Tag: Annabel Crabb

The non-apology apology

Annabel Crabb has picked up on one of K-Rudd’s favourite current communication tools. The unapologetic apology.

These are traditionally expressed in the form of “I make no apology for x” – where x is something good.

She gives the following lesson for those looking to emulate the PM.

First, you take a principle or proposition of which the listener is odds-on to approve.

Caring for puppies, let’s say.

Then you profess to uphold that principle “unapologetically”.

“I am an unapologetic supporter of puppies.”

This first endears you to the listener, and affirms their own views. But the use of the term “unapologetically” does something else, too.

It implicitly suggests that the listener is part – along with you – of a small but courageous minority.

If you can successfully master this little trick the results are a foregone conclusion…

“By the time you are finished, you and your listener are brothers-in-arms, visionaries swimming bravely against the tide of a brutal orthodoxy.”

When to make unpopular decisions

John Howard has re-entered the political fray – and probably done more bolster Rudd’s leadership than to aid his former parliamentary colleagues. He’s commended Rudd on a couple of points – and made this interesting comment, which I think probably applies to starting at a new church too…

From the SMH.

The time for unpopular or difficult reforms should always be in the first term for new prime ministers, who tended to be cut a lot of slack by the public.

When you’ve been there two years, you haven’t done anything that’s the least bit unfriendly – jeez, it gets hard in the third year.

Budget froth and bubbles

Ahh, budget night, a night that has traditionally, for me, been an excuse for some solo TV watching complete with a cold beer. But not last night. Last night I didn’t watch any of the coverage until after NCIS* and Lie to Me**. I figured forensic crime investigations and a show examining honesty would be more interesting viewing than forensic accounting and a show full of lies.

But, I have been pretty interested in the whole alcopops debacle – which would most certainly be the most trivial issue to trigger a double dissolution ever. Some alcopops companies found a loophole and started brewing pre-mix drinks with beer as the alcoholic base, circumventing the tax. So now, the Government, in Budget Papers number 2, have promised to ensure that beer remains bitter… thanks to the SMH’s Annabel Crabb for the hot tip…

“The Government will alter the taxation definitions of beer and wine to ensure that beer and wine‑based products that attempt to mimic spirit based products are taxed as a spirit product, with effect from 1 July 2009. This measure has an ongoing gain to revenue which is estimated to be $125 million over the forward estimates period.

The definition of beer will be changed to ensure that beer has a certain level of bitterness, and to clarify that the addition of sugar, artificial sweeteners and spirits may result in the resultant product being taxed as a spirit based product.

The definition of grape wine products will be changed to exclude products that add the flavour of any alcoholic beverage, other than wine. Other changes to the definition of grape wine products will act to provide certainty as to the circumstances where alcohol can be added to a grape wine product.”

* Why can’t NCIS get corpses not to breathe during their autopsy scenes?
** I am fascinated by this show and the nuanced expressions of deception and emotions, provided it’s accurate and not a complete work of fiction…

Passing Degas

Annabel Crabb reports on an uproar in Federal Parliament yesterday regarding the National Gallery’s purchase of a $1.1 million painting of a woman going to the toilet. It’s by Degas. The gallery bought it at an auction. In the interests of protecting any prudish readers I have painted clothes onto her to include her here.


In the real thing she’s not wearing any clothes. Seems a little tasteless to me. The opposition seized on the opposition to slam the Government for the national institution’s decision to purchase the painting rather than using the money to create jobs (some of the money came from taxpayers, most from benefactors).

Line of the day:

“”It’s not as if this is Blue Poles. It’s Yellow Pools!” protested one Opposition tactician, believed to be Joe Hockey.”

So should the Government be spending money on foreign art? Aren’t Australian artists going hungry? This could have fed twenty artists in Australia for a year – and paid for 20 paintings.

Crabb on Costello

The political coverage in the SMH today is all about one thing. The schism in the Liberal Party. It’s nice to have the Herald’s attention drawn so far away from any other schism.

Here’s a nice little analogy that even Ben – analogy hater of some renown – is sure to appreciate. Crabb argues that Costello is waiting in the political wings. Costello keeps saying “I’m doing nothing.”

“But Costello is like a hippo in a ballerina skirt – he’s kind of noticeable even when he’s not doing anything.”

Devine intervention

Miranda Devine sparked controversy by pre-emptively blaming green policy for the fires in the SMH last week. There was an outcry. I even wrote about it. I started following a fake Miranda Devine on Twitter (there’s also a fake Andrew Bolt) – but I can’t link to them because Twitter is down again.

The same venerated publication has another scribe – who leans more to the left – Elizabeth Farrelly. She fired this verbiage seemingly in the direction of her colleague in her take on events.

“Cut the trees! Burn the undergrowth! Hunt the sharks! Lynch the greens! Reprise, repay, repel. But in truth, to swim fish-filled, murky waters at twilight is to tattoo a big ‘BAIT’ sign on your behind. And to inhabit the bush, especially as climate change takes hold, is to make yourself fuel.

