For Whom the Bell Tolls Polls?

Well, it looks like those dodgy polls (Omnipoll and that other one) were correct. Newspoll also shows Labor in front and going away (54 to 46 per cent on a two-party preferred basis). No wonder Howard looked and sounded like a confused old man in his multiple press conferences about his FTA backflip.

Moreover, the exposure of his blatant lying by Mike Scrafton is hardly likely to reverse the trend in the short term, especially given the government’s shifty and unconvincing response. What odds now on a post-Christmas election (say early February – I think they can leave it that long constitutionally?

PS – The mainstream media has now picked up Rob Corr’s revelation that Howard said on ABC Four Corners way back in February 2002 that he spoke with Scrafton about the photos as well as the video (thus contradicting Howard’s claim of only yesterday that they only spoke about the video). It’s taken the journalists less than 24 hours to catch up with the blogosphere.

Moreover, the mere fact that Howard now admits that there was more than one conversation between him and Scrafton that night strongly suggests that they talked about more than just the video. Given Howard’s obvious motive for lying and the inability of RWDBs to postulate any plausible reason why Scrafton might be telling porkies, I don’t think any jury would have the slightest difficulty deciding who’s telling the truth here. Of course, the ultimate jury is the people, and we don’t yet know whether most of them are even paying attention. Political groupies like us bloggers are hardly typical voters. Nevertheless, given those opinion polls it certainly isn’t looking good for Howard.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Rowen
2022 years ago

Yeah, as Chris Shiel has pointed out a few times, it looks like the Ghosts of Barrie Unsworths Past may come to visit Howard. My only question is whether Howard would rejoice in allowing the senate to sit again, with the spectre of the Children Overboard inquiry reopening with headline act Mike Scrafton.

The thing that should worry them is Scrafton came over very well on the 7.30 report last night. He looked intense, offended, angry but honest. He seems to be motivated by ego and injustice. With some sympathetic questioning from Faulkiner it could keep the whole thing bubbling along until Christmas.

Can the senate subpoena Howard? That would be worth seeing..

Calling an election would short circuit that. I’ve thought for a while that Howard has been looking for another Tampa to send him to the polls. It’s ironic that the “other” Tampa turned out to be the actual Tampa, reloaded..

The old axiom holds: be careful what you wish for..

meika
2022 years ago

This is why I have renamed them the Lieberal Party of Australia.

Question: Can the Party Born to Rule discipline its own? Or go on indulging their worst desires.

Alan
Alan
2022 years ago

They can hang on until April. It’s just another inadequacy in the constitution that the three-year term runs from the first sitting, not election day. I suspect it would be electorally catastrophic if they tried.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Well, as one former Labor leader said of another, “He’s a lying cunt with a limited future”.

This appraisal and prediction could appositely be applied to John Howard.

[Quick quiz for Troppo readers. Who said it about whom, and when?]

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Actually Ken Omnithingy was completely wrong as I was stating at the time.
They had the government and Opposition in the mirror image of today’s polls.

you can’t just start off a new business without the accompaying corporate knowledge.

I hereby predict howard is stuffed which is slang for saying he can’t win.

he has Tampad himself and now like Keating in 96 his past is catching up with him.

c8to
2022 years ago

costello should make a push for leadership, on the basis that howard will lose the next election for the liberals, and sail them to victory on a strong economic policy (where labor, AFAIK has been pretty vague)

parish, you’re right that the average australian wont be as rigorous as you and i in sorting out what actually occured…but thats democracy for you…

peggy sue
peggy sue
2022 years ago

Bob Hawke described Bill Hayden as “a lying cunt with a limited future”.
The date, about 1980.

As for the Liberals thinking they are “born to rule”, Labor thinks it is “destined to rule”, which makes them much of a muchness.

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

I think the whole “children overboard” thing died about two years ago. Nobody cares except the hair-splitting political fanatics and, of course, the partisan media.

