With yesterday the final Sunday before polling day, the Sunday papers offered up their traditional editorials declaring which leader they are supporting come Saturday, with the majority stumping for Julia Gillard.

Up in Queensland, The Sunday Mail was the only paper openly advocating a new PM:

“The Rudd government was a circuit-breaker, but unfortunately for it, exuberance overtook its competence and it was eventually overwhelmed by the consequences of the global financial crisis and its own blunders.
Labor was, accidentally, the government for the moment, but there are real reasons to doubt it is the government for today.

The Sunday Mail believes a cautious Abbott Coalition is the best government for tomorrow.”

The rest of the big Sundays were gunning for Gillard.

In Sydney, The Sunday Telegraph said everyone deserves a second chance:

“Each accuses the other of incompetence, indifference and impracticality. Nonetheless, The Sunday Telegraph has great regard for both Mr Abbott and Ms Gillard, both of whom are committed, sincere people. They are both great assets to their parties; likeable and warm. Each has all the ordinary flaws of humanity, and many of the extraordinary qualities of leadership.

But a choice must be made.

The Sunday Telegraph believes Ms Gillard and the Labor government deserve a second term, like every government since 1931, and a chance to prove they can move beyond the polls and toward a real change for Australia’s future.”

Abbott’s a worthy contender, but The Sun-Herald’s giving its vote to Gillard (not available online).

“So the choice on Saturday is between two skilled but ultimately unproven individuals, each reinventing their party by degrees as, in the shadows, the Greens eye a greater share of the disillusioned vote.

Ultimately, the question is this: has the incumbent Labor government failed to the extent it should be voted out after one term? The answer is no, so Julia Gillard should be elected as Prime Minister of Australia. This time by you.”

Over in Adelaide, the Sunday Mail didn’t think it was time to change the government just yet:

“The first female PM has shown enough to deserve more time in the role but it comes with a caveat that Australians will be watching her with caution and expectation.

We expect fidelity to the promise of reform and continued economic management. We expect the Gillard Government to be inclusive, to listen and not be aloof.

In 2004, Australia looked into the face of change and passed on it. In 2007, we went for it, in 2010, it’s time to pass again.”

While down in Melbourne, the Sunday Herald Sun also gave its support to Gillard:

“The Sunday Herald Sun believes Mr Abbott has failed to mount an overwhelming case for change. We believe he and his team would benefit from another three years in opposition, giving them a foundation to mount a case for office in 2013.

We hope that once elected in her own right, Ms Gillard displays the leadership and political courage of which many believe she is capable.

Therefore, the Sunday Herald Sun believes that, on balance, the best interests of Australians are served by the re-election of Labor and Julia Gillard.”

As did a reluctant Sunday Age editorial:

“The extent to which Labor has struggled to keep its hold on power is surprising given the strong economy and the fact Australians are reluctant to throw out a government after one term. Both parties have run uninspiring campaigns. But on balance and with little enthusiasm, we say Labor and Ms Gillard deserve to win the horse race by a nose. Then, hopefully, she will prove herself a reforming leader.”

But how much weight should we give the editorials? It’s unlikely most readers are aware that The Age and The Sunday Age are technically two different mastheads, not just The Age on Sundays.

After technology writer Stilgherrian tweeted links to The Sunday Age (wrongly labelled as the Sun-Herald) and The Daily Telegraph‘s editorials’ in support of Gillard, ABC’s Mark Colvin (@Colvinius) was unimpressed, tweeting back: “Two of the most grudging endorsements I can remember”.

Stilgherrian replied: “Indeed @Colvinius they’re grudging endorsements. Still, journos and wonks wll be finding it interesting. Real people, less so.”

Colvin remained unrepentant: “Often think the only people who really care about editorials are the people who write them. The idea that a newspaper has a collective opinion is absurd. Whose opinion? The board? The editor? The Guardian’s collective decision making in the UK polls in May at least made it more credible as an expression of journalistic thinking,” he tweeted.

Stilgherrian agreed: “…Yes, I must admit I find the whole anonymous newspaper editorial as ‘the voice of the paper’ a quaint relic.”

Ironically, Crikey agrees.