That speech!

Perhaps we’re giving it too much attention (given that it was a pile of negative dross and dire warnings that if Labor does anything about global warming YOUR JOB WILL DISAPPEAR and anyway, union bosses will soon drag us back to TEH BAD OLD DAYS… when incidentally productivity was higher and we weren’t just reliant on being a quarry, but anyhoo…, oh and all that being sacked and hired back on a lower wage stuff, nothing to do with WorkChoices, trust us). But we’re not alone.

Paul Kelly thinks that climate change isn’t remotely a moral issue, and that Howard is a political genius, while Dennis Shanahan can hardly contain his glee at the fact that now the government are supposedly back on the front foot (his evidence being that he thinks so, and perhaps he gives the game away when he refers to Rudd’s “media honeymoon” – us humble voters apparently have no role to play whatsoever in an election year.)

I’m not buying it for an instant.

In truth, probably no one outside the political class, the punditariat and us politics junkies took any notice whatsoever. All that “cut through” from Howard’s speech was a couple of soundbites where he bags Labor and makes his infamous “moral challenge” claim which is just going to reinforce the head in the sand on global warming theme.

But, anyway, since a Rudd government looks more likely than not, I thought this snippet from Martin Kettle’s Guardian column on the death of New Labour in the UK was interesting. I’d be interested in people’s thoughts on how valid his criteria for a centre-left government are, and also how Labor under Rudd measures up (either in prospect or so far).

For a party of the centre-left to sustain itself in power, three big things are necessary. The first is to have honest answers to the problems that voters ask about the world they inhabit. The second is to have a constantly renewed national vision that remains rooted in the progressive tradition. And the third is to remain hungry for power, never forgetting that election victories require very broad coalitions of support that must be respected not taken for granted.

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Posted in Federal Elections, Howardia, politics
60 comments on “That speech!
  1. Mick Strummer says:

    All those political pundits and commentators seem to have forgotten why and how Howard won in 1996. And that is because he wasn’t Paul Keating and he was leading the party that had been out of power for the previous 13 years. Now, in 2007, Kevin Rudd stands to win for two reasons – he is not John Howard, with an 11 year record of lying to the country and being too clever by half, and he (Rudd) is leading the party that has been out of office for an extended period. What is it about conservatives that makes them think that factors only ever operate in one direction. Anyway. 11 years of Howard weasal words and outright lies, zilch ministerial accountability, and so on, and so on. May all Howard’s chickens come hoem to roost at the election later this year, and may reasonable Australians be granted the sight of John Winston Howard being forced to ackowledge defeat and have to admit – implicitly, perhaps – that he has become a electoral liability….
    Cheers…

  2. Mick Strummer says:

    Whoo Hoo – 1st comment….
    Cheers…

  3. mick says:

    I think Rudd is trying very hard to fulfill exactly this criteria. It seems like a reasonable enough set of standards however I think Rudd could still be killed off by that slippery bar of soap that is coalition building…

  4. Geoff Honnor says:

    “The second is to have a constantly renewed national vision that remains rooted in the progressive tradition. And the third is to remain hungry for power, never forgetting that election victories require very broad coalitions of support that must be respected not taken for granted”

    I’m sure that Martin Kettle is an insightful political genius of the first water, but someone should maybe point out to him that it’s the dichotomous tension between his second and third points that is, sort of, the problem…………………

    As for, “the first is to have honest answers to the problems that voters ask about the world they inhabit.”

    Let’s test it: Why isn’t the ALP going in to the election on a gay marriage platform?
    Honest answer: because it’s a vote loser, not a winner – particularly in the marginals. Most GLBT voters (2-3% max in a few electorates) aren’t all that single issue/die in a ditch about it anyway and any significant vote leakage on the issue will be to the Greens, in a handful of inner urban electorates and come back on preferences.

  5. philip travers says:

    A journalist or commentary maker can summarise the past and the future of elected Parliamentarians and the decisions they made and the effects of those decisions in how many words!?And the election hasnt even begun!?Milliband only has one life,in this life he lives now.I would hazard a guess that his portfolio now will keep him busy and could be the continuation of Labor if right decisions are made.The electrical grid and how to evolve it or junk it is a big question for Great Britain!?