Rowen
2022 years ago

Costello challenging now and the party supporting him would be an admission of defeat. They couldn’t afford to do it because it would shoot not only their house vote, but it would loose them the chance to take up a blocking role in the senate (as Labor has in opposition) which they would almost certainly get in a closely lost poll.

If they loose Howard will walk anyway. He won’t be interested in being opposition leader for 3 years to have another crack when he’s cresting 70. So there’s nothing to loose in letting him have another shot. Ironically costello’s best bet might be in loosing this poll. If Howard wins, he might hold on long enough to see one of his other proteges get up over Costello, like Abbott. Costello would win in a post defeat poll, but Abbott might be stronger in a mid-term reshuffle from a position of power.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Peggy Sue, I thought it was in 1979, at the Labor National Conference, but close enough.

EP, I agree that the CO affair, as such, is old news. Howard as congenital liar, on the other hand, is a live issue.

CurrencyLad
2022 years ago

That’s a straw man Ken – asking why Scrafton would lie. Nobody’s saying he lied. He told the PM something; others told the PM something else. This is what a PM does – canvass opinions.

Scrafton has admitted to being motivated by revenge.

As EvilPundit says, nobody gives a rats anyway. Howard killed the people smuggling industry stone cold dead.

The trouble with the government’s critics is that they’re obsessed with ‘gotcha’ politics. Didn’t work with the Flood Report, didn’t work with the Bali enquiry.

Yes, all of this may assist the Opposition – maybe even to win government. But where are Chris Sheil and the Westminster crowd on the issue of how dangerous it is for sworn-to-secrecy defence and PS mandarins to come out of retirement like bored codgers to play politcs when it suits them?

The enquiry being called for would be a travesty now that so many powerful figures have made it clear they want the government changed.

And I’m sorry to bring up something now little discussed but I’m still waiting for the mainstream commentariat to pursue Latham on the charge of bashing a pensioner, about which he has lied. Howard unfit to be PM? Vis-a-vis Latham?

That’s really funny.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Dave is correct.
It happened in Adelaide in some obscure hotel bar where Bob was surprisingly scotchmist at the ALP National conference.

Ahh the ‘Good ole daze”

David Tiley
2022 years ago

CL – there are always degrees of offence, of course. I can’t help thinking the current 43 are responding to a mutually understood rule. I, as a public servant, will do your bidding as the government, as a matter of professional pride. I will keep silent no matter what you say. But I will start to get very hissy if you set up other sources of advice and deep six mine, I will get very pissed off if you force me to defend you in public when it goes pear shaped, and I will finally have revenge if you systematically blame me when you fail.

Sounds fair to me.

CurrencyLad
2022 years ago

David:

When did the Prime Minister blame Scrafton for anything?

Come to that, when did the PM blame the 43 for anything?

I don’t follow.

Chris Fryer
2022 years ago

I think there’s a bit of the “tall poppy” syndrome starting to seep in here (about time if you ask me). Howard has had it too good for too long. All my friends and family are talking about this children over board thing, I don’t think they have forgotten as the RWDB’s have been saying. I think it is too soon to say that Howard is screwed, he’s too sneaky and he still might get out of this one.

Robert
2022 years ago

CurrencyLad: I thought it was reasonably clear that David meant Howard blamed the public service generally — individual public servants get pissed off by that, even if their names have not been mentioned. When Howard’s constant defence is “I rely on advice, that advice was flawed”, those public servants who tried to show him other advice — but were ignored because it didn’t suit the PM’s lie of the week — have every right to be pissed off.

c8to
2022 years ago

i agree the issue is dead.

