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Abbott vs Gillard…the view from California

Tuesday October 9, 2012

Filed under: Australian Politics — jackman @ 9:28 pm

I’ve been amazed by the number of friends around the world asking me if I’d seen Gillard responding to Abbott in the Australian parliament.

From one friend (little doubt about her political leanings, but you get the idea):

“Simon, wish you were here, would love to here your commentary. Abbott is a disgrace, and Julie Bishop is a fool, her/the liberals response this morning was one of the unprofessional demonstrations in the history of politics.”

Yes I have seen it, even before everyone started emailing me…! And yes, my computer programs watching the betting markets alerted me that something was up back in Oz (I’ve been paying a bit more attention to the US polling situation of late).

Gillard did a great job, in several respects. She pivoted the debate about Slipper (and what a wretched mess that is) right back onto Abbott. It was a speech that will resonate with many who have watched Australian politics of late and wondered “WTF”. Finally Gillard addressed head-on the bile that she’s had to deal with, speaking plainly, powerfully and from the heart. I think she spoke in a way that will resonate with many women in particular, undoing any damage control Abbott might have engineered in the wake of the Jones matter. It could well be the most “Prime Ministerial” moment I’ve seen from her, in no small measure because it was incredibly personal as well.

Australian politics has been pretty unstable of late, but I’d predict that this shores up any lingering doubts that Gillard will lead the ALP to the next election; she might have even bought herself a point or two or three in the polls.

Slipper did Gillard a great favor by letting the showdown with Abbott dominate the 6pm news, delaying the news of his resignation until after 7pm (as best as I understand it from this distance).

Abbott of course showed incredibly poor taste and a lack of discipline in the “government dying of shame” line. Little surprise that this morning in Australia the Opposition was keen to re-frame the matter as about Slipper.

Finally… My poll tracking in the United States right now has the national story all tied up at 50-50. Obama’s had some bad polling in the wake of a poor debate against Romney last week. In the space of a week a 4.5 point lead in the polls evaporated. It does make you wonder what damage Abbott and Co. have done to themselves over-reaching on this Slipper matter, creating some space for Gillard to perform an amazing piece of political jujitsu.

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