20/06/2012 - 10:34

Rudd in the stable saddling a white horse

20/06/2012 - 10:34


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The rumour mill suggests Kevin Rudd’s currently doing the groundwork for Labor to draft him into the top job.

The rumour mill suggests Kevin Rudd’s currently doing the groundwork for Labor to draft him into the top job.

A SIZEABLE slice of life as a political commentator involves listening to, and even occasionally mulling over, rumours.

This often involves encountering quite outlandish claims and listening to what others have extrapolated from the most unsubstantiated of allegations.

Even so one often cannot discount these because their conveyors have, at times, been shown to be correct.

That said, the ongoing rumour I’ve now elevated to saga status is that failed prime minister Kevin Rudd is moving closer to re-occupying The Lodge.

Since his failed February bid – which came after months of rumour mongering that he’d be making a challenge – it’s clear one cannot discount the possibility of yet another similar quest.

Remember, although Mr Rudd solemnly undertook not to rechallenge his former deputy, Julia Gillard, he didn’t rule out accepting the job of PM if ‘drafted’ into the role.

The main reason for the continued conjecture is, of course, Ms Gillard’s polling – meaning voter support for Labor while she’s prime minister – which remains deplorable.

And we’ve endured a farcical incident or two every month.

If it’s not Ms Gillard being dragged from a restaurant by police because of a virtual riot sparked by one of her staffers, it’s her denying to a unionist foreknowledge of an agreed and patted down government program to bring 1,715 foreign workers into the Pilbara.

And so it’s gone.

The latest piece in the Rudd resurrection saga is that he’d recently driven, rather than flown, from Brisbane to Canberra so he could meet several mates along the way to pick their brains on his next move.

Apparently one such pal was long-time leftist Sydneysider, cattle breeder and ABC radio host Phillip Adams, who still complains during his evening chat show, Late Night Live, about the Rudd dumping.

Another was Joel Fitzgibbon, who Mr Rudd sacked as defence minister in 2009. 

This rumour has it that Mr Fitzgibbon has quietly met Labor powerbroker and AWU boss, Paul Howes, a key player in the Rudd dumping, and NSW Labor’s secretary Sam Dastyari.

The latter two were apparently seen having a beer.

What’s happening?

Significantly, Messrs Howes and Dastyari have signalled they won’t become involved if Mr Rudd is ever called upon to replace Ms Gillard.

This bailing-out by this powerful duo certainly evens the political playing field, since both hold considerable sway, especially over a sizeable number of NSW Labor MPs.

Remember also, Mr Rudd knows precisely where an adversary’s soft underbelly is when moving against party leaders.

Never forget he made three low-key Brisbane to Perth trips during 2006 to shore-up Brian Burke’s backing before moving to topple then leader, Kim Beazley.

Mr Rudd knew that Mr Burke, even though living in far-off Perth and no longer a politician, was a key figure within Labor’s centre faction, which was and remains solidly represented in NSW.

It’s therefore fair to suggest the Fitzgibbon meeting that appears to indirectly involve Messrs Howes and Dastyari resembles the successful 2006 moves with Mr Burke.

Mr Rudd may be returning to his tried-and-tested 2006 approach of carefully moving to lay the basis for being drafted, rather than another face-to-face challenge like that in February.

Interestingly also, inquiries reveal that he’s added one more – and little-noticed – twist that’s likely to be extremely significant.

Few have noticed that, when prematurely moving in February, one of his commitments was the scrapping of the Gillard-Bob Brown $23/tonne CO2 tax and replacing it with a $10/t rate.

In other words, he’d more than halve Labor’s brain-dead CO2 slug.

Mr Rudd therefore is letting potential party room backers know that he’ll continue standing by this idea.

Despite all the Gillard government’s compensating of rusted-on Labor voters for her outrageous CO2 tax, many Labor MPs still fear an election campaign against opposition leader Tony Abbott with a burdensome $23/t tax in place.

Always remember that presently there is in the atmosphere less than four parts per 10,000 (400ppm) of CO2, which is close to starvation for the sustenance of plant life.

Anything below 1.5 parts per 10,000 (150ppm) means all plants die.

More than four parts would mean forest, grassland, flowers, and crop growth would only be boosted.

The Rudd calculation is that by more than halving the outrageous impost he’ll shift a critical number within caucus towards him.

What Ruddites could then do is go around Australia during an election campaign saying: ‘Don’t worry about this CO2 tax; it’s now only $10/t; it won’t hurt hip pocket nerves, vote for Labor; vote Kevin ‘013.’

They could also claim electricity suppliers would no longer be able to complain as loudly, nor boost power charges by as much as under the Gillard-Brown $23/t level now set to really harm Australian industry.

Now, one should recall that, throughout 2008 and 2009, Mr Rudd was Australia’s biggest tub-thumping spruiker for a tax on CO2.

It was he who claimed CO2 and global warming was the greatest moral issue facing mankind.

Three years on, to help pave his way back into The Lodge, he’s prepared to dilute this Gillard-Brown slug that he’d actually voted for.

This column from the time the hysterical worldwide anti-CO2 campaign was so avidly embraced by so many Canberra politicians – here I’m not exempting the Howard government’s hype that laid the groundwork for this crackpot tax – has clearly and unambiguously stressed it’s the mother of all hoaxes. I continue to hold that position.

Not only should there be no $23/t CO2 tax; there shouldn’t be a $10/t one either.

But Mr Rudd lacks the gumption to embrace the Tony Abbott-led coalition’s position on the issue because he knows that would forever delegitimise his entire political career.

So we’ve got someone lacking the courage to make a public act of contrition for wasting the Australian public’s time and money on a hoax.

I’d have thought that’s hardly the type deserving to live in The Lodge.

True, this column hasn’t been overly gung-ho about Mr Abbott, primarily because he’s still to convince me he’ll unequivocally embrace policies that drastically slash the burden upon Australians of ever more costly big-spending Canberra.

Like so many Sydneysider politicians – John Howard and Gough Whitlam especially – Mr Abbott still seems to believe Canberra’s massive bureaucratic empires need boosting to be another, but bigger, state government, one that duplicates what six state governments are already doing.

Even so, that’s preferable to Ms Gillard or Mr Rudd, both of whom are obsessed with taxing, including life-nourishing CO2.



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