The Federal election is still 7 months away and a lot can happen between now and September but perhaps it's a good time to reflect on the past few years and what has gone so terribly wrong for the Government. And it's not even Labor's fault! Or Julia Gillard's for that matter.
Let's focus for a minute on policy. Somehow in the process of juggling a balancing act, Labor, with the help of the Green's and Independents, have passed more legislation and bills than Howard did in his entire political career. Big items such as the Carbon Pricing, Mining Tax, the continuation of the NBN have also occurred but many others pass through Parliament daily and nobody notices. That's because the very act of Governance requires it. Ergo, they are Governing.
Australia is in a better position financially than any other country, is more respected on the world stage than at any time in recent history, and didn't have to sell assets like Telstra to do it.
On the surface, this country is being governed very well.
So, why is Labor failing?
Well, they aren't actually. Oh, plenty will blame Thompson, or Rudd, or the Greens, but the fact is, it's not the fault of any of them. All previous Governments have weathered scandals, infighting and public spats. No Government has been immune from it's own set of problems, but the problems rose quickly.....the PM of the day answered numerous questions on the issue......and they died down just as fast.
From the moment a deal was struck which created a shift in power to
Labor but balanced precariously on a precipice, the Opposition began
their assault. It's widely noted that the intense campaigning against
Labor and Gillard occurs on a daily basis and in some circles it is
denounced as an appalling act of treason (perhaps a bit harsh but the
On the day of a new Parliament forming, the Opposition began placing itself as the echo of Parliament. Every time the PM opened her mouth, Abbott was there to do the same, immediately after. This means that his response is always printed, his Party's thoughts given credence and he ALWAYS has the last word. This is not normal operating procedure for Government.
In the past, the Government has had the job of explaining legislation and bills which pass through Parliament, not to get support, but to INFORM the general public. So, it stands to reason, if the information being passed to the media is immediately refuted as being poor or lacking judgement by the leader of the Opposition, it will have less impact and create a muddle in the minds of many. Muddy the message and it doesn't get through. Simple fact.
Labor have no control over this new phenomenon and the best they can do is repeat their message again and hope like hell that Abbott is not ready with his denigration in the next sound bite. It's very, very clever and is quite obviously working but it has a significant impact on the country as a whole, quite aside from the impact on Gillard's Government.
We are left now with a population who are ill-informed. Through no fault of their own. The message has been twisted so many times it is akin to a Government playing Chinese Whispers and the outcome is waffle which makes sense to no one. Small excerpts of sense make their way out but are few and far between and are generally missed because someone chose to wear glasses that day.
Taking the Opposition (or as someone kindly pointed out to me recently - the alternative Government) into consideration on merit alone let's take a look at what they have achieved for the significant part of the population which voted for them in 2010.
............... Oh dear. Precisely nothing. Frankly, if I had an inclination to vote Coalition, I'd be feeling pretty damned ripped off about now. How can they be considered an alternative Government if they have not been practising any governance? All Oppositions in the past have put their stamp on bills and legislation in some way, shape or form, ensuring that those who received their vote had a say. Even prior to this Parliament, Independents contributed to debate and added to the outcomes. Here we have a Party which achieved almost 50 percent of the vote and it has silenced them in Chambers. Unless it is derogatory, inflammatory or an outright 'NO', they have contributed zilch.
They had a unique set of circumstances this time around. With a hung Parliament they had the opportunity to inject a huge part of themselves into the daily workings of government but chose instead to concentrate all of their efforts on getting rid of Labor.
Admittedly, all Oppositions have a duty to tell the population why they are a better option. They have a duty to speak up in Parliamentary sittings if they object quite strongly to something being said or done. They do not however, have a duty to follow a Prime Minister around the country and the world, ensuring they have the last word. They do not have a duty to declare a government unfit at every minor stumble along the way. They do not have a duty to sit in very expensive chairs which the taxpayers fund....and do NOTHING.
They have become so effective at these 'skills' through practice and determination, that the media are now going along for the ride. They have them so convinced that Labor will lose it is frankly feeling like Abbott now has more say in this country than his superior. And no matter which side of the political spectrum you sit, that should not sit well with you.
The PM is in Western Sydney this weekend to talk to residents about the plan to tackle increasing crime in the area. Guess who popped in to say "Labor have a dismal record on crime?" Go on....take a guess. Oh yes, Abbott. With script in hand and smug grin, he fronted the media immediately following Gillard, and said precisely NOTHING. After his little speech, was anyone wiser as to what his plan would be? Ah, nope. Did he mention he even had one? Not as far as I could tell.
I bet it works though. Tomorrow's articles will have parts of her speech, followed by parts of his, and his will be what people remember. It seems they have a plan alright, and it consists of just one thing, WIN THE ELECTION! I suppose they will worry about actual governance later.....
Very, very clever. And quite insidious.