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127 responses to “As the worm turns”

  1. tim

    Hi Phil,

    I’ll be live blogging our event, so will keep you updated a bit.

    Also, any questions for Bob, we’d love to hear them. Got a few really good ones coming in, but there’s always space for more!

  2. doug

    NEWSFLASH !!!!

    It’s official folks

    The Man of Steel Australia’s own John Howard is afraid of a worm!

  3. wpd

    Just watched Costello on Insiders. Rudd will be hoping Tip makes more public appearances to ‘explain’ the new tax arrangements. What a communicator!

  4. Katz

    Question: Why doesn’t Howard want to appear with the worm?

    Answer: Professional courtesy.

  5. philiptravers

    Questions for Bob Brown!? Given recently in the USA those associated with the energy grid have found after careful analysis that they have to extend the grid for purposes of cogeneration when wind and solar are involved, have the Greens done any analysis on this themselves? Given that other renewable sources of energy like tide and geothermal etc, will also require new grid developments whilst the older grid itself is close to useby date, can a general approach to renewables in cogeneration be really accurate in terms of final figures of such costs? Why hasnt the potential for other means of cogeneration that are possible, but obviously not even been experimented with, become part of the potential alternatives as far as the Greens are concerned? Has anyone to the Greens knowledge done any research on carbon dioxide capture and conversion to other forms of phenomena including converting to useful stuff using salt, sea salt, in abundance and as an example make calcium carbonate? Personally, the coal industry bores me to tears with its power over government, but that doesnt lessen the potential for some good to come out of mined existing landscapes and the controlling of all coal fired emissions. It would seem self evident that both underground mines and open cut need new ideas than simply close them down once coal is extracted.. even the potential as nuke-safe places if attacked should be given some thought as so much thoughtlessness dominates industrialisation, conservation and energy policy now.

  6. Paul Burns

    Since the audience is made up of 200 Howard supporters and 200 Rudd supporters presumably they will cancel each other out and the worm will flatline throughout the entire debate.

  7. Bryn

    Paul: the worm will be operated by an audience assembled by channel Nine watching the stream from somewhere else. The studio audience has nothing to do with it, since it’s an official part of the debate and the worm isn’t allowed. (By the way, why isn’t anyone making a song and dance about Nine breaking the rules by using the worm?)

  8. Paul Burns

    Thanks for that info. And I thought the debate was going to be boring. Wouldn’t miss it for quids now.
    As to your question as to why there isn’t a song and dance about the worm. According to ABC On-line and the Guardian, apparently Howard is in enough trouble by having only one debate. People think he’s tricky and trying to avoid scrutiny. Sorry I haven’t linked to these pages, but I don’t know how to.

  9. gandhi

    Question for Bob Brown:

    Given that (a) the Greens have been consistently right about every issue of substance over the past decade, including the Iraq War and Climate Change, and (b) polls still show the Greens polling below 10%, what does that tell us about human nature, the nature of politics, and the Australian people? Are the Greens doomed to remain a minority party because people are basically too greedy to do the right thing?

    Also, what is your vision for the global network of Green parties? Can you envision a day when Green governments around the planet work together for the common good, rather than courting short-term nationalist popularity?

  10. Katz

    By the way, why isn’t anyone making a song and dance about Nine breaking the rules by using the worm?

    Cui bono, Bryn, old bean?

    I guess Liberal Party apparatchiki could froth at the mouth over this. They could refuse to breathe until they turn royal blue in the face. They could stamp their feet. They could pull their pinnies up over their heads.

    But then the Libs would be acting like vermicular scaredy-pants.

    Looks like the Libs have wedged themselves on this one.

  11. tigtog

    Sorry I haven’t linked to these pages, but I don’t know how to.

    Paul, all you have to do is copy the link address and paste it into your comment. LP has a plug-in which will convert that URL to a nice little [link] thing. Alternatively, you can highlight text that is relevant to the link, and then click the “link” button above the comment text input box, and paste the link into the popup that comes up (works in Internet Explorer and Firefox, maybe not Safari).

  12. joe2

    Thanks for the latter clear tip Tigtog. The first I understood but the other has always been a mystery. Now let’s just see if I can get it right.

  13. Sam Clifford

    The result of tonight’s debate will be that Australia loses.

    Howard and Rudd will position themselves as being competent managers of Australia’s economy despite the fact that the Reserve Bank sets interest rates and the dollar is controlled by global market forces. Rudd will attack Howard over WorkChoices while not promising to roll it back.

  14. Futt Bucker

    I’ve got a feeling Howard will be trying to work the word “Unions” into any and every response. To counter that if I were Rudd I’d keep throwing WorkChoices out there.

    Prediction: Rudd will mop the floor with him but tomorrow the media will say what a decisive victory it was for Howard.

  15. Sam Clifford

    I don’t suppose anyone knows whether there are any bars in Brisbane which will be telecasting the debate, do they?

  16. Robert

    I’ve set up a live chatroom for the debate: http://larvatusprodeo.net/live-chatroom/

  17. Paul Burns

    Thanks very much for your help about linking. Will try it next time I see semething I think LP-ers might be interested in.

  18. Lefty E

    Rudd’s on a winner with the childcare rebate changes. Let’s see who “me-toos” now!

    And Krudd – time to sort out Kindy, like eg, for humans who work 9-5. What a crazy FUBAR policy scene that is…

  19. Kevin rennie

    I have a few questions for Howard in “John Howard: not, not responsible” on ‘Labor View from Broome‘. I hope someone holds him accountable for some of his governmnet’s worst excesses of recent years. For example he always talks as though he discovered Iraq in its present state and is just trying to fix someone else’s mistakes.

    Just like the AWB scandal, his refusal to engage with the rest of the world on climate change through Kyoto, and his tax cut lies. He is the greatest dissembler of our times and the media let him get way with it. Let’s hope the worm can catch him out.

  20. tim

    Greens forum about to start. Webcast here and liveblogging here. Thanks for the questions, folks. I hope some of them get asked. Out of my hands and into the moderator’s now…

  21. CK

    This is an open post for us political tragics who actually enjoy the perversity of watching politicians utter set piece policy statements to questions from self interested journos moderated by blow dried television spokes models.

    In the event that I actually watch the ‘debate’, I offer an open invitation to anyone to come around and put staples in my head.

  22. Graham Bell

    Sam Clifford:

    “The result of tonight’s debate will be that Australia loses”.

    I’ll second that motion ….

    My faith in human nature has been restored. Half the people I spoke to know there’s a debate but don’t know where or when …. or they are using an alternative electronic opium.

  23. CK

    I’ve just been over to Grodscorp http://www.grods.com/. Is this thing on now? Where TF is the live-blogging?

    LP is letting the team down.

  24. Robert
  25. Gummo Trotsky

    Just watched the Nine broadcast, with the worm – Rudd got it up on tax policy and interest rates, Howard couldn’t get it up on interest rates much at all.

    I don’t think that “interest rates will always be lower under a Liberal government” line is travelling well these days.

  26. silkworm

    OMG, Howard is attacking the muslims and it’s giving him the best results so far tonight.

  27. philiptravers

    I am really turned off by the word passionate,and working families.

  28. wpd

    I know I am biased. But Howard took a bath.

  29. GregM

    Yep. That was my reading too.

  30. CK

    Well I might say that was very poorly done.

    Here was I awaiting the 16-page full colour vegetable-based ink recycled paper top-notch design glossy LP ‘Live Debate Blog’ brochure in my mail, and guess what? Zip. Nada. Nothing.

    I’m very disappointed at missing out on the fun.

    And I was listening on radio, BTW, so keep your staples to yourself.

  31. Tiny Tyrant

    Sky news sms poll had Howard ‘winning’ at 60%. Nine worm ‘verdict’ was the exact opposite.

  32. silkworm

    I’m worried about the 29 per cent of watchers who thought Howard won.

  33. Tiny Tyrant

    oh yeah, thanks for the live blog, was good fun.

  34. pointy

    yeah how anyone could think Howard won the dabate is beyond me ….

  35. Hilker

    Howard got a hose job tonight. But then he always does in these debates.

    However, on top of the last year of polls, it is a terrible outcome for him.

  36. Hilker

    That should read:

    And on top of the last year of polls, it is a terrible outcome for him.

  37. Tiny Tyrant

    Sky are talking about the worm. classic.

    none of the talking heads are prepared to say Howard was smashed. Rudd by a whisker.

  38. Peterc

    Howard flubbed it. He really is just a bit too old, mean and sneaky. Rudd came across with more passion and vision and even substance. Channel 9’s illegal worm gave it Rudd. But the whole thing is a sideshow – remember Beazley won the debate comprehensively in 2004 and lost the election.

    The sad thing is that Rudd really squibbed it on climate change. He is waiting for a future dated report (post election) from Garnaut before setting any interim targets prior to 2050 (when was the last election commitment for a date 43 year distant given?) – which is essentially the same as Howard waiting for his next ship of fools committee to delivery his future dated report.

    We fiddle while Australian burns.

  39. Katz

    Howard was ripe to fall in 2004.

    But the ALP ran itself up a dry gulch with Latham. He presented himself as, and probably was, bitter, negative, erratic, moody, vengeful, punitive, eaten by envy.

    Rudd is the exact opposite of these qualities.

    The voters like Rudd and what they saw tonight will confirm their favourable opinions.

    Howard’s two direct questions were very poor. They bespoke a man who has given up the struggle to conduct a discipline campaign in favour of a knock-out punch. Howard’s Bush question not only failed to connect on Rudd, but also landed squarely on howard’s on goolies. What was he thinking?

    The momentum is all with Rudd. The election is his to lose.

  40. Zarquon

    Howard’s libs = girly-men afraid of worms.

  41. Shaun

    SMH online poll has Rudd on 74%, Howard 17% and 8% undecided.

  42. Shaun

    news.com.au has Rudd at 60%, Howard at 32% and 6% a draw. Which leaves 2% gone walkabout.

  43. Jim McDonald

    I thought Dicko was pretty restrained on “Australian Idol” but a couple of the judges seemed rather more concerned with what the contestants were wearing than their singing….

    Five years ago to the day I had a heart attack and after seeing red at Costello on “Insiders” this morning decided it was better for my health not to watch the “debate” at all. But we did have a peek during the ads.

    But only if Rudd were talking.

    And was there any evidence of discussion about one of the key issues whether recognised or not – the undermining of civil liberties? Not in any of the accounts I’ve seen. But early days yet….

