Pensioners and petrol might be proving an incendiary combination on talkback radio, but taking a longer view, it’s hard to imagine that depriving old people of money will be anything but a plus for the Rudd government.
Every economically responsible budget needs a clearly defined and vocal loser, so a cluster of indignant, publicly-funded retirees who in all likelihood wouldn’t have voted ALP anyway, seems as good a mark as any.
The proof of the proposition is in the polling. Looking to today’s Newspoll we find that Rudd and Swan have undone the great hoodoo of the declining months of Howardism: they are now seen as the country’s preferred economic managers.
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“Which of Wayne Swan and Malcolm Turnbull do you think is most capable of managing Australia’s economy as federal treasurer?” the pollsters asked, grappling for a literate sentence. Swan scored with 40%. Only 26% plumped for Turnbull. Pensioners can please themselves.