Prime Minister Kevin Rudd continues his return to populism but is yet to return us an election date. As his options begin to dwindle, commentators (most who pencilled in late August) are now predicting September 7 or 21. And while his media coverage numbers dropped for the fifth straight week, Rudd’s overall total is still extremely prime ministerial; he remains firmly in the spotlight, having overturned ALP policy on asylum, climate change and party governance in his first month back in the job.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has regained a little ground compared with last week, staying on message against Rudd — while ignoring social media mentions favourable to Malcolm Turnbull as potential opposition leader. The most talked-about policy issue remains asylum seekers, leaving Immigration Minister Tony Burke and his opposite number Scott Morrison in the headlines. Treasurer Chris Bowen also features, talking spending cuts while accusing the Coalition of ducking its policy costing obligations after shadow treasurer Joe Hockey admitted the Coalition would not rely on Treasury numbers for its election funding promises.

State premiers are back in the conversation too, with NSW’s Barry O’Farrell on an Independent Commission Against Corruption enquiry and recent bikie war shootings, while WA leader Colin Barnett garnered coverage over his plan for state councils, his refusal to sign up to the Better Schools program and for warning of budget pain in the face of pressure from Federal Defence Minister Stephen Smith to spend more money on roads infrastructure.

Crikey Political Index: July 25-31

Julia Gillard’s exit from the political conversation is the slowest of all in the print media and on talkback radio. She would be significantly lower on our main chart this week were it not for newspaper mentions.

Talkback top five

iSentia Index

Education Minister Bill Shorten features on Twitter this week having suggested that young job seekers could undertake army-style boot camps to qualify for the dole.

Social media top five

iSentia index

Essendon coach and club golden boy James Hird is about the only club official left standing in the peptides affair, with chairman David Evans having stepped aside this week.

Comparisons on media mentions

iSentia index

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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