Laurie Oakes’ National Press Club allegations redux

As you are all aware, Laurie Oakes decided to crap all over Julia Gillard’s strategy leading into the election campaign with his ‘Kirribilli’ question(s) at the National Press Club last Thursday. It included this:

Is it true that there was then a brief break during which Mr Rudd went outside and briefed a couple of colleagues on what he thought was a deal while you contacted your backers, and that when the meeting resumed you said you’d changed your mind? You’d been informed he didn’t have the numbers in caucus and you were going to challenge anyway?

For 24 hours it was the lead story in the ABC radio news. So you had it three times – in the headlines, the item itself and the recap of the headlines at the end. Often it was the only election story. There was certainly nothing else about National Press Club speech.

On Friday an article by Pamela Williams Kill Kevin: the untold story the coup in the Australian Financial Review tells us that during the weeks after the coup a rumour had been flying around that:

Gillard in fact had initially agreed during the meeting not to challenge, and to instead give Rudd the opportunity to resolve a range of policy issues and attempt to improve his standing in the polls.

And, moreover, she had changed her mind after being told that she had the numbers during a break in the meeting.

A rumour, Mr Oakes, a rumour, that’s all. If you believe it’s a fact rather than a rumour you should explain why. Now!

In the article Williams tells us that the meeting between Rudd, Gillard and Faulkner started at 7.20 pm and at 10.15 Rudd emerged “white-faced and defiant” to face the press.

In William’s account of the meeting there is no break mentioned. In fact Gillard’s staff tried to send in a note to Gillard saying that the numbers were now OK. At first Rudd’s staff wouldn’t allow the note in but later relented. It seems clear that they sat within a cone of silence for three hours.

Laura Tingle in the Weekend AFR reports:

“like the Prime Minister, Mr Rudd has not made, nor will he make, any comment on these private discussions,” his spokesman told AAP. “Appropriately, the only comment Mr Rudd made on these matters was in the context of the caucus meeting specifically convened on the issue of the leadership”.

I think we can accept that the leak rumour didn’t come from Rudd.

So no break in the meeting, no leak from Rudd, but Gillard was informed that she had the numbers during the course of the meeting. And a rumour circulating amongst disaffected Rudd supporters, which any half competent journalist could have picked up.

In the Weekend AFR Williams returns to the Press Club incident, describing it as “a first major punch to the solar plexus”. She says that Gillard half closed her eyes took a breath and brushed the question aside. She would take her secrets to the grave.

Well done, and a right response, thinks Williams.

On NewsRadio I heard her initial remarks. She said that one of the perks of office was to have [the great] Mr Oakes attend her National Press Club appearances and have him ask her questions. It was a new experience for her, she said. Exceptional poise under heavy fire.

Williams says that the rumour had circulated amongst Rudd supporters in the caucus and shows that “bitterness is alive and well within the government.” She says that if more comes out during the campaign “Gillard will need the instincts of a fox, and the temperament of a Hawke.”

Perhaps Williams was not around when Richard Carleton asked Bob Hawke how it felt to have blood on his hands after he had knocked over Bill Hayden. Richard Fidler played Hawke’s response on local radio the other day. Hawke flew for Carleton’s throat, virtually told him to stop smirking and that he would put his integrity up against Carleton’s any day. His minders told Hawke that if he did that again his butt would be history. It’s the last time I recall Hawke losing his temper. More’s the pity, perhaps. It made him sound real.

On Saturday also, fresh from punching Gillard in the guts, Oakes turns reflective analyst explaining that his question had made sure that voters would concentrate on how Gillard had gained power to the exclusion of her plans for the country and how it would help Tony Abbott.

Gillard wanted people to forget about how she came to be Prime Minister and focus on what she proposed to do in the role.

Instead, she will go into an election campaign with the bitterness and duplicity she thought had been covered up now on open display. And that is bad news for the Government and its re-election prospects.

It gives Tony Abbott and the Coalition a message of disunity to use against the Government in what is shaping as a very tight contest.

And then:

Gillard’s National Press Club appearance was intended to be her election launchpad.

The idea was that she would present herself as cautious and responsible, lay out her economic management credentials, reassure voters that she would run a fiscally conservative administration, and then dash to the polls this weekend.

I threw a spanner into the works…

Thanks a million, Laurie.

So the net effect of Oakes’ intervention was deny Gillard oxygen and to help the Opposition establish memes of disunity, instability and Gillard’s questionable character.

By Sunday a Sunday Mail journalist was referring to the ‘revelations’ rather than the allegations or rumour. I’m talking to you, Daryl Passmore.

Just what does Oakes think he’s about? I don’t recall such a partisan intervention by a senior journalist. Ever.

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Posted in elections, politics
44 comments on “Laurie Oakes’ National Press Club allegations redux
  1. Pavlov's Cat says:

    He’s always been the same. I don’t know whether they still do it but at one stage in the 90s it was habitual to the point of ritual for Oakes to ask some pollie a carefully ‘controversial’ question and for the answer, no matter how anodyne, evasive or pointless, to turn up at the top of Nine’s next “news” bulletin.

    Oakes’s pirouetting* in the Saturday piece — ‘I threw a spanner in the works” — is incredible. He seems to really believe it’s all about him.

    *Yes yes, I know, Fantasia

  2. Chris says:

    Rumour or not (and perhaps Oakes has a source) she could have shut it down straight away by saying that there was never any deal and if Oakes believes he has any proof he should show it.

    And anyway – so what if there was a deal? Politicians renege on deals with each other all the time.

  3. bahnischba says:

    PC, I think he probably knew that Pamela Williams’ article was coming up and wanted to upstage it also.


  4. bahnischba says:

    Chris, on her feet she handled it well and was I think correct in maintaining absolute confidentiality about what went on.

    The notion that a position taken early in the meeting has any enduring significance is risible. The meeting isn’t over until it’s over and what’s decided at the end is what counts.


  5. jane says:

    I’m with PC on this one. Too much nudge, nudge, comes from Purley for me. Gillard should have told Oakes to put up or stfu!

  6. Chris says:

    The notion that a position taken early in the meeting has any enduring significance is risible. The meeting isn’t over until it’s over and what’s decided at the end is what counts.

    Well if the rumours are true and a deal was made, then it would have been pretty much the end of the meeting if it had stuck. If Gillard did need to consult with others before making a deal then it just lends weight to the claim that factional leaders behind her have the real power.

    We probably won’t know the truth about whether there is a deal or not unless Rudd ends up bitter enough to write a book.

  7. bahnischba says:

    Chris, I’m working on a post that tells the story Pamela Williams tells in the Fin Review of the fateful day. She actually did some research, contra Oakes.

    Bottom line – Rudd contributed significantly to his own downfall by the decisions he made, the fact that he alienated just about everyone and did nothing to develop a support base in the caucus.

    Of course people vote in blocks within caucus, there are factions within the Libs also. They are very fractured, as Mark has emphasised. But outside influences have been overcooked.

    Anyway that’s what I made of it all.

  8. Helen says:

    Gosh, He (Oakes) is seriously up himself, isn’t he?

  9. Chris says:

    Bottom line – Rudd contributed significantly to his own downfall by the decisions he made, the fact that he alienated just about everyone and did nothing to develop a support base in the caucus.

    No argument from me there. I guess he never really made the transition from public servant to politician.

  10. tssk says:

    There’s a lot of wishful thinking in the media about this. I think a lot of them are hoping to stir Rudd into a Latham style explosion at the ALP for stabbing him in the back.

    Given the media’s role in Rudd’s downfall I get the feeling that he isn’t going to play ball with them in providing the story/narrative they want.

    It would at this point be impolite off topic and partisan to point out that numbers wise Abbott had much less support then Julia from the backroom.

  11. Katz says:

    Is it true that there was then a brief break during which Mr Rudd went outside and briefed a couple of colleagues on what he thought was a deal while you contacted your backers, and that when the meeting resumed you said you’d changed your mind? You’d been informed he didn’t have the numbers in caucus and you were going to challenge anyway?

    If this simply were a rumour rather than something that Oakes had heard from a source other than those the Mark considers, then Gillard could have simply dismissed the question as being based on unfounded rumour.

    Gillard didn’t do this. Instead she unnecessarily augmented the air of mystery surrounding the alleged events.

    And as I suggested in a thread on the now ailing LP site, it appears to be likely that the leak came not directly from Rudd but from one of Rudd’s backers.

    If a leak did occur, then Oakes was on more than a fishing expedition.

    If the whole exercise was a fishing expedition, then Oakes got more than he should have from Gillard’s very earnest and unnecessary reply.

  12. Andrew Reynolds says:

    Whether this happened or not, either way it was a source that Oakes obviously felt he could trust and close enough to the discussions to be in a position to know. That alone tells us that there is at least one influential senior person prepared to brief against Julia.
    It might prove an interesting source if Julia cannot shut him or her up.

  13. paul walter says:

    Helens sumnation is correct.
    Oakes is up himself to the point of a permanent constipation that provides the ill-humour driving his censorious misanthropy and grotesquely enlarged, expanded sense of self-relevance.

  14. silkworm says:

    I remember the day after the spill Oakes saying Gillard was “of the Left” or “from the Left” or some such. This theme was carried on at the Press Club by the slightly more invidious Malcolm Farr when he asked Gillard about her credibility by directly referring to her as a “raging Leftie.” The sheer ridiculousness of this remark has been passed over by the media, but it all contributes to the vitriol directed at Gillard by the right-leaning media, and a lot of it must seep into the public subconscious.

  15. Brian says:

    Katz and Andrew R, from Williams article by morning Rudd’s support was no more than 27. Of course, among the 85 there could have been some that supported Rudd and recognised that he was fatally wounded by the challenge itself. A better indication is probably a maximum of 40, which was all that he could have had when Gillard had a clear 72 within a couple of hours of the end of the meeting.

    What we are dealing with, I think, is a rumour circulating amongst some 30-40 people who were as ill-informed as everyone in the public generally about whether there was a break in the meeting and whether there was a change in the dynamics over three hours (in which case, isn’t that what you’d expect and, so what!)

    So we are dealing, I think, on the balance of probabilities, with a leak of an ill-founded rumour. Unless Oates has anything from the three principal actors, and I’d bet my house he doesn’t, his case is built on sand.

    Katz, Gillard had half a second to decide what she said, so you can’t imply anything on what she didn’t say.

    As I’ve said before, Oates knew he wouldn’t get a reply, and he knew what effect it would have. The implications for his character are obvious.

  16. sr says:

    There is nothing like an election to concentrate the mind. If there was a leak, I bet it’s dried up now that the stakes are that much higher.

  17. Joe says:

    Following Aussie politics but in particular this election from OS, what I find really disappointing is the way journalists feel like they have to ‘test’ politicians all the time.

    A television interview often only goes for say 10mins and often a large portion of that time is spent asking the Minister about an impending policy release– and the Minister stone-walling. Or some other peripheral rubbish, trying to show the Minister up as a bungler, or whatever. And the minister invariably stonewalls, and usually tries to get his message across. Often the politician, ie. the representative of the people is never actually given the opportunity to say directly what it is that he actually wants to say.

    Kerry O’Brien’s like the little Australian version of the UK’s Jeremy Paxman– always trying to somehow show the politician he’s interviewing as some kind of hypocritical nong. Well, that’s the job of the audience to make those kinds of judgments. And this kind of ritualistic dance between politicians and journalists only results in a very closed space in which politicians can talk (through the media) to the people. It just results in more and more spin. I find it really, really annoying.

    I’d like to hear what politics really think and make my mind up about it– Anglo-Saxon politics, much like it’s economic and financial system is broken, and the media is part of the problem.

  18. Brian says:

    Joe, Kezza is one of the worst. Bangs away on a futile mission and then ends with “Unfortunately we’ve run out of time” when the interview is at last interesting.

    We had one here on local ABC radio once, a young woman, who sidled up to her victims, had a bit of a joke, giggled a bit and next thing they were spilling stuff all over the place.

    Can’t remember her name, but a serious journalist who I think may be working for Channel 10.

  19. melbournehammer says:

    Having trolled for years I feel obliged to write my first post.

    What utter rubbish. Oakes is a journalist – probably with michelle grattan the doyen of the canberra press. he has broken more stories than most of the rest of them combined. Why is it not in the public interest to ask the question ? She had the opportunity to deny it and he asked her legitimately.

    Seriously folks get a grip – anyone would think the role of the press is to ask soft questions in a soft focus ? She is asking the Australian public to give her three years of power without saying (other than we prefer a small australia) what precisely would be different to the last three years other than that there will be a different communication vehicle.

