Not much change in the latest Newspoll - though Kevin Rudd's net satisfaction rating dropped 4 points. Malcolm Turnbull meanwhile climbed (or struggled) out of negative territory, to the now much envied position of having the same number of people satisfied with you and there are those dissatisfied. From 2 weeks ago his dissatisfaction rating went from 42% to 40% - the 2% went into the "Undecided" pile. He must be so happy.
The best commentary on the poll was from Lenore Taylor who wrote:
... if being 10 percentage points behind on the two-party-preferred vote and 33 points behind as preferred prime minister can look like good news for the Coalition, it was in a pretty dire place to begin with.
Question Time today was (as usual) a farce. It was however proceeded by a greater farce, when it was revealed that after the Liberal Party caucus this morning Chris Pearce and Ably Schultz had a bit of a "disagreement" (code for a bit of shoving and pushing). It was over the issue of three cornered contests at the next election. But I'd say the real reason was the realisation that they are going to lose the next elecition, and some are only just waking up to the fact.
It did give Anthony Albanese some nice ammunition (like he needs any help) in QT, when he said the Liberals were such a rabble they didn't even know what day it was, because Alby Schultz obviously thought it was the first of the month and he wanted to give Pearce a pinch and a punch.
The most stunning aspect though about QT was the Liberals complete lack of ideas. Turnbull's first question to Rudd was about how rises in interest rates over the next 10 years will affect repayment of the debt. It was a dull question that would hardly have been what the general populous was hoping would be asked.
Rudd fudged it by referring to the Budget Papers and reading out some Treasury briefing, before also throwing in a line about Turnbull talking down the economy.
So Turnbull's next question was to refer to Rudd saying the Liberal's were talking down the economy, and that "given the Prime Minister has said he welcomes a debate on deficit and debt, does this mean he only welcomes it if everyone agrees with him?"
He sat down with his smug expression of self satisfaction, thinking he had made the PM look a fool. If he had any intelligence he would have realised he had just wasted the second question of the day by essentially asking Rudd to talk about the difference between the ALP's and the Liberal's approach to the Global recession.
Rudd, who never needs a second invitation to talk about Government expenditure and stimulus, did just that. And because Turnbull had asked such a dumb, open question he was relevant the entire 10 minutes of his answer.
Here's the live minutes of the question:
Mr Turnbull, 2:13:26 PM, to Mr Rudd (Prime Minister); Point of order, Mr Turnbull, 2:14:36; Mr Rudd, 2:14:42; Point of order, Mr Randall, 2:15:26; Mr Rudd, 2:15:38; Point of order, Mr Randall, 2:16:01; Mr Rudd, 2:16:09; Point of order, Mr Tuckey, 2:16:30; Mr Rudd, 2:17:06; Point of order, Mr Pyne, 2:19:41; Point of order, Mr Abbott, 2:20:53; Point of order, Mr Albanese, 2:21:23; Mr Rudd, 2:22:22.
That's seven points of order in nine minutes (admittedly one by Albanese in response to Abbott reflecting on the speaker). Not a bad effort.
I didn't bother with much of the rest of QT. If that was the best the opposition could come up with it's not worth bothering about.
Some more information came out today that showed the Government's stimulus plan has worked as planned.
Following on from yesterday's strong retail sales figures, today came out figures relating to the other aspect of last December's stimulus package - building (remember the boost to the first home buyers grant).
These graphs show what has happened:
The one on the left is Dwelling units approved; the one on the right is Private sector houses approved.
For those who don't like graphs, I'll let the Bureau of Statistics tell it:
The trend estimate for total dwelling units approved rose 2.2% in April 2009 and is now showing rises for three months.
The seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwelling units approved rose 5.1% and has risen for three months.
The trend estimate for private sector houses approved rose 2.0% in April and has risen for the last four months.
The seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector houses approved rose 7.2% and has risen for four months.
So the trend of building approvals has risen for the past four months. Anyone want to suggest that is due to something other than the Government's stimulus package?
Now OK, I wasn't a big fan of the increase in the first home buyer grant, but I did agree with the increase to $21,000 for those building a first home. It was hoped it would keep the numbers of building of new omes from going through the floor, and it has done just that (just look at where that graph was heading!). In fact it has not only held the industry up, it has allowed it to improve while the rest of the economy is struggling.
So again I say, you can argue that the Government shouldn't have done the December stimulus package, but you cannot argue that it hasn't worked the way it was supposed to. Thus far the Government (or the Treasury more accurately) has been right on the money.
And while tomorrow's GDP figures will no doubt show the economy is in a recession; there is now also no doubt that without the stimulus package things would be a lot worse - unless you believe the retail and building sectors of our economy are irrelevant. Somehow I doubt you'll find anyone agreeing with that.