Mood: accident prone
Topic: election Oz 2007
You know that old fable about never feeding a crocodile because they are always hungry? Once you start you just have to keep feeding it until the hand itself is inside the jaws and the rest quickly follows.
The Greens/greenies know the metaphor well because it's what the two major parties say about offering appeasing policy on say forest protection: The Greens are never satisfied and the crocodile will just want more forest to lock up after that. That's Wilson Tuckey with that acute comment, because yes the Greens do want a sustainable society, and there's nothing wrong with that either. Bob Carr called it the wolves with lambent eyes looking up for more chunks of meat after the meal seconds earlier (of some forest protection). Tuckey/Carr - same resource politicians in essence.
But today in the current politics de jour the crocodile is the damning polling against vain old man John Howard. The unchanging crushing reality of that polling means Howard has to appease the change/succession merchants in his own party .... to buy time.
Last week Howard reacted to that reality by sending trusty Alex Downer into the midst of the issue, just like he surely sent Geof Cousins/Heffernan into the midst of the Tas pulp mill issue to get control of it again, Howards agents pissing in opponents pockets while always supporting resource extraction his whole life.
This week Howard aka Rodent has glared down an open challenge, and when that didn't kill the crocodile, has fed the toothy beast a big chunk of meat today with an undefined, unreliable, unbelievable retirement sometime in the next 3 years. He won't even retire from Bennelong, maybe pulling strings still like the Mufti from Lakemba?
Howard's got no clothes. The Newspoll next Monday/Tuesday is the next act in this tragedy evolving into farce. Beazley was in the news yesterday saying Howard has until end of the week.
The next group of polls will be Pythonesque - it's only a flesh wound, blood spurting from the stump.
Minister Joe Hockey is on the abc AM show this morning 13th Sept 2007 with some real howlers:
1. universal support in the Cabinet for Prime Minister Howard - clearly not the case, expedient convenience given he won't go quietly. In other words papering over a huge chasm of disagreement, a brave face, for mutual self preservation of credibility in the short term.
2. John Howard is 'the Don Bradman of Australian Politics' - how vain is that? There was only one Don Bradman and Howard is not past Menzies by quite a way yet. Further Bradman was bowled out for a duck in his last innings short of a test 100 batting average. So it may not be the most helpful metaphor. All the polls are clear - Howard may well be out for a duck next election innnings, or a very low score.
Additionally, the more prominent Peter Costello is this next 4 days attacking the ALP Opposition, when combined with a bad poll for Howard next Tuesday, as well as Morgan etc before that, and the precursors for an execution of Howard's prime ministership will all be in place for real.
The backbench and Cabinet will have no reason to not just make the change and start rebuilding the electoral prospects of the Government on credible climate change, on extracting ourselves from Iraq, on dumping the 25 nuke reactors agenda, reconciliation values and sundry other dodgy Howard policies.
Postscript #2 14th Sept 2007
Costello is not the problem for the Govt, that the ALP can exploit as a negative given his strong economic reputation (right or wrong), the real downer for the govt and why the polls will go south again, and why the so called 'attack' tv adverts (but really fair critique) will work' is that this PM is indecisive. When will he retire, why won't he commit to 3 years, why can't he be certain (as McKew points out) for such an important job?
Howard now flushed out, can expediently claim in parliament yesterday an honest virtue (by contrast with ALP retired premiers keeping their plans quiet until the day - like Beattie recently), but it doesn't really wash or resonate because those jobs were not relinquished for age driven reasons, or fatal govt polling reasons. And the PM's job is the big cheese by comparison really controlling the money in our democracy.
That's why indecision ii far more fatal at that level. People know the States are the smaller game/dynamic by comparison, but PM of the country has to be safe, secure, reliable, not indecisive, uncertain, aging, or as the Sydney Telegraph put it ...dithering.
In conclusion, it's the uncertainty, not Costello that is the Govt's problem. Barnaby Joyce is right - Costello is stereotyped as unpopular Treasurer but such are made to be broken, and one wit in that electorate pointed out PC hasn't been "tested" because he's not in the chair for real - the same logic Howard uses to claim polls will bounce once its the election for real.
Which version the Coalition believes will decide their fate, even as an Opposition. Howard's plea to keep hold of their "political understandings" flies in the face of the polls which have stabilised against him, and along with it the broadsheet flagship of News Ltd. Now the Coalition have the shock on the head from their own side of conservative media, reality must follow ... but how long will it take? Methinks the defacto Cabinet meeting in Downer's hotel room shows in their hearts they know. It doesn't have much to do with being a Howard Hater as Alan Jones claimed this morning on 2GB (read above re the distinction between retiring premiers versus retiring PMs).