  6. Nabakov says:

    You do hafta remember that just about every federal election in Australia over the past two decades was basically decided by a group of swinging voters about the size of Newcastle but distributed amongst a couple of dozen marginal electorates.

    There’s still what seems to me a basic dynamic that the Australian voting public has settled for over the past generation. At the State level, at least Labor claims to deliver some services to our neighbourhood while at the Federal level, they’ll promise to patrol the place while we’re on holiday.

    Basically in most mature economies now, you get to choose between the most apparently compentent centrist bunch of technocrats who can best play well with a globalised economey. The only real point of difference now is the quality and quantity of the moral panics they can whip up and then offer solutions for. Gleefully aided and abetted by the MSM so they can sell more eyeballs to advertisers.

    Meanwhile the general populace is off and away posting weird stuff on You Tube, downloading porn, juggling credit cards and mortages, wrangling a ginornous and utterly unquantifiable black economy, venting spleen on blogs, taunting or falling for Nigerian scammers or Amway evangalism, modifying their bodies, searching for relationships, falling into big sophilistic sulks in front of plasma, LCD and cathode ray screens and trying to understand why their kids don’t understand what they now understand.

    What happens at elections now has more in common with BB, Survivior and Australian Idle than it does with Tom Paine and those bloody electors of Bristol.

    Anyone for tennis?

  7. Spot on, Nabs. Politics is a distinctly minority hobby, like trainspotting and painting lead soldiers.

  8. mick says:

    Doesn’t everybody paint lead soldiers? Oh. Crap.

  9. Nabakov says:

    “the first is to have honest answers to the problems that voters ask about the world they inhabit.â€?

    He’s in the wrong business. I’d suggest he switch to being a cult leader or guerilla marketeer. The last thing voters want to hear is pollies being really honest about the problems their electorates constantly throw at them?

    The moment pollies start really telling the truth is the moment their constituents realise they themselves would cock up just as badly if not worse when confronted by the reality of politics. And the first and only law of politics is that you should never ever point out that collective wisdom that put you where you are so often rests on individual ingnorance.

    Stll though, it’s the least worst form of government.

  10. Collecting numbered, limited edition prints has always been much more mainstream, mick.

  11. mick says:

    Is birdwatching still cool?

  12. David Rubie says:

    Nabakov wrote:

    falling into big sophilistic sulks in front of plasma, LCD and cathode ray screens and trying to understand why their kids don’t understand what they now understand.

    It’s more like stultifying and self medicating in front of huge rear-projection DLP setups Mr Nabakov. Sure it’s no substitute for reality, but bigger (and drunker) beats dealing with, kay?

  13. Nabakov says:

    Doesn’t everybody paint lead soldiers?

    Wot a nerd. Get a real hobby…like say Lord Byron collecting locks of pubic hair.
    I’ve got one in my collection so far. I hope to add other people’s contributions soon.

    I can see this thread is gonna sink into the depths very soon and I refuse to aid and abet its descent.. beyond asking the eternal question: Airfix vs Revell vs Frog?

  14. David Rubie says:

    rear-projection DLP setups

    I meant front projection. Whoops.

  15. I can see this thread is gonna sink into the depths very soon and I refuse to aid and abet its descent.. beyond asking the eternal question: Airfix vs Revell vs Frog?

    Jumping in at the deep-end there Nabs – surely the Matchbox vs Dinky Toys and Meccano vs Lego questions take precedence?

  16. mick says:

    Lego any day of the week. Transformers vs Machine Men?

  17. Kim says:

    Wot a nerd. Get a real hobby…like say Lord Byron collecting locks of pubic hair.
    I’ve got one in my collection so far. I hope to add other people’s contributions soon.

    Your mission will be a difficult one in the age of the Brazilian, Nabs.

    To reorient the thread somewhat, if you follow the link, this is what Kettle is getting at when he writes about problems voters actually are concerned with:

    There is an emerging centre of gravity in the party that prefers to answer easy questions that the public is not posing and to ignore hard questions that are constantly being asked. You can hear its voice from the Labour backbenches at every parliamentary question time. Brown himself is very susceptible to it. Caring about African children and admiring Aung San Suu Kyi are very admirable traits, but they do not address the fact that young people cannot afford houses, that old people cannot afford to retire and that there is not enough to show for the billions spent on the health service

  18. arleeshar says:

    never forgetting that election victories require very broad coalitions of support that must be respected not taken for granted.

    not necessarily so applicable in a compulsory voting democracy with no option to tell them all to stuff it. I can’t see the left broadly shfting their support to the Liberals, for instance, although in NSW they may choose to exhaust their preference under the optional preferential voting system.

