The Sunday before election day is always one of the most interesting of any election campaign because it is the last chance for the Sunday morning political shows to do their stuff, the Sunday papers make their editorial recommedations and you usually get an advertising blitz because Sunday is the biggest television viewing day. So, which way did the papers jump? Got to the bottom to see the Murdoch editorials in full as they are quite similar.
The Sunday Age
The Sunday Age
produced a reasonable argument which included lines such as the following:
“The leaders themselves present choices: Mr Howard is tested and safe, but may not last a full term; Mr Latham will last, but is untested and more volatile. What also differentiates this campaign is that it is perhaps more than usually, some would say shamelessly, aboutself-interest, about sating the desires of specific groups.”
But then they spinelessly offered this cop out at the end which is a classic case of fence-sitting:
“While that situation remains, we can trust in one thing: our politicians will, by necessity, continue to focus largely on their self-interest and the electoral appeal of their party. And individuals face choices that are influenced more than ever by their own circumstances. As a result, we feel it inappropriate to lecture individuals on how they should vote in the best interests of the nation.”
It’s Fairfax stablemate, The Sun-Herald in Sydney, has an abomination of a website but the editorial in our hard copy was head-lined “Our hearts say Latham but our heads say Howard.”
It was a reasonably sensible argument and concluded as follows: “But, even with the doubts over who will be leading the Liberals in 12 months, the Coalition is still the stronger team most likely to maintain Australia’s impressive economic progress. Latham will be a better leader for three years in Opposition. And when he next steps up to the ballot box, Howard will almost certainly be gone.”
The Sunday Herald Sun
The Sunday Herald Sunproduced the worst editorial in the country because editor Alan Howe only mentioned Iraq, Bali and terrorism as if that was the only thing that mattered when the reality has been that domestic issues have dominated. Howe then failed to explicitly make an endorsement, concluding his Sunday sermon as follows:
“To rashly bring the troops home by Christmas might mean somewhat fewer Christmases for many of us. The Sunday Herald Sun believes all Australians need to keep that in mind as we cast our vote for our future next Saturday.”
Okay, we’ll keep that in mind Alan, but how should we vote and don’t you even rate health, education and the economy?
The Sunday Telegraph
There is no doubt that Rupert Murdoch’s biggest selling paper is going hell for leather to stop Mark Latham getting the keys to The Lodge. Whether it was Glenn Milne’s “exclusive” front page beat-up “Latham’s tax dodge”, Piers Akerman’s defence of Tony Abbott or this editorial, the paper doesn’t hide its political colours.
Headlined “Economy the key to victory”, at least editor Jeni Cooper covered a few topics because strongly siding with the PM as follows:
“Alongside the seasoned Mr Howard, Mr Latham is a political novice. He has little experience of life outside of politics and has never served on a government frontbench. Few would regard his time as Mayor of Liverpool as an adequate apprenticeship for the highest political office in the land.
“Mr Howard has served this country well as Prime Minister, delivering eight years of unparalled prosperity, protecting its borders and taking a firm stand against the extremists who threaten our very way of life. A vote for the Coalition on October 9 is a vote for prudence, responsibility and security. Mr Howard’s team deserves a fourth term.”
Most of the Murdoch editorials, gave Mark Latham one pat on the back and Jeni Cooper’s topic was his family tax policy: “His Latham’s thoughtful welfare policy marks a watershed for the Australian left by recognising that the best form of welfare is a job.”
The Sunday Mail (SA)
Editor Phil Gardner is an old lefty and union member who would hate so much about John Howard, but he’s sold out to be a Murdoch editor and his first election editorial was in line with the rest of the News Ltd Sundays which so dutifully remain in lock-step with what their American, war-loving proprietor wants.
However, the token Latham pat on the back was arguably strongest in his editorial with the following:
“On the whole Mr Latham has run a good campaign with sound, if conservative, policy. For the first time in a decade swinging voters have been given the choice of a Labor Opposition that actually looks like it knows what it is doing. He has brought excitment, verve and some glamour to an Australian political scene desperately in need of it.”
