Home > Oz Politics > Who wants Abbott PM?

Who wants Abbott PM?

February 18th, 2013

We’ve had quite a few debates here about the Labor leadership. While there are plenty of issues, there is one that, at this point in the cycle, trumps all the others. Of the two serious contenders, who is more likely to save Australia from the disaster of an Abbott-led coalition government? The answer to this question is so clear-cut that I find it impossible to believe anyone would dispute it: Julia Gillard has almost no chance of victory at this point, while Kevin Rudd has a chance. There’s certainly room for debate about how good Rudd’s chances are, but none, I think, as regards Gillard’s. And, whatever the stylistic differences, in substantive terms Gillard’s agenda is the one she inherited from Rudd.

The question now is whether we will have another three years to implement that agenda, or whether we have a Newman-style slash and burn assault on the public sector, the environment, science, women’s rights and, of course, the working class. The only thing likely to stop that is an immediate change of leadership.

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  1. TerjeP
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:15 | #1

    You really think a change of leadership would impress the public?

  2. alister
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:16 | #2

    Well, yes, except that apparently no small number of his caucus colleagues hate him with a passion. The only thing that makes sense to me is that (just) over half of the Parliamentary Labor Party hate Rudd so much that they’d rather lose their seats, and lose government in a wipe-out that’ll make 1996 pale in comparison.

    This thought doesn’t fill me with confidence in the political sense of the ALP. An Abbott government will make the Howard government look moderate and sensible.

  3. aj
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:18 | #3

    not Rudd. Surely some other person would get a honeymoon that Rudd enjoys. Labor only has a chance if Gillard abdicates to someone already approved by caucus and has no communication problems.

  4. February 18th, 2013 at 14:19 | #4

    Slash and burn when the public sector is already detracting from growth and nominal GDP growing is below trend and still falling.

    Only Steve Kates is that barking mad!

  5. John Quiggin
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:22 | #5


    Given that the remaining alternative would be Abbott, yes. In fact, I think there’s a chance the Libs would also switch in response

  6. kevin1
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:24 | #6

    The question for those who reject Rudd with a passion is: do they accept that the price of their indulgence is an Abbott govt and all the reactionary policies that means? From what direction can the resurrection of Gillard come?

    The Australian people apparently have bought a simplistic narrative of failure and chaos, and there are many good policies which they take for granted, driven by false economic facts and insecurity. How do you respond to the “irrational” element amongst voters which seems to be high?

    There’s no “principle” involved in dumping Rudd for Gillard, as there ain’t much difference policy-wise. As leaders, I think we have found that he is less beholden to special interests (eg. mining, factional influence), arguably more visionary and intellectual, and doesn’t carry the baggage of distrust she created for herself.

    If Rudd can be dragged into a more colleagiate style, which shouldn’t be impossible the second time around, it’s the only chance to win.

  7. Mr Denmore
    February 18th, 2013 at 14:27 | #7

    I agree with Professor Quiggin. They can’t do any worse. They’re heading for a thumping. Rudd at least commands a fair degree of popularity in the community and some residual legitimacy as en elected PM that Gillard never had. Yes, the Libs have all the videos ready to go of current Labor ministers giving Kevin a frank character assessment. But Rudd still possesses the ability to cut through and as far as the wider public goes, he is far preferred to Abbott. The hard heads int he party would be well advised to get on with it ASAP. The sooner they do it, the faster the focus turns to Abbott. And I agree that if Rudd returns, the media speculation will turn to how to get rid of Tony.

  8. February 18th, 2013 at 14:38 | #8

    Hanging on to JG shows most Members don’t genuinely care about the welfare of the public. They’re driven by tribal loyalty or pay-back. The March of Folly.

    Even the 3rd option where JG steps down voluntarily in favour of a third party would be superior to the status quo.

  9. PeterH
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:04 | #9

    Alan Davies above puts it well: The March of Folly. Tuchman talked about the astounding boneheadedness of certain people in power in the face of ineluctable events, and the parliamentary ALP seem to be caught up in the same.

    Although of course if Rudd does return, wouldn’t there have to be a massive clear out of current ministers? As far as I can recall there were very few of them that missed the chance to tell us all how dreadful he was as PM.

  10. Swing Required
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:06 | #10

    ‘Gillard has almost no chance’. Hello, certainty (almost) in politics at last.

    Well, she has some things in her favour, even if economic facts no longer count. She’s had every poll bar one putting her between 49 and 52% at some stage recently. So, people have thought of voting for her. She has Tony Abbott as Ol, a person over 60% of women have problems with. There’s been no publicity at all about the damage to our pockets to be wreaked by the Opposition. 2 kids at high school, one at primary> That’s the best part of $2,000 gone.

    Tax-free threshold reduced? Hundreds of dollars more. Get rid of the carbon tax? An in your dreams reduction of a few hundred dollars at most, but a real reduction of family allowance and pensions.

    She can look forward to the Opposition hiding their policies and then not being able to authentically cost them.

    Against this, she has a media magnate out to get her, so she has a tough job, but politics is changeable quickly and 7 months is a long, long time.

    Is Mtr Abbott likely to be elected? yes, of course, but saying the PM has (almost) no chance is just a bit of a stretch at this time.

  11. Swing Required
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:08 | #11

    Sorry, that should read 48% to 50%.

  12. February 18th, 2013 at 15:09 | #12

    Good grief: PrQ once again can’t resist joining in on the self fulfilling prophecy.

    This is not helping your cause. (And I want to avoid an Abbott government too.)

  13. Savvas Tzionis
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:34 | #13

    Only if Gillard resigns.

  14. Michael S.
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:37 | #14

    John Quiggin :
    Given that the remaining alternative would be Abbott, yes. In fact, I think there’s a chance the Libs would also switch in response

    Even if we only get spared PM Abbot by way of PM Turnbull it’s a big argument for the Ruddster. The difference between a Baillieu and a Newman is pretty significant.

