Unquestionably the government’s budget is politically ideal in the run up to the next election. The question is whether the voters can be convinced between now and election day that it was only possible because of 12 years of Coalition government and more particularly there will not be more of the same under a Labor government.
History is replete with politicians exasperated and bitter that the voters do not appreciate all the things that they have been given in the past. Goodwill for past favours lasts but a day in political life.
The longer this government is in power, the harder it is to conjure up the ills and evils of past Labor governments however equally, the longer in office the more difficult it becomes for the government to persuade voters that circumstances of today are not a promise of tomorrow.
There are now hundreds of thousands in the workforce who have never known Australians economic conditions to be very much different. Many thirty year old married couples have never worked under another Prime Minister. These voters may be the greatest beneficiaries of the Howard government but the hardest to convince they should be thankful.
Put simply, there is a generation of Australians who give no credit to the government for their financial circumstances and who place their thanks in being born under an Australian sun.
The enormous boost Labor received and has maintained since Rudd’s election is a stark signal that the voters are prepared to look past Howard towards a leader from another party.
This election is for Rudd to lose. The public believe they know all there is to know about Howard and they have made up their mind about him. They know he is reliable, predictable and safe. It is these qualities which make him attractive as Prime Minister. He is however on the cusp of being viewed as a little too old.
Australian voters are inherently conservative in their values, their economic behaviour and their social outlook.
They know little about Rudd but are keen to know more. They do not want the Keating grand plans, grand visions and dare I say it, a revolution in anything including education. They want to know that if they vote for Rudd not a great deal will change. He has to offer more of the same but in a different way. The life satisfaction meter in Australia is very high at the moment.
New ideas are fine, as long as they don’t come at the cost of safety, security and certainty. Radical policies in areas of health, industrial relations and fiscal management are but three antidotes to success.
At a superficial level Rudd should remember that if you want to be the Prime Minister look like a Prime Minister. Marching with a mob is not is not reassuring; yelling into a microphone surrounding by union officials appealing to a stop work rent a crowd union mob doesn’t do it either.
And another thing; Labor should keep their deputy out of sight or at least out of earshot.