Campaign countdown: when it’s on like Donkey Kong
Prime Minister being photographed with babies – check. Opposition Leader warning MPs they remain underdogs – check. Character-questioning stories about the Prime Minister’s past behaviour out on the town emerging – check.
When can we just call this a campaign?
The phrase “it’s on like Donkey Kong” is the first line of a 1992 song by Ice Cube, Now I Gotta Wet’cha. It was more recently popularised by Seann William Scott’s character, Steve Stifler, in the American Pie movies. Explanations of the phrase offered by Urban Dictionary say it signifies “the highest level of go time” and of course is a significant escalation to “it”, whatever “it” is, being merely “on”. The signs are that in federal politics as of this week it is indeed on like Donkey Kong.
Unfortunately for the government the dominant silverbacks in the enclosure for the moment remain the mining companies.
But there are signs of progress. In The Australian, Dennis Shanahan and Matthew Franklin report on “the first sign of compromise in [the government’s] damaging battle with miners,” involving some concessions to the coal-seam gas industry.
In the Herald Sun Philip Hudson and Rachel Hewitt say the PM sought to reassure his party yesterday in caucus by characterising relations with the miners as having moved from “consultations” to “formal negotiations”.
If it turns out that the current sitting is the last for this government and an election is called for August, Rudd needs to seek something resembling agreement from the miners within weeks, not the timeframe of months he recently flagged.
Back at The Australian Paul Kelly argues Rudd has shown he is capable of delivering reform smoothly by looking at his handling of the maternity leave scheme. Kelly says it is a “genuine achievement of Kevin Rudd’s first term, a much needed success and therapy”.
It was at an event yesterday to mark the start of debate on the maternity leave bill in the Senate, Rudd showed up unexpectedly to throw his weight behind a call for the upper house to pass it without fuss, “conscious that his embattled government needs to sell its successes,” as Phillip Coorey notes in the Sydney Morning Herald.
On Lateline last night Transport Minister Anthony Albanese outlined the government’s stump points:
[W]e are the only advanced economy which avoided recession during the Global Financial Crisis. Our unemployment rate, last week of 5.2 per cent, is a remarkable achievement. We have the lowest debt and the lowest deficit in the advanced world. We’ve had the largest single increase in pensions.
We’ve engaged in the largest infrastructure rollout in Australia’s history. We have national health reform. We abolished WorkChoices and returned fairness to the workplace. These are all issues that we’ll be running on in coming months in the lead-up to the federal election.
And he went negative on Abbott:
Tony Abbott represents the most extreme ideological leader that the Liberal Party has had. He is John Howard without the pragmatism. So if you want WorkChoices back, if you want opposition to all of the reform programs that we’ve advanced, then people will have that choice.
Abbott himself yesterday was warning his MPs “against an outbreak of false euphoria” and insisted the Coalition remained the underdog, the mantle every opposition seeks to claim at election time.
If it looks like a campaign ...
If you’ve got this far I’m assuming your interested in the revelations about the PM’s behaviour out on the town. Wine writer and occasional Punch contributor Nick Ryan writes in the latest issue of Men’s Style that he had a drink with Kevin Rudd in 2005 and has been waiting for the Labor leader to buy his round ever since.
Joe Hildebrand reports in The Daily Telegraph that after bumping into Rudd in Sydney, Ryan and the then-PM-to-be went for a drink.
Mr Ryan stumped up for the first shout only to learn to his distress that Mr Rudd wanted a Corona - a Mexican beer that had not been consumed by a real man since 1995. The group was stunned to see Mr Rudd accept an offer for a second beer despite having consumed only one-fifth of his first drink. After drinking one-fifth of his second drink the future PM then called it a night without any further comment.
Most Australians understood that going to a strip club wasn’t a red-card offence. But not standing your round?
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