Policies, not personalities, should determine federal poll 

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s tenure in the nation’s top political job has exceeded that of former Labor leader Kevin Rudd. Her supporters might see this as a moral victory, but it won’t mask the enormous task that lies ahead for the government in 2013.

That task will be to put its own leadership in-fighting behind it and determine an avenue to fight a Coalition led by Tony Abbott.

While Mr Abbott continues to polarise voters, and has been the target of intense personal attacks from the government in recent months – according to the latest opinion polls he remains in the prime position to become Australia’s next prime minister.

But he won’t be taking an election victory for granted.

If anything, yesterday’s milestone for the prime minister proves undoubtedly that she is a politician of great determination.

Her ability to maintain power amid a parliament requiring independent support, and policies that have created a significant strain on the values of her party, underline the manner in which the election will be fought.

While question marks continue to be raised over both major party leaders, it seems inevitable now that Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott will fight out this year’s poll. Ms Gillard is hellbent on fulfilling the full three-year parliamentary term, meaning an election is likely to be held in the second half of this year.

Given how vitriolic the attacks have become at federal level, we will watch with interest as to how the election campaign is fought – and also how voters react. And will the national conversation have an effect on local campaigns that will drive the polls that affect results in seats such as Ballarat?

What the Australian public does deserve is a campaign that debates issues, not personalities.

Which party can deliver on economic prosperity during uncertain times? Which party can improve health and education standards or enthuse all Australians about our approach to climate policy? Which party can help make life easier for families and those who are in need?

These are the questions voters deserve to have answered in 2013.

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