Marginal difference in national sphere

Ted Baillieu's shock resignation is a morale boost for Labor in Victoria that has few implications for the federal election that Julia Gillard has called for September 14.

Tony Abbott might call Melbourne his second home, but the truth of it is that the national result will be much more influenced by what happens in western Sydney and in Queensland, where far more seats are in play, than in Victoria.

Here, the Coalition has a realistic prospect of picking up three federal seats, but it also holds two seats by very small margins.

Moreover, Victoria is the one state where Labor is ahead of the Coalition in two-party preferred terms, according to the most recent Age-Nielsen poll - and where Mr Abbott is most unpopular.

Earlier this week, Mr Abbott declared his unqualified support for the man he considers a friend. Clearly, he had no expectation of what unfolded on Wednesday night - and he was not alone. Among the many questions left hanging is what would have happened if Mr Baillieu had insisted that his chief of staff, Tony Nutt, step down over the revelations on leaked tape recordings of telephone conversations.

But there are many others. Would Mr Baillieu have been more successful if he was more ruthless, projected more urgency, hunger and passion? Undoubtedly.

That wasn't his style, and he never tried to be what he wasn't. To his detractors, his failure to communicate was a fatal flaw. Certainly, the love of Victoria and pride in its multicultural success that was so evident last night was not widely appreciated. Nor was his decency, but then, as one Liberal friend remarked: ''Decency doesn't pay dividends.''

Whether the impression of a man without a clear direction would have been rectified if he had served a full term as premier is, sadly, something we will never know.

The story Marginal difference in national sphere first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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