After three-and-a-half weeks of campaigning in which foreign and national security policy barely got a look in, it's now getting hard to keep up with Prime Minister Rudd's announcements and pronouncements. Let's recap:
- On Tuesday at the Lowy Institute, the PM announced that the Navy's major east coast base would move from Sydney to Brisbane. Our experts weren't kind to the proposal.
- Yesterday the PM questioned Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's temperament to deal with a foreign crisis, calling Abbott 'impulsive' and a 'great pugilist'.
- Also yesterday, Rudd appeared to float the possibility that he might attend next week's G20 summit in St Petersburg after all, during the final week of the campaign.
- In last night's third leaders' debate with Tony Abbott, Rudd expressed reservations about foreign ownership of Australian farmland.
- Today the PM announced that, if re-elected, his government would bring forward acquisition of two new Navy new supply ships as a jobs measure.
- Also important, though not from Rudd: Foreign Minister Bob Carr has ruled out use of Australian troops in any military action against Syria.
Tony Abbott has been more sparing in his commentary on defence and foreign policy, although he has committed to return defence spending to 2% of GDP within a decade. Previously Abbott had put no time limit on that commitment.
One bit of Abbott trivia from last night's debate.
He used the phrase 'there he goes again' in response to what he regard as Rudd's 'scare campaign'. Now, I don't want to say that 'there he goes again' was premeditated, but that phrase does have a place in the folklore of American presidential debating:
Here's Reagan recollecting the line: