Australian Politics has just become very interesting, if it could be referred to in that manner, as we are all losers in this. Former Prime Minister and now Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, deposed as Prime Minister in a Party room coup in June of 2010, has now resigned as Foreign Minister. He did this at a press conference in Washington, held at 1.30AM local time, which is 5.30PM Australian Summer time in the main Eastern States, the conference at this ungodly hour in Washington timed specifically so that it would be the only story on the mainstream TV evening news bulletins at 6PM, barely half an hour after the conference. As a result, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called for a vote on the Party Leadership, and the winner of that vote then either becomes, or remains as Prime Minister. Either way the result goes, the Labor Government is languishing in the Polls in the mid 30% mark, at a position that would see them not only lose Government at any subsequent election, but in fact be absolutely decimated. This is a power struggle where even the winner faces subsequent loss of Government…..TonyfromOz.
So, a ballot for Party Leadership will be called at 10 AM Monday to resolve the issue “once and for all”.
If she does not get support, she will go to the backbench and renounce any leadership claims. She asks Rudd to give the same guarantee.
Gillard nominates her wins: carbon tax, superannuation levy increase, health agreement with states, structural separation of Telstra, means testing of private insurance rebate, education reforms, fair tax deal for the poor, will deliver surplus (honest), strong economy.
(Hmm. Shouldn’t brag of the first, isn’t paying for the second, muddled the third, mentions a fourth that means nothing to voters, boasts of a fifth that will come back to bite… The economy is indeed fairly sound, but I doubt many will credit Gillard for it.)
Yes, made mistakes, but wants to build on these reforms.
Says Rudd keeps talking about needing to defeat Abbot: Gillard claims “I believe I can lead Labor to that victory.” Just needs Labor to unite.
But says government is more than about electioneering. it’s also about getting stuff done, and “in adversity”. She has shown she has the “discipline and method”, as well as strength, to do that. Rudd, however, had “very difficult and chaotic work patterns” and led a government into paralysis.
(In short: Rudd may win polls, I get things done. Which is fine, were it not for elections.)
Later concedes she may have gone too far the other way, assuming “good policy will speak for itself”.
(Hey, but what if that good policy is actually bad? There is a widespread fantasy, shared by many in the media, that Gillard only has to sell her wares better.)
Gillard claims her last election campaign was “sabotaged”. She does not blame Rudd directly. But she challenges Rudd to match her offer to journalists: she tells journalists they are free to reveal if she ever briefed against Rudd when he was Prime Minister. Instead, she had “knocked herself out” trying to get the Rudd Government functioning, going beyond her responsibilities and portfolios.
The conference then gets ugly, with journalists demanding to know why she’d said nothing at the time if the Rudd Government had been so terrible. And wasn’t she part of it?
“I won’t be badgered by your rudeness… I’m not going to have you speak to me like this.”
Gillard’s pitch cannot overcome this problem: whatever her boasts, Gillard has led Labor to catastrophic lows in the polls.
Gillard claims that with unity again, things will get better. But here are the things that have killed Labor over the past year and a half. Spot how many had anything to do with disunity or Kevin Rudd stirring:
- breaking a promise to never give us a carbon tax.
- promising “cash for clunkers”.
- proposing an East Timor detention centre, without discussing it with the East Timor Government.
- crippling live trade exports.
- starting an Australia Day race riot.
- breaking a wild promise to independent MP Andrew Wilkie on Poker Machine (slot machines) reform.
- promising a “Citizen’s Assembly”.
- passing a carbon tax that will kill jobs without improving the climate.
- wasting billions on “clean energy” proposals.
- giving the Greens a $10 billion green energy fund that will be almost entirely wasted.
- ploughing ahead with a $37 billion national broadband network that will be a colossal white elephant.
- failing to stop the boats, with 740 boat people arriving now in a single week.
- flagging constitutional changes that will divide us by “race”.
- lecturing Australians as if they were particularly slow children.
- promising to reveal “the real Julia”.
- made Kevin Rudd Foreign Minister.
- the waste, the waste… and the deficits.
Take Rudd out of the picture, and how much of this would not have happened? Take him out completely, and what changes?
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.