Lazarus with a quadruple bypass?

Yes, I know the “triple bypass” label refers to the number of times Howard rose as Liberal leader, rather than his number of election victories. But it’s still a good headline for a post about the latest Newspoll. Chris Sheil won’t be happy, but he’ll probably bear up under the strain given the Wallabies’ great win on Saturday night.

Nevertheless, I don’t like Latham Labor’s chances as things are moving at the moment, especially given the angst certain to be created amongst many core Labor supporters (not to mention Greens) by the seemingly-impending decision to support the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement. This isn’t a classic mega-wedge like Tampa/children overboard, but its likely effect in creating internal Labor squabbling and negating a broad preference deal with the Greens makes it an undoubted plus for Howard.

Latham should have asked his Senate Committee members to keep using Peter Cook’s cancer as an excuse for delay, and the lack of a final committee report as a pretext for further deferral of Senate deliberation on the FTA Bills. Any public backlash on that sort of manouevring would have been minimal IMO. There’s no broad public sentiment in favour of the FTA, and there are other ways of combatting the “indecisive, anti-American” label Howard would have tried to affix in those circumstances.

Election announcement next weekend? September 10 11?

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Peter Ransen
Peter Ransen
2021 years ago

There are a lot of issues yet to hit (ie, come into proper play). This is no man’s land in the electoral cycle. This is a time for the Latham illusion factor to be and show it’s been dispelled. It’s all good. Latham has no need to do anything more than he’s doing right now, contrary to the political junkies wanting some more action personally. Rather, Howard does, and there are more questions about what he’s achieving than Latham’s right now.

The public are not engaged right now. Latham’s time will be on when he feels the energy of public interest. That, too, is when the enormous pressure of political oblivion faces Howard.

Meantime, I believe Latham will go even lower in the polls. None of that is a problem, rather, a natural part of the cycle of disconnected interest – the peripheral debates.

(Yes, sorry for that word peripheral. Our political climate is so much a sham of imagery and seemingness and expediency that the core values in the issues discussed are rendered virtually meaningless. Peripheral they are, unfortunately. The central electoral issues have not gelled yet.)

Robert
2021 years ago

That would be September 11, Ken, and the Fin Review is reporting that some Libs are pushing for it.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Peter

I agree this is a phoney war period when voters aren’t engaged with the decision they’re going to have to make. But there are serious problems for Latham once their attentions are engaged, and they’re largely self-created. Latham has created an unrealisable expectation among voters that everyone is going to get a tax-cut, and imposed an impossible constraint on himself in promising that neither spending nor tax would increase as a proportion of GDP under Labor. Peter Costello summarised the dilemma quite succinctly on the Nine Network Sunday program yesterday:

“Well, Mark Latham – you know, he’ll have to show the kind of gymnastics he showed on the Liverpool Council. Because this is what he’s promised – every Australian gets a tax cut. He spends more in relation to health and education. He – he then invests in an inter-generational fund. And at the end of all that he’s got more left over.

Now this – this is going to be the greatest tax policy that we’ve seen in Australia ever. So it’s such wonderful news, why doesn’t he release it?”

Latham is going to have to argue that he can fund the tax cuts and spending increases through spending cuts (“waste”) elsewhere. But what’s “waste” for one voter is a vital government program for others. There’s no magic pudding. You can almost see costello salivating at the prospect of dissecting Labor’s $8 billion plus “waste” spending cuts:

“LAURIE OAKES: The Shadow Finance Minister Bob McMullan said this morning that Labor has now made – now found significantly more than $8 billion in savings. Now, would that enable him to keep his tax promises?

PETER COSTELLO: No, because they’ve spent more than that. Even if they had found that, and again, this list of these savings proves incredibly elusive – I didn’t see the interview this morning, but did the interviewer ask him to produce a list?

LAURIE OAKES: Yes, and he declined. He says he has to wait until the budget bottom line comes out 10 days into the election campaign.

PETER COSTELLO: But if he’s got the list, Laurie, why can’t he release it? He doesn’t have to wait for anything. He’s got a list of $8 billion worth of savings, he can put it on the table. Now, it’s a very elusive list, this. Very hard to actually get hold of. He seems to be the only person that knows about it, although, and I do remind you of this, Mark Latham said on the Alan Jones programme that he had a list and any Australian could look at it. And you recall that’s the part of the interview he airbrushed out when he put that transcript on his website – that any Australian could look at it.

So if – if Mr McMullan has it, I call on him to release it today, and then I’ll show you that he’s already spent more than that. So that can’t pay for any tax cuts.”

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2021 years ago

Ken, Two points.

The government will continue to spend so the ALP will not know what the final figure is until the chartet of Budget honesty is released. Indeed this is what McMullan said on Sunday.
Obviously Costello has already confused some bloggers.

second you have to realise that on the ‘left’ side of politics they have had three terms of this government so despite all the bluster in the end they will want to get rid of them.
now if there was an ALP government in for 13 years it would be different.

Remember in an election capmaign Opposition Leaders gain much more even equal media prominence.

Secondly

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2021 years ago

Next March…You read it here. No further comment.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“Latham should have asked his Senate Committee members to keep using Peter Cook’s cancer as an excuse for delay, and the lack of a final committee report as a pretext for further deferral of Senate deliberation on the FTA Bills. Any public backlash on that sort of manouevring would have been minimal IMO. There’s no broad public sentiment in favour of the FTA.”

There’s no broad public sentiment against it either. That’s the problem. It may be peripheral to the average Joe’s vision but you can be sure that the Punditariat would have been hacking away at a Latham delaying strategy here with telling effect. That’s why Latham couldn’t have run this out on Peter Cook’s illness. The clamour from his left would have become as loud as that from the Coalition and the position of the Labor members on the Senate committee has hardly been a secret. Stephen Conroy in particular has been pretty open in his support. Stack that with wall-to-wall state premier support, along with a goodly swag of frontbenchers and Latham would have taken on the appearance of a bloke attempting to hide the Pacific Ocean by holding a hankie up on Bondi Beach. We wouldn’t have been persuaded of anything much other than Latham was having us on. It doesn’t sound like an election winner to me and today’s polls don’t make it anymore attractive as a strategy.

I suspect ALP support will be conditional on enacting a series of initiatives that won’t impact on the AUSFTA approval process but will be designed to provide enhanced monitoring and overview. Sadly, it won’t be enough to contain an erosion in PBS reference price benchmarking over time. On a policy basis, approval is unfortunate. On a politics basis it’s probably not. If things are different in Canberra and Washington by years’s end, it offers the potential for some rethinking.

Peter Ransen
Peter Ransen
2021 years ago

Ken, I’m with you on those points, with some qualifications. I’m not convinced Latham has created an air of positive expectancy in the community regarding tax cuts. He’s certainly created an expectancy, which human nature translates into a greedy wish. Further, he’s allowed the media to take his actual sayings and push them as positive expectancy. Each of those was a failing on Latham’s part. But geez, what can you do! Further, I don’t know that the public will be too dashed when the tax reality comes out, being as it is, normal.

The real danger for Latham was in pretty much saying it would be paid for by admin and waste savings. I believe he’s found out now it can’t be so, and therein was a good idea turned into a bad outplay for him, under the ever corrective force of Costello.

But I think even so the tax issue will square itself away with the govt’s, pretty much, and not be as decisive as other issues, so long as it’s generally a reasonable proposition.

trackback
2021 years ago

Coodabeen Aug 7

Newspoll has the parties even at 50/50 on the 2pp, with the Coalition in front 45/40 on the primary. On the soft scores, Howard’s in front 54/47 on the satisfaction rating and 51/34 on the preferred pm thingo, with the…