Following Budget Week Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has taken a slip in the polls, now trailing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for the first time. We need to improve our standing ahead of this year's election. Here's a few ideas I was thinking of.
This campaign should be about the past vs the future. Labor has a plan to take the country forward, whereas the Opposition remains, as always, relics of the Howard era. I think the trap we find ourselves in now is that the debate is being framed as winners vs losers; a contest which Abbott (and the media) thrive on.
Abbott didn't come up with one substantive policy idea in his budget reply on Thursday night. So, instead of campaigning negatively and saying he's inept (which he is), lets contrast this with our plethora of policies. People are turning away from us because they know what we stand for and they don't like it. Do they know what Abbott stands for?
Lets move away from talking about the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) and talk about our solid track record of economic policy, our commitment to health, the way we have improved schools with a once in a lifetime building program, our commitment to a sensible population policy, our determination to ensure our nation's security. Yes, we've started the job we were elected to do, but by no means are we finished yet.
Why wait to campaign launches to give landmark speeches? I keep harping on the 100th anniversary of the Fisher Government that transpired a few weeks ago because I see many parallels. After years of Conservatives taking the country for granted, the Fisher Government was the first to make the tough calls, establishing the Commonweatlh Bank, the Navy and many other things we take for granted now. All the while the Opposition opposed these measures due to short sighted, narrow minded views.
So the PM should frame this landmark speech in this fashion. If I was writing it, it might be called Building for the Future, in fact that might make a good general campaign slogan, which all ties into our strengths. I believe that all we should be doing is focusing on us, the more oxygen we give Abbott, the more he thrives. He will try to make it into a contest of Kevin v Tony, we should instead frame it as a contest of Labor frontbench v Liberal frontbench. This is where our advantage lies.
Policy vs populism is a contest we win every time.