Thursday, November 30, 2017

Not-A-Poll: Best Prime Minister Of The Last 45 Years, Round 4

Image result for gough whitlam image
(Image: Flickr:Gostalgia licence)

"The main sufferers in Australian society — the main victims of social deprivation and restricted opportunity - have been the oldest Australians on the one hand and the newest Australians on the other. " 

Three months ago, I started a multi-round Not-A-Poll to determine this site's choice for the title of Best Prime Minister of the Last 45 Years.  Each round, one Prime Minister (sometimes more) is given the boot until someone gets over 50% and wins.  Each round runs for about a month, so you can vote for different candidates from month to month if you want to.  Multiple voting is in theory banned, but still readily possible at low levels; adjustments may be made if required.  It is what it is, but at least it's preferential in a way, unlike, say, Australian bird of the year.

The winner of each round gets a photo and a quote on the top, except for the final round when photos of both candidates will go up together.  And there is an obscure rule that if there is a new Prime Minister voting stops for a month to give the new PM time to establish themselves as incredibly brilliant and win the contest. I mention that because there's chatter about that the incumbent (eliminated in last place in this contest with a ridiculously small vote) might not even last the coming sitting week.

Round 3 Results

After a very close contest for the win in round 2, Round 3 was anything but: Whitlam shot out of the blocks and kept a 50-ish vote lead all the way to the bank, topping the primary count by a cushy 9% from Paul Keating.   These two have finished first and second in that order in every round so far.  Keating's second at one stage seemed under some threat from Julia Gillard, but in the end Gillard was almost caught by John Howard.

Here's the final scorecard:

Excluded: Bob Hawke 14.4%

The elimination of Labor's longest-serving PM from this survey in fifth place came as a minor surprise.  Hawke was seven votes ahead of Howard around mid-month when there was a minor surge of votes for Howard that put him six ahead, a gap that has then increased slightly.

I would have thought there was a strong objective case for Hawke.  He lead Labor to a convincing win after no time to speak of as leader and his government immediately set about fixing a parlous economy.  His government, sometimes said to have had Australia's best ever Cabinet - had many achievements - in health care, the environment, superannuation - and for the most part he was a popular and unifying figure.  But there are two clouds that I think have harmed Hawke's legacy - firstly the endless debate about to what extent he was the architect and to what extent the figurehead carried by Keating, and secondly the danger that he placed his party in by bumbling around for the last year or so when his time was really up.

On we go! Round 4 runs until New Years' Eve or until we get a new PM, whichever is the sooner.

PS I may or may not have live coverage of the New England by-election.  Given the potential for my flight out of Melbourne on Saturday night to be late if not cancelled, I'd say there's a fair chance I will!


  1. Yes, Kevin - if we were voting on "most talented govenment" it would be Hawke's, by several lengths. But I believe you are asking us to vote on "best PM",

  2. I've declined a comment for gratuitous swearing; author is free to reword + resubmit.

    I have no moral objection to swearing but do want to keep the site clean for the benefit of any young readers who may have protective parents.

  3. hmm it seems people's best PM's and what the electorate thought are contradictory. You really have to be smoking magic mushies to think Gough was the best PM. He is right up there with Abbott and Bruce for the worst!

  4. Which brings another (potentially) interesting question - who would you consider the performers of Hawke's cabinet? Could potentially extend it to a "best ever Minister" contest, so to speak - but I imagine there will be a lot of candidates.

    1. Apart from Keating, Neal Blewett made Australia the prime mover in the defeat of HIV.