    In truth it was the best thing for her. There were two days of rudd-gillard (which everyone already knew the result of) and two less days about east timor, and the schmozzle which was her buying off three mining companies with nearly $9billion of foregone revenue. Revenue which might have led to better schools, indigenous health, higher education spending, aslyum seeker protections…need I go on ?

    She came into power seeking to resolve a few key touchstone issues and leapt to the right on each of them – on aslyum seekers, the mining tax and population policy.

    and if she wins the election she may well be vindicated.

    the shame about the media is that it operates at the superficial level (of which Oakes’ question was just another example) of who did what to whom and disunity equals death. by all means criticise him for not asking why did we agree to forgo $9b worth of additional revenue so that you could get a political fix (which by the way the media lauded as a superb piece of leadership) rather than ensuring that the community was able to make the most of the boom in iron ore and coal profits which are currently shared disproportionately by the wealthy few.

    And so what if malcolm farr prefaced his comment by saying she was a raging leftie – surely this site can’t take that as a derogatory putdown – she is from the left (socialist as it once was) isn’t she ? Why do we see that as an insult – there was a time when Tony Benn said he was proud to be a socialist – what was wrong with seeking to resolve problems collectively ?

  20. Razor says:

    Note passing? Hasn’t the ALP discovered SMS yet?

    La Guillotine could have denied the allegation without revealling anything private. Why didn’t she?

  21. Katz says:


    Katz, Gillard had half a second to decide what she said, so you can’t imply anything on what she didn’t say.

    We can certainly infer that Gillard didn’t provide the optimal answer. There is much that one may imply from such an inference.

    For example, she chose elaborate rhetoric over simple rhetoric. Rudd was wont to do that, too.

  22. Brian says:

    melbournehammer, you’ve been lurking, not trolling.

    Being left isn’t an insult in my book, but it is interesting that Tanner is said to have opposed Gillard’s candidacy in the past in part because she was too conservative.

    She came into power seeking to resolve a few key touchstone issues and leapt to the right on each of them – on aslyum seekers, the mining tax and population policy.

    I can’t see how you can interpret her emphasis on sustainability and planning for a triple bottom line in a concerted fashion as leaping to the right.

    On asylum seekers, we don’t know how Rudd would have resolved the impasse he created and we don’t know enough about what Gillard has in mind to make a judgement. She’s effectively kicked the ball into touch.

    On the mining thing Rudd was never going to get the extra $7.5 Billion. The miners would have run a ferocious marginal seats and advertising campaign with unlimited resources. What Gillard did was strike a reasonable compromise from the weak bargaining position Rudd left her. To characterise it as a cave-in as some have done is wrong.

  23. Joe says:

    @ melbournehammer:
    The question is not in the public interest. The question implies a character failing: treachery and self-interest, but the implication is predicated on some kind of imaginary context. Gillard’s alleged “treachery and self-interest’ is par for the course in leadership contests. The opposite is in fact the exception. Oakes is a muck-slinger.

    I think, the point is not that the press ask soft questions, but that they ask questions with a focus– and the focus needs to be the issues and not some manufactured insinuation as to people’s character. Like the politicians, journalists have to see themselves more as representatives of the people.

  24. Brian says:

    Razor, maybe the rules were that mobiles were turned off. Extremely likely, I would think.

    Williams says that what Gillard wanted out of the meeting was a voluntary handover. Going into the meeting she was fairly confident of the numbers, but not completely sure. During the meeting she became sure. So her position against an understandably stubborn Rudd may have changed, but was unsuccessful.

    So the allegation is quite possibly true from early in the meeting to later. But as I’ve said the meeting wasn’t over until it was over. It’s the final position that matters.

    If she confirmed or denied what happened from one end of the meeting to the other she would have broken confidentiality. So her position was proper and correct, IMHO.

    Rudd quite understandably wanted to have a shot at convincing his colleagues that he should stay. It’s also reasonable that he’d want to hear from his own numbers man. Albanese told him some time after midnight that he was gone. In the morning Albanese told him that he was even more gone and persuaded him to go quietly, which he did with admirable eloquence.

    What Oates is so exercised about is an irrelevant sideshow that properly exists within a black hole, IMO. Apart from some ill-informed rumours floating about.

  25. adrian says:

    Come on Brian, the word ‘sustainability’ is code for lower immigration particularly from the massive number of asylum seekers, the mining tax was a backdown, not to mention a con job, and the asylum seeker policy was a complete fiasco. It is entirely irrelevant what Rudd’s policy may or may not have been.

