Promises, not policies, from pollies kick off 2013 campaign

WHEN a grainy picture of two politicians sharing a beer becomes one of the stories of the week, you know it's been a lacklustre start to the 2013 Federal Election campaign.

That one of those politicians was embattled former Labor MP Craig Thomson and the other Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, made it news.

But whether it was newsworthy enough for Sydney's The Daily Telegraph to run a front page depicting Albanese, Thomson and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as characters from Hogan's Heroes, is debatable.

In fact it felt like the Tele was in the news as much as the politicians during the first week of the campaign.

It's bold front page on Monday calling on voters to "kick this mob out" left Labor in no doubt it could not count on the paper's considerable clout for support during the five-week campaign.

The other big story of the week - former Queensland premier Peter Beattie's political resurrection - was greeted with a headline of "Send in the clown" on News Corp's Courier Mail.

Mr Rudd's reaction has been to take the bait.

The long-running cold war between Labor and News Corp is now an armed conflict. It's a war Labor is unlikely to win.

Policy announcements were light on the ground this week.

Labor wasted little time in making its first major policy announcement - a $450 million fund to boost before and after hours school care - although technically it was made before the writs were officially issued. The announcement was held in Parliament House and was extraordinarily low key given it was day one of the campaign.

As for major policy announcements that was about it for Labor, which instead made a series of small funding promises across the country.

Labor instead spent much of the week whipping up fear that an Abbott government would hike the GST to pay for its promises.

One of those promises, the biggest and most expensive announced by either side during week, was a $5 billion promise to cut company tax by 1.5% from 2015.

They were at pains to stress it would be funded through already announced savings measures and not changes to the GST.

Labor runs the risk of coming off as desperate if it continues down this path.

Mr Abbott's call for a judicial inquiry into the roll out of the home insulation program was the other big pledge from the Coalition, which has so far resisted the urge for a cash splash to buy votes.

Not surprisingly attacks on the carbon tax was the other feature of the Coalition's strategy during week one.

And the predictable, petty squabbling over the timing, number and format for leaders debates began within hours of Mr Rudd calling the election and was not resolved until Friday morning.

Maybe they should have discussed it over a beer.