It had to happen eventually. Kevin Rudd's popularity has gone into decline, and the Labor party now trail the Liberals in the latest polls.
According to a May 3 Essential Research poll, Rudd's approval rating has fallen to 46%, down from 71% a year ago. The Liberals lead Labor by 51% to 49% on a “two party preferred” basis according to polling by Newspoll published in the May 4 Australian.
Although this poll may be an aberration, it is still a very bad sign for a first term government to be trailing an opposition party that has been so reviled by the public for the past few years, and who are now led by person who is perceived by many as a mean-spirited religious extremist.
One can only imagine the tantrum Rudd's staffers had to endure upon delivering the bad news to their boss.
The mainstream press has largely blamed Rudd's “lack of ticker” for the government's dive in popularity. Indeed, the Rudd government's list of worthwhile achievements is short, but their inability to satisfy the Australian people comes down to a lot more than the willpower of one individual.
A great deal of the swing against Labor has to be attributed to their utter betrayal of their promises and their contempt for the people who voted them into office November 2007. Rudd's initial popularity stemmed from the Australian people's desire for change, and the fact that he was not former PM John Howard.
However, even before they were elected, the ALP's policies never matched their rhetoric. Their term in government has been characterised by an unyielding commitment to style over substance.
The ALP was elected on the back of a mass campaign against the Howard government's anti-worker Work Choices laws. Rudd “tore up” Work Choices with great fanfare, replacing it with the extremely similar “Fair Work Australia”.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission continues to harass and prosecute building workers, who are subjected to harsh laws that only apply to workers in their industry.
These laws take away the right to silence and the presumption of innocence, as well as the right to access trade unions. The supposed party of the workers will happily fraternise with corporate executives while prosecuting workers who dare to take industrial action.
Much has been made of Labor's postponement of the Emissions Trading Scheme until 2013, thereby abandoning any pretence of taking action on what Rudd called “the great moral challenge of our generation” — climate change.
Rudd's overblown rhetoric was already proved hypocritical by his coal-friendly policies and pathetic 5% carbon pollution reduction target. The pro-business ETS would not even have achieved this target.
At the Copenhagen climate summit in December, Rudd showed that behind his rhetoric on climate change was a policy of protecting Australia’s polluting industries and shifting the burden of reducing emissions onto the Third World.
The continuation of the Howard government’s racist Northern Territory intervention is a bitter blow to Aboriginal people and their supporters who believed Labor would finally help them after Rudd's historic apology to the stolen generations.
While Labor continues using the Liberals’ racist justifications citing “Aboriginal dysfunctionality”, the intervention is driving many social indicators backwards.
And after promising to respect the human rights of refugees, Labor has stooped to abusing some of the world's most vulnerable people — refugees from war zones in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka — for cheap political points.
There's more, of course. The education system remains under attack, with school league tables designed to widen the gap between rich and disadvantaged schools.
The funding of school construction projects has been marred by allegations of overpayment of developers — a stark example of corporate welfare while schools go underfunded.
The "reform" of the health system has been driven by Rudd's desire to rebuild his personal credibility. The planned internet filter is so unpopular that the government has shelved it until after the next election.
Rudd's PR-driven regime is hostage to opinion polls and corporate media scare campaigns, revealing their complete lack of substance and integrity. The lies and deception that have oozed and slithered out of them over the past two-and-a-half years are now coming back to haunt them.