Home > Oz Politics > Rudd + Gillard = Rudd*

Rudd + Gillard = Rudd*

February 23rd, 2012

A couple of points that have emerged in the debate over the Labor leadership need a response

First, there’s the claim that there are no policy differences between Rudd and Gillard. This is often presented as if the two had independently arrived at the same position. In fact, as the equation in the post title implies, it’s because Gillard is a policy-free zone. Her independent ventures into policy making amount to a disastrous set of pre-election moves on carbon policy (no tax promise, consultative assembly, cash for clunkers) and a series of failed attempts to resolve the asylum seeker problem. Now that the Rudd agenda has mostly been passed or abandoned, Gillard has no policies whatsoever, a point I made some time ago. Her abandonment of the Gonski report, which she used as an excuse for doing nothing when she was Education Minister, is typical.

Second, and with somewhat more justification, there’s the fact that Gillard has been successful in getting policy passed where Rudd failed. The unusual circumstance of a House of Reps minority has led most people to overstate the relative difficulty of Gillard’s task. She has needed the Greens and three of five independents, normally being Wilkie, Oakeshott and Windsor. Rudd needed the Greens, Xenophon and Fielding, which was obviously harder. It’s true that Rudd made the mistaken choice of freezing out the Greens and trying to negotiate with the Liberals, which made no sense given that the Greens were bound to hold the balance of power sooner or later. A more comparable test is that of asylum seekers, where Gillard has done no better than Rudd, arguably worse.

*This equation was allegedly written by a notable, but somewhat obscure economist with his own name in the place of Rudd, and that of a better-known researcher in the same filed in the place of Gillard

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  1. Tim Macknay
    February 27th, 2012 at 17:28 | #1

    @rog
    They changed the constitution to prevent a repeat of that.

  2. February 27th, 2012 at 17:52 | #2

    Arbib’s resignation goes some small way towards curing the ALP of the “NSW disease”. No doubt the party will recognise this. Whether the people even notice is another question.

  3. February 27th, 2012 at 18:39 | #3

    Just trawling though my long history of long comments and came across this one, dated MAR 2006, which stands up well.

    Leadership in post-modern political parties is overrated as a factor in policy formulations and political success. A Whitlam or a Keating is a rarity, and is in any case a mixed blessing.

    And focus-grouped, spin-doctored leadership merry-go-rounds are poison, the sign of a sick party politick. To play factional politics based on leadership polls is, as Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington point outed out before the second last ALP leadership tussle, a sure route to staying in opposition.

    Howard has been telling any Liberal that will listen that his party is only eight seats away from electoral oblivion.

    It would seem Howard knows recent Labor electoral history better than federal Labor’s powerbrokers. Victorious state Labor leaders … all lagged badly behind their opponents, each registering preferred premier ratings in the teens, just as Crean has in the preferred prime minister stakes. Yet in each instance as opposition leader they ultimately won the election.

    By not panicking about preferred leadership polls when in opposition, Labor is now in power in every state and territory. Sadly for Labor, its federal colleagues did not learn this lesson.

    On a rare occasion where the federal opposition leader led the prime minister for a sustained period, when John Hewson was preferred leader to Paul Keating before the 1993 election, results again showed the irrelevance of the preferred leader poll.

    Voters don’t ask much of oppositions, only that they be united. What message is Labor sending by replacing its leader less than a year out from the next election?

    Shorter Strocchi:
    1. revolving door leadership based on spin-doctored opinion polls are not a good way to run a government
    2. preferred PM is not a good predictor of two-party preferred vote.

    If the ALP can public lance the boils springing from the NSW disease and if the carbon tax gets bedded in without too many hitches and if Gillard keeps a low profile and focuses on Abbott then the ALP might still be in with a chance. Long shot though.

  4. February 27th, 2012 at 18:40 | #4

    Just trawling though my long history of long comments and came across this one, dated MAR 2006, which stands up well.

    Leadership in post-modern political parties is overrated as a factor in policy formulations and political success. A Whitlam or a Keating is a rarity, and is in any case a mixed blessing.

    And focus-grouped, spin-doctored leadership merry-go-rounds are poison, the sign of a sick party politick. To play factional politics based on leadership polls is, as Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington [To play party politics based on leadership polls is a risky game SMH 03/12/03] point outed out before the second last ALP leadership tussle, a sure route to staying in opposition.

