Knives come out for Abbott at ABC online (Week 4)
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Knives come out for Abbott at ABC online (Week 4)


After three consecutive weeks of left-leaning commentary, this week the ABC appeared to completely abandon any pretence that it is providing balanced commentary on its opinion sites The Drum and Unleashed.

Overall, Julia Gillard was criticised 73 times but praised 93 times, while Tony Abbott was criticised 128 times  and praised 20 times. In other words, Gillard was praised more often than she was criticised, but Abbott received praise only once for every six times he was criticised.

This week, ABC online opinion editor Jonathan Green did not provide a single item where a conservative substantially criticised Julia Gillard or praised Tony Abbott, but published at least 17 where Gillard was primarily praised or Abbott substantially criticised.

In a week following what Barrie Cassidy described for Labor as “the worst two weeks for any political party in an election campaign” and a strong showing by Abbott at the Rooty Hill RSL, ABC online’s commentary followed a familiar path:

“Yesterday, [Gillard] was simply the consummate, winning, politician… She was expansive, detailed, warm, engaging” and:

“… her enthusiasm and passion, and gives voters a glimpse of the implacable, steely Julia Gillard who has been well-known inside federal Labor now for a decade.”

And most bizarrely of all:

“St Thomas Aquinas, the great propounder of the Summa, is referred to in James Joyce’s Ulysses as someone “with whom no word is impossible” and Julia Gillard’s surpassing skill in weaving the political wind and creating an image of herself as a leader is precisely to radiate this kind of all-encompassing calm. As someone who can listen and abide the articulation of all sorts of different viewpoints and arguments and smile on the contradictions without succumbing to partisanship or, indeed, giving an inch.”

Abbott was either damned with faint praise:

“Given his outsider status at the beginning of this campaign Abbott has done miraculously well just to get to where he is today; overall a halfway credible alternate prime minister.”

But much more often just damned:

“Tony Abbott is mad. Madder than Mark Latham at a mad convention…”

“Abbott’s Brisbane campaign launch… pinned him back in his place as a member of a reviled, rejected and bilious bunch of crocks.” and

“His policy-lite campaign is being exposed for the shallow con job we always knew it was.”

The analysis

For the week 9-14 August, we examined the articles published at the ABC online sites, The Drum and Unleashed each time noting where a sentence made a negative or positive statement about Julia Gillard (G- or G+) or Tony Abbott (A+ A-) or aspects of their campaign.
/> Annabel Crabb:

Tony Abbott thinks this is all about Labor too. Why else would he spend half of his speech talking about his opponents? Why else, in fact, would he elect not to use his party’s policy launch to launch any policy? A- A-

Saturday’s meeting between Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd, in which the pair sat side by side feigning intense interest in a map of Queensland. G-

It took considerable chutzpah for Mr Abbott earlier this year to decide – on his own and without consulting his shadow cabinet – to tax big Australian companies in order to give other companies’ workers paid parental leave, an entitlement Mr Abbott had always previously indicated would be introduced over his dead body. A-

For him now to claim it as a conservative idea is beyond cheeky. A-

Mr Abbott’s message for Green-leaners didn’t contain much beyond the obvious and welcome clarification of the vexed one-planet-or-two question. A-

Do things you’re not going to do count as “Real Action”? A-
/> Kellie Tranter:

Gillard hasn’t helped her cause. Her acceptance speech confirmed her belief in “…a Government that rewards those who work the hardest not those who complain the loudest…” It lacked compassion and served to close the door (unintentionally) on people living in a country at war. G- G-

Then came the alleged “people beyond child-bearing age would resent it as would stay-at-home mothers” parental leave comments. Assuming she made the comments she wouldn’t be the first woman (or man) – and certainly won’t be the last – to think or say it. People espousing this view usually do so because they feel that people in a democratic society must take responsibility for their own actions. To her credit, Gillard is a fine example of someone who does. G- G+

Now we see the headline “Gillard will call Rudd to ask for help”. Isn’t this the same man who was christened “Kevin 747”? Who was running the joint in his absence? G-
/>Holding babies and kicking footballs with kids falls a long way short of what’s needed to gain true popular acceptance. G-
/> Chris Berg:

Many of Julia Gillard’s rolling education announcements are excellent. G+

The Prime Minister is playing to a strength that has been completely obscured by the politicking around the Building the Education Revolution – perhaps the ALP feels that now the Orgill review is out of the way there is a bit of clear space on the education front to occupy. G+ G-
/> Marieke Hardy:

Why, then, Liberal voters expect Tony Abbott to be any different is beyond me. Sure, he’s had a pleasant enough campaign thus far, avoiding awkward photo opportunities with squalling infants (“You’re the baby-holder,” he sensitively informed doting wife Margie last week, shoving a three-day-old child in her face, “You hold him”) and limiting his soundbites to only the bare essentials (“Scones are my favourite snack!”) But somewhere, beneath all this bonhomie and talk of Saving Australia is a gun-waving frothy-mouthed Mark Latham just waiting to come out, heed my words. A-A-A-

Tony Abbott still believes that one day in the distant future, a magical war pixie will unearth weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He’s obsessed with the chastity of the fair maidens of the nation. He knows enough to fake a concern for climate change, though if any opportunity rises to call ‘crap’ once more you just know he’ll be first in queue. A-A-A-

When faced with calls for new policy – something almost completely absent from yesterday’s campaign launch – he simply points the finger, bleating the mantras, dodging the bullets, nervously heh-heh-heh-ing in the revolting sweaty, palpitating manner that does him no favours in public appearances. In six years time he will be appearing at Julie Bishop’s press conferences wearing nothing but a pair of Speedos and a deranged grin, demanding that everybody show him some goddamned respect. With any luck, Channel 9 will pay his way too. It seems they’re flag-waving fans of the mentally challenged, if keeping Sam Newman on air is anything to go by. A-A-A-A-

Abbott’s been put in his box, carefully micromanaged to appear as a reasonable human being with sunny, likeable qualities any Australian citizen can relate to. And astoundingly, those Liberal voters who only two months ago were bemoaning the loss of the moderate, socially progressive Turnbull, are buying it. A-

The SMH released a well-timed puff piece over the weekend, the general premise being “Tony Abbott’s so lovely when you get to know him and not in any way psychotic, no really”. The overwhelming argument that we should ignore the Mad Monk’s propensity for mentalism and instead celebrate his general awesomeness as a human being was led by his friend Christopher Pearson, described colourfully in the article as “Australia’s most famous right-wing gay” which must cause John-Michael Howson no end of distress. A-

Pearson describes the moment he met Abbott and was utterly disarmed, as they “enjoyed lively discussion over ‘three or four bottles of wine’ after which, to (my) amazement, Abbott went for a 10-kilometre run to ‘clear his head'”.

This is not the sort of jolly anecdote one shares to highlight an admirable character trait. This is the behaviour of a lunatic. It’s the type of story you tell your friend when they’re considering dating somebody you know for a fact to be a thorough douchebag. “We were having such a nice dinner, and then all of a sudden he disappears for an hour to go running,” you impart in slightly scandalised tones, “I’d avoid him like the plague if I were you.” A-A-A-

Well may Tony Abbott sneer at the ‘soap opera’ currently unfolding in Labor’s sad, scrambling excuse for a campaign. Well may Malcolm Turnbull and the faithful gather to buy the latest ‘New! Improved! Marginally in control of his faculties!’ man of the people act, what with all the clapping and the kissing and the playing at being normal. Julia Gillard might currently appear an equally unimpressive candidate for the top job, but I believe at least she’s sane. A-A-G-G+

Tony Abbott is mad. Madder than Mark Latham at a mad convention hosted by Charles Manson featuring a special guest musical performance by G G Allin. If you’re so determined to buy the glossy facade currently handcrafted by a meticulous team of Liberal powerbrokers, then more fool you. Don’t come crying to me in six years time when he finally flips. A- A- A- A-
/> Jeff Sparrow:

