Rupert Murdoch to Kevin Rudd: buzz off!

"Our democracy could be hijacked by an octogenarian American intent on 'regime change'.  "
“Our democracy could be hijacked by an octogenarian American intent on ‘regime change’. “

 

16 August 2013

“It’s as though we don’t want to acknowledge the power of the most dominant newspaper group in the country, because to do so would be to confirm it, or it would be too uncomfortable to consider that our democracy could be hijacked by an octogenarian American intent on ‘regime change’.”

So writes Gay Alcorn in The Age today in her column Murdoch’s voice still reaches voters where she laments “the decision by the Murdoch press to replace news with propaganda during this election campaign”.

Murdoch’s News Corp Australia controls 65 per cent of newspaper circulation in the metropolitan and national daily market. Rupert Murdoch declared on Twitter that the public have had enough of Labor. Such intuition! His key newspapers have obliged by campaigning against the government from day one. One can only speculate on the career prospects of editors who did not oblige.

Expert at gutter journalism, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph can make a King’s Cross gutter at 2 am look like a surgical ward by comparison. Right at the forefront of Murdoch-induced anti-Labor vitriol, this paper, this shining light if of journalistic integrity decided to shine some light on the Kevin Rudd with an in-depth psychological assessment, not for the benefit of our prime minister, but in order to enlighten the electorate. How considerate!

The piece on 10 August 2013, headed Kevin Rudd – hero or psychopath? didn’t bother to address the ‘hero’ aspect, thus making it a rhetorical question with the subtlety of a meat cleaver. However, it magnanimously conceded: “Whether unfairly or resoundingly just, Kevin Rudd’s name has oft been etched beside those traits, by members of his own camp or from across enemy lines.” – those traits being impulsiveness, superficial charm, grandiosity, callousness, manipulative, lack of remorse or guilt, propensity to blame others, poor behavioural control and egocentricity.

An ancient invention, still used to this very day, appears to have escaped the attention of the Murdoch empire – the mirror.

Kevin Rudd – hero or psychopath?

A giant ego. A narcissist. A micro-manager. An impulsive control freak. A haphazard and secretive decision maker.

This is not what Kevin Rudd’s political enemies think of him. It’s what many of his colleagues do.

Whether openly or whispered in hushed tones to journalists, this is the picture once painted by his fellow ministers, MPs, public servants and diplomatic associates.

It’s a decent rap sheet – one that easily tops the usual bile directed at colleagues or opponents in the den of iniquity that is politics. But nothing that borders outlandish.

Then, one day, the dam broke. The outspoken and literally outgoing member for Bendigo Steve Gibbons took to Twitter and publicly declared his former leader a “psychopath”. Among other less than genteel terms.

Gibbons is a man who is routinely and rightly pilloried for making crude, stupid and nasty remarks in the name of cheap publicity.

But this time the term took off, which perhaps says more about Rudd than it does about Gibbons.

So is it true? Is the man running this country really a psychopath, given the aforementioned ferocious descriptions appear to tick plenty of the boxes that define such a diagnosis?

Firstly, one has to demystify the term.

Such a designate is no longer deemed by experts to be the exclusive domain of murderers, serial killers and rapists.

No, you could indeed be sitting next to one. Your boss could be one, or, perhaps more likely, your high-flying CEO in his spacious corner office suite.

In fact prominent Australian psychotherapist John Clarke claims that between one and three per cent of the Australian population could be certifiably deemed psychopathic, and he warns not just police to keep a look out but companies and political powerbrokers.

Anthropologist Stephen Juan suggests that one in 10 companies are headed by a corporate psychopath.

It seems psychopaths are everywhere, and they are more likely to wear a suit and tie, than carry a bloodied weapon or be pointing a sawn-off shotgun.

“One of the misconceptions about psychopathy itself is that people think a psychopath goes out and kills people. By definition, they are somebody that is recklessly indifferent to any physical, emotional harm they may cause,” criminal mind expert Steve van Aperen said.

“There are certainly many undiagnosed psychopaths in business and politics.”

Juan says often people get confused between the terms psychopath and psychotic, which makes people less inclined to label someone as the former and thus grouping them with such fiends as Ivan Milat, Charles Manson or Martin Bryant. The distinction is reality, he says. Those suffering from psychosis have lost grip on reality. Those deemed psychopathic are very much aware of it, and are attempting to control it.

