Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

All quiet on the Western Front.

Posted by Possum Comitatus on October 18, 2007

We had a tax plan on Monday – I’m sure you all heard about it. There surely would have been tracking polls on Monday night/Tuesday, yet on Wednesday there were no Coalition advertisements to reinforce the message. Instead, we had an ad showing Howard’s response to an ad showing Rudd’s response to a Coalition ad.


Surely the tax plan didn’t go down so badly that it had no positives worth spending advertising money on?

It’s now Thursday and there is still no mention in the nations print and digital media of “Liberal Party sources” saying “internal polling” showed “a positive reaction” to the tax plan, and certainly nothing about it being “game on”. If this policy made a noticeable impact, there would have been Liberal Party sources lining up to brief the usual suspects in the media – unless of course the noticeable impact went in the wrong direction.

We’ll probably know how it played in tomorrows ACNielson.


 Mark has an excellent article over at LP worth reading:

Demystifying Tracking Polls 



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50 Responses to “All quiet on the Western Front.”

  1. blindoptimist said

    The element of surprise can be a tactical advantage, but is it possible the tax plan was too unexpected? Is it possible that the electorate just automatically a massive discount to such policies precisely because they a clearly intended as a political strike.

    When I heard the Liberals’ tax plan I thought it was aimed to get attention and to wrong-foot Labor – in other words, it was playing politics with people’s disposable incomes…Am I deluding myself?

  2. slim said

    I’d say the polling will be heading South on that one. I’m beginning to think that rather closing the gap the campaign may well work against Team Howard – assuming Kevin07 has the balls to counter with a tax plan that eases the marginal squeeze, kills the cuts for the top end of town and expresses a vision for investment in public infrastructure and services. They can afford to be a bit bold now.

  3. Kit said

    I don’t believe there is any evidence to suggest that the electorate can (any longer??) be bought with a few tax-cuts. I think Rudd would be right to wait and watch … then trump the ‘dynamic duo’ with a combo of tax cuts, ‘responsible’ spending and a smile.

    As far as the polls are concerned, a 54 TPP to the ALP and the Coalition (and the GG) will be doing cartwheels.

    That said, nothing makes me happier than watching the Libs getting frothy-mouthed and over-excited over what still is a resounding and complete wipe-out!!

  4. Possum Comitatus said

    Blindy – I think someones deluding themselves on the tax front, and I don’t think it’s you. 🙂

    Slim – “The Widening” eh? That doesnt fit the authorised narrative!

    As long as they dont drag out the old “ease the squeeze” line, anything’s possible.We’ve still a few percent of undecideds hanging around.

  5. Mark said

    From today’s Crikey

    Tips & Rumours

    Overheard at Fairfax. A couple of the political reporters talking about the ACNielsen Poll that will be published tomorrow on the election. They were saying that Rudd would be very happy with the outcome, and the Labor primary vote has gone up!

  6. John V K said

    Yeah tend to agree. Splat perhaps.

    Also if Coalition was doing focus then Labor was too. This Labor backroom team is pretty savvy. Have been all year. They trial the stuff and then rescind it for use later.

    Like those ads on Interst rates. Just long enough to guage effect and then pulled, keeping the competition Presidantial. That ad in which Rudd called Howard on trash talking worked a treat.

    I agree with some pundits who reckon Rudd really only has to look at Tax in the under 80,000s because everyone gets a break and everyone eats out of it.
    Moving the bottom threshold tax free would put money into everyone’s pocket.

    Then give a woman to work package for childcare, would help the battler demographic. (say joint incomes for tax purpose also). Single working mums as well. There are so many positive things that can be done instead of the tinker shuffle.

    Of course the single income people are the ones that have missed out as usual and I dont know to address that or if it should be, because battlers actually have up to 4 people eating out of 1 and a half jobs.

  7. blindoptimist said

    Possum, I also think that Rudd can afford to play things cool on tax for a bit. People will be curious in what Labor offers, so that’s good: they will be paying attention when the policy comes out.

    In other respects the Liberal campaign this week has verged on overkill: Howard has been sarcastic, aggressive, almost malicious at times. Costello has been his usual condescending, smart-arsed self. Neither has come across has a voter-friendly figure: they seem purely engaged in the political theatre of the election and not with the sentiments of voters themselves. (Or, again, do I delude myself?)

    The attack ads are recycled, so are an attempt to raise a link between Rudd and Latham, but this is a far-fetched association. At a certain level, it must debase the strength of the message: It suggests the Liberals are trying to fight that last election all over again, not deal with the circumstances of 2007 and beyond.

