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Federal

Jun 23, 2011

Rudd's downfall: his own handiwork, and years in the making

Kevin Rudd's alienation of his colleagues and factional powerbrokers was so great that the end of his popularity meant the end of his prime ministership. Telling backbenchers "I don't give a fuck what you fuckers think," probably wasn't the best start, write Bernard Keane and Paul Barry.

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Today marks the first anniversary of the 24 hours that led to the deposition of Kevin Rudd — aka the Night of the Long Knives. Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane and senior journalist Paul Barry draw a portrait of a man at the height of enormous power, and how quickly his base was eroded. Keane and Barry plot how Rudd unwittingly trashed his own power base with astonishing swiftness — hollowing out his influence so effectively that when his public popularity collapsed, so too did his prime ministership …

Kevin Rudd’s downfall, in the eyes of his Labor critics, began early.

In November 2007, he brought Labor back into power after 11 years in the wilderness. Not since Paul Keating in 1993 had a Labor leader held such power. And wield it he did.

In the days after the election, Rudd shut himself away in Brisbane for four days and, in accordance with his canny pre-election grab for power from Labor’s factions, chose his cabinet with only minimal input from party power brokers. And on his return to Canberra — this was denied today by Rudd but backed by one of those present — the prime minister-elect summoned senior MPs Martin Ferguson, Craig Emerson and John Hogg one by one to his office and ripped into them for disloyalty and leaking, demanding they swear fealty to him in front of witnesses.

It was a management style MPs would have to get used to.

Rudd also took a very different attitude to the spoils of office than that expected by MPs. He slashed ministerial staff by 30%, and made even long-serving staff re-apply for their jobs “on a merit basis”. To the annoyance of many, he gave major appointments to senior Coalition figures. A plan to slash MPs’ entitlements prompted a delegation of backbenchers, led by Victorian power broker David Feeney, to complain to Rudd.

“I don’t give a fuck what you fuckers think,” Rudd told them. It was a perfect summation of Rudd’s view of his backbench and the factions — and another jolt for factional leaders, unused to being told how irrelevant they were.

But then Rudd seemed expert at offending everyone. He alienated unions by refusing to thank them for their critical election role. He infuriated backbenchers with his micromanagement and refusal to consult on matters large and small — even planning visits to marginal seats without consulting the local member.

Even senior ministers who strayed off the day’s talking points were scolded by Rudd’s office. Bureaucrats — some called him “Captain Queeg” — chafed under his incessant demands, only to be abused by Rudd “I’ve simply got news for the Public Service — there’ll be more,” he declared. He himself burnt through personal staff at a rate of knots.

But the voters loved it. Bagging public servants and factional leaders played well in the polls. His apology to the Stolen Generations and decision to sign the Kyoto Protocol gave him an extended honeymoon. And just as electoral gravity was pulling him to earth, his handling of the GFC sent his approval ratings soaring again. His rapid assemblage of a stimulus package and his calm support for the banks returned Labor’s vote to levels not seen since the early days of Bob Hawke.

It made Rudd untouchable. Stripped of influence and patronage, factional power brokers could only sit back and wait — but they knew that while he remained a hit with voters, he was steadily alienating Caucus.

Then came Tony Abbott, and everything changed.

Rudd helped create Abbott’s leadership. Instead of treating climate change as the great moral and economic challenge of our time, Rudd treated it as a weapon with which to wedge the Coalition. Eventually, he wedged them so hard they broke apart — only for Rudd himself to be blasted by the shrapnel. Abbott, having seen Rudd use climate change as a political weapon for two years, had no compunction in simply doing the same back to him.

Abbott’s unrelenting aggression and his ex-journalist’s knack of being able to frame a simple narrative to serve his own purposes rattled Rudd — badly. He began making mistakes — and pleas from senior players such as John Faulkner to call a climate change-based double dissolution election in early 2010, which Rudd would have won handily, fell on deaf ears.

By this stage, too, Rudd’s obsession with micromanagement had restructured the basic decision-making processes of the government. The key decision makers of the GFC crisis — Rudd, Swan, Gillard and Tanner — had become the permanent core of the government, with cabinet often asked to sign off on decisions already taken by the “Strategic Priorities and Budget Committee” with — or sometimes without — the relevant portfolio minister. Laura Tingle revealed the dominance of this kitchen cabinet in early March last year. By that stage, access to Rudd had become increasingly difficult even for ministers.

That was the start of an eight-week period that put in place the conditions for the factions to strike back. In late April, Lenore Taylor revealed that the SPBC had walked away from the CPRS for at least three years. Rudd had, amazingly, ditched the great moral and economic challenge of our time.

Then, just a few days later, he and Swan unveiled the government’s long-awaited response to the Henry Tax Review, centred on a new mining royalties scheme. Sources close to Rudd say he believed that Swan had bedded down the essentials of the new tax. The hostile reaction from the mining industry, whipped along by Abbott and News Ltd, which had been railing against Rudd’s government since its commencement, showed it was anything but. The government found itself up against some of the world’s biggest multinational companies, hell-bent on changing government policy — if necessary by changing the government itself.

By this time Labor’s polling had well and truly returned to earth. The CPRS decision was a killer blow, directly undermining the political persona Rudd was creating. He was the least-known prime minister of the modern era, having only been in politics since 1998, and mainly known for appearing on breakfast television. He lacked the decades in public life that Hawke, Keating and Howard all brought to the prime ministership, which made them known quantities for voters.

When he walked away from the CPRS, he set voters wondering what exactly he stood for — and whether he stood for anything at all. The conviction leader of the apology, Kyoto and the GFC suddenly looked like an ordinary, jobbing politician who would do anything to save his backside under pressure.

And without his shield of popularity, Rudd was suddenly vulnerable.

The idea of removing Rudd — at that stage at the nadir of his polling, but still faring better than John Howard at a similar point in 1998 — was first mooted four weeks before the actual assassination, as right-faction figures began workshopping an act unheard of even within the NSW Labor Party — executing a successful first-term leader.

David Feeney and Bill Shorten, a man convinced of his own call to greatness and of Rudd’s malfeasance in failing to recognise it, combined with Mark Arbib — whom Rudd had rapidly promoted on his arrival in the Senate — and South Australian Catholic hard-liner Don Farrell, who had knifed predecessor Linda Kirk for backing Rudd against Kim Beazley in 2006, to form a right-wing push aimed against their leader. Their only, but fundamental, problem was that the one candidate to replace Rudd, Julia Gillard, was unconvinced and unwilling to participate.

Still, the participants weren’t idle. There was careful backgrounding of journalists about internal NSW Labor polling showing the party faced a disaster. The disastrous Penrith state by-election in June was blamed on Rudd as much as the discredited NSW Labor Party. Caucus was becoming increasingly panicky about Labor’s chances at the forthcoming election and whether Rudd had a plan to win.

And there may have been polling other than NSW Labor’s. The mining industry was conducting its own polling for its war against Rudd. Labor sources suggest John Connolly and Partners, a high-profile marketing, lobbying and reputation-management firm, conducted polling for BHP, one of its lobbying clients; BHP’s key internal lobbyist was former Labor luminary Geoff Walsh. Walsh met with one of the assassins, Arbib factotum Karl Bitar, during the mining war.

The last chance for the dispatch of Rudd before Parliament rose for winter — and the election campaign unofficially started — was at the end of June. Still, there was no challenger; a caucus meeting that week passed uneventfully. But Rudd, again demonstrating how rattled he was, had already blinked and asked his chief-of-staff, Alister Jordan, to canvass his support within the party against Gillard.

The revelation stunned caucus: here was further evidence — indeed the final straw — of just how dismissive Rudd could be of his colleagues, sending out a staffer to talk about the most crucial issue between an MP and his or her leader. And it infuriated Gillard, sending her into the fray. Rudd had lit the spark and the conflagration consumed him.

Several things drove the massive flow of votes to Gillard on the night of June 23: years of resentment toward Rudd and his management style; the knowledge that once the plot to oust Rudd was revealed, any result other than a Gillard elevation would wreck Labor’s electoral chances; and the conviction that Gillard would do better than Rudd, or at least could hardly do as badly.

To that end, Labor figures say, the plotters, including Arbib, took the astonishing and unprecedented step of circulating the mining industry polling among MPs, showing disastrous outcomes for Rudd Labor in the seats of Greenway and Lindsay. At that stage, Rudd and Swan were said to be on the cusp of a deal to resolve the stand-off with the miners, which might have served as a circuit-breaker for Rudd. But the assassins struck before any deal could be finalised. Gillard and Swan signed off on an agreement just days later.

So who was responsible for the downfall of one of Australia’s most popular prime ministers?

“Kevin Rudd,” says Labor elder Robert Ray, without a moment’s hesitation. “He had so alienated everyone by his arrogance and hubris that the moment the figures collapsed he had no protection.”

Rudd has long been perceived as an outsider in his own party, and his alienation from his colleagues was the key to his downfall. And yet his prime ministership personified modern Labor. In its centralisation and micro-management, its mistrust of MPs, its lack of adherence to core values, and most of all in its fragility and skittishness, it reflected a hollowed-out, managerial party that is no longer sure what it stands for.

Rudd’s overthrow and the subsequent wreck of the Gillard prime ministership showed that Labor can change its leaders, but they aren’t the problem. The party itself is.

*This essay is just a taste of what’s to come as part of the top-secret project from Paul Barry that Crikey subscribers will soon have access to …

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54 thoughts on “Rudd’s downfall: his own handiwork, and years in the making

  1. Liz45

    @SIR LUNCHALOT – I’ve been voting since 1966 – I’m a ‘woman of a mature age’? My eldest son is 48 yrs of age?
    Unlike your parents and being a woman living alone, I don’t have the advantage of living on my superannuation, as for most of my 10 yrs in the NSW public service, as a Teachers Aide, we didn’t have access to super! Being forced out of the workforce due to a preventable industrial injury, my ability to be financially independent were little to nothing!

    Put John Howard Lies into Google – and read them. Another of his LIES was that no University course would cost more than $100,000 – now there’s at least a dozen of them. He lied about tax increases on beer, cigs and more. There’s 34 of them?

  2. Daryl...

    And don’t get me started on the one in the UK…

  3. Daryl...

    I got into trouble in Chile, as young blokes do, and they ran a mile offering me less than weak support. (I got myself out of that)

    I lost all my documents in Dubai, 30 days before I needed to leave, and when I called the ambassador there filled with anxiety the arrogance was overwhelming. To the point where she actually told me to go to Saudi Arabia and deal with the office there. (I got myself out of that also)

    This treatment of an Aussie citizen in trouble. Disgraceful. And when I went through their channels to complain it was exceptionally clear that two months and countless letters later I was being waited out.

    Yet another disgraceful example of why the public service bureaucracy in this nation is woefully inadequate, to the point of embarrassing.

  4. freecountry

    That’s a bit of a Rambo-like spray of the machine gun, Daryl. How can you sum up all ambassadors as a class? That’s like summing up all governors or all judges.

  5. Daryl...

    How on earth could the labor party have voted in an EX AMBASSADOR (??!!!???) as the leader and eventual Prime Minister of the nation?

    As a traveler I have dealt with many of these people and find them to be lazy, arrogant, unwilling to do anything, and determined to bludge off the Australian taxpayer while repaying as little as possible. \

    He is a madman and the nation will be best served by his retirement as a representative of our great nation.

  6. freecountry

    Tom McLoughlin,

    OK, so in a contest of claims and ideas, be it science, the law, or politics, money can buy a bigger megaphone. We moderate this effect with things like independent universities, juries, and elections, but the only way to eliminate it altogether is to abolish money. But wait–that would require us to trust just one agency always to tell us the truth, which you acknowledge is a problem when you refer to the White House.

    There were two problems in the lead up to this “corporate coup” you speak of. First, the government was not being entirely truthful, and second, the opposition was not doing its job of pointing this out.

    Rudd and Swan were (1) calling the mining companies “foreign owned”, (2) claiming miners paid on average 17% tax, (3) claiming that mining had a negligible effect on employment in Australia, and (4) claiming that mining played no significant effect in Australia’s outperformance during the GFC.

    All these claims were false. (1) The mining sector in Australia is owned more than 50% by Australian shareholders, and the major component of that is the $1.2 trillion superannuation pool–that’s mums and dads. Rio Tinto is majority foreign owned, but against that, Australian shareholders in BHP Billiton own more in foreign mining assets than foreign shareholders own in Australian assets. The “foreign owned” line was not so much a distortion as a lie.

    (2) Combined state and federal taxes on mining average 41% of profits, not 17%.
    (3) The mining sector directly employs only a tiny portion of the workforce, but that’s because most of its work is outsourced to the industrial, construction, and services sectors. If you take account of that, mining-related employment is huge.

    (4) Did the government save the miners from the GFC? Or was it the other way round? According to Australian Budget Paper #1, Statement #2, 2010:
    [Australia’s export growth was among the highest in the world in 2009, at 0.6 per cent — contributing 0.1 of a percentage point to GDP growth. In contrast, emerging economies’ exports fell by 8.2 per cent in 2009, while advanced economies’ exports fell by 11.7 per cent.]
    And a parliamentary briefing paper reports:
    [While trade between Australia and its major trading partners fell considerably, trade between Australia and China, increased by 15.6 per cent reaching a record of $78.1 billion. Two-way trade grew from $67.6 billion in 2008 to $78.1 billion in 2009. China was Australia’s largest export market surpassing Japan. Exports to China accounted for 21.6 per cent of total exports ($42.4 billion) while Australia was the eighth largest exporter to China. China was also Australia’s largest import source in 2009, accounting for 17.8 per cent ($35.8 billion) of total imports. Driven by demand for resources and energy, the growth of exports far outstripped the growth in imports into Australia. The balance of trade swung in favour of Australia which recorded a trade surplus with China ($6.6 billion) for the first time.]
    (( aph.gov.au/library/pubs/BriefingBook43p/australia-china-gfc.htm ))

    The opposition was ineffective in keeping the government honest, so it was left to the mining industry to point out these untruths from the government. The miners did so with no subterfuge, no false-flag deceptions, it was all out in the open for us the public to judge. We could have rejected the miners’ message if we didn’t believe it.

    If you’re worried about “corporate coups” you’re looking in the wrong direction. You should be taking a closer look at the influence of the Big Four banks on federal government policy during the GFC. That relationship was very cosy, it was all behind closed doors, and the public never really learned to what extent policy was formed on the dubious principle that whatever is good for the big domestic banks is good for the Australian public.

  7. Venise Alstergren

    ZUT: I think you had SIR LUNCHALOT for breakfast! Hehehehehe

  8. zut alors

    Sir Lunchalot,

    I suspect the older generation might recall, and be at least a little grateful, that Rudd increased pensions. Apparently, economic times were so ebullient under Costello that pensions somehow were under his radar.

    Perhaps one Howard lie which is hard to overlook is the reason our troops were despatched to a war which did not concern us – weapons of mass destruction, remember? Allow me to jog your memory a tad more – current MP, Wilkie, who, in his job at the ONA, was privy to information about the alleged nuclear threat in Iraq, resigned from a secure career position because he was disgusted with the falsehoods being spouted by Howard.

    Interesting, too, that one of Howard’s great allies and supporters, George Brandis, was the person who dubbed his leader The Lying Rodent’. Perhaps ponder what prompted such a nickname.

  9. Sir Lunchalot

    @ Liz 45

    Thanks for your esteemed advice, but alas it will not work.

