Monday, June 28, 2010

Time for a break

To my regular reader (oh ok, I’ll show some hubris and admit there is a plural number, and say “readers”), I’m off on holidays for a week. Unless something amazing happens – you know a PM is rolled or something – I’ll won’t be back till Monday or Tuesday next week. 

Alas I have failed to offer a fulsome critique of the Liberal's 12 point action contract. But, seriously if you were a political strategist would you come up with a 12 point plan to win an election? Twelve steps to an election win? I’m guessing the first one is to admit you have a problem. I can’t wait for them to get to Step 8 where they have to make amends for all past wrongs… (we really need a Jon Stewart, this stuff is like shooting fish in a barrel, and the fish are slow moving and have a target painted on their scales saying ‘shoot me here’)

And did Abbott need to sign each one? Are they worthless without his signature? Or like Latham signing the big pledge for lower interest rates does this just show the depths at which Abbott is held by the public – that his word is not considered his bond, and he needs to sign it as well? But gee, why would Abbott’s word not be good enough… can’t think of any reason why that would be the case…

Today Andrew Robb came out and said Gillard needed to appoint a new Finance Minister given Lindsay Tanner was retiring. What rot, and I’m glad Julia hasn’t been suckered in to playing this game, like Kevin Rudd was in 2007, when Howard and Costello forced him to say Tanner and Swan would remain in their positions after the election.

Hands up who can remember who was Finance Minister under Howard? If you said Nick Minchin give yourself a kewpie doll, and pat yourself on the back for being a total politics’ nerd. But geez, no one seriously gives a damn who the Finance Minister is unless it is someone as incredibly ill suited for the role as say Barnaby Joyce. But surely no one would ever be dumb enough to think he could fill that role…

To go out with, here’s a clip from Jon Stewart last week absolutely skewering the media over their reaction to the General McChrystal story in Rolling Stone that led to his dismissal. Have fun, see you next week:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
McChrystal's Balls - Honorable Discharge
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Newspoll ALP 53 – LNP 47 (or this is irrelevant, apparently)

Today Newspoll become one of the mass of polls to come out to give us a view of what the people think of Julia Gillard. Of course such polls are always a bit ropey. All it really examines is an initial gut feeling on Julia – and it must be said the initial feeling seems to be very positive.

The 2 Party Preferred sees the ALP increase from 52 to 53% (ie nothing really), but the big move was in the the primary votes. The ALP gained 7% going from 35% to 42%. Significantly all of the 7% came from The Greens (5%) and “others (25). The LNP stayed constant on 40%. SO the Gillard move has not brought over any Liberal voters yet.

What this means is that those voters who “parked their votes” with the Greens seem to have come back – suggesting that it wasn’t the ALP they didn’t like, but Kevin Rudd. And while that’s all fine and dandy, it does suggest that come the election they would have most likely voted for the ALP over the LNP (because if that wasn’t the case, why didn’t they go to the LNP in the first place?)

The last 6 Newspoll results have seen the ALP 2 Party preferred go 54, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53. So after the drop from 54 to 49, the ALP under Rudd was making slow but steady progress back to where they were at the 2007 election. They got there now under Gillard.

But you see this is all meaningless. You know why? Well Dennis Shanahan tells me so. You all those people talking about the two parry preferred figure were kidding themselves – all anyone who mattered was really worried about was the primary vote:

So, by last Monday all the people urging Gillard to challenge for the leadership knew Labor's primary vote was stuck at an unwinnable 35 per cent and Abbott was starting to make ground on Rudd. Coupled with the marginal seats polling from Newspoll showing both Abbott and Gillard ahead of Rudd in western Sydney and Gillard, a Victorian, only six points behind Rudd in the marginal seats in his home state of Queensland, Labor leaders knew they had to move against Rudd or face electoral oblivion.

Everyone else? Sorry, but you got it wrong:

Yet, even as Gillard knew Labor was in a losing position and there were MPs and others poised to bring down Rudd in her favour, there continued to be a misreading of the Newspoll results.

At last Tuesday's general ALP caucus meeting, former national ALP secretary and retiring MP Bob McMullan attacked The Australian for its presentation of the Newspoll results and the reporting of the figures. McMullan's argument was that Labor was safe because its two-party-preferred support in Newspoll was rising and Abbott had a negative satisfaction rating -- that is 49 per cent were dissatisfied with his job as Leader of the Opposition and 38 per cent were satisfied. This meant Abbott had a negative satisfaction rating of 11 points.

