“Apart From Andrew Bolt & The Lunatic Right Everybody Made Fun Of Abbott” – Dee Madigan

“Apart From Andrew Bolt & The Lunatic Right Everybody Made Fun Of Abbott” – Dee Madigan

Utterly confused by last night’s leadership spill? Having trouble making head nor tail of it all today? Well, us too. So much so we’ve called in media commentator, Gruen Transfer regular and Labor Party strategist Dee Madigan to explain it all to us…

John Bastick
Posted by John Bastick

Was last night Labor’s worst nightmare?

Not necessarily. You have to remember that when Turnbull was opposition leader he had some of the worst polling ever. He’s got a touch of the Rudds about him, there’s this arrogance about him the way he deals with staff.


Is the pressure now all on Shorten, who’s not exactly Mr Popularity? Will he survive?

Rudd changed the rules so much that it’s almost impossible to get rid of a Labor leader now.

Turnbull appears a lot like Rudd in that he’s popular with the electorate but widely hated in his own party?

Turnbull’s also very popular with Labor voters. Liberal voters only just tolerate him above Tony and that was only until very recently. Sure, there’s a lot of people celebrating this morning but they’re probably very Left-leaning people.

Now Abbott’s gone will the Left-leaning people – I’m singling Fairfax journalists out here – have nothing else to whinge and moan about?

Well, they will because Turnbull’s already said he’s not changing the climate change policy which he himself said is shit. So I’m not sure Turnbull will bring this great change everybody’s talking about.

You say Labor voters like Malcolm Turnbull but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll vote for him, will they?

There’s a lot more swinging voters these days. In the 2010 election 20 per cent of voters were making up their minds as they went to the polling booth.

How much did social media bring about Abbot’s demise?

Far more impact than people like (The Australian journalist) Chris Kenny give it credit for and who refer to it as the twitterarratti. Take Facebook, most people are on Facebook these days and they’re hearing news from their friends and their friends are tweeting stuff and sharing posts and it’s having an impact and any politician or journalist who thinks otherwise need only look at the events of the last couple of years to know they’re wrong if they think social media is not having an impact.

Social media can be quite a left-leaning; do you think people who may have supported Abbott were simply too scared to do so? 

On Twitter it’s most definitely more left. But Facebook I don’t think so. I know plenty of dyed in the wool Liberal supporters, members of the Liberal party, who made fun of Abbott. He’d done such a terrible job within his own party that I think it’s unfair to say that it was just the Left who made fun of Abbott. Apart from the Andrew Bolts and the lunatic Right practically everybody made fun of Abbott.

We’re 12 months away from the next election, what sort of hay can the Labor Party make out of this? Will Shorten be playing the ‘instability card’?

You certainly wouldn’t be doing that and I wouldn’t be encouraging Labor to go down that path, they’ll just look like a hypocrite. But what it does mean is that it’s one more card that the Liberals can’t play.

You’re a keen observer of electoral tastes, why do you think we’ve seen five PMs in five years?

I think the electorate is just more volatile and I think it’s more empowered by social media. The reality is other countries have the same social media that we do and they don’t turn their leaders over like we do; so you’d have to say we just haven’t had particularly good leaders and social media has allowed us to voice that and bring about change.

Rudd’s gone, Gillard’s gone, now Abbott’s gone; that very divisive trio have all now exited…

Yes, I would agree with that and Turnbull should play the ‘I wasn’t part of all that and I’ve drawn the line in the sand’.

We’re heading into an election year, how do you see the next 12 months playing out? Will Shorten go the distance?

I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t but with the state of Australian politics I’m now very surprised. I think if Labor did decide to change it would be Albo (Anthony Albanese) but I honestly don’t think Tanya (Plibersek) will get there. Yes, there is still sexism in the electorate and you need to consider that. But again, I’d say Albo would be next on the list. It was very close between him and Shorten (in the vote for the opposition leader’s job in 2013) and he’s been very good at not white-anting the party and he’s a really good guy and a top bloke.

Who will win the next election?

I think it’s certainly got harder for Labor but, again, Turnbull’s polling when he was opposition leader was terrible and he has a touch of the Rudds about him – he’s very, very arrogant.

Your advice for Malcolm to improve his standing in the electorate?

I wouldn’t give him advice. I work for the other side. No, actually my advice would be to stand up for climate change and marriage equality and show you’re an actual leader.

Can a Rhodes scholar, ex-merchant banker, Eastern Suburbs, Chardonnay-sipping, multi-millionaire that Turnbull is win over the western suburbs battlers?

Yes, because they think he’s successful and there’s nothing wrong with successful people and they inspire to be that.