I suppose it is natural enough for politicians to believe that what they say about things actually influences people. However… it is actions rather than the words that really matter.

So all the talking we have already heard about interest rates and who is responsible and who would handle them better in the future and who did worst with them in the past not to mention all the rest of the huffing and puffing on the subject from now until 24 November is largely irrelevant.

The real impact of yesterday’s Reserve Bank announcement is the effect it has on people for whom 25 basis points means $40 a month.

Anyone paying off an average housing loan does not need a politician to tell them that their repayments will soon be $240 a month higher than when John Howard’s Government advertised during the 2004 election campaign to keep interest rates at record lows.

This group will surely be sceptical about the repeat of the unprovable promise that interest rates will always be lower under the Coalition than they would be under Labor. As there will probably be no more faith in Kevin Rudd’s ability to do things better than John Howard, then punishment will predominate.

As normal, the Chaser boys cut to the heart of the matter last night. “Go for Growth in Interest Rates” is their suggested new Howard slogan.

The program’s critical attitude mirrored most of the vox pop interviews that the television and radio stations featured. Seemingly ordinary Australians relating how they will struggle meeting the extra payments was far more believable than John Howard trying to say he was sorry while Treasurer Peter Costello outlined how being charged more was a measure of just how successful he had been.

The Hobart Mercury front page was particularly damaging:

All the interest rate coverage made it a clear campaigning win for Labor with The Daily Verdict showing:

Coalition ALP
Television 0.03 3.51
Newspapers 0.07 0.56
Radio 0.11 0.51
Internet 0.12 0.40
TOTAL 0.32 4.98

The campaigning gap between Labor and the Coalition is now widening again:

You will find details of the way the Daily Verdict is compiled, with the help of raw material provided by our friends at Media Monitors, on the Crikey website.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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