    Don’t know why you put the best possible spin on whatever Gillard does but it hardly stands up to even the mosr elimentary scrutiny.

  26. Andrew Reynolds says:

    Gillard did not have “…half a second…” to decide what to say. Oakes’ question was long and detailed and then, when he had finished, she then gave herself some time by that introductory bit of blowing smoke. From the very start of his question she would have been thinking carefully as she is a lawyer and is trained to think carefully about the impact of any answer she may give to any question and how it would affect any case she is putting forward.
    IMHO she answered that question the way in which she wanted – even if it was to not answer it.

  27. Brian says:

    adrian, I could return the favour and say that you put the worst possible interpretation on Gillard’s actions in a way that doesn’t stand up to the most elementary scrutiny, and if I did I’d be saying what I in fact think.

    Just to take up the one point of the mining industry. The mining industry’s best option was always to support an Abbott election campaign on the promise of paying nothing extra at all. If Abbott failed to be elected they could then deal with the Rudd government, but Rudd would be in a stronger position then.

    They knew that they should be paying more tax and in the long run they would be. So they, like Gillard, went for a compromise, because they need to think in terms of 5-15 year futures.

    Rudd had over-reached, had no room to compromise and would, I think, have been defeated at the polls. The mining industry had been doing their own marginal seats polling and probably knew better than anyone how the land lay.

    So we got $10.5 billion more than nothing, for which we can thank Gillard.

    It’s not a big deal, but then I hosted a couple of long threads that went into the tax in some detail, as far as I could understand it as a lay person. I learnt from our economist friends in the commentary fraternity and by reading myself that the mining industry is not as fabulously profitable as some people think.

    Have you learnt anything during the whole discourse?

    BTW the reason why the Treasury now has a better idea of future revenues is because of information exchanged in the negotiation process. We need to recognise the power and interests of miners, but talking to them is better than a stand-off any time.

  28. Joe says:

    @ adrian, Brian
    I think Adrian’s criticisms are actually quite insightful. Brian, it’s a bit hard to believe that the mining industry isn’t very profitable. The interesting thing about the mining industry is that as a primary industry, the commodities that it supplies are the starting point for all the material products that an economy produces. They are critical and the people that control them are very influential– look at the hullabaloo associated with the US and their reliance on oil.

    Australia exercises very little influence on the way it’s natural resources are used by the rest of the world. In fact, we often subsidise foreign companies to come here and take our mineral resources. (In stark opposition to, for example, Norway.) There is a very good argument, which says that the nations resources should be for the benefit of the nation and not for a select few– and while we’re never going to nationalise the mining sector, taxing it in such a way as to increase its benefit for the public is a very good idea. Their profitability also distort our economy, by diverting investment away from other sectors.

    The people complaining about the mining tax are companies like Xstrata– a Swiss company, with European stakeholders. BHP is owned and controlled in the meantime by the UK and the US. As is Rio, etc. Once these natural assets are gone, they’re gone– they need to be managed so as to gain the maximum possible advantage for this country.

    Gillard’s ace up the sleeve (wrt. the election) is Tony Abbott. She can’t be seen to play it directly, which was one of Rudd’s mistakes, but if Abbott became PM, I’d probably hand in my passport in disappointment. It would be incredibly embarrassing.

  29. Brian says:

    Joe, we are straying from the topic of the post, but a few things. adrian had a shot at me and I shot back. If we were considering things in the abstract I’m not sure there would be a great deal between us. But politics is conducted in a context and in that context it is the art of the possible. Gillard took over when things were in a jam and I think she’s done as well as might be expected. I’m not underselling Rudd and wrote a post to make sure the achievements of his government were not overlooked. We have our survival of the GFC in particular to thank him for. Lenore Taylor in her book Shitstorm (jt author) says that he insisted that the proposed stimulus of, ironically $10-12 billion, from memory, may not be enough and persuaded Swan and Treasury to the final figure of $42 billion.

    They decided how many jobs they wanted to save and kept adding programs until they reached that number. the cost happened to be $42 billion.

    That was probably his finest hour. Taylor thinks he went downhill from there.

    So there was a job of work for Gillard to do, with little time to work in. The best prospect is that she doesn’t see herself as the smartest person in the room and ministers apparently look forward to cabinet meetings chaired by her. That is frankly astonishing, and bodes well for the future.

