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Keane: politics goes back to 2010 … again

Politics will return to 2010 for several days while Maxine McKew’s book is dissected. But will it change how voters feel about the Prime Minister?

Political coverage is about to enter one of those periods that infuriate social media, and more than a few Crikey readers: courtesy of Maxine McKew’s book, everything will be put on hold while the events of June 2010 are again dissected and Julia Gillard’s role in the removal of Kevin Rudd again held up to the light to see how it accords with her own description of that role.

McKew is of course a Rudd loyalist, and the events of over two years ago are explored purely from that perspective (as well as, evidently, from the perspective of a first-term, politically-inexperienced MP gifted a parliamentary secretaryship who thought she was entitled to be treated as something more than that by senior ministers). Unusually for Gillard, however, this latest eruption of the Rudd saga back into politics occurs when she’s travelling relatively well, the more optimistic among her supporters might be starting to think Labor can be competitive at the election, and the less sanguine among Tony Abbott’s media cheer squad are starting to publicly fret about his now-regular missteps.

The main threat from yet another examination of the now decidedly rotten entrails from 2010 will be to reinforce perceptions that the Prime Minister is untrustworthy, hungry for power and, on occasion, fast and loose with the truth. It could damage Gillard, of course. The fact that she was intensely ambitious seems to push some people’s buttons, particularly in the Opposition, as if it’s fine for male politicians to do whatever it takes to secure the top job but female politicians should demurely wait for it to be gifted to them.

Or it could all just be water under the bridge for voters, who have a way of forgetting if not necessarily forgiving prime ministers with a flexible approach to the truth, as long as they perform — few voters took John Howard at his word after non-core promises and the return to the GST but they stuck with him anyway.

That the book coincides with the revelation — which may turn out to mean precisely nothing — that MRRT takings thus far are exactly $0 is apt. That tax was created while the blood from the putsch was still being mopped up in Parliament House and Rudd’s political body — alas not nearly as dead as his assassins might have hoped — being wheeled out amid general lamentations of “a good government that lost its way”.

The MRRT accordingly fed into the policy issue of the week, the fragility of Wayne Swan’s surplus. Which is to say, there hasn’t been a policy issue, because the surplus is a purely political matter. The Budget being $1 billion in the black or $4 billion in the red is neither here nor there in economic terms, and is unlikely to reflect anything more than shifts in commodity prices between now and June 30. Still, as I suggested earlier in the week, that’s all fine, because our economic debate is increasingly composed of confected issues pushed by interest groups, so Wayne Swan’s surplus fits neatly into it.

The broader message from MYEFO was that the economy continues to travel at the sort of clip that should maintain employment despite an increasingly hostile global environment where the woes of Europe and the sluggish growth of the US have translated into softer growth for our key trading partners in Asia. Some more hysterical commentators tried to whip up an inflation scare off the back of this week’s CPI, despite showing a more muted-than-forecast impact of the carbon price; the problem, more specifically, continues to be gouging by power companies who are coining it by overcharging consumers and businesses for energy.

The Prime Minister has flagged that as an issue that requires urgent attention; too bad she did so as a way of getting stuck into Coalition state governments — not the best way to ensure an issue that requires genuine cross-government and bipartisan reform gets proper attention. Still, there will be an election called sometime in the next 9 months.

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  • 1
    geomac62
    Posted Friday, 26 October 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Maxine wasn,t in the loop when Rudd copped the challenge so how much is speculation and chatter ? My take on it is Rudd squibbed a party spill and resigned playing the martyr . Like Peacock , Howard , Keating and Hawke if you have the numbers you win and if not , the challenge fails .
    I think the book will be like Maxines interview with Hanson in that she fails to nail it because of lost perspective .

  • 2
    David Hand
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Though I understand your distress about the Maxine book, attempts to brush it aside by talking down her influence, partisanship and knowledge, you must acknowledge that the bastardry committed back in 2010 is part of the DNA of the players at the time and Julia is a central player.

    It is her active participation in the coup that is in the recent commentary and rather than simply re-hashing June 2010, it is a repositioning of her as an ambitious player, rather than an idealistic servant pressed into the job that is interesting.

    When you begin to review the misog yny campaign and the relentless character assassination of Abbott, it may be that a book like this will change some views about the present day Julia.

  • 3
    David Hand
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Though I understand your distress about the Maxine book, attempts to brush it aside by talking down her influence, partisanship and knowledge, you must acknowledge that the bas tardry committed back in 2010 is part of the DNA of the players at the time and Jul ia is a central player.

