Monday, June 7, 2010

Point Of No Return

If you were awake early enough on Saturday morning you might have been one of the hundreds of Australians who saw a strange spiraling light travelling across the sky towards the sunrise. People were amazed by their UFO experience and struggled for an explanation. Many people thought it was proof at last that alien life forms have been making a practice of visiting us for decades. Others looked for a more rational explanation such as some form of weather phenomenon. Still others realized that an American company called Space X had just launched an experimental rocket and that was what they saw traversing the early morning sky. None of them were right. What they really saw was Kevin Rudd’s re-election chances rapidly leaving the planet.

Today’s Neilsen Poll published by the Herald shows unequivocally that if an election was held right now, Tony Abbott would not only become Prime Minister, but he would have a massive majority. With the two party preferred figures showing 53% support to the opposition there can be no doubt that the government is now in very deep trouble. Now, it is just one poll, but it continues a trend which has been developing over a sustained period of time and which has been seen in all of the big polls. Last week’s Newspoll showed the opposition pulling ahead, and the Galaxy poll is also showing a collapse in support for the government.

But hold the bus. Should Tony Abbott be popping the champagne corks just yet? The real winners in the opinion polls seem to be the Greens, with their support at 15% in the Neilson poll and 16% in the Newspoll, double what it was at the last election. Even if Tony Abbott wins in a landslide in the House of Representatives, he could very well be confronting a hostile Senate controlled by the Greens. Gone are the days of the Howard era when the coalition had the numbers to pass pretty much anything they damn well pleased. So, it remains to be seen whether an Abbott led government would actually be in a position to deliver on promises such as bringing back the Pacific Solution, Work Choices Lite, and a great big tax on business to pay for a parental leave scheme.

Of course, the real question is whether or not Kevin Rudd can arrest the slide in support for his government. Somehow, Mr. Rudd has to convince people that he can turn things around and deliver on his promises. Somehow he has to convince people that if they trust him again things will be different. After the failure of the Emissions Trading Scheme, the disaster of the home insulation program, the embarrassing rorts of the school building program, and the backlash against the proposed mining tax, an increasing number of people already feel that they can no longer trust anything that he says.

At some point a line is crossed when any cause is beyond salvation, and there’s a very strong chance that Kevin Rudd has already crossed that line.

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