  15. Katz
    February 18th, 2013 at 15:41 | #15

    The Libs have a dirt file full of denunciations of Rudd uttered by just about every surviving ALP heavy. And the all said it. That’s a lot of baggage for the ALP to carry into the election.

    On the other hand, maybe Rudd could still do better than Gillard despite that baggage. If so, then God help us all.

    At this point the best that the ALP can hope for is that whoever leads them come September, the best that can be expected is that Abbott will be prevented from achieving a working majority in the Senate.

    I think that Rudd is more likely to achieve that Phyrric victory than Gillard.

  16. February 18th, 2013 at 15:41 | #16

    Like John Quiggin, I prefer Rudd to Gillard. However, the public reaction to the dumping of a sitting Prime Minister showed how appalled they were. I would not recommend it again.

    I’m not going to provide evidence on Abbott’s lunacy but it should be pretty clear by now. So despite the press gallery and polling saying Abbott’s victory is all but assured, I would dispute that. I see no indication of it outside the polls and self-indulgent media. It is important to remember the larger masses have not paid any attention to electioneering yet.

    Except for the fact it would fuel leadership challenge bias again by the self-indulgent media groups and partisan pundits I would recommend reinstalling Rudd to the leadership group say as Deputy PM – Swan can keep Treasury. It is the only option I can see for Gillard to save face. Her poor personal polling is for removing Rudd and then substantially watering down all the policies underway quite significantly and we can see how that turned out with the MRRT. You can’t do that after saying the “government had lost its way” and then continue on the exact same path except with much weaker policy and legislation. This a clear cut indication Gillard government has lost its way but as I said above, it would be inappropriate to remove a sitting Prime Minister.

    The only other possibility to improve Gillard’s personal polling is to implement a policy from the ground up that will be in place within 2-3 years, not the NDIS & Education reforms that will take generations to find out the positive effects. She needs to pull that one out of her pocket and fast but unfortunately I don’t believe she has one or is capable of such an act.

    Fortunately that is still more than the other side has.

  17. February 18th, 2013 at 16:01 | #17


    “The only other possibility to improve Gillard’s personal polling is to implement a policy from the ground up that will be in place within 2-3 years”

    Re-design the mining tax, implement a middle-term focused infrasture building stimulus program (e.g. improving the train system) and successfully roll out the NBN.

    At least what they do can now and have an effect before the election is to stop the stupid pursuit for budget surplus.

  18. February 18th, 2013 at 16:12 | #18

    The drop in polling is obviously driven by a variety of factors all arriving in quick succession, but much of which is beyond Gillard’s control: the Obeid inquiry, Thompson arrested, a backlash from some sporting clubs and journalists about how that inquiry was handled, the small amount from the mining tax, the figures being bandied around about the deficit, the ongoing backgrounding of journalists from Rudd supporters about their dissatisfaction and despair, and the renewed media profile of Kevin Rudd. The latter two matters, of course, indicate a still internally divided party more than 2 years after the last election.

    If the polls were indicating Labor within striking distance (at least on national voting patters) only 2 to 3 months ago, I cannot see the value in panicking about leadership when circumstances such as those I have listed have combined to cause the present drop.

    There is little perspective on the state of the economy being put out in the media by economists sympathetic to the job this government has done.

    Getting that out there is of much more value than talking about inevitable leadership changes.

  19. Chris Warren
    February 18th, 2013 at 16:18 | #19

    All this is just mischief. The claim

    Julia Gillard has almost no chance of victory at this point, while Kevin Rudd has a chance.

    has been deliberately constructed by Ruddites feeding to the media.

    Rudd could easily call all his ‘supporters’ together and read them the riot act. They can then go off and feed to the media a new message: all united under Gillard.

    Then Kevin Rudd will have no chance of victory while Julia Gillard will have a much enhanced chance.

  20. Chris Warren
    February 18th, 2013 at 16:22 | #20


    I would recommend reinstalling Rudd to the leadership group say as Deputy PM

    A good idea. After an election caucus can do what ever it likes with these two.

  21. Disenfranchised
    February 18th, 2013 at 16:23 | #21

    Disagree. There is no choice but to stick with Gillard, she is if nothing else, a tough proven fighter. Putting Rudd in charge will not remove Craig Thompson or the NSW ICAC Inquiry. During the term of this government Rudd has been part of the problem. During the 2010 election campaign his treachery possibly cost Labor a majority. This is why the Labor caucus will never unite behind him. In the next six months there will be plenty of opportunities for Gillard to go after Abbott and his magic pudding. If Rudd pulls his head in she may just have some success.

  22. derrida derider
    February 18th, 2013 at 16:34 | #22

    @alister , you’ve never had to work for the SOB; they have. Haven’t you ever had a boss so bad that you’d rather lose your job than stand him (it always seems to be a “him”, BTW) much longer?

  23. Jim Rose
    February 18th, 2013 at 16:48 | #23

    I do not think that a liberal party would dispose a leader who has seen off two Prime Ministers and is leading in the polls.

    I doubt that the working class will suffer under Abbott. It is not the 1960s. The Liberals win a fair share of what is left of the working class vote and need it to get over the line.

    If Rudd was to mount a challenge, someone would have to show him how to do it. His last attempt was dreadful. At least be in the same country and time zone for the evening news.

  24. Hermit
    February 18th, 2013 at 16:49 | #24

    I’m looking forward to Prime Minister Abbott getting climate scientists to retrain as nannies. Therein likes the problem with Rudd; his two big 2007 election promises were Work Choices and the ETS. He reneged on 50% of those promises therefore cannot hold his nerve and is not PM material. If the other nervous nellies in the ALP bring about a leadership change they deserve to lose.

  25. Katz
    February 18th, 2013 at 16:51 | #25

    I’ve lived around swinging voters long enough to know that overwhelmingly they have stopped listening to Gillard. They have a very punitive attitude and are counting the hours to give her an electoral thrashing.

    Much of the mud flung by Abbott has stuck. This success can be attributed to some combination of actual policy failures, the unconvincing and wooden performance of Gillard, prejudice against her and what these voters imagine she represents.

