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11
Mar
2016

Savva’s Assessment of Abbott, Turnbull’s Visit to Mosque, C Change by Aus Institute

I circulated yesterday copies of articles by Andrew Bolt and Niki Savva discussing the Prime Ministership of Tony Abbott and the role played by Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin. I made strong criticism of the Savva comments, particularly that Abbott had performed worse than Rudd and the implication she left (without any supporting evidence) that he had slept with Credlin. I did not mention that I had previously written to The Australian criticising its handling of Savva comments, particularly by giving  unwarranted attention to considerable amounts of what seemed to largely be gossip.

Today’s Australian and today’s Financial Review contain more references to the Savva commentary. The AFR has also published my letter (with Ed’s change) on the ridiculous climate change policy of the Australia Institute to stop any new coal mines. That is below and attached is the article by the Institute’s chief economist Richard Denniss which was published on the editorial page of the AFR.

The Australian’s letters column (see below) is entirely taken up with responses, both favourable and unfavourable,  to Savva’s views. A hopeful interpretation of this is that it might be regarded as an acknowledgement by The Australian of it having given too much attention to those views.

Interestingly, some of the letters take the opportunity to criticise the performance of Turnbull, whose latest venture, after he became the first PM to go to the Mardi Gras, was to visit the Islamic Council of Victoria where he is reported to have made the astonishing remark to those at the Mosque “You are an integral part of an Australian family that’s bound together by the shared values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.” Many are puzzled as to why Turnbull thought it timely to give such visits priority including Graham Richardson, who has today’s lead Op-Ed article in The Australian (see attached PM’s Rudd Rhetoric Haunting Him With a Vengeance ). Richardson concludes “The Liberals are in a fine mess. They threw out the bloke who they said had no judgement. In his place they elected a bloke who has no ticker”.

The AFR does not discuss Savva’s comments  but it does publish an important letter from Andrew Stone. He worked for Abbott and totally rejects  her assessment that Abbott’s view was that there is “no need for spending restraint to repair the budget, and that further ‘efficiencies in the public service’ were all that was required”. As a confirmation of the behaviour of the Press Gallery in Canberra, this was used without any questioning in an article by the paper’s political editor, Laura Tingle. The letter is also published below with a copy of the Tingle article.

The fact that Savva ran a story that was totally wrong on Abbott’s view is of some significance in interpreting the media view of Abbott as PM. That is not to deny that Abbott made many mistakes but it also raises the question of whether the performance of his successor is up to scratch and the possible effect on voting in the forthcoming election. I understand this will be discussed in an article in tomorrow’s The Spectator by John Stone.

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