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The puppet masters

Image by The Australian

Image by The Australian

Before the time of Gough Whitlam, the public service were largely responsible for the formulation and co-ordination of policy and senior public servants made the important decisions.  The Prime Minister had a single press secretary and ministers of the Crown relied on a very small staff to perform administrative and secretarial duties.

Whitlam created an office employing political staff to help strengthen an executive administration to formulate and implement policies.  This continued under successive Prime Ministers with Howard overseeing an expansion of political staff in the Australian government to about 450 and the establishment of a government staff committee to take a tight reign over staff appointments.

As Nicholas Reece points out in the SMH

“TV programs such as The West Wing, In the Loop and The Hollowmen reflect the shift that has occurred in the balance of power in government from public servants to political staffers compared with the days of Yes Minister.”

And amongst these staffers, Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, has arguably achieved more power than any of her predecessors.  She and her husband Brian Loughnane run the Star Chamber with an iron fist, deciding who gets what job, who may speak to the media and when, and dictating what people will be told, much to the chagrine of Coalition backbenchers like Senator MacDonald.

Reece goes on to say:

“Credlin holds the ultimate backroom role in Australian politics.  Despite her extraordinary power, she does not hold an elected position. She is not appointed by the cabinet, nor is she directly subject to the scrutiny of Parliament. And she does not do press conferences that would allow open questioning by journalists.”

Unless of course, it’s to make the bizarre disclosure that Abbott “allowed” her to keep her IVF drugs in his office fridge.  For a very private woman, that was a very private thing to share publicly.

Not only do we have unelected, unaccountable, often inexperienced, staffers dictating policy, we also are paying a fortune to media spin doctors for them to sell their wares.

In August 2012, the Australian reported that

“TAXPAYERS are spending about $150 million a year on an army of spin doctors to sell the Gillard government’s policies to voters.

Figures obtained by The Australian reveal there are about 1600 staff employed by federal government departments and agencies in media, communications, marketing and public affairs roles.

Opposition Senate leader Eric Abetz seized on the figures to accuse Labor of focusing on spin over substance and vowed to cut the numbers if in government.

Senator Abetz said he believed it would cost taxpayers an average of about $100,000 a year to keep each staff member in their job, once salary, entitlements and equipment were factored in. He said a Coalition government would cut the numbers.

“This is literally a battalion, if not an army, of spin doctors.  What this highlights yet again is the government’s concentration on spin. They do get the initial message out very well, but the policy underpinning it and the administrative follow-up is always a shambles.  Most Australians would agree that spin doctors are not necessarily a core business of a lot of these departments,” he said.”

Unfortunately, those heartening words from Senator Abetz as he decried the waste, turned out to be…spin.

In March 2014, the Canberra Times reported that:

“The federal government’s ”army” of spin doctors and communications staff has grown to more than 1900, based on data supplied by departments and agencies.

An analysis of answers to questions on notice supplied to a Senate committee shows staffers in government media, communications and marketing operations have increased by several hundred in two years and could be costing taxpayers as much as $190 million a year.

Public Service Minister Eric Abetz said the government was conscious of the growth of its spin machine and hinted action was being considered.  Responding to the latest figures, the minister said they showed ”the approximate level of communications staffing that the Coalition inherited from the former government after the election”.

Of course – it is an example of Labor’s waste that the Coalition have had to employ more spin doctors.

And chief amongst these spin doctors is Mark Textor.

For the 2004 federal election campaign for John Howard, Textor was credited for the “who do you trust” campaign strategy refocusing key trust questions back on the then Opposition Leader’s economic competence – a line Tony Abbott recycled.    In 2012 he was strategist and pollster for Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party election campaign.

We also have “Tex” to thank for the catch cry quote: “We will stop the boats, stop the big new taxes, end the waste, and pay back the debt.”

So confident is Textor of his position, in November last year he felt it appropriate to tweet about Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa, whom he likened to a 1970s Pilipino [sic] porn star, also questioning his ethics.

