Sunday, 21 July 2013

Election diary 20 and 21 July 2013

Tony Abbott has been running hard. With wife Margie on hand. And all of the effort with fun

And as for a policy debate there was each team pretending to be tougher and nastier than the other in dealing with people arriving by boat. Not much fun about that.

The end result of it all? Not much difference.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Shipping boat people to PNG - waiting for the pollsters' reaction

In my column at I have been experimenting for some time now in tapping the wisdom of readers as to what is likely to happen in future political events. The predictions have been interesting and certainly more accurate than my own.

Last Friday the questions asked were what the pollsters would show after their weekend surveys and what the eventual two part election vote for Labor would be.

The bigger the response the better the relevance of the survey so your opinion is needed.

No real change to election expectations from PNG decision

In my election diary (see the link on the left) I include a daily update on the market based predictions of election victory. So far it seems that the Labor announcement of its Papua New Guinea solution has not changed expectations much. If anything the Coalition has slightly firmed in its favouritism - a 74% probability of winning last night has become 75% this afternoon.

Herald Sun editorial consistency?

Opinion polls now turn around to threaten Abbott

From the Sydney Morning Herald website:
"The message from a ReachTel poll for the Seven Network released on Friday is that the public wants a hard-fought election - and quite possibly to dump Labor from office as punishment for six self-indulgent years - but that outcome does not seem to involve Mr Abbott. The poll showed the Coalition leading Labor 58 to 42 per cent, on a two-party preferred basis, with Malcolm Turnbull at the helm. With Mr Abbott in charge, the Coalition lead narrowed to 51 to 49 per cent."

'via Blog this'

Friday, 19 July 2013

Election diary Friday 19 July 2013 - Who will win? Who cares.

And now it's official. There's no difference of any substance left between the two sides. In virtually every major policy area Labor and the Coalition agree. The last point of difference disappeared with today's boat people announcement.

That poster, supposedly going up around the country tomorrow to alert migrant communities so they tell their countrymen waiting in Indonesia, could be authorised by Labor and the Coalition. Instead it will be paid for by taxpayers as part of a last desperate attempt to prop up the government.

How they stand.

Paul Krugman turns to look at China and doesn't like what he sees

Hitting China’s Wall -
... the signs are now unmistakable: China is in big trouble. We’re not talking about some minor setback along the way, but something more fundamental. The country’s whole way of doing business, the economic system that has driven three decades of incredible growth, has reached its limits. You could say that the Chinese model is about to hit its Great Wall, and the only question now is just how bad the crash will be.

'via Blog this'

Rupert Murdoch admits error in criticism of police investigations

Rupert Murdoch admits error in criticism of police investigations | Media | The Guardian:

Rupert Murdoch has admitted he was wrong to describe phone-hacking and corrupt-payments investigations by police into his company and its journalists as "incompetent", in a letter sent to the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee.
But writing to Keith Vaz, he has also questioned the proportionality of the investigations, which will have cost £40m by 2015 and have involved dawn raids involving up to 14 officers, and the arrest of scores of his journalists.

'via Blog this'

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Election diary Thursday 18 July 2013

An improvement on the indicator today for no particular reason that I can determine.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Election diary Wednesday 17 July 2013 Abbott a disloyal traitor

And on State of Origin eve too! Surely western Sydney will now realise once again that you cannot trust a Manly man.

A football based correction. I wrote in the diary yesterday as if Kevin Rudd started the bidding war for Rockhampton's football stadium. Now I learn he was merely matching a prior promise from Tony. My conclusion remains unchanged. We will see much more such sporting largesse before polling day arrives.  

A rough and ready poll of polls. I do a rough and ready "poll of polls" based on the five major pollsters and it is currently showing the slimmest of margins (0.2 percentage points) for the Coalition. I'm not sure what it's worth really but the result is the same as the far more sophisticated effort done by The Poll Bludger published on his blog at Crikey.

Here's an updated table of the year's polling that you can make readable by clicking:

The Indicator not yet as convinced. Our election indicator, which unlike the polls is not trying to measure how people would vote now but what will happen when the election is finally held, is lagging behind the pollsters. The current assessment of the probabilities:

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Election diary Tuesday 16 July 2013

The inclusive Kevin. Sat through the televised community cabinet meeting shown on ABC News channel this evening. Thought Prime Minister Rudd hogged the microphone far less than Julia Gillard did on previous occasions. Was quite impressed - so much better and more informative than parliamentary question time.

Half a million between friends. There could not be a better time to put the bite on a government than the eve of a formal election campaign. The Central Queensland national rugby league consortium took full advantage of Kevin Rudd being in town to get $500,000 of taxpayer's money to conduct a feasibility study of a new stadium for Rockhampton. It follows a promise earlier this year by Tony Abbott to help fund redevelopment of his local team Manly's stadium. I'm sure there will be to come from both sides before the votes are counted.

A no change day. Virtually no change on the indicator today.

Election diary Monday 15 July 2013 - Abbott plays the smart alec

The quote of the day

"It is a market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one"
- Tony Abbott on an emissions trading scheme.
Being a smart alec. Tony Abbott obviously forgets that, as he has said so often, the Liberal is a broad church. There are within it many members concerned about the impact of carbon emissions on global warming and the future of the planet. 

Including the man he beat so narrowly for the leadership on this very issue of climate change and how to handle it. Malcolm Turnbull wanted the Coalition to stick to the proposal for an emissions trading scheme that his predecessor John Howard had proposed. Abbott wanted none of that nonsense but hid his skepticism behind support for an expensive non-market "solution."

Today he chose to veer again back towards the climate change deniers with his glib clip about CO2 being an invisible substance as if this made it something of no consequence. It was a stupidly provocative thing to say for all those Liberals who agree with the Turnbull-Howard position. And especially so when the polls overwhelmingly show that he is far less popular with the public than Turnbull.

The Opposition Leader should be thankful that Labor waited so long to install Kevin Rudd. Had they done the sensible thing back in February it would have been him recently removed from a leaders role by a desperate party rather than Julia Gillard.

Being presidential. Prime Minister Rudd, meanwhile, was off in Papua New Guinea being in governing mode, encouraged no doubt by further evidence from the pollsters that the Labor revival is still underway.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Charges unlikely, but Murdoch tape won't help his business case

Analysis: Charges unlikely, but Murdoch tape won't help his business case | Reuters

"The recall of Rupert Murdoch to a committee of the British parliament over a secret tape of him dismissing the alleged illegal behavior of his journalists is likely to cause personal embarrassment for the world's most famous media mogul but no criminal charges. It could, however, further complicate his business dealings in Britain, where his firm has long wanted to take full control of the pay-TV group BSkyB and where it is still locked in negotiations with the government over regulation of the press."

'via Blog this'

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The election state of play

Marking time today. Waiting for Nielsen to give a further guide.

Election diary Saturday 14 July 2013

"The first rule of being a political junkie is to always remember that you are a very weird person, and most people are not like you."
Ezra Klein
Small pickings for the poll addicted. Another dismal day to those of us slavishly hanging out for the verdicts of the opinion pollsters. The Sunday papers were threadbare.

The best I could find were a couple of references in Sydney's Sun-Herald and Melbourne's Sunday Age.

There's not much of interest in that lot.

A dash of class warfare. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd might be scurrying to shed any suggestion of Labor engaging in class warfare but the Greens are happy to move into the space. Only a party that knows it is not running in this election to actually become the government would dare to make increasing an income tax rate a key policy.

But that is what Greens leader Christine Milne has promised. Creating a new top income tax rate of 50 per cent for millionaires, she said this morning, would pay for a $50-a-week increase to Newstart and a $90-a-week increase for single parents. And, for good measure, the Greens want a new tax of 0.2 per cent on the four major banks' assets over $100 billion that would raise $8.4 billion over three years.

