And they’re racing! John Howard has been here before. Six weeks of the Reptiles waiting for a gaffe, a slip, a contradiction, a dummy-spit.
No more “feeding the chooks” with selected leaks. Now is the chance to make a feather duster out of a rooster and leak from a great height.

It’s a six-week endurance trial where the punters will make their decision in the last 14 days. It was during that time frame in 2004 that the Reptiles pounced on that Latham handshake and the CFMEU foresters shouted “Johnny, Johnny”. Noone saw that coming.

John Howard has been here before. Kevin Rudd doesn’t know what he is in for. So how did they start?

Sunday, 11: 55AM, Howard looked strangely relaxed. The delivery was low-key. We heard, “not new leadership but the right leadership…the best years are ahead of us…the unemployment figure could have a ‘3’ in front of it…an equal dispensation of justice … I am not afraid to accept responsibility.”

At 2: 15 PM Kevin Rudd was nervous. We heard, “a great country to raise a family… the enduring value of our alliance with the US”.

We’re have we heard that before? And then there was the unfortunate conjunction of the slogan “a new leadership” combined with the rhetoric, “gets the balance right” and “the buck stops with me.” We had been there four days before – with “balance” – 13 times in John Howard’s speech to the Sydney Institute. And as for picking up the buck-handled knife, John Howard had “accepted responsibility” just two hours before.

Rudd stated, “I understand the challenges we face”. Education Revolution, Infrastructure and Broadband were offered. He pledged to ratify Kyoto, abolish Work Choices and ban Nuclear Plants and paid homage to “the good people of Australia.”

The Monday AFR suggested, “the scope for policy disasters remains”.

We’re off and they’re racing. John Howard has been here before. Kevin Rudd doesn’t know what he is in for.

Percy the Punter logged on to the bookies at 6:30 AM Monday and noted the Coalition has shortened to $2.70. The ALP has lengthened to $1.47.