Tony Abbott's shock win in the battle for the Opposition leadership dramatically shortens the odds that the Government will call a double dissolution election.
The Government has been at pains to underline its reluctance to call an early election, but the rise of Mr Abbott and the ongoing chaos within the Liberal party will leave Kevin Rudd sorely tempted to pull the double dissolution trigger.
Labor knows Mr Abbott will be looking to water down his image as an arch conservative before going to the polls, and it will also want to give him as little time as possible to do so.
Mr Abbott has already begun the massive task of reshaping his public profile. In his recent autobiography _Battlelines _ he attempted to qualify his views on issues such as abortion and whether Australia should become a republic.
But the Labor machine thinks the public - and particularly female voters - has very set views about Mr Abbott, and it will be looking to reinforce those stereotypes at every opportunity while giving the Opposition little room to dispel them.
Mr Abbott appeared to flag a double dissolution as being very likely when he gave his first press conference as the new Liberal leader, this morning.
"I cannot promise victory, but I can promise a contest," he told reporters.
The other major problem for the Opposition is that Mr Abbott's victory does little to heal the now deep divisions within the Liberal Party.
The new Opposition Leader won today's ballot by just one vote, and one vote in that ballot was informal. One likely Turnbull supporter, Victorian MP Fran Bailey, was absent from the party room because of illness.Mr Abbott, a former boxer, now faces the fight of his life to unite his party and prevent the complete slaughter of the Coalition at the next poll.
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