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New PM this AM?

September 12th, 2007

As the Liberal party meeting begins it looks unlikely that Howard will go, but not beyond the realms of possibility. If Costello stands up and demands the job, he will probably get it. And Howard might just decide to pack in the whole sorry crew. However, neither of these scenarios looks likely.

I have a trivial and selfish reason for hoping Howard stays at least until tomorrow. My Fin column, due out tomorrow, gives Howard some unsolicited advice and will have to be rewritten if there is a new PM.

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  1. gerard
    September 12th, 2007 at 11:55 | #1

    What a sorry end. This is Howard’s reward for winning the Senate I think. From 1996 to 2005 the Senate kept him on a leash and he stayed relatively moderate. Once that restriction was gone the country saw his true colours.

  2. observa
    September 12th, 2007 at 13:14 | #2

    He’s not done yet gerard. It looks like Rourke’s Drift did, but when the smoke cleared? Rudd’s numbers are a formidable hurdle, but Howard has the better disciplined team and the superior weaponry of Govt at his disposal. We’ll see how they all stack up in the heat of the battle.

  3. observa
    September 12th, 2007 at 13:22 | #3

    God, Her Majesty and the country expects every man to do his duty. Hold yer nerve lads. Wait till you see the bulging red veins of their savage eyes. Steady, wait for my signal…

  4. jquiggin
    September 12th, 2007 at 13:25 | #4

    It’s hard to describe the team as better disciplined in the light of the latest fiasco, observa.

  5. observa
    September 12th, 2007 at 13:28 | #5

    Of course it could be Custers last stand.

  6. observa
    September 12th, 2007 at 13:37 | #6

    No as I read it John the punters will understand him checking up on ‘as long as my party want me’ and then fighting on. Aussies love an underdog and will be fascinated to see how he goes against the new challenger. They couldn’t ask for a better test of Rudd and Labor’s credentials to govern.

  7. September 12th, 2007 at 14:08 | #7

    umm, by ‘credential’s to govern’ do you mean any record of achievement, or any coherent plan for the future?

    or do you mean:”less obviously useless, disorganized, crooked, and selfish”?

    credentials to govern are seldom held by any parliamentary team in oz. slow turnover commonly means they come to office with no management expertise, plans written on the back of an envelope, and the team spirit of a cage full of wolverines. it’s only the arrogance of office that creates the deep contempt that finally drives the oz voter to go for the devil less known.

  8. observa
    September 12th, 2007 at 15:05 | #8

    We need to understand that this election is very much there to be lost by Labor now. While there is a strong mood for change, there isn’t much anger with the Govt(apart from the usual suspects that don’t count), which has largely produced the goods and these are fairly rosy economic times. Rudd has pulled Labor into an attractive alternative, to what might be seen as a tired Govt past its use by date now. However, ditching the present Govt will be problematic for enough voters in marginal seats, to want to look seriously at how that new team performs in the crucible of an election campaign. These are the voters who have never got it wrong in every election I can remember, given the choices they faced at the time. Unlike we political junkies, they’ll ignore all the nuances, advertising and spin, to look up occasionally from the footy or Rugby to assess the protagonist’s overall performance. How they handle the inevitable gaffes and stumbles and so forth. Also they are reminded of the Govt’s past successes and failures and where the parties see the future. Labor’s credentials to govern will be fully tested on the hustings, which is always a great democratic measuring tool. It’s here that Labor could stumble just enough to come up short of a couple of those 16 precious seats they need. The Govt only needs to convince enough waverers to stick with them and they’re returned again. Basically they weren’t convinced enough that Rudd and Labor were ready for the task, because of their overall hustings performance.

    What’s the downside for the electorate in that perhaps? Not much in this particular case. They’d be left with a chastened Govt, which they know would probably be led by Costello next time round and a strengthened and invigorated opposition to keep the bastards honest and be eminently electable next time round if Costello couldn’t cut it. That’s the danger for Labor now, that they fail to convince enough voters they’re really ready and that depends on their campaign performance. In that they face a formidable, seasoned campaign ‘leadership team’
    http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,22405766-31037,00.html
    To date, Rudd has only been comfortably compared with Lithium and Beasley. He’s about to be compared with Howard and Costello and the contrast might be striking to voters.
    Rudd and Labor can still lose this unloseable election and if they do the voters will not have got it wrong. They never do.

  9. 2 tanners
    September 12th, 2007 at 15:18 | #9

    I just looked at The Australian’s site and saw in breaking news “PM Says He’ll Step Down” !!!!

    The headline forgot to mention it was Shinzo Abe.

  10. Optoflute
    September 12th, 2007 at 19:55 | #10

    “It’s here that Labor could stumble just enough to come up short of a couple of those 16 precious seats they need. The Govt only needs to convince enough waverers to stick with them and they’re returned again.”

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that your scenario observa plays out, but that the national vote stays at, say, 55-45 TPP to Labor on election day. I know that governments have won office with a minority of the vote bfore, but surely not to this degree? Wouldn’t any Coalition government elected in such circumstances have a hell of a problem with legitimacy wrt just about anything they try to enact?

  11. gerard
    September 12th, 2007 at 20:13 | #11

    “Rudd and Labor can still lose this unloseable election and if they do the voters will not have got it wrong. They never do.”

    I make no secret I was spiritually and emotionally crippled on election night 2004 along with most people I knew when I saw Howard’s increased majority and control of the Senate after being so far behind in the polls a couple of months previous. At the time I was working part-time at a market research firm that was doing the polling for Galaxy (at a handsome $19 an hour, this wasn’t the worst part-time job available, although the hours would vary from zero to thirty a week at short notice). I had been calling up and asking random people about how they were planning to vote and why for several months.

    I knew from that experience that the vast majority of people don’t answer to polls. There are quite a lot of people that do answer the polls who have a very limited understanding of politics (as in not knowing which party the PM belonged to), or absolutely no opinion on almost anything. I don’t know how they vote, probably either donkey or just how someone they know (parents, spouse, Family First ballot-box queue campaigner) tells them to. Of the people that did hold an opinion, Howard was always in front by a big margin. In general, health and education were at the top of people’s minds early in the campaign until much later on Interests Rates exploded as a factor.

    As the election results came in that night (it was the first federal election I had voted in and I’ll always remember it), I felt disgusted with the way that so many people fell for the L-plate Interest Rate scare campaign and totally demoralized about the prospects for any sort of change in Australia when a few terrifying ads can have such a powerful effect.

    Now, 3 years later, I think that losing the 2004 election as bad as it did was the best thing that could have happened to the ALP. If they had won with Latham it would have bin a wafer-thin majority anyway. Latham always scared the press so they would have attacked him the whole term, and his erratic personality and fractious support within the party would have made for an unsteady government. Interest rates WOULD HAVE RISEN under Latham JUST AS THEY DID under Howard. And then in this alternative universe, 2007 would perhaps have had Costello come back into power saying “See, interest rates rose just like we said, and now you’re paying hundreds more each month on your mortgage!”

    Instead Howard’s stayed on when it’s clear to everyone he’s due for retirement. the goverment won the Senate and so revealed how extreme they really were. Workchoices has galvanized the unions and made many people scared of their bosses’ increased power. Interest rates rose and showed everyone what a crock their 04 campaign was. there’s been a string of scandals and the environment has finally become a mainstream issue. Above all Labor finally got rid of that gasbag Beazley, put someone with a good brain in charge and started acting competently (did the Diaries jolt them into lifting their game?) Now instead of a paper thin majority it looks like the Liberals are headed for an historic crushing with just about nobody in sight leftover to take charge.

    However I’m not taking a Labor win for granted and it’s far from impossible that the government could still scrape in with the biggest McPork spendathon ever. They might also try the slimiest scare campaign ever (Labor Union Thugs on the Rampage), which will probably not work as well as in the past, and maybe some sort of Osama bin-Tampa event will occur, but needless to say it must be a pretty grim time to be a Liberal when even Andrew Bolt is putting the knives in, and is Howard going to make a date for retirement in the next term if he wins?

  12. Jill Rush
    September 12th, 2007 at 21:12 | #12

    Observa,
    Whilst the government has put forward the idea that people don’t want to take to them with baseball bats this is only because non Liberals are reasonable people.

    However don’t underestimate the anger that Workchoices has created. Workchoices has created many angry people who are offended by its basic unfairness and the way it has dealt a blow to equal pay for women whilst reducing the already low wages of young people. They also know that the changes have barely started and that if the Howard government is re-elected then they will have no rights at work left within 3 years.

  13. observa
    September 13th, 2007 at 00:11 | #13

    “Wouldn’t any Coalition government elected in such circumstances have a hell of a problem with legitimacy wrt just about anything they try to enact?”

    I’d agree wholeheartedly with that premise Optoflute, which is why I think we elect our 2 houses of parliament back to front and should change that. Mainly for the legitimacy reason you cite but also to prevent marginal seat pork barrelling when we should all be concentrated on nationally important issues. Furthermore the parties should be able to protect their best talent at the top of their tickets (ridiculous that a Howard should have to fight for a Bennelong) and of course be able to casually replace them easily. Negates branch stacking and allows every vote to count equally ie voters in marginal vs safe seats or for the minor parties. As for the wisdom of Jove needed by the AEC to continuously adjust electoral boundaries for fairness, what can I say?

    gerard, Howard has said he won’t last a full term and the voters now know that they’re probably voting for Howard then Costello later. Our team vs theirs is their mantra now so there’s no deception on that. As for the various issues, both sides will state their cases and the voters decide. My reservations above about the way they are constituted to vote aside here, what could be fairer?

  14. observa
    September 13th, 2007 at 00:33 | #14

    ..the voters now know that they’re voting for Howard then probably Costello as PM later.

  15. mugwump
    September 13th, 2007 at 02:46 | #15

    I make no secret I was spiritually and emotionally crippled on election night 2004…

    With all due respect gerard, you probably should get out more.

  16. gerard
    September 13th, 2007 at 10:25 | #16

    poetic license mugwump, but we all have our passions.

  17. September 13th, 2007 at 10:56 | #17

    John, it may amuse you to know that at the same time I was also facing similar considerations with my AFR piece. I was going to include Sportingbet’s odds on probable election dates, but baulked at the last minute as it looked possible that they might have called an election yesterday.

  18. gerard
    September 13th, 2007 at 13:32 | #18

    Costello thinks Workchoices didn’t go far enough. Since WC is the biggest reason why the Liberals currently stink, I doubt that Costello will do much to rescue their popularity.

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/managers-strip-worker-rights/2007/09/12/1189276809758.html

    COMPELLING evidence has emerged of how quickly bosses in retail and hospitality took advantage of WorkChoices to strip pay and conditions from their employees.

    A landmark study has examined every new collective agreement in those two industries in the first nine months of the law last year and found most removed penalty rates and overtime, increased managerial power and gave inadequate compensation.

    Average pay for workers in liquor stores, fast-food businesses, bakeries, restaurants and supermarkets dropped by between 2 and 18 per cent as a result of the 339 new agreements studied in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. But the worst-affected workers lost more than a third of their salaries through agreements that were legal.

  19. gerard
    September 13th, 2007 at 15:18 | #19

    Costello has also introduced legislation that restricts freedom of speech in Australia.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/free-speech-not-while-were-on-sheeps-back/2007/08/22/1187462353847.html

    So if you’re asking Australians not to buy lipstick tested on caged rabbits, rugs woven by Pakistani slaves or suits made with mulesed wool, then pray your boycott calls don’t succeed, for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is about to be given the power to sue you out of the water if they do.

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