They are often easy to spot, Juan says, and follow a defined set of traits that set them apart from normality.

“The corporate psychopath is the type of psychopath that gets into politics because they are usually exceedingly ego-oriented – it is all about them. So even when they get criticism, it is still all about them,” he says.

“They love the centre of attention. Good or bad they see themselves being the centre of the universe.

“They are the great users, the great manipulators, they often have aides and underlings do work for them, and expect blind loyalty but they don’t give loyalty in return. They use everyone for gain.

“Everything is about them. If you talk to them in a conversation about your issues, they will immediately turn it around to their issues. It’s as if no one exists other than them.”

They are always exploiting issues for their own gain, says Dr Juan.

They climb the corporate ladder very effectively, they are often very charming and articulate, often very good looking which they use to their advantage.

It is the only thing they exist for. Themselves. They can’t be trusted, they will lie to your face and deny they have when they are caught. They never own up to their own actions, they are always blaming others. They are polar opposites in public and private, with the former a place for their charm offensive to be exercised, and the latter a dark place of indifference and loathing.

It’s the psychopath’s modus operandi; a persona that they can’t escape from, a disguise that soon becomes arduous to hide.

In a bid to unmask those with psychopathic tendencies and prevent crime, Canadian criminal psychologist and FBI adviser Robert D Hare created the Psychopathy Checklist in the early 1990s that remains the gold standed for reference.

Its defined set of traits include impulsiveness, superficial charm, grandiosity, callousness, manipulative, lack of remorse or guilt, propensity to blame others, poor behavioural control, egocentric.

Whether unfairly or resoundingly just, Kevin Rudd’s name has oft been etched beside those traits, by members of his own camp or from across enemy lines.

His impulsiveness is well documented, from rushed decision making done without proper consultation with colleagues or stakeholders, to his “policies on the run” such as the changes to the Fringe Benefit Tax system that

crack down on salary-sacrificed cars, to the detriment of the struggling car industry.

On these rash methods, he is internationally renowned.

 

Of hot air and Clive Palmer – the sounds of expiration – like a farting balloon

Clive Palmer for PM. Big on promises, small on delivery, and full of hyperbole. Perfect fit!
Clive Palmer for PM. Big on promises, small on delivery, and full of hyperbole. Perfect fit!

 

15 June 2013

As Clive Palmer mounts his air-charged bid for the prime ministership, and his Palmer United Party mounts its PUP election campaign, his detractors claim that he is all hot air – big on promises, small on delivery, and full of hyperbole.

Whilst Palmer, who is known for his inflated ego, might take umbrage at these assertions, the average cynical punter would declare, “Perfect fit for PM, I’ll vote for the PUP. What a wag he is.”

Sub-editor: The circus is coming to Canberra.

Editor: No, better make it ‘Should Clive Palmer run our nation?’

And running with that headline, The Australian’s Inquirer ran a piece on 15 June 2013. Here are some excerpts:

Clive Palmer is courting the media and the popular vote in an ambitious bid to become prime minister. As his political bandwagon crosses the country and former footballers join Palmer relatives, friends and senior employees signing up for a wild ride on this Queensland-inspired electoral juggernaut, the promises fly thick and fast.

Palmer and his barrackers pledge to grow the economy, cut red tape and create thousands of jobs. They promise much more in a titanic quest for power but Palmer is a veteran of attention-seeking: the former Gold Coast property developer cut his teeth in politics with another unlikely leader, Joh Bjelke-Petersen. And Palmer has also mastered the art of hyperbole.

As Palmer asks Australians to size him up, look in his eyes, be impressed by his commercial success and then vote for him, he revels in his parallel universe. It is a universe embellished in cheerful profiles with the appearance of wealth and opulence on a gargantuan scale.

In this universe, those who work for him are often seen as highly fortunate and content.

The operation of the assets he owns or controls – from a Townsville nickel refinery, Yabulu, to a Sunshine Coast resort, the former Hyatt Coolum, to a vast iron ore resource in the Pilbara – is portrayed as vibrant and successful.

