Abbott left little wriggle room on promises

‘Tony Abbott is a pathological liar who has lost the respect of the Australian people. He leads a beleaguered government, held ransom by extremists in the Senate. His government is illegitimate. He must resign and end our collective misery!’

Of course, no one is calling for the head of our PM just yet but this is precisely the kind of hyperbole Abbott used to demolish Julia Gillard’s prime ministership when she confronted similar political circumstances just three years ago.

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Personal attacks don’t advance the cause

Australian politics is certainly not for the faint-hearted and vitriol is levelled at politicians of all stripes. John Howard was famously described as a “lying rodent”, Julia Gillard a “bitch” and a “witch”, while Tony Abbott has been derided as an “economic illiterate” and an imbecile. But how much is too much and where do we draw the line?

It seems in answering these questions it’s difficult to stray far from partisanship and here both sides are guilty of hypocrisy.

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War On Gillard Proves We Still Have A Long Way To Go

Julia Gillard may not be the best Prime Minister Australia has had, but she’s certainly the most resilient. During a gruelling 3 years she has endured a campaign of vitriol and vilification unrivalled in our politics.

While Keating, Howard and Rudd were all subject to scathing criticism, a special contempt has been reserved for Gillard. The reason for this is worthy of further examination and reveals much about attitudes towards gender in Australia.

I offer this analysis with an important caveat. Like many Australians I disagree with a number of the Prime Minister’s policies. Gillard has perused an immoral and ineffective immigration policy, negotiated a weak mining tax, stripped funding from universities and single mothers and shown a frustrating recalcitrance on the issue of gay marriage. All of these things are worthy of public criticism and debate. All too often however, criticism of Gillard has been more personal than political.

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Stand for Something or Fall for Anything

March 2013 will long be remembered by political tragics as a month of brutality that would surely have made Brutus himself wince.

Labor’s botched leadership coup may have been Rudd-less but it certainly wasn’t bloodless, with a series of ministers caught in the crossfire. Meanwhile, on the conservative side of politics, a premier and a chief minister were knifed after a string of unfavourable opinion polls.

Leadership change and renewal are inevitable in any democracy. Ultimately, even the most successful leaders must eventually step aside or face their makers, be they in the parliament or the electorate. However, the frequency of the leadership changes of recent years suggests a disturbing trend in our politics.

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The Gillard-Abbott Paradox

Whatever the outcome of this year’s federal election, one thing is certain; most Australians will welcome the opportunity to finally end the bitter leadership struggle that has so consumed our politics.

In what has descended into the political equivalent of ‘Survivor’, Gillard and Abbott are locked in a fight to the death. Outplaying and outlasting their opponent is the order of the day.

But at last the end is in sight and the curtain will soon fall on the longest-running campaign in Australian political history.

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Leadership and the Power of Persuasion

Julia Gillard’s speech on sexism not only made headlines for its explosive content, its electrifying delivery was certainly uncharacteristic of a Prime Minister often accused of being ‘wooden’ and ‘contrived’.

Gillard’s difficulties with political communication are not unique and many other leaders have struggled to strike the right chord in their conversations with the electorate. In fact, in modern politics, the way the message is conveyed can prove just as influential as the message itself, in terms of shaping impressions of a leader and constructing their political persona.

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Dr Who? The Gillard Puzzle Too Tricky To Solve

Australians are hopelessly torn between an Opposition Leader who opposes everything and a Prime Minister who stands for nothing.

At least that appears to be the brutal assessment of many voters uncomfortable with Tony Abbott’s approach to politics, but struggling to understand the agenda of Gillard Labor.

Part of the problem rests with the Prime Minister herself.  Despite initially promising to move the nation forward, the Gillard prime ministership has been associated more with policy u-turns than forward motion.

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Unrivalled Blood Sport

It’s hard to think of a time when national politics has been more divisive, venomous and downright nasty. The latest focal point is the scandal engulfing former Labor and now crossbench MP Craig Thomson. This has dominated news coverage for weeks and threatens to derail the Government.

The media interest in the Thomson matter is understandable at one level – after all, in this finely balanced Parliament, the Government is just one seat away from oblivion – but the intensity of this interest and the saturation of coverage is symptomatic of a broader culture that is corroding our politics.

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Labor Losing Votes Left, Right and Centre

Under Prime Minister Julia Gillard, support for the ALP is at historically low levels. It is often argued that the hung parliament has precipitated this crisis; that by holding Labor to ransom the Greens have imposed a range of “extreme policies” on the Government and distanced it from “mainstream” Australia.

But rather than being too close to the Greens, it is Labor’s capitulation to the agenda of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that has alienated its base. In fact, Labor has lost 4 per cent of its primary vote to the Greens since it won office five years ago.

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