Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rudd on the rampage and its all about him

Honesty in politics is a rare thing.  We don't get to hear about what happens in Cabinet, the Labor Caucus or the Liberal-National Party Room, or the Greens Party Room for that matter.

So it is refreshing that we are now hearing some honest and candidate stories from several Labor MPs and Ministers about what life was really like under Kevin Rudd when he was Prime Minister.

These include:
  • Nicola Roxon, Attorney-General "said working with Mr Rudd as Prime Minister could be “a complete joke” [link]
  • Craig Emerson, Minister for Trade  "There has been attack on the Prime Minister going back to the last election. There was destabilisation and leaking then; it's been going on since." "Well these things matter, don't they? I mean, whether you run an organised or a dysfunctional government." [link] [link]
  • Wayne Swan, Treasurer.  "However for too long, Kevin Rudd has been putting his own self-interest ahead of the interests of the broader Labor movement and the country as a whole, and that needs to stop" "  "He sought to tear down the 2010 campaign, deliberately risking an Abbott Prime Ministership, and now he undermines the Government at every turn."  [link] [link]
  • Julia Gillard, Prime Minister. "She said that while Mr Rudd had been an excellent campaigner in 2007, the government had descended into paralysis because of his “chaotic” and dysfunctional” work patterns." [link]
  • Stephen Conroy, Communications Minister On poker machine reform: "Well let's be very clear about this. What's been revealed last night on television and over the weekend with Andrew Wilkie is a complete and utter fraud by Kevin Rudd." " He has been pretending that he supported the pre-commitment technology, pretending he supported reform in this area, but his key numbers man just happened to have two meetings and tell Clubs Australia that he would kill it."  [link]
  • Stephen Smith, Defence Minister  "I'm articulating it to you from my perspective, and my perspective is that by the time we came to the end of Kevin's term as prime minister, the cabinet, the caucus, the overwhelming majority of the cabinet and caucus had lost confidence in the ability to work through difficult policy or political issues with him."  [link] [link]
On the other side, supporters of Kevin Rudd include:

  • Kim Carr, Manufacturing Minister, who was demoted in a Cabinet reshuffle in December, says Mr Rudd is the victim of a "campaign of vilification" by senior members of the Government.  "It's my opinion that the man has a great breadth of vision and a commitment to the future of this country that stands us in good stead."  [link]
  • Chris Bowen, Immigration Minister "There's no doubt there's a lot of support in the community for Mr Rudd" [link]
  • Martin Ferguson, Resources Minister "Kevin Rudd is best placed to take on Tony Abbott and potentially best position us to win the next election,"   [link] [link] 
  • Alan Griffin MP, "I think that should there be a change of leadership what we need to do is get over it and start working together. And that's what the people want, that's what the party wants and that's what we should be doing."  [link]
  • Daryl Cheeseman, MP.  "Kevin Rudd is the most popular politician in Australia as opinion polls show. "Kevin is the right person to lead Australia. "I like Julia Gillard, I have a lot of respect for her, but that's the reality. It's important I reflect the views of my community." [link]
  • Doug Cameron, Senator "We have to make sure that we stop running these character attacks on Kevin Rudd,'' ''Because it's unfair, it's unprincipled and its not deserved.'' [link]
  • Maxine McKew, former MP for Bennelong, "Kevin Rudd is best placed to beat Tony Abbott," "He delivered a 23-seat majority and I think that should be noted," she said. "His appeal is broad and the breadth of his victory in 2007 shouldn't be overlooked." [link]
  • Anthony Albanese "called Gillard and informed her I would be voting for Rudd and resigned as leader of the house" [link]
Kevin Rudd (and Doug Cameron) have claimed that the "faceless men" are after Rudd again, but both are  unwilling to say who they are.  So we have "faceless and nameless men" apparently running the country!

As an aside, it is interesting to note that Kim Carr and Alan Griffin were two of the "faceless men", along with Tim Gartrell, that did the preference deal with Family First that resulted in Steven Fielding being elected to the Senate in 2004 at the expense of the Greens. [link]

Some other interesting commentary has emerged, including:
  • We need to talk about Kevin, "Kevin Rudd was ultimately responsible for his own downfall, writes his former speechwriter"
  • Resurrection of Saint Kevin "No one does victimhood like Kevin Rudd. Forget the fact he's the bloke who calls the Prime Minister "the bitch" - or worse - behind her back, to senior figures in industry, to newspaper editors and to members of the Press Gallery" 
  • Labor’s rotten core needs the leadership implosion " This is a party imploding. The word is used carefully: Labor’s internal weaknesses, its ideological drift, its lack of core values, the devolution of the factions in mechanisms for distributing patronage, its reluctance to publicly argue over important issues — the hollowing out of a once vibrant, reformist institution, is causing Labor to cave in on itself."
  • Independent MP Tony Windsor "Should Mr Rudd become prime minister again, it would most likely lead to an early election.  And if Mr Rudd did try to command a majority on the floor of Parliament, he could not rely on Mr Windsor's support. "If the Labor Party suddenly want to change arrangements in the middle of the stream all bets are off," [link]
In conclusion

Julia Gillard as Prime Minister was able to from government after the 2010 federal election with support from three independent MPs and the Greens.  Her government has legislation for several import reforms such as the Clean Energy Bill (with a carbon price), the Mining Tax (albiet compromised) to name a few. 

However, she has been unable to garner much support from the Australian public with her wooden style of speaking and continued utterance of media lines.  She has also avoided direct questions about her exact role in the demotion of Kevin Rudd as PM.  Opinion polls indicate that Gillard is on track to lose the next federal election to Tony Abbott.

It has now become clear that Kevin Rudd has been actively destabilising the Gillard government over several months, so she has not been able to get "clean air" to get her message across and demonstrate leadership.

Gillard and her supporters have portrayed Kevin Rudd as a Prime Minister who was almost impossible to work with.  He lost his mojo and backflipped on important initiatives such as the Mining Tax (Resources Super Profits Tax) and his much vaunted but highly compromised Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

Kevin Rudd and his supporters say that only he has the personal popularity with and support from the Australian public to beat Tony Abbott at the next election.  Polls indicate he has more support from the public than Julia Gillard (and Tony Abbott).  Rudd has also given assurances that he has "learned from his past mistakes" and is a "change person" with respect to his leadership style.

However, Rudd has also just flagged a review of the Clean Energy Bill, even though it has just been through and exhaustive process with the Multi Party Climate Change Committee and will be legislated in July this year. 

So the choice before the Labor Party is a capable PM who has Cabinet and party support, but looks like losing the next election due to her poor public profile, or perhaps winning the election and a return to Kevin Rudd's autocratic leadership.

It is also likely that Rudd will not be able to form a minority government if Labor doesn't win a majority of seats under his leadership (if he gets it).

Rudd might also spit the dummy completely and resign from his seat.  This would force a by election, and possibly then a general election.

If Rudd loses the leadership ballot, as appears likely, all indications are he will continue to destablise the government.

I don't envy them.

It looks like Tony Abbott will sail into office whatever happens now.

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