Monday, April 14, 2008

The Iemma Dilemma

The Premier of New South Wales, Maurice Iemma, has never been the most erudite or articulate speaker. He is most comfortable being blunt and to the point. And that is the only way to describe his extraordinary attack on journalists. Obviously frustrated by what he feels is unfair treatment of the government by the media, he has declared war by saying “If a journo shits on us we’ll shit on them.” Blunt and to the point. In his defence, it was in the privacy of a Cabinet meeting.

Unfortunately for the Premier, it’s not the media which is the problem, or at least not the whole problem. Certainly, there are sections of the media which thrive on the juicy headline, but surely the problem for the Premier is that his government consistently leaves itself open to such attacks.

The public really doesn’t care about the leadership tensions or the slanging matches between politicians anywhere near as much as it cares about the buses, trains and ferries that are not up to standard; hospitals that can’t cope with the workload in their Emergency Departments; and schools which have maintenance and repair backlogs stretching back for ten years.

But because of those things which affect peoples’ everyday lives, the juicy headlines strike a chord and people respond accordingly. It can get to the point where even if the government gets something right, nobody notices.

At the same meeting, held on a weekend, the Premier also warned his Ministers to lift their games, and not to be arrogant. Some of them clearly are arrogant, but at this point it seems that the Premier is blaming first the media and then his Ministers for the poor public perception of the government. What’s next? Is he going to start blaming the people? Apparently the only person not to blame is Maurice Iemma.

If the government was actually delivering the goods for the people of New South Wales, there wouldn’t be any problem.

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