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The case for keeping Julia Gillard

“So why am I the last columnist to give them a fighting chance? Well, Julia Gillard has never been given a fair go” (Robert Macklin).

This post has been reproduced with the kind permission of journalist and author, Robert Macklin from his article The case for keeping Julia.

It seems I’m the only columnist left in Australia who thinks Julia Gillard and her excellent government have a reasonable chance of winning the September 14 election.

Call me quixotic if you like, but I just can’t believe that my fellow Australians would toss out a government that has done us such sterling service for an opposition led by Tony Abbott who threatens to undo so much of what we’ve achieved these last five years; and who wants to set us on a path to “austerity” that has done such appalling damage in Europe and the US.

Consider the Government’s achievements: it acted swiftly to save us from recession during the world’s financial and economic meltdown. But just as important, it resisted cutting the Budget to shreds when revenue fell, despite the immense political pressure to do so.

It transformed our schools and our schooling, thus setting us up for the future and giving our children the best possible start in life. It invested massively in tertiary education, including trades, to meet the needs of a growing and changing economy.

It created the National Disability Insurance Scheme from nothing. It raised the pension to a decent level. It introduced paid parental leave. It invested in roads, ports and other infrastructure that was holding us back because Howard ignored it. It improved relations with China while maintaining a strong US commitment. Indeed, in foreign affairs it didn’t put a foot wrong.

It fixed the Murray-Darling river system. It put a price on carbon that will lead to a transformation of our energy generation. It is building the NBN that will transform for the better the way we live and work.

And it did all this as a minority government in the face of obdurate resistance and schoolyard bullying from Tony Abbott. It tried desperately to stem the flow of boat people, but was blocked at every turn by an Opposition that revelled in the political mileage gained from it.

So why am I the last columnist to give them a fighting chance? Well, Julia Gillard has never been given a fair go. People still resent the way she made it to The Lodge after his party rejected Kevin Rudd. Had she been a man, it would have been a political coup and that’s that, but a woman couldn’t be forgiven.

The Murdoch press, and the miners, have vilified Labor for their own vested interests. Sadly, their campaign has set the tone for other media outlets. But that could only be effective in a political landscape where something fundamental has changed in the communication business.

That’s summed up this week in a memorable phrase from “New York Times” columnist Frank Bruni: “The sideshow swallows the substance”.

Policies are ignored. Instead, the “news” is all about fripperies, trivia and the seven-second grab. If you doubt it, aside from the gold-plated parental leave scheme – and slashing at least 12,000 public servant jobs – try to think of a single Abbott plan for Australia.

Oh, that’s right: “Stop the boats”.

Robert Macklin.

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  1. puffytmd

    Well said, sir!

  2. Fiona

    Plaudits, Mr Macklin.

    I wish more of your colleagues had your courage.

  3. eleanawi

    Robert Macklin, you must either feel so flabbergasted of your fellow journalist colleagues, and might I say embarrassed, or you think they have all gone mad. The truth is, they are all morons and unfortunately Australia is full of them. Moron public and moron journalists. There was a time when I held journalists in high esteem, when they were the likes of Andrew Ollie, Kerry O’Brian and others. Then Richard Carlton broke the mould. Sometimes he stretched the truth and at others he went where it would have been more prudent not to. However I have never experienced the level of sheer stupidity in the thinking of LNP MP’s and their supporters and the journalists that work for MSM. It is incomprehensible that these goons are getting away with daylight robbery. They are going to steel the government away from Julia Gillard because they think she is an easy ‘take’. “She is a woman, how dare she have another term?” So lies, exaggerations and insults are meted out and all supported in articles by MSM, not even have to pay for, as it is written as news. Good grief, why are we putting up with this? Is what I say!

  4. bushfirebill

    You’re not quixotic. You’re one of the few sane journos left.

    It’s become a contest between the Commentocracy – a groupthinking elite – and newer, fresher media – everything from blogs to twitter. The Commentocracy has run virtually nothing else but an “early election” line since 2010, for various reasons, from the independents defecting, to a Labor-aligned MP losing his seat (Slipper, Thomson), to Rudd coming back in triumph.

    Whatever the reason, “Election Now!” has been THE story. The ONLY story.

    Week by week, month by month we’ve seen the Commentocracy made fools of. The more they look like fools the more strident they get, desperate to be right at least once. They can’t let go of the three year-old story of Gillard’s immediate demise, even though she’s outsmarted them every time.

    Everything is couched in terms of polls, machinations, Rudd appearances on TV, Independents shifting (or appearing to shift) allegiances, and polls again. Then more polls. Did I mention polls? Try to find an op-ed from the past fortnight that hasn’t been primarily based on The Polls and how they justify (or are supposed to justify) every article written by every political journalist for the last three years.