AFAIK, howard did stop the people smuggling boats. (will have to research and get some official figures on this)

Howard potentially lieing (or being seen to have lied) might tip the issue in labor’s favour, but its far from assured.

furthermore, scrafton’s comments from this story http://foxsports.news.com.au/olympics/story/0,9744,10466707-2,00.html dont fill me with confidence:

“The Government did not want me to talk about what I knew. Another consideration for me was that the Howard Government had just won another three years in office. I was a public servant with a mortgage. What public servant in my position in their right mind would have told somebody like Jenny Bryant that the Prime Minister may have misled the country at the Press Club.”

in other words, scrafton is just as guilty as the PM. if he truly cared about the PM lieing, why didnt he come out and blow the whistle then. if as some have claimed, howard won the election on the scare of children overboard, scrafton’s actions condone howard winning the election based on this deceit (if there was one)

what he was worried about his mortgage? oh well, suddenly theres all sorts of reasons not to tell the truth…

its the exact same sin people are accusing howard of committing based on scrafton’s comments.

Bob
Bob
2022 years ago

Howards managed to turn the four corners interview back on Latham (who ran with it). Apparently, in context, the photo reference was to Reith – not Scrafton.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

in other words, scrafton is just as guilty as the PM. if he truly cared about the PM lieing, why didnt he come out and blow the whistle then.

You’re fucken’ kidding, aren’t you?

You seriously can’t understand why someone would not be prepared to be sacked from their job and end up the target of a smear campaign just for politics?

I’d doubt the sanity of anyone who took an opposite view.

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

Memo to Channel Nine

Forget The Worm. That’s yesterdays technology.

Here’s how you can win the ratings war, and shaft Roy Morgan at the same time. Its time to drop the worm and go with The Polygraph .

Now all you need is for big Kezza to have a word in his old mate’s ear to overcome his sudden bout of shyness, and once again you’ll be the Nation’s preeminent broadcaster.

c8to
2022 years ago

no mork, i can completely understand it.

like how i can understand a politician would “lie” to win an election.

OH MY GOD RUN FOR THE HILLS…

c8to
2022 years ago

all those living in black and white simple moral land can’t believe it apparently…

(more to the point, its rational for labour and the left to try and get howard’s election chances down over this.

furthermore, i believe in ethics, the rule of law, and accountability of our public politicians… i just dont believe any of these things are black and white)

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Scrafton…Doyen of probity and honesty.
In the late 1990s he was subject to an internal Defence investigation and subsequently counselled for accessing pornographic websites on the Department’s computer system.
I can’t find a source, but vaguely recall that this is the guy whose excuse was that he was researching to see what sites he needed to make sure his kids shouldn’t be looking at.

A junior public servant would have been sacked, no questions asked.

c8to
2022 years ago

heh…

thats not immoral…its just stupid…

surely any normal person waits till he is in the private sphere to look at naughty websites…

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

But c8to…Scrafton is the 44th bean! These are not ‘normal’ people, just look at the punditry. They are the ‘elders’ of whom it is forbidden to speak a bad word, above immorality and stupidity.

I’m just saying that this business of portraying Scrafton and the 43 other noblemen as the living-flesh-manifestation of altruism is a bit wearying.

sp
sp
2022 years ago

uh, so is that why they gave him the position as Reith’s advisor? You think they would have known.

Presumably Scrafton knew it was a possibility that this allegation would come out, if true. He looks like he might have more guts than those who are now trying to slander him.

al bundy
2022 years ago

SP, I don’t believe this is an ‘allegation’. This bit of dirty laundry was aired in the article I linked to by Scrafton’s No.1 fan, Patrick Walters, in the Oz. My point is that the adulation could be turned down a bit.

You can’t go past the Bunyip.

…[the case] boils down in the end to a quibble not about end results but about the words used to describe them. To the frustrated collectivists, parading ranters, and peddlers of academic distinctions, the right words are what matters — and only what matters. If they stand for anything, it is semantics…

…in the confusion of the moment, the government used that wonderful word “thrown”. If ministers had said — somewhat more accurately, admittedly — that children were “scuttled” into the water “callously deposited”, “slowly submerged” or “had their boat sunk beneath them”, there would be nothing for Scrafton to fume about it.

I think that about sums it up really.

