Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best Prime Minister Of The Past 45 Years: Round 5

File:Whitlam Lingiari Image 3.jpg
(image source, licence)
"A conservative government survives essentially by dampening expectations and subduing hopes. Conservatism is basically pessimistic, reformism is basically optimistic."

Excluded: John Howard (13.9%)

I chose this particular quote from the primary vote leader of round 4 of my multi-month best PM Not-A-Poll as a send-off by said leader to the last eliminated Liberal contestant.  Given the left-wing bias of this site's readership and consumers of psephology in general, Howard has actually done pretty well to make it this far, but overachieved by somehow edging out Bob Hawke in round 3, and his elimination in this round always looked extremely likely.  

What to say of Howard's legacy?  There is a widespread view that since he was PM for eleven years he must have been doing quite a lot right (especially given the circus the position has become in his wake) but there is also the case that Howard is responsible for almost everything wrong with Australian politics since his time.  Was he a prudent economic manager or did he simply ride a global crest then waste money on indisciplined big-government splash-outs?  For mine, much as Howard has made a target of himself by his dated interventions in issues such as same-sex marriage recently, he did two fine things in office.  The first was his action on gun control in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre (and I don't care whether he was the cause of the end of a chain of US-style mass shootings in this country; what is important is that he took firm action in an attempt to put a stop to them).  The second is that he saved the country from a Mark Latham prime ministership, and the benefits of that action grow more obvious on a seemingly daily basis.  On the negative side, if only his foreign policy had done as much to make us safe as his domestic actions on gun control.  So I see his reign as a mixed bag.  

The only issue with the voting in round 4 was that voting was closed for 21 of the last 24 hours as a result of a silly settings error, but by that stage I suspect almost everyone had voted anyway.  As usual, Whitlam (who has won every round, though round 2 was very close) bolted to an early lead but this round he had a different pursuer.  Julia Gillard picked up considerably (probably from the elimination of Hawke, not too many Hawke fans preferencing Keating!) and at stages got rather close to the lead.  As has happened in other rounds, Gillard tended to attract the more rapid responders and dropped back as voting continued, but this was still the first round to finish without a Whitlam-Keating 1-2.  Here are the final results of round 4:

So it will be interesting to see how the Howard preferences break in round 5 (together with the usual vagaries of who votes and who doesn't), as to who the final two might be - if it even makes it to the final two!

Voting on round 5 runs til 6 pm January 31.  


A stack was detected on 27 January.  There is evidence that a single person cast 14 votes for Julia Gillard between 12:21 pm and 12:29 pm.  These will be deducted from Gillard's total at the end of the round.

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