Home > Oz Politics > The Rudd-Gillard government: An appreciation

The Rudd-Gillard government: An appreciation

November 15th, 2013

A lot has already been said on the occasion of Kevin Rudd’s retirement from politics. Having already written a great deal about Rudd while he was active in politics, I’m not going to add to it. Rather, I’ll reflect on the achievements of the Labor governments of the past six years, which were substantial. They included

* The uniquely bold and successful management of the Global Financial Crisis
* The creation of the NBN
* The design and implementation of a price on carbon
* The National Disability Insurance Scheme
* Plain packaging for cigarettes

among many others. How much of this will survive what, I hope will be one term of LNP government remains to be seen, but Labor can campaign for years on defending and extending this record.

Against that, there were some failures. Most obviously, the government failed to come up with a workable solution to the problem of asylum seekers, and eventually capitulated to the xenophobic rhetoric of Abbott and Morrison (though with the important qualification that Labor greatly increased the total refugee intake, while Abbott has cut it). In addition, despite Rudd’s recognition that the GFC marked the breakdown of the post-Bretton Woods capitalist order, he(and even more, Wayne Swan) rapidly came to treat it as a momentary aberration, and to return to the policy orthodoxy that created the crisis in the first place.

The biggest failures, though, were personal, not political. Rudd’s abrasive egotism was matched by Gillard’s unprincipled tribalism (for her, Labor was an extended family, not a political movement) to produce a series of catastrophes that eventually destroyed the government. If they had managed to work together, as they did with reasonable success for the first two years of the government, they could have been a better team than Howard-Costello or Hawke-Keating. But it seems to be the nature of Australian politics taht such partnerships never worked for long.

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  1. November 15th, 2013 at 14:54 | #1

    I would put extending the “Intervention” on the negative side of the ledger.

  2. MikeH
    November 15th, 2013 at 15:42 | #2

    Rudd’s dropping of the carbon price under pressure from Gillard was not a good look. Gillard’s subsequent reinstatement of the price under pressure from the Greens and the independents was necessary. But an indication that she had been pressured into the decision was her inability to sell the policy. They went for brightsiding a “clean energy future” rather than aggressively point out its role in dealing with climate change. This allowed Abbott to seize the narrative and turn clean energy into expensive energy. Sums up that government. Some good policy with a lot of crap politics.

  3. Ikonoclast
    November 15th, 2013 at 16:14 | #3

    To be fair and non-sexist, Rudd and Gillard both had their good points. However, they politically failed both individually and as a team. Labor’s overall dysfunctional culture played a big role in this. It pre-existed Rudd-Gillard and probably continues now. That is the real problem. Labor has forgotten they should be the party of the workers and this includes middle class workers. Labor need to cease being pseudo-neoliberals.

  4. Geoff
    November 15th, 2013 at 16:36 | #4

    Handy summary. Thanks.

  5. Kym
    November 15th, 2013 at 17:06 | #5

    I would suggest that the ‘series of catastrophes that eventually destroyed the government’ is almost entirely as a result of the whiteanting of Rudd and his special little team after his removal during the first term. A removal that was ugly and destructive, but seemed in retrospect to be the only way of solving Rudd’s chronic inability to implement.

    JG appeared to me to be smart, hard working and principled, even if I didn’t agree with all of her policy directions, and I think has been given far too little credit on this blog for her efforts in delivering in a minority government (an impediment largely created by Rudd’s ‘abrasive egotism’ and leaking during the election campaign).

    There was a recent discussions of ‘strong priors’ on this blog. I think Prof Quiggin needs to re-examine his own attitudes to JG.

  6. David S
    November 15th, 2013 at 17:13 | #6

    I welcomed the change to Rudd in 07. However, it didn’t take long for that feeling to disappear. I don’t agree with the handling of the gfc, although it was certainly bold. Too much for too long. The NBN was a great idea that was implemented terribly, hence the current mess. Ineffective handling of the carbon tax killed them and potentially put us back a few years. The NDIS is an achievement they should be proud of as with the plain packaging. After 6 years of dysfunctional infighting and politics they did not deserve a 3rd term. Now it is up to Abbot to leave a legacy, which way that goes is still undecided (although pretty much a foregone conclusion around here!)

