Laurie Oakes on the humiliation of a desperate and erratic Kevin Rudd – now called out by the heads of Treasury and Finance for pretending they’d found a $10 billion hole in the Coalition costings:
Kevin Rudd and his two most senior economics ministers crossed the line by trying to use the reputation of Treasury, the Finance Department and the Parliamentary Budget Office in a bit of political trickery.
Treasury head Martin Parkinson and Finance Department secretary David Tune cried “Enough!”.
The Government’s aim was to damage the Coalition. Instead, by provoking the bureaucrats, it knocked the stuffing out of its own remaining election hopes.
It was possibly the biggest blunder in a bloody awful Labor campaign.
COSTINGSGATE—Kevin Rudd’s last desperate, despicable, and all too totally in character throw of the dice—doesn’t have quite the same instantaneous shredding of any remaining credibility that Ralph Willis’s flourishing of a forged letter had in similar circumstances in 1996.
But what Rudd did is actually far worse. It announces that he is totally unfit for office…
At least, in 1996, Willis thought he was releasing a true document that had come into his possession. A—fake—letter, purportedly written by then Liberal Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, supposedly detailing a secret plan by then opposition leader John Howard.
Willis, one of the most straight up and down politicians in my 40-year experience, was really guilty only of crass stupidity…
Rudd, and Bowen and Wong, don’t have the excuse of stupidity. What they did was a deliberate intent to deceive. To pass off analysis—especially from Treasury and Finance—commissioned by the government before the election campaign started, as costing opposition policies which were only announced in the campaign.
But it goes further than that. Rudd—and Bowen and Wong’s—release of the confidential minutes from Treasury and Finance fundamentally breached the caretaker principles that are supposed to apply through the campaign.
This is the biggest story of the election… This is a multiple humiliation. It exposes Rudd and his economic ministers for making exaggerated and unjustified claims. It reveals that public service chiefs believe their advice to government has been misrepresented for political purposes in the election. And it undermines the only shot Rudd had left in his election locker: his negative campaign based on Coalition costings…
As for Rudd’s positive campaign, it has become increasingly haphazard and bizarre. Consider this list: relocation of naval assets from Sydney, populist alarms on foreign investment in land, recruitment of the Syrian crisis to attack Abbott’s character, raising high-speed east coast rail by 2035 and a special economic zone for the Northern Territory…
Being realistic, they are a series of improvised, opportunistic, disconnected moves that constitute ideas in search of a strategy.
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.