Campaign countdown: Back to 7.30 Report Land
This isn’t about beating up Kevin Rudd. He’s doing a fine job of that to himself. Tonight he was back in “7.30 Report Land” and walked straight into a question about something he said to the miners’ table at last night’s press gallery ball in Canberra. His expression slightly but perceptibly darkened as Kerry O’Brien asked what the PM meant when he singled them out and said “we’ve got a long memory”.
Rudd said the comment was a “throwaway remark” but it is hard to interpret as anything but a threat, however jocular the delivery. This is the second time this week Rudd has been forced to characterise a comment as innocuous after it has been said, having forced to defend a remark he dropped about a female reporter’s outfit on Tuesday.
The problem is that remarks from a Prime Minister are anything but throwaway when they are so frequently repeated.
The Chatham House Rule was supposed to be in force for last night’s event but given the political and economic stakes of the government’s stand-off with the mining industry and the fact that the room was full of journalists, it was only a matter of hours before it became public. Katharine Murphy reported for The Age this morning:
The genuine show stopper though was saved up for the resources industry, a longtime mid-winter ball sponsor. The Minerals Council of Australia and their guests sat at the front of the room. The miners were informed by Rudd: ‘‘Can I say guys, we’ve got a long memory.’’ It can be assumed they know he’s the Prime Minister, that Prime Ministers are very powerful, and can deliver significant retribution if warranted. Possibly they didn’t need it spelled-out in such naked terms, but there you have it.
There’s a saying in golf when you’re having a rotten time of it, finding yourself in every possible trap, that you “can’t buy a par”. Rudd’s problem at the moment is something similar. The negative is sought in every casual remark and it becomes news, and the sense of crisis continues to build around his leadership.
Rudd doesn’t seem to grasp this. If he did, he would be choosing his words with much more care. Wisecracks aren’t worth the risk in the current climate.
Every little distraction hinders Rudd and his ministry in their attempts to steer focus onto their record in office. Rudd even had to raise the matter of the paid parental leave scheme being passed by the Senate today during his extended interview with O’Brien.
The conversation on the 7.30 Report, which you can read a transcript of here, also touched briefly on election timing.
KERRY O’BRIEN: But you’ve got an election looming, you’ve got an election coming.
KEVIN RUDD: Yeah, well we have an election due by whatever it is, March or April next year and we only have three year terms. You’ve got to use the time effectively.
Make of it what you will - all there is to add is Rudd managed to keep his poker face on and didn’t seem like a man in a hurry.
The Herald Sun has a write-up on Rudd’s 7.30 Report appearance here.
We’ll update this post later with some of the key reads from Friday’s papers.
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Up to the minute Twitter chatter
@GerardDaffy Yeah, it was silly. Still, going on comments readers are liking it. It was a shockingly violent news day. People need relief
RT @GrogsGamut: QUESTION: But in terms of that discussion though, is he misquoting you with that?TONY ABBOTT: You’ve had your say. http://t…
Of all the stupid stories I've written, and there have been plenty, this is definitely in the top 10 http://t.co/otUKnjq2C3
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