Although the substantial moves to replace Rudd were already under way before the Newspoll survey was published, McMullan's argument was championed on so-called psephological websites dedicated to polling analysis declaring there was nothing but conspiracies aimed at Rudd and Labor, and he would win because the two-party-preferred figure had improved one point in Labor's favour to 52, to the Coalition's 48 per cent.

Gosh darned, those evil “so-called psephological websites”.

Poor Dennis is so insecure about his own analysis that ever couple of weeks he feels an overwhelming need to criticise bloggers (especially those on Crikey). He decides to give us all some advice, just to show he knows better:

The reason the two-party-preferred figure misled some Labor MPs and bloggers was that it is a calculated figure and not based, outside election campaigns, on a direct question as to preferences.

Can I get a “well, duh!” from everyone? Geez Dennis, what insight. Here’s the thing. If the two party preferred is so pointless, why report it? If using a calculated figure is so terrible, why does Newspoll do it and not, like Nielsen, ask voters where they will direct their preferences?

Is Newspoll really that bad at working this stuff out? (Check out Possum for some better nerdy analysis of the polls and Dennis’s views)

But all the political journalists (especially those at The Oz) are desperate to claim they knew what was going on. I found it quite amusing to see The Australian's online political editor, Samantha Maiden, tweet on Friday:

Anyone sick of multiple journos bragging they broke yarn that killed Kevin ? I must say I find it ghoulish, and distasteful. #spill

It’s a rather amusing tweet, especially when in today’s Oz there was this bit of ghoulish bragging:

Rumblings in the News Limited faction. Dennis Shanahan and Patricia Karvelas's splash last Saturday:

KEY Labor MPs are prepared to move against Kevin Rudd's leadership to make way for Julia Gillard as early as next week.

It’s pretty distasteful to me….but hell, you have to admit those guys at The Oz were spot on! On Saturday they were all over it; pity then this bit written on Wednesday (you know the actual day of the spill):

PM's position is secure, party's is not

  • Dennis Shanahan, Political editor
  • From: The Australian
  • June 23, 2010 12:00AM

KEVIN Rudd was a changed man in parliamentary question time yesterday.

He was relaxed, smiling - that genuine grin, not the forced one - and promoting the government's achievements. The Prime Minister was in exactly the mood some key powerbrokers wanted after weeks of plummeting polls, negative publicity and genuine thoughts of leadership change.

The battle, the tough time, the big challenges for Labor are all there but the school of thought that it would be suicide to engineer a leadership change has prevailed.

As well, Julia Gillard would not move against the Prime Minister.

Rudd seems safe to lead Labor through to the election, whether parliament resumes in August or not and whether the election is in September or October.

Yesterday McMullan said Labor did the right thing then in changing leaders to guarantee victory. Most Labor MPs are now hoping they have done the right thing in not precipitating a leadership change now.

Whatever happens, Rudd has almost certainly survived until the election with far worse polling numbers than Beazley in 2006.

Yep, they were right on top of it. …

imageThe poll today shows not a lot has changed on the 2PP stakes this year. There’s been that one dip below 50%, but other than that the ALP has remained in the lead. And yes, I know the 2PP is based on the preferences of the last election. The reason this is done is because it’s a pretty damn good measure of preference flows. No one ever suggests that Primary votes are irrelevant. But to dismiss the two party preferred is to pretend we live in a first past the post electoral world. We don’t. 

Now sure, the ALP hard heads obviously were focussing on the primary vote, and likely the preferred PM – which Abbott at the last Newspoll had narrowed to 46-37. At this point I should recall that back in July 2008 I wrote:

I don’t think any poll will matter until the opposition leader is within 15% of Rudd on preferred PM. If Rudd stays above 50%, and Nelson or Turnbull or whoever can’t get above 35%, then the election will be a rout.

Geez. I picked the spill 2 years out!!


r591801_3791431Julia Gillard today let us know that the election will be in August. By making only two very small changes to the Cabinet due to her move to the PM’s office suggests the election cometh soon.

