For the record

I just read Peter Hartcher’s series on the meltdown arising from the rivalry between Rudd and Gillard. A pretty good summary, I thought, though of course Hartcher was, like me, more in sympathy with Rudd.

The account clarified one point for me. A crucial element of the anti-Rudd story was the supposedly critical impact of leaks before the 2010 election, for which Rudd was widely blamed. I couldn’t remember thinking of these as a big deal at the time, and Hartcher explained why. The most damaging leak (Gillard making some dismissive remarks in Cabinetabout age pensioners) occurred on the same day as Gillard announced the Citizens Consultative Assembly. As this post shows, this appalling idea permanently changed my view of Gillard, which, even after the coup against Rudd had remained broadly positive. “Cash for clunkers“, which came shortly afterwards, cemented my view. By contrast, the leaks were the kind of insider gossip which excites the Press Gallery, but had absolutely no impact on my thinking.

As Hartcher points out, while he was sensible for most of his brief second term, Rudd spent the first two weeks of the 2013 campaign pursuing ideas that were just as silly.

This will, I think be my last word on the Gillard-Rudd rivalry. Feel free to comment, but please avoid attacks on other commentators. Obviously, political figures are fair game, within the usual limits.

25 thoughts on “For the record

  1. thank you for the soap box. the removal of rudd has always struck me as a capitulation, after a prolonged showdown, to corporate mining interests, by means of engineered internal regime change. the corporate campaign against him was extreme as their intention to subvert democracy in their pursuit of unconstrained profits was odious. i despise the people who engineered it and i despise the people who allowed themselves to be used to do it. my last word on the subject. -alfred venison

  2. I think the impact of the leaks against both Rudd and Gillard have been overstated. It’s convenient to believe all the troubles were down to the respective Rudd/Gillard camp’s treachery. The biggest most lasting damage has been the lack of a strong and comprehensive argument for what the government was doing. Lately only Roberto Unger seems to have a clue as to how the left can find a cohesive ideology for what it’s doing. If managerialism was sufficient then Gillard would be PM and if popularism was enough then Rudd would be PM. Then there is the clearly corrupted press, but that is a constant.

  3. Just remember the first leak was against Rudd to make Gillard look good.

    I am astonished the NSW ALP right didn’t think the Rudd camp would attempt to hit back

  4. Alfred Venison is right. J.G. conspired with the mining bosses to sink the mining super tax and stab her leader and the workers of Australia in their collective backs. J.G. deserves no respect as she became the willing tool of mining capital and betrayed the working class. She stood for nothing; no principles except self-advancement and self-aggrandisement. Hers was totally vacuous and even destructive contribution. She destroyed a possible extended cycle of Labor governance. Thanks for nothing, J.G.

  5. Hermit :Who was it that convened this largely inconsequential gabfest?
    Gillard’s most heinous crime was to rate poorly in Newspoll. Speaking of which when is the next one?


    i don’t know.but i seem to be asked by pollsters a bit more that i would expect.
    i always tell them to go away.
    i wonder how many others do the same and given that,how many “polls” are nothing more than a persuaders ploy to affect public opinion.

  6. I liked the Hartcher series, although it perhaps focused more on Rudd v Gillard and less on the old structures/new structures issues than it should. You had two radically different ideas of how the ALP works and what it is for.

    I agree the leaks are overstated. I also don’t think that it’s by any means an open and shut case that Rudd or his backers did the initial leaks. There were a whole lot of bureaucrats, for example, who could have wished failure on the ALP campaign without wanting to boost Rudd by leaking.

    There are also a couple of places in the McKew book where she argues persuasively that Gillard was leaking and backgrounding against Rudd long before she called a challenge. The leak of the proposal to abandon the ETS is noted as one example.

    The narrative that Gillard made her decision on the day is just unsustainable, and you have to question while it’s still being claimed to this day. Rudd certainly had problems with his governing style, but a greater problem was his deputy.

  7. I forgot about the citizens assembly. I thought that was the purpose of elections and parliament.

  8. I think JG and WS were outplayed by the mining companies rather than conspired with them. They had incentive to close the issue (after KR and WS butchered it initially) and negotiated from a weaker position. Good governmental process involves consultation, there has been a distinct lack of it for awhile now.

  9. Citizens assemblies are good for certain restricted topics, like where the interests of electors and politicians diverge. Citizens assemblies tasked withe electoral reform were successful in the Netherlands, Ontario and British Columbia. The Gillard citizens assembly was an exercise in buck passing.

  10. Back in 2007, a few right wing bloggers living in Melbourne stated confidently that Rudd was a temporary leader who would be replaced by Gillard before the next election. I laughed at their capacity to invent leftist conspiracies. But it turned out they were right.

  11. Interesting that you JQ were pro-Rudd (or was it only relative?). I know how one’s prejudice in favour of brains seduces and can lead one into such follies. Phillip Adams too I remember. But surely, as an academic you have enough cases in mind of high IQ, even v. high IQ, being compatible with great foolishness, not to mention bastardry and lack of self knowledge, to afford you protection against being seduced easily. I recall long ago learning that Mark Latham was far from alone in loathing Rudd from personal knowledge. To quote one Queensland Labor MP to someone impressed by Rudd in the late 90s “when you know him as we do you’ll hate him as we do” (read “like” for “as” probably…..).

  12. There’s a bizarre part of the Hartcher series where Hartcher, presumably a leak recipient, speculates in reasonable detail about a matter to which he presumably knows the answer – who leaked. Talk about treating the readers as mug punters. The sanctity of protecting sources is a fine principle for investigative journalists and working with whistleblowers. Its routine deployment in relaying intra-party tittle tattle allows journalists to be manipulated by political players, often willingly. The poor punters end up getting mugged.

  13. Fascinating.

    Apparently I’ve been blocked from posting comments if I use the hyperlink on my name. What’s with that?


    I despised both of them on policy grounds. Not least of which was refugees. Rudd’s move on 9 April 2009 to halt all processing of claims from Sri Lankans and 18 April 2009 announcement of re-opening our worst gulag at Curtin for their indefinite detention coincided with the post war crimes/atrocities elections to legitimise the Sri Lankan government.

    On his ABC blog Antony Green’s last two posts are worth pondering (on how well the ALP geniuses’ plan is working out):

    “Record Vote for Minor Parties at 2013 Federal Election”


    “Labor Hits New Low of Post-War Seats”

  14. “The most damaging leak (Gillard making some dismissive remarks in Cabinetabout age pensioners) occurred on the same day as Gillard announced the Citizens Consultative Assembly. As this post shows, this appalling idea permanently changed my view of Gillard, which, even after the coup against Rudd had remained broadly positive.”

    I think I had the opposite reactions. The behind-the-scenes and not sufficiently explained nature of the change from The Prime Minister being Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard made me take a very dim view of both Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten. I wrote in complaint, and this started my interest in constitutional law.

    With regards to the Citizen’s Assembly, this was one of the ideas I thought more highly of, and I thought it was not very smart to change from this position to a position of implementing the carbon tax/trading scheme thing.

    I had already read information on how emissions trading does not work in Europe because increased imported emissions overshadow decreased locally produced emissions, and as the Opposition pointed out even the government’s own modeller’s forecast an increase in emissions. I think taking real action is better than either the trade or direct models – neither of which look like much chop to me.

    As the next international climate change conference is in 2015, I think it would be good for people to do as many activities as they can think of which are peaceful to exert pressure for the government to be a better contributing force to the discussions.

