Kevin Rudd’s preferred PM rating in this morning’s Nielsen poll (the first since Tony Abbott won the Liberal Leadership) was down 9 points to 58 per cent. Expect the Government to ramp up the attacks on the top three Coalition finance guys, Mr Abbott, Joe Hockey and Barnaby Joyce. Although it will be interesting to see how far Lindsay Tanner can dial up his rhetoric, having already called the shadow finance minister a “freak show”. Who knows fresh terms of abuse he’s got up his rather long sleeve.
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I’m about to perform what politicians call a “policy shift” and the rest of us call a “backflip.” Here’s hoping I don’t pull a hamstring.
In a fit of festive delirium on the 30th of December I wrote a piece about how great it is that politicians can take a decent holiday and the world doesn’t stop turning. (So searing was my analysis the comment thread turned into a debate about the size of Michelle Obama’s bottom.)
But while I still think everyone deserves a bit of a break at semi-regular intervals, I’m finding the deafening silence emanating from Kirribilli House - well - deafening.
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If Kevin Rudd made a New Year’s resolution he could have done worse than vow in 2010 to only say something is his number one priority if indeed he really means it.
But to do so would throw a spanner in the works of the Labor spin machine, which remains obsessed with the 24-hour news cycle and opinion polls. A quick search reveals that Mr Rudd has nominated more than half a dozen issues as his supposed number one priority over the past two years and there are probably more. This tally does not include climate change which he of course described as “the great moral challenge of our generation”.
It would seem Mr Rudd’s top priority changes according to the issue of the day that is running in the media, or the audience he is addressing. It is an extremely cynical practice and the most absurd thing is he must think nobody notices.
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Sadly for consumers, Governments of all persuasions are often tempted to offer gimmicks rather than direct action in dealing with consumer issues.
Direct action, of course, is hard work for Governments. To begin with, there is the inevitable noisy attack by powerful vested interest groups on any proposal for direct action.
Have a look at any recent proposal for direct action on consumer issues and you will find a very loud, but well organised, chorus of big end of town interests opposing the proposal. Indeed, when such proposals are put forward, the lobbyists are immediately despatched to Parliament House to “educate” the Government on the “dangers” of direct action.
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Google ‘Google’ and you break the Internet – or so the urban myth goes. Google ‘emissions trading’ and ‘Liberal Party’ and you almost have the same effect.
News articles, blogs, superseded media releases and the random night thoughts of IT addicted insomniacs await to take you on a virtual walk down memory lane – like one of those ‘best and worst of 2009’ montages we endured before New Years Eve.
But just as relying on fake emails to mount a political case has its pitfalls, Googling facts and peddling them as truth opens up more cracks in credibility than a last-day pitch at the SCG.
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If anyone is looking forward to the Christmas break it must be Kevin Rudd. The Prime Minister who created a narrative about his administration that it’s the can-do team on climate change has had the two biggest ticket items, the ETS and Copenhagen, all but fall over in less than a month.
While neither were strictly his doing (he was in the US when Tony Abbott nabbed the Liberal leadership and killed off a deal on the ETS), the Prime Minister had placed himself at the centre of both, no doubt confident a victory on either would be a huge political win.
He calls the outcome of the closing days in Copenhagen “frustrating”. I imagine that’s just the tip of the melting iceberg for how he really feels. And now Mr Rudd needs to work out how to take an issue that until six weeks ago was a political bonus for him and stop it turning into a political nightmare. And he’d better do it quickly.
Tony Abbott wasted no time yesterday framing the debate from here on. He told Sunday Agenda: “Look, I suppose good intentions are better than nothing, but Mr Rudd has failed his own test. He said a couple of years ago that what we needed to get were real targets against real timelines. He said, real progress means real targets against real timelines, and certainly by that standard it’s been a comprehensive failure.”
It was the words “his own test” that rammed home the point. At Copenhagen Kevin Rudd went from “friend of the chair” to the guy waiting outside the room when the three-page non-binding “meaningful” agreement was struck.
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This month the NSW Nationals decided to trial a new system that would allow the general public and not just party members to select its parliamentary candidates.
The system, termed community pre-selections, will be trialled on 31 July next year in the northern NSW seat of Tamworth, now held by independent Peter Draper.
The Nats say it is about getting rid of the disconnect between the people who decide the candidate – often a handful of men – and the people who decide who becomes the Member of Parliament.
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LOVERS of test cricket know the best thing about the five day game is its potential to ebb and flow. One team can look to be winning but then the character of the match changes - sometimes dramatically and other times in a cumulative, almost imperceptible way.
The importance of small things - a dropped catch for example - becomes obvious only in hindsight. Politics can be strikingly similar in this regard. In this longest of games, there is a general assumption that Kevin Rudd is a shoe-in at the next election.
Polls confirm this on a fortnightly basis and it would be a brave correspondent who predicted otherwise. But equally, the result cannot simply be assumed.
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