Is it poetic that in the 50th anniversary year of Gough Whitlam's breakthrough victory under the banner of "It's Time", Labor's contemporary leader might also ride a tidal surge of government and voter fatigue?
This is not to say Anthony Albanese will win in 2022, but rather to note that Scott Morrison's government is surprisingly unprepared for the looming contest, despite holding all the aces including that of election timing.
But if 2019 taught us anything, it was to await the judgment of voters. For every observer who insists the Coalition must be toast, there is one who struggles to imagine it.
As my son noted recently, he's 36 and Labor has won from opposition just once in his lifetime.
Still, the scandal-plagued Morrison government is helping, which makes its hopes of a late recovery built on Josh Frydenberg's fourth budget appear increasingly desperate.
Despite the hype, budgets these days rarely linger in the national psyche beyond 48 hours. So the idea that this one will herald a renaissance is optimistic.
Especially for a government that seems to drift further from a recoverable position with each passing day.
Albanese didn't dare imagine that his austere and unexciting plan to keep the focus on the Coalition's failures would be rendered so spectacular by a succession of government own goals, from excoriating insider "textimonials" to poor political judgment and a bewildering absence of emotional intelligence.
Neither would Albanese have expected Morrison - who is supposed to be electorally canny, if nothing much deeper - to have reprised his government's lackadaisical approach on mRNA vaccines with a risky she'll-be-right stance on this summer's Omicron wave.
That mismanagement has sent voters around the country into paroxysms of anti-government anxiety and despair.
Then there is the profound structural failure of our aged care facilities with colossal staff shortages, COVID lockdowns, and the elderly languishing alone. All while the relevant minister blows off a Senate inquiry on the crisis in order to spend time at the cricket.
That particular plot twist would struggle to survive the first edit session of a budding Netflix drama.
Less lethally, it would have been too much for Albanese to hope that off the back of these administrative and PR disasters, Morrison would allow his first sitting week for 2022 to be as wild and woolly as the final weeks of 2021.
This was the Coalition's opening parliamentary salvo, after all - in an election year.
It ended with the humiliating defeat of Morrison's signature religious protection legislation in a dramatic all-night sitting, in which his majority - and therefore his authority - evaporated.
How serious is this? Religious privileging was Morrison's pet project - more personal to him even than labour market reform had been to John Howard.
Morrison owned it and pleaded with his MPs not to splinter, warning them they would suffer politically. He all but staked his leadership on it. He introduced the bill and, according to one reported cabinet leak, was so desperate to hold his show together that he floated a bizarre last-minute quid pro quo to create an anti-corruption body.
It is said that went over woefully with some ministers, who were aghast at the tin-eared political calculus of the idea.
Aware that Bridget Archer (Bass, Tasmania) and probably Trent Zimmerman (North Sydney, NSW) might cross the floor, Morrison had told his party room on Monday that they must remain unified if the government was to survive.
Three days later, five MPs crossed the floor, agreeing to alter the legislative package to a point where the bill was shelved - probably never to see the light of day.
The parliamentary contest laid bare a panicky government that has few big ideas and only toxic small ones. Its religious discrimination fetish was always a solution in search of a problem.
In truth, it was revenge-based - a sop to conservative faith groups for whom the societal embrace of same-sex marriage and sexual and gender pluralities is received as an attack on them.
This is the dark heart of this argument. What had been paraded as vital protection against discrimination for the individual instead provided a carve-out for church schools and other organisations to exclude people on the basis of belief, sexual practice and gender identity.
For a religiously conservative Morrison, the measure also carried the benefit of government activity - busywork in place of actual reform.
It was bad law, mendacious politics, and in the end, hopelessly executed.
After all the other problems, the defeat put the sword to Morrison's central justification as Liberal leader: his political smarts. He is now a drag on the Coalition vote, a PM trading while insolvent.
The evidence is everywhere you look.
The MPs who crossed the floor placed the real human rights of individuals ahead of the faux rights (and bruised feelings) of religious institutions. That was an act of liberalism, and they are to be applauded. Further desertions in the Senate were inevitable.
But the fact that one dissenter (Archer) suddenly became five also reflects the PM's diminishing authority.
The Liberal Party's best and brightest of the next generation are already thinking beyond Morrison, weighing up their own longer-term careers and addressing electoral tests that are less metaphysical, more existential.
In leafy Liberal strongholds like Wentworth, North Sydney and Higgins, socially attuned centrist independents are mounting well-funded challenges. For the sitting Liberals, siding with Morrison now carries an electoral cost - specifically on climate, women, religious v sexual freedom, universities and the ABC.
This reality explains why these MPs have more recently begun speaking up, and why suddenly last week, the ABC's three-year funding freeze was scrapped.
It is reasonable to assume that the Liberal Party's private polling on these questions suggests trouble in the heartland. If so, expect more freelancing by MPs as an everyone-for-themselves ethos takes hold.
Whether for Albanese this means "it's time", he is sticking to Napoleon Bonaparte's advice: "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.