Tag Archives: Kevin Rudd

Unfinished Business In The ALP

Gillard Wanted To Handball The PM Chair To Combet

I like Greg Combet. He’s the only politician I know of who has admitted to being a fan of Frank Zappa. He’s done now, but while he was around, I had hopes for the man. Perhaps these hopes were misplaced, given that the sort of man who likes Frank Zappa might look at Australian Politics and choose to walk away. I have to respect that as a voter, but it’s still sad. Maybe it got too hard to work in Parliament all week and go home and put on a Frank Zappa record and there is Frank singing “Keep it greasy so it goes down easy“. I’d imagine the cognitive dissonance might become unbearable. And so it is that he left Parliament at the end of his term at the 2013 election.

The news today – more like a non-news really – is that Julia Gillard offered to hand him the Prime Minster’s chair, just to fend off Kevin Rudd. This is pretty bleak material.

An embattled Julia Gillard secretly offered to stand down as Prime Minister in June 2013 and secure the leadership for then Climate Change and Industry minister Greg Combet in order to fend off Kevin Rudd, Mr Combet has revealed.

But dogged by months of ill-health, and unsure that a switch to a third leadership contender so close to an election would improve Labor’s position, Mr Combet declined the chance to be prime minister.

‘‘I was struggling a good deal personally by the time June [2013] came around’’ Mr Combet told Fairfax Media in an interview this week. ‘‘I was in constant pain with the problems that I was having, and the thought of taking on additional responsibility and not being 100 per cent fit to do it, in that febrile environment, it didn’t look easy.’’

This ALP factional infighting is pretty awful stuff. It partly goes with the terrain of the Westminster system, and over the years we’ve been made to be inured to its odd outcomes. The ins and outs of these machinations are way beyond the purview of the electorate, and are subject to influences from such things as the Unions and lobby groups. It’s just difficult to understand how they could have cocked up so many decisions along the way.

He says he remains convinced that former Opposition Leader Kim Beazley would have won the 2007 federal election and become a highly successful Labor Prime Minister if Mr Rudd had not dislodged him.

ACTU polling as part of the Your Rights At Work Campaign in the run up to the 2007 election left him ‘‘completely convinced Beazley would have won’’, which would have resulted in a ‘‘vastly more experienced, mature person as Prime Minister presiding over, for want of a better description, a really grown up government, avoiding all the mistakes’’.

‘‘Neither Julia nor Kevin had had a lot of experience in leadership roles and I think that impacted on their capacity to do the job’’ Mr Combet told Fairfax Media.

So at least we were right all along in 2007, that the Rudd-Gillard leadership was a balls-up waiting to happen. It’s a shame I can’t point to neither Kevin Rudd nor Julia Gillard as the same kinds of leaders as Paul Keating, Bob Hawke and Gough Whitlam before them. The tumultuous six years in government exposed all the problems of the ALP that went unsolved since Keating lost in 1996. The problem is compounded by the fact that neither Kim Beazley nor Simon Crean were able to restructure the party in the way it needed to be restructured, and Mark Latham’s turn was certainly hobbled by the same influences that replaced Beazley twice, that put in Rudd, removed Rudd, removed Gillard and essentially burnt the metaphorical house down.

Oh, and Ms. Gillard, I will never forget the slight you made when you said you were not a social democrat.

Here’s Mark Latham being particularly frank about it.

Faulkner’s reform plan, to be put to State Conference this weekend, is to allow ALP branch members to select the party’s upper house tickets. Having given rank-and-file members a say in the selection of Labor’s federal and state leaders, why shouldn’t they be empowered to preselect upper house candidates? Why doesn’t Clements trust the True Believers who staff the polling booths, who keep their local branches alive, who fight so passionately for the cause of Labor?

Far from restricting rank-and-file union involvement, democratisation encourages it. It says to union members: don’t allow union secretaries doubling up as factional bosses to make all the big decisions. Join your local ALP branch and have a direct say in how the party is run: in picking federal and state leaders, in selecting Labor’s lower and upper house candidates.

This is what Faulkner is trying to achieve: Labor as a membership-based party, rather than a narrow factional-based clique.

Mark Latham’s been made out to be a crazy person by the media which must be galling because he commentates in the media; and once upon a decade ago, he was the guy trying to put together a way back to office, when the party machine had run through both Beazley and Crean and found them wanting. It’s hard to forget those terrible years either, together with the terrible campaign and defeat that followed. And all that time, the likes of Mark Arbib and Paul Howes were fucking shit up from behind the scenes.