  44. lj

    I didn’t get to see the conclusion of the worm as I watched Sky News, do you think they will publish the results of the worm in any of the newspapers tomorrow?

  45. Futt Bucker

    It was interesting that Glenn Milne on Sky News gave the debate to Howard. Even the talking heads on Sky reluctantly all gave it to Rudd. In reality it was Rudd in a landslide as predicted, I suspect Milne and the usual suspects will be trying to claim a victory for Howard in the papers tomorrow.

    The worm scored it 65-29 to Rudd.

  46. Robert

    Buggered if I know what this means.

    Live blogging updates at:

    7.25; 7.27; 7.30; 7.32; 7.35; 7.36; 7.38; 7.40; 7.44; 7.46; 7.48; 7.49; 7.53; 7.55; 7.59; 8.05; 8.08; 8.10; 8.17; 8.20; 8.23; 8.24; 8.25; 8.28; 8.29; 8.30; 8.31; 8.34; 8.38; 8.44; 8.45; 8.47; 8.49; 8.53; 8.56; 8.58; 9.00; 9.08;

    9.14: It’s useless, but commentators will be obsessing about it tomorrow.

  47. CK

    It was interesting that Glenn Milne on Sky News gave the debate to Howard

    Errr, actually about as interesting as any of the Poison Dwarf’s columns Futt. I mean, unless the Crodent’s re-elected his boy’s just stuck being opposition leader, isn’t he?

    Really, if the bloke had any gumption he would have got himself a well-paying gummint press position way before this, instead of tying his fortunes to a demonstrated loser.

  48. Andrew

    Anyone know if/when the debate will be online? Found excerpts at the ABC but only bits & pieces.

  49. Futt Bucker

    I agree, CK. I just couldn’t believe Milne would have the gall to say Howard won a debate he so clearly got hammered in. But yes he’ll be able to rally behind his boy Costello (the crass prick trying to butt in during the debate) as Opposition leader.

  50. CK

    Why FB? I didn’t see it, just heard. Tip was barracking from the sidelines?

    Anyway the early votes are in from the “I’m not going to comment on the Australian election” press: http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,22624836-5006301,00.html

    THE much-loathed “worm” tonight passed harsh judgment on Prime Minister John Howard in the only leaders’ election debate.

    Mr Howard won the toss and elected to go second in a move seen as tactical ploy to put the pressure on.

    But that tactic appeared to backfire, with Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd exhibiting calm determination.

    So it’s the Adelaide Advertiser. Meh. Let’s see what the quality Shammaham has to say. It’s much better sport.

  51. Frank Calabrese
  52. Frank Calabrese
  53. Robert

    For posterity, here is the log from the live chat session. [Actually, it’s too long to fit in a comment, so I’ve saved the full log of the session here.]

  54. Lefty E

    My favourite moment of the debate: Rudd on a national apology, with good humanising hand gestures (for a change!) saying its just about respect, and building a bridge.

    It was like a school counsellor explaining social skills 101 to a yr 9 social retard.

    â??if youâ??re nice to other people, Johnny, they might like you back..â??

    Which was especially effective after Howardâ??s bizarre distinction between sorry and apologising, or whatever it was. You could almost hear the national headscratch. Huh?

  55. CK

    Shorter Sham: Teh Crodent’s rooted.

    Nothing’s going to save him now.

  56. Frank Calabrese

    For posterity, here is the log from the live chat session. Oldest at the bottom:

    You forgot to post the URL :-)

  57. Frank Calabrese

    Speaking of The Worm – Toupee Ray isn’t happy.

    [RAY Martin claims that the Nine Network’s coverage of tonight’s Sky News Debate has been “sabotaged” by someone unhappy with its use of the maligned “worm”.

    After being ordered to not use the “worm” – which indicates the reactions of undecided voters to arguments and has been a feature of modern televised election debates â?? the network broadcast it anyway.

    Nineâ??s feed to the debate was cut while the leaders argued over the big issues, forcing the network to broadcast the feed from Sky News â?? with the worm superimposed.

    â??So much for free speech,â?? Martin told viewers after the debate had finished.

    Martin did not accuse any specific individual or group, but said “someone” obviously was not happy.]


  58. Lefty E

    Whats the bet Howard’s “kinghit” on health is some lameass rebate hike the funds chew up with increases the next after its introduced.

  59. Mark


    Rudd was impressive I thought – exceeded expectations. Howard was terrible. You could tell why he only wanted one.

  60. CK

    Which was especially effective after Howard’s bizarre distinction between sorry and apologising, or whatever it was. You could almost hear the national headscratch. Huh?

    Ties in with his bizarre explanation of whatever the hell it is we’re doing in Iraq.

    Not that Iraq is a vote winner. Policies like climate, education, childcare, and broadband are.

    In fact I’d go so far as to say that, as far as Australia is concerned (not USA) the GWOT is dead. If so, thank the lord.

    Give us decent climate and broadband policies.

  61. Rob

    Thanks to Robert for putting up the chat room. It was a lot of fun.

  62. CK

    Agreed. A bit more notice next time, please.

  63. Frank Calabrese

    A much better article on Wormgate.

    Mr Westacott said there had been no agreement on whether the worm could run with Channel Nine’s coverage. “I said we were interested in taking the debate and we will do with it what we will,” Mr Westacott said.

    “This was somebody bowing to political pressure. I think it was a blatant act of censorship by the ABC and the Press Club.

    “It’s not for the Press Club, the Liberal Party or anybody else to decide the editorial policy of the Nine Network.”

    The ALP and the Greens supported the use of the worm, which the Government did not. That made it a political matter, not an editorial matter. “The Liberal Party was deliberately trying, for whatever reason, to have as little attention to this debate as possible.”


  64. CK

    â??Itâ??s not for the Press Club, the Liberal Party or anybody else to decide the editorial policy of the Nine Network.â??

    I don’t think the worm’s something we should be too fixated on. It is after all just a lame marketing device.

    Public footage: Any network can do with it what they like in terms of copyright, ratings, and what they think they can get away with.

  65. Robert

    Yes, sorry about the late notice, CK. It was a very last minute idea. I thought it would be easier than having people keep hitting “refresh” all the time.

    Might put another one up for future events, though the worm seems to have ruled out the possibility of another debate. Definitely for the count.

    Oh, and I’m sorry I had to leave in the middle of the debate. It meant some despicable crap got posted by trolls (three guesses where they came from!).

  66. Paul Burns

    Loved the Worm. The debate was good too. Next to GWB Peter Costello must be the most unpopular leaser we’ve has since John Howard.
    Go, Rudster!

  67. CK

    No sweat Robert. As I recall we had a fine old time during the Congressionals and it was entirely impromptu and spontaneous

    I think the point is that these things should have a life of their own. Which I admit undermines my original post. But there you are, that’s blogging for you.

  68. Robert

    It’s time for an Australian C-SPAN. Rudd should call for more debates and promise some funds to ensure all networks have uncensored access to footage of important political events.

  69. Futt Bucker

    CK: Here is a link in regards to Costello butting in.

  70. Futt Bucker
  71. Frank Calabrese
  72. clarencegirl

    Wonder what went on before the debate started?
    Haven’t seen so much sustained suppressed anger in Howard’s mien and body language before.
    Almost 90mins of how-dare-you emanating from John Howard.

  73. mick

    I just watched a bit of the debate on the ABC website, Howard does come across as a cranky old man doesn’t he?

    I like that they stoushed on the OECD education spending numbers. I wonder if Rudd planned that? Howard looked like he was out of ideas and making excuses for it, Rudd’s reply of “you’ve had 11 years to fix it” painted Howard into a corner (and got Howard riled up).

    I’m sure Rudd knew that the relevance of the OECD numbers to the Australian education system is something that is thoroughly debatable. Indeed we’ve even stoushed about it here at LP on a few occasions. The standard government response has been to deny the relevance of the OECD comparisons, which Howard did perfectly. In doing so he fell for a classic debating trap -to draw someone into an argument about your example so as to starve them of discussion time on the bigger issues.

  74. jethro

    And so how does the GG report the debate?


    Rudd Outpoints Feisty PM: Kevin Rudd gained momentum last night when he scored a narrow victory over John Howard in a hard-fought 90-minute television debate.

    A “narrow victory”? According to whom?

    And then there’s this pearler:

    But Mr Howard, who has struggled in debates in previous election campaigns, performed well above par as the pair went head-to-head in front of a national television audience.

    This reminds me of reporting of George Bush in US presidential debates. “He didn’t completely stuff it up, so … he won!”.

    At least the reporter (I assumed that the byline for this nonsense would be Dennis Shanahan, but it is actually Mathew Franklin, whose coverage of Qld politics for the Courier Mail was consistently good), included the following:

    Early verdicts last night nominated Mr Rudd the clear winner. The Nine Network, which used its worm technology to track voter responses to the debate, asked its 100-person panel of undecided voters who won.

    Sixty-five named Mr Rudd, 29 went for Mr Howard and six were undecided.

    The betting markets delivered a clear verdict on the winner of last night’s debate, with Centrebet dramatically shortening the odds of a Labor victory as a result of the contest.

    How this translates to a “narrow” (and, reading between the lines, apparently undeserved) victory to Rudd over a plucky, feisty, outta-the-ballpark PM is never made clear.

  75. grace pettigrew

    Howard apparently “won the toss” and decided to speak last, big mistake.

    His final words were some sort of lame waffle about his own education revolution (“if I might borrow the term”). He did not sum up his own major themes. as any good debater should do, instead he got lost in responding to Rudd’s final point, maundering on about an anti-pomo “narrative” of history. He should know the culture wars are WTF out in voterland.

    The most exciting part of the debate was when Howard lost his temper over the OECD figures, which presumably will be dissected by the MSM today, thus bringing the issue of our disgraceful international standing on education spending back into the spotlight (whatever the real figures are, who cares?). Howard looked like a nasty cranky old man. Another win for Rudd.

    And Ray Martin saying “so much for freedom of speech” when the live feed failed during the debate, apparently because of concerns about the use of the worm, was a good hoho moment.

    So Glenn Milne on Sky News scored the debate for Howard, did he? What a ridiculous little man, out there in a limb all alone.

  76. Tony D

    On Australian Foreign Policy:

    Howard sticks to advocating the US model of suppression style counter terrorism for fighting the Global War on Terror (Iraq and Afghanistan). A methodology proven to exacerbate the situation long-term.