    Howard has been telling any Liberal that will listen that his party is only eight seats away from electoral oblivion.

    It would seem Howard knows recent Labor electoral history better than federal Labor’s powerbrokers. Victorious state Labor leaders … all lagged badly behind their opponents, each registering preferred premier ratings in the teens, just as Crean has in the preferred prime minister stakes. Yet in each instance as opposition leader they ultimately won the election.

    By not panicking about preferred leadership polls when in opposition, Labor is now in power in every state and territory. Sadly for Labor, its federal colleagues did not learn this lesson.

    On a rare occasion where the federal opposition leader led the prime minister for a sustained period, when John Hewson was preferred leader to Paul Keating before the 1993 election, results again showed the irrelevance of the preferred leader poll.

    Voters don’t ask much of oppositions, only that they be united. What message is Labor sending by replacing its leader less than a year out from the next election?

    Shorter Strocchi:
    1. revolving door leadership based on spin-doctored opinion polls are not a good way to run a government
    2. preferred PM is not a good predictor of two-party preferred vote.

    If the ALP can public lance the boils springing from the NSW disease and if the carbon tax gets bedded in without too many hitches and if Gillard keeps a low profile and focuses on Abbott then the ALP might still be in with a chance. Long shot though.

  5. Chris Warren
    February 27th, 2012 at 20:10 | #5

    @crocodile

    That rings a bell …

    No Chris, he won’t. Fraser legislated against it not long after we won the ’75 election.

  6. Fran Barlow
    February 27th, 2012 at 21:36 | #6

    @Jack Strocchi

    this one, dated MAR 2006, which stands up well.

    What message is Labor sending by replacing its leader less than a year out from the next election?

    2. preferred PM is not a good predictor of two-party preferred vote.

    It doesn’t stand up so well. Rudd did despatch Howard, so the switch did translate well into 2PP — just shy of 53-47 IIRC. The ALP did the same when it dumped Hayden in favour of Hawke even closer to the election in which Fraser was routed.

    Colin Barnett also managed to oust Carpenter in WA after an election eve decision not to retire.

    The problem here is not that it doesn’t work — clearly it can. The problem is that it does nothing for the longterm health of the party. The Hawke-Keating years left the ALP dominated by sleazy spivs at state and Federal level. Now few in politics can say with any confidence that the party stands for anything much beyond “better management”. The Opposition only has to look competent to be in the game. Since perceived competence is determined largely by media coverage, this places enormous power into the hands of the commercial media and reinforces media management as a key aspect of public policy.

    It’s a classic Faustian bargain.

    Leslie Nielsen comes to mind:

    It’s like eating a spoonful of Drano. Sure it’ll clean you out, but it’ll leave you hollow inside.

  7. may
    February 28th, 2012 at 12:26 | #7

    fairies-in-the-bottom-of-the-garden-dept.

    rudd as foreign minister.

    why not? he’s done it before.
    though prone to emotional outbursts where his personal ambition is concerned,
    when that factor is removed as it is in this ministerial post,
    he’s not just good at it,he’s bloody good at it.

    just an opinion.

    and wouldn’t that be one for the books.

    moving on indeed.

  8. February 28th, 2012 at 17:55 | #8

    Fran Barlow @ #5 said:

    It doesn’t stand up so well. Rudd did despatch Howard, so the switch did translate well into 2PP — just shy of 53-47 IIRC. The ALP did the same when it dumped Hayden in favour of Hawke even closer to the election in which Fraser was routed.

    Oh yes it does. These two leadership change counter-examples do not disprove my rule since they both occurred at the extreme point of the electoral pendulum when the country was yearning for a change after an eternity of conservative rule. As Hayden wryly remarked later, “Blind Freddie and a drover’s dog could lead the Labor Party to victory at the present time”.

    Thats a world away from changing PM’s in mid-stream. From memory its only been done a few times in recent AUS federal history – Gorton and Hawke. Both times the parties got away with it, but only for one election ie one term replacements. Not a good portent for Gillard.

  9. February 28th, 2012 at 18:03 | #9

    paul of albury @ #3 said:


    I like your circular firing squad image – very apt.

    For a while there I thought the “circular firing squad” guns were set on full automatic. It would be nice, for a change, if the ALP trained their weapons on their true enemy.

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