A face saving Newspoll
for everyone? Not quite. Yes, the Coalition’s primary vote has dropped
from 46% to 45%, while Labor’s has lifted two points to 40%. Still, the
Howard Government remains on top in the two party preferred vote – 51%
to 49% – John Howard’s satisfaction rating is up five points to 55%,
while Kim Beazley’s dissatisfaction rating has reached a peak of 36%.

Newspoll reports an overwhelmingly positive response to the Budget from
voters: “34% said that personally they would be financially better off,
33% said they would not be affected and 21% said they would be worse
off.” That’s a positive rating of 67%. No wonder Kimbo has slumped.

And Kimbo should slump. Tony Parkinson gives his Budget strategy both barrels in The Age today. Parkinson calls it “borderline undemocratic.”

Beazley is “entering into new and perilous territory by effectively
denying the legitimacy of a Government which, for the first time in 24
years, has won a majority in both houses,” Parkinson writes. “Worse
still, for Beazley to block the $22 billion in tax cuts will require
that he rely on a supporting cast of soon-to-depart senators. These
senators were not elected at the last federal poll. Nor the one before
that. They are the remnants of a Parliament elected way back on October
3, 1998. They occupy that strange twilight between the return of the
election writs and July 1, the date when the newly elected Senate sits.
As such, it can be argued that these senators do not reflect the temper
of the day or, at the very least, the current priorities of voters.
They are the ghosts of elections past.”

That’s a devastating critique – particularly when one thinks how a
government as ruthlessly populist as John Howard’s will be able to use
it. Once again we’re left asking – who the hell is Beazley listening
to? Yesterday we looked at some of shadow treasurer Wayne Swan’s
successes. But what about that other Labor rising star, Stephen Smith?

  • 1989 WA State Secretary Stephen
    Smith sees adequate state Labor government re-elected by selling
    millions of dollars of city real estate. Until this election the ALP
    literally owned one whole city block. Now they have to rent their own
  • 1992 Stephen Smith, genius staffer, leaves PM Keating’s office to run for seat of Perth.
  • 1993 Bold risky campaign run and won by Keating
    (with more than a little help from Hewson and his friends). Stephen
    Smith sticks to local campaign to become Member for Perth.
  • 1994 Stephen Smith, clever factional player, makes
    friends with poor old Carmen Lawrence, lobbies her case to Keating and
    accompanies her every day to court. Plays a very big part in prolonging
    the Penny Easton agony.
  • 1998 Stephen Smith, genius MP, is a key adviser to Kim Beazley, good loser.
  • 2001 Stephen Smith, genius MP, spends the entire
    election on the plane travelling with and advising Kim Beazley, really
    good loser.
  • 2004 Stephen Smith, genius rooster, is called on to
    the plane by a desperate campaign leadership. They need a conduit to
    Latham. He proceeds in the crime of creating Kim Beazley lite (we
    should never forget Mr Latham wrote books bagging most of what he ended
    up campaigning on). Frankenstein’s monster turns out to be an even
    better loser.
  • 2005 Stephen Smith, shining star, is now a very
    senior member of the party of the workers and key adviser to
    Sydneysider Kim.

After the last election Labor stalwarts John Faulkner and Bob McMullan
had the sense to realise that they should step back for a while – for
the party’s good, as much as their own. Roosters, alas, like to crow.