5 November 2010
Well the end of week one and what a week it has been. If only. So far we have seen some small to medium sized announcements, as both sides presumably keep their big ticket items until the last two weeks of the campaign. Which is fine for Labor, because they've had four years to tell us their plan. Their campaign began as soon as Brumby became the new Bracks. I think history has taught us that momentum is the key to winning an election.
And unfortunately for the Liberals, their momentum is missing in action - in the first week of the campaign.
Ted Baillieu is a solid performer, and so far this week he has predictably focused on Melbourne's eastern suburbs. It's often said that Jeff Kennett lost in 1999 because the eastern suburbs and the country electorates went AWOL. But the eastern suburbs already vote Liberal, so why is he focusing on ground already won? Why not venture into territories undiscovered, that could help him pick up more seats?
On Thursday night, I finished dinner in Chinatown with a fellow reporter, and as we strolled down Exhibition street, we walked past a number of high profile Liberals. It was highly suspicious, as their HQ is located on the same street, and they awkwardly walked past us and acknowledged our presence. Turns out they had been summonsed to a crisis meeting... just three days into the official election campaign.
There are many reasons why this government should be on the nose with voters. But it's up to the Coalition to make the connection to a "tired government making mistakes" and energise the electorates' mood for change. So far this week, no political reporter has been even slightly impressed.
The Liberals used to mean strong financial leadership in this state, and there's no doubt that Jeff Kennett and Alan Stockdale got things on the move. But John Brumby has arguably been a very good treasurer, and even as Premier one can assume his fingerprints can be found all over John Lenders' draft documents. So if the people throw out governments, rather than electing new ones, then what have the Liberals got to campaign on? Myki is no longer the big issue. The trains aren't fantastic, but neither's London's well respected Tube. Again, it's not enough.
Which brings me to the most concerning point so far: WHERE IS KIM WELLS? I wasn't there when it happened, but the press gallery was laughing about the fact that a newspaper reporter recently asked "Where is Kim Wells, when will we see her?". Thank goodness for Google Images.
An election is not the time to go missing. November 27 is no surprise date. And unless the Liberals can G-up and find their message, find their passion, find their Treasury spokesman, then the biggest story after November 27 could be the slaughterhouse at 104 Exhibition St.
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