What do you do when you lose? Go back to basics
Following yesterday’s bad Newspoll results for both major parties, Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott looked like captains of flogged football teams on a dreary Sunday afternoon. It was as though both had made the same clichéd commitments to “go back to basics” and “do the small things right”.
Kevin Rudd began the day by doing what he does best, lecturing people, specifically a room full of his colleagues.
Not wanting to yell fire in a crowded party room meeting, the Prime Minister told caucus it was a “difficult” time for the Government. He said that two weeks ago when the polls were bad, so the official fire danger remains at “difficult”.
Keeping in with his desire act more like somebody people could like again, the Prime Minister decided to call a parliamentary press conference. It was refreshing, as it was the first one he’s held since mid-April, it just wasn’t clear why he had held it.
He began by saying that the Government had a consultation paper on the mining tax completed, but they won’t be releasing it. He then went on to make it clearer why he had decided to call everyone together:
However, the reason for calling you together today is to simply underline the fact that based on an initial round of consultations, first, consultations are going well, second, we do not expect to land any agreement with the mining industry any time soon.
Right, so the other reason we’re here is to be told that there is no agreement with miners. Glad that’s sorted.
Still the whole thing was about being Prime Ministerial, showing that you’re there and you care. He was in control again, as evidenced by the fact he was talking from the PM’s courtyard (in case you missed that).
He opened himself up to questioning on the publicly funded advertising campaign to promote his mining tax. Rudd’s answers made no sense, he started going on about the “quantum” of expenditure again, but everyone felt better for the chat.
It was as much a signal to miners that he was still willing to talk, especially with Wayne Swan leaving the country shortly, he would assume control of the negotiations.
Having told the party room that he wouldn’t seek to compete with Tony Abbott on asylum seekers by going to the right, he pulled out one of the more memorable Kevoquialisms, describing the Coalition’s asylum seeker campaign as a “rolled gold bucket of fear.”
Over the NSW border in Queanbeyan, in the bell weather Eden-Monaro, Tony Abbott was dumping entire truckloads of fear, but about the mining tax this time:
Tony Abbott: The tax falls on everything which is extracted from the ground. It falls on sand, it falls on gravel, it falls on phosphate.
Reporter: At what point?
Tony Abbott: Well, that’s something that the government can explain. It’s the government’s tax not mine and this is one of the interesting things about this government, it cannot explain what it is proposing.
The fact that he too wasn’t making much sense didn’t matter, he was near a truck and was dumping large loads on the Government. It was back to basics Tony, and he even got to drive.
By question time there wasn’t much else to say. Tony Abbott tried to suspend questions to talk about the publicly funded advertising campaign, they couldn’t, and so Joe Hockey yelled a bit.
Kevin Rudd started reading from the Financial Times, pointing out that they supported his mining tax.
Tony Abbott became rather bored by being read aloud to by the Prime Minister, and tried to stop question time again. He failed, and Joe Hockey yelled a bit again.
Looking at a day of going back to basics, it’s not hard to see why the parties find themselves fighting for the wooden spoon.
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