Idle speculation: March edition

Conversation starters:

Newspoll. What to make of the widening of the two-party gap from 54-46 to 57-43, in a poll conducted between Friday and Sunday? Lag effects (note the 6 per cent slump in Kevin Rudd’s approval rating and the narrowing preferred PM gap)? A pox on both their houses (note the 3 per cent lift in the "others" vote)? Cynicism about Ian Campbell’s dismissal? Statistical noise? To elucidate the second point, I offer two graphs showing recent leaders’ approval rating performance in their first seven Newspolls (except Rudd, who is only up to number five). The second excludes Crean and the two Beazley leaderships, which began in the aftermath of election defeats when opinion polls follow different rhythms.

• Kevin Rudd’s silly call for an early election. This will dispose me towards negative interpretations of Labor’s next few sets of poll figures, if only because it has exposed his apparent lack of sure-footedness when forced on the defensive. To clarify this point: as Rudd well knows, restrictions on the timing of half-Senate elections mean that a normal House-and-half-Senate poll cannot be called until June 1, for a date no sooner than August 4. With no double dissolution trigger currently available, any election before that would have to be a House-only election to be followed by a separate half-Senate election over the course of the following year. To my knowledge, nobody has yet put it to Rudd that this is what he’s advocating. Glenn Milne went part of the way in his column in yesterday’s Australian, although he was incorrect to state that "if Howard acceded to Rudd’s election demand, we would be going to a double-dissolution election" – no trigger for such an election currently exists.

• The West Australian’s 1975-style call for a state government "rendered dysfunctional by an unprecedented series of ministerial scandals" to do the honourable thing and face the people. One problem though: the supposed alternative government is not even pretending to be ready to step into the breach. With simmering sectarian violence threatening to boil over into full-scale civil war, Liberal leader Paul Omodei has declared the state to be "almost ungovernable" – but not to the extent that his Coalition might be expected to win an election. The West’s Graham Mason reported on Friday that Omodei’s lack of aggression on this front was fomenting discontent with his leadership, which sounds about right: since there is not going to be an election in any case (despite surprising talk from Greens leader Giz Watson about the prospect of blocking supply), the opposition should be taking the opportunity to at least appear as if they’re on the front foot. The aforementioned West editorial called for Colin Barnett to return to the Liberal leadership, which also sounds about right.

In typical style, the paper seized on the government’s troubles by commissioning Patterson Market Research to conduct a poll of 400 voters over the weekend, just as it did when revelations regarding Norm Marlborough’s activities were exposed last November. Polls conducted in such unusual circumstances are of little help in gauging a government’s long-term political fortunes, but they can be of very great value in providing a good headline – providing those surveyed follow the script. On this indication however, the impact of the last fortnight’s events seems to have been fairly modest: Labor down from 44 per cent to 39 per cent on the primary vote and the Coalition up from 37 per cent to 39 per cent, with Labor still ahead 51.2-48.8 on two-party preferred.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

98 comments on “Idle speculation: March edition”

Comments Page 1 of 2
1 2
  1. Bludger said (in the midst of a gargantuan effort):

    ‘A pox on both their houses (note the 3 per cent lift in the “others” vote)’
    “Statistical noise?”

    With Newspoll the statistical noise in the ‘Other’ runs at about 130 decibels.

    Newspoll only reports Coalition, ALP and GRN, lumping everybody else into ‘Other’. Morgan and Nielsen report Dems, One Nation, Independents and all the usual suspects- plus “Other” as well.

    It is a bit unclear what “Other” really means, especially with Newpoll. Newspoll says its question is “Which of the following would you vote for; if uncommitted, to which of these do you have a leaning”?

    So presumably, the pollster reads from a list of tick-boxes which include only COAL, GRN, ‘OTHER’. Where the others’ ‘Others’ comes from is even hazier.

    In a long-term graph of polling, “Other” shows the most volatility- usually swinging by 2% from fortnight to fortnight. And remember, a 2% swing is huge when “Other” tends to centre upon a baseline of 8%. Over the last two years, “Other” has been as low as 4% and as high as 11%. This is a time-averaged and pollster-averaged number- raw figures are even more volatile. Newspoll had it at 15% in Feb 2006.

    This is not just academic prattling. The “Other” vote has to transfer directly into the TPP at an election. Anything that can contribute to a 7% swing in the TPP has to be taken seriously.

