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It's a new ballgame: Morrison and Albanese must make the ground rules

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Labor must now face the same decision it faces after every loss. Is it in decline? Or is victory in three years just a matter of flicking a few switches? Shift to a popular leader, don’t take taxes to an election, come to a clear position on Adani, watch government come your way.

Of course, what that hypothetical assumes is that all other conditions have remained the same. But no election is exactly like the previous one – as Bill Shorten has just discovered. Come 2022, the government might not be divided. And – the several-billion-dollar question – Scott Morrison might have actually done something by then.

It's a new field ... Anthony Albanese, above, and Scott Morrison both have to define the new ground rules.Credit:Wolter Peeters

In 2018, John Howard talked to the late great journalist Michael Gordon about his gun reforms. "One thing I've known about politics for a long time, is that when you inherit a lot of political capital, you can be certain of one thing, it will deplete. Now, you either deplete it through doing something effective, or you just watch it deplete. Because it will deplete. It's a law of nature."

Morrison says he talks often to Howard. The recent campaign drew heavily on Howard’s experiences. Like most observers, I thought it likely this government would be voted out, as the last gasp of the Howard years. Instead, we are about to find out whether Morrison continues his idol’s project, or........

© The Sydney Morning Herald