    Under Howard era they were having a relaxed retirement, now under Rudd and Gillard, they are stressed about the status of Australia, propects, retirement income, costs, investments (ie super) etc. I asked them about your Howard lies and they could not recall one, seriously. But with Gillard, they hone in on that one.

    Maybe you should stroll your local RSL club on a Friday night and ask the older generation how they are feeling.

  10. Tom McLoughlin

    Free Country – my reply:

    Money politics is not the same as free speech. It is shouting. As Joe Wilson is quoted in the stylish movie Fair Game – a liar is right because they can shout louder? The White House is right because they can shout louder? Not in my moral universe champ. A liar is a liar.

    Choice bit of movie quality that. Right up there with ‘you can’t handle the truth’ from Jack. And the miners were liars about the super profits tax. And they are liars.

    From personal experience (!) But that’s another story.

  11. Liz45

    @VENISE – Not enough people want or bother to think about the statements you’ve made because they’re either, (a) male, (and don’t give a toss) or (b) they’re male and have never taken responsibility for their own fertility, and frankly, don’t know what all the fuss is about, or (c) they’re just ‘tossers’? full stop!

    The fact about Julia Gillard and the climate change “lie” is rubbish. The ALP under Rudd, prior to Rudd and after Rudd have recognised a need to do something about climate change. The Senate blocked the CPRS twice, (yes, The Greens did, but also the Libs?) and most of the people want something done about it. Julia Gillard gave an interview the day before the last Fed Election and gave a commitment to “do something about climate change”. The only real argument is that she said she’d “do it in the(her-the Govts) second term”. I am so over the bs about the media carrying on about her so-called lie, that I may have to go to Canberra and beg her to put the facts to the public – AGAIN?

    And quite frankly, the episode of Rudd and the flight steward? I have no time for bullies. No matter who they are, what sex they are, what their ‘alleged’ status is, or what precipitated the incidence of bullying. But, one incident, when none of us know the reality of it, what was behind it, or even if it really happened? If people want to hang Rudd out to dry over this, go and read “Not Happy John” and find out all or a lot of the bastardly acts Howard perpetrated on people, men and women whose only crime was doing their job. You could start with the fact, that for the first time since Federation, this PM allowed people from a foreign country(the US) to carry arms in our Parliament! He also cut off any journalist who didn’t cow tow to his bidding, such as write an article even questioning what he was doing.

    @SIR LUNCHALOT – You should be a caring child and see to your parents selective amnesia. It has reached ‘critical mass’?

    To others who insist on carrying on about Gillard’s alleged lie. Go and look up Howard Lies on the net – there’s 34 and counting! Sir Lunchalot, you might even gently point your parents on to this website – but be gentle!

    Truly!!!!

  12. Barbara Boyle

    Who can forget the Lying Rodent?

  13. Venise Alstergren

    THE PEOPLE condemning Julia Gillard’s ‘lie’ should ask themselves, haven’t they ever been forced to lie, in order to compromise????? There’s a vast difference between Gillard’s forced backtrack-in order to accommodate the unexpected alliance with the Greens-and the vomitous muck-heap emitted by Tony Abbott’s lot.

    For God’s sake think about it. She told a lie, which the coalition keep throwing back at her time, after time, after time. You’ve already read that Rudd’s behaviour broke even her spirit. Yet by denying thousands of women the right to use the contraceptive pill of their choice, Tony Abbott as John Howard’s minister for health and fundamentalist Catholic, certainly has death on his hands. Even the sainted Malcolm Turnbull lies with consummate ease.

    Fellow citizens and Liberal (?) voters! Check your own morality before judging someone else’s.

  14. Peter Ormonde

    Spot on lads.

  15. Suzanne

    I agree with comments on Rudd and flight steward abuse allegation on taxpayer finder private jet. People remember these incidents. The Julia Gillard lie on Carbon Tax is cemented as well.

  16. Barbara Boyle

    Oh, a well written piece.
    Thankyou, gentlemen.
    I look forward to the next efforts with anticipatory pleasure.
    Lesson from the first: high intelligence and great ability count for nothing without schmooze-ability.
    Sweet little lies will always outperform brutal honesty.

  17. Sir Lunchalot

    @ Chris Dawson

    You are dead right. My parents say the same. It is amazing what people remember.

    My parents would never vote for Gillard either, that direct lie about No carbon tax did it for them. They say its black and white, and they are right, especially as she started planning one weeks after she formed government, irrespective of who was pulling the strings.

  18. Chris Dawson

    My mother-in-law (who voted for Rudd) doesn’t comment on politicians much, and I knew Rudd was in trouble when she was disgusted about his air steward sandwich tantrum. I think that incident has been largely forgotten, but it said so much about him as a person. Maybe a turning point in a lot of people’s perception of him.

  19. prefab

    Without taking Cabinet with him, he gave up looking competent.

  20. freecountry

    So Tom McLoughlin, I guess you’re not a big freedom-of-speech advocate then. Only those who’ve already been elected to office should be allowed to run political advertisements, something like that? Well it would make for a nice and quiet political landscape, I’ll give it that. Perhaps you’d prefer that the mining companies had whispered their politicking behind closed doors instead of shouting it in full view of the public?

