Lunch with Laurie Oakes


Veteran political journalist Laurie Oakes says Australian politics is floundering because contemporary politicians lack the wit and bravery of great former leaders such as Paul Keating.

In a speech to the Melbourne Press Club on 15 September, Oakes said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his colleagues lacked the skills of earlier leaders to connect with the electorate and win support for their policies.

“The necessities of politics have prevented Malcolm from being the man we thought he was, and the man he thought he was,” said Oakes, who has retired as National Nine News political editor after almost half a century in the Canberra press gallery.

“But the current PM’s main problem, in my view, is that he just isn’t very good at politics. He lacks the skills. And he’s not Robinson Crusoe.  Political skills, I think, have been in short supply in the post-Howard era. The recent generation of pollies could do with a how-to lecture from Paul Keating.”

Oakes said Turnbull and his colleagues needed schooling in the basics of the political craft.

“I have this fantasy. An educational facility to teach young politicians the skills of the trade. With Professor Keating in charge. And the front row desks reserved for Malcolm Turnbull and his Cabinet.”

Oakes also said journalists should stop turning to social media reaction for news stories.

He said recent media coverage of a photo of Turnbull holding his grandchild and a beer at the football was giving oxygen to social media "trolls".

“The kind of dopey or offensive comments that you used to hear in the pub, maybe, now get on Facebook or Twitter, which is bad enough, but then too often mainstream media organisations jump in and amplify them.”

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