    For three years, when a poll has been published unfavourable to the government, it’s been seen not in the context of a 2013 election, but in the context of an election the next month. Doom. Defeat. Soon. Tomorrow. Next Month.

    Therefore there’s no need for policy from the government because they’ll be gone.

    No need for policy from the Opposition because they’ll win so easily it wouldn’t matter what their policies were.

    THREE YEARS of “gone by next month”!

    The battle is existential. At the end of it either the government will still be there, or the Commentocracy will still be there… but not both. Both have staked their survival on the extinction of the other.

    They’re still at it. Even at this late stage, this week, they all think there’s some mileage left in the Rudd Comeback. Anything but talk about what you talked about in your own short column: the government’s achievements.

    The pundits giggle amon themselves on the talk shows about “government achievements”. It’s well know this government can’t get ANYTHING right. Even the NDIS – shepherded through negotiations, commissions, inquiries, drafting, financing, brinkmanship and all the rest by the government – is cited as a “win for Abbott”, because he backflipped 180 degrees in the space of one week to wave through the money when he thought it might derail his campaign plans.

    According to the media there ARE no achievements. Kiterally none. How could a government that has been about to fall every month for the last 36 months be anything but a lame duck? All evidence to the contrary is written off, explained away. Laughed at.

    Rudd as a challenger is gone. The newspapers are going broke. The Independents are rock solid. Slipper and Thomson have their cases slotted for after the election. There is no No Confidence motion, not even on the notice paper, much less moved in the house.

    Yet the stench of the last three years remains. Despite the comprehensive shellacking Gillard has given anyone who stands in her way, despite the amazing achievements of this government – all the more impressive due to the odds stacked against it – all the media wants to talk about is its lost credibility, in a vain attempt to regain it.

    No, you are not quixotic, Robert.

  5. Stephen

    The fact that the author repeats the ALP line of falling revenues when this government has had rising revenues since they came to power puts the credibility of the author in doubt.

  6. 2 Highbar Street, Karabar NSW 2620

    really good write. I’m with you. Poor Julia has many qualities that most morons can’t abide and can’t wait to crack a joke on…a woman, a redhead, a rationalist. I reckon she’ll win in September because the options of Abbott and Rudd (ya just never know with him) are just too mundane and predictable to be real anymore. We live in a world of change so bring it on. The election, that is.

  7. Bernie D

    Thank you, Mr Macklin. It is unfortunate that your colleagues do not adhere to Journalist’s Code of Ethics which clearly outlines journalists’ responsibility to respect the truth and the public’s right to unbiased information. They have allowed themselves to be prostituted by Murdoch, Rinehart, et al.

  8. cuppa

    Stephen wrote:

    The fact that the author repeats the ALP line of falling revenues when this government has had rising revenues since they came to power puts the credibility of the author in doubt.

    From Politifact, 14 May 2013

    The largest government revenue shortfall since the Great Depression, which started in 1929 and went through the early 1930s, was in the 2008-09 fiscal year.


    Based on the experts and budget papers, the current budget year is the second largest government revenue shortfall since the Great Depression.

  9. bushfirebill

    Brave, this “credibility” talk about revenues. They are still well down on the pre-GFC years.

    If you don’t see the connection between government participation in the economy and the well-being of that economy, then you need your head read.

    It’s simple: Government spending goes down, so does the economy.

    All over the world governments have gone the austerity route and the world economy is still rooted. Everywhere except Australia, regarded as an economic wonder of the world.

    Keating and Howard set us up with low debt and reasonable interest rates. But they were in government when the GFC hit. Labor was. The ball was passed to it and it had to do what was necessary to save the economy. That’s what savings are for: the bad times.

    What would you rather? A functioning economy or $150 billion dollars surplus in a big Scrooge McDuck type swiming pool buried under the Treasury, where we could all come and look at it (but never spend it)?


  10. bushfirebill

    They have allowed themselves to be prostituted by Murdoch, Rinehart, et al.

    It’s sipler than that. They have been wrong all the time. From 2010 they were predicting the imminent demise of this government. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Demonstrably so.

    They have too much staked in getting it right, at least once.

    They are sticking to their story and won’t hear of any alternative.

  11. HaveAchat

    I can think of a dozen reasons for keeping PM Julia Gillard and the ALP but not one for even contemplating abbott and lnp.

  12. jane

    Robert Macklin, thank you for a well reasoned factual article; what a pity your colleagues are unable to do the same thing.

