Is there anything more to be said about Julia Gillard’s September 14 election announcement? Of course there is. As the dust starts to settle quite a few things are starting to become clearer. And one or two things have even come into sharp focus since the cabinet reshuffle.

Don't worry Joe, the feeling's mutual Photo: Lyndon Mechielsen

Where do we start? Perhaps at the apparent finish line on September 14. Who will be PM? Will it be Julia or Tony Abbott? Or someone else? It also depends on whether Julia will still be leading the party on Election Day or whether, after a few more terrible opinion polls, there will be a move against her.

Julia may have named an election date, but that doesn’t mean she’s beyond challenge. Of course, her defenders will say that it would be disloyal to talk about a leadership challenge during a so-called “election campaign”, but this is still a phony election campaign.

The real election campaign usually begins when the Government enters the caretaker period once the Governor-General dissolves Parliament. Of course, that’s the precedent, but we live in a time where some precedents don’t mean very much. We have been told ad nauseam that it’s unprecedented for the PM to give away the election date so far in advance, but that didn’t stop Julia.

And that’s where it gets interesting. Julia claims that announcing the election date of September 14 was about giving the Australian voters “certainty”. Did the Australian voters even want certainty regarding the election date? It’s hard to tell. Given that it’s so far away, it’s a bit like when the kids ask their parents “Am I getting a present today?”

Simply telling the kids “No, not today, but you will in 227 days time” won’t keep them quiet for very long.

For the average voter, the date is just too far away to really mean anything. For the rusted on Labor voter, the more distant the date the better, one would think.

For the voter who has had enough of the government, it’s more likely to be seen as stringing out the saga for another 227 days. Those voters will probably only harden in their dislike of the government and they will simply wait, as they did in the 2010 NSW state election, to deliver massive swings against the Gillard government.

By announcing September 14 as the election date, Julia has effectively made the date a target for the opposition in same way that fixed-term elections in New South Wales make the election date a fixed target every four years for the opposition.

That’s not a problem for a strong Government, but the lead-up to a fixed date can become a death of a thousand cuts for a government which is struggling with waste, scandals or is in terminal decline.

The longer the opposition knows the “fixed” election date in advance, the worse it gets for Labor, for the simple reason that the opposition can preselect all its candidates and can start lifting their profiles in the electorates.

For opposition candidates, it’s all about name recognition in their electorates, and outside an election campaign that’s hard to come by as voters don’t expect or want them to sully the electorate with their posters. But with Julia having announced the election date, these opposition candidates will be given much more latitude to lift their profile or “campaign”, and may even be welcomed by those voters desperate for any sign that a change of government is within sight.

So while opposition candidates are chipping away in key electorates, Labor ministers will be stuck in Canberra trying to run their portfolios. These ministers will undoubtedly get nervous, especially when they remember what happened to John Howard in 2007. Maxine McKew was out in Howard’s electorate, lifting her profile, while he was busy running the country. She eventually toppled him, of course. If it can happen to a PM, it can certainly happen to a minister.

Dangerously for Julia, her ministers may spend the year being distracted by the goings-on in their own seats. Will policy-making suffer or will policies simply be developed with the upcoming election in mind? Even worse, will unpopular but necessary decisions be avoided entirely?

Or will we get a better quality policy debate, as predicted by Julia’s supporters? Perhaps the “debate” will degenerate into a slanging match between Julia and Tony about who is being more transparent and accountable about policy initiatives?

Hang on a minute - isn’t that what’s been happening already? In any event, there can’t really be any meaningful policy debate until after the May Budget as there’s no point talking about policy initiatives until we know how much money there is to play with.

Needless to say, the conspiracy theories will continue. Did Julia announce the election date to appear as a leader, or was she simply preempting any possible by-elections? Were the departures of two senior ministers just coincidental? What if any more senior ministers resign in coming months?

A flurry of resignations would not be a good look for Julia. While we generally don’t know why ministers or MPs resign before an election, it would be interesting to see internal Labor party polling in the lead-up to any such resignations on the government’s side.

One thing is for sure. If Julia wins the next Federal Election, many will claim to have been part of the electoral success. But if she fails she will be very lonely. That’s assuming she will make it to her designated election day.