  7. rog
    November 15th, 2013 at 17:29 | #7

    Rudds major GRC stimulus was infrastructure which is probably at the end of its cycle so it’s no surprise that Tony Abbott needs to extend the deficit to be “the” infrastructure prime minister.

  8. rog
    November 15th, 2013 at 17:30 | #8


  9. November 15th, 2013 at 19:22 | #9

    The coup against Rudd was stupid. As Latham etc.. love telling everyone: those who knew him hated him and those who didn’t thought he was OK.

    About the only real aspect of our democracy is that every few years we get to sack or re-employ our PM and taking that decision away from us was what poisoned the ALP’s well.

    Apart from all the “carbon tax lie” propaganda, shafting Wilkie and the Greens is something I think played a big part in the dislike of Gillard. Windsor and Oakeshott were wily enough to do well for their electorates out of the hung parliament but it should be noted that (I don’t have exact numbers) most legislation passed under Gillard did so with the LNP vote in the Senate.

  10. Jim Rose
    November 15th, 2013 at 20:37 | #10

    @Megan Gillard went to the polls quickly to capitalise on the bouce labor received from getting rid of Rudd 1.0

  11. paul walter
    November 15th, 2013 at 20:51 | #11

    That is such a splendid summary. I can add nothing but an expression of admiration.

  12. Peter T
    November 15th, 2013 at 21:42 | #12

    Rudd lacked two key qualifications for the top job – the ability to administer, and two o’clock in the morning courage. Shame, because he is pretty bright and seems to have his heart in the right place. But these two lacks made him a very poor PM, because he could not get what he wanted quickly and cleanly, and because he would not stick to his guns under attack.

  13. boconnor
    November 15th, 2013 at 21:54 | #13

    Nice summary JQ.

    Both Rudd and Gillard could have done much more to acknowledge the increasing insecurity that people feel at work with the continuing moves to contract, casual and part-time work – change the debate away from the incessant rabbiting from the Right about “productivity”. And of course the decision to reduce the income of single parents was just shameful.

  14. November 15th, 2013 at 22:26 | #14

    Giving Darwin to the US Military probably wasn’t one of the ALP’s brightest moves either.

  15. November 15th, 2013 at 22:28 | #15

    I would add the MDBP to that list.

  16. November 16th, 2013 at 00:16 | #16

    And of course, handing Australia to Abbott on a no-strings-attached neo-con platter wasn’t much of a legacy.

    Sucking up to Murdoch also tells against them.

    Calling Assange a “criminal” wasn’t too bright.

    Going silent on CSG was perhaps not their finest moment.

    Retaining the worst aspects of the ABCC while pretending to do the opposite really didn’t work.

    My favourite will always be Arch Bevis endorsing the use of torture “in certain circumstances”.

  17. Jim Rose
    November 16th, 2013 at 07:47 | #17

    Are any of these achievements something a turnbull led government would not do? Where is the point of difference? The labor values?

  18. TerjeP
    November 16th, 2013 at 07:51 | #18

    The design and implementation of a price on carbon

    It won’t last.

  19. David Allen
    November 16th, 2013 at 10:35 | #19

    Good performance by a government is largely irrelevant to reelection chances. Voters are pretty boneheaded. They vote for fear,greed and envy. Fear that they won’t get a pony, greed that they don’t have enough ponies and envy that someone they don’t know is getting one.

    Good government think they can be clever with pony distribution and bad governments simply give all the ponies away. Either way out you go.

    “Where’s my pony?!”

