Topic: election Oz 2007
The PM at the Press Club, 2 days from likely defeat, was alternatively
- clinical in creating distance between scandal and his person,
- cocky, and
- in denial
about the profound underlying nature of the 'Karl Rove style' racist smear in Lindsay electorate that really does infect his Party. He denies outright his Party is so compromised - which in reality given his lawyerly instincts means one must closely examine whether it is in fact so. And the evidence doesn't look good.
We made contact with Noel Plumb who was the campaign manager of the Save the ADI Site Resident Action Group in the 2001 Lindsay contest and 2 other federal seats, and he was not surprised by the bogus flyer tricks in 2007. From his bush regeneration job in the field Noel told us that 6 years ago it was a similarly intense contest ("bidding auction") at the time between the Libs and ALP over the Lend Lease development (formerly Australian Defense Industry land) including use of false advertising in that contest. Noel corroborated the dishonest Liberal advertising also noted by a Liberal booth worker on the World Today programme earlier today (who confirmed false How to Votes were all part of head office toolkit in 2001 in Lindsay.) That sounds systemic.
It is known that senior figures of the NSW Liberal Division were actively involved in the false advertising smear in Lindsay this week, as well as husband of the candidate, and husband of the retiring Liberal MP, Kelly. Kelly being a "favourite" of Howard. Plausible deniability? Was their real sin getting caught?
Howard today said the leaflet accusing the ALP as forgiving of the Bali Bombers was "offensive" but he just didn't sound offended, or upset. He sounded slightly amused, or even bemused at the uproar. He surely has a streak of the White Australia in him, whether it's a generational thing or whatever. He even took the opportunity at one point to wax lyrical at the evils of terrorism.
It is also known Howard has visited Lindsay repeatedly. Which all makes the denials just sound too cute. If Howard's regime was not directly in the loop it is indirectly responsible for the slime mould that has grown and prospered in his NSW machine. A reckless negligence - which makes his strident rejections of direct knowledge quite jarring.
These were not gophers, these were senior operatives in the marginal.
At some points in the lengthy Q&A, notable for interruptions from the audience of Laura Tingle and Michelle Grattan despite being very senior journalists, Howard came across as cavalier and even proud of the moral chaos he has presided over: That he has seen the Trouble and saw that it was 'Good'. Indeed we perceived hints of a sociopathic demeanour in his protestations feeding off the wicked attempt to tear the social fabric of Lindsay. Always denying, but happy as Larry to be in the spotlight to make them, with that supreme confidence that he is the Chosen One. He was still certain "we will win on Saturday". Quite the actor is Howard.
Howard had his supporters at the Press Club breaking into polite applause - especially the sophistry about emancipation of women candidates - applause several times but not the serious journalists of the press gallery who were neutral and highly sceptical as they pursued the issue de jour. The clapping had the feel of a mini stack in the room perhaps of bureaucrats and staffers who have prospered under the Old Man. Sure the spouses might not be guilty like their husbands but it still looks like a strong character test to be associated with these not so much "foolish" as evil characters who have now confessed to what might well be "criminal offences" according to the ALP.
In fact it's a sickeningly divisive and nasty development in Lindsay, which calls up this other advert on another sickening reality which was in The Australian 13th Nov 2007:
Even as Howard spoke in a doting way of his grandson he just didn't sound sincere about the urgency of climate change either. It's almost as if he doesn't really give a stuff so late in the game. It feels intuitively like the voters will feel the same about him.