The 72 Hour Report

Seventy two hours (give or take a day) after the news that Kevin Rudd had met with disgraced Labor scuzz-bucket Brian Burke way back in 2005, and the Government scoured the Old Testament looking for language to describe the evil they were witnessing, and the Canberra press gallery went hyper like a bunch of five year olds on cracker night, the assessment of the Australian people is starting to trickle in. The numbers are telling their own story. It’s a fizzer!

You’ve got to hand it to the Australian public. They’ve always been distrustful of religious nutcases, and Tony Abbott’s “supping with the devil” line was when the government threw the switch to The Exorcist.  That’s serious religious freakery that is. A jarring note, and the sort of stuff normally saved for the likes of Osama Bin Laden. We expect it to be uttered by the half mad President of the USA,  but not by Aussie politicians unless there’s some unexplained phenomenon causing pestilence and widespread death.

Cut to: Mr. Costello’s fire and brimstone speech in the Parliament, announcing to the Australian people that Mr. Rudd was not just compromised, but get this, morally and politically compromised, as though he, Costello, was entitled to tell the Big Brother loving Australian public how they should be judging Mr. Rudd’s moral values. 

Costello’s job is to look after the loot.  How does that give him any right to lecture the Aussie public on morals?.  The instant response of those punters interviewed by Club Troppo as they parked the car and headed into the Safeways to pick up some comestibles for the weekend, was that Mr. Costello should “get stuffed”, and when bailed up against the wall and forced to submit to intense focus group research, the Aussie punter, almost invariably responds, “Politicians dealing with shady characters?  Where’s the news in that? Does that satisfy you?,  Now bugger-off you nutcase”

And so, as all the threads of the story inevitably work their way toward Act III, the public, and especially the press gallery are geared up. They’re expecting something to cap the story off.  It just can’t be left hanging there in the air like some art-wank movie,  it’s got to resolve in a satisfying way, and so the force of expectation is on all of the players to do something:  To create the finale.  And amazingly, as though ordained, something does happen (to the lip smacking delight of the pack). It’s the sudden appearance of the sacrificial lamb.  Senator What’s-his-name. 

The shock Saturday morning revelation was that the poor bleating sod had met with Big Bad Burke for half an hour to talk about something aboriginal. Not big-business in anyone’s language, and normally for the government it wouldn’t rate a mention. But this was no time for relativism, and the defenceless quivering beast was taken before the High Priest and ordered to disembowel himself ‘or the good of the Party’ so that the government could continue to cast its voodoo magic without a mirror being held up to reflect the spells.

No doubt we can expect the incantations to be vicious and snarling come Monday morning.But that’s it.  What else can the Government do? Any more religious nuttery and it’ll put the people right-off, and so they’ll just have to fall back to the ol’ “lack of experience” line  which was always going to be there anyway

So was it worth it?  Time will tell, but I reckon it was a bit like the third Star Wars movie: Plenty of excitement and anticipation beforehand, Tons of interesting special effects until the stupid hand puppet makes an appearance, and the whole thing gets cornier than Granny’s big toe.

I reckon the Australian people have walked out of the theatre this weekend thinking. I’ll think twice before I waste my money on a movie like that again.

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aj
aj
14 years ago

Put me down with your safeway poll, I actually sick of hearing about it and want them to get back to work.
As for Howard he acting coo coo.

Patrick
14 years ago

Given how badly Chris Sheil’s last attempt at turning clubtroppo into the labour love camp was timed, maybe you should have waited a little longer.

From any reasonable perspective, it looks bad for Rudd. Not necessarily disastrous or career-ending, but still bad, as in the opposite of good. Campbell’s resignation, however cynically you might look at it (what, that’s a sackable offence, and not (not)overseeing AWB?) is good for the coalition and bad, ie not good, for the opposition.

What makes it bad (and is completely missing from your narrative) is that Labour actually thought it was worth pursuing Campbell – I mean, who were they kidding? Did Rudd simply not tell them, oh, yea, I kinda caught up with this guy as well? So people like poor CS get all worked up and end up like a scrag on a rock, with the coalition person resigned and only Rudd still on the hook?????

