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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Canberra watch « Previous | |Next »
August 10, 2007

Okay, so interest rates increased because of a booming economy running at full capacity. There is a need to apply the monetary brakes to slow down the inflationary forces. The problem for the PM is that in his muscular approach to economic management of global market flows is that his electoral strategy is to spend big time, thereby putting the foot on the accelerator. As Chris Richardson from Access Economics quips, there's lots of blue smoke.

It's a great way to drive Costello's finely tune Formula 1 racing car isn't it?--one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator. But the problem goes deeper than the flaws highlighted by using the politician's frame the economy as a machine metaphor. Howard's credibility is also involved:

trust.jpg
Alan Moir

It's the spin, as he and Costello gave the strong impression that every fall in interest rates has been due to their fantastic abilities and experience as economic managers. Only they could deliver the good times. Trust me the spin says. And the electorate did in 2004. Howard is making the same pitch again--the Government's economic performance is all he has judging from the embattled look in Question Time. Only this time we have 5 interest rate rises on his watch.

Now there is significant disillusionment with Liberals on the issue of broken promises and dishonesty. Howard, in walking from the Liberal party advertisements of 2004 with his ducks and weaves, reinforces that mood. His character and relationship to citizens comes into play. It's now no longer a question of the judgment and experience of the person driving the car. The driver is no longer trusted. He may crash the car.

So the lower white collar and upper collar working families start abandoning the government because of their experience of mortgage stress. Many of these reside in marginal Liberal seats and that spells trouble.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:18 AM | | Comments (14)
Comments

Comments

Gary,
Dennis Shanahan thinks that it is just a case of the PM persuade his party that he has enough credibility with voters to retain government.

In these vital last weeks of parliament, Howard has to convince his own MPs that Rudd is not assured of winning. If he can’t convince those who could lose office that they can win, and start to turn around those expectations, then he has little hope of stalling the Rudd blitzkrieg in the polls. As Textor pointed out, public perceptions and the polls feed off each other: Labor knows this and has contrived policy announcements and publicity-grabbing actions to try to boost polling results.

We already have finished one of these weeks. So how is Howard doing? Nothing by way of analysis is provided by Shanahan. He sees himself as offering campaign advice, as if he is on the Liberal team. The advice is packaged with cheer up troops Howard has well and truely clawed his way back in the polls.

The MSM generally speaking want Howard re-elected. After all, he is the friend of Big Business and all those whose main purpose in life is to make money!

Fortunately, there are other Australian voters who are less materialistic, who do not worship at the Altar of Profit, who want a country where everyone shares in the rewards of prosperity.

Nan,
yes it's odd the way Dennis Shanahan interprets events. He does seem to speak on behalf of the Liberal Party organization --sees himself as a bit of a player?

The Howard Government's recent interventions into the states are interventions that have the effect of blocking the reforms being undertaken by the states--both in Tasmania and in Queensland. So the commonwealth government is increasingly resisting reform in health care and local government in the name of populism.

Odd isn't it. Reality is different from the spin about the bad incompetent states.

I dont thing a 1/4 % interest rise really makes a huge difference. It equates to $5 per week per $100,000 owed.

The media love "Interesting Chaos" and beats things like this out of proportion.

A lot of Howard's niftily worded inferences are falling apart at the moment -
I never said that every single person has never had it so good,
I never actually said interest rates wouldn't go up,
When I said there were WMDs and kids overboard I believed it in a technical sense,
I don't, in fact, have rabbits in my hat,
and my personal favourite, I'm not as clever as people seem to think.

No. Apparently he's not.

Howard the dissembler


Well, he finally said he was sorry but not that he was wrong, about rising interest rates. At the last election John Howard did not say that interest rates would stay at record low levels or that they would not rise. He choose his words carefully, cleverly. He presented a conundrum. Rates would go up more if there was a Labor government. Not just hypothetical but also hypocritical.


The PM knew that this claim could not be tested. But more importantly for his current political fortunes he allowed the rest of the coalition politicians and advertising to present the extreme view that rates wouldn't rise.


Howard is the master dissembler. He selects his words very craftily, very cunningly. He leaves a general impression, but the subtle equivocation allows him to say later that he did not actually say what people thought he meant. He doesn't always tell lies, just half-truths. Children overboard?


Howard's technique has become tired. He wonders why his government is no longer popular. It is because voters have seen through his deceptions.


Mind you, he might have said he was sorry, but he didn't really mean it. He just regrets getting caught out.


Labor View from Broome
http://laborview.blogspot.com/

Les,
that's around $20 a week on a $400,000 mortgage. Tough if you are in the early years of a mortgage when money is tight cos of the high repayments; if your capital value is falling; or if you are trying to get into the housing market with increasing house prices.

There are a lot of those people in the 3 SA marginals for instance, and in western Sydney.

It's not just numbers--facts-- its also the cultural meaning of those numbers. The increase in interest rates is read politically--it's loaded with meanings and these are being interpreted in a way that cuts against Howard. It's eroding his conservative support base, which is sioftening.

Rudd is waiting in the centre to welcome them. And they like what they see--a younger version of Howard and one more in tune with their needs. Kevin's listening to them. Costello isn't . He is saying its a job that's crucial and that I've delivered the jobs with a smirk.

Well, these people have jobs, and they are being squeezed as they chase the Australian dream. It's turning sour for them.

Daniel,
all the mainstream media want Howard re-elected? Isn't the mainstream media divided--eg., Murdoch and Fairfax? There are a lot of diverse views within the mainstream media, and a lot of it is very critical of Howard/Costello.

Even John Roskam of the Institute of Public Affairs is criticizing Howard's recent interventions into the states as bad policy.

I think anybody who takes on a mortgage should factor in their ability to service that debt with interest rates at least 2 percentage points higher.

Gary,
Did you watch the christianity Howard/Rudd debate? I didn't. What was the verdict?

Lyn,
I guess that Howard and the Crosby Textor crew are working the focus groups hard to find the right talking points and the right emotions for Howard to express. to a people who have turned away.

They've had a bad week in Canberra this week and there's an air of desperation in the air: eg., Mark Vaile defending local democracy in Queensland against the jackboot of the Stalinist Beattie tintent on throwing dissenting people into the Gulag.

Question Time looks more and more like bad comedy that has the effect of astonishnment at the tawdriness of the show. Thank goodness it is free.

Kevin,
I agree with your analysis. Howard has got away with it up to now. Will he get away from now on it? Do you reckon that people are saying enough is enough over coffee or the bar?

Or is the judgement that Howard's dissembling is outweighed by other issues--ie.,delivering on economic prosperity and national security? Or is that judgement shifting, with public opinion forming into another judgement?

Les
re your comment I think anybody who takes on a mortgage should factor in their ability to service that debt with interest rates at least 2 percentage points higher.
Few people are that rational in a boom. The bankers sure are not--exuberant irrationality is more their style in a boom. Some of the lending practices are quite shonky--eg., the subprime mortgage market

It is just not about Howard's socially conservative working class battlers in struggle street. It also affects the aspirationals--who generally live in marginal electorates on the outskirts of larger cities, (such as Lindsay, Hughes, Macarthur and Parramatta in western Sydney).

Les,
No I didn't watch the Christian gig---I only saw bits of it on Sky News, especially Howard's internet filter policy announcement that is part of a $189 million Federal Government crackdown on online bad language, pornography and child sex predators.

From what I can make out the crackdown includes a $40 million increase in funding for the Australian Federal Police to track internet predators and a $90 million scheme to provide every household with software-based internet filters to install on their home computer.

The software filters to stop little Johnny seeing a bad picture on the internet will be available for download on August 20 from a new government website, NetAlert.

I presume that these home filters are separate to the ISP-level filters. The latter threatens to reduce the speed of internet access for all Australians to a crawl.

Nan,
yes , you're right. The arrival of aspirationals has changed the tone and balance of political pitching and pork barrelling.

My understanding is that the middle class aspirationals do not inhabit the old professions. They inhabit the new workplaces of IT, finance and the risky but high-rush area of small business. They are also male, younger, brash and materialistic.

However, I guess that there are quite different understandings of what the aspirational voter is and stands for.