The shedding of electoral liabilities continues. Treasurer Chris Bowen continues the process of trying to get rid of unpopular policies of his predecessor. This morning it was the much previewed abandonment of a carbon tax and its replacement with an emissions trading scheme.

Let the advertising campaign begin. Political party advertisements in newspapers are real page turners for ordinary readers. They are nothing more than an attempt to influence journalists like me to take a subject seriously or to satisfy leaders who are too busy to catch the really significant messages on television but like to know that their party is doing something to help the cause.
(Click to enlarge)

Hence my suggestion not to get too involved with the actual content from this morning's opening salvo in this morning's tabloids. The real business of trying to persuade will start at prime time this evening.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Election diary - Saturday 13 July 2013 - Common sense prevails on pre-selections

A sensible decision. With all the Rudd rhetoric about reforming the Labor Party to give ran-and-file members a significant say it would have been extreme hypocrisy for the Federal Executive to impose candidates in the safe seats being vacated by former ministers. The federal body decided today that candidates for the seats of Rankin, Kingsford Smith, Charlton, Lalor and Hotham will be decided by the state branches with local ballots to be finalised by July 27. 

The executive did, however, remove any obstacles to the eligibility of Joanne Ryan, Lisa Clutterham and Julie Ann Evans for the Victorian seat of Lalor being vacated by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Ms Clutterham has since announced she will not contest for preselection.

A drift towards Coalition continues.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Election diary Friday 12 July 2013

Another of those minor polls. I don't know what to make of all these little Reach Tel polls that keep bobbing up, especially in Queensland. So for what it is worth, this report from the Guardian website:
A new ReachTel poll commissioned by Together Union in Queensland shows a positive swing of between 7-8% on a two-party preferred basis to Labor in Queensland following Rudd's return to the prime ministership.
That swing suggests Labor could pick up six seats in Queensland if the election was held now.
Labor's primary vote in the state is now 40.8%, according to ReachTel. The Liberal National Party is on 44.2%. On a statewide measure Bob Katter's KAP is polling 3.9% and Clive Palmer's PUP is 4.6%.
The market takes no notice. Those findings failed to impress the punters with Labor easing a fraction today.

Some Rudd me-tooism

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Election diary - Thursday 11 July 2013

A sort of justice. Labor suffered electorally while it presided over an economy doing well for most of the last three years so there will a kind of justice if it gets rewarded now that conditions are worsening. Under the normal rules of politics today's rising unemployment figure would be a severe setback. Not so if the initial media reaction is anything to go by.

If anything it gives Kevin Rudd the perfect defence to those Coalition attacks on Labor for bringing the budget back into balance. Following that policy would simply make the unemployment figure higher.

Today's election indicator.

What Rupert Murdoch meant by a Fleet Street culture of commerce

What Rupert Murdoch meant by a Fleet Street culture of commerce | Media |

 "Though it may be stretching things to say Rupert Murdoch "welcomes" being questioned once again by hostile politicians in public he won't be too alarmed at the prospect. He is surely aware that the statements he made when addressing Sun journalists give him just enough wriggle room to brush aside any allegations of wrong-doing on his part. They don't furnish any proof that he was aware of any specific illegality. All the same, the covertly-made tape recording is hugely embarrassing for him. The fact it was made at all is significant. Similarly, so is its leaking. Murdoch will view it as an act of betrayal."

'via Blog this'

What Rupert Murdoch meant by a Fleet Street culture of commerce |

What Rupert Murdoch meant by a Fleet Street culture of commerce | Media | "Though it may be stretching things to say Rupert Murdoch "welcomes" being questioned once again by hostile politicians in public he won't be too alarmed at the prospect. He is surely aware that the statements he made when addressing Sun journalists give him just enough wriggle room to brush aside any allegations of wrong-doing on his part. They don't furnish any proof that he was aware of any specific illegality. All the same, the covertly-made tape recording is hugely embarrassing for him. The fact it was made at all is significant. Similarly, so is its leaking. Murdoch will view it as an act of betrayal."