    Bigger problems arise with “Independent” (which Newspoll stopped recording in October 2004) because this is very person-specific and electorate-specific and, in any case, since INDS often don’t declare their hand until nomination day, probably doesn’t mean anything until 2 weeks before an election.

  2. It’s all Canberra white noise blather. Does anyone seriously think that the average voter (ie, someone who doesn’t share the passion for the minutiae of politics common to blogsters) cares about any of this?

    To address the points in turn:
    1) The Newspoll results are consistent with those of the last year, which is to say a rising vote for the ALP. The whole Burke issue is not one that the non-political class are paying any attention to, except that it appears to be turning them further off the government. Don’t forget, from the average punter’s viewpoint, it’s unclear what Rudd is supposed to have done. Brian Burke is largely unknown outside WA, so most people can’t see what the problem is. The government, on the other hand, has lost a minister, and appear to be getting hysterical about a non-issue. Rudd is on the right track by pointing out that the government hasn’t actually done any governing for week, pre-occupied as they have been by smearing Rudd.

    2) Rudd’s call for an early election was just rhetoric. The ALP certainly doesn’t expect an election before August, and most probably not until October. I’ve noticed that the media are questioning Rudd’s judgement here, but I mean, come on – surely this is pretty standard political sloganeering.

    3) WA will be a weak spot for Labor in the election, both because of the resources boom and the smell of Burke, but 2PP figures suggest that the ALP would probably win a snap state election, so the Coalition over there must be pretty awful. My gut feeling at the moment is that the Federal election will be decided in the west, which I guess is why Howard is running so hard on the whole Burke thing. First impressions, though, suggest that it might backfire on him.

  3. You’d have to imagine today’s poll is just noise, or rebound from last time, or that there will be a delayed reaction in two weeks. It just is not possible for Rudd to have the week he’s had and get a 3% bounce!

  4. Marcus raises a valid point, but could it be that Mr & Mrs Average haven’t been paying the slightest attention to the Burke media circus of the last few days? And really, why would they? A bunch of people they’ve mostly never heard of having dinner with Kevin Rudd two years ago. People aren’t stupid – they realise that the government is just trying to smear Rudd. They are probably a bit bemused why everyone is still going on about it nearly a week later. I suspect in the medium term this whole affair will hurt Howard more than Rudd, despite the best efforts of the Howard cheer-squad in the media.

  5. I think Hugo is right about the politics of this, although we will have to wait for the next few Newspolls to see. The problem for the Libs is that unless there are some other Rudd-Burke canoodlings we don’t know about, there is nowhere new for this issue to go – they can only bang on about a dinner in 2005 for so long. The episode does however raise doubts about Rudd’s behaviour under pressure, which has been less than stellar. This will have been duly noted.

    Thanks William for the “new leader” poll graphs. People keep writing “all new leaders get a bounce.” The graph confirms my memory that Crean got no bounce. He was a turkey from day one.

  6. Hugo

    Sure, I agree the average Joe in the street wouldn’t care less about Burke per se, and that what Rudd did wasn’t such a big deal. But I do think the perception of lying, currying favours, and of not looking too good under criticism will register to a degree, and perception is all in politics. Hence the expectation of dip in the polls.

    I can’t agree with you on the ‘it’s just all dirty smearing by the government and media’ argument. Rudd is fair game like everyone else in the business. He’s neither untouchable nor infallible. Senior members of parliament on both sides of politics have stuffed up big time over their dealings with Burke, and Rudd is no different in this respect. Again, it’s all about perception: his protestations and accusations of smearing could feed speculation he’s trying to hide something.

    Another interesting point that was brought up elsewhere: why has nobody interviewed Burke himself to ask what went on? Burke could clear the matter up one way or the other with a single sentence. Assuming Burke would want Rudd to beat Howard, it’s interesting to speculate why has he not done this.

  7. Burke is up for corruption, 4 WA minister had already resigned over the issue. I am sure if Howard met someone on corruption charges in NSW 3 times, Labor will be making as much fuzz. Labor tried to make a fuzz that some of Howard’s “friend” have investment in the nuclear industry, it is really SS DD.

    The difference here is why did Rudd have 3 meeting with Burke, and the fact that he denied that leadership was discussed, Rudd said no, “unnamed sources” seems to suggests “yes”. It would be hard to believe that Beazley did not come up in conversation. But was “Leadership” discuss …. Looks like a grey area.

