// you’re viewing...

Federal Government

THE OTHER KEVIN: Liberal patriots impressed by Andrews’ iron will

pressgalleryA Liberal insider writes:

The Canberra Press Gallery likes to think that they set the nation’s political agenda. Nothing happens without their knowledge and say so.  If it does not fit their established narrative, then they are dismissive and downright derisive.

In doing so they behave like sheep, incapable of any independent thought and prone to following each others lead and reaching a smug and cynical consensus on the issues of any given day.

Never was this attitude and mindset more apparent than during and after the tumultuous events of yesterday, in which Malcolm Turnbull came within seven votes of losing the leadership of the Liberal Party.

GALLERY BLINDSIDED
The press gallery was initially blindsided by Kevin Andrews’ announcement of his intention to stand for the leadership.  Andrews, exhibiting a media savvy and shrewdness that belies the gallery’s popular portrayal of him, went straight to the people and made his announcement on the Alan Jones program at 7.15am.  Andrews then appeared on the John Faine program on Melbourne’s ABC radio at 8.35pm to once again announce his leadership intentions.

The press gallery was oblivious to all of this.  It took the gallery a number of hours to confirm what Andrews had told Jones and Faine.  When the gallery finally reacted, they did so with a contempt and vindictiveness that demonstrated their dislike for someone who has the temerity to disturb the established narrative.

LAURIE’S LAW
The wise man of the press gallery, Laurie Oakes was first cab off the rank, telling the Today show that Andrews was nothing more than a lightweight and had been the most appalling Minister in the Howard Government, responsible for the electoral catastrophe that was WorkChoices.  The fact that Andrews was far from the most appalling Minister was irrelevant, Oakes had quickly recalibrated the narrative (so rudely interrupted by Andrews) and the rest of the sheep now had their lines for the day.

The gallery quickly set about portraying Andrews as a joke, a ‘nothing candidate’ who had no chance, and even if he did, because he had the baggage of WorkChoices and Haneef hanging around his political neck, he would be unelectable at a general election.

The other established part of the narrative was that Andrews was a stalking horse for his rabid Catholic mate, Tony Abbott.  The fact that Abbott has betrayed Andrews on multiple occasions in the past and has shown contempt for him was of course not part of the gallery’s narrative.

STRONG PERFORMER UNDER PRESSURE
After Turnbull called a party room meeting for 1pm, Andrews then gave a doorstop interview to the marauding pack.  Facing up to the inevitable questions about Dr Haneef, WorkChoices, Muslim enclaves and Sudanese refugees, Andrews made a number of telling points about why the Liberals should not support the ETS, including the disastrous impact it would have on small business and the fact that it would be nothing more than a tax and massive regulation of the Australian economy.

Andrews performed admirably, indeed as the pack dispersed after the doorstop, one journalist was heard to say, ‘he performed better than I thought he would’.  If ever there was a comment that demonstrates how insular the gallery is, then this must be it.

Those who know Andrews (really know him) and do not start from a position of contempt for him, would not have been surprised by his performance, it was measured, calm and strong.  Indeed one of Andrews’ most notable faults is that during his political career he has never been a self promoter with the media, unlike Abbott and Hockey.  This has been to his considerable detriment.

NONE SO BLIND AS THOSE WHO CANNOT SEE
The gallery’s blinkered and prejudiced reaction also brings to mind a discussion between a group of well known gallery journalists after John Howard’s election in 1996.  The journalists were disbelieving that Howard could have been elected Prime Minister, observing that everyone they had spoken to during the election campaign said that they would be voting for Paul Keating.

After the failed vote to endorse the motion to spill the leadership, the gallery exhibited the lack of insight and political judgment that they are so fond of claiming our elected representatives’ lack.  They dutifully swallowed the line that Turnbull had seen off a ‘non – candidate’ in Andrews and that it was a significant victory.

The gallery, to a man and woman, abjectly failed to pick up on the real stories.  Firstly, Andrews had literally come from nowhere, with little preparation (last week he was in the US, hardly an indication of someone who had been planning an assault on the leadership) he managed to get 42% of the party room voting in favour of a leadership spill.  If seven of his colleagues (including Abbott) had changed their vote, Andrews would have been leader.

That 42% of the party room was sending a clear message to Turnbull that if he thought he could take the party to the left and re brand it in the image of David Cameron’s Tories, then he had another thing coming.  Andrews, along with Minchin, is now a genuine leader of the conservatives.

The other story involves that of Tony Abbott.  If Abbott had run yesterday, he would have most likely won.  The fact that he did not, should spell the end for any leadership aspirations that Abbott may have once had.  It’s fair to assume that the likes of Minchin, Eric Abetz and Corey Bernardi would be none too happy with Abbott’s failure to stand up and knock off the much hated Turnbull.  This leaves Andrews as the putative challenger to not only Turnbull, but also Hockey.

