Posts Tagged ‘Matt Price’

Vale Matt Price

Far too young. Matt was one of the most clever, articulate and even-handed journalists covering Australian politics. Insiders was always much the better when he appeared on it.

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Matt Price

Tim Blair has posted a message from Matt Price, reporting that he has been diagnosed with several brain tumours. Best wishes to Matt and his family in this difficult time.

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The last front in the War on Stuff

Andrew Bolt calls for reinforcements:

Price clearly doesn’t understand my role, so let me spell it out for him:

I argue for myself, with a glorious freedom that politicians do not enjoy – the freedom to speak my mind regardless of whether what I say is popular or not.

So I could argue that the war in Iraq was necessary, knowing full well from the start it was not popular. I could argue that global warming was being wildly exaggerated and hyped by carpet-baggers and professional panic-merchants who threatened to ruin us. I could argue that Work Choices would lift employment without even ignoring it would inspire a monstrous fear campaign.

As a politician I might have argued none of that, or at least moderated my comments and my policies. But being a politician is not my job. My job is to argue for what I believe is right, and in doing so hopefully help to create a climate of opinion in which that right can be done.

That why when Howard finally buckles to the global warming hysteria, I do not criticise him as a politician. I criticise instead the forces that drove him to it, and the many journalists and commentators such as Price that did not stand with me in resisting them.

Maybe people don’t stand with him because they think his “arguments for himself” are utter crap.

Regardless, it’s apparently the role of the media to protect John Howard from political pressure. Ironic, given that Bolt has been trying to push him out of the job.

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Leadership wrap-up

So, Howard is leading his “team” (prepare to have an automatic aversion to that word by the time the election rolls around) into battle one last time. We know it’s true, because he told us so. And he begged us to vote for him, or for his team, or something:

JOHN HOWARD: No, I’ve used that … but look, can I just say something about it. I’ve given a lot of thought to this, and my position to the next election, and this is what I’ll be telling the Australian people is, is very simple. If the Australian people are good enough and kind enough to re-elect me again, there are a lot of things I want to do, and I would want to approach those things with enormous energy. But I would expect well into my term, and after those things have been implemented and battered down, I would probably, certainly form the view well into my term, that it makes sense for me to retire, and in those circumstances, I would expect, although it would be a matter for the Party to determine if Peter would take over.

Several quick responses:

  1. “probably, certainly” – that’s non-core speaking, that is. There seem to be an amazing number of people who doubt Howard’s word – Phil at Larvatus Prodeo, Tim at The Road to Surfdom, and … that’s right, me.
  2. “If the Australian people are good enough and kind enough to re-elect me again” – can he get any more pathetic and desperate to cling to power? More agreement here, from some strange bedfellows – Jeremy Sear, Andrew Bolt, and … that’s right, me.
  3. “enormous energy” – presumably a comparable amount to the “massive energy” Dolly attributed to JWH on the same show the preceding night. Is this supposed to convince us that he’s (i) still thinking about the future, (ii) young and vigorous, or (iii) drinking too much Red Bull?
  4. “I would expect, although it would be a matter for the Party to determine if Peter would take over” – in two years from now, after all of his wimpy failures to demonstrate actual leadership, I suspect the transition will be anything but orderly. Mark Bahnisch points to this as an issue Labor should look to exploit, and I agree.

As per usual, the traditional media are much less informative than the blogonauts. Matt Price still wants to claim that the GG (via Paul Kelly’s column) blew the lid off something yesterday, rather than being a day behind the news. But at least he sees the damage the Libs have done to themselves and the gift they have given Labor in campaign material. Contrast that with Shanahan’s typical slant:

Howard now concedes he will go to the next term without a commitment to serve as prime minister through that term.

The decision neutralises a looming Labor tactic, promotes Costello’s undoubted strengths and leaves Howard as the tactical leader in the election.

He believes it is an election he can win, and that he’s still the best man for doing that job at this time.

The decision means he won’t be living a lie or running for re-election on false premises. And it addresses the reality that Howard’s age and longevity as Prime Minister were hindrances to the Coalition, and there had to be the definite prospect of regeneration.

This is a definitive undertaking, all the more genuine for Howard’s wish to hang on to the top job as long as possible, which gives Costello new hope of becoming prime minister.

The first sentence in that quotation shows Shanahan has learned the weasel words his master uses so well – he’ll go to the polls without a commitment to serve the full term, but that is not the same as saying he will go with a commitment to not serve out the term. The rest of the piece is rubbish – the leadership debacle and this Howard-driven solution neutralises nothing for Labor, does nothing to paint Costello in a good light and, while it is true that it leaves Howard in command of tactics, ignores the fact that all of the available data suggests people have had enough of Howard.

I worry that some former Howard supporters will feel that they should let him back in so that he can go out “on his own terms.” Sunrise today had a phone-in poll – a flawed methodology in itself, hampered by a bad question, so its results have to be taken with a grain of salt. But the last I saw, around 85% of those who had been bothered to phone in said that Howard’s announcement had made it more likely they would vote for him. I hope those people realise that the conditions for this election are exactly the terms he has chosen. The last election campaign was based on untenable claims about keeping interest rates low; they have risen. He said he would stay only as long as he had the support of his party; he has lost it. The possibility of a smooth and untroubled transition to Costello’s leadership was available last year; he rejected it.

This is the end John Winston Howard has chosen. We owe it to him to finish the job.

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While you were sleeping

I’m still chained to the wheel today, so just a quick take on the “who wants to be a PM?” debacle. First, a round-up of links:

  • Bolt and Price fronted Lateline for a pretty tame chat. Price hinted that Paul Kelly would have a piece in the Australian this morning that would shake things up. Both seemed to agree that it comes down to today, and to whether Costello (or someone else) has the mettle to take Howard on.
  • Here’s the Kelly article, which suggests that Downer gave Howard an unfavourable assessment of the party’s mood last week, which Howard has apparently decided to ignore. Given Dolly’s capitulation last night, I don’t see Kelly’s article as having any forward impact – it’s a retrospective setting out (assuming it is accurate) the process that got us to where we were yesterday.
  • Bolt is continuing to offer his pro-Costello views.
  • Janet Albrechtsen continues to push for Howard’s martyrdom (“He must die to save conservatism for us all”), and even manages to invoke Thatcher this time around.
  • There’s fresh thread at Larvatus Prodeo.
  • UPDATE: Annabel Crabb is spot on: “THE past few days of leadership destabilisation in the Liberal Party has exposed an obvious complication: none of the Libs are any good at it.”

My take: Plenty of people, myself included, have had long-standing objections to the Liberal Party based on its (im)morality and its policies. More recently, a sizeable proportion of the electorate has moved towards Labor because they feel a Rudd Government would be better able to look after Australia than a continuation of the Howard-Costello Government. The past week’s events go far beyond that.

Now, the Liberal Party is in danger of becoming a complete laughing-stock. Costello is nowhere to be seen, which means that he either hopes to be carried to the leadership by others, or there is a third party (e.g., Turnbull) gunning for the top spot. The polls already show that the majority of Australians wants Howard to go; now, media reports suggest that even a majority in his own Cabinet want the same. They appear afraid of crushing defeat, they appear to desperately want change, and yet nobody appears willing to bring it about. Even as they seek to be free of Howard’s leadership, Howard is the only one capable of bringing it about.

I expect this will be defused by lunchtime. If not, we reach a point where even those who still believe in the party’s values might not have any faith left in its representatives.

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Wank Wars

Now even Piers and Andrew can’t agree on who is the Liberals’ saviour.

Meanwhile, Matt injects some actual analysis, along with some reality, into the traditional media’s discussion.

And over in the darkest shadows of the Internets at Larvatus Prodeo, Kim and the commenters are carrying on with an actual intelligent debate about polling and political strategy. It’s disgusting what those filthy bloggers do, sitting at their computers and typing their sick fantasies.

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Wankers, wankers everywhere

The latest Newspoll results have really shaken the nuts out of their tree.

Matt Price (spoiler alert: he is the only non-nut in this piece) covers the different yet equally pathetic responses from Dolly, the Mad Monk and the Smirk. They really don’t seem to have a clue how to respond to this, and yet their personalities force them into certain behaviours – Dolly has to insinuate that the enemy is mean and nasty, the Monk has to deny that the polls can mean what they clearly show, and the Smirk has to rabbit on for a while to show his wisdom without offering anything constructive.

Paul Kelly simultaneously tells us that John Howard is a wonderful PM and that John Howard must quit. Kelly seems to be acting as the self-appointed protector of the Howard legacy by noting all the wonderful things that have happened under his leadership and then suggesting he gets out of town before it turns ugly. My favourite part – since 2004, “Iraq has gone bad.” Yep, because ’03 and ’04 were a cakewalk – which explains why we were still there at the last federal election, 18 months after “Mission Accomplished.” And then, Kelly leads us neatly into the next piece of wankery with his statement that:

There may be a defect with polling methodology this year. If not, then Newspoll’s result on the eve of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum summit is a shocker, with Labor’s primary vote lead 51 per cent to 37 per cent.

Yes, four different polling companies, some of them using multiple different polling methodologies, showing consistently bad results for more than six months, and “there may be a defect.” A well-constructed argument.

But, as always, Dennis can outwank anyone. There’s already a good commentary by Mark Bahnisch about this bad piece of journalism. The interesting thing is that, in the same way that Shanahan et al. have consistently seized on whichever number gives the coalition a glimmer of hope from every poll, the fact that the latest individual poll is dreadful and does not give the slightest bit of hope has sent them into a frenzy of catastrophising. They must explain the polls, but they can’t acknowledge that the polls actually reflect reality – which makes these commentators no better than Downer, Abbott or Costello.

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The funny

Matt Price is starting to get pretty good at this.

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"Mischievously using my own stupidity against me"

Matt Price puts it in context:

Ever courteous, The Sketch and a colleague made small talk with the Tasmanian Liberal senator. It was joked that as a relative rookie, he might be keen on filling the vacancy left by Apple Isle veteran Paul Calvert, the Senate president who yesterday announced his retirement.

Parry just laughed and shook his head, prompting The Sketch to quip: “Besides, you’ll be far too busy running the hospitals down there.”

A dark look swept across Parry’s face and he began shaking his head.

Not happy, Senator?

“It’s a disaster,” he replied. “It should have been closed.”

The thing that made it a problem for Parry?

Unfortunately for Parry, there was a fourth person in the lift. His name is Lachlan Harris and he isn’t a journalist. In fact, he is Kevin Rudd’s press secretary.

Labor then raised it in Senate Question Time, at which point it became fair game for the press.

Better learn to recognize the faces of your opponents, Senator.

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… may be revealed tomorrow. Matt Price hints at an interesting twist in the hospital takeover narrative:

But as Tony Abbott was down in Tasmania spruiking the Devonport hospital rescue mission, an outburst of honesty from a Liberal senator rather spoilt the health minister’s trip.

I’m preparing a full explanation of Stephen Parry’s indiscretion for Wednesday’s Sketch, but the Tasmanian Liberal – based in Burnie – was overheard describing the intervention as a “disaster”.

Watch this space.

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