An election campaign without an election date. Australians might not know when the election will be but the campaigning is clearly underway. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is crisscrossing the country at a frenetic pace having chosen to make this a longer campaign than any we have had for many decades.

Her immediate predecessors have tended to go out on the election trail for the statutory minimum period as they remember how Bob Hawke nearly came unstuck back in 1984 by giving his opponents extra time. With the advantage of novelty on her side as the new girl, Ms Gillard can probably afford to take the risk but a risk it certainly is.

Expect to see this graph in a Labor ad. Joe Hockey still keeps hammering away at the need to curtail government spending so presumably the Opposition believes that governments having budget deficits frightens the people.

Which is why Labor should do its best to get across to voters just how much better off Australia is than most other nations in the world. This graph from the Calculated Risk website helps put things in perspective:

9-07-2010 sovereigndebt

And compared with these other developed countries the growth in Australian government debt because of the world financial crisis has been minuscule:

9-07-2010 sovereigndebtchange

Keep Collingwood winning. I know this will be hard for Julia Gillard to stomach but she really must start hoping that Collingwood keep winning. The very success of her election campaign may depend on it. The very latest research on voting behaviour shows that a win by a high attendance or championship football team on the eve of a political election results in the incumbent party gaining an additional 2.42 percentage points and 2.30 percentage points respectively.

With the Magpies having the biggest following in the AFL, and the Prime Minister’s Bulldogs virtually bereft of supporters apart from oddballs like First Dog on the Moon, the message from the Californian academics Andrew J. Healya, Neil Malhotrab and Cecilia Hyunjung Mob is clear: hope that the Colliwobbles do not reappear until after polling day.

And if Labor wants to retain those seats in the outer west of Sydney start praying that the Penrith Panthers keep on their winning rugby league way. As for the Government’s chances in Queensland, things are grim with the Brisbane Broncos not in the eight and the Townsville based North Queensland Cowboys languishing near the bottom of the table.

And before the sceptical Crikey readership dismiss this advice as irrelevant nonsense I draw attention to the peer reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States which has just published the study Irrelevant events affect voters’ evaluations of government performance that describes how voters’ personal sense of well-being — as determined by events that are unrelated to political and economic affairs—affects their evaluations of their elected representatives.

Why they fought so hard. Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese confirmed overnight why the major miners fought so hard against the planned super profits tax. It was not just about what Australia had planned but that what Mr Albanese calls “resource nationalism” would spread with other countries following the lead and demanding a greater share of the proceeds from what mining companies dig out of the ground.

Governments around the world, he told a mining industry function in London, will seek to boost their share of mining profits, potentially constraining supply.

“They will want to increase their revenue share. They will want to have more control of who develops their natural resources. And this resource nationalism could, by itself, limit the supply response to stronger demand.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey