It seems there are more and more Aussies coming out of the woodwork 'round these parts these days, so it seems appropriate to start having a discussion about our election that will be coming up in the next 9 months or so.Latest polling figures
The narrative is that the Coalition are a shoe in next year, perhaps in a landslide. Indeed, the Two Party Preferred numbers seem to suggest this. Added to that is the ALPs big problems in Western Sydney that mean they are going to need well over 50% of the vote to form government.
However, Australia's political landscape has become increasingly presidential. Our elections are now about the leaders, not the parties, and Abbott is getting increasingly on the nose. It seems that the attacks on Gillard may have peaked early, and the electorate is increasingly over the hatred and vitriol directed at the PM. This has been the oppositions big weapon for the term of this parliament; they have been playing the man (or woman, as it were).
In the meantime they have made no real attempt to present an alternative government, aside from saying "we are the alternative government". There is barely a single policy on the table, and that's to be expected, it's not the oppositions job to present policies until election time. But what happens when they do? No doubt they will go hard on the carbon tax; an issue that Australians went from being in support of in record numbers, to being totally opposed, to now not really caring because it turns out to have not really had an impact on our lives, and most of us want
to be doing something
about climate change. Whether or not that is something effective is secondary. The carbon tax lets us feel good without having to pay for it, so it will likely be at best neutral for the Libs. Ditto the mining tax, rather than being the destroyer of all things Australian, it turns out to be a bit of a nothing, so that will have little bite with the suburban "battlers".
The opposition don't seem to be interested in opposing the National Disability Insurance Scheme, because that's a vote winner for the ALP, the question is, how do they neutralise it? They will get on board, but then they have to say how they will pay for it. Which comes to the crux. When the policies do get announced they are going to be uncosted (again), because all the things they oppose will reduce the tax base; the very tax base that is paying for all the things that people want. Ultimately, they are going to have to release their industrial relations policy, which no matter what it actually says, Labor will be able to tar with the Workchoices brush.
In the end, however, I think it's going to come down to a teenage popularity contest. And this is where the Libs are in trouble. Abbott has an image problem, largely because he is an unlikeable person. Not that Gillard is a likeable person, but Abbott comes across as a vicious, self-serving narcissist. The events of the last week with James Ashby are going to hurt them deeply, after six months of arguing over the non-issue of Gillards alleged misdeeds in the 90s they have set the agenda on personal integrity. Now the ALP have the beautiful soundbite of a "conspiracy to change the government" coming from the mouth of a judge. Whether the ALP can manage to get this message of the Libs being an immoral group of gangsters hell bent on power at all costs with no actual plan for running the country is the big thing; if it's one thing that the ALP under Gillard represents is the inability to manage a message.
The polls are bad for the ALP right now, but when election season gets into full swing and the choice comes down to a scary woman with an annoying voice versus an megalomaniac with destructive tendencies "the narrowing" will be on.
ETA question: Is Turnbull crunching his numbers this week? My guess is a yes.