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June 29th 2016 print

Christian Kerr

Fairfax. Vindictive. Always.

When the media chain gave itself an editorial lobotomy to be more in tune with the readers it seeks to attract, there was never a moment's doubt that Abbottphobia would feature prominently. The latest confection of rumour and wishful thinking shows just how low the publisher has sunk

the ageWhen the nation’s most venerable newspaper chain decided to trash a reputation built up over more than a century and reinvent itself as clickbait for whinging millennials, it really went all the way. It not only imported a pantheon of victimhood from the United States but also a new necronomicon of darkness. White? Male? Heterosexual? Over 40? Of the right – or not of the “I’ll thcream and thcream and thcream ‘till I’m thick” incontinent left? Catholic? Why, you must be the true embodiment of evil. And to Fairfax that embodiment goes by the name Tony Abbott.

The former PM may be gone from the Lodge, but despite Fairfax’s efforts he’s not gone from public life. So yesterday a story appeared on its websites with the headline “Tony Abbott tipped for a scare in Warringah”. There’s a disconnect between the actual article and its title. Quite who’s doing the tipping is not specified and the story’s author, James Robertson, even qualified the “scare” part by putting the word in inverted commas:

“While political operatives are focusing intently on the country’s most marginal seats, excitable chatter is mounting about one of its safest: former prime minister Tony Abbott’s seat of Warringah. With Mr Abbott sitting on a margin of 15 per cent, local campaign workers are not doubting he will be returned, but speculation is growing that he may face a ‘scare” at Saturday’s poll in the form of a sizeable swing against him.”

It’s not until you read a little further on that a potential source emerges:

“For a man whose supporters are talking up a second act in Australian public life, the size of the swing in Warringah will inevitably be compared with the average and picked over more than most others.

“Complicating matters for the usually indomitable local member is the large field of candidates lining up to challenge him. One of the axioms of politics is that larger fields lead to bigger swings.

“With 10 candidates, Warringah will be the equal second widest field for any NSW lower-house seat this election. Only Lindsay and Grayndler have more, with 11.

“The problem such a wide field presents is simple, one Liberal insider explains: if each of the candidates picks up only a modest 0.5 per cent share of the vote, then that’s an instant 5 per cent swing against you.”

One Liberal insider. One! And just an “insider”. Not a “senior Liberal”. In other words one Liberal Party member keen to do down the former PM has constructed a bodgy metric as the basis for a bodgy story — one happily swallowed by the poor unfortunates who remain afflicted by Abbott Derangement Syndrome. Anything to have a go at Tones.

Hilariously, the story doesn’t appear to have made it into the print edition of the paper the former PM’s constituents read – or used to read – today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

But, naturally, it got a run in that rattiest of rags 900 kilometres down the Hume, The Age.

Quality media.