Gillard will win

Julia Gillard is going to win the next election. There, I’ve said it. I figure someone may as well make this call, since every journalist in Australia already has the election won by Tony Abbott. But I’m not just saying this because I think the labour movement could do with some optimism. I really believe it. And this is why: Abbott is offering a highly uncertain future for Australians, and uncertainty is our biggest fear.

Last week I read Laura Tingle’s Quarterly Essay – Great Expectations; Government, Entitlement and an Angry Nation. Tingle puts together a very good argument. In a nutshell, she suggests that Australians are happy to live in a free market economy, but we only want the upside of this market and expect government to protect us from the downsides.

Tingle’s theory is that we were convinced of the benefits of globalisation and reduced Government regulation by Hawke and Keating, and once we got over our initial misgivings, we embraced the idea that the market can solve any problem. Throughout the nineties, our free market appeared to be going swimmingly – house prices were rising, incomes were going up and Australian exports helped to grow our GDP each year, making our lucky country even luckier. Tingle argues that throughout John Howard’s era, Australians came to expect to have it all – the benefits of the market and Government handouts for everyone (not just those in need) to encourage us to buy houses, have babies, send our children to private schools and to buy private health insurance.

As McMansions blossomed throughout our outer suburbs, the historic Australian identity of ‘mateship’ and a ‘fair go’ was, in my opinion, replaced with a new identity. Unfortunately this new identity was not born from a collective struggle to improve our circumstances. Howard had encouraged people to believe that their individual freedoms – variously subsidised as above by his government – provided their prosperity, at the same time arguing that government does nothing but drain this wealth that middle class people have worked so hard to build. Government spending was no longer seen as a way to improve the circumstances of our whole society, it was now seen as a way to improve an individual voters circumstances – me, me, me. Our new identity is one of selfishness and short term opportunism. A large proportion of Australians believe that they are entitled to an ever improving standard of living, without them having to make a single sacrifice in their life. Government policy is judged on the premise ‘what’s in it for me’, not on the collective benefits to our nation.

You see this attitude in all policy debates, especially asylum seekers (they came here ‘illegally’ so we have no responsibility to look after them), the carbon tax (climate change isn’t going to affect me in the short term so why should I help pay to fix the problem? It’s much cheaper for me to deny the problem exists) and education and health spending (I can afford private health insurance/private school fees, so why do I care how crappy our hospitals and public schools are).

This new free market toy we were given to play with turned many Australians into self-obsessed, whiny, mean and angry people. Just look at how we react to losing swimming races at the London Olympics. It’s a sad state of affairs. But it gets worse. The comfort that this generation of self-entitled Australians felt with their rising standards of living was suddenly fractured by the Global Financial Crisis. Although many Australians still deny that this crisis happened (since it didn’t affect them, it obviously doesn’t exist), for most, the free market suddenly didn’t seem like such a safe place to be. Superannuation funds disintegrated in stock market crashes, the market for credit dried up and house prices declined. It was clear that our international free market was broken and this is when our society’s irrationality really kicked in. Rather than see the limitations of the market, we blamed the Government. This wasn’t just us either, it was most of the Western World. Many of us had already worked out that markets don’t solve social problems, but it came as quite a shock to most people that markets are pretty crappy at solving economic problems too. Kevin Rudd’s Labor Government, to their credit, took quick and clever action to reduce the effects of the GFC on Australians. Rather than being grateful for this, Rudd was suddenly accused of ‘wasting’ our tax dollars.

So let’s get back to Gillard and the next election. The Australian people have a sense of entitlement, but are now also trying to maintain this attitude in a scary and unstable free market. This makes for a very fearful electorate. We want to see our standards of living on an upward trajectory, we want Government services and a good public health and education system and we want the uncertainty of Climate Change to go away. We want a National Broadband Network, but only if it doesn’t cost us anything. We want our government to solve all the problems in our society, many that come with free markets, yet we want a surplus budget and we want to pay the minimal amount of tax possible.

