As we head into the third week of the election campaign, the people I come across in businesses, at the shops and at airports appear underwhelmed.
Our politics and the media in particular can seem a little feral when compared with many other places. Perhaps we secretly like a bit of political biff or, as others prefer to say, ''cut and thrust''. Our five-week campaign normally provides hours of conversation among family and friends each week. Not this time. Two weeks have gone by and not much seems to have changed.
'He is out to prove a point and this seems to be his driving force.' Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
That might be because we seem to have had a three-year election campaign and it is hard for the major parties to make anything sound new and fresh. It is also because, as between the major parties, not much has changed.
Labor provided the chance of a fresh new campaign with the re-election of Kevin Rudd. A reinvented leader just might have generated some spark and enthusiasm for the last legs of the long campaign that minority government has forced us all to endure. That hasn't happened.
We have seen this Rudd movie before. We didn't like it last time and it is proving no more palatable this time. Rudd doesn't look fresh in himself. Rattled and off the mark are the descriptions that I most often hear.
Many of us are fully over having to witness his addiction to adoration. School children always like a visit from someone important and provide endless ''selfie'' opportunities, as do shopping centres. It may bolster Rudd's confidence or ego but it tells us nothing about what he really thinks. That is the Prime Minister's biggest problem.
Let me take just three examples.
Tony Abbott has announced that he will make no deals with independents to secure power. It might seem rash to some but in reality it is very sensible. After Julia Gillard's experience of minority government, why on earth would Abbott want to take that on himself or, for that matter, burden us with such a nightmare?
Abbott took the upper hand on this issue. Rudd was left trying to convince us that, even though Labor will preference the Greens, it won't govern with them. Who believes that? The significance of that move should not be underestimated. Rudd is left, yet again, adopting - or seeking to look as though he is adopting - his opponent's position. It leaves people wondering what he and his party really believe.
Second, whatever Rudd says about border protection will not erase from the public's mind the fact that he was opposed to the Howard government's strong policies. I was the Coalition minister for immigration for a fair while and I remember the ridicule and scorn that Labor heaped on our position. Rudd told Australians it would be sensible to undo those policies. Now he says the voting public made him do it. He never takes responsibility for what he said having proven to be a disaster. In any event, today he is following Howard government policies.
And third, the same thing has happened with Rudd's new-found interest in developing the Top End.
When Abbott proposed his policy several months ago, Labor poured scorn on the idea. Now, it seems Labor has had a change of heart and actually likes the idea. No wonder people don't know what Labor believes.
The constant changing of position also serves to confirm what I suspect voters already know. Rudd is about getting power rather than governing well, as opposed to getting power in order to govern well. There is a big difference.
Many Australians believed he was served badly by a treacherous deputy. Her perceived disloyalty and sneakiness sat on her shoulder throughout her time as PM. They wanted that wrong put right. Now that has happened. Gillard going provided a boost in voters' minds and thus in the polls for Labor.
Voters have set things back where they should have been before Rudd was unfairly knifed. And the electorate has rid itself of a woman people disliked with an uncommon intensity. Now there is nothing left to focus on but the PM and his record.
In an odd kind of way Gillard was one of Rudd's greatest assets, because she was a magnet for voter anger. He could and did masterfully play the victim and cast her as the wicked one. Now the Labor stage is bare but for him. Now the electorate is focusing solely on him.
There's another point. If the electorate felt he was wronged, imagine how he felt. He is out to prove a point and this seems to be his driving force.
The point for Rudd, however, is not just that Gillard and her team wrongly did him over. He knows they were only able to do that because the people were not supporting him in the polls. He knows it was this lack of public support for him that allowed his colleagues to depose him.
Rudd is not only out to show Labor how silly it was to get rid of him. He is out to show us we were wrong. He is after a vengeful triumph. There is nothing more satisfying for narcissists.
Amanda Vanstone is a columnist for The Age and was a minister in the Howard government.