In the meantime, there’s been one very interesting development - Chris Bowen taking up the small business portfolio. Few ever get the chance to correct previous wrongs, and even fewer have the courage to do so. Bowen will now get that opportunity.

Will Bowen rise to the occasion and finally deliver on the policy work developed in opposition with the help of leading competition and consumer law experts? We won’t need to wait very long to find out, as Bowen will need to move very quickly to do the right thing. After all, there’s an election coming up and Bowen will undoubtedly want to retain his seat.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.

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    • Swannie 13 says:

      05:16am | 06/02/13

      Watching Paul Murray on Sky last night they were saying ‘internal Labor sources’ reckon the last nail is well and truly in Rudd’s coffin. Apparently now Swannie is the one that might replace Julia. Are they serious?

    • TimB says:

      07:14am | 06/02/13

      ‘Apparently now Swannie is the one that might replace Julia. Are they serious? ‘

      Oh please, I hope so! Swanny has all the charisma of a doorknob. You think the ALP’s primary vote is bad now? If Swan gets thrown up as leader, watch the figures drop faster than Swannies hopes of delivering a surplus.

      Although if the ALP have resigned themselves to losing, Swanny would make a good sacrifice to protect a semi-competent future ALP leader from being tainted by an election loss.

    • Borderer says:

      09:22am | 06/02/13

      @TimB
      I disagree, I want Jules at the helm the whole way. I want her to see her party annihilated at the polls. I want her to know it was her hand that did it. I want her to be on the hook, not writing a book on how she could have won it if only she had stayed in charge…. I really think that’s only fair.

    • Mouse says:

      03:37pm | 06/02/13

      @Borderer,  + 1 big tick, my sentiments exactly!  :o)

    • SAm says:

      05:58am | 06/02/13

      Uhck. I cant stand pollies kissing babies. Dont they see how terribly cliched it is?

    • acotrel says:

      06:04am | 06/02/13

      ‘Julia may have named an election date, but that doesn’t mean she’s beyond challenge. Of course, her defenders will say that it would be disloyal to talk about a leadership challenge during a so-called “election campaign”, but this is still a phony election campaign. ‘

      The fact that this appeared early in your article shows your desperation to find some way of attacking the government.  Abbott will have to suddenly become creative beyound dreaming poisonous ways to smear government pollies.  Australia needs leaders with vision, constructive innovative people with good ideas.  The way things are going Abbott will really have to resort to kissing babies. The wind is whistling into one of his ears and out the other.

    • nihonin says:

      06:54am | 06/02/13

      ‘The way things are going Abbott will really have to resort to kissing babies. The wind is whistling into one of his ears and out the other.’

      Guess that would be better than proving you can give away more of your arse to form government, and then make an arse of being in government wink

    • Christian Real says:

      07:06am | 06/02/13

      acotrel
      Abbott hasn’t got any vision beyond smear campaigns and muck raking, totally lacks ideas and policies and reading his body language everytime he is ta;lking you know he isn’t telling the ‘Gospel Truth’

    • nihonin says:

      07:22am | 06/02/13

      Christan Real, as opposed to how many Julia Gillard’s have the people of this country had to ‘get to know’ since she ‘slipped’ into the role of leader of the ALP?

    • ramases says:

      07:38am | 06/02/13

      Actually I don’t see it that way, acotrel.
        Didn’t Rudd only yesterday say he had full confidence in Julia and backed her all the way, the very same words that she used before knifing him in the back.
        Deja vu or an omen of things to come. Of course someone plotting to stab someone in the back would profess complete loyalty to that person much the way Julia did and stay close to find that little something that will trigger a coup. It seems to be in the DNA of the Labor Party to offer with one hand friendship and loyalty and on the other hold the knife.
        I do agree that Australia needs leaders with with vision, constructive innovative people with good ideas but we are yet to see that in this Government.
        What we have seen is lies, spin, failed policy after failed policy on even the most simple of things, wasted money and a PM more worried about keeping power at all costs that the Australian people are just an annoyance that she could well do without.
        We have seen a person who has so many makeovers that nobody, even herself, knows who the real Julia is as she undergoes transformation after transformation at a whim, the latest being the studious School Marm bit with the glasses.
        But then again with people like you and Christian Real and others of your ilk barracking for her she is sure to be beaten as those who can think for themselves see the lack of qualities of the people who support her.
        Keep up the good work, you are helping Abbott no end with your usual drivel and attack dog stance which has no substance in reality but a lot to do with reading from the book of Labor, the new religion for the mentally challenged..

    • ZSRenn says:

      07:38am | 06/02/13

      Don’t you love acotrel and Christian?

      They are the coolest pair of misogynists
      you will ever meet!

      Smear campaign by Abbott, indeed!

      The PM’s problems, boys are her
      own invention and nobody else’s.

    • acotrel says:

      07:44am | 06/02/13

      @nihonin
      How did Abbott slip into becoming leader of the LNP ? Did George Pell offer the members of the LNP a free blessing ?

    • acotrel says:

      07:47am | 06/02/13

      @Christian Reality
      You are correct about Abbott’s body language.  He obviously failed Acting 101 when he was a Rhodes Scholar .

    • nihonin says:

      07:55am | 06/02/13

      Is that all you have acotrel, you’re slipping.

    • Wayne says:

      08:11am | 06/02/13

      Oh and I guess Labor have never used smear and innuendo against Abbott?  - That’s all they do.  They can’t can’t make the argument based on their record in Government, so they attack the opposition leader as a misogynist or anti-female, and they use the handbag brigade to do it - gutless!.

    • Ted says:

      08:17am | 06/02/13

      Australia needs leaders with vision, constructive innovative people with good ideas.

      It is not by surrender all your democratic rights to the mob that we will be able to move forward.

      Under the system we have and we will always have strong leaders with strong vision and constructive ideas to rob the hard working battlers.

      FIVE MPs will fly around Australia for life at taxpayers’ expense when they leave parliament with a gold pass.

      The outgoing MPs will also get generous pensions and, after serving 20 or more years, they all meet the requirements for a lifetime travel card.

      Former attorney-general Nicola Roxon, whose pension will top $120,000, is not eligible as she served less than six years as a minister and has only 15 years in parliament.

      What are you going to do about this king a pure discrimination when we have the asset tests and not them?

      Did you vote for that?

    • Noisy says:

      08:21am | 06/02/13

      @ramases

      Couldn’t agree more. Well said.

    • ramases says:

      08:22am | 06/02/13

      nihonin, maybe its because even acotrel has seen the writing on the wall but has dug a hole so deep with his defence of the indefensible that he knows not what he does. The wheels have fallen off and he is left holding an axle with his cronies holding the other side to stop Labor tipping over the edge before we have a chance to throw them out.
        I hear the Labor Pary has a new theme song based on the Coles add, its called “Down , down the polling is down” and is quite catchy. Everybody sing along, “Down, down the polling…......................................

    • PW says:

      08:30am | 06/02/13

      “It seems to be in the DNA of the Labor Party to offer with one hand friendship and loyalty and on the other hold the knife.”

      Not just Labor, Champ. History is littered with conservative political assassinations as well.

    • acotrel says:

      08:39am | 06/02/13

      @nihonin
      ‘Is that all you have acotrel, you’re slipping. ‘

      Do you mean I have actually done better ?

    • acotrel says:

      08:41am | 06/02/13

      Ronald Reagan - Now THERE was an actor !

    • acotrel says:

      08:43am | 06/02/13

      @ZSR
      ‘They are the coolest pair of misogynists
      you will ever meet!

      Smear campaign by Abbott, indeed’

      ‘Takes one to know one’ ?:

    • acotrel says:

      09:01am | 06/02/13

      ‘Oh and I guess Labor have never used smear and innuendo against Abbott?  - That’s all they do.  ‘

      Well it is so easy when you’ve got plenty to work with.

    • acotrel says:

      09:11am | 06/02/13

      @ramases
      ’ maybe its because even acotrel has seen the writing on the wall but has dug a hole so deep with his defence of the indefensible that he knows not what he does’

      The writing certainly is on the wall. People voted for Pauline Hanson purely out of empathy.  They knew they would look just as stupid in her position, and identified ith her.  Abbott is trying to take on the role of the normal guy as an underdog deserving of a place in heaven. He might succeed in becoming PM, then we will all know the truth about him - he has nothing t o offer.

