Tag: Gillard

New PM

It would be somewhat remiss of me not to comment briefly on our new PM. Congratulations to Ms Gillard for making history and all that…

By my reckoning she’s the first “ranga” PM, the first female PM, the first challenger to oust a sitting PM in their first term, the stager of the fastest bloodless coup in history and the PM with the best hairstyle (which I put down to having a hair stylist for a partner).

Surely everybody saw this coming from the moment Rudd and Gillard formed an uneasy relationship as leader and deputy. K-Rudd’s love-hate relationship with the Australian public and the ALP respectively came to an end in a pretty abrupt moment. Labor has form for ousting elected political leaders in favour of party apparatchiks. It’s not uncommon for the party to foist premiers upon the unwilling denizens of our states – and Channel 10 are about to remind us that it’s all to typical of Labor at a Federal level as well – with its docu-drama Hawke. Labor does anything to hold on to power – even sacrificing one of its own, even if its own happens to be the most popular PM ever – who ousted the PM they loathed.

Rudd’s problem was his chalk and cheese relationship with those around him – the voters, who knew him not, loved him. His party, and any members of the opposition who knew him, reserved incredible disdain for the man. In my former role I dealt with pollies and political pundits, I shared a desk briefly with the PMs infamous chief of staff (as he phoned through some interview transcripts). Of all the people I’ve met, and of everything I’ve read, the impression I get is that Rudd operated with a veneer of courtesy which covered over a multitude of flaws and sins. His outbursts of rage – now common knowledge – were apparently typical of his treatment of those in his way. David Marr’s fascinating political obituary shows where he went wrong.

He had to do everything himself. He couldn’t trust and didn’t delegate. He worked his staff ruthlessly. His temper was formidable. The office operated in a strange atmosphere of rush and delay. Everything happened at the last minute, more often than not to suit the next media hit. This didn’t change when he became PM. While he rode high in the polls it hardly mattered. His party accepted Rudd’s demands for near absolute control. Cabinet was reduced to a shadow of itself.

Part of the problem was Rudd’s old ambition to find decent solutions to the nation’s problems. Decency is personal, intuitive, hard to delegate. Marry that to a sense of indispensability that is right off the Richter scale, and you had a recipe for ruin. Once again, Rudd had enemies everywhere.

Rudd is what happens when ruthless efficiency meets the intention to do good things. His motives were pure but his methods were not.

I couldn’t figure out where Abbott was for the first 24 hours of the coup. Had he come out strongly against Labor and the murky backroom operations of the factions and the unions Gillard’s political nose may have been bloodied from the opening moments of her ascension to power, instead, Labor get a bit of a bump in the polls.

The reaction amongst my Facebook friends was interesting – most seem unhappy with the manner in which Rudd was dismissed, happy to see the back of him, and split on the question of whether Gillard’s hair colour or gender was more historic. Having had the chance to see which way most of my friends swing politically in the last few days I’m struck by what a conservative batch they are. Maybe I’ll vote ALP just to be contrarian…

What I can’t understand is Gillard’s appeal. She seems merciless. She’s the most extremely left wing PM we’ve ever had. And she sounds like a character from Kath and Kim.

The Labor PR machine was impressive. Every Labor talking head, from union bosses to exiled former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie (speaking from Wyoming), had their talking points in order. They praised her as a “strong and decisive figure,” “a born leader,” “an excellent communicator,” and the person who would get Labor’s focus back on the big issues. And each person mentioned the same issues. This was all impressively “on message.”

Possibly my favourite part of the post-coup coverage was Crikey’s collection of photoshopped versions of Julia Gillard (henceforth J-Gill) in the situations she said were more likely than her challenging K-Rudd.




Everybody’s changing

Sometimes there’s a real synergy between a number of different topics that fits nicely under the one blog heading. In a brief synopsis today’s blog will feature a mention of my trip to Brisbane, the Labor Leadership change, the Ashes, and whatever else occurs to me in the course of penning – or typing – this entry. Oh, and I recently became the proud owner of Liberia.

