Prime Minister John Howard has spent this morning trying to cobble together a compelling story to tell voters about the mixed economic events of the week.
Howard is still trying his best to paint Wednesday’s interest rate rise as a reason to trust the Coalition to manage the economy into the future, while at the same time attempting to avoid taking any responsibility for the rising mortgage repayments many householders will now face.
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To maintain his “sympathetic but not responsible” positioning, Howard says that while he is sorry, this shouldn’t be taken as an apology. Not only has this left many people confused, it also distracted Howard from what should have been today’s main message; jobs.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday revealed that more than 70,000 new full-time jobs were created in October. Although a drop in part-time jobs and a lift in participation saw the unemployment rate increase by 0.1% to 4.3%, the overall increase in hours worked is good political news for Howard.
Rudd, meanwhile, appears to be doing his best to keep his head down and let the interest rate news follow its course. Next week, both parties will attempt to use their official campaign launches – never mind that the election campaign has been running for a month – to build momentum moving into the crucial last week.