Home > Metablogging, Oz Politics > Learning from my mistakes

Learning from my mistakes

March 23rd, 2013

If you engage in commentary for an extended time on any issue, but particularly on politics, you’re bound to get things wrong. In such cases, there are a few options. The most common is to double down, grasping at any straw that will justify your original claim. Another is to wait; the world is so changeable that a prediction that seemed laughably wrong at one time may turn out correct after all. But, mostly the best thing is to learn from your mistakes.

I’ve made a few mistakes, but the one that I’ve been picked up on most is my prediction, in 2007, that

The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.”

Of course, this wasn’t meant to be taken at face value. I went on immediately to say that

This isn’t a prediction of unending Labor rule, rather an observation that the Liberal and National parties are in such dire straits that they can’t continue as they are. They haven’t got enough support, parliamentary representation or ideas for one party, let alone two.

I thought the obvious solution was a merger, as in fact happened in Queensland not long afterwards. But my many friends in the Murdoch Press and the rightwing blogosphere have taken great delight in quoting the first sentence out of context. Given that the Liberals have yet to win their election, I followed the waiting strategy, waiting to see whether the turn of events (and the fact that my characterization of the Libs and Nats remains entirely accurate) might validate the prediction after all. But, after the events of the last week, I think it’s time to admit error.

What lessons should I learn from this?

First, never try to be cute on the Internetz, unless you’re a cat. I could have written a straight post suggesting a merger and it would long since have been forgotten. I knew perfectly well that Newscorp and its allies are shameless liars, and that their readers are utterly gullible (provided that what they are reading confirms their prejudices) and I handed them a stick to beat me with. I’ll avoid paradox in future.

Second, never underestimate the capacity of the Labor Party for suicidal stupidity. At the time I wrote the post, Labor seemed safe for two or more terms everywhere but NSW. Instead we saw
* WA Premier Carpenter revoke the ban on dealings with Brian Burke, leading to immediate disaster
* Privatisation campaigns in both NSW and Queensland
* The dumping of Nathan Rees (NSW Labor’s last hope) in favor of Tripodi-Obeid puppet Kristina Keneally
and, most disastrously of all,
* The coup against Kevin Rudd. The march of folly has continued to the very end, with a majority of the Parliamentary Party confirming, for the second time, that they would rather give Tony Abbott control of both houses of Parliament, and, in many cases, lose their own seats, than break with the failed leadership of Julia Gillard. The many (now former) Labor MPs in Queensland who marched straight over the electoral cliff with Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser seem to have set the pattern here

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  1. Hermit
    March 23rd, 2013 at 16:24 | #1

    The theme of rash predictions could be proved yet again if Gillard is re-elected. Federal LNP have yet to convince the public their costings and policies are sound. If the public doesn’t care about this until after the election then the Abbott government may be a oncer. (or is it ‘an oncer’?) An abrupt hiatus may actually help the centre left long term.

  2. John Quiggin
    March 23rd, 2013 at 16:29 | #2

    I certainly hope that Abbott will be a oncer, and I agree that most Australians would prefer “neither of the above”. But the bookies have Abbott at 5/1 on, and that’s a generous estimate of Labor’s chances, I think.

  3. Blow Up The Focus Groups
    March 23rd, 2013 at 16:29 | #3

    Rudd should make good use of the autumn break: spend it forming his own political party. A moderate, progressive, social democratic party (three schools of thought which Gillard explicitly disowned recently, so why not?) in which there are no formal affiliations with unions or any other lobby groups, candidates for Parliament are selected through primaries, overt factional groupings are banned with caucus choosing the ministry via a totally secret ballot, and the leader is chosen by anyone who holds party membership. He could sell it as “the party that the ALP used to be, but sadly is clearly incapable of ever being again”. The main policy platform could consist of things such as an Emissions Trading Scheme of the sort proposed in 2007, the Resources Super Profit Tax, a return to onshore processing of asylum seekers, genuine pokies reform, and possibly same-sex marriage. Disillusioned Laborites like Faulkner may well follow him into this new party, and it could be potentially be a catalyst for Tanner and/or McKew to run for Parliament again, which would lend the exercise more credibility. I know that the hundred-year-old institutional inertia propping up the big two parties is difficult to overcome, but surely the current national mood is such that a party as I have suggested could at the very least perform quite decently at the election?

  4. stockingrate
    March 23rd, 2013 at 16:32 | #4

    “the failed leadership of Julia Gillard” – exactly.

  5. Pete Moran
    March 23rd, 2013 at 16:38 | #5

    Labor has spent all it’s time trying to be Conservative, but not quite neo-con/Tea Party-like, but well on the way.

    In the words of the great Groucho Marx; these are my principles, if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

  6. alfred venison
    March 23rd, 2013 at 17:11 | #6

    thanks for your reflections, its nice to feel less alone. i wonder what will happen with albanese. will he go or will he stay? what will it signify? -a.v.

  7. Mel
    March 23rd, 2013 at 17:51 | #7

    Maybe the Coalition is the natural party of Government for Australia, at least at the federal level. The Hawke-Keating years were possibly an exception and such exceptions maybe only occur once every century or so.

    Abbott will romp home. Pollbludger tracks the parties at Coalition 54.7% ALP 45.3% with the Coalition having a 40 seat majority in the lower house.

    With Labor imploding amidst the stench of corruption and incompetence (at least in the eye of the public), Abbott can look forward to three or four terms as Prime Minister.

    I doubt we’ll see another ALP led federal government until about 2025.

    The only thing that will upset my prediction, I reckon, would be

    (a) the Coalition doing something that seriously frightens the horses, like a new Work Choices, or

    (b) the Coalition sending the economy into a deep recession through a harebrained expansionary austerity program.

  8. TerjeP
    March 23rd, 2013 at 18:16 | #8

    JQ – The Internet isn’t generally tolerant of nuance. And I must admit this prediction of yours was a stick I used to whack you with until I realised that your prediction was more subtle. So my apology. I’ll try to whack you with something more accurate in future. 🙂

  9. hc
    March 23rd, 2013 at 18:39 | #9

    John, I think your biggest error was to endorse Rudd. He was a disastrous PM and has been rejected overwhelmingly by his party 3 times. This is a good summary of Rudd:


    The depth of his incompetence is illustrated by his antics up to the current leadership spill. He has undermined the government at every turn for the last year, wanted to be PM again but couldn’t organise Julia’s execution. As Latham (and others) have pointed out, his core problem is his arrogance – he simply refuses to believe that his own party overwhelmingly detests him. They overwhelmingly do.

    Martin Ferguson, one of the Ruddites and a former ACTU leader, this morning was criticising the mining tax as “class warfare”. More sound Labor Party criticism of Gillard? His mates (Crean, Fitzgibbon) also need some reality checking.

  10. rog
    March 23rd, 2013 at 18:50 | #10

    I look back at when the alp courted the media, pollies became PR machines with slick campaigns that won voters over and over. But that’s when it started to go wrong; in return the media thought they were politicians.

    Time for the alp to step back and not worry about the media, it’s been a losing game.

  11. rog
    March 23rd, 2013 at 18:57 | #11

    @Mel I don’t know how you can say that, the economy is the envy of the world and Abbott can only promise austerity.

  12. Mel
    March 23rd, 2013 at 19:12 | #12

    @rog Learn to read.

    Why do you think I put the words at least in the public eye in brackets?