  8. PaulC said

    Just a question to ponder – all the pollsters have for a long time now been polling on weekends (presumably for sound statistical reasons) – if ACN does a mid-week poll, which this one would have to be to gauge the effect of the tax cuts, does that change in methodology mean that the results aren’t as reliable?

  9. mate said

    PaulC, That’s a bloody good question!

  10. blindoptimist said

    PaulC, I’m not entirely sure, but I would expect that ACN could easily calibrate their data weightings to compensate for any variations in the composition of their sample. There has to be a way to make vaild comparisons between different sets of data or pollsters would soon be out of business.

  11. Kit said

    I think that the John and Peter show has been overly aggressive. It takes me back to a certain handshake that did not go down very well.

    The duo do play the schoolyard bullies very well (add Lexy Downer and the picture is perfect). And Rudd has got that ‘smartest kid in the playground’ kinda look that, although understandably annoying, it really makes you want to stand up for him.

    You never know, these tough guys just may get expelled for bad behaviour.

  12. David Gould said

    Maybe they are waiting to play the issue up in the debate. It is a bit weird, though.

  13. Possum Comitatus said

    ACN should have a weighting system they can use for weekday surveys that would take into account the slightly different social profiles of people available to answer questions during the week vs weekends.

    John VK, the Childcare packages will be worth a few more votes than usual this year. George Meganomics had some interesting things to say on the changing length of women returning to work after childbirth a few days ago that was well worth reading in this respect. I know Labor have been paying close attention to this issue in a policy development sense for the last year or so, it will be interesting to see the differences between the 2 policy initiatives on this over the campaign.

    Kit – I thought the same.

    When Howard applied his “Going for Growth” program to Rudd with the whole “Grow Up” thing, that isnt a good look. Unless of course, you are trying to reinforce your base. With polling as it is at the moment, that’s entirely possible.

  14. Kymbos said

    Rudd’s response to the tax bribe has been very measured. My first reaction was that such a large tax cut would be inflationary, and from a policy perspective is very one-dimensional for such a huge amount of money.

    Some tax cuts, some spending on hospitals, education and infrastructure, and some in the bank would be a good tactic I think. The business and economic communities know that a huge tax cut during boom times is not that fiscally wise.

    Rudd could steal the mantle of fiscal conservative from the Libs and move clear on their own strengths. Checkmate.

  15. Burgey said

    Have read elsewhere that there’s talk of a pro-lib bounce in Morgan polling. Anyone heard anything about this?

  16. blindoptimist said

    Kit, yup. They are overplaying their hand in my opinion. I heard Swan this morning describe Costello as a bully while Gillard described Howard as childish. I think these are the right themse to play: Howard’s having a bit of a foot-stomp, Costello is throwing his weight around.

    Rudd has been playing his messages all year to his own rhythm and on his own terms. The Liberals are trying very hard to shake things up, to knock Rudd off-message and off-rhythm, to change the visuals and the temperature. So far it hasn’t worked.

    The debate this weekend is a potentially significant episode. You can see Howard – all adrenalin, all punch. He is a natural scrapper. And Rudd will have to be cool, firm, resilient, on message, mentally alert. I think Rudd should be saying, “Look, I want three debates. But I’ll debate John Howard anywhere, anytime. I have things to say and do that are relevant to the future of the country. I want people to have every chance to listen to what I have to offer. John Howard wants to do the bare minimum because he has nothing to offer any more.”

  17. PJay said

    Am wondering how much Keating’s comments earlier this year are still lingering. Costello “all tip no iceberg” and Howard “Araldited to the seat” was a direct hit. In a couple of sentences he cast an indelible hue over the pompous pair.

    Keating also wrenched the economy from the Libs with vicious force. He shattered the economic management myth, giving confidence to team Rudd. We have all heard, many times over, that the big boost to the current economy came from none other than Hawke and Keating. This obvious truth cannot be dislodged and have left Howard with his big mouth wide open. Keating also reminded us all that Howard holds the record – 22% interest rates! The big Howard hoax.

    Howard and Costello have struggled ever since. Two hollow individuals revealed as legends in their own minds.

  18. blindoptimist said

    Morgan? No news yet – all ears though.

  19. Mr Denmore said

    This is what Macquarie Bank’s respected interest rate strategist Rory Robertson (a former Reserve Banker) suggests Rudd should do:

    “An obvious response by Labor would be to match the Coalition’s tax cuts for those earning less than $80k – ‘Me Too’ on ‘Tax Cuts For Working Families’- while, controversially, rejecting the planned tax cuts for those on higher incomes.