Amanda
14 years ago

Alan Jones has mentioned the issue precisely once this morning, and only in passing. If you can’t get him excited about it, sounds like a loser for the govt to me.

Fred Argy
Fred Argy
14 years ago

I wouldn’t jump with relief yet Rex. Tomorrow’s poll may still prove ugly. More importantly, we are dealing with a moving target. Rudd has already confessed to one

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

Not jumping with relief Fred. Just calling it for Rudd. Barring murky financial deals implicating Rudd – and he just doesn’t seem the type, then I think the PM’s pedal-to-the-metal play will make him look like an extremist.

It was page 5 on the Herald Sun today. This is going to need explosive evidence to fuel the fire beyond this week.

Tony.T
14 years ago

Ditto Jacques. Citing an SMH online poll as evidence is madness, Rex. That’s like polling Collingwood supporters on the umpiring after a close loss.

Still, if you’re that desperate to cite Fairfax, why not walk outside your office and look at the Age’s frontpage. (Or even the editorial in yesterday’s Sunday Age, surely the most lefty paper in the country.)

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
14 years ago

I doubt that the actual incident has legs but, presumably, it’s the enduring impression of an evasive guy with a glass jaw under pressure that the government wants to indelibly print. Whether they succeed or not is anyone’s guess.

It strikes me that Brian Burke holds a lot of unplayed cards

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
14 years ago

You are all correct. This particular issue will go away pretty much right now but it has shown everyone that you can land a punch on Rudd. His call for a snap election was Lathamesque so I’m thinking this is not the last punch Rudd will cop.

Three times he met with Burke, three times and the whole world knows he was getting advice from the oracle on his leadership aspirations. The whole world knows this, his supporters and his enemies. It’s a given.

You easterners don’t know what Burke means over here. It could effect the results in the marginals here in WA but we’re a long way out so that’s not a given.

Amanda
14 years ago

it has shown everyone that you can land a punch on Rudd.

Yeah, except they had to make them a laughing stock to do so.

Ken Parish
Admin
14 years ago

Then again, you might just cite the editorial in this morning’s edition of that notorious left wing rag The Australian. The “whole world knows he was getting advice from the oracle on his leadership aspirations“? Well apparently the Oz editor doesn’t. Here’s what he reckons:

It is ludicrous to suggest that Mr Rudd was enlisting Mr Burke’s support for a leadership tilt, given that the leadership was held by Mr Burke’s good friend, Kim Beazley. It is perfectly normal that a frontbencher with leadership aspirations should tour the country, accepting invitations to meet and greet coming from all quarters. It should be noted that Mr Burke did have extensive contacts in Perth with business leaders and other people of influence, including the editor of the local paper.

Mr Howard’s burst of rectitude over Senator Campbell is all the more extraordinary for the slack approach he has shown to ministerial accountability over the past nine years. …

Damned pinko.

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
14 years ago

You easterners don

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
14 years ago

“His call for a snap election was Lathamesque”

Perhaps even more so considering that one can’t be called before August 4th, within the normal electoral cycle.

And accusing Howard (and by extension, the Americans) of going to war on a “lie ” – when he’s on record as believing the WMD case to be the gospel truth – wasn’t smart either. Nor was his assertion that Howard had “authorised” the AWB bribery of Saddam given that he’s also on record as conceding that the case against the government is one of ineptitude, not conspiracy to bribe.

It does reeks a bit of kneejerk and unravelling under pressure though it’s a very long way from looking terminal.

Bill Posters
Bill Posters
14 years ago

And accusing Howard (and by extension, the Americans) of going to war on a

Patrick
14 years ago

AFR was surprisingly heavy on Rudd – editorial against, and opinion page double-barrel – looks like all the newsboys are going all counter-cultural on us :)

Hugoaugogo
Hugoaugogo
14 years ago

I think that Rex’s point is spot on. THis is sucha nothing issue, and the government just looks desperate by shrieking about it so much. This issue stinks to high heaven as a Canberra issue – ie an issue that no one else in the country gives a flying fig about.

