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POLITICS

If They’ve Said He’s Negative Once, They've Said It 433 Times

Julia Gillard did not just announce an election for September 14 in her first big speech of 2013. She challenged the whole Australian political system to assume a new level of maturity, transparency and integrity.

She held out the prospect of an election that would be fought on the basis of economic reality; one in which all parties have seven months to set out their policy prescriptions and make the numbers add up. An election in which the media get the chance to actually analyse the promises, instead of just trailing around on a bus from one stunt announcement to the next. An election in which the policy wonks can potentially wield as much influence as the psephologists. An election, most importantly of all, which challenges the voting public to make more-informed decisions.

This is a good thing.

Let’s not pretend, though, that the gambit was not motivated by political calculation. Gillard and her people would obviously have worked out that it plays to her strengths.

The polling shows the public don’t much like her, don’t see her as a warm person, but do see her as smart, tough and capable of getting things done.

The people don’t like Tony Abbott either, but for different reasons. Not that he’s too cold, but that he’s too hot — negative and aggressive. The government has devoted a lot of energy to reinforcing that perception over the past year or so.

In fact, in 2012, according to a Global Mail analysis of the Hansard record, Labor members and senators used the words “negative” or “negativity” 433 times in relation to Abbott and his side. One hundred and fourteen of those references were made by Julia Gillard herself.

We know this tactic was effective, because the Coalition has lately made a big deal of the fact that in 2013 Abbott will “flick the switch to positive”, as Sydney’s Liberal-friendly Daily Telegraph put it in an Australia Day piece.

Evidence of Abbott’s positivity was a promise to create two million jobs, while also “delivering a surplus in his first, second and third year as PM, based on present economic conditions”.

Ambitious, huh? Two-and-a-half times as ambitious, in relative terms, as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was when he promised that if elected he would create 12 million jobs in the United States.

Julia Gillard challenged the whole Australian political system to assume a new level of maturity, transparency and integrity.

Comparisons with America are suddenly relevant, because the long campaign Gillard has now set Australia on is very like the long campaigns waged in America, in which every promise is fact-checked, truth-squaded and modelled to establish its credibility.

And look what happened to Romney’s promise of 12 million jobs. It was torn apart by independent analysis. Just as his tax plans were.

Against the odds, in spite of a flat economy and general climate of disappointment with President Obama’s slow progress in fixing things, Obama came from behind and Romney lost because he was not credible.

With her election announcement, Gillard has set a double trap for Abbott. If he stays negative, the government will say he’s scared to reveal his true policy agenda. If he goes positive, he must show that his agenda is feasible by spelling out details.

As things stand now, the Coalition will have a lot to do to establish the feasibility of its various thought-bubbles of policy.

These are tough times to be in government. They are not like the Howard years, during which the revenue was rolling in faster than ministers could shovel it out in electoral bribes.

Part of the tactical brilliance of Gillard’s speech to the National Press Club was that it did not offer bribes.

She started by saying the speech would “take a warts-and-all look at who we are today and the opportunities and risks which confront us”.

And that is what she did. She spelled out exactly how tough things are: the amount of tax collected from all sources — particularly from company tax — is significantly lower than independent forecasters or the Treasury had anticipated.

“Compared to the public revenue which was forecast on the eve of the global financial crisis in 2008, what has actually been collected in tax since is far lower — on average, lower by more than $30 billion every year,” she said.

“Even compared to what was forecast once the worst of the global financial crisis had passed, annual revenue is tens of billions of dollars below what was expected.

“With pressure on revenue, it is the wrong time to be spending without outlining long-term savings strategies which show what will be foregone in order to fund the new expenditure.”

If Abbott stays negative, the government will say he’s scared to reveal his true policy agenda. If he goes positive, he must show that his agenda is feasible by spelling out details.

She promised that the government would do that. To implement education reform, it would find balancing savings. To implement a national disability insurance scheme, it would do likewise. And people would see, in the May Budget, how the savings were made.