    “If Labor abandons the planned tax cuts for those earning more than 80k (less than 20% of voters?), it could announce that billions saved will instead be spent on ‘increased funding of public hospitals and schools, on extra nurses and doctors and dentists and teachers, blah, blah, blah’.

    “In me-tooing the tax cuts for the bulk of workers (voters), Labor could claim – perhaps even with a straight face – that the announced cuts are ‘similar to the plan we had been working on and talking about for some time’. It too then could market the planned tax cuts for the lower-end as ‘important reforms that encourage workplace participation’.

    Labor could justify abandoning further tax cuts for the better-off simply by saying they are not a priority at this stage. And that in terms of ‘tax reform’, nothing much is lost because the threshold for the top marginal rate these days is multiples of average earnings.

    If Labor were to keep it that simple, it could kill several large birds with just one stone. For starters, it suddenly would have not only a well-costed tax policy with important and helpful product differentiation, but also would have new “fully funded” dollars to devote to public health, education and “infrastructure”, things it says are priorities.

    Labor finally would have a simple and distinct message for its would-be supporters: lower taxes and more key services.

    The extra funding for key services approach would carry no risk of dreaded costing “black holes”. It would turn into an advantage the fact that Monday’s tax cut plan was properly costed by the Federal Treasury. Pretty well no-one is in a position to rubbish Treasury’s estimates, and the Government already has argued that distributing the large amounts on display is economically responsible.

  20. blindoptimist said

    Mr Robertson is exactly on the money, so to speak…

  21. Rod said

    Personally I reckon they’ve gone quiet because all of the former corporate lawyers in the Howard ministry are listening very carefully to see how the “Rudd’s mob are all Unionists” message plays out.

    On the one hand their egos will be deflated terribly if people don’t know they used to be corporate lawyers.

    On the other it has just crossed their minds that the number of “corporate lawyer compared to rats” jokes available to the public is vastly greater than the number of “unionist compared to rats” jokes, and that this could have deleterious consequences for those of them in seats with less than 12% margins.

  22. Burgey said

    Mr Denmore @ 19:
    May be so – I think they should keep them up to $100K – just form a psychological point of view it’s a nice fuzzy “aspirational” number.

  23. Crikey Whitey said

    Reading an article on Julia Gillard in the Bulletin a couple of weeks ago, which concluded with some idle speculation about Kevin and Julia’s future (in their respective positions) in the event of an election loss. I tapped the para and said ‘There is that’.

    What? the others said.

    Voters know that this is the one, the only chance, sez I, if all things, read ‘Australian’ real values, (see endless lists here, there and everywhere) are not to disappear in a last drifting spiral of smoke. If Howard and Co. (see endless derogations) are not to completely hand over this country. If the Labor Party is not to be crashed and burnt for the foreseeable (see endless).

    It is not only but more than goodwill. It is more than Kevin blowing it.

    It is the voters who know they must not blow it!!

  24. Avidwatcher said

    Spoke to a liberal voting neighbour (works as an accountant) yesterday. wife and 2 kids etc etc. Said he was sick to death of Howard and thought Howard’s economic management was crap. Likened Howard to a man that had huge sums of money yet his kids had no education, no shoes and the house was in major need of repair. Neighbour voting for Kevin and Labor.

    On the $34b tax dream – Neighbour said he wouldn’t miss the $20 as he is sick of doing the volunteer cake stall trying to raise funds for the local school P&C. Forever lost to Howard because of Howard’s neglect.

  25. canberra boy said

    Re #s 6, 19 & 22 leaving the tax breaks for <$80,000 is probably right. The Treasury figures included in Costello’s media release seem to imply(dot points under heading Our tax reform goal) that even by 2012-13, 85% of taxpayers will earn under $80,000 (ie 30% rate bracket).

  26. TMP said

    I think what has really been happening and Howard and co have not picked up on is that Rudd has spent his full leadership time talking about the deteriating infrastructure, health and education. The general public has picked up on this and is wandering around nodding in agreement, they appear to be in a mood to not see tax cuts as a great benefit because they know that the money will really have to be paid from somewhere else and this is likely to be from the afore mentioned areas.

    In addition much of what has been promised in tax breaks has worn a caveat and the media have been informing the populace of the time lines and the ‘if the situation merits’ caveats. They are now viewing any tax break as; robbing health, education, infrastructure, ect; not a definite article; and possibly inflationary.

