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Discipline wins Abbott victory in Australia

The centre-right is likely to govern in the way it campaigned in Australia's elections.
Last modified: 7 Sep 2013 23:12

The Liberal Party’s officials were adamant: the cameramen had to get off their chairs. 

The positions they had secured to get a top shot of the man just elected prime minister was just too good; it was blocking party members’ view of the proceedings and they should have priority. 

It didn’t matter that the cameras – collectively – would broadcast Tony Abbott’s victorious entry to millions of people, and that – in fact – no one’s view was actually being blocked. 

The chairs were going, and with them, the cameramen’s birds-eye position. 

And that was that.

The incident is telling because it reflects the iron rod of discipline that has run through the Liberal Party’s campaign.  Even things that have seemed seemed illogical or pointless were enforced if they were part of The Message.

To those of us who’ve been on the brunt end of it, it’s been frustrating.  But there’s no denying the discipline contributed to their victory.

That discipline, of course, contrasts with the ill-discipline of the Labor government. 

That meant – first and foremost – the leadership chaos: a split party which, for three years, saw supporters of Kevin Rudd briefing against Julia Gillard, and vice versa. 

But now that the election is over, it is clear there was ill-discipline on the campaign trail, too: policies made on the hoof, broken-down campaign buses, a failure to warn a school -  Rudd’s own voting station – that the prime minister would be visiting and might have some cameras in tow.

Where ill-discipline crept into the Liberal party – a candidate in Western Sydney, for example, who gave a rogue interview in which he couldn’t recite more than one point of his party’s "six-point plan" to “stop the [refugee] boats” – voters reacted.

That candidate bucked the national trend. He lost. But such examples were rare. 

The twin fists of discipline and unity won the election for the politcians of the centre-right.

They promise to govern in a similar style.