  13. Factory
    March 23rd, 2013 at 19:20 | #13

    “I doubt we’ll see another ALP led federal government until about 2025.”

  14. March 23rd, 2013 at 19:21 | #14


    Yeah Rog, learn to read:

    With Labor imploding amidst the stench of corruption and incompetence (at least in the eye of the public),…

    oh, sorry, you obviously can read.

  15. Factory
    March 23rd, 2013 at 19:27 | #15

    hmm, that didn’t come out properly.

    Anyways, in a post about not making bold predictions on the internet, one would think ppl wouldn’t go for yet more overly bold predictions. In this case, the liberals are perfectly capable of electorial suicide just like labor is. Note the recent replacements of two premiers. In the case of the victorian premier he was rolled for the exact same reason that Rudd was, low polling and being not liked by his party.

  16. March 23rd, 2013 at 19:59 | #16

    Pr Q concedes:

    I’ve made a few mistakes, but the one that I’ve been picked up on most is my prediction, in 2007, that

    The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.

    It’s good to see Pr Q utter the magic three words “I was wrong”. However he can’t resist the temptation to add an ex to his culpa. It wouldn’t matter how mendacious the Murdoch press writers or gullible it’s readers, the prediction of a federal L/NP merger was wrong in principle. [1]

    The critical error is the allegation that the Liberal Party is the weak link in the Coalition when it’s obvious that its the National Party which is the weakest link. The NP has been in secular decline since 1975. So any merger of Coalition partners is really an acquisition by the LP of the NP.

    As I pointed out at the time:

    The L/NP will continue to survive in more or less its present form at the federal level. This is because its conservative “corporalist” position on cultural identity is tending to become more, not less, popular with the mainstream electorate.
    It may well be that the NP will merge with the LP. But this will be a sign of the relative weakness of the NP due to urbanization (eg QLD). It does not really prove that the LP is getting weaker. Quite the opposite, in fact.
    There are four more state elections to be held before the next NSW election in 2011. THese will be in QLD, SA, TAS and VIC. The ALP is currently dominant in all four jurisdictions.
    Nevertheless I am willing to put $100 down that the L/NP in some shape or form will win one of these electaral contests before the decade is out. A neat merger b/w the partie counts as the Coalition by pretty much the same name. A UAP style implosion counts as a win to the Quiggin thesis.

    I was right.
    More generally, given the median voter theory, AUSs entrenched electoral duopoly and homogenous political culture its a category mistake to assert the inability of the traditional Right-wing parties to muster sufficient voters, candidates or ideas to hold their ground. The voters, candidates & ideas will expand to fill the political space available for them. And there is always political space for a Centre-Right party given the aspirational economic culture & silly cultural identity politics on offer from the Left.

    [1] To pick a nit, the Liberal Party has never won a federal election by itself to begin with. It’s always won in coalition with the Country or National Party.

  17. sunshine
    March 23rd, 2013 at 20:26 | #17

    JQ ; your (sortof ) humillity is kind of endeering ;- (you too terje ) .

    We need media reform. I read a bit of media watchdog J Disneys Finklestine submission (which was put in terms of maximising freedom via minimal additional regulation). I liked his logic and it should have wide appeal ( i think i made a good reading of it ). I was left feeling (maybe embarrasingly ? (see i can do it too ! )) surprised that good logic like that was anywhere near the politico/mainstream media world . I feel at a loss to explain the gulf between the presence of his submission and the media coverage (excepting some parts of the internet ). Maybe i am not cynical enough .

    Circumstances may be right for the emergence of a Blow up the Focal Groupes style party after the gfc comes here to roost and Abbot finds solace for us in austerity . Katter s party will test the waters to a degree next election .

  18. John Smith
    March 23rd, 2013 at 21:02 | #18

    I’m always amused by how people call a 55/45 result a ‘landslide’. It may look like that in terms of seats, and of course the winning side, with the media, loves beating that up; but always remember that whichever side you support, ALMOST HALF the population – mostly decent people, some of them your friends and relatives** – support the other side. Let us be glad that in this country we can live with diverse views reasonably peacefully.

    ** unless you are unfortunate enough to live in a total echo chamber.

  19. March 23rd, 2013 at 21:21 | #19

    I agree with HC on Rudd, who I could not stand because of his encouragement of the growth lobby and elevation of their professional talking heads to pseudo intelligentsia positions in his Australia 2010 conference (or whatever it was – I may even have the year wrong).

    The Murdoch press, closely followed by the Fairfax Press, and the ABC, which mostly just apes Murdoch, have been down on Julia since the day she won. I can see why: the mining tax, Greenhouse tax and, most of all, media regulation. They must be worried that she is serious about her job.

    My conclusion is that there must be something really good about Julia Gillard if the mass media hate her so much. The mass media want to run the country and actually almost do. If Julia Gillard can ultimately win despite them, that will be a very sweet victory for all of us. We might then have a government that remembers the electorate, rather than plays to the frankly troglodyte mass media.

    My view.

  20. TerjeP
    March 23rd, 2013 at 21:30 | #20

    always remember that whichever side you support, ALMOST HALF the population – mostly decent people, some of them your friends and relatives** – support the other side.

    We hate the politicians so we don’t have to hate our friends, relatives and neighbours. In essence the politicians are the whipping boy for our friends, relatives and neighbours. We punish by proxy.

  21. Socrates
    March 23rd, 2013 at 23:02 | #21

    The obediance of Labor politicians in NSW, QLD and soon Canberra in following their factional bosses orders (it is obviously not just Gillard) to jump off a cliff is insightful in itself. It highlights the damger of machine poliics. Evidently many Labor politicians are factional appointees that have spnt their entire careers in the machine. Whether as union officials, party officials, IR lawyers, or as politicians, many have had no other career. They have no other options. So they dare not oppose their factional bosses, whom they presumably trust to find them a job somewhere else in the machine if their political career fails.

    Sadly this cynical and self serving attitude seems to work. Mike Kaiser strikes me as a textbook case. He gained a safe seat while young, then lost it due to his own corruption of the electoral process. He was unelectable by age 35 yet a string of well paid party positions followed, topped off by a senior job in the NBN company, even though he has never actually worked as an electrical engineer. Now he is on over $300k per year.

    The point is – no wonder the factionally appointed MPs blindly follow. It pays to stay in the tribe.

  22. March 23rd, 2013 at 23:39 | #22


    Possibly O/T, but you did mention ALP and NBN and corruption:

    Gillard appointed a very, very “inside” Murdoch person to the chair of NBN this week.

    Unless you read the Financial Review you probably wouldn’t have heard about that.

    Further to Sheila’s point: Why? Well, as she points out, ABC is simply Murdoch ads without any other ads to compete, and the rest of Fairfax is mostly wishing it could work for Rupert and ends up doing so by poor repetition, anyway.

    As I’ve said previously – Everything that happens after the 2013 election is the fault of the ALP. If they hadn’t abandoned any semblence of democratic governance we wouldn’t be in this place.

  23. Tyler
    March 24th, 2013 at 01:57 | #23

    I wonder if Gillard’s apparent ‘toughness’ will be viewed in a different light after the looming electoral massacre. No doubt her backers will be able to explain to the thousands and thousands of sacked officials (amongst the other victims of an incoming Abbott government) what a brilliant leader she was.

