Political betting: Another day, another ballot
The ALP leadership ballot was always a one-horse race, at least as far as our canny Betfair bettors were concerned...
Paul Bugeja looks at the events of the past few days and speculates what it might mean for the 2013 election chances of both parties.
As the twittersphere went into #respill meltdown over the weekend, today it finally had a chance to take a breath.
And through all that media barking, it appears the caravan is moving on, albeit reluctantly...although one commentator, ABC's Chris Uhlmann, was already hinting the direction in which it might be moving -- towards Tony Abbott, and the prospects of him remaining leader of the Opposition at the next election.
(FYI Chris, the punters disagree...Tony Abbott remains clear favourite ahead of Malcolm Turnbull and others)
The ALP leadership ballot was always a one-horse race, at least as far as our canny Betfair bettors were concerned, with about 90% of the money coming in for Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and her odds never getting into anything remotely like big value territory for punters.
Today she proved them right, doing a bit of a Black Caviar by securing three wins on the trot: the 2010 ALP leadership ballot, the 2010 election and today's ballot. (Ok, nowhere near Black Caviar's record, but unbroken at least!)
Can she follow in the great mare's hoofsteps and win the 2013 election to maintain her unbeaten record as leader of the ALP?
Most punters at least rate her a high chance of being in the top job in 2013, with the PM coming right in to [1.71] from as high as [3.40] just a week ago.
But that's where the good news ends for Gillard and co.
The Coalition support from punters remains mostly unchanged, with them clear favourite to win the 2013 election, last trading at [1.35]
However, events over the weekend and today just might see some change in the prospects of the ALP, meaning it could be a good time to get on them at the healthy [3.5] on offer.
Several reasons that I can identify...
(1) Recent polls are showing small gains in the primary vote for the ALP, even if similar gains are not showing in the PM's personal popularity.
(2) The ALP leadership speculation is 'dead, buried and cremated', apparently, and, if anything, the media spotlight will now slowly (or not so slowly) be refocussed on the Coalition and Tony Abbott, whose own popularity, or lack of it, might just see #libspill becoming the next hash-tag trending by #tweeps (or #twerds, as I like to call them) in the twitterverse.
(3) Mark Arbib, one of the so-called faceless men, is gone, having fallen on his own sword, citing family commitments, and with him to some degree the relentless viewpoint that factions control the ALP.
(4) Tony Abbott's 'great big tax', the Carbon Tax, becomes law in July this year. If it proves less dire to the electorate's pocket than the Coalition constantly paints it, one of their biggest anti-government planks is gone.
Other factors that might improve the ALP primary and 2pp vote include improving world economic conditions (if the Greece bailout is successful), the potential for another interest rate drop or two (if the RBA feels the economy needs a bit of super-charging), and other legislation being promulgated, such as the MRRT (Mineral Resource Rent Tax) and Private Health cover Rebate changes.
And one cannot go past Gillard herself.
Presenting to the public over the past week, she has generally been better-received. There has been a steely, take-no-prisoners resolve about the way she has dealt with the media, and her voice seems somehow laden with more conviction about not just her position as PM but also her beliefs and what she wants her party to achieve.
That's a lot of 'ifs' and 'maybes', and if the government's current record is anything to go by, there will be other challenges ahead, both self-made and otherwise.
So yes, it's an uphill battle...one that the markets and political pundits alike believe is a 'lay down misere' for Tony Abbott and the Coalition.
And yet, as clichéd as it is, Australians love an underdog.
So, when a certain red-maned mare (let's call her Red Caviar), takes on the favourite gelding (let's call him Budgie Smuggler), as they race down the straight to the finish line, the winner will only be called when they cross that finish line...
A win by several lengths?
By a neck?
Or might it be a photo finish...?