Modia Minotaur

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Gerard Thing

I haven't passed any comment on the Robert Gerard issue thus far for one major reason. I heard a quote a while back from a journo - I can't remember who, or where, but I think it was quite perceptive. He said that if politicians want to complain about being made to look like clowns in the media, they shouldn't spend all their time performing stunts.

In the end, the Robert Gerard issue is basically that - a stunt. It's an extremely well executed stunt - ironically, possibly some of the most effective work from the Opposition in some time - but ultimately, you have to ask yourself: why? And why now?

Undoubtedly, the past fortnight has been one of the most significant in Australian legislative history. Would it have been better to bring the Gerard issue up in the new year, when parliament is dealing with a backlog of dull and non-controversial legislation? As Costello himself pointed out, the information has been in the public domain for several years. This fortnight, of all fortnights, was one in which the Opposition could have distinguished itself by drawing attention to the extreme nature of the legislation that is being passed. The majority of Australians probably don't even know what's been passed, or how it will effect them. Nor will they remember a thing about Gerard within a month's time.

Obviously, the intent of the Gerard issue was to attack the credibility of Peter Costello as a treasurer, and by extension, as a potential party leader. But again, what good is this for the Labor Party? The effect has been to push Costello to finally set aside a leadership challenge. Though the `Vote for Howard, get Costello' line used for the 2004 election has been roundly criticised (not the least by the ALP itself), it was based on sound research. People just don't like Costello, and the ALP have a far, far better chance of winning against him than against Howard.

I don't know. The whole thing just gave me the impression of a sideshow. Perhaps it was Piers Akerman praising Wayne Swan's `sterling performance' on Insiders this week that confirmed my suspicions ...

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