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 comments on “Rates up, comments unlocked”

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  1. If Howard continues acting like a headless chook, the Liberals can always replace him with the giant Lego man as their leader.

    Lego man’s charisma and quietly confident leadership could give the Coalition the boost it needs in the election campaign to deliver them a 5th term in power!

  2. On the alamgamation pleb issue in Qld. Beattie could toss in one of his own, say on Housing policy or Water or industrial relations, and square up the swingers cf the amalgamations. Beattie should have backed down, at least until next year, whats the bloody hurry Peter ? Never mind, it won’t do nearly as much damage as JWH is hoping for..silly man.

  3. On reflection, yes I do think there is a kind of natural limit on the gap. (In my previous post I was talking in terms of statistical significance.) We all knew the gap would narrow during the year. For it to widen now, Rudd and Labor would have to become more popular. But we’re reaching the stage now where the gloss is coming off and the warts are starting to show so I don’t see that happening. What I do countenance is existing support solidifying. It’s hard for an objective observer to maintain that Howard is eroding Rudd’s support at the moment.

  4. The problem for Howard is that there is no scrutiny of Labor’s front bench…we have attacks on Andrews, Abbot and Downer consistently but not only does nobody know Labor’s front bench but the media does not attack them for their inexperience as shown by Robert McClelland saying to visiting Chinese diplomats that Alexander Downer is a liar…now no matter what you think of Downer the fact that Labor’s alternative Foreign Affairs Minister is prepared to be so undiplomatic shows gross inexperience and yet the media remained silent…

    That’s the problem for Howard…politics in Australia is presidential Howard vs Big Kim wasnt too hard to see who’d win same with Howard vs Latho but Howard vs Rudd a man with alot of baggage and one with none at all makes it extremely difficult for Howard to score any points…

    Rudd is so media managed that he’s never had to make a tough choice and it is becoming so clear that he’ll run a small target campaign to offset any risks of doing a Hewson by putting forward any substantial policy for fear of fluffing it up.

    Unless the polls move to make it more competitive Howard will struggle even though he will out campaign Rudd…let’s face it the Coalition has much more to lose than Labor and they’ll make it a dirty campaign plain and simple if Rudd is going to go small target he’ll be savaged for his inexperience the one issue about Rudd which people are still worried about…If the Coalition loses they’ll be in a worse position than the Conservatives who fell into a hole in 1943 that ended with the collapse of the United Australia Party.

    Clearly Rudd if he loses which if he does wont be by much will win in 2010 but it is whether he’ll get a go early i think it would be better for Rudd and the country if he loses in 2007 so that he builds up enough experience for the top job before taking over in 2010.

  5. Amber, what you say makes sense. I also think that events take a while to impact on the polls – public opinion has a kind of inertia – its hard to turn around, and unless an event is dramatic, things seem to take a short time to be reflected.

    Howard has had a shocking couple of weeks, the media has turned, interest rates, leaked polls and generally poor performance by Howard himself. At the same time, Rudd has been pretty calm and unruffled.

    If these things do register in the polls, I suspect we could get close to the record gaps seen earlier in the year. I agree though that the current gap of 12 points 2PP, is already pretty dramatic, and might be a kind of natural extreme.

  6. Grooski, you betcha the amalgamation issue is dangerous for Labor. As it is, the ALP isn’t making the gains in Queensland they expected to make when Rudd took over. Why? Number of factors – Mr Howard is very popular up there, Beattie is terminally on the nose and Rudd is associated with the Premier and of course the failed Goss regime. Now, with this plebiscite policy the PM has ensured it’ll be even harder for Labor to improve their position in the Sunshine Coast.

    As for the interest rate rise – big deal! Of course, journalists will be foaming at the mouth; indeed, Channel Seven eagerly sent one of their hacks into Bennelong today to gauge reactions to the rise from the PM’s constituents. Unfortunately, all they could find were a few swinging voters who were “thinking of voting Labor” (which means they’ll ultimately stick with the Government).

    Basically, the 0.5% rise won’t affect too many people, but the Government can still use it to argue that the economy is precariously poised and that Australians can’t afford to give dunces like Rudd, Swan and Gillard the opportunity to stuff it up.

  7. By the way, Glen, when Rudd loses it’ll be the end of the road for him. The man has no friends within the ALP and will be swiftly tossed aside.

  8. Hoots, yes the tone in the paper media has changed substantially recently. This is bad for Howard.

    Would anyone like to comment on coverage/attitude in commercial television?