That was quickly forgotten when you got to the bottom:
“And as unpalatable as it may seem today, Mr Latham, and Australia, will be better off with three more years of Labor in Opposition. He needs to show over the long term what he is capable of – not while he is trying to buy votes and keeping his temper in check during an election campaign.
“The prosperity the Government has achieved must now be used to build an even better Australia. Mr Howard has promised much this campaign. If he wins he must grasp this opportunity forcefully rather than giving us lap of honour.”
CRIKEY: Anyone who has seen the famous Phil Gardner temper tantrums will laugh at this reference to Latham’s seemingly successful anger management in recent times.
The Sunday Times
Murdoch’s West Australian Sunday paper is run by editor Brett McCarthy, another long serving News Ltd loyalist who spent years working under Col Allan and John Hartigan at The Daily Telegraph in Sydney.
Brett doesn’t need to be told what to say, he anticipates “head office” sentiment well and did a fine job today with this editorial. Even though Iraq has barely rated a mention all campaign, he was reading right off the Murdoch song sheet with this line:
“Mr Latham’s guarantee of bringing home Australian troops serving in Iraq by Christmas is poor policy. Australians have never been known for leaving a job half done. It is not the Australian way to “cut and run” and Mr Howard is right to say we will stay in Iraq as long as it takes to get the job done.”
McCarthy’s one pat on the back for Latham was Medicare Gold: “Mr Latham has made an appealing Medicare offer of free hospital care, either in public or private hospitals, for all Australians 75 years and over, and cheaper private health premiums; a package that could be a trump card – if he can convince voters it will work.”
What will The Australian do?
But The Australian is by no means running all the way for John Howard. Steve Lewis and John Kerin led Saturday’s paper with this story warning: “the election sweetener has deepened concerns that the Coalition is embarking on a reckless spending spree with no coherent reform agenda.”
And The Weekend Australian delivered a hard-hitting and well argued condemnation of the election auction spree: “Our Election is not up for sale”
The editorial’s conclusion is interesting: “Mr Latham’s campaign promises have been less damaging to the national interest, but not by much.”
This is not, naturally, an indication that Murdoch’s flagship will endorse Iron Mark. But we will be reading next Saturday’s Australian
leader with interest.
The Sunday Mail (Brisbane):Howard deserves our vote
This editorial is not available online so we’ve bought it through Newstext and reproduce as follows:
A lengthy and gruelling election campaign has given Australians an unparalleled opportunity to weigh up issues of national leadership and direction. Rarely has a campaign covered such a gamut of issues or exposed government and opposition to such rigorous examination.
It has been a testing period for Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Mark Latham, but economic performance, resoluteness in the face of international challenges, firmness on security and sheer experience dictates that the Government deserves another term.
There is no disputing the Government’s success in winding back unemployment to historic lows, in slashing interest rates, in containing inflation and strengthening our world position through initiatives such as the Free Trade Agreement. Mr Howard deserves to be in a strong electoral position because of successive Budget surpluses brought about by sound economic stewardship.
He is now able to return a handsome dividend to the Australian people, where it properly belongs. The long campaign has allowed Opposition Leader Mark Latham to present himself to the people and while some like what they see, many remain undecided.
He has been able to unite the Labor Party – despite the bitterness that accompanied his elevation to the ALP leadership – and has surprised with his vigour, warmth and boldness of policy.
Mr Latham’s call for change “before it is too late” is a take-off of the 1972 “It’s time” refrain, but we must say: “Not yet”.
Many voters will rightly view him as handicapped by his lack of experience in parliament and his absolute lack of ministerial experience. They will need to see much more of the Opposition Leader before they can make up their minds about his qualifications for the prime ministership.
Fairly or unfairly, Mr Latham must carry the financial stigma of the last years of the Keating government, which has made the Coalition’s interest rates campaign extremely effective. And Mr Latham cannot escape the realities of his poor economic record on the Liverpool City Council, his juvenile stance on the US alliance and his inappropriate petulance.
In uncertain times at home and abroad, our country needs the stability of a tried and tested leader. Unlike Mark Latham, John Howard has a proven track record which makes him the man for the job.
Sunday Herald Suneditorial: The fight for our future
SAVAGES bent on killing us, our children and our way of life have cast a shadow over the early years of the 21st century.
They flew planes of innocents into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. They bombed a nightclub of equally innocent holidaymakers in Bali, killing 88 Australians. Islamic extremists want us dead. They love death, they say, as much as we love life.
Last week they hacked off the head of American Jack Hensley, recording the event on video so that it could entertain their equally determined brothers and sisters in other countries. Sadly, some of those live among us, perversely – but only for convenience sake – calling themselves Australians.
Of course, they are not. They are not even human. But those of us who must deal with them, the consequences of their unquenchable hate and the threat they pose to us, have a task at hand.
It is intellectually lazy to say we should withdraw from the Coalition of the Willing, bring the troops home and safeguard our back door. If only our wicked enemies were as simple. They may have failed to kill thousands of Australians in their thwarted attempt to attack the Olympic stadium in 2000.
But the Islamic terrorists so determined we should die because we are free knocked on our door on September 11. They killed 10 Australians thousands of miles from their homeland.
They knocked on our door again at Bali a year later. Those Australians who needed to – perhaps Mark Latham was among them – might have heard that a little more clearly.
And they knocked once more outside our very own embassy in Jakarta last month, killing nine – probably all of them Muslims, but that will hardly bother these brothers and sisters of the devil.
Last month in Beslan, in southern Russia, they peaked, shooting schoolchildren in the back as they fled the school siege in which 360 died, 150 of them harmless, defenceless and much loved children.
The terrorists will be disappointed this was not captured on video for their comrades. The rest of the world simply felt sick.
This is what the war on terror is about. It is the greatest challenge to our futures since the height of the cold war. To misunderstand it is to misread the bold signs of what will be the great historical markers our time.
Mistakes have been made and the coalition partners clearly overestimated the enthusiasm for democracy in a region cruelly denied that right for so long. But that does not make the fight for our security wrong.
Mark Latham, an ill-disciplined man, who as Labor leader is still to fully take shape, heedlessly said he wanted the troops “home by Christmas”.
Every Australian wishes for that. Just like the mums and dads of the boys at Normandy and Tobruk and Ypres and Villers-Bretonneux and Gallipoli and Inchon wished their kids could be home for Christmas.
But they had a job to do, which they did and which our nation proudly celebrates every November 11 and April 25. That generation won then and we must win again. Once more we are on the right side of history.
To rashly bring the troops home by Christmas might mean somewhat fewer Christmases for many of us. The Sunday Herald Sun believes all Australians need to keep that in mind as we cast our vote for our future next Saturday.
The Sunday Telegraph
Rarely has there been an election campaign in which so much money has been showered on the electorate in so short a time.
John Howard and Mark Latham have plundered the spoils of 12 years of economic growth to stage an unseemly auction for votes.
But if either side believes it can win next Saturday’s election with Santa Claus economics, it is mistaken. The vigorous debate on talkback radio, in newspaper letters pages and in the community shows voters recognise there are bigger issues at stake.
At a time of economic prosperity and global insecurity, the onus is on the Opposition to present a compelling reason for change.
Mr Latham has attempted to rise to that challenge. He has grown in stature during the campaign, burying his reputation as an abrasive streetfighter and demonstrating his credentials as a credible and intelligent party leader.
His thoughtful welfare policy marks a watershed for the Australian left by recognising that the best form of welfare is a job. But the ghost of old Labor haunts Mr Latham’s regressive industrial relations policy, which advocates a return to old-style arbitration and collective bargaining.
The politics of envy appear to be driving Mr Latham’s divisive education policy, which would slash funding to top private schools.
Most seriously of all, Mr Latham has failed the test on terrorism. His promise to pull Australian troops from Iraq by Christmas raises questions about Labor’s relationship with our most important ally and betrays a dangerous lack of understanding of the global nature of the terrorist threat.
