While Tony Abbott managed to resurrect the Coalition from its electoral death bed, to come so close and not seal the deal leads to questions of how the Coalition ultimately failed.
Here’s five things that they stuffed up in their bid to form Government:
Tony Windsor said this was critical in his decision to back Labor. The Coalition’s policy to spike in its entirety the National Broadband Network is questionable, but it was compounded by Abbott’s almost wilful ignorance of the issue during the campaign.
By using lines such as “I’m no Bill Gates’ or basically boiling the internet’s use down to Facebook, he presented himself as someone who didn’t get the full implications of what a national broadband network could offer. He also did a pretty bad job at selling his own Government’s policy internet policy – in no small part by not even attending its launch. The way he often talked about it almost gave the impression that there would be no broadband available under the Coalition.
2. Not winning enough seats in NSW:
While the wins in NSW seats by the Coalition were an admirable effort, if they had picked up a few more seats in the state the whole hung Parliament fiasco wouldn’t have been needed, they simply would’ve won. Dobell, Robertson, Lindsay and Eden-Monaro were all seats the Liberals could’ve picked up and didn’t. In both Lindsay, Greenway and Parramatta candidate preselections were left up until the last minute. The NSW Liberals have to cop some blame for this. Robertson was the prime example; a seat held on a knife edge and formally held by Belinda “don’t you know who I am” Neal.
3. Losing seats in Victoria:
In an election when there’s a swing of over 5 per cent swing against the Government of the day the fact that the Coalition managed to lose seats in Victoria can only be viewed as a stuff-up. Of course Labor profited from Gillard’s had some home state advantage, but the Coalition managed to lose two seats that were held in the 2007 Ruddslide, La Trobe and McEwen. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: to lose one seat may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
4. Treasury costings and promises:
Without getting into an analysis of the Coalition costings, for Treasury to come out and say you have a possible $11 billion black hole in your budget is not a good thing. But by holding back on submitting the costings in the first place Abbott, in Katter’s words, acted like he had something to hide. Further revelations that he offered Andrew Wilkie $1 billion outright for a new hospital in Hobart, didn’t help his cause as being seen as economically responsible.
5. Negotiations with independents and Tony Crook:
From election night when Barnaby Joyce started screaming at Tony Windsor on live television, it was clear that negotiations between the bush indies and the Coalition were going to be tricky. From all accounts Abbott’s personal style in negotiating over the last two weeks was pretty good, but he could have done without colleagues such as Bill Heffernan making prank calls to Rob Oakeshott’s house pretending to be the Devil, as well as issuing subtle threats through the media.
When Julia Gillard was out shoring up the support of the Greens Adam Bandt and independent Andrew Wilkie, there was a lingering question over the assumed Coalition supporter in WA National Tony Crook. While Crook ended up siding with the Coalition it was unnecessarily late, and as a result unconvincing. Gillard was able to seize momentum by having people who weren’t even part of her party on side, while she was able to point to Crook as a cross-bencher who, despite being a National, the Coalition hadn’t guaranteed as being one of its number.