The Coming Storm

July 23rd, 2007

Sometime in the next six months there will be a Federal election in Australia.

Between now and then, expect things to get a little nutty.

I’m sure that some might argue that we’re seeing it already: terrorist plots on the Gold Coast, hysteria over changes to industrial relations, pointless name calling over cimate change, and above all endless personal attacks.

But mark my words – this is nothing compared to how it’s going to get. John Howard’s options for calling the election are getting pretty slim now. In particular, there’s now pretty much no way to have before the 13th of October.

In case the number doesn’t spring easily to mind, that’s 82 days. Now the election may get called a bit after that (especially if the polls don’t look good). But at 82 days we’re already looking at a campaign a full fortnight longer than the 10 week campaign of 1984. But every day between today and the eventual election is being treated as a precious resource by both the Government and the opposition.

The net result for the general public is that we’re going to get far more politics than we want. A good example is the current fuss over every single polling result, where the opinion polls are getting tremendous amounts of attention every single release. Which, given that opinion polls are volatile, and this far out from an election effectively meaningless, leaves a lot of journalists trying to fill a lot of space with very little information.

The politicians are just as responsible, of course, with a compressed schedule causing each new issue to be elevated to the highest level. This ‘hurry up’ poltics means that issues get left behind as the press and political pack moves on to the next issue of the day.

So the level of political silliness on display is reaching new records for Australia. And we still have APEC to look forward to, as well as the actual official campaign.

It’s going to be a very long few months.