  19. Kim says:

    I see the thread derailment creep is your fault mick!

  20. Kim says:

    Thanks, arleeshar, without wishing to be too much of a blogatrix/door bitch, I’d prefer if this thread concentrated on the issues I was raising. I take Geoff’s point on board, but I think Kettle’s criteria provide at least a reasonable starting point for thinking what a Labor government might be like – and indeed what happened to the last one.

  21. Brian says:

    young people cannot afford houses, that old people cannot afford to retire and that there is not enough to show for the billions spent on the health service

    Kim, I think people think Howard has had long enough to make them relaxed and comfortable, plus provide minimum services in terms of health, education etc. There’s a growing unease that we are just not cutting it in the globalised world. I think they are ready to see what the clever guy can do.

  22. Kim says:

    Yes, I think he’s run his dash, Brian.

    I guess what I’m interested in teasing out is the degree to which Rudd is presenting an agenda that actually responds to real needs, how Labor policy is connected to a progressive vision of Australia (and back to Labor history/tradition) and whether or not there’s much there to tell us what a Ruddian Australia would really be like (beyond winning the election) and whether or not, aside from Howard being booted out, it’d be a good thing.

  23. Kim says:

    not necessarily so applicable in a compulsory voting democracy with no option to tell them all to stuff it. I can’t see the left broadly shfting their support to the Liberals, for instance, although in NSW they may choose to exhaust their preference under the optional preferential voting system.

    arleeshar, I think the way I’d tweak this for Australia is to suggest that the “safe” vote in Australian elections is for the Libs – natural party of government, above sectional interests, economically responsible etc. That’s very far from the reality, but if you read people like Judith Brett, that’s the political space they occupy in the imagination of most voters. I doubt Labor has much to worry about in regard to bleeding support to the left. But how can Rudd get back the “Howard battlers” and the suburban swinging voters, and then govern in such a way so as to satisfy their needs, and also keep faith with those who expect progressive things from Labor? That’s the crucial question, I think.

  24. mick says:

    Probably Kim. Sorry to be a pain.

    Quite seriously though, I think that Kettle’s criteria is provide a reasonable starting point for both sides of politics to get elected (which I think may have been Nabs’ point but it’s hard to tell).

    Howard’s government tends to avoid answers to questions that are in the “too hard” basket and regularly throws down with the dog whistling to distract from it, not dissimilar from the Blair government’s tendancy to create issues (which is very similar to Keating’s habit as you point out).

  25. Kim says:

    Yes, I think there are some interesting parallels, mick.

    But what confidence do we, or should we have, that Rudd will be different?

    I want us to start thinking about what happens after the election if Labor wins. Beyond all the promises to date – how will they govern? How will they hold support together? Will they be a good thing in their own right aside from just being not-Howard?

  26. Nabakov says:

    There’s a growing unease that we are just not cutting it in the globalised world. I think they are ready to see what the clever guy can do.

    Yes, that would have some resonance among the electorate. You ring your bank to discuss urgently refinancing your home loan ‘cos your partner’s finance sector IT contract got offshored, you miscalculated the payments on the Pajero and your 16 year old daughter’s got a major and costly staph infection from a mispunctured piercing and you find yourself talking to a nice young lady in Bangalore. Hanging up, you could well wonder what the hell is going on now. Weren’t we supposed to be the comfortable and relaxed ones in a clever country?

  27. mick says:

    Well, for one thing I think that Rudd has made it pretty clear that Labor will introduce much more balanced workplace relations laws.

    The other big issue at this election is obviously the environment. Hear I think Labor will govern in a significantly different manner to Howard. The UK Labour party has been a world leader in trying to find solutions to the big environmental problems, I think the ALP will follow them down this path.

    In terms of national security I don’t think that there will be any difference at all. Especially with regard to the big issues like the US alliance. It is possible that Labor will be a bit more cautious about doing away with individual freedoms in the name of national security than Howard but I’m not convinced of this.

    Higher education policy won’t change all that much. We might see an end to the sporadic increases to HECS that we have seen in the Howard era but I think that the philosophy will be much the same.

