Ratty Howards dodgy politics

Manjit Bhatia

Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

In the final countdown to the Oct 9 ballot, most fast-food opinion polls say the deft Australian Prime Minister John Howard's chances of winning his fourth term still look 50-50.

Meanwhile astute bookies also give the opposition Labor Party little chance of knocking out Howard's conservative Liberal-National coalition.

Yet this election isn't about who best governs Australia; it's about Howard himself. Howard has been looking twitchier lately than when he called the poll on Aug 29. Then, as he declared that 'truth in government' as this election's theme, the retiring Captain Arne Rinnan slid the MV Tampa into Sydney harbour.

It was like a ghost-ship taunting Howard. The Tampa, SIEV4 and Iraq war disasters have shoved Howard's credibility, festooned since 2001 as 'mean and tricky', to the forefront of this campaign.

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