Her challenge was for the Opposition to do likewise, to submit its policies for Treasury costing, to see if the figures add up.

The Opposition response was to send out its manager of Opposition business in the House, Christopher Pyne, to obfuscate — which could be read as an indication that they know the policies would not pass muster.

And no wonder. They have said they would abolish the mining tax, perhaps not such a big deal because it seems not to be raising much revenue anyway; and that they’d nix the carbon tax, which would be a big deal.

In place of the carbon tax we have the ill-considered idea of a direct-action plan, which, instead of taxing polluters, which yields revenue, would pay them not to pollute — which costs revenue.

The Opposition has offered no costing. The progressive think tank The Australia Institute puts it at $11 billion.

The Opposition promises not to touch the ridiculously generous superannuation tax concessions for high-income earners, which are growing like topsy.

We could go on, but you get the picture. Absent huge countervailing savings, it does not add up.

The traditional way for governments to approach an election is to set out their agenda at a campaign launch, only a couple of weeks — sometimes just a matter of days — before polling day. But Gillard has effectively launched Labor’s campaign seven months out, and promised to flesh out all the details in the May budget, four months from polling day.

The traditional way in which opposition parties approach an election is to adopt a “small target” strategy, keeping the details of its agenda under wraps until the campaign launch, and then fleshing them out only after they win.

This is pretty easy to do in a normal election campaign, which lasts just a few weeks. There are no parliamentary sittings. Analysis is minimised. There is a great deal of colour and movement to distract from issues of substance.

The question now is, how long can the Coalition parties resist providing details before they start to look shifty?

59 comments on this story
by Tony

"The question now is, how long can the Coalition parties resist providing details before they start to look shifty?"

The Coalition passed that dubious milestone a long, long time ago. In my humble opinion Abbott is one of the lost Dodgy Brothers whose aggressive ambition to by Prime Minister at all costs is at odds with his ability as a politician, a statesman and his woeful integrity.

January 30, 2013 @ 8:06pm
by Ricardo

How could anyone trust this evil woman? Can't balance a budget. Takes money from the healthcare system for her own pet agendas with education and who knows what else. Worsens our debt while not actually improving the economic prosperity of the country. She has put people in harms way by cutting hospital funds. No matter how much money she spends on publicity and media manipulation people still see the truth. Her campaign is based on trying to make her opposition look bad while actually providing nothing positive.

January 30, 2013 @ 8:40pm
by Roxee

They already look shifty to those of us who pay attention and get our news from multiple sources. I wonder if Frank Luntz is on his way already, or maybe he just gave a list of talking points to Cory to pass around.

January 30, 2013 @ 8:49pm
by Lorraine

Yes. As soon as I heard this afternoon I thought she would have LNP on the back foot. Go for it Julie.

January 30, 2013 @ 9:23pm
by JustThink4Once

Of course this strategy all hinges on the MSM actually doing their job. A scenario sadly lacking in the last few years. Will Abbott continue his free ride till the election? Time will tell.

January 30, 2013 @ 9:29pm
by todd slater

Nice work Mike. There is also the fact that 20 years on from the 'unlosable election' history may just repeat itself. Abbott now finds himself in a position where he actually has to go out & argue his policies, as does the government of course, but suddenly there is more heat under Hockey, Pyne, Brandis, Dutton, Bishop, Morrison to actually come up with something. It also might have the added bonus of making at least 3/4 of the parlimentary press gallery pull their fingers out of their collective arses & start anylising policy & thinking for a change.

January 30, 2013 @ 9:38pm
by ja

I think it might also make it more difficult for the Opposition to spend so much time on personal attacks, whether public or behind the scenes. Rob Oakeshott was very interesting when he spoke to ABC about this flushing out people who aren't interested in policy.

Understandably I suppose, Opposition people who actually spoke at any length today were in a real spin, talking at a million miles an hour and just repeating the same lines as ever. Cormann evaded and suggested they won't release their policies any earlier. However I don't see how they could keep that up for long - he did look shifty.
In any case, you'd hope that policies were already being worked on - Tony Abbott says they're ready and Joe Hockey had '40' last year.

