As we mentioned here, there is a growing paranoia amongst the Australian people, and some quarters of the media, that prime minister John Howard is holding off announcing the date of the federal election in anticipation of a Big Event that might turn the tide against a humiliating defeat at the polls.
The short version of this suspicion is 'Howard Needs Terror'. Murdoch journalist Andrew Bolt was probably the first to clearly state that a terror attack in Australia could be of great benefit to John Howard. Back in July, Bolt dreamily fantasised about how :
"...something might yet turn up that will make us appreciate anew his vast experience and steadiness under fire...if there were to be another terrorist attack...(we could) admire his firmness in handling it."The 'Big Event' scenario popped up again last night in a discussion on Lateline. The interviewee is Michael Costello, a columnist with Murdoch's The Australian newspaper :
Costello : In 2001, events were absolutely crucial. Not so much Tampa as people think, but what was absolutely crucial was out of the blue, 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. That totally turned things round and it's worth remembering that even so, with all that going for them, the Government only just got across the line, 51-49.If President Bush has already made his decision that the US and Israel will go to War On Iran before Christmas, you can rest assured that he has already told his good mate John Howard about his plans. Hundreds of Australian troops in the south of Iraq would likely become targets for retaliatory strikes or terror hits by Iran, or the Shiite militias, so Howard would need to get them out of the way. Hopefully.
Q: So the Government's hanging out waiting for a disaster?
Costello : No, no, I'm just saying events can happen.
If terror threats elevate as polling day grows near, you can expect to see the 'Steel Wall' security fencing used during the APEC conference back on the streets of Sydney. The government has a three year lease on the five kilometres of ten foot high security fencing. It's being stored in Darling Harbour, only minutes out of the city centre, along with dozens of the white mobile 'prison' buses that were used to block off entire streets during the anti-Bush protests a few weeks back.
If you were being funneled through gates in that fencing, lined with police, to cast your vote on election day, would you be more likely to vote for Howard or Ruddley-Do-Right?