The clever operator she is, it may very well be that Peta Credlin, the person (and not the political operative) is the biggest winner of the long 2016 election campaign when everything concludes on July 2, writes Nidhi Mehta
Peta Credlin is a political character that Tony Abbott cannot have enough of while Turnbull camp would like to see the end of.
But it seems, she is here to stay and stay on – perhaps to come back and haunt many of her detractors if not. Her stint in active politics, if I can predict now, is inevitable and unstoppable and Australia better get used to seeing her more and more often.
Why am I saying that?
Perhaps I can see which many others have seen but chosen not to decipher – the ‘go-getter’ aggression and resolution rolled into one, makes her one heck of a person – who – while studying at Melbourne University won many prizes and awards – and post her introduction to the Australian political scene – has exhibited more as an advisor and “inactive” political player than many female Australian politicians in their entire career. Glance over Julia Gillard before her entry into active politics and you know what I am looking at.
Forget for a moment the salacious rumors about her infidelity in marriages and affair with former prime minister Tony Abbott, she says as she sees it and thus, her considerable intellect added, along with her hands on experience in real Australian politics, she is a political character to take cognizance of.
Imagine if it was Peter and not Peta Credlin, people will see ‘him’ a towering personality in Australian polity.
Burry all the innuendoes and her former role as the chief of staff to Tony Abbott and take her on face value as a political commentator on 2016 elections and you will enjoy what she has to say.
Yes, at times, it will be invectives and venom spewed on the Turnbull camp as she has not only lost the job because of the coup and not election loss, the viewers should be able to filter that to get the real insights from someone who has done it from the inside.
When Turnbull team cancelled the street walk in Sydney’s West, Ms Credlin criticised Mr Turnbull’s campaign team for appearing elitist.
“If it’s known that you were going to do a street walk in Penrith, the last thing you want to do, ‘Mr Harbourside Mansion’, is look like you don’t know and you’re not welcome in Western Sydney,” she told Sky News.
Her comments, particularly her description of Mr Turnbull as ‘Mr Harbourside Mansion’ infuriated Liberal MPs.
Warren Entsch was quoted in the media as speaking for many when he expressed his frustration with the comments, which were, he said, “disappointing but not unexpected”.
“It just confirms her nasty streak. The party has been good to her for a long time, but under the circumstances, her judgement doesn’t hold that much water. She has a credibility issue, whether it’s sour grapes or an honest assessment – and most people would say former,” he said.
“She never, ever understood [that as chief of staff] she wasn’t an elected member of Parliament. If she wants to run that sort of commentary, she can stand for pre-selection.”
But Peta stood her ground and said,
“When I joined Sky News as a political commentator, I said I would call it as I see it. I’ve said from the outset that Labor will target the Prime Minister’s background and he’s got to tackle it head on because he’s got a great story to tell as a successful self-made man.
“But he’s got to start telling it or they will try and frame him as out of touch.”
Peta also took a dig at Fiona Scott, the local Member of Parliament, who is reportedly suffering a backlash for switching her support from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull last year.
On Sky News where she is commenting on the 2016 elections, in her first television interview since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, she has described the 2016 election as “the government’s to lose”.
Talking about Malcolm Turnbull, she said, “… he had a likeability, an earthiness and a genuineness that if he was able to work that into his public presentations he’d be formidable”.
“We saw what happened in 2010 when everyone underestimated Tony Abbott and a really disciplined campaign can win government”, she reminded Australians who had not expected the discipline Tony Abbott delivered in that campaign.
Peta has declined to work for another Liberal who she revealed had approached her before Christmas.
“I want to stand on my own merit” she said on Sky News.
She also admitted she may have “banged a few heads a bit hard”.
“I have a reputation of straight-talking and candour. I’m sure that there are things I wish I had handled better but the results speak for themselves and the lack of office turnover speaks for itself.”
However she is not made of steel and admitted heavy criticism did get to her.
“I have no trouble being measured on competency and on record, but when it got really personally and pointed, yeah it got tough.”
This stint on television, although on a station which is not free to air, can help Peta build her profile for any future career she has in mind. Bringing her humanness out, (as she did in her first ever interview on TV) can be as powerful as she wants it to be.
The clever operator she is, it may very well be that Peta Credlin, the person (and not the political operative) is the biggest winner of the long 2016 election campaign when everything concludes on July 2.
If Peta ever contemplates a career in politics, she will have to face the Chinese wall of resistance for having “banged a few heads a bit hard” but the unyielding loyalty between her and her former boss Tony Abbott – despite all political expediency supplicating it to die – can be a cue to what may unfold on this side of Australian Conservative politics and things to come.
Stay tuned Australia!