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It’s on

February 22nd, 2012

A showdown over the ALP leadership, and therefore the Prime Ministership, has been inevitable for some time, and Kevin Rudd has finally brought it on, resigning as Foreign Minister in the face of direct personal attacks from Simon Crean (himself, apparently, a covert contender for the top job) and others.

Readers won’t be surprised to learn that I support Rudd. I have two reasons for this.

First, whatever his problems with interpersonal relationships and administration, Rudd is a serious leader with ideas for Australia’s future. Gillard has shown herself to have no ideas worth the name. Her policy agenda has consisted, almost entirely, of implementing policies introduced by Rudd.

Second, Gillard has totally lost the trust of the Australian people and if she leads the government to the next election, there is no chance whatsoever of a Labor victory. The result will be the election of Tony Abbott, someone who matches Gillard in terms of a lack of any consistent principles or concrete achievements, but adds to it a reactionary ideology and determination to undo the policies brought forward by (Rudd) Labor. Labor’s only chance of retaining office is to go back to Rudd.

Anyway, feel free to have your say

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  1. Troy Prideaux
    February 22nd, 2012 at 18:49 | #1

    In agreement

  2. sjk
    February 22nd, 2012 at 19:27 | #2

    Are you really saying that you would rather a PM with big ideas who can’t execute over one who takes these ideas and turns them into reality?

    Big ideas/can’t execute is a combination for feel good, status quo conservatism. Surely not the preference of a social democrat!

  3. Dan
    February 22nd, 2012 at 19:31 | #3

    Hi John,

    Bob Brown has been decidedly civil about Gillard, saying that they’ve been very successfully making serious inroads in the joint policy agenda of the Labor/Greens parliamentary alliance. They’ve certainly passed an awful lot of legislation.

    Especially since Bob’s saying things are working, I’m surprised you’re so pro-Rudd (and I have nothing against the guy, plus I think the original spill was pretty deplorable).

  4. February 22nd, 2012 at 19:33 | #4

    what? conservatism’s all about the status quo (hint: it’s in the name) while big ideas and failure to implement are as social democratic as you can get.

  5. alfred venison
    February 22nd, 2012 at 19:41 | #5

    dear John Quiggin
    thanks for the “venue” & i, too, agree. i had my say here about gillard and the coup d’etat by proxy before, so i’ll just add that i’ve been waiting for this moment since that night of infamy a year and a half ago. and, i can’t believe people are bellyaching about his “disloyalty” for goodness sake; he’s coming from the front, in the day time, as it were, like julius caesar’s ghost materialized.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  6. TerjeP
    February 22nd, 2012 at 19:45 | #6

    The entire plot of this saga so far is quite improbable. However so long as we have to watch I’m hoping at the end of the movie Gillard and Tony run off to a foreign land together and Rudd is eaten by a giant snake.

  7. pablo
    February 22nd, 2012 at 19:49 | #7

    Gillard has now called a spill on the leadership. I did not see any comment on the possibility that she would reject Rudd’s resignation, but I guess that was non-negotiable from Rudd’s perspective.
    Looking beyond the outcome come Monday I wonder what this augers for an Australian republic and the popular, but not a majority, view for an elected head of state. Okay so who knows when the republic debate comes on again, but it is worth considering.
    Rudd lays claim to being the peoples’ choice for prime minister and will use this argument plus his ability to win elections among colleagues from now til Monday.
    His party will say they only have the right to elect their leader. By so doing they will presumeably go against the ‘people’ with their only argument that Rudd is a megalomaniac.
    All very interesting and we’re likely to hear more of the Rudd phenomena sometime in the distant future.

  8. Tom
    February 22nd, 2012 at 19:49 | #8

    Gillard must also be held to a harsh standard due to the fact that her decision to depose Rudd, far from righting the ship of state, led to the erosion of the ALP’s Reps majority and the current, completely unnecessarily hamstrung government.

    It’s terribly frustrating to imagine the progress that might have been made on key issues such as mining taxation and pokies reform by any Labor PM, with the support of the Greens in the Senate, had this chain of events not taken place.

    Rudd himself deserves some of the blame for his decision to try to push through reforms without consulting the Greens when he was in power.

    They’ve both been foolish, but you’re absolutely correct to support Rudd as the only practical choice that may save us from Abbott at this juncture.

  9. February 22nd, 2012 at 19:50 | #9

    Pfft. This is Game of Thrones – faceless men and all.

    I think we can safely say we’re not dealing with Rudd Stark here, but is he Kevin Littlefinger?

  10. Andrew C
    February 22nd, 2012 at 19:56 | #10

    I detest Rudd as a supercilious god-botherer, a poor leader and a shite manager, who made his family fortune off government welfare contracts. Gillard is highly competent at actually governing. Against that, people hate her with a mad passion and the prospect of losing what few advances have been made on AGW is far more important than anything else I might feel.

    I hope he wins purely because I don’t think Gillard can beat Abbott.

  11. February 22nd, 2012 at 19:59 | #11

    Actually, the more I think about it, with his temper, silvery hair and burning desire for revenge and restoration Rudd resembles no one so much as Viserys Targaryen. Though I am sort of hoping he doesn’t get crowned in gold.

  12. Mel
    February 22nd, 2012 at 20:05 | #12

    I don’t think anything will save us from Abbott now, Tom. We can only hope that Abbott quickly shows himself to be a dud so that he only gets one term as PM.

  13. Ikonoclast
    February 22nd, 2012 at 20:05 | #13

    Personality politics is about… well, personalities… and usually gets us nowhere substantial. Having said that, I do remember that Rudd was making an earnest effort to tax the mining corporates appropriately considering their windfall profits. I also remember that Gillard was sent to seek a deal as a diplomatic circuit breaker (even though democratic governments should never deal with pampered oligarchs but simply tell them to shut up or face nationalisation).