'via Blog this'

MP urges Ofcom to review Murdoch's 'fit and proper person' status

MP urges Ofcom to review Murdoch's 'fit and proper person' status | Press Gazette: "Labour’s former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has called on the media watchdog to review its “fit and proper person” assessment of News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch."

'via Blog this'

Scotland Yard to 'assess' Murdoch tape as News Corp boss recalled to face MP grilling

Scotland Yard to 'assess' Murdoch tape as News Corp boss recalled to face MP grilling | Press Gazette: "Scotland Yard will "fully assess" the contents of a tape recording of comments apparently made by Rupert Murdoch in a meeting with News International journalists, a senior officer said today. Murdoch has also been recalled to face MPs on the Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee following the emergence of the recordings."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Election diary Wednesday 10 July 2013 - The Labor climb goes on

And the climb goes on. The gap between Coalition and Labor as measured on our election indicator continues to narrow.

A 30.7% probability is the highest Labor has been all year. The indicator started January at 24.8% and by the end of that month reached its previous 2013 high-point of 26.9%.

It is an amazing turn around.

It’s never too late. A short extract from my behind-the-paywall contribution today to Crikey. (And if you are not a subscriber you should be. I modestly think we at Crikey are the consistently best of the alternative Australian media.)

Good to see a variation on the leadership change story this morning. From the op-ed page of The Australian:

Now wouldn’t that make it a truly spectacular election campaign? Malcolm Turnbull replaces Tony Abbott on the day the election is called!
A word of warning to Rudd: remember 1983. It is never too late to change leaders. Go sooner rather than later.
Power to the people but not yet. Old habits die hard. Despite all the talk about giving the power to the ordinary party members as part of the great Rudd reforms, Labor today decided to let the Federal Executive make all or any of the difficult pre-selection decisions.

And don't worry about those rules about having to be a party member for a year or two to be a candidate. That's out the window too which must make a loyal rank-and-file candidate who misses out puzzled about the reason to bother joining and attending those often boring branch meetings.

Clearly change does not mean an end to hypocrisy.

The sharp edge of campaigning. From the PM's official Instagram site:

We are really getting down to the serious matters now.

A champion candidate. Palmer United Party has endorsed current boxing world champion Will Tomlinson for the Victorian House of Representatives seat of Gippsland. While that is unlikely to be of much significance in the final scheme of things, Clive Palmer is doing his chances of picking up a Senate seat somewhere a lot of good. With 47 parties now eligible to stand candidates the last Senator in each state will be determined by a virtual lottery. Having Reps candidates helps mobilise an election day workforce to hand out those last minute how-to-vote card reminders and that may prove vital.

Election diary Tuesday 9 July 2013

Better than a funny hat. It was back to the factory grind for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and at least he was able to wear a peaked cap instead of the normal silly looking safety net as he pretended to be a pie man. 

Ah the things politicians have to do for their photo opportunities in the hope someone will record and report their views on the help a Coalition would be to small business.
There was no such luck for Tony. The days of nagging on social media sites about the need for an explanation of wrongly claimed expenses that had to be repaid dominated the questioning. That issue is unlikely to do Tony Abbott any great harm but the Newspoll this morning suggested he badly needs an image improvement rather than spending his time fobbing off criticism.

A Howard revival. Exactly what image a track suited Kevin Rudd is trying to portray with his early morning walks is clear enough. He might not be able to bring himself to totally adopt the boat people policies of the man he beat in 2007, but looking as much like John Howard as possible is clearly the go.

Another polling improvement. The gain was not as dramatic as recorded by Morgan but Newspoll showed further improvement for the Rudd led Labor. The two party preferred of 50:50 is right back in hung parliament territory.

