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Julia 2010: The caretaker election

Julia 2010: The caretaker election

Marian Simms
John Wanna
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Julia 2010: The caretaker election
    Book Description:

    This book provides a comprehensive coverage of one of Australia's most historic elections, which produced a hung parliament and a carefully crafted minority government that remains a heartbeat away from collapse, as well as Australia's first elected woman Prime Minister and the Australian Greens' first lower house Member of Parliament. The volume considers the key contextual and possibly determining factors, such as: the role of leadership and ideology in the campaign; the importance of state and regional factors (was there evidence of the two or three speed economy at work?); and the role of policy areas and issues, including the environment, immigration, religion, gender and industrial relations. Contributors utilise a wide range of sources and approaches to provide comprehensive insights into the campaign. This volume notably includes the perspectives of the major political groupings, the ALP, the Coalition and the Greens; and the data from the Australian Election Survey. Finally we conclude with a detailed analysis of those 17 days that it took to construct a minority party government.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-64-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    Marian Simms and John Wanna
  4. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. 1. The Caretaker Election of 2010: ‘Julia 10’ versus ‘Tony 10’ and the onset of minority government
    (pp. 1-8)
    Marian Simms and John Wanna

    Labor emerged from the 2007 federal election with an overwhelming victory in the House of Representatives—commanding a substantial majority of some 16 seats over and above the Coalition plus the two Independents. Labor had captured an additional 23 seats across the land and secured swings towards it across all States (although in Western Australia Labor still managed to lose a seat). Prime Minister John Howard’s stunning loss to Labor’s Maxine McKew in Bennelong was a fascinating microcosm of the election, but the result was actually predicted by very few (and turned only on Greens preferences). The ‘battle for Bennelong’...

  7. Part 1. Leaders, Ideologies and the Campaign

    • 2. Diary of an Election
      (pp. 11-32)
      Marian Simms

      That the 2010 election was unusual is not in dispute. The ‘sacking’ of a prime minister during an election year, the decision to go to the polls only 22 days after the leadership change, a controversial campaign marred by serial leaks from within the government, a change in the campaign slogan and strategy by the government, a low-key campaign launch, and a series of ad-hoc decisions regarding debates and community forums—these were some of its defining features. Moreover, the election result was so close as to create a further 17 days of indecision and a total of 24 days...

    • 3. Bad Governments Lose: Surely there is no mystery there
      (pp. 33-48)
      Rodney Cavalier

      Humane but tough. Three words came to define the character of the Rudd Government. Words in a torrent became the response whenever the position to be taken was not safely predictable; a beguiling entrapment of self-contradiction of which the author seemed unaware. Australians became accustomed to full-blown bursts from a prime minister who had an opinion on everything, oft preceded by the non-apology ‘I make no apology for’. We knew Kevin Rudd was opposed to Bill Henson taking photos of pre-pubescent girls, he was appalled at an assault on a female MP, and he regarded the response to climate change...

    • 4. The Ideological Contest
      (pp. 49-62)
      Carol Johnson

      The year before Kevin Rudd won office, Julia Gillard (2006, 106–7) discussed how to defeat the Howard Government. She argued that Labor needed to ‘unshackle’ itself from the factional system. Ideological differences between the factions were no longer important given that members of Labor’s left factions were often amongst the keenest supporters of market-oriented policies. She also argued that moving to the left to oppose Howard’s so-called Culture Wars would not work. Rather, one needed to combat Howard by building ‘a broader vision of Australia which is inclusive of those who rightly worry about jobs, health, education, roads, border...

  8. Part 2. The Media and the Polls

    • 5. The New Media and the Campaign
      (pp. 65-84)
      Peter John Chen

      Over the past decade new media has moved from a marginal place in political campaigning in Australia to an integral element of the electoral strategies of political parties, candidates and some civil-society organisations. At the same time, the impact of these channels shifted from alternative avenues for political communication to intrinsic parts of coordinated and centralised multichannel message distribution. In examining the role of new media in the 2010 election, this chapter examines the adoption and use of a variety of new and increasingly entrenched new media channels in the political communication mix in Australia. Using Norris and others’ notions...

    • 6. To the Second Decimal Point: How the polls vied to predict the national vote, monitor the marginals and second-guess the Senate
      (pp. 85-110)
      Murray Goot

      From a poll-watcher’s perspective, three things made the 2010 election distinctive. One was the unprecedented number of pollsters and the competition among them for media space. For the first time, seven companies were involved nationally—five from the outset of the campaign, one towards the end and one after respondents’ had cast their votes—with others involved in particular States or in private polling for the parties. Polling was conducted both nationally and in marginal seats. Almost all the polling was focused on the election for the House of Representatives; only one set of results pretended to offer any sort...