    Gillard conspired behind the scenes with corporate capital and “lumpen union bosses” (my term) to disloyally sink Rudd and replace him. That day lives in Australian infamy as the day the mining corporates got to choose the Primer Minister and have tax law written to suit their own interests .

    Gillard, opportunist and traitor, would be no loss at all and Rudd stands a better chance of defeating Abbott.

  14. February 22nd, 2012 at 20:10 | #14

    Pr Q said:

    Rudd is a serious leader with ideas for Australia’s future. Gillard has shown herself to have no ideas worth the name. Her policy agenda has consisted, almost entirely, of implementing policies introduced by Rudd.

    The anti-climactic notion of “introduced” obscures more than it reveals. The job of a Prime Minister is to deliver, not “introduce”. S/He is supposed to be a master, not a master of ceremonies.

    Rudd is a master of process, not progress. Rudd’s biggest first term achievement was the Apology. Oh, lets not forget the 2020 Talk Fest. See a pattern here?

    True he championed the CPRS and MRRT (lets be honest both schemes were cooked up by econocrats) but he squibbed the legislation for the former and botched the presentation of the latter. Gillard has delivered on these two major items and therefore deserves the appellation leader.

    Moreover she has had some good ideas of her own. The Malaysian Solution was definitely her own idea, a more humane and workable version of the Pacific Solution which was recklessly abandoned by Rudd at the behest of the idiot Left. But this way out of the dilemma was scuttled again by the same crew thanks to the plague of a liberal judiciary. With the predictable result that hundreds of asylum seekers were sent to Davy Jones Locker. (Those were incidents, not “accidents”, Sarah H-Y.)

    Then there is a long shopping list on Gillard’s agenda that will do much good and have gotten done: Education Revolution, Community Service pay parity, National Disability and over 100 other pieces of legislation that she has gotten through the Parliament, mainly thanks to her considerable negotiation skills. There is precious little evidence that Rudd has any ability in this vital function of state.

    And most importantly Gillard is opposed to Rudd’s insane plan for a 50 million+ “Big Australia”, a recipe for slow motion ecological disaster and the relentless crushing of native-born middle- and working-class living standards in favour of the domestic over-class and foreigners. If younger Australians want to spend the better part of their lives creeping forward traffic jams, queuing up for places in schools and hospitals and living in rented dog boxes with only a slim chance to build a happy family then by all means vote for Rudd.

  15. alfred venison
    February 22nd, 2012 at 20:12 | #15

    dear Ikonoclast
    yes. yes. yes. yes. yes.
    big oil rolled a premier in alberta & big coal rolled a prime minister in australia within a year. and gillard was their tool here. wittingly or unwittingly she failed the test & she failed australia.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  16. February 22nd, 2012 at 20:44 | #16

    Pr Q said:

    Gillard has totally lost the trust of the Australian people and if she leads the government to the next election, there is no chance whatsoever of a Labor victory.

    Have to concede that, on the evidence so far, I was wrong and Pr Q was right about the validity and viability of Gillard’s Machiavellian tactics. Although the night is young and there is still an outside chance that the public may warm to her, or at least get spooked by Abbott.

    More generally, over the past two years of the ALP’s term of office, the “whatever it takes” approach to politics has been utterly discredited. Practically everything that ALP machine operators have conceived and executed over this time has failed or back-fired big time:

    – Rudd dropping the CPRS legislation;
    – Gillard stabbing Rudd in the back;
    – Gillard lying over carbon tax;
    – Rudd undermining the Gillard government;

    The public have been particularly savage over ALP disingenuity over the CPRS scheme: Rudd breaking his promise to introduce it and Gillard breaking her promise to not introduce it. How on earth did they manage to make that scheme a losing each way bet?

    A series of ALP own goals and unforced errors have generated a 20 point turnaround in the 2 party preferred vote – from 55-45 in mid-2009 to 45-55 in mid-2011. An unprecedented reversal of fortunes.

    Contrast the slap-stick politicking of the ALP with the sober and dignified performance of the L/NP ministry in office. The triumvirate of Howard-Costello-Downer ruled without unrest for over a decade. And their results speak for themselves.

    It certainly gives to the lie to two enduring myths of AUS politics: that the L/NP is ruthless with leaders and that the ALP is proficient at politics. There is a lesson or two in there.


    – the

  17. Alan
    February 22nd, 2012 at 20:55 | #17

    Federal Labor has been in this situation 4 times since 1972. Hayden v Whitlam, Hawke v Hayden, Keating v Hawke, Gillard v Rudd. Those outcomes suggest failing prime leaders would do better to consider their retirement plans rather than manoeuvre their opponents into resigning. The pile of legislation Gillard has passed would also have passed if Rudd had faced a friendly senate. The superb negotiator tag is not really borne out by the crudity of the assassinations in 2010 or today.

  18. February 22nd, 2012 at 20:58 | #18

    A big problem for the ALP is the general mediocrity of its front bench. When the second most important portfolio in the ministry (Treasury) is under the iron grip of a grey-suited maintenance man like Swan then you know your team does not have a deep bench.

  19. Abhoth the Unclean
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:00 | #19

    If god had intended us to vote she would have given us candidates.

  20. February 22nd, 2012 at 21:07 | #20

    Alan @ #17said:

    The pile of legislation Gillard has passed would also have passed if Rudd had faced a friendly senate.

    Gillard had a minority government in a hung Representatives out of which she managed to forge a workable majority. I am trying to visualise Rudd arm-twisting and cajoling the Independents and Greens to get legislation through, but its not happening. And of course he failed to close the Turnbull deal.

    More generally, if you can’t get you own party on side, how can you possibly take the rest of the Parliament, never mind the country, with you when the going gets tough?

  21. Tom
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:15 | #21

    Gillard only has a minority government because the factional knifing of Rudd destroyed her credibility, and her party’s before the last election. Her best polling numbers don’t reach Rudd’s worst.

  22. Fran Barlow
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:21 | #22

    I’m on the record as being unsupportive of the ouster of Gillard. I haven’t changed my mind. That said …

    I don’t for a moment suppose that one can blame Rudd for the current direction events have taken. There’s simply no evidence that he was in any sense involved in leaking to the media or destabilising the regime. This was, and is, as far as I can tell, entirely a media beat-up, or perhaps more accurately, a troll, spearheaded by News Limited and aided and abetted by the vacuous talking heads of the MBCM more broadly. Sadly, the ALP forgot the DNFTT rule.

    It may well be that demoralisation associated with persistent poor polling finally broke the discipline of some ALP MPs and prompted them to whine into the ears of the Murdoch attack dogs, but when one asks — who is responsible for all this, the blame ought to be sheeted home to the PM and her backers. They’ve been calling the shots since 24/6/10 (and arguably before that — perhaps as early as mid-2009) and if there’s a mess then whom can one blame but them? Even today, it was open to Gillard to publicly rebuke Crean for his remarks, and to assure Rudd personally that he didn’t speak for her. She apparently didn’t do so. At best, that’s inept.

    I wouldn’t support Rudd launching a challenge, and were I his campaign manager — a role I’d never contemplate for obvious reasons — I’d be telling him to smile, declare he wasn’t interested in challenging the PM, speak volubly about the regime’s legislative achievements and the need to protect them from Abbott, and go to the backbench. He could do the occasional “Big Picture” speech couched in terms that the regime could not dispute but otherwise stay out of commentary on the PM and cabinet. After the next election, regardless of the result, he’d be in a better position to again lead the party, assuming for the sake of argument, that that was his wish.

    Given that politically and organisationally Gillard and Rudd are really the same person — and equally repulsive at that — it is hard to warrant a leadership change. They don’t pretend to be different, and if they did it would be moot. If all context were stripped away and it were a straight “beauty contest” then Rudd would be in front. I find him less unpleasant. He has better diction, seems to be erudite, speaks a foreign language and of course he didn’t get around to abusing supporters of the Greens so as to get the grudging approval of DailyTerror “readers”.

    But of course that is beside the point, IMO. The only question for me is whether one again endorses the right of Big Dirt, Big Filth and Big Spin through the agency of Big Mouth to decide how the regime will be run. Every time they succeed, the possibility of inclusive governance and rational public policy recedes.

    Three out of the above four of the above essentially got their way in June of 2010. That more than any other single thing has exercised a foul influence over public policy since that time. This must stop. Who stinks more is not relevant. They must not have their way. Gillard must successfully stare them down and lead the party to the next election whatever the result.

    I believe that if she does, there’s a reasonable chance of the regime being returned, but if they again cave in, then the result in 2013 will, at best, be moot, since whoever wins will be a creature of these interests.

  23. Dan
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:27 | #23

    @Jack Strocchi

    Your memory is selective, Jack. Rudd didn’t fail to close the deal; Turnbull got garotted by those ‘sober and dignified’ types you mentioned upthread.

    Also Wayne Swan, as blancmange as he might be, has been a perfectly fine Treasurer, a safe set of hands, and given lie to the the old cliche about Labor being sloppy economic managers.

    Anyway, I think this is a bad call. Some people are good at ideas (Rudd), some people are good at implementation (Gillard? Dunno. Not Rudd, anyway). The government at this point in their second term need to implement, implement, implement and I don’t think Rudd would make a good fist of it.

  24. Chris Warren
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:42 | #24

    Rudd is far too devious, rude and manipulative to lead a Government.

    His references to facelessmen was a play onto base jingoism.

    His claim to not have waged a war by stealth was exposed by Danby.

    If Rudd gets up, Labor will be further weakened, and Turnbull may be moved into Liberal leadership to attact spurned and fleeing Labor voters.

    Rudd’s original ’07 election victory was not his, it was based on a truly massive “Right-to-work” campaign by unions. Only Gillard’s victory in 2010 was truly hers. Consequently, by ignore these forces, those supporting Rudd are exhibiting a cosmetic understanding of politics.

  25. Mike
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:44 | #25

    One centre-right technocrat or another centre-right technocrat.

    What a choice! How depressing….

  26. Alan
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:44 | #26

    The question, Dan, is implement what? The Malaysia Solution? Extending income management to everyone on a pension or benefit? Basing US troops in the NT? Defending marriage inequality forever? Telling people to set their alarms early? These are not Labor items.

    Perhaps the alarm clock and income management themes could be merged and anyone benefit who sleeps past 5 am could be subjected to sleep management?

  27. Chris Warren
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:47 | #27

    @Fran Barlow

    There’s simply no evidence that he was in any sense involved in leaking to the media or destabilising the regime.

    Michael Danby said exactly the opposite and challenged Rudd to refute it.

    It now appears Rudd was at the core of the media campaign. It is naive to pretend otherwise.

  28. Dan
    February 22nd, 2012 at 21:54 | #28

    @Alan

    I was more thinking of a mining tax, a carbon tax, education reform, the NDIS, and Denticare.

    In any event, I am no fan of Labor so I won’t die in a ditch defending them. I would much sooner Gillard or Rudd than Abbott, however.

  29. Fran Barlow
    February 22nd, 2012 at 22:00 | #29

    @Chris Warren

    Michael Danby has no standing to make claims that ought to be taken seriously without independent corroboration.

  30. Troy Prideaux
    February 22nd, 2012 at 22:08 | #30

    @Chris Warren
    I tend to agree with you Chris. Craig Emerson came out tonight on Lateline and specifically stated that journalists right across the country have been saying to him and other parliamentarians that Kevin Rudd was seeking to regain the leadership and was planning to mount a challenge in mid March.
    Mind you, he was pretty liberal with the truth in other respects, but he was quite convincing on that point.

  31. sjk
    February 22nd, 2012 at 22:22 | #31

    Hmmm … the set of status quo conservatives is a subset of all conservatives, and currently excludes the reactionary conservative Abbott. I’m surprised I have to explain this.

  32. February 22nd, 2012 at 23:13 | #32

    I agree that Rudd does have some real and positive goals, far more than Gillard. However, the capacity to work with others matters at any time, and far more so in the current environment. Consequently I am a bit torn. Looking at the views of those I respect (both within and outside the Labor Party) the only endorsements of Rudd amongst those I trust are yours and John Falkner’s. On the other hand there are plenty of people I respect backing Gillard.

    Moreover, most of the worst Labor MPs are listed in the newspapers as Rudd supporters, so for the moment at least I’ll be hoping for Gillard. Either way, I hope the outcome is convincing enough that we can move on from this rubbish.

  33. Happy Heyoka
    February 22nd, 2012 at 23:23 | #33

    Rudd may well be a visionary, but ultimately the job is about getting compromises made and legislation passed. For all her faults, Gillard seems to be capable of that.

    As someone who might be considered a natural Labor voter, their factional squabbles and dodgey pre-selection habits have stopped me voting for them for the last three or for federal elections.
    How they manage to shoot themselves in the same foot over and over is beyond belief…

    The coalition (for the most part) seem to have been experiencing the same reality bypass as their US counterparts for a similar period. Maybe they just have the same lobbyists?

    I’d vote for the levitating yogis over any of them, but the Greens and whatever independents are going locally are the “least worst” alternative… I’m kind of hoping the next federal election is similar to the last and we get a plurality of views rather than a landslide to either of the big two.

  34. Sam
    February 22nd, 2012 at 23:32 | #34

    I’m with Gillard wholeheartedly.

    Rudd’s Big Australia stance alone makes him totally unsuitable. This ideology would destroy every gain the Australian environmental movement has ever made and then some. It is the single worst influential idea in Australia today. Furthermore, I think Rudd is a duplicitous psychopath. He’s undermined the government at every opportunity with leaks and innuendo, risking the last election for the sake of his own ego. He was a pretty average prime minister, and is a truly awful man. Gillard on the other hand has been consistently able to achieve the big policy goals that Rudd never could. Perhaps she lacks imagination, but she gets results.

    On the politics side, it’s totally naive to believe the current polling preference for Rudd would persist after a leadership change. The taint of “New South Wales disease” would hang over federal Labor even more than it does now.

  35. Sam
    February 22nd, 2012 at 23:42 | #35

    One further point:
    A leadership change would probably mean an early election, which would probably mean an Abbott victory. The one chance the carbon tax has of not being repealed is if the government goes full term. If it’s already been implemented for a year and the sky has conspicuously failed to fall, Abbott might find it difficult to give up the revenue. Otherwise, he’d be politically bound to kill it.

  36. James
    February 22nd, 2012 at 23:42 | #36

    Yes, but I think with the Prof if may just be a Qld thing.

  37. Alan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 00:12 | #37

    I see no prospect of an early election. Rudd would have to renegotiate the government and may well lose Windsor. He would gain Wilkie and probably Katter. The Greens, Slipper and Oakeshott are not going anywhere.

    The pro-Gillard argument seems to be a weird mix of Kevin’s a psychopath and aprés moi le déluge. What makes that really, really strange is that this genius of implementation manages to score a whole lot of own goals while pursuing a deeply conservative agenda and she is facing electoral oblivion. I do not think Rudd had much to do with the reshuffle, the Australia Day disaster or knifing Wilkie but I may of course be underestimating his deviousness.

    The reality is that Gillard will either massively improve her electoral standing or she will not lead the ALP at the next election. The leadership contest is not being driven by poloticking, which politicians tend to do, but by the abysmal electoral prospects.

    The fairly public knifing (re-knifing?) of Rudd is not going to do anything much to persuade the electorate that Gillard is actually a warm and friendly person who is just misunderstood. Despite the chants of ‘resolution ! resolution!’ the caucus ballot will resolve nothing unless the polls start shifting.

  38. Ram
    February 23rd, 2012 at 01:27 | #38

    I’m enjoying the show from afar. Does this kind of salient intra-party power struggle happen often in Oz?

  39. February 23rd, 2012 at 03:48 | #39

    Pr Q said:

    Labor’s only chance of retaining office is to go back to Rudd.

    The default assumption of most political commentators is that Rudd’s personal popularity in the community would translate directly into ALP preferences at an election. Its questionable.

    One, politician popularity is not directly proportionate to party success. Keating was personally unpopular in 1993, but the ALP still managed to trounce the L/NP in that years election. The Fightback election analogy is more than apt, given Abbott’s reactionary ideology.

    Two, Rudd’s personal popularity is largely with L/NP voters, no doubt because “mini-me” reminds them of Howard. The

    Mr Rudd is strongly backed by Coalition voters, with 61 per cent preferring him as leader, whereas 26 per cent of Coalition voters back Ms Gillard. The latest Herald/Nielsen poll shows that Rudd’s fan-club has a distinctly bluish tinge:

    Mr Rudd is strongly backed by Coalition voters, with 61 per cent preferring him as leader,

    The question is whether this cross-dressing would change votes or whether it is simply a sporting sympathy for a worthy foe. Me thinks the latter.

  40. Alan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 04:35 | #40

    As discussed in a previous thread, when voting intention was tested against the 2 alternate leaders Rudd had the effect of increasing the Labor primary vote by 15%. Since then we have had more on this issue. The Gillard political genius has put Labor in the unique situation of being the party of 38% by identification and 30% by voting intention.