  21. david

    If anyone ever had any doubts whether Hockey is a person who should be given the responsibility of being treasurer of this country, the following should dispel any doubts he is NOT..a child of 10 would be expected to produce this on the world wide web…not a prospective leader of a political party and office holder in the executive of the Government

    JOEHOCKEY | 2 minutes ago
    Finally @KRuddMP returns home to the Lodge…. He’s lurking in the shadows wanting his old job back.

    http://yfrog.com/h0b1qrobj

  22. Tom McLoughlin

    Honestly, I didn’t really enjoy this piece. I thought it was a precis of the mainstream press of the last year and derivative.

    Personally, and probably not a wide view, I want to hear more about the role of Rudd’s defective gall bladder upsetting his diplomatic capacity. So critical in people management. Notice the ruddy rude health he is in nowdays, having been cured it seems.

    Also the idea that the factional organisers are anything but machine grubs is pretty amusing. Why not call them the f*ckers that they truly are. Can’t fault that for one second.

    As for Gillard, she is a machine, machine, machine. For that perhaps Rudd can be grateful because he got monstered by big miners and his own health. (Gillard is better at trench wet work. See the piece on Monckton and swastikas today. Good value. ) Not much more complicated than that really. All this stuff about self inflicted – talk about observers morphing into sheep, institutionalised to big corporate money politics. It’s so pervasive the hacks don’t even notice anymore they are soaking in it. Very sad.

    Who elected the big mining multinationals? Absolutely no one. Why not call it a miner coup and get real? Gillard was left to clean up the slaughter really. This is a sheep country run by corporate wolves.

  23. PoliticalTarot

    @LIZ45 – I knew I should have written “if they ever did that in the first place” after that phrase!

  24. Liz45

    @POLITICALTAROT – Oh really? Well, good luck with that. I’ve been waiting for well over 40 yrs for some sections of the media to start “writing about things that matter”? It might happen here, but it certainly won’t happen via the Age or the Telegraph!

  25. PoliticalTarot

    A great piece. I do, however, as FreeCountry points out, find the use of words like “assassination”, “knives” and “execution” unnecessarily melodramatic. I know News Limited love it, especially the Daily Tele, but there is really no point other than to stir up anger and make it sound like a soap opera of some sort. They have become clichés as bad as Tony Abbott’s slogans.

    This situation wasn’t a murder, it was a replacing of Labor party leaders.

    Interesting to read also that Gillard wasn’t really too keen on the whole thing…it fortunately lays to rest the whole “she stabbed Kevvie in the back” thing. Nevertheless, the whole issue is really quite irrelevant now. Gillard is the PM, she is leading the minority government and now let’s just get on with letting her do it instead of analysing what happened a year ago.

    I can’t wait until this “assassination” week is over when the media might have to actually start writing about things that matter.

  26. david

    [These drongos in the current government are too busy getting their own back (where Rudd is concerned), rather than focusing on the fact that they will all be on the opposition benches following the next election. All because most of them were complicit in the demise of the most popular PM in our history. Stupidity personified!]

    CML you remind me of Rip Van Winkle, but sadly you are in only the first year of your long sleep.

  27. Liz45

    @FREECOUNTRY – No, you wouldn’t be! You’re one of the privileged that I referred to above. The Conservatives have never governed for me, my kids, grandkids, women friends etc. Every policy introduced by those lot have only made life more difficult for people like me and those I consider of my ‘ilk’?

    “gut wrencingly terrifying” are the exact words I’d use as a woman if Abbott and his friends such as Pell etc got their hands and votes over my life, and the lives of many women – particularly the young women of child bearing age!

    What these bastards would do in government would be the equivalent of those three words you mentioned above. The Howard years turned back the clock many years in regard to the lives of women. Howard the misogynist, whose idea of the ‘ideal woman’ belonged in the 1950’s. The thing that really scares me, is that too many of his ilk are still in the Parliament. The ‘catholic boys’ who still behave like they did when they were in the school playground; still full of the self belief, that they have a divine right to rule – their way! Just look at the ones who are the loudest in Parlt – Pyne, Brandis, Minchin, Joyce etc – and several whose names escape me! I worked in schools for nearly ten years, and I’ve witnessed more adult behaviour in 10 yr olds than this lot!

    What do you think of Abbott’s little game re the Plebiscite? Ranted on about democracy, and then said he’d only take notice of the answer if it was the one HE wanted? Are you serious? Or just having a go for the fun of it? What brand of democracy is he spuking about? He’s advocating a dictatorship – nothing to do with democracy. I’ve heard nothing from anyone on the Labor benches that are so amazingly blatant in demonstrating disgust for our ‘democracy’! Abbott and Co’s best mates in the media are racist and dangerous! Wouldn’t know justice and decency if it bit them on their collective bums!
    Even Turnbull – committed to the science re climate change. Worked for months with Labor to achieve an agreement, and now that it suits him politically, he remains silent in the Parlt while his ‘leader’ carries on in a disgraceful manner. Turnbull is not leadership material. He’s a political opportunist! I find his closed mouth an affront! What a wimp!

    Fair dinkum! You’re breathtaking!

  28. Oscar Jones

    There is no question that Kevin Rudd defeated Howard and the Coalition. It was his victory.

    All I am getting out of this tale is how democracy has been totally perverted in Australia by News Corp. For they are the ones that did it.

  29. freecountry

    AR: “So gut wrenchingly terrifying to imagine the tories back in power.”

