Alan Kohler — who rather boldly declares today Labor might actually win the next election, even with its current leader — talks about issues like the carbon tax, company tax rates and boat people as an exercise in political bomb disposal. Defuse the topics voters blame Labor for; shift the focus back onto Tony Abbott and the creative accounting of his promises.

Some Labor people look at it in even simpler terms: get them to hate us less.

Voters won’t ever like the carbon tax — they never warmed to the GST, either — but if it doesn’t cause a spike in household bills as much as critics claim, that hatred could fade into indifference.

Indifference is this government’s best bet.

Asylum seeker policy has vexed Labor since it took office. Nobody much likes the imperfect solution proposed by Labor’s expert panel that will go before Parliament this afternoon, but voters hated the policy void and cross-party politicking even more. The boats may not stop, but if Labor can get this legislation passed the issue goes away for now.

The government remains frustrated by the lack of attention on the opposition. The fog of hatred towards Gillard and the government is too thick. If it can defuse the policy bombs and dominate Parliament over the next couple of weeks, Abbott will be more exposed.

And as the polling shows, they hate him just as much, when they stop to think about it.