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After Gillard

September 3rd, 2011

I’m not always in tune with the political zeitgeist, but my decision to run a post advocating a dignified resignation for Julia Gillard was made just ahead of the rush. Of course, the option of voluntarily stepping aside has now been foreclosed. When Gillard goes (I don’t think there’s a remaining question of “if”) it will be as a result the usual messy and unpleasant process of assembling a sufficient number of votes (not necessarily a majority) to render her position untenable.

Both because I don’t want to see any last-minute stuffups, I hope the carbon tax and mining tax legislation is passed before she goes. Certainly, whether or not she supported these measures, she did the hard yards to get them through.

On the question of her replacement, I had previously dismissed Rudd, on the basis that his abrasive personality and micro-management tendencies (not apparent in his public persona, but well-attested) would make him unacceptable to his colleagues. However, the High Court decision on asylum seekers changes all that. Rudd has more credibility on this issue than anyone else in the party. Labor has no choice but to revert to a more humane position and stress the point that the Court decision undermines Abbott as well as Gillard. It now seems highly unlikely that a policy based on long-term detention of people who have already been assessed as refugees can stand up, wherever they are held.

Stephen Smith seems like the natural choice for deputy, and it would be sensible to find a ministerial spot for Gillard, all of which would permit a reshuffle.

No one can tell for sure, but I think the return of Rudd would put the spotlight on Abbott’s total fraudulence, maybe even paving the way for the Rudd vs Turnbull election we should have had last time.

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  1. Gerard
    September 3rd, 2011 at 11:08 | #1

    Is this a joke? The labor party bosses despise Rudd. Even more than the liberals hate turnbull (who was a pathetic failure as opposition leader). The idea of a Rudd vs turnbull election is totally ridiculous. The high court decision changes nothing.

    Furthermore, the independents have a personal deal with gillard, not with labor. If she goes the deal is off and there will be an immediate election, at which labor will be crushed. At least if gillard stays they can postpone being crushed until 2013.

  2. Alan
    September 3rd, 2011 at 11:23 | #2

    There cannot be an election until a prime minister who has the confidence of the house advises the governor-general to call one.

    An immediate election would crush those same independents, except Windsor. It would be in their interest to negotiate a fresh confidence and supply arrangement with the new Labor leader. Negotiating with the new leader would also accord with their long-held demand that the parliament serve its full term.

  3. Michael
    September 3rd, 2011 at 11:34 | #3

    I find it difficult to believe the Federal caucus would re-instate Rudd. From all the writing about Rudd’s time as PM that I have read over the past year or so, he appears to have been the most widely hated leader of the ALP in its history.

    The ALP faces a meltdown at the next election. Progressives and left-wingers within the party should spend the next year or two pondering if persisting with a decaying and deeply corrupt party machine is really the only possible future.

    Time to take a deep breath and stop deluding ourselves that the ALP offers a credible vehicle for any form of left-wing politics. The alternative is that after the next election we waste our time re-building a party that will then only treat us with utter contempt.

  4. Catching up
    September 3rd, 2011 at 11:46 | #4

    Michael, I would not take any of the media hype to seriously.

    Yes, if they keep repeating the same hype, they will be eventually be correct one day, that either the PM is replaced or an election called.

    Now, they are only guessing or more likely wishul thinkng on their part.

  5. Ron E Joggles
    September 3rd, 2011 at 12:09 | #5

    Gosh, I hope you’re wrong John – as a loyal ALP member and a supporter of the govt’s policies (excepting asylum seeker policy), I think changing leader now would just make us a laughing stock.

    We would be either burning a talented future leader (Combet) or appointing a caretaker (Crean) ahead of rebuilding after an inevitable loss.

    I’d like Julia Gillard to abandon offshore processing, decree that we will look after asylum seekers humanely here, and give up trying to placate the racist xenophonic suburbanites – and then put the hard word on the advocates of a humane refugee policy to get behind Labor or get ready to fight an Abbott govt all over again.

    And stop pussy-footing around with News Ltd – they are relentlessly biased and that needs to be said plainly, bluntly – and cancel their govt advertising too.

    As for Tony Abbott, his name should always be tied to Alan Jones – never mention one without the other – Tony Abbott Alan Jones, Alan Jones Tony Abbott.

    Julia is right when she says she’s the best person for the job – hang in there, sister.

  6. September 3rd, 2011 at 12:18 | #6

    Gillard will always struggle with authority given the way she knocked Rudd off. In politics, it is public perception that counts so his well-attested micro-management style does not mean anything to the public. My perception at the time was and probably still is the nerd knocked off by the bullies. So a return to Rudd is the only option if there is a change regardless of the situation. With Swan in Treasury and bringing Stephen Smith in as Deputy would only remind everyone of Latham’s Roosters comments and you would have to wonder how Swan would have to feel about it unless you think it would be happy with keeping Treasurer.

    When Rudd was knocked off I would have preferred to see him as Deputy as that would have stabilised public concern about the way it was done. Perhaps a return to Rudd should keep Swan as deputy. Just floating the idea as it occurs to me, I do not necessarily endorse the move.

    A return to Rudd would make me happy but any other party member will damage Labor for good. Also a return to Rudd may not necessarily be a good political mood.

    Overall what Labor needs is someone with decent oratorical skills.

  7. helen
    September 3rd, 2011 at 12:24 | #7

    [Furthermore, the independents have a personal deal with gillard, not with labor.]
    This is Gillard spin
    [The three independents are still backing the government, and the Prime Minister, but at least two don’t rule out supporting a Labor administration led by someone different.]

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/pm-looks-wobbly-as-talk-turns-to-alternatives-20110902-1jq7e.html#ixzz1Wqu5rASJ

  8. Mark from Adelaide
    September 3rd, 2011 at 12:28 | #8

    Mr Quiggin appears to have succumbed to the group madness that is the msm political commentariat….

    The obscene preoccupation with everything Julia says and does….viewed as it is through the distorting lens of whatever hallucinogenic substances political opinionistas are handing around in their psychotic echo chamber….needs to stop before we ALL go mad!!

    Most of the msm has become toxic and dangerous to our mental health…

  9. Janet
    September 3rd, 2011 at 12:43 | #9

    I think John is spot on.

    Moreover even if people in the caucus are not keen on Rudd they will still be looking at their future at present. Only those sitting on margins on 15% or more can really be comfortable and even those in “green” areas may be worried. Senators just third on the ticket will also be nervous (panicked).

    Ultimately if they think Rudd can save the furniture they will go with him. Gillard I think can survive at most two more bad newspolls.

    The next one is likely to be awful. If the one after that stays down then she will have to move on.

  10. S. Smith
    September 3rd, 2011 at 13:21 | #10

    The notion that Rudd is detested throughout the party is actually not true. This was a insider and media assisted narrative to undermine Rudd.

    It suited one group of people within Labor and the media to undermine Rudd to the effect of installing Gillard, which came to pass.

    Sure, Rudd was a tough and demanding cookie, but grown adults shouldn’t have a problem with a hard working dedicated leader who demands the very best.

    These same adults given their union background shouldn’t have trouble confronting any leader they were miffed with. In fact this puts a lie to the stories about Rudd. He was so tough and strong that former Union and Party heavies were too scared to confront and deal with him?

    There may be personality conflict problems with a number of the members, not just Rudd, but the notion that he is detested or loathed widely is in fact untrue.

  11. Ron E Joggles
    September 3rd, 2011 at 13:26 | #11

    “Only those sitting on margins on 15% or more can really be comfortable”

    Janet, if any Labor MPs are really that self-centred I’ll personally attend their offices and give them a good slapping.

    If we go down in a screaming heap in 2013, so be it – in the meantime the Gillard govt has the opportunity to do some good and their duty is to do it – that’s why we elected them and that’s why 3 independents and a Green continue to support them.

    The PM would do well to toughen her language –

    “We’re not going to waste time and money on an early election, I’m PM for another 2 years, get used to it”; and,

    “I’ve had a gutful of Tony Abbott’s deceitful crap, he needs to stop sucking up to Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt”; and,

    “We’re not going to keep pouring millions of dollars of advertising into The Australian if they are going to keep up their relentless bias.”

    I think that would win her more respect than the overly polite manner we’ve seen so far.