Tim Lambert
2022 years ago

Come off it, Al. “In the confusion of the moment”? Bunyips must have a very different conception of time if a “moment” can be over a month long.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

…in the confusion of the moment, the government used that wonderful word “thrown”. If ministers had said — somewhat more accurately, admittedly — that children were “scuttled” into the water “callously deposited”, “slowly submerged” or “had their boat sunk beneath them”, there would be nothing for Scrafton to fume about it.

In other words, if Howard hadn’t lied, Scrafton couldn’t call him a liar.

Thanks for the fucken’ insight!

al bundy
2022 years ago

Tell me, Mork. Of what word is ‘ fucken’ ‘ the dimunition?

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

D’oh…I mean ‘diminutive’.

mark
2022 years ago

Al: it’s a nickname for King Johnny, Australia’s favourite diminutive dimunition…

(I like the idea of using “dimunition” as a real word, by the by. Perhaps it could mean “explosively dangerous small guy”? I mean, we’ve already got “pissant”, AIUI, but “dimunition” could be “explosive” in more ways than one — Johnno doesn’t seem likely to job ya after a few beers and an unwelcome comment about his height, but that doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous.)

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Yeah, I like it…

Dimunition: Low explosive ordnance. Colloquially, a parting shot that fails to hit its mark.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Next Howard will be attacked for not sacking Scrafton for downloading porn.
Anyone noticed that this was the boat that had the sea-cocks opened by the delightful passengers the day after the video was released, throwing not only the munchkins but their parents into the briny?
Semantics are a fairly desperate way of trying to win points.
The story is dead except for the perpetually outraged at the best of times- if Ian Thorpe comes out of the closet it won’t even get a run on the ABC.

c8to
2022 years ago

yeah i agree its basically dead in the water…

next topic!

c8to
2022 years ago

on reflection, my previous comment was in exceedingly bad taste considering the subject matter and later catastrophes at sea…

apologies for offence if taken…

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Funny, my daughter doesn’t reckon it’s dead in the water. She talked about it unprompted and in great detail tonight over dinner. Apparently all the kids in her politics class at school think Howard is a lying turd, especially since he refused to take a lie detector test. But they’re only sixteen; too young to vote. So there’s nothing to worry about C8to and PB, is there? Just keep telling yourselves that and you might even begin to believe it.

c8to
2022 years ago

i would be interested to hear how detailed they went into the various evidence, it is good for the young to track political events and it seems your daughter goes to a school decent enough that its actually mentioned.

i am willing to defend my intuition that the majority of the voting public wont be swayed by much of this. the left will still think howard is a “lieing bastard” and the right will support howard for his succesful stance on border protection.

the issue is dead means i dont think much more will be revealed…it seems the most important evidence has already come out.

its amusing they think howard is a lying turd. so do most of my peers. (unfortunately most of my peers have spent exactly zero minutes investigating this in any detail)

youre right that it perhaps cements in the mind of people that dont support howard anyway, but i am interested that this issue has clinched which way you will vote.

thoughts?

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Exactly, c8to. What sort of poisonous ‘education’ are these kids getting?

How many of them know anything about the Constitution, Parliaments and other public institutions of Australian life?

But they know Howard ‘lied’. Sheesh.

I don’t reckon Howard is any more or less honest than his predecessors or his comptetitors. The concerted campaign by the Opposition to portray every issue as another example of Howard dishonesty is comparable with the Fraser Opposition’s endless claims of scandal every time the Whitlam government did, well, anything. It’s been a campaign that will have only one net result, and that is further cynicism in Australian political life.

c8to
2022 years ago

you’re probably right al, they probably have some left wing indoctrination going on there…

i thing kids should be taught economics and about the political system in school…if were going to have a centralised education system we may as well teach them something useful

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Beck reads The Age and SMH, but reckons BBC Online is better. I told her she should give those pinko rags a big miss; they’re full of blatantly biased lefties intent on brainwashing impressionable readers. Far better, I said, to get all your information from Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman and Christopher Pearson, or reliable bloggers like Professor Bunyip or Tim Blair. But she just sneered. I fear it’s too late. She’s been irretrievably corrupted by high school communard politics teachers.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

You unintentionally nail the problem, Ken.

