Best of Australian politics 2009

Tuesday, 29 December 2009 

Best political moment

There’s nothing like a good fight to clarify things, and you couldn’t get better than the one between Turnbull and the old guard at the end of November.

The climax was Turnbull’s interview with Laurie Oakes on Today on 29 November. Like the best of political moments, Turnbull lays everything bare. Calling his opponents “wreckers” and taking the party to an “electoral catastrophe”, Turnbull’s interview was widely regarded as reckless, foolhardy and burying his chances for good. Yet it did precisely what Turnbull had to do at that time, polarise the issue and so destroy the chances of Hockey as a compromise candidate.

Best politician

In the final days of Turnbull’s leadership, this blog asked whether Turnbull was really a politician, which Turnbull almost immediately started to answer, finally getting back on the front foot and escalating the row with the old guard and so forcing them to have to run for cover. While the rest of Turnbull’s leadership was a dud, in its last week he showed more political bravado than we have seen from any leading politician the whole year. The result was arguably the best result for him other than a crushing win, a knife-edge loss, which surprised everyone and could set him up for a return at some later date.

Best photo

Shortly before he was booted out, this blog speculated that Howard might perhaps be a little more reticent than his predecessors to get involved with party politics. He hasn’t stayed out, of course, but has been careful not to get in the limelight. His meeting with Hockey on 28 November, no doubt to try and get him to run against Turnbull, was meant to be low-key. Fortunately, photographer Dean Marzolla hung around the back door long enough to catch this snap of Hockey leaving chez Howard, having received the kiss of death that would see his challenge flop and so confirm why it would have been wise for the old man to keep his nose out after all.

Best interview

Other than Turnbull’s interview above, Minchin’s mouthing off about the level of climate change scepticism in the Liberals on Four Corners would probably have to have had the biggest impact on the Australian political scene in 2009.

In contrast to Minchin’s forthrightness, worth a special mention is Abbott’s interview on The 7.30 Report in early October. It is noteworthy for Abbott contradicting almost everything he says in it just a few weeks later.

Best political article

Surely Steve Lewis’s Utegate revelations in the Daily Telegraph on 19 June (18 June in the Eric Abetz edition) would have to be the most influential on Australian politics in 2009. It shows all the best of Australian journalism, a well deserved ‘scoop’ only possible after some hard digging and a rigorous checking of the facts.

Also worth a mention is Albrechsten’s excruciating welcome to Abbott’s arrival to the leadership, only matched for astuteness by the welcome she gave to his predecessor. Asking us to put his policies aside, Albrechtsen ‘fesses up that she has a thing for straight talking macho opposition leaders who tell it like it is. Oh wait. No she doesn’t.

Best political newspaper

No winner. Normally The Australian is the preferred read for the breadth of its contributions and the impact they sometimes have on the political scene. But this year was not a good one. It was not just the farce over its handling of the ‘rogue’ Newspoll (and the one that never followed it) but the tactic of taking a more openly partisan line, similar to Fox against Obama in the US, saw it lose influence over 2009. This is not the US. Rudd is much happier than Obama to isolate any political leanings on the left or right and The Australian is finding itself boxed in as a political (‘centre-right’ or ‘right’) newspaper at a time when traditional political views are becoming more marginalized. It is no surprise that Abbott’s ascension has seen some of its writers follow the Libs right off reality’s cliff.

Fortunately for The Australian, however, its main quality rivals in the Fairfax stable continue to be editorial shadows of their former selves, especially The Age. Almost in acknowledgement of the declining authority of the press, 2009 saw them start up ‘blogs’; Punch at the Murdoch stable, The Drum at the ABC, and something curious going on around a Goanna at Fairfax. To this blog, they only seem to exacerbate the problem of loss of authority.

Best cartoon

The Australian’s writers may be losing it, but its cartoonists are still on the ball. It’s a tie as two hit the mark on the same amusing event.

That’s it for 2009. Many thanks for the comments and kind emails through the year and especially the recommendations elsewhere that have helped the readership grow through 2009. Time to put up the Town Hall lights. Back in the New Year.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Tuesday, 29 December 2009.

Filed under Key posts, Media analysis, State of the parties

Tags: , ,


21 responses to “Best of Australian politics 2009”

  1. Persse on 29th December 2009 7:51 am

    Thank you for another year of well argued, interesting, and entirely original commentary.

