Possums Pollytics

Politics, elections and piffle plinking

Hi, I’m Kevin and I’m here to make your kids a nerd like me.

Posted by Possum Comitatus on November 14, 2007

The ALP campaign ‘launch’ was today and it’s hard not to miss the policy thrust and vote angle.

Nerds unite – education for all! 😉

450K extra training places including 65K apprenticeships, a computer at school for every child between years 9 and 12, doubling University scholarships to 88K by 2012, doubling post-grad scholarships to 10K and throwing in 1000 beefed up research fellowships.

It’s a beefy education package, and interesting as a play for the vote.

The narrative of the campaign launch is a clever pincer movement trying to turn Howards historical advantage of successfully porking the electorate against him (by making it a negative in terms of it adding to inflation and increasing mortgage payments as a consequence) while simultaneously positioning Rudd as future oriented compared to Howard, and cashing in on the “it’s time” theme.

It’s all very Rovish when you think about it.

We have interest rates (an historical Coalition strength in terms of issue positioning) starting to work against Howard by not only rising in the campaign itself, but coming off the back of a series of rises that basically makes the Coalition campaign theme of the last election look all a little dodgy to the punters.

That ‘dodgyness’ has been exacerbated by the “Howards a clever politician” line that’s been run for 8 months, and now we have Rudd saying that Howard is going to cause your mortgage payments to rise even further because of his pork barrelling in the election.

But “look at me” says Rudd, “I’m not going to risk that, instead I’m going to give your kids a better future” instead of handing out pork willy nilly and making your mortgage payments go up.

So the ALP have essentially covered the full temporal spectrum of the issue neutralisation of interest rates – so to speak.

The “Howards a clever politician” spiel reinforced what people have suspected about Howards political behaviour and framed him and his politics in that negative light. That framing then fed into the recent past with the ALP emphasising the “Keeping interest rates low” claim of the last election. The interest rate rise in the campaign itself has then reinforced the negatives of Howard and interest rates into the present, and now, to top it off, Rudd is pushing with his responsible spending mantra that Howard, in comparison, is going to increase rates again in the future as a result of his porkbarrelling.

It’s all quite audacious really.

Then with the other side of the play, Rudd goes hard on the education issue which plays up the difference between the Rudd vision of skills for the future and Howards vision of the 3 R’s being all you need (which I still cant believe that Howard actually said at the Coalition campaign launch – Textor must be isolated for that nonsense to be allowed to come out of Howards mouth)

Throw in prodigious use of the word “digital”, talk about renewable energy and infrastructure and the juxtaposition becomes powerful.

It’s a pretty tightly crafted trap, and pretty ballsy to boot.

And a guy like Kevin Rudd that looks a bit nerdish can probably get away with it better than most. When he talks about the benefits of education and being an “economic conservative”, the punters believe him because he looks the part. It links Rudd the person to Labor policy and lets the latter feed off the popularity of the former.

Although those Labor types at the launch were a bunch of happy clappers weren’t they?

I know it’s the way with these things, but sometimes there’s probably a limit where the ‘spontaneous’ outbreak of applause becomes a little gagworthy :mrgreen:


Just further thinking about this, what sort of response can the Libs make to “giving kids computers at school and providing more education places”?

It’s a hard policy program to argue against, and the fact that it’s only 25% of the pork that the Coalition went with makes it hard for them.

I’ve just seen Shrek on TV avoiding the education policy and talking about Unions, the potential for recessions in the US and Europe, and unions.

The Coalition might be snookered on this for a few days.


For a real hoot, the Newcastle Herald reckons it has a poll on Paterson with a 0.1% margin of error. To get that, considering Paterson has an enrolled voter population of 90 504, their sample size would have to be a tad over 85 000.

If you want, you can play around with the sample size required here.

Honestly – these guys need to put it back in their pants.

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96 Responses to “Hi, I’m Kevin and I’m here to make your kids a nerd like me.”

  1. kwoff.com said

    Hi, I’m Kevin and I’m here to make your kids a nerd like me. « Possums Pollytics

    he ALP campaign ‘launch’ was today and it’s hard not to miss the policy thrust and vote angle.

    Nerds unite – education for all!

  2. Enemy Combatant said

    There was movement at Brisvegas for the word had blogged around
    That The Kid from Old Eumundi’d got away
    He had joined a nation’s people
    Was worth his weight in gold
    And all the pundits gathered for their say.

  3. Paul said


    Yes there were the focus-group-researched phrases against Howard & the coalition. Yes there were the tried and true phrases from Bligh & Gillard – but I did sense some hope for the nation out of this speech.

    I did sense that these (education announcements) were core values for Rudd – a true conviction politician perchance!

    It will be interesting to watch the MSM reaction (particularly the GG)



    PS. Even old-crusties might get there hands on a $140k study fellowship!

    PPS – can we organise a post-election get together for all you bloggers (Mumble, Piping Shriek, Poll Bludger) and the respondents. You really have done a wonderful job.

  4. Geoff W said

    I know it is not central to the body of the argument beneath the headline; but isn’t it time to stop suggesting that Kevin Rudd is a nerd. The central characteristics of nerdiness are intelligence (yes, KR has plenty of that), but restricted to a narrow range (hardly), lack of social skills (ever watched him with children or adults on TV? – makes JWH look clumsy with his stereotyped “Goodonyer” “g’day”, etc), poor dress sense (well if he has that his minders are doing an excellent job).

  5. Possum Comitatus said

    Geoff, I dont think Nerdiness is bad nor necessarily as stereotyped as it once was, especially over the last few years. I’m a bit nerdy myself, but I’m as rough around the edges as they come. I’m sure many of the mob here are the same, but surely it’s actually a good thing that being being intelligent can be laughed and joked about without the negative connotations that once went with such phrasing?

  6. Possum Comitatus said

    Political bloggers and the crew getting together eh?

