Ker-rash! It ain’t a good Newspoll for Labor today, even after a humiliating week for the government in Estimates with confession after confession on everything from immigration bungles to $400 million worth of missing sensitive military equipment – some of it so sensitive that Audit Office officials refuse to talk publicly about it.

Newspoll has the government’s primary vote up three points to 47%, and Labor down the same, to 37%. The two party preferred vote puts the government on 53% with Labor trailing on 47%. John Howard’s lead as preferred prime minister has widened to 25 points, 54% compared with 29% for Kim Beazley.

The pundits have blamed Labor’s clumsy response to tax cuts for the poll result. Perhaps they should do nothing at all. They might be polling better that way. Beazley’s satisfaction rating is actually unchanged today on 47%, while the PM’s has fallen two points to 53%.

Mark Latham tried to be an agenda setter – and look what happened to him. Look who’s actually leading national debate at the moment:

  • Christine Rau and Petro Georgiou are running opposition immigration policy
  • Paul Keating seems to have taken over opposition tax policy
  • Barnaby Joyce, Matt Birney and Lawrence Springborg are running opposition industrial relations policy
  • Joyce, along with telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, are leading opposition telecommunications policy
  • Mark Leibler seems to have taken over responsibility for opposition Indigenous affairs policy
  • Hugh White from the ANU is in charge of opposition defence policy
  • Ross Gittins is running the opposition business and economic policy

The only policy areas where Labor MPs still seem to be in charge, and coping, are foreign affairs and health – and Tony Abbott seems to have escaped significant flak over his broken Medicare promises out of Estimates.

Perhaps the lesson here is that Kim Beazley really does do best when he does nothing. Pity he can’t get away with that approach come election time.