  2. Avalon Dave on 29th December 2009 8:39 am

    Good on you Strike – Happy New Year

  3. vote1maxine on 29th December 2009 9:29 am

    I’d like to second Persse’s comments.
    Looking forward to your analysis & commentary of the 2010 election year.

  4. Ricc on 29th December 2009 11:23 am

    Yes, congrats on another good year.

    Looking forward to lots of empty gestures aimed at the forthcoming election from our political class, and biting commentary from the Shrike.

    I’d nominate you for a gig with one of the MSM blogs to replace the useless ones like Paul Kelly or Shannas, but it might cramp your style.

  5. Gerry on 29th December 2009 11:50 am

    Thanks for a year of great analysis.

  6. Paul of Berwick on 29th December 2009 12:12 pm

    Your articles about the MOM PS:
    “Reductio ad absurdum”

    Your thoughts on these matters:
    “Nulli secundus”

  7. Paul of Berwick on 29th December 2009 12:13 pm

    Sorry, typo….

    Your articles about the MSM PS:
    “Reductio ad absurdum”

    Your thoughts on these matters:
    “Nulli secundus”

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  9. Greensborough Growler on 29th December 2009 2:49 pm

    Surely you take the piss re Lewis story. Who can forget the ‘tricked up” email and the fact that the story was emphatically denied by Rudd and co prior to publication.

    I know, Why should they waste a scoop after all that research just because it was a lie?

  10. The Piping Shrike on 29th December 2009 4:52 pm


  11. Nix on 29th December 2009 6:10 pm

    Another good read, PS. Thank you for your posts in 2009, they are much appreciated. I look forward to your always interesting analysis in 2010.

  12. Ricc on 30th December 2009 1:44 pm

    Looking at the Howard photo, doesn’t he appear to have aged considerably since the election. Really does look like an old man you might run into at a church fete.

    Why they regard him as a ‘kingmaker’ says more about the Lib faithful than it does about Howard.

  13. Thomas Paine on 31st December 2009 12:18 am

    A some Murdoch journos have really jumped the shark in their panicked attempts to sink Rudd and hoist Abbott. You can see they are getting desperate, becoming more obvious in their bias, almost shrill pleading; blatant lies and straw men come to the fore.

    Also I would say The Australian is a paper with very little authority left since it has gone off the track in a single minded pursuit, and the only creds they have is courtesy of the likes of proper journos like megalagenous.

  14. Ad astra on 31st December 2009 3:13 pm

    Thanks TPS for another great year of thoughtful, penetrating and insightful political comment. I look forward to 2010.

  15. phil@vvb on 1st January 2010 10:51 pm

    From the far from universally laudatory comments, it seems like Janet’s planet is losing population.

    Love yer work Shrike.

  16. Jennie Logan on 2nd January 2010 12:05 pm

    “Best of Australian Politics 2009” Kevin Rudd doesn’t even rate a mention except in a cartoon? Interesting………..

  17. The Piping Shrike on 2nd January 2010 9:33 pm

    Yes I was thinking that. Except for a brief period during Utegate, they seem to have been happy to let the Libs make the show.

  18. Rocket on 6th January 2010 9:15 pm

    Have only recently re-acquainted with your site (deliberate political non-engagement in 2009 due to other commitments – but the “siren song” of Turnbull-Hockey-Andrews-Abbott led me astray at the end!). This site is pure gold, and possibly SA’s best export!

  19. John Rocket on 10th January 2010 10:48 am

    SA’s best…
    Three way tie:
    Annabel Crabb, Piping Shrike and… Snodrop.
    All the best for the New Year.

  20. Ricc on 10th January 2010 1:43 pm

    Love to see TPS run a ‘master class’ on political commentary, and invite all the big names along to learn from the master!

    One of my worst fears about 2010 is that the Insiders program lingers another year on the pretext of an election. The format is based on the idea that private conversations from the inner sanctum of the Howard Government should be masticated at length.

    2010 – no Howard Government, no private conversations, no sagacity from the Great Man, no battlers, no border crisis, no war on terror, no culture war, Cassidy has no idea. All in all, an era that can no longer justify the show.

  21. The Aussie year in politics: all the #spills and thrills | on 12th January 2010 2:20 pm

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