    All of these problems are reversible. But it would take some masterful politicking to achieve reversal. And there is no Paul Keating who can win the in winnable, sweetest victory of them all.

  26. derrida derider
    February 18th, 2013 at 16:52 | #26

    @PeterH – “there were very few of [the current ministry] that missed the chance to tell us all how dreadful [Rudd] was as PM.”

    Yes, and did you not stop to think that is because he was, in fact, dreadful? Apart from the other problems with switching back to him there would be the risk that he would continue to be impossible to build a team around for the election (think of the effect of a spate of high-level resignations to “spend time with their families” just before the election as people got fed up).

    Nope, there’s no way out here – we are going to have an Abbott government and we should concentrate on denying it a Senate majority (as much for its own good as ours – wiinning the Senate was John Howard’s downfall).

    Life will go on. I wouldn’t vote for the man in a pink fit, but on form he’s definitely going to be more interested in pursuing re-election than in pursuing culture wars and so will chase the median voter rather than the median RWDB. He’s stuck with some real old crazies on his current frontbench, though – I hope he has the sense to bring in a spate of new faces when he becomes PM.

  27. MartinK
    February 18th, 2013 at 17:00 | #27

    The problem as I can see it is that the power brokers would have little to gain from a Rudd government, especially compared to a Gillard opposition holding the balance in the senate.
    (I would hardly consider myself well informed but had taken this as a broadly accepted implication, would seem not though).
    That would also mean that there will be no clean out of the ALP before they have lost all chance of holding any real influence in the political scene. It is not a given that will happen at all and it is certainly a while away.

  28. TerjeP
    February 18th, 2013 at 17:12 | #28

    JQ – I’ve never understood the appeal of Rudd in the eyes of the public so my judgement may be off, however I can’t see another change of leadership by the ALP doing anything for their prospects. Quite the opposite in fact.

    Personally I want to see tax cuts, spending cuts and an increase in civil liberties. Basically I want less of the government in our lives. The ALP won’t do drug reform, has shown itself a threat to free speech and the Internet and is no more decent to asylum seekers. It is pretty impossible for somebody like me to support them on the basis of civil liberties. The conservatives certainly won’t liberalise drugs or allow euthanasia but they might cut taxes a little and they might cut spending a bit. They have a super sized baby bonus on the cards and a ridiculous approach to carbon emissions but there fiscal credentials tip them over the line for me on this occasion. I’d actually really like the ALP to put something meaningful on the table in policy terms not waste time on who the leader is. If radical action is called for why not do something radical on the civil liberties policy front. They might just surprise themselves.

  29. alister
    February 18th, 2013 at 17:24 | #29

    @derrida derider, I have had that displeasure. I quit. But the only thing at stake was my career. At the time, I didn’t even have children to take care of. I’d work for a bad boss who I hated if it meant a chance to derail the apparently inevitable Abbott government.

  30. February 18th, 2013 at 17:28 | #30

    on the other hand Cameron and Ozzy did it in Britain

  31. Tim Macknay
    February 18th, 2013 at 18:20 | #31

    @Jim Rose

    I do not think that a liberal party would dispose [sic: of] a leader who has seen off two Prime Ministers…

    Are you talking about Tony Abbott? Who was the second one?

  32. Phil
    February 18th, 2013 at 18:32 | #32

    I think that Australia will get the government that they deserve. If that is Abbott then they will suffer the consquences (as will Australia). The less well off and the middleclass with school kids, who appear to be supporting Abbott, will be hit hard and for that they can blame themself. I wonder how long after the election they will be crying that we didn’t vote for that (Shades of cando)!

  33. John Quiggin
    February 18th, 2013 at 19:35 | #33

    So, is anyone actually willing to assert that they believe Gillard can win?

  34. John Quiggin
    February 18th, 2013 at 19:36 | #34

    So, is anyone actually willing to assert that they believe Gillard can win? Or, has the best chance of denying Abbott control of the Senate?

  35. alfred venison
    February 18th, 2013 at 19:40 | #35

    as for him being a slave driver: he says he’s learned from that. apparently he has supporters as well as detractors.

    icac is a problem for the alp factions especially the nsw right faction. rudd is non-aligned & has leftover business from his partial first (only) term as p.m. re. the alp factions. supposedly with the support of his (ostensibly left faction) deputy. we saw where that took him. he needs to be drafted; there needs to be a build up of momentum; they have to appeal to him. it needs to be about stopping abbott. its not time now; things must get worse for gillard first; then the momentum will build until someone calls for him to “step up to the plate” or cop abbott. the deal must come with demonstrable cross-factional support for reform of the faction system. he provides the credible reform counter-narrative he needs to break with the prevailing narrative of alp corruption a la icac.

    rudd’s opponents brought on the last spill while he was overseas on official business serving his country. nevertheless he made a fist of it & a number of labor members were prepared to stick their necks out & be known to have voted for him. before that, of course, gillard deposed him in the middle of the mining crisis in ’10, attributing a necessity for this action to rudd’s good gov’t having lost its way. now the reality of her mining tax sellout – yes, she sold out her country for power – is clear to see for anyone. how base. my feeling is that the mining tax fiasco will haemorrhage gillard’s credibility until rudd is drafted. and a good thing that’ll be, too. closure. -a.v.

  36. February 18th, 2013 at 19:57 | #36

    I think the best way forward is for JG to graciously stand down forthwith and for the Caucus to spurn Rudd and elect a new person as leader. It could be a poisoned chalice, but if it were (say) Shorten, he’d have a fighting chance against the unpopular Abbott. I don’t think any potential candidates would pass up the opportunity to be PM even if briefly – it can’t be assumed it would come again.

  37. Ikonoclast
    February 18th, 2013 at 20:29 | #37

    In the immortal words of the Starcraft 2 Marine (to Julia Gillard);

    “Oh, that’s your plan is it? We’re screwed!”