Certainly, we should feel compassion. And certainly, there should be regulations. Quite probably there should be more assiduous back-burning. But to blame green policies – to cull already endangered shark species, to reduce tree cover – is to blame nature for human folly.”

Now all the Herald’s big guns (except Annabel Crabb and Peter Hartcher who both write exclusively about politics) have had their say on the matter.

Today’s linkage February 6th

Best of the interweb

  • Coffee – My coffee page.
  • Tarzan Turnbull swings into a jungle full of trouble – Annabel Crabb on Turnbull#039;s fiscal stimulus opposition:
    quot;Swinging through the trees, Tarzan Turnbull alighted before the dispatch box and, giving his chest a vigorous, if figurative thump, performed his most dazzling feat of machismo yet.quot;

    quot;His colleagues quickly caught the crazy-brave spirit.

    quot;When somebody holds a gun to your head, maybe it#039;s a bit silly, but I say – #039;Well mate, pull the trigger#039;,quot; offered Joe Hockey, always a man for frankness in a crisis.

    The Prime Minister won#039;t hesitate to pull the trigger, either.

    The genius of his $42 billion gambit is that it is a sophisticated quot;Vote Yes, Or The Puppy Gets Itquot; device.

    Anyone voting against it will need to explain to forlorn local kiddies why they don#039;t get a school library, or to sad-eyed single parents why $950 won#039;t be coming their way after all.quot;

Stimulating discussion

There’s a bunch of interesting commentary on the current stimulus package and associated bickering. It’s stimulating, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The Libs are taking the high “unpopular road” looking to block it. Claiming they’re doing the right thing, while the Labor Party is politicking “like a scared soldier firing all their ammo at once” – not a bad quote there from Turnbull.

It’s a dangerous game keeping money from voters while calling for lower taxes. Looks a bit like protecting the wealthy. Trickle down economics. I know I’ll be annoyed if they block it.

If Rudd wanted to score maximum points out of this politically he should have gone with a much bigger figure than $950. Say $3000. Something the coalition would have to block, rather than just grandstanding. Then when they blocked it and triggered a double dissolution the coalition would have to try dislodging a popular PM, having just robbed the voters of $3000. Political suicide. How much is a vote worth I wonder…

Articles from the SMH are written by, or quote, the following people:

Peter Costello

“Rudd, the fiscal conservative of last year, was attacking the Coalition government because it hadn’t cut spending enough. He promised to do more. He wasn’t worried about all those “neo-liberal” ideas on careful spending, balanced budgets and low debt. He was complaining it hadn’t gone far enough.”

Costello Re: the last stimulus package…

“If the purpose of the payment was to boost sales at Woolworths, the Government should have bought the goods and distributed them to pensioners and families. But it is a low-quality use of $10 billion.”

And more commentary from Annabel Crabb… on parliament yesterday…

“Hilarious nerd insults were exchanged.Rudd accused Turnbull of fancying Milton Friedman, and Turnbull retaliated by calling Rudd “Whitlamite”, the nastiest word in the Liberal nerd insult dictionary.

Then Lindsay Tanner accused Julie Bishop of having a soft spot for the Reagan-era economist Arthur Laffer.

Really, they all sounded like back row hecklers at a second-year economics open mike night.

Debate was then suspended for several minutes while a noisy band of protesters shrieked: “Human rights for all. Stop the intervention.”

In case you were wondering, they were not talking about the socialist state’s intervention in the free market.”

Even Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, out here on an Australian tour, weighed in with this sterling commentary:

“”He (Rudd) genuinely looked terrified. The poor man, he’s actually seen the books.“[In the UK] we’ve got this one-eyed Scottish idiot, he keeps telling us everything’s fine and he’s saved the world and we know he’s lying, but he’s smooth at telling us.”

The last word goes to Economics columnist Ross Gittins – who explains that this stimulus is unusual but might work.

“But it will be the most anticipated recession we’ve had. Normally we get the recession and then the response to it. This time we’re getting the cure before we’ve seen all the symptoms.

Why? Because so much of the global recession we are caught up in emanates from the Wall Street debacle. Since the crisis reached its peak in October we’ve been able to see its consequences coming, like a slow-motion tsunami rolling across the Pacific.”

A good analogy

I know Ben hates analogies. This will annoy him. But if Annabel Crabb is my Herald pin up girl then Peter Hartcher is a close second as far as his writing is concerned.

“Rudd has grown attached to his description of the crisis as a result of “extreme capitalism”. That’s akin to saying the Titanic sank because of “extreme sailing”. The US economy and financial markets collapsed not because of the doctrine of capitalism, any more than the Titanic sank because of the practice of international shipping. The cause of the calamity was bad policy, just as the cause of the Titanic’s fate was bad navigating.”

Both Rudd and Turnbull cop a tongue lashing in the piece. Well worth reading.

“Why does it matter what Rudd calls it? Because from the diagnosis comes the cure. The fault was not capitalism, extreme or lame. It was bad policy.

As for Malcolm Turnbull, he has made some sensible suggestions on how the Government should respond to the crisis, but the one he made this week is not one of them. Turnbull claims the Government must not allow a budget deficit. Already, Rudd has used half the projected budget surplus for this fiscal year as apackage to stimulate growth.”

