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How Gillard can win for Labor

June 12th, 2012

By resigning gracefully. If I were advising Gillard on how best to secure her place in history, I’d suggest waiting until the 1st of July and then making a speech along the following lines

The carbon price, legislated by my government is now in place. It will soon become obvious that the scare campaign run by Mr Abbott and the Opposition has no basis in reality and that our plan will achieve cost-effective reductions in carbon emissions, while making most Australian households better off. I am proud of my government’s achievements in this and other areas. Nevertheless, I recognise with sadness that I am not the best person to take this message to the Australian public. I have therefore decided to resign the office of Prime Minister and advise my Labor colleagues to support the return of Mr Kevin Rudd to this position. Mr Rudd and I have had substantial disagreements over matters of managerial style, but we are agreed on the need for a Labor government with Labor values, and on the need for action in key areas including the carbon price, the mineral resource rent tax and the successful management of the Australian economy. I will give the new PM my enthusiastic support, and work for the re-election of a Labor government.

Would this work? I’m not really sure. But given Abbott’s failure to achieve any popular support at a time when Labor has plumbed unheard of depths of popular support, it would have to be worth a shot. At a minimum, it would help avoid the Queensland-style wipeout that is currently on the cards. And if it worked, history would certainly look kindly upon a PM willing to give up the job for the sake of her party and, more importantly, in the best interests of the country.

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  1. Chris Warren
    June 12th, 2012 at 15:34 | #1

    A bit provocative? Imagine the ammunition such a crazy act would provide in the lead up to the next election.

  2. Troy Prideaux
    June 12th, 2012 at 15:53 | #2

    We saw in the last leadership challenge that there’s no way most of the caucus, let alone the cabinet & ministry will accept Rudd. It appeared to me as though that many of the heavy hitters were actually more comfortable in losing their seat and/or the next election than accepting Rudd again.
    Saying that, the ALP does need a leader who actually believes in pricing carbon if they’re serious about selling the concept to the electorate.

  3. NickR
    June 12th, 2012 at 15:53 | #3

    I think Rudd would be the most electable of the potential PMs but it seems as if Labor will never go there again. The infighting however has probably strongly diminished his chances.

    Is Bob Carr a potential Labor leader at some time in the future?

  4. Fran Barlow
    June 12th, 2012 at 16:05 | #4

    Would this work? I’m not really sure.

    I am. I am sure it wouldn’t work.

    1. Almost all the people involved in resisting the last challenge would have to go to the back bench, and there would be months more of LNP trolling — quoting people’s observations about Rudd and his lack of fitness to rule. It would be new ammunition for the LNP
    2. It would be clear from your suggested defence that this was purely poll-driven. That would mean that if poll figures for Rudd didn’t improve qyuickly and stay there — and to a level higher than when he was dumped, more speculation would be on.
    3. For the second time in a row, the ALP would not have a PM complete a single term, and more absurdly still, they’d have gone back to the chap they last dumped. That sounds simply mad and it would be widely interpreted as showing the ALP was purely a nasty clique being manipulated by forces few could identify with.

    IMO, for better or worse, they need to stay with Gillard until the 2013 election and take the result, whatever it is. If they win, the “Ruddstoration” (as PB folk call this topic) is moot. If they get smashed, then there’s a clean sheet for the next person. I doubt Rudd would be popular enough with his colleagues to get a go anyway.

    My own personal preference now if Gillard did leave would be Combet, though I can’t see how that could happen other than in circumstances so dreadful that a new leader wouldn’t help.

    Sidebar: I say the above while recognising that Rudd is probably the sharpest tool in the ALP shed right now and actually, on the face of it, the most personable of the serious contenders — though Andrew Leigh might challenge on the first score. That makes what happened post mid-2009 a rather sad indictment of the ALP. They had a huge electoral asset and then they apparently manipulated him into scoring a series of own goals before deciding that he should pay for it with his job. Ultimately though, if he’d had a bit more acumen and courage, he’d have stared them down when he had the leverage to do so and prevented the Sussex St spivs from shooting the ALP repeatedly in the foot.

    That he failed to do so shows why, despite his considerable intellect, he was much better suited in the longer run to being an Opposition leader than a PM. As a PM, you need self-belief and “a bit of mongrel” to use the vernacular. He lacked that quality and in the end, that, rather than the vacuity and venality of Sussex St sealed his fate.

  5. Zachary Church
    June 12th, 2012 at 16:07 | #5

    What a load of rubbish. Rudd will never ever be PM again. He is a self centred mean, unapproachable, one man band. Pathetic people manager. Caucus will never have him back and Julia isn’t going anywhere. Live with it.

  6. JB Cairns
    June 12th, 2012 at 16:19 | #6

    people only 35% of Australians realise interest rates are lower than they were when the present government won office!

  7. John Quiggin
    June 12th, 2012 at 16:23 | #7

    “Julia isn’t going anywhere”

    Except into electoral oblivion, with most of the rest of the Parliamentary Labor Party, if she hangs on. Anna Bligh was much better regarded in personal terms, than Gillard is, and look what happened in Qld. The Federal polls are even worse, and there is no reason to think they are misldeaing.

    To be clear, I doubt very much that Gillard will do as I suggest. I think it’s about even money that she will be forced out sooner or later, in a messy fashion that leaves a poisoned chalice for her successor.

  8. rog
    June 12th, 2012 at 16:45 | #8

    Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, Gillard has been unable to shake off her caretaker image. Her only politically redeeming quality is that her opponent is less desirable, which is of no advantage if the alp lose the next election.

  9. Alan
    June 12th, 2012 at 16:46 | #9

    The great electoral advantage to Rudd is that the electorate would read it as righting a wrong.

    The plain fact is that Gillard will not lead the ALP to the next election. The Labor Caucus is no more bent on suicide than the rest of us. They dumped Hawke, despite his personal popularity, because they did not believe he could win an election. Gillard does not have Hawke’s standing with the electorate, or for that matter, Keating’s at the time of the challenge.

    This stuff about will not serve etc etc is standard for all challenges, as are promises never to challenge again.

    The only thing different is the extraordinary irresponsibility with which Gillard and her supporters carpet-bombed Rudd during the last challenge.

    Oh, and how Gillard’s popularity would improve massively after Rudd had been ritually slaughtered and his head staked on a spike above the entry to parliament as a warning to the unfaithful. Oh wait…

  10. Robyn Seth-Purdie
    June 12th, 2012 at 17:08 | #10

    And here’s what Kevin Rudd should have said before the leadership spill:

    Colleagues! Comrades! We have been entrusted with keeping the light on the hill. For some time now that light has been flickering. Unless we renew our commitment to Labor as a champion of progressive values, that light will die, and with it the Party. The signs are there already – Labor is losing the trust of the Australian people.

    I acknowledge that I have played a part in losing that trust. When I abandoned the greatest moral challenge of our time, when I abandoned a robust resource rent tax, when I abandoned introduction of a Human Rights charter, I broke faith with the electorate, with Labor values and with myself.

    Having earned your respect with our victory in 2007, I destroyed it by being arrogant instead of consultative, by taking on tasks that should have been delegated to others, by neglecting processes for engaging the talent and experience of the caucus and of the Ministry in particular, and by ignoring the importance of reliable administration. Above all, I failed to honor the first obligation of leaders – treating all people with dignity.

    I regret these failures. To all those people who were harmed by them I say a heartfelt “Sorry”.

    Of course I regret that I was not given the opportunity to respond to Caucus concerns before the Prime Ministership was taken from me. I don’t think that anyone in public office could have suffered a greater public humiliation than that of losing the leadership and the Prime Ministership in the middle of a first term. Although it is not correct to call this a “coup”, it was and still is perceived as such by a large part of the electorate. And it further eroded the sense of trust in our government.

    Had the light on the hill burned more fiercely as a result of my replacement I could have endured it in silence, for the good of the party and the Australian people. It has not. The misfortunes of the Government continue to mount, and trust in the Government continues to subside. Absent a deus ex machina the next election will result in a devastating loss for the Party and for the country as our values and achievements are cast aside.

    I am no Messiah, but when I speak Labour values to the Australian people they listen. It frustrates me beyond words when the rhetoric of our Labor Government is indistinguishable from that of the American Republican Party. The tenets of market fundamentalism have so infiltrated Labor thinking that its words and actions often imply that government exists to serve business and that all socially desirable goals will be achieved by simply letting markets rip.

    If the Global Financial Crisis did not convince us that market fundamentalists are wrong, then the evidence on rapidly growing inequality and its consequences should.

    If the environmental movement did not persuaded us of the need for sustainable development, then the prospect of accelerating growth in Asia should at least give us pause.

    We now know that social and economic factors have a much greater influence on child health and development than previously understood. There is credible evidence that widening inequality is impoverishing us even as our national “wealth” increases.

    The fact is that markets are seldom perfect and need careful regulation to protect the interests of consumers as well as the long term interests of the public and the viability of the natural environment on which we depend, and of which we know but little.

    We need to abandon market fundamentalism and use markets more intelligently. We should learn from economic history how government intervention can be used to stimulate and nurture growing industry.

    There is an urgent need for progressive Labor values to be brought to bear on these issues. Equal opportunity is an empty slogan if it not accompanied by measures to prevent or at least mitigate the harm caused by poverty and despair in poorly functioning families and broken communities.

    Our education system is not only a vehicle for ensuring that successive generations of adults have the skills to earn a livelihood, it also provides the opportunity to ensure that every child has access to a culturally and intellectually enriching environment. Graduates of our schools should be literate and numerate, but they should also ask and debate the big questions, including those that concern the history and status of our First Peoples.

    We should find ways of providing livelihoods to all. A Labor Government should never accept less than full employment as a major policy goal, not should it abandon to their fate the growing proportion of people in precarious employment, who have no security of income or working hours.

    If you feel that Labor needs to differentiate itself from the Coalition led by Tony Abbott, if you feel it is time to re-establish Labor as the major progressive party in Australian politics, if you want a leader who can convey a coherent and inspirational vision to the Australian people, in short, if you want the light on the hill to burn brightly once more, then choose me to lead the Party and the country. I will not disappoint you again.

  11. June 12th, 2012 at 17:23 | #11

    Its a very noble Roman thing for a minister to fall on his sword for the good of the party or nation, especially if the he has a choice in the matter in the case where no parliamentary censure or party room spill was in the offing. I’m trying to think of AUS examples but Gorton is the only one that springs to mind.

    Would it work? I cringe to admit it but I think Fran Barlow has a point, the notion of shoe-horning a reigning PM out of the job twice in two years is a bit hard to take. Particularly when it will require mass resignations from the existing ministry.

    OTOH, Howard did pull off the feat of regaining the L/NP leadership, and leading his party to four straight election victories, through his “Lazarus with a triple by-pass” miracle. I seem to remember that he was not exactly Mr Popularity with more than a few of his colleagues. The loss of Swan and Albanese would be a feature, not a bug. And a week is a long time in politics, people have short memories.

    More generally the switch to Rudd would be a chance to hit the “Reset” button for “a government which had lost its way” back in mid-2009. Those with long memories will recall that was when His Ruddness squibbed a once in a life-time opportunity to call a double-dissolution election, or at least stitch up a deal with a sympathetic Opposition leader, on what he called “the greatest moral challenge of our time”.

