Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Campaign Launches

Now that both 'campaign launches' are done we can compare the two. In terms of tone Howard's struck me as something of a farewell event. Most of the lengthy affair was spent bashing Labor, calling people communists etc. It's the 21st century people, reds under the bed might get a few chuckles in retirement homes but it falls flat for the rest of us.

On the other hand Rudd's launch was short and punchy, about 1/2 an hour. After a perfunctory kicking of the Liberals he got straight to business. I got the impression of this being the culmination of something he's been planning for a long time. It didn't seem seat of the pants and unlike Howard, he didn't need to try to recapture his ideological ground. It was obvious that Howard had strayed onto Rudd's turf in his attempt to match education spending. Listening to the two of them, especially Howard's contempt for computers, it was obvious that Howard didn't realise that Rudd has believed in this stuff since at least 1998. That conviction was certainly conveyed.

When it came to actual substance I was amazed at how little there was in terms of new stuff from Howard. He spent $9 billion basically copying the 'education revolution' and adding a little extra. There was no mention of any other issues, except to continue the sound-bite scare campaign. Mark Vaile, to his ever lasting shame, got up in front of a coalition crowd in Queensland and didn't have anything new to offer on water, rural infrastructure, rural health or the future of the bush. It continues to amaze me that there are people living in areas where you're pretty much dead by the time you're diagnosed with cancer still vote National.

On the Labor side, well you can't say that there's no vision. The stuff Rudd laid out, even if he only meant half of it (which I doubt) will light the way to a competitive future for Australia. A move away from maintaining an economy for its own sake and actually making it work for people. Personally I'm hopeful that it'll mean a move towards actually making use of the incredible potential Australians have. Also he's managed to spend less than the Liberals have which must really sting.

It's not perfect but at least the raw material is there. It looks like there's actually some intellectual realestate for new ideas to develop.