The government, and its last few remaining supporters, are getting very frustrated. The Press Gallery want to talk about the polls and not policy. The Media Watch piece that I linked to below points to the problem:
That poll dominated the evening news bulletins on all the major networks…
Mark Simkin: The latest poll speaks for itself. Labor’s primary vote slumped to just 30%, the Coalition’s is up, prompting predictable questions about a Kevin Rudd comeback.
— ABC 1, News, 18th February, 2013
John O’Dohery: Julia Gillard says she’s focused on governing.
Julia Gillard: Look I don’t comment on opinion polls
— Channel Nine, News, 18th February, 2013
Alex Hart: It’s proving a very unwelcome distraction
Tanya Plibersek: No questions at all about clinical trials? Nope, OK, polls then.
Alex Hart: One government marginal seat holder lashed out an event promoting government medical investment
Julie Owens: You’re talking about leadership, we’re not – we’re talking about health.
— Channel Seven, News, 18th February, 2013
That wasn’t all Julie Owens, Labor MP for Parramatta, had to say. She thought the public might be interested in the fact that the government was putting more money into clinical trials and cutting edge medical research…
Julie Owens: Honestly, this affects people’s lives, what we are talking about here today. Do you honestly think people out there that are going to watch your bulletin care more about me than they do about the health of their children? And you’re going to ask about me instead of their children? Get real!
— Julie Owens, MP for Parramatta, 18th February, 2013
But the TV journos didn’t care about you either, Julie. The national story, that day, was the Nielsen poll.
But as even Lenore Taylor recognises this is a legitimate story.
she makes a very good point, the media does engage in too much speculation, but the despair in Labor now is a valid story imho
— Twitter, 19th February, 2013
Since the Nielson poll came out last week even segments of the Fairfax press has been dissing the government and calling for Gillard to resign. Some people might think that the polls are irrelevant to good policy and the like but actually they are very important in a democracy.
The executive governs with the consent of the governed. When the polls are poor the question of legitimacy arises. So there is no point talking much about policy when people are wondering about the legitimacy of your office.
Now there are swings and roundabouts. Government is often behind in the polls, yet when that situation arises it is up to the government – and the leadership especially – to articulate a plan to restore legitimacy and poll primacy. Right now the media want to talk about polls because the leadership has failed to articulate such a plan – not one or twice, but frequently.
All this talk about banning polls and being poll obsessed etc. is the government shooting the messenger. The polls indicate that the government has lost the confidence of the electorate and is no longer governing with the consent of the governed. The only end in sight that anyone can see to this is the September election. Small wonder the media doesn’t want to talk about policy.