Watchers on the grassy knoll have been keeping an eye out for the next Tampa for the last six years or so. Have they spotted one in the PM’s Indigenous affairs intervention?

The Man of Steel is back, some say. Will he rush to an 4 August election?

It’s unlikely. Past experience suggests that Aboriginal Australia is in such a state of squalor that the mainstream media considers it a turn-off. They prefer not to cover it.

Which makes Indigenous affairs useless as a wedge issue.

Remember what happened in 1998? Then, there was a general feel that the government was attempting to wedge the Labor Party against One Nation over Indigenous matters.

Whatever the intention, the Queensland election in June showed it wasn’t working. Instead of holding an early election on its inability to pass the Wik amendments, the government backed down and conceded the four points on which Brian Harradine had blocked the legislation.

It seems that city voters acknowledge that blackfellas have had it rough for the past two hundred years.

Indeed, it seems as if they feel guilty about their treatment – so much so that they don’t like hearing about the issue. They just want to be told it is being dealt with.

Back in 1998, it seems as if voters just got sick of hearing the PM go on about the issue.

Perhaps he was listening a little too much to the CLP. This was on the eve of Shane Stone’s ascendancy, after all.

Ever since then, the PM has avoided getting too close to Indigenous issues. He’s let other’s keep talking about them, not him.

Which is what Labor may well do in the next few days – let the PM launch his new crusade, let him do all the talking while they sit back and nod and wait for the cameras to move elsewhere.

Peter Fray

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