    That’s a scary thought….

  7. Andos the Great said

    I think reading/posting on these Plogs is a pretty good qualification for nerdiness…

  8. Don’t forget the free Pre School for four year olds being put on the table again, that’s going to be huge amongst the mums’ group set. I think the launch hit all of the right buttons, the wingnuts over at the news.com.au blogs are going nuts in the comments section, they must finally be starting to see the ruddslide that’s on its way.

  9. BlueSkyMining said

    Well I must say the Labor launch looked very tight, both in scripting and fiscally!

    There were so many political tactics that seem to have been in preparation for a long while coming to fruition in Rudd’s speech. I remember reading a good article in The Age (IIRC) soon after Rudd took the leadership about how Rudd had spent his time, while Beazley took the reins back, planning exactly how he would beat Howard if he had the top job. Methinks the whole of the last year and the increasing inevitability of Howard’s demise over the course of the year says a lot about with Rudd’s political brilliance. His strategies and tactics have not just been developed on the run as so many previous Labor leaders have (and for that matter Howard, although he was always better at picking the best wedge for “today”). And the result is what we see and have admired about the Labour campaign this time around: vision, discipline, staying on message, avoiding wedges. If “me-tooism” is the negative side of this then I for one am happy to swallow that.

    Roll on the 24th and good riddance to a government who has systematically destroyed my pride in my country and my faith in the institutions of a great democracy.

  10. BlueSkyMining said

    Dave @8: too right. I followed a link from a PB comment to the Bolter’s blog about the Labour campaign launch (Bolt’s has become one of my “reference” right-wing opinions worth reading, even though it weirds me out to put that in writing). The wingnuts comments blasting both Bolt and Rudd in the same drivel-soaked sentence put a very big smile on my dial. But the inanity of it all had me hitting the big red X button on the browser in no time flat.

  11. Peachy said

    I thought it was a fantastic performance by Rudd. Julia was a little annoying with the “friends” business in the beginning, but I thought Kevin gave a commanding performance. He really looked like a prime-minister with a vision for the future and a passionate belief in his policy platform. Even Shanahan was forced to admit that it was good.

  12. scaper... said

    I believe the coalition are well and truly snookered on this fine policy speech by Rudd.

    Howard as backed himself into a corner with his bribes and his most trusted weapon of bribery has been negated.

    I expected more of a tactical fight from the coalition, yes, change is definitely in the wind.

    Bye, bye John Winston Howard, I will sleep well tonight.

  13. Bruce said

    “Labor leader Kevin Rudd has committed to spending just a quarter of the Coalition’s $9.4 billion in election promises announced by Prime Minister John Howard…”

    By my calculations that’s a total of about $9 billion less than Howard once yiou take into account the pork already committed.

    I’m impressed. It shows a commitment to restraint and may point to a desire to help the Researve reign in inflation (and interest rates) after the election.

  14. Refried Noodle said

    The only thing they can criticise, and one they pull out regularly, is the ‘it is uncosted/unfunded’ or it is policy on the run. As they’ve been ineffective in sounding like a broken record for so long they really won’t be able to get any mud to stick on this announcement.

    Hahaha the latest Labor ad is funny. ::ding:: ::beep:: ::ding:: ::beep:: ::ding:: ::beep::

  15. The stupid carping at the Coalition launch looks even more pathetic when held alongside today’s event. I wonder if Mark Vaile now knows what an education revolution is?

  16. Bruce said

    Someone’s bombing the ABC poll:
    On the SMH site:
    Which party’s launch was the best?
    Labor 79% of 2885 votes

    At the ABC:
    Who performed better in his campaign launch?
    John Howard 66% of 119.
    Last time I looked no one had voted for Howard!

    [ Sorry Bruce, you were in the spampit …. Poss }

  17. Hemingway said


    There are only 210 voters on the ABC poll so far. Anyone reading this needs to follow your link and enter a vote.

  18. Ronin said

    It’s a good change from the ‘Me-too-ism’.

    The “education revolution” has more than symbolic significance. There is a huge challenge facing Australia in maintaining our standard of living when we’re facing the onslaught of cheap labour from overseas. There are two main approach – degrade the working condition, and improving the work force. The Coalition has been focused on the former, and not much on the later.

    ‘A computer for every Year 9-12’ – it is already a fact for those attending private school. It is a nice way of bumping up funding to the public school system without invoking the ‘class warfare’ specter. I would be even happier if they using a virtualization instead of physical hardware as they uses less energy, less power, less security issue, and heaps less maintenance.

    Reading Andrew Bolt’s blog is interesting – the small ‘l’ liberal supporters are wishing that John Howard would come out with Rudd’s policy. To borrow a phrase from Alan Greenspan, the Liberal Party has “forsaken principle for power, and ends up with neither.”

  19. Rod said

    Well, I guess in the age of micromanaged campaigns, obsessions with not frightening the Brady bunch or the Neighbours, and the like we probably shouldn’t have expected much more, but I’m afraid the “main feature” education stuff was really very, very ordinary. Better than Howard’s, no doubt, but so unimaginative and lacking in real flavour and content I found myself wondering whether it was written by an ex Kraft advertising account executive!

    Where is the innovative stuff? Where, even, is the basic response to the Howard years of running down our universities, our school infrastructure, our intellectual competitiveness? Sorry , but computers for year 9’s is the sort of stuff that might have won a few plaudits in 1990, but it is a blast from where we should have been a decade or more ago, not an “educational revolution” for today.

    Yes, Rudd is a few years in front of Howard, but he is a long, long way off the pace when it comes to where a country as rich as Australia ought to be.

    Not at all impressed , Kevin, I’m afraid.



