Rates up, comments unlocked

Due to a little stuff-up on my part, most comments made so far today went into moderation. The error has been rectified, and the comment build-up unblocked. As you’re all no doubt aware, the Reserve Bank has lifted official interest rates. In other news: giant Lego man washed up on Dutch beach.

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.

223 thoughts on “Rates up, comments unlocked”

  1. I’m sure that spin doctors and many others will be pouring over the recorded statements today. However, as a punter this section of text from Howard’s 2004 launch is probably the most striking to read today:

    “My friends, we all prize the financial security of our families. Let me say this, and it’s not just my view, but it’s a view frequently expressed to me as I move around this country talking to Australian families. Nothing threatens that security more directly than the prospect of rising interest rates. Rising interest rates dominates everything else when it comes to family security. Just a tiny upward movement in interest rates more than devours a few dollars of taxation relief or additional family benefits. There is no economic credential for office more crucial than a capacity to keep interest rates low.”

    Full text here:

  2. The Lego Man is clearly an issue of major concern – John Howard needs to whip up a scare campaign immediatly.

    “We will decide which Lego Men are washed up in Australia, and under what circumstances they are washed up…”

  3. I think Morris Iemma may well have been onto something when he suugested he was concerned about John Howard’s behaviour, it’s getting more and more extraordinary, bordering on embarrassing.

    Howard is not doing himself any favours with these very weak arguments regarding who is responsible for the rise in interest rates. He went to the last election making the fallacious point that he could control interest rates and now that it’s shown that he can’t, he makes another fallacious point laying the blame at the feet of the states.

    He’s behaving like a shonky used car salesman, and it demeans the office of Prime Minister.

    His political dossier was leaked, it’s all out in the public domain, yet he still persists with the “blaming the states” line. It’s the most extraordinary behaviour from a Prime Minister that I’ve ever seen, I can’t believe the Liberal Party will stand for too much more of this.

    On another note, I’m glad William you’ve got a photo of Gough Whitlam in his “it’s time” T-Shirt at the top of this site, because as soon as I saw the “Kevin 07” T-Shirts, that was the first thing it reminded me of. For those too young to remember that campaign, it may serve as a reference point for them.

  4. On a different tack – but related to Mr tricky’s recent behaviour. Is it possible that John Howard is attempting to line up referenda on council amalgamations in Qld for the same day as a Federal poll?

    This would mirror recent tactics in the US by both Democrats and Republicans to boost their votes by drawing potential voters to the poll on niche issues (usually abortion and gay marriage for the GOP and usually minimum wage for Democrats).

    I realise that having compulsory voting makes it slightly different but this tactic would be consistent with the leaked Textor strategy and it could certainly not hurt having people provoked to be angry about the Beattie government when they go into the polling booth.

    Which councils are opposing mergers in Qld? Are any in marginal seats?

  5. Like I have said from the start transferring the interest debate into the State sphere was a big mistake. Howard will find it difficult to turn it back onto Rudd now and, will lose the State blame game on rates as well. He has mangled his one big gun.

    But that aside John Howard is showing signs of becoming maniacle and uncontrolled, simply so paniced that he doesnt care what he does. He has set himself on the path of undermining the State Federal system and also the systems within States, really an attack on their democracy. He undermines the authority of the elected government of Qld. If he continues in this vain it will become a form of anarachy.

    His statement on allowing the AEC to offer a vote for the Qld councils, in Question Time, was desperate and dangerous. Has he lost control? Has he lost all perspective? Is he that addicted to power that he wont care what he does?

  6. Aristotle said

    It’s the most extraordinary behaviour from a Prime Minister that I’ve ever seen, I can’t believe the Liberal Party will stand for too much more of this.

    Read Matt Price’s piece in the Oz today. Paul Kelly and Saul Eslake have more or less said he’s talking through his a*se. Backbenchers are shaking their heads at the hospital intervention. I dropped any expectation of a spill when Costello did. Now I’m not so sure. Howard is looking desperate, and is actually getting scary.

  7. Organising a vote on the same day as the federal election would certainly be a cynical abuse. Beattie I guess could get around it by organising his own, earlier one which he wont of course.

    It is almost as though the Howard government has come so used to abusing the system that it no longer knows what is abuse and what is not.

  8. I can’t understand why people in states other than Queensland should pay for meaningless votes that won’t stop the amalgamations.

    I can’t beleive that Howard is trying to stir up controversy, even though the independent panel that made the recommendation was comprised of former Labor, Liberal and National MPs. He really is scraping the bottom of the barrel now.

  9. I suspect that if Howard and the Libs had control of any of the States at present they might be contemplating referenda or plebiscites on a range of issues to bolster their outcome.

    Prediction – look forward to lots of push-polling and the nastiest smear campaign that has ever been seen in Australian political history and don’t expect that KR will pull any punches either, he’s in it to win it.

    I suspect there might be some shadow boxing around the issue, sort of a political game of chicken with neither side wanting to be seen as the first to “go negative”, but it will happen.

  10. An alternative theory is that Howard is out of the closet. He is openly and publicly desperate for power. He can literally buy an election and it would be criminal to waste that opportunity so that’s what he unashamedly will do.