Moving Simon Crean to Employment, Education and Work Place Relations put an old head in a position that will get a lot of question during the campaign. If you’re going to the election early, you don’t want to put some newbie in to the role; you want someone who knows how to deal with journalists questions on BER funding and such. Similarly giving Stephen Smith Crean’s old job of Trade in addition to his Foreign Affairs role suggest minimal movement and little fuss. 

And given the size of both portfolios – both of which are normally managed by two Ministers each, suggests she is not going to leave these two struggling with the massive workload for very long.

The mining profits tax is still a big issue, and the media has almost made it a prerequisite of calling the election that it is all resolved. I wouldn't be surprised if Julia gets that done. Similarly I believe she’ll also come up with some sort of climate change policy.

Give her three weeks to do that, and she can call an election for August 24…


The oldest political joke tweaked for 2010: How do you know when Tony Abbott is lying? He moves his lips.

The guy cannot talk without lying, bullshitting or exaggerating the truth. It is in his nature – he’ll do it to get a laugh, a gasp, to stop a talk-back DJ’s attack. He lies and then the next day he comes out and makes the excuse. Last week he lied about whether or not had said the Liberal Party was on the verge of a famous victory. First it was reported he did say it (by the Liberal Party spokesperson George Brandis – their shadow Attorney General, so not a guy who is loose with words – actually he is a bloody pedant on the meaning of words); then Abbott denied saying it, then on the 7:30 Report he admitted he did say it, but it wasn't all he said.

So yeah, he lies. All the time.

Now that is bad enough (and really deserves a hell of a lot more coverage from the media) but when he starts suggesting others lie – especially people of such high standing as Lindsay Tanner – well that’s when I start to get bloody angry.

Here was Tanner in Parliament (the one place where politicians make sure they never, ever lie) announcing his retirement:

I want to stress that this decision is driven entirely and absolutely by matters of personal circumstances. There are, frankly, two little girls and two older kids who need me more than the country needs me.

When I married my wife, Andrea, nine years ago, I said in the speech at the celebration that every day that we were apart was painful. I am afraid that is still true. These are circumstances that I am sure most members of the House will understand only too well—indeed, better than many in the community.

People will know from media reports that I and my wife have purchased a property just outside Melbourne. This of course is not unrelated to my decision.

I am aware that in the current political environment—a rather unusual environment—all kinds of speculation and conspiracy theories will emerge with respect to the decision that I have taken. I want to assure the House that this decision is totally and absolutely unconnected with the events of the past 24 hours. It involves no reflection on either the previous Prime Minister or the incoming Prime Minister. It involves no reflection on the government’s policies and it involves no reflection on the prospects of Labor holding the seat of Melbourne.

Now maybe you think Tanner is lying and if you do, I’m sorry we must part ways, because if Gillard were the reason Tanner would simply have not made such an unequivocal statement. The bit about buying a property outside of Melbourne refers to this interview on Insiders on June 13:

BARRIE CASSIDY: The public housing, the congestion, is that what caused you to recently leave the electorate?

LINDSAY TANNER: Well I'm in the process of seeking to get another base, another home in the electorate. That hasn't been finalised yet.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But you've moved out of the electorate haven't you?

LINDSAY TANNER: Well I was actually 150 metres outside the electorate to start with Barrie. But I'm in the process of obtaining an apartment somewhere in the western part of my electorate. That hasn't been finalised but that's continuing.

BARRIE CASSIDY: But you have bought a farm outside of Melbourne?

LINDSAY TANNER: Yeah I've purchased a property out there. That involves complicated family issues that I have no intention of discussing publicly.

If you view the footage you will see Tanner is very uncomfortable talking about it. I have to say, when I saw it I thought he might be in the process of divorcing his wife… it had that feel about it – that it was a very personal and painful issue.

Now Tony Abbott in Parliament stood up and responded to Tanner’s announcement with this:

But, that said, when he says that the events of the last 24 hours had nothing to do with his decision we believe him. I am sure there is no sense of reluctance to continue serving, and I do believe that this place will be the poorer for his absence.

First off, what a prick. As if he needs to let everyone know that he believes Tanner – as though that has any fucking relevance. You could tell when he said it he was stating it purely to let it be known that he didn't’ really believe him – 0r to alert people that they should question Tanner’s motives. But note the line in bold. Was he lying? Well yes, he was. How do we know? Because it took him two days to change his story. Here was Abbott on Saturday at the Liberal Party National Conference:

Now, I regret to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that the new Prime Minister is as addicted to tax as her predecessor. She has never seen a tax that she didn’t support and so far her only recorded contribution to smaller government is to take the Gang of Four and to turn it into a Gang of Two, and she’s done that by driving out of the Government the Minister for Finance, Lindsay Tanner, who was its only economically literate member.

So now he doesn't’ believe Tanner. In fact he is accusing Tanner of lying to Parliament. Here, in a carefully prepared and written speech, he states that the reason Tanner has retied is because Gillard has become PM.

Well I’m sorry Abbott, but just because you lie every time you speak do not assume those who are better than you in every possible way are somehow as contemptuous of the public as you.

I used to think seeing Howard lose was as good a feeling as I would ever have from politics. But no, seeing this poor excuse for an MP go down on election day will be so much better.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

AFL Power Rankings: Round 13 (or homeward bound)

It’s all downhill from here…

The big game brought a big comeback and a threw the whole Premiership race open… well open for two teams at least.

At least this weekend we get back to 8 games. The split round might be nice for players resting injuries, but it is bloody boring for the fans.

With 9 rounds to go and a theoretical 12 Games plus percentage to make the finals, it means “theoretically” everyone can make it. But in theory winning 6 out of your last 9 would be doing pretty good (that return would average 14 wins in a season). That means all those teams with less than 6 wins now really would need to pull something out of the box to make it from here. This means it is probably down to 9 teams to decide the top 8, but I’ll give Essendon another week because their percentage is much better than North’s.

Either way, I don’t see there being much excitement in Round 22 to see who makes the finals – it’ll all be about where the sides within the 8 finish.






Should finish in the top four
clip_image001[10] 1 2↑  St Kilda 10-3 Wow! That’s how you do it. And with Riewoldt set to come back, the Saints are looking very good.
clip_image001[12] 2 1 Geelong 10-3 At half time the Cats looked to be doing it easy. How the hell could they only kick 3 points in the entire second half? North Melbourne this week will feel their wrath.
clip_image001[18] 3 3 Collingwood 9-3-1 No worries there. Malthouse the fool thinks Collingwood has been hard done by with the draw. Not sure if he can complain about paying the Eagles next.
The top 8 looks good  
clip_image001[8] 4 5 Bulldogs 8-5 A good win over in the west. The Hawks this week faces up to be a huge match (and yes, yet another “8 point” game).
clip_image001[24] 5 4 Hawthorn 7-6 Buddy hell. It’s not fair someone can be that talented. Six wins in a row, but now they have the Bulldogs, Cats, Lions and Saints. We’ll know in 4 weeks if they are the real deal.
clip_image001[6] 6 7  Fremantle 9-4 An Excellent away win by the Dockers – especially coming off 2 losses. With Port Richmond, and Melbourne up next they could be 12-4 and almost a top 4 certainty.
Percentage will be a help  
clip_image002[4] 7 6↓ Carlton 7-6 The Blues lost their ruckman, and some credibility with the loss against the Dockers. Top four looks gone.
clip_image001[4] 8 8 Sydney 7-6 The Swans just don’t like playing the Pies. Now they face a surprisingly confident Tigers. Must win.
Can’t afford any more stuff ups
clip_image001[28] 9 10 North Melbourne 7-6 North beat the completely out of it Port. Geelong up next for the reality check.
clip_image001[20] 10 9↓ Essendon 5-8 The Bombers were honest but lacked a Buddy. With the Crows, Demons, Eagles and North up next, they could be 9-8.
Not a chance in hell  
clip_image001[22] 11 11 Brisbane 5-8 Well it’s all gone so very bad for the Lions. (Remember they were 4-0). Won’t make the finals from here – especially with Carlton, Saints, Hawks and Cats up next – they’re good things to be 5-12.
clip_image002 12 14  Adelaide 4-9 The Crows played like they wanted to win. If they beat the Bombers this week their season will start to look like it wasn’t completely awful.
clip_image001[16] 13 12  Melbourne 4-8-1 The Demons played well for one quarter, but for the rest the Crows had them covered. They haven’t won since round 9. They play the Saints this week…
clip_image001[26] 14 15 Richmond 3-10 Three out of the last four! This is a young Tigers side that are learning how to win. The Swans won’t be feeling as happy about playing them as they did when they faced them back in round 3. 
clip_image001[14] 15 13↓ Port Adelaide 5-8 Six losses in a row –and now they face Freo at Subiaco, then Collingwood and then the Bulldogs – they must be a good chance to make it nine.
clip_image001 16 16 West Coast 3-10 Five losses in a row, and with Collingwood up next, it should be six, before they face Wooden Spoon challengers, Adelaide.