    • 7. Debates, Town-Hall Meetings and Media Interviews
      (pp. 111-120)
      Geoffrey Craig

      The issue of leaders’ debates—their frequency, themes and formats—assumed key prominence in the political jockeying that occurred between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott during the 2010 Australian election campaign. The uncertainty over the leaders’ debates at times descended into farcical brinkmanship but it also underlined the political importance of debates in campaigns. The eventual hosting of two town-hall meetings late in the campaign, while not debates, represented a significant change in the recent history of the narratives of Australian election campaigns where a single televised debate has been held early in the campaign. The campaign was characterised by...

    • 8. May the Less Threatening Leader of the Opposition Win: The cartoonists’ view of election 2010
      (pp. 121-144)
      Haydon Manning and Robert Phiddian

      National affairs correspondent for The Age, Tony Wright, expressed widespread frustration at the media-managed frivolity of the 2010 federal election campaign when he asserted on radio that ‘this campaign has been made for the satirists’ (ABC 2010). From our observation of the editorial cartoons of the campaign, the level of engagement with significant issues was too slight even for the satirists to get much of a handle on events. Indeed, it was only the ABC TV show Gruen Nation that broke new satirical ground in this campaign, and that was because it focused on the advertising and spin rather than...

  9. Part 3. The Parties’ Perspectives

    • 9. The 2010 Federal Election: The Liberal Party
      (pp. 147-154)
      Brian Loughnane

      The 2010 federal election campaign was one of the most remarkable in Australian history. Key elements of the election result include

      a net gain of 14 seats by the Coalition (including seats that became notionally Labor following redistributions)

      a net loss of 16 seats by Labor

      the first time a first-term government had lost its majority since 1931

      the largest loss of seats by a first-term government since 1931

      the fourth-highest number of seats lost by Labor in its history—only losing more seats in 1931, 1975 and 1996

      the Coalition received almost 700 000 more primary votes than Labor;...

    • 10. The Australian Labor Party
      (pp. 155-162)
      Elias Hallaj

      Before I begin the main arguments, I must respond to a few of the biased criticisms made of the Labor Party during the workshop and in some sections of the media.

      The Australian Labor Party is not broken. It won the federal election (although the result was not clear until it also won the support of a majority of the Independents and the Greens MP). Of all Australia’s numerous political parties (some of which do not exist anymore), the Australian Labor Party is the longest surviving, most democratic, most diverse and most successful. Of course it loses elections as well...

    • 11. The Greens
      (pp. 163-170)
      Andrew Bartlett

      The 2010 federal election was undoubtedly a watershed for the Australian Greens as a political party at the national level. It produced a record high vote for third parties in a federal election in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as a major breakthrough in winning a House of Representatives seat for the first time at a general election.

      The Greens’ 2010 vote was larger than any previous third party in modern Australian political history.

      It was the first time a third party had a senator elected in every State. The election campaign and result can...

  10. Part 4. The States and Regions

    • 12. New South Wales
      (pp. 173-182)
      Elaine Thompson and Geoff Robinson

      Labor’s ability to minimise its losses in New South Wales despite a major adverse swing and the election of two rural Independents was central to Julia Gillard’s ability to form a government. The result revealed remarkable patterns of swing and an exceptional informal vote. Labor did win a majority of the seats, and lost only two (or rather four with the redistribution); and their primary vote was higher than in either 2001 or 2004 (when they did not win a majority of seats); on the other hand, 2010 was the third-worst federal result for NSW Labor since 1975.

      The 2009...

    • 13. Victoria
      (pp. 183-190)
      Nick Economou

      If recent national elections were anything to go by, there was a prospect that the 2010 contest would bypass Victoria. This was despite the fact that the newly installed Labor leader and caretaker Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, represented the western Melbourne suburban seat of Lalor, and some of the party conspirators who helped Gillard displace Kevin Rudd, such as Bill Shorten (MHR for Maribyrnong) and Senator David Feeney, were also Victorians. Victoria’s apparently secondary importance to the national contest had hitherto been due to the rather limited contribution the State had made to the transfer of marginal seats between the...