  9. Glen, the ALP would probably think about changing leaders if Kevin Rudd lost. This could now be deemed to be the unlosable election for Kevin Rudd and frankly the only way he will lose it is if he stuffs up really badly, or there is a major terrorist scare.
    You’re right about the 1943 experience.
    It may be a good thing in the end.
    The Liberal Party really does need to do some deep soul-searching post Howard.
    Dig out all those old Menzies speeches and find what the Liberal Party is really supposed to be about.
    It is not healthy to have a one party state.
    There has to be a renewal for all our sakes.

  10. In terms of commercial TV –

    I was really taken aback to hear Laurie Oakes write off Howard twice in the last couple of weeks – he has all but called the election.

    7 (Prime) news has been giving prominence to stories that suggest Howard is in dire straits.

    I don’t think the coverage has been biased, but the emperor is now well and truly naked, and they are not shying away from the spectacle.

  11. Hoots, Oakes has hated John Howard ever since his beloved Republic was voted down in 1999. I remember watching Nine’s coverage on the night and Oakes was nearly in tears. He’s held a deep grudge ever since.

    See, folks, there’s no such thing as an objective journalist or commentator; they’ve all got an agenda. Unfortunately for them, no-one pays much attention to them.

  12. There is not the slightest evidence, current or historical, that the swinging voters know about, care about or are influenced by the composition, talent, opinions, accents, or even existence of either the Opposition or Government frontbenches other than the Leaders. With the partial exception of Costello (and maybe Vaile in rural seats), the swingers are aware only of Howard and Rudd. That will be reinforced during the campaign, which will be totally presidential on both sides. Swan may or may not make a good Treasurer. At the moment he is doing precisely what he has been told to do – stay out of Rudd’s limelight and say as little as possible.

    I do recall an election in which a government with a weak leader tried this tactic. In 1972 the Liberals ran ads saying “Gough would love to have our team!”, and featuring photos of Anthony, Fraser, Peacock, Chipp, Lynch and other reasonably young and presentable ministers – who were indeed younger than the Labor frontbench which was full of veterans like Crean, Cameron, Daly and Beazley sr. But the ads had no effect at all. The election was all about McMahon v Whitlam, and McMahon (who had been a very successful minister until he became PM) was seen as too old, too stale and past his best. That was 35 years ago, and elections are even more presidential now than they are then.

    (They are also less fun. In 1972 McMahon held a rally in Springvale Town Hall. The crowd was 80% Labor, but it was impossible to hate poor old Billy, so we just sang “Give peace a chance” and pelted him with jelly beans. It wouldn’t happen now.)

  13. “..too old, too stale and past his best”. Well that’s exactly the problem for the Coalition today because that is the public perception of John Howard.
    There’s an additional problem that his ministers have also been around far too long.
    Remember John Howard went to the same hotel in the same resort every year for many years. He doesn’t like change. He is a true conservative.
    Having Downer, Ruddock and co still there in the same jobs after all these years increases the public perception of a need for change.
    There is a pendulum and it does swing eventually. Take a look at all the charts of previous governments. Some swing quickly, as with Gough Whitlam others take an extra election or two.
    The pendulum is well and truly with Kevin Rudd and is not likely to swing back between now and election day.

  14. Glen at comment 39 stated that the election does not have to be called until January 2008. I presume he meant held. It has to be called by 25 November. The constitution states that parliament will disolve on 15 November, and that writs must be issued within 10 days. The Electoral Act gives a maximum of 58 days after the issue of writs, and polling day must be a Saturday. That makes 19 January the last possible day to hold the election, but because the Parliament will expire, any election in the new year must be announced by 25 November. This means that a January campaign would create an extra long campaign, and governments lose certain rights during campaigns, which is why they tend to use the shortest campaign of 33 days. A January election would be truly desperate.

  15. “‘..too old, too stale and past his best.’ Well that’s exactly the problem for the Coalition today because that is the public perception of John Howard.”

    No, Richard Jones, the problem for you and other Labor supporters is that you THINK that’s the public perception of John Howard, but it patently is not. The public perceives the PM as strong and experienced, and particularly good in the areas of economic management and national security. Don’t make the mistake of falling for the media’s chosen narrative because you’re just going to be very disappointed come the election.

  16. Let’s not forget that Oaks wrote a book on Whitlam no matter how unbiased he may try to be you know he votes Labor…

    That is true Antony you are right it would play into Rudd’s hands to look even more desparate by going in January. If Howard is still lagging perhaps an early december poll if the figures havent closed enough in Oct for a November poll…

    Steven u may be right but who on earth does the ALP to lead them if Rudd is out of the picture Wayne Swan lol…still you are right Gillard would be stupid enough to challenge if they lost.

    History is against Rudd in 2 ways before you start going for some champers…one Govts dont lose when economic times are good and second Australians dont elect people with less than a few years leadership experience to the post of PM even Hawke was head of the ACTU for decades…Rudd has alot to overcome 16 seats and history. Is it possible sure but certain no way…

  17. Steven do you live in Queensland? I do and the only think people are focusing on is the interest rate rise.

    Peter Beatie may be ‘on the nose’ but he is still more popular than the opposition leaders (who most people cannot even name).

    The only people who care about the amalgamations are councilors and people with multi million dollar houses who don’t want to see their house prices decrease.

    Seriously if you think people will vote John Howard in because of this you are deluded. Not only is he clasping at straws his wedge didn’t even work as Kevin Rudd agrees with him.

    Over all today was not a good day for Johnnie. For his supporters to be writing him off means he maybe finished.

    Sure the election isn’t over till it’s over but at the moment we are in the 4th quarter with 5 minutes on the clock and the opposition is up by 30 points.

    Sure they could come back, but it would take a monumental stuff up for it to happen. I am not writing him off, however if he doesn’t focus on what really matters he may alienate even more voters.

    Lets put it this way, out of the amalgamation’s and the interest rate rise, which one is likely to cost people money?(hint not the amalgamation’s). A small interest rate rise may seem insignificant to you, however if it adds 50-100 a month onto an already stretched family budget it will not earn any friends for johnnie.

  18. I’ve offered the opinion before, and some have agreed with me, that Fed. Libs. have allowed Howard to become increasingly centrist, and that Sydney-centric, and dominated by, in my view, extremist religious groups of the Exclusive Brethren sort, in the pursuit of hanging onto power, via exploitation of xenophobia and fear. In my view, a totally horrible (in the sense of invoking horror) way of governing, and agree the small l libs. must be in despair. In addition, being originally from Q’land, I have a experienced a frisson of fear about Howard’s try at conflating the council amalgamation issue in Q’land with the actual election. Believe me, lots of them account for a fair proportion of those falling beneath average I.Q. on the bell curve for intelligence distribution. Enough of them could be dumb enough to fall for it and in their confusion, think they’re voting against a council amalgamation and they’re voting against Labor.

  19. History may be against Rudd.
    However, you fail to take into account, that despite the economy going full steam ahead, the gross incompetence and corruption of the Howard government is turning voters away in droves.

    It seems stunning to any impartial observer, that despite the boom in the economy, the Howard government is well and truly on the nose.

    The reason why?
    Due to Howard’s inept policies, from Iraq, Workchoices, Broadband.
    Due to Howard’s inept front bench, from Andrews, Ex-Santoro, Ex-Vanstone, Ex-Campbell, Hockey, Downer, Ruddock etc.
    Due to Howard’s lies from interest rates, Children Overboard, WMD, AWB.
    Due to Howard’s support of xenophobia, One Nation and demonising racial groups.

    It takes astounding incompetence to have so many varied groups dislike you, despite the booming economy, yet Howard has managed to break the historical mould.

  20. SK, internal Lib polling said Howard was viewed as old and tricky by the electorate; that’s Lib polling, not the media. Ice, I’m of the opinion that we’re currently midway through the 3rd qtr, with Labor 50 pts up. This qtr ends when the election is actually called; the official campaign is the last qtr. The desperation shown by the govt, and the rate rise, should enable Labor to increase its lead.

  21. It’s over. We know who will win the election, what we don’t know is the margin.

    The government looks terminal. A landslide looks more likely than a close result. I just think the punters want a change.

    Iraq, Workchoices, interest rates, climate change etc. Hardly cheery news to make voters feel good about re-electing the government.

    Nielsen on Monday will be fascinating. If the government goes backwards then their election strategy may change. There may be a deliberate strategy to hold relatively safe seats and keep a parliamentary base rather than spend significantly in marginal seats.

  22. Glen, it may indeed be Gillard leading when the factional thugs decide it’s time to skewer Rudd after the election. Certainly the Crean camp – whose puppet she is – has positioned her for just such an eventuality.

  23. Howard has never been so far on the back foot since he lost in 87. He is like a drunk looking for a fight, swinging at everything.

