A piece of incredible unfortunateness
Two themes that were fairly minor for the major parties during the election could become very important for Labor in securing government: the whole issue of infrastructure strain in the perimeters of the capital cities, and broadband.
Labor can establish that they've at least thought about these issues. The Coalition have put their cards on the table and it's a busted flush, they're not going to come up with anything convincing in the coming fortnight or so. Gillard is an experienced negotiator, from her days as a plaintiff lawyer and an advisor to an Opposition Leader, and in managing unions as a Minister. Abbott is accustomed to dealing with people as mendicants, because once he recognises them as peers his competitive instincts come out. Windsor in particular has a chip on his shoulder over being patronised by smart alecks from the city, and he and Katter won't take a backward step. They have the capacity to do to Abbott's hopes and dreams what the Man from Ironbark did to the barber's shop.
A bloc of independents is enough of a contradiction to make your head hurt. Even though the KOW (Katter, Oakeshott and Windsor) came out of the Nationals, they have no idea how to handle these guys. Katter worked with the Coalition over the mining tax (Katter's electorate includes Mt Isa and other mining towns) but it's doubtful that any but Robb and Minchin learned much about that process. With the prospect of government at their very feet, the Coalition has nothing to offer but this and that. Abbott will talk a good game about gutting competition policy, but the KOW - and that bloke who beat Wilson Tuckey (yes!), no doubt - can spot a bullshitter. Gillard won't sacrifice productivity policy but will offer pork in sufficient volumes to put a credible case. Abbott will offer them bridges and roads and other dinky unconnected bits of infrastructure, but the NBN shows that he can't do joined up government (another reason to pole-axe Tony Smith).
This period of negotiation is the point where Abbott cracks. He's held it together, spouting his lines and riding his bike, but this period calls for nerves of steel and the flexibility of water. It calls for leadership in his own right rather than being a packaged product. If Abbott doesn't make it this time, he has to be in a position to keep up the pressure and exploit weaknesses among the incumbents at a later time, like Curtin in 1940-41. Something tells me it's now or never for Abbott, and now that Gillard is in her element I think she'll put the stronger case to the KOW, A. Crook from WA, her old mucker from Slater & Gordon and the underrated Andrew Wilkie. Abbott, meanwhile, has to keep his party together while it strains at the leash of so-close-but-yet-so-far.
The situation we find/put ourselves in will more likely be the making of Gillard than Abbott, which is why this is a disgraceful suck from another old journo who has outlived his relevance.
Mind you, who knows how things will pan out? Did you predict this? Looks like I'm being represented in Federal Parliament by a stuffed shirt: gotta laugh, eh.