Labor won The Daily Verdict on day seven of the election campaign – the announcement day the Sunday before we count as the zero day – in the hours before the Great Debate went to air. The announcement by Kevin Rudd of a child care policy saw to that.
The evening news programs combined had many more viewers than the healthy audience Nine and the ABC mustered later and the Labor Leader was alone in having something to say for those news bulletins. Having the Prime Minister John Howard inspecting the scene for his encounter to come, and worrying whether his rostrum was too high, was not a good look. Kevin Rudd out with the kids of Queanbeyan looked like he did not have a worry in the world.
The televised versions of the debate, and more importantly the subsequent coverage of them on late night news programs and in this morning’s newspapers, simply turned a moderate Labor victory in to a considerable one. Any ground Labor lost early in this campaign with the pre-emptive strike by the Coalition in releasing the proposed new taxation scales which it is trying to pass off as a tax policy has been regained.
Day 6: A bit of boisterous behaviour as the Prime Minister opened the Granny Smith apple festival in his electorate was enough to swing things the Liberal Party’s way in Saturday’s Daily Verdict. Fairly or unfairly it looked on television as if the Labor Party lot, while generally quite jolly, were disrupting things with their balloons and dancing. Staying away while Mr Howard spoke might have been a better course. Having to get rid of a trade union leader as a candidate in the Queensland seat of Maranoa did not help the cause either.
Day 5: Labor’s domination day. And then it was Labor’s turn and again Kevin Rudd refused to take the bait and come out with a policy significantly different to that of the Coalition. By largely adopting the proposed new tax scales announced on Monday by Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello, Labor has again limited the differences between the two sides in this election campaign. As I wrote on Monday:
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.
Messrs Howard and Costello were desperately looking for something to attack. They have not found it. The only comment they can make about the Rudd tax policy is that it is the same as theirs and that cannot be a criticism. The media coverage of the Labor announcement was largely favourable. The Daily Verdict gave Labor a good win.