I’ll start with the known knowns – and move towards the known unknowns, ignoring completely the unknown unknowns.

I spent a few days in Brisbane last week. That was weird. It was a work trip and I was doing all sorts of official things demonstrating my competency and learning lots about tourism in the process. I’ll start the account from the beginning, which is, as we know courtesy of Rodgers and Hammerstein, a very good place to start.

I flew into Brisbane on Wednesday night, having spent most of the plane trip playing “eye spy” with the inquisitive six year old seated across the aisle I was ready to collect my bags and make a mad dash to the front of the taxi queue when suddenly there was a loud bang (well more a muffled whrrrr sound) and the lights went out. The baggage carousel shuddered to a stop and I was stranded waiting for my rather large, brown, antique suitcase to appear. It did. I got a cab. It drove me to my parents house. I disembarked (got out). I had dinner (cold steak). Wrote some of my sermon (which I will be preaching at church up here this Sunday night). And went to bed. I’m now tired of the blow by blow account – no doubt you are too.

Thursday was a day filled with meetings – well there were two – I met with our two PR companies who are largely responsible for sourcing the travel journalists I host in the region – and thus largely responsible for my free steak tally. It pays to be nice to the people who provide you with free steak so I duly told them what a wonderful job they were doing sourcing (and saucing) my free steaks. We established the parameters of our working relationship for the next year (with a steak quota now firmly entrenched in their contractual obligations) and moved on. Thursday was also my pseudo birthday – the day my family arbitrarily sets aside to endow me with gifts. So we celebrated in splendid fashion with noodles, waffles, and friends.

I also used my time in Brisbane to walk past the new State Library and its infamous balls of steel – which I’ll admit to finding mildly aesthetically appealing, while also admiring the skyscrapers which have been added to the CBD’s skyline since I left in March. I didn’t get to check out GoMA but I’ll save that for my next trip south. I did however, manage to visit JB Hifi, where I spent way too much of my hard earned wage purchasing a number of CDs I’ve been unable to locate in Townsville to date. Gotye, Bob Evans, and a few other JJJ favourites including Keane have now taken their rightful place in my CD collection. Keane segues nicely into my next topic – the lyrics from their song “Everybody’s changing” are quite apt when considering the Rudd takeover of the Australian Labor party.

So little time
Try to understand that I’m
Trying to make a move to stay in the game
I try to stay awake and remember my name
But everybody’s changing
And I don’t feel the same

Queensland’s second most famous Dr Death, Kevin Rudd, managed to wrest control of the party from the grasp of Kim Beazley, taking a caucus majority of 49-39 and “uniting” the party room behind his partnership with Julia Gillard. The more things change, the more they stay the same – Rudd’s Labor party will face the same challenges the Beazley party faced. He still needs to convince the public that he’s not too academic for the top job – with criticism of his extensive vocabulary already airing. I like Rudd – and he’s got a solid base of experience and expertise behind him. Solid enough to convince me that he’d be a suitable Prime Minister – I’m just not sure I prefer him to Howard or Costello. They all look like politicians to me.

It strikes me that 10 months out from an election is not an ideal time to be changing leadership – it also strikes me that with Labor polling ahead of the government this change was fairly unnecessary. Although I’m not sure anyone really wants Beazley to be prime minister – it’s more a case of public sentiment turning against Howard following the IR laws. I’m yet to be convinced the IR laws are a bad thing – but equally – I’m yet to be convinced they’re a good thing. There have been a number of issues that just haven’t registered with me as anything more than standard bureucratic incompetence – the AWB scandal, Children overboard – and in fact anything that has gone wrong in the last 10 years – seem to me to be the cost of the democratic process and not a compelling reason for governmental change. My biggest issues are with things like health, education and water – which all seem to be state government babies.

By the time you read this post Australia’s fate in the second Ashes test will be well and truly sealed, I’m predicting a win for the Aussies – and have been a believer all day.