It’s really hard to forgive the ALP. Especially if you don’t want to vote for the right.

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He’s Your Mate

Complaining Now? Wait Until It Gets Worse

Something I don’t really like to leave alone here is the fact the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald Darren Goodsir advocated voting for Tony Abbott and the Coalition in the 2013 Federal Election. At the time, it made no sense and the editorial itself hardly had anything to commend for itself logically, let alone anything in the wisdom stakes. Yet, there it was in broad daylight. He was saying, don’t vote for Kevin Rudd, vote for Tony Abbott for a change. A change to what? I ask you! To the worse, as it turned out?

What really pisses me off to this day is that when Rupert Murdoch and his bought minions were doing their best to bury Kevin Rudd’s government, “fair and balanced” would have been to back the incumbents and not join in with the Murdoch press, like the so many intellectually barren sycophants that came crawling out to hear Tony Abbott’s victory speech.

Of course “hindsight is 20-20”, but if you’re one of the Cassandras that saw this complete schmozzle we call the Abbott Government coming the only remaining delight we have is the delight we take in punishing Darren Goodsir for backing this dud government. Thus it is with great Schadenfreude that I present yet another instance of the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald having a whinge about the Abbott Government – yes, the Government they recommended because it would make a nice change.

 Let there be no bones about it. A levy, temporary or otherwise, is a tax, and if the Abbott government goes ahead with such a measure on middle- and high-income earners, it will be a shoddy way of trying to repair the budget, and will do little to improve the productivity of our economy.

The political hypocrisy of Prime Minister Tony Abbott contemplating such a tax, after explicit promises of no new taxes and three years of lashing Julia Gillard over her broken carbon tax pledge, is breathtaking. But it is more serious than this.

The Australian Industry Group and other business leaders are already warning that lifting tax rates will slow the economy.

Blah, blah, blah, and so it goes on for another 14 pathetic paragraphs, offering up reasons why raising taxes would be bad. It’s totally laughable because we knew before the election that there was no way that the Coalition was going to be able to make their numbers work, especially if they were going to spend on things that they said they would. I would like to write “and hilarity ensued”, but quite frankly, this is no laughing matter. If people thought the Rudd-Gillard government was dysfunctional, they haven’t quite swallowed the fact that this is a mendacious, malicious and incompetent government.

The biggest irony of all is how the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Morning Herald no less thought that these people were fine upstanding people who would be able to make adult decisions and behave like adults. So tell us how all that has worked out for you Mr. Goodsir?

 

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Breaking Bad, The Aussie Way

It’s Only Been Two Months, Phoney Rabid!

I don’t exactly know what you can chalk this up to, but Tony Abbott has managed to drive the delicate Australian diplomatic relationship with Indonesia into a ditch at full throttle. Who gave him the bloody keys? Oh we did. There are a few interesting things about this turn of events.

Tony Abbott essentially came to power believing that his election win validated all of his  tightly-held views. He is interpreting his election win as a massive endorsement of his various policy foibles. Considering he is the least popular Opposition leader to win a Federal election, it might behoove him to consider that he might have the least endorsement by the people as far as election winners go. In deliberately ignoring such nuances to the election result, he has tried turning back to boats to mixed results. he has not managed to buy a single boat (which is probably a good thing given how stupid is the very idea) and went to Jakarta to talk to the Indonesian leadership but ended up getting no sizable deal worthy of calling a deal.

In fact, if anything, the Indonesians have been pretty blunt in expressing their distrust of Tony Abbott, and have repeatedly contradicted Abbott, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison at various points. The point – so to speak – is that Abbot has failed to score any exchange with the Indonesian government and by extension the Indonesian polity, and has expended what little good will we had with them all for the sake of the asylum seeker issue.

Compounding the issue has been this business of leaked documents by Edward Snowden which essentially fingered Australia as espionage aficionados of the South Pacific, and that our spy agencies had attempted to bug the phone calls of the Indonesian leadership. naturally, this has poured gasoline on to the fire that was already burning and so, Indonesia has resorted to calling its ambassador back. It’s like they’re playing a cheap replica of Cold War politics with us, with Australia as the potential enemy. If both sides  keep talking this way, it may end up being that way. You’d think wiser heads will prevail but unfortunately the outgoing Susilo Yudhoyono Bambang is a lame duck going into the election next year, and wisdom and the current Coalition government are like matter and anti-matter. They just don’t seem to coexist.

The shocking thing about all this is that the negotiations with Indonesia was the first real diplomatic challenge for the incoming Abbott government and not only have they failed to do a good job, they’ve sort of set it alight as a monument to their failure. If the relationship is going to take years to repair, well, we can point at Tony Abbott for decades to come as the idiot who flushed the relationship down the drain. It’s rather ironic given that these guys came in promising to be steady and sure handed.

The Peter Hartcher Post-Mortem

Peter Hartcher is writing his elaborate account of how the ALP blew itself up over 5 episodes. As of this writing, it’s up to episode 4. It’s the same old story with not many new information, but it does offer some tidbits. I’m not sure the union movement comes across as being a positive influence in the events and Paul Howes is definitely answerable for how things turned out the way it did. The bit about Kevin Rudd being like paralysed after climate talks in Copenhagen fell apart is revealing. In fact it says in passing that Mark Arbib wasn’t the same after Copenhagen. When you consider how much our commitment was riding on an agreement at Copenhagen, you ca understand the policy paralysis. There are no good ways to sell an ETS without that agreement in Copenhagen. There was no alternative path, no other option; which explains why Gillard and Swan opted to just postpone it for expediency.

The other revealing thing about the Rudd coup is that Gillard did have ambitions for the top job and essentially jumped the gun. She has been putting out a narrative that she hadn’t made up her mind until that day and it was Bill Shorten and others who conscripted her into the top job – to which I only have the playground retort “as if!” It is very obvious that dating back to 2006 when the two of them deposed Kim Beazley, that the partnership was out of expedience and that deep down she had contempt for Kevin Rudd. Now, that’s fine except that she can’t very well go around telling the world how treacherous Kevin Rudd was when she pretty much did to him what ended up being done to her. The outrage really is a bit rich.

Now that the historic moment has passed and Kevin Rudd too has declared he’s leaving Parliament, I have to confess I’m quite glad it’s over. I did warm to Kevin Rudd in the end but only because his replacement drove me to that appreciation.

The problem of Julia Gillard as Prime Minster was compounded by the fact that she was exactly the kind of person who combats rhetoric with rhetoric and therefore hypocrisy with hypocrisy. Even her much-lauded “Misogyny Speech” comes with the caveat that she said that in response to Tony Abbott questioning Peter Slipper’s character when everybody knew that Slipper was a Liberal at heart as well as the linchpin holding together the slightest of margins for Julia Gillard. Maybe they teach this stuff as a virtue in law school, but the more you look at context, the more the “misogyny speech” loses its power; and it happens because even in her angriest rhetorical flourish, Julia Gillard was the kind of hypocrite who would take Slipper as speaker to shore up her numbers.

And there’s *nothing* wrong with that in my humble opinion, but I just want to be spared this notion that a great injustice was righted by that speech. If you believe that, then you probably believe that a pumpkin patch doll is a radical new form of soft sculpture. It was possibly her biggest nonsequitur moment as Prime Minister.

Which is to say, this was the worst aspect of the Rudd-Gillard ALP government. They were more often than not, people who believed that symbolic gestures changed the world and that the right kind of hypocrisy was better than bad solutions. We can’t complain because they got us through the GFC at its crescendo. At the same time they deserve the political wilderness they cast themselves into as a result of events this year. For all the good they allegedly did, it was a pretty sorry ALP government when compared to the Hawke Keating ALP government. The ghastliness of the Coalition during their time in Opposition merely adds to the misery of this time.

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Fear Of The Unknown Unknowns

Sometimes ‘The People’ Are Idiots

The unthinkable is about to happen. No, not World War III, but an Abbott government is about to get in if the polls are to believed. This is about as swift a turn to the right as you can get and show what ingrates and opportunists the political middle ground of this country can be. But the bit that gets me the most is that the swinging middle of the electorate is about to vote into office a decidedly sorry lot who have refused to have their costings looked at until 3 minutes to midnight in the election. If their intellectual dishonesty doesn’t stink to high heaven, their efforts in government surely will because these people are banking on doing some pretty stupid things.

A couple of days I ago, I pointed out that their policy on the internet and broadband alone should disqualify them from taking office, but close behind their idiotic NBN policy is their climate policy – their so-called Direct Action plan. I know it’s late in the game and we’re all past reading stuff, but here’s a link from Pleiades that’s worth reading: Part I & Part II. In Malcolm Turnbull’s own words:

Because most capital equipment, especially in the energy sector, has lives running into many decades, the business is going to require assurance that the government subsidy will match the life of the asset – so running well beyond 2020.

Which is why a subsidy scheme which terminates in 2020 will achieve very little….

Having the government pick projects for subsidy is a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and there will always be a temptation for projects to be selected for their political appeal.

