Rudd Removal Gyrations
In the third week of June, the week before Rudd fell, Richardson rang one of the infamous faceless men, the factional convener of Labor’s Victorian Right faction, David Feeney.
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The Rudd government and Labor were doing badly: “And what the f— are you doing about it?” Richardson demanded to know.
Feeney replied: “Well out here on Pluto, I’m doing what I can, but it’s cold and dark and lonely.”
Like many others in the Labor caucus, Feeney felt that Rudd had shut him out and treated him with disdain.
The former Hawke cabinet minister universally known as Richo urged: “You have to start talking to Mark.”
This meant Mark Arbib, the convener of Labor’s NSW Right, Feeney’s Senate colleague, another of the faceless men and one of the most powerful people in the party. But this was distasteful to Feeney: “I don’t trust Mark.”
Although they should have been as close as lips and teeth, in the Chinese aphorism, they had fallen out in 2008. They no longer spoke.
The reason? Feeney was angry that Arbib had ingratiated himself with Rudd, made himself Rudd’s go-to political adviser, and captain of Rudd’s Praetorian Guard.
Arbib had advanced his own authority but neglected Feeney and the rest of the Right.
Feeney was not righteously indignant. He was just envious. As he had told colleagues: “I came to Canberra determined to be a prime ministerial sycophant and found all the positions taken.”
The rest of it makes for marvelous reading. The election that ensued was so disgusting it was quite a pleasure to watch all the main party squirm with the hung Parliament that resulted from it. I swore off writing about politics because I thought it was getting too stupid for words, but then again it isn’t as stupid as what is going on in America and Richo always makes for a good talking point.
The sequence of events seems to have gone:
- Mark Arbib convinces Kevin Rudd to drop the ETS
- ALP polls plummet as a result.
- Richo looks at the poll and decides Rudd has to go. No explanation why he came to that conclusion, but he decided to act upon it.
- So he calls Feeney to get together with Arbib, even though a) Feeney’s uncomfortable about Arbib and b) It was Arbib’s call to drop the ETS that resulted in the poll drop.
- Feeney and Shorten and Arbib then put into play a move to remove Rudd – but surprisingly they don’t have replacement.
- Thus they prevail upon Julia Gillard to be that challenger – even though she just wants to be the loyal deputy.
- Lines get crossed, everybody gets paranoid about what the other group is thinking, so Julia Gillard eventually takes the plunge and by plunge we mean she plunges the knife into Rudd’s PM-ship.
Just reading that it strikes me that while Richo was as conniving and dynamic as ever in putting in motion such shenanigans, he ended up rounding on the wrong guy and ended up hurting the ALP’s standing immensely, as shown by the election result.
Logically, it was Mark Arbib’s dumb call to drop the ETS that hurt Rudd’s standing so much, you’d think they would have censured Arbib instead of pull down a popular Prime Minister. I guess that’s the perversity of the ALP we normal citizens will never get to understand.
Julia Gillard doesn’t come across as exactly the type of person who wanted to be Prime Minister. It seems it was thrust upon her more than she seized the day; which makes for depressing reading because we may in fact have a reluctant Prime Minister who is learning on the job because she probably hadn’t thought about it too deeply until the tidal wave of Labor Party politics swept her up and into office.