    I wasn’t too happy about Rudd being in power, but “gut-wrenchingly terrifying”? That’s a bit extreme. Sounds like a sign of reading too much current affairs, too much Crikey, too much polemic in place of news, or too much reading Kevin Rudd and his dystopian “Brutopia”.

    And while we’re on the subject of extreme language, why must Bernard Keane and Paul Barry carry on with the violent journalese? Assassinating … execution … knifing … Come on guys, there are countries where transfers of power are followed by the seat of government being closed for a couple of days while the gore is hosed out and the carpets replaced, but Australia is very distinctly not one of those countries. Must we keep on advertising to the world that we are not only innocent but ignorant of the difference?

  30. david

    I’m with you 100% Liz..

  31. Liz45

    @DAVID – Indeed! Moncton, with his bunch of tricks including a salute re Hitler style. What a gross bastard he is.

    I’ve never been asked a political question re polls in the 40+ years of voting – never! I haven’t had any time for Morgan since the Whitlam years – he’s a paid up member of the Liberal party isn’t he? “Lord” Moncton should have to hand back his ‘lordship’ after his disgusting insult to Garnaut! If people can’t see him for what he really is and give him the a**e, then they’re sillier than even I thought they were!

    I was referring to ABC Radio re the comment by Costello! (I was watching Question Time the day he spoke like that. He was always rude, nasty and a loud mouthed bastard!)

  32. CML

    @ RICHARD WILSON – I don’t buy any of that cr-p about Rudd either. And since every poll taken in this country about preferred PM puts Rudd way out in front (60%), not many of the voters do either Don’t have anything against Gillard, but for an intelligent woman (so called) she sure made the biggest mistake of her life going along with those low-life figures who head the factions. The latest surveys would suggest that Gillard will never recover from the way she came to power – not this year, not ever.
    The other puzzling aspect of this story is – I have never read or heard anything negative said about Therese? Rein. She is reported as a lovely lady – rich, successful, attractive. If that is the case, can anyone explain to me why she is still with this monster called Kevin? As a woman in a long-term relationship, that makes no sense to me at all.
    As for this “story” from Bernard and Paul – I hope the next episode is a little more fact-based, and not just “he said/she said”…… These drongos in the current government are too busy getting their own back (where Rudd is concerned), rather than focusing on the fact that they will all be on the opposition benches following the next election. All because most of them were complicit in the demise of the most popular PM in our history. Stupidity personified!

  33. Liz45

    I agree with Marilyn. I also agree with much of what Venise has said. I’ll never vote for the Conservatives either, particularly with Abbott behaving in such a vile manner. I’d rather have Rudd than Abbott any day!

    Also, there’s not one word for the ‘ordinary folk’ who’ve been let down by this debacle. Good people were hoping for a decent Govt that didn’t just support the big end of town. We’re the ones who’ve really suffered over this situation. It’s OK for those of you with good incomes etc, this is just fun, a game, something to gloat over or some such. Some of us were hopeful of a better future for our kids and grand kids – this is not one bit funny! At least pensioners had a small measure of assistance from Rudd, but too many people worse off than I am were let down by this selfish bunch – what really pisses me off, is that we pay for their little ‘hitler’ games!

    I started to feel queasy when Rudd said he was going to keep on the ‘old crew’ of public servants? Not that I like people losing their jobs, but it was a stupid decision. Then, as has been pointed out, he gave out jobs to the Conservatives? What? What Labor person worth a spit would give a cushy job to Costello? He was an insulting, bad mouthed brat in Parlt, who never did a damned thing for the ordinary people. Every time the ABC has its segment on Federal Politics, it’s Costello’s nasty little voice, demeaning Wayne Swan and Stephen ???who he referred to as “bib and bub”? Remember?And Rudd gave him a job? An income paid for by us, plus his fat pension that he ‘fattened up’ just prior to leaving? Yuk!

    Then there’s the bloke who was the one to carry out Howard and Ruddock’s asylum seeker policies – he’s still there too?I’d have thrown him out and fast! But, if you intend to carry on proving that ‘nothing’s changed’ why would you get rid of him?

    Disgusting – all of them!

  34. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    @SHEPHERDMARILYN — Posted Thursday, 23 June 2011 at 3:19 pm
    I think you have a serious point here.

    @FREECOUNTRY — Posted Thursday, 23 June 2011 at 3:29 p
    I don’t know how you can know all this for a fact but I can tell that you don’t like Kevin.

    @RICHARD WILSON — Posted Thursday, 23 June 2011 at 3:49 pm
    You’re right, most people in the world underestimate just how sinister Americans can be when interfering as you suggest, and they know how well and successfully they cover their tracks.

  35. AR

    The apparatchiks & seat warmers of Sussex St strove relentlessly to undermine Krudd from day one, not despite butbecause of his massive popularity with the ..wot’s the word.. PEOPLE!
    Had he not been such a pusillanimous hollow man there would still be seething in futile fury but for me the question is why did Gillard let herself be used. She would have become PM by the end of the 2nd term anyway, now she’s in danger of not finishing this one – the only reason she’s not been dumped in lack of an alternative.
    So sad when one thinks of what might have been. So gut wrenchingly terrifying to imagine the tories back in power.

  36. david

    While we are discussing Partys and policies, I would like to share with you this I received today from a certain polling organisation. Now I always thought those who conducted political polls, would at least try and show a certain amount of independence andnon political bias.
    This has changed my thinking………..

