As we enter the final week of the campaign, all the indications are that Tony Abbott and the Coalition have fallen short in their improbably near-run attempt to limit Labor to one term. If this happens, there can be few losers of Australian elections who have more richly deserved their fate. Sadly, there can be few winners who have deserved it less than Labor, on the basis of its performance since the abandonment of the ETS and the axing of Kevin Rudd. (In the event of an upset, both judgements would still be true). The media, for whom horse-race metaphors like the one I’ve used to title this post, seem to be the best they can do, can share in the credit for this depressing business.
A few probably forlorn hopes: First, it will be some consolation if the Greens win some Lower House seats. The very unlikely event that they might hold the balance of power in both houses would be the just reward to the major parties for their appalling performance. Nothing is impossible, but the odds against are long.
Second, win or lose, the ALP needs to sack Karl Bitar and his crew, and intervene in the disastrous NSW branch. The combination of corruption, thuggery and incompetence displayed by this mob is breathtaking, and they are a huge millstone around the neck of the Labor party.
Third, given the general dishonesty of the campaign, I would be perfectly happy to see Julia Gillard dump her absurd idea of a citizen focus group, and proceed to implement the climate policies we all know to be necessary.
A final point. When the Coalition has looked like winning, various people have pointed to this mildly snarky post in which I predicted we would never see another Liberal government. My point was not that Labor would be in forever, but that the Libs and Nats would have to merge before they could win. That has in fact happened in Queensland, which makes the continued existence of a separate, but permanently coalitional, National Party in NSW and Victoria even more absurd. But obviously, I was expecting Labor to stay in for at least two terms. At this point, I’m willing to renew my prediction, though obviously it’s a matter of probability rather than certainty. To be clear, I expect the Libs and Nats to merge at a national level before they regain government.