    Generally, I don’t think that “progressive” will necessarily be a great descriptor for a Rudd government. I think that Rudd will let “progressives” will get a better hearing in his government than in Howard’s but they won’t be running the show. In the end I think that most voters will be more than satisfied with a government that has a “relable vision” for Australia that guarantees a progression of our society, just so long as it doesn’t happen too quickly.

  28. Megan says:

    Kim – ‘…a Rudd government looks more likely than not…’

    I don’t know where on earth you get the idea that Kevin Rudd is a shoe-in for the next election. For a start check out the polls: the Galaxy poll has got a majority of people saying Howard would be better at managing the Economy than Rudd and that is the only poll that really matters because – it’s the Economy stupid, right? Whoever people think can best manage the Economy they will vote for and although they are all out there making wild passionate love to Rudd at the moment, they will eventually go home with Howard because they keep thinking that he’s the one who can pay all the bills.

    Also it has started to rain, bang on top of Howards urge for all Australians to pray for rain. If you don’t believe me, the long range weather forecast has got the La Nina effect on the horizon probably arriving before the election. That will put paid to a lot of the fears about global warming.

    And – the inflation rate has dropped and is tipped to remain stable with interest rates staying where they are right to the next election. That means that Costello and Howard can roll out the pork barrell and that will be it. The last of the waverers will vote for Howard.

    I’m sorry but Rudd is a mere amateur compared to Howard and he has the devil’s own job of keeping Labor’s message looking honest under the unrelenting barrage of freshly discharged sewage the Coalition and most of the media are subjecting it to. Besides that it’s all being done at the last minute, again. No I’m utterly convinced that all the signs point to a John Howard victory. Nothing surer. I bet he’s sleeping like a baby.

  29. Kim says:

    Let’s see, Megan. 5 months of polls consistently showing a Labor victory in the mid to high 50s 2PP has to mean something. And Labor in fact has been consistently ahead since WorkChoices came in *funny that* though not with the same margins as when the Beazer was in the leadership.

    I’m pretty convinced that people have had it with Howard and have stopped listening to him – he’s the new Beazley in that respect.

    The negative stuff I think hits Howard straight back in the face.

    And I’m not sure where you are, but we had about three drops of rain in Brisbane tonight. I can’t even remember the last time it rained all day!

  30. Kim says:

    Anyway, treat it as a thought experiment if you like.

    And don’t forget Labor was within a razor’s edge of victory in 98 which would have left Howard’s place in history looking like a shambolic interlude, and Beazer almost got over the line in 01, Tampa notwithstanding. Since 98, there’s only been one election where the Coalition had a reasonable majority in the 2PP, and Howard was panicked in the 04 campaign.

  31. Lefty E says:

    Dare I say, Megan, that wages and conditions are also an economic issue.

    As for management – the wage constraint via dereg strategy is pretty unimpressive and rather old school. Higher wages mean industry actually has to innovate to remain competitive with other economies. Its a big driver. All we’ll get out if this in the long run is a shabby neoliberal form of protectionism – with Oz industry effectively sheltered from innovation, with poor productivity over the long haul.

  32. Kim says:

    In short, I think what Mark wrote in this OLO article early this month was right:

    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5684

    People wanted to vote Howard out last time. All that stopped them was Latham looking like a potentially dangerous freak. Rudd, unless there’s some unforseen explosion between now and the election, and I doubt that because he’s a discipline obsessive, is going to look like a safe set of hands. If the hypothesis is right that Howard’s already past his use by date, then that’s enough.

    Labor’s sensibly holding off on the economic policy detail til the campaign proper. Look at the numbers on “managing the economy” then.

    It’s not a cert, but I think it is more likely than not.

    All the hysterical ranting that the government is indulging in just makes them look like loons who aren’t focussed on governing, but think they are born to rule. Which is right.

  33. mick says:

    Oh, and my “relable vision” I meant “reliable vision”. As in, “gee, my typing isn’t exaclty reliable”.

    Oh, crap. Upon re-reading my whole comment is full of typos. That’s it, I’m outta here today, I’ve obviously typed way too much.

    Essentially to summarize my above, horrendous, comment I think that the only areas where we will see a significant shift in government policy will be in industrial relations and the environment. We will see progressive shifts in other areas after the election but you can be that Rudd’s team won’t be making hugely progressive policy announcements any time before they are well and truly in office.

    I quite seriously believe that they are trying hard to demonstrate to the electorate that they have a vision for Australia that matches theirs and that this means that they will jump through flaming hoops to demonstrate that they won’t be driven by anything that might be perceived to be a fringe agenda. Rudd is walking a tightrope trying to provide a vision that allows the room for progressive policy without alienating those people that have been voting for Howard, and his significantly conservative agenda, for the last 11 years. If the left tries to force him on an issue he cannot do anything but play to the right.

  34. Lefty E says:

    Also – that Galaxy poll had Howard on 49% as better economic manager. Thats a big drop. And I reckon there’s a good chance Rudd will shortly announce a bold policy for tertiary industry policy, leading edge hi-tech, advanced manufactures etc. In which case, Howard’s number will drop again – how many punters really think mining, hospitality and tourism are going to keep their kids securely employed in 20 years time?

    He’s on shakier ground than that Kelly and the other Government Gazette (aka the OZ) apologists imagine. Is the Ruddster up to it? Who knows – but he’s not afraid to release policy and start debates.

  35. Megan says:

    B-But legal experts are now screaming that Labor’s new one-stop Fair Work Australia institution would be unconstitutional.

    Professor McCallum, who is also Dean of Law at the University of Sydney, said: “I think the judicial arm looks like policy on the run because courts should be totally separate and constitutionally they have to be.” According to Brad Norington on The OZ . So how will Rudd get out of this? He just can’t afford to tie himself up in knots anywhere because he has loads to get through yet. We are on a knife edge here with Howard and Rudd wrestling on the edge of the cliff. Personally I can hardly bear to look.

  36. Paulus says:

    Let me make a response to this question as a representative of the bloc that will actually decide the next election: the so-called swinging voter.

    One of the things about blogs is the polarity they produce. Kim, like every poster and almost every commenter here at LP, is a rusted-on supporter of the left, whose only quandary at election time will be whether to allocate preferences 1 ALP 2 Green, or 1 Green 2 ALP.

    For that matter, go to any right-wing blog, and they’re all rusted-on righties whose only quandary will be between 1 Lib 2 Nats, or 1 Nats 2 Lib.

    As someone who likes aspects of both Libs and ALP, and may vote for either, I would say that the key for Rudd is to follow a broadly conservative path on social and economic issues, while pinpointing and attacking a few carefully chosen areas where there is clear market failure.

    An example of the latter is public dental care — which was one of the first policies Rudd announced when he took over the leadership. It was an excellent choice, in my opinion. The broadband plan may be a similar example (although I really don’t know enough about the technical issues).

    In short, follow the example of the State premiers, who can be very conservative on areas like law and order, and State budgets, but can also (like my premier Mike Rann) target homelessness and fund the arts.

  37. Paulus says:

    Is there some reason why every post I write ends up in moderation, even when I don’t use naughty words? 🙂

  38. Kim says:

    Not sure, Paulus!

    Megan:

    The counterargument is that it is okay as long as the judicial and non-judicial functions are kept separate: A spokeswoman for Labor’s shadow industrial relations minister Julia Gillard said the party had sought legal advice, which affirmed its new model would work. “The constitutionality of it, in terms of having it (the judicial and non-judicial functions of the body) separated, is fine,â€? she said. …Constitutional scholars yesterday said Labor’s plan could stack up, provided the legislation was carefully drafted. University of NSW constitutional law expert George Williams said as long as the judicial arm of the proposed new workplace umpire was kept independent from the rest of Fair Work Australia, it would be valid. Under the plan, non-judicial sections of the agency would set the minimum wage, adjust industry awards, and settle disputes. A judicial section would oversee the enforcement of the laws, including handing down criminal penalties. It sounds like it will end up in the courts, and if any constitutional lawyers or scholars out there in Blogocracy land want to chip in with an opinion, please feel free.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/news/blogocracy/index.php/news/comments/one_stop_constitution/

    As Trevor Cormack argues, the more important issue is the scope of its powers:

    http://solidarity.redrag.net/2007/04/27/fair-work-australia/

    Anyway, I might put up a different thread.

  39. Razor says:

    The Two Party Preferred doesn’t matter nearly as much as the swinging voters in the marginals.