    And while we are discussing Gillard’s superior policy skills, has anyone read the Wentworth Group’s comments on the gutting of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan?

  41. Malcolm
    February 23rd, 2012 at 05:41 | #41

    Thank you for this post John. I am in 100% agreement with you for the reasons that you outlined.

    First of all a word about Gillard and her negotiating success and getting legislation through Parliament et all -I do give her credit where it’s due but nevertheless I think there’s slightly too much emphasis placed on it. The reality is that, despite the hung Parliament, Gillard has a much more favorable Senate to work with where the Greens have the balance of power as opposed to the Senate which Rudd had where he was largely dependent on Fielding and Xenephon. That means that Gillard is essentially working with a party which is more sympathetic to the Labor agenda in the Senate and it has produced good results. That doesn’t mean that I am not critical of Rudd for his treatment of the Greens and Xenephon while he was in office -if he does come back he really needs to be a lot more mature in this aspect -but I often feel that the above aspect gets overlooked when talking about the legislative achievements of the Gillard government

    Secondly, I have a feeling that at least part of the foundation for the support that the Independents have given Labor during this parliamentary term is actually down to the fact that Rudd had the long-term vision to court them and to constructively work with them during his first term, even though he had a comfortable parliamentary majority. For all the discussion about Rudd’s dictatorial style, I got the impression even during his government that he was sensitive of the need to keep the independents on side in case they were needed in the future and he was responsive to their needs. Indeed I seem to remember that he even had Oakeshott in his office very close to his removal from power. That’s not to take credit away from Gillard for negotiating the deal with the independents but I think there has been some rewriting of history about Rudd and the independents

    Having said all that, I doubt Rudd will win on Monday. On the best estimate of his camp, he has about thirty-nine votes and I don’t see him being able to make it past the finish line by the time that this race has concluded. I also don’t see him winning a second challenge no matter how close he comes. I think the anyone but Rudd crowd will make sure that they find an alternative before they will agree to let Rudd get back in. I think with Rudd back in, Labor’s chances of winning the next election are about 50-50. Without him -and especially with someone like Gillard and Shorten -I think Labor will go down to defeat

    It’s sad really. I think the Rudd-Gillard partnership that existed before the leadership coup in 2010 was a highly effective team that was delivering and had the potential to further deliver great results for Australia. It seemed to me that Rudd and Gillard complemented each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses and that it could have gone down like Hawke and Keating as one of the great partnerships in history and guaranteed Labor a long term in office. Sadly, the political opportunism and factional thuggery destroyed it and Labor is paying a very high price for it

  42. Socrates
    February 23rd, 2012 at 06:23 | #42

    I don’t like either, but prefer Rudd. It is not so much Gillard herself, but those behind her, that make me cringe. As long as Labor is perceived as being run by the faceless men, it will lose.

    That being said, I agree with Prof Q on the lack of vision too, it is hard to get it from a focus group. Malaysian processing was hardly a vision.

  43. John Quiggin
    February 23rd, 2012 at 06:27 | #43

    Jack, you’ve had your say and more. No further comments on this thread, please.

  44. Adam (ak)
    February 23rd, 2012 at 06:43 | #44

    I am not convinced that there can be any influence of the “blogosphere” on the process but here are my dirty thoughts:

    1. I don’t see much ideological difference between Gillard and Abbott except for the fact that Abbott is a hardcore Catholic of the same variety as Santorum in the US. The obsession of the reduction of budget deficit proves this point. Obviously Abbott doesn’t talk too much about what Virgin Mary or rather Santamaria told him in secret because Australia is less religious. It is not that Abbott has any chance to succeed in restoring the medieval social values but he will try to bring back the obsolete idea of presence of (probably not existing) god to the public life.

    2. The federal Labor is following the same sad path of demise which led them to a disaster in NSW. First they lost their progressive soul by becoming modern Blairite “New Labo(u)r” – this happened a long time ago. Then they evolved into an institutional party of power of Bob Carr. Then the people became gradually sick of their crony-ism, incompetence and mild corruption but the leadership only kept rearranging the chairs on the deck. In the end they lost the elections in a landslide and the party structure weakened. Now the only way the NSW Labor can regain power is by presenting themselves as less evil. This may only work when people become sick of the Coalition in 10 years time or more.

    3. The Coalition can pull another trick – haven’t you noticed that Malcolm Turnbull has slimmed down? He is capable of winning the next elections in a landslide if Abbott pulls back.

    4. Why just don’t abolish the Federal Government and let Serco run the country? (They do it anyway). It is cheaper to invite the Great Moscov Circus to entertain us than to pay for the clowns like Senator Conroy with his Internet Censorship Scheme or NBN scam.

    5. If this doesn’t work the ultimate option is to make Mrs Rinehart together with Mr Forrest and prof Palmer to take practical responsibility for running the whole country. I was always a supporter of cutting the middlemen out and streamlining the Government structure. Someone who has enormous influence must also take full responsibility for the results of the actions. The Saudis have their Royal Family who owns the oil fields. We are not worse – we have our very own royals who own royalties from mining coal and iron ore. We have a democratic system: one dollar – one vote. They have a lot of dollars. What is probably the most serious practical obstacle to this plan is whether the American Ambassador actually likes the option of a proxy Chinese government installed in our country “Landing Strip Two”.

    6. Obviously points 4 and 5 are not serious as they are “politically incorrect” but any Yulia’s supporter must understand that uneducated ruddnecks who cant’s see the difference between the glorious and progressive Labor and evil Coalition (the majority of Australian population) will never vote for Ms Yulia again. A fish rots from the heard. The widespread cynicism among the people has been farmed by the ruling political oligarchy exactly like in Eastern Europe. Our Yulia became a personification of hypocrisy – even the rather marginal issue of the refugees demonstrates this clearly.