    On the mining industry, big profits don’t say anything at all about internal company profitability – what you have in profit after the cost of capital and all the operational expenses. Phil Ruthven says that an international standard is about four times the bond rate. Mining companies in the last five years have only just reached that. Prior to that they were about half that. In terms of the risks it was barely worthwhile.

    At the earlier rate it’s hardly worth a capitalist getting out of bed. Better to stay there and let someone else do something with your money.

    All miners were squealing, not just the multinationals. In considering the profitability of multinationals, the dividends they pay shareholders and their profitability as a company depends on their operations across the board.

    So we are dealing with complex issues here. Norway is much to be admired, but I’m not sure you can take the analogy too far. It’s a small country (about 4.67 million people) with one big commodity to extract.

    I think we should be investing the profits accruing to the national treasury from mining in a sovereign wealth fund and using the earnings to increase the country’s productivity. The $10.5 billion is not all we get, just the extra. Howard and Costello pissed much of the so-called mining boom income up against the wall in middle class welfare and in targeted spending designed to win elections.

    But the bottom line here is that in practical terms you can argue a few billion either way about the result achieved, but we were never going to get what Rudd was demanding. If perchance we did I think the miners were actually ornery enough to take a good deal of their future investment elsewhere as they were threatening to do, whether that was rational or not.

  30. Nickws says:

    bahnischba: Bottom line – Rudd contributed significantly to his own downfall by the decisions he made, the fact that he alienated just about everyone and did nothing to develop a support base in the caucus.

    This is true, to a certain extent.

    The great problem with this explanation is we don’t know how much of tickling federal caucus’ tummy in this day and age is either moral, ethical, or easily done. Even allowing for the fact we’re talking about the morality and ethics and can-do attitudes of politicians.

    It’s a pack that catches and kills its own, it’s not a bunch of people siiting around reading the pop organisational theories of Edward De Bono.

  31. kimberella says:

    Brian, it is Oakes’ modus operandi. He’s probably thinking people would be conscious of the fact that he was the person who “broke” the original Kirribilli House story (having been handed it by Graham Richardson).

    More generally, if you watch the Q&A that follows any address by pollies these days, the questions almost never seem germane to the topic. The media pack just ask whatever’s the current set of talking points/the ‘narrative’ du jour.

    So the bigger question is not so much Oakes but the way public debate works.

    I’d also observe that Julia Gillard is getting questions on Rudd whether or not anything more happens or whether Rudd does anything (and there’s currently an obsession among journos with tracing/forecasting his every move). This was inevitable given the leadership change, and should have been taken into account.

    The problem for Labor is that it turns the trust issue back on them, after Abbott made such a spectacular demonstration that he himself cannot be trusted.

  32. Brian says:

    Yes, Kim, very depressing.

    BTW I don’t often watch Q & A. I usually have a bit of kip after dinner and it has to be good to keep me up. If someone like Piers Akerman is there, I’m not.

  33. Andrew Reynolds says:

    Have you listened to the speeches and answers by the politicians? You get “…the current set of talking points/the ‘narrative’ du jour.”
    IMHO they all seem to be talking past each other which accounts for the interest that a question like this gets. The rest of the speeches tend to be a string of soundbites to get the 2 to 5 second cut from the speech that fits comfortably into an evening news segment.
    Gillard’s announcement speech had (I have read) the words “moving forwards” repeated 24 times in 5 minutes. Personally, I’d rather listen to Oakes than that sort of nonsense.
    As a side note, I am dreading listening to the news over the next three years no matter who wins. The idea of hearing either of them most days over that period I do not find to be an attractive one.

  34. Fran Barlow says:

    As a side note, I am dreading listening to the news over the next three years no matter who wins. The idea of hearing either of them most days over that period I do not find to be an attractive one.

    Our fundamental political differences notwithstanding, I’d agree.

  35. Fran Barlow says:

    But the bottom line here is that in practical terms you can argue a few billion either way about the result achieved, but we were never going to get what Rudd was demanding. If perchance we did I think the miners were actually ornery enough to take a good deal of their future investment elsewhere as they were threatening to do, whether that was rational or not.