    An invitation from Roy Morgan Research:

    The purpose of this message is to invite people interested in the climate change debate to the lunchtime lecture by Lord Christopher Monckton to be presented on Tuesday July 19. 2011 at Morgans at 401 Conference Centre.

    Those who attended any of the brilliant lectures given by Lord Christopher Monckton when he was in Melbourne in 2009 will recall his ability to deal with difficult issues on climate science in a readily understandable way. It will be recalled that in May 2010 Monckton played a leading role in the Oxford Union debate at which an audience of university undergraduates rejected the notion that “global warming” could become a global crisis.

    In current circumstances, where the Gillard Government is trying to justify the need for a carbon tax on the argument that “the science is settled,” Monckton will be a breath of fresh air in exposing on his return visit just how badly flawed this claim is and what likelihood there is of agreed international action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

  37. Michael Harvey

    One had only to read the vainglorious covers of not one but TWO issues of the Monthly in the runup to the 07 election to realize what a sanctimonious megalomaniac Rudd is. We had a “choice” between two religious maniacs that election, one of whom had led us to a holy war. What a great system.

  38. Venise Alstergren

    SICK: (Sorry, that wasn’t meant to be a pejorative). Perhaps Australians have to be told what to think? If political parties were to be done away with we could easily be better off. An independent group of representatives could make the decisions-such as Brasil used to have-may still have, for all I know. This would lessen the impact of the concentrated hate campaigns by the Murdoch media-solely because there is a left-of-centre party, which they don’t like. However, unless each councillor was mega rich in their own right Rupert would just buy each one. I’m not saying it will be easy.

    All is not lost on the Gillard front. No Prime Minister in the history of Oz politics has ever before had to stand up to this barrage of unremitting insults, hatred, lies and gross exaggeration before. Julia Gillard has born a load heavy enough to cripple two oxen with a fair degree of fortitude. Not to mention the so-called fashion police, and their puerile observations, together with the females readers of women’s pap accusing her of being ‘barron’ as the charmers refer to her.

    I would vote for her any time to that cheap, coarse, and common Catholic leader of the Opposition. Oz, we’re standing in a net drawn by all the vested international and local vested interests in this country. If they are allowed to prevail, the interests of ordinary men, women, and children of this country will have lost all say in who governs them. We will become a hayseed state of America and fulfill our destiny as laid down as Paul Keating- namely a banana republic.

  39. Peter Evans

    Much as I like and appreciate most of what Keane and Barry contribute to Crikey, comments like “what the party stands for” betray a certain naivety. Parties are collections of people that exist because by being a collection they can achieve something, rather than struggling on their own. What holds them together is the prospect of actually getting something done they can agree is worth doing (which can include a career, a desire for progress, a desire to retard progress, pretty much anything). There is no mythical higher purpose, no “standing” for something, only getting something done before the party mutates and the game changes.

  40. sickofitall

    Honestly, really, what this gets down to is that entitled, spoiled mediocrities got offended by success they had no part in. How well has the govt gone this year? That’s what happens when you listen to Shorten the coward, Arbib the traitor, and the rest, and it all goes back to Gina ‘Why should I have any responsibility, gratitude or humility to the country that made me rich’ Rinehart adn Twiggy ‘if I don’t get caught, then it’s clearly ethical’ Forrest.

    Seriously – that’s why the ALP is finished. For not much different reasons, that’s why the Liberals are finished.

  41. Richard Wilson

    A well told tale but I don’t believe it for the same reason that despite the many and several problems Labor is having with Julia, no politician is prepared to cut off his nose to spite his face. True, Rudd was hated but not as much as being in Opposition. There is far more to the night of the long knives than this simplistic story. You didn’t even mention the Americans, the Wikileaks dispatches and how Rudd had apparently p1$$ed them off; or Mark Arbib’s posssible ties to the US embassy. Nup! Good story but I ain’t buying it fellas! All I know is the current PM is doing her best to go all the way with the USA at any cost.

    I am just waiting for the first Aussie troop dispatch to yet an other illegal undeclared war on a sovereign country i.e. Libya followed by a raft of totalitarian measures against Australians in line with US tactics against its own people who may care to disagree with endless warfare and central banking/IMF/World Bank pillaging of the First, Second and Third World.

  42. freecountry

    (A bad choice of words: “black and white, good and evil …” I think you know what I mean. Everyone is either righteous or detestable to Rudd. You are either with us or you are against us, that sort of thing.)

  43. Venise Alstergren

    Wonderful piece of writing fellas. Would I be too presumptuous in hoping that a book might follow?

  44. freecountry

    I wonder if Rudd had a whole career plan mapped out, which depended on displaying a trophy CPRS at Copenhagen, causing him to largely lose interest in the whole thing when that failed.

    The RSPT was pursued with a viciousness that makes me suspect he was at least partly motivated by a desire for revenge against the coal industry, for helping deprive him of his saving-the-world trophy, and perhaps for claiming some of the credit for an export boom in 2009, daring to challenge Rudd’s narrative that he and he alone had saved us all from ruin.

    You say everything changed when Tony Abbott came along. I wonder. Certainly a buffoon can do a lot of damage to a government if he doesn’t mind sacrificing his own chances of being taken seriously in the process, a bit like a suicide bomber.