    • Ken Oath says:

      09:44am | 06/02/13

      Yep Labor sure wins the policy race. They have thousands. The trouble with most of them is that they are either sending us broke or they simply can’t get them to work.

      What Labor don’t realise is it’s not only about policies it’s also about performance and personality. The Libs have proven performance and when it comes to personality, well Labor have all the integrity and trustworthiness of sharks. Especially when there’s blood in the water.

      So even if they had no policies at all (a Labor myth) the Libs still score two out of three. In the minds of most Australians at best Labor gets a one.

    • Mat says:

      10:12am | 06/02/13

      @acotrel & @Christian Real - defeat looms for you both because this ALP will be devestated come September 14. Many on the Punch Blogg provide many details of the bungled policies of the ALP (too many to mention, so I wont) but let me advise you of what people are saying (in my circles - which are many incl business associates & sporting institutes & friends/family) - They say they do not trust the ALP, they think they are grubby, they think the P.M is grubby, they think many of (not all) the ministers are grubby, they think they will go to the polls with very few success story’s that can not be torn apart, they don’t trust the ALP, they don’t believe they have experience in the business/commercial world, they don’t like being told what to do or how to live their lives, they sorn at the billions wasted, they loathe Swannie (just loathe him), they hate the spin (really can’t stand the spin), hate the union conections and influence, the plan to re-direct wealth, lack of accountability so on and so forth but this is what nearly ALL say. Some don’t have a great deal of respect for the NLP I must say/admit (and no one likes the Greens that I know). But by my own estimate the ALP are gone BIG TIME and so many say they will get punished for many policy stuff up’s, the issue (right or wrong) of deep corruption and implimenting policies (to suit their own ideoligy) or to stay in power the no one voted for. This is how I see it - now I don’t know what electorate you both live in and how you see it (other than blindly supporting the ALP) but I cover a lot of Melbourne and regional VIC and deal with many many people and if my mail is how it will wash up (yet to be proven) then the ALP just may be sent back to the cave days (which is a real shame for many who have followed them all their life) - that’s just how I see it in my travels, but we will find out soon enough.

    • Ken Oath says:

      10:21am | 06/02/13

      I’ve even heard rumours the Greens have added to Labor policy with a manifesto on the politically correct way to fold toilet paper. No scrunching will be allowed. That practice is decidedly anti-social, is wasteful and inefficient and leads to the death of more trees and thus contributes to global warming.

    • Zack says:

      06:06am | 06/02/13

      Sept 14th gives Australia more time to bang on about Craig Thompsosn and the carbon tax plus we saw how prolonging the pain angers voters as seen in the NSW/QLD State elections. Labor needs to think smart - get Rudd back and call a snappy. Now Julia’s Ministers Conroy and Burke are part of the Obeid scandal the problems just keeps piling up for Aussie’s worst PM.

    • acotrel says:

      07:55am | 06/02/13

      Rudd was shafted with good reason.  Do we really need a micromanaging control freak running the country however brilliant he might be ? A manager he might be, but not a leader. Team building is not his forte. The speculation about a possible leadership challenge from him is just wishful thinking on the part of LNP supporters.  They really need SOMETHING - anything. Abbott on his own won’t get them there .

    • acotrel says:

      07:59am | 06/02/13

      There is nothing new about politicians of all persuasions working the system in Australia. Who really cares ? ‘You pay peanuts you get monkeys.’

    • Mr Sam says:

      08:13am | 06/02/13

      Rudd and Abbott both family man with success as millionaires or Rhode scholars. Tony is a health sports man and Rudd can buy the best health care. When you look at those details I can see why you dislike them aco. Sorry bud, some people have to be losers, you get my drift cobber.

    • maria says:

      08:40am | 06/02/13

      Craig Thompson…..Conroy and Burke are part of the Obeid scandal Gold pass perks add to ex-MP nest eggs

      A democracy is a society in which the citizens are sovereign and control the government .

      A mafiacracy or a mafiocracy is a society in which the mob are sovereign and control the the hard working people.

      Can you spot the diffence the difference?

      Direct democracy is a way to check political power.
      It allows benevolent and enlightened citizens to oppose laws made by the mob .

    • acotrel says:

      09:19am | 06/02/13

      @Mr Sam
      Would you want their jobs, if you had the necessary ability ?

