The swing was on. For at least two years.

This election was not fought on policy, as it should have been. It wasn’t even fought as a leadership content, as unlikeable and uninspiring as both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott seemed to be. This was about the knives in the backs — the electorally unforgivable instability that voters were always going to punish.

As Bernard Keane writes today:

“Labor managed the economy well, but it could never manage itself. In particular, it couldn’t manage Kevin Rudd, first when he was prime minister, when it took an unprecedented removal of a first-term PM to deal with his managerial style, and then when he was on the backbench, plotting his return. As one state Labor figure put it, Labor never worked out that if you removed a sociopath from the prime ministership, what did they think he was going to do in return?”

And so Abbott becomes Australia’s 28th prime minister. Because he never really buggered it up like many thought he would. And the other mob buggered it up at almost every step.

Unlike 2010, the message from voters was clear: Abbott deserves his chance, with a sizeable lower house majority to implement his agenda, and Labor got what was coming to it — but saved enough furniture to stand firm in opposition and be competitive in three years.

As for the Senate, Australia, just what were you thinking there?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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