  20. Fran Barlow
    November 16th, 2013 at 12:23 | #20

    I’ve said way too much on Rudd-Gillard and won’t add to it here. I will simply note that the negative side of the ledger included:

    a) surplus fetishism and the need to be seen as a fiscal conservative
    b) following the Costello middle-class tax cuts
    c) not pressing hard on a Garnaut-style scheme for pricing carbon when the LNP was onWith the exception of g)the ropes
    d) apologising for HIP/BER
    e) asylum seekers obviously
    f) their opposition to unions concetised in their refusal to abolish the ABCC
    g) their refusal to appoint people on merit in an effort to appear bipartisan
    h) Rudd’s disingenuous push for RSPT

    With the exception of g) and h) all of these were joint efforts by both, but the one that probably hurt them the worst was a). They ought to have rejected this at the outset. So too was e) as this was an emblem of the Howard era that had momentarily become discredited. Yet they rehabilitated it and asked to be judged by it, when they should have known that short of barbaric conduct, they would fail and that even if they succeeded, few inclined to vote for them would do so on this basis.

  21. Mel
    November 16th, 2013 at 13:07 | #21

    Agree with all that PrQ with the sole exception of your point about boat arrivals. A harsh program of deterrence complete with xenophobic rhetoric is the best possible response to a wicked problem. Of course the harshness should be made more palatable by

    – a decent refugee intake (Labor did this as you note)

    – vigorous attempts and maybe a cash splash to make sure the home countries take back the boat arrivals and do not persecute them

    – work, education etc in the detention centres so that the inmates have something to do.

    I’d like to see you recommend a program for the next Labor Government at some stage.

  22. Mel
    November 16th, 2013 at 13:17 | #22

    I would add paid parental leave to Labor’s list of major achievements. Even though the scheme is miserly it can be built on. This leaves America as the only country without such a scheme.

  23. Mel
    November 16th, 2013 at 13:18 | #23

    oops- This leaves America as the only western country without such a scheme.

  24. Hal9000
    November 16th, 2013 at 14:42 | #24

    I agree with Kym’s last point.

    Rudd is almost singlehandedly responsible for the demise of the Labor government, although he had help from Swan.

    The game was lost when he went to water on the insulation and school infrastructure schemes. There was a good story to tell, but the only one he entertained was the Murdoch/LNP narrative. He then set about confirming the Murdoch/LNP narrative about Gillard with a campaign of undermining that would have put Iago to shame.

    The Rudd casualty list among the Labor best and brightest says all you need to know about what he was like. I have worked with and met the man. Listening to Roxon unload recently about his behaviour as PM was deja vu. His charm – and he could be very charming – was of the sort learnt in books and not some natural feature of his personality. I really don’t know if his ideological leanings are genuine or a means to the end of power. Like Howard, the sum total of Rudd’s vision for Australia was of a country with himself as PM.

    If Rudd had never existed, Labor would still have won the ’07 election. The difference is, they’d likely still be in office.

    On Labor’s achievements, I’d put in a plug for Infrastructure Australia as for the first time a mechanism for rationally assessing infrastructure priorities rather than the traditional LNP pork barrel. It almost certainly won’t last – never stand between a Country Party or state politician and a bucket of money!

  25. Fran Barlow
    November 16th, 2013 at 14:46 | #25
  26. Hal9000
    November 16th, 2013 at 15:13 | #26

    @Fran Barlow
    The link doesn’t work, Fran.

  27. Fran Barlow
    November 16th, 2013 at 15:46 | #27
  28. Fran Barlow
    November 16th, 2013 at 15:47 | #28


    the mouseover shows the correct argument for the URL but it doesn’t parse …

    try this:


  29. Nathan
    November 16th, 2013 at 17:51 | #29

    There’s plenty of blame to be sheeted home, and plenty and quite a lot to Kevin specifically but statements such as “Rudd is almost singlehandedly responsible for the demise of the Labor government, although he had help from Swan”, with JG presumably exonerated in your view, are completely indefensible given the facts on record about the conduct of both leaders.

  30. November 16th, 2013 at 21:17 | #30

    As there is no ‘Weekend Reflections’, I’ll put this here:


    (I won’t risk eternal mod, just put the http and www stuff infront of it and stick it in the address bar or search for it)

    Every Australian should read this and ponder at the woeful state of what passes for journalism in this backward neo-con country. We are an international embarrassment.

