Rebecca Huntley Columnist

Rebecca is a director of The Mind & Mood Report, an author and social commentator with a background in publishing, academia and politics. She holds degrees in law and film studies and a PhD in Gender Studies.

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The election: a chance for something positive

Published 06 February 2013 06:50, Updated 06 February 2013 10:42

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The election: a chance for something positive

Bring it on ... Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard will square off in the marathon run up to the 2013 election, a poll many hope will end the uncertainty of minority government. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Australians are fond of complaining that politicians don’t think long term. Well, the Prime Minister has decided to set an election date in what feels like waaaaay into the future; countless poll results, a budget and nearly a football season into the future. Brave.

My immediate reaction to the decision was to think that it was both brave and clever. Voters know an election is coming this year and (to the extent to which any of us think about these things deeply) have been wondering when it might be called for some time. PM Julia Gillard has put them out of their misery and saved us all from having to stomach seven months or so of media stories about when the election will be held. Some say she is pushing us into a new kind of misery with a Clayton’s election campaign. But I suspect voters will simply continue to put their heads down and tune into the show closer to July or August, as they would if the election waiting time was the usual six-week affair.

Her decision to call the date now may in fact have released some tension in the electorate. Australians have been complaining about living in uncertain times (more than usual) since, well, the last election, what with global and domestic economic uncertainty and more recently uncertainty in the labour market. And the view persists – right or wrong – that leadership tensions and the workings of minority government have created political instability. The Prime Minister’s decision to call the election may indeed provide some certainty in an uncertain environment. Wait a few weeks until I am out in the field with groups again and I’ll be able to report exactly what the mood is.

I’ve written before that what people are looking for right now is some positivity (tempered of course by a realistic assessment of the economy). The party that manages to map out a future where we have a robust economy across sectors and not just a “two-speed economy” will be the one that captures people’s attention. A change of government – meaning a move away from minority government – is what people have been waiting for and may in fact be a trigger for a more positive attitude in consumerland.

The PM’s early election call is a good one, I think, because it reminds people the end is nigh. Even if it might be the end of her.

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