But he wasn't the one answering questions today.

January 30, 2013 @ 9:39pm
by chris

Gee Mike it's really obvious you want a Labor victory. Just because you lived in the US for a while doesn't mean the Obama/Romney is going to morph into a Gillard/Abbott thing. Gordon Brown, remember him, was transfixed by US politics and attempted to see parallels with UK politics and it got him nowhere.

We all know there was to be an election this year so nothing's changed except Gillard/McTernan think they can get some (?) strategic advantage out it. Gillard's just hanging on as long as she can and trying to make out there's another reason for this! It's all politics as you know.

January 30, 2013 @ 10:11pm
by joe2

"How could anyone trust this evil woman?"

That is so weird, Ricardo. If you have a problem with her policies, fine. But we really should try and elevate ourselves above the witch burning days.

She is not "evil", but a powerful women with a strong vision . You may not agree with it, but why the nastiness? Women problems, mate ?

January 30, 2013 @ 10:14pm
by Mel

Is the onus really on the liberal party to deliver detailed costs of their policies, or to prove they can do a better job than labour? No one asked for that when we were ousting John Howard. As I remember, it was just 'time for a change'.

January 30, 2013 @ 10:16pm
by Peter

Your bias still shines through Mike. This ploy by Gillard is an exercise in pure cynicism. She is attempting to ensure there will be no challenge before the election. Why else would she shut out her cabinet colleagues, including Shorten, from her plans. I amazed how the left intelligentsia, which includes you, is so blind to the machinations of this rather nasty individual.

January 30, 2013 @ 10:19pm
by WRW

I wasn't sure if the global mail did have a political bias but this article has cleared that up for me

January 30, 2013 @ 11:55pm
by Teddy Sea

There's going to be some HUGE lying coming from the LNP front bench. GARGANTUAN stuff from now on. They are going to try to rewrite the whole Australian economy as a basket case and blame it on the government (just like the Republicans). If the media falls over themselves to report it they and the LNP will have suckered the Australian public. If some journalists hold them to account and the TRUTH is told democracy and a 'FAIR GO' has a chance.

January 31, 2013 @ 2:16am
by Kel

Julia is not an evil woman she is an intelligent person who consistently shows the LNP front bench to be the dills they are.
Why don't attempt to examine the ideas that have always been the LNP stock in trade. Demonise the unions, attack those on welfare, consolidate tax breaks for those earning plenty and above all have a bogeyman with which can scare the bulk of bogan Australia.
All I want out of this campaign is for MSM to actually quiz the LNP halfwit front bench. A good start would be to question that boxhead Hockey. The Australian economy is 'flatlining' at 3% growth, so what is the coalition figure we can expect?

January 31, 2013 @ 2:51am
by Mick

It would be good if Mike is right and the Australian media puts all party policies to sustained, real, critical scrutiny. It may also be a first. I've only been in Australia since 1995 but throughout that time have been appalled at how immature most of the media is about politics. This of course allows the politicians to be equally immature, and don't we have that in spades in this parliament.
You only had to look atthe performance of the idiotic Liberal economic spokesman, Mathias Cormann, on The Drum last night to realize that immaturity abounds. Should today's media start taking him apart, then I might believe that incisive political scrutiny is the way of the future.

January 31, 2013 @ 7:04am
by Alwaysgrumpy

So now we have a situation where we know the election date, and political discussion must now revolve around policy, once the Budget is released in May. All sounds pretty sensible and transparent to me.

January 31, 2013 @ 7:54am
by JohnB

Good article Mike. One small but important correction if I may, though.

You say: "Her challenge was for the Opposition to do likewise, to submit its policies for Treasury costing, to see if the figures add up."

