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Federal

Jun 17, 2010

Early election boat sails

Daily Media Wrap: Kevin Rudd had the chance to call an early election, one he probably would have won easily, but he didn't and now the election is a far deadlier fight.

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Rudd’s old foe Mark Latham has reared up in his regular column in the Financial Review today to crow about how silly Kevin was not to call a double dissolution on climate change when the going was good: i.e. earlier this year.

Pundits like Barrie Cassidy are also using the wisdom of hindsight to wag their finger at the Prime Minister, who, we can safely assume, is acutely aware of the fact that had he called the election early, life would be a whole lot easier for him right now.

Now Rudd’s facing the prospect of far deadlier fight: and as commentators are pointing out, in what could be the final parliamentary sitting before the election, the PM is scrambling to steer the conversation away from RSPT-related matters, and back to family friendly stuff like paid parental leave, which is expected to be passed in the Senate today.

As Bernard Keane wrote in yesterday’s Crikey:

…things aren’t as bad as the doom merchants are making out — but it may not be long before they are.

Last week Antony Green raised the idea of an August election. If you’re wondering about the science of election date choosing, First Dog covered it well in his cartoon yesterday. Parliamentarians and press gallery members alike relished the chance to take their minds off federal election speculation to frock up for the Midwinter Ball last night (no Malcolm Turnbull in sight), but this morning it’s back to business — resume the election speculation, name calling and RSPT hand wringing — here’s what the commentariat are saying this morning:

ABC

Barrie Cassidy: Rudd’s election delay a political miscalculation

In retrospect, that was a political miscalculation. Whatever happens through the rest of this year, he can’t hope to get a better result than the one he would have achieved in February or early March.

Australian Financial Review

Mark Latham: Eating Kevin Rudd alive (paywalled)

The biggest question of all: how did it go so wrong? Hubris is one answer. Rudd thought he was having a permanent love affair with the Australia people and, no matter when he called the election, he would romp in. Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar told him not to go early and he was foolish enough to listen to them. This is the problem with the NSW Right: they can tell you what the focus groups said last night, but they have no idea about political trends six months from now.

Perhaps the only chance Rudd has now, is as Michelle Grattan suggests in today’s Age, is by changing the political conversation:

Rudd is desperate to change the conversation. The passage of the parental leave scheme – which is imminent – is a positive, solid achievement giving him something to spruik. And the more controversial plan to extend welfare income quarantining in the Northern Territory has the government sounding tough.

The PM has milked these issues for all they are worth, not just their substance but also to conjure up the impression the government faced serious obstacles erected by the opposition.

Rudd’s choice? Stick to these issues or risk turning back to address the RSPT issue, which just won’t go away.

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