Australia’s Prime Minister yesterday pronounced Saturday September 14 the date for the next federal election. No one, bar the independents, and the party inner-circle saw this coming at this time, in the first week of parliamentary sitting for the year.
Is it a masterly stroke of leadership genius to seize the political initiative for the new year? Or is it a risky impulsive decision made in a moment of summer madness that sacrifices the Prime Minister’s discretion to time the election for her own political advantage nearer the event?
It is a novel, indeed an historic departure from precedent ostensibly to be aloof from playing political games over the election date.
As her decision she will have to accept responsibility if the experiment proves less than successful. The intent however is to shore up her authority as leader.
Although the opposition is unlikely to have anticipated her decision, Labor’s plan to pressure the opposition into releasing their policies early could go horribly wrong. Tony Abbott and his team have had two years since losing the election they should have won to decide on policies and to plan their strategies. Tony Abbot has declared his readiness to fight an election.
The early announcement gives the opposition more time to study and counter Labor’s ambitious and expensive vision. There is also plenty of time for the government to stumble along the way.
Former Prime Minister John Howard before his last disastrous election campaign knew how to play his political cards. He commenced politicking fully twelve months before the election, but did not sacrifice the element of surprise in nominating the eventual date.
His political point scoring in the lead-up period was relatively low-key. This announcement is likely to bring on without delay, all the political argy-bargy that many Australians dislike.
The reason we do not hold politicians in greater esteem is not so much their lack of candour, as the incessant political point scoring; the over-statement, and gross exaggeration, all for political advantage.
Is it too much to request our politicians to treat their opponents fairly and with respect? Denigration and innuendo do not necessarily win them votes at the ballot box. Furthermore it risks being seen as hypocritical and carping.
When “pollies” start arguing, the public stops listening. Please cut the hyperbole and the vitriol in this drawn-out “campaign”. It does little to improve our respect.
No one wants nine months of acrimonious political debate and bickering. To win, parties will need to present not just a fiscally responsible vision, but an image of fairness, moderation, decency and competence. This will win our confidence, and our vote.
- Australian Election Scheduled For Yom Kippur (israelnationalnews.com)
- Australian PM surprises with Sept election call (news.yahoo.com)
- Costings pressure mounts after Gillard sets election date (abc.net.au)
- This is the start of the world’s longest election campaign (thepunch.com.au)