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24 June 2010 @ 12:39 am
Oh Kevin ... where did we fall apart?  
The Australian PM is famous for working through much of the night. Tonight he is on the phone ringing around to see if he can get the numbers to hold onto his prime ministership. In 10 hours he may have lost his job.

Some background.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a brilliant political mind who is also a very rational person. This is a problem, because he governs a country that is not famous for having a rational electorate. Basically, he's a reasonably conservative, if small l liberal, Professor Flitwick, though he looks like Harry Potter with a charisma bypass. A year ago he was the most popular PM in Australian history.

He has had some massive successes, most notably Australia weathered the GFC so well under his leadership that most Australians have no idea how bad the GFC actually was. And that's not a party political statement, rather a matter of fact. By every economic indicator, Australia has done remarkably well, without setting up an untenable deficit in stimulus spending

But he has also had some significant failures. The Australian Labor Party (ALP), his party, backflipped on the Emissions Trading Scheme, which had wide public support but could not get through both houses of parliament due to the ALP not having a majority in the upper house. This could have been the trigger for going to an election after a double dissolution in April, when the ALP were polling strongly, instead, Kevin declared that they would leave the scheme on the backburner until 2013. This was massively unpopular for a long list of reasons including making life very difficult for green power technology companies, and because Australia bears the brunt of climate change in the way that many other countries are yet to.

At about the same time, the government's insulation scheme blew up, sort of literally. The government had subsidised installation of household insulation to cut both greenhouse gas production and household energy bills (partially to offset the increased power costs forecast under emissions trading). Unfortunately, they did not bank on the People Are Bastards rule, which saw any number of shonky companies move in on the action to make quick profits and saw a number of household fires as insulation was stapled to wiring, and indeed four deaths of undertrained workers. The media and opposition screamed for the scheme to be suspended, and then screamed when it was suspended and legitimate companies lost money.

Recently, the Resources Super Profits Tax blew up. This is a very elegant taxation model for reforming tax in the resources (mining) sector. Most economists like it very much, as does the International Monetary Federation. It is was designed by a review committee led by the renowned Ken Henry and delivered late last year or at the very beginning of this one. And the government kept the report private for five months. Then announced that they would be going ahead with this new tax, without consultation with the public or the mining industry (which was stupid, because Rudd should have done what he usually does and had such a long and boring period of consultancy that everyone just ended up saying 'fine! Go for it! Just stop talking about it!'). The Mining industry responded to this by saying that they would all go broke, and that they were the only thing that had stood between Australia and bankruptcy through the GFC (Neither of these things are true).

After a bad year, Kevin has slumped in the polls and is actually polling behind the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott. Abbott's the Vincent Crabbe of the Australian parliamentary scene, who last year rolled Draco Malfoy (aka Malcolm Turnbull) for leadership of his party. A rabid right winger, who is disturbingly keen to introduce religion into politics, Abbott is keen to have no emissions trading, no new mining taxes, and many fewer rights for workers, because workers probably don't vote for him anyway.

Tonight, Kevin has been tapped on the shoulder by members of his own party and told that he will face a challenge in the morning from the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard (very much Hermione Granger). Now she is lovely, and very bright, but did not previously have the numbers to win power within the party on her own, so settled for the deuptyship at the last election. She is on the Left wing of the ALP.

However, today the Right-wing numbersmen who largely govern the ALP in the largest states have all decided to switch their allegiance from Kevin to Julia, as has the Australian Workers Union. When asked why, there was a lot of blather about the need to defeat Abbott (which I am all for -- he is evil, Malfoy was heaps better), and then a declaration that they don't believe Kevin will be able to go to the next election and talk about policy when his leadership within the party is under question.

Which seems ever so slightly circular since they are the ones who are questioning his leadership.

It's a little bit rich to me: construct a problem and then breast-beat about the depths of the problem. But apparently that's the way we do things these days.

I miss Cardigan Politics, where all you had to do was be clever and committed and work hard and everything generally followed neatly along until you turned into a complete pillock, at which point another cardigan-wearing person was elected.

