In politics it’s the little things that count – little things like an MP spending $7000 a day on a trip to a space launch in the United States. People who find subjects like global warming a bit of a bore can relate to Warren Entsch having a good and expensive time on his farewell overseas trip as an MP.

The Labor staffers spending their time auditing government MPs’ travel expenses would have been well pleased with their efforts after seeing what journalist Glen Milne did with their findings.

He turned it in to a Sunday tabloid story featured in News Limited papers throughout the country that played wonderfully to a public perception that the Coalition government members are more interested in their own wellbeing than that of the people who elect them.

For such negative campaign tactics to be truly effective they need to be accompanied by a contrast which puts your own side in a positive and concerned light. While greedy Liberals like Mr Entsch and the recently departed Liberal senator Santo Santoro, who spent almost $60,000 on an 11-day trip to the US last year, are portrayed wasting the money of taxpayers, Labor Leader Kevin Rudd has been out playing the housewife’s friend.

Yesterday’s stunt of promising to keep a check on potential profiteering by greedy super market chains worked like a charm by again tapping in to an existing public prejudice. The television news and talkback radio have been full of it.

Labor’s unabashed populism over grocery prices clearly caught Government ministers by surprise. When the people at home believe that prices are going up faster than their income, smirking out of a television screen and telling them that inflation is low and that, in any case, the Australian Bureau of Statistics already monitors grocery prices, hurts rather than helps the Government cause. The logic on Treasurer Peter Costello’s side was of no help to him whatsoever last night.

In terms of campaigning, Labor should be well pleased with its recent efforts.

Peter Fray

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