Quite obviously, Julia Gillard’s pledge to find herself does not represent a renunciation of politics-as-usual so much as an intensification of it, with her attack on her handlers almost certainly scripted by those handlers themselves. G-
/> Bob Ellis:

…from the daily deliberations he (and Julia) kept getting wrong. G-

That being said …it is likely now that Julia will win and it is worthwhile asking why, after a campaign of such badly acted changeability (I’m real, I’m not real, I’ll debate, I won’t, I’m an atheist MacKillopite, peekaboo)…G-
/>There were a number of battlefronts she quietly – and sometimes accidentally – did well on, and they are worth enumerating. G+

One was the economy, and the interest rates not going up, and the trade figures being so propitious, and inflation unexpectedly stalling, and the aura of cautious, humble, honest success Wayne Swan ably brings to every triumphant announcement. G+

never ever, children overboard, the Tampa kidnapees who came via Nauru to Australia after massive cost and needless traumatisation – and Abbott’s boyish admiration of him when a step back, surely, from the Howard slaughterhouse would have been more advisable. How wise was Abbott, the Maxine fans asked, to hail such an anti-hero? A- A-

Another, surprisingly, was Abbott’s Brisbane campaign launch. It pinned him back in his place as a member of a reviled, rejected and bilious bunch of crocks – Howard, Bronwyn, Ruddock, Minchin, Andrews – bringers of war and horse flu and high interest rates and the kind of raggedy-arsed rhetoric (‘The worst government in our history.’ The recession-busters? Really?) and third-rate satire (‘How about The Vain and the Ruthless?’) that impresses few but the septuagenarian lamington-scoffing party faithful. Abbott had been running as a kind of hairy-chested Independent up till that point, and this acclamatory event (and its dated Mojo echoes of ‘It’s Time’) reminded us of where he came from and the dues he owed to a waxwork museum of iniquitous precursors and role models. A- A- A-

Abbott may have peaked too soon. An always-evident suspicion of his wayward cauliflower-eared spontaneity has time to grow in the days that remain. And he has erred, I think, in presenting himself as ‘grown-up’ and Gillard’s mob as therefore childish.A-A-A-

Tony Abbott is Australia’s George Bush, a likeable dope who knows what he believes but doesn’t know what he thinks, and will take Australia on a series of expensive and disastrous adventures. Like Bush he makes decisions based on a religiously-based conviction rather than logic. Like Bush he’s charming and personable. Like Bush he’s a fitness fanatic with little interest in financial matters or the economy. Like Bush he comes from a privileged background, with a private education, and has little understanding of the needs and ambitions of the common man. Like Bush he may just squeak through to claim the election. And like Bush, at the end of his term of office we’ll look out at the rubble and ask ourselves what we were thinking. Likeable and personable people can still wreak great evil on the world.” A- A-A+A-A-A-A-

This was worth saying, I think, however unfairly, of a man surely smarter – and less alcoholic and wayward of mind – than America’s worst President. But George Bush is John Howard’s hero, and John Howard is Tony’s hero, and the logic of this weird mind-mulching campaign may as well take us there as to Julia’s hair roots and Rudd’s gall bladder and Latham’s manly handshake. A+A-
/> Malcolm Farnsworth:

Last night, Julia Gillard appeared on the ABC’s Q and A program. She performed well. G+

The appearance came at the end of a day the ALP would have been pleased with. Just as the Fraser government fought back against a resurgent ALP in 1980 to win comfortably despite losing seats, there was a sense yesterday that the Gillard government is finally on the offensive. G+G+

I sometimes wonder whether Gillard knows who she wants to be. G-


Yesterday, she was simply the consummate, winning, politician. She announced an Australian Baccalaureate, performance pay for teachers and online diagnostic tools. The virtues of these are arguable but her political performance was not. G+G+


She spoke to one of the ALP’s strengths, its commitment over many decades to improvements in education. She took questions from small children and their teachers and parents. She was expansive, detailed, warm, engaging.  G+G+G+