    Rudd does the same but at least suggests a few soft power approaches for SEAsia, rotate out of Iraq on a schedule – i.e. better than nothing.

    By applying the world-standard ‘Lesser Of Two Evils’ decision making framework….

    … Rudd wins.

    Is this the extent of the foreign policy debate?

  77. Peterc

    Further to jethro’s comments about the GG report by Franklin:

    The story is titled “Rudd outpoints feisty PM” then they profile Howard in a positive light and report his comments for the most of their “story”.

    Horribly biased reporting – against Rudd. How do these tossers at the GG lie straight in bed? They are in the toilet paper business.

  78. John Ryan

    Thanks for the live feed it was great,the NEWs LTD talking heads where spinning it to Howard, but Rudd won, Milne was saying Howard,but that may have because of his love for Costello and his job prospects as a press sec.
    I am listening to 6 PR this morning and the local lib rep on the breakfast panel,Frank knows the one I mean, is not a happy chappy,saying things like this is the most important election we will ever have ect.
    I,m wondering if they should broadcast his name and address every time he opens his mouth on matters political

  79. Lynda Hopgood

    On the subject of the worm, the story goes that the Channel 9 broadcast was pulled twice because they were showing the worm when they weren’t supposed to.

    The political reporter on Channel 9 this morning said that the decision to pull it was made by the National Press Club, after consultation with the Liberal Party. They were at pains to point out that the Liberal Party had told them not to do it (because it would be a bad look) but they decided to do it anyway.

    Two things occur immediately: Firstly, why were the Labor Party and Channel 9 excluded from these discussions, given they were signatories of this ‘debate rules’ contract?

    Secondly, who are the National Press Club to take the decision out of the hands of the Liberal Party who decided, in the end, that they wanted (apparently) to leave well alone?

    Taking the second point first, I suggest you pay a visit to the National Press Club website to see who they are. They seem to have a number of corporate (read: conservative) sponsors, amongst whom are certain Federal Government departments including Austrade, Department of Human Services and – wait for it – the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

    Anyone else smell a rat (literally)?

    Oh, and I think that probably answers the first question as well.

  80. happy chap from Griffith

    philiptravers: CSIRO are currently working on examining different sorts of distributed power generation strategies and how they’ll influence both the grid and carbon emissions (e.g. intelligent grid project http://www.csiro.au/science/IntelligentGrid.html).

  81. suz

    The Australian’s online e poll is interesting. [I hope that’s the right link.] You put in your postcode and it then gives you the results for your postcode and for your electorate and for the nation. Currently the nation has Rudd winning convincingly on 73%. My electorate – Wentworth – has him winning convincingly at 83%!

  82. FDB

    Rudd won it so clearly on the most desperate partisan could see it any other way. Boring though the whole thing was, Howard was grumpy, churlish, meandering and played the whole thing as if he were in Parliament with a friendly indulgent Speaker. Pushing the time limit most of the time (every time?), getting shirty when called on it by the limp Speers, fiddling (presumably) with a mouth ulcer every six to ten words uttered, and rambling rambling rambling.

    He repeeated himself a few times in a way that didn’t come across as “staying on message” so much as “not being able to remember if he’d said it already”.

    “If I might borrow a phrase…” WTF??? No you may not – there’s nothing more ludicrous than an old, tired Tory talking about a revolution of any kind.

    Rudd was kind of clever in how he went about answering Jho’s direct questions, but really they were lame free kicks.

    The big story of the evening for me was the audiovisual work though. I’ve seen slicker Dalkeith Primary School Christmas Variety Nights. Poor lighting, slow-on-the-uptake mic mixing (such that panel questions and comments by our fecking PM and Opposition Leader!! were inaudible) and Kruddy’s mic was feeding back throughout the debate. FEEDBACK!?!?!?! What sort of RETARD can’t deal with that? One poor-quality graphic EQ, adjusted by a monkey who’d once walked past the Corner Hotel during a soundcheck, would have fixed the problem. Who are these morons?

  83. Guido

    News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch is refusing to be drawn on who he feels should win the federal election.

    Speaking at his company’s annual general meeting in New York, Mr Murdoch insisted he would be taking a back-row seat in this election.

    Asked whether he would be comfortable with a Kevin Rudd-led Labor government, he replied: “I am not commenting on anything to do with Australian politics, I’m sorry.”

    “I always get into trouble when I do that,” he said.

    Asked whether he thinks Prime Minister John Howard deserves to be re-elected, Mr Murdoch refused to comment.

    “Read our editorials in the papers … it’ll be the journalists who’ll decide that, the editors,” he said.



  84. Paul Burns

    The Packer Puppets were almost losing their minds on the Today Show this morning trying to explain why the Worm didn’t behave last night. And then they had thr gall to let some cricketer’s wife give the Howard Govrtnment a free plug over breast cancer funding. Shameless stuff.

  85. Martin B

    One of the things that surprised me most about the debate was how totally lame Howard’s first question to Rudd was. Surely that was pre-scripted for him; was that really the best he could do?

    I also noted Howard’s vigorous defence of his Me-tooism back in the 80s, which was apparently a sign of virtue for him.

  86. silkworm

    Howard has adopted the “me-tooism” that used to belong to Rudd. Howard borrowed Rudd’s term “passionate”, though not very passionately, as well as the term “revolution”, again half-heartedly.

  87. suz

    One of the things that surprised me most about the debate was how totally lame Howard’s first question to Rudd was.

    Couldn’t agree more. Trying to leave aside my bias and looking at it purely in terms of a debate, I was astonished at how lame Howard was – his body language was off-putting and his choice of questions at the end was very weak; he rambled, appeared confused, tense and irritable. Today, that’s the main impression I’m left with – Rudd’s performace has faded from my mind and I’m left with a sense of how bad Howard was, as a debater.

    The prospect of this man winning another election is simply awful.

  88. Ptobias

    The irritability and surliness is becoming a pattern in Howard’s behaviour – witness his ACA and 7:30 interviews last Monday. Before that, we had his pleading for re-election in his 7:30 interview after the post-APEC leadership tussle.

    Not only is he struggling to stay on message – he’s not even managing to control his demeanour.

  89. Katz

    Not only is [Howard] struggling to stay on message – he’s not even managing to control his demeanour

    Yes indeed Ptobias.

    John Howard is channelling Mark Latham!

    Labor’s ultimate revenge.

  90. grace pettigrew

    The wireless has just told me that Glenn Milne is Vice President of the National Press Club. Whoa, didn’t know that. Presumably this is an elected position, reflecting his popularity amongst his colleagues. Say it isn’t so.

    Anyway, despite all the flatfooted denials and attempts to change the subject (let’s have a media commission etc), it looks like it was the Poisonous Dwarf who gave the order to cut the feed to Channel Nine – because the worm was not being nice to Mr Howard.

    Bloody outrageous.

  91. Amanda

    Milne also said on The World Today Nine agreed not to use the worm but did anyway, on the night …. But they were advertising the worm all week. The worm was wearing a top hat for the occasion. It was no secret.

  92. Katz

    I don’t think the worm’s something we should be too fixated on. It is after all just a lame marketing device.

    The worm may have been “lame” CK but who ever heard of a worm with good legs?

    As far as a marketing device goes, it got me in, and I rarely watch Channel 9.

    Let’s face it, the worm is a star. It’ll appear in more PM debates than even John Howard.

    And the worm’s place in Australian politics has been cemented once and for all by the current argy bargy over the poor little invertibrate.

    Go the Worm!!

  93. grace pettigrew

    Yes Amanda, Milne was certainly wriggling on the hook.

    But Nine strongly continues to deny any agreement, and as you say, were quite open about what they intended.

    Looks like Milne has become the story. Ha.

  94. joe2

    Hey , it’s been obvious for a good while.
    Mr Grumpy knows that he is a ‘turnoff’ and facing defeat.
    He cannot win an election even under this ‘norm’ of extreme incumbent advantage. Thus, his real side is being exposed, loudly.

    Just watch and wonder where he will go next and whether our already fragile democracy will be able to take the shock. He is the most dysfunctional P.M. we have ever had, in our history, imho.

    Like some others I am concerned about what he and his party will arrange next, over the following month, to keep control of power.

    And Grace, how have the NPC managed to keep that quiet? I was pretty surprised, as well. They are looking as compromised as the current press complaints arrangements.

  95. grace pettigrew

    yes joe2, after drunkenly assaulting Steven Mayne at the Walkleys earlier this year, you would think Milne would not have the effrontery to stand for such a position, or have the support to be elected. Wonder whether it is just an automatically revolving sinecure, or whether he really was elected by his colleagues? And when did this happen, and did anyone stand against him, and who counted the ballots, etc etc…

  96. Guido
  97. grace pettigrew

    Thanks Guido. As there is some understandable confusion on other blogs about what actually happened, permit me to copy the relevant passages:

    “The ABC says it played no part in the decision to cut Channel Nine’s feed….an ABC Corporate spokeswoman said. “All decisions about the host broadcast feed, including decisions about who it would be provided to, were made by the National Press Club. The ABC had no role in this decision making process.”

    Channel Nine director of News and Current Affairs, John Westacott, says no deal existed between the network and the Australian Press Club to not use ‘the worm’. Mr Westacott says the station had always intended to use the worm.”

    I am now looking forward to Media Watch pointing the finger at Vice President Glenn Milne tonight…

  98. Paul

    Did anyone see the strange twitch John Howard had when asked about the Iraq war… forget the shoulder twitch, I thought he was going to have a stroke.

    Howard Twitch – 2007 Election Debate

  99. Atticus

    I would like to know exactly who in the NPC made the decision to pull the plug. Was Milne involved in the decision?

    That would be interesting, given his embarrassing suggestion that Howard won the debate.

  100. joe2

    “I am now looking forward to Media Watch pointing the finger at Vice President Glenn Milne tonight…”

    Given recent form on Media Watch and aunty generally, grace, you may be left holding your breath. Apart from 4 corners E.B. report and Chaser they are shutting up on all anti-lib material and focusing on Kevs’ next gaffe.

  101. Tiny Tyrant

    straight after the debate, the panel of heads on Sky were calling it Rudd’s. they then went on to explain why, with plenty of reasons I agreed with.

    then along comes Spears.. he starts crapping on with the ‘i don’t know what it looked like on camera, but from MY perspective’ and starts calling it Howard’s. then, THEN, the camera swings and up pops Milne sitting in the same studio as Spears and Milne starts spinning it for Howard as well..

    back to the studio.. and all of a sudden the panel of heads have completely flipped opinions and are saying Howard didn’t do so badly after all.