Textor’s company profile says:

“Mark’s direct clients have included governments, premiers and opposition leaders in six countries and the CEOs and Boards of major Australian and multi-national companies in a broad range of industries, including; mining, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), pharmaceutical, retail, financial services, banking (“Big Four”), tobacco, renewable energies, oil, gas and farming sectors.”

It’s a bit rich for a man who will say anything for money to be lecturing on ethics.

Australia’s Power Index acknowledged his skill with the focus group.

“He’s a genius at transforming raw research into compelling communication – someone who presses people’s emotional buttons, identifies points of division, and boils complex issues down to their core.”

This is the man who has sold the message of fear and division, and is praised for so doing.

As reported in the Guardian

“In Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, Crosby Textor declares it is paid to lobby on behalf of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.

APPEA is the peak industry group for the oil and gas industry and among other things, speaks on behalf of Australia’s booming coal seam gas industry.

Crosby Textor also carries out research for industry groups such as the Queensland Resources Council – the peak body for mining in the state.

Crosby Textor also lists on the lobby registers other clients including Research In Motion (the makers of BlackBerry), property developers, a plastics company, a recycling firm, a business making biofuels and a charity that aims to better protect cyclists.”

How can we expect honesty and integrity from a government which is run by a woman who craves personal power without accountability and a man who has a vested interest in manipulating opinion and policy in favour of his clients?

53 comments

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  1. Dan Dark

    Credlin she is one twisted woman, Textor is one twisted man, together they have combined to destroy this country for their own vested interests with the help of Rupert with Tone’s as front man for the charade, the whole IVF thing was made up, they needed something to draw in women voters, cos basically he is a misoginist with no where to hide, so she pulled out of the bullshit files 🙂
    Clive was right about one thing she is top dog, and I would label her an attack dog, she needs to be put back in her kennel, and Textor needs a leash put on him and reigned in, out of control describes theses 2 brain dead sub human fools 🙂

  2. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think the IVF thing was made up. I just find it an odd thing to say in a magazine interview. Having been through the agony and ecstasy with people I am close to, it is not something they would discuss in that context. If she was indeed sharing the information to show what a caring guy Tony is, that makes it worse.

  3. David Stephens

    Quote: ‘has arguably achieved more power’; I think this has to be argued with collection of evidence more substantial than what has been gathered so far eg from disgruntled Senator. It’s comforting to think Credlin and Textor have these motivations and characteristics but need who, what; when; where; wny; how much difference, and similar questions answered., Frinstance I heard a story that Credlin did not even want the job in Abbott’s office (which doesn’t fit the ‘desire for power’ trope); I’ve no idea how strong the story was but a lot of the monstering seems based on no more evidence than that.(‘so and so heard a story’). If you know answers to such questions, Kaye, come clean. I note the inherent difficulty in finding evidence of behind the scenes influence but the obligation is still there.

  4. Dan Dark

    Kaye I am not saying she wasn’t on IVF, the whole fridge thing was an exaggeration/ lie that’s all, and like you say, why blab that she was even on IVF when she has been kept behind the scenes till then, it was a publicity stunt that’s all to appeal to the emotions of women…

  5. Dan Dark

    mars08July 13, 2014 at 8:20 pm
    “Oh what utter crap! Where is the evidence that the electorate is ready for a leftist government? Maybe they’re looking for something to the left of Tony Abbott… that’s hardly an indication of a popular shift to the left of the political spectrum!!!”

    Edward EastwoodJuly 13, 2014 at 8:26 pm
    “@mars08 Perhaps you should try to get out more mars08”

    mars08July 13, 2014 at 10:21 pm
    Edward Eastwood:

    “Perhaps you should try to get out more mars08

    And maybe so should you… instead of making assumptions about other people”

    Kaye Makovec was attacked by Edward too, alienating your readers and comments is becoming too prevalent on AIMN, Kaye has not returned, and she always made sense with excellent posts, maybe not all the statistics and stuff, but common sense Edward goes along way, and if peoples comments are going to be discarded or even attacked it’s not going to bode well for the future of AIMN, and instead of focusing on person, focus more on issues here at home, domestic violence, how did that get so out of control, the inequality for women and kids in this country, where is our minister for women, other countries have massive problems but so do we and have ignored them for years, just something to think about… I am with Kaye Makovec, more focus on the issues not the person, It’s called combative journalism when focusing on person/people…

  6. PeterF

    As I have said before: Do not knock Credlin, she is doing the work of 36 men.

