The latest Newspoll may turn out to be an outlier, but the marked drop in support and approval ratings for both Labor and the Liberal-Nationals, and their respective leaders, does seem to have a logical connection to the diminishing credibility and increasing cynicism and shallowness which both party’s leaders have been displaying of late.
The 16% support level recorded for the Greens is not just a record for that party, but would be amongst the highest recorded for any third party at federal level. Of course it will be extremely difficult for the Greens to retain that level of support once the election is announced and the larger parties start kicking in their millions of dollars in campaign spending – not to mention their leaders’ domination of the mainstream media coverage which inevitably occurs during the campaign proper.
But it makes Kevin Rudd seem almost prescient when he made his now notorious description of government misuse of public funds for self-promotion as a “cancer on our democracy”. No doubt the public are well conditioned to parties saying one thing in opposition and another when they get into government (and vice versa for that matter), but perhaps the speed with which Mr Rudd seems to have done this not only means his denunciations of the previous government are fresher in the memory, but also means memories of the previous government’s own outrages in the same area are also fresher, making it much harder for the Opposition’s cries of outrage to have much credibility.
Still, knowing that both the big parties practice the same abuses when they’re in government that they criticise when they’re in opposition doesn’t do anything to stop it from continuing to happen. The very fact that the vast majority of people keep voting them back in despite this provides a pretty good incentive for them to continue the pattern. It isn’t going to change unless enough people decide to switch their vote to different parties or candidates.