FOR Christopher Pyne, losing a little more credibility seems a small price to pay when unproven and unsustainable allegations will steer the media towards yet another day running stories on Labor Party disunity.
On the last day of a fractious sitting period of the Federal Parliament, the Liberal frontbencher claimed that his sources within Labor said Prime Minister Julia Gillard would front the ABC’s “7.30” and demand that Kevin Rudd deny any intention of a yet another leadership challenge.
The leadership questions were simply Pyne scuttlebutt. However, they took on a life of their own with radio, television and print media all running the possibility. The social media was also full of speculation on the possibility.
In the end, Rudd appeared on the program and, after discussing Australian economic implications of the growth of China, he fielded a barrage of leadership questions.
There are two possibilities as to why the media would run this nonsense. The first is that so many are simply incompetent or lazy. The second is that they support the same agenda as the ultra-conservative Pyne. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Whatever the reason – there certainly seems complicity in the way that the media ran what could at best be described as gossip.
As Pyne was specifically targeting “7.30”, there was some rationale for that program to run his statement. Political reporter Chris Uhlmann attempted to use the silly statement to poke fun at Pyne. He provided the teaser for presenter Leigh Sales to deny the statement and suggest Pyne needed a new Labor Party source.
However, “7.30” was content to use the “revelations” as a way of promoting the program. For those who saw the promos, and not the program itself, it would seem that Pyne achieved his aim of presenting a Labor Party in crisis. And the ABC used the same story as follow up on “Lateline”.
Labor’s profound disunity has provided enough plausibility for Pyne’s assertions to act as a catalyst to more speculation about leadership and discord within Labor.
The irony is that the Liberals and Nationals have been so disciplined behind Tony Abbott, probably the single most negative politician Australia has seen in a leadership position who is on the extreme end of the party’s conservative elements.
The conservatives are ravenous for government and will say whatever is necessary.
As Rudd pointed out, they claim they “will stop the boats”. There is no explanation of how – let alone a real reason why! But the conservatives use what works with the electorate and paints the current government as incompetent.
The way the media responded to Pyne’s claims provides an insight into why the Liberals fare so well in opposition. The sad part is that the lack of credibility illustrates why they are not yet ready to be a good government.
Michael Moore was an independent member of the ACT Legislative Assembly (1989 to 2001) and was minister for health.