Julia Gillard's rhetoric has been that a good government had lost its way, and that she stepped up last week to get it back on track. It seems to me that she has a great opportunity to change bad policies - to show just where she thought the Rudd regime had gone off track. With a huge amount of good will out here in the electorate, she can do a great deal to reverse selected policy directions that were taken under Rudd. This is her honeymoon with the voters, and it shouldn't be wasted.
That doesn't mean she can just go crazy and introduce a whole lot of massive policy changes only a couple of months out from an election (surely it can't be much more than that). But it's going to be awfully disappointing if the main change that we see prior to the election turns out to be making concessions to the mining industry on tax policy. I'm not here to say that shouldn't be done. Pragmatically, Labor has no choice but to negotiate over this issue and get the best deal it can within a reasonable timeframe so it can clear the issue off the books before an election is announced. That's the political reality and Gillard knows it well. Fine. But if she wants to hang on to all those voters who've come back to Labor from minority parties, she's going to have to demonstrate that big business is not the only, or main, beneficiary of the sudden change of leader.
Over the past few days, there hasn't been much hint of that. From my viewpoint, she's still likeable and seems capable, and she still offers hope for the future if she can get past the looming election. But she's playing safe just a bit too much in my book. Yes, Prime Minister you don't want to be the female version of Mark Latham - that's understood out here in electorate land. But a teensy bit more of the vision thing would be nice right now.