Apart from Kerry O’Brien, who conducted a balanced and respectful interview with Andrews on the 7.30 Report last night, the gallery is oblivious to these happenings because it simply doesn’t fit within their narrative, which loosely stated is all about Turnbull, Hockey and Abbott and how stupid the Coalition is to even consider opposing the ETS.

Predictably, today’s media, both commentary and straight reporting, is once again derisive of Andrews.  The gallery will continue to underestimate him, and will do so at their peril.  They have failed to recognise that Andrews has landed a major blow on Turnbull (and Abbott) and the wets, sending a clear message that it’s trench warfare from here now in.

Andrews now has the Christmas break and new year to hone his message and strategy further.  He will most likely find himself the recipient of a large number of invitations to address Liberal Party fundraisers and branch meetings, this will not be surprising given that the party rank and file, who are a opposed to the ETS, will want to hear from the man who stood up to Mal the terrible and came so close to slaying the beast at his first attempt.

The Canberra Press Gallery meanwhile will continue on, writing their own narrative, disconnected from the concerns and aspirations of the silent majoirty, those blue collar workers, small business people and solid citizens who actually determine elections.

Discussion

Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. You know, its possible that the Canberra press gallery are spot on about Andrews, and that his strong showing in the party room only confirms this. After all, why would anything within the party room currently be regarded as sensible?

    Posted by Anonski | November 26, 2009, 14:46
  2. I was violated by Kevin Andrews.

    Posted by Northern Territory Self-Government Act | November 26, 2009, 14:50
  3. I would like to thank whoever wrote this for its true insight.

    Abbott and Hockey are just not an alternative to the Turnbull.

    Andrews at least has had to deal with some tough situations.

    I for one am glad that he made the decision to rid us of what could have been another Islamic terrorist.

    Better to be safe than sorry.

    Posted by Denis | November 26, 2009, 15:03
  4. Excellent article, Andrew.

    Posted by Chris | November 26, 2009, 15:04
  5. Not far off the mark Andrew!And spot on about the media being chained to their own narrative.

    I read Tony Wright’s contribution in The Age today and it was patently obvious that he either does not get it, or that he is determined to undermine Andrews.

    Posted by Kris | November 26, 2009, 15:38
  6. If the press gallery met with Sandra Mercer Moore, they would fall into line!

    Posted by Where is Sandra | November 26, 2009, 16:42
  7. Bottom line is – ordinary Australians will not stomach Andrew’s conservative rubbish. If he becomes leader he will be crucified. One of the reasons the Libs lost last time is they moved to far to the right. What is Andrews going to do move them further to the right? If you can’t capture the middle ground you are finished in Australian Politics. Hawke was a master of capturing the middle ground, so was Keating until he got side tracked by lefty issues like Australia’s place in Asia and Indigenous policy.

    Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2009, 17:08
  8. The media’s treatment of Andrews during and after the Haneef affair has been appalling – Chasing a sensational story instead of the facts. Thankfully, the numbers yesterday showed that many in the party have a better understanding of the man. The bias held against Andrews because he comes from the broad church of Roman Catholicism is vile to listen to and incredibly hypocritical. Haven’t seen him do a doorstop out the front of church yet?

    Posted by Tom Paine | November 26, 2009, 17:51
  9. Oh noes!!!

    All my work kissing Mal’s arse will be a waste naow that he will be booted out.

    If Abbott or Andrews gets the top spot I’m gonna have to backflip and start acting all socially conservative again.

    Might have to start going back To Hillsong on Sundays.

    Posted by Alex Hawke (talihunter) | November 26, 2009, 17:57
  10. Some very good points raised in this article. And all spot on.

    For too long Australian politics has been reported on by a bunch of narrow-minded dullards who could’nt break into the game, so they report on the game.

    Riddled with soaks, smart-arses, sycophants and slim-balls, our press gallery is well overdue for some real talent.

    Kevin Andrews showed them up. It should happen more often.

    Posted by Close to the storm | November 26, 2009, 18:05
  11. Very, very insightful observations there Andrew.

    You do a great job with Vex but talent like yours deserves a much larger stage.

    Posted by Byron in Wahroonga | November 26, 2009, 18:35
  12. Canberra reporters do not write for the few of the public who may read their stuff but to impress each other with their smart arsey supposed cleverness and insight.

    Posted by David | November 26, 2009, 18:58
  13. I AM THE LEADER!!!!!

    Posted by Malcolm Turnbull | November 26, 2009, 19:40
  14. Tony let me into your anus once more then the Lord will allow you to lead the Liberals.

    Posted by George Pell | November 26, 2009, 20:09
  15. I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!
    I AM THE LEADER!!!!!