    7. Kevin Rudd is a bit more palatable and his main achievement was economic management during the 2008 crisis (“we are all Keynesians now”). He has a chance to be accepted by the unwashed if Abbott runs against him.

    8. Therefore the Labor apparatchiks must understand that if they want to preserve some elements of the cosy status-quo, Yulia must be quietly dumped next week and Kevin reinstated. He at least has a chance to win over Sanctus Sanctorus “Santorum” Abbott. All the Swans and Conroys must go together with Yulia. If not – WE THE UNWASHED WILL DO THE JOB regardless of who comes next.

    Disclosure: I am going to vote for the Greens as the last time but I am not an active “supporter” of anyone.

    Now it’s time to sink in the traffic jam on Sydney’s M2 for an hour. The unwashed have to work and can’t afford helicopters.

  45. Chris Warren
    February 23rd, 2012 at 07:32 | #45

    Fran Barlow: Michael Danby has no standing to make claims that ought to be taken seriously without independent corroboration.

    Michael Danby has no standing at all, as far as I am concerned. However he specifically invited (challenged) Rudd to refute what he was saying. In this case we need to ignore the odium that he carries with him. He made his statement so that it would be contradicted if he was wrong.
    It is also backed by other reports now emerging – eg Deborah Snow’s article in SMH today.
    The very idea that one man can so determinably undermine a government for the sake of his own ambition, when his talents and profile could in fact buttress the party as a whole, contradicts good government, democracy, and national stability.
    Rudd is an extremely damgerous man and he appears to be collecting a lot of useful fools in his camp. But do not ignore the damage being done by journalists.

  46. socrates
    February 23rd, 2012 at 08:31 | #46

    Chris

    (I don’t want this to sound too pro-Rudd, because I think both Gillard and Rudd have been shown to be deeply flawed by this whole episode).

    How can you say that Rudd is any more dangerous than Arbib, Bitar, Shorten, or the crew behind Gillard’s rise to power? IMO the rot set in as soon as Arbib, Bitar and the rest of the Sussex Street gang saw that the writing was on the wall in NSW and started imposing themselves onto Federal politics via Senate positions and stacked pre-selections for safe seats and party administration jobs.

    I do not suggest this as an argument for Rudd (I dislike this whole “you must be for X or Y) theme; I think X and Y both suck) but simply to shoot down the arguments for Gillard. There is only one argument that matters in the end – Rudd could win the next election for Labor; Gillard can’t (and neither will Shorten, Crean or the other wannabes)

  47. Dan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 08:37 | #47

    @Ram

    Tends to be more an opposition thing; sometimes State governments have these ongoing defenstration sessions too.

  48. Hermit
    February 23rd, 2012 at 08:37 | #48

    I hope Queensland doesn’t secede from the federation if this doesn’t go Rudd’s way. Rudd has done a couple of things that made me cringe. His endorsement of ‘Big Australia’ suggests he doesn’t the grasp the sustainability argument. However pulling the pin on the CPRS was unforgiveable given that carbon pricing and Work Choices were the two cornerstones of his 2007 election campaign. Recall at the Copenhagen climate conference Obama handed Rudd the mike who then made an impassioned speech. I agreed with that speech but evidently Rudd didn’t. I’d prefer a PM who is more cutthroat and less mercurial.

  49. Brad Adams
    February 23rd, 2012 at 08:45 | #49

    I don’t think it matters who is leader. Labor will lose the next election, Tony Abbott will be the net Prime Minister, and it will fall to the next leader (probably Bill Shorten) to try to win back the public and the government.

  50. Chris Warren
    February 23rd, 2012 at 08:53 | #50

    @socrates

    Gillard’s move against Rudd was backed by a cross-factional consensus, based on the anti-party mode of operation by Rudd behind the scenes.

    It was not an expression of unbridled ambition on her part, and was vidicated through the 2010. You need better reasons to replace a leader than Rudd’s – “I Want”.

    Replacing a leader needs to be not only as a last resort, but as a substantive resort. Some behind Rudd, are supporting him ONLY because they expect a pick-up in the polls. They do not care about the ongoing functionality of government, caucus or the party.

  51. JB Cairns
    February 23rd, 2012 at 08:55 | #51

    It is hard to see Rudd winning.

    It would mean the end of the factions and the factional leaders. This is afterall why he lost last time.

    The time to make a decision on whether the government can win next time is around August.

    The next budget will be in the black and the ETS will be seen having a far less effect than the critics said it will. ( most of whom believe it wil have a greater effect than the GST, a tax that will bring in over 5 times the revenue!).

    The main problem is that this government is hopeless at politics. This is never seen better than looking at Wayne Swan.
    His record shows him to be possibly the best treasurer we have had yet he is worse than useless at selling anything.

  52. derrida derider
    February 23rd, 2012 at 09:26 | #52

    John, the reason Gillard has not done bold new initiatives is because she leads a MINORITY government. The 2010 election dealt her a weak parliamentary hand (yes I know its partly her own fault – that doesn’t change today’s facts), which she has actually played very well. It’s a pity for her that her public persona does not reflect her face-to-face skills.

    Which is why, personal likes and dislikes aside, any caucus member would be utterly mad to put Rudd in now. Given his – ahem – unusual interpersonal skills, does anyone think him capable of keeping the independents happy from now till June 2013? And even the most enthusiastic Ruddolyte must see an early election would wipe most of the caucus out, Rudd or no Rudd.

    Rudd has made a huge tactical mistake in bringing it to a head in these circumstances. I reckon he’ll get less than 20 votes and that will be the end of his challenge, but also the end of the ALP’s electoral prospects. His far better tactic to become PM would have been to work towards a narrow ALP electoral defeat (while professing a suitably Xtian manner towards his enemies in the party), have the bloodbath after that to become Opposition leader and then wait for the Abbott government to self-destruct (which it probably will unless Abbott wins big). Revenge is a dish best served cold, and this one would have been better for all if it had been very cold indeed.

