It looks like the statute of limitations on “the knifing of Rudd” might have expired. For years one of the things often cited by voters not keen on Julia Gillard was that they didn’t like the way she got the job.
The coup against Kevin Rudd back in 2010 was so swift, so bloody, so brutal, it’s taken the electorate quite some time to recover. But it looks like that recovery might be on the upswing.
It’s been three weeks since the last Newspoll and in that three weeks two things have dominated the political debate - the “gender wars”, which climaxed with Gillard’s world-famous attack on Tony Abbott, and Maxine McKew’s book.
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The Australian political debate is on a repeat cycle with a bunch of issues and themes constantly recurring, to the boredom of a significant slice of the electorate. The voters’ message, often sent via the comment sections of blogs, is, “Get back to me when something happens.”
But the allegations of squalid activities by Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper; the claims Tony Abbott doesn’t like women; the continued nastiness of the Julia Gillard/Kevin Rudd relationship keep reappearing. “It’s like a tumble dryer is on in the background and occasionally you hear a thump and you ask yourself, Did I leave a shoe in there?” said one political observer.
And it’s not the same tumble dryer in every city.
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It normally takes about two hours to get a sense of which way an electorate is going to vote. In Bennelong, the site of John Howard’s humiliation in 2007 where he became only the second prime minister to lose both his seat and the election, the longer you spend talking to voters, the more confused you become.
On paper, Bennelong should be an electorate which represented the peak of Labor’s 2007 landslide, which with a 1.4 per cent margin should revert to the Liberals in 2010.
That is not the case. The giant-killing former ABC journalist and 7.30 Report host Maxine McKew might have won by just 2400 votes, but there are signs this middle-class seat in Sydney’s inner north-west might be easier for Labor to defend than some blue-collar electorates.
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