    Let me stipulate simply that the deal was a victory for the mining thugs over a weak government. Your claim that pure orneriness would trump reason doesn’t stack up. The very arguments put about sovereign risk by the mining thugs themselves tell against such a claim. They can’t have it both ways. They sought by politics to get what they had no leverage otherwise to get. They succeeded beyond their wildest imaginings and can sit around in their private clubs in Switzerland or Biarritz laughing at what happened to the last guy that crossed them. Forget Mark Arbib. Being Twiggy Forrest or Clive Palmer is much more significant.

    Moving forward it is clear that a future government will have to re-prosecute this battle, in order to secure substantially greater public benefit from what is the sale of the jurisdiction’s mineral capital. These are finite and you can’t sell them twice. Right now, the government is weak, but on the day that government is inclusive, it will be strong and these thugs, or their successors, will cop their due.

  36. Brian says:

    Fran, we are never going to agree on the mining industry and it’s not essentially what the thread is about.

    Andrew Reynolds, going back to the issue of how long Gillard had to respond, Oates’ question was in four parts. She would have gotten the gist of it early, but unless her brain is capable of double processing, and it might be, but only to a limited extent, she would have had to attend to every word to make sure she got the whole thing..

    Certainly, she used a long preamble, but you’d need to ask an expert in neuroscience whether she could use that to weigh alternative responses in her mind while she was talking. I think the answer is emphatically in the negative.

    I think the structure of her reply has more to do with emotion and emotionally setting herself to handle the whole thing, to show that she was not knocked off balance, and to normalise the mood where she could justifiably have felt like throttling Oates.

    In the end she played a straight bat on the semantic meaning of the question. If she didn’t deny the change of stance during the meeting it doesn’t mean it did or didn’t happen. It probably did. But the Oakes allegation is critically based on their being a break in the meeting, which, on the available evidence, there probably wasn’t.

    Finally, if what Oates said is actually true, it doesn’t have the significance he gives it.

  37. Helen says:

    The attempts to continue the story of the Gillard takeover as something really sinister and undemocratic continues. Fran Kelly referred to it this morning as a “Palace Coup”. FFS! Given that bit of hyperbole I was bemused to open the AGE on the train and read this from Katharine Murphy:

    Tony Abbott. …The one who was in the end prepared to do what Costello would not – go up and grab the leadership of his political party rather than waiting for someone to politely hand it over.

    Excuse me?!
    So “grabbing the leadership” and not waiting for it to be given to you is OK for Abbott somehow and not for JG?

  38. […] It’s a fair bet that Oakes knew that the Williams article was about to come out and sought to upstage that as well. In terms of the story of what happened Oakes’ effort is a sideshow, probably based on a leak of a rumour, which I’ve posted about separately. […]

  39. Brian says:

    Helen I’ve put up a new post on Pamela Williams’ account of Rudd’s demise.

  40. Andrew Reynolds says:

    Are you claiming a woman is not able to both listen and think simultaneously? 🙂
    Seriously, though – I have sat in many courts where a good lawyer is arguing. They are trained to do the sort of thing she had to do. She did have to deal with it on the fly, but she would have been thinking the whole way through it. I am not sure what a neuroscientist would say, as I have never discussed it with a neuroscientist, but lawyers do that sort of thing every single day of the week.

  41. Joe says:


    I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not talking from direct experience, but I think there’s a bit of mythologising with respect to lawyers etc. being able to do amazing things with language, think in multiple dimensions, etc.

    There’s actually a good analogy to world champion chess players. Maybe some of you remember hearing that great chess players can think 6 moves ahead, etc. They actually can’t, what you have to do as a good chess player is actually at each move, keep as many potential moves as possible open. That is you have to optimise your options for the next move(s).

    I suspect politicians are no different. And I agree with Biran’s description. But hey, we might just be limited.

    I would like to see Gillard be much more serious. The jokes and the sound-bites are starting to seem a bit superficial.

  42. keiThy says:

    How poor!

    Kerry didn’t help matters by talking about slogans instead of substance!

    The Libs cannot take any heart from this fluff!!!!

    LOL I say!

  43. keiThy says:

    Finally, if what Oates said is actually true, it doesn’t have the significance he gives it.

    Precisely… the Libs will not be enjoying this fluff!

    It amounts to the media making them look all like unecessary baggage tot he country in the 21st century!


    lol, I SAY!

  44. Katz says:

    Laurie Oakes:

    I threw a spanner into the works…

    Translation: Why should I get my hand off it when it feels so good and especially when I look so attractive when aroused?

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