    Milne the mind taker! he had control over them all.

  102. Frank Calabrese

    The big story of the evening for me was the audiovisual work though. I’ve seen slicker Dalkeith Primary School Christmas Variety Nights. Poor lighting, slow-on-the-uptake mic mixing (such that panel questions and comments by our fecking PM and Opposition Leader!! were inaudible) and Kruddy’s mic was feeding back throughout the debate. FEEDBACK!?!?!?! What sort of RETARD can’t deal with that? One poor-quality graphic EQ, adjusted by a monkey who’d once walked past the Corner Hotel during a soundcheck, would have fixed the problem. Who are these morons?

    I’ve noticed on an old videotape I’ve got of Santo Cilauro’s excellent 1996 doco The Campaign that Howard & Keating were both wearing lapel mikes.

    I’m amazed why the ABC who were providing the facilities didn’t follow suit.

    Oh and I wonder if they were the same audio crew that were used on Telethon last weekend ? :-)

  103. silkworm

    David Speers can’t be trusted. Most of the time he makes the pretense of political neutrality, but when the pressure is put on him, his true political conservatism is revealed.

    I’m glad I had my cable TV cut off last month. My revulsion against Sky News began when they hired Frank Luntz, a US Republican asset, as a “neutral” consultant on the Australian elections. These people are push-polling on behalf of dark forces.

  104. Paul Burns

    Howard 0, Rudd 1, Worm 100.

  105. grace pettigrew

    Yes, joe2, but I’m still hoping the lovely Monica will throw all caution to the wind and really go for the jugular in her last few sessions in the chair…this is such a good story, tailor made for media watch… and just imagine the GG editorial crew tomorrow if she did have a slash at the Poisonous Dwarf, they would be totally apoplectic!

  106. FDB

    Worm for PM!!!

    Frank – if it was, as you say, the ABC running the AV for the gig, then I’m appalled. ‘Twould ne’er have happened in my day.

  107. Guido

    David Speers can’t be trusted. Most of the time he makes the pretense of political neutrality, but when the pressure is put on him, his true political conservatism is revealed.

    He has a blog on the Sky Channel site. Not exactly mind blowing stuff.

  108. Snorky

    Did I hear correctly on the radio a little while ago that Howard said he enjoyed the debate, because it gave him an opportunity to remind the Australian people about the 70% of Rudd’s shadow Ministry who are former union officials???

    Even ignoring for the moment that Costello admitted yesterday the claim was false, that’s truly stupendous.

  109. Frank Calabrese

    Frank – if it was, as you say, the ABC running the AV for the gig, then I’m appalled. ‘Twould ne’er have happened in my day.

    Yep, aunty, along with the Parliamentry sound and vison office did the telecast – I believe the ABC are the only network in the ACT to have Digital Gear – I know that’s the case with Perth as they provided the gear for Seven to use for Telethon as well as Aunty doing all foxtel stuff for the AFL.

  110. silkworm

    Imagine Kevin Rudd’s position. He wants to have two more debates, and he has to negotiate with the National Press Club to get them, knowing now, on account of the cutting of Channel Nine’s feed, that the NPC is beholden to the Liberal Party.

    Actually, I think Rudd knew this already. In fact, Rudd has taken a different and unexpected tack. He has now challenged to have another debate, this time with both Howard and Costello, on account of the fact that Howard has already told us that Costello will be PM when he steps down. Of course, this will never happen, but it puts the ball in Howard’s court.

  111. silkworm

    Mediawatch had nothing on the worm controversy. So much for being a public watchdog.

  112. Ptobias

    Snorky, Costello was confronted with the facts that Swan and Emerson have never been union officials, but the Liberal claim is still correct and I am not convinced that there are factual inaccuracies in their advertising. However, they have definitely been skirting close to the line with the truth in their presentation of the Labor front bench’s union ties, aside from the fact that they’re fostering the illusion that involved in a union means you want to destroy businesses.

    On the subject of Costello in Insiders yesterday, didn’t Barrie Cassidy manage to trail off with a whimper? He actually caught Costello out on their dodgy advertising, and then ended up almost apologetically saying, “let’s just drop it”.

  113. Ptobias

    The Poison Dwarf is now telling Australia that it’s Nine’s fault Howard and Costello won’t agree to another debate:

    Mr Milne says that by defying the Government’s request to not use the worm, the Nine network has harmed the political process and effectively killed the chance of another debate taking place.

  114. Futt Bucker

    Milne’s the real worm in all this.

    The only reason all the right wing commentators are turning on Ray Martin is because he supposedly this time around has done some fundraising work for Labor. This is sweet watching the Libs self destruct and by the looks of things losing their buddy in Channel Nine.

    Did anyone catch the half hour special on Sky tonight titled ‘The Gallery’? I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet but it’s supposedly going to be a run down on the Debate with Paul Kelly, Malcolm Farr and Helen McCabe.

    Getting their stories straight perhaps? 😉

  115. grace pettigrew

    So here is the Poisonous Dwarf, Vice President of the NPC, doing the job he really wants, as media adviser to a new (Costello) Government:

    “Mr Milne says that by defying the Government’s request to not use the worm, the Nine network has harmed the political process and effectively killed the chance of another debate taking place. He has also called for an independent commission to set the ground rules for future debates. “My view is that there should be independent debate commission in Australia, we should have an independent body that sets the terms and conditions for these leaders’ debates,” he said.”