The problem is that the information resources you mention aren’t educational, they are ALL entertainment.

As for schools, I know a lot of teachers, mostly junior school ones. With one exception, they are all bitter Howard haters. Some are a lot more vocal than others, but their bumper stickers are all No hoWARd leftovers from GWII. Oh, and they are ALL female.

The syllabus ‘enjoyed’ by the Bundys Junior includes lots of good ‘progressive’ thought. For example, environmental stuff like learning songs about how Australians are ruining the environment. Let’s not even get started on the ‘some children have two mothers’ posters.

The system is very ‘progressive’, and very feminised. There doesn’t need to be political kommissars overseeing the classrooms.

Seriously, Ken. Do you reckon it’s healthy for half a country to think that the PM is a ‘lying turd’? Do you think that Latham is the pillar of probity to undo the cynicism and contempt being spawned by the current debate? Do you think he is more ‘honest’ than Howard?

I’m not that optimistic.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

Seriously, Ken. Do you reckon it’s healthy for half a country to think that the PM is a ‘lying turd’?

Obviously not.

So let’s get rid of the lying turd.

Robert
2022 years ago

Funny how Al’s managed to steer the debate away from “Howard didn’t lie” to “teachers are left-wing scum” — and it’s corollary: “Ken Parish is a dreadful parent”.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Al

I didn’t “unintentionally nail the problem”. I pre-emptively satirised what I knew to be the standard RWDB set of assumptins.

But in fact I DO agree to an extent with your observations about high school politics teachers. This one is a bloke, but he does in fact seem to exemplify the standard left set of assumptions, just as you exhibit th statndard right ones (though in the nicest possible way). I took the opportunity of injecting a bit of scepticism and nuance into Beck’s appreciation of the situation, acquainted her with some additional facts of which she wasn’t aware, and so on. But I didn’t try to disabuse her of the notion that Howard was lying through his teeth to win an election, because that’s what the evidence irresistably shows, however much RWDBs might twist and turn or hope that it’s already yesterday’s news and no-ones really interested except the luvvies/communards/similar term of abuse. It remains to be seen whether the latter (rather desperate) hopes will prove to be the case; the next Newspoll will tell us. But one thing’s for certain: Howard lied blatantly to win an election, just like Keating did in 1996, and democratic hygeine requires his removal.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Ken, if I’ve given the impression that I was in any way commenting on your parenting then I apologise. It was not my intention, but apparently other commenters have gathered that impression.

Ken was good enough to at least point out where he sees the ‘lie’ in this whole, bizarre affair. Which was good, because I was struggling to see just where it was that you people think was this massive breach of public trust.

I would point you to the Bunyip’s post I linked to earlier, and also the articles on the Currency Lad’s site as explaining the counterpoints better than I ever could. Did Howard lie? I’m afraid where you see black and white, I’m seeing shades of grey. My personal assessment is that the ‘lie’ that Ken describes would be better described as an overstatement, based on the fact that ONE of the PM’s sources described a lack of evidence for the alleged events. Two days out from an election, and no politician in the world would be about to change the story on the basis of the DOUBTs from one bureaucrat advisor (fond of changing his story depending on whether his mortgage was at stake or not).

We’re now 45 comments into this threat and 54 into the Backstopping thread. The affair has been going for a couple of days now. If the Bunyip and CL can’t convince you, then I certainly can’t. However, I do not feel that discussing the long term implications of the debate over the ‘children overboard’ issue is unreasonable.

I did not call teachers ‘scum’. Besides which, you might notice that Ken was the one who raised the topic of school politics, not me.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I’m closing debate on this comment thread simply to avoid splitting the ongoing discussion (if any). I’ve just stuck up a new post on this topic, so further comments should be posted there.

trackback
2022 years ago

Pants on fire

The Prime Minister faces a new assault on his integrity as inconsistencies emerge in his defence against claims that he deliberately misled the public over the “children overboard” affair.