    Posted by Malcolm Turnbull | November 26, 2009, 20:18
  16. Hey Andy, even for you this is spectacularly stupid:

    “If Abbott had run yesterday, he would have most likely won. The fact that he did not, should spell the end for any leadership aspirations that Abbott may have once had. … This leaves Andrews as the putative challenger to not only Turnbull, but also Hockey.”

    Of course, it’s hard to sniff the political wind while you’ve got your head up your own arse.

    Posted by Ewes nose shit | November 26, 2009, 20:34
  17. Has anyone seen my favourite little blonde choir boy?

    Posted by Most Rev Julian Porteous | November 26, 2009, 21:20
  18. The fact is, Andrews took the bullet. He’s a hero for standing up to his leader.

    I reckon I know who is behind this coup. Turnbull is dead in the water.

    I mean, who would want to stand on his front bench now?

    Posted by Noel Jackson | November 26, 2009, 21:36
  19. We don’t want Andrews or the mad Monk either. May they take the Lib’s into oblivion

    Posted by Argus Tuft | November 26, 2009, 22:04
  20. Given the Govt and Turnbull want to push the ETS through, can anybody tell me what a quorum is for Parliament?

    If those opposing the ETS had the numbers, could they stop it going through by not turning up for the vote?

    If that happened, then that could kill off Rudd’s and Turnbull’s aspirations (and Turnbulls career) in the same move!

    Posted by Noel Jackson | November 26, 2009, 22:21
  21. I think you’ll find Tony’s already honing the cut throat razor. It will be all over for Mal next week.

    Posted by Sheepish | November 26, 2009, 22:22
  22. It had to be done and at least Andrews had the balls to have a go. he has improved and is showing some leadership more than can be said for some others.

    Posted by Mother | November 26, 2009, 22:47
  23. Bottom line is – ordinary Australians will not stomach Andrew’s conservative rubbish. If he becomes leader he will be crucified. One of the reasons the Libs lost last time is they moved to far to the right. What is Andrews going to do move them further to the right? If you can’t capture the middle ground you are finished in Australian Politics. Hawke was a master of capturing the middle ground, so was Keating until he got side tracked by lefty issues like Australia’s place in Asia and Indigenous policy

    Posted by Anonymous | November 26, 2009, 23:13
  24. ***one of the reasons the Libs lost last time is they moved to far to the right***

    LOL. Yeah, staying on the Left’s worked really well for Ted Bailleau, Barry O’Farrell, Malcolm Turnbull….. keep the silliness coming, we all need a laugh about now.

    Posted by Byron in Wahroonga | November 26, 2009, 23:19
  25. I said the MIDDLE it worked for Keating, and Hawke and its working for Rudd. If the Libs move to the right they are headed for electoral oblivion. What are they going to do next bring back Workchoices

    Posted by Anonymous | November 27, 2009, 0:13
  26. I AM THE MOTHER F*CKING LEADER B*TCHES!!!!!

    (and don’t you forget it)

    Posted by Malcolm Turnbull | November 27, 2009, 1:04
  27. Must capture the middle.
    Must capture the middle.
    Must capture the middle.
    Must capture the middle.

    Libs are not going to loose votes by voting in the ETS. There is no alternative conservative party.

    It should have been done quietly. If/when the public turn on the ETS, its Rudds fault.

    I know a lot of swinging voters who would vote for Mal (they think he is likable, genuine, the opposite of Rudd). But they would never vote for Andrews/Abbott.

    Posted by Capture the middle | November 27, 2009, 3:26
  28. ***Libs are not going to loose votes by voting in the ETS****

    Bwaa haaa. Is that you, Petro? I love the smell of self-delusion in the morning.

    Posted by Byron in Wahroonga | November 27, 2009, 10:03
  29. Those sheep better watch out – as the Mad Monk is looming and he will be spraying his scared seed on their back passages.

    Posted by anon | November 27, 2009, 15:39
  30. First Costello and now Turnbull. See how the Republican Humpty Dumpty’s fall and all the Queen’s men (and womyn) refused to to put Humpty back together again.

    Outside Her Majesties Parliament Eddie Everywhere, Harold Scruby and arty lefty’s like Brian Brown are next. Scrambled eggs everywhere

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | November 27, 2009, 15:51
  31. Please don’t let Mr Abbott molest us, I heard what he did to the Choir Boy at the seminary.

    Posted by Baaaaa Lamb | November 27, 2009, 21:38
  32. Thanks Andrew/VEX for speaking truth to their power and ignoring the “gatekeeper media’s” line that Kevin Andrews was unworthy of respect or attention ab intio. Yours is the true Journalism, theirs is dying.

    Posted by TQS | November 29, 2009, 17:21