    I think the anti-AWA stance combined with the failure of the WorkChoices end-of-the world scenarios pumped by the ACTU/ALP to appear will lose it for the ALP. With so many people now in small business as owners or employees and much of the mining industry on AWAs they are currently barking up the wrong tree. It is an unconscionable waste of advertising dollars being spent on the Anti-WorkChoices campaign, even more so if they lose – they should be specifically targetting the marginals with policy detail of ALP policy that will benefit the swinging voters. But don’t listen to me – I’m a RWDB!

    We also hava an election budget about to be released – watch this space for more tax cuts and middle class welfare which will be precision targetted for the swinging voters in the marginal electorates. And any tax cuts will be ending up in hip pockets and having a beneficial impact in September/October – perfect timing.

    I wouldn’t be suprised by an ALP victory, and I wouldn’t be suprised by a Coalition victory. I do have difficulty imagining what the depth of blood letting, wailing and gnashing of teeth will be like if Kruddy drops the ball and loses.

  40. Lefty E says:

    Cue Rudd on innovation & manufactures….

    “We can build productivity growth through an education revolution, the application of new technologies, by freeing up our businesses from unnecessary regulation and by encouraging a new age of innovation – including our critical manufacturing industries,” he told the Labor delegates.

    “I don’t want to be a prime minister of a country that doesn’t make things anymore … And we are capable of building this prosperity on the back of these reforms – without throwing the fair go out the back door.”

  41. steve says:

    We also hava an election budget about to be released – watch this space for more tax cuts and middle class welfare which will be precision targetted for the swinging voters in the marginal electorates. And any tax cuts will be ending up in hip pockets and having a beneficial impact in September/October – perfect timing.

    I thought tories were still wanting for the bounce in the polls from last year’s budget. Try getting someone other than Costello to deliver it and you might have some success. It’s a bit tiring to see the same rubbish year in year out.

  42. Christine Keeler says:

    Try getting someone other than Costello to deliver it and you might have some success.

    No way. I want my vote fully bought and paid for with $500 cash direct to my mailbox by July 30.l

  43. steve says:

    Don’t undersell your vote, Christine. With the polls the way they are I’m sure you can get a higher bid than that.

  44. Razor says:

    Steve – the really big ticket items of the budget last year are only just starting to have an impact or be implimented. Tax cuts at the lower end of the scale and targetted middle class welfare would have a more immediate impact.

    If you think the last eleven years of economic prosperity have nothing to do with the Federal Government then that is you delusion. Fortunately most voters disagree with you. See you after the election.

  45. Lefty E says:

    Razor’s right. Im just not sure it was this Federal Government.

    Time for a Keating Resurrection! The double-breasted architect of reform! Time for Rudd to throw a few more timely nods to the ALPs critical pre-96 work. And why not revisit the debt truck while we’re at it. This time its a freakin convoy.

  46. steve says:

    If you think the last eleven years of economic prosperity have nothing to do with the Federal Government then that is you delusion

    Razor is right, wages as a share of GDP at thirty odd year lows, Current Account Deficit growing monthly, balance of trade a basket case Research and Development at all time lows. Great work Indeed.

  47. Megan says:

    Kim, yes I heard Julia Gillard this morning over the radio. But this is the sort of thing the Coalition is really going to hammer Labor over and despite the polls, I’m not at all sure if the Howard battlers are really changing their attitudes towards him. My impression is that the Howard battlers have been doing really well under Howard – with their heavily mortgaged Mcmansions, 4WDs and have been quite happy with his consumerist, materialistic, economic bean counting, aspirational, send-the-children-to-private-schools, self-made individual, entrepreneurial crap.

    For instance – Lefty E – ‘As for management – the wage constraint via dereg strategy is pretty unimpressive and rather old school.’ I agree totally and I also like your argument that high wages encourage innovation and productivity as companies strive to remain competitive. However it is not logic that will win the day in politics, but people’s hip pockets. We know many AWAs are stripping away penalties, holiday pay and overtime – but in the end, will the battlers just be happy to take the bit of extra money and work the longer hours like they are in WA?

    How much popular disenchantment of Howard in the country is due to WorkChoices? We don’t know and all the pundits aren’t really sure either. We know that people aren’t into joining unions very much these days, but we don’t know if they are buying Howard’s argument that the modern workplace of today is full of benign, benevolent bosses and mature responsible employees having a great time working out win/win individual workplace agreements.

