Friday, June 25, 2010

Brutal political tactics

This morning, while browsing through an Australian media website, I encountered these two ads, side by side:

I'm shocked by the Australian process that enables faceless so-called "powerbrokers" (what an appalling archaic term!) to kill the chief. It's all very selfishly careerist, far removed from preoccupations concerning the good of the people. If that's supposed to be a demonstration of democracy, then I feel like borrowing the language of a professional soccer-player and concluding: "You can do what you like with your shitty system."

Within the Canberra workplace, it's hard to identify the real bullies. Was it the arrogant former prime minister, or rather the female Cassius who finally succeeded (with a little help from her henchmen) in stabbing him in the back? Meanwhile, some good might come out of this affair. I'm referring to the possible sacking of Stephen Conroy...


  1. Hi William,

    Not as simple as it might look in the papers. It seems that Rudd was far too autocratic and apart from the media trying to bury him over the last few months, he appears to have been doing a pretty good job of burying himself. While I have never doubted that his intentions were the best and I certainly acknowledge his achievements [including getting us through the GFC relatively unscathed] there have been some dreadful stuff-ups.

    It also bothers me that Australians [with media and no doubt US influence] have come to look on the role of Prime Minister as something resembling a US president. Unlike what many people are saying ..we [the Australian people generally] DID NOT vote for Kevin Rudd to be PM. Only the members in his electorate got to vote for him. While I acknowledge that the personality of a party leader can heavily influence whether people vote for that party, to say that the whole population votes for the PM is a misnomer and a denial of our Constitution. The party leader in parliament is always elected by the party members be they in opposition or government and to say otherwise is just ridiculous. This idea of the PM assuming a presidential type importance is one that has only developed over about the last 30 years and as far as I’m concerned, I don’t like it. I would hate to think we ended up with a system like the US. In some ways the only reason we don’t already have a Republic is because they couldn’t agree on the model and how to choose the “ceremonial leader”. I’m of the opinion that having the general public [especially when they are so politically naïve] elect someone like that is fraught with all sorts of problems and I believe it should be like the GG is appointed now [ie by the Government of the day.] As their role has little power.. and should never have more .. then it is ridiculous to be making it an elected position. But I digress..

    So, back to Rudd. He could not have been more unlucky by coming into government just before the GFC hit. This has curbed or made impossible many of his policy agendas from 2007 [for obvious reasons]. However, of course, the media and the Opposition certainly don't acknowledge this. The ETS became a noose around his neck because the International community failed to support him at the meeting in Oslo last year and to embark on this alone in the economic climate of the last 2 years would have been both economic and political suicide. He couldn't get anything through the Senate here anyway because the Greens wouldn't budge from their position and he lost the Opposition's support for a watered-down version when Abbott deposed Malcolm Turnbull. [the latter, in my opinion, the only halfway decent leader the coalition have ever had] To call a double dissolution then would have been very reckless as there was no reason to believe he would have been re-elected with a majority in either house. There are also some interesting constitutional factors to consider re election timing and double dissolutions ... see Antony Green's site

  2. Hi William [Part 2 comment]

    It seems that Rudd was pretty much personally despised by many of the Labor Party and Parliament House staff. Rumblings that he forgot and/or ignored many of the people who got him there in the first place are common. His failures as a leader in ensuring the successful/reasonable delivery of some of the programs designed to stave off the GFC effects are obvious. There has been enormous waste in the school building programs and the insulation programs.

    Blind Freddy could have predicted the mushrooming of dodgy operators and opportunistic companies with so much money being pumped out but the delivery of the programs was rushed and not thought through and crippled by bungling at many levels. After the same things went on in the Whitlam years you would think they might have taken care not to dirty their good work by being slap dash about delivery ... but they failed.

    Rudd has tended to be far too dictatorial with his cabinet and caucus and while I applaud that he didn't align with any faction, the reality is he didn't really align with even his own colleagues. You can't do that and be a good leader.

    He picked a fight with the mining industry and it was more a power trip than a reasoned strategy. I believe they should be taxed more but he was just way too cocky. You don't take on the richest group in the country and be publicly spoiling for a fight and daring them to beat you ..and expect to win. It was sheer lunacy.

    Julia didn't really want the job just yet but when Rudd started panicking early last week and sent his chief of staff to count who was backing him and assumed Julia was plotting to overthrow him [when she wasn't] she really got the shits that he had so little faith in her and didn't approach her personally. So when the right faction came knocking to ask her to go for it [the media had already detected the revolt before Julia was approached by "razor gang".] then she had little option but to consider it.

    I just hope she can sort out some of the mess. She is considered to be a far more inclusive operator than Rudd and is certainly willing to negotiate with the mining community. I want Labor back in to try and get to some of the policies the GFC and the lack of a majority in the Senate prevented. I'd also like them to clean up some of their mistakes from this term. [Also, Julia doesn’t seem to be one of those growing number in both sides of politics who feel compelled to dash off to church every week either..thank goodness!]

    The thought of having Abbott and that ultra-right lot back at the head of this country truly frightens and sickens me. Stephen Conroy is a deadshit and I don't have much time for Tony Burke and a few others either. However there are hordes more worse than that with the other lot [think Abbott, Bishop, Tuckey, Hockey, Katter, Joyce]. All those years of John Howard were so backward. He might have saved a lot of money .. but he did sweet FA for the country.

    The political ignorance of the majority of Australians is frightening. However with the media owned by just a couple of heavyweights and with dangerous egomaniacal morons like Alan Jones having so much influence, I guess it’s no wonder. So if the media can just stop meddling, [stirring the pot just for headlines most of the time .. and then have the gall to ask “why” about the consequent reactions!!] and Julia can rise to the occasion then there might be hope for all of us in Oz.

  3. Georgie Landy's analysis of the rise and fall of Rudd is well-written and politically precise. Her explanations evoke a question that reoccurs constantly in my mind: Is the Australian political structure (federation, governor-general, parties under the influence of powerful unions, lobbies, mining corporations, etc) simply far too complicated to allow anything of a worthwhile nature to be achieved... by and for the people? The nation's infrastructure (roads, railways, defense, environmental projects, etc) remains amazingly shabby for an allegedly rich nation. To right such wrongs, I'm convinced that a revolutionary political approach would need to be invented and implemented. And the murky removal of Rudd reveals that Australia is nowhere near attaining such a goal.