I was prepared to come away from watching tonight’s 4Corners program “The Deal” with an extreme emotion. To be frank, I thought that emotion would be exasperation, based on the knowledge that a similar process would be followed for each and every important policy decision brought before these men during this parliamentary term in order to secure passage through the House of Representatives.

I was correct, to a point, but my exasperation emerged from another source altogether. It struck me while watching the program that it was well cast and had a killer plot, but was hollow and jangly in its execution. It occurred to me that the program had the distinct feel of those semi-reality shows, such as The Hills or Jersey Shore, where you can’t distinguish the fact from fabrication.

This suspicion rang true for me most when Windsor beseeched Katter to let the cameras stay to record the momentous decision. It was as if capturing the moment (and its participants) for posterity was more important than having a private, no holds barred, discussion to ensure that the right decision was being made. Indeed, after Katter’s departure, Windsor and Oakeshott obliged the cameras with useful columns drawn on paper and “discussion” of the pros and cons.

My feeling of semi-reality was exacerbated by the absence of Tony Windsor’s cousin, the Labor Party’s spin-meister Bruce Hawker, from any of the footage. Being a former spin doctor myself, I know that the golden rule of PR is to never leave your fingerprints on your work. I read many times during the hiatus that Bruce Hawker was advising Windsor, so why was he not on our screens tonight? Was he stage managing the three media-tarts? Did Katter spit the dummy as a result? I guess we will never know, because the 4 Corners program wasn’t a documentary after all.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Great piece.

    In addition to the absence of Hawker, scenes showing any of the discussions between Oakeshott and Gillard on his demand for a Ministership were also conveniently omitted. And, predictably, Abbott came across as an ass.

    There is no doubt that Hawker Inc. played a role. But what role did taxpayer-funded ABC play? Was the ABC the victim of media manipulation and spin in an effort by the Independents and the ALP to make voters think that the process Oakeshott and Windor went through to make the decision to back Labor was legitimate, thoughtful and well-considered (right down to the phone call from Julia to Windsor)? Or, was the ABC complicit in trying to achieve this objective. The absence of several players and key scenes from the “doco” would suggest the latter.

    As a final point, given the big deal Oakeshott and Windsor made about the NBN being the key policy dealbreaker that swayed their final vote, there was nary a mention of the NBN nor were any briefings with NBN experts mentioned or shown.

    The only award this episode of Four Corners should qualify for is Short-Film: Fiction.

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  2. Err, why not question the absence on screen of Arthur Sinodinas and Graeme Morris to be fair ?

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About Drag0nista

Political blogger and columnist on the interwebs. Former Liberal staffer and industry lobbyist. Studying the entrails of federal politics since 1989. Otherwise known as Paula Matthewson.

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