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”

  1. Gillard probably is onto a good thing with the frequent use of the phrase “long-term”. If they’re disciplined they can use it to undermine the Libs without looking like they’re directly attacking.

    (It’s so odd, after the last 10 years, to be talking about the ALP’s sense of discipline and the Liberals in disarray.)

  2. ..His hands were getting tired, now the rain was sheeting down, the sky unforgiving and, he thought, a little ungrateful.

    In the decks deep below Petulant Pete was having a grumble at no one in particular and picking up, for the fourth time tonight, his latest, carefully stacked pile of dubloons..

    “In the crew’s interest, oooh in the crew’s blaaady interest, how hard is it to steer a blaaady schooner!!”, “It’s got GPS for goodness sake!”.”Oh, if I were up there, they’d say ‘Now there’s a guy with shiny buttons and sensible eyebrows.. and my mum WOULD be proud! Not so sure about my brother, mind..”

    Panting and worried secretly that he might have gotten a ladder on the ladder, Tubby spluttered “Cap’n, there’s a mutiny!!!!”

    “AARRGH!! Calm down man, what d’ye mean a mutiny??”

    “Well they kinda think maybe, if it is ok with you and its perfectly ok if it isn’t that you might consider giving Pete a little chance at the wheel and you, you, you well, we have your yellow tracksuit ready??”

    “Scurvy dogs! Curse the lot of you! I’d make you all walk the plank, except I’ll need it to beat everyone over the head and convince them to let me stay!”

    He noticed that his pantaloons were riding as the wind whipped at his monocle, they, like the bum-scratch, would just have to wait….

  3. Those that “hold an office of profit under the Crown” (public servants of all types) are not eligible to be elected to the Federal Parliament.

    Why shouldn’t public servants also be ineligible to vote for the Federal Parliament?

  4. ‘well into my term’

    He has said this to appease Costello, etc but I’ll bet if he wins this election the Liberal Party will be so grateful that they’ll be willing to make him Party Leader for life. He’ll never retire. As others have said it’s a non-core promise.

  5. Piping Strike agenda aside… cannot really remember what Howards’ agenda was last election other than keeping interest rates low… put simply the polls have put pressure on Howard and if they were different their would be no carry on…

  6. With Howard’s announcement that he will probably, certainly decide that it “makes sense to retire”, does this mean that he actually will retire? Someone I go out for a few drinks and announce that it probably, nay certainly, make sense to stop drinking and go home now, but I don’t always deliver.

    Those who say that Howard can do anything he likes if he manages to win the next election are right. He’s certainly ditched the “as long as my party wants me” line for good. If he’s re-elected, he, and not his party, will clearly decide how long he stays.

    I thought Gillard performed pretty well on Lateline. Her line that Howard wants to secure Australia’s long-term future, but doesn’t want to serve long-term, was quite effective. But it’s not hard to be a Labor interviewee tonight, after what the Libs have done.

    Roll out the real election policies…let the pork proceed.

  7. MarkyMarky

    The 55+ aren’t fussed on Costello – two things lead me to believe this.Firstly, it’s his worse demographic and has been for years.The ALP polling last election apparently crystallised that out, and likewise the last Newspoll that measured Costellos support (back in July) showed 22% of the over 50’s to be “a lot less likely” to vote for Costello if he were leader.

    It wasnt the highest “less likely” rating among the demographics, but it was the most important because that is the only age group the Coalition still leads in.

  8. The 7.30 report…

    John Howard declared he had things to do for the country or something along those lines. This would be, you’d think, the bare minimum acceptable reason for seeking office. Afterall, you can hardly ask people to vote for you because you’re at a loose end and haven’t got anything better to do.

    He’s also just (under)stating the obvious when he says he loves the job and would find it hard to quit. Well, most people had figured that one out by themselves. Yet this was when he was most animated and convincing.

    For mine, this was a telling interview: he loves having title and can’t let go, and he’ll say or do whatever he thinks it will take to keep it. No wonder that he has seemed to me by turns desperate, opportunistic, irrascible, devious, unpredictable…..But I’m sure others will have a different view and find something to admire in his resolve and fighting spirit.

    I think this shows how hard it’s going to be for Howard to move opinions around: we know him very very well. He reinforces our pre-existing views.

    I think he is also starting to contaminate his positives too. The “team” word is getting a thorough workout. But I think the blue team must be gathering its own negatives by now: are they a team? the first eleven or a hopeless mob?

  9. Antonio says: “There’ll be some grudging admiration for his araldite behaviour. You certainly can’t question his tenacity.”

    When it comes to tenacity, there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Howard is certainly a very efficient politician working incredibly hard every day. But he is and has certainly not been very effective of late as evidenced by the polls.

