1 Tony Abbott needs to take the chance and go all in
Tony Abbott must see his opportunity of being PM rests in this election, if the Federal Coalition lose, the chance is he will be replace, possibly by Joe Hockey, Malcolm Turnbull or a fresh face, such as Alex Hawke. Abbott needs to take the risk, it’s now or never. Abbott needs to see off, not just PM Rudd, but any possible challengers from his side. If Kevin Rudd’s return to the top job sees ALP resurgent in the polls, Abbott might feel he won’t get to the Lodge this Christmas, and has to take risk.
Abbott has embarked on a five-year campaign to get into the Lodge “by Christmas”. Abbott spent the past three years waging war against the hung parliament – the AWU non scandal, Peter Slipper nearly hounded from Parliament by the man who was guest of honour at Slipper’s wedding, Craig Thomson was targetted (a move which Bronwyn Bishop admitted was only because of the hung parliament), the two NSW Independents and their families were put through a barrage of hate from the Right wing, media, voters and politicians, the Ashby failed coup d’état. The daily sexism and misogyny against the sitting prime minister, Julia Gillard. It’s was a nasty, vicious, unhealthy, level of hate and attack that must be hard to sustain for anyone who isn’t a soulless sociopath.
Not only is Abbott putting his challengers and the Government under pressure, he is also under pressure, too much more and Australia might witness the Great Unhinging.
2 If the debate is a disaster, there is still time to recover
If Tony Abbott fails dismally, his team have time to spin it before the election. Move on, claim there was only ever going to be one debate.
If the debate is close, however, Abbott might take a lesson from Barack Obama’s book, and use a bad first debate to his advantage.
During the 2012 election, Obama and his republican opponent, Mitt Romney, had three debates. Obama was flat the first time out. Romney was belligerent, overstepped time limits, talked over the moderator Jim Lehrer of PBS (all things that would appeal to Republican voters). The second debate could be seen as even. The third debate, Obama wiped the floor with Romney, he got in his jokes, knew his facts and figures, was at ease with the “town hall” audience, even the moderator, Candy Crowley was fact-checking Romney, during the debate.
Obama’s bad start to the debates actually worked to his advantage, by improving, he gained the momentum, where as his opponent was seen as losing momentum, and people love a winner who can come from behind. Some people questioned whether Obama tanked the first debate to be seen as the improving candidate and Romney failing.
A close debate gives Abbott room to improve. Maybe he doesn’t have the skills to think on his feet that Rudd does, or the ability to retain facts and figures in his head, or anything much more than three-word slogans, with the media on your side, even a close debate can read “Abbott winner” on the front page of the Australian the following day.
3 No matter how bad the debate is for Abbott, the MS Media will cover for Abbott
Voters might want a debate, but most people demanding debates probably wouldn’t watch them. Abbott can agree to a debate in the middle of the day, on a weekday, and with the media, particularly News Limited2, on Abbott’s side, the only thing that will make the 6PM news bulletins and next day papers will be the highlights for Abbott and lowlights for PM Rudd. This means another opportunity to get Liberal party slogans on air and focusing on the smallest Rudd mis-step.
A close debate, the media will spin it for Abbott, a bad debate and the media will tear apart PM Rudd. Abbott can’t lose.
It has never been a factor for voters how mendacious, obfuscating, ignorant, or sloganeering Abbott is, or the deliberate his misinterpretation of important policies (all positives in the eyes of conservative voters), the people still love Tony Abbott. A debate won’t change that, and his has yet another platform to appear Presidential, or Prime Ministerial if he mentions other strong performers in his Shadowy Cabinet.
4 Abbott needs to go head to head with Rudd to differentiate himself from PM Rudd
Abbott’s biggest weapon in the past three years has been the gender card (a gender card is not like a credit card, women don’t get to pull it out when they want something, it’s more like a red card or yellow card in football, something used against you). Without gender being a factor, Abbott needs a new strategy to distinguish himself from the other blue-tie wearing, white, christian, married with children, male.
Kevin Rudd is seen by some as too friendly with the Opposition, and some see PM Rudd as converging his policies with the Right, Abbott needs to do something to show he is different, otherwise, come election day, voters may think, why change government, we have already gone through one change, we don’t need another so soon.
5 Abbott needs to go soon, before PM Rudd really warm up to being back
PM Gillard was fighting on three fronts – the Opposition, the media, and Kevin Rudd. Without a Rudd destabilising the sitting PM, and a media attempting to bring down a Prime Minister and/or government3, Abbott won’t find it so easy as he has previously, Abbott needs to go to a debate soon, before Rudd settles in and warms up.
This will provide Abbott the opportunity for a second debate, after the honeymoon is over and Rudd starts to cool down, after voters remember all the reasons they cool down on Rudd the first time. A second debate with a cooling PM will give Abbott the momentum, bring it home strong as they election nears.
And 6 The people want it
Abbott will be seen as a coward if he doesn’t, although the ALP may be too polite to use any failure to debate against him in an election campaign.
1 During Electoral Matters (Inquiry into the AEC Analysis of the FWA report on the HSU) Fri, 06 Jul 2012, Bishop said the Liberals were going after Craig Thomson because of the hung parliament “we didn’t have a Thomson before and we didn’t have a government relying on his vote”
2 As ABC’s Tony Jones asked one Liberal MP “Does it help when Rupert Murdoch is on your side?”
Q & A, ABC, Mon 01 Jul 2013
3 Justice Rares in Ashby v Commonwealth of Australia found:
“Mr Ashby’s references to “empowering others”, and “national decisions”, were concerned solely with the political consequences of what Mr Ashby was contemplating. Those consequences could affect the balance of power in the House of Representatives, depending on whether Mr Slipper could remain as Speaker if Mr Ashby used his “power” and what effect that use would have. That was because the Government did not have a majority in the House and was reliant on cross bench support, assisted by Mr Slipper”
Source: here: www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au