The federal election might still be seven months away, but things are so grim for the Labor Party that minds are almost certainly being turned to a 2013 version of The Embassy Rooftop Strategy.
“It’s time to start wheeling the choppers out of their hangars,” an ALP veteran said yesterday, in reference to an operation mounted by a handful of MPs, party officials and government staffers before the 1996 election.
There is very little doubt now that Julia Gillard’s government is going to lose on September 14, and lose badly. Labor realists predict privately that the result will be worse than Paul Keating’s 1996 defeat; worse even than the anti-Whitlam routs of 1975 and 1977.
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In 1990 – that dim and distant past when trolls were just mythical Scandinavian cavedwellers and only expert cooks and photographers thought they were expert cooks and photographers – US author Mike Godwin created Godwin’s Law.
Godwin’s Law states that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”
The law’s an easy way to call out lazy hyperbole.
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As Tony Abbott pressed the flesh at a community morning tea in suburban Melbourne on Wednesday, there was a moment of delightful candour.
“If I don’t win this election I’ll have to leave the country,” he told a well-wisher. “I’d be the world’s greatest pariah.”
Just a couple of hours after that, Julia Gillard fired the starter’s gun for the longest campaign in Australian history with her announcement that polling day will be September 14.
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A beaming Kevin Rudd and a streamlined Joe Hockey revived their celebrated double act this morning with a renewed gig on Seven’s Sunrise.
For the first time in six years the two-some returned to make clunky jokes and self-serving political observations.
Six years ago Mr Hockey, the shadow treasurer, was chastised by some Liberals for promoting Mr Rudd and helping him become Prime Minister. Today Mr Hockey tweeted, “Don’t intend to make him a PM twice.”
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The arrest of Craig Thomson is a political disaster for Labor and Julia Gillard.
It was Labor that put the former union boss into Parliament. It was the Prime Minister who repeatedly defended him and declared “complete confidence” when questions were raised about the alleged misuse of low-paid hospital workers’ union fees to pay for prostitutes.
The Thomson saga has become a massive distraction for Labor that threatens to frequently derail its election-year message.
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The decorum of Tony Abbott’s Libs versus The Fibs election strategy revealed today didn’t last long.
The Opposition Leader presented a nicely-nicely persona, a bloke who wanted policy to the fore and who would not call Prime Minister Julia Gillard a liar. He would merely make broad references to fibs.
“So my pledge to you is that I won’t say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards because fibbing your way into office is what’s brought our public life into disrepute,” he told the National Press Club.
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Prime Minister Julia Gillard has done the right and brave thing in telling the country when the election will be. Right because it focuses the year on policy and takes the focus off process.
Brave because it cedes her prime ministerial prerogative to keep Tony Abbott guessing.
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Despite her denial, Julia Gillard has indeed called on the world’s longest election campaign by nominating September 14 as polling day.
The Prime Minister today was daring Tony Abbott - and to a lesser extent Kevin Rudd—to put up issues of substance or fall behind in the political debate.
And in yet another of the demonstrations of strength she has come to feel necessary, she has made clear she does not intend to be cowed into an early poll. Even if the May Budget is badly received or public opinion surveys don’t lift the way Labor wants, she will go to the voters on her terms, and on her timing.
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