  20. Rod said

    Well, I guess in the age of micromanaged campaigns, obsessions with not frightening the Brady bunch or the Neighbours, and the like we probably shouldn’t have expected much more, but I’m afraid the “main feature” education stuff was really very, very ordinary. Better than Howard’s, no doubt, but so unimaginative and lacking in real flavour and content I found myself wondering whether it was written by an ex Kraft advertising account executive!

    Where is the innovative stuff? Where, even, is the basic response to the Howard years of running down our universities, our school infrastructure, our intellectual competitiveness? Sorry , but computers for year 9’s is the sort of stuff that might have won a few plaudits in 1990, but it is a blast from where we should have been a decade or more ago, not an “educational revolution” for today.

    Yes, Rudd is a few years in front of Howard, but he is a long, long way off the pace when it comes to where a country as rich as Australia ought to be.

    A truly wasted opportunity.

    Not at all impressed , Kevin, I’m afraid.



  21. AllyB said

    Give me a nerd like Kev for my PM anytime!

  22. Steve_E said

    From one of the more right wing publications [The Bulletin] is the following data:

    Which characteristic do you most associate with John Howard?

    A follower 2 %
    A mate 1 %
    A media tart 1 %
    A safe bet 4 %
    An inspirational leader 2 %
    Arrogant 16 %
    Cunning 46 %
    Decisive 3 %
    Honest 1 %
    Lacking in new ideas 10 %
    Naïve 0 %
    Tired 14 %

    Total Non Positive = 86%

    Playing the ‘man’ seems to be working.

    Having the ALP launch after the CoAlition launch was good timing.

    Recovery for the Government, even getting a coherent message from this point will be difficult. The Coalition launch got lost in more leadership discussion. There is now no momentum or clean air for their message to be heard.

  23. John V K said

    Professional Hit.
    It worked everywhere. No overboard confidence. No big arm gestures. The economics works where it must. The spend is in productivity.

    Iraq combat troops out (wriggle room). Same day as the Modern day network centric across the whole battle space civilian and military is announced in Queanbeayan.

    Kyoto ratified, targets given for business to look at including the rural sectors.The NFF have just smacked Mark Vaile and hard and the bush fellas have a way of making smackies on bot bots count.

    Poss as he began he ends it, Rudd is professional as the campaign has been, we have probably watched the professional campaign ever.

    Dutchie Bolt reckons a flat run and the Namba Grey wins, me I reckon the same.

    Very very Professional.

    He’s been a nerd since day 1, so what, I’d hardly call Howard a front row forward, Bob Hawke type.

  24. Hemingway said

    To nerd or not to nerd, here’s conservative Herald-Sun pundit, Andrew Bolt’s verdict:
    “2:56pm: Tells his wife he hasn’t forgotten it’s his wedding anniversary today. Howard can start packing now.”

  25. Goodbye Mr Thatcher said

    Rod – I would agree with you but, as they say, you have to walk before you can run. Howard has done his level best to turn Australia into a society of cretinous Alf Garnets purely concerned with crass opportunism and material affluence. The challenge Rudd opens up for those of us who havent become part of this materialist ‘growth is to take the ‘revolutionary, discouse beyond material growth to cultural (poliical, ethical etc) enlightenment. But at least with Rudd the doors of perception are opening again.

  26. Bernard said

    Kevin Rudd has achieved one revolution already. He has made it okay to be intelligent again in Australia. His “safe fiscal hands” and vision for leading the entire country from pre-school through trades to the higher reaches of University into this here and now century, is almost hypnotic compared to the dreary stuffed duck anti-intellectualism of Howard and Costello, Abbot and Downer, Nelson and Minchin.

    While that crew have been grubbing around pursuing dated ideaology, Rudd has been quietly examining what the country actually needs. In doing so he has rubbed the words Left and Right out of the political lexicon. He has put the present moment back onto the daily agenda and left those who pine for the past, dragging their feet backwards. No wonder Howard and friends are struggling.

    Rudd’s launch was what we would expect of a Prime Minister of Australia. Howard’s was just a bag lady’s pottage of scare and bribe.

    As for you Possum Comitatus – you are a Virtuoso.

  27. Tassieannie said

    I would have liked to see a guarantee of computers for uni students rather than years 9 and 10. Good to see Commonwealth Scholarships increased though- I didn’t know they still existed!

    Interesting that nobody has mentioned Iraq.

  28. JP said

    I agree that Rudd has done a disciplined and strategically clever campaign, but I think it’s a stretch too far to say that people think Howard is a liar on interest rates (and everything else), tricky, mired in the past, and a reckless spender at election time just because of Rudd’s masterful campaign.

    Even if Rudd spent the whole campaign in a vow of silence, I reckon most people would have figured out most, if not all, of those things for themselves.

  29. Goodbye Mr Thatcher said

    Nice summary Bernard. The question in my mind is whether Rudd (despite his climate change policies)has really gone beyond the common fixation of the old ieologies (both left and right) with economic growth at all costs as the be all and end all of Government. It may be seem like fantasy, but the whole global warming phenomenon suggests that eventually someone has to start talking about people having less material affluence (whether computers, plasma tvs), not ever increasing amounts. Howard does even acknowledge the problem. Maybe Rudd is getting it?

  30. Goodbye Mr Thatcher said

    Slight return – sorry, that should have read ‘Howard DOESNT acknowledge the problem’

  31. Rod said


    What would you prefer as a daily driver? A 1950’s Ford Prefect or a late 1960’s Cortina?

    Sorry , but neither leader has actually set the world on fire with their “campaign launch” performance. Let’s all hope that Labor at least have a couple of new prototypes in the wings. Heck, we might even make it to the EA Falcon stage by 2010!

  32. dave said

    rodents reaction on the news etc tonight verges on being shrill.

    Finally he cannot bullshit his way out of the corner his has painted himself and his party into.

    Reality has dawned on rodent finally 🙂

  33. Ivanhoe Fats said

    Totally unrelated but as a newcomer to this blog I have a question:

    What does “pork barrelling” mean?

