For decades our elected leaders have used the hackneyed phrase 'governing for the country and not for opinion polls' as a way of excusing their autocratic decisions and impositions. Claiming to serve what they said was the "national interest," they have ignored public opinion and even election promises.
The implied justification is that only those at the levers of power with expert advice available to them can hope to understand the necessary choices to best serve the public interest. Ordinary members of the public, on the other hand, are supposedly incapable of arriving at the correct choices.
Elite view historically not in public interest
History shows that this elite view of political reality is wrong.
In fact in the last three decades, public opinion, as expressed through public opinion polls (as limited and imperfect as polling has been in general), has been far more correct about what is in the public interest than the opinions of the politicians who have ignored it. The most clear and obvious example is privatisation. Almost never has a government been elected because of its privatisation policies (Jeff Kennett's re-election in the 1990's in preference to the discredited Victorian Labor Party could arguably be held to be an exception to the rule). Never has any privatisation enjoyed majority public support and polls have usually shown emphatic opposition.
Every privatisation, without exception, has harmed the public interest. Yet governments, supposedly governing for the "national interest" continue to sell off publicly owned assets in defiance of public opinion.
Other unpopular policies purportedly in the national interest
Other unpopular policies implemented by governments "in the national interest" include slashing of public spending, deregulation of our finances, removal of protection of Australian manufacturing from slave-wage economies, the privatisation of retirement income, etc.
Will Abbott discover a Gillard Abyss like Howard discovered the Beazley Black Hole?
Upon the election of an Abbott Liberal Government it is almost guaranteed that Tony Abbott will 'discover' the national finances to be in a far worse state than he now claims he realises they are. An immediate Liberal precedent to this, was where, after his election in 1996, Liberal Prime Minister John Howard 'discovered' that the country's finances were in a far worse state than he claimed to have realised during the election.
Because of the so-called "Beazley Black hole" Howard assumed a right to massively cut social spending, never knowingly given to him by Australian electors in 1996.
Our best guarantee against such unmandated and harmful expenditure cuts being foisted upon us is the re-election of the current Labor Government, for all of its flaws.
At least this Government has the virtue of being led by a leader, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who has stood up to the previous leader, Kevin Rudd. Rudd's policies, not Julia's, may have created excuses for an incoming Liberal Government to 'slash and burn' in the style of John Howard in 1996.
A Gillard return would be a #winlose" id="winlose">Win-lose rather than a Lose-Lose
Looking at our less-than-perfect election choices pragmatically, it is far less likely that a re-elected Gillard Government will 'discover' a necessity to savagely cut Government spending than a newly elected Abbott government is likely to.
For this reason, if no other, Australians should vote Gillard back in.