Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Read like a book

Posted by Possum Comitatus on October 15, 2007

Last night on one of the threads running here, I was chatting away and said:

Reading between the lines of his [Howards] speech today (and this is me breaking out the electron microscope to read between the lines), something like banning traditional law across the country looks to be on the cards, probably using the foreign affairs power via human rights treaties to get around the States where necessary. It will be one of those duel message things, where its sold to the regions as making everyone equal and sold to the leafy Lib heartland as increasing the human rights standards of indigenous Australians.

More welfare pork for low income working households, probably including Childcare funding and possibly even a tax free threshold adjustment(or tax credit equivalent). More anti-terrorist dog whistles and more hospital funding arrangements.There will also be tax cuts – its one of the few issues the coalition is well positioned on according to the CT research, and that has a fairly decent influence on the vote.

Since Costello is announcing this very thing at the moment, it’s tick number one and two.

This “aspirational tax plan” also plays into the new Going For Growth slogan of the Liberal party. Howard is saying that they prefer to deal with policy issues by broad measures like “putting more money into peoples hands” rather than by running specific policy responses to things like housing affordability.

This is all quite amusing when you consider that the Future Fund is the opposite of “going for growth”, and is one of those “specific policy responses” to an issue that is apparently now a non-preferred approach. Its particularly ironic if you consider that the apparently new “preferred approach” to these things, putting money into the hands of the people themselves to get a better return (or in the case of the future fund, into the broader economy via physical investment rather than tying it up in share ownership) was derided as irresponsible by Costello when he was trying to justify tying up budget surpluses so his political peers couldn’t get their paws on it.

This “aspirational tax plan” also is a play to female part-time workers with kids getting the rough end of the pineapple with Workchoices…. but there will be lots of policies that try and do that over the next 6 weeks.

I was surprised that Howard and Costello would launch a large piece of policy like this on day one of the campaign.They must be pretty desperate to get some traction – I suppose it keeps bad polls out of the headlines. In 6 weeks time, this will have blown past most punters and have been overtaken by more recent events. It looks like an attempt to define the issue narrative for the election, the “this is what the election is about” line.

“Low Taxes” is their best issue to use for this, as it’s one of their best positioned issues with a relatively high influence on the vote according to the Crosby Textor OzTrack 33 research.

The press conference was also interesting, I havent seen journalists treat politicians with such cynicism for years and years and years. Howard and Costello were almost getting heckled, and looked all rather grumpy about it at times.

So, peering into your crystal balls and doing some reading between the lines yourself, what policy announcements do you guys see on the horizon and what political purpose do you see behind them?

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75 Responses to “Read like a book”

  1. steve_e said

    It seems that all we knew about JWH and his deputy has changed direction.

    1. Indegenious – welfare and “reconciliation”
    2. Future Fund
    3. Tax

    [Look out interest rates – here comes at least 0.25% and probably more]

    My next tip is finally to start funding:

    Child Care as a tax deductible expense (probably to be phased in over time)

    When you are desparate, then you desperate.

  2. Martin said

    i can sniff a whopping Labor pledge targeting the “65 per cent of part-time working mums” on whose behalf the rodent has suddenly launched a new crusade. think something mammoth, like a couple more months paid maternity leave, or so&so many months of free childcare

  3. Sean said

    There’s a very good chance that this tax cut will just go straight back onto the debit side of the ledger through higher interest rate payments down the track. The economy is operating at full capacity now with any increase in demand just going straight into inflation. Given however Howards stunning Mandrake like capacity to control interest rates, I’m sure he’ll reassure the anxious punters that if re-elected only his steady hand can see this financial windfall going to household budgets rather than bank profits

  4. Kit said

    The tax announcement is an attempt to embarrass the ALP and set the media onto Rudd about his tax policy. Rudd had difficulty with this in the past and Howard and Costello obviously see it as a winner. Basically, until Rudd announces his (which he would have later in the campaign) the media and the Coalition will have ‘something’ (and they needed something) to pin Rudd on. They hope it will very early define Rudd as struggling with ‘important’ economics.

    Rudd can counter with a ’but what about pressure on interest rates? But all Costello has to say is ‘Oh! So you don’t support my tax cuts?’

  5. Kramer said

    This is smart politics from the Coalition. Rudd will suffer because he hasn’t released a tax policy yet. The impetus will be for him to emphasize the projected reductions in Australia’s witholding tax rate in order to make the country the “funds management capital of Asia”.

    The tax cuts are significant. The MSM have jumped on this and the pressure will now be on Rudd to respond. The announcement also distracts public attention away from Workchoices.

  6. Andos the Great said

    This is going to be a terifically long 6 weeks. Quite the first day.