  11. In regard to poll issues:

    By my calculations AC Nielson will begin a 3 day poll from Thursday 9th to Saturday 11th August and it will publish in SMH Monday 13/08/07.

    That will be interesting? 58/42 TPP in July


  12. I noticed the Crikey election guide in a bookshop window today. I’m puzzled as to why Crikey, a leading “new media” pioneer, would bother with an “old media” version of their guide, which will be out of date in a few weeks, which will contain errors which now can’t be corrected (unlike online errors), which costs money when there are free online alternatives, and which is in any case greatly inferior to the available online election guides (William’s, Antony’s and mine). Most people sufficiently election-obsessive to be interested in such things have internet access and will prefer the online versions. William, do you know why they have chosen to waste their money this way?

  13. There’s a lot of good people in the Liberal party. Its really sad that John Howard, Alexander Downer and a few of their mates are embarrassing both the party that allowed them their power and the country they serve.

    Robert Dean’s (Parlimentary Secretary in the Kennett Government) essay in todays Age demonstrates how far John Howard has moved the party away from Robert Menzies philosophy.


    Its getting to the stage where John Howard should be relieved of his Prime Ministership, not because he is going to lose but because of the damage he is doing in the fading days of his reign.

  14. If the electorate could understand how crazy Howard has become the ACNeilsen should show 65/35 but since most pay no attention at all to what is happening around them it may go 57/43.

    Im not sure how people will react to the interest rate rise. Luckily Howard made a mess of his argument here.

  15. You can write off Howard if you like but he’s our best asset regardless of how many times Iemma says he’s rattled…fact is Rudd is so inexperienced that a good Liberal Campaign will tear him to shreds…Also it his inexperience that will keep him from the Lodge until 2010 as ive said all along he may be ok but only with experience and boy he’s never led anything in his life for more than a few months…

    the interest rate rise should help the Coalition it shows the volatility of the economy and why would u risk Dudd and Swan to run the books…

  16. Adam,
    They must expect to make some money out of it! The reason I didn’t buy it was because thanks to you and William and others there is quality information avialable on the internet! Thanks

  17. I find the work that went into Crikey’s physical guide quite extraordinary too. There is obviously a buck in it, or they wouldn’t do it.

    On Howard: it’s a dangerous time, if his behaviour is getting erratic. Would Liberal senators have the guts to cross the floor and stop him if he tried something really ridiculous – for example, some really, really bad anti-terrorism laws, or banning headscarves, or that kind of thing?

    Perhaps they would if they believe that the party is going down at the election. Perhaps not.

  18. How am i surprise that article got a run in the Age hmmmm, if you knew something about politics Fire Maker its that political parties evolve through time…why look at America the Democrats used to be uber conservative and the Republicans were liberals but now the opposite is apparent…

    So long as Howard has the Libs within 55-45 they can win if it is more than 55-45 then there wouldnt be enough time during the election campaign for Howard to win…for all purposes and regardless of what lefties think of the Howard years our country is better today then when we voted out Keating and his government does not deserve to lose the election if our economy was going really bad and interest rates were really high and if unemployment was high then it would be fair to say turf em out if they cant do the job but Howard has been the best leader we’ve had since Menzies and at some time now or later will miss his steady hand at the tiller.

  19. John Howard is looking more and more like a deranged dictator in his bunker ordering non existent divisions to attack enemy positions in the south, north, east…
    His generals are standing around wondering what to do, none with the courage to challenge him.
    His key adviser Arthur Sidonis has deserted him and no longer giving him the sound advice he so desperately needs.
    It’s quite sad to see actually.
    He doesn’t perform at all well under such extreme stress.
    I don’t think he will realise it’s all over until the tanks are on top of the bunker.

  20. Thanks Fire Maker. I just read Robert Dean’s article with a sigh of nostalgia. Robert Menzies was a true statesman. John Howard is no Robert Menzies and it would be impertinent of him to pretend to be his heir. Where are the Robert Menzies’ of today? Stand up now. Your party needs you.

  21. I find Howard’s tactics bizzare – he is now asserting that he never promised to keep interest rates at record lows. Even if this is technically correct, the whole point of his statements before the last election was to make us think that was what he was saying.

    It’s like he is claiming the electorate is stupid for falling for his cynicism last time around.

    Honestly, how does he think the electorate will respond to this sneakiness. Okay, John, you fooled us, please do it again?

  22. Glen, good to see the Young Liberals getting a run here. If only they could argue a case without the childish name calling. Still. they are the YOUNG Liberals.

  23. Howard’s problems are two fold. One, many people have stopped listening and two, those that do don’t believe him anymore.

  24. Looks like Liberals may be lemmings after all.
    Follow their leader off the cliff.
    How many will be left looking down?
    If it gets any worse, Malcolm Turnbull will go too.
    Remember Henry 11’s impassioned cry?
    “Is there no one who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”
    He didn’t have to ask a second time.

  25. If Howard and the Coalition continue to perform as they have been recently, I think the next few polls could see us get back to 58 – 42, or even the stratospheric 61 – 39.