    But I think there’s more to it. Rudd got a free ride throughout 2008-2009, because both Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull never got any media honeymoon, were actively undermined by the newspaper chain from which Coalition support normally comes. The reason was nothing to do with the Murdoch family, but local Liberal elements in the party and in News Corp agitating for a Peter Costello challenge. Costello ruined this plan by resigning (perhaps disturbed by what was being done in his name), Abbott took over the shattered leadership a month later, and those former pro-Costello elements had to learn to love the one you’re with.

    This brought to an end Kevin Rudd’s free ride in the papers, and once he came under real scrutiny, the nice cuddly guy who goes around apologizing on behalf of his forebears reverted to type, the vicious bully who had helped take down Kim Beazley.

    Rudd’s demagoguery lives on, and his “three kinds of deniers” (of which he became one) have become an archetype of Australian public life, rising to a pitch of bitterness and hysteria which simply did not exist in this country in 2006, when John Howard announced an ETS to commence in 2012, to match the European ETS which had commenced in 2005. Now we have scientists (and I assume, sceptics) receiving constant hate mail and occasional death threats.

    For people to call for the return of this thug, this demagogue, is a sad sign of the downward political spiral in this country, just a few years after I was under the impression we were finally learning to get on and work together. Kevin Rudd has divided society neatly into black and white, good and evil. In a less peaceful country he would be the kind of leader who starts civil wars.

    Whatever Julia Gillard’s faults–and I criticize her as much as anyone–I view her as much more of a peacemaker, and I really want to thank her for doing the right thing and deposing Kevin Rudd. I don’t think she got any pleasure from doing so, but it was the right thing to do. I feel nothing but sadness at all the haters out there who want their Kevin Rudd back.

  45. shepherdmarilyn

    WEll the brainless spoilt brats behind it didn’t get themselves far because Gillard is worse than Rudd ever was.

    What I don’t get is why we are always expected to believe this sort of pap without a trace of evidence that Rudd was actually like that and that it is not just more gossip by brainless hacks like Feeney and Farrell.

  46. Modus Ponens

    This article emphasises too much of Rudd’s sidelining style, but lets not forget what really drove this.

    Factional bosses whose lives are dedicated to accruing power suddenly found themselves in the seat of power, surrounded by people with power, but it wasn’t them. The first sign of weakness and they struck a fatal blow.

    Now they have their power back (for now).

  47. zut alors

    A well written and objective analysis.

    Incidentally, I fully expect PMs to have an over-generous dose of arrogance and hubris: politics is a dog-eat-dog power play, only the leanest and meanest alphas have a chance of longevity.

    Enjoyed the ‘Captain Queeg’ soubriquet.

  48. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    @KLEWSO — interesting insight, you are on to something methinks.

  49. Harvey Tarvydas

    Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    Fabulous start BK and PB can’t wait for the rest.
    However it’s an Australian most recent modern tragedy to me.
    You are revealing organizational and personal problems of process and method but there is a ‘taking for granted’ of achievement when clearly (and maybe in spite of everything else) there is a super special creature residing in the man called Rudd which even the man himself may not have understood.

    It reminds me of being fourteen, a few months into my chemistry course in second year high school and things starting to pop out of my mouth that frightened my very sophisticated chemistry master (doing his Masters in science at Uni) but seemed so simply sensible to me although I have to admit I have no idea where they came from (no exposure or reading) and of course 3rd year Uni chemistry students would know them to be correct.
    I say telepathy fragments of the Einsteins in chemistry were talking to me.

    I hope it is just as difficult for you to put your finger on some of the Rudd magic.

    I was seen as a nut case till I won 1st prise in an International science completion for Uni undergraduates as a 14 going 15 year old junior high school student. Then my school decided to worship me (doing more harm I guess).
    Is there a ‘you just can’t win’ in here somewhere?

  50. klewso

    You’ve got to admit he did have a point – watching Labor now (with him “dead”) is like watching “Jumanji II”.
    It was his maladroit execution (Mk 1) that was his failing – but was it his fault he hadn’t been “socialised” as a “bureaucratic pup”?

  51. Damien

    A good analysis but a few questionable assumptions built in. For example, you say Rudd would have “handily” won a double dissolution based on climate change. But it wouldn’t have been based on climate change, but on the CPRS which both the right and the left (your good selves included) had been bagging for months. Rudd had the CPRS deal stitched up with the Coalition via MacFarlaine and Turnbull – until the very week when the legislation would have gone through the Senate. After falling across the Liberal leadership line because of Hockey’s incompetence, Abbott achieved incredible traction from the “great big new tax” scare (as a campaign slogan it was an absolute gift) and, as you report, Labor’s popularity was in the toilet. I don’t think there’s any certainty of an election win in those circumstances.

    Another thing, Rudd was an arrogant control freak? Well, b*gger me, who’s have thought a successful politician would turn out like that! Unprecedented!

  52. david

    I await with interest further installments …

  53. mattsui

    Can’t wait for more.
    Beautifully written guys.
    Even thought we already know ‘whodunnit’ it will be impossible to look away.

  54. Sir Lunchalot

    The Fatal flaw in business and politics

    Labor elder Robert Ray, without a moment’s hesitation. “He had so alienated everyone by his arrogance and hubris that the moment the figures collapsed he had no protection.”

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