    It is her active participation in the coup that is in the recent commentary and rather than simpl y re-hashing June 2010, it is a repositioning of her as an ambitious player, rather than an ideal istic servant pressed into the job that is interesting.

    When you begin to review the misog yny campaign and the relentless character assass ination of Abbott, it may be that a book l ike this will change some views about the present day Jul ia.

  • 4
    geomac62
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    David
    Your take on Rudd stepping down is different from mine . I see it from the viewpoint of Howard and Peacocks battles or McMahon and McEwen .Hawke and Keating is another although Crean is one leader who I thought was poorly treated in respect of leadership tussles .
    I think your drawing a long bow regarding Abbott and character with the PM . Abbott constantly provides fodder for people to slap him with . He never fails to take the opportunity to show he is indeed a very crass person . It might be welcoming the NZ prime minister or the USA president and Abbott makes it less than it could be . As to the mysogy ny assessment Abbott is either very stupid or deliberate in choosing to use juvenile words to cover what he is actually saying . Abbott may be crass but he is not stupid in the sense of not knowing what he is saying . Summer Heights High and one of the characters in it come to mind for obvious insult and ridiculous explanation to deny offence . Unfortunately if Abbott were to gain office as PM he would be PT instead of PM , Prime Thing . PTA , that has a ring about it , schoolboy type immaturity and parental concern .

  • 5
    geomac62
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Michael Gordon has an article worth checking out .

    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/the-real-lesson-to-be-learnt-from-labors-history-wars-20121026-28ay8.html

  • 6
    geomac62
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Michael Gordon has an article worth checking out .

    theage.com.au/opinion/politics/the-real-lesson-to-be-learnt-from-labors-history-wars-20121026-28ay8.html

  • 7
    David Hand
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    But Geo,
    It was the prime minister who took time out in her state visit to India to call Abbott a coward - a classic example of what you call “making it less than it could be” but not mentioned or acknowledged by you. It is fascinating how you people of the left pick your person and then spin absolutely everything to support your position.

    I am no fan of Abbott. I thought his “inexperience” jibe was stupid and leading with his chin. But at least his unrelenting negative campaign has been about policy - the carbon tax, rather than the very personalised visceral hate campaign coming from the ALP front bench aimed at his character.

    Geo, the whole “Abbott is an evil misogynist” campaign is a carefully constructed programme designed by Julia’s English spin doctor, dutifully and carefully executed by Cabinet and enthusiastically lapped up by the left.

  • 8
    geomac62
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    David
    His special gift comment about his daughter and sh-t remark after the health debate were before an pommy adviser spin etc . Bernie Banton was a decade before but I guess it ok to be tactless about a dying man when that man has outed Abbott regarding Hardie sentiments . Abbott and pure of heart , precious gift , where does his mind go to , what century ?
    The two visits I mentioned were by overseas leaders to our country and on each occasion were to address the Australian parliament . Your example of a presser does not equate to historic occasions I think you would agree .

  • 9
    David Hand
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Geo,
    So you despise him.
    I don’t have a problem with that.

    I reckon that the deluge of abuse aimed at him makes the left feel he’s more of a liability than he actually is when the real story of the next election is the incompetence of the second rate union hacks occupying the front bench of the ALP. The 2010 coup is of direct relevance to that. I can see them rushing an election just to save Swan the embarrassment of yet another deficit.

  • 10
    geomac62
    Posted Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    David Hand
    I thought Abbott was much the same as Reith or Howard but a second string much like Downer or Ruddock . When I heard Abbott in parliament blame the government for four deaths caused by management H&S adherence I knew he wasn,t fit to be a politician of any stripe . It may seem minor to some but that single action more about Abbotts lack of character or integrity , take your pick , than all the others . Reith used the race card among other things but Abbott used four aussie deaths to score cheap political points . Even Howard would not have done that . He may have got someone else to fire the gun but he wouldn,t have sullied himself to be the one making the accusation . the fact that Abbott refuses to even contemplate industrial manslaughter laws made his remarks all the more despicable . If I could manage a decade of Howard I can manage three years of Abbott as PM . I hope I,m around to see his demise as PM or leader after another election without gaining office . I was glad Howard got ousted because it would have been a travesty if he had broken Menzies record . Despise is a strong word so I would prefer to say I have no respect whatever for Abbott as a person or politician .

