I thought I had it. The first one arriving just as autumn seems to be turning to winter. “Government MPs are bracing to ‘cop the political flak’ from next week’s budget containing tax rises and welfare cuts,” was the promising intro by Mark Kenny, Chief Political Correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald. But then the disappointing “but”… “but ministers say the unpopular moves will not weaken Tony Abbott’s leadership.” The challenge had flown away.
Perhaps not for long because chief correspondents are experienced leadership watchers with skills finely honed from watching Labor. And the signs were there this morning:
A series of political opinion polls have charted a sharp downturn in support for the Coalition and a fall in Mr Abbott’s personal standing, but senior figures have rallied around him, praising his determination to take hard decisions.
In political journalism that’s like a footy team president saying “the coach has my full support.” And from Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce:
In a strong declaration of support for Mr Abbott, Mr Joyce said there was a ‘‘nobility’’ in doing what was right in public office, describing Mr Abbott as a man with ‘‘a good sense of kindness and strength’’.
That has a Yes, Prime Minister “courageous decision” ring to it, a clue that the first proper sighting is not far away.