The polls are
trending the government’s way – but that doesn’t mean that Coalition
MPs will
be heading off to investigate incidences of skin cancer on beaches in
Bermuda or the Cote d’Azur during parliament’s winter recess.

There’s been
plenty to concern the government over the last few weeks. There’s been no
Budget bounce. Instead, there’s been leadership speculation, an overseas trip
by the prime minister that dragged on too long, mixed messages over nuclear
energy, the Snowy Hydro back down and nerves on petrol prices.

The session
even ended with the prime minister unable to enact laws on refugees –
unprecedented for this government.

And then
there’s IR. Glenn Milne wrote on the weekend how one of his ubiquitous senior
sources had told him
“The AWAs issue has instilled discipline in Labor… it’s given Kim more
authority.” True. As Shaun Carney observed in The Age on Saturday,
“We now know where Howard stands and where Beazley stands”. And when we know
what politicians stand for, it’s easier to make decisions about them.

MPs will be
heading back to Canberra in August. In August next year, we’ll probably
be heading to the polls – but perceptions formed now could be vital.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey