Who wants Abbott PM?

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

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

152 thoughts on “Who wants Abbott PM?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  5. @Jim Rose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  12. @John Quiggin

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

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

    The Senate is a different matter.

    The current representation is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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