  12. Chris Warren
    September 3rd, 2011 at 13:47 | #12

    This is all just utter madness.

    This is just a figment of Liberal Party, jock radio, and News Ltd imagination, jostled along by mischievous cretins in the media – see SMH link at #7.

    It is a TOTAL rightwing beatup to disrupt and cultivate public opinion, and John Quiggin falls for it, hook, line, sinker, rod and all.

    Gillard is being attacked because of the government policies which would not change under any hypothetical, non-existing, dreamt-up “alternative”.

  13. sam
    September 3rd, 2011 at 13:57 | #13

    I think anyone who wants Gillard’s job right now would be mad.

  14. Alan
    September 3rd, 2011 at 14:01 | #14

    The problem with the Ron E Joggles thesis is that no one questions Gillard’s toughness. It is her judgment that worries us. She is extremely good at talking tough, especially if she is saying something that appeals to voters who will never vote Labor. Unfortunately she is less good at persuading traditional labor constituencies that she and they have much in common.

    Threatening to withdraw public advertising from The Australian would be suicidal. It would be rightly seen as trying to muzzle the press and lead to a large and amply deserved backlash.

  15. September 3rd, 2011 at 14:05 | #15

    Pr Q said:

    I hope the carbon tax and mining tax legislation is passed before she goes. Certainly, whether or not she supported these measures, she did the hard yards to get them through.

    Eh tu, John?

    Changing leaders will not change the public’s gloomy post-GFC economic forebodings or the ALP’s critical legitimacy deficit run-up as a result of its dodgy coalition deal with notionally Right-wing rural Independents and Left-wing urban Greens.

    Gillard’s supposed poor record as a government is mostly a right-wing media/left-wing academia generated myth. She got a lot more good policy done than Rudd, and even the ever-industrious Howard, in a much shorter time under much more adverse circumstances. Gillard’s lower mining and simpler carbon tax policies are much better than Rudd’s from a policy and political perspective. Hartcher takes the reality-check:

    The federal budget passed more quickly this year than any under the majority Labor governments in the preceding three years. The government has won votes to pass 185 bills in the House of Representatives and lost none. The Howard government passed 108 in the comparable 12 months.

    My gut feeling is that the government’s popularity poll slump is the political “hangover” from nearly two decades of borrow-and-spend affluenza. Everyone is mortgaged to the hilt and concentrating on amortising debt in preparation for when the GFC finally hits our shores.

    Unfortunately the carbon-tax is a victim of poor timing in that the public views it as another cost of living impost ontop of skyrocketing charges from oppressive oligopolies (bank interest rates, supermarket shopping bills, utility charges, petrol station price cycles and telco rip-offs)

    At these moments the ALP usually elects a female to carry the can.

    Its sad to see Pr Q driving the band-wagon for leadership changes. She won the election, let her go the full term.

  16. Alex
    September 3rd, 2011 at 14:26 | #16

    I’ve never voted Liberal in my life and never will, yet I hate the current Labor party more, and here’s why. Adopting misanthropic policies is precisely what one would expect from Tories, because let’s face it, they’re Tories.. Labor don’t have that excuse. They’ve become the antithesis of what they’re supposed to stand for.. Disgusting. They deserve an extended period in the wilderness now, and their sycophantic supporters should be cast out.. This Labor party is a festering boil that must be lanced

  17. September 3rd, 2011 at 14:47 | #17

    i a suggestion for all you labor lovers

    what’s wrong the the Labor party – from the perspective of normal everyday Australians?

    1. we are still backing the war-mongering crazy USA in our military policy – we should withdraw from all theaters of involvement with the USA

    2. the boat people issue has made both parties look like complete and utter fools – the reasons we don’t want the boat people? because they either represent the regions we have been terrorising or because they are poor. Sorrry, but was not Australia built on POOR immigrants and not rich ones?

    3. the carbon tax is loathed not because people don’t believe in climate change but because of the hypocrisy of exporting enormous reserves of coal and gas while telling everyone we have to pay more for electricity etc – you can’t have it both ways – you either stay in one camp or another and if one lobby group doesn’t like it tough

    4. the PM’s hasty attack on wikileaks – any attack on the concept of free speech no matter where it comes from – makes people immediately realise in crystal clarity that their government has something to hide – and remember politicians are considered the most dishonest of all people

    5. the Labor party does what the opposition does – a ceaseless cry of “we are better managers than you” it is so constant and so dishonest – and so obvious – who would vote for either unless it’s the choice of the less of two evils? Both parties should simply be stating policy and let the people decide which policies they wish to vote for – nothing else – attacking the other persons policy is just proof that you have no valid policy of your own or that you have no commitment – both are suicidal

    6. the manipulation of immigration quotas to meet the needs of property market – anyone with kids who is not rich already, no matter what the claims of economists, sees the immigration system as a way of channeling rich foreigners into property – those who struggle to explain their discomfort at these policies are inevitably seen as racists and quashed

    i could go on

    it’s time that the power was taken away from politicians and put in the hands of the people – we have the technology

    we just don’t have leaders with any training worth a damn except their training to be in power


  18. Donald Oats
    September 3rd, 2011 at 15:27 | #18

    Two comments:

    i) Given the recent ruling on the “Malay solution” – a correct ruling, I believe – the ALP should immediately test the off-shore processing at Nauru, to see if it withstands a legal challenge. If it doesn’t (survive a legal challenge), then it shoots down the original Howard solution and the opposition’s preferred policy. Labor can then opt for the more humane approach of Australian on-shore processing, and telling the Australian people that the cost of a more humane practice is necessarily that more boats will arrive. On the other hand, if the Nauru solution is tested and passes any legal challenge, the opposition wins the point that Nauru is a solution, and Labor can move on, once humble pie is amply consumed. However, a policy of doing nothing more now is a policy of losing the election and also the current leader (just the order of those events is in doubt). Personally, I always thought that at the first election where Labor put this up as an election issue, they should have said they would do on-shore processing as the humane solution and warned Australians that it would come at a cost of more boat arrivals, in the short term. At least that would have been a morally correct and honest stance, whatever its other merits or failings.

    ii) I don’t believe the ALP should switch horses at this point, but they should get hold of some better media managers, that’s for sure. If the ALP do switch leaders, I believe that the only candidate with all of the essential skills to achieve a win at the next election is Greg Combet. He is the only ALP member with the capacity for honest toil, diplomacy, negotiation skills, and coalition building ability. He projects the character traits that any mother would be proud of in their child. Personally, I don’t think Bill Shorten comes close, however gifted he may be; unfortunately Shorten sometimes feels a little too clever by half, whereas Combet’s intelligence is applied to problem solving, not (obviously) to furthering himself by backroom deals. Shorten just feels a bit like more of the same, whereas I think Combet carries himself with the solidity that goes with integrity.

    I’m wrong most of the time, so these are comments for amusement only 😛

  19. Gerard
    September 3rd, 2011 at 16:47 | #19

    I might be wrong that the independents are personally attached to gillard and it’s probably true that they’d be crushed together with labor if they went to an early election.

    Still, if there are people in the ALP seriously contemplating a second PM assassination in as many terms, they must be crazy. Shorten and combet wont suddenly unsink this ship. And Crean, of all people… I dont think I’ve ever heard a worse suggestion. And the idea of Rudd coming back exists only in Rudd’s fantasies and in the columns of some particularly worthless Newscorp pundits. Rudd may be liked by the ALP membership but the powerbrokers loathe him and will never admit that the knifing was a mistake.

    The only thing more wrong than talking about Rudd returning is talking about Turnbull returning. Abbott has been super-effective as opposition leader, nobody could have predicted it. Turnbull by contrast was a complete loser.

  20. Hermit
    September 3rd, 2011 at 17:06 | #20

    I think this is crazy talk. If Gillard can hang on til 2013 I think she could be held in similar regard to Menzies. Australia has got it all .. quality of life, financial stability. What more do people want?

    As for Rudd his dummy spit on the ETS was unpardonable. You don’t go to international conferences big noting yourself then renege on your main promise. If carbon tax, albeit flawed but a start, gets ditched I for one think things must go to a new level of nasty. Actual scientists (as opposed to media boofheads) tell us we must do something. Gillard has been the only one with the cojones to do anything.

