GO FOR THE DOCTOR: Ted attempts to bolster his team with blast from the Kennett past

peterpoggioli After eleven years of Labor rule, power at Spring Street is within Red Ted Baillieu’s grasp.

This is the surprising but steadily growing realisation within the Liberal Party who have endured its years in Opposition as uniformly dispiriting. Many in the ALP have suspected it for over a year. The polls are confirming it.

Labor’s primary vote has been steadily drooping since Brumby’s leadership and increasingly the centre left in Victoria has to divert valuable resources defending their homeland inner-city seats against that sinister Party of Rousseau and Marx – angry Adam Bandt’s Greens party.

Looking more and more tired, Brumby’s Labor can’t blame ‘bloody Jeff’ anymore for its own failings, which include a series of systematic wasteful projects; the perceived rise of violent crimes and corrupt behaviour among police and public service; and cost of living issues bubbling beneath the surface.

Moreover people just haven’t warmed to Premier Brumby as they did to Victoria’s first ethnically Arab Premier, Steve Bracks. Bracks is a Hawke, Brumby a Keating, it seems.

Little wonder public polls indicate the closest contest since 1999.

PESSIMISM v HUBRIS

Yet pessimism rules supreme. Since Kennett’s 1999 demise, leadership from the Liberal Opposition has been directionless, tractionless and purposeless. 

Pessimists in the Liberal Party point to the perturbing primary results for the Senate and House of Reps figures for the Coalition. From that vantage point, the State Libs could go backwards. Other factors in their argument’s favour: Ted’s incoherent case for change; negligible fundraising; and a demotivated parliamentary party – which not incidentally is never allowed to meet without in a scheduled joint party meeting with Nationals, ensuring greivances are never aired in camera.

Many in the Party are also weary of Ted’s strategy of out-flanking the Labor Party from the left and the hedging of bets with a Liberal-Greens alliance in case of a hung parliament – a statistical likelihood. The pessimists also note an absence of consistent offensive volleys against Labor. It is as if Baillieu doesn’t want to win the next election outright.

Pessimists should remind themselves, however, that stranger things have happened. Red Ted as Victorian Premier by Christmas is on the cards.

Hubrists, like Louise Asher, Deputy Liberal Leader and former senior Kennett Minister certainly thinks so. At party meetings, she is openly boasting about how much she looks forward to returning to the Treasury benches. 

Red Ted has surrounded himself by his compliant aye-sayers (with the exception of Simon Troeth) sharing the Leader’s besieged mentality. Hermetically sealed, Ted and the so-called Kennett forces are throwing everything at this election.

As they must: An election loss means they will not be able to hold back the angry tide of so-called Krogerites dominating the Administration Committee and the State Council, desperate to renew a timid parliamentary party.

THE FAILURE UNIT
Desperate politicians do unusual things: Ted with the support of 104 Exhibition Street has now acquired the assistance of Dr Peter Poggioli. 

For many, this will come as a peculiar development. Dr Poggioli is blamed, in part, for the Hon. Jeffrey Gibb Kennett’s shock 1999 defeat, as the then State Director of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party.

Poggioli, a New York Italian, is remembered for his own hubristic election campaign with its ‘jeff.com.au‘ and ‘Jeff effin’ Rules’ ads and his incapacity to rein in Kennett’s arrogant style. Expectations management went missing in 1999.

The state director’s notorious advertisements were working well in metropolitan seats where the Libs did well; but they played poorly in the provinces, demonstrating the Party’s incapacity to change style or tact to resonate meaningfully outside of Melbourne, even after the 1997 Gippsland West by-election loss to the duplicitous ‘Independent’ Susan Davies.

Perhaps more farcical was Poggioli’s post-election justifications such as his declaration of the Coalition claiming democratic legitimacy by winning the three-party preferred vote.

Poggioli’s involvement has the unpleasant odour of history repeating itself. Little wonder some are calling Bailiieu’s firewalled office: The Failure Unit – a cute twist on the Party’s yearning of having their own Dirt Unit to demonstrate a modicum of their own Machiavellian cunning!

