They say a week is a long time in politics. No longer. A day is long enough.
With meticulous precision and tactical brilliance, a group of factional powerbrokers that stand behind the Federal Labour party showed who really controls the country at the moment. With the focus of the moment on the sudden change of leadership, the analysis is now only beginning to show just how calculated and ruthless this coup has been. It was getting more and more obvious that Kevin Rudd could not win the next election. All the meantime the supposed disloyalty of Julia “I’d be more likely to play on the front row of the bulldogs” Gillard has been exposed. By waiting until the end of the Parliamentary session, Kevin Rudd has worn the flack for Labour’s poor performance and poor policy. He is now the first ever Australian PM to be elected and deposed prior to leading the party to the electorate with a request for a second term. It was always on the cards that he was being used by his own people, and was an expendable leader.
Prior to the last election the mantra of Labour was “if you vote Howard you will get Costello”. Labour stood steadfast in rejecting the allegation that “if you vote Rudd you will get Gillard”.
I have little sympathy for Kevin Rudd. I don’t question his work ethic, his motivations, or his genuine intentions. However his legacy will be judged over the quality of his policies. Australia had a healthy economy, and although some stimulus was needed at the time of the GFC, the Rudd Government went too far. The nest egg was squandered. Unemployment did not exceed 5%, but that target could still have been achieved without the rash spending spree. Welfare handouts and infrastructure spending were placed ahead of business development and job creation, which will cost this country more in the long run.
Now that Australia has traded its lemon for a carrot, we can only hope that the policy direction improves. If carbon must be priced, then other tax incentives must be created. If the resources industry is to be more heavily taxed, the incentive to be in that sector must not be diminished. If the education revolution is to continue, then the teaching profession must be valued on par with other sectors. Senior teachers have the right to earn as much as senior doctors, senior businesspeople, and senior technical professionals.
The Labour policy regarding Israel must also urgently shift. The record of the Rudd Government in according legitimacy to the terrorist abetting enemies of Israel has been a national disgrace. The expulsion of Israel’s diplomat was hypocritical. The condemnation of Israel’s soldiers for defending themselves while under attack was unconscionable. The amount of Australian taxpayer aid that ends up in Palestinian communities who refuse to recognise the right of Israel to exist or who reject any notion of peaceful coexistence is shameful. The growth of anti-Semitism in Australia is also a consequential result of both tacitly and overtly extending support to regimes and entities that work towards the ambition of a world without the Jewish State of Israel.
I write this because my first reaction to the news that the Labour Party had unfairly shafted their leader in a desperate attempt to gain a second term was that Julia deserves a chance, but unless there is a directional change in policy, she too will be rejected by Australian voters. My second reaction was that the worst thing for Labour would be to have a bitter and vengeful former Prime Minister making life difficult during polling season. So once again, Labour will seek to find a way to way to expeditiously use Kevin Rudd. The obvious thing to do is to make him Foreign Minister. Firstly it gives him “status”. Secondly it keeps him away from domestic issues, and even out of the country if need be. Thirdly, it solves the problem of the underperforming Stephen Smith. Fourthly, it assists him to pursue a career path at the United Nations.
The real irony is that maybe a cosy post at the United Nations would be the perfect role for Kevin Rudd. He could go in and spend lots of money that doesn’t exist, talk a load of doublespeak that nobody understands, achieve nothing but a trail of disaster, and receive nothing but accolades from his peers. Australian’s all get to feel proud, and pay for the privilege.
There is precedent for this. In the 1980’s Bob Hawke provided Hayden with a Foreign Affairs portfolio after rolling him. So too, Kevin Rudd will be Australia’s next statesman on the international stage.
Watch this space! Stephen Smith was supposedly a friend of Israel who sold out to the highest bidder. To prequalify for a job at the UN, Kevin Smith will no doubt exhibit plenty of the duplicitous behaviour he sanctioned while he was PM Julia will be quite happy to watch Kevin Rudd trip himself up on the international stage, distance herself from the fallout, and at the same time Israel will continue to suffer from the misplaced condemnation of Australia in the wake of its existential defence.