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Abbott is gambling that Rudd will continue to flounder in the run-up to Australia's polling day

By Mark Wallace
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Liberal_Party_of_Australia_logoFor a nation famous for bullish straight-talking, Australia's election campaign is proving to be a surprisingly tentative affair. 

As Paul reported last week, Tony Abbott has the air of a man playing it safe. His coalition has maintained a poll lead for a long time, and neither Rudd's return nor Abbott's poor personal approval ratings have so far affected that headline voting intention.

It's a measure of what kind of campaign this is that one of the few sources of controversy is a proposal to buy up old fishing boats in Indonesia in order to prevent them being used by asylum seekers. This has not been a titanic clash of radical ideas (though it's worth noting that, unlike us, Australian politicians are able to seriously proposing a return to government surpluses during the next few years).

Perhaps the Opposition don't need to make too many waves, though. The Australian reports Labor MPs privately giving up on Kevin Rudd and instead focusing on saving their own seats, while it's emerged he has been using taxpayer-funded jets to make such crucial appointments as recording a cookery TV show.

Abbott's strategy is a calculated gamble, based on the assumption that Rudd is going to flounder his way to polling day. There were hints in the leaders' debate this week that the Prime Minister still has some fire in his belly, but it is hard to see how even a drastic change in form could turn things around for Labor at such a late stage.


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