  31. Nearly Normal
    November 17th, 2013 at 00:21 | #31

    Somewhere between Programmatic Specificity and Fair Shake of the Sauce Bottle lies the real Kevin – the Kevin who even though he had 60% support, according to the opinion polls, did not have the intestinal fortitude to call a double dissolution and introduce an emissions trading scheme/carbon tax that would actually do the job needed. Not smart or bold enough to be Whitlamesque and even more boring than John Howard.

  32. November 17th, 2013 at 02:11 | #32

    Megan, a very interesting example of authentic investigative journalism. The spotlight has been focused on the “people smugglers” rather than the humanity, stories and motives of the asylum seekers and refugees. As always, with this political orchestration of information and scapegoating, overt violence follows, as in recent reports.

    Personalities play a role in the failure to address the “problem” of refugees and asylum seekers, and the policies and expense directed to denying them human rights. Other aspects including institutional and organizational dysfunction of the political parties, perhaps reflecting underlying economic changes. Primitive xenophobia is hard to credit, and apparently equally applies to Climate Change policy. The problem may be explained (provisionally) by “psychographic wedge politics”, the great contribution of social science and marketing to modern politics in which the parameters for membership in different groups is not set, for example, by social class but by cognitive styles. Some voters in marginal seats, while not representative of the population at large, exercise a disproportional influence on electoral outcomes and as a consequence public policy.

  33. rog
    November 17th, 2013 at 04:17 | #33

    @Fran Barlow Seems to be a reasonable rendition but without policy achievements as per JQ synopsis. In comparison the Howard/Costello years are remembered for what – scandals over numerous human right issues, simmering leadership tensions, the GST and simpler Super?

  34. rog
    November 17th, 2013 at 04:41 | #34

    @wmmbb That account of the politics of refugees makes me ashamed of Australia.

  35. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2013 at 10:32 | #35

    The workable solution to the problem of asylum seekers depends on what the problem is.

    People drowning in a leaky boat is solved by not accepting applications for asylum from them. The aim would be none come by such as dangerous route.

    The size of the refugee quota is an unrelated issue to illegal boat arrivals.

    treaty obligations are irrelevant because they unintentionally encourage dangerous behaviour.

  36. Hal9000
    November 17th, 2013 at 15:21 | #36

    I don’t exonerate Gillard. I just say she’d probably still have won if it weren’t for the white-anting from Rudd fuelling the ‘chaos’ narrative. She made some dreadful, unforgivable, policy blunders to the extent it was difficult for me at least to give Labor a vote. I just don’t think her blunders were what cost Labor government. Swan’s peddling of deficit fetishism and the crazy, needless surplus promises and predictions however are right up there with Rudd’s performance in damaging Labor’s chances.

    Watching the Keating interviews with Kerry O’Brien reminded me of what Keating had and Rudd/Gillard/Swan lacked, namely the ability to reduce complex policy issues to a single, cogent, argument. I doubt whether Shorten has it either.

  37. BM
    November 17th, 2013 at 18:20 | #37

    It is important to note that two of these policies have been an abject faliure. Plain packaging has not caused a decrease in smoking; smoking levels appear to have increased (negating potential health benefits), and the black market has risen in response to the associated pricing changes (taking away tax benefits from the measures).source The carbon tax failed to generate projected revenues and arguably harmed our major growth industry, making claims of Australia avoiding the GFC perhaps premature.

  38. Chris W
    November 17th, 2013 at 18:56 | #38

    From your link BM:

    “University of Sydney Public Health Professor Simon Chapman says … there has been a decrease of between two and three per cent in overall consumption of cigarettes since the introduction of plain packs.”

    Hmmmm … who should we believe BM … one of BAT’s corporate shills … or an actual health professional? Tough call. Not.