    I was interested to see how Costello might perform on the 7:30 report. His effort suggested he doesn’t want to be PM at all. He made no effort to connect with the audience or look “Prime Ministerial”. Instead he went for the slightly frothy look so popular with Liberal MP’s these days.

    It can’t be long before one of these guys literally punches something.

  24. If the alp loses it will be by between 1 and 5 seats (not alot). There is no way the alp would risk it and put Gillard in as their leader.

    If the alp does win it will be by at 10 seats or less,If it is more than this i will be surprised and ecstastic.

    I am being cautiously optimistic. Sure the alp are ahead but Johnnie will say and do anything to remain in power.

    I am usually a positive person, however in previous elections i have been positive and it hasn’t got me anywhere.

    I won’t breathe easy until the alp have won their 16th seat from the govt and the counting in w.a hasn’t even started.

    Once this happens that is when i will say with all confidence the alp has a good chance of winning 🙂

  25. [Glen, it may indeed be Gillard leading when the factional thugs decide it’s time to skewer Rudd after the election.]

    How many times does it need to be said! She is from the left, Labor leaders need the support of most of the right to be elected.

  26. I don’t know if I am watching The 7:30 Report, or an episode of Hypotheticals hosted by Peter Costello. He seems to think that Mark Latham is still leader of the opposition, but I guess he is just hoping that is the case. His argument is now “sure it is bad interest rates have gone up, but what if Latham was prime minister it would’ve been worse!”. This is a very interesting argument, but I don’t think it will help win an election.

  27. Interesting observation, Gaynor. I’d been wondering the same thing myself. Particularly if Possums’ analyses on the relative movements in notionally safe Coalition seat and the marginals are right, and more so if the next Nielsen has the primary vote cemented in, they may want to change. However, I still think they’re locked in and will do the lemming thing.
    Steven K., listen closely, I live in the electorate next to Julia’s. She is very highly regarded as a local member; she has proved herself to be an enormously able parliamentary performer, e.g., she can eyeball Howard and take everything flung at her, and still stay ‘en song’. Of all the things you could say about Julia Guillard, the last thing you could say is that she is a puppet. Might I also point out the obvious – though whoever is advising the Libs these days seem to be oblivious to this – badmouthing your opponent/s is not working.

  28. Steven, if you had read my posts carefully, you would have understood that I am not a Labor supporter. I am an independent supporter. I will have to allocate preferences of course and they wouldn’t go to John Howard.
    I have never, in dozens of elections, voted either Liberal or Labor, (although I did vote for Peter Rawlinson, later Lord Rawlinson, Conservative Member for Epsom at 21).
    A few hours ago, going through and recycling my archive, I came across a letter from Ted Pickering, former Liberal leader of NSW Legislative Council, thanking me for working with him and the Greiner government.
    I have been involved in politics both outside and inside the House for 35 years and have a good insight as to how it works.
    One thing, Gillard will and can never be the leader of the Labor Party unless she changes factions.
    As Lord D says, Liberal’s own internal polling shows public perception of John Howard is that he is old, tricky and a loser.
    The media didn’t make it up.
    I feel, like John Valder and others, that it is very sad how the Liberal Party has been taken so far to the right by John Howard. It makes Malcolm Fraser and Robert Menzies look like socialists.
    You may be a die-hard rusted-on supporter but many liberal Liberals have left.
    Does it not occur to you to wonder why there is not a single Liberal government in Australia apart from John Howard’s and that is very likely to go down in twelve weeks?
    Do you actually care enough about the Liberal Party to work from within to reform it so that it can resemble the Liberal Party of old? Or do you not care if the Liberal Party stays in semi-permanent opposition?

  29. If you apply the 3 factors of the Saw formula 1. Inflation. 2.Interest Rates 3. Employment, you will find that 2 of these have big ticks, with the 3rd, employment arguably due to workchoices have a tick also.

    By this formula the Howard government will be voted out and the Rudd government will be voted in.

    Simon, Peter Costello and Howard, to the average voter will be looking very dishonest right about now. Their is only so much BS the public will swallow before they decide to turn off. Maybe they already have.

  30. I know Queensland is not Victoria but we went through the council almalgamations about 15 years ago. There was a lot of screaming but politically it had zero effect.

    Also, not living in Queensland I don’t know what the locals think of him but I would suggest that he has a reasonable standing across the rest of the country and gets a good hearing in the media.

  31. I really hope this is the end of Howard and Co but as I have said before they have buckets of money to spend and the Australian people are easily bought. Very Easily Bought. I won’t be convinced until I see Howard concede on Polling night.

  32. Monica Lynagh Says:
    August 8th, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    In addition, being originally from Q’land, I have a experienced a frisson of fear about Howard’s try at conflating the council amalgamation issue in Q’land with the actual election. Believe me, lots of them account for a fair proportion of those falling beneath average I.Q. on the bell curve for intelligence distribution

    Monica I am a Mexican (raised in Melbourne) but I have been living here in QLD for a few years now and your perception of ‘lots of them’ having a low IQ is not my experience of QLD people. It is a bit harsh to make stereotyping generalisations. My perception of Queenslanders is pretty much equivalent to my perception of the general Australian community , except when it comes to ‘The Broncos’ or Wally Lewis and State of Origin.

    You are clearly offering an opinion, not a statement of fact. My anecdotal opinion based on my experiences is that people are no more likely confuse State and Federal Government’s and State v Federal policy than any other ‘red neck’ part of other States.

    Yes, even Queenslanders are alot more politically ‘savvy’ than they might have been a generation ago.

    Some may vote against Labor at a Federal level because of the amalgamation policy of the State Government, but I wouldn’t think it was because they are too stupid to know what they are doing and why.

    In any case, I maintain my view that after today’s ‘walk a wheelbarrow from Redcliffe to Parliament with 22,000 petitions’ it will wash over most in the electorate come election day, people who vote conservative will still vote conservative (the true rednecks) in rural-provincial areas, and at worst it will cost Labor a shot at 1-2 seats they might otherwise have won.

  33. My partner was in Caloundra showing off our new baby a week ago, and her father was rightly pissed at the QLD government re:the council amalgamations. He made it quite plain he plans to vote against the ALP in the next state election.

    But this 70 yr old pensioner has made it quite plain that there’s a snowballs chance in hell he’ll vote for John Howard.

  34. Richard Jones says–

    A few hours ago, going through and recycling my archive, I came across a letter from Ted Pickering, former Liberal leader of NSW Legislative Council, thanking me for working with him and the Greiner government. I have been involved in politics both outside and inside the House for 35 years and have a good insight as to how it works.

    A few years ago, going through my mental archive, I came across a letter from John Howard, former Liberal Party Prime Minister, thanking me for being foolish enough to beleive his promises to make and keep housing affordability to middle income earners and young people entering the housing market accessible and affordable. I have been involved in politics both inside and outside my house for only 30 years, but I have a good insight into how it works – eventually the chickens come home to roost- the Howard battler’s are looking for the axe. Time for a new Rooster in the chook house.

  35. Greeensborough Growler Says:
    August 8th, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Where did my tax cut go?

    Look under JWHs table Growler, youll find the crumbs right there.

  36. My assessment of the eventual election result remains unchanged.

    There is not one person I know of, or that I have seen online, who voted Liberal/National in 2004 who has stated that they are even considering voting Labor in 2007. I challenge ANYONE here to state they do so.

    Howard by 20+ seats

  37. Okay, Ive had enough of scrolling through x and x and x and x endless parade of pro Howard ‘spin’ and fantasy. Get that Psephblog up quick please Adam. Im done with this bs. Sorry William, its just TOO MUCH.

  38. The Liberal Party willingly let it become the “Howard Party”. JWH and spouse will not vacate Kirribilli House before Christmas. That means that the election will be in 2008(it’s legal). It’s not too late for the party to reclaim control but where is the leadership to do that?

  39. My final contribution to this blog will be to say Nostradamus, Steven Kaye, Cerdic, Glen (at times), and all their allias identities have ruined this blogspace for me and others with an intelligence above their bs commentary and ceaseless public declaration of self delusion. It dosent even rate a political debate, its more like the young Liberals mass -debating in public. Adios.

  40. [That means that the election will be in 2008(it’s legal).]

    I doubt it, if he hangs on until Jan or Feb then everyone will realise he knows he is going to lose, which will just result in a landslide.

  41. I think the appearance of the rodent on the 7.30 report yesterday, telling us all how good, honest and wholesome he is, combined with his attempts to mislead the public today ( I never promised any thing regarding interest during the last election) is the final nail in his coffin. If there was any doubt in peoples minds that he wasn’t dishonest, it will be surely gone now. Last night talking about how honest he is followed by more lies today. This will have really alienated a lot of people, especially the undecided or wavering/swinging voter.

    Bye Johnny.

    So Says Tom.

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