May 25, 2004


And what a lead it is:

Labor would win in a landslide if an election were held now, as more Australians than ever regard the Iraq war as unjustified, a new Herald Poll has found.

A week before John Howard heads to the US for meetings with President George Bush and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on Iraq, the poll showed a strong majority - 63 per cent - thought the war was not justified, compared with 51 per cent in September last year.

Mr Latham's personal approval rating has shot up by eight points in NSW - his home state - over the last month.

Itís all due to the Margo Effect, finally kicking in after a hideous six-month incubation. No mere war can influence events so profoundly.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 25, 2004 03:33 AM

Wow apparently the war is the only election issue in Australia. Seems different here in the US. The war support is fading here too. I'm from New Jersey, a state Gore won by 15% in 2000. Currently polls show it 46-43 Kerry with a 3% margin of error.

Hmmm. Something doesn't add up...

Posted by: Dash at May 25, 2004 at 03:58 AM

I suspect Bush's and Howard's opponents might get over-confident and blow their lead in some spectacular fashion.

(Did Reagan's re-election occur in part because of poor electioneering by the opposition?)

Posted by: Andjam at May 25, 2004 at 05:08 AM

On past performances I would imagine Howard is exactly where he wants to be at this point of the election cycle. (Wily old) underdog.

Posted by: jafa at May 25, 2004 at 06:15 AM

Andjam, Reagan's re-election occured primarily because he was up against Walter Mondale who was tainted by association with Jimmy Carter and the economic stagnation of that era and because Mondale had the charisma of pink chalk.

Posted by: ruprecht at May 25, 2004 at 06:37 AM


Don't forget that Mondale "bravely" (read: stupidly) announced that, if elected, he would raise taxes as that was the "only" way to close the deficit. Reagan of course had argued that increased growth would pay for the tax cuts.

Mondale's stance was that he was man enough to give it to the American public straight and they were mature and sober enough to accept that. Yeah, right.

Also, Mondale's selection of a first term Congresswoman, Geraldine Ferraro, as a running mate, was seen for the blatant tokenism it was...She had virtually no experience in government.

More specific to the Latham situation in Oz, Mondale actually led Reagan in many polls as late as July before being crushed in November, taking only homestate Minnesota to Reagan's 49 state victory.

Give Latham NSW and Howard the rest. I hope the kangaroos are registered for Howard! They would be in Chicago.

Posted by: JDB at May 25, 2004 at 09:09 AM


Unfortunately, we can't give Latham New South Wales, as it is has the most seats in Parliament (50). But NSW is also John Howard's home state, and it has an unpopular Labor State government, so I don't think we Tories have too much to worry about.

Posted by: Toryhere at May 25, 2004 at 09:40 AM

I think its a matter of time before Australians get to know the real Mark Latham. At the moment, the media haven't shown much of his idiocies, but there are plenty of them and once we enter election mode, he is bound to trip up.

I was watching parliament question time last night and a Labour backbencher asked Alexander Downer if the 2 Australians held prisoner by the US are in good condition.

Downer gave one of the BEST responses I could imagine. Firstly, he rose and addressed the question, assuring the Labour party that Habib and Hicks, were being looked after, based on assurances from the US Defence Secretary and the National Security Advisor.

Downer then mocked the Labour parties so called concern for 2 Australians that both trained with Al-Qaeda, and then he asked them why they don't show such a similar concern for the 214 other Australian prisoners in countries such as Uzbekistan, El Salvador and Nigeria.

Downer then concluded that it must have something to do with the fact that Habib and Hicks were the only 2 held prisoner by the US, thus anti-Americanism of the Labour party has hijacked their ability to remain credible.


Posted by: Jono at May 25, 2004 at 10:33 AM

Damn, I forgot to mention what else Downer said in question time to humiliate Latham.

He continued to discuss Hicks and Habib and he said that the comments by the leader of the opposition have made his position clear - and that is that Latham, if elected, would try to bring Hicks and Habib back to Australia.

