Why Has Gillard Picked September 14?

Four weeks ago, I published a post speculating on when the election might be held.

You can read the post here. In it, I speculated on the possibility that Gillard could announce the election date sometime around Australia Day.

In essence, I felt that the election date options were fairly limited. I never thought there was any possibility of an early election in the first half of the year. November was a bridge too far. Assuming an election in August, September or October, it seemed to me there were only a couple of real possibilities.

Whatever date Gillard had in mind, it seemed clear that the year would be dominated by election speculation at every turn.

What would really shake-up political thinking would be a surprise announcement of an election date at the beginning of 2013. There are few precedents for this, although New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, gave similar advance notice of his election in 2011, albeit for different reasons.

I explained some of my thinking in an interview with SBS this afternoon:

In the end, I felt that September 7 or 14 were the most likely election dates, although I opted for mid-October on the basis that the government faces almost certain defeat and you may as well eke out as much time as you can without choosing a date so late that you look utterly desperate.

The more I thought about it, the more I believed that a government on the ropes needs to do something to change the political mood. For months now, the Gillard government has stepped up its attack on Tony Abbott. Whether it was the misogyny speech last October, or the continual allegations of negativity and the demand for Abbott to produce detailed policies, it was obvious where the government’s campaign was heading.

Some see this anti-Abbott campaign as sound politics. It has more than a touch of the 1993 election about it. Twenty years ago, Paul Keating was regarded as an almost certain loser. The country was in the grip of recession, the government was ten years old and John Hewson appeared to be on his way to The Lodge.

In the end, the electorate baulked at change. Keating’s ferocious attack on the proposed 15% Goods and Services Tax undoubtedly changed votes. The Coalition’s Fightback! package contained other policies which aroused fears in the minds of the electorate, especially about Medicare and industrial relations. On election day, there was a swing to the government and it increased its majority. To this day, John Hewson makes wry jokes about Fightback! as the longest political suicide note in history. [Read more...]


Who Says Abbott Should Flick The Switch To Positive?

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have one thing in common: Their lives contain the never-ending irritation of people telling them how they should do their jobs.

AbbottEven their summer break won’t be free of the buzz of gratuitous advice. As much as they must wish to swat it away, politics demands they feign nonchalance.

In their private moments, I kind of hope they rail against the indignity of it. After all, they’re the ones who entered the arena and made it into parliament. As they claw and scramble their way to the top, they must surely know that the rest of us would struggle, as the Americans say, to be elected dog catcher. “Walk in my shoes awhile, you have no idea,” they must sometimes think.

Gillard has had more than her share of advice this year but in recent weeks the political and journalistic establishment has turned its attention to Abbott. The message is a simple one: it’s time to go positive. [Read more...]


Keating And Hewson Do Battle In Censure Debate Over Sports Rorts Affair

The Liberal Opposition Leader, John Hewson, moved a motion of censure against Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating, in the House of Representatives, on February 24, 1994.

Keating had been prime minister for just over two years. He had defeated Hewson at the general election in March 1993. His 1993 Budget had broken an election promise on tax cuts and was widely criticised.

The censure motion focussed on the “Sports Rorts” affair. The Minister for Environment, Sport and Territories, Ros Kelly, had admitted the she used a whiteboard in her office to determine grants to sporting bodies. She was alleged to have favoured Labor and marginal electorates when deciding on grants. Kelly resigned as a minister four days after the censure debate.

Three months late, Hewson lost the leadership of the Liberal Party. He was defeated in a challenge by the so-called “dream team” of Alexander Downer and Peter Costello.

The speakers in the debate were John Hewson, Paul Keating, Tim Fischer and Kim Beazley. The complete Hansard transcript is shown below. The video has been edited by the Parliamentary Sound and Vision Office for broadcast.

  • Listen to Hewson (15m)

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  • Listen to Keating (7m)

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  • Listen to Fischer (14m)

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  • Listen to Beazley (15m)

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  • Watch the Censure Debate (50m)

Hansard transcript of the Censure debate in the House of Representatives on February 24, 1994.