    BB, absolutely right. The msm keep repeating their slogans lake automatons trusting that they’ll get a tick eventually. they subscribe to the theory that a stopped watch shows the correct time twice a day.

  13. This little black duck

    Very well said, sir!

  14. Stephen

    Cuppa and bushfireball please don’t confuse budget forecasts figures with actual revenues which have been higher every year than Howards last full financial year in office. You have both embarrassed yourselves because here are the actual revenue figures, not Swan’s spin.

    Revenues did dip during the gfc but not to the levels of the previous government.

    Stick to the facts please guys. Revenues are at record highs and we have
    produced record deficits. Swan – Fail.

  15. Pingback: Julia Gillard Is Still Standing! | polliepomes

  16. Bev Smith

    This is not journalism; this is a
    party political broadcast. If you have a case for Julia please put her in it, lock it and throw away the key.

  17. slav g

    Depends how you look at the revenue numbers Stephen. If you look at them in terms of $ value, I’m sorry as this may come as a surprise to you, but almost every year revenue will be higher than the year before. This is a simple fact of inflation and economics. Revenue will go up simply because $100 this year is worth more than $100 next year. Prices go up, services are more expensive, more goes to education/pensions/health/infrastructure; you know those things that Howard and Costello neglected for 11 years.

    However, if you look at the revenue in terms of % of GDP, current government on average taxed less than Howard government so you lose the argument there as well.

    As for the deficit, I’m glad we had one this year. If Swan had cut $18bil from economy just so we could satisfy L/NP fetish with surplus, we’d be in recession within a year. That would of course be a good news for L/NP, wouldn’t it..

  18. slav g

    Bravo Bev Smith (or should I say Alan Jones) bravo

  19. Jacqueline Lee Lewes

    The sound you can hear is applause, Robert.

  20. Jim McDonald

    Frankly, I’m sick to death of the crap that passes for current affairs and news in the media. The unrelenting media attacks on this woman, our Prime Minister, have been unethical, unprofessional, sexist, mendacious and trivial. The resemblance of media portrayals to the bilious campaign of personal attacks from the LNP front bench, spruiked daily by discredited shock jocks like that despicable Alan Jones, is an alarming development in the collapse of media standards. I no longer support the Labor Party because it has sold out, but Gillard’s worst trait are her intonations in set speeches. That, to my mind, ought not rate only with those who haven’t the capacity to concentrate for five seconds.

  21. Buff McMenis

    I keep hoping I will be the first to applaud such a reasoned and obvious comment on the Government but I’m always elated that I have to scroll down and down and down to get to the “Leave A Reply” so I can applaud such a reasoned and obvious comment on the Government! 🙂 Well done, Robert and Michael .. if only we could get this out to the lowest common denominator of the population!!

  22. J.Fraser

    I like and will vote for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Labor party.

    Mr. Macklin you may be “the only columnist left in Australia who thinks Julia Gillard and her excellent government have a reasonable chance of winning the September 14 election” …. but I am a voter and I agree with you.

  23. Peter Hand

    “Journalist Robert Macklin” this is NOT journalism. It is wishful thinking verging on delusion. I would like to agree.., but it ain’t any kind of journalism

  24. Peter

    The ALP needs to do what is best for the ALP, not what is best for Gillard. Rod Cameron (ALP pollster for 30 years) says internal ALP polling has Gillard on track to win low 30s out of 150 seats, while a change of leadership to Rudd, will likely result in the ALP retaining anywhere from 50-60+ seats.

  25. Berny

    I might be the eternal optimist, but I can’t believe ppl will turn their backs on our first ever female prime minister, particularly as she and her female ministers have done such a great job in government. That and how incredibly pathetic the alternative lie-ing baS+ard$ bunch are.
    And let’s not forget we have a classic example here in Oz of how the austerity has ‘worked’.

  26. Peter

    @Berny. I’m sorry, but progressives in this country can’t afford “eternal optimism” when the likely outcome of retaining Gillard as ALP leader will see the ALP reduced to 32 seats in the election. The seriousness of the situation is evidenced by the unprecedented comments by ALP pollster Rod Cameron highlighting the coming catastrophic result without a change of leadership.

  27. Stephen

    Bacchus, only an absolute muppet would try to accuse somebody of being deceptive using figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Either from looking at that or the budget papers there is the common theme of increased revenues with blowouts in spending.

    Slag g my main point is that Swan telling us he had decreased revenues is BS. As for using% GDP as a measure, I’m not against it but most people don’t know how GDP is calculated. Government spending makes up GDP so blowing out government spending and propping up GDP figures that way will lead to decreasing receipts as a percentage GDP. It is simple maths. Not sure why the coalition doesn’t explain this better but with such an inept treasurer, it doesn’t really matter. The majority understand that Swan has done a pretty poor job, exemplified by spending billions of MRRT revenue that will never be collected. Even ‘John’ would be shaking his head.