THE DOCTOR MAY NOT DELIVER BAD NEWS
In no way is Dr Poggioli without talent or drive or insight; some think he may well be the shot in the arm Ted’s insular office and directionless campaign needs.

Poggioli was Dr David Kemp’s Chief of Staff before his retirement and by all accounts, not a bad COS. Kemp is, of course, the State President and sees his role as an honest broker between the Division’s two warring factions. Many question Kemp’s unquestioning faith in Oakeshottean group hugs. Certainly the return of Poggioli to Victorian campaign politics exemplifies Kemp’s presidential style.

Dr Poggioli has since established himself an enviable and successful career in the health and pharmaceutical sector and is currently, according to Linkedin, the communications director of the world’s number vendor of drugs, including that little blue pill of love Viagra, Pfizer, where he works with the highly regarded David Myles, a NSW Liberal identity.

Some are concerned by Poggioli’s opaque resurrection as it has invited rumours that 104 is handsomely compensating the Pfizer executive for his efforts with scarce campaign funds. VEXNEWS suspects Poggioli is more likely to be on leave with or without pay to assist his long standing friend with Ted.

One thing is for sure: if Baillieu and The Failure Unit fall short in gaining government, the exceptional patience extended towards Baillieu’s uninspiring leadership will abruptly end.  

In fact, the best case scenario for Baillieu is a hung parliament with the balance of power Greens’ supporting him as Premier.  In that way, Baillieu can cash in his grooming of the Greens, duchess Greg Barber with the public transport portfolio, sideline his internal critics and claim his unusual Liberal lefty leadership style is best placed to manage a very delicate parliamentary mix.

An insightful Florentine once wrote: A war is never avoided but merely postponed to your disadvantage.

In 2010, Baillieu seems to be testing that axiom.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “GO FOR THE DOCTOR: Ted attempts to bolster his team with blast from the Kennett past

  1. Anonski

    Andrew – The Greens will never side with the Coalition in Victoria to form government.

    Never.

  2. Myles

    But what about ME!

    Where’s my offer to help save the Victorian Party?

    I could do for Victoria what I’ve done for NSW. Just ask Nick and Alex.

  3. to Anonksi

    if that is the case, then why is Baillieu courting them. if you are right, how stupid is Baillieu

  4. Anonymous

    Sorry Anonski but…

    http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/state-greens-could-back-libs-in-victoria-20100828-13wlj.html

    A vote for Walters in Melbourne is as good as a vote for the Libs.

  5. anon

    How on earth can the Coalition get the required 6% swing needed to win government? There’s no way they can do it Andrew why do you say that they have a chance?

  6. Walter Plinge

    An example of what’s wrong with the Liberals. Yesterday I got an expensive, glossy brochure from local member Nick Kotsiras. The brochure is all about what’s wrong with the Labor Party — and there’s plenty wrong of course.

    Problem is — there are no solutions or plans in this publication. Not one. It’s just a complaint about the incumbents and nothing at all about the Liberals will actually do to fix these problems. Truly pathetic.

    Conclusion – the Liberals actually don’t have the answers, probably because the answers are anti-Green and non-progressive.

    To this life-long Liberal votre the Liberals look like a pack of clueless losers who deserve another 3 years in the wilderness. They are unable to explain why we’ll be better off under them.

  7. it's 'Anthony Green' possible

    The greens could win four seats; ALP has ten seats under 5 per cent and 18 under 7 per cent. Yes, it is statistically possible.

    However, Victorians are not stupid enough to vote for Red Ted unless there is a sufficient protest vote underway .. so, is there? Brumby is not that bad

  8. Liberal insider

    Your fund raising comment is interesting.

    The party treasurer, Andrew Burnes, is dubbed “Mr Invisible” by Admin Committee members. He had some minor involvement in raising $ for the federal campaign but is showing no interest or commitment to raise $ for the state campaign.

    He is regarded as likeable but next to useless in the role. Burnes is regarded as the worse party Treasurer in many years.

    It’s not a factional thing – its just that he isn’t putting in the time to to the nitty gritty of fundraising. It should also be noted that David Kemp regards himself as far too important to soil himself with the grubby business of raising money.

