The day before Labor holds its official campaign launch it is clear: this election is Kevin Rudd’s to lose.
All the polls point to a Labor win, but the government is the government because they have proved to be the better campaigners where it counts – in the marginals. Yesterday’s Liberal launch was all about preserving their vote there.
Still, the Liberals left openings for the Labor leader to take advantage of yesterday. Rudd hinted at them yesterday – climate change, hospitals and infrastructure.
The Libs won’t touch climate change. They don’t have credentials in the area, and can’t win them overnight. Labor will only do the bare minimum, too. Rudd knows that moving to cleaner energy won’t come cheaply for either governments or consumers. The latte set may be willing and able to pay more for their power, but Rudd is smart enough to understand the very significant social justice implications of going green – let alone what it means for employment and the economy generally.
Rudd can’t blow the bank. Presumably his health and hospital announcements will involve working more closely with the states to improve services.
Which leaves us with infrastructure. Economically responsible infrastructure.
Kevin Rudd’s solution to inflation is to boost productivity through infrastructure and skills and training. It’s scarcely an overnight answer, but its political appeal is clear. Improving infrastructure has been a consistent theme of Rudd’s since he became Labor leader. “I can feel a dam coming on” was a maxim of Australian politics long before Bert Kelly wrote it down.
Rudd has been clever, though. He talks about infrastructure in economic terms, then uses it brilliantly to neutralise Coalition warnings of the threat of Labor government in Canberra and all the states and territories by also saying how only he can work with the states to deliver what is needed with the minimum of cost and fuss.
Self interest drives most voters. We’re all human, after all. But a nod to the vision thing salves the conscience, too, for many punters. Rudd seems to offer both. Tomorrow, he has a chance to finally fill out all his talk of “a positive vision for the nation’s future” with a vote winning message.
The PM is on the defensive. It’s now all up to Rudd’s final message. The election is his to lose.