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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Canberra watch: it's a shambles « Previous | |Next »
September 14, 2007

I was in Brisbane yesterday so I was able to escape the chaos of the Canberra hothouse, Question Time and the current spin of a 'joint leadership team' from the Howard camp to cover over the ever deepening cracks that reveal a deepening leadership crisis:

Bill Leak

The events of this horror week in Canberra, which disclosed existential terror, enframed the PM as a man of the past with a limited future. From the perspective of modern Brisbane of Beattie, Bligh and Rudd, the Coalition looks to stand for the status quo and the Australia of the past. Iraq comes to mind and so does climate change and energy.

Howard lives to fight another day and another election. Remember that Howard played these cards--call it the Tony Blair hand. Howard actually raised the leadership during APEC himself. Why so? What advantage is to be gained from going to the edge? Gaining publicity? To raise the stakes? To gain sympathy for being in the corner and on the ropes? To look Churchillian? To gain a few more years with his hand on the levers of power? It was all he had left?

All the PM then has to do is to give people a good reason to give him a couple more years before Costello steps up to take over and run the show forever. Realistic? John Hewson in The AFR reckons some of it is. He proposes that Howard can give a good reason for staying on by stealing the policy initiative and policy detail ,since Rudd 's strategy is to play small target. With 20 seats that are contestable, a good campaign by Howard and a poorer performance by Rudd gives Howard the chance he needs.

Maybe. Simon Jackman questions this. He argues in The Bulletin that:

...part of the reason the Coalition is faring poorly in the polls is precisely because voters are weighing up a Labor/Rudd versus a Coalition/Costello future, and prefer the former to the latter.As they say in the financial markets, a Costello prime ministership is "already priced in" to the poll numbers we're seeing.

It's about the future isn't it? The message is simple. Howard is leaving. His main achievements are behind him no matter how much the street fighter wrestles the demons and his enemies to hang onto power.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:52 AM | | Comments (20)


Howard has been dragged kicking and screaming by political disaster to publicly acknowledge what is bleeding obvious: his time is up.

as Howard said he will find it very hard to give up the prime minister job--ie., to give up power. Howard is about power as Bradman is about cricket.

Interesting the way you've set up the picture of Howard through the lens of Brisbane. Like the Beattie/Bligh transition, Brisbane was quite deliberately planned to become what it's becoming. It was planned to accommodate diversity in the hope of attracting the sort of creative people who like the bohemian/cosmopolitan feel.

Howard has deliberately knocked diversity and change on the head. Regardless of all this talk about The Team, it's all about Howard and always has been.

What was that movie where the ageing, mad, ex-movie star is standing on the stairs raving about, I think, how much her fans love her? It's a really creepy scene.

We had all better brush up on our Ozzie colloquialisms and buy akubra shares as I feel that by jingoes theres about to be an Ozzie off between Howard and Rudd. Howard would feel that he appears more true blue than that Chinese checker playing drongo pommy lookin bastard Rudd and will be playing on it to the max.
Football meat pies kangaroos and holden cars!
Tish Tick Tish Whats that Skippy? You want us to shoot you?

Carmen Lawrence's farewell speech in parliament yesterday (not online yet though in Hansard) was along similar lines without the Brisbane lens. She says:

I don't, for example, share the prime Minister's image of the ideal; Australian, his "Australian' everyman with his cricket bat and Gallipoli nostalgia...Apart from the fact that it excludes women, it may be a useful political device, but hardly embodies the creativity, energy and vision needed for our times.

She condemned the Coalition's willingness to hector minorities for political gain mentioning aslyum seekers as key victims.

In a way I guess the Howard era can be seen as the death throes of the mythological Australia invented originally by the Bulletin writers in the last decade of the 18th century.

Donald Horne gave us a substantial kick up the backside with The Lucky Country, which we dutifully misinterpreted to fit the myth. Half a century later it's getting impossible to pretend we're all still battling in the bush and slouching towards the slouch hat.

We can't realistically sustain a prime minister, symbol of the nation, who thinks broadband means there's a brass section and doesn't have anyone manning his MySpace.

I read this election much different to ones in the past.
I think a lot of the Howard hates are actually government haters.
On the day it may be very close but I am still calling it a Coalition win at this point.

your comment: "I think a lot of the Howard hates [sic]are actually government haters."

It is Costello who has undermined the trust between Howard and the electorate. He has said that Howard views the truth as disposal .This implies that Howard was a liar, and so not worthy of the public's respect.

July 2006 was a significant turning point in the trust relationship. It's gone and it is unlikely that Howard will get it back, no matter what the Howard loyalists say about the rebadging. The backbench can summon little enthusiasm for the changeover that is designed to address the deepening crisis.

Cabinet is an just instrument for Howard to use to deploy his power. That's why he can throw the switch to vaudeville.

Dennis Shanahan has come up with a great strategy to save the Liberals. The Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania is the path to success--to turn the polls around and snatch victory from certain defeat.

Howard's plan -- a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel -- is to go back to basics....The Coalition has to reclaim its electoral base, the blue-collar workers who have voted for Howard, families, rural people, small business and, most significantly, older voters... The Howard Liberal heartland in marginal seats has to be revived if the Coalition is to have any chance of winning, regardless of whether the electorate warms to the idea of a new leadership tag-team of Howard and Costello, two prime ministers for the price of one.

The pulp mill is the important substantively and symbolically because it establishes:
links between the pulp mill, regional workers, job creation, industrial relations laws and business are clear for marginal seats such as Bass and Braddon (Tasmania), Eden-Monaro (NSW) and McMillan (Victoria), despite the cost to the fewer Green-sensitive Liberal seats.

This is how an ' embattled Howard tries to pin the tail on a cunning and desperate plan to get back his battlers and grey army.'

So it's just a case of go Johnny go after the consultant's advice, presented as if it were Howards. Or did Howard drip feed Dennis with his comeback strategy.

It's becoming an old style vaudeville act in a tacky fairground run by balding talkback sleazebags for retirees in the sleepy suburbs of southern Sydney.

We are watching the 'two for the price for one' show based around the themes of trust and loyality. The show is coming across as a farce about a patched up marriage with both parties frozen in their bunkers and unable to really trust one another. They're sticking together for the kids. That kind of tacky stuff.

Some quite like the performance actually. They say --over coffee in South Yarra-- that their very stylish literary friends are calling it a parable in a Baroque style that belongs to the Evil Dead or Alien tradition. ( It's unclear which at this stage of the unfolding). Apparently, its clever stuff according to the literary theoriests my friends know (intimately) since the show's baroque predilection for fragmentary compositional form, does not equate to a loss of coherence or meaningfulness. Rather we should be reading this loss of coherence in terms of a postmodern aesthetic of quotation, often associated with Jameson's notion of postmodern "pastiche".

There you have it. From a senior reliable source in the Liberal Party ---Melbourne based; one who thinks that Dennis Shanahan lacks style and grace and has no understanding of neo-baroque aesthetics, politics and contemporary media forms.


I agree that this election is nothing like we've seen before. I thought I was making that up, so it's good to know someone else thinks so too.


Good grief.

And I suppose the electorate do have a grasp of neo-baroque aesthetics, politics and contemporary media forms?

Pastiche eh? Bet our thoroughly postmodern prime minister would be pleased to hear that.

I spent the afternoon at a suburban baby shower. We played a game where you had to guess which kind of chocolate had been melted into a disposable nappy.

The sex of the baby is as yet unknown but the parents gave it a pet name while it's in utero.


Business do not want Labor and just as unions are a business. Business is a union. A very powerful union! As outlined in the nong theories the nongs access their news through the commercial media in the main.
Over the last weeks the Howard negative stories have far out weighed the Rudd ones in most media but more so in these free to air ones and newspapers. This will all change in the weeks up to the election because business pays for all the advertising in these formats and will be making their positions clear with TV stations. Shock Horror! Add to this the media wants a close election because plainly its more interesting than a walk in. Bums on seats!
So as the news changes so will the polls.
Elections aren't about right or wrong or truth. They are a game of chess.


I agree that elections are a game of strategy, but am not convinced that the media is as powerful as it's been thought to be.

The swinging nongs are not interested in politics at all. What are they going to do when something to do with politics comes on the TV, pay attention and change their minds or take the opportunity for a toilet break?

You said earlier that this election is like no other. I'm starting to think that that's partly because people don't trust the media any more. I'm wondering whether it might be time for a new generation of media as well as a new generation of politicians.

You could be right about business influence with the media, but media is about audience first and last. No audience, no advertising, no income.

On your point about business unions, I wonder whether Howard made a mistake calling on business to defend Workchoices. I wonder whether people have come to understand business unions as exactly that with a different name?

it's not that complex.We saw pretty deep into the heart of the political this week. What we saw was death, horror, terror, self doubt, paralysis.

The baroque artwork seeks to make concrete or give representation to that which is unrepresentable.Hasn't the existential terror that we have seen this week in Canberra been unrepresentable by the media?

The neo-baroque work seeks to make the concrete (the technological) unrepresentable by imbuing it with a spiritual quality. Hasn't the events of the last week been represented in terms of the values of trust?

business is divided. It's not one voice.

I love the way you speak low brow to me, its very sexual

Yes business is divided by democracy I guess. I suppose my comment was more related to the big dollar spenders

That's the second time in one weekend I've been called low brow. The other time came from my mother.

I think we will have a low brow week of news this week...I think I might go fishing.

Lyn, perhaps you could create an encounter opportunity for Les and your Mother?
It has been a dirty week in politics. The filthy attack by Nairn's lackey on the Labor candidate standing for Eden Monaro as "SS", on the basis of the fellows military service as an army colonel in Iraq represented an inconceivable new nadir for Australian politics, for me.
As tothe speaker, david-whats his-face,
a gibbet would be too good for the Quisling.
But as Lyn observes, biased speakers seem almost a function of the current "vaudeville" versions of Westminster politics..