Not that Abbott is any more popular than Rudd, or vice-versa. A sign that the general populace are sick to death of having one side or the other’s politics rammed down their throats at every turn.
This is the failing in our current political system. The perceived necessity of our politicians to continually sell, sell, sell their own particular brand of ideology on a non-stop basis through the media cycle. Todays Newspoll and Nielsen Poll clearly indicate the love lost between the electorate, and the leaders of the two major parties. Whether or not the Greens are gaining from the fallout is a reasonably moot point, as indicated by George Megalogenis in his Meganomics blog today.
There are far more important issues in the minds of Australian voters than whether or not the government succeeds in pushing through it’s Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT). Education and the so-called "Building the Education Revolution", reform of Medicare to better reflect the original, universal intent, the fast approaching announcements about the NBN Co restructure, rectification of the asylum-seeker issues and above all else, impressing on the great unwashed the perilous economic position adroitly avoided by this government in it’s first two years, courtesy of an admittedly ill-managed stimulus package. Compared to the previous Howard government, which also failed to sell it’s major reforms prior to 2001 – industrial relations and taxation a-la-GST, this government has been one of conciliation rather than confrontation. Sadly, not along the inclusive lines of the Hawke government, but consultatory none the less. It’s the manner of consultation which has failed, in my view. Consultation on the basis of "we’re going to do this anyway" isn’t genuine consultation and neither is allowing the main stream media to be a tool of promotion. That aspect as well has been very poorly managed.
This government has much to learn between now and the upcoming election. For mine, far too much in too short a time. My belief is that we’ll go to an election in August, which will be used as yet another broken promise by Abbott. The problem being that as long as the RSPT issue continues to hold the headlines, the government will be taking damage to its credibility. If it buckles to the mining industry and accepts changes or worse, scraps the idea of a RRT until a hoped for second term, the miners will have won and will know that they can keep on winning as long as they throw money at the promotion of their case. Equally, the budget announced in May will be completely ruined, further denting credibility.
Whether or not these hurdles, which are growing in stature daily, can be laid at the feet of the PM is reasonably moot. More to the point, why hasn’t caucus had the gonads to stand up to Rudd and demand greater input, greater control and greater inclusiveness. Mere weeks out from an election is not a time for marginal seat holders to start agitating. That time has passed. The current polling for Labor might be dismissed as equivilent to that of any election year, barely months, or maybe even weeks, away from polling day. Easy enough to claim for a second, or even third term government, but based on increasingly dour results and continuing revelations of this or that stuff-up, or worse, openly aggressive stoush with a well-funded interest group like the MCA, as a rusted on Labor voter, I’m more than slightly concerned.