  27. The Keegan said

    From the Age online – “Howard makes new name slip-up”

    cock-up count:
    Krudd -1
    Toad of Toad Hall – 2

  28. Doug said

    Mumble has gone public with a prediction for the election outcome in terms of a specific number of seats – certainly a degree of psephological courage so far only matched by Malcolm Mackerras

  29. CL de Footscray said

    Morgan Senate poll for September (out this afternoon) says ALP vote has increased 3.5% over last one, with ALP winning 3 seats in NSW and Vic and the Lib-NP 2 in each of those seats. Apparently Hanson in on 7.5% in Qld, Greens on 10.5% in Vic.

    Are the Kruddites running the submarine strategy (i.e., run silent, look deep)? Bob up periodically and lob a couple of policy torpedoes and the occasional missile, and then dive and let the Libs run around depth charging themselves? Logical extension of the small target, with the option of surfacing when it suits.

  30. El Nino said

    #13 Poss and all, I have also noticed that individuals in the same demographic can behave differently mid-week to weekends. That is in terms of buying stuff. Then again a vote is just another form of currency. Only you don’t get to spend it very often and when you do, most times it is not worth very much. The mid-week vs weekend thing might be a bit too subtle to be picked up in broad voter intention polling, but it could play in “important issues” type polling.

  31. Burgey said

    TMP @ 26: I agree with you, but take it one step further. What I think Rudd has (so far) managed to do, is make the economic debate a micro one – how are people coping with things as individuals? That is, mortgage stress, petrol, groceries, work choices AND infrastructure.

  32. Enemy Combatant said

    Team Ruddster would be wise to consider holding back on Tax Policy till after RBA’s interest rate call early November. If rates rise, widespread mortgagee fury will be rife for furthur plunder under Plan A. If they don’t, Ruddster can roll with a well-polished Plan B Tax Policy.
    Make El Rodente and his Rat Army sweat. He’s already looking frazzled, he’ll be more so if The Narrowing (scary organ swamp music: ooooh-ooooh, sh-shh-shhh-shimmer-Shan-a-han, oooh-ooooh) fails to materialise over the next couple of weeks.

  33. stevet said

    Burgey @ 31, there is one that I would add to that list: housing affordability. According to a study out this afternoon, it is at an all time low.

  34. Leopold said

    Er… Mr Possum. With respect. Are you taking Labor spin money now?

    1) Your argument is silly. If Coalition people aren’t spruiking the benefits they see from tax cuts, Labor people equally aren’t spruiking their focus groups saying it hasn’t changed anything. So why draw either conclusion?

    2) At budget time, the first polls showed no movement. But within a month the aggregated polls showed a clear 2-3 point drop in Labor’s primary and 2PP votes. I wouldn’t draw a verdict on this until at least one poll from each of ACN, News and Galaxy has been done – at the minimum.

    People don’t just see a policy announcement on TV and suddenly reverse their views. They’re more complicated than that.

  35. codger said

    #12 The ShamIam: ‘The Strategy of Silence’ or the problem is not going to talk about the problem 101. Ssshh it.

    Mr. Stirton on 7.30 came across as the quiet baseball bat salesman…

    Noise Leo, pay attention.

  36. Enemy Combatant said

    Not so busy tonight then, Leo?
    Sure would be swell if you had the time to follow up on your promised prognostications from a recent thread here before pressing matters so cruelly took you from us. Something about how El Rodente will reign victorious after Nov 24, wasn’t it? You sure know how to keep a bloke thread-bound, Leo. No one will be able to sleep a wink till you illuminate us with your much anticipated response. Hope you’re not a devotee of Same Ol’ Sol, however,references and links which support your arguments would be very much appreciated.

    P.S. Hope that’s not too “complicated” for you.

  37. Burgey said


    What you say was right re the budget tax cuts, but they operated in a fiscal and policy vacuum, not the fast paced political environment of a campaign. There’s a far greater chance that they may be lost in the rush of other announcements, including but not limited to Labor’s own tax plan.
    Not saying it will happen,just saying it might

  38. Alan H said

    Leopold, Each poll stands on its own. A 2% movement is within the 95% MOE and has no significance whatsoever. Kid yourself if you like, but don’t try to kid us! Galaxy, in particular has been all over the place like a dog’s breakfast. Just because they fluked the preferences last election, don’t try to pretend they are the oracle. The coalition have no hope. They simply can’t understand that saying nasty things about somebody that almost everybody likes is self-defeating. Who actually likes the bully? Only the sad failures who stand behind him, and go along with his nastiness!