I keep hearing how Howard’s sacking (be in no doubt) of Campbell “keeps the pressure on Rudd”. Do I need to remind everyone that a cabinet minister has resigned, apparently in some disgrace. Can someone please explain to me how that is an act of political genius? Seems more like an own goal to me.

No doubt we’ll see what sort of effect it has when the next round of polls comes out, but I’d be very surprised if it has made any significant difference.

Mr Denmore
Mr Denmore
14 years ago

The self-obsessed press gallery journos and the politicians will get excited about this (as you would expect from a class of people who treat politics like a game of football), but the public (which is more concerned about matters that affect them) doesn’t give a flying fig.

In any case, I still can’t understand what exactly Rudd did that was wrong. He may have been disingenuous about the nature of the meetings with Burke, but in comparison to Howard’s huge porkies (like going to war on a lie), this is very small potatoes. In the meantime, real national issues – like global warming and education and productivity – have disappeared from the front pages.

To me, the most gobsmacking development in this mini-saga has been Howard’s willingess to sacrifice a minister to try to wedge Rudd – particularly given the total absence of the application of the principle of ministerial responsbility in his government up until now.

The second notable feature has been the reversal of roles by the various media organisations – the ABC (in a desparate attempt to be seen as ‘balanced’) jumped all over the story as if Rudd had been caught selling state secrets to Al-Qaeda or betting with the bookies against the Aussie cricket team.
The Gengis Khan-style editorial writers at The Australian, though, have been remarkably sane about the whole issue.

This will be a very interesting election. I still think Howard is a goner, and by the increasing desparation of his tactics (without Sinodinis to advise him), he makes me feel more and more confident about that call.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

At the end of the day unless further heads roll through revelation or error making we have this:

1) words without evidence.

2) a minister sacked.

If that means Rudd comes out second best on this I’d be buggered. Surely as weeks and months roll on the public will remember the critical known fact: a minister got sacked for gross political opportunism.

I reckon Howard has made a considerable error.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
14 years ago

Yep. You can’t get past the fact that the government laid down non-negotiable pariah-creating parameters, in respect of any historic contact with Burke, without checking with their West Australian delegation beforehand.

Whatever way you frame it – and peripheral damage potential to Rudd notwithstanding – it is, unarguably, a tactical own goal.

cs
cs
14 years ago

Given how badly Chris Sheil

Fred Argy
Fred Argy
14 years ago

Mr. Denmore, I too have noticed the less-than-neutral behaviour of the ABC on this issue, as on many other political issues of late. The ABC is still running the Burke-Rudd story as top news today on its rado programs and internet news! That’s exactly what Howard was hoping for. It could be of no significance or it could be real evidence that the steady politicisation of the ABC is now producing dividends for the Government at last.

On the other hand I just heard a most entertaining interview with Paul Keating on the Burke issue. He had me laughing till it hurts!

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
14 years ago

“He had me laughing till it hurts!”

He trotted the “dessicated coconut” line out a while back and obviously liked what he saw. The line about Burke being, “smarter than two-thirds of the West Australian Labor Party rolled together,” was vintage PJK.

Ingolf
14 years ago

Geoff or Fred, which station aired the PJK interview? And when? Sounds like it’s worth chasing down.

Fred Argy
Fred Argy
14 years ago

The station running the PK interview was ABC Radio National The World Today program at about 12.15 pm.

Tim K
Tim K
14 years ago

Keating was on ABC radio, and it was very entertaining. His observations about Costello (“all tip and no iceberg”) were spot on.

I don’t think Rudd is out of the woods yet though, and I think those SMH polls are a completely unreliable barometer of public opinion. I’m an SMH reader and a Labor supporter, but I never take any comfort from those polls. A phone poll from A Current Affair, or the like, is probably a better indication of how the issue is really registering.