K-Ruddy Year

A year on, K-Rudd hasn’t grown on me. He’s still a triumph of symbolism over substance. What has he done? Not much. Annabel Crabb, still my favourite political commentator, obtusely reviewed his year in office… complete with Shakespeare reference. I’m still in awe of her. She is brilliant.

And then, in a story on his dropping the d word – “defecit” in parliament yesterday – highlighted this little gem from the PM’s first post trip question time…

As he arrived for question Time, at 2pm, the Prime Minister scanned the Opposition front bench and performed a double-take when he espied the employment spokesman, Andrew Southcott, whose Movember moustache has survived a sickly infancy to become a luxuriant ornament to his upper lip. Noticing the PM’s surprise, Mr Southcott told him: “I grew it – while you were away.”

The comment was a palpable hit; even the row of disciplined countenances along the Government’s front bench betrayed the odd appreciative smirk.

Anyway, a year of Labor in power. Interest rates have plunged – which would be a good thing, if they hadn’t been raised first. But in isolation it’s quite a positive – shame about the rest of the economy – and the deficit… politically a bad move, given a budget surplus is generally understood by the population as being a marker of successful fiscal managment. I think a deficit is not necessarily a bad thing – provided it’s contained to spending on infrastructure. What’s the repo man going to do? Take away our roads and ports? The rest of the population is happy to borrow beyond its means to finance a lifestyle and to invest – why isn’t that thinking extended to the government? Anyway, Rudd will have to be prepared to die by a sword of his own making – given that he promised a surplus budget. The Coalition will no doubt continue hammering the fact that they paid off Labor’s debts and they do still have a reputation of economic management – conveniently the Global Economic Crisis really began to be noticed under Rudd’s watch, and there blame will be apportioned. The global economy is largely out of governmental control. I’m more interested in Rudd’s bad policy moves in emissions trading and other decisions that will ultimately cost jobs and make us less competitive – and the fact that he’s the most boring Prime Minister in the world with a massive reliance on cliche and cheap buzz phrases like “a bridge too far.”

Beat around the Bush

The scandal surrounding the “leaked” phone conversation where George W. Bush was heard to gaff “what’s the G20” refuses to go away. It was the opposition’s favourite pinata in parliament yesterday – they kept beating it hoping all sorts of apologies and recriminations would flow out of the wound.

It’s pretty much a lay down misère that The Australian Editor Chris Mitchell was responsible for the leak. It was an Australian exclusive, he was at Kirribilli for dinner the night the conversation occured, Rudd is the Godfather of Mitchell’s child – it’s an old relationship that ensures certain privileges…

The Opposition however, seem oblivious to the fact that Mitchell is the obvious leak – or are too timid to point the finger given the respective audiences of Question Time and the Australian newspaper. Leave that to the paper’s opposition, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Annabel Crabb

Her take on the original story…

“Several weeks later (October 25), a description of the Australian Prime Minister’s heroic performance during the phone call appeared on the front page of The Australian.

Mr Rudd was depicted as dogged, incisive and masterful; all it lacked was a reference to the PM’s rippling musculature and steady blue eyes.

And buried deep in the story was a reference to Mr Rudd’s well-bred surprise when at one point the President was heard to ask: “What’s the G20?””

And then pointing out the hypocrisy of the Opposition leadership’s (Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop) position on damage done to US relations as a result of the leak…

“The pair’s protestations might carry a little more bite had the official position of the Liberal leadership until November 24 not been that Barack Obama was a terrorist stooge whose election would be an excellent result for Osama bin Laden.

And their protection of the editor seems craven at best.

It’s a rough day in Parliament when visitors in the public gallery can look down and fear that their choice is between one man who shows off to editors and another who sucks up to them.”

Have I mentioned how much I like Annabel Crabb? I believe I have.

I heart Annabel Crabb

I know I shouldn’t be saying that sort of thing on the first day of my second year of marriage – but I mean it in a platonic sense. Annabel Crabb is my favourite Parliamentary Press Gallery Journo – she provides obtuse analysis – with a beautiful turn of phrase – see her comments on Bronwyn Bishop at the end of this story.

clipped from www.smh.com.au

IT’S worse than we thought, this global financial crisis. At
2.14pm yesterday, Kevin Rudd ran out of euphemisms for “money”.

The PM blathered skilfully and at length about “loose change”,
“fiscal buffers”, “mortgage-related assets”, “increased liquidity”,
“collateral”, “stocks”, “aggregate exchange settlement balances”
and assorted other expressions that mean, loosely, moolah.

And then – clunk – there it was. Speaking about the United
States Federal Reserve bail-out, he talked about the Fed’s decision
to rescue US institutions with “$700 billion worth of … um
… US … errrrr … money.”

Bronwyn Bishop, for instance, has been relegated to the back
bench, and she did not look at all pleased as she stared down at
Turnbull from her new, non-prestige seat. Dressed in a jacket with
a jungly teal and brown design, she looked like a small but
malevolent armchair.

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