  • 11
    geomac62
    Posted Sunday, 28 October 2012 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    David Hand
    I thought Abbott was much the same as Reith or Howard but a second string much like Downer or Ruddock . When I heard Abbott in parliament blame the government for four deaths caused by management H&S adherence I knew he wasn,t fit to be a politician of any stripe . It may seem minor to some but that single action more about Abbotts lack of character or integrity , take your pick , than all the others . Reith used the race card among other things but Abbott used four aussie deaths to score cheap political points . Even Howard would not have done that . He may have got someone else to fire the gun but he wouldn,t have sull ied himself to be the one making the accusation . the fact that Abbott refuses to even contemplate industrial manslaughter laws made his remarks all the more despicable . If I could manage a decade of Howard I can manage three years of Abbott as PM . I hope I,m around to see his demise as PM or leader after another election without gaining office . I was glad Howard got ousted because it would have been a travesty if he had broken Menzies record . Despise is a strong word so I would prefer to say I have no respect whatever for Abbott as a person or politician .

  • 12
    Dogs breakfast
    Posted Monday, 29 October 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    (as well as, evidently, from the perspective of a first-term, politically-inexperienced MP gifted a parliamentary secretaryship who thought she was entitled to be treated as something more than that by senior ministers)”

    That’s a nice reality check BK. Maxine’s book must be read in that light.

    DH, did you really say this about Abbott? “I reckon that the deluge of abuse aimed at him”

    Are you kidding? He has had a free ride for the bulk of his time as Opposition Leader, and only recently has been held to any account, and the abuse he has received has been entirely self-inflicted.

    Compare that to the personal and dog-whistled abuse that JG has basically fronted every day of her PM’ship, the bulk of it for behaviours that are both accepted and often enough lauded in male leaders (Keating was hailed for finally knifing Hawke, Costello rightly belittled for not having the courage to do in Howard) or for changing their mind when circumstances change - the obvious answer to the charge of ‘lying’ about the carbon tax, when JHoward invented the non-core promise.

    And did you really write this “It is fascinating how you people of the left pick your person and then spin absolutely everything to support your position.”

    I’m not sure whether to say “Physician, heal thyself” or perhaps “be careful not to point out the splinter in your fellow man’s eye, while there is a log in your own.”

  • 13
    Terrence John Snedden
    Posted Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Rudd is ridiculous. Abbott is abominable. Gillard keeps pushing on. Rudd and Abbott’s persistent subterfuge peels off Gillard like dirt off a plough sheer. After years of hurling abuse and inventing facts for his advantage Abbott gets whacked and runs off whimpering ‘enough, enough’. Now that the suitability of his character for the top job is under the cloud of misogyny the political commentators want to discuss policy. Yes, let’s get serious and talk about policy; the public have been asking without much success for serious discussion of the important issues for the past two years, but the petty shenanigans of Tony and Kevin have been allowed to infest the public discourse like some suffocating exotic weeds. As Paul Keating once said, “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on”, so let’s do that. As for Maxine she has been able to vent her bitterness about the demise of her political benefactor (who has sadly become a tormented and self-obsessed persona non grata) in time for the books to be read during the summer vacation. Hopefully, she can put the whole episode behind her and refocus on the end game too.

  • 14
    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Terry mate,
    Abbott has been talking policy since the day he got elected Liberal leader. That day he said “I’m not afraid of an election fought over the ETS”. That’s policy. Since then he’s been banging on about the carbon tax damaging Australia’s economy. That’s policy mate. At the same time he’s been promising to stop the boats. Good grief, more policy.

    Over the weekend he’s had a go at the Asia white paper, attacking the government’s ability to deliver. Mate, that’s more policy.

    I’m not suggesting he has actually released any policy or even that his policy positions are correct. I disagree with some of them. Tony can justifiably be criticised for unrelenting negativity that might cost him the election but it’s about policy.

    On the other side, we have Julia Gillard taking time out of her state visit to India to call Abbott a coward. While defending Peter Slipper’s speakership, she calls him a misoginyst.

    Keep drinking the Gillard cool-aid mate.

  • 15
    David Hand
    Posted Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Dogs Breakfast,
    On any given day over any particular political issue, a cabinet minister will go on TV and attack Tony Abbott’s character.

    This is straight out of the ALP communications strategy for 2012 as designed by Julia’s pommy spin doctor. It is unrelenting and carefully orchestrated. And it is working.

    Labor had better hope there are fewer scandals and policy disasters in the next 10 months because it is those that have given the Coalition its support. Attacking Abbott is about the only re-election tactic they have at the moment.

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