Stable and effective government" is the new "Moving Forward" or "Stop the Boats", the mantras we heard ad nauseam during the campaign. Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott both make the claim that they are the only leaders capable of delivering it.
Meanwhile, Bob Katter, the force from the north and one of the newly-crowned independent kingmakers, is re-writing the lingua franca of Australian politics. How about this sound-bite, from when he appeared on national television in Australia on Sunday night. "There's a freedom issue here," he told Kerry O'Brien in a special edition of The 730 Report. "You know we're not allowed to fish much at all, we're not allowed to go camping or shooting or even boiling the billy. We've got a terribly problem with the deadly flying foxes. They're going to kill many more people than Taipan snakes do in Australia."
Did I mention this has sometimes been a weird and wacky election?
To add to the sense of implausibility, Rob Oakeshott, another of the kingmakers, is calling for a national unity government - a mix-and-match affair with ministers from all the parties. Attractive though it may be to many Australians fed up with the adversarial nature of Aussie politics, I think that idea can safely be filed away in the "non-starter" drawer. That said, Oakeshott is a serious politician with some really interesting things about the health of the Australian body politic, which you can read more of here. Bob Katter, for all his showmanship and eccentricities, has said some really interesting things about a "new paradigm" in Australian politics as well. So, too, has Tony Windsor, who makes up this powerful triumvirate. As I said in my last blog, it's particularly interesting to hear voices from the bush and the outback after a campaign focused so much on the suburbs.
Both the two major leaders have disadvantages heading into the face-to-face negotiations with the independents, which have not even got underway yet.
For Tony Abbott, it's the bad blood between the independents and senior figures in the National Party. All three kingmakers were former members of the party and left amidst acrimony. His broadband policy - something which haunted him during the campaign - may also require a rethink. It doesn't sound fast or ambitious enough for the independents. If there is to be a new paradigm in Australian politics, Abbott might also suffer from being the chief Liberal spear-thrower during the Howard years.
For Julia Gillard, it's the bad blood within the Labor Party. There's something close to civil war going on within the party right now between those who blame Julia Gillard for not achieving an overall majority, because of her treachery in ousting Kevin Rudd, and those who blame Mr Rudd for destabilising her campaign through a series of alleged leaks. Tony Abbott has quite a neat sound-bite on this subject. If Labor could not deliver stable government when it enjoyed a majority, how can it do so as a minority government?
Julia Gillard is clearly worried about preventing this civil war playing out too much on national television. She blocked the Labor Senator Mark Arbib from appearing on ABC's popular QandA panel discussion programme on Monday night. As many readers will know, Arbib is one of the powerful New South Wales factional leaders who orchestrated the coup against Kevin Rudd. In his absence, ABC simply empty-chaired him, and read out a statement from Julia Gillard's office explaining his late withdrawal from the live broadcast.
In the blur of events over the past few days, we have not yet had the chance for a full and frank post-mortem on Election 2010. We'll try to do so later in the week.
In the meantime, thanks to 11pete11 for providing this link to a very useful guide to this post-election phase. And thanks to beachcomber1 and Stilgherrian for pointing out two absolute howlers in my last blog entry. Apologies. I blame a combination of the lack of sleep, caffeine poisoning, complete haplessness on my part, the talk of "another election" and an often confusion post-polling phase which at times has felt as mad as a cut Taipan snake.....