What can Tony Abbott offer this community? His negativity might be entertaining whilst in opposition (and the media sure love it). But as we get nearer to the next election and people have to start picturing him as their next Prime Minister, they will see a leader who offers only uncertainty. Will he or won’t he scrap the NBN and the Carbon Tax? Will he introduce another version of Work Choices? How will he fund his election promises? If he says no to everything, will I miss out on public services that I have come to rely on? Perhaps Abbott really is a policy flake, since he never offers his own policies, just criticises the government. If we’re doing well now, might this change if Abbott is elected?

To win an election, you need to understand the motivations of swing voters, not just those who are rusted on Labor or Liberal. Tingle’s essay helped me to understand Australian swing voters. People are saying that Julia Gillard has lost, but if any of the above is true, perhaps they are all wrong.


  1. Well done you for saying it! I agree. I am no political expert but I am 58 years old and have seen a few elections come and go and I think Julia Gillard will win.

    • I agree with you Denyse and Victoria. Just take notice of TA these days – same old lies and misinformation with his demeanor getting more shriller and desperate.
      It is only a matter of time before those of us swinging voters start really listening and making up our own minds about who is best for this country and at the moment it is looking very much like Julia Gillard to me – hands down.
      I’m now not listening to the MSM but looking to read a much more independent online source for my reading. What I’m reading is encouraging, people are starting to wake up.

    • about anything then you shdouln’t state that Abbott’s religious tradition, which draws from the Bible, is hostile to women. Surely you must expect a counter-view to your own ? Strange that you should want to silence those counter-views or simply denounce them as irrelevant.It is entirely possible to have a degree in Religious History without understanding major chunks of the Bible. In your case you couldn’t parse a few lines on Conjugal Rights without missing or deliberately ignoring the pro-woman contentLook, you may think that opposition to Abortion on Demand is not OK, fine, but the issue at hand is whether or not Abbott’s opposition to Abortion On Demand is because he is hostile to women.The obvious rebuttal, that his motivation is pro-Fetal life and not misogny, seems too plain for you to handle at the moment.

  2. “I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
    That we’re done and we might as well be dead,
    But I’m only a cockeyed optimist”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one in Australia. The change is coming and Abbottitis will soon be seen for the deadly disease it is!

  3. Nice post and I hope you are right with your assessment, but I fear you have ignored a significant issue in the electorate. Ignorant Apathy. The uninformed or ‘difficult to educate’ follow the call of the media and those spoken to in the media. They are angry with Gillard. Why? They don’t know, but someone they heard was angry and that’s enough.

    Perceptions are everything and sadly, ignorant perceptions are much easier to spread because neither those spreading the perception nor those receiving it need to justify their conclusions.

    • There’s no apathy in Queensland any more. Queenslanders mostly are absolutely disgusted by the Newman government and beginning to fear Abbott will do the same. Even Abbott fears the angst Campbell Newman is spreading because he knows they’ll turn away from LNP in droves. I have always believed that Julia Gillard will be leader and that she’ll lead ALP to victory. After Campbell Newman’s little effort I’m certain of it.

  4. Victoria – further to your last point (“If we’re doing well now, might this change if Abbott is elected?”), I would alert you to the most recent (2012) report of the University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. In table 6.1 (page 25) of volume 7 (Families, Incomes and Jobs), which presents data on real household annual disposable income from 2001 to 2009, we see that, notwithstanding the GFC, median household income grew by 5.3 per cent in 2008 and 6.2 per cent in 2009. This compares to just 17.6 per cent for the six (Howard) years 2001 to 2007, averaging a mere 2.8 per cent a year over this period.

  5. My desire is to ensure Abbott never becomes PM.

    I was a member of the Liberal Party but cannot support Abbott as leader or PM.

    I would LIKE a real Liberal Party to vote for, but at the moment we don’t have one!

  6. When I see Julia Gillard confident; self-assured, what a different Julia to the one that the media presented to the Australian people and taught to hate. The ‘early’ Julia was a work in progress. The present Julia was borne out of struggle and determination. What a difference a few tough years will make you become. When I look at Tony Abbott I see a clown: presuming to become PM. Tony does not realise that the MSM may flatter and message the public into believing the ALP is gone & buried but if I were him I wouldn’t just start to measure up the curtains for the Lodge just yet. If Keating could say his last election was the sweetest of them all, just wait till Julia pulls it off and gets re-elected!

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