    ALP and Rudd has been after Howard on his “integrity” for 2 election, they had also been playing the man. Rudd like Howard is fair game.

  8. A bit of perspective please – Burke cultivated as large a circle of influential business people as he could. He was doing business as business men do, its called networking.

    Politicians do it as well.

    He needed the businessmen to finance the influence being able to fund raise for election campaigns will always give people. The now infamous dinner was no doubt more about Burke leveraging his mate Edwards to get Rudd to help with his network function. Policitians love networking and lets assume Rudd met as many people as he possibly could.

    Now to the fake play the man argument. Arguably two of the WA Ministers went because it was apparent on the evidence presented they were using a public office in the way the public was unlikely to like. We will see in the fullness of time if they are charged and / or convicted of official misconduct.

    They were not victims of the Liberals in WA playing the man (the Libs in WA would have trouble beating a kindy class so it is lucky it wasn’t needed) they were victims of their own stupidity and misusing their office.

    The questions of Mr Howard, which were not playing the man, were all about what had prompted a major Govt policy backflip, which had been telegraphed from the moment the US lobbyists landed in Australia and lined up liberal (and some labor) politicians like converts at a revival meeting ready for baptism. But backflip none the less and with a proximate time link to the creation of the company – to create a prima facie circumstantial case of misuse of office.

    There is no suggestion of misuse of office in relation to the Rudd smear, it is just Rudd happened to be near someone who now smells and the Govt is trying to spread the smell over Rudd. It is just personal abuse, he is not fit for office. That is a judgement voters will make. It is silly stuff and it seems pretty clear the voters are way smarter than that.

    Is someone going to buy Peter “tip” Costello (hereinafter Tip) a sword or an ice berg to go with his rhetoric?

  9. Another question: how is it that Burke- who is essentially a disgraced corporate criminal- is allowed to be in such influential lobbying positions in the first place?

  10. There’s no law against being a lobbyist, even if you’re an ex-con. If people are willing to see you, you can lobby. The standard of ethics in WA business and politics is so low that no-one really sees much wrong with what Burke did when he was Premier anyway. Plus he has powerful friends like Kevin Reynolds.

  11. Well, there’s lobbying and there’s ‘lobbying’. Did it not occur to people that an ex-con with a record of dodgy backroom deals might not be helping people purely out of the goodness of his heart?

  12. I think Marcus and Adam touch upon a fair point, which is that lobbying is basically an unregulated activity. Consequently, “ex-Cons” (as Marcus so delicately puts it; bear in mind that he wasn’t convicted of child abuse but of allowance rorting – a crime to be sure, but can we lay off the overly emotive labels?) can be and are lobbyists. From a WA point of view, he’s obviously a pretty significant figure, so it probably makes sense by the standards of the West that Burke be a high profile lobbyist.

    The problem isn’t really what Rudd said to Burke or vice versa, it’s that there is no register of lobbyists, so there’s no real way of knowing just whom is influencing our elected representatives. Personally, I’m a lot more concerned about lobbyists from global corporations/ arms firms/ pharmaceutical companies etc than I am about some small time player (in the greater scheme of things) from Perth.

    However, I go back to my original point, which is that this whole thing is nothing but hot air. If the Libs want to discredit Rudd (and let’s be in no doubt, that’s basically what this was about, despite how conservatives are trying to put an ‘ethical’ gloss on it), they’re going to have to do much better than this.

  13. Let’s just recall that the offence Burke was convicted of was trivial compared to the offences everyone knows he actually committed (I think this is all on the public record from various royal commissions, but for William’s sake I will not go into specifics.) Rudd should have known what a slime Burke is, and Graham Edwards certainly did know, and he should never have allowed Rudd anywhere near Burke. This episode did show bad judgement, or rather ambition getting the better of good judgement. Having said that I agree that the Libs have probably squeezed as much out of this as there is to squeeze, and today’s press shows something of a backlash against Howard and co. Politically the jury is still out on this – let’s wait for the next Newspoll.

  14. Brian Burke is a good man who made a mistake and served his time.

    Brian Burke built WA up from a backwater into a successful state with his dynamic pro-business leadership style, then Dowding and the moronic Lawrence ruined it all.

    The fact Kevin Rudd was meeting Burke makes me more relaxed that he’ll be a good PM.

  15. I have to disagree with a lot of what is said. Firstly Burke was convicted of a criminal offence and that is never trivial, he crossed a line which had criminal sanctions.

