THE LAST GASP: Taking one for the nation

Tony Abbott shares the pain of being the bearer of bad news, the public gets a look into the HSU play pen and Nine flirts with a final 'final'.

The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week’s news, every week. This week, Tony Abbott has all the answers for his poor showing in the polls, the Victorian HSU branch uncovers a bit of a mess and Labor finds another unique way to tear itself apart.

Yep, that’s the reason

From the top shelf of the section labelled ‘delusional pearlers’ this week came a nugget of wisdom from Tony Abbott so good you’d think it was attributed to him by one of his many detractors. An interview with ABC radio provided Australia with a deep insight of the man who would be PM, when he reasoned that his continuing low popularity among the public, as shown in a wide range of opinion polls, was simply the result of a misunderstanding. The coalition leader said his role required him to deliver bad news to the public about the failures of the federal government, and that this led some people to choose to shoot the messenger. It’s a groundbreaking political strategy, and it’s likely that in the future, many politicians will follow suit, and respond to declining voter popularity by simply blaming it on the voters. It’s genius.

Something to fear

Abbott was a busy boy this week, taking time out of delivering bad news to the public to respond to a speech delivered by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in which she listed cyber attacks and China as the two biggest threats to Australia’s national security. Naturally, Abbott disagreed, assuring the public that the country has far more pressing security concerns. Which is surprising, given well publicised comments from the opposition leader in the past which seemed to indicate he was terrified of China. The coalition claims the government should be turning its attention to concerns which could really have long term affects on the stability of Australia, like constantly invading evil boat people and, more threateningly, the prospect of an Abbott government.

Another fine mess

As if disgraced MP Craig Thomson didn’t do enough damage to the Health Services Union through the scandal that tore the body apart last year, a review of the Victorian arm of the representative body has turned up a complete administrative schemozzle. An investigation into the union, commissioned by its newly-appointed leaders, has discovered, among other things, that members' money was spent on items including Foxtel subscriptions and a massage chair, and that several cars belonging to the group were not even registered. With that kind of scrutiny, it makes you wonder how Thomson allegedly got away with anything at all. At least the former branch leaders, who instead of protecting workers from being taken advantage of were allegedly taking advantage of them, can comfort themselves with 24 hour repeats of The Simpsons. Branch secretary Diana Asmar said the union was determined to sort out the problem, and promised to get onto it straight away. It seems she just has to take the bus, due to some administrative difficulties with the company vehicles.

About ninth time lucky

Nine Network Co
finally sealed lender support for its long awaited $3.4 billion recapitalisation deal this week. It’s the one that Nine chief executive David Gyngell declared had left the company completely debt free in October. Turns out that wasn’t exactly ‘final’ final then. But now it is. Well, except that the final agreement still needs final approval from the Federal Court before it can finally be put into action. Finally.

Shooting yourself in the knee bone

Another epic victory for Labor’s credibility this week came in the form of the prime minister’s triumphant, and very public, support for former Australian Olympian Nova Peris for a Senate seat in the Northern Territory. In the storied tradition of the ALP, the appointment was seemingly not cleared by a number of competing internal factions, or even the current sitting senator herself, who was told of the decision only the night before the announcement. Trish Crossin still plans to run for the seat, and is adamant it will be for Labor. Party insiders have slammed the move, accusing the government of using a celebrity in a desperate attempt for a poll boost. In fairness to Labor, it’s a tactic that has worked for them in the past. Look at Peter Garrett; he’s been nothing but a success since joining the Labor frontbench.

Red faces

The federal government found itself in so many pickles this week even the Greens had time to take a whack at it. The far left party mocked the PM over the government’s refusal to reveal the exact amount of revenue raised by the mineral resources rent tax, claiming that whatever flimsy excuse Labor provides, the truth is it is simply too embarrassed to admit that the levy has earned nothing. ALP insiders have denied the claims, noting that with the increasingly large amount of humiliation the government is forced to deal with regularly, at this point it has utterly no shame.

Quick misses

– Julia Gillard announced this week that the 9/11 decade is over, proving once and for all she is cable of understanding the mechanics of calendars.

– In the most needless survey of all time, a global study has found public trust in business, government and media leaders has fallen in the wake of numerous financial and political scandals.

– And finally, Centro Retail shareholders have voted to change the name of the shopping centre company to Federation Centres. As a result, the group is no longer hindered by past failures, and is now considered a much more valuable investment. LOL JKS, they're not.

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