In the end, it was probably a blessing that Bob Hawke wasn’t alive to see it.
Scott Morrison has emerged as a modern-day Liberal Party hero, defying the predictions of the polls, his critics, his predecessors and even Liberal frontbenchers who voted with their feet to resign before the election.
The Labor Party was trounced on Saturday night, and it is a result that will ensure the ALP doesn’t pick a fight with retirees on tax reform again any time soon.
Over 65s were responsible for the biggest swings against the ALP, according to Labor officials. It was the dividend-imputation tax that did it. They were out-campaigned and outplayed.
While the result defied expectations of a Labor landslide, the ALP knew all along it was a close-run thing.
Labor sources concede their tracking polls – held tightly and not shared with candidates – never rose above minority government. It never got above the 76 seats they needed to secure a majority.
Mr Shorten knew all along. But even Labor was shocked by the size of the swing and the collapse of the primary vote that was far worse than its own polling.
And former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce was revelling in the victory.
“Sucked in, fellas,” he shrieked on the ABC
“You went for the sucker trap again, didn’t you? Put all your resources into a seat you weren’t going to win … Thank you very much, GetUp, for being completely and utterly dopey.”
But the wisest of Liberal senators Arthur Sinodinos had this advice for the Prime Minister.
“You have now been returned in your own right. You have great
authority within your own party. You can set the course,” he said.
“Within the party, everyone should realise you are there for three years, you cannot be knocked off, and because of the way you have conducted this campaign, there is great faith in your political judgement and now you can set the course. And you don’t have to worry about one or two people say this or that. You will set the course. You are a Liberal hero – they will follow you.”
Senator Sinodinos observed that “Morrison can’t sit still”.
“He wants to do things. And, in fact, if anything, one of the challenges when he was Treasurer, and Malcolm [Turnbull] was Prime Minister, is there was this debate about, you know, how quickly we do certain things because Scott was very keen to get on with certain things and Malcolm was more cautious and wanted to weigh them up more.
“Now, I think there’s still a case for being cautious when you’re doing big things, but my point is that he is a leader who will want to get on and do things. In fact, one of the things, I think, he will have to do is take some of the elements of the Labor campaign and look at them and say, ‘Well, where were the issues that motivated some people to vote Labor, and what can I do to and ameliorate – assuage those concerns?’.”
That is code for the Liberals doing more about climate change and energy policy.
And with Tony Abbott gone, Scott Morrison may even be able to get something done.