In short, having the government pay for emissions abatement, as opposed to the polluting industries themselves, is a slippery slope which can only result in higher taxes and more costly and less effective abatement of emissions.

Which is to say, Malcolm Turnbull is saying Direct Action can’t work. Certainly not in the way the Coalition have gone about selling it; and of course all of it suffers from the great credibility gap of Tony Abbott being an un-reformed climate sceptic global-warming denier.  There’s just no knowing how any of this Direct Action policy is going to work or if it’s even viable.

Pleiades also wanted me to point out to you that the Coalition do not have an Arts Policy. At all. Not a sausage. This is probably not surprising in that the arts community of this country is entirely, reflexively hostile to the Liberal and National parties, so if anything they probably just want to abolish all arts funding. (And I admit there’s an evil side to me that wouldn’t mind seeing that because I find the reflexive progressivism of Australia’s arts community to be pretty obnoxious. But that’s a different issue altogether!)

Even the alleged strong suit of the Liberals looks pretty crappy today. Here’s Michael Pascoe lambasting Joe Hockey yesterday after the Liberals gingerly released their costings.

After all the huffing and puffing, Hockeynomics is only proposing a $6 billion improvement in the budget’s cash bottom line over four years. In light of the past four years of hyperbolic fiscal posturing, this is genuinely astounding.

Even if you take year three and four budget projections seriously (and you really can’t, as everyone should now know), that works out to be an average improvement of $1.5 billion a year on a $400 billion budget – all of 0.375 per cent. It’s not even a rounding error. A half-decent Queensland storm can blow that away in half an hour.

By way of comparison, Tony Abbott is blowing $1.8 billion on reviving the novated lease/FBT tax lurk enjoyed by a minority of new car buyers, let alone an even smaller minority of voters. Consider the massive percentage increase in the Coalition’s budget improvement goal that could be obtained by implementing just this one tax policy based on principle and equity instead of subsidising a few salary packaging firms. Hey Joe, do the math.

After all the histrionic fuss and slanderous accusations about waste, the Coalition proposes to save a relatively speaking marginal 6billion. The way Abbott carried on for 3 years, you’d think that Australia was about to turn in to Greece (uhh, …no) or go into a Great Depression Mk. II (uh… no again); but of course it’s not like he’s got any real savings on offer and is instead proposing a largely skewered-to-the-wealthy paid maternity leave programme.

And frankly, you’d have to be pretty dense to be voting for any of these claptrap policies thought up in the isolation chamber of entitled sectionalists hoping to scare the electorate into voting for them. But that’s what really gets me. Middle Australia is saying to the pollsters that’s exactly what they’re going to do. Vote in the eminently unsafe, unhinged, reactionary monarchist, sectarian nutjob that is Tony Abbott as their Prime Minister.

I’ve been racking my brains as to who but those with expensive Private School educations, would be voting for this mob? The western suburbs of Sydney they say. But for the life of me I can’t imagine why the people in most need of support would vote in the people who are going to kick them in the hip pocket.

Anyway…

…the scuttlebutt has been that the polls seem to indicate 53-47 to the Coalition. Even this has been disputed by some. It turns out the polls are collected by landline, so they  skew heavily towards the retired elderly, who are in general more conservative-leaning than the young who do not bother with landlines and get about on their mobile phones. Pleiades tells me when pollsters conducted a poll that included mobile phones, it started to look more like 50-50, which is to say, a hung Parliament is once again on the cards.

Now that, would be cool because then Tony Abbott will chuck a hissy fit again and not deal, and that would leave us with another minority ALP government, just to stick it up the noses of all these idiot munchkin editors who claim stability is more important. (Only the editor of the Age had the good sense to argue in favour of the ALP based on policies; and based on policies, he had the NBN as the leading item followed by Gonski. I call that doing his job. What the hell are the other papers doing but playing cult of personality and personality politics?)

The most terrifying of them might have been the editorial on the SMH. Yes, the Sydney Morning Herald no less supports Tony Abbott. Now, I’d normally quote the most coherent part but amazingly the editorial presents very little coherence of argument about policy and mostly has knocks on how history has unfolded. Well Mr. Editor we’ve all been reading your paper and we can tell you your characterisation of the last 3years in this sorry editorial is mostly impressionistic nonsense not worthy of consideration, that somehow illogically ends up supporting Tony Abbott with a plea for stability.