    • Mr Sam says:

      10:29am | 06/02/13

      acotrel, it isn’t about me wanting their jobs, I’m one of the top 5% of earners in this country. It is about you and your inability to achieve which is why you relate to a failure like Gillard. And she is a failure. Some scientist you turned out to be smile

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:39am | 06/02/13

      Frank
      I think this is the first time I have agreed with one of your articles.

    • geosat says:

      08:44am | 06/02/13

      Simon Benson, is that you? Still going for the challenge I see
      I notice you have assumed the NOalition are going to stick with the unelectable Abbott.

    • True Blue Ozzie says:

      08:44am | 06/02/13

      Abbott has not had to work hard to win the next election, Labor on the other hand, has been nailing down there coffin ever since Gillard knifed Kevin. Since that time the players have trashed there party to the point of no return. I’m sure the old Labor guard, would be seething to see the party they worked so hard for, being trashed in this manner. Gillards early election call will back fire on the Labor Party for sure, scandel after scandel, all Abbott has to do is stay online, keep tidy and come out with their polices at the right time, Not when Labor tries to force these out of them. No Party in there right mind would release there polices and costing so far out from the election.

      Gillard is the wost PM I have seen in my life time and thats no joke! Forget the sexism thing to, I’m a women, and find Gillards leadership a disgrace to the real women of Australia. She has failed to perform in the highly respected position of PM, lack’s diginity, respect, honesty, pull’s the sexist card when her polices are slamed. What really gets my hormonal hair rageing is those ever so flashy plastic Hollywood scripted media statements, and the condescending attitude of her speeches! It’s so false and sickering! The G.G wont do a thing because Bill Shorten is her son-inlaw, and he’s been named a few times for Gillards possible replacement. For labor to ever be the strong political force it once was, will take major changes along with a complete line up of new blood.

    • Ken Oath says:

      08:57am | 06/02/13

      There is no way in the world Rudd will contest the leadership before the election. He has a much longer range plan. He knows Gillard and Labor are going to get smashed while he is fairly safe in his seat. A lot of his enemies will be routed. After the election he will be begged by what’s left to take over the leadership again and the vindication will be sweet for him. Then like the true messiah he is he will lead Labor to glory at the next election.

      Did I get that vision right Kev?

    • Mr Sam says:

      10:40am | 06/02/13

      You sure Gillard won’t go for a hat trick? His success will seal her shame forever more.

    • Mr Sam says:

      10:40am | 06/02/13

      You sure Gillard won’t go for a hat trick? His success will seal her shame forever more.

    • TrueOz says:

      11:24am | 06/02/13

      “...there’s been one very interesting development - Chris Bowen taking up the small business portfolio.”

      Yet another (is that the 5th, or 6th Labor appointment to small business) worthless, air-thieving, career union hack / politician. Exactly what small business needs. Gillard and are so wonderfully insightful.

    • Russ66 says:

      12:08pm | 06/02/13

      Whatever side you are on, folks, I reckon that has to be the best photo I have seen in a very long time! Priceless! Joe, get a copy and hang it in your office. It’ll put a smile on your dial every day (and any visitors!).

    • Rosie says:

      12:35pm | 06/02/13

      “These ministers will undoubtedly get nervous, especially when they remember what happened to John Howard in 2007. Maxine McKew was out in Howard’s electorate, lifting her profile, while he was busy running the country. She eventually toppled him, of course. If it can happen to a PM, it can certainly happen to a minister.”

      The above is exactly what I have been trying to say since Gillard announced the up and coming election date! Why wouldn’t the Opposition take advantage of an election date announced at the beginning of the year for the end of the year. All Labor MPs are welcomed to do a ‘John Howard’ and busy themselves in Canberra preaching and implementing for the already converted while the Coalition make themselves known in their electorate convincing all Australians that a change of Govt is warranted and there before them stands the alternative!  Again I say ludicrous and utterly stupid to announce an election date 8 months in advance! If Gillard was working for a company she would have been booted out for all her bad judgement.

      So far today on TV we have seen people connected to Labor, some faces charges, some trying to justify to suit their agenda, some trying to ward off their connection to what we know happened in NSW during the state’s Labor reign. It just goes on and on!

 

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