Dr HEWSON (Leader of the Opposition) (3.00 p.m.) —I seek leave to move:

That this House censures the Prime Minister for his refusal to ensure proper standards of ministerial responsibility, for his failure to sack the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories, and for his undermining of the established processes of ministerial accountability to this parliament. [Read more...]


Andrew Robb: The 1993 Federal Election

This is the text of the National Press Club Address by Liberal Party Federal Director Andrew Robb on the outcome of the 1993 Federal Election.

Transcript of Andrew Robb’s Address to the National Press Club.

I suspect this address would have been a touch easier if we’d got over the line two and a half weeks ago.

It wasn’t to be, and I can assure you there is no comfort in having elegant regret.

But everyone ought to recognise that over 5 million people voted against Mr Keating and the Labor Party and the enthusiasm of support for change among our supporters this time was unusually strong.

If 1500 people had changed their mind in certain seats today we would be implementing the Liberal plan. In all of our re-assessment our people must not lose sight of this fact.

Yet, we now face the difficult task of learning the lessons, regrouping and gettingback on the front foot. We must be an effective Opposition, before we can be an effective Government. [Read more...]


1993 Election Night Counting: Call Of The Board

This video shows the call of the board broadcast on ABC television on election night 1993.

The late Andrew Olle hosted the ABC’s election coverage. Antony Green conducted the call of the board.

The call followed Prime Minister Paul Keating’s “victory for the true believers” speech and a sombre concession speech by Opposition Leader John Hewson.

The election brought a number of new members into the House. They included the future Treasurer in the Rudd and Gillard governments, Wayne Swan, and the future Foreign and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

The election also saw Bob Katter’s election to the Queensland seat of Kennedy. He served as a National Party member before turning independent in 2001.

Peter Slipper returned to the Queensland electorate of Fisher as a Liberal member. He had earlier held the seat as a National from 1984-87. Two decades later he would leave the Liberal Party and serve briefly as Speaker of the House of Representatives during the Gillard government.

Phil Cleary won election to the Melbourne seat of Wills, formerly held by Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Cleary won the seat from Labor in 1992 but his election was declared void by the Court of Disputed Returns after he was found to have still held an “office of profit under the Crown” through his employment as a school teacher.



John Hewson’s Election Night Concession Speech

This is the concession speech delivered on election night by the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. John Hewson.

Hewson spoke after Prime Minister Paul Keating had claimed victory in his now-famous “victory for the true believers” speech.

Just days earlier, Hewson had seemed confident of victory. In the end, his campaign foundered on his policy to introduce a 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST). Other contentious policies in his Fightback! manifesto and Paul Keating’s ferocious counter-attack led to a nationwide swing of 1.54% against the Liberal-National coalition.

  • Listen to Hewson (6m)

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  • Watch Hewson:

 


1993 Federal Election: Final Day Video

The 1993 Federal election ended with uncertainty about the outcome.

Most commentators were pessimistic about Labor’s chances in the election. They foresaw an end to Paul Keating’s prime ministership and an unlosable election for John Hewson.

This video is an episode of the ABC’s Lateline on Thursday, March 11, 1993. Compered by Kerry O’Brien, it reviews the campaign and features a discussion between Sydney Morning Herald columnist Alan Ramsey, ANOP pollster Rod Cameron and social researcher Hugh Mackay.

The following videos are all from Friday, March 12, 1993. They show the emerging doubt as opinion polls began to show a comeback for the ALP.

The election eventually resulted in an ALP victory. Its primary vote increased 5.49% to 44.92%. Its two-party-preferred vote increased 1.54% to 51.44%. Keating improved his majority in the House of Representatives with a net gain of 2 seats, defeating the Coalition by 80 seats to 67, with 2 independents.

  • Channel 10 Melbourne News – 5pm:

  • Channel 9 Melbourne News – 6pm:

  • Alan Sunderland – SBS Dateline:

  • An embarrassing attempt at satire – not sure what channel this was on:

  • Clarke & Dawe on Channel 9′s A Current Affair:

  • The 7.30 Report: Paul Lyneham sums up and assorted commentators opine: