On Tuesday, we predicted: “Watch for a robust Iron Mark to hop
on the plane for Tullamarine and blitz through Melbourne’s marginals”.

was the theory. What happened yesterday was the spectacle of Latham on
a flying visit to announce what are looking like two very tough
policies to sell:

  1. A populist Interest Rates Guarantee and;
  2. A sh*te sandwich cunningly dressed up as a $420 million road funding policy.

interest rates. Standing in front of what appeared to be a large,
rubber blank cheque bearing the phrase ‘Labor’s low interest rates
GUARANTEE’, Iron Mark declared:

“A federal Labor government
will put downward pressure on interest rates.” Motherhood, really, but
dressed up to inspire visions of permanent low rates under a Latham

Invoking his familiar ‘Log Cabin to the
White House’ life story, Latham said his mum, voters and the Reserve
Bank would help him stick to his promise.

“We have been
making hard decisions to show that this guarantee is fair dinkum, that
our low interest rate guarantee is fair dinkum,” he declared.

The body language at this point was interesting. Latham looked down at the ground as he uttered the catchphrase: “fair dinkum”.

gesture said it all. Mark Latham’s Interest Rates Guarantee is a
virtually meaningless gimmick. He knows it. The Labor machine men who
convinced him to do this silly stunt know it. His mum knows it.

It was a gambit to combat John Howard’s crow call: “Interest rates always go up under a Labor Government”.

don’t set interest rates, the Reserve Bank does. Rates will rise and
fall, and while Latham can style himself as an expenditure Scrooge, in
Government he would have precious little say in their direction.

Policy Two is to divert $421.5 million in federal funding earmarked for
the Scoresby freeway to other Victorian transport projects.

this play well in vital eastern suburban marginals – peopled by
suburbanites who want a freeway, not a tollway, and are filthy with the
Bracks backflip over the issue?

It’s hard to see how. They
will be paying up to $7 a trip on the road, and they will be blaming
Labor, and they live in marginal electorates Latham needs to win.

But, it’s hard to see how the Coalition can do any better: Peter Costello was in Melbourne today, too, and he told reporters:

far as the Commonwealth is concerned, we insist on a freeway, and we
have $445 million that can build it for a freeway, and what is more,
can I just say, Steve Bracks has $445 million to build it for a
freeway. Can anybody here tell me that Steve Bracks doesn’t have $445
million? He has got $445 million. He has got that in his bottom line,
and by the way, it is spent over four years. Is there a reason why
Steve Bracks can’t spend $445 million on the freeway, because if there
is I haven’t heard it? What is the reason? I have never heard it. They
have $445 million.

Got the message?
Apparently, the money is in Bracks’s bottom line. And, really, does
anyone expect the Liberals to leave it there and not spend it

Of course not. Except the Libs can take the money and run – all the while blaming Labor for grand larceny.

cap off his day, Latham has been kept away from the voters, with a
press conference and radio interviews taking priority over actually
meeting the people.

All told, a losing day for Labor.