Flick of the Week: “Nobody can stab a corpse and not know it.”

This week’s Flick of the Week takes us with director Robert Altmann from his acerbic Hollywood satire, The Player, to his take on the British whodunnit mystery, Gosford Park.

Gosford Park concerns a shooting party held at the eponymous estate in England. One night the head of the estate William McCordle (Michael Gambon) is murdered. Whodunnit? Attending the party are many of his in-laws and relatives, most of whom don’t have much care for him apart from his money, and also there are the multitude of servants. Did the butler do it?gosford_park_10

Robert Altman has made a number of wonderful, challenging films – such as Short Cuts and Nashville and M.A.S.H., but Gosford Park is by far my most favourite of all his films. It is the only one of his films that I quite often on a lazy Sunday night will put on DVD and just enjoy the performances. Because while Altman’s direction in the film is excellent – and uniquely  his style with overlapping dialogue, it is the performances by the cream of British thespians that has me coming back again and again.

Just look at the cast: Maggie Smith as Constance Trentham, elderly and dependant on McCordle for his money; Helen Mirren as the housekeeper (both her and Smith were nominated for best supporting Actress at the Oscars that year); Kristen Scott Thomas as McCordle’s wife, the pure snob, Syliva; Jeremy Northam as the actor Ivor Novello (a real person), who is there with Hollywood producer Morris Weismann (he plans on making a Charlie Chan film set in London); Clive Owen as the servant Robert Parks; Derek Jacobi as the butler; Emilie Watson as the headstrong servant girl Elsie; and Kelly Macdonald as Trentham’s servant, Mary Maceachran. Throw in Richard E Grant, Tom Hollander, Alan Bates, Stephen Fry and Eileen Atkins and you’d have to say if you were a British actor and you weren’t in this film you should have been giving your agent a call. This film, Love Actually and the Harry Potter films pretty well includes the entire cohort of British actors (off hand I can only think of Judi Dench and Kate Winslet who aren't in any of them).

The film has often been described as a rich dessert rather than the usual main courses that Altman serves up. And yes there is not much underlying this film. No big statements about society – because it is set in 1932 it is hardly relevant in the way that was Jean Renoir’s great 1939 shooting party film, La regle de jue (The Rules of the Game) on which Gosford Park most certainly gives a nod.

But films do not always need to tell a message; sometimes you just want to see something done well. And this film does what it does very well. The mystery of who killed McCordle is in many ways irrelevant, the point of the film is to watch the interaction between the upstairs and downstairs of Gosford Park. To see how important the servants are in the lives of the the lords and ladies living in utter boredom.

The film was Clive Owen’s first role in a film to get major notice in America. He had been in the small “Croupier”, but this was big time. His performance is truly star making. The one thing that stars are able to do more than any other actors is that when they are on the screen you can’t help but notice them. And Owen has that ability in spades. Poor Ryan Philippe is fairly well blown off the screen in the scene in which they share. gosford_park-05

For me though the best performances are by Kelly Macdonald and Emily Watson  as the two serving girls Mary and Elsie. Mary is new to the game, whereas Elsie is cynical and wiser (though in some ways not). Macdonald would go on from this to star in the brilliant BBC mini-series State of Play, and I would love to see her in much more – she is fantastic. Watson as well is an actress who is really in the top echelon. She has never cracked it in the way that Kate Winslet has, or even perhaps Emma Thompson. But she never puts in a bad performance – a bit like Australia’s Judy Davis, you figure she’ll never get the huge starring roles, but you should never miss anything she is in.

Below is the scene of the murder being carried out, but it also wonderfully displays the utter affected boredom by the party as they listen to Northam play the piano. One must never be seen to enjoy oneself! (I love Maggie Smith at the start of the clip imploring those at the table not to applaud for fear of encouraging him).

