Movement at the station: episode two

An uneasy calm has apparently settled over the Liberal leadership issue – at least until next week’s Newspoll which, as Adam Carr sagely observes, is just as likely to start the ball rolling all over again. An election announcement in the interim would seem to be the only escape, but the Prime Minister has ruled this out. Comments thread denizens are invited to keep the discussion ticking over on this all-new thread.

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.

438 comments on “Movement at the station: episode two”

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  1. Thanks Lindsay Voter. I too get to speak to lots of voters through local rights@work campaign and ALP campaign and amazed at the positive feedback one gets about John Howard. People hate his policies but not necessarily the man himself. Nothing is what is appears.

  2. Howard kept saying (at least 4 times) he had major goals for the first half of the next term but did not give one example. KO’B did not ask.

    As this was the question that brought him undone on AM yesterday, I was disappointed. I would suggest that his minders had time to think up some plans for the future in the last 36 hours and it may have given us some idea on the coalition’s campaigning stratergy

  3. Also agree with Marky Marky. When the Coalition are deciding to wander around with 2 heads you offer them 2 combs and make up artists and walk away.

    Rudd is free to let the media and the Coalition detractors kick up a stink about the leadership issue and in the meantime do what Howard failed again to do tonight-

    Tell Australia what he has planned to address issues of the future…….a big policy announcent on Friday would be excellent timing for Rudd- maybe his tax policy [Costello strongly hinted at significant income tax reductions from his election war chest is in the making-

    Rudd should gassump him again {aka the war veterans policy} on Friday.

  4. howard to resign sometime, someday faraway…..what is this election meant to be for mr howard: a kind of going away present? really, you don’t ask for trophies from the electorate, you ask for their trust and confidence….

    poor john, he’s asking the public for the same indulgence that he’s obtained frmm the partyroom—just let me stay up till the next ad, pleeeeeease, oh pleeeeeease let me stay up a bit longer…..

  5. Bloody hell, Rupert reckons most of the tragics on this site are the enemployed and underemployed in the government sector!

    I thought they may have been CEOs or company directors with their millions in salaries and bonuses who do EFF-ALL all day, play golf and cost corporations billions of dollars. Not to mention the shit they put into the earths atmosphere and not pay their fair share of taxes. hmmm

  6. Government debt should not be an issue… as long as the government has significant assets to cater for it and it has… The government should be borrowing more money for infrastructure projects and projects to deliver more exports for this country.. Government debt is the cheapest form of debt but we continue to state that we should not borrow….

  7. Hugo writes:

    But what will Howard do? No doubt he’ll write his memoirs, but I wonder what sort of public image he’ll have in years to come?

    My money, well a dozen stubies is on “The man who destroyed the liberal party”.

  8. All Rudd needs to do now is not drop the ball. The election is the debate he needs to win,nothing ahead of it matters much including poll results.

    I hope he has the smarts to stay the course through the bile and scare campaigns the Coalition have planned for him and Gillard et al. ]

    If they hold their ground, keep the message simple and don’t ‘scare the horses’ they have a very good shot at winning the upcoming election, nothing more than that can be speculated at this point, so say the wise heads inside the ALP. I think they are spot on, it aint over yet people.

  9. There will be another game going on between now and the election, for control of the party after the election. The factions will be a plotting for their power after the election – on the very good chance they lose.

  10. Isn’t howard trying to reach for another wedge tactic???????

    On one side he says

    ” People of Australia, just look at how labor leaders deal with this issue, they stand for re-election and then quit within a year or two of being re-elected. Compare them to me good Australians, I’m telling you upfront that if you re-elect me in 2007, I won’t be there at the the next election.”

    and the other side of the wedge is

    “Liberal voters listen to me now, a vote for me now is a vote for Peter C before the next election- two leaders for the price of one!!!!!”

    My view, he’s reverting to type……I just hope he can pull it off

  11. hmm Howard on 7 30. Report looked dreadful, i almost felt sorry for him, but then i thought of my grandies being rorted into sht kickers wages and the massive HECS debt one of them will have and willed Kerry to push him even harder, he looked ready to bolt,two days before the Morgan poll, hey it’s almost like a kid at xmas time waiting to see what’s in the parcels under the tree, Rudd should bring out a good policy tomorrow just to keep the momentum going for Tuesday’s poll.
    Rupert, by the way, i’m a doddering old gold card vet, retired after doing my bit for democracy, sigh, sometimes i dont know why i bothered.

  12. Howard on the 7.30 Report looked and sounded like Billy McMahon. I was around in 1972. Another memory: it’s beginning to look, I hope, like Canada in 1993. With luck, it’ll be total annihilation and a total repudiation of this foetid, self-satisfied, authoritarian and incompetent bunch of fools.

    My partiality is for a government that can at least spend our taxes wisely rather than embark on back-of-the-envelope campaigns to save the Murray or stunts like the hideous NT “emergency” intervention or the Tassie hospital.

    I’ve always been a fan of accountable government expenditure, and since Howard got control of the Senate, this has been thrown out the window.

    I’d also like to say, with rather more sincerity than the accustomed pseudo-acknowledgements to tradional owners that accompany white people’s gatherings, that I wish Indigenous Australians all the very best.

    Aboriginal policy is or should be a fundamental issue. I don’t recall having ever seen it on a political blog. I support resurrecting something like the ATSIC electoral roll and giving Indigenous Australians four senators with a sunset clause around 2020. This will clarify policy. I don’t have any hope of seeing this happening though it should.

    The Brough assimilation prescription will only enrich white people on the tit and succeed in nothing else. It’ll be a bit like RAMSI in the Solomon Islands. It won’t solve anything but becomes just a way for Commonwealth public servants to do a posting on the tax-free or incentives tit.. It’s just another farce from the Howard “government” that plays well amongst the deadwood.


    Paul from Canberra

    Paul H from Canberra

  13. For heavans sake take a chill pill (as my kids would say) Howard is not gone yet. They hold government with a majority of 16 seats. This is one hell of a gap to overcome.

  14. oakshot at 302 went
    ” I was disappointed. I would suggest that his minders had time to think up some plans for the future in the last 36 hours and it may have given us some idea on the coalition’s campaigning strategy”

    Im in your boat – pressing Howard over that question could have been quite enlightening.The Coalition are definitely positioning themselves for a number of policy positions, probably policy position changes involving Workchoices, education, health and big tax cuts.That was the perfect opportunity to extract blood when Howard was in a vulnerable position.K.O blew it.

  15. Dear Rupert,

    I’m pleased you said most supporters of the ALP here are underemployed or unemployed I shall think of you fondly tomorrow as I walk down Collins St to my Office I may give you the occasional though as I twig my tie as I look at my Clients Portfolios, the Paris end is most wonderful at this time of year.

  16. If you really want to see the end of Howard contact your local non-coalition candidate or rights@work group. Put up posters in your front yard, offer to help out on election day. If one thing came out of Howards 7.30 report interview tonight is his determination to do everything he can to win and if that means outspending Labor or throwing every bit of dirt they have.

  17. Is it just me, or did JWH actually write the ALP ads for them with his performance on the 7.30 report?

    He effectively has said that a vote for Liberal is not a vote for JWH. He has effectively wiped his own following from the Tory vote. This will lose votes (but not as many as if he were to give it away now).

    He looks like he has stopped caring. He looks like he is going through the motions. Is there someone else (e.g. Janette) who is forcing him to keep going?

    He should call the election and get it over with. This is getting Australia nowhere fast.

  18. ” The latter is looking less likely after Mr Howard’s supporters effectively ended any talk of a coup before this morning’s Liberal Party meetings began and promised a “brainstorming” session on policy ideas for next week’s gathering”

    That (above) from The Australian tomorrow. Why would they need a brainstorming session ?

    Have they suddenly realised the electorate might actually vote them out unless they can talk about the future and form some actual policy for the future beyond cynical pork barrelling here and there in marginal electorates ? Beware the Trojan Horse !!

  19. Have to agree with you again Smurphy. In fact I made the same comment a few days ago that we should all do our bit. My other half won’t allow me to put up a poster on our acreage property which has one side along a busy road. I will be leafletting as usual. In 2004 I went around carparks sticking Not Happy John stickers on posts and female toilets! And I plan to call Maxine’s office to help out. All I want is for Howard to lose Bennelong!

  20. ABC news report;

    The Prime Minister says if he is re-elected he will probably retire during his next term.
    (Is this a core or non core promise?)

    He has told ABC television’s 7.30 Report he believes he can win this year’s election, but he expects Peter Costello to takeover as Prime Minister at some point during his next term.

    “I would probably certainly form the view, well into my term, that it makes sense for me to retire and in those circumstances I would expect – although it would be a matter for the party to determine – that Peter would take over,” Mr Howard said.

    “Now that’s the honest position.”

    Mr Howard says he still loves the job, but does not want to mislead voters about his intentions.

    “I won’t find it easy if I am re-elected to retire, I won’t find it the least bit easy because I’m very committed to this job and I will not like leaving it.”

    Mr Howard says he wants to be honest with the Australian public.

    “I’ve noticed [former Victorian premier] Steve Bracks and [outgoing Queensland premier] Peter Beattie look their electorates in the eye and say ‘We’re going to stay three years,'” he said.

    “Twelve months and Beattie’s gone. A little longer than 12 months and Bracks is gone.

    “Now I’m not going to do that.”

    Does this mean that a vote for JWH is a vote for Costello or not?

    Hard to tell and if the voters can make anything of it beyond Howard being clever ….

  21. #
    bmwofoz Says:
    September 12th, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Dear Rupert,

    I’m pleased you said most supporters of the ALP here are underemployed or unemployed I shall think of you fondly tomorrow as I walk down Collins St to my Office I may give you the occasional though as I twig my tie as I look at my Clients Portfolios, the Paris end is most wonderful at this time of year.

    bmwofoz – I love that part of Melbourne. You are fortunate to work there.

    Do I count in Rupert’s assessment? I’m an engineer officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, and very proud to serve my country. Are we in the ADF considered to be among the underemployed or unemployed as well, just because some of us vote ALP?

  22. Re the 7.30 report…Howard was finding it really really really hard to say the ‘r’ word – retire. He stumbled his way through, saying he’d “probably retire”, realised that was no promise at all, so changed it to “certainly”.

    I do think his retirement pledge will help the coalition vote. It does promise some leadership renewal to come. but it will make to harder to retain Bennelong.

    The oddest outcome – which is quite plausible – would be for the Libs to win, but Howard to lose his seat. That would make Costello Prime Minister. It’s Pete’s best hope…and Howard would bow out a hero, to count his super and watch the First Cricket Test on telly in early November.

    I suspect the polls will swing back Howard’s way a bit. There’ll be some grudging admiration for his araldite behaviour. You certainly can’t question his tenacity. And some wavering Liberal voters will stay in the tent if they believe the leadership squabbling is now over.

    I thought KOB did a very good interview, and Howard really did look old. But anyone would be tired after APEC and a bout of leadership trouble, not to mention a parliamentary sitting and election campaigning.

  23. This is all nonsense. If Howard wins this election from here, he will be under no pressure at all to retire. He will become convinced he has superhuman powers, and indeed it will hard to disagree. It will be the greatest comeback since Charles I stuck his head back on with blutak, polevaulted out of the Tower of London and swam across the English Channel. I for one will emigrate, and organised resistance to the Howard regime will collapse. In those circs Howard will be able to write his own scenario, and there is no way he will retire within two years, if then. That will give him plenty of time see Chicken Man off and groom someone else – Alex Hawke perhaps.

  24. Let us assume for the purposes of argument that those who contribute to discussion at this site are unemployed or underemployed. Would that make their reasoning invalid, their arguments illogical, their facts non-facts? No!

    I see no problem with a prime minister saying that he will serve most of a term and hand over to someone else, but John Howard just doesn’t have the credibility to say so effectively.

    If Mr Howard were to win the election, he would be the greatest miracle-worker in Australian politics. He cannot do it, and the tragedy for him will be that his own party will turn against him with a vengeance after he loses. I can already hear Peter Costello’s vitriol on the matter. If Mr Howard had retired a year ago, he would go down in history as a Liberal hero alongside Sir Robert Menzies. Too late now!

