01/07/2010 - 00:00

Rudd’s shadow hangs over Labor

01/07/2010 - 00:00


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Julia Gillard has plenty of work to do to ensure victory at the next federal election.

Rudd’s shadow hangs over Labor

LABOR, which has a hard-headed pragmatic wing plus an outdated leftist one that includes Julia Gillard, has again dumped a leader because it sensed loss of power.

Dumping losing leaders is becoming a well-refined Labor practice, one that’s having the effect of turning to women as leaders.

However, Labor’s momentous gender year isn’t 2010, but 1990, when Carmen Lawrence ousted (then) Western Australian premier Peter Dowding, whose administrative style was similar to that of Kevin Rudd. Soon after, Joan Kirner became Victoria’s first female premier.

Queensland’s Anna Bligh followed in 2007 and NSW added Kristina Keneally in 2009.

Although the position of prime minister is more prestigious, having already had four Labor women premiers means the shine was somewhat taken off Ms Gillard’s elevations.

And the Liberals haven’t been entirely sleepy in the gender leadership stakes.

Kerry Chikarovski led NSW’s Liberals from 1998 until 2002, and Isobel Redmond presently leads South Australia’s Liberals.

But what of Mr Rudd, who Labor gave so much rope that helped his own political hanging?

Probably the most insightful assessment of his long expected demise appeared in The Australian Spectator just one week before the Gillard coup.

The author, former Liberal leader Alexander Downer, who knew Mr Rudd in the diplomatic service, wrote: “The secret of what Rudd is all about lies in his childhood.

“That’s probably true of all of us.

“Something happened then which made him determined one day to be famous.

“He has succeeded – spectacularly.

“But like all people who seek fame for themselves at the expense of others, his fame will eat him up.

“Fame fed with substance can make a person great. Fame alone will destroy you.

“It has taken an incredible three years for the Australian public to realise who their national leader really is.

“I sat with a Labor luminary having a late-night drink in June 2008.

“He turned to me and said: ‘Mate, one day the Australian public will grow to hate Kevin Rudd as much as I do.’

“That day has arrived.”

Fair-minded Australians gave Mr Rudd many more kilometres of rope than did his generous party colleagues, another way of saying voters only slowly concluded he was a ‘hollow man’, ‘a lemon’, surrounded, in the words of one Labor insider, by ‘unelected adolescents’.

Clearly, Tony Abbott’s challenge is to reinforce that clever Liberal Kevin O’Lemon TV advertisement to show that Mr Rudd and his ‘unelected adolescents’ had worked closely with two elected collaborators – Ms Gillard and Wayne Swan – who unfailingly backed adoption of wasteful programs, and only became concerned when a losing election loomed.

It was the coming trouncing, not the wanton wastage, that sharpened Ms Gillard’s and new deputy, Mr Swan’s minds.

Can one make a silk purse from a sow’s ear?

Ms Gillard’s sought to convince us at her first press conference it can.

State Scene doubts it.

From her Adelaide University days, on to her days as head of the leftist oriented Australian Union of Students and her shadow and ministerial days, she’s only ever envisaged government and targeted activism as the be all and end all of public life.

She regards government as the agency through which Australia can be changed. For Ms Gillard more, ever more, government is always the answer.

Late-1940s Clement Attlee-style English socialism (aka IngSoc) remains her cherished vision for Australia.

Her view of Australia certainly isn’t one envisaging less or limited government prevailing.

Government is the overarching agency through which cherished leftist aims are to be realised.

Take the following extract from a Socialist Forum piece she wrote: “For the left to make any real advance all these perspectives on the relationship to Labor in government need to be rejected in favour of a concept of strategic support for Labor governments.

“We need to recognise the only possibility for major social change is under a long period of Labor administration.

“Within that administration the left needs to be willing to participate to shape political outcomes, recognising the need to except (sic) often unpalatable compromises in the short term to bolster the prospect of future advance.

“The task of pushing back the current political constraints by changing public opinion would need to be tackled by the left through government, social movements and trade unions.”

The Rudd obsession with fame resulted in billions of taxpayers’ dollar being wasted on silly programs, a path Ms Gillard and Mr Swan loyally backed.

Not surprisingly, one national commentator concluded that the Gillard coup was “about policy corrections, not new policy directions”.

“Gillard was intimately involved in all Rudd’s successes and failures,” he continued.

“Her true mission as PM will be to make Labor orthodoxy more saleable.

“It is about smarter politics. Ironically, that means not just correcting for Rudd’s mistakes but also for Gillard’s past mistakes.”

Ms Gillard and her advisers conceded this at her first press conference.

“I take my fair share of responsibility for the Rudd government’s record, for our important achievements and for errors made,” she said.

Notwithstanding this, it’s clear she’s not committed to root and branch revamping of Labor’s and her commitment to overbearing IngSoc-style of governance.

She thus intends only repackaging failed Ruddism, not discarding or thoroughly revamping it.

Ms Gillard only has a few months to do her repackaging job, which means the Abbott-led Liberal/Nationals coalition has that time to show repackaged, not thoroughly revamped, Ruddism, has survived unharmed.

The evidence for this is found in declarations made during her inaugural press conference.

On the Rudd opened borders approach she said: “This country is a sanctuary, it’s our home so we’ve got a responsibility to manage our borders and manage the question of asylum seekers in the best possible way.

“I’ve got no truck at all with elevating and fear-mongering about a problem for political advantage which is what I believe the opposition is seeking to do.

“But I am full of understanding of the perspective of the Australian people that they want strong management of our borders and I will provide it.”

That’s Ruddism.

“It is my intention to lead a government that does more to harness the wind and the sun and the new emerging technologies,” she said.

“I will do this because I believe in climate change. I believe human beings contribute to climate change.

“And it is as disappointing to me as it is to millions of Australians that we do not have a price on carbon.”

That’s also Ruddism.

“Australians are entitled to a fairer share of our inheritance, the mineral wealth that lies in our grounds. They are entitled to that fairer share,” she said.

“But to reach a consensus, we need do more than consult. We need to negotiate.”

And that’s Ruddism.

Expect cosmetic refinements on northern Australian boat entries, and similar moves on carbon taxing and super taxing of mining.

Only one Labor female predecessor, Ms Bligh, has succeeded in being re-elected.

The Lawrence-Kirner bids failed and Ms Keneally isn’t shaping-up overly well for NSW’s coming election.

More, much more, than repackaged Ruddism is required of Ms Gillard for her to remain prime minister.



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