However, at the time of their capture, the current anti-terrorism laws were not in existence, so they would be able to return as free men.

Downer then pointed out Latham's next brilliant idea to prevent such an outcome - retrospective legislation. Latham wanted to make the anti-terrorism laws retrospective so that he could prosecute Hicks and Habib upon their return.

I have to say a big thank you to Alexander Downer for making the Labour parties moronic position so clear.

Posted by: Jono at May 25, 2004 at 10:41 AM

I think if more people watched parliament question time, that "lead" would vanish. I mean seriously, if that clown gets voted in, parliament will be a circus.....

Posted by: Johnny Wishbone at May 25, 2004 at 10:47 AM

This poll result follows a solid month of media campaigning against the war and Howard.

I'm not sure the media can maintain their momentum all the way to the election.

Posted by: EvilPundit at May 25, 2004 at 11:01 AM

Johnny Wishbone:

I agree with that. The press gallery loves to go on about Peter Costello's 'smirk'. Matt Price of The Australian, as one of few reporters whose special brief is reporting the goings-on in the chamber, is especially keen on such characterisations. His columns are so sycophantic as to be embarrassing, his attraction to Labor figures bordering on the homoerotic.

Yet watch Latham next time you see Question Time. He just sits there with a big, stupid smirk on his face. Yesterday the Treasurer demolished his tax and spend claims, referring to Latham's refusal to guarantee the present government's undertakings into fiscal 2004-05.

The man who says his intention is to change the dishonest culture of politics was asked repeatedly by a reporter if he would change the generous government payments. "We have no plan not to at this stage" was what Latham kept repeating to the journalist concerned, the Treasurer pointed out, despite the reporter's continued attempt to get a straight answer. Throughout the whole embarrassing dissection of Latham's dishonesty, the Opposition Leader just sat there smirking away, as usual. It's as if he's saying, 'of course I can make any claim I like because I'm in Opposition and the mugs out there are lapping it up. Heh, heh.'

Incidentally, the poll question regarding Iraq is a bit vague. Even if people now believe the war was not, at the historical juncture of its initial pursuit, justified - that doesn't mean they necessarily believe the government is culpable for anything worth punishing now. With these polls, there is also a certain pull that is exerted from one area of investigation to another: "Do you think the war was justified?" No. "Do you approve of the way Mark Latham is doing his job?" Well, yes. "Will you vote for Labor?" Um, I guess.

Having said that, I've believed for a good six months now that the government's biggest 'problem' is that things are so good. The economy is in fantastic shape. Many people might conclude that Latham is an affordable risk. I think the government should lay off the national security stuff and go ballistic on domestic - that is, on their impressive credentials economically vis-a-vis Latham's magic pudding.

Let's hope this violent, lying idiot is shown up as the smirking face of whaterver-it-takes-ism he definitely is. A policeman friend of mine - who's seen enough odd types in his career to know - said to me recently that Latham "had the eyes."

"What do you mean"? I said.

"Barking mad."

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 25, 2004 at 11:27 AM


Thanks, your last post finally jogged my memory as to whom it is that Latam resembles in the long list of dud lefty politicians that we in Australia have suffrerred since Federation. The mad eyes gave it away, Latham is the new Doc Evatt, the ALP leader in the 50s who was clinically insane and paranoid during his tenure at the head of the ALP.

Evatt had a huge lead going into the 1954 election, but was beaten by the Tory Government by a whisker. After that he went really daft. Sounds like Latham may be ready to repeat Evatt's idiocies.

Posted by: Toryhere at May 25, 2004 at 12:45 PM

Toryhere: Doc Latham - exactly!

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 25, 2004 at 01:39 PM

Commenters in this thread, thanks for the insights. Personally, I think Downer is one of the best foreign ministers we've ever had, note how Kevin Rudd is trying to be a poor man's imitation of him for Labor. They know Downer can hurt them. If the Howard government does lose, then I'm going to go shake Lleyton Hewitt's hand and say, you were right mate, it is the stupidity of the Australian public...

Posted by: Jamie at May 25, 2004 at 03:11 PM


You hit the nail on the head. The current GOvernment has gor talent in depth in the likes of Abbott, Downer, Costello, Brendan Nelson, etc. The ALP, on the other hand, has no-one of the first rank at all. They are so faction-ridden that Crean is their shadow-treasurer. As soon as the real election campaign begins, and it is pointed out that Crean would be treasurer if Labor wins, I think we will see a slide back to the Conservatives.

Posted by: Toryhere at May 25, 2004 at 03:27 PM


You hit the nail on the head. The current Government has got talent in depth in the likes of Abbott, Downer, Costello, Brendan Nelson, etc. The ALP, on the other hand, has no-one of the first rank at all. They are so faction-ridden that Crean is their shadow-treasurer. As soon as the real election campaign begins, and it is pointed out that Crean would be treasurer if Labor wins, I think we will see a slide back to the Conservatives.

Posted by: Toryhere at May 25, 2004 at 03:27 PM

Wishbone is dead right: watching parlaiment is the telling thing: the govt. carves up Latham and his shadow cabinet merely by answering questions, before remarking on the position of the opposition and statments of shadow ministers.

It really is cheese and chalk stuff. Quite apart from, for what Latham has enunicated so far, he will entering the elction on an outright national socilaist platform with a fascist edge to it, not a contradiction since fascism is a hue of socialism.

ABC in particular has been beating up the notion Howard will go to the polls early. One suspects, to the contrary. With the budget in tow, time is on Howard's side, a tactical advantage. Latham and his colleagues shoot themselves in the ministerial feet in and out of parlaiment.

Posted by: d at May 25, 2004 at 03:45 PM

Hmmm...I'm not surprised Latham's leading, he is young, fresh and being assisted by a media willing to bend over backwards to explain away Latham's flip-flopping, "nuance" and gittish populism.

Additionally, he is up against a government which is starting to show its age (at 8 years, Howard's lasted longer than Fraser).

But before Howard hands over the keys to the Lodge, lets not leap to saying the elections a foregone conclusion.

Remember Hewson's "unloseable" election of '93? Menzies' credit squeeze? The low popularity of the Howard government pre 2001?

Nevertheless, Howard will be lucky to win the next one, but Latham? Don't pack yet, mate.

Posted by: Quentin George at May 25, 2004 at 05:47 PM

Still, I can see Latham winning in Australia before I can see Kerry winning in the US.

Posted by: Quentin George at May 25, 2004 at 05:50 PM

I used to interview door-to-door for one big poll, just before the last election. Most who said they would vote ALP followed this up with 'I've supported Labour all my life' or 'I come from a Labour family'. No swingers.

People who said they would vote Lib, on the other hand, were all thinkers. 'Considering the options...'. One guy was a small businessman upset about taxation probs caused by GST. Still he said to me, 'What are the ALP's policies? They have none!' What has changed? A few faces. Some claimed initiatives which everyone knows will be watered down by political correctness. If Latham supports giving youth a choice of work or study, isn't that the same as work for the dole, which ALP has always opposed? So is'nt he just playing with words?

Confession: when my legs gave out I would fake a few interviews to get my quota (this was difficult as they checked). On the voting question I would always put ALP. Why? Because it looked more populist and thus credible. Also doing my little bit to lull ALP into false security. Heh heh.

Posted by: poll at May 25, 2004 at 05:56 PM

Well spotted Jono. Go here for the extended quote. The full passage is on page 38 of the Hansard record linked to from there.

Posted by: attila at May 25, 2004 at 06:17 PM

Thought I'd see how the IQ impoverished are living on the Tory side of things by visiting this "blog". Thanks for cheering me up. You guys (I'm sure there's some women other than Janet Albrechtsen involved on the right) are running hysterically scared of this next election and no end of "lil' Johnny will do it again" rabble rousing can conceal it. Once again, hilarious.