  15. Whatever, its history now, but it has damaged Labor, likely permanently.
    Abbott, now joyfully ensconced within his own devil’s playground, has set off on a suggstively evidential, ridiculously out of touch response to Indonesia and the best the ghost of Labor could offer in parliament was Bill Shorten’s cringeworthy effort, the worst example of ALP supinity before authority since Beazley ok’d Howard on Tampa

  16. Getting rid of Rudd was one of the most decent things the ALP has done in a long time. That it caused them serious political harm and was hugely unpopular heightens the respect I have for this decision. That they brought him back has the opposite effect. I really didn’t like Gillard but Rudd was a total maniac. Thank goodness we are governed by a cabinet not a President. Although under Rudd the ALP have even tried to corrupt that safe guard. Of course the ALP probably removed Rudd for reasons beyond national interest.

  17. Sometimes in politics you have to risk, and risk big. Taking the ETS as a major policy platform in a double dissolution election could have worked—even if Rudd was replaced by the ALP just before the lead-up to the election. Hawke knocked off Bill Hayden and then announced the election which he won, so it isn’t like there was no precedent for it, and a successful precedent at that. Hayden was more popular internally than Rudd was, from the looks of it, and yet the party ditched him for Hawke. I don’t think the ALP would have been punished as harshly for a turnover just prior to a double dissolution election over a major policy which was being blocked by a hostile senate. The public would have had to choose the policy over the leader, and I reckon the support was still there for the ETS (in the public, that is). But we’ll never know now.

    It could be another generation before we have a party with the guts and the numbers to do something effective about AGW that doesn’t cost the Earth, so to speak. The direct action plan just doesn’t stack up against the alternatives, and the expertise to manage those alternatives is being “let go” from the public service, from the sounds of it.

  18. Hawke knocked off Bill Hayden and then announced the election which he won, so it isn’t like there was no precedent for it, and a successful precedent at that.

    Not really. Hawke knocked off Hayden as Leader of the Opposition, not PM, and was also much more popular than both Hayden and the PM (Fraser). The ALP ditched Hayden because they weren’t confident he could win the election, not because they disliked his leadership style – essentially the opposite of the reason they nobbled Rudd.

    The election was announced by Fraser (not Hawke – Opposition Leaders don’t get to announce elections) coincidentally on the same day that Hawke took over from Hayden. There’s really no comparison with a sitting government knocking off a relatively popular PM for internal reasons (however justifiable the internal reasons may be).

  19. ” A crucial element of the anti Rudd story was the supposedly critical leaks before the 2010 election for which Rudd was widely blamed.” He was blamed with good reason. Rudd had the inside knowledge, the motivation, but more importantly the personality to carry out such an act of treachery, not only against Gillard, but his own party. Despite what J.Quiggin and Hartcher think, I have no doubt when it comes to voter opinion “dismissive remarks against pensioners” will trump a Citizens Consultative Assembly any day.

    For another Canberra insider view of the 2010 election there is this from Barry Cassidy on The Drum 28/6/13 “For Julia Gillard , the temptation must be to ponder what if ? The day Laurie Oaks rose at the National Press Club and threw a hand grenade changed Julia Gillard’s fortunes forever. And whoever leaked this material would have known that. She had gone into the campaign ahead in the polls 55 per cent to 45 per cent two party preferred. But that significant lead evaporated overnight when her own people leaked against her. It rattled Gillard and put the campaign into reverse. Rudd was again the issue and the electorate hated it. Had that not happened Gillard would have led a majority government ”

    Gillard has gone. She didn’t stick around to wreck things for Rudd. With her went a lot of talent from Labor’s front bench. Rudd has gone. In the end he got just over 33% of the primary vote for Labor. Gillard could have done as well or better if she were ever given a clear run. Rudd leaves behind a poisoned well in Labor politics. He leaves the people in his a electorate facing a by election early next year after promising to serve a full term. And very likely Labor with one less seat, when they lose Griffith in the by election.

  20. yeah, just ignore that the alp effected a leadership change under threat of a prolonged intensive pressure campaign from corporate & media interests selfishly opposed to a policy decision of a sovereign state, Val, it meant nothing. why should you care? as you obviously don’t. i’m disgusted. -a.v.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s