Remember when Tony Abbott proposed a "kinder, gentler polity" during negotiations with a sceptical crossbench following the 2010 election?
Recall also that Julia Gillard entered her crossbench talks with no more seats than the Coalition and a lower popular vote. Yet she emerged with guarantees of confidence and supply.
A humiliated Abbott would respond by stepping up his aggression, setting the tone for what was arguably the most combative, crypto-misogynist opposition this country has seen.
At the very next opportunity Abbott's vituperative politics received an emphatic tick from voters.
Hardly ancient history, this is the Australia of less than a decade ago.
It came only a handful of years after Peter Dutton had pointedly abstained from a bipartisan parliamentary apology to Stolen Generations.
And it would be only a few years later that Scott Morrison would cravenly abstain from a marriage equality vote despite his own electorate approving it (55 per cent to 45 per cent).
So when voters complain about politicians' behaviour, lament their poor example, their lack of respect, their scheming self-interest and bad-mouthing, it is voters who often reward it in the end.
Abbott won 90 seats in 2013 to Labor's 55.
This recent history is pertinent because of the intersecting lines of politics and personalities still in play, and because of what might follow the voters' judgment next month.
Along with a couple of colleagues from the Press Gallery, I accepted an embassy invitation last week to opine on the looming contest and run through some contingencies.
All the usual bases were covered including the government's excruciating difficulties, Labor's abundant caution, Morrison's freshly re-tarnished image - courtesy of yet more friendly-fire - and naturally, the current state of public opinion in so far as we understand it.
The normal caveats were expressed also such as the pitfalls of polling and punditry, after 2019.
Foreign governments constantly try to understand such minutiae up to and including what might occur in the event of a hung parliament - quite a likely outcome it was agreed.
Ditto the lessons of 2010 (the only one hung parliament since 1940) and the inevitability that the Coalition plans to weaponise the spectre of a pivotal crossbench all the way to polling day.
This will be a bitter election fight.
Q&A on Thursday night provided a taster. It featured Zali Steggall, the very independent who dislodged Abbott from blue-ribbon Warringah in 2019, Jacqui Lambie, and Barnaby Joyce - the self-same deputy PM who, just months ago, was outed for his 2021 SMS "textimonial" of Scott Morrison.
Joyce had branded Morrison a "hypocrite and a liar" and someone who "earnestly rearranges the truth to a lie".
Inevitably, Steggall was grilled on what she would do in the event of being king-maker.
The unembarrassable Joyce leapt all over her for hedging, and Steggall eventually conceded that having campaigned for policies opposed by Morrison, it was unlikely she would be giving him her confidence.
Obviously this is a tricky question for "indi-candidates" who rely on votes from both sides to get elected.
The best approach is the simplest: In such negotiations, independents will honour the policy heads on which they are elected - a proper anti-corruption commission, a genuine path to net-zero, and equality for women.
If Morrison or anyone else promises to respect and enact these priorities, then they can expect confidence and supply.
Over to Morrison who would either have to flip his current positions or forego their numerical support.
But what about the rest of his party?
One option open to them - and conceivably this could be an explicit condition of crossbench support in negotiations - would be to ditch Morrison and Joyce for more moderate leaders - say Josh Frydenberg and David Littleproud.
This too has happened before - in 1922-23 when a condition of support from one party was the removal of the former PM, Billy Hughes.
Alternatively, if the Coalition faces a stint in opposition, there's a view among conservative Liberals (and clearly some commentators) that the hard-charging Peter Dutton is the better choice.
Why? Because Abbott showed that maximum conflict, minimum cooperation makes governing unviable, especially when such aggressive theatrics are validated by complicit media.
Again past and current storylines intersect with current personalities.
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As manager of government business, Anthony Albanese was the key figure in the Gillard minority government's enviable record of not losing a single government vote in the House.
By all accounts he maintained respectful and productive relationships with crossbench and opposition MPs alike.
Yet the high-impact Dutton option still attracts some Liberals because, quixotically, they believe it could crack Albanese in just one term.
Perversely, South Australia's recent one-term Liberal government is cited as an example of what's possible.
The central state is a model of civility compared to Canberra and NSW where Morrison's own party is consumed by acrimony that it may already have lost this election.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells' Tuesday night raid branding Morrison an autocrat, a bully, ruthless, and unfit for office, did not help.
The broader bunfight from which her demotion derived, saw the party struggle to field candidates in several key seat contests considered essential to securing a fourth term before announcing the selections on Saturday.
The debacle, in Morrison's home state, represents epic managerial incompetence on his part.
Indeed, one might expect a former NSW state director, who has since risen to the very top, to have acquired a few negotiation skills along the way.
Not to mention the usual praetorian guard PMs need.
Instead, like the other challenges Morrison has parried, problems have been put off and allowed to fester until way too late.
If his authority is so lacking among those who know him best, why should voters be any different?
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