Last September I charactarised the politics we were getting from the major parties as Kill Bill or any distraction vs a fair go. The scribes in the Oz commenting on the latest Newspoll see Turnbull’s star rising, and the banner headline
Shorten pays for tax debacle
In the 5-8 April poll Turnbull’s satisfaction rating was 32-57 for a net negative -25. He’s been steadily improving and is now 42-48, a mere -6.
Shorten in early April had exactly the same figures as Turnbull. Now he is back there at 32-57, having only improved by a negligible wobble in the interim.
Here’s the longer story:
Shorten has been ‘range trading’ in a consistently negative way. Turnbull is no doubt hoping for the glory days of when he first gained the keys to the kingdom:
In the second half of 2015 Shorten endured the full brunt of the royal commission into trade unions and shocking revelations on the TV program The Killing Season which at the time was thought to have rendered him unelectable in some views.
Turnbull clearly sees it as his duty to warn voters about this defective man who would wreck the economy and endanger our way of life.
Ironically Turnbull’s rating went negative early in 2016, which was back around the time he launched into the rant about the housing market being “smashed” by Labor’s negative gearing policy in the first of his scare campaigns leading up to the election in 2016.
Emerson says that Turnbull has improved on Abbott:
- Here in Australia the Prime Minister, who attacked his predecessor, Tony Abbott, for his obsession with three-word slogans, has economised, dropping out one word to describe the Opposition leader as “Shifty Shorten”, “Electricity Bill” and “Blackout Bill”.
Labor, too, he says, has travelled the low road, attacking the Prime Minister personally for being wealthy and denigrating “the big end of town” while government ministers shriek “class envy” and “class warfare” whenever Labor announces a policy to close down tax shelters utilised by the better off.
Emerson’s argument is that all this really does matter because it kills the debate on policy.
Since Shorten became leader Labor has had scads of policy. If you go here, you can download a 211-page consultation paper of Labor’s National Platform prepared for the 48th ALP National Conference which was to happen at the end of this month.
A platform is not policy as such, but an important part of the policy development process. Labor has copious amounts of policy already drafted in case of an early election, much of it already announced.
John Quiggin finds Anthony Albanese’s Whitlam Oration a garden variety effort, amounting to approximately Nothing. Much attention was given to Albo’s comments about being friendly with business, as a point of contrast with Shorten. However, the core of the speech was:
- Our national challenge is to continue to drive sustained economic growth.
The ingredients to sustain growth are investing in education and infrastructure.
Investing in education empowers individuals. Education is also a benefit to the entire community because it boosts national capacity.
I cannot understand why the current Government is content with a situation in which there are 140,000 fewer apprentices today than there were under the former Labor Government.
According to the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, infrastructure investment will halve over the next decade as a proportion of GDP from 0.4 to 0.2%.
Investing in the right nation building projects creates jobs and economic activity in the short-term.
But over the long term, they lift productivity, which in turn establishes a basis for higher rates of growth and job creation.
Jobs and growth, doing what governments should do rather than incentivise the well-off and hope that lifts all boats.
Albanese is above all a team player. His task in the speech was to sound vaguely inspirational, but not to rock the boat. The team, however, has been built by Shorten. Quiggin says:
- Shorten’s public image is that of a convictionless machine man, but he has taken more and bolder policy stands than any opposition leader has dared to do since the failure of John Hewson’s Fightback! Yet he nearly won the last election, and Labor remains well ahead in the polls.
Actually not well ahead. In TPP terms Newspoll has the Coalition gaining a point on last fortnight to narrow the gap to 51-49, maintaining a pattern over the past six polls of movement back and forth between 51-49 and 52-48. Given that the Coalition’s primary vote is on 39, compared to 42 at the last election, and Labor is 37 compared to 34.7, with the Greens roughly the same on 9 rather than 10, much depends on preferences from One Nation, which has moved to 6 compared to 1.2, and Other, which remains on 9 rather than 11.7.
It’s unlikely that the votes that move to determine the election will change on a consideration of policies. So there is every incentive for Turnbull to maintain his personality attack on Shorten.