  21. Ian Milliss
    September 3rd, 2011 at 17:19 | #21

    And while everyone was distracted by this silly beat up Peter Slipper is considering going independent. So which leader has a crisis now?

  22. Alan
    September 3rd, 2011 at 17:40 | #22

    The Rudd ‘dummy spit’ on the ETS was because members of the inner cabinet refused to support it. Lindsay Tanner says he was not one of them. The only other members were Gillard and Swan. That is the background to Gillard promising no carbon tax before the election.

  23. Chris Warren
    September 3rd, 2011 at 18:38 | #23

    What nonsense:

    Still, if there are people in the ALP seriously contemplating a second PM assassination in as many terms, they must be crazy.

    I suppose Bolt will probably report in the near future rumours that:

    … there are people named GERALD who are seriously contemplating eating babies.

    Still if there are people named GERALD who are seriously contemplating eating babies then they must be crazy.

    Then we can interview neighbours;

    “Would you be concerned if people in your street eat babies”

    Then the Press headlines are;


    Mutterings about baby eating have been exposed in Gerald’s street. It now looks like his position is untenable.



  24. Ikonoclast
    September 3rd, 2011 at 19:36 | #24

    People, people, this is personality politics which is utterly meaningless. Leaders are unimportant wooden figureheads wheeled out by the people who really own our parties. The major parties (Liberal and Labor) are both in the pockets of corporate mining capital and pander to focus group xenophobia so their policies scarcely differ in most major respects.

    Unless you are prepared to vote for a genuine new paradigm you will get the same old, same old from Illiberals and the Unlabors.

  25. Ron E Joggles
    September 3rd, 2011 at 20:39 | #25

    Yeah right, and Twiggy Forrest is the AntiChrist. I’ve met Julia Gillard and she’s definitely made of meat. Tony Abbott’s made of bone.

  26. Alexander
    September 3rd, 2011 at 21:22 | #26

    So what … we should eat her, but throw Abbott to the dogs? Or is Gillard the sort of meat you make glue out of, but Abbott would make a fine base for a soup? What is the nutritional value of Gillard and Abbot, Joggles?

  27. gerard (not gerald)
    September 3rd, 2011 at 21:49 | #27

    WTF are you on about Chris? are you trying to make some sort of point, perhaps that you think the idea that some ALP people have considered dumping Gillard is as far-fetched as baby-eating?

  28. TerjeP
    September 3rd, 2011 at 21:52 | #28

    I think this is crazy talk. If Gillard can hang on til 2013 I think she could be held in similar regard to Menzies.

    Hermit – If we assume that your first sentence is a description of your second sentence then this makes sence. Otherwise you’re spouting crazy talk.

  29. September 3rd, 2011 at 21:53 | #29

    Sage words.


    Leader of the Opposition and former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta told us he fears a `social implosion’ if Government proceeds from Exxon Mobil’s LNG project flowing into
    Government-supervised trust accounts is misspent. …

    Mekere opined that a Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea enjoys greater powers than a President of the U.S. or Prime Minister of Australia. In Australia and the U.S., he explained, there are well-developed political parties, including organized factions within ruling parties, which limit a leader’s power. …

    As an example of poorly planned assistance, he cited money spent on various infrastructure projects such as road building, new schools and hospitals. `Our problem is not a need for new
    infrastructure. At this point, we cannot even maintain the infrastructure we have. Instead of building new hospitals, we need to maintain the ones we have. Instead of new roads, we must
    repair the ones we already have. …

  30. TerjeP
    September 3rd, 2011 at 21:59 | #30

    The carbon tax remains the most fatal policy for Labor simple because they promised (vocally and repeatedly) not to introduce one. There is no point dumping the leader and keeping this policy unless it’s just an act of spite towards Gillard. Labor can’t redeem itself whilst that lie is seen to linger. And all the attempts to explain away the lie just annoys people more.

  31. D Mick Weir
    September 3rd, 2011 at 22:42 | #31

    Disclosure: Although I have a hundred bucks riding on Turnbull being the next Liberal Party Prime Minister (laid the day he lost to Abbott) I supect it may be lost and I am now looking at a suitable recovery wager. One day I might choose to learn something about loss chasing.

  32. D Mick Weir
    September 3rd, 2011 at 22:43 | #32

    oops a great chunk of my comment disappeared I will try again in a moment.

  33. D Mick Weir
    September 3rd, 2011 at 22:45 | #33

    Professor Q,
    thanks for sponsoring in interesting discussion.

    There are many contradictions and paradoxes to take into account around any discussion about ‘should she stay or should she go’

    The Labor Party’s best option is for Abbott to remain as leader of the Liberals and for someone else (probably Rudd) to lead the party.

    The Liberal Party’s best option is for Gillard to remain as leader of the Labor Party and someone else (probably Turnbull) to lead the party.

    Neither party apparently has the cojones or stomach to change the (apparently) best person to lead their respective parties. Neither party can admit (at least publicly) that their current leaders are (apparently) albatrosses around their necks.

    Mexican standoff.

    Opinionistas, most particularly Cassidy (I think), opined toward the end of last year that the only thing we could be sure about this year in politics was that one or other of Abboot and Gillard would still be leading their respective parties at the end of this year but not both. Two thirds of the way through the year and it is looking less and less likely that either side will ‘blink first’ and change leaders and thereby possibly ensure their electoral demise. Or is it that neither is able to admit it was a mistake to admit that it was a mistake to change to the leaders thet now have?

    It is most unfortunate that we seem to have two sides that are better at playing short term political games with varying degrees of success than in governing for the medium and longer term benefit of the country.

    The first one to ‘wake up’ and play the game for the better, or hopefully best, interests of the country will win out in this round of the game. Policies based on good principles rather than short term political gain would help immensley. (Yes I am particularly thinking of asylum seeker/refugee policy but there are others)

    Despite the polls and betting markets I think the odds are tilted very marginally toward Gillard and Labor if only because they are in government and there is a very slim chance that tey may actually learn something from the disaters and bad luck that has come their way in the last twelve months.

  34. Freelander
    September 3rd, 2011 at 23:20 | #34

    Without an early election there is still a long time to go. Gillard is damaged goods, both through her own actions and apparent lack of moral compass, and the relentless but apparently effective negativity of Abbott and the coalition. But as far as damaged goods go, so was Howard before he won in ’96. Things don’t look good for Gillard or Labor, nevertheless many things might happen over the next couple of years. Two more years will be two more years for Abbott to resist his ‘Lathamite’ tendencies. People might even get sick of his attempts to walk both sides of the street, his relentless negativity and opposition for the sake of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a third option and ended up with none of the above?

  35. Chris O’Neill
    September 3rd, 2011 at 23:44 | #35

    @The Peak Oil Poet

    the carbon tax is loathed not because people don’t believe in climate change but because of the hypocrisy of exporting enormous reserves of coal and gas while telling everyone we have to pay more for electricity etc – you can’t have it both ways

    So you think Australia has the right to dictate to the countries it exports coal to, China etc., how much Carbon they are allowed to emit and Australia shouldn’t have to reduce its per capita emissions one iota until those countries start reducing their already much lower per capita emissions. I’m sorry but this is sheer arrogance on the part of Australians with their profligate per capita emissions. What gives you the right to tell the Chinese they should produce far less Carbon emissions per person than yourself?

  36. September 4th, 2011 at 00:33 | #36

    Very interesting arguments, but nothing to convince that we won’t be stuck with BOTH Gillard and Abbott until the next election.

    Why not? They are happily locked in a weird kind of death roll (our democracy’s death, not theirs) which suits the people internationally who actually decide the big decisions about what happens in Australia – ie. Wall St., Neo-Cons and that place near Lebanon we may not speak of.

  37. Hermit
    September 4th, 2011 at 06:59 | #37

    @Chris O’Neill
    What gives China the right to expect 1.3 bn people can each account for even a modest amount of emissions? If China (and India) had smaller populations there may not be such a problem. Global resources will run out well before the bottom billion in China and India are within sight of making it to the middle class. Therefore we should ease up on the resource scramble and try a different approach.

  38. Ikonoclast
    September 4th, 2011 at 07:31 | #38

    The belief that “leaders” are important is a naive misreading of human history and how it proceeds. Human history in toto proceeds as the net outcome of human mass actions in interaction with the world environment and natural forces. In the modern context, to believe that replacing one leader with another leader within one party or swapping between parties which are functionally equivalent in their politics (as suborned lackeys of corporate capitalism), will have any effect is naive and simplistic. It’s like believing that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria caused WW1, or that if Adolf Hitler had died in WW1 then WW2 would never have occurred. In both cases, the large historical events (mass wars) had millions, probably billions of contributing causes and the chain of causes runs back hundreds of years.

    Only the mass actions of the mass of the people (in interaction with the forces of the environment) will determine human history. Yes, in that context, democratic voting is a mass action but probably more important as a barometer of what the masses wish and intend (intend in their own many actions) than as a selection of a “leading” person and a “leading” party. Until people begin en masse to reject consumer capitalism and/or until the resource base of the world depletes sufficiently to force a retrenchment from consumer capitalism, the position with regard to carbon pollution will not change. The “leaders” (ineffectuals all) whom people waste time arguing over will make no difference to this equation.

    The view that human history is directed by leaders is part of the fallacy of voluntarism. Voluntarism regards the “will” as the directing force of human behaviour and superior to the “intellect” and “emotion”. In turn, the fallacy of voluntarism rests of the general fallacy of essentialism and the particular fallacy of “free will”.

    To deal with these fallacies I would have to write a wall of text in this blog which few would read and less would understand or be convinced by. This would simply demonstrate that notions of the effectiveness of intellectual or philosophical “leadership” are just as farcical as notions of the effectiveness of political “leadership”.

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 4th, 2011 at 09:00 | #39

    I despise Gillard for the same reason I despise Rudd-her Rightwing ideology that removes any choice whatsoever from the electoral contest. The differences between Rudd, Abbott, Gillard or Turnbull regimes are miniscule. All serve the money power, all bow down before the USA/Israel global hegemon, all are willing to be dragged into the US confrontation with China, all represent climate destabilisation policy that is risibly inadequate. The current talk of ructions inside Labor may very well be nothing but a typical News Corpse lie, their stock-in-trade. Who would want the job? I just about think that this country deserves Abbott, and the decimation of Labor may lead to a real Leftwing, ie sane and humane, alternative arising from the ashes. The continued global and local absolute dominance of a psychotic Right guarantees human oblivion within decades, so all we have left are long-shots.

  40. Fran Barlow
    September 4th, 2011 at 09:02 | #40


    The carbon tax {price policy} remains the most fatal policy for Labor simple because they promised (vocally and repeatedly) not to introduce one.

    Nonsense with knobs on. She did no such thing. She was committed to a price from before the election. The minority government accelerated the timetable. That was the vote of the electorate. You can only continue this trope by using the word tax accoriding the the inactivist definition.

    This campaign is simply LNP trolling, after the fashion of “BER fiasco”, “Pink Batts disaster”, “Boats”, “debt”, “government waste” etc.

  41. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 4th, 2011 at 09:03 | #41

    Ikonoclast, what drives human history, as we have just been reminded by NATO in Libya, is high explosive delivered from the air. You know, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’, the Western credo for 500 plus unbroken years. The nauseating hypocrisy and mendacity that surrounds the killing is a long Western tradition, also.

  42. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 4th, 2011 at 09:06 | #42

    Fran, I wouldn’t call the concerted disinformation peddled by the LNP and its News Corpse co-conspirators ‘trolling’. I’d call it cynical and malicious lying, the absolute prime modus operandi of the Right.

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 4th, 2011 at 09:12 | #43

    The Chinese are no fools, and their leaders are technocrats who have risen meritocratically and can read scientific reports and comprehend them. Have you noticed that there are no denialist movements in China? The Chinese are making a great effort to reduce their carbon emissions, and are not allowing ideological knuckle-draggers bent on gaining power to threaten their effort. In our ‘capitalist democracy’ in comparison, every raging Dunning-Krugerite senile delinquent infected with enough ‘passionate intensity’ by their Rightwing thought controllers, can rage and splutter, determined to destroy their grandchildren’s lives for thirty pieces of silver.

  44. Ikonoclast
    September 4th, 2011 at 09:45 | #44

    Mulga, I understand where you are coming from. However, I would be inclined to say, “The nauseating hypocrisy and mendacity that surrounds killing is a long human tradition.” It’s not limited to the West or any particular cultural or racial group.

    Yes, political power grows from force. Taking the different kinds of force, we are then led to ask naively what do those forces grow from or what are their causes? This line of questioning if we follow it properly then makes us realise that causes (for complex phenemonena) are extremely complex, multi-stranded and linked in effectively endless chains to earlier and earlier events and phenomena. We begin to realise that cause and effect thinking (while useful for many limited material problems) is reductionist when applied to complex phenomena involving mass, energy and consciousness. At this level, the best we can deduce is “Laws” which relate certain phenomena. The laws of physics are the prime example of course from hard science.

    As an example of deducing laws from experience we could say;

    1. Humans are capable of cooperation and nuturing.
    2. Humans are also capable of violence and killing.

    These are simply laws derived from observation and make no pretence of imputing causes for these behaviours nor of judging by taking any moral philosophy stance. Then rather than looking for causes we should look for correlations (not necessarily the same thing as causes) which can be developed into laws; in the case of human behaviour these are likely to be laws of statistical correlation. It is interesting that only the laws of macro physics appear to demonstrate a quality of precision that is near “absolute” or “classical”. At both the quantum level and the conscious/biological/behavioural level we find that “Laws” are statistical laws, laws of the probability of correlation rather than absolute, invariable correlation. Either this is true because we cannot get to a fineness of measurement which would allow classical correlation or it is true because aspects of the universe are truly indeterminate. I strongly tend to the latter view (indeteminancy).

    The best way for us to work is to try to find the statistical Laws which correlate conditions of social and cultural existence with a high incidence of cooperative and nuturing behaviour as opposed to excessively competitive and violent behaviour. For example, it is clear that (at least within a nation) that high unemplyment and lack of basic necessities (foodstuffs etc.) correlates with high levels of civil unrest, destruction and violence. The work that Bill Mitchell and his colleagues and students have done at CofFEE (Centre of Full Employment and Equity, Uni of Newcastle, NSW) in relation to the recent UK riots illustrates this. There is a clear and strong correlation (R = at least 0.7 I think from memory) between areas of high unemployment and high levels of social exclusion and areas of riots.

    Thus, we ought to be studying, developing and using our understanding of these laws of correlation to direct our economic and social policy. We ought to be remember too that economic policy should be an arm of social policy and not make economic policy the tail the wags the social dog (to mix metaphors).

    I could write much more but as usual I am getting too prolix for a blog.

  45. Ron E Joggles
    September 4th, 2011 at 10:46 | #45

    Thanks Ikonoclast – now I know where you’re coming from, and I agree entirely.

    To risk a prediction – “people begin en masse to reject consumer capitalism”, this is never going to happen, there won’t be any rational collective push to deal with overpopulation and the climate change it is causing, there will ultimately be a population crash due to degradation of the biosphere – as I’ve said before, humans are a plague on the Earth, and our cities are teeming sores.

    But none of the above justifies any of us sitting on our hands – we have to deal individually with present local realities, and that means discriminating between political alternatives.

    And I hope you didn’t mind my little attempt at levity in response to your comment.

  46. Ikonoclast
    September 4th, 2011 at 11:40 | #46

    @Ron E Joggles

    I agree. There seems no credible prospect of humans en masse using foresight and “voluntary” action to move from the population growth and consumer capitalism set-up to a steady state, sustainable set-up of any kind. Thus logic suggests natural forces and natural processes will have to effect this change. Resource depletion, species extinction and climate change as well as the more traditional four horsemen, Conquest or Pestilence (White) , War and Violence (Red), Famine (Black) and Death (Pale or Green), will ensure the population reduces to a sustainable level. Extinction of homo sapiens is also a distinct possibility in the very near geological future of say 100 to 10,000 years.

  47. Sam
    September 4th, 2011 at 16:58 | #47
  48. TerjeP
    September 4th, 2011 at 20:59 | #48

    @Fran Barlow

    Fran – even if I fully accepted your version of events it is clear that the bulk of the country isn’t buying it. Dumping the carbon tax isn’t necessary due to what I think (I’m actually sympathetic to the idea). However the ALP are on the nose in a very large part because the punters believe they were lied to and they find explanations such as yours to be a mincing of words. In essence they are saying don’t try and bamboozle us with double speak, no carbon tax means no carbon tax. If you meant something else then you mislead us and we don’t like being tricked.