    And, are people going to buy last minute Labor policy like this whiz bang one stop shop despite all the howls of dismay from business and the coalition AND the newspapers? I mean when Mark Latham sprung up Medicare Gold practically the eve before the election my heart sank because it was all too big, shiny and too good to be true and nothing was really worked out beyond the surface. Senior citizens dumped on Labor in droves.

    Kevin Rudd may be highly intelligent and a much vaunted policy wonk sort of like Gough Whitlam was when he led Labor to victory, but Gough had spent 2 elections working like a maniac on policy before that happened. And you say Kevin Rudd is going to do it in a mere 12 months, with a benign looking economy and all? Well you might be right, but my sober guess is that he’ll most likely score a respectable loss in the next election and come up trumps in the one after when the economy turns sour and more AWAs start to bite. Polls notwithstanding. Howard is probably aiming to get just over the line – and basically that’s all he needs to do.

  48. Kim says:

    Megan, don’t forget three things.

    (1) Only three percent of people have to change their vote for Ratty to lose.

    (2) All the noise in the papers is just that.

    (3) The economy isn’t all that benign for a lot of folks with four interest rate rises since the last election, and that is also going to shape the response to WorkChoices. People are savvy enough to know that many employers are just holding off til after the election to take full advantage of it. And the message that it’s an economic reform because it will allow downward pressure on wages has been articulated by the government itself often enough.

  49. Kapunda says:

    I think the difference this time is the Coalition majority in the senate and the fact that Howard was willing to use it in bringing in “Workchoices”. I don’t think people will risk the coalition again when there is a very strong chance they will retain the balance in the senate.

    I agree with Kim on the economy it really depends on which side of the ledger you are on but I think the people struggling now out strip the ones who are comfortable.

    Just on the Galaxy polling that shows the Coalition ahead on running the economy, someone pointed out on another blog that the same group of people preferred Rudd as PM. He went on to suggest quite rightly in my opinion that these people would have factored in the “better to run the economy” angle into their final preference for PM. Gave the Tele at least one positive though to highlight for Howard.

    Latham was always a dudd candidate imo and Rudd certainly can’t be put in that class. The way I like to look at it is that if Hewson had of gone to the electorate in 1993 without “Fightback” he would have beaten Keating. What you have now is Howard after eleven years in office going to the election with his version of political dead weight (Workchoices) while Rudd is free of poltical impediments. Hard to see Howard winning from here but I guess he has one shot left in the locker in the budget.

  50. steve says:

    Well his last shot won’t be skiting about personal bankrupcy rates or bringing down credit card Debt. The last figures were atrocious.

  51. Razor says:

    Kim said about work choices – “People are savvy enough to know that many employers are just holding off til after the election to take full advantage of it.” Since when??? Where is your evidence??? Businesses don’t give a rat’s arse about the election and making employment decisions. That’s as much bull as the Board of the RBA taking into account election timing when making interest rate decisions. Complete tosh!

  52. Razor says:

    Oh, and Kim – it is a lot less than 3% of the voting population that need convincing – it is the marginal swinging voters in 18 marginal seats – bugger all really.

  53. Kim says:

    Razor – true. 2PP was something like 53-47 but it’s all down to the marginals. But I think 16 is the number.

  54. derrida derider says:

    People, I bow to no-one in my detestation of John Howard. But you’re never going to get rid of the bastard if you keep saying things that are not only untrue, but that jar with the personal experiences of voters. A far more politically viable line is that “things are great, but we can make them even greater”, rather than that “things are crook”.

    Because the hard (for any Opposition) truth is that the great bulk of Australians have simply never had it so good. It’s just a lie to say things like “TEH BAD OLD DAYS… when incidentally productivity was higher” – labour productivity is more than double what it was when the Whitlam government was elected (and, incidentally, in teh bad old days we weren’t a quarry but a gigantic sheep station – not much of an improvement ecologically and distinctly worse economically than being a quarry).

    Political and economc expediency aside, I cannot understood this nostalgia on the centre-left for the economic and social institutions of the 1950s. It’s the only thing they have in common with the Rodent.

  55. Kim says:

    Businesses don’t give a rat’s arse about the election and making employment decisions. That’s as much bull as the Board of the RBA taking into account election timing when making interest rate decisions. Complete tosh!

