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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Rudd

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Dislclaimer: if you don’t like these opinions, I have others

Yesterday’s events were fascinating to watch. Barrie Cassidy called the spill two weeks ago on Insiders. Watch a pair of horses manoeuvring for first place can be more absorbing than watching a field of ten.

Whether a petition was circulated or not, Julia Gillard sniffed the wind and moved to end the saga once and for all, setting absolute sequelae for winner and loser. To Kevin Rudd’s credit, he agreed to the terms set out. The loser would exit this time. No, really.

The spill itself was a slow self-fulfilling prophecy. When Bill Shorten switched camps, it was confirmed. The stakes are so high that he saw fit to torch his short, medium and possibly long term leadership aspirations. To her great integrity, Julia GIllard was true to her word and immediately vacated the post without rancour or the sobfest that accompanied Kevin Rudd’s deposition in 2010. Then again, she had more time to compose herself. This spill had the same slow inevitability of the planet Melancholia contacting earth and destroying all on it.

Anyone who thought that Kevin Rudd was willing time to pass while sitting in the ‘nether regions’ as he termed it was seriously mistaken. His sound performance in Question Time yesterday was an clear message to the coalition that they will actually have to work for this. In the still likely event that we wake up to an Abbott government, the majority will be smaller, their mandate less overwhelming than anticipated in the last 6-12 months.

As the myriad post mortems on the Gillard period fill the web, the following were my conclusions:

The whole misogyny issue over the last 24 months has been overemphasized by the left and predictably dismissed by conservative commentators. Some of the twitter chat (of which I am a sad, sad addict) has brought up some overly emulsified emotional claptrap by blind GIllardistas who fail to see her flaws as a prime minister but instead only the attacks on her on the basis of gender by Alan Jones, Graham Morris, and numerous others. This is not to say that the said attacks were acceptable. Far from it. They were vile, sexist remarks from a bygone era when men were men and men were stupid. However it should always be possible to dissect the latter from the former.

Solely by virtue of her sex, it read like an absolute division by gender lines. I am certain there were feminists who found her decision to address the Australian Christian Lobby or as an atheist, to claim that her strong morals were from her Baptist upbringing as nothing short of bizarre. Did she speak for all women? Of course not, but not all men felt she didn’t speak for them either.

Pledging ongoing support (and tax payer funds) for the National School Chaplaincy Program is something I will never agree with, and logic prevailed with Ron Williams’ successful challenge in the High Court. Whether a believer, agnostic or atheist, placing the mental health of all children in the hands of one religious approach was simply an incomprehensible path to take, unless of course you are rather a fanatic.
Her stance on gay marriage was interesting given her justification of ‘traditional values’ that had roots in a Baptist upbringing, despite declaring herself to be an atheist.

Women are and have been for years ready and able to assume and execute positions of high office, despite Tony’s Abbott’s comical assertions of physiological difference. Australian though, to our detriment, was not ready for a female PM. This backlash from the aforementioned contrarians and others shaped Julia Gillard as much as she shaped the nation during her tenure.

On the evidence that she managed to oversee 485 passed bills (87% of these bipartisan) in a hung parliament speaks volumes for her tenacity in the face of the nauseating behaviour of Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne et al who have spent valuable time with points of order, suspensions of standing orders and other means to simply enforce an early poll. The consumption of Question Time in the last sitting of 2012 by Julie Bishop’s wild goose chase on matters AWU was a blatant abuse of parliamentary resources, as were the almost comical volumes of electricity bills illustrating the carbon price’s immense adverse effect. Clive Palmer’s revelations on his meetings with Joe Hockey and Mal Brough show how intent the Liberal Party was to destroy the GIllard government by whatever means.

Should the ALP, as is likely, lose with an admirable swing (whatever that equals), or pull off a Keating, they can thank Gillard for tenacity in navigating through hostile waters. They can also thank her for committing to infrastructure, education and most importantly the NDIS as a worthy legacy. It is a great shame that both herself and her party could not sell those positive messages to the people. How much of that is mainstream Murdoch media and how much is the ALP’s doing is an argument that will never be won.

From here we are faced with a government that should have been returned on the sole achievement of positive jobs growth, avoiding a recession and achieving triple A ratings. But along the way there the disasters of pink batts and shall we say, rather non-selective approach to stimulus cheques. They have failed to address the highly complex problem of people smuggled to our shores. It has spent an ostentatious amount of time looking at itself rather than managing the ‘economy in transition’ that seems to be the line of the moment. If anything, the move to Rudd will hopefully refocus those remaining MPs who haven’t resigned or who are not resigned to defeat to put in one last effort.

But we have an opposition who has expended much of its intellectual and parliamentary resources trying to knock a house down instead of outlining how they would design it better. SInce Kevin Rudd PM v 2.0, Coalition MPs have been swift to outline policies released thus far, with Malcolm Turnbull at pains this morning to outline the Coalition’s vast roll call of policy announcements. A slower NBN, repealing  the carbon price and mining tax and a paid parental leave scheme that has business folk unsettled hardly sells as an array of policies. Nor does saying ‘we are not them’.

What we have now is a coalition that will have to work for the right to govern instead of the three columns of no, a pamphlet of aspiration and an as yet unknown algorithm to manage the economy. Given that Australia votes out governments (with the exception of Whitlam), this will probably suffice on polling day. The only worse in prospect than a hung parliament is a massive mandate for either party.

A simple analogy.

A family live in what was once an exciting house. It functioned well and seemed a right fit at the time.

Then little things start to stop working. The weatherboard panels have begun to rot and the water goes cold when you want hot and vice versa.

The area changes as your street becomes a major thoroughfare and you start to question your purchase with every intake of smog concentrated air.

The decision’s made easier when some of the local stoners take up residence on your nature strip.

A new estate offering an escape from this chronology of annoyances presents itself. New and safe, green and serene, but with few details beyond this attractive shopping smell.

When you chip away with some questions, you are simply told you won’t be sorry and asked if you really want to stay where you are.

You commit to an unknown change of circumstances simply on the promise that at least it’s not what you have now.

As we count down the 199 days before we decide whether to vote out the Gillard government, Australia is presented with a similar choice to the scenario above.

Phase one of Operation Abbott has fulfilled its objectives of discrediting and delaying the ALP’s legislative process through destructive, combative and often frivolous means. I have lost count of Opposition Managerial abuses of points of order and how many times the Member for Cook has been booted from Question Time. Quite apart from bad behaviour, it would have been redeeming, if only a little, had the Shadow Ministers for say Education and Foreign Affairs asked questions relevant to their portfolios instead of the latter consuming all of 2012’s final Question Time fixated on the PM’s AWU involvement and the former had asked a question relating to Gonski.

Phase Two sees a supposed change in the LNP MO. Primarily through a cuddlier and less combative Tony Abbott who at times looks like paid Sam Newman a visit for botox advice and then rolled in a barrel of Cheezels. There seems to be no accompanying slow drip of policy details, other than the repeal, reverse, rinse and repeat mantra. 

The Government has, to quote the PM, lost its way. Numerous articles have canvassed this and the polls reflect just how on the nose it really is. Despite steering Australia through the GFC, they remain destined to a slashed representation in the Lower House, with many good minds set to be wasted in a two to three term opposition. Stay with Julia Gillard and things stand as they are. Rewind to Kevin Rudd and the contempt will only boil over more. As Tony Strangio writes, this Messiah worship and a shift from leader-centred politics (as opposed to politics-centred leaders) has only weakened the ALP’s chances of a shock win on September 14.