  7. Neil Cammack said

    “’Low Taxes’ is their best issue to use for this, as it’s one of their best positioned issues with a relatively high influence on the vote according to the Crosby Textor OzTrack 33 research.”

    – And yet … at least one survey has found that a sizeable majority would prefer better services to lower taxes. Can we trust them to put their money where their mouths are when they vote? Buggered if I know, but it’s not entirely impossible. (I know, I know – I remember Fraser’s “fistful of dollars” ads that successfully appealed to the mendacity of Joe and Joanne Public.)

  8. Lord D said

    Neil, most people LOVE tax cuts, but it’s one of those things that you don’t tell pollsters, as you’re seen as greedy and not public-spirited.

  9. Dan said

    I think it would actually be smarter NOT to release an ALP tax policy right now. JWH has all the press on this and competing now would be a waste of good airtime and policy. Far better to release something big on another issue – say maternity leave as mentioned above or something similar. If Rudd can create some noise elsewhere and draw the heat out of the tax announcement, he can then comfortably release his own tax carrot later on (relatively uncontested) at a time of maximum effectiveness.

  10. Gecko said

    The coalition tax policy is desperate and irresponsible. Infrastructure will suffer and the states will miss out again. Too much ammunition for the ALP to attack the ‘better economic manager’ title especially after government ad campaign. The media have every right to be cynical and that is how most policy announcements from the Libs will pan out… they made their bed. Having to target their own is indicative of their plight.

    Expect the Libs to continue with race card… Possibly through border security… your guess is as good as mine as to how that will pan out.

    Labor will push future Republic. And possibly ‘Bill of Rights’ which will bring onside legal fraternity. Funding for desalination plants.

    Labor tax plan will be more conservative and target lower income earners. More money for the states with a productivity carrot.

  11. Sean said

    I don’t think theres anything to concern labor here. The last budget contained tax cuts which had absolutely no effect on the Coalitions popularity. Labor will undoubtedly announce something similar (though labor are going to cop the usual assault re fiscal prolifigacy) I don’t know why its clever politics releasing it now. Like the budget cuts by the end of the campaign it will have been obscured by the barrel loads of pork being dumped on the electorate for the next 6 weeks.

  12. Evan said

    And how many years down the track are these tax cuts supposed to kick-in?

    Tax cuts only work when those offering them can show the punters the money in reasonably short order. IOU’s make very poor bribes.

  13. Andrew said

    Just desperate stuff really. As possum has opined they must be looking for something BIG to get some traction. BUT, they have handed Rudd a massive advantage. He now has a whole month or more to see how this washes through and calibrate his response. There is no rush to get out there with their own tax policy, and when they do they can trump this in whatever way works best. They certainly shouldn’t be going before Nov 7 as an interest rate rise gives them the perfect cover to go with something more modest and paint the Coalition with the fiscal irresponsibility brush.

    As for traction? Come on how many people didn’t expect tax cuts? $17B surplus and they offer tax cuts? – Blow me down, I never saw that coming.

    Like the budget they’ll be waiting a long time for this to show up in the polls.

  14. Alex McDonnel said

    Labor should hold off on announcing their tax policies. This gives them time to crunch Costello’s numbers and so be able to make valid comparisons when they release Labor’s own tax plans. There won’t be any ‘the $600 family allowance isn’t real’ stuff from Labor this time!!

  15. Ptobias said

    I wonder whether Team Howard are trying to make sure The Narrowing (TM) becomes a reality. A nice tax cut on the opening day probably swings some voters across, which hopefully (for them) moves the polls a bit. If the polls continue to run for another week or two at the same 10+ point margin then all of the “the voters will come our way once the election becomes a reality” bluster begins to look silly, and the questions start about whether they can ever gain any ground. As much as they might say the polls don’t matter to them, I think an early change in the polls is important for the Coalition getting the narrative it wants.

  16. Beach Ball said

    Interesting language used by the Rodent during the mammoth presser. There are tax cuts that are PLANNED, ie in the first 3 years, and then there are those that are called GOALS, ie years 4 and 5.

    PLAN = Core Promise
    GOAL = Non-Core Promise.

    Perhaps it’s time to start counting how many PLAN’s and GOAL’s the Rodent has in store over the next 6 weeks.

  17. Kit said

    Beach Ball, these cuts are not a promise, these cuts are ‘aspirational’

  18. Dan said

    If only he’d got Mark Vaile to do the pressy – then the would have been ‘aspirational nationalism’.

  19. Possum Comitatus said

    Ptobias – you reckon they’re trying to pull a short term pollstack?

