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The World

Oct 19, 2012

Gillard's good week undermined by Kevin 'look at me' Rudd

Julia Gillard has had a good week in foreign policy. But Kevin Rudd continues to behave as though her political demise is just around the corner.

So what’s the point of a UN Security Council seat? That will remain something of a mystery to voters even after the government managed to secure a seat.

Bob Carr (more accurately “a jubilant Bob Carr”) this morning promised “an Australian agenda”, possibly for those who might have assumed Australia’s election would merely mean a second vote for the United States, involving nuclear non-proliferation, women’s rights and arms control. He also mentioned Syria, perhaps assuming that the efforts of a loyal ally of the US would somehow tip the balance in a stand-off between Assad’s sponsors on the Security Council and the West.

Perhaps the real benefit to the government, unusually for anything related to foreign policy, is actually in domestic politics. The Coalition, which unless politically desperate (think John Howard hosting APEC in Fortress Sydney), regards multilateralism as a form of left-wing lunacy, has been left looking a tad churlish after opposing the bid (while “in principle” supporting it, whatever that actually meant).

“A win’s a win,” Tony Abbott admitted today, with the sort of commitment to logical consistency and factual coherence that is frequently absent from his public statements. Labor gets to add a UNSC seat to its list of achievements the Howard government couldn’t manage — triple-A credit rating from all three major agencies, Finance Minister of the Year, 12th largest economy. All things that don’t mean a great deal to voters, especially with Labor’s lack of communication skills.

But while voters may be left wondering what the benefit of a chair “at the big table™” is, it caps a good foreign policy week for the PM, after she further eased the most problematic issue between Australia and India off the agenda. Labor of course would insist there’s no contradiction between working to supply uranium to a non-signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its “Australian agenda”.

Abbott, meanwhile, managed to spoil what should have been the minor coup of securing a meeting with Indonesian President Yudhoyono by repeating his failure to raise the towback issue, an omission of sufficient concern that The Australian began circling the wagons in defence of its man.

Both Gillard and Abbott are foreign policy neophytes, and neither have a great deal of interest in the area. Gillard has herself admitted this; Abbott demonstrated it in his Battlelines book, in which his views on the importance of the “Anglosphere” read like an undergraduate parody of Greg Sheridan. Gillard, however, has the virtue of incumbency, the legacy of Rudd and having hit it off with our imperial overlord Barack Obama.

The Prime Minister being out of the country, that was Kevin Rudd’s cue to again politely request that we pay him some attention. Whatever thinking is going on within the Rudd brains trust could do with some re-evaluation currently: Gillard has lifted in the polls, Labor’s vote has been dragged out of the catastrophic position it was mired in for much of this year, but Rudd is still acting as if Labor’s on 29% and a nervous caucus might be ready to turn to him any moment.

It’s said to be driven by the perception that Gillard need only make it to the end of the year to be assured of leading Labor to the election. This is a strange new political rule from the party that gave us Bob Hawke the day an election was called. Even John Howard contemplated bailing out just a couple of months short of an election to give his government a better chance of survival. There’ll be plenty of time next year for Labor to contemplate its options if Gillard’s recovery isn’t sustained. Nicola Roxon’s struggles over the Peter Slipper case again illustrate that Labor’s talent for manufacturing unforced errors remains ever-ready to burst out again.

The Liberals, too, have plenty of time as well to consider their options if that talent fails to manifest itself and the Prime Minister’s recovery continues.

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32 comments

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32 thoughts on “Gillard’s good week undermined by Kevin ‘look at me’ Rudd

  1. Jimmy

    Once agina BK struggle ot pay the PM compliments without finding the flaw in the diamond.

    This has been a very good week for the ALP, Gillards trip to India even got a very positive editorial in the Herald Sun today and the win on the UNSC has not only left the Libs looking churlish but foolish, Julie Bishop on 774 this morning was trying to make it a negative that Australia entered the race 6 years after the other 2 (which I would of thought was the Lbis fault) and spent too much time and money on it, surely if we spent 6 years less and still won that is a great example of productivity.

    On the negatives only the press gallery really seem at all interested in the Roxon-Slipper issue and Kevin Rudd’sook at me issues are only doing him a disservice.

    Also I see now that Abbott is back from his trip to indonesia he has transformed from a mouse back into a lion on asylum seekers.

