February 26, 2007 | Graham

McsKewered – Labor fixes Howard’s expectations management

The preselection of Maxine McKew by Labor for Bennelong could be just what the PM ordered. The biggest risk to Howard this election was a protest vote. It was probably the only way that Beazley was going to win. One also suspects that the size of the vote for Rudd is also not so much as a vote for him, but a kick up the pants for Howard.
But perceptions change with events. Rudd’s high approval rating has made him the favourite, and Howard the under-dog. McKew’s preselection would confirm that. It should also help Howard.
Rudd is in danger of running the first Australian government to have lost office before it has even been elected. (Actually, there was one other, the Hewson government that lost the 2001 election to Paul Keating). By acting as though he is president elect he draws all the focus on what he will do in office, and away from Howard.
As yet there is little to indicate what the Rudd government will do, but we have an inkling of what it will be like. It will consist of “A” listers looking straight down their noses and TV cameras and telling us all what is good for us – a replay of the Keating government. Get ready for the “Queen Bee” state.
McKew is a fitting ambassador for that state – a high profile outsider who will be imposed on the branches in Bennelong. She is potentially a good talisman for Howard of what Mark Latham called “Tourists” and “Residents”, a term that taps into the dynamic that has shaped the last 4 federal elections – the battle between urban elite and ozzie culture.
While Rudd looks formidable at the moment and is enjoying “playing with Howard’s mind” the risk for him is that the collective electoral mind is already set against his play book. Rudd should enjoy the spoils of office while he can.

Posted by Graham at 9:16 am | Comments (7) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Perhaps ‘the electorate’ has changed and is looking for a change of government, in which case Maxine McKew will add more wind to Rudd’s sails.

    Comment by Jennifer — February 26, 2007 @ 10:24 am

  2. Who’s tourist and who’s resident? Last time I checked, Kirribilli House lies well outside Bennelong.

    Comment by Stephen — February 26, 2007 @ 10:43 am

  3. I think Maxine McKew running for Bennelong will be a win either way for Labor – she is an intelligent, informed and caring person ready for a new challenge. She will do a good job for the electorate and the country if elected, if not, at worst, she will have played a strategic role for the ALP – now a much healthier party under Rudd. I live in Rudd’s electorate and have long been impressed with his ability to keep abreast of local, national, and international matters all at once. I was hoping he would make it to the leadership, as I think he has the ‘true calling’ to politics as it should be practised. He has compassion, realism and capability in extraordinary measure – a rare individual. He really wants the job, just as Howard did, and he wants it for the right reasons.
    Re the comparison with Hewson, didn’t he really lose because of his openly discussed plans for a gst? Sure, Rudd has been trying to demonstrate his credentials as alternative PM, and he’s not afraid to recruit people with intellect… I for one would be more than happy to welcome some wise people who are willing to climb that learning curve to help look after this country. I even think that under Rudd, we could see Australia become a greater influence on world affairs in a very positive way.
    To those of you living in Bennelong, I believe you’ve had John Howard representing you since 1974. In a reprise from that era, perhaps ‘it’s time’ for a change – except that under Rudd an ALP government will be much more measured in its actions that a certain administration from back then! You could do a lot worse than Maxine McKew.

    Comment by Miss Bennet — February 26, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

  4. Maxine is going on the basis of a Morgan poll (ie ALP pollster) and 2004 2PP electoral result (4%). Remember Wilkie the Green candidate took 16%. So it is a very tough call for Max and provided she doesn’t behave like a smartarse or attract same publicity she should worry the shit out of the rodent.

    Comment by peter tuck — February 26, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  5. Intellect is good and I would prefer snobbery to snivelling any day.
    “It will consist of “A” listers looking straight down their noses and TV cameras and telling us all what is good for us – a replay of the Keating government. Get ready for the “Queen Bee” state.”
    Hooray!!! Let’s hope they win. But if they don’t, I’ll settle for Turnbull as PM and Petro Georgiou as Treasurer.

    Comment by Benno — February 26, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

  6. Dont you think that after 12 yrs of lies,an unwinable war,sucking up to GW Bush,seeing everything that made Australia great being destroyed by the carpetbaggers in Howards Govt,that people might be a bit tired of the little liar and his Govt of spin

    Comment by John Ryan — February 27, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  7. As I’ve said elsewhere, McKew is clearly a spoiler. If Labor were serious about winning the seat they’d have chosen John Watkins.
    To be effective, McKew has to have the common touch. Living in Mosman and interviewing the big guns is no indicator that she’s ready for boring speech nights, drawn-out meet-and-greets and all the other examples of hard, unglamorous work that might endear her to the folk of Bennelong.
    Every time Howard travels outside NSW after the Budget, McKew has to be ready with a stunt. It’s a big ask and the people of Bennelong would be quick to tire of it – and nobody knows this better than Howard.

    Comment by Andrew Elder — March 1, 2007 @ 12:11 am

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