    Of course the original sin was the idiotic decision to remove Rudd in 2010. The arrogant self-indulgence of the backroom dealers fatally compromised the political position of an otherwise effective government.

  24. rog
    March 24th, 2013 at 04:49 | #24

    @Mel It’s difficult separating ‘what you think’ from ‘what you think others think’.

  25. rog
    March 24th, 2013 at 05:01 | #25

    @Sheila Newman It may well be that voting for a PM (and we need a proper presidential style election to address this anomaly) is not wholly dependent on policy. For example John Howard developed an edge over both Beazely and Latham, not based on policy but on overall perception of competency. In these instances and others (Tampa) the media played a critical role.

  26. Ikonoclast
    March 24th, 2013 at 06:52 | #26

    The reason government flip-flops from Lab to Lib and back again in Australa is that the parties are no different anymore on major policy. The public desperately keeps changing government trying to find a party that won’t sell off everything, won’t give the mining magnates everything and won’t keep screwing workers into the dust.

    Prof. J.Q’s. essential mistake was to predict stasis in such a mono-policy political-verse where flip-flops in election results are the public’s desperate and failed attempts to get any policy change at all away from neoclassical, neoconservative, economic rationalist policies.

    The real mistake of Labor was to cease being Labor. They ceased being a party for the worker and became another party for the capitalists, especially mining capitalists. This happened from Hawke/Keating onwards. Australia used to be different from the USA. Now we are becoming much more like the USA, much to our detriment. This means for example we have two right wing parties whose economic policies are nearly identical.

    But you can’t out-Tory the Tories and you’d be crazy to try. They actually believe all their loony, denialist and callous stuff. Born-again Tories (New Labor) deep down don’t quite believe all that stuff and it shows.

    The change from Rudd was a disaster. Gillard is a disaster. She believes in nothing except expediency. She has sold out to capital, mining capital in particular. Gillard has no principles and is a complete liar.

  27. Socrates
    March 24th, 2013 at 08:27 | #27

    I would agree with many of the criticisms of Gillard but it is not only her. Look at Conroy – after the internet filter and now the media laws fiasco, how does he keep his job? The answer is simple. Factional allies are never sacked, regardless of incompetence, and those outside the faction are always discarded. Consider the Thompson and Obeid cases too.

    Returning to JQs original mea culpa, I respect his honesty. In hindsight, this all illustrates the cyclical nature of politics. Badly performing parties get turfed out, their corrupt elements are removed (except in NSW!) and gain traction when the government falters. Popular governments attract cynical careerists, become compromised, and eventually lose their appeal. There seems little or no ideological basis to it any more. It is all about individuals, their careers and their allegiances. As the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. This applies inside unions as well as governments.

  28. Will
    March 24th, 2013 at 10:04 | #28

    Getting back to the original theme of the post…

    PrQ, your experience is much the same as mine. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the current crop of conservatives have a tendency to attract those with a more limited capacity for debate and rational thought. Remember, one of their most cherished tropes is a large, hot-blooded passionate loudmouth shouting at a cowering left-wing intellectual and calling that a discourse. Despicable example here.

    Tactics such as nuance, humour, and acknowledging the weak points of your argument in which more research is required just don’t work. You need to lay things out very simply and clearly, you need to make sure you get things right the first time around, you need to attack the opponent’s ideas rather than defending your own thesis, and you can never concede a single point as weakness to them is like blood in the water to sharks.

  29. March 24th, 2013 at 11:53 | #29

    I have said it before: PrQ, if you really want to see Labor not lose an election as badly as it might, you would be better off writing about public misperceptions about that state of the economy, the carbon pricing, etc, rather than bemoaning that not enough people within Labor will agree with you and replace one PM with another.

    God knows that there is not much being written along those lines in the mainstream press while its political coverage is completely dominated by leadership issues.

    It seems to me that mainstream economists views about the state of play are simply not being heard.

  30. kevin1
    March 24th, 2013 at 12:01 | #30

    Toughness when seen as totally self-interested can be another word for stubbornness, or tone-deafness. Here’s my cheap prediction: if G can’t narrow the gap substantially leading up to the election, the strongarm men will pressure G to step down and Chris Bowen will be drafted, as acceptable to the G supporters, and representing the R supporters. I don’t think MPs will march over the cliff for the “principle” of G’s right to lead the party – the verdict on any leader’s performance is can they win the election.

  31. Jill Rush
    March 24th, 2013 at 12:56 | #31

    Rudd is more interested in wreaking revenge than in regaining the leadership. It was obvious last week that it isn’t just Julia Gillard who is in his sights. That he hung his so called supporters out to dry last week after Joel Fitzgibbon worked all week to get the leadership issue to overwhelm all other matters in the press shows how unfit he is for that leadership role.

    He could have said I will not run so don’t take the risk. That would have allowed the important matters of Thursday to be given the publicity they deserve – the apology to the mothers whose babies were stolen, Harmony Day where we celebrate the multicultural nature of Australia and the passage of the NDIS. However their egos were given full rein and so the whole thing blew up in their faces. I doubt his popularity is as high this week.

    I blame the whole party but especially the plotters who are so focussed on the leadership that they fail to acknowledge their own roles in Labor’s electoral fortunes. Judging by Fitzgibbon, Crean, Ferguson et al there doesn’t seem to be any end to the lack of introspection by those fellows who only need to look in the mirror to see Labor’s failures to sell their policies. The clean out at Federal level may be what the party needs to stop the damaging leaks from Cabinet and therefore allow for discussion of policy rather than announce and defend as in the media policy.

    As for predictions about the future of the LNP there will always be big money to support them as big business and big media support those who will serve their interests. In the days of mass media and manipulation the effectiveness of this can never be underestimated.

    Rudd won in 2007 because many thousands of people were mobilised to donate funds and time and effort to his election as PM – something he has barely acknowledged. Even if, despite his treachery Rudd was drafted again to the leadership it would be hard to get that level of support again. Many of those workers were left underwhelmed as the result of their efforts.

    The catalyst in 2007 was Workchoices and despite the Lib/Nats supposedly having them dead, buried and cremated they are very likely to rise from the dead, especially if they gain control of the senate. Zombies are still out there now. This could have a significant impact on the length of a future government.

  32. John Quiggin
    March 24th, 2013 at 13:13 | #32

    @Jill Rush

    “Even if, despite his treachery”

    On what possible basis can you accuse Rudd of treachery, while exonerating Gillard?

    Either it’s OK to organise against the existing leader, or it isn’t. The difference is that Gillard’s coup has proved electorally disastrous, while a return to Rudd might have given Labor a chance.

  33. Fran Barlow
    March 24th, 2013 at 13:41 | #33

    @John Quiggin

    On what possible basis can you accuse Rudd of treachery, while exonerating Gillard? Either it’s OK to organise against the existing leader, or it isn’t.

    The two are hardly in the same category. In Gillard’s case, Rudd had lost almost all support but especially from the right, which had hitherto been the difference between him and Gillard running against Howard. As far as can be told, there was no prior campaign of leaking and backgrounding against him prior to his ouster (by those who came to support Gillard).

    Rudd’s camp with either his express or tacit approval have been very different and have never stopped backgrounding, even post February 2011. They were trying to engineer a situation in which only Rudd could lead because the PM could not win. They were trying to render the preference of caucus moot — in effect saying — “give me the job or I’ll wreck the joint”. In a way, he has the same view as Abbott. He doesn’t care about policy — he just wants to sit in the big chair.

    Unsurprisingly, this attitude has not been well-received within caucus and now he has allowed even his faithful dupes to twist in the wind.

  34. Jill Rush
    March 24th, 2013 at 13:48 | #34

    Wendy Harmer has an interesting take on where Abbott’s policies might come from in the event that he is elected. People should be afraid:

  35. Tony Lynch
    March 24th, 2013 at 14:08 | #35

    What should have happened: JG should have resigned, and done so “for the Good of Labor, and for all those who desperately want to avoid the Austerian Horros Abbott & Co. will certainly suply.” She would have invigorated Labor by showing, in the clearest way, that the good of Australia and Australians mattered more than personal vanity – indeed a vanity now so obvious all consuming that Labor will be luicky to get 30% of the primary vote. To paraphrase Gough: Nothing will (now) save the Labor Party.

  36. John Quiggin
    March 24th, 2013 at 14:23 | #36

    “In Gillard’s case, Rudd had lost almost all support”

    Within the Parliamentary Labor Party, maybe. But don’t ordinary Australians have any say in your model? After all, they’re going to have their say in September (or earlier), and it won’t be pretty.

    Gillard’s failures are her own, starting on Day 1 with “cash for clunkers” and the Citizens Assembly, and running right through to today, with 457 demagoguery and the botched media reforms. If she commanded strong public support, background briefings from a former leader would count for nothing. As it is, every mistake she makes reminds the voters that she displaced the leader they voted for, without any warning, and having already undermined him by demanding the dumping of the CPRS.

  37. John Quiggin
    March 24th, 2013 at 14:27 | #37

    “Wendy Harmer has an interesting take on where Abbott’s policies might come from in the event that he is elected. People should be afraid:”

    But, apparently, not afraid enough to take the only course of action that had any chance of stopping him. I am afraid enough, and would support any leader I thought could beat Abbott.


  38. Chris Warren
    March 24th, 2013 at 14:28 | #38

    @John Quiggin

    Simon Crean has, in effect, accused Rudd of treachery, although it appears Crean was not dealing with Rudd but with Bowen. Is this treachery – once removed?

    Rudd’s statement that he would abide by his original position was made extraordinarily late for such a supposed principled stand. He could have quashed these shenanigans months and months ago.

    Treachery is not treachery if it is accepted by the majority. This is what Gillard did.

    Treachery is covertly going against a overtly (ie publicly) stated position for private gain.

    Maybe the treachery emanated from Tony Windsor’s millionaire cousin – Bruce Hawker.

  39. Jill Rush
    March 24th, 2013 at 14:39 | #39

    @Prof Q – I don’t believe I did exonerate Julia Gillard. What I said is that Rudd behaved treacherously towards those who supported him. He should have told them that he wouldn’t stand in a leadership contest so there was no point in organising a leadership battle that would only damage the party without changing the leader. It seems as if he is working to bring down the whole of the Labor Party if he can’t be leader.

  40. John Quiggin
    March 24th, 2013 at 14:52 | #40

    @Jill Rush

    Sure, as long as it was clear that a majority or a near-majority of Caucus was going to back Gillard to the end, Rudd should have bowed out earlier. But, AFAICT, it wasn’t clear until after Crean had spoken.

    But this is a second-order issue. It’s Gillard’s conduct that matters most here, and on that you’ve been silent. With or without Rudd, Gillard is going to be crushed by Tony Abbott. If she cared in the slightest for Labor or Australia she would resign and let the Caucus pick the leader they thought had the best chance.

  41. Jill Rush
    March 24th, 2013 at 15:03 | #41

    @ Prof Q In addition Rudd has fatally compromised his own chances now because caucus will be very shy of him having watched his actions. Like much of the commentariat though, there seems to be a fundamental dislike of Julia Gillard by blokes who struggle with having a woman in charge and making mistakes, like every other leader before her, which means that any mistake that is made is amplified, while every success is ignored.

    The blokes will deny it but the emotive responses are beyond reason. Despite the rumblings last week she still scored significant victories, although it won’t be put that way in any paper as Rudd’s deputies made sure that they drowned them out and Murdoch’s and Rinehart’s press like it that way There certainly appears to be a strong double standard at play. We should continue to ignore the economy and the employment rate as it doesn’t fit in with the story. (This is not an exoneration but a more balanced opinion).

  42. John Quiggin
    March 24th, 2013 at 15:52 | #42

    “Like much of the commentariat though, there seems to be a fundamental dislike of Julia Gillard by blokes who struggle with having a woman in charge”

    This claim, I think, gets to the crux of things. Every Australian state & territory, except SA has had a woman as Premier/Chief Minister, and most, including SA have had a woman as Opposition leader as well. We’ve had women as governors, a woman GG, and High Court judges. Their fortunes have varied, as political fortunes do, but I haven’t seen any suggestion that attitudes to these leaders have been determined primarily by gender. Yet political support for Gillard is predicated entirely (AFAICT) on the fact that she is a woman and that some (by no means all) of those who oppose her use misogynistic attacks.

    A gender-based strategy would be fine if the majority of Australian women supported Gillard. They don’t. There’s a gender gap in attitudes (which predates her – women have been more favorable to Labor for years), but it’s only about 5 per cent. The government is going to be crushed by both male and female voters.

  43. rog
    March 24th, 2013 at 16:59 | #43

    If this is to believed someone else has changed their mind. After battering the alp on debt and surpluses Abbott could switch to a Keynesian approach, which would leave the alp totally at sea.

  44. Ikonoclast
    March 24th, 2013 at 17:01 | #44

    @John Quiggin

    Agreed, this misogynist claim is wrong. People want to be careful they don’t start following a “my gender right or wrong” approach.The problem with Gillard is she is a liar, a backstabber, a traitor, an oligarchs’ sycophant and a very maladroit politician. Plenty of male politicians are that too but Julia Gillard is a particularly egregious example.

    She hasn’t really wrecked Labor though. She can’t be blamed for that. Labor wrecked themselves (or started the process) in the Hawke/Keating era when they became ersatz Tories. Hawke and Keating sniffed the wind and changed with it. They lacked a core committment to real worker values. Maybe Hawke had it once but he lost it progressively.

    When will Labor realise that (1) Tory and neocon policies are wrong economically and morally and (2) no good comes of trying to be pseudo-Tories. I mean what’s the point? Don’t they realise the need to adhere to principles and to differentiate themselves? But I rave. Labor are too far gone. Irredeemable.

  45. Tyler
    March 24th, 2013 at 18:29 | #45

    The attacks on Gillard from the left are hardly gendered, she gets a very easy ride for her role in the Rudd Govt (lets not forget it was her/swan who were strongly pushing against the ETS) followed up by the decision to take advantage of the aggressive mining tax campaign to stab rudd in the back.

    In Govt she has pushed a few good policies, though really the Carbon Tax is the only one that she has effectively ‘bedded down’. To balance this we’ve seen the disgraceful shift to the far-right on asylum seekers and disgraceful ‘savings’ measures like the changes to the welfare payments of single parents. If the alternative wasn’t so dreadful there’d be very little sympathy for this supposedly ‘labor’ government.

    The great missed opportunity is still a chastened, re-elected Rudd government with a much more manageable senate. At this point Gillard’s greatest ‘achievement’ may be utterly conceding the case against the pacific solution, that backflip will haunt Australia for years and years to come.