  2. gloria bennett

    2 years, so that will mean australia votes on wars with syria and/or iran. hmm, seeing as a neo-liberal war monger will be in the lodge by then, and quite possibly an ultra right wing president/congress that’s pretty much assured. peace loving nation indeed, pfft.

  3. fredex

    Oh my dog!!
    Yet another headlined story and beat-up about Rudd vs Gillard.
    To go with all the others in the media obssession box.
    One could be excused for thinking there is a political agenda behind the constant flow of Rudd vs Gillard stories.
    Particularly when contrasted silence og only the rare occasional little whisper that sneaks through about Turnbull and hockey jockeying for the LOTO position.

  4. Jimmy

    fredex – Completely agree, abbott would be under much more pressure as it stands and if the polls narrow any further there will have to be serious questions asked why the media aren’t asking serious questions!

  5. GeeWizz

    Can’t wait to hear about bribing allegations… Gillard as usual will kick a goal but it was into her own goal.

    Just what did Labor do to win this bid? how many dinners? How many hands were greased? That is where the real story is at.

  6. GeeWizz

    Jimmy,

    We don’t need to ask the Indo’s pliddy-please if we can turn back their boats, we just do it.

    I mean does Indonesia ask Australia for our permission on how to run it’s own borders?

    You talk about Abbott being a mouse, but Gutless Gillard has said Australia can’t protect it’s borders because the Indonesians say so. That is gutlessness to it’s core.

    BTW The Sri Lankans have said they are happy for Australia to turn back the boats, yet Gutless Gillard has failed to turn back 1 single boat to Sri Lanka.

    The day Australia can’t turn back Indonesian boats, flying Indonesia flags, crewed by Indonesians, sailed from Indonesia ports out of Australian waters is the day we lose our sovereignty as a nation… this is where Labor want to take us.

  7. Jimmy

    Geewizz – “We don’t need to ask the Indo’s pliddy-please if we can turn back their boats, we just do it.
    I mean does Indonesia ask Australia for our permission on how to run it’s own borders?”
    You have summed up your lack of understanding perfectly, if Indonesia is running “it’s borders” it can refuse access to ourboats that are “turning around” the asylum seekers – so yes we do have to ask them permission.

    “Just what did Labor do to win this bid? how many dinners? How many hands were greased? That is where the real story is at.” Grow up – Australia spent almost double on the failed bid for the Soccer World cup – you really are a petty man – how is that 56-44 newpoll looking by the way, still backing it in for Monday?

  8. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Bernard, aside from the (completely unlikely) possibility that Kevin Rudd is positioning himself for another challenge, he almost always brings positive outcomes from his foreign excursions. He’s safe for Labor, he gets reported in the Australian media and he still has a following on both sides of politics. Rudd’s efforts do not in any way undermine Bob Carr, they may even provide a distraction for news media that go gangbusters about some things trivial (like the PM’s fall on the grass in India) and are always constructive and justifiable. So whilst they can be potentially risky – for those who are nervous about these things – the net result for Labor is that Rudd’s excursions show that the party is comfortable letting him off the leash on a roving commission.

  9. paddy

    LOL C’mon Bernard, admit it. You were playing that UNSC bingo drinking game before you filed this, weren’t you?

    I distinctly heard numerous media instances of “punching above our weight”. Plus Joe Hockey’s “skull the bottle” zinger. “It’s good if it means the UN will help stop the boats”.
    But really…..Ruddstoration???? That’s a drink too far.

  10. GeeWizz

    [“You have summed up your lack of understanding perfectly, if Indonesia is running “it’s borders” it can refuse access to ourboats that are “turning around” the asylum seekers – so yes we do have to ask them permission.”]

    Jimmy, we don’t tow boats all the way back to Jakarta.

    We have Australian waters, then a stretch of International Waters and then Indonesian waters.

    We are completely within our rights to tow any boat that enters Australian waters back into International Waters. We don’t need Indonesia’s say so, we just do.

    I mean we’ve been doing it for 200 Years with Indonesian fishing boats and Labor have never batted an eyelid that we were “towing back boats”.

    Of course if any deal is to be reached with Indonesia it shall be done in a secret arrangement like what Howard had with Indonesia when it successfully sent back 7 boats. Not soapbox diplomacy like what Gillard wants. Abbott did the right thing by keeping his mouth shut, what was discussed in private conversations are private matters.

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