For Labor supporters, 2013 holds great promise. An election is scheduled for later in the year, when Julia Gillard will ask the people of Australia to elect her Government for another term. The alternative is an Abbott-led Coalition Government.
The year has started well for the PM.
She has announced terms of reference for the Royal Commission on Child Sexual Abuse, appointed the Commissioners, and set the timetable for reporting. It has been widely acclaimed.
She has also reaffirmed her passion for implementing the Gonski Report, and initiating the NDIS in 2013. Her ‘message to Australia’ printed in the Herald Sun
, shows her commitment to an Australia that is both strong and fair, but also smart, one built on a great education for all. Her message, one written from the heart, is inspiring.
I wonder how Tony Abbott’s message to Australia would read. If the recent promise on the Liberal website: Our plan to abolish the Carbon Tax
is any guide, it would include a recital of how he would destroy Labor’s carbon pricing scheme before it could morph into an emissions trading scheme in 2015, how he will abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and how he would implement his Direct Action Plan, one he still has to explain to the people. He might mention how he will ‘demolish’ the NBN, although his ability to do that, or for that matter abolish the ‘carbon tax’, is questionable. No doubt an Abbott message to Australia would reflect his usual negative approach that seeks to destroy what Labor has worked so hard to achieve.
After a brief holiday with her recently widowed mother, PM Gillard return to Kirribilli to host a reception for victims of child abuse, one that showed her empathy with them and her determination to see them receive a hearing and justice. The media gave the event good coverage. She has since visited fire-ravaged areas in Tasmania and New South Wales.
Tony Abbott said he was carrying out firefighting duties, well publicised in the media.
I suppose the letup in media items adverse to the PM and her Government is attributable to the end-of-year break and holiday time for journalists who specialise in such writing. But it was surprising to read Sid Maher’s article in The Australian
on 7 January nominating Julia Gillard for the newspaper's 'Australian of the Year'. It began: ”If any politician has shown resilience, endurance and determination in the face of adversity it is Julia Gillard. Ms Gillard starts the year as the nation's preferred prime minister ahead of Tony Abbott despite a year of political turmoil in which she soundly defeated a leadership challenge from Kevin Rudd and faced down a concerted opposition attack on the carbon tax.”
It ended with a reiteration: ”Her resilience, endurance and determination in the face of adversity make her a worthy nominee for this newspaper's Australian of the Year.”
Of course, she may not be nominated. We remember how Kevin Rudd was successfully selected a few years back, accompanied by a flattering photo of him against the background of his library shelves, only to be pilloried by that newspaper thereafter.
Will Tony Abbott be on the list of nominees to be judged ”by a panel of senior editors and the winner announced on January 19 in The Weekend Australian.”?
What will he and his supporters feel if he is not on the list?
While individual polls of voting intention have no value in predicting election outcomes this far from an election, the accompanying questions do give some insight into the opinions of those polled on a variety of topics, on the relative popularity of the leaders, and the how voters regard their political attributes. This Monday’s Essential Report
, shows that in the four months since September 2012, Julia Gillard has improved her ratings on virtually all the positive attributes, some by a substantial margin, and she has rated lower on nearly all the negative.
says: ”Gillard’s key attributes were hard-working (72%), intelligent (72%), out of touch with ordinary people (53%), a capable leader (50%) and good in a crisis (50%). Almost all positive leader attributes for Gillard moved up from the last time the question was polled in September 2012. The biggest shifts on the positive attributes were on a capable leader (+7%) and good in a crisis (+7%).”
Tony Abbott too has improved his ratings a little on the positive attributes, but has slipped on the negative attributes. As Essential
puts it: “Abbott’s key attributes were hard-working (70%), intelligent (64%), arrogant (61%), narrow-minded (56%), aggressive (55%) and out of touch with ordinary people (54%).
But it is the comparison of the leaders that is most revealing.
Julia Gillard rates higher than Tony Abbott in almost all positive attributes, some by a considerable margin, and lower than him in negative attributes, again by a considerable margin. The Essential Report
reads: ”Compared to Tony Abbott, Julia Gillard is seen as more likely to be considered good in a crisis (+11%), intelligent (+8%) and a capable leader (+7%). Abbott is regarded by significantly more respondents to be arrogant (+14%), narrow minded (+11%), intolerant (+12%) and erratic (+11%).”
That just about sums it up, and explains to some extent the difference in the leaders’ popularity.
This week’s Newspoll
, reported here
, shows little movement in popularity. Julia Gillard has a satisfaction rating of 38 (up two) and a dissatisfaction rating of 49 (down three) giving a net rating of minus 11, while Tony Abbott's ratings were 29 (up one) and 58 (down one) giving a net rating of minus 29. That speaks for itself.
In the preferred PM stakes, Julia Gillard gained two percentage points against Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister and now leads by 12 points: 45 to 33 per cent.
The gap between PM Gillard and Opposition Leader Abbott is wide, and widening. The gap reflects what the electorate sees as the growing difference between the nation’s alternative leaders.
Labor supporters will be encouraged by the six point rise in Labor’s primary vote to 38% in Newspoll
, way above its dismal depths last year, and the fall by two points in the Coalition’s primary vote to 44%, giving a TPP of 51/49. While we should avoid any feelings that this result is predictive, it is certainly more reassuring than a movement the other way. What is
of some predictive value is the trend of recent polls, which both pollsters and analysts agree is moving in Labor’s favour. Possum Comitatus’ Pollytrend
shows this clearly even before being updated by the latest Newspoll
, and Andrew Catsaras’ Poll of Polls will show it when Insiders
resumes. These trends point in a positive predictive way for Labor. So while the gap is steadily widening between how the electorate regards PM Gillard and Opposition Leader Abbott, in Julia Gillard’s favour, the gap between the TPP of the two major parties shows a steady narrowing trend.
All this is good news for Julia Gillard and her Government as they approach the predicted tumult that will surely characterise the election year as Tony Abbott bares his teeth and shows again all his destructiveness, as he pulls out all the negative stops, as he engages in hand-to-hand, bare-knuckle combat, as he tries to land the killer blow that will flatten his opponent on the canvas bruised, bloodied and defeated and entitle him to raise his hand triumphantly and claim the prize he has always believed should have been his from the beginning.
The gap between Tony Abbott’s pipe dream, and the reality he now faces in a resurgent Julia Gillard, is wide and widening. It may never close.
What do you think? This piece is posted to give TPS users a chance to try out the features of TPS Mail, which will be launched later in the weekend.