  28. pete pathname

    so labor “tried desperately to stem the flow of boat people” while the Opposition “revelled in the political mileage gained from it”.
    – but move your eyepatch over to the other side, and its the alp government that let politics get in the way of other objectives.

    Fact is, there’s only a hair’s breadth between the two big old parties on this issue, and they both seem more interested in corralling voters by overstating that difference than they are in addressing the issue.

    Though on the issues I care about I can’t see any difference between them, I think there may be a case to consider for keeping labor in power. But making that case would take a little more effort than simply applying whitewash.

  29. Helen Errington

    Without greater diversity in cross media ownership laws progressive party’s will always be up against the Murdoch monster.His political agenda is designed to support his business agenda. Additionally Rudd’s legacy will now be the sentencing of a great party to the wilderness for years to come. I hope Labor win but I must admit my hope is fading.
    I cannot believe how the Australian people have bought the coalition’s dreadful policies and vicious behaviour. God help us with the alternative, we will need it. Lets hope miracles do occur otherwise it will be PM Murdoch because without him they wouldn’t be getting a look in. It will be a hollow victory.

  30. Pingback: The case for keeping Julia Gillard | lmrh5

  31. Steven Subhash James

    trolls and lies.. liberals and lies go hand in hand !!!

  32. Bacchus

    Stephen, only someone who didn’t know better, OR who was seeking to intentionally mislead, would use raw $ figures to “disprove” rising revenue 🙄

    * In only three years since 1970-71 have receipts fallen in raw $ terms => 1991‑92, 2008-09 and 2009‑10. Significant…
    * Only during terms of Labor governments has spending fallen in real terms (CPI) since 1970-71 => 1986-87, 1987-88, 1988-89 and 2010‑11.
    * Average revenue from 1996-97 to 2006-07 was 25.05% GDP
    * Average revenue from 2007-08 to 2011-12 was 22.86% GDP
    * Average yearly revenue growth from 1996-97 to 2006-07 was 7.4%
    * Average yearly revenue growth from 2007-08 to 2011-12 was 4.0%
    * Average spending from 1996-97 to 2006-07 was 24.24% GDP
    * Average spending from 2007-08 to 2011-12 was 24.86% GDP, including 26.1% in 2009‑10 (stimulus), the largest since 1993‑94 when the Keating government belatedly spent to recover from the 90s recession. This is when the treasury gurus learnt the lesson of “go early, go hard, go households” that worked so effectively to see us through the worst of the GFC.

    Government spending makes up GDP

    hmm – let’s fact check that shall we?
    Year / Gov spending contribution to GDP / Gov spending %GDP

    1980-81 / 18.57% / 23.7%
    1990-91 / 18.74% / 24.2%
    2000-01 / 17.95% / 25.1%
    2001-02 / 17.85% / 25.0%
    2002-03 / 18.05% / 24.6%
    2003-04 / 17.93% / 24.4%
    2004-05 / 18.16% / 24.1%
    2005-06 / 18.23% / 24.1%
    2006-07 / 17.23% / 23.4%
    2007-08 / 17.13% / 23.1%
    2008-09 / 17.62% / 25.2%
    2009-10 / 18.07% / 26.1%
    2010-11 / 17.77% / 24.7%

    (Figures sourced from ABS 1301.0 series & Budget figures linked earlier)

    Sorry – we come back to the fact that you either don’t know better or you’re trying to mislead 🙄

  33. Peter

    Robert Macklin, Sounds like a campaign speech for the Labor Party to me.

  34. Walk Of PrYde

    Reblogged this on Walk Of PrYde and commented:
    As a woman I think that Julia should be held in high regard. I don’t think that she has had an easy job and I do believe the points that have been made throughout this post.
    Is the Australian culture of the Tall Poppy so bad that we just cut anyone one down? As a women who is guiding other young women to strive for their greatness I say that we should get behind other women who have layed a path for this the year of the feminine, 2013.

  35. Nick

    Did anyone see that weird, eye blinking, ignoring tactic abbot pulled on that journo? I believe it went viral. That makes me laugh. Who would vote for that? Creeped me out massively. My dad would do a better job I think. At least he can answer questions without looking like a tool.

  36. Michael Taylor

    Nick, is that the one where his head nearly fell off?

  37. Pingback: Welcome to Monday! ~ 17th June 2013 | feminaust ~ for australian feminism

  38. Pingback: “Julia Gillard Has Guts” But You Already Knew That, Didn’t You? | polliepomes

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