  46. rog
    March 24th, 2013 at 18:38 | #46

    The big and maybe only difference between LNP and ALP is that of wealth distribution, and perceptions of. Somehow a majority of the electorate have identified themselves as being with the “haves” and they don’t want to lose what they have, or think they have. The LNP have succeeded in representing more of the haves than the ALP (this representation is more than likely a misrepresentation).

    You can forget climate change, poverty, education, health, equality, justice and war – the overarching message, the one with the biggest hooks, is Tax, Waste and Debt and the LNP is winning that one. Despite the ALP establishing their economic credentials they have lost control of the narrative.

  47. rog
    March 24th, 2013 at 18:40 | #47

    @Tyler You have to accept that the majority of Australians are fearful of chaotic immigration.

  48. Fran Barlow
    March 24th, 2013 at 18:55 | #48


    You have to accept that the majority of Australians are fearful of chaotic immigration.

    Which is why a progressive party would

    a) distinguish asylum from immigration
    b) avoid demonising asylum seekers by locking them up behind razor wire in remote places so as to make them seem more threatening and to deny them the kind of access to media that might make them seem like humans rather than an undifferentiated mass of human-like locusts
    c) argue the case strongly for asylum from first principles; avoid pandering to “laura norder” using terms like “people smugglers business model” and “scum of the earth”

  49. Jill Rush
    March 24th, 2013 at 19:53 | #49

    You are right Fran – there does need to be a distinction made. 457 visas do need to be discussed.

    While some blokes may not like to admit it, gender will feature strongly in the coming campaign. Some women have just adopted the “Get Gillard” campaign of their husbands, brothers and fathers but many of those same women are uneasy at the seeming bullying that is going on right throughout politics.

    The reaction to remarks about the rape of a six year old girl and the complete disrespect for Julia Gillard by Alan Jones offend the decency of women and men are saying little about it. This is one of the main reasons why media reform is so urgent – women are subjected to things that wouldn’t be expected of any man. Julia Gillard should come back to this issue.

    That is not to say that women will agree with all of Labor’s policies. Many women will be disturbed by the decision to follow through on a Lib/Nat policy which harms single mothers and their children.

    Other women and men will care about the 457 visa issue because it affects their jobs.

    The critical factor will be about organising people willing to support the government and being prepared to sell that message. This is a hard task but if I were planning the campaign I would be basing it around schools and places women gather.

    Julia Gillard has had to deal with a hostile press and opposition and members of her own party who have deliberately undermined her. She has held the party and the Independent members together despite these negative aspects.

    It is clear that Tony Abbott feels offended by having a woman in charge and Christopher Pyne is delighting in stirring up the Labor side by talking of tweets telling him of when the next challenge will be – encouraging it when clearly the best strategy is for everyone in Labor to work with Julia Gillard.

    Of course the papers are running almost daily opinion polls to sell papers . I remember a time when John Howard was written off by the polls this close to an election and he pulled it off. It is certainly possible but not if the whiteanting by people such as Joel Fitzgibbon, Simon Crean, Martin Ferguson and their mates in the NSW right continues.

    It isn’t just the leadership that is the problem but the party system which has developed over a long time. No leader can ensure that the life raft is moving forward when the crew are surrepticiously drilling holes in the bottom of the boat, throwing the floatation devices overboard and destroying the navigation equipment.

    It is a long Labor tradition to put a woman in charge when the boat is sinking. The Liberals would never have a woman because of course they only select on merit. (Irony alert)

  50. rog
    March 24th, 2013 at 20:47 | #50

    @Fran Barlow Such a progressive party would remain in the minority.

    There are a lot of refugees and migrants in Australia yet most people don’t care about the plight of boat people. Rightly or wrongly border protection is one of those phrases that resonates.

    I know it is disappointing but that is the way it has been for a very long time.

  51. Tyler
    March 24th, 2013 at 21:21 | #51

    I don’t accept that Rog, Rudd won in 2007 with a relatively ‘soft’ policy on asylum seekers. As soon as you concede to the scare campaign the liberals win, you’ll never out-tough scum like Morrison on this issue.

    Now we have a labor government conceding that the only ‘mainstream’ approach to desperate refugees is to incarcerate them for years and years and remove any rights the few sods lucky enough to make it to the mainland used to have (the new visa which doesn’t allow them to work is utterly abhorrent).

  52. Mel
    March 24th, 2013 at 22:29 | #52

    PrQ mentions Gillard’s Cash for Clunkers idea. Until that point I liked Gillard and I always hoped she would eventually be PM. But the Cash for Clunkers idea made my heart sink. Anyone with web access should be able to determine in no more than 10 minutes that the embodied energy in car manufacture is such that a policy like this is stupid White Elephant.

    A big problem for the Left is that few genuinely talented lefties actually put their hand up and join the Greens and the ALP and seek pre-selection. When I was a Vic Green I thought we had some great candidates but unfortunately the talent base was paper thin. I doubt we had more than 10-15 persons actively seeking nomination her were A grade material. In Darebin City in the inner North of Melbourne we ended up running some bloody awful candidates at the local government level. I’m grateful someone like Andrew Bolt didn’t run a check on some of those guys.

    Come on young bright lefties, step forward. Your country needs you.

  53. rog
    March 25th, 2013 at 04:51 | #53

    As JQ notes, the principle folly was the dumping of Rudd. This was done by caucus and seemingly without reason leaving voters bewildered as to how exactly Gillard became PM. This job ahead for the LNP was madeceasier as there was no need for policy, they only had to work on Gillards legitimacy. In this the LNP have been aided by those from the ALP loyal to Rudd.

  54. rog
    March 25th, 2013 at 05:02 | #54

    Tyler, you will have to accept that the Rudd policy on asylum seekers was idealistic and subsequent events like Ocean Viking left the govt exposed to criticism and claims of hypocrisy.

  55. BilB
    March 25th, 2013 at 05:33 | #55


    Equally important to learning from mistakes is to know what the real mistakes are. Rudd is a mistake. Not that he is not powerfully clever, it is that he has a very boring method of delivery. Gillard has developed a delivery method similar to a Sunday sermon, equally uncompelling. But when Gillard casts aside the “groomed” persona she becomes by far the better orator. Then it comes down to content and substance.

    Labour’s real problem is that they are stuck in a 50’s mindset imagining that the workers are suffering and our kids still go to school barefoot and hungry. No doubt there is a hungry barefooted school kid somewhere in Australia who really does need help, but that is what all of those governemnt agencies are there for, and there are plenty of them.

    The real situation is that there are massive issues in this overpopulated, resource depleting, climate change afflicted, increasingly economically unstable, employment challenged world of ours that need more than a perochial approach to prepare for. For balance Australia also does not need a right wing ideologically straight jacketed sociopath led solution (I’ve got very recent very real experience in dealing with a full on sociopath and no-one needs that in their life, let alone a nation).

    In this coming contest Australians have a choice between a “peroch and a hard face”. It is a no win situation unless there are changes. Labour really needs to find a new focus, and the Coalition really needs to find a new leader. Lib supporters openly believe that after the election they will dump Abbott and get someone new. Labour keeps trying to change their leader when it is their ideas that need fixing.

    But if there was a real underlying cause to our leadership woes it would be in my opinion that Australia is afflicted with gutless zero talent journalists and media a empire that Nero and Calligula would each be proud to have promoted.

  56. Alan
    March 25th, 2013 at 08:34 | #56

    Howard’s lowest result was 34% in a trough in 1998. Truly it’a amazing how one reads again and again that the election is winnable with Gillard because someone remembers something. In 2000, the election where he was written off, those predictions happened before 911 and Tampa. I am unconvinced that another War on Terror will save this government.

    At the time Rudd was deposed for poor polling, the labor primary vote was 35%. The national secretariat held back research that indicated the worst had passed and Rudd was starting to rebound.

    It is equally strange to see Gillard credited with the carbon tax she opposed under Rudd, the mining tax which is so full of loopholes that it collects minimal revenue, and a shambolic package of media bills that were abandoned as fast as they were rammed through cabinet without warning.

    One of the most interesting features of the mining tax debacle is that BHP refused to further negotiate with the government 3 days before the coup. The day of the coup they announced they would resume negotiating. No doubt BHP are a band of fools who were eager to get rid of Rudd so that they could face a progressive like Gillard. Or, ummm, not…

  57. Ikonoclast
    March 25th, 2013 at 10:08 | #57


    It’s very clear that Gillard and her backers colluded with the mining oligarchs and did a deal behind Rudd’s back and in secret from the Australian voters. Basically, it was a bloodless coup and the mining oligarchs installed their puppet Gillard. Her’s is a puppet government pure and simple.

  58. John Quiggin
    March 25th, 2013 at 10:26 | #58

    “It is a long Labor tradition to put a woman in charge when the boat is sinking. ”

    That was true of Carmen Lawrence and Joan Kirner back in the 1990s. But since then the only possible example is Lara Giddings in Tas (I don’t know enough, but she was the obvious choice having been Bartlett’s deputy)

    Otherwise, there’s:

    Anna Bligh, handed leadership of a highly popular government
    Rosemary Follett, Clare Martin won elections
    Kristina Kenneally staged coup with backing of corrupt machine
    Julia Gillard likewise

    It’s true that Labor was doomed when Keneally was put in, but she was there to do the bidding of the Obeid-Tripodi machine, not the recipient of a “hospital pass”. As for Gilllard, she first undermined the most popular leader in Labor’s recent history (when she and Swan demanded the scrapping of CPRS) then staged a coup the moment Labor fell behind in a single poll. Her unpopularity is all her own doing.

    To sum up, the fact that Alan Jones hates Gillard, and gives her the same kind of abuse he hands out to everyone he hates, is not a good reason to back her, and Labor, into electoral oblivion. But that’s all her supporters have to offer, AFAICT.

  59. Alan
    March 25th, 2013 at 10:59 | #59

    I was actually shocked by the Torbay affair. Ditto my best friend who thought he knew everything there is to know about Armidale politics. There had been rumours that Torbay had secret Labor backing but no-one really took them seriously, in part because Torbay appears (he is not saying anything on legal advice) to have simply not declared any contributions. There was never a hint of an Obeid connection. It is only as a result of the ICAC investigation that Torbay’s link with Obeid was revealed.

    Gillard signed agreements with the Greens, Oakeshott and Windsor to establish a federal integrity commissioner who would have roughly the same role as ICAC in the federal government. Despite a couple of parliamentary committee reports. there has been zero progress towards passing any legislation. Adam Bandt prepared a bill that has only ever got first reading and then ran into a roadblock that the government has never really explained.

  60. Gabrielle of Brisbane
    March 25th, 2013 at 11:10 | #60

    I think it’s no longer a case of Rudd versus Gillard but Labor and Greens versus the LNP. I wish people would start looking at the realities of a conservative win in September and what that would mean for all of us. I would back anyone who doesn’t stand for abolition of the NBN and the carbon pricing. I believe the Visigoths have nothing on the LNP and I am tired of hearing the personality politics stuff. I am also very afraid of what will happen to all those asylum seekers currently in community detention after September. There really are much worse possible scenarios than we currently have. I have heard all the Labor apologist comments but I do think it is akin to what happened in Queensland at the last state election. Please get some perspective. I really think it’s time for a united front. I don’t like the extreme right wingers and I actually think they are the enemy.

  61. Alan
    March 25th, 2013 at 11:51 | #61

    It is because we are looking at the realities of a conservative win in September (assuming that Julia Gillard does not manage to lose the no confidence vote in parliament in May) that we are arguing for a leader with some chance of actually winning. Gillard has no prospect of winning the election, although she may establish an entirely new idea, that the ship should always go down with the captain.

  62. Gabrielle of Brisbane
    March 25th, 2013 at 12:04 | #62

    I sincerely do not believe that the Labor caucus is going to change the leader at all. If that’s true what is the point of uselessly speculating about what may happen if Rudd were the leader? When does this stop being navel gazing and become needlessly destructive? I personally think we have passed that point.

  63. Tyler
    March 25th, 2013 at 12:37 | #63

    Maybe, and despite this exposure Kevin Rudd was never lower in the polls than 51% 2PP
    How we yearn for those heady days!

  64. March 25th, 2013 at 13:27 | #64

    @Gabrielle of Brisbane

    I think it’s … a case of … Labor and Greens versus the LNP.

    Perhaps, but it looks very much more like a case of Labor and LNP versus the Greens.

    I sadly agree with Alan re: Tampa II. For example, today’s boat disaster will probably be (‘successfully’) exploited by the LNP politically. If the ALP didn’t have such harshly racist, cruel and xenophobic (and pointless) refugee policies then that would be a point of difference politically. They are trying to walk both sides of the “stop the boats” street and it doesn’t work.

  65. Chris Warren
    March 25th, 2013 at 13:30 | #65


    You need to discount Rudd’s apparent polling as his approval was lifted by a huge union campaign and consequential community concern over WorkChoices.

    From 07, (without going back to the figures), the ALP vote/popularity has declined.

    It only scrapped a coalition together last time.

  66. Alan
    March 25th, 2013 at 14:21 | #66

    The labor primary vote was more or less stable from 2007 through early 2010. It crashed when Rudd, at the instance of Gillard and Swan, postponed the CPRS. It was beginning to rebound when Gillard stampeded caucus into the coup. Once again we have a state of the world that simply never happened. The Gillard honeymoon lasted precisely 2 weeks, before the labor primary vote resumed its decline.

    The great achievement of the Gillard government has been the loss of around a million labor voters. The vaunted legislative achievement is meaningless because it will be repealed very quickly by the Coalition. Fraser was unable to do that to the Whitlam legislation because it enjoyed popular support.

  67. Gabrielle of Brisbane
    March 25th, 2013 at 15:50 | #67

    I am not ready to give way to despair without a fight. It is certainly true that refugee policy is a disaster for the Labor party and is morally reprehensible. I hate it. That will not make me give up on Labor in government because I intend to keep fighting on that front. I am truly afraid that an Abbott government will be way worse for refugees and asylum seekers because stirring moral panic on the issue will lead to violence in one form or another. I want to resist that. For me there are many social democratic goals to be achieved through having a Labor government such as in education and health. I can’t get that with an Abbott government. I think it is stupid to maintain that there is a moral equivalence between Labor and LNP and then to complain about the LNP in power destroying all the social democratic reforms which Labor has introduced. It is time to recognise what we want from government and think logically about how to get there. Asking people to support only those who are perfect will not save us from the rabid right.