    • 14. South Australia
      (pp. 191-196)
      Dean Jaensch

      South Australia was not expected to loom large in the federal election, with only 11 of the 150 seats. Of the 11, only four were marginal—requiring a swing of less than 5 percent to be lost. Three were Liberal: Sturt (held by Christopher Pyne since 1993, 1 percent margin), Boothby (Andrew Southcott since 1996, 3 percent) and Grey (4.5 percent). Of the Labor seats, only Kingston (4.5 percent) was marginal.

      Labor won Kingston, Wakefield and Makin from the Liberal Party in 2007. The Liberal Party could win all three back. But, in early 2010, it was expected that if...

    • 15. The Northern Territory
      (pp. 197-200)
      Dean Jaensch

      For 25 years after the first election for the Legislative Assembly in 1974, the Northern Territory’s politics were dominated by a unique Country Liberal Party (CLP). The Labor Party could never lift its representation above one-third of the seats. In the 2001 election, however, patterns of party support, especially in the Darwin region, went into convulsions. Labor won its first election after a massive swing against the CLP in the Darwin region of almost 10 percent. In the 2005 election, there was a further swing against the CLP, which was reduced to four seats out of twenty-five. In 2008, there...

    • 16. Tasmania
      (pp. 201-210)
      Tony McCall

      Prior to election day, Tasmania looked as if it was to be the State most likely to return to the status quo in terms of party support in the House of Representatives—five Labor members in five electorates—and a potential reverse of the major-party returns on the 2004 Senate result, with Labor this time edging ahead with three seats, Liberal two and the Greens one. It had been a dull and lifeless campaign with no reckless takeovers of regional hospitals (2007) or the theatre of forestry workers massing in Launceston in support of Prime Minister, John Howard (2004).


    • 17. The Australian Capital Territory
      (pp. 211-216)
      Malcolm Mackerras

      Labor always seems to perform well in the Australian Capital Territory and the 2010 election was no exception. Easily winning both seats in the House of Representatives and getting the first senator elected proved to be the usual doddle for the party. Yet there were three interesting aspects of these elections and they will be considered in turn.

      The first relates to the under-representation of the Australian Capital Territory in the House of Representatives to which I referred in my past two contributions in this series on this subject. Having discussed this subject, I noticed that there would, from time...

    • 18. Queensland
      (pp. 217-230)
      Ian Ward

      In mid-August and at the height of an election focused upon on the contest between the major parties and their leaders, the mayors of Richmond, Hinchinbrook, Mount Isa and several other north Queensland local councils announced they would lobby the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) to press for the creation of a separate State. In Kennedy, Bob Katter—en route to achieving a primary vote of 46.7 per cent and a comfortable victory—hoped this would be a spark to ‘light the fuse’ (Vogler 2010). This serves to remind readers that Queensland is a large, diverse, decentralised State...

    • 19. Western Australia at the Polls: A case of resurgent regionalism
      (pp. 231-238)
      Narelle Miragliotta and Campbell Sharman

      The 2010 election affirmed Western Australia’s recent status as a conservative heartland State and one of the ALP’s most unforgiving electorates. A significant swing was recorded against the ALP (–5.6 percent), the severity of which can be largely attributed to the Federal Government’s proposed mining tax. Labor’s failure to assuage local concerns about this impost and the Liberals’ deft exploitation of the issue served to reignite the anxieties of WA voters about Canberra’s centralist ambitions and lack of responsiveness to State concerns.

      It was inevitable that Canberra’s proposed resource rent tax on mining would prove a highly contentious election...

    • 20. Rural and Regional Australia: The ultimate winners?
      (pp. 239-248)
      Jennifer Curtin and Dennis Woodward

      On Tuesday, 7 September 2010, after 17 days of negotiations, two of the three rural Independents, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, announced their decision to support a Labor government. In justifying this outcome, Tony Windsor said that the vote of the country had been sidelined for too long and had been ‘subsumed into two major parties which are dominated by city-based majorities and the elections have been fought on the western suburbs of our major cities so that country issues haven’t really come to the fore’. He went on to say that ‘the fact that there are country Independents in...

  11. Part 5. Policies and Issues

    • 21. Managing Gender: The 2010 federal election
      (pp. 251-266)
      Marian Sawer

      The 2010 federal election was the first in Australian history in which a woman prime minister was campaigning for the re-election of her government. Paradoxically, her party had no women’s policy—or at least did not launch one publicly. Despite the avoidance of any policy focus on gender issues, gender was a significant undercurrent in the election, as reflected in consistent gender gaps in public opinion and voting intentions. Unusually, the management of gender turned out to be more of a problem for a male than for a female leader.

