Abbott’s devil lies in the (lack of) detail

Posted on August 11, 2010


Making predictions in this campaign is a fool’s game, but there is a sentiment emerging that the momentum has shifted back towards Labor.

With Kevin Rudd behaving and playing a team game, and Mark Latham jumping the shark and once more making the transition from vaguely credible to a figure of ridicule, the circus has finally left town.

Julia Gillard has been able to grab the microphone again. She has had a good week.

Strong policy announcements on education and transport, a well received water policy in her home town of Adelaide, and a confident appearance on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday nighthas given Gillard and Labor the best week of the campaign thus far.

Conversely, the Coalition has hit a flat spot and some within are pondering whether Tony Abbott may have peaked too early.

Most talked about today was his performance on the 7.30 Report last night in which Abbott at first stumbled, and then admitted he wasn’t the full bottle on broadband technology.

Liberal spinners were quick to point out this morning that Abbott, when challenged by Kerry O’Brien on peak speeds, was channelling Gillard.

”Just as the Prime Minister says, I say as well, I’m no Bill Gates here and I don’t claim to be any kind of tech-head in all of this,” he said.

The reference to Gillard had been an answer she gave on August 6 in response to a question about the internet filter, not broadband.

”I’m not going to stand in front of you and pretend that I’m Bill Gates and I’m going to be able to dissect every technical aspect about how it works,” she said.

Regardless, Abbott looked awkward on the 7.30 Report.

Whether he is Bill Gates or not, the perception surrounding Abbott that he is not a details guy – a perception Labor feeds daily, usually on the economy –  was enhanced.

That day, the Coalition had officially announced that, if elected, it would cancel a $43 billion infrastructure program, and replace it with a vastly inferior $6 billion alternative.

The motive was saving money, not preparing for the future.

Scrapping Labor’s National Broadband Network is one of the greatest policy differences in this election and it would have suited Abbott to have had a form of words ready in the detail before he went on TV.

Abbott drew attention to his policy by choosing to miss its launch. This immediately raised suspicions it was the stinker the industry has since proclaimed it to be.

Abbott left the job to his shadow minister Tony Smith and Andrew Robb while he stayed in Sydney to announce for about the fourth time that, if elected, a Coalition government would process asylum seekers on Nauru.

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