If it has not already done so, the Gillard Labor Government is reaching that point of no-return in the polls, which, barring a Bligh-esque miracle, inevitably leads to terminal decline.
As it is, Ms Gillard’s government is only surviving due to the possibly surprising good physical health of the Labor side, and the grace of two rural independents whom it would seem harbour a deeper fear and loathing for the National Party than for their own probable political oblivion.
That grab-bag of agrarian socialists - led in waiting by a bar-room brawler straight from the pages of that other Joyce - are ever happy to bellyache about the difficulties of the life their voters have chosen, are the first with the bowl out for public money when it suits them and yet of course are also the first to howl for cuts to welfare for the poorest and most vulnerable in our community, the urban poor, who do not even have the teensiest little farm to hock if things get too hard.
The Liberal leader, and Prime Minister in waiting, is a man whose single and sole purpose - like every Liberal leader - is the wresting and exercise of the power of our highest office. He has no interest in issues such as human-caused global warming, the science about which he, Cardinal Pell, Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and other climate experts, profess the deepest scepticism, against the views of the 97% of published climate scientists.
Nor does he believe that Australians should get any more in mining royalties from the once-off gouging of our soils by multinational corporations: no, far better, he feels, to send the profits where they rightly belong, to other corporations, and rich stockholders around the world.
But in all probability, he will become our next prime minister. Why? Is he an especially effective leader? Is he doing something astounding in the job, wrong-footing the government at all times?
No, he has simply isolated a few issues on which he thinks he can win, and bangs on relentlessly about them: asylum seekers, carbon tax and mining tax. Does he have any passionate personal views on these issues? No. None at all. But he is beating the government because he understands the Australian people better than Labor. When did he last mention health, education, in any meaningful way? They are not issues he can win on, and so he has no interest in them. And the people, it seems, have forgotten them too, despite what they will tell pollsters.
While beaten politicians religiously praise the wisdom of the Australian people in ousting them - and Julia Gillard may well be next in mouthing the cliché - Tony Abbott understands that the Australian people are not at all wise, but rather are more herd creatures, easily driven by fear, confusion, suspicion of scientists and intellectuals, and motivated by exactly the same thing he is, which is naked self interest rather than any silly woolly-headed notions like national or global good.
He gets that about the Australian people. And they like it. He also understands that while they are not racists of some KKK-like definition, they don’t like change and different faces, especially the grey electorate, and so can be exploited in a cruel, vicious and cynical campaign against the tiny fraction of people who attempt to reach our shores by boat - war refugees often from wars of invasion we ourselves had a hand in starting.
He knows too that Australians would prefer to keep giving welfare to millionaires than look at any sane dividing line about who is eligible. He knows what is most precious them is their McMansions, private schools and SUVs. He knows they told pollsters some time ago they were deeply worried about the climate change than will impact so terribly on future generations and would pay more to alleviate it, but he knew that was really a lot of bullshit, and that when it came to paying anything at all for it, they’d squeal like stuck pigs and reneg on the whole thing.
He knows the essential self-centredness of contemporary Australians far better than Labor. Which is why, barring a miracle, he will defeat Julia Gillard, and possibly sooner rather than later.