In fact, with the creation of the new and independent Parliamentary Budget Office, there is one less political rock to hide behind. Unlike Treasury, which is still a government department and therefore subject to Government oversight, the PBO is only answerable to the members of Parliament who commission its research. Tony can submit his policies to the PBO in confidence and get full costings (as far as any organisation can do it accurately) which the Government would not be able to question (policy yes, costings no).

But it also puts more pressure on the Opposition to put up or shut up. The Government thinks it has an advantage here because Abbott's whole strategy is to convince the voters with smoke and mirrors as it has nothing of substance. There is less smoke and less mirrors now available for Tony to weave his sleight of hand.

January 31, 2013 @ 8:56am
by Space Kidette

Do I dare dream that we will have an election campaign based on policy and not on politics? I have doubts it is possible in a world where peak derp was reached in the media yesterday when JG's glasses were the focus of reporting and a fuhrer like image of JG was used to report yesterday's events.

January 31, 2013 @ 9:43am
by Franky

I would like to agree with the comments here that Abbott actually has to show how he will do it, but for some reason the electorate has in their head that Labor have been poor in guiding us through the worst economic crisis in 100 years to become the best economy in the world.
They think that by voting in Abbott they will magically have a nugget of gold in their letterbox everyday. It wont happen but people will still think they are better eco managers despite them all being lawyers.
Sure Labor have made plenty of mistakes but who doesn't. It is scary what Abbott will do to the country, the environment, peoples self esteem and job security

January 31, 2013 @ 9:46am
by Neil Baird

Some interesting words in this article - psephologists, truth-squaded - I'll try and keep them in mind for cryptic cross word puzzles, however an interesting and thoughtful analysis - well done.

January 31, 2013 @ 9:50am
by Dennis Argall

At least journalists will have one less reason (the date) to avoid substance but given the length of time they had to get to substance not argybargy on those taxes and other issues, seems hard.

Lynton Crosby, John Suburban Howard's puppetmaster, now gone to shape Britain, has left a poisonous legacy of dimished trust in any aspect of public life. With the news soundbite on fogey commercial radio around 16 seconds and youthly radio half that and with Today Tonight now to bring its intellectual dynamism to shape Seven news I'm not optimistic about an issue focussed election... unless Mike S can become the Seven news editor... :-)

January 31, 2013 @ 10:44am
by Julie McGowan

I was in a furniture store the other day when the owner said how bad business was. He was so angry with Julia Gillard and blamed her and the government. When I tried to have a reasonable discussion he did not want to hear. He was angry and just wanted to blame someone. He thinks that if Tony Abbott wins the next election the economy will then be the same as under the Howard government. He really believes this, it's as if Howard losing the election to Kevin Rudd brought on the GFC and if Tony Abbott wins the election it will the economy will go back to what it was four years ago. I wonder if many uninformed voters think like this.

January 31, 2013 @ 11:10am
by nicko

Excellent summary of the PM' announcement with a balanced approach...in stark contrast to the shreiking News Lts stable with its habitual Liberal Party bias. Let us see Abbott answer some penetrating questions today ( he studiously avoids serious interviews for obvious reasons) from the Press Club. I wait with bated breath...,and furthermore this announcement will mean he will have nowhere to hide until election day.

January 31, 2013 @ 12:50pm
by Eddy

Thanks for the great article. One thing nags in the back of my mind, tho. It happened before I could vote, but I remember it well enough: John Hewson outlining his GST plan ages out from the 1993 election. This was courageous and sensible, but left him to be 'done slowly' by Keating, who had all the time in the world to find every little fault with the policy.

More recently, the Greens in the ACT also tried a similar strategy and had loads of policies released in full and costed by treasury. Unfortunately for them it appears that the relentless (and misleading) negativity of the Tories about changes to land tax and stamp duty, as well as the sweeteners from both them and Labor that kept rolling out right up to election day were significant in reducing the number of Greens in the Assembly from four to one.

January 31, 2013 @ 1:00pm
by Andrew Holliday

I quote: "Julia Gillard did not just announce an election for September 14 in her first big speech of 2013. She challenged the whole Australian political system to assume a new level of maturity, transparency and integrity."