    Lest we forget that Rudd’s poor leadership and inadequate negotiating skills on the CPRS was the cause of the rot setting in to the ALP’s polling. The issue cried out for “crash or crash-through” and he failed to deliver. Which is why people’s faith in the policy (and the party most identified with it) plummetted in record time.

    When Turnbull failed to come through and the L/NP spill was on it was clear to the AUS people that both parties did not really believe their rhetoric on climate change policy. So why should the people cast their votes and spend their bucks on a policy with such luke-warm support from its erstwhile champion?

    Now the ALP is running ads championing the compensation for the new CPRS, without even mentioning what its compensating for, a love that none dare name. Has there ever been such a bastard policy, shunned and rejected by its unwilling parents? Perhaps it was because the Mother of the carbon tax was the GREENs and no one is to keen to adopt its children.

    So if Rudd II is to have a second bite of the cherry he better run hard on the carbon tax as an ALP (not GREEN) policy, that is worthwhile on its merits. Otherwise it will just be a re-run of Rudd I, and we’ve seen that movie before.

    Then we can put the whole Gillard episode down as a dud party trick.

  12. Sam
    June 12th, 2012 at 17:44 | #12

    Carr annoyed me recently. He was asked a perfectly sensible question about the partial economic opening of Burma, and fears that Australian companies could be unknowingly partnering with illegal sweatshops. The journalist wanted to know what guidelines were being laid down to prevent this. Carr quite bizarrely took it as an insult against the ethical integrity of Australian business people and accused the journo of being unpatriotic.

  13. Alan
    June 12th, 2012 at 17:49 | #13

    Lest we forget further that the member of his cabinet most vocal in opposing both the ETS and the double dissolution was one J Gillard who then showed minimal compunction in taking advantage of the consequent collapse in Rudd’s standings. The electorate knows that story, although it took a while to come out. Just possibly, the Gillard skills at reading the electorate may be no better than Rudd’s.

    I suspect Rudd is about to do a Lazarus and I hope he does run on the carbon price as good in its own right. Perhaps not promising not to have one would be a good start.

  14. Sam
    June 12th, 2012 at 17:52 | #14

    I’m no fan of Gillard, but I hate Rudd. If it were Turnbull v Rudd, I’d vote conservative.

  15. June 12th, 2012 at 17:56 | #15

    PS The rot set in when Rudd fudged the marketing and negotiating of the CPRS and the rot was complete by the time that Rudd had blundered on the negotiation and marketing of the MRRT. In the space of one year (mid-2009-mid-2010) Rudd had converted a 6% advantage in 2PP to parity or even a 2% deficit. That was perhaps an 8% turnaround, in federal party polling that was an unheard of adverse swing in such a short space of time.

    Next time around he better mean what he says and make sure he delivers.

  16. Alan
    June 12th, 2012 at 18:52 | #16

    One of the Gillard camp’s arguments is essentially ‘Après moi, le déluge’. That’s a fair opinion to hold, but I’m not sure its a contribution to rational reasons for keeping a leader who has Labor on a fast sleigh ride to oblivion and whose only electoral strategy seems to be ditching as many traditional Labor values as possible.

    We have seen Labor deluged in NSW and Queensland under premiers far more popular (and far better campaigners) than Gillard. I do not wake up one morning with Abbot in control of both houses.

  17. rog
    June 12th, 2012 at 19:02 | #17

    @Alan Cognitive dissonance in ALP HQ; what voters just hate about Gillard is that she did not do the hard yards like Rudd and her elevation was by the power of a select few not the voters. Gillard represents privilege not workers.

  18. Freelander
    June 12th, 2012 at 19:58 | #18

    Unbelievable. Rudd has done more than enough to show that he’s unfit for that office. Even if the unlikely Faustian bargain of one more term were true, some wins aren’t worth it. Bad as Gillard is Labor are probably better off to struggle on with her than make another change. It was a tragedy and a badly handled tragedy that Rudd forced his party to remove him.

  19. June 12th, 2012 at 21:28 | #19

    For goodness sake, Prof Q: if you want Labor to win the next election, why don’t you stop this public daydreaming of the return of a PM who, by all accounts, dealt himself out of the job by the way he treated his party and let his office be run.

    Why not instead acknowledge the present government achievements, and if you think they need more ideas to run with before the end of the term, suggest them.

  20. Freelander
    June 12th, 2012 at 21:35 | #20

    What is also not believable is that any modern politician would even consider giving up being PM for the good of the country. Those types don’t stand a chance of making it through the process and being PM in the first place.

  21. m0nty
    June 12th, 2012 at 22:51 | #21

    How Gillard could win for Labor:

    1) Do whatever it takes for Doug Cameron to shut his yap. Cameron is the architect of every leak, every backgrounding, every shrill front page Oz story based on nothing more but one bitter old Scotsman’s failure to accept party room reality. Cameron is the main reason that Gillard can’t get her message across. I realise it’s supremely difficult in a hung parliament but something has to be done about him.

    2) Keep playing the long game by working on Abbott’s front bench. They are weak as water. Labor’s team beats them in just about every portfolio. Prove the fact that the Libs are not fit to govern every day with another embarrassment of a shadow.

    3) Wait for the inevitable dawning on people that the carbon tax is not the Devil incarnate. You should know, Prof Q, how the history of new taxes is littered with examples of supposedly monstrous imposts never getting repealed because they aren’t nearly as scary in practice.

    Rudd is irrelevant. The electorate is more volatile than ever, the poll differences this far out from the election are not set in stone. Have some faith.

