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A good start

By Graham Young - posted Monday, 9 September 2013


Tony Abbott has won one of the great victories of Australian politics with the ABC predicting a likely 24 seat majority to the Coalition.

This compares to 29 seats in 1996 when John Howard beat Paul Keating and 27 seats in 1975 (in a smaller parliament) when Malcolm Fraser beat Gough Whitlam.

It is certainly more resounding than the victory Kevin Rudd achieved over John Howard in 2007 with 18 seats, or the 12 seat majority Bob Hawke achieved over Malcolm Fraser in 1983.

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But as Abbott said in his victory speech "The time for campaigning has passed, the time for governing has arrived."

And these election results demonstrate that the size of the result is not a good predictor of how well you govern, measured by the length tenure of the government.

The Hawke Keating government lasted longer than any of them despite having the narrowest victory.

Before governing it is important that Abbott reflect on the election result, because there are important lessons there for how he might govern.

Arguably his win should have been larger.

The Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government was one of the worst that Australia has seen. It was economically and managerially incompetent, dishonest, philosophically lightweight, and out of touch with the hopes and aspirations of the bulk of the populace.

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It debased and demeaned public discourse and ran a regime based almost solely on public relations, prepared to deny any fact to win a vote.

Rudd claimed he saved Australia from the GFC, but this was a hollow claim on two counts – the facts, and how Australians felt their economy was travelling.

On the facts, the Australian economy was in tip-top shape because of the previous reformist governments of Hawke and Howard. It had already passed through the Asian crisis unscathed because of its strength and flexibility.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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