    His latest tactic may well backfire. As Gillard put it so powerfully: “Howard is asking voters to vote for him so that he can retire.” The voters would want to cut to the chase and give him the favour at the earliest opportunity.

  10. Piping Shrike @ 350

    I didn’t really follow the last general election in GB – given it seemed to be a foregone conclusion, and I wasn’t overly interested in the result (or watching in the hope Blair would fall like some others were)

    I’m curious, when would you suggest Blair ‘regreted’ his decision to pre-announce his departure? During the election campaign? In the year that followed? In his second year? After he announced he would leave within 12 months? Genuinely have no idea, I didn’t follow the timeline of events.

  11. Never ever pay any attention to what JWH says. That is the cardinal rule. His success is largely due to people believing that they understand what he has said. Wrong! Ignore everything he says and look closely at what he does.(It is like looking at the football with the sound turned off but much more believable).

  12. Do you really think that “holding an office of profit under the Crown” would include “pensioners, and recipients of drought relief and export subsidies?”

  13. Have to agree wombat. I wonder if Costello got anyone to witness this agreement this time? I mean, sure, presumably the entire party room – but if Howard tells them “No, you didn’t see it. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” they’ll fall into line.

    Transcript of his interview is up now: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s2031023.htm

    Watching the video, I see what people meant upthread – when the whole “there’s nothing to be gained” bit comes up on the video, Howard really sounds, well… lame. And his begging is just sad.

    Kezza did miss the obvious question to respond to Howard’s “there’s a lot of things I want to do” of “name three”.

    The really interesting question is what this maybe-perhaps-retirement will do to the Bennelong market.

  14. Tony Jones used the term “lame duck” and it’s likely it will crop up again and again. Julia Gillard punched the point home that they were planning long term and John Howard is planning to retire.
    It cannot inspire confidence in Liberal voters knowing they will be voting for a man who won’t be there in a year or two. There’s no guarantee Peter Costello will take over. It could be anyone. Conservative voters are buying a pig in a poke. You need to take the pig out and have a good look at it before buying but conservative voters won’t have this chance.
    I actually think his performance was so bad tonight that he will have to go before the election. His parliamentary colleagues must have been quite shocked by his performance.
    The leadership question has not been settled.
    (By the way, I am very impressed by the calibre of contributors scattered across Australia, quite amazing cross section)

  15. I agree Bracks retired due to family problems, nonetheless one must think like the electorate and the electorate may see it differently… and Howards’ line on this is not a bad line and many ‘dills’ do still regard him as ‘honest John’ even though he is probably a sneaky lieing weazel.
    And this line regarding he won’t go well i am not so sure, as on this issue he has been consistent.. 2001 I’ll stay for three years he has done so, 2004 I’ll stay for three years and he has done so again…
    Please don’t get wrong i am no Howard supporter, i just don’t want people to start celebrating and underestimate this sneak.

  16. Kevin Rudd is due to give an address on Housing at Penrith on Saturday morning. The address is billed as an important part of Labor’s 2007 Election Campaign.

  17. Rupert, it would include members of the armed forces. Presumably as a tory troll you’d be outraged if anyone suggested anything untoward about them, and yet here you are trying to deny them their right to vote. Shame on you.

  18. The Australian Constitution denies members of the armed forces the right to be elected to Parliament, just ask Jackie Kelly.

    Why do you think the writers of the Constitution included this?

  19. 356

    Rupert Says:
    September 12th, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Those that “hold an office of profit under the Crown” (public servants of all types) are not eligible to be elected to the Federal Parliament.

    Why shouldn’t public servants also be ineligible to vote for the Federal Parliament?

    370

    Rupert Says:
    September 12th, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Do you really think that “holding an office of profit under the Crown” would include “pensioners, and recipients of drought relief and export subsidies?”

    No, but if there is a connection between yor two posts, you need to explain it.

  20. Not sure if this is such a dumb move by Howard. For one thing it probably (finally) locks Costello in. For another it’s much less fun for the press to write about something that’s a done deal than it is to speculate about whether he will go – so the net effect is likely to be less “Howard might be leaving” stories, once the initial bubbub dies down.

    Labor will push the Costello factor no doubt, so we’ll see how big a negative that becomes for the Libs.

    Howard’s still way behind but I suspect he’s made the right call on this. Expect to hear more from him about “I won’t lie to you about leaving like Labor politicians do”.

  21. [Kevin Rudd is due to give an address on Housing at Penrith on Saturday morning. The address is billed as an important part of Labor’s 2007 Election Campaign.]

    Excellent, hopefully it gets a good run in all the Sunday papers.

  22. “374
    Brian Mc Says:
    September 12th, 2007 at 11:11 pm
    Kevin Rudd is due to give an address on Housing at Penrith on Saturday morning. The address is billed as an important part of Labor’s 2007 Election Campaign.”