  22. Jim Rose
    June 12th, 2012 at 22:52 | #22

    the problem is not Gillard. it is her policies. they would be the same highly unpopular policies under Rudd reloaded.

    75% of the electorate are not liking someone else because of smoke and mirrors.

    in the words of Richo “I wish I knew where Labor will go from here. What I do know is that in a democracy you can’t ignore the electorate and expect to survive.”

    the voters simply are not listening, and have already made up their minds. that usually is more the fate of third term governments, not a second term government.

  23. m0nty
    June 12th, 2012 at 22:57 | #23

    Richo can shut up as well. He has nothing of value to say about the Labor Party any more.

  24. Freelander
    June 12th, 2012 at 23:11 | #24

    Richie is simply the archetypical Labor politician. For them the party is simply a pedestal or stepping stone,useful as long as it helps them get what they desire. How few of them have concerns beyond themselves that run deeper than lip service.

  25. Dan
    June 13th, 2012 at 00:13 | #25


    Do you have any evidence for your claims re. Doug Cameron?

    In any event, he is about the only person* from the ALP who consistently talks sense and social justice.

    *honourable exceptions might often include Plibersek and Leigh

  26. Freelander
    June 13th, 2012 at 01:47 | #26

    Three exceptions. How they made it through the process so far, unknown; they’re unlikely to go too much further without abandoning their integrity.

  27. Adit
    June 13th, 2012 at 02:23 | #27

    Interested to see what Gillard haters/Labor supporters thought of her performance on q & a. She was quite impressive. I will still vote greens in the next election and would still support a Rudd return but I saw a strong, intelligent, thoughtful woman on the program. There is obviously a real leader in her. I honestly believe if the whole country had tuned in they would have woken up to this fact and we’d see a Labor victory. But she hasn’t communicated with Australians as well she did on the program. She only has herself to blame.

  28. Ikonoclast
    June 13th, 2012 at 05:04 | #28

    1. Unless we switch to a green and socialist government soon, we are doomed.
    2. There is no green and socialist party in the offing and the public dont understand the need for it.
    3. Therefore we are doomed.

  29. rog
    June 13th, 2012 at 05:41 | #29

    @Adit Agreed but she has yet to shake off the baggage assoc with her ascendancy. JG should be campaigning for 2013 now not 2013.

  30. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    June 13th, 2012 at 06:41 | #30

    The judgment I have made, without enthusiasm, is that Federal Labor under Gillard’s leadership is now, like Macbeth, so far into the river of blood that its least-worst option is to attempt to make it all the way across to the other bank. This is in no way to deny the truth of those comments which have drawn attention to the dreadful mistakes it has made from 2009 onwards.

  31. Alan
    June 13th, 2012 at 07:47 | #31


    I think it’s foolish to assume that Gillard opponents are Gillard haters, although it may be needed for your argument. I don’t hate Gillard. I disagree with her policies and I think she is about to lead Labor to an electoral wipe-out that will make Queensland and NSW look minor. On almost every issue the Australian electorate is a long way to the Left of the ALP and of Julia Gillard. Rudd’s popularity collapsed because he abandoned carbon tracing. Even now almost one-half the opposition to the Gillard carbon plan is because it does not go far enough.

    On every issue where Gillard and Rudd are different, Gillard stands to Rudd’s right. Frequently this is for political calculation (does anyone really believe Gillard a cultural traditionalist?) and frequently it is ineffective. While Gillard has always even good at one-off set-piece eventsm, she still maintained her conservative line on marriage equality, on refugees and on jobs.

    So yes she was personable on Q and A as she has been in the past. Policy is a whole lot more important to me than personableness.

  32. June 13th, 2012 at 10:21 | #32

    Julia Gillard’s place in history is already assured, and there is likely nothing that can be done to change it. History will not be kind to her, and deservedly so.

  33. JB Cairns
    June 13th, 2012 at 10:52 | #33

    yeah terrible job.

    Growth 4.3%, underlying inflation at 2.1%, unemployment is 5.1% and nebt debt is about to fall. oh and interest rates are lower than they were coming to office.

  34. derrida derider
    June 13th, 2012 at 11:30 | #34

    Its pretty clear that the electorate wants to see a Rudd vs Turnbull match rather than Giillard vs Abbott – never mind that both Rudd and Turnbull are, in very different ways, deeply flawed. But they’re not going to get their wish.

    Really, I can’t understand Rudd’s appeal – an angry, rude, obsessive workaholic who habitually treats all below him with contempt. The classic “kiss up, kick down” kinda guy. And the point is NOT that such turds are unpleasant to work with but that such turdiness leads to great steaming turds of decisions and hence outcomes.

    See enough pollies close up and you realise that their public persona often bears little relation to their private one. More often than not they are much more decent and smart face-to-face than their image (I’d include both Gillard and Abbott in that, BTW). But you could never say that about Kevin Rudd – the gap between image and reality is large, and does not favour reality.

  35. Michael
    June 13th, 2012 at 11:47 | #35

    The problem isn’t Gillard, it’s the public that deserves her. She is far from the worst administrator this country has ever had and I doubt anyone else likely to be made leader is going to be any better. this country has no stomach for good policy and would rather be pandered to. Soon enough the public will come to see that as bad as Labor is, the coalition, holding VIC, NSW and WA are up to their old tricks – no ideas, deals for their mates and general mismanagement. So far the Victorian Liberals haven’t fixed anything except for their developer mates.