Yesterday was the first day of this election campaign when you could feel that the adults had taken charge of the government’s election campaign and wrenched it away from the smarties and the spivs who have so mis-managed it to this point. G+G-


Gillard’s appearance on QandA was masterful. She gave a simple and persuasive account of the mining tax. She dealt with a wide range of policy issues without faltering. She dismissed Mark Latham with a witty put-down. She refused an absurd invitation to apologise to Kevin Rudd. There could be little doubt that this was an impressive and prime ministerial performance. G+G+G+G+G+G+


Like Gillard’s appearances yesterday, Swan gave a performance that suggested the government was fighting back on economic issues. G+


After all, the story they have to tell about the economy is a good one. G+


But why have we waited so long to hear these arguments put so forcefully?  G-


There remains the nagging doubt about the capacity and willingness of the government to fight for what it believes.  G-


In 2010, the Opposition is resurgent, with an Opposition Leader who is performing beyond all the expectations of his party and his enemies in the ALP. A+


For Gillard in 2010, the campaign is about sowing doubts about Tony Abbott. It may yet work. Yesterday’s Essential Report poll suggested that significant hostility to Abbott exists amongst voters. G+A-


The reports indicated an Opposition thin on detailed policy. A-
/> Annabel Crabb:

In an election campaign distinguished by caution bordering on political cowardice, Ms Gillard is returning to an area in which she has shown considerable pluck. G+

In the case of Mr Abbott, who nominated his paid parental leave scheme, it was his own colleagues – whom he did not so much confront as simply avoid, by announcing the scheme behind their backs). A-

It is an unfashionable cause for a Labor minister, but Ms Gillard pursued it; even to the point of staring down industrial action. G+

Preparedness to stand against one’s own natural constituency (and Ms Gillard has racked up tangles with organised labour above and beyond the education unions over the course of her changes to workplace laws) is one signifier of strong leadership. G+

The Prime Minister is invoking the legacy of Hawke and Keating to argue that the reinvention of the Australian schools system is the “next great economic reform” to be attempted on this continent. This policy area suits her. G+

It inflames her enthusiasm and passion, and gives voters a glimpse of the implacable, steely Julia Gillard who has been well-known inside federal Labor now for a decade. G+

Having seen her cobbling up stop-gap policies on climate change and immigration early in the campaign, it is infinitely more reassuring to see her in staunch pursuit of a policy agenda. G- G+

She is – as has also been well-appreciated inside federal Labor for some time now – an atypical “Left-winger”. G+

The Prime Minister’s weakness, however, is a budgetary one. G-

But schools policy in this country contains another long-standing policy challenge for Labor, and it is one Ms Gillard has recently confirmed she will dodge. G-

Rather than resurrect that spectre, Ms Gillard has chosen the easy way out on this front; another point on which the revolution will be somewhat delayed. G-
/> Mark Bahnisch:

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Tony Abbott’s been intoning the heavily loaded phrase “normal family” today.  A-

As Chris Uhlmann said on The Drum tonight, this line has plausible deniability, in that there’s the usual blah from Liberal surrogates claiming he didn’t mean what he implied. But it’s clearly cut from the same cloth as his remarks at the opening of the debate. A-

What is a “normal family”? Does it encompass same-sex parents, single parents, childless couples, single people (who are all, by definition, part of a family) in Tony Abbott’s mind? A-

Turning to Tony Abbott’s claims in his campaign launch, what is “conservative” about having kids? A-

That this is so is a sad indictment on both the standard of political debate in this nation, and on those politicians who play, quite deliberately, to these atavistic sentiments. A-
/> Dominic Knight:

And against Gillard, who seems like a cleanskin despite having been Deputy PM and has achieved a reasonable amount in education despite the BER SNAFUs, it’s proven a less effective line. G+ G+ G-

What’s more, the strident objections to the Rudd Government were defused when Labor itself admitted there were problems. G+

…they’ve allowed the “he were OK, but stuffed up a bit” option which seems closer to the majority view than Abbott’s dramatic claim that Rudd’s was the worst Government in Australia’s history. G+ A-

The only problem was, they’d brutally knifed the actual incumbent, and he was refusing to go quietly. Julia Gillard tried to put out a few fires and rise prime ministerially above the grubbiness of Abbott’s standard attack-mode with a superficially positive “Moving Forward” slogan, but she went backwards in the polls and had to change tack to what now seems, if anything, to be an approach based around improvising. G- G-

And few economists seem to agree with the Coalition’s line that Rudd made a total hash of the stimulus – while it may have gone too far and been haphazard in its implementation, there’s no denying that the emergency measures helped us glide smoothly through the crisis. A- G+

Perhaps we all rubbished the “real Julia Gillard” concept too soon, and she is belatedly establishing herself as competent and likeable? If she pulls it off, it will be thanks to a narrative that wasn’t planned by head office or sold with clever advertising, but proven through sheer performance – backed up, finally, by significant policy detail. G+ G+
/>The strategies have been insipid and cynical, and the broad policy drought disturbing – the Opposition simply isn’t willing to play in its traditional areas like industrial relations and tax reform, and the Citizens’ Assembly remains a bigger dog than the Hound of the Baskervilles. A- G-
/>  John Hewson:
/> With just 10 days to go, Gillard is on the ascendency. G+

She is having a much better week. G+

While her events are still heavily controlled, she is getting the chance to be more personable, while the Opposition are getting caught with Labor’s seemingly endless onslaught about the costing of their policies, and some looseness of Abbott’s tongue. G+ A-

Although the ALP campaign overall has been a dogs breakfast, perhaps it is finally getting more focus, with today’s rail announcement, and with the strategic decision to leave the “official” campaign launch until next Monday,  just 5 days before the vote. G- G+

While this delay has obvious financial advantages, as the taxpayer picks up parliamentary travel expenses up until the launch, the Party thereafter, it also offers Gillard the strategic advantage of being more inspirational  and visionary in the final few days. G- G+
/> Scott Stephens:

The Prime Minister continued, somewhat uncertainly, along the lines of “respect” (“I think the church in contemporary society, obviously it is the mainstay, the sort of wellspring of faith and belief and existence for literally millions of Australians, and that’s to be respected”), and then pivoted onto surer footing: education policy, the importance of faith-based schooling, and the church’s role as a non-government provider of welfare services (“Government does what it can and can provide resources, but often the real innovation, the real human touch comes from churches, comes from non-for-profit organisations, that then take those resources and use them in their own special way”). G-G+

For Abbott, the concern will always be that he believes too much, that he is an old-fashioned ideological warrior with a well-nigh Catholic predilection for imposing his political will upon the masses. Whereas for Gillard, the electorate seems increasingly uncertain as to whether she believes in anything at all. A- G-

In this respect, the school chaplaincy program delivered Julia Gillard just what she needed: a way to baptise her professed “passionate belief” in education, but without having to feign any kind of actual faith. G+
/> Alan Kohler:

The national broadband network appears to have gone missing from Tony Abbott’s post-election “to do” list. A-
/> Malcolm Farnsworth:


 The Liberal Party has had three leaders since losing the 2007 election. Tony Abbott seized the crown in a mad coup which tore down Malcolm Turnbull and was supposed to elevate Joe Hockey. The party fought itself over the Emissions Trading Scheme. A- A-


But Abbott was able to stand before the Liberals in Sydney yesterday and present himself as the adult in the political room. Straight-faced, he was able to tell his audience that he had a “loyal deputy”, that his predecessor was a “good friend”.  A-


Abbott’s speech by any measure was well-written and powerfully presented. He was measured and calm. He looked the part. A+ A+ A+

There was no policy to speak of. Everything was reduced to the series of slogans he has employed since last Christmas. “Stop the new taxes, stop the waste, stop the debt, stop the boats.” A- A-


Yet again, Gillard was out there pushing a small issue carefully targeted to a particular constituency. Let’s face it, this was more dog whistling about those bothersome indigenous types who leech off hard-working Australian taxpayers. G-