    Interesting proposition – on the one hand it would entirely change the media narrative of the campaign (‘Coalition on the comeback’ etc, let alone the unbearable ranting of the “I told you so” crowd over the The Oz….. Oh the Shananities of it all!), but on the other hand it would carry the risk of peaking too early, and running out of ammo at the pointy end of the campaign. Campaigns are really decided in the last 1-2 weeks.Going out so hard is a big risk. Then again, when you havent been ahead in a poll for 15 months and you’ve been staring down the barrel of a 10-20 point gap for 10 months, an awful lot of risky things start to look good.

  20. paul said

    They know that Labor will not release their tax plan until final Treasury figures are released I’m sure that is 10 days after the election is called. i really think that the surlpus is a lot bigger than $17b which Capt Smirk would already know about, this gives them ten days to run with “WHERE’S YOUR TAX PLAN” hopefully buy some margin in the polls
    and then turn it into a four week campaign
    I was confused as to why the Debate was so early thought it was because Bonsai was not the best debater (don’t say it i know what you are all thinking) but now i know why they rushed into it, no tax plan on national tv won’t look good. Kevvie was right they are sneaky

  21. Don Wigan said

    I agree with the tenor of some later posters here. There is no need for Rudd to rush his tax policy. You can bet it will be significant when it comes, however,

    If any of you saw Lindsay Tanner’s National Press Club speech a month back, he identified a large number of savings and rationalisations – the most significant of which is the hatchet planned for government advertising. Given how this has gone down like a lead balloon for Howard this time round, you can bet that this alone will be well received, and probably get some play in the tabloids.

    There’s a long way to go yet. The main aim at present is to stay focused and on message.

  22. Swing Lowe said

    Possum, I agree with Ptobias – the reason why the tax cuts were announced so early (and are so large) is to give the Coalition the “bounce” they’ve been predicting once the election has been called.

    If “The Narrowing” didn’t happen, what would the Coalition minister be left to say – for the past year, they’ve been saying the polls will narrow once the election is called – if they don’t, how could they justify any optimism they may have had?

  23. Burgey said

    This will, sadly, play well in the media and might give the libs some traction. My thoughts, politically, are that Labor should do a “me too” on this, but tinker around the margins to get a bt more left in the surplus.

    Sure they’d cop some “me too” criticism, but let’s be honest, me too on something like this aint bad politics (as opposed to policy), and the govt couldn’t very well attack them for over-spending when its their own policy. Likewise, they can’t say it’s a risk to run with Labor on issues like this in circumstances where the two aren’t far apart.

  24. […] Tim Dunlop has some info and discussion, and Possum Comitatus makes some interesting points about the contrast between the new rhetoric and the old actions of […]

  25. John V K said

    Underneath it all tho is the thing, that made the tax breaks this year a yawn.

    Peter Costello has been underestimating income so long, giving surprises so long, people will know they have been misering.

    I tend to think why day one and it must be to get out of the blocks. But they have just challenged the Reserve bank to increase interest rates during an election campaign. This is a high risk strategy.

    I agree with posters that Rudd only has to hold his nerve and work at the policy neither agree or disagree, but use the raw numbers himself for a simpler set of tiers and perhaps timelines, this is a straight out bribe and should be able to be finessed better and more responsibly.

    And the eagles play softly in the background Desperadoe.

  26. John V K said

    And it also leads to less risk for punter in putting inexperienced team Rudd in.

  27. Ptobias said

    Possum, I think there has been a decent amount of evidence in recent months to suggest that the Liberals are at desperation point. They may have pulled together their PR machine and got themselves looking pretty for the cameras, but they must still be aware that they have a long way to go to claw the lead back. It seems to me that they are at least entertaining the prospect that they can win – but if they are also looking at firewall options, then they need to make the decision to switch strategy before it’s too late.

    The alternative explanation that comes to mind is that this was an opportunity to put the Captain and Vice-Captain in front of the cameras together, to highlight the leadership team without making it an event that is purely about the planned transition. A tax announcement logically includes the PM and the Treasurer, so it shows Howard and Costello working together.

  28. Kevin Brady said

    How useful are tax cuts for swinging large numbers of voters? AT the moment,most people on reasonable (say, mean or median) incomes are not going to receive a very large benefit from a tax cut unless it is very large – especially one that is based on tax-free thresholds. The incentive in these tax cuts will fall either on the very low paid – who are severely at risk because of Work Cheeses anyway – or the very highly paid, most of whom will already vote for the Libs.

    On the other hand as Sean suggests, this can be used by Rudd to argue that the Libs are economically irresponsible – taking away the only card they have left in their ever-dwindling hand.

    A bit like Toady’s speech to the Sydney Institute last Thursday, in the long run I don’t think there are very many votes for them here at all.

  29. Andos the Great said

    Ok, well someone beat you to it, Possum.

    Aristotle’s 1996 vs 2007 polling comparison at Fair News:

  30. THB said

    I agree with Ptobias as well – it seems like they are trying to change the narrative early on (“The Comeback Kid” etc.) – the Coalition would only need probably 3 percentage points to shift before the media declare a line ball, the coming of the narrowing and all that.

    My instinct is that they will load up big on the good news the first two weeks. Weeks 3 and 4 will be light on big announcements, which gives the Coalition the opportunity to scream “big spending Labor! Economic irresponsibility!”. Weeks 5 and 6, crank up the giveaways again.

    That way, they get the positive media coverage early on, and give Howard the first sight of the winner narrative that he has seen in a while. Weeks 3 and 4 when the Labor policies start coming out (presuming that the ALP hold to a more traditional schedule, which is a big if) will probably see a bounce back to ALP. Then the last two weeks will be line ball, depending on whether Rudd does something stupid, or whether Howard can get away with a really big, sweeping announcement (like Medicare Gold) without looking irresponsible.

    Also, all foresight is cancelled in event of terrorist plot.

  31. THB said

    Following up on myself, looking at it through the Crosby Textor prism, if I’m right and they’ll open and close with something big, what will the closing thing be? The tax cut has the economy side of it covered, leaving a great big “National Interests”-shaped hole in the policies. Some kind of big treaty?

    Actually (and this is probably bat guano insane, but let’s play whatif), there is one thing that the Coalition could do that would, potentially, be the political equivalent of a big red reset button – that could play to the national interests, defence & security, and make international decisions issues, that would be a play for the doctor’s wives:

    Leave Iraq.

  32. PJay said

    What will happen if the tax cuts flop, like everything else JWH has done this year? Kevin should remain calm and let the tabloid media do what they do best – push Howard. We all expect it now.

    There are lots of things for Kevin to focus on, not least of which is most Aussie’s patent refusal to have a nuclear power station around the corner.

  33. imacca said

    Rudd and Co will hold their nerve and announce their own Tax Policy when its suits them if their immediate response is any indication. They have such a lead in the polls at the moment that they can take a short term hit (which will really only reduce the apparent extent of the Coalition annihilation, not its fact,) and then hit back with the whole fiscal responsibility thing when making their own play.

    I’m wondering though if the whole “Fist full of dollars Tax Cuts”, inflation figures, and interest rates thing will scare the horses in the mortgage paddocks big time?? Yes, people luv tax cuts and treat it as a bit of guilty secret, but they also have a deep fear of interest rate rises.

    If the ALP spins this well, and creates a narrative that the Rattus Crew are putting you homes at risk in their desperate desire to be re-elected, then the Libs may have just kicked an own goal.

    Now, if the ALP does this and at about the same time comes out with something big about housing affordability (say some level of mortgage interest rebate’s / tax offsets for owner occupiers??), that will affect people buying their own homes NOW (rather than tax cuts on the never never), what will the Rattus Crew do then?? Methinks panic will set in about then.

  34. Kramer said


    A lot of press out about the interest rate repercussions of this decision. I suppose people didn’t really rate the tax cuts in the last budget. Maybe they will see through this. I agree that there is some validity in a Labor argument for lower tax cuts and more infrastructure spending.

  35. Kirribilli Removals said

    When the Cheshire Smirk (invisible except for the grin), accused Howard of buying off the electorate, whoever would have thought he’d be right out there doing exactly that?

    Onya Pete, stick to ya principles!

  36. S said

    @30 – one wonders – if the AFP is getting daily phone calls asking if there is anybody they can raid…. (under appropriate media supervision).

  37. Andrew said

    I think the flaw in the ‘poll stacking’ thesis is that it’s three or four days too early. Unless the pollsters are going to poll mid-week then this will have washed through in a few days time. There will be newer fresher announcements coming every day or so that will take the focus off this. And after all, it’s just another tax cut, you can’t really keep talking about it for long. They’re trying obviously to weave it into a bigger picture with talk of improving incentive etc, but it’s just not the sort of announcement that would have people stop and take stock.

    The only interesting thing about it is the timing, and any thought about that turns quickly to the obvious negatives.

    If anyone knows how to pull a poll stack it’s K07. Notice how many of his big announcements have come on a Thursday. I reckon he’ll have something up his sleeve for Thursday to at least neutralise if not trump ‘The Team’ in the weekend’s polling. He does enjoy playing with Johnnys mind.

  38. Right now at SMH/Age/Brisbane Times, the tax story is not in the top 5 on any of them – and that includes stories posted after 5pm today (shark story at Herald)
    At the Australian, it’s the number 2 story, less of a surprise, but still not #1, and while ‘Rudd in trouble in Qld’ is #1 at the Courier Mail, the tax story doesn’t rate on any of the other News Properties

    That doesn’t look like a knock out punch to me.


  39. dylwah said

    Big tax cuts while we are fighting two wars and talking about the need to boost the defence forces with numbers and a new generation of equipment, the coalition is starting to sound like Reagan. of course The Gipper had a long line of countries offering to take over the US manufaturing jobs, and we have a ling line of countries offering to make big holes in the ground.

    It is often said that Oz hit the Sixties in the Seventies, now it seems that the rodent has found the Eighties in the Naughties.

  40. Charles said

    Do we want tax cuts or less pressure on interest rates, more infrastructure and our kids getting through University without $100,000 hex debt. I want decent infrastructure and education available on merit.

    Further without treasury to crunch the numbers no opposition can come up with a coherent tax policy. I have no interest and I don’t want to hear about it, I will be interested in what they have to say after they have been in for a term.

    Fortunately for Labor it would seem Rudd has the brains not to be sucked into this.

  41. Grumps said

    Interesting start to the campaign by the rodent. In real terms the tax cut is as large as the milkshake and sandwich cut of a couple of elections ago.

    This will be quickly lost in cost of living increases and more so if interest rates increase. Real world expenses for those on struggle street are just increasing.

    IMO I think this big show was to gee the troops up and to get the MSM on board. The MSM have always shown a propensity to report what interests them, and the rodent knows tax cuts excite and unify them quickly. This will ensure any bounce will be reported as the rodent’s come back.

    One shouldn’t underestimate how dangerous it is to stand between a reporter and the scent of additional wealth.

    As for Kev, if he follows true to his phoney election practices, I perceive he is playing, the reply will come Wednesday as a little hint, leading to a baseball response Friday and recapturing by the weekend of “the message” (hopefully this is the correct phrase used in the West Wing.)

  42. Stig said

    After the conversation here last night, I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard about the tax cuts – straight out of CrosTex on where they could get an impact, put down the big money to try and reframe the narrative at the start of the campaign. Remember folks, you heard it here first!

    OK, you want crystal balls now? No problemo. Howard will promise anything that comes into his head on any given morning. He might even read about it here on this blog, and figure that he may as well give it a go. So, make sure you phrase it nicely and it might get a run. These promises will get increasingly bizarre as he tries to find something that actually works. As mused before, his policy options are not good, he is now dependent upon events. To continue what Michelle Grattan said the other day, he’s jumped out of the aeroplane, and is now waiting for the miracle to open his parachute.

    Rudd will play the straight man. He only has to hold his nerve, and he’s done that well so far. Expect more discipline and small-l liberal stuff. I’ll put my heart on my sleeve and hope he’ll pledge to fix aged care; with the significant side effect of doing the right thing for the elderly who jam up emergency rooms around the country because there’s nowhere else for them to go. Rudd’s already gone halfway on this, it’s good policy, and it fits right in with a lot else of what Rudd’s had to say so far.

  43. Kirribilli Shredders said

    “This goal can be met if the expected strong economic and fiscal conditions continue.”

    The little word ‘IF” is contained in the “our tax reform goal” statement not far under the new tax tables in the Treasurers’ press release.

  44. Martin said

    priceless look on the rodent’s face when he was caught out on ACA tonight not knowing either the average wage or the current official RBA interest rate – another free kick for the Labor ad men…

    …speaking of which, I’d have well Labor ahead on points at the moment in the Brisbane billboard war. full marks, in particular, for a terrificly placed sign outside Deagon racecourse featuring the rodent and his famous words, writ large in black and white, about Aust families never having been better off

  45. Aspirational Aspirationalist. said

    Has anyone considered that they could have been making this policy legislation today,
    as the PM said, both houses of parliament were scheduled to sit today. ?

  46. THB said

    I kind of feel for the Libs – releasing a big fancy tax policy on the day a woman fights off a shark AND Lindsay Lohan goes broke.

    If the launch of the Liberal environment policy coincides with Britney Spears getting her children back, then I’m calling the election for the ALP.

  47. sick of johnny said

    not sure how Johnnies tax rorts will go down, but this would give him night terrors! know its only an online poll, but considering its the governments mouthpeice… http://www.coredata.com.au/theaustralianmap.php?PollId=27&QuestionId=31&TypeId=1

  48. Beach Ball said

    Has anyone else noticed how Channel 7 in Sydney is playing news promotions showing the Rodent walking the wrong way from today’s presser with the Smirk?
    It has shades of John Kerin in the dying days of the Hawke days not knowing the difference between Current Account Deficit and and National Debt and then walking into a broom closet to try and escape the press gang.

