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National politics: the ground is changing « Previous | |Next »
February 13, 2004

I arrived back in Adelaide this morning. A quick glance at the morning papers whilst having coffee at the airport indicates that the Canberra Press Gallery has summed up the week of political conflict in Canberra. Their judgement is that the political ground has shifted from under the Coalition.

The best account is given by Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial Review (subscription required; 13 02 04, p. 7) She says that John Howard lost control of the national political agenda during the Parliamentary week. He was wrong footed by Latham over politician's superannuation; is having to mix it with school kids rather than military personnel; was not able to control the political agenda with the overselling of the Free Trade Agreement; and had his authority in the partyroom challenged by coalition backbenchers over his cave in on politician's super.

So much for the Coalition's macho promises to cut the political ground from under Mark Latham's feet by wounding him; and then enjoy watching him slowly bled.

It didn't happpen. It was the Coalition who looked blood splattered by the end of the week. It's distraction and spoiler tactics had backfired.

Behind the froth and bubble of the parliamentary conflict the reaction to the free trade agreement with the US continues to swirl and churn. And for good reason:
Alan Moir

The hype does not accord with reality. Have a look at this fact sheet published by the US Trade Representative. Australian sovereignty is reduced in areas such as the PBS, Australian content in the media, the vetting of US corporate takeovers, government procurement, quarantine etc as the price for access to US markets.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:21 AM | | Comments (3)


I agree that Latham has been very successful so far in shifting the ground under Howard's feet.

I knew that this would happen when Latham was elected because he is an outer suburban product, unlike the PM who used to be so forty years ago. Therefore Latham has a much better feel for the mortgage belt than Howard.

That is why while Latham is getting chastised by the pro-market commentators because he did not enthusiastically endorsed the FTA, he probably read the mood of that section of the electorate. In the Fairfax press Gregory Hywood went so far that the FTA could be the 'new Tampa' As I wrote in my blog this is pretty ridiculous. Tampa pushed all the buttons (for the wrong reasons) in the suburbs. The FTA is unlikely to produce such a response.

Having said that Howard is a great survivor...he's not beaten by a long shot.

I concur that Howard is not beaten.

Far from it. He is a master tactician.

Witness the way he got rid of the issue of parlaimentary superannuation when it was starting to hurt him.