Mooning in the heartland


I am in big trouble Saturday night no matter what the result.

When the election was called I committed that I would drink a shot of tequila for every seat the ALP wins from the Liberals. After each shot I would then moon the safe seat of Wentworth from my balcony. I have purchased a bottle of Jose Cuervo and a special ‘Vote Liberal? My Arse!’ pair of underpants for the occasion, courtesy of

This is all very unwise but I have promised this enough times to enough people there is no getting out of it now.

I am going to need some silliness to get me through it all. Unless I am totally out of touch with the mood of the electorate (a common condition for political professionals like myself) it seems that we may have to endure John Howard’s smug face on our Saturday night TV screens. At least he will be gone soon, I suspect within 12 months, especially if the result on Saturday is very close, as it may well be.

There is no doubt in my mind that the ALP performed better in this election with Latham rather than Beazley at the helm. With Beazley as leader it would have been deja vu … all over again, as they say. Latham stayed focused on health, education and family welfare. He took a gamble on old growth forests. He wasn’t distracted by bombs and personal attacks. He won the trophy for best and fairest in the comp but I fear won’t walk away with the flag.

In the end he is a young leader and still an unknown quantity to the majority of voters. In a country where the median age is 37 and rising steadily, he seems like a whippersnapper to the majority of Australians, even those who will benefit from a good policy like Medicare Gold. But at the next election he will be closer to 50 than to 40 and a better bet.

It is interesting to see Latham’s critics inside and outside the ALP concede that he has performed well. All the Cassandra-like predictions floating around after he took on the top job, about how he was going to steer the Party towards electoral oblivion with his erratic and dictatorial leadership style, have been proved wrong. Those criticisms will undoubtedly re-emerge after this weekend, namely that he won’t be able to handle a more uppity caucus in opposition, one that isn’t subdued by the prospect of an impending election.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself. The last time the ALP won a federal election I was 21 years old. Like many in the Party and in the media, I was convinced John Hewson was going to win. I was elated as the evening wore on and the numbers started emerging to show the ALP had held on in some crucial marginals. I was at an election party, deep in the seat of Wentworth. I made my then boyfriend drive me around in his beat up, chocolate brown Nissan whilst I yelled abuse at the tranquil houses of so many Liberal voters.

Oh, to be 21 again …

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