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Have we seen the rabbit now?

November 21st, 2007

All through the long campaign, we’ve been waiting for Howard to reach into his hat and pull out the rabbit that will astonish the crowd and turn everything around. With the election only days away, this task seems to have been left to Andrew Robb, and a very grimy and bedraggled rabbit it turned out to be.

For those who’ve tuned out, Robb attempted to parlay the alleged technical ineligibility of ALP candidate George Newhouse into a mass disqualification of any candidate for whom an Internet search turned up a supposedly current public appointment. A dozen or so were named, and the claim was that voting Labor would produce a hung Parliament and weeks of limbo.

The smear campaign (that’s the Herald-Sun’s term, not mine) didn’t even manage a single news cycle before falling apart, as it turned out to be based on the shoddiest of research.

I’m reassured by the fact that this didn’t work, and even more that the Liberals tried it. This must mean
* They don’t have anything better in reserve
* They’re desperate enough to try something that was always likely to backfire

Of course, nothing is certain until the results go up on the board. But as Crikey and others have observed, it’s all very reminiscent of 1996 in reverse.

Update: Lots of people have covered this, but no one has surpassed Possum

And, now its the bottom of the barrel. Amusingly, Andrew Robb, who pushed the first smear had to play the “shocked, shocked” Vichy policeman on this one, denying that senior Liberals were involved.

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  1. November 21st, 2007 at 17:12 | #1

    Hi John – long-time lurker, first-time poster. I’ve written something here, on New Matilda’s Polliegraph, that ties this into the broader problems the Libs have had with the net. It’s certainly desperate, and as has been suggested in many places now, it’s got a sniff of the “Ralp Willis letters” about it, except they pranked themselves. Bizarre, and not an indication of confidence.

  2. Spiros
    November 21st, 2007 at 17:16 | #2

    I think they will challenge Newhouse. The fact that he could produce only an undated letter of resignation is not a good sign.

    But if he wins on Saturday, which is unlikely, he will win the by-election.

    The allegations against the other 12, based on some googling by some snot-nosed young Liberal, is a sure sign of desperation.

  3. conrad
    November 21st, 2007 at 18:41 | #3

    I thought that was complete desperation too — surely trying to get rid of elected people by teeny technicalities is likely to lose them votes (by cheesing people off), not gain them. Its basically a Singapore style solution if you want an undemocractic democracy. But then, perhaps a party full of laywers doesn’t see it that way.

  4. November 21st, 2007 at 19:03 | #4

    Costello was the Libs rabbit. Not only wouldn’t he come out, but he crapped in the hat.

  5. Scott
    November 21st, 2007 at 19:13 | #5

    Hello John, also a long time reader and new poster. This was obviously a move born of desperation. With no evidence, they were firing the scattegun and hoping to hit something. Knowing the risks, presumably they did it because they know defeat is imminent otherwise. Quite apart from the cowardly and unethical nature of the smear, it illustrated how predctable this Liberal campaign has been. Rudd said on day one to ge ready for “the mother of all scare campaigns”. Howard has served it up on a platter, just proving Rudd correct. Sack the Liberal strategist.

    I think this could be worse than 96. Keating didn’t live in a mansion on Sydney harbour.

  6. melanie
    November 21st, 2007 at 19:45 | #6

    I have heard academic lawyers saying that when you nominate you automatically resign your public office. So Newhouse has no case to answer. If that’s true, it’s a rabbit with mixo.

  7. Ikonoclast
    November 21st, 2007 at 20:10 | #7

    I am kinda amused by the Lib ad that says Peter Garrett is an “environmental extremist”. This really sums up a whole lot of things about the Coalition and how out of touch they are.

    So let me see if can get this right. If you spend 10 or 15 years warning of environmental dangers including global warming (as Garrett and others did), if you did this patiently and peacefully despite while being lamabasted and ridiculed the whole time by the “rip it out for profits now” brigade, if you then turn out to be totally right and vindicated (witness the latest UN report) and if you seek election to office by democratic vote to try to do something about it.. this makes you an extremist!

    Fair dinkum! Those dills in the coalition have no idea the carnival has moved on.

    Footnote: I am actually no great Garrett fan as he has been showing signs of regressive policy on the pulp mill issue. I hope he does “change it a bit” when Labor gets in… er .. um.. I mean if Labor gets in.

  8. Mark U
    November 21st, 2007 at 22:19 | #8

    Another parallel to 1996 is the “if you change the government you change the country” line that Keating used then and Howard used today.

  9. Jill Rush
    November 21st, 2007 at 23:26 | #9

    The discovery of Liberal Party hacks planting material calculated to be damaging to the Labor candidate in Lindsay shows how desperate the Liberals are.

    In my neck of the woods the plethora of letters to every householder day after day is a horrific waste of money. In fact every thing that comes is thrown away and this makes the waste even greater. The electorate is seriously annoyed by the practice and it has resulted in lost votes. This is a safe Liberal seat.

  10. christine
    November 22nd, 2007 at 07:09 | #10

    Still made the (strong John Howard supporting) Canadian ‘National Post’ today, with predictions of mass electoral confusion and disaster for the ALP. It was very funny.

  11. November 22nd, 2007 at 07:21 | #11

    So let me see if can get this right. If you spend 10 or 15 years warning of environmental dangers including global warming (as Garrett and others did), if you did this patiently and peacefully despite while being lamabasted and ridiculed the whole time by the “rip it out for profits now� brigade, if you then turn out to be totally right and vindicated (witness the latest UN report) and if you seek election to office by democratic vote to try to do something about it.. this makes you an extremist!

    Spot on, Iconoclast.

  12. Paul Norton
    November 22nd, 2007 at 09:38 | #12

    “And, now its the bottom of the barrel.”

    I have never been so bemused as I was when listening to Jackie Kelly’s bizarre performances on Channel Nine and ABC News Radio this morning. Howard was able to achieve a bit of damage limitation on the ABC because he was interviewed immediately after they played a recording of Kelly expounding her, um, unorthodox sense of humour, but she got two hours worth of repetition on every news bulletin on Nine between 6am and 8am, plus some seriously adverse commentary from guests who are far from being Labor partisans, before Howard’s condemnation of the racist leaflets and Kelly’s comments was able to be reported.

  13. 2 tanners
    November 22nd, 2007 at 11:09 | #13

    Smear one – I wonder what the same research (and I use the term loosely) would have shown up on LNP candidates.

    Smear 2 – It wuz funny, says Jackie. Most people would laugh. “I won’t”, says Howard, straight out of the labor Party’s ad.

    And now smear 3: (sorry no HTML skills) http://www.theage.com.au/news/federal-election-2007-news/war-hero-draws-lib-fire/2007/11/21/1195321865885.html

    Desperation tactics indeed. I believe Howard, at least on smear 2, but it’s all going wrong for him. They’ve completely lost control of the campaign. Probably fewer will report on his Press Club speech than his apologies today.

  14. Dylwah
    November 22nd, 2007 at 12:06 | #14

    Proff Q, this leaflet kerfuffle has made me very happy, it is straight out of the Young Libs play book, the fact that they couldn’t get some annonumous supporter to do the leaflet drop and Kelly’s hubby and friend got caught red handed is icing on the cake

  15. gerard
    November 22nd, 2007 at 13:47 | #15

    How many sick, scrawny old rabbits have been dragged out of the Liberal arse-hat so far?

    Aboriginal child-molestors.
    Scores nightclub.
    Sudanese refugees.
    Preamble amendment.
    70% Union Bosses.
    Julia’s boyfriend.
    Economic tsunami.
    Garrett will change everything.
    No visas for sex-workers.
    Greens legalizing heroin.
    13 disqualified candidates.
    Labor supporting the Bali bombings.

    Now have you seen those ads on the SMH website – Labor are all FANATICS, EXTREMISTS and LEARNERS. I’ve never seen such hysterical, frothy-mouthed desperation before. Two more sleeps until these lying, racist turds are flushed down the toilet bowl of history.

  16. wilful
    November 22nd, 2007 at 18:46 | #16

    Change the government, change the country? Damn right!

  17. melanie
    November 22nd, 2007 at 19:16 | #17
  18. melanie
    November 22nd, 2007 at 20:00 | #18

    And here’s Malcolm Fraser on the Howard government:
    http://www.theage.com.au/text/articles/2007/11/19/1195321692334.html

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