Senior Liberals have already made it clear that personal attacks on Kevin Rudd will continue when Parliament resumes next week – Alexander Downer on Insiders, Tony Abbott in the SMH today.

It appears the opposition leader may have fibbed about his meetings with Brian Burke, but it also appears from the polls that voters really don’t care.

What might engage their interest? Kerry-Anne Walsh offered riffs on Rudd’s life story in the Sun-Herald last weekend that sound a little discordant with the way he tells it.

Rudd’s father died after an accident, and the family had to leave the property where he’d worked as a share farmer. “It was a tough time, there is no disputing that,” Walsh wrote. “What happened next is an often-told story – an emotional story.”

But what about the accident itself? Rudd raised concerns about the medical treatment his father received in its aftermath on Sunday earlier this month. Piers Akerman gave us a preview of the Government’s line in the Telegraph yesterday:

[T]he official coronial record makes it clear that Bert Rudd was involved in a single car accident in late December, 1968, after spending an afternoon playing bowls and drinking beers and whiskies and a dinner at which he had more beers before he attempted to drive the 120km home.

About 3am his car swerved to the wrong side of the road and hit a power pole. He suffered massive internal injuries and despite a number of major operations over a seven-week period, died on February 12, 1969, in the Royal Brisbane Hospital…

Kevin Rudd’s memory, however, is that “there were great concerns about the calibre of the surgeons who were operating on him toward the end of his period in hospital”.

Indeed, he told Channel Nine’s Ellen Fanning he’d like to know exactly what their skills were and what happened to them professionally “because I’ve heard reports that some of them were subsequently removed from medical practice. I’d like to know the truth of that one day but I’ve not had the time to check it out.”

It’s a pity he did not check because the coroner’s report contains no suggestion of medical malpractice.

The story of the Rudd family’s eviction is core to the myth of Kevin Rudd’s earliest beginnings – and it seems untrue…

Subtle it ain’t. Is the dirt unit back in business? I got a call on Monday proffering similar details.

Voters expect politicians to fib. They don’t like them to lie. But where do voters draw the line – and on what subjects? Do childhood recollections really matter?

The Government obviously thinks it’s a tricky one for Rudd. But if they go too far, then they’ll become the villains of the piece. I suspect voters only think politicians’ fibs become lies when they directly affect them.

Rudd’s responded along the lines of “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it”. Perhaps he’s drawn some comfort from the glory days of Tony Blair.

In a 1997 interview, Blair got misty eyed about Newcastle United football club, about his first visit to its home ground St James’s Park, about “sitting in the Gallowgate End watching Jackie Milburn”. A Nick Hornby moment, but one not without its problems.

Milburn left Newcastle in 1957 to manage the Irish club Linfield. When he played his final games for Newcastle, Tony Blair would have been four years old and living here in Australia.

Worse, until it was knocked down in 1994 and replaced with the new Exhibition Stand, the Gallowgate End was just a terrace with no seating.

But it didn’t matter in the New Labour dawn, in the days of Cool Britannia and “Things Can Only Get Better“.

Rudd knows the awful truth. When a swing’s on, a swing’s on.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.