Does that really sound like a good idea? Put up your hands if you believe Australians will rise to that challenge. No, I didn't think so.

January 31, 2013 @ 2:31pm
by Lille Nantes

Mike - A good article except that you have picked up and run with the furphy about the mining tax not raising much revenue. Go back and see how it was designed. As has been explained numerous times, but the political commentators seem intellectually unable to grasp, the mining tax will fully kick in once the investment and exploration stage has finished - estimated to be the end of 2013 and early 2014.
I like the comparison you made to America where they fact-checked and analysed (with the noted exception of Fox News etc). I also refer you to the old (valid) saying about "putting your money where your mouth is" and invite you to take the initiative and be the first to institute such fact-checking and in-depth analysis.

January 31, 2013 @ 4:17pm
by Marilyn

She could save $2 billion per annum by not jailing innocent people and by living within the law for refugees but she won't do that and will then cut the income of poor single parents to pay for her criminal behaviour.

January 31, 2013 @ 4:22pm
by Anne Hollingshead

How bizarre that she spoke for 30 minutes and the only "fact" that that dominated the media was the election date !!

The Australian people and the media are used to handling them in elections with a fixed date because they have them in state elections predominantly. What is all the fuss about ?

January 31, 2013 @ 11:02pm
by Bob Cogger

I fin it interesting that two of the commentators refer tho the Prime Minister as "she" and not by name or title. Am I being too sensitive or PC?

February 1, 2013 @ 5:15am
by Susan E

Thank you, Mike Seccombe, for presenting a clear and reasoned perspective on the implications of the Prime Minister's election date announcement.

It was fascinating to watch ABC24 presenters go into a spin in the hours afterward, and to hear the early comments by various Drum regulars. Most apt for me was someone's comment - please forgive me for not recollecting whose - that Ms. Gillard's action was generous.

I heartily agree with this. The action shows generosity to Tony Abbott and the Coalition, giving them time to spell out substantive policies, and costings, if they choose. It is remarkably generous to the Australian people. We have escaped months of 'will she or won't she' drama. Of course that space will be filled with other drama. Hopefully it will be more policy based, more relevant to our lives and to our consideration of how we will vote.

As a proudly independent voter, I really appreciate this. I am sure many other Australians will too. Please, politicians of all colours, answer our call for well-reasoned and well-costed policies that will see Australia grow wisely in every regard economic and social over the coming decades.

February 1, 2013 @ 12:29pm
by Victor

The PM's address was sensational, she was so definite, no excuses that there will not be a budget surplus, no more slime and grime politics, just great social reform that will all be revealed in a May budget, but surprisingly just 14 days before the election the full budget examination is released. No need to be cynical, the PM's past record, her apt judgment in her Captain's selection, her hand bag hit squad and Tim's minor racist announcement can all be put aside. Power to the PM, may she reign over us until September and no longer.

February 1, 2013 @ 2:13pm
by Kal

Julia clearly wants her opponent to be Tony Abbott, and not Malcolm Turnbull, so by announcing the date now, she almost guarantees her job and his from pretenders. I also think that you are right about doing Abbott like Romney over policy and detail. I don't thin k Labor will win, but they might come close and at least save the party furniture.

February 1, 2013 @ 4:43pm
by Hus

Pretty easy call from labor to announce an early date. Let Abbott be exposed to the media/public as much as possible and let him dig his own grave while the labor party sit on cruise control. He is the most awkward, terribly spoken public figure I've seen in politics for a long time. One of the last remnants of the Jurassic era, along with a few breeds of cycads. It is entirely possible they can lose the unloseable.

February 1, 2013 @ 5:04pm
by michael mills

All a bit one eyed - Oppositions oppose that is their task. There will be no policy announcements until the budget and even then it will be dodgy as nobody in their right minds will believe a single word of labours appaling economic record. Abbot by at least 15-20 seats. Queensland contrary to canberra opinion is waiting with basesball bats - we like it up here.

