Itâ€™s not true.
Itâ€™s a conclusion quickly drawn from reference to the old MacKerras pendulum but itâ€™s wrong.
Itâ€™s wrong in part because there are three independents, conservative leaning blokes Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott who would have to be considered more likely than not to lean towards an Abbott government than a Gillard one, if it came down to the wire. Yes, Windsor and Oakeshott donâ€™t like the Nationals for their own intensely personal reasons but are unlikely to jeopardise their hold on their former Nats party dominated seats by propping up a Labor government. All three, we are informed by a source familiar with all of them, regard Abbott reasonably favourably and would be expected to vote together on such a momentous matter.
Adding to the complexity is the very real possibility that the ultra-left wing Greens party will achieve what none of its predecessors, like the Communist Party of Australia, ever managed: election to the House of Representatives. While more likely to lean to Gillard than Abbott, their presence in the chamber would be more likely to push the three conservative independents toward supporting Abbott if for no other reason than the instability a Labor-Greens government would inherently have.
Itâ€™s also wrong because a quick analysis reveals that a 1.5% swing against the government â€“ seen by many as likely â€“ would be enough for the Coalition to win notionally Labor seats of Herbert, Swan, Gilmore, Macarthur and Dickson (held by Coalition incumbents but notionally Labor after redistributions) and currently Labor seats of Robertson (where the sitting MP was disendorsed), Solomon, Macquarie, Corangamite, Hasluck, Bass, Bennelong and Deakin.
Thatâ€™s only seven currently held Labor seats that Abbott need to change hands. All but one of the rest have had redistributions the effect of which is largely cancelled out by advantages from incumbency. Each of Swan, Gilmore, Macarthur and Dickson is in that category. In Herbert, as a VEXNEWS Investigations Unit member pointed out, Peter Lindsay is retiring but is strongly backing preselected successor auctioneer Ewen Jones.
That would bring the Coalition to 72 seats.
Assuming â€“ as the bookmakers and the ultra-left party do â€“ that the Greens party can win Melbourne, that will leave Labor with 74 seats. Laborâ€™s put up a good candidate but Gillard moving to the mainstream on asylum seekers might hurt it in the latte sipping inner-city of Australiaâ€™s equivalent of Massachusetts. Grayndler and Sydney, on published polling, could well fall too but are considered much less likely than Melbourne.
Taking us back to the conservative three independents whoâ€™ll be in a position to hand government to Tony Abbott, if they want to. VEXNEWS Investigations Unit research indicates all three will be strongly inclined to support Abbott over Gillard, if their votes made the difference.
A tiny swing, with only six incumbent Labor MPs losing their seats to the conservatives would be enough to put Tony Abbott in the Lodge.
The last election was much closer than it appeared to be. Howard/Loughnane nearly stole it back from under Ruddâ€™s nose because heâ€™d built up such a colossal buffer in 2004. Not that you read much of that analysis around the place. It felt like an Itâ€™s Time landslide election with so many seats changing hands that night that most people didnâ€™t subsequently take time to look at just how close it was.
Gillard is going to need to have a strong campaign to hang on to government.
Donâ€™t believe those who say the Libs have a huge mountain to climb, itâ€™s much more like a brisk stroll up Capital Hill, Canberra Â than trekking Mount Everest.
For both sides, itâ€™s all to play for.