And the punters are really starting to hedge their bets although the Coalition is still the pronounced favourite on our market based election indicator.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Election diary Monday 8 July 2013 - What if the Morgan Poll is right?

The forgotten pollster. Morgan tends to be the forgotten pollster these days. Without the patronage of a major media outlet his weekly offerings have little impact on the political debate. But that some people still take notice of his findings is suggested by the unexpected surge today in support for Labor on the betting markets.

And here is what Morgan reported today:
This week’s Morgan Poll, the third since Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister, shows another significant swing to the ALP. The ALP 54.5% (up 3% since last week’s multi-mode Morgan Poll of June 28-30, 2013) is now further ahead of the L-NP 45.5% (down 3%) on a two-party preferred basis.
The ALP primary vote is 41.5% (up 2%), ahead of the L-NP primary vote at 39.5% (down 1%).
Among the minor parties Greens support is 8.5% (unchanged) and support for Independents/ Others is 10.5% (down 1%) – including within that support for Katter’s Australian Party of 1.5% and support for the Palmer United Party of 1.5%.
If a Federal Election were held today the ALP would win comfortably according to this weekend’s multi-mode Morgan Poll on Federal voting intention with an Australia-wide cross-section of 3,521 Australian electors aged 18+.
A different version of public opinion. And now for something completely different. Essential Research, a pollster that I pay particular attention to because I am prejudiced against any that show large swings from week to week has the two party vote at Labor 48% Coalition 52%.

A frenetic edge to Coalition comments. I detect a more strident tone to the rhetoric of Coalition MPs when they discuss the question of how to stop the arrival of unwanted migrants by boat from Indonesia. It suggests to me that they are still a bit rattled about how to campaign now that Labor has a new leader.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Rudd bravely takes on the union bosses

Kevin Rudd has gone for one of those crash through or crash moments. His plan to change the way the leader of the federal Parliamentary Labor Party is chosen would smash the power of those "faceless" union bosses. The Rudd proposal leaves out unions entirely from the selection process. He wants the parliamentary Caucus to provide half the voting power with rank and file members having the other half.
It is an audacious plan to change the way that Labor is governed and trade union leaders will be furious at the threatened loss of their power. In most Labor forums unions have half the say and British Labour has gone for a tri-partite voting arrangement with equal say for MPs, affiliated unions and ordinary members.
The lobbying between now and when the Caucus meets in a fortnight to consider the Rudd proposal will be intense. Not that a success for Rudd there will be the end of the matter.
I am no expert on that arcane area of knowledge that makes up Labor Party rules but the Caucus alone can not conduct a ballot of ordinary party members. It is state branches that have the names and some rule changes will be needed for them to be polled on the leadership. Just how the Prime Minister plans to get those changes made has not yet been spelled out but presumably there will need to be ratification of the plan at national and state party conferences.
At the very least changes to deal the unions into the process will be bitterly fought for.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Choosing an election theme song

This is my choice for the song that will best help us get through the election campaign - from "A Little Night Music":
Don't you love farce?
My fault I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want.
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don't bother, they're here.

What's your suggestion?

Election diary - Sunday 7 July 2013 - Here come the television ads

Spinning a backflip. The government attempts to pretend that it is finally doing things that will stop the arrival of unwanted visitors by boat go on. This morning was the "news" that boat people arriving without papers would be placed at the end of the processing queue.

Which is hardly a deterrent really. As Father Frank Brennan, a long time friend of PM Kevin Rudd, told Meet the Press this morning:
The talk about putting people at the back of the queue God help us, it's just a beat up.Obviously where you have got a big backlog people who have already got documents, of course you will be able to process them quickly those who don't have documents you will still have to wait.
Labor leads off with the ads. And I'll leave the commenting to Sarah Hanson-Young of the Greens.