Posted by: Redderthanyou at May 26, 2004 at 12:48 AM

Having made the mistake once circa 1990 I'll never count Howard out for the count. However given the proflict spending, the failure to reign in senior public service saleries and to redirect spending to our military, the question becomes this what is/was the point of the Howard Government?

This was the question asked of the Fraser years. In the end the problem is that the Liberal Party thinks that it is a crime to talk ideology/ideas and has for a very long time forgotten how they won power for so long. Since the eighties they have sought to become an imitation of the ALP without the native ruthlessness that comes with the territory

Posted by: Just Another Bloody Lawyer at May 26, 2004 at 12:55 AM

What's the point of any modern government - to steal the middle ground by stealing opposition policies.

Blair did it to the Tories by neutering the unions, Clinton did it to the Republicans with, 'it's the economy stupid', and Fraser did it to Labor by out-reforming them.

The point of Howards government, after 13 years of Labor, was in performing for the nation a long overdue enema. We hadn't been eating our greens.

Posted by: just another fuckin' cabbie at May 26, 2004 at 02:13 AM


We don't take work experience kids as a rule, but... fetch us a coffee, there's a good boy.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at May 26, 2004 at 02:47 AM

Howard's problem is he's too compassionate and soft on middle class welfare. On social policy he's way too free with our money funding public hospitals and schools. We want the freedom of choice to choose between an expensive private school and no education at all. Same for health care. Howard should get with the user pays system pronto. None of this bulk billing bullshit. Plus he's hostage to the union of listed banks. As an economic manager he's nothing but another tax-&-spend Liberal. Plus he's too fond of "big government", keeping all the defence and intelligence services in government hands rather than privatising them all. He needs to sell off as much of the government as he can before the election and then give it all back to us people in the form of wheat or iron ore. If he wants to win this election he should to abolish Australia altogether and give it back to the Queen of England. She'd know what to do with it.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at May 26, 2004 at 09:56 AM

I see that Miranda has given up on "obnoxious" and has decided to try "crashing bore" this time. Hey -- finally something that works!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 26, 2004 at 01:30 PM

Is that Miranda's strategy? I never would have figured that one; I fell asleep while reading her post.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at May 26, 2004 at 04:21 PM

Redderthanyou :

Maybe things wont be quite so hilarious if the ALP is voted in and bankrupts the country, as this party has done every time Australians were stupid enough to vote for it.

I sure am 'running scared' that this bunch of idiots, led by a person who has never had a real job and wants to give away millions in taxpayers money, will actually get into power.

Many people vote for Howard, not because he is such a wonderful PM, but because the opposition is so abysmal.

Posted by: dee at May 26, 2004 at 04:28 PM

Come on..Crean as Treasurer!!!? No SANE person could vote for that. What a horrific thought. The day after Howard is re-elected I am going to enjoy emailing Phil Adams etc and just flat out gloating!! Enjoying in an almost obscene, self indulgant and semi erotic way the publics' rejection...again of the eliteist fantasies of this on the whole marginal group of puffed up Wankers.

If Howard loses I am just going to go out and get pissed.

Posted by: Dog at May 26, 2004 at 05:58 PM

"Most who said they would vote ALP followed this up with 'I've supported Labour all my life' or 'I come from a Labour family'"

This explains my mum's side of the story, other Labor voters I know, and pretty much every young chick too...

"If Howard loses I am just going to go out and get pissed."

If he wins, I'll be doing the same thing anyhow. Election night kicks arse! What a party! But if Howard loses, a small riot may develop as Hitler's spawn, Latham, institutes the National Socialist platform. He'd be having wet dreams about secularising this nation through government expansion, and destroying christianity for his beloved humanism...

Posted by: Jamie at May 27, 2004 at 02:39 AM

Too mnay right wing yanks on this blogmire who think they know a thing or two about Australian politics. such pretension.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at May 27, 2004 at 08:16 AM

Are you drunk, Miranda? Or are you Miranda's seven-year-old retarded brother?

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 27, 2004 at 01:46 PM