It’s the unofficial election season as both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott begin up their campaigns and Rudd attempts to sell the mining tax to a confused Australian public.

Earlier in the week Rudd went to WA to talk shop with the miners and promised a $2 billion sweetener to the states. With only 3% of West Australians supporting the mining tax, it’s going to be a battle for Rudd.

Yesterday Rudd was off on the pork barrel express to Queensland to try and convince the other big mining state, big chequebook in hand.

Will the pork barrelling work? Has the election campaign begun? Can Rudd convince voters to give some respect to his RSPT?

Here’s what the pundits are saying:

The Australian

Jamie Walker: Pork express hits Queensland town of Mackay

The pork barrel express, otherwise known as the undeclared federal election campaign of 2010, pulled into the Queensland city of Mackay yesterday, and the locals climbed straight on board.

Dennis Shanahan: Can the tax be fixed when Rudd says it’s not broken?

If it’s a sham and political trickery designed to get Rudd out of a tight spot with a populist appeal and a rush to the polls it will be seen as such.

David Flint: Tax will end in legal minefield

The super-profits tax will end in tears. Either there will be backflip or the government will lose the election, or both.

The Courier-Mail

Dennis Atkins: Tony Abbott, Greg Combet jet in to Queensland to launch season

It was spookily reminiscent of the 07 campaign when Kevin Rudd would swoop into towns and regions John Howard happened to be visiting – only this time it’s in reverse with the Opposition Leader there first.

The Age

Michelle Grattan: Rudd hits a rich vein in WA trip

The Rudd camp was pleased with the WA trip, believing the PM’s media appearances were positive; at the community cabinet, most questions were on other things.

The West Australian

Paul Murray: In Gough’s footsteps, unwisely

Good politicians should always have an eye on history because it has an uncanny knack of repeating itself. Kevin Rudd’s trip to Perth in the middle of an enormous political crisis of his own making over the resources super profits tax has more than faint echoes of Gough Whitlam’s ill-fated visit in March 1974.

Herald Sun

Terry McCrann: PM Kevin Rudd holds out olive branch to mining companies over tax

The changes might be aimed at splitting the industry, so the Government gets sufficient support to enable it to go to an early election in August.

The Punch

Greg Thomson: Anger mounting against Rudd in the wild west

Former Prime Minister John Howard was put to sword in 2007 for ignoring the polls, and for simply trusting that voters could be swayed by his personal performance in the election campaign of 2007.

The supporters of Kevin 07 would be hoping that as far as jousting is concerned, Mr Rudd ought to be able to give more than he gets.

Peter Fray

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