I just got the edited highlights of Howard’s policy launch, but the commentary confirmed my impression that the main initiatives (tax-favoured savings accounts for homebuyers, rebates for parents of school students, money for childcare centres) were ripoffs of policies announced by Rudd earlier in the campaign. This kind of “me too, too, only more so” approach seems to be tactically and politically silly for a lot of reasons.
1. These policies didn’t exactly set the electorate ablaze with enthusiasm when Rudd announced them
2. The government’s version is more expensive in each case, but it’s hard to believe at this stage in the campaign that many voters are doing careful calculations of the hip-pocket impact of each new policy
3. “Me too” makes some kind of sense for Rudd – he’s way ahead and just has to avoid scaring the horses to win. Conversely, Howard needs to shake things up by announcing something Rudd can’t possibly match, say (I hope), cash rewards for anyone denouncing foreigners they suspect of being “illegals”
4. One of the government’s best remaining lines is to pin the “me too” label on Rudd, so the last thing they want to do is take it for themselves
5. Rudd gets to move last, so he can now announce something different, probably on climate change, that the government can’t credibly match, leaving them with the worst of all possible worlds
6. Deliberately left blank for you to fill in
7. I’m pretty much a politics junkie and I’m bored witless by the campaign. I just want Nov 24 to come so I can vote these guys out. I’m even more bored now, and less willing to listen to anything. I imagine lots of other voters feel the same.