  38. Edumak8
    February 18th, 2013 at 20:30 | #38

    It saddens and frustrates me that the depth of political conversation and debate continues to hinge on Party Leaders. I accept that this is apparently of utmost importance to Joe & Josephine Public, but is it because the idea of selecting a ‘person’ as opposed to ‘policy’ is more concrete and less abstract? If this is so, the voting public has truly become the clay of the media and about as shallow as low tide on the mudflats. Including Civics and History in the Australian Curriculum is far too little and far too late. The utopia of a vast body of politically aware voters has sunk into the depths of reality TV, and so to, if TAbott is elected, is a progressive and socially just Australia in the future.

  39. Chris Warren
    February 18th, 2013 at 20:32 | #39

    @John Quiggin

    Gillard with a united party behind her can do better than a damaged, reincarnated, Rudd.

    Whether this is winnable is another matter. A Rudd, at this stage and using the skulduggery he would need to ascend, could make a loss worse.

    The Senate is a different matter.

    The current representation is:

    Greens 9
    ALP 31
    DLP 1
    Libs 28
    Nat/CLP 6
    Ind 1

    When the Ind and greens vote with ALP, the majority is 41 to 35.

    Only senators with terms expiring 30 June 2014 are up for election. Xenophon looks safe as he was 3rd elected.

    A possible bad scenario is that 6 go to the Libs, with no ALP or Green gains.

    Another bad possibility is a loss of 3 with a hung Senate. But I would not assume that the Liberals can keep the ACT second seat away from the Greens.

    If the Libs lose ACT, they need to get another 5 to gain control of the senate.

    So if I was concerned about the Senate – I would send money to the Greens in Canberra. The ALP knows it will never get it.

    The variability in State senate votes due to national ALP leaders is not of overpowering concern. The Senate vote tends to contradict the HoR vote.

  40. Jim Rose
    February 18th, 2013 at 20:42 | #40

    John, with your indulgence, Antony Green’s blog is the best place to look for who might control the senate after 2013 see http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2011/09/can-the-coalition-win-control-of-the-senate-through-a-half-senate-election.html for a long state by state post

    Not possible even if the Libs win three senators in each state.

    The trick is for the Coalition winning a third seat in South Australia and Tasmania and to win a fourth seat in both Queensland and Western Australia in 2013!!!

    The WA Nationals could win a 4th seat in WA on a separate ticket??

    LNP won 4 in Qld by running separate tickets. not possible now

    Only way in 2016 is for Katter’s mob to peal off enough labor votes to his economic nationalism brand to split Qld senators 3 LNP and 1 Katter.

    as Chris noted, the greens are a wild card in canberra for the senate. the Libs must fail to get the quota of 33%, but the Libs got 40% on the recent assembly election.

    a drover’s dog could stop abbott winning a majority in the senate.

  41. m0nty
    February 18th, 2013 at 21:02 | #41

    John Quiggin :
    So, is anyone actually willing to assert that they believe Gillard can win? Or, has the best chance of denying Abbott control of the Senate?

    Yes Prof Q, I think she can win. Perhaps you missed the raft of psephological analysis over the Christmas period analysing the poll-of-polls margin that Gillard had back then, comparing it to other pre-election situations, and finding that Gillard was still very much within reach according to historical precedent.

    It’s still a long, long way to go until the election. 2013 is about waiting as long as possible for the positive elements of the Rudd agenda, as implemented by Gillard, to come to the fore. The NBN is primary among these. The more homes that the NBN passes before the election, the more the polls will lean Gillard. This is supposed to be a better year for the economy, too, so the budget deficit will turn around.

    Those who run around like headless chooks after a bad poll or two choose to ignore the long term trends, which are all that ultimately matters this far out. You’re over-reacting to some rogue polls. When Morgan put out that poll with Gillard in front just before Christmas, I didn’t see you claiming that Abbott should panic and step down for Turnbull. You’re letting your feelings about Rudd cloud your judgement. You’re better than that

  42. February 18th, 2013 at 21:09 | #42

    It is a bit hard to get enthusiastic about a prime minister who tries to solve the budget problem by taking money off single mothers backed up by a treasurer who has promised already not to increase the taxes on the rich.
    If Labor is to have any credibility as a Labor government it needs to finance all the good things it has developed by having the guts to raise taxes. It would also help if it reversed the single mother decision or, better still solve this problem by a significant boost to the Newstart allowance.

  43. Russell
    February 18th, 2013 at 22:02 | #43

    Can Gillard win? She has as much chance as Rudd who is despised by too many to be a credible candidate. No point changing to him, they would all look too ridiculous.

    Here’s a fantasy to enjoy: Gillard calls a press conference and announces she will step down from the leadership (without any sign of being pushed). Caucus meets the next day and unanimously elects senator Faulkner as leader. A safe lower house seat is found for him to contest at the coming election, and he gets rid of those spectacles that hide his eyes.

  44. Fran Barlow
    February 18th, 2013 at 22:11 | #44

    Speaking as someone unsympathetic to much of what I associate with both Rudd and Gillard …

    The best chance the ALP has of staving off a defeat and/or “saving the furniture” entails leaving Gillard in charge. A change on the eve of the election for the second time running would appear, and be, ludicrous. It would show that the ALP had lost all self-respect and was now merely a creature of the MBCM. It would hand Abbott yet another victory.

    If the ALP is defeated, then a new leader, untainted by defeat, can be chosen and that is still the lesser harm.

    Abbott surely cannot hide forever. When he emerges — or better yet — the ALP force him out, his fragile claims to credibility will come apart.

  45. Chris Warren
    February 18th, 2013 at 22:13 | #45


    As I recall, Faulkner is retiring and a senator can be PM and needs no lower house seat.

  46. Russell
    February 18th, 2013 at 22:33 | #46

    Chris – it was a fantasy. I had developed it further: with Faulkner (now not retiring, a bit like Colin Barnett) the ALP stocks rise (people know he has been against ALP sleaze and has always been impressive in Committee hearings etc) which cause the Libs to depose Abbott and replace him with …. not Turnbull, who we like, but a lot of Libs don’t, but with Hockey. Affable, genial Joe soon looks like a fool compared with the adult Faulkner. ALP wins.

    If they don’t win, they at least don’t do as badly as with Gillard/Rudd, Faulkner get desired retirement, and new leader, Combet, Shorten or whoever, hasn’t been tainted with defeat at an election.

  47. SJ
    February 18th, 2013 at 22:33 | #47

    Gillard can’t win. Maybe she deserves to, but she can’t.

    It’s time for her to suck it up, and step down.

    Who in God’s name gives a rats ass what political staffers think of Rudd?

    The public prefers Rudd to Gillard to Abbott. That’s democracy.

  48. Russell
    February 18th, 2013 at 22:34 | #48

    Sorry, I see your point – PM can’t be in Senate??. OK, someone in Reps has to resign now!

  49. kevin1
    February 18th, 2013 at 22:57 | #49

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran, MCBM? Free Dictionary says could be “Magnetostatically Controlled Bianisotropic Material but I think not.

  50. Jill Rush
    February 18th, 2013 at 23:03 | #50

    I think Julia Gillard can win but it is very difficult with the way that the press report issues. I heard the wails of industry about the proposed changes to the way that minerals are mined before I knew what was proposed. There is no doubt that the media love to have a leadership battle as it helps to sell. I watched the same breathless reporting in the last days of Rudd when his ego really got in the way of government.
    Rudd is not the choice – if the Rudd people have their way and do destabilise Julia Gillard enough for her to resign be quite sure that it won’t be Rudd they turn to. Arguing that he is the only choice is to join the media baying for change. Greg Combet and Bill Shorten are far more likely candidates – and Stephen Smith must be in the mix.

  51. Fran Barlow
    February 18th, 2013 at 23:40 | #51


    My initialism was MBCM — “mass broadcast commercial media”

  52. rog
    February 19th, 2013 at 01:14 | #52

    By dumping the popular Rudd the ALP has effectively divided their own vote, as the polls accurately reflect. Dislike of Abbott is not enough to give Gillard a victory, his sins are petty compared with those of the current govt team.

  53. Tyler
    February 19th, 2013 at 04:47 | #53

    I used to hold out some hope for a slow return to sanity in the public but seemingly 2 and a half years of lies and distortion from the press have cemented things utterly at this point. The big movement away from labor despite Abbott’s bizarre dam policy, absurdly prioritising infrastructure for big agricultural interests ahead of something like that NBN is immensely disheartening. We’ve been strung along with the prospect of some colossal brainfade but if that anti-scientific nonsense didn’t warrant more than 2 days of press scrutiny i have no more hope that anything will pierce the veil.

    Bring on Rudd, they can’t let Abbott win

  54. Hermit
    February 19th, 2013 at 07:19 | #54

    I think the pollees (those who answered polls) are making some strange connections they might not otherwise come September 14. For example the answer to disappointing mining tax revenue is no mining tax revenue. I also think we’re seeing disgust by proxy. We’re appalled by Eddie Obeid so Federal Labor must be tarred with the same brush.

    I suspect that the protest vote will take unusual forms this time round. Not so much the Greens but independents and semi-rational one issue parties. For example if you can’t bring yourself to vote for either Abbott or resurrected Rudd there could be pirates and anti-immigration parties. If enough of them get up parliament may be less governable than at present. I’d prefer that to ideologues or populists having too much power.

    In addition to pollees I have another new word Abbonaut = Abbott juggernaut.

  55. Geoff Andrews
    February 19th, 2013 at 08:45 | #55

    As Brer Rabbit said to Brer Fox – you can do anything to me but don’t throw me into that briar patch. Whereupon, Brer Fox threw him into the briar patch, allowing the rabbit to escape as we knew he could.
    The Liberals (and their supporters, particularly those on this site) don’t want Rudd. If he wasn’t a threat, they’d be gently damning him with faint praise as Gillard was immediately after the coup.
    If Gillard was surrounded and supported by politically savvy colleagues I could imagine a come-from-behind win in September, but this is the mob that couldn’t see, after 10 seconds thought, the implications of their mineral royalties gift to the states; that PROMISED a surplus in this year’s budget … one can’t promise that some future event will occur with so many variables, surely. Why not “we are confident that …” or qualify it with a “if current fiscal setting stay the same”.
    Rudd’s popularity was higher than any other Prime Minister: his unpopularity never approached that of Gillard’s or Abbott’s; and why should it – the public must have been shocked when told by his party’s detractors that he was a control freak, a micro-manager, worked his senior public servants and ministers mercilessly into the wee hours of the night, made decisions without consulting the faction bosses … in short he was a breath of fresh air.
    Now we have the miasma of influence over a Prime Minister indebted to the Right who have kicked so many own goals that their connections to the Liberals must be under suspicion.
    Let’s keep it’s simple; check out the polls, stupid.

  56. John
    February 19th, 2013 at 08:48 | #56

    John Howard came back to win from a worse position than this one. Remember that Obama could NEVER win a second term? Instead of focusing on whether Rudd might be “better”, why not focus on firstly the achievements that this Government has (and there are plenty) and get in supporting the current team! Rudd would do us all a favour if he buried his bitterness and strongly got in behind the team. Oh, and a word about the “polls”, the PUBLISHED polls are almost universally telephone polls, some don not call mobiles! They are notoriously inaccurate and mostly conservative. The Morgan poll (which uses face to face interviews) and the Essential Poll both show a MUCH closer contest. Don’t let the bullshit polls as news brigade bluff you – get out and convince the swinging voters.

  57. February 19th, 2013 at 10:08 | #57

    if the ALP is still fighting amongst itself then these results may well be replicated in the election however if they do not the polls should narrow.

    Imagine if the ALP actually campaigned on the repercussions of getting rid of the ETS.

    Hmm however do they have anyone who possess such acumen?

  58. Geoff Andrews
    February 19th, 2013 at 12:02 | #58

    Hmm however do they have anyone who possess such acumen?

    Sure; they’re on the backbench gagging and/or gagged. Certainly not the witless, boring, uncommunicative, philosophically bereft, cliche-ridden, weasel wordsmiths that infest the Cabinet.
    But as loveable as they are, they’re still preferable to Abbott’s gang of scavengers.

