“This is what happens when you let westies into the Liberal Party,” the cry went up from the Killara Women’s branch when news of the “Chaser-style prank” in Lindsay broke last week.

Now, it appears as if the consequences may have been more serious. Business Spectator reported yesterday that the episode may have been a poll decider:

In the last week of the campaign, according to highly placed Labor figures, the Party’s nightly tracking polls narrowed measurably.

What all along looked like a comfortable win, started to get uncomfortably close…

These tracking polls started to be reflected in late polls conducted by the Newspoll organisation and Galaxy.

The Coalition’s economic management message appears to have been striking a chord:

Where did it go wrong then? The answer is simple: the Jackie Kelly “Chaser-style prank” stopped the momentum in its tracks.

That shameful episode – and Kelly’s handling of it through the media – dominated the last two days of the campaign.

And it resonated with voters. They linked it straight back to the Liberal Party’s – and the Prime Minister’s – “mean and tricky” personae. They felt they now had a perfectly legitimate reason to throw the Government out, the economy notwithstanding.

The Australian reported earlier this week:

Senior members of the Liberal Party, including John Howard, attempted in vain to silence retiring MP Jackie Kelly as she committed blunder after blunder in her attempt to spin the party out of the Lindsay flyer scandal.

On Lateline last night, Tony Abbott talked about “well connected lunatics” How well connected? NSW Liberal leader Barry O’Farrell told a press conference earlier in the week that he wants “further actions in the Liberal Party” against the people responsible for debacle.

He condemned factionalism in his party, warning it was doing “enormous damage”.

That’s putting it mildly. The rampant right of the NSW Libs may have cost the Coalition government.

Peter Fray

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