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.