Kevin sets the record straight. The Prime Minister takes to Instagram and gets his challenge message over again:

The story of the day. From the No Fibs website comes a story to take the gloss off Tony Abbott's day: Abbott forced to repay $9,400 he charged taxpayers to promote his book.
Or perhaps I should say that it's a story that should take the gloss off Tony Abbott's day. The social media is full of it but nothing on the main media websites yet that I have noticed.

Movement towards Coalition continues. An opinion poll free day but the Crikey Indicator keeps moving towards the Coalition.

Pinochet the answer for Egypt says Murdoch flag ship

A view from on high in the Murdoch newspaper empire:

Ah yes, midwifing a way to democracy with torture and murder. 

They are strange people those Murdoch editors.

An opinion poll free day!

Search as I might, not an opinion poll could I see this morning. Not even one of those dubious robo-call ones.
The only treatment for my withdrawal symptoms was a somewhat cryptic reference to that old stand-by "internal party polling" in the Sunday Telegraph:
While the most marginal Liberal-held seat in Australia is Boothby in South Australia, Coalition sources said their polling suggested it was now more tightly under Liberal control.

Surprise, surprise. Some anti-Rudd bias from the Murdoch press

So how do you report Kevin Rudd choosing his new media staff? Why, by featuring an old video of him swearing of course. 
From the website in the early hours this morning:

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Election diary - Saturday 6 July 2013

Labor now creeping downwards. When Monday's opinion polls showed that Kevin Rudd's appointment as Prime Minister had indeed improved Labor's standing with the public the betting markets reacted by almost doubling their assessment of the government's chance of being returned at the election. Since then the initial reaction has waned somewhat.

Tiresome debating about debates. If anything is more boring than stories about an election date it is stories about debates between the leaders. Kevin Rudd was at it again challenging Tony Abbott today. It shows the difficulty he has in finding anything positive to say.

Paul Krugman gets gloomy

From the Nobel prize winner's blog overnight:
While there is growing “austerity fatigue” in Europe, and this might provoke a crisis, the overwhelming result from U.S. political studies is that the level of unemployment matters hardly at all for elections; all that matters is the rate of change in the months leading up to the election. In other words, high unemployment could become accepted as the new normal, politically as well as in economic analysis.
I guess what I’m saying is that I worry that a more or less permanent depression could end up simply becoming accepted as the way things are, that we could suffer endless, gratuitous suffering, yet the political and policy elite would feel no need to change its ways.

A conference is a wonderful thing

When the problem is too hard to solve, then call a conference to discuss further why nothing can actually be done. It is one of the great solutions of political life and so it proved again in Jakarta yesterday. 
Kevin Rudd and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have agreed that an "action-oriented" regional summit is what the problem of boat people coming to Australia needs. And what a grand event it will be with delegations from countries such as Iran and Afghanistan invited along for the occasion.
If you wonder about the effectiveness of more talking then consider this description from the Department of Foreign Affairs website on the last lot of people smuggling talks:

People smuggling and trafficking in persons

Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime

People smuggling and trafficking in persons are serious transnational crimes that require a concerted regional response. People smuggling exposes many thousands of irregular migrants to unacceptable risk and undermines the integrity of our borders. Trafficking in persons is a complex, multi-faceted crime and a major violation of human rights. Australia seeks to address these issues by working bilaterally with source, transit and destination countries and multilaterally through the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (the Bali Process), which Australia co-founded and co-chairs with Indonesia.
The Bali Process is a regional, multilateral process designed to boost bilateral and regional cooperative efforts against people smuggling and trafficking in persons through technical workshops and increased cooperation between interested countries, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM). Overall direction and coordination of the Bali Process is provided through an officials' level Steering Group comprising Indonesia and Australia as the two co-chairs, New Zealand, Thailand, UNHCR and IOM.
Since its inception in 2002, the Bali Process has raised regional awareness of the consequences of people smuggling and trafficking in persons and developed strategies and practical cooperative measures in response. More information on recent activities can be found on the The Bali Process website.