    I’ve searched google and the only definition I can find is “pork-barreling – acquisition of government money for benefits to a specific locale” which doesn’t seem to tie in with the context used here.

    Also, it’s a phrase that I never heard before a month or two ago – where did it come from ?

  34. Stephen T said

    Judging by Howard’s response on SBS it sure hit the target. He was almost frothing at the mouth. The ideal wedge demonstrates that Howard’s spending is
    inflationary and that he is an irresponsible economic manager. The Rodent fed it to Rudd on a plate by leaving some big spending items to the end. Rudd did not play ball and this will get a lot of mileage. Howard has been wedged and he knows it. Very bad look. Perceptions are enough regardless of the amount.

  35. Rod said

    Let wiki be your friend , Ivanhoe Fats – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_barrel



  36. Neil Cammack said

    Ivanhoe Fats, it sounds like you found the Wikipedia article, but reading further* I think it becomes clearer. In the present context the recipients of the “pork” could be a particular demographic spread across the country (eg parents of privately schooled children), but the term is most commonly used in relation to spending on particular marginal electorates.

    * “Pork barrel politics refers to government spending that is intended to benefit constituents of a politician in return for their political support, either in the form of campaign contributions or votes. The term originated early in American history, when slaves were sometimes given a barrel of salt pork as a reward, and had to compete among themselves to get their share of the handout… Typically it involves funding for government programs whose economic or service benefits are concentrated in a particular area but whose costs are spread among all taxpayers. Public works projects and agricultural subsidies are the most commonly cited examples, but they do not exhaust the possibilities… A politician who supplies his or her constituents with considerable funding is said to be ‘bringing home the bacon.'”


  37. stupor said

    Just a comment about the coverage, I couldn’t help but notice how skynews could talk of almost nothing other than the delays before the launch and how much of a bad look it is for a party that wants to be in government. Among the other news services it didn’t even rate a mention. Last I heard sky was still reiterating they hadn’t yet been given an official explanation. Nice one sky, at least you’re being consistent.

  38. dave said

    Some people may wish to download some of the Utube clips/ ads etc.

    An easy way to do it is to paste the url of the clip into the following :


    Then just follow the directions. I use VLC to play the clips (just google to find VLC its free and about 5 mb)

  39. Bernard said

    Goodbye Mr Thatcher – I enjoyed your raising the bar beyond materialism . It seems rather pointless having legs and not attempting worthwhile paces and a few leaps. Thankyou.

    For me, the resurrection of intelligence will gradually lead to less reliance on materialims for instant dopamine fuzzies. Such things as larger and larger mansions to house smaller and smaller families is a symptom of the kind of absurdity that materialism leads to. But the whole problem of materialism is that it cannot provide a satisfactory living experience for a human being.

    Aristotle, a very rigorous thinker as you know, stated outright that a being of the genus ‘Animal’ species ‘Human’ is made for knowledge and reason. Lesser baubles will just not do, not even at an individual level let alone a societal level.

    At the same time, use of intellect has to be kept free from puritanism and similar abhorrences. Aristotle maintained that we need to use our wholeness – our enotions and desires – but moderated by reason. Ref: Writings on Psyche and Ethics.

    So, I think that what you say is important. Why not give the brain a go? Why not give it its rightful place as each person’s foremost enriching asset? Wouldn’t it be nice to see it given a chance to provide that which we all seek – happiness. Without the destructive compulsiveness of materialism.

    Who knows, the Planet itself may need our brain.

  40. Harmless Cud Chewer said

    Possum, what credible data is there about Paterson, so far?

  41. pjk said

    Ivanhoe Flats:

    Re Pork Barelling:

    I just go this off a paper on the web:

    Pork barrel politics – the practice of targeting expenditure to particular districts based on political considerations – has been in existence for at least two centuries.1 In the United States, where the term was originally coined, over 15,000 projects per year are “earmarked” for particular districts (Flake 2006). Variously sponsored by representatives on both sides of the politics, such projects are frequently added onto budget appropriations to accommodate constituents, campaign donors, or potential supporters.

    for the entire paper:


  42. Goodbye Mr Thatcher said

    Bernard – amen to that. Maybe some of Rudd’s scholarships for enticing back mid-career academics could be used to establish a fund for ‘post-materialist’ (i.e. pure)cultural research?

  43. Peter Andrews said

    OK. Hardly the dizzy limits of charisma, Kev but it’ll do. Bet there were a couple of sleepless nights by the aparatchiks weighing up the risks of the interest rate wedge vs match the rodent (but do it more cleverer). Agreed that the full catastrophe is starting to look less likely now (only 10 days!) but let’s not get too previous. Haven’t yet done the state by state this week, but add the MoE to the 16 seats plus whatever and it’s still possible that the Sun 25th hangover could be one of the sourest ever.

  44. Huckle said

    Nice suprise in the mail this morning – a letter from the bank passing on the recent interest rate to my home loan repayments. I thought of the Rodent and smiled.

  45. BaztheSpaz said

    Yep, the launch speech was almost the perfect wedge – John Howard has ‘mortgaged your children’s future’, or words to that effect. On message, disciplined and a bit of the ‘vision thing’ without spending too much money and nailing Howard to the mast for his desperate pork barrelling. The public school kids get computers without appearing to take money from private schools. Some grand sounding stuff about education – the ‘vision thing’ which Howard just can’t match. Absolutely hammered the ‘yesterday’s man’ theme, to great effect. Shows there are some clever people back in charge of the ALP campaign – John Faulkner take a bow, I’m sure you have plenty to do with the strategy. Absolutely ‘beyond Left and Right’, so it’s no wonder Howard has nothing with which to respond. I reckon McKew is a certainty for Bennelong after this.
    One of the few seats which won’t go with the betting odds. How the Rodent could still be odds-on in Bennelong is a mystery, unless an awful lot of Turnbull’s money has been put on him to shore up the odds.
    Break open the champagne, the Fat Lady is really seriously rehearsing!

