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Credibility gone, PM should fall on her sword

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Gillard leadership in crisis

A new poll, which puts the ALP's primary vote at just 30 per cent, prompts renewed leadership speculation.

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JULIA Gillard should consider falling on her sword for the good of the Labor Party, because she can no longer present an even slightly credible face at the election. Her spectacular U-turn on everything she'd said before on Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper has left her looking nakedly expedient, and further exposed the state of crisis within the government.

Gillard's belated change of position is made even less convincing because she has not been willing to acknowledge her own past lack of judgment and her trampling of propriety. 

At one point in her news conference Gillard wrung her hands. It was a metaphor for what the caucus is doing. Her claim that suddenly ''a line'' had been crossed, so she had to act to preserve Australians' respect for Parliament, came out as a workshopped confection she could not explain. After months of declaring Thomson had her support, after a week of backing Slipper returning to the Speakership if he was cleared on criminal allegations, she wants us to believe she arrived back from Gallipoli and suddenly realised that the public see a dark cloud over Parliament?

Julia Gillard at her news conference yesterday.

Julia Gillard at her news conference yesterday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

What actually happened is that she and whoever she is listening to observed a storm enveloping the government that could threaten her leadership.

Refusing to utter criticism of Thomson was always defending the indefensible. When Gillard then had Slipper added to her political burden, the weight simply became too heavy.

The Slipper affair tipped the balance, because she wasn't going to be able to sustain her stand. The opposition and crossbenchers had the parliamentary numbers to keep him out of the chair. In more normal circumstances, Gillard might deserve some credit for doing the right thing, albeit late. But when she said black was white so vehemently and, in the Thomson case, for so long, her cynicism overwhelms any other impression.

While on Slipper she acted because she was cornered, she could not deal with him without distancing herself from Thomson, because the parallels were too close. Bearing down on her also was next week's budget: hence the need for speed.

Gillard's belated change of position is made even less convincing because she has not been willing to acknowledge her own past lack of judgment and her trampling of propriety.

Defending Slipper last week, she pointed to what Labor had been able to do with the extra number gained by his defection. But the Slipper deal was always grubby politics.

And when Gillard talks about Australians expecting ''the highest standards'', what are they to make of Anthony Albanese last week pre-empting the police investigation by declaring Slipper cleared of the criminal allegations?

If Labor had any functioning party elders, they would be advising Gillard to consider the good of the party and relinquish the leadership gracefully. That would lead Labor down another fraught path, but it could hardly be worse off than now.

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722 comments

  • hear hear, i would say worst pm ever and really windsor and oakshot have a lot to answer for

    Commenter
    pete
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    April 30, 2012, 7:07AM
    • Funnily enough it was Abbott failed to win a majority last election despite an ineffectual opponent who came by the prime ministership in unpleasant circumstances. How would he have managed the independents? Better?

      Commenter
      Not Paul Keating
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:43AM
    • Worst PM and Government ever!

      Commenter
      liklik
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:46AM
    • What is missing is the balance in the debate. Why are we letting the media prolong this indefinitely. If there really was something fishy, why hava all the journalists in Australia failed to find anything? Thomson has been sitting there waiting patiently and the nmedia has been working feverishly with the Libs and yet - NOTHING!

      Commenter
      Steve
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:46AM
    • Pete 7.07 am: I agree...and just look at what she (and Shorten) have done. Their disloyalty to Rudd in June 2010 means that they have, in effect, handed the next election to Abbott. He will now get control of both Houses of Parliament and begin taking the country back about fifty years.They should both be expelled from the party they have ruined. They have turned good, honest supporters, like myself, into bitter enemies. It's a tragedy - brought about by nothing more than personal ambition and lust for power.

      Commenter
      EBAB
      Location
      St Lucia
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:48AM
    • "Restore trust in parliment" I think the whole of Australia has a mistrust of politicians, their back stabbing, dirty tricks, foul deals, corruption. They are so busy pontificating and maintaining there own position, how can we expect them to run our country. I say all we need is an Administrator and be done with the lot of them. As an example Bill Shorten, " I agree with what the PM said" Q but you said you have not heard what the PM said. "I know, but I am sure it will be right" now that is a really informed opinion, who voted for the boof head.

      Commenter
      peterb
      Location
      Rozelle
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:52AM
    • She's standing by Thomson, just like she stood by Rudd, Wilkie & will now stand by Slipper. What an honourable woman! What an honourable party! NOT.

      Commenter
      sophie
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:56AM
    • hang we have not seen tony in charge yet. reserve that judgement, until the media cycle or goldfish 10 second memory runs out, which ever comes 1st.

      interesting, the worst pm, with the best economy.
      and there i thought interest rates would always be lower under the coalition.i wonder which liar said that.
      same one who even repeated when asked.......NEVER EVER,....it gone, there will never ever be a GST.

      lucky we have google to remind us

      Commenter
      jools
      Location
      DaBra
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:57AM
    • I can't wait for Abbott to win 'power'. Just can't wait for all the anti-Julia mob - braying at the gates - to discover what sweet Tony will be like.

      I don't care either way. I like far enough away from the mob not to worry about all your muddle-head 'me-too-ism'.

      Personally, I think its the men who are enraged that a man was tossed by a woman, and refuse to accept that a woman can do as good a job.

      Don't worry, you'll get a real 'man's man' soon. The Big Man of the village will return to enforce rightness and honesty.

      You think?

      Commenter
      Axis
      Location
      Far Noth Coast | Away from the braying pack
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 7:58AM
    • I agree that Gillard's political judgement is terrible, starting from when she opted to lead the coup against Rudd and her management of Thompson, Slipper and independents.

      But the Labor reform program is (mostly) the right one, while Abbott looks like doing nothing other than unwinding stuff. He will be as inactive on necessary reform as is O'Farrell in NSW. Useless in other words, but perhaps nonetheless popular with reform-weary voters. Popularity by default is Abbott's reward, and ours looks like being mediocrity.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      April 30, 2012, 8:12AM

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