  36. ralph
    June 13th, 2012 at 11:54 | #36

    I agree with the comments about the weakness of the opposition (just think Mirabella, Johnston (who? – thats right, Defence), Cobb et al) – still stuck in the dream of reviving Howardism. Let the slow burn on the opposition continue until September 2013 and the absence of policy/barking mad MPs be revealed. In any case, if Gillard was to resign the end of the year would suffice. But Rudd is not an option – the Peter principle applied when he made it as PM, he was essentially a poor administrator unable to delegate and trust colleagues. The skills you need to get to the top are not those that you necessarily need when you get to the top. I would rather see Combet as PM – an effective Minister and efective at the ACTU, able to work with others.

  37. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    June 13th, 2012 at 12:20 | #37

    Combet or Tanya Plibersek would be my preferred PM if I was in a position to dictate such an outcome. I’m not, but those who are would not be above giving either individual the hospital handpass of PM-ship if the situation is still dire with only a few months remaining until the election.

  38. Troy Prideaux
    June 13th, 2012 at 12:29 | #38

    I also agree the opposition are weak, but I’d probably rate the likes of Johnston and Sinodinos higher than most of the ALPs ministry and cabinet purely on the impression they’re more interested in actual improvement than playing petty politics which is probably why we rarely hear from them.

  39. Troy Prideaux
    June 13th, 2012 at 13:27 | #39

    @Troy Prideaux
    I retract that last comment, at least with regards to the ALPs Ministry and Cabinet. There’s a few in the Caucus that engage in petty politics, but it’s wrong to suggest it’s most of either the Cabinet, Ministry or Caucus.

  40. John Quiggin
    June 13th, 2012 at 14:56 | #40

    “And the point is NOT that such turds are unpleasant to work with but that such turdiness leads to great steaming turds of decisions and hence outcomes.”

    Except that it doesn’t – all of Gillard’s much-touted achievements involve the completion of processes begun under Rudd, and Rudd himself got a lot of things through a more difficult Parliament (the swing vote was Fielding, much harder than getting both Oakeshott and Windsor). As far as I am aware, the few policy initiatives specifically attributable to Gillard – cash for clunkers, consultative council, Malaysian solution etc – have all been failures.

  41. Alan
    June 13th, 2012 at 16:11 | #41

    The point is also that EvilRudd was not part of the story until 2012. Rudd headed the Qld public service in the 90s and, while no-one nominated him for sainthood, no-one tried to paint him as a megaturd incapable of decision either.

    Ken Henry has rejected the EvilRudd couldn’t make decisions canard as did a number of figures like Stephen Smith during the leadership contest that Gillard provoked this year.

    The GFC would seem to have involved a few decisions being made very hard and very fast. They cannot all have been made by EvilRudd’s hardworking and loyal deputy while EvilRudd spent his time strangling kittens.

  42. Tony
    June 13th, 2012 at 16:17 | #42

    John, Rudd’s a disaster. Being prime minister means being able to run a team, which Rudd can’t do. I really don’t understand your attachment to him.

    Gillard on the other hand is a relaxed achiever. I think her endeavour will gradually be reflected in opinion polls and, more importantly, in votes. There are signs of this happening already.

    Your advice is absolutely dreadful.

  43. Andre S
    June 13th, 2012 at 19:15 | #43

    Like John I think Gillard is finished. I don’t think Rudd will win either, but if he times his run well he may pull back some lost ground. Thats the political reality.

    The integrity of these characters gets lost in the politics and I believe that it’s not a measure of their future in politics.

  44. Alan
    June 13th, 2012 at 19:46 | #44

    There are signs of this happening already.

    The Gillard camp has been announcing signs of a turnaround in the polls since June 2010. That is one hell of a lot of swallows for not very much summer.

  45. Ken Fabian
    June 13th, 2012 at 21:59 | #45

    Backing down when it gets hot has got Labor into the mire. Labor backed down on carbon pricing. Labor backed down from supporting Rudd in the fallout of that debacle. Gillard gives every impression that she wishes climate wasn’t an issue and she would dump the carbon tax if she could – except she’d lose the Greens and probably Oakshot and Windsor too, who believed the issue deserved addressing. But backing down post election to get the Greens after the expedient decision pre-election to loudly back down on carbon pricing was a serious back down. Backing down on Resource tax, backing down on humane refugee policy…

    That it was a hung election on top of the ugly spectacle of Rudd being rolled made Gillard’s mandate look tainted from the start and the compromises – good policy or not – make it even more tainted so for Labor to imagine Gillard backing down, again, in a gesture of self-sacrifice, will assuage the mob’s displeasure is insanity.

    The mainstream media are against Labor and are doing their best to make the carbon tax look as bad as Abbott says it is and the spectacle of Labor doing its best to avoid mention of it is painful. (Call a summit of the world’s leading climate experts and make a spectacle of it! Talk about what no politicians outside the Greens will talk about – how costly unstopped climate change will be! Stop telling the public that no coal jobs are at stake and coal exports won’t be affected! Australia’s voting public might be dumb, drunk and racist but they aren’t so stupid they can’t figure that last for a lie).

    Only by owning their choices – Gillard and Carbon Tax – and fighting for them like they have their heart in it will Labor look like they have the strength of commitment to remain in Government. Sorry Pr Quiggin, but I think anything less will just prove to the voting public that Labor is unfit to govern.

  46. Freelander
    June 13th, 2012 at 22:42 | #46

    Gillard can win.

    All that is needed is an ‘outrage’ which will justify Australia going to war with a relatively defenseless country. Works for the Americans and it worked for Thatcher.

    Or even without that, some equivalent of ‘children overboard’ would do the trick. That gave Howard a quadruple bypass, and plenty more years of life after death.

    Lets face it; electorates are pretty thick.

  47. Michael
    June 13th, 2012 at 22:47 | #47

    @Ken Fabian
    Labor will probably start fighting the good fight and standing on principal once they are in opposition with a tiny number of seats. The saddest thing is they couldn’t do worse in the polls than they are now by growing a backbone and doing the right thing.

  48. Alan
    June 14th, 2012 at 00:51 | #48

    The great thing about banging your head into the wall is that it feels so good when you stop. Except with the Gillard leadership where apparently we are to believe that it feels bad to stop and the only course is to bang on regardless.

    There is no political evidence that all backdowns are the same or that the electorate is not completely aware who the principal advocate for backdown was in the Rudd government. Apparently backdowns are so inherently evil that even their architect must never be backdowned.

    Um, I think. Maybe…

  49. June 14th, 2012 at 05:05 | #49

    Maybe changing jockeys will help but the real problem for the ALP is that its currently running on a spooked nag. Leadership popularity are not that important a factor in party preferencing, if they were then the unpopular Abbott would be depressing the L/NP’s 2PP vote, but he isnt.

    The fundamental problem for the ALP is it’s climate change policy which has been discredited in the eyes of the public, by:

    – losing bi-partisan support (Minchins Martyrdom Operation)
    – delaying and then ditching “the greatest moral challenge of a generation”
    – picking it up again in a cynical deal at the behest of the unpopular GREENs
    – the La Nina drought breaking rains and floods

    The ALP may switch leaders but it won’t switch the central plank in its policy, which it will go to the election with, albeit shame-facedly. Going by the weirdly unmentionable status of the ETS in the compensation package ads, the less people talk about it, the better.

    So unless the majority of the people experience a major change of heart on the ETS over the next 6-12 months the government now appears doomed. People did change heart on the GST but it took a long time and in the short term it did more or less sink the L/NP in 1998, they only won by a whisker through gerrymandering effects.

    Of course the GST stayed in and people got used to it. However they may demand the head of the government as the price of their sufferance.

    Which will mean my prediction of a third ALP victory will be refuted. First psephological refutation at the federal level (AUS, UK & US) in over a decade! I was wrong.

  50. Ken Fabian
    June 14th, 2012 at 08:40 | #50

    Jack, I think that La Nina conditions helped climate obfuscationists woo a confused and complacent Australian public over into La La Land on the issue. It doesn’t help that much of the public confusion is a consequence of calculated opinion shaping efforts, with far too many people in positions of leadership and trust willing to lend climate science denial some of their respectability and credibility. But I do think too much damage is already done to Labor’s brand to readily turn around, given they don’t appear to ever have really wanted to face up to the climate problem.

    How much perceptions are deliberately skewed by a hostile mainstream media is another issue; perhaps no matter how well they perform the perception that it’s badly will persist.

  51. Michael
    June 14th, 2012 at 08:59 | #51

    @Jack Strocchi
    Do you think the ETS will have as much effect on prices as the GST? I was out of the country for the introduction of the GST so I didn’t get to experience it. Clearly the negative effects of the ETS have been overhyped. Do you think the libs will get rid of Abbott before the next election? Surely his free pass will end eventually.

  52. Freelander
    June 14th, 2012 at 10:05 | #52

    If Labor were even marginally clever they would regulate to make the electricity companies include an explicit breakdown of the cost of the carbon tax in people’s electricity bills so consumers could see how much of their bill went in paying the for the tax. The numbers would have to add up to the numbers actually paid in taxes, and given all the hype and exaggeration by Abbott and co, the actual numbers couldn’t do other than help acceptance of the tax. It would also allow Labor to claim that they are being open about the cost of the tax.

  53. Troy Prideaux
    June 14th, 2012 at 11:25 | #53

    Yes, if they were marginally clever they should do exactly that, but hey, if they were marginally clever they would have implemented at least some of the initiatives that Ken Fabian has been suggesting here.

  54. Jim Rose
    June 14th, 2012 at 12:48 | #54

    The unpopularity of Labor is surprising given the economy is strong. The incumbent party improves its vote share when economic growth is high and inflation is low.

    The shift in expressive voting from cheering climate change action in 2007 to booing it a few years later is a little surprising.

    In most cases, income and prices can explain most of the variation in voting on environmental goods – it is not essential to introduce non-economic concepts such as ideology and politics. The carbon tax is not unpopular because of low income growth.

    Geoff Brennan argues that the nature of expressive voting concerns is such that significant reductions in real GDP because of carbon taxes and carbon emissions trading are probably not politically sustainable in the long term.

    This suggests that much of the CO reduction action will be limited to modest reductions of a largely token character.

    Labor forget that there are many expressive voting concerns that politicians must balance to stay in office and the environment is but one of these. Once climate change policies start to actually become costly, expressive voter support for these policies fell away.

    Abbott’s big bad new tax rhetoric split away the working class and lower-middle class labour voters who worry more about bread and butter issues.

    The ALP must rebalance its expressive voting portfolio. Buying votes has not worked. Leadership is immaterial because it is the policies and competence that matter.

  55. Sam
    June 14th, 2012 at 12:54 | #55
  56. Jill Rush
    June 14th, 2012 at 12:55 | #56

    While the situation for Labor doesn’t look good what could help in the next few months is a reality dose of Liberalism in the states. The developers changing the landscape in honour of the developers who contributed handsomely to their election campaigns and the threat to people’s job security.

    The Coalition has been able to instill a lot of fear into people about their own situations but if the PM keeps on getting better advice then it will help in the long run as it does take a while for people to change their minds.
    While I see that there are lingering feelings of warmth towards Rudd in his home state it is probably regionally limited. If it is true that Gillard has only managed to finish off what Rudd started that in itself is a huge warning sign of the inertia that existed under his watch.

  57. Troy Prideaux
    June 14th, 2012 at 13:32 | #57

    Jim Rose :
    The unpopularity of Labor is surprising given the economy is strong. The incumbent party improves its vote share when economic growth is high and inflation is low.

