14 September 2011
It's almost like a distant memory. Michael Kapel, Sir Ken Jones and Simon Overland. The issue has been sunk by opinion polls that show the Baillieu government is riding high.
Certainly with an opposition suffering from polls that put Labor at a 20 year low, there must be sighs of relief around the corridors of One Treasury Place - their strategy of low media, steady as she goes, seems to be appealing to an election-weary electorate.
The Baillieu government is playing its cards right. It knows there's no public interest in state politics right now. The real battle is in Canberra, where the Prime Minister is facing a daily battle against a loud and feisty opposition. There are many who believe the public has had enough. Too much chatter.
And that's why the Premier's performance has worked over the past ten months. Ted Baillieu is no Jeff Kennett and he doesn't need to be. The government inherited a state that wasn't going backwards. Victoria is not a national embarrassment and we don't need a grand reformer.
But it's not all good news for the Premier, and particularly for those who designed his media strategy, or lack thereof.
Channel Nine's state political reporter James Talia has resigned, and one wonders whether the Nine Network will employ another. Ten's state political reporter chose a redundancy package over a redundant lack of stories. A look back over recent week and you'll barely see a mention of state politics in the mainstream media. The "big announcements" we've received by text message from the government have been a "safety tram", the Brownlows staying in Melbourne "because they were at actual risk of moving to Sydney" and Ned Kelly's head!
I guess it certainly beats John Brumby's endless parade of hard hats and high vis vests.
But Ted Baillieu is facing one giant iceberg, and it's steadily approaching. An iceberg formed by a slew of reports into the Sir Ken Jones affair.
Victorians might not pay as much attention to state politics as they did before all the juicy stuff got sucked up by Canberra, but they want an administration that is transparent and looks competent. I don't know what's going to come out of the multiple inquiries into Victoria Police management, the OPI's investigation or the Ombudsman's investigation into the OPI investigation.
But they're not far away. We'll probably never see Tristan Weston re-emerge in the Baillieu government. And the opposition is right - why should a man who served so little time on the public purse receive five months pay for not working. It's too soon for that isn't it?
The only thing that will protect the government is the giant mess that's been created by all of the inquiries. It's hard to point the finger at anyone when everyone's under suspicion.
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