    Alan H

  39. Sarah said

    I’m crying in my ovaltine because the nightmare is coming true = Howard will win again- I’ve just heard on Lateline that Galaxy and Nielsen polls show Howard closing the gap (down to six points).I just knew in my bones that he would do it again – I’ve seen him sneak across the line to many devious times to believe we could finally turn him old bones.
    please tell me all is not lost

  40. L. Duce said

    all is not lost Sarah Labor primary (Nielson) 48%. So long John it was not so good to know ya!

  41. Leinad said

    Sheesh, anyone freaking out at this stage should probably take up bonsai and ignore all forms of media until the 25th of the 11th. We’re in the fifth day of a six week campaign. There’s going to be dozens of polls, hundreds of columns touting one faction over the other, pet theories, rumours, gaffes, slande , attack ads and some real dirty stuff sometime soon.

    You ain’t seen nothing yet…

  42. Grumblebum said

    Never underestimate the greed, ignorance and stupidity of the great Australian unwashed.
    If you missed this week’s ‘Insight’ on SBS it’s repeated at 1:30pm today. Record it and join my depression.
    Amongst the first to be interviewed was a young woman who said, words to the effect, “I’ll be voting Green – depending on what they do with their preferences”. WTF. I have observed over many years that most people don’t know how the Aussie electoral system works and the great misunderstanding of ‘preferences’ is constantly amplified by MSM as they constantly discuss parties ‘giving preferences’ or ‘directing preferences’.
    Roll on the 25th!

  43. Charles said

    Grumble by Grumblebum — October 19, 2007 @ 6:24 am

    Perhaps they want to vote above the line.

  44. KC said

    Mumbles prediction of 90 is in the ballpark of what most are saying 90-92 seats.

    Labors primary remains incredibly high at 48 and that is the main figure.

    When the campaign gets going and the decision comes on polling day there will be many undecideds and wavering lib voters that realise they cannot face another 3 years of neglect, blame passing and deciet that has characterised the Howard years.

    I see a final result of at least 90 but do not rule out anything over 108.

  45. happy chap from Griffith said

    Crikey Sarah take a chill pill! Check this out from the SMH…

    “Significantly for Labor, Mr Rudd’s opening message for the campaign of new leadership resonated better with voters than did Mr Howard’s opening salvo of Labor being a risk to the economy.

    More than 60 per cent agreed that Australia needed new leadership, while 36 per cent disagreed.

    Almost 60 per cent agreed with Mr Rudd that Mr Howard had lost touch with working families, while 37 per cent disagreed.

    More voters disagreed than agreed with Mr Howard that the ALP would pose a risk to the economy. Voters were evenly divided as to whether Labor being in power federally and in every state and territory was a good or bad thing”.

  46. Leopold said

    Worth noting: back in 2004, the first ACN and Newspoll of the campaign showed an average rise in the Coalition primary of 3%, and Labor up by 0.5%.

    Galaxy and ACN have (as an average) the Coalition up 2.5% and Labor unchanged. This ‘movement’ probably just reflects what some of us have been saying for a very long time: Labor leads above 54% are unsustainable, and were never going to last. The tax cuts may or may not have anything to do with it.

    All of which pre-supposes this isn’t a glitch. Newspoll on Monday will be of more than usual interest – Labor supporters would hope for a 7-point or more primary lead I imagine.

  47. Martin said

    what effect the surging price of oil, which has now breached $90/barrel? Surely that alone, irrespective of next week’s inflation figure, will force the RBA’s hand next month??

    Have heard of continuing good internal polling for Labor in Leichardt and Herbert

  48. Kymbos said

    Possum, where’s your analysis of today’s polls? It ain’t true till you tell us, now quit holding out on us!

  49. mark-sydney said

    Yea Poss – we are all waiting, palely loitering in fact, for your usual in-depth and thoughtful analysis! Please put us out of our suspense!

  50. Possum Comitatus said

    Leo at 34 – the reason I mentioned the absence of Coalition advertising is that this is the first 11 figure policy announcement in a campaign that I’ve ever seen that wasn’t advertised heavily, let alone not advertised at all!

    And in campaigns, there is actually more polling variance than ordinarily, suggesting that larger numbers of people do in fact change their minds as the headlines and issues roll out.

    Martin at 47 – the price of oil is a touchy issue, but the strong AUD is depressing its inflationary effects to some extent because most oil is denominated in USD terms.

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