I was shocked this morning when my co-panellists on Steve Austin’s 612 ABC morning program, Janine Walker and Tony Koch, both said what a great person Anna Bligh is and what a great campaign she has run.
As I said on the program, I’ve never met Bligh but I’d formed the impression she was a pleasant person before this election, but I was wrong because a pleasant person doesn’t run the dishonest, defamatory campaign that Anna Bligh has been running.
If anyone had any doubts that the ALP campaign was based on avoiding its record in government and smearing the opposition leader with baseless claims, that was finally laid to rest by the declaration today by the Crime and Misconduct Commission that it did not believe that Campbell Newman was guilty of official misconduct.
We had a glimpse of what the commission would find three days ago when Bligh said she didn’t have enough material to send Newman to the CJC.
Then yesterday we saw her desperation when she tried to link Newman to a developer because he had his name on a plaque on the wall of his accountant’s office which was in a property owner by Newman’s in-laws.
Bligh’s campaign has targeted not only Campbell Newman, but his family. A number of women have contacted me, scandalised that this ad has been used to get at Newman in Ashgrove. It targets his wife.
Family is generally off-limits in political campaigning. So sensitive are people about wives of public figures that if you had been beamed down from Uranus, or anywhere else but earth, you’d often have no idea that some women have famous spouses. Take this International Women’s Day broadcast by ABC Radio National and see how many times anyone drops the “K” word about Therese Rein, who is described simply as a business woman and philanthropist.
It seems that “great campaigning” and being a “great person” are disconnected from what you do. Bligh’s only explanation for her conduct is the typical slanderer’s defence: “I was only asking questions that needed answers.”
That’s not good enough. No defence of targeting a wife and mother the same age as her. No defence of the scurrilous accusations she raises, just a shrug of the shoulders – if they’d been right they would have been justified in fact, but they’re justified in principal because they might have been right. In which case what accusations are too wild to be raised like this?
I have a lot of Labor friends, and some clients, and I’d hope they’d not cling on to Bligh through misguided group loyalty. Or to Bruce Hawker, apparently the architect of this corrupt campaign.
They need to speak up against their party now so that it will reform itself later.
That’s the path I took 14 years ago, and it’s been good for both me and the Liberal Party. Being expelled is a relatively painless procedure with benefits for both. Without people prepared to speak truth to power the party will just reproduce damaged institutional DNA.
That’s what Labor has been doing for too long in Queensland, and why things are going to evolve Saturday week that will not be to its advantage in the short term, but which might be to all our advantages in the long term.