As of today – January 15, 2013 – Julia Gillard has been Prime Minister for 936 days. That’s one day longer than Kevin Rudd held the same office. For better or worse, Gillard’s Prime Ministership – and her government – have come of age.
They’re on their own now, grown up and ready to make their way in the world.
The passage of time, a result of the deposing of Rudd, has officially eradicated the taint of illegitimacy pervading the government’s tenure. That wound has healed, although it has undeniably left a scar. Despite the injury, it’s become glaringly evident there can and will be no Rudd comeback.
The Coalition is mired in the past. They rely on long distant happenings to keep their spirits alive and their supporters energetic: Rudd’s departure itself, “The Lie” regarding the Carbon Tax, and the so-called “glory days” of the Howard government, now into its sixth year of anachronism.
The Carbon Tax has been legislated and its implementation has begun. It has had virtually no ill effects.
Little Old Ladies and 2GB listeners have not been required to wither in the summer heat or freeze in front of one-bar radiators in winter.
Lurk merchants and business spivs, trying to exploit fear, uncertainty and doubt over the Tax have been shamed, warned off or prosecuted by ASIC.
Whyalla is still there, inflation remains low, interest rates have fallen, unemployment is steady.
Example after example of electricity bills, waved at the government by the Opposition, have finally been tabled and have mostly been found to be the result simply of increased usage. The Opposition has ceased producing them, too embarrassed to have the reality of their misrepresentations discovered.
The polls are improving. Today’s Newspoll shows a steady improvement. Where, as little as six months ago, a 51-49 result would have been regarded as rogue, it is now accepted as a reliable tallying of the two parties’ positions. The days of tsunami-like wipeouts seem to be gone. The political waves of the government’s fortunes have higher peaks and the troughs are not so deep. The tide is rising for Labor.
#Sensitivetony is now openly mocked in the streets, the cafes, on social media and in Australia’s lounge-rooms.
Abbott’s clumsy attempts at suborning the hapless females of his life into validating his SNAG credentials have fallen not only flat, but – importantly – on the progressively deafer ears of the nation’s women. One speech by Julia Gillard, enraged at Abbott’s smartarsed, grovelling reference to Alan Jones’ “Died Of Shame” meme, had him leering at the start of it, and ruined by its conclusion.
What women – and increasingly men – have noticed is that Abbott surrounds himself with females, alright, but only as his adoring housemaids… doing the ironing and carrying his dirt files. When he comes up against a woman he can’t control, be she the Speaker, a political rival from student days, or the Prime Minister in modern times, he resorts to the bully inside that has always given him empowerment and self-esteem.
Coalition stunts, so long a mainstay, are losing their edge. Tony Abbott playing dress-ups in fireman’s suits, skin tight Lycra and red budgie smugglers is now a national piñata.
If he thinks punters will be impressed that he lets his Chief Of Staff keep her IVF drugs in his fridge and use his toilet to self-administer them, then he has another think coming.
This should be normal behaviour for the boss of an organization, common decency, not exemplary or above and beyond the call of office. The more he arranges for these stunts to hit the front page of the Murdoch rags, the more diminishing the return, it seems even into negative territory.
About the only ones left that take him seriously (or pretend to) are the nation’s media, paid to be his friends with the NBN demolition bribe.
But even they have doubts. The “Home By Christmas” campaign of 2011, designed to shoehorn a bragging Abbott into the lodge by Christmas of that year, has not worked. They are doing it by the numbers now, persisting with their demented trench warfare long past the time when it had any chance of success.
As media resources and manpower are frittered away via an orgy of enterprise and confidence-destroying self-harm by the so-called “pundits”, Abbott’s sure fire success which permitted government policy to be ignored and Opposition policy to be archived for future reference, leaving stunts and gimmicks in their place, is now in doubt. Second thoughts and Plan-Bs are becoming more the order of the day in the nation’s newspapers and on its TV screens.
Gillard and her government, from this day forward, can more safely walk past Abbott and his look-at-me routines, and dance to their own tune… of their own composition. The Prime Minister has the keys to the country as well as the Lodge firmly in her grasp.
And she’s not one for letting them go without a real fight.
936 days in office is much more than a milestone… it is a truly defining moment when a government comes of age.