The he’s-no-Howard campaign cranks into gear
It might have been very hard to see it through all the garbage going on in Canberra, but this week both sides of politics, when they weren’t calling each other terrible names, are trying to get the jump on the 2013 election campaign.
And despite the current flame war over the Prime Minister’s credibility, there’s no denying at the centre of both parties’ focus, will also be the opposition leader. Tony Abbott yesterday released a book consisting of nine of his speeches, which was pitched as a policy platform.
Commentators have marveled at Abbott’s continued adherence to his wrecking campaign. Some of his close supporters have even asked him to take the summer off and give voters a break from his relentless schedule of attacks on the Government. And yesterday’s book launch would have been, at least partially, a soother for his own side.
After all, this far out from the election, with this much heat raging on Capital Hill, any benefit from the launch of a positive pitch to voters is likely to be very short-lived, if it has any effect whatsoever. But it might have made the troops feel warm and fuzzy.
Also noteworthy is the effort Abbott has been putting in during Question Time resisting the urge to join his deputy Julie Bishop’s attacks on the prime minister. It hasn’t gone well for Bishop this week, and Abbott would be under enormous pressure from his advisers to pretend he’s staying right out of the whole AWU mess.
It’s been quite hilarious at times watching the opposition leader’s almost physically painful restraint on the issue in the face of the prime minister’s decreasingly subtle entreaties to bring it on.
UPDATE 8:30am: This morning’s new developments into the AWU story show that Mr Abbott couldn’t restrain himself any longer. Read all the details here
So yes, it appears Abbott is finally heading the pleas to present a more positive alternative.
The Government has also this week been making a fist of looking like it’s getting on with the job. Gillard may have been rolled on Israel by her own Cabinet and be under sustained attack over her previous life as a union lawyer, but she hasn’t been short of announcements.
Her team has released legislation on the Gonski plan for education (the fact it contains no money and is not binding was neither here nor there), put out the draft laws for the NDIS and put up a motion about recognising Indigenous Australians in the Constitution.
None of it is enough to cut through the insanity of an out-of-control parliament and MPs who need to learn that deleting a stupid tweet doesn’t unsay it.
But there was an interesting moment during Gillard’s Tuesday AWU press conference redux on Monday.
In a spiel that had either already been heavily focus-grouped or will be now to see how it plays, Gillard said:
There are many Australians who will contemplate over the course of coming months and into 2013 who to vote for in the 2013 election. Many of those Australians might be thinking to themselves that they’d like to exercise a vote for John Howard-style Liberals.
I’ve got news for those Australians; there are no John Howard-style Liberals anymore. The political party known as the Liberal Party in this Parliament is an entirely different creature from the political party led by John Howard.
John Howard believed in proper costings of policies. John Howard could speak with sophistication about the Australian economy. John Howard, whilst I didn’t agree with many of his ideas, had ideas for the nation’s future.
Mr Abbott doesn’t believe in proper costings of policies. Mr Abbott is an economic illiterate and cannot and does not speak about the future of our economy. And Mr Abbott has no ideas for our nation’s future.
In these circumstances, it is sleaze and smear that is filling the void. I think Australians are sick of it. Sick of stories they don’t understand about events 17 to 20 years ago.
It’s an interesting admission that the hung parliament and the players in it have made the electorate somewhat nostalgic for the steady hand of the former prime minister, even for some of those who didn’t like him at the time.
Tony Abbott might be John Howard’s “political lovechild” but Gillard wanted to make clear he is no Howard 2.0.
Her message makers are going to have to make a choice. If they stick with the he’s-no-Howard rhetoric it will be difficult to then maintain the anti-Workchoices campaign that took some skin off Abbott in the last campaign.
But it might be worth sacrificing that avenue in favour of this new one. We’ll presumably find out what the focus group verdict was some time over the Summer. Stay tuned!
Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEDT.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…