06 July 2013

Political Boxing

Imagine this - you are watching a heavyweight boxing match between the two best boxers in the country.  One boxer has been on the attack for the first nine rounds whilst the other boxer has been grimly hanging on, hoping for that one chance to launch a rare counter attack.  Then, round ten starts and, all of a sudden, the boxer who has been on the back foot for most of the fight launches a couple of upper cuts.  The other boxer is stunned, not only by the force of the hits, but also by this unexpected aggression from his opponent.  The attacks keep coming and the roles are reversed.  The aggressor is now defending, and the defender is launching blow after blow.

This analogy really sums up what the current political situation is here in Australia.  Since the last election back in 2010, Tony Abbott and the Liberal-National Party have been on the front foot attacking the Government and, in particular, Julia Gillard.  In scenes reminiscent of Groundhog Day, Abbott has been espousing phrases such as "we will stop the boats" and "we will get rid of the Carbon Tax" over and over again.  As well as reminding all and sundry about how the Prime Minister got the top job in politics.

The Government had no option but to go into defensive mode.  Things like justifying the Carbon Tax, explaining why the former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was ousted, grimacing as the opinion polls showed that the Australian Labor Party was heading for a virtual wipe-out at the September elections.  What could the government do? The sharks were circling, it was only a matter of time before the blood letting would start.

At the eleventh hour our hero arrives.  He is nerdy looking, has a distinct mop of grey hair, wears glasses and looks like an older version of the Milky Bar kid.  Enter Kevin Rudd.  Yes the man who was ousted by his own party had been re-elected as Prime Minister of Australia.  Virtually overnight the opinion polls showed a large swing back to the ALP.  Instantly frowns started to appear on the Opposition's brows.  The easy fight they had been experiencing for three years was about to get much harder.  The worm was about to turn.

Rudd is a clever politician. He knows that he must nullify the only two real policies that the Opposition have made public.  These relate to the Carbon Tax and the refugees fleeing from Indonesia, via boats, to Australia.  Rudd also knows he has to attack Abbott and try to get under his skin.  Tony Abbott is not popular with the electorate despite the polls showing that he would be Prime Minister at the next election, this is the Opposition's Achilles heel and must be exposed. 

So what has Prime Minister Rudd done in just over a week?  Quite a lot really.  He has indicated that Australia will move to an Emissions Trading Scheme rather than an fixed price Carbon Tax.  Rudd has also had talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) about the 'boat people' issue.  SBY has made it clear he will not agree to Australia towing the refugee boats back to Indonesian waters, as indicated by Tony Abbott. It is a policy that will not work and gain favour with the Indonesians.  Within a few days, the two main policies of the Opposition appear to have been stifled.  Now it is Abbott with the problems and not the Government.  

Rudd pulled off a masterstroke this week.  Challenging Tony Abbott to a series of debates about the Government's and Opposition's policies for the forthcoming election.  Abbott, not surprisingly, has declined.  

Since the 2010 election Tony Abbott has not appeared on 'Q and A', a programme that enables voters to question a panel of politicians and non-politicians questions about relevant topics.  Abbott has not appeared on the ABC show 'Lateline' for more than a year and a half, Insiders for a year and Radio National Breakfast for a year.  For whatever reason Abbott seems to have a phobia of appearing on shows where he can be questioned in relation to the policies of the Opposition.

This has lead to Kevin Rudd saying that Tony Abbott "does not have the ticker" to debate him.  The word "ticker" is a clear reference to the comment ex-Prime Minister John Howard said of Opposition Leader Kim Beasley when asked if he thought Beasley could run the country.  In fact, Rudd took this further by saying that Abbott could take his 'assistant' John Howard along to the debates as well.

Rudd has come out with all guns blazing ala Milky Bar Kid style.  This has caught the Opposition, temporarily at least, off guard.  The upper cuts from Rudd are making their mark.  Now it is Abbott and Co waiting for the bell to ring to re-coup and try to come out fighting in the last two rounds.

As for Rudd, he has one objective.  That is to win the election.  At the same time we can expect him to continuously attack Abbott and the Liberal-National party.

One thing is certain, this is going to be a messy election campaign up to and including polling day.

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