Heck, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt was ‘stable’ for 28years.  Saddam Hussein’s reign was equally stable. Muammar Gaddafi too. I don’t think stability in of itself is any good, and this is exactly the point where armchair political scientists go wrong. Niccolo Machiavelli argued in favour of a stable government, but the second condition a government had to fulfill beyond stability according to Machiavelli, was delivering the maximum benefits to the maximum number of people in the constituency. Somehow I don’t think the Liberals and Nationals are capable of the latter. So, I don’t know how we’ve come to this, but this election campaign period has exposed the editor in chief of the Sydney Morning Herald as an idiot munchkin – something I did not know until today. You sure can put that down to “you learn something new everyday”.

This election is going to be a litmus test to see how stupid people are. In future people will be able to look back and ask which way you voted. If you say you voted for the Liberals and Nationals in 2013, you will be laughed at for your stupidity.

Just don’t vote for the Coalition what ever you do.

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And In The End…

Long Live The Donkey

Long time readers would know that I was dreading the upcoming Federal election. Given the choices of parties and leaders, I couldn’t see myself a way out from donkey voting. I’d even given myself a handle – Don Quivote – in large part so I could tell as many people of my great political discomfort at the choices being offered.

Thanks to the ALP Caucus finally dumping Julia Gillard as their leader, I am spared of the need to donkey vote.

I imagine there will be much parsing of the nuances and events that led to the spill that ousted Julia Gillard, our first female Prime Minister. When I think of her accomplishments, I have to say that they are a decent amount of them and that I had no issue with her policy positions in most part. If anything my great dissatisfaction with Julia Gillard was always the manner in which she couched the issues. I have written of those things at great lengths so I won’t rehash them here. I am however surprised that Julia Gillard tried to smoke out Kevin Rudd with the challenge and forced the loser to quit – which in the end has sealed her own fate.

When I think back I can recall that the first incarnation of the Rudd-Gillard teaming in opposition was a great compromise in order not to blow up the ALP in opposition as it sat there without a clue as to how to remove the monolithic Howard-Costello government. Riddled with factional warfare the ALP had the option of going with the popular but tether-less Kevin Rudd or the party apparatchik (no pun intended on chick by the way) Julia Gillard. The compromise as it were, was to run with Kevin Rudd as the leader and win the election and sort it out later. It’s not surprising then that the sorting out bit turned out to be the Rudd coup and installation of Gillard as Prime Minister, which obviously put the same conflict back in relief.

Julia Gillard has complained that this infighting has been the hallmark of her time as Prime Minister, but when you think about it, it has been the hallmark of the ALP after the demise of the Keating government, and you can count luminaries such as Simon Crean, Kim Beazley, Mark Latham as well as the first Rudd office as participants and victims of this factional brawling. And really, the division has never healed. Although one imagines the whole NSW Right getting found out by ICAC in NSW has sort of lent a helping hand in blurring the factional lines quite a bit. How can you go around being a bossy-boots NSW Right faction member after it gets found out that the leaders of the factions were only in it to line their own pockets?

Isn’t the meltdown in NSW poll numbers essentially related to the disgust with the ALP? Doesn’t the Rudd coup fall under one of the things the electorate deeply resents about the Gillard-led ALP?

All that being said, there has been a long standing feeling that Kevin Rudd’s mission in politics was incomplete, while Julia Gillard’s historic mission as Prime Minister might have seen its last day partly as a result of the Gonski reforms passing the Senate late this afternoon. It’s easier to understand the last three years as the years Julia Gillard decided to get her bit in – but now she is done. It looks as if she burned all of her political capital in 3 years to make her mark and now all she has is the legacy of her minority government in the history books – oh that and a fat superannuation pay out, but they all get those.

The big surprise today was Bill Shorten who looked like he swallowed a poison grenade and holding in the explosion as he announced he was backing Rudd. One imagines that must have  been quite uncomfortable given his wife’s support for Julia Gillard as well as his role in installing Julia Gillard as PM, knifing Kevin Rudd three years ago. I guess he’s had his public humble pie moment. The recognition there might be that the Rudd project had not run its course, and that in fact he was mistaken in having moved against Kevin Rudd back in 2010. That his personal animosity towards Kevin Rudd didn’t amount to a hill of beans. One imagines these would be really tough things to get one’s head around.

When you line it all up, it’s not entirely clear if the divisions can be healed by Julia Gillard leaving politics. Or will Kevin Rudd fill that vacuum left behind with his vision for Australia? To do that, he still needs to win the next election. It will be interesting to see what the next polls are going to say.

It sure has been a heck of a day. At last I get to retire my donkey.