  7. Matters Not

    The tension between ‘political staffers’ and public servants goes back decades. The Coombs Inquiry of 1976, for example, recognised the tension and called on the APS (among other recommendations) to increase its responsiveness to the elected government . Of more recent times we have Terry Moran former Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet suggesting that the code of conduct for political staffers introduced by the Rudd government in 2008 be formally legislated.

    Moran worked in a variety of public service roles, including Director-General of Education in Queensland and as the chief public servant under Steve Bracks in Victoria before joining Rudd and then Gillard, but he never experienced life on the other side. It’s a real tension that’s not easily resolved.

    I remember the days when one Education Minister In Queensland went to the ‘pictures’ several afternoons a week because there was really nothing much to do and besides the Department would handle any issue that arose. But those days are long gone. A Minister’s day can begin before dawn with a phone call from the MSM requesting an interview re a ‘breaking story’. Often as not, the Minister knows nothing of it and probably doesn’t realise the potential sensitivities involved. Who to contact? Where to get advice?

    Pressures such as these cause Ministers to increase the number of advisors so that advice is available on a 24 hour basis. In well run departments nevertheless, the CEO will designate a senior public servant to be available on a 24 hour basis. But it’s a precarious position to be in.

    BTW, I simply don’t believe the figures quoted re the number of ‘spin doctors’. They are a ‘beat up’ by the MSM.

    Here’s a link that explores the issues, http://theconversation.com/dealing-with-ministerial-advisers-a-practical-guide-for-public-servants-10031

  8. Zathras

    Most PMs used to get by with a single media advisor but somehow John Howard managed to acquire three.

    That shows how important publicity and media containment is to the modern political process.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Matters Not,

    The numbers came in answer to senate committee questions apparently.

    “The Australian Taxation Office leads the tally with 265 communications workers, which includes graphic designers and media managers. That is slightly down from the 277 it reported in 2012.

    Defence has added to its ranks in the past two years and now has a 216-strong unit, enough to staff 1½ infantry companies.

    The giant Department of Human Service has trimmed down on spin considerably since 2012, reporting just 77 communications workers in its agencies Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency.

    The reduction comes despite the formation of a 10-strong social media unit to run its five Facebook pages, six Twitter accounts, a Google+ presence and a YouTube channel .

    The Environment Department and its many portfolio agencies, including the Bureau of Meteorology, the Clean Energy Regulator and the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, reported 163 spinners.

    The Health Department and its agencies, including the publicity-intensive Australian Sports Commission and the Institute of Health and Welfare, had 168 spinners.

    Departmental spinners have emerged as a sore point for the Abbott government.

    When Fairfax Media revealed last month that the Immigration Department reported 66 communications staff on its books, Minister Scott Morrison rose in Parliament days later to contradict his department, claiming there were only 39.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/public-service/army-of-1900-spin-doctors-costs-taxpayers-millions-20140325-35gqv.html#ixzz37QESEcqx

  10. Kaye Lee

    David,

    There have been a couple of book written lately discussing various previous CoS. R.A.W. Rhodes and Anne Tiernan – Lessons in Governing and The Gate Keepers

    Regarding the reasons for this increase in numbers

    “The factors that have caused this shift are not well understood but include: the relentless pressure of the 24-hour media cycle; the challenges of parliamentary politics where majorities are hard to come by; the complexity of the leadership function in a web of decision-making networks; and a cynical and fragmented electorate that is hard to lead.

    The simplistic critique of the growth in ministerial staff and the rise of the CoS is that modern politicians are obsessed by spin. The reality is that it is a response to these new challenges.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/the-ultimate-insiders-job-20140710-zt2by.html#ixzz37QF9yfQg

    Jennifer Westacott from the BCA describes why this rise of power of staffers is bad

    “Ms Westacott, a former senior bureaucrat in NSW and Victoria, believes the public sector has lost its independence and integrity.

    Political staffers, often with little expertise and accountability, were undermining the public sector and eroding the long-term policy agenda with short-term thinking, she said…

    ”It opens the door on a culture of intimidation and bullying of public servants, an environment where merit can be substituted for favouritism,” she said.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/political-yoke-pulls-public-sector-down-says-business-chief-20120920-269ku.html

  11. Kaye Lee

    I have no personal knowledge of Credlin. I can only pass on what I read and it’s not just MacDonald. This from the Power Index.

    “Peta Credlin, Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, is the biggest control freak in Canberra – with the notable exception of Kevin Rudd. She travels everywhere with the opposition leader, pulls Liberal MPs into line when they veer off message, and is driving the Coalition’s relentlessly negative agenda.

    “She’s tough, she’s a player, she makes demands, she gives directions, she bawls people out,” says one Liberal insider; “She’s not afraid of stabbing someone in the front if she needs to,” says another.

    An unabashed populist, Credlin’s from the Graham Richardson “whatever it takes” school of politics. Getting Abbott into the Lodge is her all-consuming passion.

    “She’s not a policy-driven person,” says an adviser who worked closely with her in Brendan Nelson’s office. “She was too interested in playing silly buggers.”

    Many Liberals, especially the more ideologically inclined, are fed up with her focus on short-term politics and authoritarian style.

    Credlin has been asked to run for office, but sources close to her tell us she plans to pursue a career in media or the law when her time with Abbott is up. She’s knows she’s got more influence than any backbencher, and most senior ministers, can dream of.”

    She is controlling media appearances and travel far more than her predecessors.

  12. corvus boreus

    PeterF,
    Peta Credlin is involved in an anti-competent and vindictive mis-government that is selling our capital, bankrupting our values and destroying our future. She stands at the shoulder of the chimp in charge encouraging him to further idiocies, and shielding him from scrutiny and accountability.
    That she works untiringly to implement this agenda of corruption and asset cannibalism is not a positive trait.
    I do not admire an ivory poacher who is dedicated to his task.
    When she promotes considered, negotiatory, conservative(not radical reactionary) politics, or steps away from, or shares, the power she has greedily grasped, she will receive less vitriol and ‘knocks’.
    Until then, for her major part in implementing a savagely destructive agenda, she deserves worse than she receives.

  13. jimhaz

    “Ms Westacott called for a return to secure tenure for departmental secretaries.

    The present contract system cultivated a culture of ”reticence and timidity”.

    ”It opens the door on a culture of intimidation and bullying of public servants, an environment where merit can be substituted for favouritism,” she said.”

    I’ve been scathing of the contract system for Executive Public Servants for some time now. Nice to see another person who would know more directly than I, in full agreement.

    This timidity flows all the way down to lower level managers and now I’ve never seen where I work as utterly managerially hopeless as it now is.

    I’ve seen employment favoritism stemming from the Terrigal mob, in relation to 2 subsequently transferred public servants, one of whom should never have been employed on merit, and the other should have been sacked for an employment contract they made.

    Make me Premier 🙂 and I would discontinue all employment contracts arranged by every one of the Terrigal mob.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Could we also do a clean out at the federal level of the Central Coast. Lucy Wicks’ preselection was very dodgy and Karen McNamara gave very weak explanations about her role in fundraising. She either exaggerated to big note herself or she lied, neither of which is encouraging.

  15. Matters Not

    Kaye “communications workers” include those who answer the telephone. When I was at work many, many years ago, one area of responsibility was Public and Media relations with a staff of between 30 and 40, some of whom were part-time. Many if not most answered telephones responding to inquiries regarding school holidays, bus timetables, discipline policies and a whole myriad of low level enquiries, some of which were answered directly while others were redirected to Regional Offices, schools or other areas of the Department. Others provided assistance to schools who were celebrating what for them were significant events. Others produced a newspaper with a circulation in excess of 60 000 every fortnight. Only 3 or 4 would have ever met the Minister or had any direct contact with his (never her) Office. Others provided ‘crisis management’ to individuals who were under the media pump. Some wrote speeches for the DG and provided ‘notes’ for the Minister whose staff turned such into speeches. The list was almost endless.