  39. November 17th, 2013 at 19:30 | #39

    BM, assuming that you are correct, and plain packaging has led to an increase in smoking, are tobacco companies in other countries following this successful strategy to boost sales?

    Or are you blowing smoke out of the wrong orifice?

  40. November 18th, 2013 at 02:06 | #40

    I love the internet!

    Others, above, are on to BM – but here’s my 2c worth, from the incredibly creditable source linked to:

    Sales of black market cigarettes have increased since plain packaging was introduced nearly a year ago and it’s costing the Australian Government and taxpayers $1 billion a year, according to a report from British American Tobacco.

    Unfortunately, since a Christian fundamentalist took over control of Rupert’s ABC, they no longer have any automatic credibility.

  41. Nathan
    November 18th, 2013 at 11:57 | #41

    I strongly agree with most of what you wrote here, certainly Swans inexplicable decision to adopt a Costelloesque deficit fetish should rate a mention in halls of shame. But I don’t agree it’s particularly likely Gillard would have won, regardless of what Rudd did. I accept as a virtual certainty that Rudd *was* constantly white-anting the Gillard government, I just think there were more than enough self inflicted wounds to do them in anyway, along with the help of the absurdly biased Murdoch press.

  42. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2013 at 12:11 | #42

    @John Brookes

    Those tobacco spivs are shameless in their circulation of cant. As you say though, it would be in their interest to support plain packaging if it was creating new long term addicts.

  43. derrida derider
    November 18th, 2013 at 12:18 | #43

    On the deficit issue, yes it certainly showed how bad Swan is at politics (has he never even heard of the term “managing expectations”?). As economic policy, its not so bad – there are powerful arguments why we should be trying to get our deficit down at the moment, ones which do NOT rely on “we’ll end up like Greece” type debt hysteria.

    I’ve never understood why people are so IDEOLOGICAL on both left and right about deficits. How much the government spends and what it should be spent on should be an entirely separate question from how much of that spending should be funded by us and how much by our children.

  44. may
    November 18th, 2013 at 13:41 | #44

    yes it’s all the Labor/Greens/Independents’ fault that Australia came throught the most scary financial debacle since the great depression.
    from this point of view(moi),responding to the implacably hostile commercial (mis)information industry was a lose/lose proposition.

    it just meant no body knew what was happening because the of noise.

    how i longed for a daily (or so) rundown sans commentary, dept by dept of what,why, when,where,who and where applicable,how much.

    then just let the commerces do what they do.
    with a commerce free source of information, i could check fact from the breathless doomsters for myself.

    at least then if i stuff up it’s my own doing and not a result of being herded into an opinion i wouldn’t have held if i knew the real situation.

    on a scott free ABC?

    my word though,the commerces do loathe and want public funded broadcasting dead and buried don’t they?

    but the ABC is a sad shadow of it’s potential under it’s charter.

    after all,the huge attention being paid to the possibility that our sovereign government can be hauled to court and the people be liable for costs and penalties paid to commercial interests for getting in their way,currently under negotiation in the latest FTT round is front and centre.
    ain’t it.

    their “cry of not fair,the pinko/lefty anti competitive anti free market is standing in our way to service all the non profitable areas”is heartrending.

  45. Nathan
    November 18th, 2013 at 14:07 | #45

    @derrida derider
    As far as I can see, the mainstream ‘left’ position (deficits in downturns but a balanced budget over the economic cycle) is the definition of evidence based rather than ideological policy. Furthermore, I’ve yet to see empirical evidence supports the idea that governments can’t in fact run budget deficits on much larger timescales than that without severe consequences.

  46. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2013 at 14:50 | #46

    test Ideolog

  47. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2013 at 14:52 | #47

    test para 3 in response to DD:

    I agree but let’s unpick that, taking acount of the context here that frames your argument. We currently have two centre-right populist parties contesting the political field. Fiscal policy seem to most people a quite opaque thing but one can dumb it down to simple (but grossly misleading) analogies with household balance sheets “worked out over the kitchen table” and the sense of control over their lives that people feel when they see their bank account swelling, and the worry they have when they owe money on major assets like a car or a house.

