From the archives- 2016
About 180 academics, business and corporate guests, listened to Four Corners journalist Sarah Ferguson, speak about the Rudd-Gillard Era, and the insights to her interviews with both leaders and the politicians around them. Ferguson spoke of the famed ‘factional men’, who played a pivotal role in getting Gillard to push Rudd out, and become Australia’s first female Prime Minister.
“With such a divided narrative the challenge of political reporting is hard enough at the best of times, but in this case the narrative behind those two camps was so intense, so split, so divided that the chance of finding the truth was always going to be a challenge, and I knew that the one thing we had to do was to insist on no ‘off the record’ sources of any kind”, Ferguson said.
ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson, spoke about the series ‘The Killing Season’, which is also the title of her new book, at a ‘women in business’ special event hosted by Coleman Greig Lawyers, at the Novotel Parramatta, on Thursday, May 12, 2016.
For there even to be a series, both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard both had to be on board, but how do we find the truth behind what really happened?
With over 18 hours of interview time with Rudd and 14 hours with Gillard, the truth about what happened behind closed doors in the leadership challenge in June, 2010 within the Labor Party had Ferguson determined to seek it out.
Rudd’s interview style was to “draw you in, to be a supporter”, Ferguson said. Gillard had a reserve about her and the series, she didn’t like being interviewed. “You cannot make this series, unless you examine the role of the media”, Gillard told Ferguson.
“Two people, highly ambitious stars of their generation on the Labor side, who were cut off in their prime…their careers in politics destroyed, they destroyed each other, they snuffed each other out”. Ferguson told the audience.
“The media turned its back on the Australian public and became too closely involved with the events that were taking place in Canberra”, Ferguson said. Of particular interest to the media was the group of factional men, wielding the power and influence. “She, (Gillard), was manoeuvred and flung into that position effectively by the party”, Ferguson said.
“She was Rudd’s natural successor, she would have been the Prime Minister when they won the election…but she was put into the position by a group of factional men”, Ferguson said. These men who effectively put Gillard into that position, were relatively newcomers with very little political experience, all first termers.
The audience was very receptive to Ferguson’s insights of power, intrigue and the machinations within the Labor party.
Audience member Cynthia Payne asked Ferguson “How much post the series, did you then get insight from people?”. Ferguson replied, that the big events of that time, “the challenge in 2010, then the return to Rudd in 2013, were moves that were done by a such a tiny number of people…most people didn’t know…none of the cabinet knew, most of caucus didn’t know”, she said.
Ferguson’s last statement to the audience, was that people should start a conversation regarding media stories. Readers should ask themselves “where did it come from? and distrust people who use background sources”, she said. Those who leak stories and won’t put a name on the record, should make us all question the information, and place accountability of media on the agenda
Article: Helen Megalokonomos