  59. John Goss
    February 19th, 2013 at 13:45 | #59

    It is too late for Kevin to take over from Julia. There are always negative repercussions from a leadership change so although in net terms there would be some benefit for Labor, Labor would still lose the election. So the best thing for Labor to do is to minimise the losses and ensure the coalition don’t get the Senate by 1. stopping the negative backgrounding of the press, 2. shutting down the leadership debate by not giving it oxygen (Kevin needs to tell his supporters that he is not interested in leadership before election) 3. campaigning with unity 4. making it difficult for Abbott to reverse good reforms that Labor has put in place. Kevin can hopefully take over sometime after the election, but if he does not show absolute loyalty to the party in the run-up to election, he will not win the Caucus vote after the election.

  60. February 19th, 2013 at 14:02 | #60

    @John Quiggin
    I believe I did, just not in so many words.

  61. February 19th, 2013 at 14:07 | #61

    @John Quiggin
    No idea on the Senate front but I would be happy with another Balance of Power parliament, much like the one we have now. I don’t want a majority in both House and Senate ever – that just brings back Howard’s practice of the guillotine.

    I would like to see more like those holding the current balance of power in the House in the Senate.

    And when I use the word Power, I don’t mean able to change the government, I mean enabling good policy and legislation and refusing the poor.

    The fact is at this point in time we have no idea how it will play out (see my original remarks for my current view).

  62. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 14:37 | #62

    What is the evidence that a leadership is always negative? This has been claimed endlessly in various places since before the first Rudd challenge but there is never any evidence. Was the 1983 leadership change a negative for Labor? The primary vote is 30%. How low does that have to go for people to wake up and smell the flowers?

  63. Hermit
    February 19th, 2013 at 15:05 | #63

    Party aligned people need to consider some x% of the electorate will not vote LNP with Abbott as leader and y% will not vote ALP with Rudd as leader. I suggest neither x nor y are small numbers. Suppose x and y are both 40%. If that’s a different 40% of voters that only leaves 20% that will vote for the major parties. If it’s the same 40% then the major party vote (sum of individual votes) cannot exceed 60% and shaky alliances will probably be needed to form a government.

    Bring it on I say as a wakeup call. Those who are trying so hard for a clear majority could end up with a rag tag government with no clear mandate. In Tasmania the Greens minister urges Japan not to buy timber products while fellow ALP ministers urge Japan to buy more. Then they sit together on the front bench. That could be a foretaste of our next Federal government.

  64. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 15:12 | #64

    Yet in both Queensland and New South Wales people overwhelmingly gave their votes to the Coalition. The minor parties and independents were decimated. What is the reason to think that the federal election will be different?

    The Gillard leadership not only has no chance of winning the election, if the QLD/NSW pattern repeats, they have a very good chance of giving Abbot control of the Senate as well.

  65. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 15:36 | #65

    Just two consecutive labour governments, one led by a crook and one by an egocentric fool are breathing their last gasps. Labour has no policy other than socialism on the largest scale ever seen, an experiment in disaster demonstrated by Russia over decades and countless lives. When, not if, the coalition win this election, and control BOTH houses by a majority greater than Howard had in his third term, I will watch with pride the systematic dismantling of the Gillard/Rudd experiment.. I will watch with satisfaction the charging and conviction of a (former by then) prime minister. I could only hope that changes to politicians entitlements are extended to cover gross mismanagement, and in that way deny the entire front bench of this government a further cent, would be the crowning glory of the 42nd parliament. The Coalition: unto your hands we commit the soul of this country.

  66. Nick
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:09 | #66

    “So, is anyone actually willing to assert that they believe Gillard can win?”

    Of course Gillard can win. The public may not like her, but since when is that important? They are used to her. She’s no less popular than Howard, who was consistently this far behind at this stage.

    5 people in 100 – or 3 people in 54, rather – who’ll need to be convinced to vote differently. Less than 1 in 18 of the population who currently say they’ll vote Liberal.

    Read the last Essential poll. The Liberals win out marginally on almost every issue except IR reform. But Labor is still judged to better govern in the interests of all groups of people, including the elderly and the employed. They are not the results of a public which has made up its mind. They are the results of a public which sense Labor are probably a better bunch, but for some reason keep refusing to do what the public wants. I reckon I could count six issues with >70% support they’ve chosen to fob off. That is why they are in the position they’re in.

    The party who brings the best (yes, yes, most popular) policies in the next 6 months wins it. Gillard appears hamstrung by her factional deals. Would Rudd this time around be any different?

    The public might feel a bit of residual guilt over Rudd. He was fun to kick around and make fun of, but…oh crap, we didn’t expect that to happen! That doesn’t mean they’re going to vote for a party who tries that on again.

  67. Swing Required
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:35 | #67

    Thanks for the laugh, MNJ.

    I presume that was all tongue-in-cheek. I’d hate to think anyone really believed that.

    On the remote chance you’re serious, would you like to give some examples of socialism on the largest scale ever seen?

    Oh, I also suggest you don’t make criminal accusations that can’t be backed up, as Mr Abbott and friends have done.

    Of course, that was let through to the ‘keeper by our vigilant media.

  68. Jim Rose
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:37 | #68

    On reflection, the greens could lose the balance of power in the senate.

    To get to 36, the Libs need to win a third seat Tassie and South Australia.

    This requires either Xenophon or the greens to take the last SA seat. In 2010 the Greens came close to a quota in their own right. if the Libs get 42% they have three quotas.

    Katter did well enough to possible win a seat from labor in 2013. He takes votes from them as an economic nationalist and social conservative. Basically old DLP

    With 36 plus Katter, the last two votes to 39 come from Victorian DLP Senator Madigan, and Xenophon assuming he is re-elected in 2013.

    If Xenophon is re-elected in 2013, he will have the balance of power in the senate.

    Katter, Madigan and Xenophon must vote together to get to 39. Xenophon is the most left leaning so he will bet the last cab of the rank in supporting Abbott.