Ingolf
14 years ago

Thanks, Fred.

vee
vee
14 years ago

From a political pundit perspective, it looks bad for Rudd and good for the vision-less Howard.

From the joe blow perspective, nobody cares. In 8 months time, it wont make a skerrick of difference.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
14 years ago
cs
cs
14 years ago

Ingolf
14 years ago

Much appreciated, Geoff. Keating, whatever else one may think of him, does have a way with words. I particularly liked the “all tip and no iceberg.”

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
14 years ago

“I particularly liked the

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

re PJK: talk about ‘cutting through’! Nothing like it.

So what happens now? Rudd moves on and Howard spends the week worrying about who else in his mob has met with Burke – and who else knows? Burke, obviously. Seems a bit perilous.

Rex
Rex
14 years ago

I think the ball is in Rudd’s court. He can hit back and insist that Mr. Howard punish all the Libs who have been tainted by Burke, or he can let it slide. Rise above it, and demonstrate his statesmanlike manner, and insist to the PM that they debate issues meaningful to the Australian people.

cs
cs
14 years ago

Right wingers will not agree, of course, but that’s dead-on Rex. The ALP expects to take a hit in the polls, yet that’s now last week. KR has all the options. Without fresh information, the story is as dead as a dodo. Nicely called.

Robert
Robert
14 years ago

How about a name or two and some juice leaked to the media by an ALP backroom chappy, and let the media go on it? Put Howard in the hotseat? That is, it doesn’t have to come from Rudd at all. Why not? Let’s go for five nil, all scored by the dessicated coconut himself. Campbell might be the tip of a titanic.

Link
14 years ago

The Polls.

Will be interesting (for once.) Oh please, if Howard still drags behind in them, can he not come up with something new to drag Rudd down to his level, or can he, like any normal person, simply become resigned and disconsolate? Much more likely he’ll get nastier and panic all the more. Brace yourselves, for more mind-numbingly stupid, red-herring, personal attacks.

On the other hand, if his polling is up, he’ll be undoubtedly a little chuffed and maybe will drop this outrageous bloody waste of everybody’s time and energy (while the rest of us become resigned and disconsolate.)

cs, so Rudd’s a friend eh? Could you suggest to him that they throw a big party when all is said and done and Howard’s gone? After a tiresomely long ten years of the dullest, the dreariest, the meanest, the most sexist, the most racist, the most fearful, the most pathetic, the most dishonest Government that we have ever had to suffer in our short little history, I think we deserve it.

Imagine the jubliation! It’ll be great! Fireworks, concerts, festivals, parades, a public holiday even! No more John HoWARd Day.

Link
14 years ago

Sounds pretty dishonest Robert. You’ll probably find it doesn’t work very well.

cs
cs
14 years ago

Newspoll has the ALP up 3 points, 57/43.

I’d be interested in how other people found Costello’s performance on Lateline tonight (which I found overbearing in the extreme, but perhaps I would say that).

Link, don’t you have any Irish in you? It is far too early to be even thinking of winning, let alone thinking of celebrating. The government has been busy punching itself in the face over recent weeks, but Howard is far too seasoned a politician for this to continue. The LNP will correct, the economy remains a debate that is yet to happen, and the government is still favourite in my book. The business end of this race is still to come.

C.L.
14 years ago

#11 The Australian is still licking its wounds about their embarrassing and totally wrong coverage of the AWB affair. (So stupid their own in-house wag, Matt price, ended up mocking it). Interestingly and topically, that coverage included a conspiracy theory about how Terence Cole was once seen at the same restaurant as John Howard. Ergo: the Royal Commission might be fixed! Strangely, Rudd appearing at THREE eateries at which convicted criminal Biran Burke happened to be holding court raises no alarm bells for them at all. Laughable.

Blatherskite
Blatherskite
14 years ago

…and the whole world knows [Rudd] was getting advice from the oracle on his leadership aspirations. The whole world knows this, his supporters and his enemies. It

theHippy
theHippy
14 years ago

But be warned. Keep up the personal diatribe and the next time I blog just might write a long post on politics. Then you