I called it quits last night at around 10:30pm. Counting in Bowman had paused and with a 9.17% swing, it looked reasonable to assume that Jason Young had beaten his Liberal opponent, Andrew Laming. Looking again just now, that lead has narrowed to just 293 votes with one polling station yet to be counted. My 2007 will be complete if Jason Young can see to the end of the corrupt Laming. If he can’t, the message will still be an emphatic slap in the face for Laming. Time will tell.
On the issue of slapped faces, I couldn’t help but notice Alexander Downer’s demeanour this morning on ‘Insiders’. Andrew Bolt described it as disappointed and angry, lashing out. Well, I’m afraid that’s just typical Bolt emotive over-statement. The only conservative proponent I’ve seen ‘lashing out’, as it were, has been Bolt himself. Downer looked to me like a deflated balloon. Stretched, tired and saggy where it counts. He even admitted that privately, he knew earlier in the year they were gone. A pretty big statement for someone who gives every impression of being born to rule. Downer won’t last three more years, especially in opposition. As he stated this morning, he’s been there and done that. He didn’t like it much then and clearly doesn’t look forward to it now. I’d suggest that within two years we’ll see a by-election in Mayo.
I thought Nick Minchin was interesting on the ABC last night. Very grudging in his acceptance of defeat and only too ready to take on the role of opposition and give his ideological opposites absolute hell in the Senate while he still can. His words were crystal clear warnings that until July 2008, Labor will not find passing legislation through the upper house anything like easy. A hostile Senate will create a problem for Labor as I suspect Rudd will be wanting to get as much done in his first term as possible, in order that a solid grounding be laid for the following term. The agenda he’s laid out for Labor in the campaign just past is at least a three term project if he hopes to come anywhere near a satisfactory conclusion. It’s my betting that Labor won’t last that long. I hope I’m wrong, I really do, but history tells us otherwise. Early elections and political opportunism not withstanding, of course.
It’s interesting, now that conservatism has been hustled out the back door, the comments I see on the ABC site commiserating the loss of an aged and out of touch PM. I’m afraid I cannot feel any pain at all for John Howard. He’s had his time and it’s now past. The people have spoken and he’s been shown the door. He’d stopped listening to the people of this nation many years ago and now his persistent lack of acceptance of responsibility has come back to bite him. Everything the man did in politics was done for a political reason. Not a socially responsible reason, but to satisfy a sharply defined ideology and internally driven need to retain political power at any cost. I’m willing to state here and now that we, the voters and political watchers, never hear from John Howard again. His time has ended and he will simply become a political footnote in history. He’s not the type of individual to continue to agitate from the sidelines if he can’t have an impact by doing so. It’s either his way, or the highway and thankfully, Australia has shown him the off-ramp.
I was genuinely surprised at the choice of words used by Kevin Rudd in his victory speech. “…a Prime Minister for all Australians”. The very same words used by Howard in `96. Was he trying to make a point or was it just more ‘me-tooism’? Obviously, a well-rehearsed acceptance speech by Rudd, even if he did still have to refer to notes as he spoke. Nice motherhood stuff, but I think he knows the path before both him and Labor is as steep and rough as any the party has faced previously.
I’m hardly surprised to read that Costello has refused to run form nor accept the Liberal Party leadership. Why would he? After going from 2IC of a massive governmental liner to an under-manned and under-skilled lifeboat with a dodgy rudder and no sails, why would anyone want command of such a vessel? The lifeboat Liberal Party will have many tough storms ahead, that much is now certain. With Costello, the party stood a chance, but without him, it’s going to have to rebuild, re-think and re-construct it’s basis for existence. The most important issue I see for the Liberal Party is the fertile ground this loss and Costello’s departure from the front bench will create for the religious hard-right in NSW. Therein lies either the party’s re-birth as something other than Robert Menzies believed in, or oblivion.Time will tell.
For now, as Winston Churchill said in 1940, we move forward as a nation into broad, sunlit uplands. Let’s see through the first 100 days and focus on this time next year. Benchmarks are not yet set, but expectations are high.