  53. derrida derider
    February 23rd, 2012 at 09:42 | #53

    “If … it were a straight “beauty contest” then Rudd would be in front. I find him less unpleasant.”
    - Fran@22

    ROTFL. It reminds me of Latham’s famous put -down of Rudd when they were both just shadow ministers:
    Kevin: “But I’m quite popular”
    Mark: “Yes, Kevin, but only among those who’ve never met you”.

    I certainly think Crean was most unwise to publicly call him a psychopath. Unfortunately, based on what I saw and what I heard from people who worked for him and whose judgement I respect, I don’t think the label was inaccurate.

  54. Ken_L
    February 23rd, 2012 at 10:13 | #54

    As usual, the discussion is almost exclusively focused on “OMG the next election!!!!”

    To my mind Rudd has been playing a long game since his election to parliament. He knows, as does anyone with an ounce of insight, that a trade union-based party has no future in this country. He tried to transform the ALP in top-down fashion, trading on his immense public popularity; as soon as that popularity waned cue Paul Howes and Sussex St sleazebags and the other small-minded union apparatchiks determined to keep control of their squalid little patch. Now maybe he’s decided to try to split the Party so a new centrist movement can emerge in place of the moribund ALP. Who knows what he’s thinking, but good luck to him. Fundamental reform is necessary if we are ever to have a viable centrist party again, not incremental change to the steaming pile of shite represented by the 2012 version of the ALP.

    I can see no sense whatsoever in this blind commitment to Gillard and all her cronies, either from a short or a long-term perspective. The likely next government of this country is going to see Tony Abbott as prime minister and Joe Hockey as his number 2. To suggest five years ago that this was even a remote possibility would have invited howls of derisive laughter, and rightly so. Yet now it looks a rolled gold certainty. How much more persuasion do Labor supporters need to convince them their cause is not just going through a bad patch, but terminally rotten?

  55. Troy Prideaux
    February 23rd, 2012 at 11:01 | #55

    Been an ugly amount of Rudd’s dirty laundry aired publicly by senior cabinet ministers yesterday and last night. I wonder if we can expect any juicy insights of the CPRS saga and some names as to who said what in those cabinet meetings.

  56. NME
    February 23rd, 2012 at 11:15 | #56

    Following on from Troy’s point, it’s interesting to speculate on the make up of the new cabinet if Rudd were to win.

    Rudd has been berated, sometimes scathingly, by at least Crean, Combet, Shorten, Burke and of course Gillard (who has just said she would move to the back bench if she lost a spill). Also Arbib’s copy booked is still blotted (in blood!) from two years ago. It’s hard to see how any of these can work effectively with him now, which, all in all, leaves a fair size hole in ministerial positions to be filled.

  57. Alan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 11:22 | #57

    Gillard’s opposition to bold new initiatives, indeed to timorous new initiatives, long predate the minority government. Her opposition to the CPRS happened when Rudd was prime minister and contributed significantly to destroying Rudd’s electoral standing.

  58. Troy Prideaux
    February 23rd, 2012 at 11:28 | #58

    NME :
    Rudd has been berated, sometimes scathingly, by at least Crean, Combet, Shorten, Burke and of course Gillard (who has just said she would move to the back bench if she lost a spill

    Don’t forget Swan who was most scathing by a fair margin!

  59. Fran Barlow
    February 23rd, 2012 at 14:05 | #59

    @derrida derider

    I certainly think Crean was most unwise to publicly call him a psychopath. Unfortunately, based on what I saw and what I heard from people who worked for him and whose judgement I respect, I don’t think the label was inaccurate.

    It’s an impressive term but I’m unaware of Crean’s qualification to diagnose. I supect it was just bloviation. It seems to me that very few people can ever ascend to the highest office in any land without presenting as somewhat self-obsessed and ruthless. That is strongly pre-disposed by the reward and gatekeeping structures of elite politics. It has long seemed to me that the word “leadership” is simply a euphemism for “malignant narcissism” regardless of whether the people to whom it’s applied have rational plans and equitable goals.

    However they began their lives, whoever they were, anyone who can elbow their way to the short list for leader of either of our major parties has almost certainly committed multiple serious ethical breaches, lied repeatedly, including most often to themselves, ignored conflicts of interest, used and abused others who would not have done the same in return and so forth. In the end, the principal warrant for all this is that the careerist knows better than others what is right and what is not.

    Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were respectively the indirect and direct results of the factional system operating in the context of a thoroughly debauched and hollowed out marketing organisation of the boss class called the ALP. Kevin was selected by the factions because neither major grouping trusted the other and saw him as someone who could be neutral between them. As a man with no faction of his own, he could be given riding instructions. When his usefulness came to an end — i.e. when he was no longer winning the polls as convincingly (ironically in part because he’d done as he was told) — they dumped him in favour of the eminence grise, Gillard, who was nominally of the “left” faction but clearly had no distinctive left-of-centre politics.

    I’ve not exchanged words with her and don’t know her personally, but her public persona is quite as robotic as anything Rudd managed. That, it seems to me, is no accident. Her context determines her speech and engagement just as it did with Rudd. I’d be surprised if she has ever felt anything typical people would recognise as empathy. Her indifference to those in mandatory detention, her repeated use of the trolling “people smugglers’ business model” slogan to minimise public sympathy for asylum seekers betrays no flicker of humanity at all. I’m no expert, but at best, that looks sociopathic.

    As I said though, none of this matters right now. All that matters is that the boss class should not again get their way on the leadership and composition of the regime. My view would be the same if Rudd were in charge.

  60. Sam
    February 23rd, 2012 at 14:14 | #60

    @Fran Barlow
    That may be true Fran, but I think Rudd’s almost certain leaking during the election campaign shows that he’s just a bit too egotistical to be of net benefit to the party.