The communities in which Palmer’s businesses operate and the stakeholders with whom he does business are invariably depicted as grateful beneficiaries of his generosity and business acumen. And in this universe, Palmer is usually described as a billionaire miner, one of Australia’s richest, a somewhat eccentric, publicity-loving, far-seeing visionary and “professor” of international renown with a penchant for private jets, vintage cars and grandstanding entrances.

Part of the public and media perception is true. But it has also been fuelled by exaggeration, fiction and the omission of facts that do not fit a popular narrative.

Inquirer can reveal a different portrait emerges from the claims of still-serving staff as well as insiders who worked for Clive Frederick Palmer.

……

This different portrait is of a belligerent, finger-wagging and sometimes verbally abusive employer, increasingly in the spotlight in his quest to be prime minister, who makes promises big and small but does not always deliver.

Now, as he talks of the Palmer United Party’s plans for improving the lives of Australians, people from his core businesses describe bizarre decisions and numerous broken pledges. There have been serious hardships and job losses for staff and community who believed they had security.

……

In beachside Coolum on the Sunshine Coast, a little more than an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, numerous people interviewed by Inquirer have little positive to say about Palmer because of the impact his arrival and management style has had on local families, businesses and the community.

Early in the piece in 2011 when Palmer, using funds from the then-profitable Queensland Nickel, bought the five-star Hyatt-badged resort and its adjoining golf course from Lend Lease, the community had high hopes.

Palmer promised a major refurbishment, redevelopment and better conditions and more opportunities for staff and Coolum. He was heralded as a lightning rod for positive change and a draw-card for visitors. The struggling local economy relied heavily on spending by international and Australian visitors to the Hyatt and some 150ha beneath Mount Coolum. Its annual showpiece, the signature Australian PGA Championship, was a lucrative earner that taxpayers had helped foster.

But the bubble has burst in the Coolum community, part of the federal seat of Fairfax in which Palmer is running as a 2013 election candidate.

The Hyatt brand and much of the goodwill is long gone – its ties with Palmer were severed in 2012 after he accused it of running something approaching a criminal racket (one of a number of serious claims that he backed away from when their dispute went to the Supreme Court).

Now, the resort is shunned by visitors and has become a focus of ridicule and regret. They cite the abysmal occupancy rates (sometimes in the low single-digits) of the re-named Palmer Coolum Resort, the sacking of hundreds of workers, the loss of the Australian PGA, the bizarre dinosaur replicas in the grounds, a wall of framed portraits of Palmer in the lobby, the screening in the rooms of a fawning profile by the ABC’s Australian Story, and curiously higher prices, all of which have deterred visitors. The resort’s more scathing reviews by guests on Trip Advisor are excruciating reading.

While many people fear being sued if they speak out, Gaye Williams, a respected longtime Coolum stalwart and business owner, tells Inquirer that Australians need to know this side of the Palmer story. Palmer is, after all, seeking to be the next prime minister. She says hard-working families in Coolum and its local economy bear scars from Palmer’s arrival and antics at the resort over the past two years.

“It has been a huge kick in the guts. This is a small town. It is affecting everyone the tradies, the restaurants, retail, lifeguards. We are very disappointed,” says Williams. “It’s his resort. He owns it. He is entitled to make these decisions. But he spruiks in the media, on TV shows and on 60 Minutes about how he’s doing wonders for the Australian economy and growing businesses. The reality here is different.

“He can sack who he likes but don’t tell them one day their jobs are safe, then get rid of them. Don’t say you’re doing the right thing. He has been such a successful businessman that I actually defended him at first. Now he is treated as a joke. The resort is a shrine to Clive. People here look and laugh about it. Everyone laughs at him.”

……

Sixteen months later, an estimated 400 staff and casuals are gone from a quality resort that is likened by locals to a Jurassic-style circus. Several of those who remain tell Inquirer of Palmer’s strong influence on key decisions in the running of the resort in spite of its continuing loss of market share.

“A lot of people are unsure about the future of the area because of him coming in here,” says a Coolum retailer, Howard Gelfand. “I’m not a great fan of Clive. I don’t see any good points from him coming here. If he did just 5 per cent of what he said he was going to do, Coolum might get a lift. What has he done for the area? He wants to be pandered to. He doesn’t want to be asked any tough questions.”

……

The Australian’s Inquirer article