Thirty Four Billion Dollars. Sounds a big number right? Its more than Ive got and Id hazard a guess that its more than youve got too. Its a number so large, such a very very big number, that only a Government can throw it around and still be taken seriously.
Today Mr. Howard and Mr. Costello demonstrating their amazing new-found teamwork, batted this mighty number back and forward in front of a small crowd of appreciative journalists who consequently described it as dramatic, as seizing the agenda, as throwing down the gauntlet, and from the Daily Telegraph a massive rabbit apparently confusing finance and zoology.
Thirty Four Billion dollars is an awful lot of money and Mr. Costello was delighted to inform the Australian people that most of those who would be getting a share of this loot would be receiving it the form of money that they would not have to pay in the future. The theory is a little bit like the way torture works. For example, lets say that Im torturing you a fair bit for reasons of national security, and then later on I promise to ease up on the torture provided that you do something that I want – In this case, vote for me. Then, the theory goes, that youll be inclined to consider my generous offer, and you will indeed vote for me. Mr. Howard and Mr. Costello through the effective use of teamwork have devised this fantastic offer for the Australian people. Itll be interesting to see how it plays.
The question on everybodys lips though is this: What can Mr. Rudd do to trump this extraordinary $34 Billion manoeuvre? The options seem obvious. Firstly he can gazump the Government offer with an even bigger number of his own. But that presents the obvious “Labour as financially reckless” comeback. He can low-ball it and reverse the accusation, but miss out on the accolades or he can match it and be accused of more me-tooism. A line, that if it sticks, might become a problem. Perhaps be could take a punt that its such a big abstract number that it has lost all meaning to the voter – and can thus be safely ignored.
These are all possibilities, but with such a crafty opponent Mr. Rudd needs to be careful. You can never be sure how Mr. Howard might respond. Another tactic should be considered. Simply add a 1 to that very big number. Mr. Rudd should respond with a plan for Thirty Four Billion and One Dollars of Labor tax relief. Now that would be playing with Mr. Howards mind.