitting on union crackdown’; ‘Turnbull faces angry back bench’; ‘double dissolution throws up wild mix in Senate’; ‘Turnbull is now a lame duck of his own making’ and ‘how Malcolm Turnbull spent eight weeks trying to be boring in the election campaign’.

But what a contrast this is to what our mainstream media was telling us in March about what a genius Malcolm Turnbull was in calling a double dissolution to outflank all his opponents. The decision to hold a double dissolution was called a master stroke. Houdini was free! The press gallery almost without exception told us that he had wedged Labor on industrial relations and was exposing a weak leader.

Here are a few quotes doing the rounds on the internet about Malcolm Turnbull’s action in March.

Annabel Crabb. ‘The manoeuvre executed this morning by the PM combines a rich array of classically Turnbullian features. The element of surprise. The turning of tables. Fancy legal footwork. … In a crisp 15 minutes or so Mr Turnbull seized the initiative by the scruff of the neck.’

Laura Tingle. ‘The most important message to take out of this; don’t presume Turnbull doesn’t have a plan.’

Peter Hartcher. ‘From hopeless ditherer to decisive leader in a moment. Turnbull has now staked his government on a challenge and put all the other political parties on the defensive. And while it’s high stakes for Turnbull, it’s actually low risk.

Mark Kenny. ‘The stunning tactical ambush [by Turnbull] not only upped the stakes, it caught the entire political establishment off guard.’

After this folly in March, many mainstream journalists are  telling us that an unfair Medicare scare campaign explains the swing..

The public concern about the coalitions plan for Medicare is well based as I have argued in this blog. Furthermore, three years ago many of these same journalists seemed unconcerned about false coalition campaigns about the carbon tax , the threats from terrorists and people coming by boat. Don’t they have an understanding that conservatives are the rolled gold standard in scare campaigns?

Many of them still accept that Tony Abbott stopped the boats. He didn’t. Even worse he triggered the upsurge in boat arrivals in 2012 and 2013 as a result of his opposition to the arrangement with Malaysia. But having allowed the myths about boat arrivals to go unchallenged many journalist refuse to acknowledge their complicity and the need to correct the record.

In the last weeks of the recent election campaign almost all the mainstream media were falling over themselves to assert that Malcolm Turnbull would be returned with a comfortable, even if reduced, majority. When Bill Shorten told Leigh Sales on ABC 7.30 that he hadn’t given up, she laughed in his face. This was despite the fact that all the opinion polls showed week after week that the result would be very close. Malcolm’s fan club in the media did not want to believe it. What professionals!

As their former minister,ABC journalists were practiced in obsequiousness.

The media commentariate smugly told us that Malcolm Turnbull was home and hosed and some suggested he would even increase his majority.. Some of the commentariate told us that the coalition always ran better marginal seat campaign. We were told that the coalition were better economic managers, despite the evidence to the contrary. Perhaps they felt but were not prepared to say that conservatives are really much nicer people.

In the election campaign, the mainstream media told us what a disciplined campaign Malcolm Turnbull had run. They repeated the Coalition mantras about an economic plan for jobs and growth. Very few examined that vacuous plan -until now. The public didn’t buy it but many journalists did. Suddenly they are now asking what went wrong?

Some journalists are even promoting the possibility of a spill in the Parliamentary Labor Party. How did they dream that up?

There would be better value in a spill of the Canberra Press Gallery. But please retain Antony Green and Barrie Cassidy.

PS.  By choice, I don’t read any Murdoch newspapers, but for an account of the declining influence of his newspapers and the incompetence and bias of the Daily Telegraph, see link to article in The Guardian:

The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan apparently wrote on election eve that ‘Malcolm Turnbull is coming home with the wind in his back. Bill Shorten is running out of puff’.

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