You can lose a Federal election and still know that you’re on a winner.
This happened with Gough Whitlam in the House of Representatives election held on 5 October 1969.
The ALP won 59 seats, the Liberals (including the LCL in South Australia) won 46 seats and the Country Party won 20.
Was Gough laughing! His first shot as Opposition Leader got him within seven seats of Government.
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While worldwide popular sentiment was turning against the Vietnam War to pull out in ’69 was seen by some in the Australian electorate as unwise. But by 1972 Gough was cheered every time he said in speeches – preceded by a ‘wait for it, wait for it’ pause – “We will abolish conscription!”
By 2011 the three Anglosphere leaders of the “Coalition of the Willing” will be gone. No need for Kev to make any hard Foreign Policy decisions. They will have all been made before him.
There’ll be other hard choices he will have avoided too, provided he remains leader of the Opposition.
And here we enter into new territory – after nearly two decades of affluence.
There are new American acronyms getting a lot of attention. They are all financial. Consider for starters NINJA loans (no income, no job and no assets) and CDO (collateralised debt obligation). New phrases are being heard on the airwaves like “sub prime instability”, “declining house prices” (worldwide). “Recession” is being whispered.
If America sneezes, Wal-Mart will sell and buy less. Less demand for the resources that China buys to make stuff for Wal-Mart. What price for the economies of WA and Queensland?
Now given this – admittedly hypothetical – scenario, a Prime Ministerial Rudd mantra of “infrastructure, education and training” wouldn’t cut it.
But as a leader of the Opposition with fewer than ten seats required to form a Labor government in 2010 what a scenario. In the house, “eleven wasted years” and “ a squandered opportunity” and “Mr Speaker, this grinning Cheshire – this Prime Minister — was the Treasurer that caused it all” would convince enough of the non-rusted voters that “It’s time for Kev in 10”.