    If a WA Nat gets the 4th senate seat in WA, which is possible, any two of Katter, Madigan and Xenophon control the senate.

    It all depends on Xenophon getting in ahead of a green.

  69. John Goss
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:38 | #69

    There are some (few) exceptions to the rule that knocking off a leader has some negative effect. For example I don’t think the Coalition lost many votes by replacing Downer with Howard. But almost always there are some in the electorate who are emotionally committed to the leader and replacing that person reduces and may reverse those people’s commitment to the party that person leads. The question is how much damage is done by a leadership change. If the leadership change is clean, generally less damage. If the new leader has little public baggage, then less damage as well. It is my judgement that a change to Rudd would help Labor in net terms, especially in Queensland, but not enough to undo the difficult state Labor is in.

  70. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:53 | #70

    There is much to be said for going early to the polls, thus preserving the present Senate.

    One scenario may be for Crean, a man with no further ambitions, challenging Gillard, winning the spill, calling the election, taking the hit and then standing aside in favour of a new leadership.

    This tactic would have the virtue of delaying the Abbott program and of exposing his form to the electorate.

  71. Tim Macknay
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:15 | #71

    But would he win the spill?

  72. Donald Oats
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:16 | #72

    If they change back to Kevin Rud, all of the rhetoric Julia Gillard, and her supporters used to dislodge Rudd will be trotted out by the liberals in their campaign.
    Rudd does nothing to increase the labor party’s chances.

  73. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:29 | #73

    There do not seem to be a whole lot of people in the electorate who are emotionally committed to Julia Gillard. There were considerably more who were emotionally committed to both Hayden and Hawke but quite happily voted for their successors. A leadership change would be a great positive because, apart from Rudd’s electoral standing, it would be a decisive break with the factions who put Gillard in power.

    The cabinet has come up with this genius strategy of defending NSW and attacking Queensland. Sadly that does not recognise that in western Sydney alone there are enough likely losses to cancel out any possible gains in Queensland, and that if you are relying on Queensland then Labor has this potential leader who is a great deal more popular in Queensland than his successor.

    The Coalition have been quoting the Gillard/Swan carpet-bombing rhetoric about Rudd for some months now and it has not dented his electoral standing.

    There is very little chance of winning the general election. There is some slight chance of denying the Coalition control of the Senate. The present Senate cannot be preserved, its term runs out halfway through next year anyway. An early election followed by a half-Senate election within 12 months is such a scarily incompetent electoral strategy we can expect to see the prime minister announce it any day now.

  74. Tim Macknay
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:32 | #74

    @Donald Oats
    That point has been brought up before, and it might be correct. However, all the negative stuff about Rudd has already been aired publicly (during the last ALP leadership challenge), and doesn’t seem to have affected Rudd’s popularity. So it can’t be taken for granted that a negative Liberal campaign against Rudd’s character would be effective. It would depend on how the voters feel about Rudd vs how they feel about the people making the negative claims about him.

  75. alfred venison
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:38 | #75


    MNJ :
    I will watch with satisfaction the charging and conviction of a (former by then) prime minister.

    sounds like . . .

    MNJ :
    , an experiment in disaster demonstrated by Russia over decades and countless lives.

    alfred venison

  76. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:43 | #76

    @swing required:
    Sorry old chum, not only do I believe but I’m a strong advocate for it. As for allegations, I make none. The evidence is there but you choose to ignore/ overlook what is plain to anyone who has been in enforcement. Feel free to fly the flag of ‘I’ve done nothing wrong ‘ though, it will just be funnier to watch people wipe the egg off their face. Gillard has committed criminal conspiracy and will ‘swing’ for it. Hr co conspirators are departing as quickly as they can to avoid the legal fall out.

    But I digress. We should Marshall our forces to face the greatest threat of all. The red left of labour.

  77. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:46 | #77

    A conspiracy requires conspirators.

    Care to name some?

  78. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:49 | #78

    Gillard may win against any comers. If so, god help the ALP.

  79. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:52 | #79

    I cannot honestly believe that people are giving air to KRUDD. He was damaged goods when he was knifed by Gillard, having presided over the the worst government since Whitlam’s, only to be outshone by Gillard who has led the worst government since creation. Gifted a chalice of surplus, labour has simply progressively spent their way out of office. The coalition will hold both Houses of Parliament and with Luck will be in a position to dismantle the legacy of the farce of this government. The greens will be demoted to nothing more than the lickspittles they are, barely chewing gum on the boot of history. As for Rudd. he who wants a UN (useless notion) seat at whatever cost is required…

  80. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:55 | #80

    Where do you begin. Start reading. A conspiracy requires ‘two or more people to commit an offence’. JEG would be ONE of those, and WILSON the other. Documents don’t lie. You can’t obfuscate to a court of law. You can’t refuse to answer questions in a witness box. Our courts are not a theatrical stage with journalists. Watch and learn

  81. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:58 | #81

    And the allegedly incriminating documents?

  82. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:01 | #82

    The Greens may well precipitate the early election. An early election is to their advantage.

  83. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:07 | #83

    @Katz and MNJ

    There is a current investigation by the Victoria Police into the AWU-WRA thing. Sometime, I’d imagine well before the election, they will decide to lay charges or they won’t. If they do lay charges there will be a trial. Trying to judge ahead of time what the police will do or not do, who will be charged or not charged and who will be convicted or not convicted is pointless.

  84. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:08 | #84


    Read the file at leisure… There’s also copies on other blogs. I’d especially focus on the legal opinion of a QC…

    As I said though. Ill be satisfied with a Thomson style arrest, search and secure… Lol

  85. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:13 | #85

    The arrest or charging of a sitting prime minister will send this government to the polls. It is an unsurvivable action for Gillard. The trial is actually irrelevant to the politics, certainly it is relevant to Gillard, but she was always of the opinion that these accusations are ‘old’. Someone who knows full well the statute of limitations. If you think the arrest of Thomson made the news, this is the equivalent of lighting the blue touch paper and standing clear.

