Chris Gatenby has previously worked for Policy Exchange and is a Conservative Party activist. He is currently Vice President of Australian Liberals Abroad UK and writes in a personal capacity. Isaac Levido is an Australian who has recently moved to London from Washington DC, where he worked with Republican Senate campaigns before advising on Congressional and electoral politics at the Australian Embassy.
The passing of 2012 ushers in the most welcome of junctures for long-suffering Australian conservatives: a federal election year. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s minority Labor Government has been in an election losing position since early 2011 and, according to the Newspoll published by The Australian, ended 2012 in the same place they started it. They face an intimidating eight point (54%-46%) two-party preferred deficit to the Liberal/National Opposition led by Tony Abbott. If this outcome were translated into votes Abbott would be elected Prime Minister in a landslide.
The PM formed a minority government in 2010 by securing the support of just one Green MP and three Independents. This razor-thin majority means the Government needs to gain seats to have any certainty of remaining in power; a massive task for Gillard given the polling headwinds Labor faces.
Speculation abounds about election timing but in all likelihood it will be held sometime between August and October. While a poll could technically be called by Gillard any day, the earliest possible date for a joint House and half-Senate election (the normal format) is 3 August, the latest being by 30 November. A good summary of the mechanics of the whole thing is available here.
We suspect both sides of politics, not least the Australian public, will be glad to leave 2012 behind them. It was a year dominated by a series of distracting scandals and acrimonious personal attacks. In a word: forgettable.