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Election campaign week 46 update

Don't let anyone tell you that we're at the end of the second week of the Federal Election campaign. It all began on December 4, 2006, the day that Kevin Rudd rolled Kim Beazley in the Labor Party caucus room. At the end of Week 46, here are my observations:

1. The polls have been remarkably consistent for ages - Labor 56%, Liberal/Nats 44% - the fluctuations have all been within a statistical margin of error. Now there may be some natural last-minute drift to conservatism, but how much? So far, there's no evidence of it, and no evidence that the Libs can deliver the knockout blow against the ALP. God knows they've tried.

2. The risk still exists that the ALP could take a majority of the party-preferred vote, but still lose the election. This happened in 1998, the reverse happened in 1987 (when John Howard was the leader on the losing side!). Labor needs to take a net sixteen seats to win. If the swing were consistent they will do it easily. However, there are possibilities, especially in Western Australia, that the Libs could actually take seats off Labor.

3. The doublespeak of the Liberal talking heads, especially Downer, Howard, Abbott and Costello, is becoming more hilarious, more hysterical, more desperate as time progresses. Alexander Downer puts a smile on my face every time I see him interviewed on TV. He treats every appearance as a high school debate. The truth doesn't matter so long as he wins the medal.

4. If the "70% of Labor's front bench will be trade unionists" mantra is an unverifiable statement, the "Labor has copied 91.5% of the Coalition's tax policy" claim was utter nonsense. The Libs offered $34 billion in tax cuts. Labor offered $31 billion, ie, 91.5 per cent of the Coalition costing. Sorry, but that doesn't equate to copying 91.5 per cent (or any percentage) of a policy. A shallow, and conceptually stupid, notion.

5. If Maxine McKew can't beat Howard in Bennelong, she needs to look to last weekend's politicising of the Granny Smith Festival at Eastwood as the turning point against her. My tip is for Howard to be awaiting the final distribution of preferences when he steps down as Leader of the Opposition.

6. As for Labor's policies, two things I will say in defence: (i) Rudd is rightfully hungry to topple Howard, and sees taking the middle ground as the best approach, and so far this is working; (ii) a Rudd Government will have almost twelve years of damage to clean up. Some reform may have to wait for a second term, if they are so fortunate.