February 1, 2013 @ 11:27pm
by John

Having the focus on policy does not suit the Coalition. They have wasted the last six years, avoiding policy work and instead spinning and working the media 24/7, saying "No" to everything Labor have put up.

Naturally, the mainstream media will help the Coalition by dodging policy coverage as much as possible.

February 2, 2013 @ 7:01am
by Pablo

I was amused to hear recently of a representation from a Lib MP on behalf of a constituent bemoaning the inadequacy of a government program which, lo and behold, he had set up as minister. This is what awaits us: twits.

February 2, 2013 @ 7:25pm
by Anthony

We, the electorate, do not think Abbott is negative because it's in Hansard 433 times.

We think he's negative because we've had many years to observe him, which makes such a conclusion inevitable.

Add to that an equally inevitable conslusion; Abbott's skill set makes him an effective oppositioin leader but lack the core competencies necessary to lead a nation.

The most obvious example is the poor quality shadow ministry he's had for a year and not done anything about fixing.

February 4, 2013 @ 8:20am
by Carlene Cameron

Anyone remember Howard's appalling record of managing the economy when he was Treasurer. This government has not sold anything to make the budget balance and yet the economy is still going strong. As for oppositions are meant to 'oppose' what absolute rubbish they are meant to provide constructive criticism so that all Australians are treated fairly. So far the policies that are being put forward by the Coalition appear to represent the wealthy and the big end of town.

February 4, 2013 @ 2:20pm
by Luke

Its a race between twin horses, both of which are lame, one with a left leg lame and one with a right leg lame.

I'm going back to sleep, wake me up when one of the lame horses has an amusing lie to tell. Their normal lies can't even keep me interested past the headlines.

February 4, 2013 @ 4:16pm
by Ellie

I can't let micheal mills have the last word for us Queenslanders.

I don't like Newman and proudly did not vote for him. I don't like Abbott either and I won't be voting for him. I just hope that the PM doesn't hang up the gloves if she loses the bout - I'm still sad that Anna did. I'm glad Julia's put it out there - what else is she going to do as captain - hang on for grim death and stand proud on a sinking ship or let a stronger opponent into the ring (the shadow comms min)? My punt is that should Abbott get in, his pre-poll popularity will wither away in the first 18 months of LNP government and the Libs will have to do a Rudd-flip anyway.

I care greatly about the planet, I'm not so sure anymore how much I really care about the majority of our own selfish, self-centred and ignorant invasive species.

Bring it on micheal but leave your yankee stick in the back cupboard, press gangs went out of fashion decades ago.

February 4, 2013 @ 4:37pm
by Shane

Don't like a differing point of view Peter? Can always go back to reading the Australian.

February 4, 2013 @ 11:36pm
by The Gael

Achieving a surplus is very easy for a government, simply cut public expenditure on health, education, transport and infrastructure until you have more money in your coffers than you spend on taxpayers.
Government fiscal surplus is your money being squirreled away. The bigger the surplus the bigger the social deficit.

February 5, 2013 @ 8:56am
by Wendy

Just returned from o/s to hear the election date announced. Predictably I've read that the Coalition are going to work wonders with our economy. Two million jobs? But no explanation of how. Surpluses in the first three years. No explanation of how! Get rid of the mining tax (it doesn't seem to be raising anything so why bother). Get rid of the Carbon Tax and instal a ridiculous farmers' subsidy that will have no long-term effect on changing behaviour and usage of solar, wind etc. Tony Abbott cannot be positive, he's not hard-wired that way. It will be interesting to see if his young lady helper will be able to successfully brainwash him as she has been trying so hard to do. He is so scared to open his mouth and say anything for fear of putting his foot in it that I can't see how he'll still be there in 7 months. God help this country if he becomes leader. By the way, I live in his electorate and have been watching him closely since he entered parliament. His parents may think he was destined to be either Pope or Prime Minister but Australia doesn't need someone who is so focussed on himself. By the way, he looks different. Has he had botox on his forehead or something?

