As pollster-after-pollster gauge our opinion about the election in two weeks time, I thought I’d share what’s going through my mind. I’ve already been polled four times this election because I live in an electorate in Brisbane that could turn.
Both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are intelligent men who, I am sure, have the best interests of the nation at heart in their own ways. But I don’t care much for either man who wants to be Prime Minister.
Kevin Rudd – many of us backed you in 2007. We also backed you to become Prime Minister again this year. We did this because most of us had an innate sense of unfairness about what happened to you in 2010.
We know you’re a perfectionist, you’re demanding, you’re difficult and you can be arrogant and rude; but you’re also smart, articulate and can communicate the big picture to us.
It's been six years of Labor; yes, you got us through the global financial crisis well. It hasn't been a bad six years, but it hasn't been fantastic either.
The failure of the last six years is not all yours; it is the Labor Party’s. I don’t get why grown-up men and women were not mature enough to work with you, rather than against you back in 2010. I don’t get why – if you’re not good at implementing something – someone didn’t sit you down and say: “Kevin, you’ve got to listen.” Very few people are good at ‘getting’ the big picture and articulating it as well as getting things done. That’s why, in the public sector for example, policy areas and program delivery areas are usually separate: they take different sets of skills.
In Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, we had a man with vision who could communicate it; and in Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, we had a woman who could get things done but couldn’t communicate it. Why couldn’t the Labor Party be adults like the rest of us, and get on? Nicola Roxon, Craig Emerson, Wayne Swan, Gary Gray, Julia Gillard, Peter Garrett – that means you. Many, no most, of us work with people we don’t like; or we think we could do a better job; or who drive us insane. But we just get on with it.
So, now Mr Rudd is Prime Minister again, that injustice is dealt with, and we’re left to consider who we want to govern the country.
And that leads me to Tony Abbott.
Tony Abbott - let me start by saying what I like about you.
You’re disciplined: anyone who, at 56, is as fit as a fiddle, is disciplined – I admire that. Your wife seems nice enough and your daughters seem decent young women.
But I’m finding it hard to think of anything else positive that comes to mind. Here's what concerns me.
I don’t think you’re a misogynist; but I don’t think you understand women either. The “sex appeal” comment in relation to one of your candidates was another example of this. She may giggle and think it’s funny; I think it’s demeaning of her intelligence and is indicative of your frame of reference when you think of women. No doubt you'd think of me as an “old bat”.
I think you’re mean to the point of mendacity on some issues.
I think your three word slogans that you string together as a speech are insulting to our intelligence.
The paid parental leave scheme is overly generous and unaffordable.
I don’t agree with your ‘pick the winners’ alternative to the emissions trading scheme. Who will pick the winners, Mr Abbott? You, your Minister Greg Hunt, or the public servants you continually malign and – by the way – Joe Hockey says he’ll cut?
I don’t agree that the rich miners of this country who dig up our natural resources and make mega-millions from it shouldn’t pay a premium on their company tax.
The boat buy-back scheme is the humorous high-point of the election so far.
Your inability to produce costings on your promises make me wary. Very wary.
The thought of Joe Hockey as Treasurer, Scott Morrison as Immigration Minister and Sophie Mirabella as anything makes me shudder.
Your Sydney north shore life also worries me. You went to one of the best Catholic boys' schools in the country; you went to a Catholic boys’ college at university; you’re a Rhodes scholar who enjoyed the genteel life of Oxford and you live in one of the nicest areas of Sydney on the northern beaches. What could you possibly know about the life that most of we ordinary Australians have lived?
And then there’s this to both of you, Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott.
Just how are you going to afford everything you’re offering us?
I’m just a humble maths teacher – not an economist – but I can tell you, none of it adds up. None of it, gents.
Any of the costings you do give us ignore years 5 and 6 of the outyears which are where the big hits are going to come from. What are you counting on to be able to afford it? Another mining boom? Greater company profits and, therefore more company tax? More asset sales? But there’s not much left.
There’s the GST of course. But you’ve both said that’s out of the equation. Mr Abbott says it’s in the tax review they’re having even though he’ll “never” increase it –so why include it in the review?
Based on the debate between the two alternative Treasurers during the week, I do find Chris Bowen's calm professionalism more reassuring than Joe Hockey's school-yard hectoring.
Finally, in case you’re reading this and think it has to be Greens, think again also. They are spoilers, and it’s easy to be spoilers with big-spending promises when you know you won’t ever run the country – at least not in the lifetime of me, Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott or Christine Milne.
So, as I tell the pollsters, I’m still undecided on how I vote.
What I do know is I don’t want a landslide.
I think a democracy should be close, as that’s how governments are held to account and ideas and policies are continually tested which is, ultimately, the best for our nation.