When I posted the Annabel Crabb interview earlier today I alluded to an interesting divergence in explanations for the strong preference Australians show for the Coalition on most aspects of Australia's foreign relations (one of the headline findings in our latest poll of Australian attitudes to the world).
Whereas Annabel focused on the different ways the two major parties are perceived today, senior correspondent for The Age Daniel Flitton, another of our panellists at yesterday's poll launch, favours a historical analysis. In fact, Dan's explanation of why the Coalition is so far in front brings to mind the 'mummy' and 'daddy' construct for explaining the differences between our two major parties. Here's a description:
One theory, proffered by the commentator Don Arthur, is that the left-right divisions of Australian politics have been replaced. Instead, voters see Labor as the caring and nurturing party, better suited to state issues such as health and education, while the Liberals are seen as the strict father, best put in charge of the nation’s finances and defence and border protection.
A little condescending towards modern mums and dads, and definitely non-PC, but it makes a useful point: each party has a distinct reputation and character which makes them seem more competent on particular areas of policy. These party profiles seem to endure despite specific policy positions; certainly the Coalition's implicit acquiescence to Labor's defence cuts have not damaged its image as the preferred party on national security.