It was in the same category as her Howard-esque call for understanding the concerns about boat people and asylum seekers. Sorry, make that concerns about “population”… G-

Abbott, on the other hand, was continuing to weave the story about government incompetence and waste.  That he is still able to do this in the light of the Orgill report on the Building the Education Revolution program is testament to the sorry political skills of the government. G-


In many respects, the bulk of Abbott’s speech was absurd. These ranged from not introducing the mining tax to telephoning the President of Nauru.  The readiness for government approach was more about listing a series of Rudd/Gillard misdemeanours than it was about setting out a coherent plan of action for a new government. A- G- A-


The Opposition Leader spoke of values. The instinct to have a family is the greatest “conservative instinct” of all, he claimed.  We are all conservatives now!   A-


The Abbott Green Army may await its General after August 21 but he seems to have conceded this issue to his opponents. A-


The speech betrayed some unease about the ground the Opposition needs to make up to secure victory. A-


At the end Abbott was cheered to the rafters by a Liberal Party that must be stunned by the easy target the government has made itself throughout this year. G-


For the Opposition, it may blunt some of the presumption of imminent glory that was on display at yesterday’s launch. A-
/> Chris Berg:


The Labor Party seems determined to eat itself. It’s sucked all the air out of its campaign from the first day. G-G-


So don’t blame the press. Blame the ALP soap-opera they are covering.G-


It’s not that this campaign lacks the material: there’s much silly policy error this year. The government’s cash for clunkers program assumed, for some unfathomable reason, that the program would be undersubscribed. G- G-


But the destructive personal relationships between Labor’s celebrities won’t even give enough space for either party to seriously pursue these sorts of failures. G-
/> Mark Pesce:


There’s a joke making the rounds today, and it goes like this: “Labor wants to give us South Korea’s Internet speeds, with North Korea’s Internet controls.” G-
/>You want another joke? The Coalition’s broadband policy. A-


Apparently for the Coalition, technological development came to a screeching halt back in 2007. The Coalition wants to bring everyone in Australia up to the same standards that many folks who lived in Australia’s major metropolitan areas could purchase back three years ago – presuming, of course, that Telstra hadn’t blocked their particular exchange from competitors, leaving them with expensive but low-speed broadband. A- A-
/>Yet the Coalition wants to propagate this failed system. Worse, they want to shower billions of dollars on players already shown to be unethical actors in the private market, in the hope that out of this largesse comes enough broadband to get the digeratti to STFU. A- A-
/>The Coalition is perfectly happy for us to continue to rent the same shabby unit we’ve lived in for the past hundred years. Sure, they’ll slap on a new coat of paint, but nothing will disguise the fact that the floors aren’t level and the plaster is beginning to crumble. A- A-
/>At least the Liberals don’t care what we look at on the Internet. Even if they don’t give a fig how fast we get there. A+ A-
/> Clementine Ford:


Tony Abbott is stuck somewhere in the 1950s, creating policies to keep women in both home and hymen while waging a xenophobic war against the Others and eschewing modern beach attire. No surprises there. A- A-
/>Our non-elected Prime Minister is languishing somewhere in the mid-90s, and seemingly taking a cue from John Howard’s bestselling “Guide To Becoming Prime Minister: It’s All In The Conservative Vote”. Strange for a woman who made her name in the left wing of the Labor Party – but then, the ’90s were all about ennui. G- G-
/> Annabel Crabb:

The Government wants it to be about old versus new. And the Government, you’d have to say at this point, is winning. G+

Tony Abbott, who thrills to the rustle of papyrus, is at a disadvantage. A-

At the Sydney Writers Festival in 2008, Mr Abbott was similarly helpless in the face of a request to explain the concept of “peak oil”. A-

Last night’s interview with Kerry O’Brien showed a political leader out of his depth on broadband policy. A-

But a leader advocating a competitive broadband policy should be able to make a much better fist of things than Mr Abbott made last night. A-