    They certainly could not be regarded as ‘spin’ doctors, but they would be counted as ‘communication workers’. And as someone who dealt with the media on a regular basis I would be in that ‘basket’ as well, even though Public and Media relations was but a tiny part of my responsibilities.

    From my point of view, the figures provided are simply misleading.

    As for Peta Credlin, I suspect her power and influence is under rather than over stated

  16. Dan Dark

    Wow Chester is going down like a turd in a long dunny 🙂 we have had no tourists here for school holidays, the streets were dead, the shops have been empty of customers for months now, but they all voted for him, I watched them all on vote day voting for dickhead chester, and now the electorate have turned on him, and I have had no nazi propaganda in letter box, because I warned Chesters office what I would do with it lol nothing not even a bit of paper spruiking their budget of death, his brother has been moved on to Leongatha secondary college I believe,poor them, but great news for our town, all the Chesters are corrupt and fools, thanks for that link DanR, you have made my day, but Chester stuffed our town long before recent fed election.

  17. Michael Taylor

    Pyne would go, hey? Gee, that’d be a big loss. :mrgreen:

  18. Dan Dark

    When I rang Chesters office bout the nazi propaganda, and don’t bother cos it might just turn on Chester, they obviously took me seriously lol gooood for them, but I did say ” tell chester to start running because he will need a head start when folk work out the lies” I bet that is ringing in her ears now 🙂

  19. bowspearer

    One thing which needs to be considered here is the oligopoly of media ownership. Certainly the internet has given rise to social media and alternative media sites, but with mainstream media, you can ultimately count the number of media owners on one hand – 2 fingers in the case of print media. How much of this is due to the LNP combating the media juggernaut of the Fairfax press and the ALP and Greens combating the even more massive behemoth of the Murdoch Press? Is what we are seeing simply the 24 hour news cycle, or in fact the result of the ever ascending, transnational, corporate oligarchy and its impacts on Australian society?

    Of course, good luck getting the ALP to take their traditional stance on foreign corporate and bankster power destroying our sovereignty, when the ALP sold out to the side of the LNP (in every way but tokenistically) as of the Hawke era….

  20. Matthew Oborne

    IF anyone is too blame for Credlins IVF treatment being on the public agenda it is the LIberals who made it an example of just how great Tony is propping up his election platform. amazing he wasnt knighted, clearly he is the best man in this country, firemen say he is superhuman, he is humble enough to know he isnt the suppository of all wisdom unlike The Australian who clearly are the suppository of all wisdom, and what a guy who didnt vote for him because of his sexy daughters.

  21. corvus boreus

    A shame, Dan R, that one of Shorten’s best speeches, directed at the absent PM, was instead addressed to, and(at best) only partially digested by, the simpering, smirking representative of Dough-ball, Kazza Mack, who lacks the wit to differentiate 12k from 100k in fundraising accomplishments, let alone comprehend the seriousness and ramifications of the human alterations to our planet’s climate systems(not that Tony ‘gets’ the earth sciences either).
    Nicely scripted speech, though.

  22. Matters Not

    Nicely scripted speech, though.

    No doubt! But it’s not enough. ‘Delivery’ is usually more important than the words. I well remember Gough’s “MEN AND WOMEN OF AUSTRALIA” and while the words were well chosen the delivery was superb. To a lesser extent was Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generations and Julia Gillard’s Misogyny speech.

    I don’t think that Shorten will ever scale those heights, more’s the pity. But he must keep trying.

