For a campaign that describes itself as focused on the future, yesterday’s Coalition launch was a merry trip down the political lane of pure sepia nostalgia. (Has Sandy Stone quietly taken over as campaign director?)
We had Peter Costello on about socialists and Mark Vaile even getting communists into his cameo appearance. Then there was the PM himself on about the “forgotten people” speech of Bob Menzies back in 1942, replete with references to Ming’s lauding of the home in Australian life – homes material and homes spiritual.
But of course the big back to the future was the issue of State Aid. This was the trump card played by Menzies to win the 1963 election after his economic mismanagement took him to the one-seat brink in 1961.
It was a contentious issue, politically and socially. It was aimed strategically at securing some of the Catholic vote that still clung to the ALP after the split of 1955, and it worked. Howard would clearly like to campaign about bank nationalisation as Menzies did in 1949 but, alas, there is none. The cynics have been speculating about Howard finding another Tampa, but they are in the wrong era.
If yesterday’s theme is any indication, Howard is in search of a Petrov.