Fairfax editorial bod Michael Short has a plea for the left today:
please, everyone: you might not like the PM's budget, policies, behavior. fair enough. but keep his children out of it. #auspol #abbottThis is in reference to the stories about the scholarship awarded to Frances Abbott as broken by The Guardian, followed up with style by a leak from an insider to New Matilda, and now percolating as far as the Murdoch press. Fairfax's newsroom has reported the story normally, but its op-ed section ran a defence of young Abbott today
— Michael Short (@shortmsgs) May 23, 2014
It is easy to chip Fairfax for not acknowledging the breakers of the story in its pieces (even News.com.au namechecked its competitors), and it is also easy (and lazy) to conclude that Short's view has an element of sour grapes to it. Had their journos been tipped off but refused to print it as such was beneath them to score scoops on such tawdry material, as they did with the AWU stuff?
Nevertheless, there is a valid line of propriety that Short identifies, but I would argue that the difference between what the Prime Minister says and what he does is very much in the national interest at the moment. If Abbott is slashing university funding and asking students (and their parents) to fork out much higher fees on one hand, and accepting a meritless secret kickback from a rich donor for the higher education of his own child on the other hand... that is completely within the bounds of political conversation.
John Quiggin, Ross Gittins and Alan Kohler do fine work, but dry economic screeds don't cut through like vision of two ministers enjoying cigars at Parliament House after a long day of raising taxes, or a Prime Minister winking merrily as one of Howard's battlers pours out a sob story, or the PM's photogenic daughter being revealed as a member of a gilded aristocracy. In a country where it is now possible to become a knight once again, after more than 20 years since the move away from such trappings of imperial rule, the optics of the progeny of the leader being coddled like a princess by his political cronies are too powerful to ignore.