The invasion of the heavy hitters

19 Jun 2015

Labor’s state election successes during the Howard era propelled ill-equipped party heavies into Canberra. The Killing Season is showing us some of the results

ONE THING all Labor players agree on in ABC TV’s The Killing Season is the sublime nature of the party’s 2007 federal election campaign. Everyone involved, from Kevin Rudd and campaign headquarters down to the drinks carrier, seems to have performed exquisitely. “The best I’ve ever seen,” former treasurer Wayne Swan averred, and he’s seen and run a few of them.

Equally universally accepted is that when Rudd ostentatiously withdrew from the auction for votes ten days before polling day, announcing that “this reckless spending must stop,” he clinched the deal with wavering voters. On screen, it was strategist Bruce Hawker who professed his enthusiasm for that campaign shift.

But the opinion polls tell a different story. Labor entered the campaign with double-digit leads in voting intentions; Newspoll, at the high end, had them on 58 per cent after preferences. By the time of the launch they were on around 55 per cent; on election day the outcome had been whittled down to 52.7 per cent.

So which side ran the magnificent campaign? Whose television advertisements were the more effective? Whose spending promises impressed swinging voters? Impossible to say. It’s fatuous to simply award every campaign to whichever side emerged victorious, but it’s what politics watchers routinely do because there is no other way of measuring them.

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