Former prime minister Julia Gillard hit the hustings (just in time), joining Anthony Albanese in the South Australian electorates of Sturt and Boothby, the latter where she grew up and again lives.
Labor’s elder stateswoman (60) gave a leg-up to that whippersnapper Albo (59), demonstrating an easy charm and looking every bit as if she could take the reins again. Gillard fobbed off questions about being appointed ambassador to Washington and any tensions with Albanese during the Labor leadership wars of 2010-13.
Her appearance closed a circle: all former PMs have now taken roles, mainly small, part in the campaign. Keating and Rudd were at Labor’s campaign launch, and the latter has shown a little of the old magic on the hustings. Howard has been doing his ”remember me from the good ole days” routine while Abbott was at least seated at the Morrison campaign launch. And in a speech at the Harvard Club in Washington, Turnbull spoke glowingly of the challenge posed in Liberal seats by the Teal independents.
It’s possible that when the counting is over, four of the seats held by our six living ex-prime ministers will be in the hands of a hostile party. An independent already holds Abbott’s old seat of Warringah, and an independent may snatch Turnbull’s old redoubt of Wentworth. Labor is a chance in Howard’s 33-year stronghold of Bennelong and the Greens are mounting a strong campaign in Rudd’s selfie ground zero of Griffith.