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Terminal, Interminably Terminal

There Actually Is No Cure

The business of the ALP Leadership has gone beyond a farce – it did that back in March this year when Kevin Rudd refused to contest the leadership. Since then it has veered towards the kind of tragedy the Ancient Greeks thought was cathartic, and if things go the way they’re going it will indeed by cathartic when the ALP government get flushed out of office by an angry electorate.

This morning’s leading news was that Julia Gillard’s primary vote support had collapsed to 29%.

In a finding certain to ratchet up pressure on the Prime Minister’s besieged leadership, the latest Fairfax-Nielsen poll has found Labor’s standing has continued to slide, led entirely by a 7 per cent exodus of men, while failing to lift substantially among female voters.

According to the monthly survey, the ALP’s primary vote now has a psychologically devastating ”2” in front of it with less than three months to the election on September 14.

Ms Gillard also has gone backwards as preferred prime minister, giving her the lowest approval rating in a year.

Which, when you look at it, means that Julia Gillard has more chance of being run over by a bus than being Prime Minister on 15th September this year. The word still, is that she’s not quitting; that Kevin Rudd isn’t challenging; and that Bill Shorten is being leaned on mightily to do *something*. Then of course we learn Mrs. Shorten is sort of a cheerleader for Ms Gillard.

One would have to surmise there’s no way Bill Shorten is going to be that trigger to “lance the boil”.

All of this has had me thinking about what this means and basically it is this: the ALP as a party that represents a significant portion of the electorate is finished. The great alliance of interests that rallied for Gough Whitlam and then Bob Hawke and Paul Keating is now gone. It has been whittled back down to a bunch of Unionists who have essentially captured the castle, and they’re not giving it up. This would explain the expressed desire on the part of Julia Gillard to disavow being a social democrat or a progressive, and stake her position around unionism.

The immense popularity of Kevin Rudd is also vexing as it is fascinating as it seems to hold so much hope. But then again it did the same in 2007 and somehow we’ve ended up where we have ended up. This suggests that Kevin Rudd is probably nowhere near as good, as he is widely believed by the electorate. Or maybe it is the instant nostalgia for 2007, a year before the grinding Great recession and a term well before the frictions of the hung Parliament and minority government. I am suspecting that Kevin Rudd wasn’t all he’s cracked up to be. I had my doubts back then and in many ways I still have my doubts now.  Of course if I could choose, I would still choose Kevin Rudd over Julia Gillard.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a coup to oust Julia Gillard, which means the electorate has made up its mind and it’s going to be Tony Abbott who is going to be Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, there are many people who are rolling their eyes at this prospect, and some are even looking for their passports. The ALP is holding out hope that all the people who deserted it in the polls would actually vote for them, even if through preferences, once it comes into sharp focus that it is Tony Abbott who will be Prime Minister after the ALP lose on the 15th September. My own view is that a lot of people would take a dim view of such blackmail from the ALP. After all, the ALP has resisted its own constituents who have asked for Kevin Rudd to be brought back. How can such insults be repaid but with a ballot for the other party?

So little is known of Tony Abbott’s policies apart from stopping asylum seeker boats ad towing them back to Indonesia, repealing the carbon tax and taxing top companies to fund maternity leave. Just as it is the case every time the government changes, it is important that the new Prime Minster is just not the previous Prime Minister. The years that the ALP spent in opposition were actually quite terrible and humiliating. By the time Kevin Rudd won, there was only Simon Crean left from the previous ALP government in the lower house. This change of generation and shortage of expertise prompted Kevin Rudd to hold a short leash and tight rein, which of course led to the coup.

If one thing is certain for the Rudd coup plotters is that the vast majority of them won’t be part of the next ALP government, if that day ever arrives. If they are ministers now, they sure as hell won’t be back, because it’s going to be a long time before the ALP can rebuild the Labor brand. If it becomes even more captive to the interests of the unions, it’s going to be nigh impossible to build a broader agenda.

To be strictly honest about it, I don’t see how the ALP can continue being the major party that represents the progressive left. If John Robertson’s Labor Party in NSW is any indication, they won’t even begin to be relevant once they lose office this September. It’s going to be a very miserable and humiliating time for Gillard, Rudd and Shorten after the coming election day. The chorus of “I told you so” is going to be thick and fast.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 12/Jun/2013

The Search For Donald Mackay

This is surprising.

“A search is under way today on a property near Hay as part of an ongoing investigation,” a spokesman said.

Australian Federal Police, local police and members of the Unsolved Homicide Squad were seen buying hundreds of dollars worth of shovels in town before heading to the property on Maude Road, outside Hay.

Tents have been erected and an excavator was brought in about 4pm to assist with the search.

Father-of-four Mackay went missing after leaving the Griffith Hotel on July 15, 1977, where he had been drinking with friends.

They might just find him after all this time, although I don’t know what else will be dug up with his body. The whole disappearance of Mackay is tied up with all kinds of strange dealings in the shadows of the international drug trade. Goodness knows what kind of metaphorical skeletons are going to come out with Mackay’s body.

Gender Wars: Attack Of The Clowns, Revenge of the Feminists

Where does one start with politics this grubby? First, there was Julia Gillard talking to a cohort of the usual suspect saying  that an Abbott Government would be tough on women and that Abortion would be on the issue thanks to Tony Abbott being a Catholic and all. It might be true. It likely is true on some level, but really, one really wonders if this is this the way the Prime Minister of Australia wants to proceed? Even proper Feminist-credentialed people (read female journalists) are not entirely convinced this is the right way to open an attack on the obvious boys-own-club, old-school-ties Coalition. I guess, if one were the Prime Minister, one might look at the contest as trying to extract as much differentiation, but I sort of wonder if there are enough men – blue collar, union types at that – who would be happy to take the free kick in the pride and still support the Prime Minister.

Julia Gillard batted on today with this stuff.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of ”a pattern of behaviour” that would lead to ”a lack of respect for women littered throughout all of his government’s policy document”.

Ms Gillard has also slapped down government MPs who criticised her for raising the issue of abortion in her speech to the ”Women for Gillard” event in Sydney on Tuesday.’

‘Neither [Stephen] Jones nor [Ed] Husic were in Parliament when Liberal Party women rebelled when Tony Abbott was health minister, so concerned were they about the attitude that he was taking to RU486,” Ms Gillard said in Perth on Wednesday.

”Well, I was in Parliament, I was shadow health minister. I saw those Liberal women rebel again Tony Abbott as health minister and consequently I think Mr Abbott’s conduct at that time and the fact that many in his own political party felt the need to rebel tells you something about Mr Abbott’s attitudes.”

Ms Gillard defended her decision to question the attitude a Coalition government would take to women saying there was a ”pattern of behaviour” displayed by conservative politicians.’

‘Mr Abbott has personally gone and stood next to signs that describe me in a sexist way,  we’ve had the Young Liberals hosting a function where jokes were cracked about the death of my father,” Ms Gillard said.’

‘And now we have (shadow treasurer Joe) Hockey and (Liberal Party candidate Mal) Brough hosting a function with this grossly offensive menu on display. Join the dots.”

Ah yes. There’s the menu thing, yes. The breaking news of the day was that there was some fundraiser dinner where a menu was allegedly used wherein the Prime Minster was denigrated.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Liberal candidate Mal Brough should be disendorsed after a menu that made lewd and offensive jokes about her anatomy was used at his fund-raiser.

Ms Gillard slammed the menu as ‘‘grossly sexist and offensive’’ and criticised Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for standing by Mr Brough.

‘This is Tony Abbott’s Liberals,’’ she said. ‘‘This is what they’re like.’’
The menu, used at an event in March, lists ‘‘Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail’’ before going on to describe it as ‘‘Small breasts, huge thighs & a big red box’’.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek agreed with Ms Gillard, saying she thought Mr Brough’s position as the candidate for the Queensland seat of Fisher was ‘‘untenable’’

Except by the end of the day, the restauranteur came forwards and claimed it was an in-joke that got out. As jokes go, it’s pretty bad; it’s mean-spiritied and particularly nasty in a partisan way that makes you squirm – not for the politics itself but for the ugliness of attitude and idiotic brazenness.

And this is what I mean by grubby. Contrary to the starting point where Julia Gillard kicked off with talk about Abortion and women’s rights none of this actually has anything to do with policy. It’s just a kind of slanging match to try and paint Tony Abbott as this kind of Neanderthal Knucklehead (which, as far as we can tell, he is). Doubly, the problem is that whatever shade of Neanderthal Knucklehead Tony Abbott might be, there those who stand behind him who are deeper and darker in the shade of reactionary unreconstructed male chauvinism (as evinced by the the joke menu – even as a joke it says far more about the people that enjoyed it).

It’s a bit like Julia Gillard gets to call Tony Abbott a moral idiot, because he is one, and in fact he is the leader of a party of moral idiots. He may indeed be the biggest moral idiot amongst a great throng of moral idiots. Except the moral idiots wear their moral idiocy as a badge of pride, so there is absolutely no point in indulging in this exchange of idiotic remarks.