    What I think Adam is trying to say is that despite a Royal Commission looking under every rock the many stupid and foolish things the Burke Government did with Business in WA were not criminal.

    And this is the line that Howard and Co are trying, unsuccessfully, to blur. The want to invoke the ghosts of WA Inc and use the Criminal tag in this blur. I think how little WA Inc is understood in the East is part of the reason for this plot failing so far.

    Meeting Burke was not a blunder. He was a player in WA Labor and everyone knew this. If you really love labor and are thinking of leading it at the Federal level knowing a little bit about the players in each state is vital. Only an idiot wouldn’t do it. And remember, although the PM and Tip wouldn’t want you to, that Burke was involved in dodgy lobbying, as opposed to normal lobbying wasn’t widely known. There are too many who love the labor party (and hate Burke and his faction) to have let this go on if they knew about it. So think of the dinners as networking, researching and probably much bluster on all sides.

    It doesn’t mean Rudd ever sat down and said “I’ll make you Ambassador to Italy if you give me 6 WA votes in caucus. ” In fact that kind of discussion would have been silly surely.

    In WA Business there is the good and the bad as is the case in any organisation. We have a criminal code very similar to Queenslands and company law remarkably similar.

  16. Brian Burke served time for rorting travel expenses. Nothing more, except that he was convicted and later cleared of allegedly stealing money from the ALP to buy stamps. Constant media references to him as a convicted criminal therefore seem somewhat over the top. He is not Al Capone.

    Since Kevin Rudd’s meetings with Burke, three WA ministers (not four) have been forced to resign because of dealings with Burke. The lobbyist seeks the best deal for his client. Provided that no crime is committed, it is the minister who cops the penalty if the rules are broken.

    The fourth WA minister who was forced to resign did so because he was driving an unregistered vehicle. Nothing to do with Burke.

  17. Some people sure have short memories. The Royal Commission found that: “Some ministers elevated personal or party advantage over their constitutional obligation to act in the public interest. The decision to lend Government support [to the tune of $150m] to the rescue of Rothwells in October 1987 was principally that of Mr Burke as premier. His motives in supporting the rescue were not related solely to proper governmental concerns. They derived in part from his well established relationship with Mr Connell, and from his desire to preserve [Labor’s] standing [with] the business community from which it had secured much financial support. Personal associations and the manner in which electoral contributions were obtained could only create the public perception that favour could be bought, that favour would be done. We have observed that the size of the donations was quite extraordinary. In his approaches the premier was direct to the point at times of being forceful. He nominated the amounts he expected. They were far in excess of amounts previously donated in campaign fund-raising in this state.”

  18. Adam that is exactly my point. No-one is saying it is good, no-one is defending this guy.

    But your quote does not pertain to the criminal matters. There was no criminal charge of breach of constitutional duty, nor of creating a public perception of a dodgy government. And since he did not have a public office in the year he met Mr Rudd it is hard to imagine, if you were in Mr Rudd’s shoes how he would abuse an office he didn’t have.

    But as a shock to us all the CCC has shown that allegedly he had others doing it for him.

    It is really quite dishonest to try and combine the three things as if they were one and expect Mr Rudd to have known it in 2005. No-one else did.

    It is sweet that you keep a copy of the royal commission reports handy.

  19. I asked people in the factory where i work what they thought of the Rudd-Burke situation. These people are swinging voters and voted Howard in last two elections and they saw a light in Rudd. Now they are not too sure hoping that Rudd is not hiding anything that will change their vote. The reasons they are looking anti-Howard is IR, Iraq interest rates global warming and nuclear energy. These people normally have little interest in politics but they seem to be very interested at this time

  20. I have already agreed that I don’t think the Burke-Rudd issue will have much long-term impact on Rudd’s chances. It has shown he is brittle under pressure, but this is not really news to anyone.

    Jasmine, where I come from giving $150 million of taxpayers’ money to a mate to bail out his crooked company, and demanding large “donations” from other companies, would commonly be called corruption. (And there was much more besides, of course.) If Bjelke-Petersen had done this no-one would hesitate to call it corrupt. I’m afraid ALP premiers have to be judged by the same standard.

    But the POLITICAL point of course is that it was perfectly well known in 2005 that Burke was political poison, even if you think he was as innocent as Mother Theresa. That’s why Gallop banned him in 2001. Edwards certainly knew this, and Rudd should have done.

  21. Dear William,

    I am not sure what you mean by…” Kevin Rudd’s silly call for an early election. This will dispose me towards negative interpretations of Labor’s next few sets of poll figures, if only because it has exposed his apparent lack of sure-footedness when forced on the defensive.”

    Do you mean something like, you think that his potential to ‘fall apart’ (as you see it) under pressure, lessens the predictive value of upcoming polls, because of the potential for further pressure to undermine him at some later stage, regardless of the poll results?

    If so, it assumes more predictive value in the polls then I give credence to and is I think, something that better writers than I have commented about recently.

    If you mean something else, such as the polls being actually faulty in some way, and a grain of salt being needed to swallow them, will you please take the troble to explain as I am not following.

    In any case I respectfully disagree that Mr Rudd’s call for an early election was silly, even though as you say, for various practical reasons an ‘immediate’ election was never going to eventuate.

    A week or so ago Mr Howard in effect questioned Mr Rudd’s ticker. Mr Rudd replied by challenging him to a debate. That was never going to happen either. and the Liberals and some commentators derided him for it, but it made Mr Rudd look like the willing combatant, and made Mr Howard’s claim look hollow, and by doing so, effectivly shut down that argument (at least for the moment).

    The immediate election challenge was to my mind effectivly the same game play in response to another (more severe) attack… and the general public who will know little and care less about the finer points of double dissolutions and the timing of future senate elections, will, I think, have seen it in a similar sort of light. Therefore it is, in my view, pointless to judge the comment in the context of constitutional requirments and precedents when the political play is a different ball game. It would be like any rugby fan complaining that AFL players keep knocking the ball on, which they do, but which has nothing to do with the AFL game.

    My perception of the general public view is that the Liberals (I didn’t notice the Nationals wading in, nor Mr Turnbull for that matter) have spent the best part of a week making a mountain out of a molehill, and have tripped over their own feet in the process, managing to lose a minister.

    Although not predictive, I still regard the polls as at least being indicative of a prevailing public view, and that view appears to me, to be no better of the Coalition after the past week. I can not see how they have managed in any way to ‘seize the initiative’, and unless there is a second ‘Brian Burke’ with whom Mr Rudd can be associated, and with some substance, I don’t think he is damaged at all, except maybe for some paintwork.

    Do you think that there is there a second ‘Brian Burke’ out there somewhere?

  22. Geoffrey, I would not go so far as to say Rudd falls apart under pressure, but he has demonstrated for the first time what will loom as a negative during the election campaign: his inexperience. Voters responding to “preferred PM” questions are currently doing so on the basis of soft impressions formed since he came to the job just in time for the silly season. As crises present themselves, harder judgements will be formed based on the strength of his response. As such, his call for an early election is – as far as it goes – a troubling sign. I don’t accept that it’s clever tactics to work through a spot of bother by making diversionary statements that are inconsistent with reality, on the basis that Joe Public won’t be sophisticated enough to realise it.

  23. Oh no, Brian Burke is here. I feel soiled.

    William, against the narrative of inexperience, position the narrative of the government’s experience … if you are right Labor will be locked out forever, or should return to Crean. I don’t think you are right. The voters might decide that Rudd’s experience of having dinner with a baddy is much preferable to Howard’s experience of ruining the working conditions of mums and dads.

    And I actually thought ‘bring it on’ was a throwaway remark that’s been made far too much of.

  24. The facts are
    Brian Burke had been know to be involve in Shady dealings
    While none of the dealings were ever proven in a law of court, the WA Labor party in 2001 found his dealings to be so shady, that he banned all his labor party mps from dealings with Burke
    In 2005, Kevin Rudd met with Brian Burke

    The Federal government is the highest legislative office in Australia, it forms the direction a nation is heading. Not only does all its decision have to be impartial, it must also be perceive to be impartial.

    It is this perception that is at stake because of the 3 meetings. While nothing might have been promised or agreed to. And everyone hope that it is the case, if Rudd become Prime Minister, the loser from every decision he makes in relation to WA, will be wondering whether Burke had lobbied for this and what Rudd/ Labor party got for pushing the legislation, because this was how Burke operated. This will be bad for business confidence and government.

    This is the reason why the WA Labor banded their minister from dealing with Burke in the first place and is the same reason why Kevin Rudd should have known better. At best, it shows Stupidity/ a lack of judgment for Kevin Rudd.

  25. I’m already bored with the Burke affair, much like many other voters!
    How delicious that the whole thing has rebounded spectacularly on Howard!
    What are the chances of a by-election soon in the Qld seat of Bowman?
    Methinks the Liberal member Andrew Lemming is in a fair amount of hot water.

  26. I’m not sure voters were ever that worked up about the whole Burke thing. There’s been next to nothing on talk back radio, very little in the letters page and not much general discussion anywhere as far as I can tell. This is probably because its importance is marginal at best, and I think to your average Joe, it just looks like more muckraking by politicians. The polls certainly suggest that as an issue it hasn’t registered with the public, and by the time of the next Newspoll (2 weeks) it will be ancient history.

    I am prepared to concede that Rudd was caught a bit flat-footed by it all, and gave the impression of having something of a glass jaw, but Idon’t think he suffered too much damage, and his pointing out of the fact that Howard has spent a week on this rather than issues that affect “ordinary families” certainly won’t hurt him. The government, on the other hand, has lost a minister, whose replacement is also apparently “tainted” by Burke. However, none of this will have much resonance outside WA.

  27. The real test for Rudd will be coming up with a decent economic policy.
    You can be sure Howard and Costello will stick to their tried and true formula of bribing voters in the mortgage belt electorates.

  28. headlines are that he’s making a statement on his future today (and such statements are never ‘I’m going to tough this one out’).

  29. The Rudd-Burke eating arrangements are of no importance. The Liberals are just playing Politricks, but they have gone too far and look silly. On Lateline, Peter Costello struggled to explain the reason for Ian Campbell’s resignation. No one would have expected him to resign if his meeting with B1 had been revealed first; even the Labor Party would not have been braying for his blood. Mr Costello did not have his usual energetic enthusiasm for one-liners because there is simply no logic whatsoever to the Liberal position. He looked foolish, and that is worse than being despised.

    Kevin Rudd’s best response will be his next policy announcement. He will regain the initiative soon, and the Liberals will be wishing they had never gone so far over the top on Brian Burke.

  30. How much of the decline in Rudd’s approval is due to rusted-on Liberal partisans following Howard’s lead. Like how US presidents approval rating usually rises after State of Union address because committed partisans are briefly enthused.

  31. I agree and I think it is relatively fair to conclude that Howard has backfired with the whole smear Rudd campaign, I don’t think the public read much into the early election call, if anything at all. Although will be watching out for the slow bleed theory.

    I think also think it is fair to speculate that the smear campaign will actually long term diminish the ‘L plate’ campaign, because Rudd can rightly say – look I’ve put up with the worst kind of gutter politics from this desparate Government for 6,9,12 months, I’ve got what it takes, I’ve shown you all that. Without the known volatility of Latham (which I think is one of the real keys to the L plate thingy working to the extent, if any, it did last time) they can L plate till the cows come home without impact.

    I’m not defending Burke he should keep the hell out of the Labor party and confine his activities to soiling the reputation of WA Business.

    But it is a more than a little tricky to try and taint him and then Rudd by assocation. Dovif overlooks the massive public royal commission – every singe bit of evidence and every shred of a negative suggestion was displayed to the whole world, much more throughly and with much less protection for Burke than if it had been a charge before a criminal court.

    Adam you can call it what you want but this doesn’t change the fact that you are trying to blur a criminal charge and the whole badly run Government thing. One ends up in Court the other has its proper end at an election. And the Royal Commission called to expose the Labor party and keep the Libs in power for ever would have been a much better use of public funds in the Libs had actually paid attention to the recommendations and implemented a few of them.

    It took Gallop to introduce a real CCC, and hence bring to light failings that would almost certainly go undetected and unpunished in any other jurisdiction in Australia.

    Finally I need to stick up for a Liberal, it is perhaps the most stupid and thing I’ve heard since the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq claim, to try and smear Senator David Johnson. A piddly little shareholding in two piddly mining companies isn’t a link to Burke it isn’t even a connection in any real sense.

  32. I see the early election call as a plus rather than a minus for Rudd. Joe Punter hardly knows that the senate exists, let alone the intricacies of timing a senate election.
    I remember three campaigns when such a call was used. It had the effect of making the government look desparate to hang on and the opposition like a viable alternative ready to govern. On each occassion the call was made repeatedly
    1. Malcolm Fraser leading up to 1975
    2. Maggie Thatcher in 1979 “For God’s Sake, let the people speak”(or something similar)
    3. John Howard in 1996 – he gave the impression that Keating was hanging on past the time for an election, even though the 1993 and 1996 elections were right on time.
    Of course in each case the government was really on the nose to begin with and this just added to the sense of crisis.
    On this occassion the call for an election has already been forgotten by Joe Punter – even if it registered in the first place. However, it will be interesting to see if it and calls for televised debates etc continue to be made during the next months. I think the key to such a stratergy is repetition.