  49. imacca said

    To 47:

    Will be really interesting to see how the results shown here correlate with the election result. I’d guess that online stuff like this is easily spoofed with multiple votes, but they must get a whopping “apparent” sample size.

    Saw the ACA and 7:30 Report. Howards ACA “gaffe” will get a bit of airplay i think. Not because it actually means anything, but because he made such a hoo haa about Rudds tax threshold stumble and Rattus hrattus deserves a bit of his own medicine.

    He did look out of sorts on 7:30. I certainly think that KOB hung into him harder than Rudd, but then Rattus has more history and since he is running on “experience” deserves to be answerable for it.

  50. THB said

    Naw, the parties and the media put as much value in online pills as they should – ie. bupkis, none, zip, rien, etc.

  51. In 6 weeks time, this will have blown past most punters and have been overtaken by more recent events.

    I disagree that.

    If, for arguments sake, it makes 2% of people change their vote, they aren’t going to suddenly forget why they changed their vote. Being asked subsequently who they are going to vote for they aren’t going to reply “Uhm… Liberal, but I don’t remember why”.

    It will lose its future ability to covert more votes, but so does every policy, so thats not worth mentioning. Every policy is designed to switch a few votes at the time it is announced, and also retain some which were changed in the past.

  52. ando said

    Re ABC perceived bias…
    KOB on Lateline supposedly gave KR and easy run.
    What about Virginia Trioli on Monday morning. Hockey says “Interest rates will always be higher under Labor. That’s a fact.”
    Virginia’s response to this assertion wrapped up as a “future” “fact” WTF!


  53. sondeo said

    Personally I would rather see spending on Health,Education,Environment,Infrastructure.The “proposed” tax cuts are around what I would sacrifice to see changes in these areas.
    After Mr Costello savage attack on the PM over his fiscal irresponsibility this looks just like desperation.It won’t change my vote and I doubt it will change many others here as well.

  54. Neil Cammack said

    One promise Rudd can and should make, backed up by concrete commitments, is to raise the standard of governmental and parliamentary behaviour. I believe this is a sleeper issue that will resonate with the public and tap into a deep but unfocused vein of disillusion with the precipitous decline of standards under Howard.

    It is moreover an issue that Labor can “own” – partly because anything similar from Howard really would look farcical, partly because Rudd’s own “Mr Clean” image would lend it credibility.

    He’s made a good start with the promise to subject government ads to a tick from the Auditor-General. With less publicity he’s also flagged a return to a less politicised, less cowed, public service (including 5-year contracts for top bods and elimination of “performance” bonuses).

    If he wanted a centrepiece he could commit to an independent Speaker’s office along British lines, where the Speaker, once appointed by the PM, resigns from the governing party and from all account really does preside behave impartially. Radical stuff.

  55. Diana said

    George Megalogenis provided an interesting piece of analysis which he titled Voters Who Matter on yesterday’s Life Matters on Radio National. George pulled a lot of the statistics that have been studied on this site, included Census material as well. It’s worth a listen. Link below



  56. Martin said

    shows how desperate the rodent is if he’s playing his final card on the first full day of the campaign…obviously Labor will go a long way to matching the tax cuts, while putting some of the $34 billion towards one or a number of high profile infrastructure “nation building” projects – reinforcing its forward-looking/team for the future image

    the reality is, the rodent cancelled out any potential electoral benefit yesterday with his appalling petulance and ignorance on ACA, when he couldn’t name either the average wage or the current official RBA interest rate…he looked terrible and the expression on his face, the fidgeting and the sheer despair when he knew he had blown it all indicate he knows just how damaging it all was – that footage will get played over and over again.

    many many more sleepless nights ahead for the rodent methinks…

  57. steve_e said

    The $34 B they have committed to spend by this action leaves them with the sum of $4 B remaining.

    How will this amount counter the following topics:

    (a) Hospital funding,
    (b) Education Revolution,
    (c) Child Care
    (d) Critical Infrastructure such as Desalination Plants

    among other major topics.

    They have gone off with a big bang but there is little left for a follow up.

    The correct strategy response is to let this announcement echo around for a week or two with no response then target the ALP agends items (see above). Rather than the $20 / week tax savings what the voters want are increased services.

  58. Casual Comment said

    Going for growth? Going for broke more like it. Who thinks up these ridiculous slogans. Oh for a spray can and some time on my hands

  59. Sheepy said

    Changes to the electoral advertising to appeal to peoples jaded greenish side.

    – Register allowing people to accept party-political and government ‘infomation’ ads via email rather than physical, sorry – still no opt out.
    – Government ‘infomation’ adverts to be approved by a panel consisting members of both sides and professional regulators (for wording on slander, etc). When it gets implemented the panel ends up with regulators who tend to agree with the government of the day.
    – No fixed terms, why would they ever give away that advantage?

