15 March 2007

The years proudly spent wearing the tag of Australia's most cunning politician are to Prime Minister Howard's own detriment according to focus group pollster Rod Cameron.

Once the prerogative of clever politics, the term ‘cunning' has come to mean sneaky politics Cameron says of his findings from recent focus groups.

Cameron doesn't think Labor can win the next election, but the attacks on Labor leader Kevin Rudd, he says, have backfired on the Coalition, seriously damaging Howard’s reputation. Rudd is not the person being scrutinized by the public: it’s Howard. The internal polling done by both parties, he suggests, are probably indicating the same thing.

These findings came after federal Health Minister Tony Abbott defended the Coalition's tactics in a recent article. The attacks are not personal according to Abbott; they are legitimate assessments of his character because of, “the slippery way he handled the Burke business.”

Now Howard is confronted by the revelations that he was guest of honour at an exclusive lunch attended by porn mogul Scott Phillips. The lunch was fund-raising event for Liberal MP Andrew Laming in the 2004 election. Phillips was one of 20 guests. He was facing charges at the time and has since been jailed for his violent crimes. A spokesman for Howard has said that he was unaware who Phillips was.

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