Kevin Rudd came to Balmain yesterday, and quite frankly it was a debacle. Note to the ALP: next time you organise a stunt involving 100 politicians, 60 police, one fully armed riot squad, several groups of feral protesters and 4000 TV cameras, could you not do it in a suburb with one main road? At 8.30am, just before school starts? Did anyone think that through?
By the time I’d battled my way from school drop-off to the Balmain Town Hall, it sounded like a full-scale riot was under way. Large contingents of protesters — from both ends of the political spectrum — were taking it in turns to bellow through loudspeakers and dozens of police blocked off the footpaths, while the riot squad attempted to keep the peace. When Rudd finally turned up at 9.30am, the noise reached such a crescendo you could probably have heard it in Canberra. By this stage, whoever had suggested Balmain as a fabulous venue for a special caucus meeting was probably out the back being flogged.