Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On the QT: Secret Seven Win Through, or Five Get in a Fix

According to Steven Lewis, the crucial voting block that switched to Malcolm Turnbull were seven MPs from NSW: Tony Abbott, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Bronwyn Bishop, Louise Markus, Alex Hawke, Joe Hockey, and Helen Coonan.

All seven of them were absolute rusted on Howard supporters; and excepting Hockey (and perhaps Coonan to an extent) all are from the far right wing of the Liberal Party. You could say they are from the side of the NSW wing that brought the NSW Liberal Party Peter Debnam.

Alex Hawke is a young neophyte commonly referred to as an "extremist" and who I wouldn't be surprised if he were to have a poster of Sarah Palin on his wall.

Fierravanti-Welles has spent most of her short time in the Senate complaining about the ABC being terribly biased against the Liberal Party. Here are a couple of examples of her complaints from the May 2006 Budget estimates committee:

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS—Regarding double standards on length of answers; when the Prime Minister went on the 7.30 Report and was interviewed by Mr O’Brien—and again I will provide you with a copy of this—the Prime Minister gave a 15-line answer to a question. Mr O’Brien stated: ‘Let’s hope for some shorter ones now’ and he goes on, ‘it’s chewing up the interview time’. The PM was responding to a very complex issue—might I say typically rude and gratuitous of Mr O’Brien.

A few weeks earlier when Mr O’Brien interviewed the Labor Party president Warren Mundine, a 22 line answer was unremarked by Mr O’Brien. One standard for the Labor Party and another one for the Prime Minister. Could you investigate the issue, Mr Cameron, and provide your comment to me. It is really demonstrating double standards, particularly in the 7.30 Report and its treatment of one side of politics as opposed to the other.


Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS—... When, for example, Mr Beazley attended the May Day rally, you had four ABC microphones set up with all the attendant staff. Mark Vaile appeared at the Cole Inquiry and there were 14 ABC reporters and production staff present. Why did you need 14?

(Gee I don't know Senator, maybe because the opposition leader attending a May Day rally is as boring as bat shite, and a Minister appearing before a Royal Commission on whether or not he knew about the oil for food scandal is big news?)

but anyway, you get the idea...

Louise Markus is a member of Hillsong Church, and the campaign in her electorate in 2004 election has been viewed by some as a template for what happened last year in Jackie Kelly's electorate. Markus' ALP opponent in 2004 was Ed Husic, who is a Muslim. Pamphlets during the campaign were distributed (by whom we don't know) with a fake ALP logo bearing the slogan "Ed Husic is a devout Muslim. Ed is working hard to get a better deal for Islam." It was also alleged that Liberal Party supporters at booths on eleciton day were overheard urging voters to support Ms Markus "because she's a Christian".

And you know all about Tony Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop...

The big problem for Turnbull is that aside from wanting to have a Liberal Government, there are bugger all issues on which he would agree with any of the above infamous five (especially on social issues).

So why did they vote for him? Well obviously because they want to win government, and rightly believe Turnbull is a better chance than Nelson. But the important thing is Turnbull won by only four votes, and while that group of five desperately want to win the next election; as the right wing of the NSW State Liberal Party has shown, they can be more concerned with ensuring the party stays deeply conservative, even if it results in an election loss.

So what does Turnbull have to do? Well pretty much improve the Lib's position in the polls to the extent that he doesn't have to worry about those five (and other far-right wing MPs in the party) looking for another candidate. If he improves the polls, many of those who stayed with Nelson purely to give him a fair go, will quickly move to Turnbull's side and his majority in the party will be strong.

But even then, the five will be a vocal minority; and will not stand for too much Wentworth style "small "L" liberalism" from Turnbull, which is unfortunate, because that's who he is, and Turnbull does not have a history of changing for anyone. Interesting times ahead.
QT was again in the phony war mode. Still no new Liberal front bench, so not really much ado about anything.

Turnbull and Christopher Pyne (who will likely be promoted) were on the attack against Attorney General, Robert McClelland, for comments he made about the recent terror trial in Melbourne. Turnbull and Pyne were trying to get Rudd and McClelland to say that his comments could be cause for an appeal by the guilty parties and that he was wrong to make them because there are still 3 cases before the courts.

It was a nice line of questioning by the pair, unfortunately it was also pointless. Their main argument was that the judge in the case said McClelland should have not said anything, because it didn't serve the justice system. While he is entitled to his opinion, a quick squiz at the transcript shows McClelland did nothing wrong:

ROBERT McCLELLAND: The jury in the Pendennis trial has now reached a verdict in respect to ten of the accused. The jury is still deliberating on charges against two individuals and the court orders remain in place in respect to those matters, so, as such, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on detail relating to those matters.

However, I welcome the convictions that have been handed down today.....

So it wasn't exactly Kevin Andrews and the Haneef case.

The unintentional line of the day was from Julie Bishop. When Lindsay Tanner was making light of Malcolm Turnbull's time on struggle street (you know, the rented flat), Julie B got up to make a point of order and said she knows "the Government is entirely intimidated by the new leader of the opposition".

The laughter from the Government benches seemed to indicate otherwise; and she probably didn't think that he remarks also meant that even she knows the ALP feared nothing from the old leader of the opposition...

Look I think Turnbull is a much better opponent than Nelson, but I do not think the ALP is intimidated by him. And they really have no reason to be - nothing he did in his time in Government was at all worthy of pride. He was put in charge of water and the environment and was pretty much walked over by Howard; and were it not for the ALP running an absolute dud candidate in Wentworth at the last election he might not have even made it back into parliament.

He's been a personal success, but in the public sphere he has few laurels to rest on.

Julia Gillard was on the attack as well today. She first answered rather dully to a Dorothy Dixer on workplace relations... her next answer to a Dorothy on the ALP's new "Forward with Fairness" brought out the venom. She challenged Turnbull to decide whether he was "to spit in the face of the Australian worker and treat them as chattel" by continuing AWAs or if he "would dump his deputy".

It was a sign of things to come. Bishop amazingly is being touted as Turnbull's shadow treasurer. Surely the ALP couldn't be that lucky? One might almost think the Libs believe they did lose the last election only because they stuck with Howard - do they recall the anti-workchoices campaign?? Bishop is the most pro-WC member of the Libs, and quite possibly the only one of the Libs whose demeanour makes Turnbull seem middle-class.

But I wouldn't be surprised if she is given the job. I think the Libs are believing their own words and think the economy is so bad that people actually want workchoices back because we now all realise how wonderful it was. I am sure Julie B believes that most Australians think they made a mistake in November. Until the Libs realise some of their own policies were to blame for their defeat, I think they're going to struggle. The problem is Turnbull realises this, but he is in the minority...

The real line of the day goes the Annabel Crabbe. Yesterday I was trying to think of a good description of Turnbull and Bishop at their press conference. Thankfully I didn't come up with anything, because Annabel's description of the two of them as "the Blake and Krystle Carrington of the Liberal Party" is absolutely perfect.

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