      Gender was expected to feature prominently in the 2010 campaign...

    • 22. Immigration Issues in the 2010 Federal Election
      (pp. 267-278)
      James Jupp

      One of only four stated objectives of the Liberals was to ‘stop the boats’. Julia Gillard (a ‘10-pound migrant’) and Tony Abbott (born in London) stressed their migrant origins where appropriate. Abbott’s claim was almost ludicrous as he was only born in London because his Australian parents were there at the time. Gillard left Barry in south Wales when she was five, coming free with her Welsh parents. But immigration and population did not play the central roles that seemed likely at the start of campaigning. This followed in a consensual tradition in which such issues did not seriously divide...

    • 23. The Influence of Unions and Business in the 2010 Federal Election: Claims of ‘slash and burn’ and ‘still no response and no answers’
      (pp. 279-290)
      John Wanna

      In its own inimical way, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) announced midway into the federal election campaign that Tony Abbott’s ‘slash and burn approach to the economy would jeopardise the recovery and jobs’ (ACTU 2010a). Resorting to inflamed rhetoric, it accused Abbott of an ‘obsession with cutting’, of hatching ‘dangerous plans…to bring back the worst aspects of WorkChoices’, and being intent on slashing a ‘further $1 billion from public spending [that] would send the economy in a dangerous direction and threaten thousands of jobs’. Not to be outdone, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC), which...

    • 24. Environmental Issues and the 2010 Campaign
      (pp. 291-302)
      Geordan Graetz and Haydon Manning

      The 2010 campaign was notable for its dearth of significant environmental policy announcements and coverage of environmental issues. Despite this, there were pronouncements by the major parties on climate change, the Murray–Darling Basin, population, marine parks, the Queensland Government’s Wild Rivers legislation and forestry and conservation measures. From this list of issues, however, it is difficult to divine a unifying theme; and Bean and McAllister’s chapter in this volume also indicates that the environment trailed bread-and-butter issues such as health and Medicare, the economy and education as significant issues for voters. This all stands in contrast with the 2007...

    • 25. Religion and the 2010 Election: Elephants in the room
      (pp. 303-312)
      John Warhurst

      The 2010 Australian election continued a recent pattern in which religion has played a role in the campaign. This election continued some of the themes of recent elections such as Christian–Greens tensions, social morality and education politics, but with a new twist given the particular personal characteristics of the two major-party leaders: Julia Gillard, a declared atheist, and Tony Abbott, a conservative Catholic.

      After the 2004 election campaign, prospective Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, concluded that the Coalition had captured the so-called ‘religious vote’. This was a campaign conducted amid great publicity about the so-called ‘Religious Right’, the apparent rise...

  12. Part 6. Election Results

    • 26. The Results and the Pendulum
      (pp. 315-340)
      Malcolm Mackerras

      The two most interesting features of the 2010 election were that it was close and it was an early election. Since early elections are two-a-penny in our system, I shall deal with the closeness of the election first. The early nature of the election does, however, deserve consideration because it was early on two counts. These are considered below. Of our 43 general elections so far, this was the only one both to be close and to be an early election.

      In the immediate aftermath of polling day, several commentators described this as the closest election in Australian federal history....

    • 27. Electoral Behaviour in the 2010 Australian Federal Election
      (pp. 341-356)
      Clive Bean and Ian McAllister

      All elections are unique, but the Australian federal election of 2010 was unusual for many reasons. It came in the wake of the unprecedented ousting of the Prime Minister who had led the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to a landslide victory, after 11 years in Opposition, at the previous election in 2007. In a move that to many would have been unthinkable, Kevin Rudd’s increasing unpopularity within his own parliamentary party finally took its toll and in late June he was replaced with his deputy, Julia Gillard. Thus, the second unusual feature of the election was that it was contested...

    • 28. Seventeen Days to Power: Making a minority government
      (pp. 357-370)
      Brian Costar

      The 2010 federal election produced two major surprises. A first-term government whose electoral position had seemed unassailable as recently as six months earlier was almost defeated; had it been, it would have been the first to suffer that fate since the Great Depression election of 1931. And Australia witnessed the first ‘ hung’ parliament—an ‘unavoidable idiom’ (Justice Committee 2010, 2; 7)—and subsequent minority government since the one that emerged from the 1940 election when the nation was at war. The first of these surprises is the subject of detailed analyses in the earlier chapters of this volume. This...