Still, Julia will be a fine PM if we end up with her, it's just a very stupid way for Kevin to be removed. I rather hope he gets the numbers now, as he will be unleashed to be the fierce little policy wonk he really is, and THAT would certainly blow Abbott out of the water.
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AutumnHearti_autumnheart on June 23rd, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
It's going to be an interesting morning. I quite like the idea of Julia as PM, but hope it doesn't ruin her chances of getting to *stay* PM longer than a couple of months.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 23rd, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
Yeah ... it seems fairly idiotic behaviour when you have a pollie who has been successful in the past and could be polished up again with a bit of effort, which he is the god king of.

Still, Julia is so lovely, and so smart, that she may be able to win over the electorate quickly, and such a hardarse that she may be able to keep the ALP in check. I want a woman PM, but not one followed quickly by that ferret Abbott.
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on June 23rd, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I think Rudd's main problem is inability to delegate (or possibly lack of competant people to delegate *to*) apart from Julia. Switching roles on that team would be fine with me, but I am trying to work out what the party thinks they are doing by attempting to turn them into rivals rather than partners... way to undermine confidence in the team, there!


blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 23rd, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Even people who hate Rudd think he's smart, so play up the partnership and strengthen Julia's role within it then have an orderly handover after the election if that's the way it has to be. They have played this all very foolishly!
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on June 23rd, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
It's massive apparent timing fail. So much so that my cynical side is starting to wonder about what we're being distracted from...especially given the latest lets-control-the-internet plans. Nothing like a leadership shakeup, real or planned, to distract all the political bloggers.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 23rd, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
Don't get me started on Stephen Conroy ... It's like listening to Fred Nile!
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on June 23rd, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Doens't seem to be Conroy this time, but the WTF-level is right his alley.

Anyway, must stop reading and sleep. I guess we'll all know in 8 hours or so!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 23rd, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
Indeed! I have to stay up to see who wins the England-Slovenia game, we're ahead 1-0 for now.

Was that the Lieberman thing? MADNESS! (cannot follow links tonight, can only touchtype while watching football)
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on June 23rd, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
Lieberman's was a spectacular WTF, yes, but this one is local - a call for ISPs to be required to not allow internet connectivity for anyone without antivirus software and a firewall. Adds a new nasty layer to the Big Brother vision of the internet.
Bryoneybryoneybrynn on June 23rd, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I'm hijacking your very intelligent and thoughtful politics post to say DAMN YOU! I'm hooked on Dance Academy. It's a terrible, terrible show. I'm on episode 9 and almost nothing has happened. Girl with crush continues to have crush. Girl with intimacy issues continues to have intimacy issues. Boy with trust issues continues to have trust issues. The only movement so far has been 1) competitive friendship between boy dancers 2) snotty girl growing breasts! lol

And yet, I keep watching. Why? Why?

*glares at you*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 23rd, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
Hot Boys. Der!
auntpurl: holy shit I love youauntpurl on June 23rd, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
"Harry Potter with a charisma bypass"

Have I told you lately that I love you? Have I told you there's no one else above you? You fill my heart with gladness! Take away all my sadness! Ease my troubles, that's what you do.
girl; obsessed: * purple bootscomplications_g on June 23rd, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
It's all quite odd to me, but exciting. :D
jamie2109: emotional - pooh -oh botherjamie2109 on June 23rd, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
I feel rather sorry for poor old Kev. I could see it was coming, well for the last few weeks anyway, and I do love Julia and think she will make a great PM but I feel sorry for her, too because I think she has been railroaded into this (run on sentence, wot?). I think she has no wish to challenge Kev for the leadership right now. I quite like how angry he was in the press conference last night. I kind of hope he gets through and if he does that he doesn't get rid of Julia but instead uses her popularity to boost the ratings of the ALP.

I will throw my hands in the air over the Australian public if bloody Abbott gets in at the next election.
mayela_delaruemayela_delarue on June 23rd, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
LOVE your analogy - you with the brilliant fan girliness.
I blame neither K Rudd or Juls, but it is a stupendously dumb thing to be doing right now. Fingers crossed some sensible outcome is achieved and the faceless puppeteers in the background of the Labor party all get a slap in the face for dabbling in stuff they shouldn't.
prone to mischief: NMTB Would you consider adopting us?treacle_tartlet on June 23rd, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
Most importantly, the leadership tussle is being simulcast on ABC1 and ABC2, so there are no kids' shows on! Small Girl is outraged, and is currently writing a letter to the ABC to complain about this travesty. In purple crayon, obviously.
not_an_elf on June 23rd, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
You have to admit calling it a mining super profits tax was a bit dumb. Sooooo easy to play with the words for extra effect.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 24th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
Yes, THAT I completely agree with. The implementation was a total balls-up, but the miners! How they lie!

You know, we're yet to have an ALP in this country that says 'Hmmm, we want a strong leader to take us to the next election to get us out of opposition, let's try the chick!' It's always 'FARK! We're doomed! Give the chick a go!'
suonguyensuonguyen on June 23rd, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
Ahh another woman into power, not that I mind the idea terribly. But Queenslanders have definitely suffered under the Bligh Government, we pretty much curse ourselves for voting her in. Although the other guy at the time certainly wasn't winning points with the stuff he was trying to sell.

It will be interesting when the next election comes.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 24th, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
The Bligh government's problem is not Anna Bligh, it's the government ;-) But from what I have read and heard, this is traditional for Queensland!
mdbpinque on June 24th, 2010 06:48 am (UTC)
Because of course all women are the same and so this woman can be compared to the other ;)

Our latest PM has a nickname, which you are probably aware of: the smiling assassin. And the majority of the population thought it was a cute nickname and not at all indicative of his politics.

I'd love to see cardigan politics full stop. We just swing from left to right to left to right every two elections or so. For "change" and change only. No thought as to what the change is too, at least it's change!!!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 24th, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
Oh god ... I loved Helen Clark so much! And YES! Cardigan politicians are the best politicians, but they do not capture the imagination of the public. Because the public is stupid!
the claw-foot Ladysoftlyforgotten on June 23rd, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
Man, that was so bizarre and exciting, last night. We were watching the live coverage and there was about twenty minutes or so when they were announcing he'd actually stepped down? Jaysus.

I'm not hugely fond of Kevin Rudd -- I've read weird stuff about him in blogs particularly wrt women -- but I do like Julia Gillard a lot more. I'm not sure this is the right way to get her elected PM, though. :/
shu_shu_sleepsshu_shu_sleeps on June 23rd, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
It is shaping up to be a fascinating morning - I think its a shiteful way to go about it, and yes Julia is coming across as very reluctant. I think whatever the outcome, both of them have shown up well in the way they are approaching this. The media seem to be the ones who have run this agenda - there will their little cattle prods.....
clovis_tclovis_t on June 24th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
I'll only say that if Abbot gets in, they should be forced to get Costello back as well, just for the names.
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on June 24th, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)
Well, she's up! Rudd not forcing a vote, and thus keeping the high ground was possibly the only thing he could have salvaged at that point, I guess.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on June 24th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
I'm surprisingly sad! Poor KRudd! (In an ideal world she'd roll Swan and make him treasurer ;-)
AutumnHearti_autumnheart on June 24th, 2010 03:16 am (UTC)
I hope he still gets a role to play - after the election, if not before. If all politicians worked that hard, I might start to think they're worth what they get paid.
nahimana: emmaemerald_dragon8 on June 24th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC)
I have to say, I'm honestly shocked. Both at how quickly this has happened (considering they've only really been polling very badly in the past couple of months) and at how saddened I am by it. Having just watched his press conference, I think it was really confronting watching him go through it. I think he's a genuinely nice man, he seems to honestly care about the country, and I can say I've never got that feeling from Abbott. And he's handled this with dignity, which is very impressive.

What saddens me most is that if he'd been able to talk the way he has in the past two days, in the past months, he may not have had these problems. I think you hit the nail right on the head when you said he governs a not very rational electorate. It truly frustrates me when I hear people discuss politics, and I wish they could move away from purely emotional decisions and sound bites and actually listen and understand what the politicians are saying.

I hope Julia will fulfil her obvious potential. I think she can do very well, I hope she is allowed to, both by herself and by her party.

Thank you for this post, for expressing so eloquently and intelligently the state of things.
clovis_tclovis_t on June 24th, 2010 07:50 am (UTC)
Is there actually such a thing as a rational electorate, or an electorate with a memory? An electorate is quite similar to a mob, and uses the intelligence of the dumbest members. Sigh, sometimes I wonder about the wisdom of universal voting rights.

I've also heard polls already predicting that Gillard lost a lot of Rudd's support, and is likely to lose the next election. I cannot see how someone would vote for Abbot.
&helena;uminohikari on June 25th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
*giggles* I have no idea who these people are, but I love your analogies