  23. James Cook

    OK, someone please tell me, where is Abbott’s wife, Margie? She helped this simpleton get elected by playing happy families for the MSM, and now…..? Is Peta keeping her out of the spotlight for fear she may reveal something negative about Tones, or has she fled the scene? I’ve asked this question a couple of times and not received any responses. Fair dinkum, it’s a legitimate question when she stood beside this buffoon in the election campaign and so is partly responsible for his position now. So….any takers?

  24. jimhaz

    Not that I know her, but I’d have to label Credlin as the Queen Bee type. She is a coloniser. A dominatrix socially of others. Reinhart would be another example.

    Anyway perhaps her/their inability to have kids, had been a hidden driver for her to seek experiences of domination elsewhere – via political control.

    To jocks like Abbott though, she would still be just a staffer, transferable or dismissible should things go really sour, except for the fact she is in partnership with Loughnane.

    Re the Communications staff issue, unfortunately what Matters Not said could mean that this unfair generalisation gives them scope to further reduce “fact communication” jobs in departments as part of their smaller gov strategy, rather than all the spin doctors and strategy advisors etc who work directly for the Ministers. Then they’ll soon enough replace some of the more senior departmental jobs with people that have closely aligned viewpoints to them as they offer good training grounds. God, I’m a pessimist!

  25. GingaHighlights

    @James Cook I’ve been thinking exactly the same thing for ages. I know she has her own career but he does appear solitary and unsupported. Most leaders have their spouse standing by their side and it appears Margie has been laying low ever since he came to power. I’ve read rumours of separation or an affair with Credlin but I’d love to know the truth about Margie. If I was her I would be sick with shame to be married to such an incompetent clown.

  26. Matters Not

    this unfair generalisation gives them scope to further reduce “fact communication” jobs in departments as part of their smaller gov strategy

    Sure does. Rather than have locals responding to queries, one could ‘outsource’ responses to India, Philippines or wherever. The fact that the outsourced response is inadequate or even wrong is almost immaterial because when a government outsources a ‘service’ it also outsources responsibility.

    Take this penchant for school-based management as an example, embraced by all sides of politics I should add, the responsibility shifts from the Minister and Government to either the Principal, the Board, the School Council or whichever. The important point is that the Minister/Government has outsourced responsibility for decisions made because, even though government funding may have been reduced, the decision to not provide service X is a local one.

    The Minister can say with a relatively straight face – I had nothing to do with that decision – take it to the local decision makers. And given my responsibilities have been outsourced, I’m off to the ‘pictures’. QED.

  27. David Stephens

    Kaye

    Thanks for thoughtful response above. I haven’t read Tiernan or Rhodes but Jim Walter and Pat Weller were saying similar things 30 years ago. I am well across changing balance between bureaucrats and ministerial staff, with power flowing to the latter over many years. I was essentially forced out of the public service 15 years ago through misuse of power by ministerial staff at a time when senior bureaucrats were losing job security and thus had less scope to stand up to such misuse and protect their staff. In these circumstances, ministerial staff, even junior ones, only have to hint and things happen.

    My point is that the potential for such power has been obvious for decades but what is really needed is evidence of specific cases where it has been wielded to achieve an outcome that was not going to happen anyway. For example, there seemed pretty good evidence that PM Rudd used power to deny a particular ambassadorial appointment. Probably have to put up with that sort of thing. But if it had been someone on his staff who had been caught doing the same thing, then big story.

    Same with influence on policy choices. Hard to pin down the evidence but essential if commentary is to rise above gossip.

    As for GingaHighlights, may I counter with this:, I’ve heard second hand that there is nothing to the Credlin-Abbott affair stuff (this from someone who knows someone who has had a meal with them). This trumped rumours via someone else that Abbott-Credlin were having an affair. There are just varying degrees of gossip.

    As for Margie Abbott having her own career, we would not think twice about a barely seen wife in other circumstances eg Simon Crean’s wife when he was Opposition Leader, Mark Latham’s when he was. There is a lot of believing what we want to believe.

    Jim Haz, James Cook, Dan Dark, etc. Great fun to read but no more than that..

