It’s a fairly plain bowl of muesli in this morning’s media coverage, with Mark Latham adding the prerequisite nuts to yesterday’s campaign trail mix and a dollop of tax policy to taste.
If you haven’t watched the excruciating footage of Sky News covering Mark Latham the journo covering Tony Abbott, may I suggest you go watch it immediately, even if it’s eight minutes of your life you’ll never get back.
Latham seems unaware of normal journalistic practice. “As he waited to confront Tony Abbott, Mark Latham said someone told him journalism was 90 per cent waiting and 10 per cent confrontation,” writes Sid Maher in The Oz, “The figures don’t seem to be adding up for the former Labor leader.”
He’s head clown in this election circus. “Welcome to Day 6 of Sideshow Mark Latham’s hijacking of the election campaign, previously dominated by Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and, of course, Kevin Rudd,” writes Nick Tabakoff, “Yesterday, Sideshow Mark seemed intent on showing he was an equal opportunity pest to both parties.”
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
But the bizarre Abbott and Latham showdown was a bit of a let down, their conversation just petered off. “This seemed a pity — consensus across the media camp was that a fellow like Abbott might be tempted to sit Latham on his behind in any test of masculinity, even if Latham had once broken a hapless taxi driver’s arm,” writes Tony Wright in The Age.
Latham wasn’t quite as tough as normal. According to a ‘body language expert’, “Mark Latham was less aggressive in confronting Tony Abbott than he was with Julia Gillard, and even seemed intimidated himself,” reports Drew Warne-Smith.
As Marieke Hardy wrote at The Drum earlier this week, there isn’t much difference between the two: “Tony Abbott is mad. Madder than Mark Latham at a mad convention hosted by Charles Manson featuring a special guest musical performance by G G Allin. If you’re so determined to buy the glossy facade currently handcrafted by a meticulous team of Liberal powerbrokers, then more fool you.”
Samantha Maiden agreed in The Oz: “The curious thing about the Opposition Leader’s disciplined campaign is that not so long ago, Latham and Abbott were seen as peas in a pod.”
Abbott’s had a mixed week and despite Rooty Hill, Gillard’s campaign is back on track. But it’s still anyone’s game, argues Michelle Grattan in The Age:
“A week out, all the options seem open: a Gillard win, an Abbott victory, a hung Parliament. The betting is currently favouring Labor. Many people are still to make up their mind; some will wait even until they hover with pencil in hand.”
Some are still talking up the vibe at Rooty Hill and the fact that it was a bad omen for the PM. “The worry for Gillard and Labor is the amount of cynicism displayed by the audience and the fact the Prime Minister wasn’t able to talk them around,” writes Dennis Atkins inThe Courier-Mail.
Despite all the sideshow antics, the economy is still the most crucial campaign topic and the Coalition’s new tax policy, released earlier this week, is getting mixed reviews.
Neither side is promising much, but it’s a start for Peter Martin at The Age: “For the moment, the Coalition looks more ready to embrace the rest of Henry than does Labor. We have a tax debate. Sort of.”
“The Opposition tax policy is thin, but not all bad,” says Michelle Grattan in The Age, who was particularly irritated by one aspect of the policy — voters getting a tax receipt showing exactly where all their tax payments are going. “Let’s face it: the receipt is a gimmick, just as Julia Gillard’s climate change Citizens’ Assembly is. It’s just like an advertisement to grab attention — harmless enough so long as people see through it,” writes Grattan.
Eric Johnston and Peter Martin were similarly belittling of the plan: “We won’t get extra tax cuts in the first term of a Coalition government but we will get ”thank-you notes”.”
George Megalogenis offers up his take on the Coalition tax policy: “The brutal truth is that the Coalition isn’t ready to return to government, while Labor has yet to lose its incumbency training wheels. Tony Abbott has run a terrific insurgency campaign, but he has yet to seek a positive mandate.”
Kevin Rudd’s brother Greg Rudd popped up at The Oz, penning an article about his deep disillusion with Australian politics:
“The words each party used to convince the faithful that it was the only true party were so similar between the Liberals, Labor and the Nationals, it was scary. Even the hatred they felt towards each other was similar, grounded in history, ignorance and discrimination.”
It’s been hatred both between the parties and within the parties that has dominated this campaign.