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What is going on?

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Everyone, it seems, is talking about what’s happening in Canberra.

I’m at the National Polocrosse Championships at Albury this week helping out with the PR. Last night I overheard a bunch of the Tasmanian team gaffawing and talking about ‘President Turnbull’. My 11 year old daughter insightfully observed after a night of TV viewing, “there’s definitely an election coming up Mum, why else would there be so many ads telling us about what the government is doing?”. Mouths of babes.

The polls appear to be gelatinous and crazy things keep happening. The cross-bench stared the government down and provided Malcolm Turnbull with the Double-Dissolution trigger he was hoping for.

So it’s on – well almost – but it is already, really.

So where are things up to?

Three national polls in a row have indicated that there’s a contest, with the main parties 50-50 or the Opposition just ahead. Now, all leaders will tell you that the only poll that matters is election day and that’s absolutely true, but from Bill Shorten’s perspective it’s certainly a lot better than it was just a few months ago when those in the illusive back rooms were planning on moving him on.

Commentators are talking up a hung parliament – and if the government loses 15 seats that’s what’s likely to happen. That’s a lot of seats to shift hands but goes to my pet theory – the electorate (the punters, the great unwashed, the people) now sees politicians as dispensable. They don’t particularly care if the prospect of six prime ministers in six years makes for bad governance. If they’re cranky or if they don’t like what they heard on The Project last night then bingo, they’re out.

Barnaby Joyce was speaking this week and described Malcolm Turnbull as “Someone who’s worked hard and made a crust and we should give him another go”. That harks back to what people used to say at elections last century – the “Give them another go” line.

Thing is, it doesn’t work like that any more. Punters are giving them one go and they need to get it right really quickly and not annoy anyone – or they’re out.

Tough isn’t it? I’m not sure how we’ll shift back to more considered, thoughtful politics. However one thing is almost guaranteed; although a 75-day election is a very long time, election night will be a lot more exciting to watch on TV than we might have thought.

Feature image courtesy of Andrew Meares/Fairfax, slider image by Martin Ollman

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