    Where in Penrith Brian Mc.?
    This is my electorate.Wouldn’t mind knowing so we can go along and give encouragement.

  23. “holding an office of profit under the Crown” – would that include the military, police, judiciary and people who survive by government contracts, those organisations that survive by government grants?

    Lets cut to the chase – what the Howard Govt really wants is to limit voting to land owners who have property worth more than $10 million, Christian and conservative, racist and believes in a one party state.

  24. The waves heaved like someone was shaking out a bedspread and the little vessel creaked and groaned. On the starboard side, Petty Officer Bullturd was also heaving. As he wiped his mouth he whimpered,

    “I didn’t sign up for this!! Now I’ve spoiled my nice Armani uniform! If I were driving, I’d be riding these waves better! Hell, my chuckle alone can sooth many a nerve!”, “Ha, ha!” he practised enthusiastically.

    It was then that he noticed a darker ship astern, looking surprisingly calm in their wake and he could have sworn he caught a glint of crystal and heard the pop of a distant bottle. He squinted against the angry squall and looked in horror as he gazed upwards at the arrogant mast. The unmistakable flag of the Jolly Rudder, now THIS would be a problem…

  25. If my rough calculations are correct, Howard’s currently 4 1/2 years short of Ming’s record. If he somehow gets re-elected and serves another, say, 2 years, he’ll be only 2 1/2 years short of breaking that. Can anyone seriously say that they think he’d put his ego aside and let that record go to let Costello have a go at PM?

    (I’m not counting the first go that Ming had at PM from 39-41, just 49-66).

  26. Rupert, Nostrodamus, Steven Kaye sure give Conservatives a bad name. All Labor supporters are unemployed? A very sweeping generalisation, Rupert, and completely erroneous!
    Gillard certainly looked impressive on Lateline. She’s sharpened up her media performaces lately, and I’m sure is more than ready to handle whatever the Liberal Party dirt unit tosses her way.

  27. I thought it was only the commies and ferals that whine and rant irrationally about “class” and “land owners” these days. Did you enjoy your trip to APEC?

  28. 2005 UK Election: Blair’s majority was slashed from 160 down to 60 seats. Yes, opposition to the war in Iraq was a big factor – Labor lost a lot of the progressive vote to the Liberal Democrats.

  29. Kevin Rudd is due to give an address on Housing at Penrith on Saturday morning. The address is billed as an important part of Labor’s 2007 Election Campaign.]

    Fantastic more incentive for big investors to help small battling lower income earners to gain a home…
    Yep policies that feed crumbs to low income earners…

  30. Chris Curtis: My wife is Christian and we go to church each Sunday. I can tell you that despite the scriptures there are many who call themselves Christian who are racist. But lets not divert this thread down that line. By the same token many of the Howard Cabinet call themselves Christian……..

  31. 9 days till my birthday (40) which happens to be the same as Ruddy. As a fellow virgoian I don’t know if we share the same traits, but I did see a Man Power show with no other than Jamie Durie about 20yrs ago, got a little tipsey and now I don’t remember much of the night. Except of course Jamie Durie with long hair – Farbio style. LLlllrrrrwwll

    I don’t know how Howard can talk about the future when he will not be in charge of the future?? Wouldn’t Costello (if he’s voted PM and if they win) redirect, change and scrap policies?? Isn’t that what new leaders do when they get in??

  32. Portlandbet.com update:
    LABOR now favourite to win 78 seats
    COALITION favourite to win 70 seats
    and 2 independents
    Deakin the newest seat to add to the list of Labor gains.
    Labor surging ahead in Eden Monaro, Swan, Cowan, Bonner, Moreton and Blair. Labor’s odds firming in seats like Petrie, Wentworth, Bennelong, Corrangamite, Bowman.

  33. On the assumption that KOB was working for the ALP, he did exactly the right thing in not asking him about his plans. if he does have any, he looks good. Better let him talk about himself, and look pathetic.
    On second thoughts, KOB was working for the people of Australia.

  34. Aboard the dark ship, with one hand on the wheel and the other holding his glass, Captain Rudder was quietly whistling “Yo Ho! Blow the man down!” and fancied it had a Mandarin twang.

    “Lovely night for a cruise sir! Oh, it looks like they’re going about!” Chimed Droll Jack Swan

    “Yes, I already noticed that. I too am going about. Prepare to go about!”

    “Aye, Aye Cap’n”

    It seemed that they had been tacking continuously all night, but then, their even smaller ship was designed for it. It was an old ship but had a lovely new coat of black paint and not all the hinges and handles had been re-attached and those already on did not all match, but from a distance it was impressive and no one had ever steered her so dangerously close to starboard as young Captain Rudd.

    “Prepare for a revolution!!” He proclaimed over his shoulder, a broad, if somewhat thin grin spread over his face.

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