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By Paul Goodman
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Polling day is two weeks away, but the Liberal Party's Tony Abbott would make it over the finishing line were the election held today, according to two separate polls.  One was of the four most marginal sears held by the two main parties, published in the Australian Financial Review, which found that the partt would take at least five seats off Labour.  The other, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, found that Labor would lose two
other seats in New South Wales.

Those results would take Abbott over the 76 seat-threshold which he needs to win the election outright.  The Liberals currently have 72 seats and Labor 71.  The latter has been propped up by the Greens and by independents since the 2010 election, and Christian Kerr wrote an entertaining account on this site recently of how Kevin Rudd, Labour's Prime Minister, was first outed by Julia Gillard and then ousted her in turn.  Kerr clocked his relative popularity: "Abbott has never been hugely liked. But Rudd – or as ordinary voters greet him, Kevin, is a different matter."

Bloomberg quotes Penny Wong, the Finance Minister, as saying: “There’s no doubt we’re still the underdog, and there’s no
doubt that Tony Abbott, if the election was held on the day it
was announced would be the prime minister." Voice of Australia reports that Abbott "is on track to comfortably win", and that Labor's support has fallen "to its lowest level since Kevin Rudd's
return as Prime Minister". "In two-party terms, the Coalition enjoys a 54-46 per cent lead and, if
repeated across the board on election day, Labor would lose 14 seats," it reports.

Abbott is what my Canadian friends and others closer to home would call a "movement Conservative", but I see that according to ABC he has just announced a planned tax rise which wasn't cleared by his party – namely, new paid parental leave provisions to be funded by "big business", as he puts it: that's to say, a 1.5 per cent levy on the 3000 largest firms in Australia.  (The Liberal Leader also proposes a 1.5 per cent company tax cut and budget savings,
including $2 billion from abolishing existing leave
provisions.)

Parallels between one Anglosphere country and another can mislead, but part-funding a tax cut for smaller businesses through a tax rise on larger ones has echoes on the debate here about where any Tory tax cuts would fall – and to what degree the Party should put itself "on the side" of "strivers".  Two weeks out, the election looks like Abbott's to lose.  I enclose a clip of his opening remarks at the recent election debate with Rudd, reportedly an indecisive affair, in which the opposition leader is clearly playing it safe.

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