  49. Fran Barlow
    September 4th, 2011 at 23:49 | #49


    it is clear that the bulk of the country isn’t buying it.

    What “the bulk of the country buys” doesn’t change what is. If the bulk of the country has been misled by the LNP/Murdochracy, then the challenge for the government is to acquaint the bulk of the country with reality in the time allowed (2 years). Pandering to ignorance is wrong in principle and can only encourage those whose business is the production of self-serving lies to continue to subvert public policy. A government that ran dead on this would be, by definition, failing in its duty to future generations.

    It’s also clear that a large portion of those “not buying it” are not buying it for tribal reasons rather than out of any misapprehension about what they were promised. Abbott repeatedly told them that Gillard would introduce “a Great Big New Tax on everything”. They believed him and voted for the LNP. Those that didn’t vote LNP did so thinking that Gillard would introduce a carbon price in some form or another sooner or later (possibly after the 2013 election and the so-called “citizens assembly” which was designed, it was said, to achieve “deep consensus” on the matter.

    It’s doubtful that this group cared all that much about what form the carbon price took. Most people either think pricing carbon is a good idea or it isn’t. Hardly anyone who thinks pricing carbon is a good idea would vote ALP only is they go straight to an ETS and is oibjecting because the fixed price permit phase seems to them like “a carbon tax”. Well there might be half a dozen such persons, but I’m yet to read of any. The harpies squawking about this now don’t like the idea of any price on carbon and are merely cherrypicking Gillard’s phrase as cover. They are the ones guilty of word mincing.

    They weren’t tricked at all. Some people have been conned by the press into thinking bad stuff will happen if Australia prices carbon. Third world regimes will get money. Jobs will go off-shore. Carbon traders will get rich. Somehow, they will be worse off.

    Others simply don’t like Gillard, and to be fair, she’s not the most charismatic of figures. But dropping carbon pricing would make zero positive difference to the government’s standing now (it might even decline further) and would almost certainly seal the government’s fate in 2013. Many would think that if the LNP is in charge of policy, de facto, then they might as well have it de jure. After all, if the government doesn’t believe in its own policy, why should anyone else? Perhaps it really was just a game after all? Bear in mind that the compensation would have to go as well, so most poorer folk would be worse off.

    The only chance for the regime is to go hard on positive policies and invite people to ask themselves whether they’d want these things to continue after 2013. If they get some important positive stuff done, then even if they are beaten, it wasn’t a total loss. But to throw everything out in a futile attempt to protect some of the “furniture” would make no sense at all.

  50. Freelander
    September 5th, 2011 at 06:48 | #50

    Extreme weather events have become more and more frequent, almost year by year. The costs are already considerable, and insurance, at any price, will become harder and harder to get. The choices are pitiful, Labor or the Coalition. Simply because one of them is finally doing something, regrettably modest, on climate change, to me at least, makes the choice a no contest. Maybe action is already too late. If Abbott wins the next election there will be a further three year delay. His magic pudding direct action policy is simply a policy screen for doing little if nothing. He is on record concerning his beliefs about the validity of climate change. And it takes a lot to change the mind of a ‘faith-based’ person.

  51. TerjeP
    September 5th, 2011 at 07:04 | #51

    Fran – if this was purely tribal then we would not see the carbon tax (or carbon price) being so opposed in the polls. And we would not have seen it shifting support from the ALP to the coalition. Nor would we have seen the primary vote of the ALP go down like a lead balloon. You may be right in suggesting they should tough it out on this policy but if so they should tough it out with Gillard. Dumping Gillard without dumping the policy would be daft. If they dump Gillard it has to be because they are changing direction. If they dump Gillard but keep all the same policy settings then the dumping has no credibility and nor does the new leader. Not that this one has a lot left anyway.

  52. Mr. Eyesore
    September 5th, 2011 at 10:09 | #52

    I was disappointed to see Prof. Q buying into the “Gillard’s gone” meme. I really thought he’d know better.

    This was started (if memory serves) a few weeks ago by Christopher Pearson suggesting Simon Crean as Gillard’s replacement. Since then we’ve been through various other alternatives, and now we’ve come full circle (I hope): http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/gillards-a-goner-shortens-still-bloody-stand-up-simon-crean-20110904-1js5s.html

    As they used to say of Wagner’s operas, “it isn’t over until the fat lady sings”. Now she’s sung; please let this be over.

  53. Chris Warren
    September 5th, 2011 at 10:59 | #53

    @Mr. Eyesore

    Vanstone is no lady.

  54. Freelander
    September 5th, 2011 at 11:02 | #54

    I thought it wasn’t over until the shadow treasurer sings?

  55. Donald Oats
    September 5th, 2011 at 14:03 | #55

    Having read today’s take on the refugee arrival by boat problem, I am more firmly of the opinion that the ALP need to initiate a test case for/against Nauru or any other off-shore processing – if they don’t do that, the coalition will hammer the line that the Nauru solution works (based on getting away with it under Howard’s Liberal government) and they will omit the bit about whether it is legal or not. If a test case is passed through to the High Court, and if it is rejected as unlawful, then that slams the door shut on the Abbott Nauru solution. On the other hand, if Nauru is deemed lawful, the ALP take it on the chin and implement it. This is political strategy without taking the morality of the stance into account.

    To take the moral stance at this late stage, the ALP need to try a “reboot”, whereby they state they are honouring international and humanitarian obligations by treating all asylum seekers onshore, etc etc. The greatest danger for the ALP is that if they don’t make a line-in-the-sand stand and soon, the opposition will be able to shove the “Nauru solution” as front and centre of an election campaign. How come in 2011, the 21st Century, we cannot treat refugees humanely and fairly, as also required under our (willingly agreed to) international obligations?

  56. rog
    September 5th, 2011 at 14:03 | #56

    The ALP were voted in on policy pledges yet appear to have failed miserably in executing them. The high court has dealt Gillard a killer blow as she should have known better, immigration was once her portfolio. No good blaming Murdoch, the ALP are kicking most of their own goals.

  57. Chris Warren
    September 5th, 2011 at 14:53 | #57


    The ALP was NOT voted in on policy pledges.

    A coalition government was voted in with various and conflicting policy pledges.

    Of course the ALP is kicking goals; the Liberals and fellow travellers are just throwing tantrums on the sidelines.

  58. rog
    September 5th, 2011 at 15:09 | #58

    Well OK, Rudd was voted in on policy and Gillard was given a second chance.

  59. Chris Warren
    September 5th, 2011 at 17:16 | #59


    I don’t think Rudd was voted in either based on policy or based on himself. The ALP vote seems less boosted by the Kevin07 madness than it was by a huge, long-running, trade union funded right-to-work campaign including very effective and hard-hitting TV political adds.

    Rudd then ignored union interests, kept the ABCC, and his government played silly-buggers, with the minimum wage deficit left-over from Harper.

    Unions had no real interest in an ALP campaign at the last election and the ALP vote plummeted, so the ALP lost government. The replacement regime is indescribable.

    The ALP was not given a second chance – it was deserted, but saved government nominally only by splits in the right – Oakeshot plus Windsor.

    Nonetheless the ALP has bravely faced-off huge media storms over; super profits tax, pokies controls, climate change and refugees. All these benefit Australians and prepare society, industry and the economy for the future.

    Rudd was an opportunist of the first order – Gillard is an opportunist of the second order, and Abbott has been rightly described by Hewson on ABC Radio, as a ‘mongrel’.

  60. Ikonoclast
    September 5th, 2011 at 19:31 | #61


    World population growth rate is still 1.2% p.a. At this rate, the population would still double in 60 years. Perhaps more appropriate is consideration of projected population for 2050. This will be 8.9 billion according to the U.N. Considering that all credible ecological footprint calculations show we are in overshoot now (and have been so since about 1980) this is very concerning.

  61. September 5th, 2011 at 20:48 | #62

    I predict that there will be no change in ALP leadership over the next twelve months, give or take a month or so. At least until the faceless men have had a look at party and leadership polls in the wash-up after implementation of the Carbon Tax. This has been more or less my prediction over the past six months, since the Gillard-ALP started to get antsy, since Abbott-LNP started to make solid inroads into the ALP’s primary vote.

