In these days of tea bags, an alternative is needed to reading the tea leaves of a morning and the Murdoch newspapers in this pre-election period provide a stimulating one for political pundits. The national daily The Australian, with its determination to be the true broadsheet for the richer and conservative classes, is an unreliable guide to the views held by the master from afar. It’s the tabloids in every state that dominate the newspaper market everywhere except Western Australia that must be searched for clues to Rupert’s voting intentions.
And this morning, in the aftermath of Labor’s national conference, the skills of the tea leaf reader would be needed to form an opinion. In Labor Leader Kevin Rudd’s home state the local boy makes the front page and the greedy middle class of Brisbane would see nothing wrong about “Labor’s bid for wealthy battlers.” Every voter loves a bribe even if the story has a distinct undertone that the party of the workers should not be concerned about helping those who earn up to $250,000 a year put solar panels on their roofs.
Further south the editors of the Sydney Daily Telegraph and the Melbourne Herald Sun must be waiting for guidance. They relegated the Labor Conference to the inside pages without trying to frighten or delight anyone. In Adelaide The Advertiser knows that rain drops are of more interest than politicians’ words. With four days of rain turning one of the driest Aprils on record into Adelaide’s wettest in seven years what editor would be worrying about industrial relations?
In Hobart it’s hard to read anything into The Mercury choosing to splash on “Labor forest policy brawl”. Exactly how Mr Rudd is reconciling the need to preserve the jobs of workers while pretending to be a good environmentalist who saves more trees than Prime Minister John Howard is naturally of interest. The deal between the Leader and the union representing the workers is yet to be made public.
With that motley lot it’s back to the Oz for inspiration where Rudd is earning the “wrath of business” with what Paul Kelly calls “a bizarre blast from the past”. But the news that some of the nation’s largest companies are unimpressed with conference decisions provides no clue as to what Mr Rudd can expect from his New York dinner companion in the future.
The idea that a Labor Party still supports labour will hardly hurt the chances of an Opposition winning back the support of a battling working class. Only an editor of The Australian could pretend that it would.