JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Pregnant pause leads into day of reckoning

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. Photo: Getty Images

JULIA GILLARD has consigned Australians to something approaching a national pregnancy.

As quite a lot of people know, it can be a wearing time: the first flush of joy turning to great expectations morphing to dreadful periods of tiredness, weird appetites and swelling annoyance. Not to mention morning sickness. And finally - perhaps Ms Gillard and her courtiers didn't think about this - hard labour.

No prime minister in Australian history has dared to subject the nation to such a trial.

It will be hailed by believers as audacious, a demand that voters - who have all but shunned politics for many months now - focus on the big picture, which is to say in Ms Gillard's case, the frightfulness that an Abbott government might represent.

Old stagers in the Labor Party, however, will need a stiff drink to get over the shock.

They would recall Bob Hawke, riding high in popularity polls (Mr 75 per cent!), decided on a 10-week campaign in 1984, believing his government's fortunes would surf ever higher, crushing Andrew Peacock's opposition.

No one could remember a 10-week campaign - almost double the length of normal campaigns.

Voters tired of it early and grew tetchy, and to Hawke's horror, Labor suffered a 2 percentage-point swing against it and found its majority sliced from 25 to 16. No more long campaigns became the unbreakable mantra.

No one, of course, had imagined a 32-week ordeal.

Ms Gillard, nowhere near as popular as Hawke and with no majority to lose, has managed to break another cardinal rule: elections must not be held during the footy finals lest it upset the punters. Last year, she said she wouldn't consider such a thing.

Both the AFL and the National Rugby League will be into semi-finals on election day, September 14, and you would think it is a fair bet quite a lot of the fans won't be awfully impressed at politics interrupting their worship.

And what of the signs from the other prayerful world?

September 14 this year happens to be, to those of the Jewish faith, the holiest day of the year: Yom Kippur.

To those not versed in the Hebrew it is known (gulp) as the Day of Atonement.

Believers hope that by the end of the Day of Atonement, they might be forgiven.

Ms Gillard, clearly, must hope the same thing.

Related Coverage

Gillard's long shot on poll

AUSTRALIANS will go to the polls on September 14 after Julia Gillard revealed the election date 7½ months out in a bid to reboot her political prospects and wrongfoot the Opposition.

227 first dates: we'll be over it by then

The Prime Minister's extraordinary decision to announce the federal election date more than half a year early is not a vote-changer, but it is a conversation-changer.

Economy not likely to drag in the voters

If the economists' forecasts are right - a big if - the economy is likely to be in worse shape by the time of the election. It won't have collapsed in a heap, but it is expected to be noticeably slower, with unemployment creeping up steadily.

Case of hard Labor - PM employs shock tactics to try to steer the debate her way

Julia Gillard was entering an election year without the usual benefits of incumbency, so she's taken a tactical risk to shake things up.

Punters put money on Coalition

The Coalition may soon hit Black Caviar odds of winning the election, with spokesman, Haydn Lane, saying the odds of a win to the opposition had shortened in the hours following the election announcement.

Related Coverage

HuffPost Australia

Follow Us

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo