Monday, August 5, 2013

Spot the difference between a reborn contrite Kev and Team Tony - Sydney Morning Herald

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Abbott: 'The people finally get their say'

Tony Abbott says September 7th will 'finally give the people' a say in who leads the country, and defends the Coalition as a "fair dinkum" alternative government.

The leaders of the two main parties are making very different emotional appeals to the people, but promising remarkably similar policy outcomes.

Come-again Kevin has called on Australians' sense of a ''fair go'' to forgive him and give him a second chance.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday 4 August 2013.

Asking for a second chance: "Fair go" Kevin Rudd. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

He appeals for very personal sympathy and a national empathy - we've seen him, he said in calling the election, at ''my highest highs and some of my lowest lows''. He tells us that ''I know I enter this election as the underdog'' bracing for an ''absolute barrage'' of ''daily personal attacks'' from the Liberals' ''massive war chest''.

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Approaching the level of the pitiful for a prime minister calling an election, he actually asked sympathisers to send in 10 bucks.

And contrite Kevin promises that he's a better man now, ''a much stronger person.'' All we need to do is trust him, once more, to run the economy as the country moves into uncertain economic times.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday 4 August 2013.

"The choice is yours": Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

For a man representing a party responsible for a six-year saga of political division and national disappointment, it's his best shot at pretending that what's old can be new. And what party was that, anyway? Rudd made minimal reference to his party. Indeed, Tony Abbott on Sunday mentioned Labor more often than Rudd did, five times to four. Labor's greatest asset is its leader; its greatest liability is itself. This is Rudd's personal appeal for sympathy and support.

You may be tired of seeing his face, but we know him ''warts and all,'' he assures us. Trust the devil you know, in other words, rather than the devil you don't. Try-out Tony, on the other hand, offers the emotional satisfaction of simply cancelling out Labor, the whole experience, the entire era, and all its affronts and frustrations.

''At last, the choice is yours, it's not the choice of the Caucus, it's not the choice of the faceless men, it's your choice.''

He portrays the act of extinguishing Labor as a cure-all: ''There's almost nothing wrong with our country that wouldn't be improved by a change of government.'' This may be emotionally appealing in its simplicity but it is, of course, an impossible oversimplification.

Abbott knows he is unpopular with most voters, so, unlike Rudd, he emphasised his ''team'', which he referred to six times, and the Coalition, which rated another half-dozen mentions.

Knowing he doesn't enjoy as much of the people's trust as Rudd, he contradicted Rudd and said the election wasn't about trust, it was about ''who's fair dinkum''. He asks to be judged on his authenticity rather than his trustworthiness.

As usual in Australian elections, the concentration on the differences obscure the enormous commonalities. Both parties promise a strong economy, both promise to stop the boats, and both promise to cancel the carbon tax as it stands.

Both offer no serious workplace reform, both promise disability care and better schools, yet neither offers credible solutions to the withering revenue they will have to work with.

Fair dinkum.

Poll: Should there be a debate every week between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott during the election campaign? Yes

54%

No

42%

Not sure

4%

Total votes: 8337.

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