May 23, 2007 | Graham

Howard does a Debnam.

If you like omens, the New South Wales “under dogs” just lost the first state of origin match to Queensland. Will Kevin Rudd or Wayne Swan rubb it in tomorrow when they face the New South Wales under-dog from Bennelong over the dispatch box?
Still, state of origin football goes down to the wire, even when one side seems well in control. And there are two matches to go. I’m still hesitant to write Howard off, but it looks increasingly like he has no hope of winning the next election, and ironic that when he finally admits the truth and says the coalition faces “annihiliation”, Labor claims it is all just a clever ploy.
It’s certainly calculated, because Howard does have the opportunity of telling, or not telling the truth. And it’s a little odd he should have opted for the truth now, because when Peter Debnam made exactly the same admission in the New South Wales election campaign Howard publicly contradicted him. Was that a case of mixed messages, or was Howard keen to keep Labor in power in all states of Australia?
I haven’t heard the government playing the line too strongly yet, but surely one of the themes of the next election has to be this: While there are 9 state and federal governments in Australia, only one of them works, so why hand power to the party that stuffs everything else up? In other words, and with Rudd’s CV as the eminence grise of the Goss government on the table, if you can’t run Queensland, how can you run the country?
If Rudd and Swan do rub it in tomorrow, it will be a case of mixed messages, because Labor has been trying for under-dog status themselves, even though they are obviously the front-runners. But the Liberals also have their own mixed-messages, with Nick Minchin undermining Howard by telling Fran Kelly this morning that the Liberals can still win.
One thing state of origin football demonstrates is that the only winning strategy is to pick one for the game and stick with it, even when events and luck run against you. If you’re going to change strategy, then you do it at half time, or for the next match. It’s when the teams lose faith in their strategy and panic that they lose the chance of winning. Labor has a strategy, and they’ve been sticking to it. Their risk is carelessness. The Liberals are showing signs of panic.

Posted by Graham at 10:45 pm | Comments Off on Howard does a Debnam. |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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