    I read the Fin Review, Razor!

    You don’t remember various BCA and ACCI types banging on about holding off on investment because of “uncertainty” about a Labor government’s intentions? Keating was convinced this had happened in the lead up to the 93 election, and he was probably right. I’d also point you towards a large number of CEOs who say things like “the legislation will take its time to work its way through the system” and “we have an EBA current but we’re examining future options” blah blah.

  56. professor rat says:

    Democratic socialism is doomed. It’s Howardian if you will.
    Libertarian socialism is the coming thing – it’s the Ruddian, Bennian thing.
    Democrats are Dodo’s – Thats all ye need to know.

  57. Megan says:

    Kim “People are savvy enough to know that many employers are just holding off til after the election to take full advantage of it.â€?

    Never underestimate the stupidity of the Australian public!

    Although when my employer faced us with a choice between a union-represented workplace agreement and a irrevocable move towards AWAs, there were people who had been dissing the union for years scrambling to vote for the collective agreement to the tune of a 66% majority. Not that they would ever join the union of course – they just like all the flow-on benefits. So you may have a point.

    All right! All right! I’ll shut up!

  58. rodL says:

    Seriously, Rudd is really green and just a baby. Whenever he’s put under a little pressure the ole’ glass jaw kicks in. Yep, that’s the guy I want representing us on a world stage in todays climate!

    Although, I will say he is the best candidate that labor has put forward in a long, long time. He’s just green.

    Apart from that he is just the scripted voice of a marketing team still driving a party that cant get a policy together and where’s their finance minister? Does anyone know who he is? One of the worlds highest rated economies and we hardly see the person they plan to have in charge of it???

    I cant vote labor, never will. Only people that were trying to raise a family, or part of a family, through the Keating era will truly appreciate the pain of interest rates and just how tough it was and I see so many not taking advantage or appreciating how much better it is now. You may retort with what about the amount of mortgagee repossessions, well you need to look at the lax lending that’s taking place by fairly unscrupulous lenders and factor in the new wave of ‘mortgage liars’.

    Love or hate Howard and Costello it doesn’t matter, the economic position of the country is in pretty good shape. These are tough words but if your not taking advantage of that that’s your choice because the opportunity is there.

    Axiss provide a great country comparision here: Axiss – International Data Comparisons

    If you want some controversy take a look here – Is Kevin Rudd the global warming swindler?

    If you want to recall the joy of the Hawke/Keating era take a look at – Keatings recession

    I’ll stop ranting now and go away!

  59. Katz says:

    Mr Howard must be growing very concerned about how little help he is getting from the heavy hitters in the Government in his challenging, last-ditch effort to preserve his legacy from the tag of “loser”.

    For example, Peter Costello has been strangely absent from performing the task of reminding the public about the economic credentials of the Howard government. This is notable, because Mr Costello has for a long time sacrificed his own leadership aspirations to the ongoing fame of Mr Howard. There have been few more selfless than Mr Costello in their self-sacrifice to the legend of Mr Howard.

    Worryingly for Mr Howard, however, Mr Costello’s policy of self-abnegation appears to be subject to amendment.

    There is an intense battle being waged within coalition ranks over the future of the AWB right to veto export licences for wheat of other corporations. Ever mindful of the importance of this issue for the National Party, Mr Howard, who is as we all know a very clever politician, is inclined to support the right of an AWB veto. The role of AWB in assisting Saddam Hussein to bankroll the current Iraq insurgency is relatively unimportant to Mr Howard in comparison to his winning another term as Prime Minister.

    Mr Costello, on the other hand, has been assiduous in pressing for the end of the AWB veto. His opposition has been so effective that Mr Howard has been forced to “respeak” a very equivocatory line on this vital issue of the AWB veto.

    Mr Costello appears to be wielding unusual and disturbing influence within the Liberal Party. Mr Howard cannot be unaware of the tens of thousands of farmer-stock holders of AWB for whom Mr Costello’s latterday challenge to Mr Howard represents a material financial threat.

    Mr Howard thus faces a rejuvenated ALP united behind Mr Rudd and a Deputy Leader with a knife and a clear view of Mr Howard’s shoulderblades.

    But of course Mr Howard is a very clever politician. As he himself has said, challenges like this just spur him to work harder.

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