    I have said since May that Labor would win 82 seats. I said that I would revise my prediction once the tax cuts cut in, and at that time I stuck with 82 seats. I did not expect to see the Liberal amateur hour of this week, and I am now confident that Labor will do much better than 82 seats – how much better I will leave for later. The campaign will claw back some of the current 57/59 Labor TPP, not because a campaign has to work in the Liberals’ favour but because these numbers are so high, but a Labor record TPP is on the cards and the federal Liberals’ joining their state divisions in disarray is certain.

  25. [The Labor Party has endorsed its election candidate for the federal seat of Mallee in western Victoria.

    Mallee is the safest seat in the country and has been held by the National party’s John Forrest since 1993.

    Solicitor John Zigouras, 68, has been selected by the ALP to contest the seat for the fourth consecutive federal election.

    Mr Zigouras says he thinks the seat will swing towards Labor.]

  26. Oldtimer,

    If we can’t be confident with these numbers, when can we?

    If the polls were 59 LNP – 41 Labor this close to an election and had been that way for 12 months, who would be saying Labor still had a chance?

    But Labor people still have to do the work. I don’t suggest forgetting the letter-boxing or not bothering with HTVs on polling day.

  27. John Zigouras is a barrister who I believe lives in Fitzroy. His firm has a branch office in Mildura and he stands for Mallee at every election to boost his name recognition and drum up some business. The danger for him this time is that he might actually win.

  28. Max 287

    “The libs have been unusually positive today, focussing on the future, ignoring Rudd completely”

    You obviously didn’t watch question time Max.

  29. I agree with Chris, it looks like a historic Labor win and there would have to be a convincing reason why the polls will end up narrowing significantly and I can’t see it.

    But this retirement announcement is bad news for the Liberals because it will undermine their core base who prefer Howard over anyone else. I can see no gain from it.

  30. Re #317 bmwofoz, I want to corroborate your rejection of Rupert’s slight: at the time you posted comment # 317 (9.45pm) I was at my (public sector) office desk working – just the same as last night.

    Watch out, though, everyone: it is statistically quite possible that the next Morgan & Newspoll figures will show a one or two point ‘improvement’ for the Government, even if there is the same or marginally less support for them in the overall population. The stupid media will paint this as a vindication of Howard’s decision to stay, even if the change between polls is not statistically significant.

  31. Rupert, I am a company director of a media company.
    Does this qualify me as “underemployed or unemployed” for your cliche and prejudice of bloggers on this site? Rupert do you live in the real world or do you spend your time exclusively living in a blogosphere bubble? There are real people out there with real jobs and real opinions.

  32. If Labor’s focus is on Howard and Costello they will lose votes… hopily they will concentrate on policies and let the Liberals dismantle themselves.
    Unfortunately Julia Gillard on lateline seemed to be heading in direction that it should not take.
    Howards’ argument may be seen as being honest unlike two former priemers..

  33. The Libs (rather than the Nats) have just kissed goodbye to a small but decent chunk of the 55+ demographic with this faux “retire next term” announcement.

    These blokes have been sculling the idiot juice over the last 5 days.

  34. It only takes one poll to send everyone into depression. Still a lot of stress to endure until the election. Best thing is the Liberal party seems to be helping us all along.

  35. marky marky, I agree that Labor should not do the Costello scare thing, better to do what they have been doing and just imply the carry on will continue. But they don’t need to do anything, this is less a marginal voter issue, it is a core voter issue, and they should ignore it. The uncertainty speaks for itself.

    People don’t care whether personalities stay on or not, Bracks and Beattie have hardly had any trouble for their decision. People are only going on about Howard because he has an agenda of someone who has no reason to stay.

  36. “I would probably certainly form the view, well into my term, that it makes sense for me to retire”…….too many weasel words there for me to believe him.

  37. No matter what, most people 55+ will vote for the Coalition at this election… These people like Howard and generally i can’t see any reason why they would change their vote because of this.

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