October 29, 2007 | Graham

Premiers to wooden spooners

It’s hard to believe that in the course of only three years the federal Liberal party could have gone from being some of the best campaigners the country has seen to the butter-fingered, fumbling no-hopers that they appear at the moment.
Interest rates and Kyoto illustrate this well.
The interest rate promise was that rates would always be lower under a coalition government than under Labor. It was never that rates will never rise under a Coalition government. This should have been a no lose promise, because it’s not one you can break. There is no way to compare Labor and the Coalition over the same period of time, so no way you can be wrong.
Yet Howard has been on the back-foot over interest rates since the leaders debate. He had an opportunity to ridicule Rudd over the issue during the debate, and didn’t take it. If the Labor leader seriously thinks that rates don’t of necessity fluctuate, then he’s as serious a risk to the economy as Howard makes out. Even at their current levels, interest rates are lower than they have been since the 60s.
The fact that he didn’t come out on the front foot suggests that either he feels guilty, or more likely, that no-one is doing a good job of anticipating the other side.
On Kyoto the Liberals have refused to ratify the treaty on the basis that it is mere ineffective symbolism. So you would have thought that they would have jumped on an article in the latest edition of Nature which not only agrees, but suggests the correct solution is to get the 20 largest polluters together to make an agreement, and to spend money on research and development – all Coalition initiatives that have been ridiculed by Labor. Yet they didn’t. Sunday’s papers made it clear why – Environment Minister Turnbull isn’t playing a team game and actually wants to ratify Kyoto.
There’s no way I can see the Liberal Party winning from here, and no way they deserve to, judged on their campaign. Climate change is the biggest issue this election for swingers, and interest rates has got to be climbing in the ratings as well. How can they not have their story straight on these issues.
All of which raises the question: If they can’t prosecute a competent campaign for government when they are the government, and have been doing it pretty well for 11 years, what sort of an opposition are they going to make?

Posted by Graham at 10:09 am | Comments (7) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. The Liberals will probably do at least three elections in opposition at the national level is the slow oscillation of government change is anything to go by.
    The good news for the Liberals is that many state governments are reaching the same limits and are ready to flip. Even mildly competent oppositions in many states, such as NSW, will win elections against government IMO.

    Comment by cam — October 29, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

  2. Graham – given your recent readings of the campaign’s progress, you may be interested in reading Bruce Hawker’s post on the ABC’s “Unleashed” pages.

    Comment by Jason — October 29, 2007 @ 3:42 pm

  3. He makes some good and obvious points – so obvious that I wish I had thought of them! I guess as he’s advising on the ALP campaign he’s more aware of what’ happening in letterboxes than I am.

    Comment by Graham Young — October 29, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

  4. Well I think he’s saying similar things to what you’ve been saying, but from a slightly different perspective. I guess you’re both asking similar questions about how the Libs campaign is being run. Let’s hope they let their candidates start getting amongst it soon and meeting their constituents! Doesn’t seem like they have much to lose, and they’d be doing democracy a favour.

    Comment by Jason — October 29, 2007 @ 5:01 pm

  5. The current state of the Liberal Party is neither surprising nor hard to believe. Within a few years of Howard becoming Prime Minister, the total number of Liberal members of all parliaments in Australia had dropped by about one third. He won the last two elections on luck – his last piece of luck being Mark Latham. He is a control freak, frightened and resentful of almost everything that has happened since the retirement of Menzies, who has sought to do little more than wreak vengeance on the union movement.
    Imagine the Tampa had been a US Navy aircraft carrier: Howard would have vanished. Imagine that three years ago the Labor party had found a personable, stable, economically competent leader: Howard would have vanished.
    In the last six years, the Liberal Party has ceased to be an engine of policy. It has become a personality cult, mesmerised by a vindictive, dried-up little old man.

    Comment by Alan — October 29, 2007 @ 7:02 pm

  6. I’m really disappointed with Malcom Turnbull.He should not positioning himself at this stage of the campaign with pseudo-popular concepts of Kyoto when even Kevin Rudd half admits that it is flawed without including China and India.
    I hope the Coalition do not self destruct like the NSW Liberal Party, since the whole country could end up like NSW.
    I’m changing ships.Peter Costello for Prime Minister.

    Comment by Arjay — November 1, 2007 @ 6:29 pm

  7. If the Liberal Party and the Coalition had such brilliant campaign strategies over the last few years, why did they never use them in the State and Territory elections, where they have lost 21 in a row?
    I think that in the end the number of elections where campaign strategy makes a difference is small – ones like Federal 1993, Queensland 1995 & 1998, Victoria 1999. Usually all the campaign “brilliance” in the world does not bring a dead parrot back to life – ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

    Comment by Rocket — November 19, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

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