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Belated 'support' for former Prime Minister Julia Gillard a ploy to help Abbott win?

Andrew Holden, Age Editor-in-chief

The Age newspaper, owned by Fairfax Media limited, reported on 4 September that Roger Corbett, 4 chairman of Fairfax Media said that Julia Gillard should have remained Prime Minister in preference to the "discredited" Kevin Rudd.

Mr Corbett said, "His colleagues sacked [Kevin Rudd] because they judged him to be incapable as Prime Minister."

The article continued:

'Referring to the damaging cabinet leaks that so badly derailed Ms Gillard's 2010 election campaign, Mr Corbett said: "[Mr Rudd], it's alleged, was active against the government during the elections. May be true, may not be.

'"I think that had a terrible effect upon Labor."

'The leaks led to a collapse in Labor's vote, which led to a hung parliament and forced Labor to enter into coalition with the Greens to form power. The Labor-Greens alliance has been a "very limiting factor" in the past three years, Mr Corbett said.

'And while this was going on, Mr Rudd himself had "destabilised" the Gillard government behind the scenes.'

Mr Corbett also praised Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. "[Mr Abbott's] a very sincere, nice type of human being, and I think he'll be very dedicated, focused in the job," he said.

Tony Abbott, whom Roger Corbett considers "a very sincere, nice type of human being", with less three days before polling begins and 10 hours before the pre-election media news blackout began at midnight on Wednesday, had still not released the costings for his policies, 1 plans to sack 7,000 Federal public servants. He also plans to give approval to the horrifically destructive East West Link project. 2

Candobetter and a number of other credible commentators can only agree with Roger Corbett's praise for Julia Gillard (if not with his praise for Tony Abbott).

June 2013: The now 'discredited' Kevin Rudd ousts Julia Gillard in Age-orchestrated putsch

But didn't the same Fairfax Age newspaper of 22 June 2013, editorialise "For the sake of the nation, Ms Gillard should stand aside"? :

"It is time for Julia Gillard to stand aside as leader of the federal parliamentary Labor Party, as Prime Minister of Australia, so that vigorous, policy-driven democratic debate can flourish once again. Ms Gillard should do so in the interests of the Labor Party, in the interests of the nation and, most importantly, in the interests of democracy. The Age's overriding concern is that, under Ms Gillard's leadership, the Labor Party's message about its future policies and vision for Australia is not getting through to the electorate. Our fear is that if there is no change in Labor leadership before the September 14 election, voters will be denied a proper contest of ideas and policies - and that would be a travesty for the democratic process.

"The Age does not advocate this lightly. We do so with all respect to Ms Gillard, ..."

Editor-in-Chief Andrew Holden, who wrote the editorial, also appeared in a short broadcast video (2:33) on the same page. He made the curious claim, with no supporting evidence. that it is necessary for Julia Gillard to stand aside "so that vigorous, policy-driven democratic debate can flourish once again."

Evidently, Andrew Holden does not wish for the debate to embrace the support given by Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr and the Age newspaper to the United States' proxy terrorist war against Syria, which has cost, according to one estimate reported 3 in the Age, 100,000 Syrian lives since March 2011.

Why the Age newspaper itself could not have enabled the debate it claimed to have wanted, without meddling in the internal politics of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Caucus, was not explained.

The above argument was repeated in different guises:

"... [We are saying] Ms Gillard should stand aside ... because she has been unable to lift the party out of a desperately difficult political position. ...

"A big majority of the electorate appears to have stopped listening to Ms Gillard. Voters have been so distracted by internal and external speculation about Labor's leadership that efforts by the Prime Minister and her ministers to enunciate a narrative, a strategic vision, for the nation's future beyond this year have failed. ..."

Much of the editorial, in contrast to the self-fulfilling prophetic value judgements above, provided compelling reasons why Gillard should have remained Prime Minister and not been cast aside for Kevin Rudd :

'We ... [recognise] that in the three years she has occupied the office of Prime Minister - most of it under the vexing circumstances of a hung Parliament - Labor has implemented landmark reforms ...

'The polls in mid-2010 had indicated Labor was in danger of losing an election under Mr Rudd, and inside the party there was concern about his increasingly autocratic style. Ms Gillard said she challenged "because I believed that a good government was losing its way … I love this country, and I was not going to sit idly by and watch an incoming opposition cut education, cut health and smash rights at work". ...'

As Age Editor-in-chief Andrew Holden had demanded, Julia Gillard was subsequently ousted on 26 June and replaced by Kevin Rudd, but the promised improvement in Labor's approval rating never eventuated.

Age readers still to be given explanation

The Age is entitled to change its views, and is even entitled to promote views which may, through the course of events, prove to be mistaken. However, the public is entitled to be informed that what Roger Corbett said less than 3 days before the forthcoming Federal election is contrary to what the Age said on 22 June and why.

Unless this explanation is forthcoming, voters are entitled to assume that Roger Corbett's statements, ostensibly in support of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, so late in the election campaign, are no more than a ploy to harm Labor's electoral prospects.

Update, 8:36AM, Thur 5 Sep: Hockey to give costings today

The Age reports, "Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey will unveil the Coalition's election costings on Thursday, leaving voters just hours to digest the numbers while also refusing to say when the budget would be back in the black under his management."

As noted in the Australian Financial Review :

"The timing of the Coalition's costings announcement comes after the electronic media blackout starting at midnight on Wednesday, which applies to all election campaigns. Labor will not be allowed to broadcast any television or radio commercials attacking cuts that may be contained in the documents." (emphasis added)

A poll in the Age article Hockey's 11th-hour costings asked "Should the Coalition have given voters more time to digest its costings?". The results of 5188 votes taken at 9:05AM were:

Yes: 69%

No: 27%

Not sure: 4%

Footnote[s]

1. The Herald Sun reported at 12:46PM on Wednesday, 4 September 2013, "The federal coalition is releasing its final policies on Wednesday (today) and will reveal its full costings 'very, very soon', Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says." Voters won't have sufficient time to digest the information and understand how it will affect them before they cast their vote on Saturday. (See also: Update of 9:10AM, Thursday 5 September, above.)

2. The construction of the East West Link would require the destruction of much of what remains of Melbourne's iconic Royal Park as well as many surrounding homes and will make Melbourne commuters even more dependent on private vehicles than they already are. It is not possible for the broader public to see the business case for the East West Link and compare it with the known business case for additional public transport because of "commercial in confidence" provisions in the East West Link contract.

3. As shown in Media Lies Used to Provide a Pretext for Another "Humanitarian War": Protest in Syria: Who Counts the Dead? of 25 Nov 2011 by Julie Lévesque in Global Research, the Western news media may have been exaggerating the number of dead for its own propaganda purposes. But, surely those opposed to war need to be able to accurately convey to the public, how many have been killed as a result of the support provided to the terrorists by Western nations? Nowhere on Global research could I find this figure. It certainly was not included in Professor Michel Chossudovsy's otherwise excellent Online interactive I-book Syria: NATO's Next "Humanitarian" War? of 11 Feb 2012. Given that death toll of the Iraq wars since 1990 is certainly at least many hundreds of thousands and, according to one estimate could be a many as 3,300,000, including 750,000 children, the figure of 100,000 dead may not be such a great exaggeration, after all. Certainly should Barack Obama and John Kerry achieve their goals, the eventual death toll will be much higher than 100,000.

4. Roger Corbett subsequently admitted he was a member of the Liberal Party.

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