  46. Rog said

    The academics are fairly happy with Rudd’s announcements: they just wished they had gone a little further. Still, they’re miles better than Ratty’s. I wish I had seen JH on telly tonight. He would have been as grumpy as hell….

  47. Kirribilli Removals said

    Another deft touch, apart from “the IR policy that dare not speak its name”, was Rudd’s promise to give back Australia’s own voice on Foreign Affairs. Subtle eh? The alliance with Bush that dare not speak its name!

    And so, in one neat phrase, Rudd just skillfully brought the whole Bush/Howard fiasco to an end, without even mentioning either of them; they had become irrelevent, history, and a mistake he’d be correcting.

    This is powerful oratory, when the message goes on in your head like a light switched on, and you suddenly see what you always knew was there: another reality, not based on fear and desperate seeking of political kudos from a flawed US president, but our own voice, our own future without this deformed relationship.

    End of rant! Sorry.

  48. Country Kid said

    How about KR’s use of the word ‘core’ – to describe genuine commitment to education. Brilliant contrast with the way ‘core’ is so horribly associated with JWH.

  49. middle man said

    i’m starting a ten day program of crossing bodily parts to help induce a Lab victory. Its gonna hurt but it’ll be worth it!

  50. The Doctor said

    Given the consistently good polling I think all Rudd had to do was show his face and maybe some halfway reasonable policies!

  51. Steve K said

    After Kev’s performance yesterday I can say with confidence thatRudd is the real deal.

    I was watch Sky News for a couple of hours last night (nornally don’t get to see it) and the Libs were running an ad with a former Hawke minister who was bagging Rudd and slamming unions. Does anyone know who he is and what his beef is with Labour?

  52. Socrates said

    I also thought Rudd gave an excellent performance yesterday. He was intelligent, articulate, and disciplined. If that is nerdy, I wish I was that good a nerd. On William’s site I commented that I was not so much pro-Rudd as anti-Howard. But I find that has changed during the campaign. Rudd has run an excellent campaign IMO. He has been focused, clear and sincere, while making sensible promises about things that matter. Far from making gaffs that risked a narrowing, he has been positive to the extent that the Liberals are surely now starring down the barrel of a massacre. Howard stands for higher inflation, Rudd stand for higher education.

  53. Socrates said

    Steve K

    He is Brian Courtice, a former Labor minister who was expelled from the party. You don’t know who is and that is the real point. It would be like Labor trotting out film of Malcom Fraser criticising Howard. Ancient history.

  54. john said

    A little off the mark but timely none the less—I do not recall a come from behind win in our political history of the magnitude that the coalition requires to get them over the line in the last week of a campaign! Given this the coalition has about 72 hours to invent a miracle given the excellent springboard effect the labor launch has had on the mainstream media today.

  55. Courtice (MP 1987-93) was never a minister (his uncle was under Chifley I think), an ex-AWU official, came to prominence briefly as a Keating supporter against Hawke in 1991 and was allegedly threatened by the Qld AWU with losing preselection. Nothing happened but he lost his seat to Nats in 1993. Labor in Bundaberg does seem a mess.

  56. Michael said

    Presumably people here have read the Lambert article posted on PB.

    Does anyone know what Lambert means when he says:

    “TCP vote is nearly always a TPP (Two Party Preferred) vote and, by
    long-held convention, is always expressed as an ALP TPP”

  57. Stimulus Package said

    Kevin, you’ve now made it the *more* manly thing to have the smaller ‘Stimulus Package’!

    Anyhow, a view of the whole laptop thing.

    After the 2004 election, one of things that the Proles remembered when asked about ‘what were Howard’s policies?’ was the toolbox for apprentices (I think it was in the 2004 Australian Election Survey – someone post the link to the raw data, its wonderful). Anyhow, it was a small thing but a tangible, easily identifiable benefit: ‘Howard said he’d give apprentices a toolbox’.

    That’s why Kevin held up a laptop a few weeks ago and called it the ‘toolbox of the 21st century’.

    The laptop for all kids is Labor’s similar ‘zinger’ of a policy that is easily remembered: ‘yeah, Kevin said he’d give my kid in High School a laptop’ people will say in the 2007 Australian Election Survey.

    As an aside, I just saw Joe Hockey this morning at the Epping bus stop. Told him that ‘there’s always a place for you in the ALP – it’s your natural home, mate.’

  58. Old academic said

    Possum, you are spot on about nerdiness. It’s high time nerdiness was made to look “cool”. Currently, we have schoolkids who are good at maths and science, but prefer to HIDE that fact rather than be proud of it. Until this is turned around, you will continue to have falling Uni enrolments in the STEM areas. Of course fixing the damage in the education area will take many years and many billions, but one has to start somewhere.

  59. hergs said

    While Rudd’s campaign was great and certainly was full of vision (as opposed to just giving people $$$), does anyone think it might go over the head of the average voter? Some may say “we already have computers”, and “I would prefer the $800 for fees”.

    On a side note, I have a question for someone who can remember back this far. I was talking about the poll steadiness this morning with my parents, and my mum mentioned something about Kennett getting smashed back in the past, despite the polls indicating he would romp it in. 1. Is this correct, and 2. what is to say it couldn’t happen this time? The polls look great (and I hope they are right) but it seems alot of online comment (not here) seems to think a Labor victory is guaranteed.

    Thank you

  60. Blair said

    The polls in the final week correctly predicted the 1999 Victorian result (more or less) – it’s just that nobody believed them.

  61. MsLaurie said

    Also, the issue in the Kennett booting was that no-one was paying attention to the regions, where LOTS of people were seriously pissed off at the Melbourne-centric Kennett.

