2 March 2010
Politics is a funny business. I'm reminded of a scene from 'Yes Minister' where the head of the civil service reminds the PM that politics is about being seen to do something, but not actually doing anything that will offend anyone.
It's well known that there are more people working in the Premier's media department than there are journalists covering the affairs of state parliament. The government has become become the master of a consistent message. Nothing is forever, however, and people can spend a lifetime (or four years) trying to do the impossible.
I look at politics in the same way. Spin doctors spend a lot of time thinking, talking, organising and analysing the every move of our politicians. Every move is made with that little thought in the back of their minds of what this will do for their election chances, and good on ‘em – it's the name of the game.
Politics can be likened to a game of footy. Four years is like four quarters, and while there's almost no point in biting your nails during the first quarter, there are those who do anyway. Most people would tell you it's a game of momentum. Every now and then, there's a surprise in the last five minutes. Something happens that no coach could plan for or predict.
When Steve Bracks appeared on the Footy Show in 1999, Sam Newman smugly asked him what chance of hell he had of beating invincible Jeff. Oops.
So, nine months out from the November election, does John Brumby have it in the bag? Probably. It's hard to criticise a government that has led the Victorian economy through the global financial crisis without catastrophe. We're the best performing non-resource state.
If numbers don't take your fancy, just look north to Labor in New South Wales. That doesn't give the Liberals much to campaign on, no critical issue to win hearts and minds.
I've been told by senior government figures that their greatest concern isn't Coalition policies or pipeline anger, but rather, that 'It's Time'.
11 years is a long time for a government and there are those who believe the tide is turning. It will get a lot tougher for John Brumby this year, but it's not because of a strong Coalition. It's because the mood is changing.
So, don't be surprised if Ted Baillieu becomes Premier in November. At the moment, it's unlikely but nothing lasts forever.
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