“I want to talk about our plans for a better and stronger Australia, our plan to make the tax system more competitive, our plan to build technical education, our plan to share the benefits of prosperity with self-funded retirees and pensioners,” – Peter Costello
Week three begins with a less than spritely rebuff by Howard of his interest rates claim from the 2004 election campaign. Coupled with Malcolm Turnbull’s revelations of his push inside cabinet for Australia to sign Kyoto, and senior Liberal Party figures claiming the negativity – which Joe Hockey confirmed on the weekend – within the current campaign strategy is hurting coalition chances, and we’re seeing what appears to be a de-railed train on the coalition campaign trail.
I’m amazed that Costello comes out with statements like that above, almost immediately after his ‘reds-under-the-bed’ claims of recent days. He wants to make the tax system more competitive, yet he’s precided over the existing system of four tiers and associated bracket creep for the past eleven years. Surely, giving back what creep steals away is a fair thing, but surely reform should have been near the front of the agenda, rather than simply casting crumbs before the flock. I’m also bemused at the statement, “our plan to share the benefits of prosperity with self-funded retirees and pensioners”. Pensioners, yes indeedy, but self-funded retirees?!! What about workers, Mister Smirky? What about the engine-room of Australian industry?
Four weeks to go, and there is still time to change tactics, to recover some of the lost kudos. Still time to take this campaign to the wire. Time to show some respect for the voters’ intelligence and move away from the fear and loathing which has become the hallmark of the Howard government. Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to happen for them, but there is still time.