I guess it takes the attention away from the leadership speculation; but it sure as heck does not improve my regard towards Julia Gillard as leader of the ALP. It’s hard to feel for any of these bastards.

Talk Is Cheap, But It’s Fun

This business of Kevin Rudd lurking and stalking Julia Gillard’s position is getting out of hand again. It was only 3 months ago that given the chance – handed to him on a platter by Simon Crean – Kevin Rudd decided not to contest. Since then, Julia Gillard’s support has stayed decidedly low, thus casting a long shadow over the ALP’s prospects for retaining dignity, let alone government. What seems to escape the strategists in the ALP is just how powerful and entrenched the resentment in the electorate happens to to be.

Everywhere Kevin Rudd goes, he is popular and people call out to him, asking him to come back.The point is, Julia Gillard has no traction because nobody wants to give her the traction. it doesn’t matter what policy victories she achieves in a difficult hung Parliament. The hung Parliament itself represents the great disaffection the electorate had for the ALP in 2010 – and the polls say things have gotten worse since then.

You’d hate this if you were watching it in ALP headquarters because you just want him to go away like Mark Latham did. Instead he’s likely to be last man standing in Queensland. You’d hate to be Wayne Swan. but we know Julia Gillard is stubborn and she won’t walk away, which means she is going to lead the ALP right over the waterfall.

So the only question now is will somebody who supported Gillard in 2010 when ousting Kevin Rudd, now withdraw that support and swing that support back to Kevin Rudd?
Enter Bill Shorten. This is going to be a long quote, but it’s worth reading through as it shows just why the situation is coming to a head again, a mere 3months after the last rattle of the cage.

The catalyst for this devil’s choice is recent internal Labor polling, and more from the ACTU, that has ignited fear and loathing in the breasts of ALP members and senators across the country.

An almost bearable resignation had settled across the party for many months about its loss of support in NSW and Queensland, where Labor voters had never forgiven the party for tossing aside one of their own, Kevin Rudd, for a southerner, Julia Gillard.

Labor MPs and the union movement knew it was serious – and in Western Australia, too – but they had little idea of the scale of the catastrophe down south until internal polling and research undertaken by the ACTU in Victoria began returning figures in the past couple of weeks that flabbergasted the most hardened.

The definition of a marginal seat had to be rewritten. Electorates on what might normally be considered comfortable margins of 8-10 per cent were suddenly facing wipe-outs, according to those professing to be in the know. There was barely a Labor seat in outer-metropolitan Melbourne or an industrial or migrant-dominated area the ALP could be sure of holding.

More polling showed South Australia had joined the rush, with the likelihood of the Labor Party losing almost two-thirds of its 11 seats.
Victoria and South Australia were supposed to be relatively reliable Labor strongholds. Further south, all Tasmania’s five seats were considered in great jeopardy.

Thus, when Kevin Rudd journeyed to Geelong, an industrial city with two ALP seats facing disaster and was mobbed by voters crying ”come back Kevin”, the TV cameras whirring, lightbulbs began blinking among panicked Labor MPs.

They needed someone, somewhere, to do something. Quick. In the absence of a better idea, the fallback was Shorten, whether he liked it or not. Some of his colleagues, knowing Shorten’s own polling figures in his seat of Maribyrnong had taken a big hit, too, sensed he might be up for it.

To this point, however, he’s not. Shorten is smart enough to know he alone could not persuade Gillard to blink. It would need a posse of her supporters, or a declaration by an authority like Bob Hawke.

The Labor Party’s last desperate throw of the dice is this: how does a federal government persuade itself and voters it is a sensible or even halfway attractive idea to change leaders twice in three years?

The deeper dilemma is even less digestible. The choice is whether to remain deeply unpopular or to hope that the party might emerge from a leadership change as simply less unpopular.

The options, then, are all negative. They are choices that will be made from a position of weakness.

You would very nearly pity Shorten if you were prepared to forget he’d already played the Grim Reaper with another Labor prime minister almost exactly three years ago.

You shake your head in incredulity at how these ALP party apparatchiks can’t seem to get their heads around a simple fact: Kevin Rudd is still the electorate’s choice. No amount of packaging and branding and bow-tying ribbons around Julia Gillard is going to get her over the line with the electorate. So once again, as it was clear 3months ago, and for 29 straight weeks in a row, we can reaffirm that Julia Gillard is headed for an epic fail.

You get the feeling this isn’t going to work out the way the people of Australia are hoping. Bill Shorten is hoping to pick up the pieces after the electoral demolition job. I wonder if he seriously thinks that would make him a popular man – popular enough to become Prime Minister.

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