Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Best political moment
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.
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.
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.
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.
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