Posts Tagged ‘Tony Abbott’

Julia Gillard has got what it takes to win, writes Sue Regan

19/07/2010, 05:40:40 PM

The Australian federal election campaign is already proving to be a hard fought contest. Australian elections tend to be volatile and unpredictable and it is far from certain who will come out on top on 21st August. But it does look increasingly promising that the current Labor government could be returned to power – a prospect highly unlikely less than a month ago. So what’s changed? Two bold moves have pushed Labor’s poll ratings from the doldrums to an election winning (just) lead.

The first move was a change of leader. On 24th June, Kevin Rudd, the then Prime Minister resigned in the knowledge that he had fatally lost the support of the parliamentary Labor party, the Labor caucus. Julia Gillard, the then deputy prime minister, stepped up and became Australia’s first female prime minister. It was the first time the Labor caucus had removed a leader in their first term as prime minister. The move was rapid, certainly ruthless and many would say premature. Polling released the day after the coup suggest Rudd could have won the coming election. But most commentators agree that the poll lead now enjoyed by Labor is the result of the Gillard-factor.

Julia Gillard (born in Wales and citing Nye Bevan as one of her political heroes) commands wide public support. Tony Abbot (most famously known for his choice of swimwear) is the leader of the opposition (a coalition between the Liberals and the smaller National Party) and consistently lags in double figures behind Gillard in ‘preferred prime minister’ polling. 


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As Australia goes to the polls, Labor hope for a narrow win

19/07/2010, 05:26:53 PM

On Saturday, after just three weeks in office, Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a General Election. She has moved rapidly since deposing Kevin Rudd. Neutralising negatives on climate change, immigration and on the mining tax she has seen a turn-around in Labour’s fortunes in the polls. The most recent poll gives Labor a 10 point lead over the opposition – 55-45, with votes coming almost equally from the Tories and from the Greens.

This is a high-stakes election, there hasn’t been a one-term government in Australia since the Depression. The (extraordinarily short) three year term gives a virtually automatic re-election to governments. And Labor should be riding high – Australia hasn’t had a recession, the minerals boom continues and the government have done well on issues from health care reform through to the Apology to the ‘stolen generation’ of Aboriginal children. But, as Gillard has admitted, the government lost its way. Rudd called climate change the ‘greatest moral challenge of our time’, and the voters responded strongly to this. Unfortunately, the legislation stalled and rather than attack the Greens and the Liberals who would have blocked it in the Senate, Rudd took all the blame on himself.  The Labor Party fell in the polls and looked unelectable. That’s when the ruthless unsentimentality of Australian Labor kicked in.

And it’s a important election for British Labour. The sister party relationship with the ALP is the closest we have – it’s not just the shared language and the historic links. There’s a living, vital connection. The modernising of Australia led by Hawke and Keating in the 80s an early 90s gave a policy inspiration to New Labour and a friendly home for visitors. In turn when we were in office over the last 13 years many Australians have visited. In 2007 I was able to work on the Australian election and afterwards helped to facilitate links between Australian and British ministers.

To kick off coverage we’ve go two voices. Tom Cameron is an Australian special adviser who worked in Victoria Street before and during the General Election. Sue Regan was until recently Chief Executive of the Resolution Foundation.

John McTernan is guest editing Labour Uncut for the next ten days. He writes for The Scotsman and The Daily Telegraph.

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