  62. Fran Barlow
    September 5th, 2011 at 21:23 | #63


    Fran – if this was purely tribal then we would not see the carbon tax (or carbon price) being so opposed in the polls.

    The heavy lifting in the propaganda war is purely tribal and centred around the Murdochracy as an organising point. This sucks all of the metaphoric oxygen from the room and replaces it with the dank and malodorous air of an open sewer. Most people find it repulsive and of course, they blame the government rather than the media or their mannequins in the LNP. If the Murdochracy were not campaigning for regime change, it’s hard to imagine the LNP would even be in the contest. Then again, if the ALP had been politically competent from 2007 onwards, the Murdochracy‘s campaign would at best be worth a couple of points to the LNP and maybe not even that.

    Dumping Gillard without dumping the policy would be daft.

    I think dumping either would be daft, but if you force me to say which is the more daft, I’d say dumping the policy would be. They might dump Gillard in order to enact more robust “core values” policies (though not necessarily in carbon pricing).

  63. sam
    September 5th, 2011 at 21:37 | #64

    That’s the point though; “at this rate” is misleading, because the rate is declining and expected to continue to decline. So our population won’t double. In fact, by 2040 the world will be down to replacement fertility. I certainly agree global population is a problem, but fertility data does give us some cause for hope. Also, the decline is happening in the highest resource-consuming areas, which is the best possible outcome from a total consumption point of view.
    It means non-catastrophists (like me) only have to be moderate techno-optimists, rather than extreme ones.

  64. sam
    September 5th, 2011 at 22:06 | #65

    For what it’s worth, I think Kevin Rudd’s support for a Big Australia (among other things) makes him rightly unpalatable to the Australian public. Though notionally a state issue, cost of living pressures are a big part of the federal government’s present unpopularity, and these pressures are due almost entirely to population growth (which is at least partly under their control). Even the least politically aware person instinctively knows this to be true, and they react with anger when told otherwise. This is especially so when it is those who represent the owners of scarce natural resources (who stand to benefit greatly from these cost pressures) doing the telling.

    I think Malcolm Turnbull has the same fundamental problem; he is identified even more strongly with the plutocrats who have a clear interest in making (for instance) housing unaffordable to the majority.

    If Gillard wanted to do something really brave on her way out, she could turn off the mini-baby boom by getting rid of this disastrous baby bonus.

  65. sam
    September 5th, 2011 at 22:17 | #66

    Also for what it’s worth, I think a lot of the public’s anger is because of the carbon tax, but that dumping it would make things even worse. It would paint Labor as a party that doesn’t stand for anything (more so). There simply aren’t any good options for them politically, so they may as well do what’s right. Hopefully next time they won’t run such a deceitful election campaign.

  66. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 08:18 | #67


    You are deliberately being deceitful.

    You know that the ALP campaign was based on there being an ALP government.

    You know there is not.

    You also know that Parliament decides what legislation is rolled-out.

    You also know that the Greens, plus rightwing independents, control policy, which forces changes compared to pre-election campaigns.

    Hopefully from now on you will stop propagating such nefarious disinformation.

  67. Freelander
    September 6th, 2011 at 09:06 | #68

    I haven’t been able to understand how anyone can claim that Gillard was ‘lying’ when she said, prior to the election, that her government wouldn’t bringing in a carbon tax. Clearly, at that point in time she had no intention of bringing in a carbon tax, and has only agreed subsequently to a carbon tax transition to an ETS because it has been forced on her minority government.

    As for Abbott, surely its been lie after lie, and by his own admission to only believe him if you get it in writing.

  68. rog
    September 6th, 2011 at 10:04 | #69

    Gillards response to asylum seekers is neither ALP nor Greens policy, it is the Lib/Nat coalition.

    She has wasted an awful lot of time and energy on this issue, trying to play politics.

  69. Sam
    September 6th, 2011 at 11:03 | #70

    @Chris Warren
    There’s a lot of tribal pro-Labor defensiveness here. First, I’m not being deliberately deceitful, this is what I really think. You could say at most that I’m being foolish.

    Gillard said “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.” She currently leads a government that is trying to introduce a carbon tax. Ergo (assuming she gets her way) she did not tell the truth. she didn’t have to institute the tax because she could have refused the Greens agenda, and lost government. Her pre-election remarks could not have been more clear. They were intended to dispel any doubt in people’s minds that she was every bit the do-nothing, populist, focus-group focused, western-Sydney appeasing, middle-class welfare pursuing, labor reactionary we’ve come to expect in this country. The entire 2010 campaign consisted of two leaders trying to outdo each other in principled mediocrity. Gillard was trying to signal to the contemptible Australian swinging voter that she would always indulge their economically illiterate short term fears, and that she would die before doing anything remotely progressive, even by accident.

    As it turns out, she is not committed *in principle* to being a terrible prime minister, and that if doing the right thing happened to coincide with staying in power, the right thing could be accommodated.

    I’m very glad she is trying to institute the carbon tax, I think it’s one of the best pieces of public policy in the history of this country. As a green voter, I’m proud of the fact that I indirectly forced Gillard to change her do-nothing, populist tact.

    None of this changes the fact that she reneged on her commitment to the odious and stupid swinging voter to be a deliberately terrible prime-minister. She promised she would be, but she hasn’t been. With pokies reform, the carbon tax, plain packaging, the NBN and so on, she’s actually been trying to do some good in power. The cretins in western Sydney are right to feel aggrieved. She campaigned as an indulger of childish fears and fantasies, she’s governing as a grown-up. The bawling, ignorant children have thus been betrayed. If she was genuinely committed to her stupid promises, she should have refused consultation with the greens, and accepted the loss of the election.

    The real lesson for Labor in all this mess though, is that placating stupid people in an election campaign is actually a terrible long term strategy. Figure out what you believe, sell that to the people, and if you win, try to do some good.

  70. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 11:17 | #71


    Your playing politics is sickening.

    The Government’s response to the new situation w.r.t. the (relatively wealthier) asylum seekers will emerge from a Cabinet discussion. Gillard’s response is the response of the Government. It will probably reflect a range of possible options developed by various departmental and ministerial staff.

    You have wasted more time and energy than anyone else.

  71. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 12:01 | #72


    Please stop this dishonesty.

    Why did you not give the source of your Gillard quote … “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.”

    Obviously because such honesty would have included the date, and context of the statement.

    You are now playing silly games by using the quote after the context is no longer appropriate. This is arrant dishonesty.

    And you know it, because you were conscious enough to include the word “currently” when you instituted the subsequent attack on Gillard, because you knew the context HAD changed but you still wanted to use outdated material.

    You obviously know the so-called current context and ‘government’ is different to the context and ‘government’ Gillard’s quote referred to.

  72. Fran Barlow
    September 6th, 2011 at 12:04 | #73


    Stipulated: Not a carbon tax

    That out of the way … I’d agree with the thrust of Sam’s remarks. I don’t agree she lied though, at least on this. I strongly believe she thought the ALP would win government in their own right, or that they’d lose and her promise wouldn’t be tested. Her promise can be criticised as being inadequately specified. She should have inserted the word majority before government. Events changed when the ALP failed to win in their own right, meaning that the promise was now dependent on other actors supporting it.

    She might have course have declined to lead such a coalition and it’s likely that in such circumstances, that Abbott would have sought a new election on much the same grounds. That would jhave been irresponsible though as there was a clear mandate for an explicit price on carbon, and the parties supporting her were willing to support her preferred model — a cap and trade scheme, which has now been specified and will soon, one assumes, become law. Elections are expensive and even the protracted negotiations caused considerable angst. It is the duty of parties to make an honest attempt to respect the will of the voters by forming a viable executive, based on the composition of the parliament, and the new senate had not even had a chance to be seated. She did that and as we can see, the executive was viable. Nobody has had to resign from the ministry. Some 188 pieces of legisaltion have passed — more than in comparable periods of time this last ten years. The budget passed more quickly than the last Rudd budget. Even now, the Independents are continuing to support the executive as competent and clean. With hindsight, the decision was the right one.

  73. Paul Norton
    September 6th, 2011 at 12:20 | #74


    “That out of the way … I’d agree with the thrust of Sam’s remarks. I don’t agree she lied though, at least on this. I strongly believe she thought the ALP would win government in their own right, or that they’d lose and her promise wouldn’t be tested. Her promise can be criticised as being inadequately specified. She should have inserted the word majority before government.”

    Except that she was never going to mention the possibility of a minority government during the election campaign, let alone fly kites about what Labor might feel obliged to do under those circumstances.

  74. Fran Barlow
    September 6th, 2011 at 12:37 | #75

    @Paul Norton

    Except that she was never going to mention the possibility of a minority government during the election campaign, let alone fly kites about what Labor might feel obliged to do under those circumstances.

    By an odd coincidence, I’ve just posted the following over at LP:

    The fact that it had been 67 years since such a parliament had arisen and even then not at a general election, meant that few considered it, and even if they had, they probably dismissed it in the way people dismiss the possibility of tied tests and being struck twice by lightning. Perhaps both parties should be required to publish that caveat in the fine print.

    I agree that if it had entered her head, she’d have had a strong reason not to start sharing her “what ifs?” in public. There’d have been nothing but downside in that for her. That’s not to say that she took the prospect seriously though, or that Abbott, for his part, would have been keen on canvassing his options prior to August 21 2010. “I’m not going to speculate on hypotheticals” would have been the answer for both if those questions had been put.

  75. sam
    September 6th, 2011 at 12:39 | #76

    @Chris Warren
    I told you, I’m not being deliberately dishonest; the quote WAS placed in context to the best of my understanding. My caveats were deliberately placed to avoid obfuscation. You can disagree with me, you can think my analysis is way off. You can even say I know nothing about politics. But don’t say I’m being dishonest, this is what I really think.

    To sum up;

    Gillard promised stupid people she would be bad no matter what. She is now not being bad. She wasn’t forced to not be bad. She could have said to the smart people “I’m still going to be bad, so either support the even *badder* guy, or live with my badness.” This all means she lied to the stupid people. Given what she said to them, I’m glad it was a lie. Given how much everyone hates her for lying though, it would be better if her friends in the future just didn’t promise stupid people they would be bad.

    By the way Fran, I’m thinking of doing what Alan Jones wants, and calling it a “carbon dioxide tax,” as though that distinction lays bare some important deceit. Whatever it’s called, it’s a really great idea.

  76. Alan
    September 6th, 2011 at 12:51 | #77

    Gillard promised: ‘There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead. What we will do is we will tackle the challenge of climate change.’ The date was 17 August 2010.

    It was an exceedingly stupid thing to promise and there was no qualification about an ALP majority government. ‘the government I lead’ in fact any suggests any government not just a majority government.

    The carbon tax is good policy, but the stupidity of the promise and the ease with which it was dumped after the election are good explanations for Labor’s primary vote falling to unprecedented historical levels.

    The allegation that Gillard opposed proceeding with the Rudd ETS before she removed him from power is also one that needs answering.

  77. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 12:51 | #78


    There has been so much information posted that there is no way anyone could honestly claim that they used the Gillard quote “to the best of (their) understanding”. You deliberately propagated a misunderstanding.

    You knew what the real understanding was, but deliberately ignored it when convenient, but indicated an awareness of it when you used the term “currently”.

    Your statement “I am not being deliberately dishonest” conflicts with the evidence.

  78. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 13:01 | #79


    Thanks for your 20/20 hindsight. You forgot to mention that this was before the election (21 August).

    All commitments whether in politics or commerce, in like in general, are always made subject to forces beyond a person’s control.

    Wilkie, Oakeshot, Windsor are forces beyond the ALP’s control.

  79. September 6th, 2011 at 13:11 | #80

    My daughters and i often discuss the concept of “to lie” – to tell untruths

    they are very keen on discussing this subject as you might well imagine if you have ever studied anything about the nature of humans (like sociology 101 level and beyond)

    it always amuses me just how well developed the human mind is when dealing with dishonesty – go google “Wason Selection task” or read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wason_selection_task

    so with the girls we might have a discussion along the lines of

    what is the moral and ethical differences between lying knowing you are lying and making promises you know that are conditional on factors beyond your control – but not making that condition clear when making the promise

    the examples they came up with were typically

    1. you promised to take us to the movies but then did not and gave as an excuse that we had no money left after we’d been to been to Luna Park

    2. you told us that you you had put aside money for the movies – no matter what else we were to do that day – only for us to discover that you had not done so

    in the first case the girls agreed that even though they felt that i had let them down – it was not so much a lie as the consequences of events

    in the second case they agreed i would be a liar

    Now if i then changed the situation:

    1. you promised you would not cut our allowance NO MATTER WHAT

    in this situation – no matter what excuse i might come up with they thought i would be a liar because i had promised something and they had based their commitments on it

    in all, we generally agree that a liar is someone who tells someone something knowing that what they are telling is false

    and a scumbag sycophantic politician is someone who will promise anything at all to get into power

    and then plead a change in conditions for whatever promise is broken

    therefore the rule is simple – do not vote for politicians on what they promise – but on what they are likely to do based on who they serve

    and first and foremost politicians serve themselves – by following the best of all available choices that lead to the rewards they believe they will get – whatever the nature of reward as that is often specific to the individual


  80. rog
    September 6th, 2011 at 13:17 | #81

    @Chris Warren
    Looks like I messed up on ALP asylum policy 2010; it was to close Nauru only. Somewhere it is being reported that ALP policy was to make all processing onshore. It was the Greens who would abolish all detention of asylum seekers.

  81. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 13:30 | #82

    @The Peak Oil Poet

    If you think “NO MATTER WHAT” was stated or is somehow relevant to Gillard’s pre-electoin statement, then you are completely lost and confused.

    You are making stuff up.

    In this case you will find the “scumbag sycophantic” behind the mirror in your bathroom.

  82. Alan
    September 6th, 2011 at 13:31 | #83

    @Chris Warren

    No-one’s ever claimed that the promise was made after the election or that the election date was not after the promise. If we have to qualify every comment against all possible interpretations then comment threads are going tog et very long indeed.

    The promise was made. There was no qualification about an ALP majority government even though the prospect of a hung parliament was by then widely discussed in the media and elsewhere. Trying to make the promise disappear or to cite invisible qualifications to it just demonstrates why the ALP is in such very deep doodoo.

    For the record when I comment on this thread I am not claiming that Julia Gillard is being mind-controlled by the evil Grey space aliens from Zeta Reticuli.

  83. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 13:47 | #84


    If we have to qualify every comment against all possible interpretations then comment threads are going tog et very long indeed.

    But isn’t that the basis of all your wingeing about Gillard’s pre-election statement.

    If not what is?

    Why does Gillard have to qualify every media comment against all possible future interpretations and exigencies ???

    Hypocrites have one rule for themselves, and another for others.

  84. rog
    September 6th, 2011 at 13:51 | #85

    At the risk of inflaming others, Gillard did say that there would be no carbon tax under a government that she led. Nothing about being ALP govt. This has been played over and over again to the detriment of the govt and it’s policy.

  85. Fran Barlow
    September 6th, 2011 at 14:00 | #86


    Gillard unveils climate policy

    Note date: July 23, 2010

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard says a re-elected Labor government would impose strict guidelines on new coal-fired power stations and invest $1 billion over 10 years towards converting Australia’s electricity grid to renewable energy sources, as it seeks a community consensus on climate change.

    Outlining the Labor party’s climate policy, Ms Gillard also said the government would create an independent Climate Change Commission to explain the science of climate change, and a Citizens’ Assembly.

    The assembly would examine the evidence of climate change and the consequences of introducing a market-based mechanism to reduce carbon emissions.

    Ms Gillard reiterated the government’s commitment to a market-based mechanism, and said the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) would be used as the basis for community consultation. (Business Spectator)

    There’s also this interview with Paul Kelly on 20/8/10:

    JULIA Gillard says she is prepared to legislate a carbon price in the next term.

    It will be part of a bold series of reforms that include school funding, education and health.

    In an election-eve interview with The Australian, the Prime Minister revealed she would view victory tomorrow as a mandate for a carbon price, provided the community was ready for this step.

