Campaign reading. Richard McGregor, writing from Sydney for London's Financial Times, contrasts Australia's strong economy and paradoxically sullen national mood. "Abbott avoids tough economic decisions on way to Australia win" argues that the Opposition Leader has made little effort to prepare the electorate for the more difficult times ahead. Describing Tony Abbott as more protean than his narrow public image suggests, McGregor writes that he has long profited from his opponents' underestimating his ability to change. He concludes:
"Anyone looking for courage and creativity in an incoming conservative government, should Mr Abbott win, will be hoping he can confound the sceptics again."
The economics writer for the Murdoch tabloids, Jessica Irvine, continues to produce informative and balanced analysis of economic policies. She certainly cannot be accused of writing to anyone's instructions. Her "Rolling out the pork barrel" offering this morning (the headline differs between states) updates spending promises from both sides. Her interesting conclusion:
"The Coalition's plans are in need of a haircut -- and they know it. Labor is running a fear campaign that large cuts are on their way. "My fear is quite the opposite -- that Mr Abbott won't have the mettle to fix Australia's looming budget crisis. This magic pudding approach to budgeting from both sides must stop."
"Attila the hun or the honey" by Paul Kelly in The Australian seeks to explain how it is that the attacks on Abbott's launch speech assailed him both as Mr Tough and Mr Soft. Labor insists that Abbott's new promises doom him to "cut, cut, cut", yet other critics say that the decade timeline on his iconic goals points to a craven lack of will on fiscal responsibility.
"The contradiction in Tony Abbott's campaign agenda is embedded in the soul of the Liberal Party. As a classical liberal Abbott wants lower taxes, smaller government and the budget surplus, yet as an ideological conservative he wants extra spending to support the family, individual choice, tradition and stronger national defence. ... "The dual nature of the Liberal Party, paraded by John Howard as prime minister, is the source of its electoral success and its governing flaws. "The success or failure of any Abbott prime ministership will hinge upon his ability to reconcile the nation's fiscal challenge with his beloved vision for a better society and strong nation."
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