Gillard Watch: “mummy bloggers & dog whistles”

Rooted on the Hill

JuLiar blames you -know-who and wines & dines “mummy bloggers.”

Veterans who waited outside the Rooty Hill RSL for a chance to have a quick conversation with the Prime Minister? Not so much.

One of the mummy bloggers,  Eden Riley, whose blog is here, celebrates whiteness and ‘scary accents’. She seems to be  dying her hair in solidarity with the Gillard goose. Her  originality  is contagious.

Dog whistles to woo the west

IN the epic battle to decide who should become prime minister of western Sydney, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott played pass the dog whistle, deployed competing infrastructure plans and flaunted signature accessories.

Niki Savva/the Australian

Gillard, supposed champion of modern Australian families, appealed to ancient resentments of foreigners. She can’t stop the boats, so she wants to stop the 457 visa holders stealing Aussie jobs.

What an embarrassing charade!

Click on image to enlarge!

Scott Morrison and, more so, Eric Abetz dropped Abbott into an unsavoury debate on asylum-seekers, pledging not only to stop the boats but to stop their occupants moving in next door.

The Opposition Leader leashed the attack dogs so he could deal with the Prime Minister’s trespass on his turf. Gillard has been desperate to get this issue up. Last week when she was asked about Abbott and the asylum-seekers, she might as well have said, “that’s not a dog whistle, this is a dog whistle”, and instantly zeroed in on 457 visas.

After she was unable to cite examples of misuse, Joe Hockey obliged by nominating her Scottish communications director, John McTernan.

Abbott argued people who were prepared to work and came to Australia “the right way” were welcome. Follow that through and McTernan is OK with Abbott but not with his boss. Abbott’s position here is defensible, unlike Gillard’s, which is reprehensible.

Gillard wore her pearls, threw swine from a safe distance at the locals with the promise of a motorway, and managed to avoid spontaneous contact with westies by dining with identikit mummy bloggers. Without the necessary billions, her road announcement sounded all headline and no story. There are times that will do the trick, this is not one of them.

With western Sydney and its many problems the centre of the political universe, Justice Minister Jason Clare even threatened to confiscate jet skis under new measures cracking down on gangs and noisy, showy, unexplained wealth. Abbott collected garbage, with his chief of staff Peta Credlin at the ready to mop his sweaty brow. The unusual photo of such a senior staff member grooming and pampering the boss provided an unhelpful image – not of a leader who intimidates women, rather of one spoiled by them.

Elsewhere other less colourful but equally important battles have been playing out to decide whose bums, and how many, sit in the next parliament.

The independents and sole Green we have come to know and love in the lower house – or not – may soon disappear from the national stage. Or not.

Last year, the Liberal-National parties effectively agreed to eliminate three-cornered contests. One notable exception is O’Conner, held by the Nationals’ Tony Crook and which the Liberals are hell-bent on regaining. Mallee, in Victoria, where sitting National John Forrest is retiring, will also have to be sorted.

The decision to largely steer clear of each other’s patch means resources and energy will be maximised in critical seats such as Lyne and New England, held by regional independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, respectively, where the Nationals will be running.

Recent internal polling shows comfortable wins for Nationals there, but no one is counting their chickens yet.

It also provides a clear run for star candidate Liberal Angus Taylor in Hume, who was facing a challenge from Nationals senator Fiona Nash or NSW state minister Katrina Hodgkinson.

Nationals speak glowingly of their NSW state director Ben Franklin, an ex Lib, who they credit with reinvigorating the organisation.

They boast of the diversity of their members and candidates. “They all used to be 60-year-old blokes in tweed jackets. Now there are surgeons, academics, small business people. It’s a truly regional party,” one said.

Two who could survive against the odds are Greens MP Adam Bandt, who won Melbourne from Labor in 2010, and independent Andrew Wilkie, who won Denison in Tasmania, curtesy of Greens and Liberal preferences.

The Liberals will almost certainly preference Labor ahead of the Greens in Melbourne this time, so it’s assumed Bandt will lose and Labor will regain the seat. Not necessarily.

If Labor loses votes to both the Greens and the Liberals, and Bandt’s primary vote increases by about 5 per cent, then an estimated leakage of 30 per cent in Liberal preferences should see Bandt re-elected. Liberals will have discharged their obligation to the majority of supporters to put the Greens last yet still deny Labor a seat.

Until yesterday federal Liberals were reasonably confident of a small tick up in their vote in Victoria.

An election last Saturday, before the Baillieu government unravelled, and before any potential wider damage to the Liberal brand, would have seen the Liberals pick up Latrobe (where Abbott visited Tuesday as part of his love youse all strategy to reassure people in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne they were as important to him as the western suburbanites) as well as Corangamite and Deakin.

Everybody plays silly buggers on preferences, but in Denison, logic dictates that the Liberals will more than likely preference Wilkie ahead of Labor.

Wilkie was extremely lucky to win the seat and did so in 2010 because he squeaked ahead of the Greens on primaries. He got their preferences, which put him ahead of the Liberals, then Liberal preferences put him ahead of Labor.

Last time the Greens ran an open ticket; this time they are threatening to preference Labor or even a Liberal ahead of Wilkie.

Wilkie insists he will not deal on preferences, so Nick Xenophon countered by threatening not to preference Sarah Hanson-Young in South Australia if the Greens try to do over his pal.

If the Greens back off, and if Wilkie increases his vote as expected and he secures almost 80 per cent of Liberal preferences as he did last time, he will hang on.

There will be Labor MPs in Sydney’s west who will defy the odds and survive, no thanks to this visit by Gillard, but mainly because of strong local support and recognition of their good work. They will not if the result is a repeat of the NSW and Queensland elections.

Although they do pray for one, as of now not even the Liberals are predicting a tsunami in western Sydney.

They also pray that Gillard improves her vote, even if only a little, in next week’s poll, so that it takes the pressure of her leadership, because for them that would be a perfect storm.