February 5, 2013 @ 9:20am
by Ray O'Brien

After acres of newsprint spent on Mr Abbott, I am terrified that he is some chance of being PM. He showed that when he had the opportunity to lead a minority government , that he wasn't up to it. I beg my fellow Australians to not vote for him. To see the behaviour of the warn out remnants of the Howard ministry, makes me ill. Any political party that sustains Mr Pyne should be treated with contempt. He's only one of many.

February 5, 2013 @ 12:29pm
by colroe

So @Gael, "the bigger the surplus, the bigger the social deficit". If that is the case then according to this link, http://www.debtclock.com.au/ our society should have no financial issues. I guess that is why we can give billions away in foreign aid, but pittances to our own citizens.

February 5, 2013 @ 5:51pm
by punch

Thank you Michael for a more considered article. Our PM Julia Gillard is a very interesting leader who chooses to think outside the square which is one of the main reasons I like this strong, intelligent and feminine woman. To me, the polls are not representative as I live and work in an area where I meet many people, all shapes and sizes, young and old, diverse occupations and nationalities and I am yet to meet anyone who will vote for Tony Abbotts LNP. A majority of these Australians greatly admire our pure titanium Prime Minister and support her policies and government. Our government of the day has forward thinking policies which suit a modern Australia which must be adaptable to challenging times eg carbon price, education - education - education, a considered redistribution of wealth to maintain social coherence and equality of opportunity, the NBN regardless of price is intended to unite all Australians and this technology long term will save money and create jobs and smarter ways of doing things as well as give isolated communities access to greater knowledge, the NDIS is desperately needed for many in the community and its time disability services can be knocked into shape nation wide. Advanced societies should be judged by how they treat the most vulnerable. Sensible established paid parental leave, the mining minerals super profits tax which our government should be supported to toughen and increase this tax. Its a smart tax. If anyone looks at our Prime Minister and her record and does not recognise a significant politician with a very determined vision its a sad state of affairs. Tony Abbotts LNP must step up and give their alternative policies and explain dismantling our governments good policies which will in the long term benefit most Australians.

February 5, 2013 @ 7:24pm
by Poker chen

I can only hope that the Opposition will bring forth thought-out policies that can challenge the government to do better... and that these fact-checking, scrutinies, and such get the news coverage they deserve,

February 6, 2013 @ 6:19am
by William Telfson

It would help if the media reminded us that the Coalition lied about having their figures audited before the last election.

I know it doesn't fit their 'Labor bad, Liberal good' mindset, but it is one of those annoying fact things they seem to struggle with.

February 6, 2013 @ 1:31pm
by mary

why should any gov, make a profit from our taxes,

February 6, 2013 @ 1:55pm
by maindot

Ummm how long can Labor resist providing detailed costings for their policies before they start to look more shonky than what they do now? NDIS; Gonski; Dental; all uncosted!

February 6, 2013 @ 11:31pm
by Janakd

Julia has a vision for Australia that might not be achieved for many terms of government, but we need that vision to progress along the way. As a DIY superannuated person I may have to pay tax but if the money pays for better teachers and better government schools, I'm happy.
The Coalition don't seem to have any grand plan that inspires me.

February 9, 2013 @ 2:44pm
by Roger

This year will be a real test for journalists. We all know how 'pro LNP' most of the media are. What is becoming clear is where the individual journalist sit. Many are either falling under the instructions of their media bosses or declaring where they stand. Very few are willing to make a stand and carry out their job in the way they were trained - fearlessly seeking and reporting the truth. This bias is not unlike that seen in many dictatorships. Scary

February 10, 2013 @ 8:15am
by Clive

The grandness of Gillard's gesture to sacrifice the so-called advantage in declaring the date of the election is not to be under-estimated. It goes a long way, as you describe, to ensuring that greater emphasis will this year be placed on policies and real issues and in a calmer and more reflective way than has been the case with many e;election campaigns recently - i have in mind the recent campaign in Queensland where the LNP were given almost carte blanche to the subsequent chagrin of many who voted them in. When the results are in mid-September whoever is successful should have a strong mandate to govern - which many say we need. However, I am not sure this extends to the Carbon Price as it seems to me that the parliament as a whole voted that in and the will of the people may need to be tested further if this policy is to be overturned. I for one do not regret that as the issue is so profound that the people need to have this matter be the subject of additional and separate deliberation if the Coalition triumph in September. But that outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion as some would like us to believe.

February 10, 2013 @ 4:49pm
by punch

Julia Gillards Labor carbon price moving to an ETS in 2015 is bigger and brighter than the dimmer side of the Coalition are prepared to admit. Remember Romney saying 'I love coal' - interesting Abbott today reminded his business audience his own history shows his support of the the coal industry. I believe climate change and how it affects Australia is a huge topic of discussion which can not be ignored by Abbotts extreme right LNP. Its not a matter of voting for the Greens whom the Coalition fear and hate, its voting against Abbotts misinformation and ignorance.

February 15, 2013 @ 6:45pm
by Robyn

See how the frenzied Media have taken over by wanting to call the shots , not report them . Speculation of speculation and not naming the leakers. It is hard to trust the commentators when their interpretations can never be tested.

February 24, 2013 @ 10:40pm
by Joan

How can any one trust Abbott? As Opposition leader he is guilty of three years of sustained psychological and personal abuse . He shows a snide mocking contempt for parliamentary procedures and protocol, is happy to defame and ruin others personally for his political ends and has behaved in a manner that ruthlessly humiliates and mocks those with different beliefs.

People everywhere with a basic sense of decency and fairness are appalled and truly worried at his attack dog behaviour to those outside his tribe. His gathering of equally vicious intimidating nasty behaving politicians and shock jocks to key positions has corrupted the Liberal party values of individual dignity and respect to the core.

If Abbott and his bully gang were at school they would have been expelled permanently long ago . Yet he pulls the wool over so many that they want him to be Prime Minister. So many people who love others are sickened to think that so many Australians are so misled that they are prepared to vote for an Australian version of Mitt Romney and his Republicans who share a similar total lack of respect for the majority of people who make up our diverse country.

As a Christian woman I am very scared of their corrosive effect on our multicultural values of decency to others of different groups. Every day I pray that decent people will prevail at the next election who will work together whatever their political views I also fervently pray that come September this year those who just trash others in order to divide and rule will be voted out !

April 9, 2013 @ 8:22am
Show previous 56 comments
by Wayne

Joan, how can anyone trust GilLIARd when she broke promises about a carbon dioxide tax and a 2023 budget surplus?.

June 18, 2013 @ 5:23pm
by gary

i find it quite disturbing, the fear of abbott. it's amazing how hypocritical his opponents are.
we have given them a chance, they have failed the people, lied, deceived and actively divided the nation while getting pay increases. how can these people continue to pour scorn and hate upon the opposition for being a good opposition.
i think abbott deserves a chance and then people can judge him on performance not by media or perceived fear.

June 30, 2013 @ 8:20pm
by angela

ofI wonder if Gary still finds the fear of Tony 'amazing'? In a few months he has made more bad decisions than any previous government's first months. The NBN is wrecked and given over to cronies, keeping us stuck in the dark ages; the profitable Green Fund is done the drain; education in this country will not recover for decades from his ravaging of the Gonski based plan (also done by the elite financial Liberal leaning minds); his arming of Sri Lanka and ignorant treatment of Indonesia (despite earlier 'repentance') has gone through earlier good relations like a wrecking ball and his provocation of China won't bring any advantages down the track. Then there's his superannuation changes favouring the rich again. Not to mention the ostrich with head you know where attitude to any climate-carbon policy.
Two themes stand out— a total ignorance of what the future demands of us and a total loyalty to inequality.
My poor country!

December 1, 2013 @ 6:32pm
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