Henry, like most
keen observers of contact sport, has been watching the speculation on the PM’s
future with much interest in the past few weeks.

Our contacts in
the corridors of power in Washington are (sadly) not what they could be,
but like others, we have heard the claims the PM spent a good portion of his
recent US visit finishing meetings with variants of the phrase “Goodbye and good
luck”. Likewise, it has been humorously said that world leaders don’t go to
Ireland for diplomacy, they go there
for a Guinness.

Other indicators
suggesting change are:

The Gummint
decided to let its Senate Majority and high approval rating out of the garage to
see what it could do on the issue of the Work Choices legislation. Henry’s view
is that this is important and fundamental legislation that has been implemented
with all the grace and poise of a rhino on Mogadon, and could end up causing the
coalition quite a bit of damage.

In the important
Defence portfolio, Brendan Nelson is – through no real fault of his own – going
like a dead duck (Jake Kovco, Robyn Fahy, Sea Sprite helicopter debacle to name
a few) and must be wondering about the “be careful what you wish for” job.

Looking at the
combination of some less than stellar economic indicators, a scandal or two
(AWB, and possibly Tony Abbott) and the failure of a few important pieces of
legislation (Work Choices under some threat, Snowy sale off the table, the sale
of Telstra barely treading water), the past few weeks must have been some of his
least favourite.

So what does it
all mean? Henry’s spies tell him that the PM’s level of interest in
preparations for the 2007 APEC summit has drifted considerably in recent weeks
(declining to attend functions, missing meetings & events), where it was
once razor sharp (receiving regular updates and actively
participating).

If he were
inclined to go, a departure sometime in the last quarter of the current calendar
year would give Cossie a bit of time to cement himself and would also insulate
Howard from any blame if there were problems at the ballot box in
2007.

The latest Morgan Poll, released
last Friday, has the ALP with a strong lead of 3% in the two-party preferred
vote, trailing by only 1% (Coalition 42%, ALP 41%) in the primary
vote.

Read more at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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