    I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism,” she said of the next parliament. “I rule out a carbon tax.” (The Australian, 20/8/10)

    On October 19 2009, Abbot made clear that he knew the difference between a carbon tax and the CPRS that Rudd proposed, saying:

    As currently proposed, Labor’s ETS will raise electricity bills by 12 per cent within two years and is the equivalent of a 2.5 per cent increase in the GST. As this newspaper reported on Saturday, eminent economists who accept the scientific majority on climate change, such as Kenneth Rogoff and Joseph Stiglitz, prefer a straightforward carbon tax to a trading scheme that’s a speculators’ picnic

    She certainly failed her promise to introduce a citizen’s assembly and the timeline has been brought forward, but the substantive policy — a market based mechanism similar to the CPRS, has been delivered. This also had a (somewhat shorter) fixed price permit phase. Those paying attention ought to have known that if that, for them, amounted to “a carbon tax” then this was what she was proposing. There was no deceit here.

    People voted to give the independents and Bandt, half of whom supported a price on CO2e, legislative influence. Bandt got LNP preferences in Melbourne. They also voted strongly for The Greens in the Senate. Overall, people giving 1st preferences to those supporting the Gillard government in the HoR exceeded those supporting Abbott by more than 500,000 votes. They won the 2PP (just). They commanded a majority. By any reasonable test there was a mandate for these policies.

    In fact, it was Abbott who lied before the election saying that Gillard, supported by The Greens will introduce a Great Big New Tax on everything. He had reason to know that was not the case but thought this claim would damage the ALP. The conclusion is urged that those who believed him and objected surely voted for the LNP. Those who disbelieved him were entitled to do so and have not, by Abbott’s definition any business for grievance. Multiple lines of estoppel apply. No such tax has been introduced and no Abbott-defined carbon tax has ensued.

    One might say that those who believed him and thought a great big new tax on everything was a good idea could be disappointed but that’s not Gillard’s fault. She never promised it.

    Finally, it might be that there are some who somehow missed the LNP ads but one suspects these would also have missed those of the ALP and have not been across Gillard’s claims about the carbon tax and thus didn’t rely on it. Retrospectivity doesn’t apply to mandate giving.

  86. sam
    September 6th, 2011 at 14:14 | #87

    @Chris Warren
    I stand by what I wrote. I actually don’t know on what basis you are attacking me. Nothing you’ve said so far indicates to me that I was misrepresenting the situation. What do you say I’m being dishonest about? How am I being unfair to Gillard? How am I taking a quote out of context? I don’t believe any of these things are true. I also don’t believe what I’ve said merits the kind of aggression you’re displaying.

  87. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 15:45 | #88


    Dishonesty – “…a deceitful election campaign.”

    Out of Context – “you knew the context HAD changed but you still wanted to use outdated material.”

    Deliberate ignorance – “What do you say I’m being dishonest about? ”

    Slow learning – “I actually don’t know on what basis you are attacking me”.

    You are a troll.

  88. sam
    September 6th, 2011 at 15:56 | #89

    Does anyone else think Chris Warren is being unreasonably abusive?

  89. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 16:00 | #90

    rog :
    At the risk of inflaming others, Gillard did say that there would be no carbon tax under a government that she led. Nothing about being ALP govt. This has been played over and over again to the detriment of the govt and it’s policy.

    Usual trickery.

    If you look at the date and context of her statement – it is a reasonable assumption that she was speaking about the prospective government she was working towards.

    I leave it to you to try and work out the name of that then-hoped-for future government (which later did not eventuate).

  90. September 6th, 2011 at 16:02 | #91


    “Does anyone else think Chris Warren is being unreasonably abusive?”

    does that mean you are going to tell the teachers?

    really, if anyone gets upset about what appears on blog comments the only thing i can suggest is “get a life”


    When we are one the world will be a better place to live
    there will be less unhappiness, more love around to give
    more happy smiling faces will be seen about the land
    and as time flies there will be more who simply understand


  91. sam
    September 6th, 2011 at 16:19 | #92

    @The Peak Oil Poet
    “does that mean you are going to tell the teachers?”

    No, but I’d like it if we found some way of censuring anti-social behaviour. Ideally, this would come about by collective consensus without a central authority. We would simply agree that certain comments aren’t helpful, and oblige the infringer to pay some conversational cost.

    I’m asking members of the forum if they agree Chris Warren is currently such an infringer, that he’s trying to shout down those who disagree with him, that he’s stifling debate. If the general feeling is that he is, we could politely ask him to stop.

  92. Hermit
    September 6th, 2011 at 16:20 | #93

    I thought that ‘worst government ever’ and ‘incompetence’ were Abbott-Murdoch speak but now the ABC is joining in http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-31/crabb-high-court-climax-to-a-tale-of-rambling-incompetence/2864462

    My question is this; why when Obama’s health plan met with setbacks in the US courts wasn’t it described as ‘incompetence’? Rugged Aussies seem to be getting a bit precious these days.

  93. September 6th, 2011 at 16:22 | #94


    correct me if i am wrong but wouldn’t the easy easy way to be just to ignore him?


    i seek a refuge of the mind
    a haven of the soul
    that place where standing i can rest
    or sit in peace

    there are no easy places
    there seems no hidden parks
    no solace in reason
    no rest from who i am

    but here and there an island
    calls with salted tang of green and lush
    and i am called to stroke

    verdant green and coolness high
    promise of clean and flowing crystal sounds of light
    that break in splendor on harsh rocks
    made luring, livid – splash of freedom

    where others dwell in soft acceptance
    there i go
    and who will be there i don’t know
    enormous clouds make play of my mind

    perhaps you know


  94. sam
    September 6th, 2011 at 16:34 | #95

    @The Peak Oil Poet
    I would if I thought Chris Warren’s comments were always valueless, but I’ve usually found him to be quite thought provoking. In this case we disagree on a quite minor political question, and I’ve been surprised to see such intense vitriol.

  95. Chris Warren
    September 6th, 2011 at 16:39 | #96


    Crocodile tears do not impress folks much.

    Your task is to review your claim – not look for diversions.

  96. rog
    September 6th, 2011 at 17:12 | #97

    @Chris Warren CW, you only have to look at Frans post above

    I rule out a carbon tax.” (The Australian, 20/8/10)

  97. September 6th, 2011 at 17:13 | #98


    reading back through your posts i’m wondering just what your motives are

    you seem to purposefully misread peoples words – in such a way as to assume that you are dealing with very clever and very assiduous duelers

    not that i give a hoot – but i do see that you made assumptions about my own posts which were in fact not implicit and certainly not explicit – as you would rightfully know if you did a little background checking (something you seem keen to assume others are doing and then attack when they show they are not up to your standards)

    the only things i can think of to explain what is happening are along the lines of

    1. you are indeed a troll working on behalf of some group – appointed or self appointed who can say or
    2. you are high on something like crystal meth or have been drinking – hard to say what
    3. you are just a nasty creep

    anyway if you can supply a better set of options…..


    come to me oh Irish and do what you do well
    i’ve hunger for your amber ways and with you i would dwell
    i’ve many reasons good and bad with you to share some time
    and you have never let me down but that’s true of your kind

    so come and make me what i’d be and let me pain forget
    and we will up and down a spell – you’ll be my best friend yet
    i’ve never known the likes of you to fall below the mark
    though emptiness between us both has drowned my vital spark

    your heavy crystal friendship often finds me at my best
    or worst maybe but that’s just half and you provide the rest
    i guess that’s why i’ve loved your ways each time we’ve done our dance
    there’s nothing that looks quite as good as that which you enhance

    so let us do our best to make an effort to forget
    and drown our troubled souls with what with you i always get
    and so it seems my life will be as well it might or stop
    but you my friend will always be, upon my shealth, the top


  98. John Goss
    September 6th, 2011 at 17:14 | #99

    I agree with quite a lot of what Chris Warren is saying, but I also consider he is saying it with more vitriol than is necessary, and with not enough consideration of the arguments that Sam is putting. It is unfortunately the nature too often of electronic discourse, and a number of psychologists consider the evidence is that face-to-face will always generate more cooperative behaviour than electronic interaction. A pity, but I think its the way us humans are.

  99. rog
    September 6th, 2011 at 17:14 | #100

    You can argue about the time and the place but the fact is that the horse has bolted on this one.

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