    This Thursday / Friday there will probably be a story about voters missing out – Labor immediatly addresses the issue and promises to go back to the 7 days after calling. Accuses Liberals of wanting to cut out young voters, waving the 75% figure that came out yesterday towards any camera within miles.

  60. Burgey said

    CC @ 57:

    Good point. The last time I had a “growth”, I went to the doctor and had it lanced.

    Hopefully the electorate will do the same thing

  61. Grumps said


    You asked for opinions on what they would splash cash on in terms of policy. I failed to do this earlier (shouldn’t look at your site late at night leads to poor sleep).

    I believe that their is no more major annoucments to come from the liberals but expect Pork. The southern pork barrel oscillation index indicates that barrel loads of prime cuts will be showered on marginal Liberal seats (anything up to 10 percent). Choicer cuts reserved for marginal seats with ministers involved.

    Poorer cuts, mince, cubes and strips will be dispersed to the more marginal with offal and mechanically recovered head meat showered on marginal labor seats.(up to 1 percent)

    Trotters and snout will be kept for inner cabinent memebers to distrubute at will and on self.

    A genetically modified form of pork, spliced with a agrian socialism gene, will be distributed to the country seats. Liberals prefer country party memebers to distribute this product so as not to contaminat pure liberal pork by handling of same.

    Unfortunately the southern pork barrel oscillation index indicates that a continuing drought of pork barrel in safe liberal (>10%) and safe labor seats(>1%).

    I expect no further grand annoucements from the liberls rather replays of what has worked before or rehashing of past annoucements.

    Labor may redirect these tax cuts into major infrastructure projects to help with the cost of living or to build future capicity through trining in specific industries. Not a return to trade schools but as bloody close as you can get.

  62. Andrew A said

    I was expecting something that targets families adversely affected by WorkChoices. Big dollops of free childcare and tax breaks for mortgage payers on their primary residence. Not the broad “little bit for everyone” that isn’t going to move blocks of voters.

  63. Plasma Supplies said

    Possum while you have been reading between the lines dazzled at the leopard’s ability to change its unreconciled spots, we at Plasma Supplies have set our laboratories into researching exactly how and why the same leopard is so on the nose – with seventy percent of his nearest and dearest and much of the nation too.

    You recall that while our leopard was skillfully leaping around at APEC doodling sweet nothings on climate change, the other lesser leopards had gathered together and invited him to leave their cave. Such is the crippling stench attached to beloved Leopard the Great.

    We have found in the past that almost all stenches are the result of blockages in tubes and bio pipes. Usually, by determining carefully what the stenchee has been sucking into his pipes we can discover the wherefores of the vile blockage.

    It turns out that our leopard first thing of a day for year upon year has been sucking in hordes of journalists. Journalists as you know are people who write on the backs of advertisements for a Mogul – a man who must be pleased and appeased at any cost. If it sounds like a strange occupation then just consider how terrible it must be for our leopard on the sucking end.

    Then there is a whole low flying species known as the Howard’s Battlers that he sucks in relentlessly. Can’t get enough of them, but they are hard work because he needs to strip them of any gains they might collectively make day to day and make sure they remain grateful.. Can you imagine yourself Possum sucking in a diet of journos and battlers daily? Not good.

    On top of that there are loads and loads of nice people higher up the food chain, who line up and demand their aspirational suck. Credit cards ever wide spread in their hands these are a daunting diet for any Leopard. He has to keep them happy acquiring their ever changing dream home – larger and larger for their smaller and smaller families. They are a packaged nightmare diet wise for anyone seriously sucking them in. Great leaders always wisely lead beyond consumerism. Many aspirationals want to break free of rank gorging. They don’t want $30 bucks a week for McDonalds.

    This is not to mention the rest of the world which Leopard is sucking into the belief that coloureds and Asians in particular should be made to benefit from capital punishment while Australians should definitely not. Try sucking the worldwide community into that and you will understand how hard our Great Leopard works. But he does it to satisfy the simple needs of our loyal Queensland and West Australian red necks and their shock jocks with whom and for whom he would willingly bleed to death and our reputation along with it.

    Having formerly shunned and berated Aboriginals because of an artefact he acquired as a youth (while lesser child leopards were gamboling with concepts of respect) he now wishes to cajole them with his great lips of promise. He is sucking them into an agreement whereby he will remove child abuse from the squalor he has kept them in if they surrender their lands. “I will give your community a policeman if you give me your lands.”

    This is a powerful suck Possum.

    And for all the lands the aboriginals give to the “undivided nation” they will get back a thoughtful gift. A pre-amble. The trusting Noel Pearson is so grateful. The aspirational whites of the cities however are not clamouring for their own preamble.

