Monday, October 28, 2019

Today by Paddy Manning

Unfair cop
The trolling of Kristina Keneally has a familiar, nasty tone

© James Ross / AAP Image

It seems to be happening again: there is a misogynistic streak in the trolling of shadow home affairs minister Kristina Keneally that is reminiscent of the attacks on former prime minister Julia Gillard. At one end of the spectrum, there’s the tweeter who wrote: “If @KKeneally was to shut up for a while, that itself would reduce emissions by 50 per cent”. At the other end, there’s the 500-strong audience of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney a few months ago shouting [$] “send her back”, after hate speaker Raheem Kassam called her “chicken Keneally” and Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly mockingly named her as the recipient of the CPAC Freedom Award. Keneally is clearly getting under the skin of her opponent, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who last week moaned to 2GB that she “can’t stop talking in the parliament”, and told [$] The Daily Telegraph she was “fake and phony”. The Australian appears to be ramping up a “Holy War” against the Labor frontbencher, as Crikey wrote [$] last week, including echoing Dutton asking whether Keneally “still loves the sound of her voice”.

The underlying theme is clear – shut up, woman – and it is exactly the same tone that downright misogynist Alan Jones reserved for other powerful women like New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (“shove a sock down her throat”) and Julia Gillard (“put into a chaff bag and thrown into the sea”). Gillard wrote in her memoir, My Story, that there were not enough voices in the media calling out the virulent and sometimes misogynist attacks on her. If something similar is happening again right now against Keneally, then it is time to call it out.

Plenty of public figures get trolled, of course, from both the left and the right of politics. Senator Keneally’s office has a ready collection of dozens of abusive tweets from just the past few months, including: “She’ll nag nag and nag until the cows come home,” in response to a post about stillbirth (Keneally, whose daughter Caroline was stillborn in 1999, was a member of the Senate inquiry into stillbirth and is pushing for companies to have a paid leave policy for parents who suffer their own); “WhAt would expect from this so called Polly she should pack here [sic] bags and go back where she come from fancy Australia having a Polly like here [sic]; “truly pathetic a failed ‘never elected’ politican [sic]”; “Wow imagine the furor from the leftard feminazi’s [sic] if KK said she beat two ‘sheilas’ to become the worst premier of NSW!!!”; and one calling her a “blond bimbo who [sic] legacy wil [sic] always be the NSW Premier of the worst corrupt state government ever.!!!!” In fact, the “worst premier” line is wheeled out often against Keneally, and goes back a couple of years to when Tony Abbott told 2GB she ran “probably the worst government in NSW history”. That’s just Twitter; the comments on Facebook are even worse.

At one level the attacks on Keneally are straight out of the alt-right playbook: pick a powerful progressive woman – like Gillard, like Ardern, like Hillary Clinton – and tear them down. But there has not been the same degree of right-wing abuse levelled at Tanya Plibersek or Penny Wong – equally powerful Labor women – as there seems to be directed against Keneally. Perhaps it’s got something to do with the fact that Keneally is a Catholic from the Right who can hold her own with the “Sky News After Dark” crew, having co-hosted a show with Peta Credlin. Once inside the News Corp fold, she is now an enemy. Or perhaps it’s got something to do with the fact that Keneally is making headway against Peter Dutton in Home Affairs, picking away at his opaque, unaccountable, expensive and intrusive handling of the portfolio. Whatever’s behind it, the animus against Keneally needs to stop.

“One thing seems clear: the private sector isn’t generating sufficient demand to get us out of ‘secular stagnation’, so it’s up to the public sector to fill the void. And, sorry, but with monetary policy down for the count, that means using fiscal policy. They’re the new, 21st-century rules.”

Economics editor Ross Gittins writes that the prime minister’s economic orthodoxy is outdated and it’s time to move away from the over-reliance on monetary policy.

“When the state and territory treasurers next meet Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, they could abandon their calls for an increase in infrastructure spending and Newstart, and instead stand united in a call for tax reform, which starts with the removal of payroll taxes in exchange for a broader-based consumption tax.”

WA senator Dean Smith proposes a broadening of the GST – or perhaps raising it to 12.5 per cent – to fund state tax reform.

Swallowed by the sea (part one)
A decision to hand planning about sea-level rise to local council has opened up a war around science, property values and influence. Bronwyn Adcock on how the future of the Australian coastline will be shaped by disagreement over climate change.


The number of freedom of information applications lodged by shadow climate-change minister Mark Butler, seeking copies of the altered City of Sydney documents supplied to The Daily Telegraph by the office of embattled Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

“The Coalition government has today released for consultation the draft Investment Mandate for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme … [which] provides a guarantee that will allow eligible first home buyers on low and middle incomes to purchase a home with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent. The scheme will support up to 10,000 loans each financial year, starting from 1 January 2020.”

The list

“The ruling faction of the Liberal Party loathes liberalism, and is conservative only in confounding ways. They are for small government, and for big government surveillance regimes; for freedom of the individual, and camps for the indefinite detention of innocent people; for freedom of the press, and for raiding the homes of journalists and sending whistleblowers to jail; for standing up for ‘dinkum’ Australian values, and being the White House hamster… One could go on.”

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has paid consultants for advice on how to empathise with drought-stricken communities across three states. Officials revealed … that the Department of Infrastructure’s Inland Rail project had contracted consultants to advise how to best show unhappy landowners in northern Victoria, central New South Wales and southern Queensland that the government cares.”

“In June 2014, the armies of the group that would soon call itself the Islamic State, a group that already controlled large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, entered Mosul, the second city of Iraq. The Iraqi Army, in which the United States had invested, or perhaps wasted, US$25 billion, fled in fear. Shortly after, the group announced the restoration of the Muslim caliphate, which had been dissolved in 1924 by the leader of the Republic of Turkey, Kemal Atatürk. Before these events, virtually no one in the West had given the Islamic State a second thought.”

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is also the author of three books, including a recently updated unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?


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