The polls are showing that the Australian people are turning against the Rudd government.
It should be recalled that Kevin Rudd enjoyed the endorsement of most of the mainstream media in the 2007 election. The Rudd opposition was their preferred choice over the successful and professional Howard government, which bequeathed a massive surplus to the Rudd government in 2007
With notable exceptions, the media have, until recently, shown a remarkable reluctance to subject the Rudd government to any robust reporting, certainly not the rigour displayed in relation to the Howard government.
Bear in mind that the Howard government never displayed the incompetence and extraordinary waste that has become the hallmark of the Rudd government.
It is clear that the unusually long period of the Rudd honeymoon reflects a failure of many in the media to perform their role, even with the clear evidence of the most extraordinary examples of government incompetence and waste.
As the Australian said in an editorial when Ms. Gillard announced an inquiry into the financial management of the stimulus package for schools under the Building the Education Revolution, readers of the Fairfax press and ABC listeners and viewers must have wondered why.
The Australian and 2GB’s Ray Hadley led the exposure of the waste of up to five billion dollars of the BER stimulus programme.
When the ETS was on the agenda, the media “cheer squad”, as Alan Jones calls them, warned that unless the Coalition collaborated in passing this before Copenhagen, they would be massacred in the coming election.
The turnaround for the Coalition only began when Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott led a revolt against Malcolm Turnbull’s determination to approve the ETS before Copenhagen.
But the gallery do not care for Tony Abbott, principally because he is a Catholic, but not of the cafeteria kind (a Catholic who picks and chooses among Catholic beliefs), he is a constitutional monarchist ( he was the founding Executive Director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy) and he is a conservative.
Tony Abbott’s leadership has been instrumental in the rise of the Coalition. The gallery, or most of them, is reluctant to accept this fact.
When the Sydney Morning Herald announced the results of the Neilson Poll on 7 June the main front page headline read: “Labor faces wipeout.”
But they could not resist adding above this “Abbott remains its liability”.
This referred to the lower approval which Leaders of the Opposition normally attract.
As the gallery readies itself to abandon Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard is being advanced as the preferred replacement. This requires the gallery to minimise and even suppress the fact that every excess, every act of gross incompetence of the Rudd government, enjoyed the imprimatur of the so called kitchen cabinet, the politburo of Messrs. Rudd, Swan, Tanner and Ms. Gillard.
Moreover, Ms. Gillard is personally responsible for what must be the most incompetent management and largest waste of the taxpayers’ resources in the history of this nation, the BER.
It is of little use to establish an investigation, totally deprived of the powers of a Royal Commission, when the bulk of the moneys will have been spent before it reports.
Moreover Ms. Gillard should have established the safeguards first before she wasted a cent of taxpayers’ money. When her error became apparent she should have admitted this and corrected it. As for the past gross waste, she should have established an open judicial inquiry as the Howard government did in relation to the AWB. (Once again, few in the media criticised this, although we were awash with criticism about the AWB terms of reference)
That Ms. Gillard did none of these shows that she is hardly competent to be prime minister; she is not even competent to be a minister.
The clearest indication of the distance between the gallery and the rank and file was the decision in Coalition in May to return to the policy in relation to asylum speakers. Even journalists who could not be described as locked into the Left saw this as a strategic error which would enjoy little support and which was morally reprehensible. An example was Saturday Agenda 5 June chaired by Peter Van Onselen where all participants were critical of Tony Abbott’s announcement.
The media made much of the dissent of a small number of liberal backbenchers, and Malcolm Turnbull’s apparent discontent.
But the Neilson Poll released on 7 June found 62% of Australians supported the coalitions’ policy.
On this, even more than the ETS, the gallery has demonstrated not only that its views are different from those of the rank and file. It is unable to differentiate between its views and how the electorate is and will react.
As we come to the election, the rank and file are realising what many in the media did not want them to know, the government is the most incompetent and wasteful we have ever known.
If it is returned, and if there is a favourable Senate majority we will see two great big new taxes introduced, the ETS and the super profits tax.
With the politburo of Rudd, Swan Tanner and Ms. Gillard’s determination to waste government revenue and to borrow this country will be damaged in a way inconceivable when the majority accepted Mr. Rudd’s assurance that he was a fiscal conservative.
Some fiscal conservative.