If you see the chance, then take it. That’s the best advice I could give to Julia Gillard with my old election adviser’s hat on. When things are not going well for a government and an opportunity for victory arises there’s no point in waiting around. Politics is a game for the brave not the prevaricators as Kevin Rudd has now learned. He had his chance to be daring early this year before global warming went bad as an election issue but he squibbed it and then listened to those who advised him to forget his principles and scrap the whole idea of emissions trading. The new Prime Minister needs to learn from that weakness. Decide what you believe in and go for it.

If Ms Gillard needs persuading that political honeymoons — and she will surely have one — should be taken advantage of then she just needs to glance at what happened to Gordon Brown in the United Kingdom. When he took over from a largely discredited Tony Blair that was such relief that British Labour again looked a potential winner.

24-06-2010 british polls

Labour’s red line jumped back above the Tories blue but the opportunity was gone within a few months.

The good thing about a fresh face at the top of government is that people have an initial fascination with the new personality that pushes into the background the issues that might be troubling them. There is the opportunity, as it were, to change the subject. Instead of the complexities of a new form of taxation on miners Julia Gillard can return to her education revolution and the reform of the health system after quickly making a change or two to that tax plan to make it look like she has listened.

Nothing too substantial mind you. Wayne Swan is still the Treasurer and a full scale mea culpa from him is not desirable. Just get him to change the rhetoric a little along with the complexity so that it becomes clearly an issue of miners paying their fair share so that people can have the income tax reductions like those that will come into operation in July. Just keep it simple.

And start engaging in earnest conversation with Bob Brown and his Greens about alternative ways of tackling global warming. Put the talks into the context of understanding that, in the Australian political system where Labor does not have the numbers in the Senate and the Coalition are downright obstructionist, compromise is necessary.

Above all, bank on the honeymo0n occurring and be prepared to take advantage of it.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey