After watching 7:30 on ABC tonight I wanted to write to you. You interviewed Trade Minster, Craig Emerson. For much of the interview you were asking him questions about the leadership of the ALP. A few things I want to bring up in regard to that.
Before I start though I want to assure you I am going to stay calm and non abusive. I have seen that you receive some pretty nasty tweets following so called controversial interviews. I am not a troll or professional political pundit. I am a woman in her mid 40s. I have an education. I work part time, I have a husband and 3 kids, a mortgage and a dog. I volunteer with many of my kids activities and life is pretty busy. I feel unique, and I am, but on the surface I think you could say I am an 'ordinary' Australian.
I've never been a member of a political party, and in fact have probably avoided them. The whole environment seems macho and not really my scene. The idea of Women for Gillard appealed to me as a way of getting involved in politics, without immersing myself in the deep end. The fact it has been mocked mercilessly bothers me. I'm sure there are other women who would like to get involved but are apprehensive. However, my post today isn't about that.
With regard to your interview...
At one stage you said that you were asking questions that ordinary Australians want to know the answers to. I'm an ordinary Australian and I am sick to my back teeth of the leadership speculation that has continued for the best part of 3 years. I don't actually know what questions you were hoping Craig would answer. I don't have a transcript but I recall you asked whether he thought Julia Gillard would stay on as Prime Minister beyond next week. This has been asked of many ALP politicians this week (this year!) and I honestly don't know what answer you are all expecting. Do you expect him to say 'Well no actually, I think she'll be gone by Wednesday?' Even if he did think that? Do you think he'd say 'We're putting boxing gloves on at the next caucus meeting and we'll settle it then'? You are never going to get the answer you want. However, I know that whatever answer you do get will then get dissected. Perhaps when Craig said 'Of course', he really meant 'Of course not'... It's like a dog chasing its tail.
No interview with any ALP person, pollster, politician or power broker is going to give you the answer you desire. And yes, we, the ordinaries, understand that backbenchers are mumbling, and the Rudd loyalists. So what? Spend one sentence, or two, acknowledging that and move on. Aren't you embarrassed that for almost 3 years you've had the same story and still Julia Gillard is Prime Minister?
Craig made a valiant attempt to talk about policy and ideas despite your constant leadership questioning. When he finally managed to get a few sentences out about carbon pricing being introduced in China you then advised that the time was up for the interview. I nearly cried. How often do the ALP get accused of not being able to get their message out, but here we have a Minister, not involved in any leadership mutterings, invited onto your program, and he is subjected to 95% leadership questioning. In fact all Minsters have expressed that they are steadfastly behind the Prime Minister and they would probably love the chance to appear on your show to discuss their portfolio, yet they are subjected to leadership questioning that they can add nothing to. I would almost argue that there is a deliberate attempt by the media to stymie the Government's message... 'Keep asking leadership questions, avoid the policy message at all costs...'
I have been reminded numerous times this week that we are in the last sitting fortnight of this parliament but we barely know what legislation is before the parliament. All mention seems to be in relation to whether Julia Gillard will see out the fortnight as leader. We do get snippets of rants from question time in the news, but barely enough to know what the topic of the question or answer is even about. Isn't your show, 7:30, meant to help us ordinaries learn about these things? I imagine a lot of legislation will go through parliament before it rises next week. Help us to know what it is and what it means for us.
I understand that Julia Gillard has a planned meeting in Indonesia in a few weeks. The way it is reported is not advising us ordinaries about what the meeting is for, and what might be discussed, instead we hear speculation on whether it will be her or someone else actually attending. Really? Perhaps the reporter might also, in a sloganistic way, mention that she'll talk about stopping the boats! But is that the extent of Australia's relationship with Indonesia? Stopping boats?
It bothers me enormously that as we approach an election so little is known of the policy position of the Coalition. What is direct action? How will it work? Why do all IT experts seem to advise against the Coalition FTTN and prefer the FTTH NBN? Do they have a health policy? An education policy? I rely on journalists to ask questions and to help us ordinaries become enlightened. How do we make a wise voting choice in September? A choice that is based on informed understanding of policy and ideas?
I know you are trying to do your job Leigh, but really, please don't suggest to an interviewee that you are asking leadership questions because ordinary Australians want answers. I speak as an ordinary Australian when I say, one question is enough, then move on to other topics. I tweeted just that very thing tonight and had been retweets, and saw many expressing the same sentiment. We do not have a microphone to ask our politicians questions, we are counting on our journalists, especially those of the public broadcaster, to ask questions that help us to understand.