I have voiced this sentiment aloud at times, but never written it down, but the past three years of Australian news politics have been a demonstration of the ugly, childish nature of our news media. Normally you could rely on the left and right leaning newspapers to espouse their views with equal amounts of smug slant, but never before the Gillard government did I see such a consistant and gleeful desire to link governmental failure with one person and governmental success with nobody.
The best example of this I can offer is the way that the newspapers circled the idea that Gillard was a weak leader, even when evidence pointed to the contrary. The word ‘despite’ was commonplace these past three years in any mention of good news. The economy booms and the headlines refer to ‘Business Thriving Despite Doubts.’ The increased economy leads to a stronger budget which allowed for expansions of middle class programs and opportunities to help the lower class and it’s ‘Gillard Budget Raises Leadership Fears.’ She handles an attack from Abbott on the inappropriate behaviour of a minister in her parliament (he said some rude things to a staffer), and after delivering a brutal response to Tony Abbott, the headline I saw the next day was “Despite Gillard’s Passion, Slipper Resigns.”
The weird thing is, she’s been pretty damn effective, if not focused, at capitalising on a period of economic instability and helping drive our (primary production based) economy forwards. They’re working on major projects right now, they’re working them out, and I fear that thanks to a press corp having only one idea for how to handle news reporting, and a lack of personality politics, we’re going to change governments for no damn good reason and put power in the hand of Tony Abbott. Bear in mind that Labor used to argue against voting for John Howard because of the odd argument that if he retired, it’d put Tony Abbott in charge.
I’m hoping that I will be surprised come September, but I expect I will not. My hopeful best-case scenario is another coalition government where liberals may come out with the lion’s share, but not the majority, and a skilled dealbroker like Gillard can pull against the more business-oriented interest. It happened before, maybe it can happen again – but it is just a hope.