  86. Geoff Andrews
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:31 | #86

    …and 5. don’t let the NSW Right run a DIY election campaign

  87. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:33 | #87

    You mean this MNJ?

    Accepting that you as Prime Minister of Australia have a duty of care to ensure that our Commonwealth insitutions [sic], particularly our courts not only function effectively but are held in the highest possible esterem [sic] – did you on this occassion [sic] fulfil your duty?

    I hope his legal reasoning is more rigorous than his proof reading.

  88. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:41 | #88

    That’s the best you’ve got? Proof reading? Wow……. The depth of your perception is as astounding as Gillard’s.

    Perhaps reading past the glib one liners offered by the state, you’d glimpse an insight into the NSW right faction, directly responsible for where we are at as a country.

    “Well we might we say god save the queen, because nothing will save the prime minister”

  89. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 19:00 | #89

    Nope it’s not the best I’ve got.

    Anyone who wants to persuade me needs to respect me enough to induce me to want to read what he has to say.

    I’m prepared to accept the odd typo. But “occassion” isn’t a typo. It’s unremediated ignorance.

  90. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 19:43 | #90

    Like our government (sigh) .. Unremediated ignorance with sesquipidalian vocables

  91. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 19:55 | #91


    I don’t disagree with what you say, just the grammatical mood. You need to be using the subjunctive ‘The arrest of a sitting prime minster would…’

    Stating a possible future event as if it were a certainty is simply poor grammar.

    I accept there is a police investigation and there may be charges. I hope there is not an election before 3 August because the country does not need a half-Senate election within 12 months of a change of government.

    If, and it’s a huge if, Gillard were to be charged that would not necessarily lead to an early election, although obviously it would be impossible for Gillard to remain in office.

  92. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 19:59 | #92


    The Greens 1 vote in the House is not enough for an early election. A half-Senate election is not in their interest. (Or anyone else’s) Christine Milne promised confidence and supply until 15 September at the Press Club today.

  93. Chris Warren
    February 19th, 2013 at 20:22 | #93


    Liberals have no policy other than capitalism on the largest scale ever seen, an experiment in disaster demonstrated by Thatcherism, Reaganism, Greece, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, Japan and the United States – awash with poverty, homeless and food stamps. Over decades capitalism has unleashed so much blood whether in Indonesia (1960’s), Indochina and South America (1970’s), Central America (1980’s) and Middle East (1990’s) and then permanently since 1980 – Afghanistan.

    How many times have American Kapo-terrorists tried to sabotage the Cuban state and assassinate the head of state? How many otehr America terrorist acts were uncovered by Senator Church?

    How much genocide was wrought on indigenous peoples to establish capitalism?

    Exactly how many Chinese did the British and French massacre to put down the Boxers? How many victims were massacred during French, Belgium’s, and English administrations through out Africa?

    Exactly how many were slaughtered by Pinochet?

    How many did the French government terrorists kill in New Zealand?

    How many did the Australian army kill when they joined the intervention against Soviet Russia?

    Who placed nuclear missiles on Russia’s border?

  94. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 20:49 | #94

    @chris warren
    ” Liberals have no policy other than capitalism on the largest scale ever seen, an experiment in disaster demonstrated by Thatcherism, Reaganism, Greece, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, Japan and the United States”

    Thatcherism and Reaganism were good economically. Greece, Spain, Ireland and Japan as well as the US of A succumbed to the factional left of socialism. Sorry Chris but this is an own goal. The problem, per se, is socialism. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that capitalism, unfettered (thank you minister Conroy of the red underpants brigade ) has as serious a concern as communism is to socialism.

    Somewhere In between lies the fundamentals of good governance. Get government out of business, let business create jobs and employment and growth, and… I know you’ll hate this, but stymie the unions. The role of unions has changed but they won’t accept it.

  95. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 20:50 | #95

    And just quietly…. Kapo-terrorists within the Cuban state….? WTF?

  96. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 20:55 | #96

    Agreed the subjunctive changes the mood, but not the intention. The use of ‘will’ was deliberate.
    I know how this works from personal experience. A sitting prime minister will be charged with a criminal offence. Unprecedented in Australian history.

    The effects on our politic will be profound. This will make the dismissal seem a bit passé

    Sadly, I rejoice in it.

  97. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 21:01 | #97

    Then your use of ‘will’ is simply wrong. You have no way of knowing whether or not there will be charges. You may want there to be charges. You may be convinced there will be charges. You may even want to be able to speak as if you know there will be charges. Sadly, the age of prophecy is long gone. We cannot know the future, even when we want to very much.

  98. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 21:04 | #98

    But the Greens can lock up legislation in the Senate. This involves neither supply nor confidence. The Gillard government would then be a lame duck. The rationale behind holding out to September disappears.

  99. Nick
    February 19th, 2013 at 21:10 | #99

    “I’d especially focus on the legal opinion of a QC…”

    MNJ, I assume you’re referring to Terry O’Connor QC’s ‘prima facie’ letter to The Australian back in December? Brandis had been running the same line for a while before that, iirc.

    It boils down to this: when an association decides to incorporate, and the question on the form asks “What is the main purpose of your association?”, Brandis and O’Connor expect the response should have been “to open a bank account”.

    Which is roughly equivalent to myself and my business partners deciding to incorporate ten or so years ago, and, when asked “What is the main purpose of your company?”, putting down “to pay less tax”. ie. the reason we chose to incorporate – not what the company actually does.

    You can see O’Connor twist the language throughout his letter. He starts by saying: “the main purpose of the association was described as”. And ends with: “the purpose for which the association was being incorporated”. He is trying to imply these two statements are one and the same. They are not. In short, it’s a bunch of prima facie faff.

    You have to ask yourself – if Brandis and O’Connor are willing to scrape that far down the barrel to try to link the Prime Minister to something illegal (play semantic games), do you think they have anything more concrete on her?

  100. Chris Warren
    February 19th, 2013 at 21:51 | #100


    You seem to be speaking red-neck. It is a dialogue only for the initiated.

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