With Rudd gone, Libs are on a loser


Lindsay Tanner’s planned retirement is a major blow. If Gillard stumbles, my prediction stumbles with her. She needs a good start to move on from the chaos of recent days.

Judging by her first speech as PM and her first question time performance, Gillard has what it takes to make Abbott look shrill when he attacks her.

Abbott’s poor personal ratings might not have mattered when the prime minister was more unpopular. But if voters give Gillard a chance, such a honeymoon will turn attention back on to Abbott. That will flow on to attention to his policies, his team, and whether the Liberals have learnt the lessons of Howard’s defeat. Voters don’t like to admit they were wrong and that is what they would be doing by ousting Labor after just one term.

With Rudd at the helm voters were seriously considering it; with Gillard they might decide to give Australia’s first female PM the time she needs to succeed or fail on her own terms.

Abbott wants to remind voters that it is the same failed government with a different leader. That argument only works if voters agree that Labor has been a failure. Yes they have had their problems, major problems, including with policy delivery.

But the three biggest problems with Rudd’s first term were his autocratic style, his sudden unpopularity and his unwillingness to consult.

All three are now gone, so watch out Tony Abbott, I say.

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