Crikey said yesterday that you shouldn’t read too much into a single poll. No one listened. So what should we draw out of yesterday’s Galaxy Poll?

The voting figures look reasonable. Labor only needs a 3.3% swing to gain power. Some old hands hope they will win with a swing of between the 5% to 7% mark – the sort of swing that happens when Australians decide to change government.

The polling, though, also shows just what an awkward job Labor has managing IR and its own relationship with the trade union movement.

The Government has some effective lines here about – lines that can strike a chord with both that vast majority of worker voters who don’t belong to unions and employer voters, too.

They hope a scare campaign about union heavies will displace the ACTU’s own efforts on bastard bosses.

The Government also seems to have realised that shooting at Rudd hasn’t worked, so instead it is targeting his team. Peter Garrett is the current big target, along with Labor’s policies on climate change.

Liberal MPs are very happy with the PM’s lines on this from the weekend, turning climate change into an economic issue and relating it to household energy bills. They hope voters will accept price rises as an inevitable – but believe that the Liberals will keep a lid on the.

That might be clutching at straws.

“Electricity prices will always be lower under a coalition government,” might not be the best election strategy.

And targeting the Labor frontbench mightn’t be that effective, either. It’s very much seen as Rudd’s team. And Rudd is not really going to the electorate with anything new. It’s simply the revamp of the product for sale that makes it seem so.

Rudd is not offering anything that will frighten the punters. There is nothing remotely like the GST that was such a hard sell that it was a “never ever” promise from Howard.

Because Labor has been talking about climate change for a while, its policies have a whiff of credibility.

The Government seems to have forgotten that voters don’t always understand the detail, and mostly don’t want to. They seem to have forgotten that voters have pretty good bulls-it detectors.

The detectors mightn’t work that fast, but when they do they’re pretty effective. Voters don’t like being dudded. It seems as if they feel that’s what Howard’s done to them.

Hewson kept on selling even when the product was dead in the ground. Remember his trying to explain how a GST would work? He was an economist and still couldn’t get it right.  

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd is modelling himself on is John Howard.

He is ditching every problem that arises as quickly as possible.

John Howard, of course, is trying to do the same from government. He did it well in 2001 and 2004, but this year, he’s been slow. The union line might work, but the Galaxy poll is little comfort for him.

If the votes split 53/47% Labor’s way in the marginals, he’ll be left behind.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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