People smuggling

At the Fourth Bali Process Regional Ministerial Conference in March 2011, Ministers agreed to establish a regional cooperation framework to better address irregular migration. This represents a significant step forward and a clear recognition by Bali Process members of the need for a cooperative international response to an enduring and complex regional and global challenge.
Australia is a State party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.

Trafficking in persons

The Australian Government is committed to working in partnership with other governments, international organisations and civil society to prevent trafficking in persons, bring the perpetrators to justice, and protect and support victims.
At the Fourth Bali Process Regional Ministerial Conference in March 2011, Ministers agreed to reinvigorate Bali Process cooperation on practical measures and activities aimed at increasing the capacity of countries to address trafficking in persons.
Australia is a State party to the UNTOC and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
More information on Australia's comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to combating trafficking in persons domestically and internationally can be found on the People Trafficking web page of the Attorney General's Department.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Election diary Friday 5 July - Pink Batt memories

On the home front it was not the greatest of days for the Labor Party campaign.As I wrote for my Crikey column this morning, they can have their rough spots, those honeymoons. The return of pink batts to the nation’s headlines was not quite the start Kevin Rudd wanted for the second week of his second coming.

It had not got any better by the time the evening television news bulletins came around. Grieving parents of dead young men apparently make wonderful ratings material so the PM was on a hiding to nothing despite giving a kind of half-hearted apology after he arrived in Indonesia last night.

The memories of comments from the past just won't go away with the Coalition having fun trying to get the PM to reveal what warnings about the dangers of the pink batts scheme he was made aware of back in those global financial crisis days.

I was reminded of this extract from a Four Corners program back in April 2010 by a Margo Kingston tweet:
More than six months after the death of their son, the Fullers are still searching for answers. It’s taken them to Canberra and into what they thought was a private meeting with Greg Combet.
KEVIN FULLER, MATTHEW'S FATHER: Kevin Rudd burst into the meeting after about 15 minutes and sat right next to me and he didn't, he didn't remember my name, so I shook his hand and said it's Kevin, it's not that difficult to remember type logic. Ah same as his, you'd think he'd remember that one.
CHRISTINE FULLER, MATTHEW'S MOTHER: I can't even remember what he said, it was nothing important. Yeah, we we told him we held him responsible, um and that we would we and I'm sure the other families of the other young lads would like a public apology. We've never had a a public apology, an admission that they've stuffed up, you know.
WENDY CARLISLE (to Kevin Fuller): Did he personally apologise to you in that meeting?
WENDY CARLISLE (to Kevin Fuller): No expression of sorrow?
KEVIN FULLER, MATTHEW'S FATHER: Ah there may have been, in it's an unfortunate or um you know talking around the issue and around the program, but no looking in my eyes or Christine's eyes and saying I'm sorry. Even sorry for your loss would've been good.
WENDY CARLISLE: The cost of the governments home insulation program has been great. Lives lost. Houses razed. A massive clean up. And for the Fullers, there is only the government to blame.
KEVIN FULLER, MATTHEW'S FATHER: We didn't even let Matt's name out for almost four months, because we stupidly trusted the system. We trusted that the minister and the prime minister and the all the departments involved would actually do something, would listen and change something. They did nothing. They just justified their existence all the way through. They allowed three other kids to get killed.
CHRISTINE FULLER, MATTHEW'S MOTHER: There was no duty of care anywhere in any of this from the top down, from the government to the ministers, their aids, the guys that employed them. There was no care.
It does make last night's apology seem a bit hollow.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Election diary Thursday 4 July 2013

The Labor drift goes on.

Some necessary window dressing. It is quite understandable that Kevin Rudd wants to be seen doing something about the New South Wales branch of his Labor Party. A series of enquiries by the Independent Commission Against Corruption have so badly tarnished the brand that supposedly safe seats with majorities of 10% and more are now at risk. Hence the decision to put the federal executive in charge for a month to implement what are called “a series of anti-corruption reforms”.
It is a wonderful example of the political spinner’s art. Kevin the tough little nerd you can love and trust taking on those nasty faceless factional heavies. One strike and you’re out when it comes to anything resembling corruption. A ban on property developers. Things will be different from now on.
Or at least Labor will pretend they will be. The problems of the Labor Party are not unique to NSW with the first and fundamental change that is needed being to reduce the power of the trade union barons who largely select those federal executive members supposed to do the reforming. Are they likely to insist on changes that give rank-and-file members a greater say in Sussex Street? Not likely when that would set a precedent for undoing their power back in their own home states.
What we will see over the next month is nothing more than political show business. The real reforms will have to wait until after the election.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Election diary - Wednesday 3 July 2013

Labor drifting slowly backwards. Another slight decline today in the enthusiasm for Labor. Our election indicator:

A stent in time. As someone who has recently had a stent put in a heart artery I admire the cheek of a fellow heart surgery patient who accuses a triathlon performer of lacking "ticker". But I did have to chuckle at Kevin Rudd's taunting of Tony Abbott on the ABC's 7.30 about his lack of ticker. See my earlier post Confirming who the election front runner is.

Pretty much a lay day. An election day of little action as PM talks with his Cabinet colleagues and prepares for his visit to Indonesia.

Confirming who the election front runner is

So the Rudd team wants their man to have a televised debate with Tony Abbott. And the Abbott team is ignoring the challenge.
There's only real message from that: Rudd is behind and Abbott knows it.
No front runner in his right mind would accept such a challenge.
I know. I know. Bob Hawke once did. But then ...

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Election diary - Tuesday 2 July - A thinking day: What the hell do we do now?

A quieter day on the market. No opinion polls of substance today to send the punters reacting with just a slight trend back to the Liberal-National coalition on our indicator.

And in this morning's papers. The tumult and the shouting has largely died as far as the tabloids are concerned. Most have moved on to real news for a change.

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Practicing what he preached. For the government it was a day of private talking with Kevin Rudd doing what he promised would be his new style and holding a Cabinet meeting. Out of it will come announcements over the next few days designed to put a new spin on what Labor now stands for.

Same old, same old. That nothing really has changed is evident from the way the pre-selections to replace the retired and retiring ministers from the Gillard ministry are shaping up. It looks once again that if you are not a recent ministerial staff member or a trade union official you will not get a Labor Party endorsement.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Election Diary Monday 1 July 2013 - Momentum all with Labor but that's not surprising

Momentum all with Labor but that's not surprising. With the honeymoon polls to start the day, a disability scheme launch to follow and then a new ministry to swear in little wonder that the day was a good one for Labor, The Coalition sensibly went quietly.
Not that the Coalition will have found the day all that depressing for the news from the pollsters was better for them than they might have expected. The change in Prime Minister has added around six points to Labor but that still leaves the Coalition comfortably in front. Something more like a gain of 10 points would have been my guess.
Essential Research
To explain the Essential Research figures. Normally this pollster publishes a two week moving average and those are the figures shown as "this week" above. The last column, with half that normal sample, is what happened after Labor's leadership change.
Not much difference really and I had expected all the pollsters to find an improvement for the government more in line with what Roy Morgan Research reported this afternoon: Labor 51.5% on a two party preferred basis compared with 48.5% for the Coalition. That was an improvement of seven percentage points from last week.

Picking an election date. Past experience, which admittedly is limited when elections are held only every two and a bit years or so, suggests that a leadership change results in a bounce in support that evaporates a little as the election day approaches. There's aw definite argument for going sooner rather than later but then there are very few leaders who will call an election when they think they will lose.
What Kevin Rudd ends up doing with no doubt depend on what his own pollsters tell him over the next week.