  33. Jasmine: re Johnson – the Libs can’t expect any mercy over this one. He who lives by the baseless smear must die by the baseless smear.
    Brian, if you’re listening: Labor voters everywhere would like you just to crawl back into your hole and never be seen or heard of again, OK?

  34. Today’s politics seminar topic:

    “People aren’t stupid.” (says Matt Price in today’s Australian). Discuss, with reference to the last three federal elections.

  35. This slow burn theory is rot. The average person, those that take very little interest in politics, will have forgotten this “scandal” (if they were even aware of it) in a few days. There are many people walking around on the eastern sea board saying “Brian who?”
    Interesting though that after Peter Costello’s failed interviews on Lateline and 3AW neither he nor any other minister has been reported talking about the “scandal” today. It’s been business as usual. Wise move on their part. They know they are copping a hiding on this by those punters aware of what is going on. It hasn’t been a good look by the Libs in recent days.
    I think Rudd shut Howard up by his comment that Howard was abusing his position as PM by running a smear campaign against him. An excellent point.

  36. The last week has been fun for political junkies like ourselves, but it’s probably what turns the average punter off politics in general. Which is probably why, now that the dust is beginning to settle, that it has probably made no great difference one way or the other. The government needs to have a series of issues like this for it to have any traction, and Rudd is just too careful a pollie to have too many skeletons lying around. You can tell by the hysterical way the government comported themselves this week that they’re desperate to stain Rudd, and as such risk serious over-reach everytime they try it.

  37. I think the burke thing, though not doing any great damage to rudd has led to him looking like he has a glass jaw, cant take criticism and is soft in the middle (i realise they all mean the same thing).

    The early election stuff made him look stupid.

    He hasnt been able to give a straight answer, it looks as though as soon as rudd gets negative press he starts to sulk ( as is typical of a guy whos title of smartest guy in the room is never questioned)

  38. I disagree that it has made Rudd look as though he has a glass jaw. He, in fact, looked hurt. This was a smear campaign and up until now has no basis in fact to support the proposition that he lied. So no wonder he was hurt but Rudd admitted he made a mistake, a move that has in a postive way distinguished himself from Howard. Don’t worry, he won over more people than he lost.
    As for giving a straight answer the explanation he gave to the right wing journalist Neil Mitchell on 3AW was detailed, plausable angd logical, unlike Costello on Lateline and 3AW. Believe me you put nothing past Mitchell, he applies the blow torch and Rudd answered every question confidently and directly. So much so that Mitchell had to admit Rudd handled the interview very well.
    What it does show is that Rudd is not one to conduct smear campaigns – boy we need someone like that as PM.

  39. gary,

    hes hurt because he cant hack it

    and im certain he can smear as good as anyone, you dont make it to leader of a political party without being able to

  40. Queenslander – He’s hurt with 62 percent approval. May he be hurt more often. Evidence ascertaining that “he can smear as good as anyone” would be good maybe then I would agree with you.

  41. Burkegate hey? If we were going to read anything into the polls, for mine it would be:

    1. Rudd’s popularity drop shows the public isn’t overly happy with his handling of Burkegate, but only a small portion of the population care.

    2. The increase in the 2PP gap would indicate the public are even less happy with the way the Libs have handled it – and the backfire it’s caused.

    3. Don’t store your skeletons in the closet when you go out muckraking.

  42. Kevin Rudd takes himself very seriously, and he “sets the bar high” for his own performances inside and outside the Parliament. This means when he stumbles (as he did in Question Time last week and during subsequent press conferences when he looked like a rabbit caught in the spotlight), his stumble is (perhaps) exaggerated. The good news for Labor barrackers is that he seems now to have recovered equalibrium and refocussed attention on the Government. Coalition supporters can draw some comfort (but not too much) from a perception that Rudd looked rattled so much so that a lightweight, albeit improving, performer like Joe Hockey made Kevin look very ordinary last Friday morning on Channel 7’s Sunrise breakfast programme. Now there is a programme watched by low involvement voters, including soccer mums.

Comments Page 1 of 2
1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *