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Fairfax follies

By Alan Austin - posted Thursday, 21 February 2013


The Fairfax media group has ramped up its campaign against the Gillard Government. It appears now to have abandoned any pretence of reporting fairly on its successes and failures.

It has also copied the Murdoch ploy of enlisting academics to its anti-Labor campaign.

Yesterday's [Monday's] National Times featured a bizarre opinion piece by honorary associate at La Trobe University David Day.

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The article was headlined triumphantly 'Final nail in PM's coffin' and sub-headed, just to make sure we understand, 'Julia Gillard's lack of leadership has spurred on her inevitable demise'.

So what is the basis for the academic's claim that a 'demise' is now 'inevitable'?

Well, there are the polls, of course. The endless feedback loop of bad reporting leading to poor polling leading to more negative reporting leading to poor polling … and so on.

But does Day offer evidence of actual bad government? Well, there's this:

… her [Gillard's] propensity for political stumbles have seen her repeatedly fall flat on her face. The September election date and the resignation of Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans were just the latest of them.

Really? The careers of two ministers came to an end with plenty of advance warning to the PM, allowing her to determine the timing of their completion. Since when does this constitute evidence of a PM's "propensity for political stumbles"?

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John Howard asked for the resignations of retiring ministers David Kemp and Daryl Williams in 2004 in near identical circumstances. Was that evidence of the PM falling flat on his face? Or was it hailed as an opportunity for renewal, fresh perspectives and youthful energy?

Is Day aware the rate of ministerial sackings and resignations under Rudd/Gillard has been the lowest of any government in any Westminster nation since the 1820s?

Is there any evidence that the ministers left for anything other than admirable reasons? In Roxon's case, including wishing to parent a 7-year old daughter.

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About the Author

Alan Austin is an Australian freelance journalist currently based in NÓmes in the South of France. His special interests are overseas development, Indigenous affairs and the interface between the religious communities and secular government. As a freelance writer, Alan has worked for many media outlets over the years and been published in most Australian newspapers. He worked for eight years with ABC Radio and Televisionís religious broadcasts unit and seven years with World Vision. His most recent part-time appointment was with the Uniting Church magazine Crosslight.

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