    Seems to me that since then, there has been more effort from all pollsters to seek views outside of the cities more consistently, so, hopefully, the current polls are more in line with actual sentiment.

  62. adam said

    All the comments regards materialism and virtualization tie really nicely into a fundamental point about the failure of Howard and his cronies to actually pay attention to the academic traditions they pretend to espouse.

    Howard says in the past he is influenced by the neo-con thinking of the 70’s and 80’s, which has its roots in Mises and Hayek. For those of you unaware of Hayek, his “Constitution of Liberty” is the book that Margaret Thatcher so infamously slammed on the table in the middle of a speech at the Tory convention of 1975, interrupting the speaker to declaim: “THIS is what we believe!”

    The point I keep coming back to, despite all of Hayek’s failures to have a heart, is his fundamental understanding of what wealth can do to people. I’ll quote you all the section on page 45 of the Routledge 2006 edition, because I am going to get this quote printed large-format and send it to Liberal Party HQ in a frame on November 25th, so they never ever forget what a cock-up they made, and how easily a little reading could have prevented it.

    “7. With respect to the advanced countries of the West it is sometimes contended that progress is too fast or too exclusively material. These two aspects are probably closely connected. Times of very rapid material progress have rarely been periods of great effloresence of the arts, and the finest products of artistic and intellectual endeavor have often appeared when material progress has slackened… But the great outbursts in the creation of non-material values seem to presuppose a preceding improvement in economic condition. It is perhaps natural that generally after such periods of rapid growth of wealth there occurs a turning toward non-material things or that, when economic activity no longer offers the fascination of rapid progress, some of the most gifted men should turn to the pursuit of other values.”

    Apart from the use of the word men, I adore that last sentence. Prediction of the current shift towards values and away from rodenture. Tattoo that on your forehead, neocons. It isn’t just the economy for us out here, saith even Hayek.

  63. Jess said

    Poss I know this is kind of off topic but can you shed any light on the assertion by some journos and ‘senior Liberal’ that the Coalition can win with 48% of the TPP vote? Is this actually possible and is it at all likely?

  64. PP said

    Michael @ 56: A TPP (two-party preferred) is an expression of the state of the vote in a particular electorate, expressed in terms of a face-off between the two big parties. For eg, ALP 55 to Liberal 45.

    If the seat comes down to a contest between one of the big parties and an independent, Green etc, it’s no longer a TPP situation since we are not talking about the two big parties. Since there are still two candidates, you can express the situation by using a two-candidate preferred number. For eg, Liberal 57 to Independent 43.

    So all TCPs are TPPs, but not the other way around. In practice, most people ignore TCPs and just talk of TPPs, since most contests come down to a fight between the big parties.

  65. PP said

    I just said “So all TCPs are TPPs, but not the other way around.” Oops! I meant to say that all TPPs are TCPs, ie TPPs are a subset of TCPs.

  66. Francis said

    Apparently Rubik’s cubes are turning up in high-school again too. Seriously. Nerdiness really is cool again. Its a total re-run of the 80s, it started with fashion but soon Devo will be touring.

    Jess – that’s because safe labor seats are safer than safe liberal seats. Theoretically, the liberals could win with 26% of the vote – by winning 76 seats 50.1 to 49.9, leaving labour to win the other 74 seats with 100% of the vote.

    I personally would like to see proportional representation reforms to better reflect voting and give people some real choice. But at least democracy seems to be working this time… hah

  67. hergs said

    Adam, great post. To understand that though requires thought and a genuine interest in politics – for the electorate in general I believe this may be idealistic thinking. I hope not. Still not convinced that some people may simply go for the $800 in their pockets for school fees (despite the fact it would probably hike up fees even further).

  68. Kirribilli Removals said

    Adam, good post, and yes it should get tattooed inside the eyelids of the remaining coalition rump. To recast a famous line: It’s more than just the economy, stupid!

    This wave of neoconservatism is nearly over, here and in the US, and Rudd has very nicely paid the US Alliance due respect while turfing Howard’s obsequious and craven adherence to Bush’s neoconservative miscalculations. That’s some feat, but he’s pulled it off masterfully.

    Now, here come ‘interesting times’.

  69. It takes a long time to come around. Suggestions within the ALP during the late 90’s to provide a laptop for every secondary student fell on deaf ears. There is still a long way to go with State governments that ban student access to Youtube and similar sites. The one redeeming aspect of this censorship is that they can’t watch Howard’s orangutan self satire. For my videos views on the campaign, click the link. ‘Labor View from Broome’

  70. adam said

    hey hergs, kiribilli,

    thanks. while it might take thought to get hayek, it doesn’t take much thought to actually do what he proposes people will do. even cartman can ask the question regarding a boring activity: “bail?” and get a reply “bail”.

    so-called “gut” reactions like these are far more important than reason in human thinking. for an example, chase up Libet’s work on cognition, wherein he argues that conscious thought is only the end product of the process – that we choose to do things a split second before we actually think about them consciously. consciousness is a narrative that both explains and in some limited ways guides our behaviors – hence why we have problems with modifying our behavior. this is your whole-body cognitive process in action. people underestimate these “gut” reactions, yet if it weren’t for them, none of us would be here. they are very survival successful modes of thought.

    that’s why i have great hope for us all if we only learn to trust our feelings as much as we do our rationalisms. so necessary, seeing as we are the only highly cognitive species that lives in hive structures. altruism becomes our way of hive-collective survival. this means learning to teach people to be whole people, capable of loving altruistic reactions rather than bleak self-interest. hayek is deeply misguided about many things. his fear of the collective is one of them.

  71. Helveticus said

    Adam @ 62
    Thanks for remiding me that there is more depth to Hayek then the small shopkeeper PMs were selectively preachig from.
    Indeed, GROWTH for what?
    Warts and Cancer is a growth too.
    When I arrived in this country in 82, within months I was layed off in the recession no neocon remembers. Recently my wife and I were commenting how this country has changed, laissez fair and intellect have been shoved into a corner somewhere. I myself look forward to wear my nerdy hat with pride again and will be able say, when asked why : ‘Well, I have read books, you know!”

  72. stevet said

    Howard and Abbott are going to make a major health announcement soon.

  73. Bruce said

    On the topic of Rudd being nerdy and mechanical, Annabel Crabb at the Herald has written an hilarious piece about the Ruddbot at the Labor launch:

    Some quotes:
    ‘…the art of political oratory is dead in Australia and both John Howard and Kevin Rudd are helping the police with their inquiries.’

    ‘…the Labor leader is, in fact, not a flesh-and-blood Queenslander at all, but a sophisticated humanoid Ruddbot.’

    ‘The real reason for the delay…is that there were urgent last-minute recalibrations to be made to the Ruddbot.”‘

    ‘…Labor technicians twiddled frantically with tiny screwdrivers to reset him from “spend” to “scrimp”. It was a rush job, and there were certain glitches in the finished product as a result.’

    ‘Let’s hope no one switches him to “Evil”.’

  74. Did anyone hear Howard saying he wasn’t against computers in response to Rudd’s promise? He bumbled around embarrassingly for some time, before it became clear he had absolutely no idea what a computer was.

  75. GS said

    IMHO, I’m not looking forward to the Libs flicking the switch to full-on negative as they seek to claw something back before the media blackout (6 days out). Some signs already. My discomfort is mainly due to the fact that some in ‘swingers land’ will buy the bulls-it. 😦

  76. Helveticus said

    Adam says: “hayek is deeply misguided about many things. his fear of the collective is one of them.”

    The Collective vs the Individual polarisation is rather becoming as irrlevant like Left vs Right.
    In times of unprecedented human population growth, consumption and rapid changes in our physical support system, we need far more accurate concepts of who we are and where we stand. I dare a more rational (based on all evidence) approach whch will move from the “I consume therefor I am” to “I sustain therefore humanity lives on.” Hopefully the New Leadreship is able to facilitate this rethinking. Otherwise, I dont know how the average punter is going to cope with carbon tax and shopping therapy withdrawals.

  77. Kirribilli Removals said

    Yeah, sure did TWOP, and it was so cringe inducing! The poor old dear is finally drooling rather incoherently as he stares into the abyss!

  78. Mark said

    Worst of Perth 74 I picked up on that as well. Does anyone have a contact in the press gallery to get him asked if he knows how to use one?

    I really suspect he doesn’t even use email. He’s from the generation that has worked on paper all their life and are not going to change now. They’re an endangered species in the wider white collar workforce but still quite common in the legal fraternity. Would be a good story….

  79. Enemy Combatant said

    “Gotta ’34 wagon and I’m packin’ a woody
    Nerd City, here I come…..”

    This is not a good time for Unabashed Narrowists.
    Their current catharses will catalysize much character building, comprehension expansion and Horizon Widening. Going forward.
    For these people, the science of psephology can be a cruel mistress, indeed.
    First, she gives them a little cerebral slap. Being zealots, these people just don’t get it, of course. She then proceeds to flog their jailbird sophistry without mercy. Christ only knows if it’s naughty to watch(must ask Mel Gibson), but if it is a weakness, then I embrace it with boundless delight.

  80. disenfranchised Gippslander said

    “the Newcastle Herald reckons it has a poll on Paterson with a 0.1% margin of error.”

    Perhaps they put their figures into a calculator, which reported “MOE=0.1” and they reported this as .1% rather than 10%. Or perhaps,as you inelegantly put it, they “pulled it out of their pants” looked at ,said “that looks pretty small, let’s call it .1%”

  81. Janet said

    Nerd or not?

    Maybe geek is better word. Geek = an employable nerd. I think Rudd was tagged a nerd by the rednecks who describe thinking leftists as ‘elite’ or Margaret Thatcher ‘chattering classes’.

  82. Mark said

    Hi Possum

    Re: Newcastle Herald. I just rang them and spoke to the “Editor-in-Chief”; Kevin Walsh? He says that he is going to speak to the reporter. I asked if he would publish a correction. No, just wanted to know where I was from.


  83. tooweird said

    Re: Howard does not compute.

    I clearly remember one of the first things Howard did when he got into office in 96 was cancel the multimedia community resource centres Keating had set up around the country – These community centres with their banks of computers and big mainframes were designed to give everybody access to serious computing grunt – to use as they might. Around the same time, perhaps even with the money he saved, Howard, reintroduced free portraits of the Queen, available to all from Government Bookshops local MP’s. I still have one on my wall as a symbolic reminder of the Howard years – where we replaced the new with the old.

    It was out with the new, and in with the old at work for Mr Howard too. Remember when Howard refurbished his new parliament house office, with Menzies desk and chesterfields.

    And now with education – Howard has a rearview vision of the future. Computers are out but history and the 3 R’s are in.

    Having said all that someone I know in the media says Howard carries a blackberry with him. And when it comes to luddites think Labor leader Steve Bracks whose wife said on the Premier’s retirement that she hoped he would now have time to learn to use a computer.

    Still let’s hope that on the 24th Australia gets it the right around around – it’s out with the old and in with the new. Let’s face it – John Howard is sooooo last century.

  84. Ozymandias said

    Enough with this “Ruddslide”… it’s gonna be a “Kevalanche”.

  85. Bert said

    Just be calm comrades. I was apalled at the tenor of the correspondents on the bolts blog although I am not surprised.

    We should all after the 24th Nov. have a better sense of inclusivity after almost twelve years of division.

