Attempting to manage public confidence in the war in Afghanistan, the Labor Party is exposing its left flank in a way that calls into question three decades of political centrism.
These are challenging times for the ALP, with minority control in Canberra, hand-wringing election post mortems and flagging state administrations around the nation. A key theme appears to be ‘Labor has lost its way’.
But what is the ALP way? Since at least the Whitlam era, Labor orthodoxy has been that the occupation of the centre ground was a precondition for electoral success. Careers were built on the tough work of shifting Labor from ideological dogma to more pragmatic policies.
New paradigms notwithstanding, the first week of the 43rd Parliament of Australia has confirmed a continuation of the gladiatorial contests that have characterised Australia’s model of presidential politics.
And that means a confronting truth for both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott: the public’s perceptions of their personal strengths and weakness are central to the success of their respective political projects.
There was a time when character research was a dark art, the province of party focus groups, only dusted of at election time when attacks would be constructed around a candidate’s lack of ticker (read weight) or stubbornness (read age). The modern opinion polling means today it’s all out in the open.
It’s time to put an end to all this partisan negativity. At a time when people are looking to our leaders for vision, it is great to see a political party step up with a long-term vision for the nation.
I am referring of course to the Coalition’s decision to destroy the National Broadband Network and all who promote it and instead uphold Australian values by promoting a more leisurely pace of download.
While the public may be firmly behind the NBN as detailed in today’s Essential Report, I wonder how many have really thought through the implications of faster efficient broadband on their already busy and cluttered lives.
Sometimes a response to a polling question comes along that makes you re-evaluate your preconceived ideas, where the public’s refusal to confirm your gut instincts forces you to have a fresh look at the evidence before you.
Asking people to cast stones at the media’s reporting of the federal election seemed like a simple enough exercise, the public would confirm the media did a poor job and we could all wring our hands about democracy once again denied.
But hold the presses. Something is amiss. Fewer than a quarter of respondents to the Essential Report join the party. One third rate the coverage at election time ‘good’, a further 40 per cent ‘average’. And far more say the media ‘gave fair coverage of all parties’ than thought they favoured a particular side.
As a long-suffering leftie, I thought it was just my fragile ego that was picking up an increase in the intensity of the bucketing I have been receiving from my Punch fan club in recent weeks.
But now we have statistical evidence to prove that the federal election has transformed average Liberal voters from mildly dysfunctional union–baiters into feral class warriors who want to tear down a system that no longer works for them.
Just when it looked like the prospect of a hung Parliament had taken us to a new paradigm of political discourse, where nice trumps nasty and diversity of opinion is respected, the public has sent a clear message: enough already!
After railing against stage-managed elections, two weeks of introspection and pandering to the wishes of non-aligned members has the public calling for a recommencement of hostilities.
According to this week’s Essential Report, a majority of voters want a new election – and even more (70 per cent) believe a new poll is inevitable.
When the political history of 2010 is written, every element of the closest election in a generation will be rightly scrutinized. The winning side will get home by a hair’s breadth but could it be hair that determines the result?
Because there is a minority group whose natural connection with their chief advocate did not translate into votes on August 22 Australia’s rangas turned on Julia Gillard at the moment she needed their support most.
Exclusive hair-based research from the Punch shows that redheads turned their locks away from Gillard, being the least likely hair coloured group to support the ALP.
What a great night to be Labor. As the Party swept back into office with a mandate to lead global action on climate change it seemed like the entire nation had grown a few inches taller.
The energy on the ground made the excitement of Kevin 07’s electoral triumph seem like a mere entrée to the main, as thousands of young people on booths around Australia literally enthused swinging voters into embracing the future.
Read Essential's ongoing research on the public response to Covid-19.Download this week's Report