    The overall macro picture of the economy is all roses, but the problem is – at what social (hence electoral) cost? People are being pushed harder and harder thanks to globalization and “level playing field” trade policies. Job turnover has been high and that pisses workers off. Hearing their dear leader and her spokespeople publicly claim that the economy requires “restructuring” doesn’t quite cut it to quell their anger. Personally, I think a high dollar is a good thing, but that does put pressure on trade exposed businesses and the government has also been copping a fair piece of that grief as well; not helped by various trade union executives.

  58. Alan
    June 14th, 2012 at 14:30 | #58

    There is no sign in the figures published by the polls that support for Rudd is ‘probably regionally limited’, although obviously his popularity is greater in Queensland than elsewhere. The inertia during Rudd’s prime ministership is grossly exaggerated and in any case cannot possibly justify the present PM having produced a very limited number of policy ideas of her own, all of them failures.

    Really, the reasons to retain Gillard, in view of her dreadful policy and electoral performance, have to be better than wishful thinking.

  59. Freelander
    June 14th, 2012 at 21:51 | #59

    Rudds popularity is probably based on his not being prime minister and a change in that status, which isn’t going to happen anyway or day, would see that popularity vanish.

  60. Ken Fabian
    June 15th, 2012 at 08:21 | #60

    Rudd as a hypothetical vs the actuality of Rudd heading a Cabinet and Government that don’t like or trust him – with the opposition and media critics well armed with ammunition to put dents in his shiny armour? Whilst I believe our host here is sincere in thinking Labor would be better headed by Rudd, the media simply love the spectacle and talking up Rudd – if only by endlessly polling the question over and over – is not. That there are Labor insiders that appear to let such polls guide their decisions is least edifying of all.

    Rudd’s drawn out attempt to unroll Gillard was not any more edifying to watch than the drawn out aftermath of Gillard’s rapid rolling of Rudd. Whilst a voluntary resignation by Gillard would short circuit the worst of that, the public witnessing another leadership change by any means will be bad for Labor.

  61. Alan
    June 15th, 2012 at 09:24 | #61

    Abbot is one of the least popular opposition leaders we have had. A Keating or a Hawke would have eaten him alive.

    He also has the good luck to face the weakest Labor leader in memory. Arguing that any leadership would be bad for Labor does not have a lot going for it. Anna Bligh repeatedly argued that Queensland must not catch NSW disease, but her electoral results were worse than NSW. There is just no evidence for the all leadership change is bad theory and that appears to be all that the Gillard camp has left.

    Gillard’s own style is starting to create huge problems within the cabinet. Her transparently untrue claim not to know about the foreign worker visa plan cannot have added a lot to her cabinet liking and trusting her.

    Labor is in the unfortunate position of having a bad leader who is distrusted by the electorate. There is an alternative leader who is not districted by the electorate and has better policies on most issues.

  62. Brad
    June 15th, 2012 at 21:09 | #62

    Rudd is gone for good. The leadership will never be his again. Look to the future, John!

  63. Freelander
    June 15th, 2012 at 23:38 | #63

    That souffle has been left out in the rain.

  64. Alan
    June 16th, 2012 at 05:48 | #64

    The Keating souffle, as we all know, was never going to rise twice and Hawke remained prime minister until 1996. The Gillard soufflé, by contrast, never rose at all.

  65. paul walter
    June 16th, 2012 at 06:46 | #65

    I can’t figure how this works. I ask myself again, wtf is WRONG with the public just now. It must know what he words “Abbott” and “Austerity” mean? Does it understand “GFC 2007-8″, “Tea Party” and “Cameron”?
    Down to the doc this morning for a rabies shot, obviously an epidemic.
    I think what the public needs is a bomb under it, not another leadership change in the government.

    Ok, JQ, you write on the above confident and informed that Rudd is reasonable fettle and finally mellowed enough for a return? Has he GENUINELY learned from his first run, now that he has cooled his heels for a bit? Even were Gillard were to step aside, would skirmishing and acrimony finally cease between the two and would they ever combine to buck the factions, which is what they should have done in the first place?
    It may be that it could work, if the public is not so mutton-headed that it repeats the Qld Massacre on fed Labor, which has offered nowhere near the provocation Bligh offered. Surely in getting rid of NSW and QLD Labor in particular, they sated their tabloid-inspired bloodlust?
    They electorate still likes Rudd, but would Gillard be in turned honoured by Rudd and would she be satisfied enough to embrace her next portfolios, gladly, with Rudd’s genuine friendship and encouragement, as a respected colleague.
    My suggestion for the near future, Rudd becomes a genuine consensus person, glad to listen others rather than staff lackeys, makes up with Gillard and co.
    Gillard has done as well as she can, kicking against the breeze Rudd kicked with and would be hugely embraced by the public if she ended the feud, even if this meant taking that step back and down.
    But what’s in it for the PM, if she only gets a kick in the guts, even for the things she has done right or when she tried to do right?

  66. Alan
    June 16th, 2012 at 12:33 | #66

    @paul walter

    The electoral standing of the federal government is actually worse than the labor governments in NSW and Qld before their massacres. There is no sign of the boil getting lanced.

    In both NSW and Qld the collapse in labor support began with the privatisations. It was not a sudden burst of unexplainable madness, the electorate expects Labor not to privatise. The collapse in the NSW vote began when Iemma announced, contrary to his promises, that he would privatise electricity. Ditto Qld. The revolving door premiership cannot have been too much of an issue in NSW because the Labor result there was actually slightly better than the Qld result. Other factors like the personal standing of Anna Bligh, should have indicated a better result in Qld.