    I used to go to school with twits that exibit the same behaviour as most of Howards front bench. Yes I went to one of those. Narky twerps whose only form of self expression is derision of their perceived enemies. They are all priviledged schoolboys that never grew up.

    I did not like them then and can’t stand them now.

    Any good analysis shows the polls are looking rock solid.

    I have already opened a tin in anticipation. Not that I need an excuse.

    Thanks poss for your enlightenment. By the way I am nudging sixty. If I can learn how to use a computer….


  86. Kirribilli Removals said

    Janet, let’s hope that the “geek shall inherit the Lodge”!

  87. Jess said

    Has anyone seen this!

    Not that we should be suprised by I for one hope that Labor make a lot of this in regional areas – might make the swing even bigger… and it feeds into the desperate spending spree line.

  88. Adam said

    Hi Helveticus at 71, 76.

    A thought regards Hayek’s depth. Though I would challenge much of his thinking, I couldn’t agree more. Hayek is a deep thinker, and helps me challenge and refine my own views in contrast. Love him or loathe him (to use the parlance of the day) there is more depth to him than neo-cons like Howard would ever admit (assuming they actually read him). Many of them simply adopt his argument for a perceived necessity of wealth disparity (disparity creates the wealthy, who then crash-test our possible future ways of life) as a rationale for shoring up their own entrenched, coercive power positions. They don’t register what he says about the necessity for the rich to act in a socially constructive fashion, as centres of philanthropic developmental activity. To them, it’s all a rationale for rapacious greed, cloaked in the language of development.

    Given his failure in the 1960’s to predict the rise of information technology, and the subsequent shift from the wealthy to children and teens prototyping our future way of life through their parent-supported disposable income (mobiles and sms anyone? pop culture and voting anyone? games and broadband anyone? facebook anyone? watch this space in future), Hayek is looking more in need of revision daily. His arguments for the necessity of a wealthy class do not hold so much water any more.

    Also, can’t agree more on the collective. Hayek wrote much of his seminal work in the Cold War 1950’s, and was a product of his flight from Austrian Nazism in the 1930’s. He had a deep distrust of collective activity, through an understandable fear of fascist and communist centralism. He failed to see that there was more than one approach to centralism, and that its opposite was no better. But: one thing he did get right was to highlight the importance of self-organizing structures as a means of social organization that no one person can control. But, even in this he is wedded to his favorite dead white guys. A more scientific investigation of the nature of human collective activity in supporting freedom than Hayek’s would be useful.

    You’re so right, Helveticus. Hayek can only be regarded as a signpost in this field. We need a REAL political science, based in empirical data rather than philosophy, that can help us to understand how we can achieve an environmentally stable yet culturally developmental existence. The old binary dichotomies of left and right etc are deadly to the new thought needed in human systems management.

  89. Jess said

    Its now on the front page of the Oz – I wonder how long it will stay there…

  90. CookElector said

    Adam @ 70. Your comments about gut-reaction vs conscious thought have another consequence.

    All these polls about “when did you make up your mind about your vote?” are asking about the time of the *conscious* thought process – and many people answer that they only made up their mind at the last moment.

    Well the person’s gut may have made up its mind long before, but the person did not become conscious of it – did not start to listen to it and work out how their gut was already reacting to the political choices – until late in the campaign. I suspect it is not so much late decisions, as dormant gut reactions that are only consulted by the conscious mind late in the campaign … when the person has to actually act on their choice by filling in a ballot. The dormant gut reactions have been there simmering for months, years even.

    Freud got many things wrong, but the idea of unconscious mental processes (not invented by him) was still a good idea that he promoted (Kant acknowledged such processes long before Freud).

  91. Crikey Whitey said

    A laptop led economy.

    Makes a change from digging ourselves in deeper.

    From jobs underground to seeing the light.

    Lets see now, kids in Years 10 to 12 are aged on average respectively 15, 16, 17.

    In three years time they will be aged 18 years and over.

    Many will have commenced further education, academic or technical training, apprenticeships.

    All this under the wisdom, leadership and munificence of Labor.

    And each of these children have how many voting parents?

    When is the election after this?

    (ignore at Pbs)

  92. Adam said

    Sorry about the double post above, people: poss, can you please fix that?

    [can do, bloody spam bin…. Poss]

    hi CookElector…

    There’s another aspect contrary to common thinking in polling circles that you’ve hit on there. That’s the rational tone of the questioning. While some people filter things through rational structures, this is a skill that must be learnt. Evaluation of data by humans most commonly leads to what Polanyi termed “tacit knowledge” first, and logical structures later (if at all). Tacit knowledge is knowledge that cannot be expressed in words – gut knowledge. Polanyi was specifically talking about embodied knowledges (such as how to hit a tennis ball, turn wood etc) but I think the extension could stand. Humans are wonderful, observant sensory-cognitive systems, and as bodies process vast amounts of information that their consciousnesses never register…

    Sadly, many people feel that because they can’t talk logically about something, they know little about it. But you’ll find that they can nonetheless understand well enough to make clear decisions. Those who fear their capacity to think without rational structures should read Hadamard’s essay on creative thinking in mathematics, where he demonstrates (through empirical research) that many top mathematicians of his day relied on kinaesthetic sensations or visual imagery to think in maths. That is, they felt or saw the answers. Einstein said that he felt the answers as sensations in his arms, then spent years converting them to symbols. Too often we mistake the rational logical process for thinking. It simply isn’t – but many polls seem to act as though it is, and as though we all use it regularly.

  93. DonPaullo said

    Rodent odds just blew out big time on Betfair.

    All corporates have tightened today.

    What poll is coming???

    This reminds me of the pre-Newspoll market. Someone wanted to get set in some ALP and didnt care at what price.

    Just going through the seats – will report on any movements.

  94. Eye Tattoo said

    eye tattoo

    Check out these eye tattoo videos

  95. when r the laptop’s coming out so we can use them

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