Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, September 14, 2004
MARK LATHAM TODAY repeats his lies, and adds a half-truth.
Mr Latham defended the way Labor had failed to include the Government's $600 payment to families in its weekly benefits schedule released with its family and tax policy.

He said for families facing CentreLink debts the $600 was effectively useless.

"If they've got a debt that wasn't warranted then obviously the $600 is not worth a cracker to them," he said.
So the money Mark Latham uses to pay off his mortgage is not real, and he could give it to me and be no poorer. I'm ready to receive it Mark.

Under Labor, the level of tariff reductions on textile, clothing, footwear and motor vehicles will be slowed, with one percentage point cut every year over five years.

Mr Latham said this did not mean the price of clothing or cars would go up, but it would help protect Australian jobs.

"One of our policies in slowing down the tariff reductions is to ensure that Australian industry has a better chance," he said.
It is true that price-maintenance is not quite the same as price-raising, but prices that are higher than they need be are not helping those industries paying them. No to mention the average family that will be paying more for clothing and cars.

If he'd had the wit or integrity to back off these claims you would feel a little less nervous about having Latham in charge of our economy.

On the other hand, Latham has admitted that the hypothetical Perth stay-at-home mother would be worse off under his proposed tax-benefit changes. Until today his family spokesman, Wayne Swan, has been in denial.
Labor's Wayne Swan says he has been advised that the [talkback] caller has also been used in Liberal Party election material.
Labor sources later amended that charge. Instead of a Coalition stooge, the caller was using Coalition arguments. Which, it turns out, are truer than Labor denials.

This collateral damage to Labor's own core constituency, in favour of the more affluent swinging voters, does not convincingly explain Labor's failure to pick up in the polls.

More convincing evidence came from a visit to the marginal regional seat of Eden-Monaro by a 7.30 Report crew yesterday. It was a small sample, but none of the rural workers interviewed was convinced that Latham is ready for government.

The swingers employed to drive Channel Nine's worm at the leaders' debate may be liking what they see in Latham, but there may also be another swing going on within Labor's traditional constituency, a resurgence of the 'Howard battlers', who find Latham doesn't ring true.

Do the real workers' public leaders shower us with 'fair dinkum, ridgy-didge' policy announcements? In my experience that's the language of condescending phonies. Maybe I'm not the only one.