This time last year, freshly ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised a “first anniversary of my knifing” party for his then staffers.
As the anniversary looms there’s entirely unsurprising and rabid media interest in the proposed gathering, causing the now Foreign Minister to cancel the event for fear of damage to his front lawn, and because of former staffers’ natural reluctance to run the gauntlet of television lights and media exposure to celebrate the occasion with Kev.
However, there should be some formal acknowledgement of this anniversary. After all, the circumstances were unprecedented and historic. Never before have we seen a first term PM chucked out by his party. While insiders may have been aware that something was going down, the event seems to have taken the majority of the media and most of the general population entirely by surprise.
Ever since that spectacle Rudd, a solitary essence, has haunted the ALP and parliament, inconsolable and unforgiving as the undead. To the degree that we now have such ex luminaries as former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie calling for Rudd to move quietly to the back benches, and then quietly disappear.
This is further proof, if further proof was required, of the ALP’s endemic weakness for magical thinking. The “Rudd fading into obscurity ship” has long since sailed, if indeed, it ever got off the slips.
There have also been calls for Gillard to sack Rudd. But on what grounds? The man is performing well in his job. While his undermining of the Gillard government is as effective as a tribe of white ants secretly gnawing away at the timbers of a Queenslander house, Rudd’s mission is accomplished through innuendo, not the kind of direct attack that could be used as a justification for throwing him out.
And how is it possible to sack an elected representative for giving interviews about how he felt when they threw him out of his job?
Now we have the extraordinary situation of 60% of voters backing Rudd as preferred PM, while a dismal 31% back the woman who replaced him.
Somewhere in the last couple of days I came across an article in which Karl Bitar lamented that at the time of Rudd’s ousting, the ALP did not take sufficient advantage of a golden opportunity to explain to the electorate just how “odd” Rudd is. Had we known Bitar seems to believe we would have been far more accepting of the coup, and joined with Gillard and the faceless men who engineered it, in rejoicing at our liberation from the odd.
Bitar calls Rudd odd? Pot and kettle, anyone?
In the meantime, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott must be overwhelmed by the ammunition regularly supplied to him by the ALP to help him shoot them down. They never disappoint him. They’re always there when he needs them. Now he wants a $69 million carbon tax plebiscite, telling ABC’s AM program this morning: “I want the Australian people to have a direct say about the biggest economic change in our history. This is the vote the Prime Minister didn’t allow us to have at the last election. I want this to happen.”
Whether or not Abbott can succeed with his plebiscite proposal is as yet unclear. What he will succeed in immediately achieving is the further aggravation of discontent amongst a great many people who are outraged at the prospect of the carbon tax, especially in view of Gillard’s promise when she took over from Rudd that she wasn’t going to introduce one.
The manner of Gillard’s ascension to the top job caused considerable upheaval in an electorate that might not have been enamoured with Rudd at that particular moment in time, but was certainly not ready to have others chuck him out without consultation. Many of us got off on the wrong foot with Gillard, so to speak. Since then, the ALP has not managed to hold onto any ground they might have initially gained.
This certainly isn’t all down to Rudd. Getting rid of him isn’t going to help, in fact it’s likely to make matters even worse. Rudd is more popular than the PM. Why would anyone in their right minds think that sacking him on what could only be extremely tenuous and dubious grounds, be anything other than another desperate act of self-destruction for the ALP?
The man has too much public sympathy. They might as well have him cast in bronze as a holy martyr, while the mad monk becomes more and more convinced of his divine right to rule.
- Rudd leads Gillard as preferred ALP leader (news.theage.com.au)
- Rudd attacked by Labor MPs as ‘bully’ (news.theage.com.au)
- Rudd knows the feeling of being left in the cold (theage.com.au)
- Kevin Rudd “dysfunctional” and a “bully” (news.theage.com.au)
- Rudd on the rise a year after his demise (theage.com.au)
- Gillard feels ‘very secure’ (theage.com.au)
- No Lazarus ambitions, says Rudd (theage.com.au)