Gerard Henderson is a former Howard staffer and executive director of the Sydney Institute. He is also a columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald. It is here (as well, in longer format, as the Sydney Institute Quarterly) that at the end of every year he has lots of fun with what he perceives as silly utterances by public figures – mainly journalists – over the year.

Like Alan Ramsey’s annual “loony letters/emails I’ve received from readers” in the same paper, it is an enjoyable read.

After a federal election, Henderson ridicules pundits who made dud calls about the result, and it must be said that the last election, in 2004, provided an embarrassment of material. You can read his 2004 column here.

Recently on the ABC’s Lateline, Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt suggested to Henderson that because he (Henderson) never chanced his own arm at predicting election results, he perhaps forfeited the right to “be a smart arse afterwards“. Henderson didn’t see it that way, explaining that not making such predictions was actually the “smart” thing to do. But Henderson does make the odd prediction. He just does it retrospectively.

For example, on Radio National’s Breakfast he explained that unlike most commentators he had always expected the Latham experiment would “end in tears”. He had, however, kept it to himself. Also, way back in this 1993 SMH post-election column Gerard informed readers (albeit jocularly) that: “I determined some time ago that John Hewson would not win.” But again, he had held his cards close until election night.

But Bolt wasn’t quite correct, because Henderson has this year, for the first time, made an election prediction – ahead of schedule. In a recent 30 second final prediction/comment segment on ABC’s Insiders, he predicted that at the next election (after this one) people will pay less attention to the opinion polls.

The clear implication was that the polls this year will be proved wrong on election day –either by the Howard government winning, or the Labor win being modest.

So three cheers for Gerard for finally thrown his hat into the ring. In two weeks we’ll know how he went.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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