    Classic media adviser tactic when the boss is in trouble. First displace the blame onto someone else, then deflect the conversation away from your own shortcomings. The problem for Milne is that Laurie Oakes, who is a much bigger player than him, is pretty pissed off at the NPC’s apparent political bias and lack of integrity, and will not let this go.

    Rudd should not either. He can keep demanding further debates right through the next five weeks and painting the Howard Government as a bunch of wimps for not agreeing.

    Last night Kelly offered to debate Nairn in Eden-Monaro, but Nairn has wimped it (I would too if I had Peter Phelps on staff). More of this please.

  116. tigtog

    Apparently the Dept of Parliamentary Services have taken responsibility for cutting the feed, on instructions from the National Press Club. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/10/23/2067033.htm

    No mention of who gave the instructions to DPS staff on behalf of the NPC, but as they say, the NPC were the clients who were actually paying for the hall and for the feed, so the NPC had control.

    Definitely points to a need for a better set of guidelines for the structure of these debates.

  117. grace pettigrew

    Hilary Penfold is doing the honourable thing by making it public that one of her parliamentary officers actually threw the switch. This does not change the fact that it was the NPC that issued the instruction, after consulting with the Liberal Party.

    Agree tigtog that something must be done, but that is way down the line. In the meantime, as Laurie Oakes has made very clear, the whole smelly affair has badly dented the reputation of the NPC. And sooner rather than later, a few NPC heads should roll, starting with the chief log-rollers Maurice Reilly and Glenn Milne.

    The Costello/Swan debate is apparently to be held at the NPC next Tuesday, and presumably after the last debacle it will be held in front of the usual gaggle of working journos trying not to drink too much wine with their lunch, and not some rangy clatch of worm wranglers and a carefully coiffed rupertnews MC. Please.

    Just waiting now for the pundit toads to start crowing: Costello will eat Swan for lunch! Yeah right, let’s wait and see. Costello is a smug lazy bloater and Swan is geared up and hungry. This could be a killer debate. Bring it on.

  118. Paul Burns

    Ain’t it lovely the commentary about the meanderings of the worm has got out, out, out of control and beyond Liberal Party spin, try as they might.

  119. tigtog

    Grace, agreed that it is the NPC hierarchy that smells worst after this.

    I’m not surprised that the Liberal Party honcho said they didn’t want the feed cut when asked by the NPC for their position: they must have known how bad it would look. That Milne and Reilly couldn’t see how it would look and went ahead with cutting the feed anyway speaks volumes to their general perspicacity, and none of it is flattering.

  120. Katz

    That Milne and Reilly couldn’t see how it would look and went ahead with cutting the feed anyway speaks volumes to their general perspicacity, and none of it is flattering.

    Instances of Milne’s conspicuous lack of perspicacity

    1. The Walkley Waddle
    2. Whacking the Worm

    Instances of Milne’s conspicuous display of perspicacity
    *cue crickets*

  121. grace pettigrew

    Yes tigtog, and I’m not totally convinced by Brian Loughnane’s denial either. After all, who is going to call him out if he is fibbing, Reilly and Milne? That would only sink them deeper.

    But essentially it does not matter what the Liberal Party said about the feed cut, because they are logically self-interested, and they had already stacked the show anyway in by-passing serious contenders like Kerry O’Brien and the ABC for some girly-boy from Rupert’s SkyNews.

    No, the spotlight remains on the NPC and in particular, Reilly and Milne, both of whom have lost any right to call themselves professional and disinterested journalists, if they ever were. The NPC better get their house in order pronto.

  122. tigtog

    Quite right to be skeptical about Loughnane, grace. I couldn’t find my cynic-coloured specs this morning, or I would never have missed that.

  123. FDB

    “Mr Milne says that by defying the Government’s request to not use the worm”


    A request is not defied, it is denied. A demand is defied. So which was it Glenn?

  124. silkworm

    I look forward to the trials of Reilly and Milne after teh revolution.

  125. Andyc

    The blurb on the front page of the Press Club’s site includes this joke:

    “The National Press Club has a long standing history of impartially presenting federal policy debates and political addresses during election campaigns.”

    They should consider re-aligning with their purported long-standing history. If this means a few senior heads rolling: fine. Otherwise, they are a travesty of journalistic integrity and a threat to democracy.

  126. Frank Calabrese

    from the Press Club Page.

    Board Member – Tony Melville

    Member of the Board since 2003. Formerly on NPC Board in 1998 and 1999.
    National Public Affairs Adviser to the Australian Industry Group (AIG).
    Former ABC News Reporter, DFAT spokesman and Diplomat (Atlanta, Deputy Head of Mission in Manila).
    Former Media Advisor to Prime Minister Paul Keating.

    Gees, what a contrast to the Poison Dwarf :-)

  127. Ambigulous

    After he retires, will Glenn sell Worm Farms? They go well on food scraps, I’m told.

    Can he worm his way out?

    Or should we expect him to burst in here out of a wormhole (that’s astrophysics, children, not toilet humour) from the parallel universe that’s the GG in full flight?