The Libs will be looking to spread some Victorian magic
The Labor rout in Victoria is an undoubted victory for the Liberals, even though there was a possibility they would yet again come in second. It was at very least a huge morale boost.
Julia Gillard will end 2010 with one Labor bastion being pulled down and will start 2011 with the destruction of another —the NSW Government in March. Tony Abbott’s Liberals will have the momentum going their way. Well at least in a parallel fashion. The Victorian election was about state issues, and was not a federal test.
There was another boost for the Liberals, and that was the performance of their Victorian director, Tony Nutt, the former John Howard trooper and once the party director in NSW.
There has been speculation that national Liberal director Brian Loughnane might move on after seven years in one of the toughest jobs in Australian politics.
Since the August election he has been involved in a heated internal debate over funding priorities.
Loughnane has one of the sharpest campaign brains around and there is no suggestion a move is underway to force him out. His wife Peta Credlin is chief of staff to Abbott.
However, Nutt’s success at the weekend has seen his stocks increased within the party. He has reinforced his record as a skilled strategist who runs a tight operation.
There now is a view that should Loughnane decide to leave the director’s post, a ready and capable replacement is available in Tony Nutt. This view has gained some weight in NSW.
Nutt was a feared gate keeper in John Howard’s office and his boss could rely on his honest advice as well as loyalty.
Whoever manages the Liberal, or Labor campaigns of the future, the Victorian poll will not be held as evidence that the Greens should never get preferences.
The Vic Liberals took what they hoped would be seen as a stand on principle and refused to preference the Greens over Labor. In the Federal election the Liberals made sure GreensGreens Adam Bandt was elected in the former Labor seat of Melbourne.
The success of the anti-Green tactic in Victoria does not mean Liberals will never again back a Bandt. Nor does it mean the increasing electoral influence of the Greens has peaked.
The Liberals will look at the issue seat by seat, and with the ALP so vulnerable to candidates from the further-left party in inner city seats, such as In Sydney, don’t expect them to always resist the temptation.
Prime Minister Gillard has been hung out in an uncomfortable position because of the Green wave, and the Liberals are enjoying and exploiting her discomfort.
The Victorian election confirmed there is considerable voter concern about rising household expenses, and that national economic growth and falling unemployment have not eased those concerns.
Household bills keep going up.
So what is the Government seen to be taking as priorities? Gay marriage and euthanasia just to name two. That is a jarring set of imperatives at a time when the electorate wants assurances on fundamentals such as house mortgage rates, not homosexual marriage.
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