  48. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2013 at 14:54 | #48

    test para 4 first quarter
    Both parties want to seem authentic and “speak common sense” and the “common sense” of the people is to be found in mythologies about virtue and ancient aphorisms like “neither a borrower nor a lender be

  49. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2013 at 14:55 | #49

    test next clause

    and the authenticity of the man who “brings home the bacon” and denies himself gratification so as to provide for his family.

  50. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2013 at 14:56 | #50

    and denies himself gratification so as to provide for his family. Being frugal and staying away from the “money lenders”

  51. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2013 at 14:57 | #51

    Ah … the word tab0o is tab0o ;-0 how weird …

  52. Fran Barlow
    November 18th, 2013 at 14:59 | #52

    PrQ … now that I’ve edited the offending term please feel free to delete the previous iterations of this post:

    @derrida derider

    I’ve never understood why people are so IDEOLOGICAL on both left and right about deficits.

    I suspect that’s the wrong term, but lets not get diverted …

    How much the government spends and what it should be spent on should be an entirely separate question from how much of that spending should be funded by us and how much by our children

    I agree but let’s unpick that, taking acount of the context here that frames your argument. We currently have two centre-right populist parties contesting the political field. Fiscal policy seem to most people a quite opaque thing but one can dumb it down to simple (but grossly misleading) analogies with household balance sheets “worked out over the kitchen table” and the sense of control over their lives that people feel when they see their bank account swelling, and the worry they have when they owe money on major assets like a car or a house.

    Both parties want to seem authentic and “speak common sense” and the “common sense” of the people is to be found in mythologies about virtue and ancient aphorisms like “neither a borrower nor a lender be” and the authenticity of the man who “brings home the bacon” and denies himself gratification so as to provide for his family. Being frugal and staying away from the “money lenders” speaks to ancient religious tab0o. In my family, “borrowing money” was seen as at least incipiently immoral, and something that put you on the road to being a “no-hoper” and so anyone who borrowed to buy a house had to see it as their first duty to pay it off. And credit cards, when they first became widespread, were seen as like a form of drug taking — which is why the language of the centre-right populists entails repeated resort to the concept of “the national credit card”.

    In short for populist reasons, both the governing parties play this silly game of whining about debt and deficit and accusing the other side of being moral bankrupts as well as fiscal ones. This leads to an utterly vacuous debate that pays virtually no attention to whether debt service should fall onto future generations or the current one — or whether the things for which debt might be raised are indeed worth having.

    The left ought to answer this pointing out how flawed the government-household analogy is — countries are not saving up for retirement from “work” and are also in a position to vary their income upwards to service debt, subject to far less constraint than a household.

    We ought also to say that debt is simply a way of ensuring that the cost of infrastructure or other public goods that are very expensive is settled onto the shoulders of all those deemed likely to benefit one way or another from them. While parents of young children can’t ask their children to help fund their inheritance the government can ask those of working age to fund the services that will provide for them when they are beyond working age. This is especially sensible when the cost of the debt service is low in real terms and is exceeded by the benefits derived therefrom. Debt of this kind enriches us all.

  53. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2013 at 16:40 | #53

    We ought to say that national finances are nothing like household finances. A national government with a fiat currency can print money. If a household does that it’s counterfeiting.

    A government does not need to take on debt to fund large projects. It can also run a deficit (print money) or raise extra taxes. A government therefore has more flexibility and may take on debt, run on deficits, raise taxes or use any mix thereof.

    The obession with government debt is perverse when excess private debt, especially consumer and mortgage debt and complex derivative debt was vastly higher and drove the last GFC. Of course, the corporate masters want people to look anywhere except where the real problem is.

  54. Geoff Andrews
    November 19th, 2013 at 07:43 | #54

    For a more complete list and a good laugh, try:


    Shades of “Whitlam’s was the worst government in history”

  55. faust
    November 19th, 2013 at 08:11 | #55

    They were so wonderful that the Australian people booted them out despite the endearing unpopularity of Tony Abbott and the intellectual lightweight that is Joe Hockey. They considered the Governmens response to the GFC as excessive (and so do I), they hated the lies about carbon tax, and the grubby political deals. Let us not forgot, Professor, that your history of political predictions is, um, weak at best!

  56. Ikonoclast
    November 19th, 2013 at 09:22 | #56

    @Geoff Andrews

    Yep, that’s a pretty good list of what Rudd did. And what did Gillard do? She stabbed her PM in the back at the behest of the mining bosses so they didnt have to pay a bit more tax. Such a tax might have impinged a little bit on their multi-billions. And she wrecked the government and handed Abbott power.

  57. Ikonoclast
    November 19th, 2013 at 09:23 | #57


    The Australian people voted the way Murdoch told them too. Heaven forbid they should think for themselves!

  58. rog
    November 19th, 2013 at 14:56 | #58

    @Ikonoclast The ALP made a series of blunders and the LNP were successful in turning those blunders into an itch that the voter needed to scratch.

  59. Geoff Andrews
    November 19th, 2013 at 17:40 | #59


    “..they hated the lies about carbon tax, and the grubby political deals.”

    Wow! I think you nailed it!
    How many thousands of loyal or wavering fence-sitting LNP voters who didn’t want any action on a carbon price rushed from Tony to Gillard? In giving the undertaking that she did, she alienated many of her base support rather than attracting any unsuspecting LNP fly into her sticky web of deceit. In any event, for it to have been a “lie”, there had to have been an element of mens rea ….. look, I know it’s a difficult concept with which to grapple – even Alan Jones doesn’t understand it (unless he was lying, of course).

    But you’re right about “grubby”.
    Since I started to vote, I’ve watched 19 parliaments and it’s only in this last one that “grubby” is a suitable epithet. With all the others, it was like watching a cross between an eighteenth century quadrille and a Tamworth line dance..
    Apparently in the last friendly leadership exchange of body fluids, Tony and Malcolm played paper-rock-scissors until they lost count of the score and when it had to go into a vote, Tony’s winning margin of one was Malcolm’s vote!

  60. sunshine
    November 20th, 2013 at 08:07 | #60

    I think Labor would have won the last election if Rupert had been campaigning for rather than against them.

  61. BM
    November 20th, 2013 at 08:29 | #61

    @John Brookes
    I understand the cynicism given the source of these figures, but the increase is linked to black market cigarettes, not the plain packaged legal variety that is subject to tax. This is a loss for tobacco companies and for the Australian public, and is the inevitable result of a poorly executed prohabition culture. Artificially inflated prices encourage a black market. There is a better approach to public health than raising taxes and targeting the ability of companies to differentiate their legal product.

  62. John Quiggin
    November 20th, 2013 at 11:01 | #62


    The tobacco industry has made the identical claim after every one of the anti-smoking initiatives of the past 30 years. Adding them up, I’d estimate that on the indsutry reckoning around half the adult population is now smoking black market cigarettes. BM – are you an example of your own claims? Anyone else want to ‘fess up under the cloak of pseudonymity?

  63. Chris W
    November 20th, 2013 at 16:04 | #63


    You said “Smoking levels appear to have increased … ” but the link *you* posted up-thread shows that even if (and its a big if) illegal cigarette consumption has increased as KPMG state, there is *still* a net reduction in smoking rates!!! Don’t you even read your own garbage?

    You willfully misquote an article on an ABC blog because you’ve fallen hook, line, and sinker for some transparently self-serving corporate fairy tale. I can only think you’d do that because you’re waging some personal jihad against Labor.

    More from here

    The empty pack survey, which involved the collection of 16,000 discarded cigarette packets from around Australia and determining whether they were bought legally or illegally, is “the most reliable measure of contraband and counterfeit”, according to the (KPMG) report.