It’s a wonderful film – a film made for adults who like to watch great actors do their stuff, and which has an intelligent script that assumes the audience is intelligent.

My favourite quote involves a bit of small talk with Weissman about his film. Maggie Smith delivers the final line with such withering condescension that only the British upper class are truly capable of achieving:

Lady Sylvia McCordle: Mr Weissman.
Morris Weissman: Yes?
Lady Sylvia McCordle: Tell us about the film you're going to make.
Morris Weissman: Oh, sure. It's called "Charlie Chan In London". It's a detective story.
Mabel Nesbitt: Set in London?
Morris Weissman: Well, not really. Most of it takes place at a shooting party in a country house. Sort of like this one, actually. Murder in the middle of the night, a lot of guests for the weekend, everyone's a suspect. You know, that sort of thing.
Constance: How horrid. And who turns out to have done it?
Morris Weissman: Oh, I couldn't tell you that. It would spoil it for you.
Constance: Oh, but none of us will see it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

When to call the election

Ok, you’re now Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia. If you can’t handle that role, take the role of a senior ALP machine man. It doesn’t matter because you all have a big decision to make:

When do you call the election?

The maths is easy – the Victorian election is to be held this year on 27 November, so given they’ll have the usual 4 weeks election campaign that rules out every Saturday from 30 October onwards. The footy finals are in September, and you don’t want to do it then because that is the one time of the year when people really don’t give a stuff about politics (and neither do the TV networks), so that rules out all of September and October 2 (the NRL final is on 3 October). And the Commonwealth Games in Mumbai (Delhi) rule out October 9.    08_August_2010_Calendar_Image

Antony Green tells us:

As the Constitution prevents writs for a half-Senate election being issued before 1 July this year, the first possible date on which a House and half-Senate election can be held is 7 August.

Let’s rule out a Double Dissolution – it is not in the ALP’s interests as it could lead to a more unpredictable Senate, and also they won’t use the ETS as a trigger, though they could use the Medicare rebate threshold, but I doubt it.

So that gives us  August 7, 14, 21 or 29.  10_October_2010_Calendar_ImageOr October  16 or 23.  

Paul Bongiourno on Channel 10 had the inside word from very senior ALP sources that one of the points of the spill was to go to an early eleciton, which also might be why Julia said she would not move into the Lodge until after an election – if she goes early she won’t have to worry about security etc.

If she calls it for 7 August, she would need to call it by 5 July. Given Australia is out of the World Cup, there’s no sport to worry about. So there’s a lot of free air there.

She could also argue that she thinks the Australian people deserve to have a say on who is PM, and thus she is giving it to them as early as possible.

If the polls come out good, this would be a very tempting scenario – especially if she can get some sort of deal on the RSPT.

The problems with this scenario are that she has not yet established herself as “the PM” in the minds of the voters – so she doesn’t have much of an advantage of incumbency (though the ALP will).

The other problem is that this won’t give her much chance to distance herself in any policy way from Kevin Rudd. She would be very wise to have some climate change policy to take to the election - “we’ll do something”, won’t cut it – they need something to counter the Libs’ line about being the only party with a climate change policy.

The advantages of October are that it will allow Parliament to come back for at least two weeks (the last week of August, and first week of September). Parliament gives the PM gravitas, and also allows her to get plenty of nice little grabs on the TV news. The problem is it also gives Abbott a chance to get a grab as well, and the way Question Time is reported on the news, it often makes a lopsided contest appear evenly matched.

So what would you do? I have no idea – because there are good reasons for doing both. It is risky to go early because people might think it cynical. It is risky to wait because any honeymoon period may wear off (though I think this is a smaller risk). But right now, members of the ALP are thinking about this decision. And they know they have to get it right. (One way they might make the decision is to also think what would the Liberal Party least like them to do).

Personally I wish they didn’t have to make the decision at all – it should be fixed terms – keep the terms at three years (the electorate always seems to vote against fixed four year terms). The current system is too much of an advantage to the incumbent.

August or October. Take you pick. Nothing’s riding on it. Just the future of the nation.

Half of what I say is meaningless

On Wednesday night I wrote when I heard that Julia Gillard was challenging Rudd that it was a dumb thing to do because the ALP was in front in the polls on a 2 Party Preferred basis and Rudd also led on a Preferred PM basis.

However, having made the challenge I did think there was no alternative but to dump Rudd.

The basis for the challenge all seems to be the ALP internal polling which showed the ALP losing pretty much every marginal seat – including seats like Adelaide (held by Kate Ellis with around 10%).

Now whether or not party polling can be completely believed – the seats shown on Andrew Bolts’ site (and the word is they were leaked to him by the ALP National Secretary, Karl Bitar, because Rudd’s chief of staff would not let him show them to Rudd!!) imply that there has been national polling done, which would be damn expensive to do it right, and the rumour is that the ALP kitty is not exactly overflowing at the moment. But still, faced with a list that says you would lose these seats:

Labor-held marginals:

Macarthur - huge loss
Macquarie - big loss
Swan - huge loss
Corangamite - big loss
Hasluck - huge loss

Bass - narrow retain
Bennelong - big loss
Robertson - big loss
Solomon - big loss
Gilmore - huge loss
Herbert - huge loss

Deakin - narrow retain
Longman - big loss
Eden Monaro - big loss
Flynn - big loss
Page - narrow loss
Dawson - huge loss

Braddon - retain
Forde - loss
Franklin - retain
Brisbane - retain
Dobell - either way
Leichhardt - huge loss
Petrie - either way
Kingston - big loss
Hindmarsh- loss
Adelaide - loss.
Wakefield- loss
Makin – retain

would be damn sobering reading for many MPs (not the least those in those seats). Were I them, I would probably have acted as well – especially as I don’t think were I an MP I would have been in the Rudd camp anyway (I would have voted for Beazley!).

And now having made the change, they seemed to have caught the Liberal Party flat footed. Thus far it seems like the Liberal Party doesn’t know what to do. They wanted desperately to fight Kevin Rudd – think about the Kevin O’Lemon advert; it was pretty devastating really – the analogy fit (fair or not) and when shown on Q and A it got a huge laugh. Now that ad is wasted money – in fact the Libs may have found themselves in the same position the ALP was in 1995 – Keating killed off Alexander Downer so quickly that they were faced with John Howard – an opponent they never were able to undermine and in fact an opponent in the end they could not defeat.

Apart from died in the wool Liberal Party voters (or those who say “I used to vote ALP , but no more”) I haven’t heard from those I have chatted with at work much discontent with Labor; it’s all been anti-Rudd. In fact the most voracious feeling of anti-Rudd sentiment has been from ALP voters who were pissed that he might stuff it up and let Abbott win.

So while on Wednesday night in the flush of excitement I wrote:

What complete fools. They might as well give Abbott the keys to the Lodge now – because they sure as hell will be giving the LNP a huge boost in the polls.

I now take that all back. After watching how Julia has charmed the shock jocks (Neil Mitchell was about to volunteer to be the father of her children after hearing her first speech); watching her absolutely destroy Tony Abbott in the Matter of Public Importance on Thursday in Parliament, and watching Tony Abbott dither and jump all over the place on the 7:30 Report tonight – admitting that what he had previously said was not true about him saying the Libs were on the verge of a famous victory was actually true – I am now feeling pretty sure the ALP will win. And win well.

She has got the mining companies to stop their adverts. She has got them to come out and say she is someone they can do business with (well not Clive Palmer, but he’s a joke so that’s irrelevant). 

She sounds so calm and collected. She sounds so real. She has outlined her tasks – the mining tax, asylum seekers, and climate change. But unlike Rudd she has not stated what her goals are – ie what will determine success or failure – just that she wants to work on these three things. She wants to negotiate with the miners and bring in a profits based tax – but the rate and everything else is up for review, so she is not putting herself in to a position of “backing down” on anything, because she has not said what things are set in stone and cannot be changed.

That’s smart operating.

I have long been a Julia fan ( a huge fan) – as readers will know she is the only one of whom I’ve ever transcribed whole answers from Question Time. I didn’t think the polls showed any need to change leaders, but if the internal polls are for real, then they really had no choice, and the ALP should just be thankful that in changing leaders they really are upgrading.

