Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, August 30, 2004

John Howard revealed the most hope-inspiring trend from Liberal Party focus groups with his claim to be more trustworthy than the opposition. Let's hope the entrails speak true, and our fellow electors can detect the different weights of a Prime Ministerial porky of little policy significance, and a Party platform built on deception.

Latham helped in his responsive press conference, reaching again for the rungs of his ladder of opportunity. Only a fool could fail to see that the only ladder that interests Mark Latham is the one that leads to the Prime Minister's suite.

All we have of Labor's policy substance so far is the purest reaction. Labor promises to make choice in health and education more expensive even if, like Latham's own visit to the public ward two weeks ago, it makes the overall standards of performance worse. It promises to make job-creation more expensive and work choices more subject to the deadening control of union officials. These are the bits of policy that are easiest to dress up in cheery populist clothing.

Out in the policy arid zone the true expressions of modern Labor, the ideological left, are lining up quietly to wreak what havoc they can on the institutions that are slow to fall into line. Julie Gillard, smart but narrow, and Kim Carr - Labor's version of Wilson Tuckey - leap to mind.

On the harder bits, his tax and spend priorities, Latham only says that we won't be told for another three weeks. He either knows his plans, and his arrogance makes Howard's performance on kids overboard look benign in comparison, or he doesn't know and his Party is a policy shambles.

There would certainly be a fascinating denouement to Labor's Latham experiment in the next six mweeks if we could rely on our media to deal with policy.

For her part, Auntie is offering us a lot more of Kerry O'Brien's 7.30 Report. And the continuing preaching of her commentariat, of course.