  28. DanDark

    Thanks David Stephens, but leave me out of your comments, I wasn’t conversing with you at any time, as you seem to be the “expert” on Credlin and Margie and everything else, well excuse me I will leave the “experts” tooooooo it, I am out of here like Kaye Makovec 🙂

  29. mars08

    I’m damn sure I didn’t see Peta Credlin’s name on any of the ballot papers.

  30. GingaHighlights

    Hi David, I asked the question because I’m genuinely curious. He is the Minister for Women and the woman in his life isn’t by his side.

    The people you mentioned weren’t the Prime Minister and I’m guessing that they resided with their family after hours, I’m not sure this is the case with TA’s family. As far as I’m aware he is still living in a modest room on his own.

    I absolutely believe that women can have a career outside of their spouse and having that choice is important. I’m still left wondering why his wife isn’t pictured with him after hours, on weekends or at significant political events. This is in stark contrast to the election campaign where she was showcased at every given opportunity.

    Prime Minister is a rather prominent position and I would also expect to see some visible support of this position post-election. Maybe it exists and isn’t promoted but it makes no sense as he was more than happy to have them on his arm before the election.

  31. Kaye Lee

    I do not believe, nor am I interested in, the “affair” gossip. I also feel for Margie. She did not sign up for this and has no responsibility to perform. I have no expectations about her though I guess leaders’ partners have an additional obligation to watch what they say and do. The fact that Margie is not in the news indicates she is doing that well.

    David, I think there is a great deal of evidence that Credlin has been influencing appointments. I also know personally of her control over who goes where when.

    One thing that REALLY bugs me is her presence next to Tony when he is at the negotiating table with world leaders. That spot should be reserved for the appropriate experts be they diplomats or trade or legal experts or whatever. She is overstepping the mark by forcing her way to that seat.

  32. Möbius Ecko

    It’s just one step away from the Bush administration providing full news stories. Not just a printed copy but the whole story fully packaged ready for broadcast. The interviewee, an unknown, sometimes an actor playing the subject matter expert. The interviewer, a Bush office staffer or PR consultant from a media department staffed with camera personal, sound recordists and a post editing studio.

    The US news services lapped them up because they got the stories for free and didn’t have to outlay a cent of their own to produce them.

    Abbott doesn’t have to go to those lengths because he has a MSM that does it for him, but still it must be tempting for this dishonest government to engage in such deceptions.

  33. corvus boreus

    I feel sorry for Maggie because(apart from the obvious, and she did sign up to marry the glad-wrapped grogan) she was left home to iron shirts whilst Peta got to shop in NY, met Michelle O and dined with Rupert(scant pleasure there, though, I suspect).
    None of it crucial, just yet another layer of dodginess to a putrid Prime Minister who betrays diplomatic convention as easily as he does open conduct and electoral honesty.

  34. Dan Rowden

    It means jack that Credlin is an unelected person. Almost all policy advisers to any Government of the day is an unelected person. What matters is that she’s pretty freakin’ good at her job. That’s what scares me.

  35. David Stephens

    Kaye

    Don’t want to harp but appointments of whom? Are there names? Agree with the presence next to the PM; inappropriate. Sorry, Dan Dark; I didn’t realise you were talking to selected individuals. Not claiming to be an expert but just putting in a plea for posts to be based on some evidence rather than simply the desire to vent..

  36. James Cook

    Kaye Lee , saying “she (Margie) did not sign up for this” doesn’t cut it with me. She stood beside him during the campaign to help convince the public that he was a good family man and respected women. She helped this liar get elected and the public deserve to know if she still feels the s ame way, and if not, why not?

  37. Kaye Lee

    Fairfax Media has learned Ms Credlin, who steered Mr Abbott’s path to The Lodge as his chief-of-staff, is deciding every government appointment from top ministerial aides right down to the electorate staff of new MPs.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/credlins-star-chamber-rewarding-liberal-party-loyalists-20131004-2uzyu.html#ixzz37RWyKcuE

    The strict media control of ministers by the Prime Minister’s office has been reported but a bigger irritant for Coalition members and staffers has been a tight grip on appointments by Ms Credlin and the so-called “star chamber” staff appointments panel she heads.