Mr Howard, meanwhile, has campaigned on an impressive record of sound economic management. He has directed his policies at middle Australia, benefiting families and giving mothers greater choice to stay at home or re-enter the workforce.
His unwavering commitment to the US alliance, his strengthening of our defence forces and intelligence agencies and his commitment to fighting the war on terror, both in the Middle East and in our region, have put Australia on a strong footing in the face of grave threats to our national security.
Despite the Coalition’s impressive reforms, there is still much work to be done. Mr Howard has the dubious honour of being the highest-taxing Prime Minister in Australia’s history yet he has shown little enthusiasm for reforming our clumsy, inefficient and inequitable tax system or rationalising archaic Commonwealth-State relations.
Mr Howard heads a party rich in talent and Peter Costello, the architect of our economic prosperity, is a natural candidate to succeed him. Mr Howard has nothing to lose by stating openly when the inevitable transition of leadership will occur.
Alongside the seasoned Mr Howard, Mr Latham is a political novice. He has little experience of life outside of politics and has never served on a government frontbench. Few would regard his time as Mayor of Liverpool as an adequate apprenticeship for the highest political office in the land.
Mr Howard has served this country well as Prime Minister, delivering eight years of unparalled prosperity, protecting its borders and taking a firm stand against the extremists who threaten our very way of life.
A vote for the Coalition on October 9 is a vote for prudence, responsibility and security. Mr Howard’s team deserves a fourth term.
Responsibility for editorial comment is taken by the editor, Jeni O’Dowd, 2 Holt St, Surry Hills 2010.
The Sunday Times: Election presents a clear choice
LABOR leader Mark Latham has come up with some good lines in this campaign. Perhaps his best was when he accused Prime Minister John Howard of spending so much money that it would make a drunken sailor blush.
Mr Howard does deserve to blush. So too does Mr Latham. Both have committed enormous sums of money – at times recklessly – in search of victory. Political leaders used to offer millions of dollars to entice voters. Now it’s billions. It’s as if they have turned the Canberra hills into mountains of gold.
Lavish promises aside, Mr Latham has made an appealing Medicare offer of free hospital care, either in public or private hospitals, for all Australians 75 years and over, and cheaper private health premiums; a package that could be a trump card – if he can convince voters it will work.
It is aimed at capturing the hearts of older Australians who are increasingly worried about the cost of health. But Mr Latham’s proposal is questionable. More details are needed about how it will operate and to show whether it will really cut private health premiums by the promised 12 per cent or make health even more of an insatiable money pit than it is. A fear is that it might blow-out waiting lists for under-75s. At this stage it doesn’t appear to add up. In a counterbid for the grey vote, Mr Howard has offered annual payments of $100 to pensioners and $200 to self-funded retirees.
Mr Howard’s massive spending on a wide range of policies is ironic, considering that low interest rates and sound economic management is his main campaign theme. However, the difference between the Coalition and Labor is that Mr Howard can argue with justification that his splurge is a social dividend reaped from more than eight years of good economic management. Extravagant spending is dangerous. Prime ministers and treasurers don’t have godly powers. They can’t guarantee future surpluses. If the economy slows, causing a fall in government revenues, the budget can soon be in deficit.
Mr Howard has made much of higher interest rates under Labor. If Mr Latham wins, a return to collective wage bargaining could result in strong inflationary pressures. No matter who wins, rates are expected to go up – the only puzzle is by how much.
To their credit, both leaders have promised parents and families relief, with a welcome emphasis on child care. To their discredit, neither has cut superannuation taxes significantly or made the super system simpler. On national security, Mr Howard has been much more convincing than Mr Latham.
Mr Latham’s guarantee of bringing home Australian troops serving in Iraq by Christmas is poor policy. Australians have never been known for leaving a job half done. It is not the Australian way to “cut and run” and Mr Howard is right to say we will stay in Iraq as long as it takes to get the job done.
