Sunday, February 01, 2015

The truth is out there - maybe?

Stories of some Coalition resentment with Peta Credlin's power and control in Tony Abbott's office began as soon as he had won the election, but it's fascinating watching a News Limited writer (Miranda Devine) giving Credlin both barrels mere days after Rupert Murdoch called for her resignation.

But the real point of the post is to note my surprise at some of the comments that are getting though after the story.   These ones:

This is a long standing Canberra insider rumour about Abbott and Credlin, but it is rather remarkable that comments alluding to it are now appearing in Herald Sun comments, with (apparently) no concern about defamation action.  Or is the explanation simply that the comments on a Sunday are not cleared by anyone, let alone a defamation lawyer?

I think the closest we ever got to this rumour being a mainstream media one* (and not just something that circulated on the internet) was when Chris Uhlmann in an interview with Tony Abbott once made reference to journalists knowing of rumours of personal matters on the Liberal side which would suggest they should be careful of personal rumour mongering of other politicians. I have read the theory, though, that the Credlin friendly profile of her in The Australian in 2011 was there to dampen speculation of the rumour which was already out there. 

Now to be perfectly clear here:  I don't know if the rumour is true or not.   Politicians suffer continual rumours about their private life, a great many of which are bulldust.

But I would say this:  if a journalist comes out to confirm it after Abbott loses his job (either in the next few weeks, or after an election), it would not only absolutely kill Abbott's reputation, given the shameless way he capitalised on his wife and daughters on the election trail, and made snide remarks about Gillard's not having a family; but also lead to serious questions about whether Australian journalistic reticence to publicise details of a politician's private life have actually gone too far.

Hence, it is (if true) by far the juiciest and most interesting bit of potential political scandal since at least the Morosi affair.   (In fact, it is much, much more serious than that - which was really just about conservatives and the sexual revolution.)  I am dead keen to know if it is true, and suspect that if there is any confirmation to come, it would likely be arriving soon.

Update:   * some may argue that it would more likely be the kerfuffle about the joke at the Labor dinner, but the media refused to repeat the joke, even though it eventually surfaced on the 'net.

Also, as I made clearer in my comment to Homer, the thing I find interesting about it is the question of whether, in the current situation, with a wildly dysfunctional PM's office under the control of Credlin being alleged by journalists and unhappy MP's,  doesn't the question of disclosure of an affair  by journalists now become a matter of public interest, even if it hadn't previously?

But, the other possibility is that it is not true, or no one knows for sure.  In which case, given that it is now appearing in the small print of Rupert's papers, mightn't Abbott be wise to publicly deny it and at least get that problem out of the way?   Shorten took that approach when a rumour was getting out of control and was plainly false - I think Abbott would be wise to follow suit.  If he feels he can....


Not Trampis said...


not one of your best.

No evidence for scurrilous gossip.

I would put the probability of about having an affair as high as Keating would have when he was there. People spread rumours about him as well!

Criticise him for being a policy flake and lying his way into office by all means but this???

Steve said...

Yes, Homer. I remember being told of the Keating rumour by a (female) friend who was very active in her union and whose friends (apart from me) were all Labor aligned. She seemed to believe it, too. I never gave it credit, and a family connection years later (who knew a close friend of ex Mrs K) confirmed it wasn't true.

I only bring up the Abbott rumour now because of the fact it is being openly referenced on News Limited comments.

As for my attitude to publicising politician's private sex lives - yes, we shouldn't be like America and generally do not need to know anything about it. But if it has actual implications for how a PM's office is widely considered by his fellow MPs to be seriously dysfunctional - then yes it is serious enough to be disclosed.

If - and it is a big if - this one is true, I suspect there might be some journalists wondering if it is time to talk about it.

Or, it could all be a complete furphy, in which case, I would think News Limited needs to be more careful about what comments are getting through for fear of defamation action.