    What will Ted do?

  9. Syphologist

    Who told Ted to knock down Flinders Street Station?

    $1million prize money for the best redevelopment idea? That’s right up there with Justin Muddle’s vandalism of the Windsor.

    I’m Joffa to Ted’s Magpie, but even I couldn’t vote for him with a stupid idea like that.

  10. Another Liberal insider

    I went and had a coffee today. The man running the coffee shop was ridiculing the idea of a $1m prize for Flinders St Station.

    He made the interesting point that the design of the station will not help the reliability of the train system.

  11. Anonymous

    with so many Libs from the Kennett era still hang on, it doesn’t surprise me they would go back to the past

  12. Party member

    Liberal Insider – I think your attack on Andrew Burnes is a bit over the top. He is very level-headed and committed to the cause. He is well respected.

    It is true his interests are more federal than State but he is doing OK from what I know.

    His job in raising money for Baillieu is pretty hard to say the least.

  13. It's not easy being Green

    The Greens can also win in Eastern Metro and influence the outcome of at least two upper house seats.

    Stay tuned.

    The Liberals are not going to preference the Greens without quid for quo in return.

    We can expect the Greens will cut a deal on preferences and preference the Liberal Party in return for their support.

    Victoria is a real risk of being won by the Liberals by default/ Thanks to the Greens they will also have control of both houses of parliament.

  14. Richard

    “If that is the case, then why is Baillieu courting them. if you are right, how stupid is Baillieu?”

    Very!

  15. OMG

    How idiotic is that old hag, Asher? She really does have the Midas touch for failure! Poggioli is doing policy, according to the Australian – I might remind readers that Poggioli recommended to John Howard to lock up the Tasmanian forests in the 2004 – He’s a bloody genius, Ted!!

  16. Greens will do dirty in upper house

    The upper house is where the Greens can do the dirty and rob Brian Tee of his seat – hence the late push by batchelor and mikakos to shove Tee into thomastown and put an SL greek into the eastern metro spot.

    The batchelor/mikakos plan sunk without a trace.

    Now Tee will have to face the music with his former backers the CFMEU, who are backing the Greens and SOCIALIST PARTY OF AUSTRALIA candidates and with the Greens delivering to the Liberals.

    The Greens will preference labor in the lower house seats where it knows it cannot stop its voters giving 80% of second vote to Labor.

    Losing Tee to protect four lower house seats is a good deal.

    Reece should be congratulated on that one.

    Government is formed in the lower house comrades. Fallen comrades will be remembered.

  17. anon

    even if there are ten seats under 5%, that is still a prety big margin to overcome. I cant see the libs getting more than a net gain of six seats. Sure there will be seats that suffer big swings away from labor, but realistically, there just isnt enough really marginal seats (1%, 2%) there for the libs to win this time around.

  18. Rebecca

    Kennett is today claiming he was shot at while he was premier!
    Does anyone believe he would not have told us that when he was premier?

  19. Let us get this right

    What about the surveys taken in Liberal marginal seats. It appears that at least 2 and possibly 3 could come back to Labor. The local members are famous for the lack of work in their marginal seats and the locals have noticed!!

  20. anon

    The only crime is Kennett was not hit by the shot.

  21. Thx for this great information that you are shareing with us

  22. Hesper

    Confessing myself one of Bagehot’s conservatives of reflection, therefore an Australian who loathes the Liberal Party with equal fervour as the Labor Party, I wish to ask the “Liberal insiders” what they believe is their party’s purpose of existence. It’s clearly not to protect the constitutional or social order from the wrecking-ball of liberalism, socialism and hyper-modernity.
    Is it to win elections? Seemingly not, as out of more than twenty five state and federal elections this decade, you’ve won three. Why do you exist? You don’t really oppose the Labor programme as you perpetuate or augment it whenever enthroned in government. All you crave are the honours and emoluments which belong to being our rulers.

  23. Anonymous

    The Liberals exist to turn the Labor Party into the true Liberal Party.

  24. Anonymous

    How true are you.

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