26/08/2013 - 06:54

Second chance one too many

26/08/2013 - 06:54

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Kevin Rudd should have stayed gone when his party pushed him from the PM’s office, so now it’s up to the voters to deliver the message.

Kevin Rudd should have stayed gone when his party pushed him from the PM's office, so now it's up to the voters to deliver the message.

Both the Australian people and the Labor Party have given Kevin Rudd too many second chances.

It’s time he left the political stage. He’s simply not up to the job of being Labor leader.

And he falls far short of possessing the required qualities to be Australia’s prime minister.

Quite frankly, he’s an all-round failure.

The most obvious difference between him and other recently failed Labor leaders – I’m thinking especially of Paul Keating and Mark Latham – is that he doesn’t know when to go.

At least they did.

As his embarrassingly hollow electioneering unfolds it’s increasingly evident he should not have contested the last election for his seat of Griffith.

Had Mr Rudd left parliament in 2010 he’d have done Australia, the Labor Party, and himself, a great service.

What he should have done was to have quietly enjoyed life outside politics until a forgiving Labor Party emerged and offered him a diplomatic posting in repayment for his undoubtedly impressive 2007 election victory.

Nothing else he’s done is worth writing home about.

And who knows, a Coalition government may have likewise rewarded him.

Let’s not forget that the opposition’s deputy leader and foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, has at least once publicly hinted that a coalition government would look favourably upon Mr Rudd for some role.

Let’s also not forget that Mr Rudd personally selected former Liberal leader, Brendan Nelson, for a senior European diplomatic post, and that Kim Beazley, the Labor leader Mr Rudd ousted, became Australia’s ambassador in Washington DC.

Instead, Mr Rudd kept on keeping on, doing what he knows best –working behind the scenes, in the shadows, bringing down those above him within the ALP.

He did this to Mr Beazley in 2006. (Remember those three low-key visits he made to Perth, seeking expert advice from onetime Labor premier Brian Burke?)

And he returned to the same shady tactics by toppling Julia Gillard last June.

Clearly Mr Rudd is extremely adept at operating out of sight. But he’s completely out of his depth in management of crucially important affairs of state, the prime duty of prime ministers.

He should have allowed Ms Gillard to lead Labor into the current campaign, and lose as badly as her polling showed she was destined to do.

Now he finds himself holding the can.

By all measures election night promises to be a sad affair, both for Mr Rudd and Labor.

Let’s hope we don’t have to again endure a near-tearful Mr Rudd, as in June 2010 when his party felt compelled to remove him from the highest office in the land.

Commentators have too often been dazzled by Mr Rudd’s generally flippant remarks, and have judged those behind his removal as perpetrators of a great injustice.

But Mr Rudd’s ousting wasn’t unjust – he simply wasn’t up to the job.

Those commentators, who should have known better, fail to give credit to people like Labor’s often described ‘elder statesman’, NSW Senator John Faulkner, for agreeing to break the news to Mr Rudd that he was not cut out to lead Labor.

Let’s also not forget that his dumping wasn’t the result of a caucus vote. This meant an overwhelming number of Labor front and backbenchers had agreed that Mr Rudd had to go, since he was doing neither his party nor the country a service by staying on as PM.

They were 100 per cent correct.

Unfortunately, Labor’s number two, Ms Gillard, who was called upon to step-in, also proved incapable of rising to the occasion.

Her longstanding far leftist inclinations meant she was intellectually ill equipped to oversee a majority Labor government, let alone a minority one that was indebted to the Greens Party.

But back to Mr Rudd.

One leading columnist, Paul Sheehan of The Sydney Morning Herald, has succinctly described the essence of Labor’s error in returning to him.

“What Rudd is not doing is running on his record,” he wrote.

“He can’t.

“The blow-out in boat arrivals, in the deficit, in the federal debt, in the cost of energy, ensure that if he ran on his record instead of running a campaign of distortion and deflection he would lose, and lose badly.”

Even if Mr Rudd were to win, narrowly or otherwise, another tap on his shoulder is likely to follow, if not straight after the election then some time down the track.

Mr Rudd has shown he’s simply incapable of working in a collegiate manner, something that’s essential for any prime minister.

The thought of the already far too long Rudd era – 2007-13 – continuing until sometime into 2016, is too horrible to contemplate.


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