    A Coalition member told Fairfax Media: “The level of control is far in excess of the Howard government at its peak. It’s Peta Credlin who is the problem, she’s a control freak and this is feeding into all sorts of things.”

    The selection of government members for committees is now being done from “on high”, whereas in the past, MPs and senators had been given a level of freedom to sort out appointments among themselves.

    “All these things are rigidly coming from Abbott’s office. People are not happy,” said a member of the government.

    Senator Abetz told a Senate estimates hearing last week: “At the end of the day it was decided by the Prime Minister as to who would be appointed to my ministerial staff and to the staff of my ministerial colleagues,”

    As revealed by Fairfax, Ms Credlin has insisted that all 420 government staff appointments right down to junior electorate officers are approved by the panel.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/control-freak-peta-credlin–accused-of-pulling-coalition-strings-20131204-2yqte.html#ixzz37RXTsF56

  38. Dan Rowden

    Did anyone actually watch the video DanDark posted? I thought she did a good job explaining her overall position with regard to her role in her husband’s political life and her choice to momentarily step into the “limelight”. Who gives a stuff where she is and what she’s doing? Ok, so, apparently some of you do, but I’m screwed if I can see why ….

  39. Roswell

    I tips me lid to ya, Kaye Lee.

  40. Matters Not

    From your link:

    Labor senator John Faulkner spoke in the chamber yesterday to send a message to all members of the Upper House.

    “We are lucky that the Senate clerk’s office provides such a professional and impartial service to all senators – government, opposition, minor party and independent in this place, because I would say without their integrity we would be lost,” he said

    Dan I don’t think that most of the punters understand the role played by parliamentary counsel. When a member of parliament, including Ministers, wants to engage in the legislative process, broadly defined to include drafting, interpreting and the like, then the role of parliamentary counsel is of the utmost importance.

    Proposed amendments, for example, aren’t a spur of the moment thing but framed with the assistance of the parliamentary counsel whose officers are completely non-partisan. Just as you go to lawyers to get the words right in contracts and the like, you go to parliamentary counsel to get the words right in legislation. Needless to say, parliamentary counsel have legal qualifications.

  41. Matters Not

    Dan, I think it’s fair to say she’s extremely well qualified. For Clive it was par for the course. As the Chinese would say Clive’s a 白痴,指非常愚蠢的人 . Well the Mandarin speakers among us anyway.

  42. Pingback: The Puppet Masters | THE PUB

  43. Kaye Lee

    Tony Abbott’s address at the Australian’s 50th birthday bash….

    “Another cheap shot is that wealthy business-people are only interested in making money.

    The Australian has been supported despite oceans of red ink; it’s been Rupert Murdoch’s investment, not in his future but in his country’s.

    It’s been a poor financial return for him but a priceless return for us.

    He may have become an American by necessity but he’s always been an Australian by conviction.

    The Australian has borne his ideals but not his fingerprints; it has been his gift to our nation.”

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/233955360/Address-to-the-Australian-s-50th-Birthday-Gala-Dinner-Sydney-Check-Against-Delivery-under-Embargo

  44. Michael Taylor

    Kaye Lee, I tweeted something like the following:

    “If Gillard or Rudd were still PM would they have been invited to talk at a The Australian’s 50th anniversary dinner? Says something, doesn’t it?”

  45. RoseMary

    Hav read many blogs~but C no evidence as in photos of Tony Abbott & Petra having A affair. If its not TRUTH then it should not B Printed or spoken about• The media should put up or just SHUT~Up• And that goes for Anyone else• ZIPP IT PEOPLE•

  46. RoseMary

    However; NON ELECTED Folk should not B Running our Country and Taxpayers should not B paying Millions of dollars to any of them• If those behind Abbott Who Work In His Office Have Not Been Elected♦& they haven’t♦ By Any Australian Voters; Should ZIPP it as well• The Sooner Petra & hubby gets booted out the better• We’ve All had ENOUGH of Goosy politicians who cannot get their act 2gether•

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