Day two – a day to really lift the Liberal Party spirits.

There is nothing like a fist full of dollars to attract attention and the Howard-Costello duumvirate got attention aplenty. The radio was full of their future tax plans all day and the television last night treated the announcement as if the money was already in people’s pockets rather than a promise to put it there on the never-never if the forecasts on which it is based turn out to happen.

One thing we can be certain of is that Labor will end up matching the Coalition dollar for dollar. What is responsible for a Government today will be responsible for an Opposition a week or two down the campaign trail. Today the Government campaign got a boost. When Kevin Rudd and his designated Treasurer Wayne Swan give their version of how to distribute a surplus it will be Labor getting the boost. If they are clever they will work out a way of spreading the largesse in a way that delivers them the votes they want in the seats they want.

So what can be said other than Liberals and Nationals should enjoy their successful campaigning day while they can?

Kevin Rudd, meanwhile, looked somewhat churlish making his contribution to the negative campaigning he professes to detest. He is as capable as any Coalition politician of spreading make believe as fact. Labor has absolutely no idea what a returned Coalition Government would do to industrial relations law and John Howard probably hasn’t thought about it either. Which is not to say that the work place agreements of WorkChoices would not be extended to cover public sector workers like nurses at some time in the future; it is just that there is no evidence on the subject and Mr Rudd well knows it.

He, like his opponents, simply cannot stop himself from trying to spread a little fear and loathing whenever he can. Such is the way of political campaigning and the only advice I can give is to take no notice of anything negative any politician says from now until election day and precious little notice of anything positive either. For good measure we should all remember that most things a future government ends up doing will depend on what a Senate, which neither the Coalition nor Labor is likely to control after 1 July next year, will allow.

Peter Fray

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