    Rudd is increasingly steady, not putting a foot wrong. Howard, his head well and truly messed with, is looking worse than desperate, and he’s making almost constant mistakes and mis-steps.

    I think he is angering people, and I do feel that people are fed up. It’s Time. It’s Over.

  26. Mr Howard is most likely technical correct that he never said that he would keep interest rates at record lows. In the autobiography (recently released) Mrs Howard outlined the tactic of Mr Howard. That tactic was to leave an impression of a point of view or an undertaking without making a firm commitment to do anything in support of that impression (see his commitment to Mr Costello), “John was not into making firm commitments,” she said.

    Undertaking to leave an incorrect impression in a person mind is itself a lie so regardless of what he says he has been condemned from the mouth of his spouse.

  27. Sorry Adam, I can offer no insight into what goes on at the Crikey bunker. You will note that it is published by Penguin, so it seems that people who understand these things do actually believe there’s a dollar to be made. I personally have found it quite handy having basic information to hand in physical form, rather than having to trudge through the internet whenever I need to check something.

  28. What hubris is on display arent you all forgetting the election doesnt have to be called until January 2008 so much for the Kevin 07 t-shirts which are not made in Australia and nobodies knows where because they cut the tags off…if Labor loses the election you’ll all be moving out of Australia for the hubris and arrogance on display here by Labor staffers is a joke…

    It aint over till its over…just remember you can rise and fall quickly…look at Alexander Downer the most popular and the most unpopular opposition leader in history….

    The more arrogance displayed by Rudd and Swan the better they’ll be voted down because of their hubris…

  29. I think you are right Hoots.
    My wife, no great lover of politics, said today she thought there had been a sea change in the community.
    Public opinion had shifted en masse.
    The only possible circuit breaker for the Coalition would be a new leader.
    It’s important for our democracy that there be an effective opposition.
    At the current rate, many worthwhile Liberals and Nationals will be jobless in about twelve weeks, even potential new leaders.
    There will be a small rump of shell-shocked discontents left, all squabbling over who was to blame and who should be leader now.
    When Nick Greiner won in 88, the ALP opposition was ineffective for quite a while. They just sat there stunned, not believing they could have lost after 12 years in government.
    It’ll be the same federally, only worse, as there will be fewer left if John Howard refuses to step down before the election.
    My view is that John Howard is being utterly selfish in not recognising his appalling dilemma and handing over to either Peter Costello, or better for them, Malcolm Turnbull.

  30. Amber Dekstris, that ad is etched in my memory. It was there for all to see. “Keep interest rates at record lows”. John Howard can deny it all he likes but you can bet the ALP will be showing that in their advertising to show how he has been dishonest.

  31. WhoGivesaRats Says:
    August 8th, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Undertaking to leave an incorrect impression in a person mind is itself a lie so regardless of what he says he has been condemned from the mouth of his spouse.

    Agreed. My mum taught me that if the intention is to deceive, it’s a lie even if the words are true.

    Howard sets a bad example to the community.

  32. Amber,

    Thanks for that link.

    In parliament today, Howard very explicitly argues he never made that claim. He invited the opposition to trawl through every interview he has ever given – even offerred to supply the transcripts.

    More weasel words – maybe he never said it, but the campaign was clearly based on convincing the electorate that’s what was being promised, as your link shows.

    Out of interest, why do you think the opinon poll gap won’t widen further? Do you feel the substantial gap now is a kind of natural limit?

  33. Gary Bruce Says:
    August 8th, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Howard’s problems are two fold. One, many people have stopped listening and two, those that do don’t believe him anymore.

    I think you nailed the PMs problems in 2 lines Gary. Exactly. He has lost the plot completely and made sure Costello was standing right beside him when he did so today- Apart from the party politics, it was an embarressing display from an Australian Prime Minister- bloody awful.

  34. I think Amber or Kina pointed me to a 2004 election slogan that she put up on another site clearly stating JWHs promise. All Labor have to do in the advertising dept is find that stuff and keep whacking it up on the TV night after night and toss in a few mentions of workplace relations- Simple message- Your house is under threat and so is your job- The End.

  35. Hoots, for polls of that sample size the margin of error is approx 3%. I just don’t see the gap widening by that amount. The 60/40 earlier in the year wasn’t a measure of voting intention IMHO but a measure of preparedness to consider the alternative. IOW, many people then were very prepared to consider a change of govt. I believe many people have made up their mind. It remains to be seen just how many are still undecided or not yet paying attention..

  36. Gentlemen, the amalgamation issue is a dangerous one in Qld. The responses on the airwaves, both radio and TV are venting a lot of anger. News bulletins showing people swearing they will never vote Labor again – even if not true, is a concern for the Labor faithful. People have generally kept state and federal issues seperate, but forcing them to consider both at the polling booth is a very new tactic. Politically devious, but a well thought out tactic.

    Anyone think that it is now set up for a Rudd intervention? Imagine Rudd forcing a public Beattie backdown or compromise and then plastering the tabloids with how good the relationship between state Labor and Federal can be. The government will be wedged as it started the process. Simple vote winner…

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