The week began with three competing political narratives: the revelations in Maxine McKew’s book, the launch of the government’s Asian Century white paper, and the second 50/50 Newspoll within two months.
Unsurprisingly, the press gallery’s attention moved swiftly from McKew to Abbott, particularly once it became clear he would ignore the white paper and press ahead with his “stop the tax, stop the boats” mantra. By week’s end, the gallery was openly wondering whether Abbott would emulate his former boss John Hewson by losing another “unloseable” election.
Meantime, Australia was excised for migration purposes, the US Presidential election loomed, and Mark Colvin gave the Andrew Olle address.
This week both sides of the political divide sought to establish policy debates before parliament resumes next week. Almost counterintuitively, Abbott chose freedom of speech as his battleground while Gillard chose electricity prices. Grateful journos and commentators gleefully ran with both in an otherwise slow news week.
Towards the end of the week, political binoculars turned to the Spring parliamentary session, the end of which is traditionally the time to knock off an ailing leader.
Meantime, those interested in political journalism wondered how the media can note, even admire, but not challenge politicians’ manipulation of the truth.
This week’s political media contained two debates that couldn’t be more diametrically opposed. At one end was the debate over what the Government should do about Slipper. At the other, disagreement raged over the Reserve Bank’s judgement (and still continued over the need for a surplus).
The most sensible of the Slipper pieces are here (plus one that spells out the risks for Abbott). Also listed are those that most clearly explain the economic issues. LaTingle talks about the upcoming Budget. And there’s a good piece from former WA Premier Geoff Gallop on the future of the ALP.