    While the Gillard government has not privatised anything the distrust issue federally seems to focus on the person of the prime minister.

    Gillard supporters are asking the ALP to face an election where the trust issue is paramount and where the leader has far worse standing in the electorate than Bligh or Keneally. Gillard supporters have repeatedly that argued that the polls would improve real soon now. They have maintained that argument since June 2010 in the face of an almost continuous downwards trend. Minor movements upwards are celebrated as the light at the end of the tunnel. Movements downwards are simply disregarded with blithe nostrums. The prime minister waves polls that show slight improvement across the table of the House and then answers unfavourable polls by claiming she pays no attention to polls. At some stage reality has to bite.

    The polls also show that 38% identify as Labor but only 31% intend to vote Labor. Something needs to give to get that 7% back. And its not going to be, as has been claimed repeatedly, when the carbon plan details are announced, when the legislation is published, when the legislation is passed, when the compensation si announced, or when the legislation goes into force. The solution to the carbon price problem is a leader who actually believes in it rather than one who opposed it as deputy prime minister, promised not to have one, and then suddenly got struck by lightning on the road to Damascus.

  67. paul walter
    June 16th, 2012 at 18:05 | #67

    I’ll tell what you what Alan, SA Labor is becoming a classic example. It’s been in a long time and barely survive last election after coming down with thud during its second term, on its aggressive development policies. The animus is great against them, but the government is controlled by the right faction which is wed to ecorationalism and continues to regularly turn up with unpopular policy announcements that further aggravate an inflamed animus in the community.
    I still maintain the public is wrong to be quite so down on fed Labor. Be critical, yes, but the sense of proportion is lacking, inflamed by media bias, we remain one of the most comfortable countries in the world in which to live.

    A brief comment for Prof Quiggin. As a former Adelaide western subs lad he may have not heard that former Eagles champion Bob Hank passed on, at 88 yo. Time passes quickly.

  68. paul walter
    June 18th, 2012 at 04:44 | #68

    Back to Labor. Where I come from, there has been a vexed issue for some time concerning transport corridors and TODs in Adelaide’s west. Now it seems that current economic conditions have stalled some of the initiatives involved, such as rail electrification.
    It seems that St Clair park might not be needed in the short term and given Labor’s unpopularity in Adelaide, I would have thought the smart thing to do would have been to announce that the park being turned over to tower block housing be deferred.
    We just learn that the Labor-right stacked Charles Sturt Council is going to get round the issue by zoning the park as housing, completely deaf to the continued protest against the move.
    Is it arrogance? Out of touchness?
    What is it with the Labor Right faction that has it so utterly determined to absolutely antagonise traditional Labor voters, or any one else who would consider voting for them?

  69. June 18th, 2012 at 11:48 | #69

    Rudd and Gillard have been given no respect by the media, whereas even in his dying days as Prime Minister Howard was given no disrespect.

    Abbott has pithy cut-through lines but no real idea on what to do once in power. He holds too many contradictory positions and the media treats them as gospel presenting them as alternatives to the Prime Minister instead of cutting him down for the fool he is. And I used to like the man as Leader of House/Opposition Business- whichever it was – that he was good at.

    Whilst a Rudd return would boost the Preferred Prime Minister for Labor in the polls, it would not boost the TPP for Labor.

    I really don’t know what they could do to get the statistical faith restored in Labor other than Gillard winning a majority next election and putting more reforms that benefit all Australians in place. Even then I don’t know if that will work because I have certainly lost all respect for Gillard as a person given the way she replaced Rudd.

    However, if Rudd was going to be replaced anyway, Gillard was a better choice than Swan, Smith and whoever the other potential candidates might have been.

    At this stage without Gillard, the only other choice of Labor leader is Rudd – this is one case where there actually is no alternative is she is/was to be replaced.

  70. crocodile
    June 18th, 2012 at 13:21 | #70

    The “economy is strong” line is unfortunately true only for some. The last growth figures released showed that in the resource rich states of QLD, WA and NT stellar growth was experienced. Even up to 7%. Likewise, the rest were on one leg with growth in some cases at 0.5 to barely 1%.

    Averages don’t really show the true picture. Joe punter feels this. Tony knows about it as well. I suspect Julia does too but can’t or won’t explain it.

    The one thing I find baffling is the insistance that the carbon tax will do our bit for reducing greenhouse gases. There is nary a mention of the possible business investments in newer technologies as a result of the price signals caused by elevated costs to consumers for energy. Complaints abound to the fact that “We don’t make anything anymore” or “made in China”. Now an opportunity to innovate, invest and grow new industies is kept secret.

    Don’t mention the war.

  71. Alan
    June 18th, 2012 at 13:55 | #71

    Whilst a Rudd return would boost the Preferred Prime Minister for Labor in the polls, it would not boost the TPP for Labor.

    This thread has repeated re-interpretations of the polls that range from the probably regionally limited theory to preferred PM but not TPP. The only time the TPP under a Rudd leadership was tested, last September, the TPP moved from a disastrous 58/42 in favour of the Coalition to 52/48 in favour of the Labor Party. This new theory is as substantial as the regionally limited theory.

    It should also be remembered that a fraction of people who identify as Gillard supporters actually identify only with the Labor leadership. They would identify as Rudd supporters if Rudd returned to the leadership. This is part of the explanation for the surge in support that most challengers receive.

  72. Daniel
    June 19th, 2012 at 12:48 | #72

    Hahaha, to still a Simpson quote “it’s funny ’cause it’s true”, I am esp. referring to the part about changing of leadership to a person who represents Labour values

  73. Daniel
    June 19th, 2012 at 12:49 | #73

    sorry steal, not still

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