We asked Crikey’s readers for their impressions of the first year of the post-Howard era. We received a flood of responses and today is the final instalment. KevinPM sure seems to inspire exclamation marks in our readers.

Audrey Deheinzelin writes: Want to know how I feel about Kevin? It’s like I ended up (again) in a bad relationship! A year ago, he appeared all freshened up, on his white horse, looking like perfect Prince Charming, good manners, sweet-talking me with promises of revolution (with those ‘no darling, believe me, global warming will soon be just a bad dream’ and those ‘yes of course I’ll do everything I can to get our kids a decent education system for them to learn something and not end up completely drunk in the gutter after one of their fancy-dress parties’). A bit like a date in fancy restaurants and romantic escapade in the country. Some friends were telling me to be careful, that he’s a politician after all, and so on but no! I was in loooove!

And now a year later, guess what, he’s sitting (and I say sitting, wallowing is more like it) in the couch, a beer in one hand, the other scratching his balls! Bye bye Prince Charming, welcome random bloke! Revolution my ass! What am I going to do with the kids now that they have friggin broadband at school? And no honey, I don’t think that signing Kyoto was such a brave thing to do given it enabled Australia to increase its carbon emissions! On top of that, I now have to work like crazy to pay for the consequences of his mismanagement of state affairs (food, petrol, mortgage, credit cards, bail out and the rest!).

James Biggar writes: Rudd has been out of Australia more than he has been in it! Kevin 747! I think Howard didn’t leave Australia in the first year he was elected. All the under 28 year olds voted for the Rudd as they had not experienced Australia under a Labor government. Howard is sitting at home saying “got out at the right time!”

Dave Smartt writes: With the apology, the end of mandatory detention and the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq Kevin has probably done more for the reputation of this country overseas in 12 months than John Howard did in 12 years. My sense of the country has changed somewhat — to a more forward looking one at least. Rudd hasn’t entirely healed the national soul, but he has made progress. I suppose the thing that’s disappointed me most about Rudd is that he’s still too like John Howard in many ways and that he isn’t a Bob Hawke or Paul Keating on policy or in parliament, although question time has become far more entertaining since Johnny left. That said, the fact that he was like Johnny is probably why he won the last election.

Alexander Sharp writes: For the first time for many depressing years what we finally have is a leader who acknowledges what we all know is, and has been, really happening. We no longer have a leader who embraces ideas that are inhuman and self serving, and was prepared to lie to win.

Mike Foale writes: Kevin has ticked the right boxes so far: Kyoto; the apology to indigenous Australia; the stimulus package for the economy. But the big box, the one that he is urging leaders when he is on the international stage not to shelve, is the one that launches really serious targets for lowering the intensity of the carbon storm still being generated by the fossil fuel suppliers and addicts.

Mirek Szychowski writes: Is it really 12 months? Seems both shorter and longer at the same time! Shorter, because international events, especially the Big Show of the US presidential election and the rapidity with which the economic crisis took hold and expanded. And longer, as it became obvious that the new Labor Government is just an extension of the Howard years, and “me tooism”, just better media managed.

The signal moments of his tenure so far, such as the signing of Kyoto Protocol, the Apology have been populist and stage-managed, with no concrete actions to follow. Domestically, the so-called “war on terror” goes on regardless, with the Government desperate to show the sceptical public some results, the plight of the indigenous Australians is a national and international shame, the economic crisis is media-managed, the relationship with the US is “rock solid”, meaning we will participate in the egregious occupation of both Afghanistan, as Iraq, whilst occupying for ourselves the Solomon Islands and East Timor.

All pure Howard! Nothing really surprising, as both major parties are essentially Big Business parties, the difference being, how the illusion of representing the electorate is spun.

Keith Field writes: Rudd appears to be performing well under the worst circumstances that any Government could inherit. I am not suggesting the previous Government created the conditions that now exist. However under the previous regime the public’s expectations of an ongoing bonanza of tax reductions and credit availability were fuelled for political ends. Rudd has done a good job in managing this lowering of expectations. This achievement has been branded as creating a recession by the Opposition, signs surely they haven’t learnt too much since losing power.

Tony Huddy writes: The irony is beautiful — on the anniversary of Kevin 07, I have, for the first time, experienced the joy of being a part of Howard’s chosen ones. I spent all the Howard years a single man. Not once in any of his budgets was there ever a cash grab to secure the jaded, single, Gen X male vote. But now, a year after his time has passed, I got my baby bonus cheque, and it is almost enough to make me want to vote for him. Thanks John.

Ian Fraser writes: Kevin is doing OK, in not-OK times. His team seems tight, behaved (mostly), developing credibility and building reputations for being hard workers. His face is on TV just enough, and he is less obviously “political” than most. He’s awake at the wheel and getting the job done

Mark Coleman writes: Kevin was gifted the fact that he followed Howard, and so could do all those easy, obvious things like the apology, that Howard was too stubborn/arrogant/stupid (you choose!) to do. In that sense he did a lot of healing things that, to be perfectly honest, anyone but Howard would have done. Since then, well…If Aussies really are genuine about avoiding bullsh-t, hubris and self-inflating egotists, then we should be very, very pi-sed off with Kevin. But of course most of us don’t really care, so Kevin et al can continue on their merry way as self-proclaimed VIPs who know what’s best for us. In a nutshell, yes I’m sick of him already!

Shirley Schubert writes: Well, yes, he has delivered! The Apology was just a start on the humane agenda list which the Labour government has indicated their intentions to reform. The environment is well under thoughtful consideration. Paid maternity leave is being given more than a token nod. So we criticise him because he does his homework and takes time to research, consider and discuss possibilities in depth and detail. What would we prefer?

Have we noticed (in spite of or because of the financial crisis?) that both interest rates and petrol prices have gone down? Who would have thought? Just a coincidence we know, but if they were going up there would be things said. As long as I don’t look at my super too often I could start to think that these barometers of the cost of living are indicating an economical fair weather forecast in spite of the storm clouds overseas. I look forward to the Rudd Labour government’s clear, thoughtful progress in matters great and small. And I am not even an ALP member!!

Julie McNeill writes: Compassion is gracing our communities once again. The Apology to stolen generations set a gentler tone. Refugees are being treated with human decency and the can have a brighter future in our country. Individual preventative chronic disease plans are working well in my rural doctor’s clinic. There are great role models in Julia Gillard, Penny Wong and Nicola Roxon, and our first female Governor General.

Catherine Phillips writes: Without the charm of Hawkey or the hubris of Gough and Paul, Young Kevin, was sent from Heaven, to smite those Libs et. al With his goofy smile and homey ways, he reminds me of Mr Sheen But oh, what an improvement on our previous political scene! No thumping lecterns, no Dubai scabs. No Siev 10 or children overboard for our St. Kev, No Pauline in the wings saying things he wished he’d said. He has cast a soothing spell upon the masses of our land, “Hi, I’m Kevin from Queensland, here to lend a hand”.

Lorraine Parks writes: Mr Rudd has been as a knight in shiny armour for me and most of my friends/and acquaintances. He has opened the door to the rest of the world in a way we can understand — he is independent, communicates with the community, is friendly, hardworking, and wants to work to better our lives, our country.

Ian Sutherland writes: He’s the best prime minister since Keating.

Peter Fray

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