Dry but not high
I think the flood levy is poor policy, but it could be worse. What's worse is going in too hard against the levy and offering nothing in return.
There is a huge reservoir of goodwill toward the flood-afflicted, and the sheer stridency of the campaign by Abbott, Robb and Hockey that these people aren't worth five bucks a week is disappointing. If you'd spent the last two weeks sluicing mud and dreams out of people's lives, making do and whacking up temporary measures, you'd appreciate Gillard's worthy if dull contribution.
Those rebuilding their lives and livelihoods see Gillard's shoulder to the wheel; stonewalling drives people crazy when there's a crisis on. Abbott's position of no to this, not to that, and you can't have the other thing either, is dumb politics.
Gibbering on about fat in the budget undermines the Liberal campaign toward a surplus. Any cuts will see Liberal crocodile tears over those affected by them, without any corresponding rise in support from Queensland or anywhere else. I told you, Peak Abbott is behind us rather than ahead.
Queenslanders voted for Abbott in spades, but it's Labor who is coming through for them at a crucial time. Yes, it's two and a half years until election day but some things stay with you. Abbott is four seats from power, but frankly I'd write off the three most marginal federal LNP seats in Brisbane and just hand them to Labor right now. Colin Barnett was smart to distance himself from Abbott and if John-Paul Langbroek has any brains he'll do the same.
This is where Gillard is smart to play the tortoise to Abbott's hare. Kevin Rudd would have announced a panoply of new measures for Queensland right now, and backtracked on most of them. Yes, Gillard should investigate the idea of a natural disasters fund and be a bit more clever about tax structures - but this is all part of demonstrating how inadequate Swan is at the longterm stuff. She'd be stuffed in the face of a smart and determined Opposition, but a scatty smart-alec is much less of an obstacle than Liberals might imagine.
For the moment, Abbott is being dumb and uncaring in the face of public goodwill, while Gillard is just dumb and practical - and as John Howard would tell you, the latter will do. These floods will stay with people, as will resistance to the idea that Tony Abbott has much to contribute once the chips are down (the fitness-freak imagery counts for nothing if you're going to shirk getting up to your eyebrows in mud and sweat when people need you).