Liberals
who lived the years 1991 to 1996, from Fightback! to the federal election win,
know all about premature political obituaries. Unfortunately, too many
Government MPs are now Johnny-come-latelys. Or Johnny’s come latelys, perhaps.

They’re
used to being in the ascendant. But Ross Fitzgerald has a warning for them in
The Australian today
where he talks about Kim Beazley’s determination to tap into what he calls
“kitchen table issues” – childcare, training and unfair dismissal.

The Bomber,
Fitzgerald reminds us, has strong national security credentials, just as the
Government’s are looking weak. John Howard and his ministers want us to believe
that they genuinely didn’t know what was going on at the AWB. If that defence is
true, it raises the risk that they couldn’t join the dots together to warn us
about a terror attack.

But it’s
another kind security that Beazley is stressing – just how comfortable and
relaxed we’re feeling in our personal situations.

Elsewhere
in The Australian Elisabeth Wynhausen and Tracy Ong report on the rise of the
working poor
.
They quote University of South Australia research saying “The number of working
Australians who make less than two-thirds of median earnings – $533 a week or
$27,716 a year – has risen from 1.2 million to 1.8 million, a rise of 50% in about a decade.”

Then
there’s today’s WorkChoices horror story over at The SMH featuring a 16 year old part-time worker made redundant two days after the new
laws came into force, then offered her job back – for less pay.

All of this
creates an environment for some old Labor style state intervention. Yes, that
sort of thing is rather moth-eaten in public policy terms. Just the same way
Beazley is a little moth-eaten. But most of us still have a favourite old
jumper or rug – or teddy bear – that’s a little moth-eaten, too. And we reach
for them from time to time because we find them reassuring.

Does this
mean voters will embrace Kimbo as the Big Ted of Australian politics?

Peter Fray

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