Never has the observation “I’m not Bill Gates” been so redundant. A-

Mr Abbott’s point is fair enough, but the modern politician is probably better advised not to utter any sentences that combine so directly the words “I do not have” and “competence”. A-

The exchange identifies one of Mr Abbott’s key weaknesses as a politician, which is that he tends to be passionate about ideas but short on research. A-

But Tony Abbott is – through his change of heart on this issue and his subsequent annexing of Coalition policy, which until his dislodging of Malcolm Turnbull had been to support a compromise ETS – personally responsible for the fact that Australia does not have a carbon trading scheme. When the consequences of personal decisions are so profound, these decisions demand deeper research. A-

Tony Abbott is quite right to insist that competence is a principal concern in its implementation by a Labor government whose record on sweeping, ill-planned national ventures is less than inspiring. A+ G-

But it’s a tough row to hoe, when his own competence is in question. A-
/> Mark Bahnisch:

Smith and Hockey, by comparison, added to the sense that the Coalition is all over the place on costings and policy seriousness. A-
/> Annabel Crabb:

Hands up if you pay a mortgage, or rent!” she began, in the tone of a school teacher confident of earning one of the re-elected Gillard Government’s performance bonuses. G-

Do Western Sydney residents really need a show of hands to remind them that it’s a better idea to have a job, all things considered? G-

Awkward on her stool, with the complicated origami of her hand movements, the Prime Minister looked uncomfortable from the start. G-

But the audible snigger with which those words were received by the crowd conveyed much about the serial lessons in treachery and reward that are entrenched in the New South Wales Labor political syllabus. G-

Ms Gillard answered carefully. G+

By the time the PM had politely deflected these questions… G+

Perhaps Tony Abbott was fresher. A+

Perhaps, as the urgent suggestion of the Twittersphere had it, the whole thing was a Liberal setup. A-

But everything seemed to go right for Tony Abbott. A+

Thank goodness Mr Abbott’s popular culture reference points are few and far between. A-

The most ticklish moments of the evening, for Mr Abbott, arrived with the questions about the modern world. A-

In an attempt to empathise, he confided that he had just upgraded his “modem”, a word which he pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, like “ahem”. A-
/> Thom Woodroofe:

While much has been made of young people’s distaste for Julia Gillard’s farcical climate policy…G-

/> Malcolm Farnsworth:


This week has been all about painting Tony Abbott as the man on the run, as the man who doesn’t understand why broadband is an economic issue of the highest significance. As it happens, I agree with that view. A-


But what if Abbott is tapping into a much stronger conventional wisdom, the one that says $43 billion is a hell of a lot of money and what if they’re wrong about all this broadband stuff? A+


Gone is the woman who prostrated herself before Kevin Rudd on Saturday and whispered sweet nothings over an electoral map of Queensland without ever looking him in the eye. G-


Now we have the Julia Gillard who stared down Mark Latham and dismissed him with a witty one-liner.  G+


This week she’s the Julia Gillard talking about education and performance pay for teachers.  She’s the Prime Minister who’s going to make sure our kids go to school and the unemployed accept their responsibilities.  She’s going to link Parramatta and Epping by rail.  She’s warning against the Abbott threat to GP Super Clinics. She’s the bread and butter prime minister. G+ G+ G+ G+ G+


Look how well she did on Q and A. She has Abbott’s measure.  His policy-lite campaign is being exposed for the shallow con job we always knew it was. G+ G+ A-


But what if the voters are actually seeing the patronising Gillard who treated her Rooty Hill audience like a Year 7 classroom, instructing them to raise and lower their hands in a silly exercise designed to establish that few people can pay the mortgage or the rent if they don’t have a job? G-


What if the new-found analogy of the $100,000 income earner who borrows a measly $6000 doesn’t convince those swinging voters who’ve been absorbing Tony Abbott’s mantra of “paying back the debt”.  A-


What if those voters remember that pathetically embarrassing period when no-one in the Rudd government was game to use the “d” word? G-


Gillard’s personal satisfaction ratings are down also. G-