    Possum it is a truism that what you suck is what you stench.

    Plasma Services “Serving Australia’s Sick”

  64. Paul said

    GST increases…..If Rudd and his cronies get in, and if they stuff up economically like previous Labour Governments it will be an easy fix for them to increase the GST for top up funds. A labour win now will be the first time that all states and the feds are of one political persuasion thus enabling a unanimous vote to increase GST – a requirement under the GST legislation.

  65. Lionel of Canberra said


    The tax cuts are Howard’s first attempt at tripping up Rudd. He’s hoping for the typical quick and error-prone response so common to Labor in the past. Rudd has shown, so far, that he’s not that ill-prepared and will comment on his own terms – a smart play. I’d suggest a response in two weeks.

    What’s important here though, is Rudd’s response, when it does come.

    He can’t back down on past comments about tax breaks being required, nor can he allow $34 billion to be handed back to people with no benefit to the country coming from it.

    Look for a response that will provide lower and middle income earners with a respectable rates cut (let’s say about $15 billion in total over two-three years). For the remainder he will (or should) add at least $5 billion to his (hopefully already planned) announcement on aged care, another $5 or so billion for specific health services (think dental and/or bulk billing incentives at suburban, rural and regional health clinics to move further away from dependency on hospital emergency wards); another $5 billion or so to general health care/hospitals, and the remainder (plus other already discovered savings) to the education system (think free University for courses deemed to be in the public interest).

    This will all be additional to – AND THIS IS THE BIGGIE – his announcement to bring childcare into the education system AND providing 14 weeks paid maternity leave for all new mothers, boosting the baby bonus for the third child to $10,000.

    Timing of these announcements is of concern, as the Rodent will have similar policies in mind. Whoever gets in first on many of them will have the momentum.

    Given Rudd’s strategy nous, I would expect a shotgun approach of announcing a new policy every couple of days over a couple of weeks period starting in the middle of next week, with a major announcement kept up his sleeve for late in the second last week or early of the last week.

    I think Rudd’s just waiting (doing him slowly) for the Rodent to get a bit too impatient and trip himself up, which looks a distinct possibility from his actions and demeanour over the past 6-9 months. Is the Rodent suffering from ill-health, or does he seriously struggle to understand why he’s so on the nose?

    It’ll be interesting to see what the Rodent has planned for his remaining two major announcements – i’m think he has to have one for the middle and one for the end to go with his one at the start.

    That’s my thoughts anyway.


  66. Stig said

    Thanks Grumps – I didn’t metion pork earlier, and you are dead right. Expect the new uniform for the remaining days of the Howard government to be a butcher’s apron, a razor-sharp filleting knife, a shameless grin, and a huge pile of dead pigs.

    C’mon Possum – I’ve seen what you can do with Photo Shop… 😛

  67. B1 said

    Paul at 64 wouldn’t be posting similar comments on the Meganomics blog by any chance?

    Several posts running the “Rudd will raise GST” line were posted there earlier and were comprehensively refuted by George.

  68. Andrew said

    Paul 64.

    Nice try – fail. Stop listening to Howard’s BS and you won’t find yourself looking stupid when you regurgitate it.

    To change the GST only requires an act of parliament to abolish the old rules and put in new ones. In other words you’ve just got to get it through the Senate. The states are utterly irrelevant, a furphy that Howard likes ignorant folk like yourself to fall for. Labor have somewhere between none and buckleys of controlling the Senate, and after seeing the destruction of the Democrats the Greens wouldn’t go near increasing the GST with a barge poll. Howard on the other hand is guaranteed a Senate majority for at least 7 months if he wins, therefore it is a returned Howard government that is the ONLY danger of a changed GST.

    Better vote Labor to ensure the GST doesn’t change Paul.

  69. David Gould said


    Excellent rebuttal. I am amazed that people actually believe that all the states have to agree when it is a federal piece of legislation that could have been altered (relatively – ware Barnaby) easily by the Liberals, given their control of the Senate.

  70. TMP said

    You asked for thoughts on a Labor response to the tax cuts. I think what he should do is firstly take two weeks to formulate and cost a reduction in GST to 7.5% followed by a topping up of the States monies from Federal surplus and additional investment in education, health, aged care, carers and some tax relief for principle residence interest.

  71. Charles said

    Comment 64 by Paul
    “same old same old”

    Paul; the last labor government restructured our economy:

    1) Floating the dollar
    2) Opening the banks to competition
    3) Reducing tariff
    4) Compulsory superannuation

    They have something to be proud of.

    If you want people to vote Liberal give some reasons instead of tied old slogans.

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