  61. Abhoth the Unclean
    February 23rd, 2012 at 14:17 | #61

    For Crean to come out with these sort of accusations is almost too rich to imagine. Amongst the serious faults that this fellow has exhibited, beside a total lack of ability and charisma, is his clear lack of understanding of how the subordinate clause works in spoken english. To listen to him reminds me of Molly Meldrum but without Molly’s command of vocabulary and clear sense of purpose.

  62. Dan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 15:33 | #62

    @Fran Barlow

    My understanding is that she’s warm, personable and considerate in person.

  63. wbb
    February 23rd, 2012 at 18:48 | #63

    Kevin Rudd is a “workplace psychopath”. Whatever the merits of his vision for the future, his profound inability to relate meaningfully with his colleagues disqualifies him from any further leadership consideration.

    Those who’ve experienced him up close and personal leave this in no doubt. Their accounts make for a very consistent and credible case.

    Let’s move on, at last. Rudd, Latham. Surely such a poor run of leaders can’t happen again for decades!

  64. Ken_L
    February 23rd, 2012 at 18:56 | #64

    ‘Those who’ve experienced him up close and personal leave this in no doubt. Their accounts make for a very consistent and credible case.’

    I’d very much like to read these alleged accounts wbb. And primary sources please, not the usual ‘people who have worked for him all say …’ disinformation or the transparently self-serving propaganda of political rivals.

  65. sdfc
    February 23rd, 2012 at 19:10 | #65

    His axing as PM seems pretty good evidence that his behaviour was unacceptable.

  66. wbb
    February 23rd, 2012 at 19:10 | #66

    Ken, the accounts I am referring to are being broadcast live on TV and radio all over the nation. Swan, Emerson, Burke, Crean, Conroy etc etc.

    Then there are all the insider accounts that were published 18 months ago, and susbsequently.

    David Marr.

    Ages ago, Mark Latham’s sketch.

    etc etc

  67. Ken_L
    February 23rd, 2012 at 19:18 | #67

    Sorry wbb but ‘Swan, Emerson, Burke, Crean, Conroy etc etc’ clearly fall into the category of political rivals spouting transparently self-serving propaganda and anything they say is worthless unless verified by disinterested sources. Moreover I would have thought being bad-mouthed by Mark Latham is actually to his credit.

    All froth and bubble, signifying nothing. But sfdc has hit the nail on the head: ‘His axing as PM seems pretty good evidence that his behaviour was unacceptable’. Unacceptable as in setting out to destroy the power of the hacks and time-servers who constitute so much of today’s ALP. It was always a Quixotic venture but I wish him well.

  68. Dan
    February 23rd, 2012 at 20:22 | #68

    @Ken_L

    It’s well-known, well-known, in Canberra that he’s an unworkably dreadful boss. This is not the word of Sussex St apparatchiks, it’s that of experienced, energetic and thoughtful bureaucrats who in many cases agree with his agenda and want him to succeed.

  69. BilB
    February 23rd, 2012 at 21:42 | #69

    I think, JQ, that you are forgetting one essential understanding. Rudd did not win the 2007 election, Howard lost it. And the little kerfuffle here in Penrith jammed Howard’s fingers in the door as it slammed shut on any hope he had of another “glorious” term. Rudd rode to power on a wave of environmental concern, which he then, once elected, proceeded to bleed to death with his endlessly protracted ever diminishing delivery of results. In 2010 he was set to be dumped by a disenchanted public who had by that time had more than enough of Rudd’s drawn out needlepoint speeches.

    For my part when Rudd was to give a speech, I kept the mute button handy so that after the first two paragraphs at which point I had learnt all I needed to know I could stop the noise and get on with anything else. That is not to say that Rudd has no substance, he very clearly does. But his delivery becomes a droning noise. You cannot win elections with that much baggage.

    Gillard has her own problems some of which you point out, but overall she is a far more successful deliverer of real results.

    I think that Rudd’s New York speech sealed his doom. It had all of the symptoms of a Latham outburst. I am expecting that he will get a maximum of 35% support, then quickly fade out of view. Listening to Therese Raine’s interview, I see a wife advising her husband to let it go, “I’m not coming with you again, particularly this way”. Perhaps Rudd’s experience as a globe trotting diplomat have led him to believe that he could make the long distance political love affair work, with Therese in Brisbane and he in Canberra.

    That is my take on the situation.

  70. Jill Rush
    February 23rd, 2012 at 23:39 | #70

    Rudd makes good speeches – however the fact that Gillard has translated those words into actions is reason enough not to go back to the paralysis that was endemic under Rudd. If she has only delivered the Rudd government agenda it shows how little he managed to do in his time as PM.

    He also bears a lot of the blame for the current woes of the Labor Party and may have learned to be a better political tactician against his enemies but has done little of substance. Foreign Affairs were ready to give the keys to overseas broadcasting of Australian content to Murdoch’s men until Conroy stepped in – a mess created directly by Rudd.

    I know he is popular in Queensland but his style is not what is needed by the nation. For him to demand that the PM back him when he has pointedly refused to back her for months was the height of hypocrisy. He is too self centred to actually do anything unless it is to his benefit and his hollow views about helping Anna Bligh must be horrifying to her as with friends like that who needs enemies. He didn’t even have the gumption to come back to Australia first before his grandstanding resignation over Crean’s remarks – which were after all a direct reaction to the destabilisation campaign Rudd has been running including during the election campaign which created the minority government.

    If Rudd’s actions are rewarded with the top job he will be far worse than before as he would know that there would be no-one who could challenge him again. He would have only learned to be more of a bully. If there is to be a change then Labor needs to look to those Rudd calls faceless (playing Tony Abbott’s tune).

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