  68. John Quiggin
    March 25th, 2013 at 16:25 | #68

    @Gabrielle of Brisbane

    I don’t think anyone here is asserting equivalence between Labor and LNP – certainly I’m not. The core question for me was what Labor could do to prevent an Abbott win. I’ll let the Gillard supporters speak for themselves as to their key concerns, but even if they have acted in a way that makes an Abbott victory certain, I don’t think they regard it as desirable.

    As regards giving way to despair without a fight, I intend to keep fighting, but there’s no point in any attitude but despair as regards the next 3.5 years at least. Nothing Labor has achieved will survive unless it is both set in legislative concrete and backed by at least half the Senate.

  69. Gabrielle of Brisbane
    March 25th, 2013 at 17:34 | #69

    Well I don’t want to give up this election without a fight either as I want an NBN and carbon pricing. Once the destruction sets in we may never get very fast broadband at all. I am also horrified at the inequity in school education which will result from an Abbott government and also the cuts to the tertiary sector which will also happen. I intend to do my best to make sure the Labor Party is reelected to government and that I won’t have to farewell those people on bridging visas who I know will have to live in a far worse situation if Abbott is elected and Morrison gets to decide their fate. The ramifications of health cuts by the Newman government will be felt by many who will either die or be in pain as a result. These are the reasons we should urge people to remember the consequences of not giving Labor your preference. I really am not trying to campaign although it sounds like it, but people suffer in very real ways from government cruelty and neglect.

  70. Alan
    March 25th, 2013 at 18:34 | #70

    With the greatest respect, the surest way to give this election up without a fight is to retain the present ALP leadership. Has any prime minister ever recovered from 31% in 6 months? Not many have been that low, and we have no guarantee at all that there will not be further ‘brilliant’ masterstrokes like the 457 campaign, the Slipper appointment, finding a way to massacre her own cabinet etc, etc, etc…

    After last week the election is almost certainly gone and it is a question of trying to defend a position in the senate. Nor should there be any hope for the Greens to retain the balance of power. In the QLD and NSW landslides the Green vote suffered as much as Labor’s. That is a particular effect of a polarising election. It will almost certainly be stronger in September, if the government lasts that long, because of the minority government.

    Incidentally, I am perfectly serious about questioning if the government will last that long. Gillard tore up her agreements with Wilkie and the Greens by not delivering on promises and then gave an interview saying she had never been sure if the agreements were a good idea. I wonder would that make Windsor and Oakeshott more or less likely to support a motion of no confidence?

  71. John Quiggin
    March 25th, 2013 at 18:57 | #71

    To be clear, I am going to preference Labor ahead of the Libs and urge others to do so. But, as Alan says, there is no chance of victory now and little chance of avoiding a landslide. If Gillard resigned without any tap on the shoulder, someone like Smith might salvage a creditable defeat, but even that is far from certain.

  72. Fran Barlow
    March 25th, 2013 at 19:02 | #72

    @John Quiggin

    Nothing Labor has achieved will survive unless it is both set in legislative concrete and backed by at least half the Senate.

    Tend to disagree. In practice, Abbott will find reversing carbon pricing, the NBN, the NDIS, paid parental leave, means testing of private health insurance quite hard to reverse without serious political cost, and those grandiose blood oath promises will come to haunt his regime. He also made a huge fuss about the surplus and boats and neither of those will be easy to get a win on.

    Trying to remove the compensation for carbon pricing will be very hard going. Hardly anyone will believe that they won’t need it any more and then populist memes can and will be run against him. Giving any more money to private schools or taking any more from public schools will be hard. Increasing defence spending in real terms will also not fit his plans well. Cutting the mining tax could also provoke the mother of all left populist campaigns especially if commodity prices look like recovering.

    I predict a seriously bumpy ride and if the ALP has any sense it all it will simply run Abbott’s campaign against him with colours reversed. Unlike Abbott, the fact that they brought in things gives them something positive to campaign on.

  73. March 25th, 2013 at 19:56 | #73


    Windsor (and I think Oakeshott) voted in favour of having a vote on confidence last week (note the semantics – this was a vote on whether to have a vote).

    Apparently the result, 73 – 71 in favour, wasn’t enough because it wasn’t an “absolute majority”. I’ll have to look into what is required for an “absolute” majority. But Windsor made a good point when he said, something like, “Tony Abbott’s been saying he’d move a motion of no confidence for 2 and a half years and this is the first time he’s tried it”.


    I didn’t argue “moral equivalence” between ALP & LNP, as such. More a kind of moral indistinguishability.

    Look at it this way ALP supporters:

    As a rule I usually preference LNP just below ALP but don’t “Vote 1” for either of them, and put both of them as far down the ballot as I can without putting fundamentalist religious groups etc.. above them.

    When Howard was:
    *locking up refugees,
    *making and continuing bad wars,
    *chopping down forests,
    *doing bad things to aboriginal people,
    *backing inaction on climate change,
    *pursuing neo-con policies,
    *paying people to have children,
    *putting religious and corporate power into schools and health care,
    *doing over the top security state (eg: APEC-Sydney, ASIO powers etc..),
    *blocking collective organising with the ABCC,
    *favouring middle-class and 1% welfare over genuine “welfare” for the needy,
    *promoting a “rip it up” economy,
    *and so on….

    I was happy to not only vote against him and all of those things but “hold my nose” and do some little thing to get rid of that government. I’m not taking the credit, but can you understand that people who fall roughly into that category just aren’t going to vote for your beloved ALP? Why on earth would they? Sorry, but some of us have some self respect.

    If Abbott romps home because you’re determined not to let the “fetid be the enemy of the putrid” – well don’t blame us. We demand better and have some self respect.

    In short. You want an ALP win? Get them to have some decency and you’ll get it.

  74. Gabrielle of Brisbane
    March 25th, 2013 at 20:39 | #74

    I think you’re right Fran. Let’s hope that the idiots of the NSW right have had their wings clipped enough to stay away from the campaign. I don’t think the Senate is a done deal so we don’t know what will happen there. I’m glad you take these issues seriously and I do think schooling could be in some serious danger. In Queensland the geniuses of the LNP are going to contract out the building and the running of new state schools. They are already reducing funding bit by bit. With federal cuts and the disappearance of Federal partnerships some state schools in Queensland will be in very dire straits. We’ve had some outrageous health cuts here too which will have serious consequences for public health. I could add to the list but it’s becoming repetitive. I know people who are just planning to leave the country after september if Abbott is elected. This election seems more important to me than many previous ones because there will be no going back on many fronts.

  75. Alan
    March 25th, 2013 at 20:43 | #75


    An absolute majority is more than half the members of the house, 76 out of 150. The crossbench usually votes in favour of opening or continuing a debate. The opposition has now given notice of a motion of no confidence, so they all not need an absolute majority. Confidence votes only need a simple majority if they are on notice.

  76. Jim Rose
    March 25th, 2013 at 21:21 | #76

    @Alan Both keating and howard came back from well-behind in the polls.

    the current lot of labor leaders lack these skills in fighting back and winning respect.

    the reason is, as keating said, they do not know how to get out of bed in the morning until a focus group tells them which side.

  77. Jill Rush
    March 25th, 2013 at 22:49 | #77

    The title of this post is “learning from my mistakes”. There is no going back and to think it is possible is a big mistake. Rudd is a deeply flawed man who knows how to work a crowd but not the people he works with. His indecision last week was just the latest manifestation.

    As there is no other person who is a likely leader Labor has chosen Julia Gillard who is flawed as all humans and leaders are. However her flaws are nothing compared to Tony Abbott. Students are now looking at what he offers and are appalled by what he proposes. Other groups are likely to do the same and there are probably going to be new styles of campaigning adopted to get around the media bias.

    If Kevin Rudd can manage his ego and sense of grievance Julia Gillard can win. He is not the messiah and he isn’t even a naughty boy. Just yesterday’s man.

  78. Tyler
    March 26th, 2013 at 03:19 | #78

    So apparently Crean’s Banzai charge was preceeded by a sms message asking him not to do anything…..
    They literally forced the only person who could possibly contest the next election with a chance of winning to renounce any leadership ambition for all time because of a missed text message.

    God help us

  79. Alan
    March 26th, 2013 at 16:39 | #79

    I think Crean’s latest is completely absurd. Launching a challenge is not something you do without crossing the Ts. I’ve been trying to avoid the conclusion the whole thing was a setup, but Crean’s excuse, which is at variance with his initial story, and his long record as an intemperate Rudd critic, is beginning to smell a lot like a rat.

    I’d also love to know what moved Albanese to suddenly declare he would never vote to remove a sitting Labor prime minister.

  80. Jim Rose
    March 26th, 2013 at 17:03 | #80

    On comebacks, the key to that is a skilled leader with vision and strength

    Labor does not get out of bed until a focusvgroup tells them which side.

    Natural born followers do not know how to stage a fightback

  81. m0nty
    March 27th, 2013 at 08:14 | #81

    There is always a chance of victory six months out from an election in a two horse race. The electorate is more volatile than ever, rendering the endless comparisons with previous cycles moot. A lot can happen in politics in six months. Heck, three months ago Gillard was almost in front, and did lead in a poll or two. Such absolutism only reflects poorly on the judgement of those whose hope in a flawed man has been dashed.

  82. Jim Rose
    March 27th, 2013 at 12:01 | #82

    Moments of pessimissm are common after defeats just as is overindulgence in the heady wine of victory.

    The democrats after 2004 were having to reassure themselves that the USA was a centralist voting country and all was not lost . Things will come back because powrr rotates.

    By 2008, the democrats drunk on the wine of victory thought they were in power for a generation and the GOP was a permanent minority. By 2012, retention of the white house was hard work.

  83. Jill Rush
    March 27th, 2013 at 12:14 | #83

    @Tyler. That Rudd thought it sufficient to call off a plan that was months in the making by sending a text message with an unclear message is poor leadership. He could have just stated in the text not to proceed; instead it was call me. The timing of the challenge was fed to journalists in January. Text messages are unreliable in a fast moving scenario particularly as Joel Fitzgibbon had followed through with his open destabilisation. If Labor loses badly then those people will need to face the fact that it was as much their fault as anyone else.

  84. Alan
    March 27th, 2013 at 14:16 | #84

    @Jill Rush

    Your argument works if, and only if, the second Crean version is true. Crean first said that the Rudd camp had given him the go-ahead and it was untrue he was out of contact. He then said he missed a text message and he was out of contact.

    The problem with the destabilisation argument is that it was not the Rudd camp, for example, decided making Slipper speaker was a good idea, or who decided to bring on the media package without consulting cabinet, caucus or cross-bench. Julia Gillard simply has very, very poor political skills except when it comes to pre-empting her own cabinet or caucus. 4 hours’ notice of a caucus meeting is a disgrace compared with the 4 or 5 days allowed in previous challenges.

    The destabilisation argument would also mean the 2010 decline in Rudd’s electoral standing was entirely a product of Gillard’s destabilisation campaign against him.

  85. Will
    March 27th, 2013 at 14:33 | #85

    Jim Rose :
    On comebacks, the key to that is a skilled leader with vision and strength
    Labor does not get out of bed until a focusvgroup tells them which side.
    Natural born followers do not know how to stage a fightback

    Brilliant evidence!

    Altemeyer, in his book The Authoritarians, notes that one of the key characteristics of the authoritarian tendency to be attracted to right-wing politics is the desire for a strong, father-like figure to implement the defining characteristics that define the in-group and the out-group, and hence to reward the faithful and punish their enemies.

    How does that relate to your post? All three lines are about leadership. Strong leadership, need leaders to tell them what to do, followed by the “born follower” line.

    I’m really starting to worry about you Jim.

  86. Alan
    March 27th, 2013 at 22:47 | #86

    The text message actually read:

    Gidday Simon. I’m told you saw the PM last night. If that’s so and if it in anyway touches the leadership, and if you are making any public comments, please give me a call beforehand. My position is as before. All the best. Kevin,

    It’s hard to read any ambiguity into that.

  87. Tyler
    March 27th, 2013 at 23:37 | #87

    At this point the only thing that makes any sense is Crean was deliberately working for Gillard to try and smoke out the Rudd supporters so that Gillard had a pretext to remove them and force Rudd’s hand.

    He succeeded and doomed the party at the next election

  88. Fran Barlow
    March 27th, 2013 at 23:47 | #88


    At this point the only thing that makes any sense is Crean was deliberately working for Gillard to try and smoke out the Rudd supporters so that Gillard had a pretext to remove them and force Rudd’s hand.

    Plausible, but then again, Crean is an arrant prattling fool. so it is quite possible he really did believe he was in some way opening a door to a change to Rudd or at worst clear air, and was essentially acting alone.

  89. Alan
    March 28th, 2013 at 06:56 | #89


    I really don’t want to find this plausible, but it was Crean who triggered the 2012 challenge by calling Rudd disloyal and treacherous. Despite claiming that he supported Rudd, Crean delivered no votes and moved quickly through a fairly damning rhetoric of ‘games’ and ‘gutless’. Equally he claimed to be running for deputy leader and made no attempt to gather votes for his own candidacy. He initially lied about communications from the Rudd camp and then came up with this lame excuse of missing a text message.

  90. Wayne
    March 28th, 2013 at 16:54 | #90

    You could also apply the same logic to your stance on global warming too, couldn’t you? But I bet you don’t. How the hell did you become a professor? I weep for the state and quality of our so called academics.

  91. Kadaitcha Man
    March 29th, 2013 at 10:13 | #91

    #40: John Quiggin doesn’t need defending by others, but judging by that comment, you are clearly not fit to tie his boot laces.

  92. Jim Rose
    March 29th, 2013 at 10:34 | #92

    @Will On a strong, father-like figure to implement the defining characteristics that define the in-group and the out-group, it is the Left who hero worships its leaders and even have photos of them in their houses.

    Liberal and Country party leaders are forgotten 5 minutes after they left.

    Do you recall the wide smiles on the faces of the Bob Brown and Adam Bandt when the parliament was addressed by drone commander in chief Obama? Did Bob Brown interrupt Obama’s speech to ask about the endless war in Afghanistan and drone strikes?

    The Left is inherently prone to hero worship because the Left wants to reshape the world and the leaders of that movement have heroic missions. As Mises explained:

    “The incomparable success of Marxism is due to the prospect it offers of fulfilling those dream-aspirations and dreams of vengeance which have been so deeply embedded in the human soul from time immemorial.

    It promises a Paradise on earth, a Land of Heart’s Desire full of happiness and enjoyment, and—sweeter still to the losers in life’s game—humiliation of all who are stronger and better than the multitude.”

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