In October 2021, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her resignation after the state’s corruption watchdog revealed that she was under investigation. The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is probing whether Berejiklian breached public trust when she awarded grants to several community organisations between 2012 and 2018.
Don’t for a minute think the timing of this was coincidental. The Friday of a long weekend is the perfect time to announce big news that you want to be given mileage. Lots of it.
The timing of this investigation is exactly the timing that I would want to pick if I were ICAC and wanted to cause some damage to make a point, to pull someone down to make myself bigger – while not looking too destructive. The start of lockdown – too much. Just before big milestones that would have given a boost in popularity, and right when the Premier is needed most ahead of reopening – perfect for ICAC.
And then the Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement of a cabinet reshuffle that sees him bringing two of his critical factional allies to key ministry positions while having the dirty reason for the change kept as quiet as possible (Porter – shhh, his name is now radioactive) – definitely one to announce at the exact moment of the NSW Premier announcing her resignation. A brilliant way to bury the news. Speaking of which, keep an eye out for other buried news this afternoon.
Watch as ICAC seeks to bolster its reputation and tries to convince us that it has teeth with each day of media coverage that will inevitably follow today’s announcement. There are days worth of stories in this. ‘Who will her successor be?’, ‘Do we want Dominic Perrottet to replace her, and what will Stokes do?’, ‘What does ICAC know that we don’t?’, ‘What will happen to all the re-opening plans?’, ‘Look at what that horrid ex-boyfriend made her do!’, ‘Was resigning necessary?’, ‘I told you she was corrupt!’, ‘She did nothing wrong and shouldn’t have resigned’, ‘Compare her selfless resignation speech to that of rolled prime ministers after a spill’, ‘Of course it’s the female leader that can’t escape fatal scrutiny’.
I could go on, but I don’t need to – media reports will do it for me.
And there’s a lesson in here for all PRs and communications strategists – timing is key. Pick the right timing, and half the work is done for you.