Bring out the Pantene. The Prime Minister’s interview on ABC
NewsRadio took his hair-splitting to new levels this morning.
Keep an eye out for the transcript on later today.

Heaven knows how he’d poll now. The Government get walloped in
two opinion surveys out to today in the Oz and the Sydney Morning
in the wake of Labor’s FTA win.

has Labor on 54 per cent, with the Government scoring 46 points – as Dennis Shanahan reports here.

On primary votes the Labor gets 42 to the Governments 39 per cent.

“It is the first time since mid-June that Labor has been equal with or
better than the Howard Government’s primary vote, and second
preferences are running heavily in Labor’s favour,” the Oz

“Mr Howard’s personal support also fell with his satisfaction rating
falling four points to 50 per cent, its lowest since last October, and
his preferred prime minister figure also falling four points to 47 per
cent, its lowest since March.”

The Nielsen poll in the Fairfax rags – Latham wrestles back a poll lead – has the Government on 42 per cent in primary votes, Labor on 39, the Greens on
nine, what’s left of One Nation on three and the Democrats scoring two
points. A very strong preference flow to Labor ends up with the
ALP leading the Government 53 to 47 per cent on a two party preferred
outcome – home and dry.

Iron Mark has clearly had a good fortnight. Unlike the Prime
Minister, it has looked as if he has been interested in guaranteeing
that the FTA provides tangible efforts to Australians, rather than some
symbolic link with a country that is already our closest ally.

But has he peaked too soon?

When he finally showed up on radio yesterday – with our pal Steve Price
on 2UE – the PM tried to burry kids overboard by floating a new
election date, late November – read more here.
It didn’t seem to work. Mike Scrafton is still dominating the
headlines today.

That means it’s just back to what the PM seems best at – scare
campaigns. He had a great go on interest rates talking with
Laurie Oakes on the subject on Sunday, but the Sphere gave him short

LAURIE OAKES: Well, the Reserve Bank made it pretty clear that
the pressure for higher rates is partly due to a spending splurge, and
it’s quite clear that the $5 billion fiscal pump priming we’ve seen in
recent months as the Government prepares for the election campaign has
contributed to that splurge. So surely you must accept some

Alan Woods
in the Oz throws another bucket of cold water over the PM today on the same subject:

“Take interest rates. Here is the Prime Minister on Sunday: ‘We
have interest rates which are the lowest in 30 years, and if there are
international pressures for interest rates to go up, a fundamental
question is: is Mark Latham or John Howard more likely to keep interest
rates down? And given Labor’s track record, when they were last in
office, with interest rates at 17, 18, 20 per cent, it’s a very
pertinent question to ask.’

“This might frighten some voters, but there is no prospect of interest
rates of 17, 18 or 20 per cent, whoever wins the election. There
are at least two reasons. One is that having reduced inflation to
low levels, the Reserve Bank of Australia is not going to sit idle
while it returns to levels that require interest rates of this order.

“The second reason, less reassuring, is that because Australian
households’ balance sheets are so highly geared, a much smaller rise in
interest rates will produce an equivalent level of financial pain and
economic contraction.

“If we measure pain by households’ debt service burden — the ratio of
interest payments to disposable income — then it is already greater
under the Howard Government than it was under Labor, as Simon Crean
likes to point out.”

Perhaps Latham hasn’t peaked. Perhaps it is only the start of the recovery.

Poor PM. August 7 really was quite a good day, wasn’t it.



December 48 52
49 51 48.5 51.5 +3.0

Early March 54 46
55 45 54.5 45.5 -9.0

Late March 55 45
53 47 54 46 -8.0

Late April 53 47
52 48 52.5 47.5 -5.0

Late May 56 44
47 53 51.5 48.5 -3.0

Mid-June 52 48
52 48 52 48 -4.0

Mid-July 52 48
51 49 51.5 48.5 -3.0

Mid July 53 47
54 46 53.5 46.5 -7.0