Prime Minister Gillard’s decision to conduct an eight months long federal election campaign is either a bold move by an arch-strategist, or a sign of desperation. The problem with extremely long lead-times, as anyone in Project Management knows, is that the longer the time frame, the more likely things will go wrong. Of course this will apply to the opposition Liberal/National Coalition just as it does to the Gillard government. But the odds are that the Gillard minority government, having to deal with emboldened ‘Australian Greens’ under the leadership of Christine Milne and restive independents, Oakeshott, Windsor, Wilkie and Katter, is more of a witches’ brew of double-trouble than a unified ticket. Opposition leader Tony Abbott would have to make a number of significant mistakes and miscalculations to lose when the votes are finally cast on September 14, 2013. Unfortunately at this time of Australia’s political history, mediocrity, lies and cover-ups are the norm. The recent arrest of Labor MP Craig Thomson, long under investigation for corruption whilst Secretary of the Health Services Union (HSU) may be of no significance to the Labor Party. Gillard has had luck, or guile, on her side. She survived the Peter Slipper saga of late 2012, a leadership challenge by former Prime Minister (& Foreign Minister under the Gillard government) Kevin Rudd in early 2012, and today the announcement came that Craig Evans and Nicola Roxon, two key frontbenchers, are leaving the Ministry. The political left have galvanized around their constantly besieged Prime Minister so, the Labor juggernaut keeps rolling on. Unfortunately, the Abbott opposition, for most of 2012, did not press home the attack on Gillard, preferring to ‘do her slowly’. This tactic may say more about Abbott’s own inability to garner support among his colleagues. He should have acted swiftly and with prejudice. Unbelievably, at Abbott’s launch of the Coalition campaign at the National Press Club, Canberra, he, in ‘self-deprecating’ style, said that he was quite comfortable with the knowledge that not everyone liked him. Hardly an opening line that inspires confidence. Australia 2013 will muddle through an extremely long and tedious election campaign, unless something unexpected breaks. It won’t really matter who wins the September 14 poll because of the mediocrity of the party platforms, the timidity of proffered policies and the lackluster people who lead the political process.
By Dr. John Bruni, Director SAGE International