So if we then move to the estate in the analogy above, what do we expect? If the LNP are on track for a landslide, is it any less important that we ask the strong favourites to outline their vision? They have relied heavily on the anyone but the ALP rote message. They owe us more. Tony Abbott is obliged, if not by any political or legal imperative, but by his contract with the Australian people to outline what he intends to do.

After dismantling the Carbon Price mechanism and the farcical MRRT, what then in terms of raising the revenue to backfill the void?

What tax measures does he see as appropriate in this landscape, both direct and indirect?

What educational measures will he implement from the Gonski report?

How does this Direct Action measure we first heard of 3 years ago work?

How fast will our broadband be?

Is Workchoices under that or another name really dead, buried etc? (ie what does a flexible labour market really mean for those in it?)

Many, many questions. For every day that the LNP play the small target game, the media will slowly speculate, only making the job of selling the message more difficult. Since Tony Abbott’s double spook effort with Leigh Sales and Lisa Wilkinson, he has been reluctant to appear anywhere. Or rather, Peta Credlin has told him not to.

The ALP’s best  media strategy would be to play the numerous Abbott moments on a loop, and God knows the man has been generous in his contributions. And for everyday he remains under cover, on Peta Credlin’s tight leash, these are the things we will associate with him. It is time for him to stand in the spotlight and provide either more LOLs or some leadership and vision. If he is as equipped with Economics/Law degrees and a Rhodes Scholarship, then this should be the minimum requirement.

All yours, Tony and friends.

I posted my resignation to the ALP’s electoral fate last July. One writes these things often with fingers crossed that fortunes will change and that the LNP and all that comes with it will not prevail. The Gillard led government would perhaps, largely on the back of deep unpopularity of Tony Abbott, earn a second chance it hardly deserved.

The LNP has had some degree of wind assistance via the mainstream media and some success in lying low post AshbySlipperRaresGate. While its AWU attacks failed to bear fruit, the Obeid NSW fiasco has provided enough public scorn of the image of unions and ALP corrupted, and that with little effort on behalf of the Shadow Foreign Minister (Julie Bishop in case you had forgotten).

When Paul Keating trailed John Hewson in 1993, he had some good fortune in watching the latter tangle himself in a purist economic vision that failed to translate past a chook or birthday cake, and with persistence and luck came the ‘sweetest victory’ of them all.

The last straw seems to be the recent underwhelming return on the MRRT. A paltry $126M return in its first 6 months seems to indicate that the forecasted $2B return over its first 2 years is, to put it mildly, unrealistic. The loophole of credits to mining companies for state royalties paid against any MRRT money has upset the independents and Greens (Rob Oakeshott in particular) to the point of a mooted amendment to the tax to close this loophole. Hardly an ideal scenario for the ALP heading into the never ending election campaign. Factor in more pissing in the tent by former PM Kevin Rudd and you have more ammo for an opposition that has done little heavy lifting in attacking the ALP’s execution of policy. I even found myself agreeing with George Brandis (yes, read it again it’s true) on Q and A last night as he reminded Chris Evans that ‘it was you that designed it’. Nowhere to run. And just quietly, when I agree on anything said by Brandis in criticism on the ALP, it is game over. You could even argue, as Rhys Muldoon tweeted cheekily, that the MRRT was effectively whatever number Marius Kloppers wrote on the back of a napkin. To change the MRRT now though appears to concede poor original planning (while keeping the Rudd fires burning), while staying put appears pig headed. It’s either a shit sandwich with white bread or one with wholemeal.

For all the discontent, scaremongering and protests the watered down version created, it would have been worth the opposition and vitriol to ram the Rudd version through to at least generate some return to shut the opposition up and limit their arguments to partisan policy lines.

This government has passed many good pieces of legislation under difficult conditions. It reacted quickly and appropriately to the GFC which the LNP remains amnesiac to, maintained sound economic KPIs that still makes other OECD nations envious only to fluff their lines again and again. Poor economic KPIs, with interest rates and unemployment high mean your hands are tied. To not navigate through the electoral period with what Joe Hockey described as  ‘good numbers’  is the real tragedy of this government.

There seems no other path than mutual scare campaigns, with the LNP afforded enough momentum to issue costings late in the process and without due consideration and scrutiny.

I only hope that there is a birthday cake, 2013 style.

Warning – may contain disturbing and depressing thoughts from a frustrated political tragic

Today I finally resigned myself to the imminent (well not so imminent as the next poll may not be until November 30, 2013) demise of the ALP government. On Gough’s 96th birthday of all days.

And we’re not talking about getting close and redoubling for a tilt in 2016. We’re talking about a two to three term stint in the wilderness where even the ugliest of creatures will feel compelled to console the ousted ALP MPs they encounter. MPs who slurped the nectar of victory when John Howard was finally prised from the Lodge. That night and the image of Kevin07, Maxine McKew dancing rather badly to some questionable jazz and Michael Kroger’s face resembling a cat’s arse seem eons ago.

How this has happened has been dissected by people uglier and far more immersed in the political warfare than myself. But I think we can safely assume that even before the faceless men period, before the real and not so real Julia, things were not right in the ALP.  An unchecked Kevin Rudd, the messianic yet micromanaging figure who helped probably more than even he anticipated, followed by mismanaged roll outs of policy bursting to hit the deck were just the start.  The reaction to the stink and the subsequent knifing (all euphemisms lead back to the term ‘knifing’) went down like a lead balloon publicly.

But there was the jewel in the crown of steering the Australian economy away from the recession that infected most OECD countries, a feat that Paul Keating felt should earn them re-election on this achievement alone. Good work though has been undone by inconsistency on policy, no more so than with the ETS that become watered down from the greatest moral challenge of our time to being, well, dumped, to a pre election pledge of no carbon tax which was introduced after…anyway you get the drift. If you found my last sentence clunky and haphazard, imagine how the public found the inconsistency of the ALP’s position on acting concretely on climate change. Julia GIllard is not alone though. She is preceded by Bob Hawke’s poverty pledge, Keating’s L-A-W tax cuts, Howard’s never-ever GST, and will likely be succeeded by Tony Abbott’s reintroduction of a version Work Choices as soon as he gets his hands on the dispatch box. The impact of Julia’s back flip though was fatal given the timing and the accumulative examples of a government seemingly inept at selling and rolling out what is on paper, good progressive policy.

So now? We are faced with an ALP that will limp along to November 2013 with any good policy negated at every turn by bungling and a hostile media. The prospect of a Tony Abbott led government with a strong mandate and probable majority in both houses means that significant changes to implemented policy will take place. Not since that stupidly mocked up cutting of the cake by Hewson, Reith and Fischer have I been so petrified at the Liberal opposition ready to take power. And unlike that election, there is no Keating to be unearthed here. No rabbit. Not even a hat.

Recent noises from Abbott and the realization of a probable landslide mean that Work Choices in another guise, tweaked to avoid literal comparisons with the previous species, will be enacted. How the Coaliton would balance the books to fund their proposed parental leave scheme without the windfall of the MRRT and Carbon Price is still a mystery, but with a favourable media (and not just the usual nutjob alliances but serious credible media) giving the Coalition a free pass, this is of no importance.

We face a Coalition winning Stephen Bradbury style, with good, hard working ALP folk scattered like the 5 opponents that inexplicably lost their footing when victory was theirs. A Bradbury (I think that term has achieved noun status beyond a simple surname) that will result in what I consider to be on the whole a reactionary bunch of populists. Once in power, what will the Coalition have for us beyond bogan slogans and a small target MO? They will have 2 terms at least to roll back the ‘bad policy’ they want to put to sleep, but what will they actually give us as a vision? I haven’t even touched on the asylum seeker issues – this deserves a post on its own.

As @BlindFreddy1 says in his bio: I am not blind – I have just seen enough.

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