24/06/2015 - 13:16

Stains remain among Labor’s dirty laundry

24/06/2015 - 13:16


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It matters not whom one believes in the ABC documentary The Killing Season, the answer’s the same for Labor.

DISPUTE: Julia Gillard remains at odds with Kevin Rudd.

It matters not whom one believes in the ABC documentary The Killing Season, the answer’s the same for Labor.

Like many thousands of voters with a keen interest in politics I watched the ABC’s examination of the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard years, The Killing Season.

After episode one, I immediately recalled that standard retort policemen invariably give journalists when asked which of two interrogated suspects the constabulary believes: ‘We believe both; they’re telling the truth on each other’.

That pretty much summarises The Killing Season.

However, nothing is simple when Mr Rudd is hovering about.

Before the first program went to air, journalist, interviewer and narrator Sarah Ferguson was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying she disbelieved both contenders.

That article began as follows: “Sarah Ferguson believes that both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard lied to her during the making of The Killing Season, which starts this week on ABC 1.

“’I won’t go into details – that one’s for watching – but yes, unquestionably, they lied.

“’Not many times, because they have that skill, but there are contradictions that are clearly on screen.

“’When stories don’t add up, the audience will come to its conclusion’.”

So, is it to be the policeman’s path or Ms Ferguson’s?

The simple answer, when one thinks about it, is they’re identical.

I didn’t really need to watch The Killing Season to concur with Ms Ferguson, because I’d agreed many years ago with former Labor leader Mark Latham’s often repeated assessments of Mr Rudd; insights that Labor’s powerbrokers, especially current opposition leader Bill Shorten, persist in ignoring.

Take the ones carried in The Australian exactly two years before Ms Ferguson’s claims were reported.

“Rudd knows that all of this [disputation] is damaging the party,” Mr Latham said.

“He is a lunatic.

“I look at him on the TV and I have to say ‘this bloke’s nuts’.

“I mean this guy is a once-in-a-century egomaniac.

“You'll never see his like again as long as we live in Australian politics.

“They [the ALP] should have expelled him three years ago, quite frankly.

“He is an absolute nightmare for them.”

Instead of expelling Mr Rudd, those powerbrokers instead re-embraced him and made him leader for the September 2013 election (which he lost, as, indeed, Ms Gillard would have if she hadn’t been ousted).

But what would Labor have done if he’d won?

Would he have been retained as leader or promptly removed again if, as is likely, he reverted to form?

Perhaps Mr Shorten, a key player in both the Rudd and Gillard oustings, would have climbed into the prime ministership soon after September 2013.

Nor has Mr Latham been reticent to let his feelings towards Ms Gillard be known.

In a brief comment piece published ahead of The Killing Season being broadcast he wrote: “When I left federal parliament in 2005, Julia Gillard had a carefully considered opinion of Kevin Rudd.

“She regarded him as a leaker, a manipulator and a narcissist.

“Imagine my surprise when, in 2006, Gillard shifted her left-wing factional numbers behind Rudd and made him leader of the Labor opposition, deposing Kim Beazley.

“Once the compromise no longer suited Gillard, she knifed Rudd, taking the prime ministership from him in June 2010.

“Since then, Gillard has fed the media case studies of Rudd’s bastardry – a retrospective confirmation of her 2005 character assessment.”

Both fatally flawed leaders sought and gained what they so dearly wanted – power, political power, power to tax, power to expend public funds.

And they did so with relish.

Then, as in so many Shakespearean plays, they were felled not by the deeds of another, but rather by their own, which would have provided the Bard with plenty of material had he lived in Canberra between December 2007 and September 2013.

And surely his play would be named, Seventy Months of Madness.

But as the tumultuous Rudd-Gillard era fades, I’m less and less interested in each of their strange and damaging proclivities.

Unfortunately, that’s not as easily said of the financial legacy they have left, which, even at the time, prompted Labor’s standout finance minister, the late Peter Walsh, to remark: “The prime minister is an economic illiterate and an egomaniac.

“He won’t take any hard decisions. He’s capricious.

“He sees himself as some sort of Platonic philosopher king.”

That was said in mid-November 2009, less than two years after the Rudd-Gillard duo, with Treasurer Wayne Swan alongside them, launched a massive and unjustified debt-funded spending spree that will take decades to pay off.

All of which suggests a better description for the Rudd-Gillard era would be, Seventy Months of Money Madness.



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