So we’ve got seven days to go. Yes I know it is eight, but nothing that happens on Saturday the 21st is really going to affect any votes. In fact you could argue nothing much on Friday will affect them either – unless some really bad news about one of the candidates comes out – and even then it better come out before the 6pm news. And given Wednesday night is the advertising cut-off date you could almost say that Thursday as well is a bit of a non event.
Of course anything could happen – and you know both Gillard and Abbott will hardly sleep on those days, but at that point the only “game changers” can probably be bad ones. In terms of good “game changers” the ALP has got till Monday and their campaign launch. The Liberals I think are pretty much done on that score. Take today – they made a big announcement about spending money on technical colleges – essentially reviving Jon Howard’s old hatred of the TAFE system. And yes it’s a lot of money, but to be honest I’m not sure if it is much of a vote changer.
The ALP have trades training centres, the Libs have Technical Colleges. Most voters will be hard pressed to see the difference – and to be a vote changer there needs to be a discernable difference. Like a no NBN or an NBN – no MRRT or an MRRT.
In 2007 Rudd made a big deal of the trades training centres – it was a set piece of his budget reply speech in 2007 and it flowed through with his message that education was his priority. Abbott may too want to make education a priority but in all honesty, no one is thinking of Abbott being the education Prime Minister.
It’s like the Liberal's health and hospitals plan. No one really could tell you unless they had been paying particular attention what the difference between it and the ALP’s is. The big difference in health is the Liberal’s Mental Health Policy, and the ALP’s GP Super Clinics.
Today Julia Gillard announced a $334m plan for apprentices. Again it may very well be a good policy, but it’s not a game changer. What it did do (as with Abbott’s policy) was allow her to get some good pics of her with workers. Some days policy is about the policy, other days its more about the vibe and the visuals.
Today was a visuals day.
So what do we have ahead of us? Well we have a big weekend – especially Sunday. Julia is fronting up to Laurie Oakes; Abbott has the more easier task of Barrie Cassidy on Insiders. Cassidy is not much of an interviewer it must be said. But given we;re at the pointy end of the campaign he might step up and try to get in some hits.
Then on Sunday night on Channel 7 Kevin Rudd will chat. I doubt there’ll be too much in the way of “bombshells” – if there was Channel 7 would be letting us all know about them – you know adverts like: “the bombshell interview that will change the election!” Commercial TV advertising is never subtle. Over on 60 Minutes the
biggest wanker in the Australian politics new reporter Mark Latham will give his report. I expect basically a plague on both you houses story.
This weekend we’ll also get a Nieslen Poll – and given last week the Libs were up 51-49, the ALP needs to improve or they really will start to panic. UPDATE: as I write this the amazing “Ghostwhovotes” has leaked that Neilsen Poll has the ALP on 53 and LNP on 47 – a 4% swing to the ALP from last week – which is not too great a surprise given how bad things were for the ALP seven days ago, and how pretty pathetic the Libs have been this week – I mean can you think of anything of any real worth that Abbott did this week? He didn't even turn up to a $6b announcement. One hour at Rooty Hill RSL ain’t going to cut it.
On Monday we’ll get the last Newspoll before the final ones on election day – they will be crucial for giving either side any “momentum”. The ALP will do its launch, and that night Abbott will have a go on Q and A – I expect him to do well, though the audience will perhaps not be as friendly as the multi-planted Rooty Hill event.
Just think, this time last week Mark Latham was still just a writer of columns in the AFR and occasional talking head on Sky. Kevin hadn’t met Julia. Julia hadn’t knocked them for dead on Q and A and the 7pm Project, and Abbott hadn’t gone on the 7:30 Report and made a fool of himself. It was a long week; and this week looks to be just as long.
For Julia Gillard it is a very long week. Lose and her career is effectively over. If she can’t win as PM she won’t win in three years as the opposition leader. It’s all or nothing. Lose and she’s a trivia question; win and she’ll ironically reap many of the benefits of Rudd’s term – the GP Super clinics will start to spring up, the trades training places as well. The computers in schools will be pretty much done; the NBN will be well and truly on the way – and certainly passed the point of winding up. Of course overseas the economy looks bad, so it won’t be all smiles and sunshine, but win this and she will have a lot firmer foundation than did Rudd – because a lot of his plans were long term.
For Tony Abbott I will say it is not as long a week. Sure he wants to win. But if he loses I don’t think he loses any where near as much as does Gillard. The expectations for Abbott were so low, that even getting to this stage is a win for him. If he loses does he stay around? I can’t see him wanting to hand over the leadership – for a start the pay is good. Unless things go bad and it does become a big win for the ALP, he’ll have strong support in the party. That said if he loses I can’t see him leading them to the next election.
For Kevin Rudd it is a long, odd week. The ALP has to win or his Prime Ministership will be trashed forever. If they win then at least the seeds he planted – NBN etc – will grow and bloom. If the ALP wins and the swing in QLD is not big, he’ll also be a bit of an ALP hero, and will be able to demand whatever position he wants. I’m just not sure he actually wants any position – I think he just wants to be able to demand it.
For Joe Hockey it is an interesting week. If the Libs win he’ll be happy as a pig in poo, knowing that he can be treasurer and just do whatever Treasury tell him to do. If they lose he has to decide if he wants to be leader. I’m not sure he does.
For Malcolm Turnbull it is a very big week. If the Liberals win he will never become Prime Minister (he might as well start his own party for all the chance he would have). And you just know he really wants to become Prime Minister. I mean he really, really wants to become Prime Minister. He would like, you think, for the Libs to be pretty well beaten. It would show the Party that the far right way is not the winning way. He has repaired a lot of damage within the Party through the way he has campaigned for other MPs. Whether or not he’s done enough for them to give him another chance and the merry go-round that will inevitably occur is another thing. Either way Turnbull will do all he can to look like he wants the Libs to win, and in his heart of hearts you know he wants Abbott to lose almost as much as does Rudd. At 55 years of age, time is running out for him
For Greg Combet and Bill Shorten and Tony Burke and Chris Bowen it will also be an interesting week. If the ALP wins they will all want to get a promotion – that Finance Minister spot would look tasty. If the ALP loses, then all of them will have to think about doing a numbers count. I’d back Combet – he at least has a reputation as Mr Fixit, so he would be a good solid option. But Shorten is as ambitious as perhaps all but Turnbull in the parliament, so I doubt he’ll die wondering. Burke is still young – 41; Shorten is 43 and Bowen is the youngest at 37. So they all have time on their side – they don’t need to win in 2013. Combet is 52. If he is going to lead, he would need to lead now.
For Julie Bishop it’s not a big week at all. She’ll probably remain deputy whatever happens.
For Chris Pyne it’ll be a long week. The betting market have him an easy favourite, but he would be a fool if he is not worried about the local girl swing in SA. And if there is a swing on in SA not even his personal standing will be able to hold it back. Personally I think Boothby is a more likely loss for the Liberals, but at $3 I’m tempted to put $10 on Rick Sarre.
For me it will be a long week as I know I will go through more highs and lows than a bungee jumper taking a cocktail of Ecstasy and Mogadon.
I have to say I can’t wait for the damn thing to be over.