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FAIRFAX EGG ON FACE: Doyle landslide despite The Age’s mudslide

TheagewrongMelbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle comfortable re-election surprises no serious observer, on reflection. He had done a virtuous job as Lord Mayor and ran a very strong campaign. And yet, during the election we witnessed the most extraordinarily vicious attack on him by The Age newspaper about his team’s campaign fundraising.

A number of observations are worth making:

■ This is – according to Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood’s AGM musings – probably the last Melbourne City Council election there’ll be with a print edition of The Age;

■ Once, the impact of The Age’s attack on any one candidate or team would have been devastating, in this case, Doyle’s result was emphatic, an even bigger re-election endorsement than that received by the very popular John So in 2004 demonstrating the lefty newspaper’s flaccid impotence, the loss of power to even meddle in a Melbourne municipal election was revealed on the same day their soon-to-be shuttered Tullamarine printing press had a major power outage too;

■ Other candidates had many problems or scandals to deal with that didn’t get much of a run at all in that newspaper, except for the entrepreneurial fellow who has denied involvement in electoral fraud (arguably the biggest story of the campaign came from The Age’s principal source of anti-Doyle briefings, Ken Ong, who made some damning admissions that were reported in The Age without them realising their magnitude);

■ After his admission that he failed to report an offer of a bribe from a developer, Liberal Ken Ong, would probably do well not to pursue an active role in planning matters, and certainly not as chair of the Planning committee, and he certainly needs to come clean on what happened and with whom;

■ Despite Doyle’s landslide result, of nine, there are two Greensparty councillors elected (with Stephen Mayne, the Greensparty ally and preference feeder, who, by his own account, did no campaigning and whose legal entitlement to run – because he doesn’t live, doesn’t genuinely occupy or own property in the Melbourne municipality – is highly questionable) essentially because the ALP operation in Melbourne didn’t show up. To the extent it did, through the enthusiastic operations of Labor Right people David Cragg and his offsider Richard Foster, they did well. Mayoral candidate, Liberal patriot, philanthropist and pharmacist to the stars David Nolte helped get Foster there in a generous move that cements his high standing as a supporter of good causes. The Right is a reasonably small but feisty part of the ALP in inner-city Melbourne, with the Labor Left the largest grouping by a long way. The Labor Left, back in the day, ran the Melbourne council with a fierce intensity, now they appear to have gift-wrapped it and handed it to their enemy, apparently hoping they don’t make the most of it. Some in the Left told VEXNEWS they well understand that by not fielding a candidate they likely increased the Greensparty representation and therefore that party’s campaign infrastructure against federal candidate Cath Bowtell. Probably a mistake they won’t repeat.

If Robert Doyle continues to do his job well, we won’t hear that much from the City of Melbourne for four years. Ratepayers don’t want controversy and trouble-plagued councils, they want a quiet focus on the basics. In that context, attention-seeker Mayne’s role will be interesting, his form on Manningham council (where he vilified and harassed an elderly Chinese councillor to the point he quit due to poor health) and early Tweets suggest he’ll do his best to disrupt Doyle to gain attention for himself. Whether the other councillors can be bothered with these games, all likely to lead to unfavourable Manningham-style headlines and the government exercising its under-used ability to terminate individual councillors, remains to be seen.

In all, Doyle’s result is an astonishing repudiation of The Age’s multi-week campaign of smear and hatred and therefore warms our heart. He deserved re-election and that newspaper certainly deserves what’s coming to it real soon.

Every time we get a little bit sentimental about that newspaper’s impending doom, every time we reflect that having two competitive newspapers in Melbourne is inherently a good thing and good for journalists and journalism, every time we wonder what VEXNEWS will do when we don’t have them around to kick any more, every time we pray they don’t fold prior to the imminent criminal prosecutions for their voter database hacking, they commit a new atrocity that amply justifies their demise. Their atrocious behaviour against Doyle on fund-raising, when he has complied with every legal requirement, was self-indulgent madness of the most under-graduate, venal and vindictive kind. The Lord Mayor, understandably, has threatened to sic his lawyers onto them. He shouldn’t go there: the best revenge is success. And with a vote even bigger than the legendary John So, he has succeeded in spades.

UPDATE: It took the best part of a week for The Age to swallow its pride and congratulate Robert Doyle on the most emphatic victory since Melbourne has had direct election of the Lord Mayor. They are perturbed Doyle won’t speak with them until they apologise for implying corruption in election fundraising when no credible claim of any wrongdoing on the council has been made other than by The Age’s principal source, Ken Ong, who was attempting to boost the electoral chances of his ticket that was running in opposition to Doyle. Ong, as we reported at the time, revealed that he had failed to report a bribe offer made by a developer to himself. It was an own-goal of the most head-slapping kind.

The notable part of the Age’s editorial on Doyle is it envisages holding Doyle to account forever and a day despite its CEO – and recent catastrophically bad circulation numbers – making it clear that he’ll still be in the Lord Mayoral robes on the Age’s final day of publication. For the reasons we considered above, the music of celebration on that blessed day will be a bitter-sweet symphony, probably even for Lord Mayor Robert. Long may he reign.


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  1. I would like to erect an 88 storey tower in my East Melbourne backyard, I will sell him off the plan to my Malaysian cousins.

    Please let Ken Ong know and we’ll make the usual arrangements.

    Posted by Flied Lice | October 29, 2012, 11:48
  2. Which idoits voted for Stephen Mayne? I mean seriously?? He’s not friends with any of the political parties, in fact he has no friends at all, so how does he find votes?

    Posted by Confused | October 29, 2012, 13:54
  3. Good luck Melbourne now you have the Mayniac from Templestowe. Can’t see him ever being a team player. He hasn’t masted it in his first 43 years so is unlikely to do so now.
    Andrew you are going to have fun!

    Posted by Horace | October 29, 2012, 16:53
  4. What about Maverick Stephen Mayne,

    Mayne lives in Templestow, his entitlement address for the City of Melbourne is a Mezzanine listed as 401 Collins Street Melbourne. The Office of Garry “Mad” Morgan.

    Posted by Melbcity | October 29, 2012, 17:16
  5. I am Marshal Stephen Mayne and I have rode into town with my two Green Deputies and hussy Jackie Watts by my side. Where here to look after our boss, Gary Morgan’s polling Interest. Where going to blast this town wide open. Stay tuned.

    Posted by Marshal Mayne | October 29, 2012, 17:22
  6. So Morgan managed to elect two Councillors, Stephen Mayne and Jackie Watts. How many of his votes followed his ticket and preference the Greens ahead of Doyle and after Mayne?

    Posted by Collins Class Sub | October 29, 2012, 17:35
  7. So Gary Morgan entered a sham lease with Mayne for part of a Mezzanine, and then they did a preference swap?

    And Mayne is a “transparency” campaigner?!

    What a joke.

    Posted by anon | October 30, 2012, 9:55
  8. I am delighted Robert Doyle was re-elected despite the endorsement of Jeff Kennett.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | October 30, 2012, 15:22
  9. The sisters are silent!!

    Posted by Emily's List | October 30, 2012, 18:13
  10. Penny Wong, Peter Slipper, Refugees, Gay Marriage…. Silent!

    Posted by Emily's List | October 30, 2012, 18:53
  11. The Mayniac of Manningham will soon become the Mayniac of Melbourne, Everything about this guy is a sham. With an ego bigger than Texas this mega-hypocrite will create havoc and destruction just like he did in his last council.
    The man has no shame, and a hide thicker than any rhino.
    Fellow councillors switch your phones off early, lest this serial bully may decide to harass and threaten you with some trumped up allegation or expose in the early hours of the morning.
    Sheer delight and sighs of relief could be heard from Manningham the other night when they looked forward to a Mayneless council.
    Robert Doyle, your time has come, Melbourne has got what it deserves.

    Posted by I Want to be a Mayniac too | October 30, 2012, 18:54
  12. All we are saying is give Marco Bolano a chance

    Posted by Pauline from the hill | October 30, 2012, 19:56
  13. Doyle was elected last time despite most of the people voting for him having no idea of his policies (witness the kerfuffle over opening Swanston St to traffic!). He has huge name recognition as a Liberal Party bigwig, and the vast majority of votes for Melbourne City Council are just voting for the Liberal Party. It’s actually a bit silly that the residents of the most left wing seat in Australia are forced to have a right-wing council, but there you go.

    Of course The Age couldn’t affect the outcome of the municipal election. No-one pays serious attention to the municipal election or what any individual does (hence why someone like the Mayneiac can get elected, or why Councilor Ong suffered no harm from his admissions of being silent about a bribe attempt). It’s not a repudiation of The Age in the same way that, say, every poll in favour of Julia Gillard is a repudiation of Michelle Grattan.

    Posted by Arky | October 31, 2012, 14:49
  14. a psychopath never forgets…


    how’s you mate Ralph? lololollol


    Posted by wm | October 31, 2012, 14:52
  15. lololollolololollolololollol

    best comments ever…lololollolololollolololol

    Posted by wm | October 31, 2012, 14:54
  16. the original Michael Williamson…

    Posted by wm | October 31, 2012, 14:59
  17. ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation.’


    Posted by wm | October 31, 2012, 14:59
  18. lol. it just keeps getting better.

    Posted by wm | October 31, 2012, 15:03
  19. google is great!

    you have been a naughty boy!

    Posted by wm | October 31, 2012, 15:05
  20. Ashton Raggatt McDougall

    National Museum of Australia by ARM
    Ashton Raggatt McDougall or ARM is a firm of architects based in Melbourne, Australia known for “architectural outspokenness”.

    Posted by lolololol | October 31, 2012, 19:09
  21. You have some leftovers from Doyle dripping from your chin I think.

    Posted by Plastic Fantastic | October 31, 2012, 22:55
  22. Fatty my dear dear friend what has happened the last few days as I’ve been a bit off colour with the gallops? That Zuta Osa is a lovely drink I thought I was still with Jayne but later I sadly found I had mounted my microwave, thankfully the dam thing wasn’t as turned on as I was. But my poor old guts since have pumped out more dribble than Ted. How about luncheon this Friday?

    Posted by McPerton | October 31, 2012, 23:26
  23. Remember when Ted would emerge from his shell every blue moon to pontificate about the need for a Royal Commission into the corruption in the Victorian Public Service?

    Now all I hear is crickets…

    the public won’t tolerate this endemic corruption in the ALP and Liberals indefinetely. They are incestuous parasites.

    Posted by world gone mad | November 1, 2012, 18:26
  24. Robert Doyle polled 60% 2CP against all comers. An Impressive feat given that it was done without the need to rely on the donkey vote.

    The Greens at 15% actually went backwards and it would appear this is a national trend as their support is in free fall.

    Stephen Mayne was elected on the back of prefernces from a number of sources not just Morgan. He also picked up votes from Singer and was only elected following the exclusion of Kevin Chamberlin.

    What is interesting is if we removed all the distortions in the way the vote is counted. (Flaws introduced last century to assist in the manual counting of the vote before computers) and if we applied a pure proportional representation count with the quota calculated on the basis of x/y (total vote divided by number of positions vacant) the Greens would not have elected a second candidate, instead community candidate Kevin Chamberlin would have been elected instead..

    We can expect the Greens will not be seeking to correct the flaws in our election system soon. They are more concerned about arresting power then principles of democracy and one vote one value.

    Posted by Melbcity | November 1, 2012, 23:36
  25. I think that all Zimbabweans can learn from clauses inserted to make the Melbourne City Council a world’s best practice democracy.

    2 votes for people that are more likely to vote for you is a splendid idea. Those in charge of mulitple commercial interests can vote several times; 8 properties = 16 votes. Splendid!

    Though I’m not sure that I agree with giving even 1 vote to those that may conspire with the likes of Stephen Mayne.

    Posted by Robert Mugabe | November 2, 2012, 9:37
  26. Then … and Now

    Robert Doyle on the run backs down on legal challenge of integrity

    Posted by Melbcity | December 23, 2012, 21:40