Mr Latham made a mistake when he pledged to cut or freeze funds to up to 178 private schools and boost funding to the poorer schools, both private and public. He incurred the wrath of the Catholic and Anglican churches and needlessly upset a lot of people. Cutting private school funding is an old Labor chestnut that causes deep community divisions and is not in keeping with a modern image that Mr Latham wants to portray.
Overall, Mr Latham has presented a fresh approach, campaigned well and taken the fight up to the Government.
The election is a choice between an experienced and tough leader in Mr Howard and an untested one in Mr Latham, who is making a powerful bid to claim The Lodge. But in the end it comes down to a question of economic management. Despite his extravagant promises, Mr Howard’s record of low interest rates and economic growth speaks for itself.
He has the credentials to manage the economy better than Mr Latham and deserves to be elected for a fourth term.
Responsibility for editorial comment is taken by the editor, Brett McCarthy, 34 Stirling St, Perth 6000.
Sunday Mail (SA): Now is not the time for change
This editorial is not available online so we’ve bought it through Newstext and reproduce as follows:
FIVE weeks ago Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Mark Latham launched their election campaigns with the simple mantra: “Trust me, I’m the best to run the country.”
As Australian voters ponder their choice on October 9, nothing has changed.
This election will come down to whom voters trust more: the solidity, experience and wise management of the Howard Government, or the social change and vision of an energetic Latham Opposition.
Both parties have run at times ideologically similar but profligate campaigns. Billions of dollars have been promised on programs that many will rightly argue should have been drawn up and implemented regardless of the pork-barrelling of an election year.
Mr Latham’s innovative Medicare Gold plan, free hospital care for Australians over 75 and cheaper private health premiums, has struck a chord – providing it can work and not become another bottomless pit for taxpayer money. As yet, it has not been costed and more information is needed.
But his policy to strip funding from rich private schools and pump it into public schools was needlessly divisive as it penalised hard-working parents (many of them Labor voters) determined to give their children the best education possible.
On the whole Mr Latham has run a good campaign with sound, if conservative, policy. For the first time in a decade swinging voters have been given the choice of a Labor Opposition that actually looks like it knows what it is doing.
He has brought excitment, verve and some glamour to an Australian political scene desperately in need of it.
But opposition leaders are not voted into the Lodge on these issues.
The Government has an undeniable legacy of economic success so entrenched it is easy to forget the days of crushingly high interest rates and spiralling unemployment of the Hawke-Keating years.
Many will point to the fiscal smarts of Mike Rann and Kevin Foley in South Australia as evidence a Labor Government today can manage the till: Others will argue it is marginally easier running a state economy than a multi-billion-dollar national economy.
MR Howard also has been resolute and commanding during the War on Terror, where Australians have been attacked, wounded and killed on two continents since September 2001.
Such conviction has not been seen from Mr Latham, who is still haunted by his cut-and-run plan from Baghdad.
Mr Howard has not been without question marks this campaign. One has been his refusal to properly deal with his future should he win. This has cast doubts with some voters who find his likely successor, Treasurer Peter Costello, an unacceptable prospect as Prime Minister.
This week Mr Howard must spell out his plan; voters are entitled to ask who they will be electing as Prime Minister. Bob Hawke and Paul Keating were caught out last time, and voters will not forgive the Liberals for a similar stunt.
That aside, this election comes down to this: the economic experience and tough decision-making of Mr Howard, or the untested virtues of Mr Latham whose running of the Liverpool Council has raised many questions.
As such it is Mr Howard who deserves another term. Now is not the time for change.
And as unpalatable as it may seem today, Mr Latham, and Australia, will be better off with three more years of Labor in Opposition. He needs to show over the long term what he is capable of – not while he is trying to buy votes and keeping his temper in check during an election campaign.
The prosperity the Government has achieved must now be used to build an even better Australia. Mr Howard has promised much this campaign. If he wins he must grasp this opportunity forcefully rather than giving us lap of honour.
Responsibility for all editorial comment is taken by The Editor, Phillip Gardner, 121 King William St, Adelaide 5000