    But Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at Sydney University, says the methodology the report has used for this finding is flawed. “There would be hundreds of thousands of tourists who would come to Australia every year who smoke and it’s only been in recent months that there have been restrictions on the number of cigarettes you can bring in duty free.

    “So the idea that any cigarette that you found discarded which wasn’t a plain package could have been brought in by large numbers is an obvious flaw.”

  64. BM
    November 21st, 2013 at 08:22 | #64

    @Chris W
    I do agree that the methedology of theKPMG report is questionable, but less so than any self-reported statistics. I didn’t raise this as a ‘jihad’ as you emotionally claim – I think the NDIS and NBN policies were essential and would never have risen from a Coalition government. Nevertheless, it is far too early to call the plain packaging or carbon tax policies a success. It is also worth noting that prior to September there was a 2 carton limit on duty-free cigarettes, reduced at that point to 2 packets (250 down to 25). This is quite a significant reduction, which somewhat negates claims that discarded foreign packets are all from tourists.

    @John Quiggin
    Yes, it is very easy to order cigarettes of questionable origin online, through international or local suppliers – I have tried it in the past. Many such sites claim to be legitimate, but the packets sold clearly display foreign packaging, and in some cases a customs ‘not for resale’ sticker! This is one reason I favor the packet study over survey based statistics, as people ordering from an Australian website who take its claims at face value may still be obtaining black market products. Food for thought.

  65. Al Newman
    November 24th, 2013 at 18:16 | #65

    You are the dumbing idiot I have ever read. Th World financial crises was caused by the massive debts and defi8cits od Europe and the US. The US was caused by Democrat (read lunatic incompetent left wig bozo’s) governments requiring banks to lend 40%+ of their lending dollars to “low income borrowers” (i.e. those that have NO chance of paying the money back). The banks packaged these loans up and sold them to investment banks that used them as collateral. If the government had stayed out of the loans market entirely, these loans would not have been made, and no forfeitures would have occurred, and NO crisis happen. Europe collapsed because of left wing socialist spending policies like those of the Green- Labour alliance with debts at over 100% of gross domestic policy – exactly where that criminal Obama is taking the US.(it was 65% when he took office – it is over 100% now – in just 5 years – and he has increase tota; us gov’t liabilities to OVER 90Trillion !!!!!!!! – 60 times GDP – the us is bankrupt – thanks primarily to your hero Barack Al (Capone) Hussein Adolf (Hitler) Obama – your hero !!)

    Australia got thru the crisis because when Rudd took over gov’t, Australia had ZERO federal gov’t debt (as opposed to 6 years later when they leave behind $370+ BILLION in debt), and could therefore do some deficit spending. and 2) China pump primed its economy even more than that moron Obama, and kept there imports of natural resources strong. It had NOTHING to do with the previous gov’t you brain dead MORON!!! Everybody is born with a brain – did you eat yours ??? Or just turn your head sideways and drink the damn thing – I know – your face caught on fire when you were young – your mother put it out with a cricket bat, and was so embarrassed she shoved it up you a…s (rear-end) where it resides to this day !!!!
    Europe has had a price on Carbon for over 10 years – it has cost them over $1 TRILLION and has not only had NO positive affect – it has made things worse. Is there anybody anywhere on earth dumber than you ????????

  66. Geoff Andrews
    November 25th, 2013 at 11:29 | #66

    @Al Newman

    Alfred E.,

    Again, I have been entertained and informed by your measured contribution. One piece of advice, though: more passion please – say what you REALLY think .. don’t just numb the readers’ brains (in whatever bodily recess they may reside) with hard, irrefutable facts.
    We are all (I feel sure Ikonoclast, at least, would support me here) indebted to your incisive, albeit novel, analysis of the GFC.

    You say:

    “China pump primed its economy even more than that moron Obama, and kept there imports of natural resources strong. It had NOTHING to do with the previous gov’t you brain dead MORON!!! Everybody is born with a brain – did you eat yours ???”

    What was pleasing about these bon mots is your restraint and the fact that you finally spelled “moron” correctly. Repetition certainly helps the learning process, eh?

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