Change that did not work. There’s one message we can take from the consistency of the opinion polls. Sacking Brendan Nelson to put in Malcolm Turnbull as head of the Liberal Party did not work. Things are no better for the Coalition now than they were a year ago. If anything the situation is worse. Having been through a year of economic turmoil Kevin Rudd is now the preferred choice as Prime Minister of an even greater proportion of the voting public. In mid-September 2008 the Nielsen poll for the Fairfax papers had Rudd preferred by 56% of people to his opponent’s 33% with 11% in the undecided column. The Nielsen poll out this morning puts the figures at Rudd 69%, Turnbull 23% and undecided 8%. In terms of voting intention the improvement in Labor’s position is not as dramatic but still impressive enough. When Nelson was given the flick Nielsen had the two party preferred vote for Labor at 52% compared with 55% this morning.

The Opposition now seems to be putting all its hopes of a revival in to Australians being fearful when election day comes of the amount of debt Labor has run up in its efforts to soften the impact of the world recession. Methinks that is a vain hope because polling day will come before there is a justification for throwing fiscal policy into reverse with savage spending cuts and increased taxes. True the pre-election budget next May will not have the potential to be full of new vote buying goodies but the pork barrelling of this year’s stimulus packages will still be evident to the voters. And when you are as far ahead as Labor is you can afford to err a little on the mean side anyway.

Having spent so much time arguing that the Government’s economic stimulus was greater than needed, it is the Liberals and Nationals who in nine months time will find themselves in the position of having to argue for greater hardship than Labor tells the people is necessary. That is hardly a strategy designed to peg back a five percentage point opinion poll lead.

Julia brings out her scarf too. A nice bipartisan touch to see both the PM and the Deputy PM at the footy on Saturday both sporting the scarf of their favoured side. Not much joy this time for the boy from Brizzy as his Bears got walloped and a politely restrained show of exuberance by the girl from Adelaide who adopted the winning Western Bulldogs when she joined the ambulance chasers at Slater & Gordon years ago when the firm’s senior partner was the club chairman.

I didn’t notice Malcolm Turnbull’s face in the crowd at any of the weekend finals games. Probably the poor fellow feels obliged to follow the Eastern Suburbs rugby league team who finished the year bottom of the ladder. Is that an omen?

Hoping for an early arrest. Labor politicians in New South Wales should be hoping for an early arrest over the murder of property developer Michael McGurk and not just because of their desire to see justice done. The sooner the incident can be shunted from the public spotlight as being sub judice with all public comments being prejudicial to someone’s fair trial that happier the party will be.

This morning’s report that, according to a long-term colleague of the murdered man, McGurk recorded conversations he had with five NSW state Labor MPs and one former federal minister will have been music to the ears of the Liberal Opposition in the State Parliament which is about to have a Legislative Council committee embark on a fishing expedition into dealings that McGurk had with government. Property development and rezoning aided and abetted by politicians and public servants might have had absolutely nothing to do with the man’s eventual death but if there are such recordings there are sure to be inferences that an Opposition can draw about the NSW Labor Party way of getting business done.