No disrespect to Kevin Rudd – he did some excellent things, and he  outplayed Howard, Costello, Nelson and Turnbull (pretty bloody amazing that) – but Julia is a once in a generation figure. He is a one slam wonder; Julia is Steffi Graf.

So I’m jumping on the Julia bandwagon (well I’ve been on it for a while, but you know what I mean) and will declare this far out that the ALP will win with an increased margin. William Bowe at Poll Bludger thinks the same, and I have to say I agree with him all the way. He was onto the Rudd slide pretty quick – countering a lot of the arguments of those on his blog (me included) who thought Rudd was doing ok.

Rudd’s defeat proves once again that great polling maxim that when your net satisfaction rating goes negative, you’re buggered. Abbott is in the negative zone, and has been for ages. Will the Libs move to dump him? I have often said that were this any other year, the polling numbers would have been putting more pressure on Abbott than on Rudd because with the way Rudd had dived in the polls, the Liberal Party should have been way out in front – instead all those disaffected ALP voters went to the Greens. The hope of the Rudd camp was that they would come back via preferences. The Gillard camp thinks she’ll get them back as primary votes.

I now agree.

I think (as I wrote yesterday) that SA will be great for the ALP now. I said that the state would claim her as their won. Here was the font page of the Advertiser031044-25page1:

It quotes her line about how she grew up in “the great state of South Australia”.

Just wait till she goes back to the Adelaide – no doubt she’ll stop by Unley High. I think Chris Pyne will be very worried. Very worried.

Last week I was spending a few night lying in bed thinking about what the hell was I going to do if Abbott won.

It is such a stupid thought. I mean Tony Abbott!!! – a nothing Minister, hated by everyone. A guy who consistency ran 5th in most favoured Liberal leader polls. How the hell could he become PM?

I consoled myself that it couldn’t happen, that people even thought they hated Rudd (and more than 50% were unsatisfied with him) they hated, or distrusted, Abbott more. I was prepared to wear a narrow win.

But now I’m not thinking narrow win. Everything that was wrong last week is not wrong now. The ETS back down – sure Julia was there, but it was Rudd who said “greatest moral issue of our time”. The miners and their $100m ad campaign? Gone – and how pissed off must Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party be about that – it is akin to the union movement in 2007 saying they’d drop their anti Work Choices adverts and negotiate with John Howard.

What the Liberal Party found out is the big business is not to the Liberal Party like the unions are to the ALP. The unions are the ALP; big business is big business. They use the Liberal Party if it is in their interests, but at the end of the day they don’t have membership of the Liberal Party. So suddenly the Liberal Party has to recalculate its advertising budget, because the miners aren't doing their work for them.

Yes the Libs will try to tar Julia with the Rudd brush, but it won’t work, because the voters are not anti-ALP – the Government remains in the lead (the latest Morgan Poll taken before the spill has the ALP up 53-47). And while that is good, the reality is after leading Australia through the world recession in the way it did – let’s face it were the World Cup be fought on economies and not soccer, we would be World Champions at the moment – the ALP should actually be more in front. They should bolt in this election. And when Rudd was riding high, they were going to. But when he stuffed up. When Rudd made the mistakes, things went bad.

People who wanted to vote for the ALP were not going to because of one reason – Kevin Rudd.

Me, I was going to always vote ALP, and was content to think the ALP would get over the line because ever first term Government usually loses some seats. But in 1984 Hawke should have increased his majority but had a horrible campaign and Peacock was brilliant. And in 1998 Howard had to contend with One Nation referencing away from sitting members. All the ALP in 2010 had to beat was Abbott – why on earth would they lose votes?? And yet they were going to.

Many will say Abbott did well to beat Rudd, and I guess we have to give him some credit, but to be honest I think all of Rudd’s wounds were self inflicted. He was the one who admitted defeat on the insulation program, he was the one who hyped up the health and hospitals reform only to come up one state short and yet still say it was a win, he was the one who dropped the ETS on the quiet, and failed to show any sense that this was a big decision.

He was the one who despite showing a great ability to make good speeches kept talking in his sludge of buzz words and focus grouped sound bites.

I wrote yesterday that he wasn't as good a PM as was his Government.

This Government deserves to win and win well – especially if the Liberal Party is so contemptuous of the electorate as to have Tony Abbott as leader. Yes Rudd deserves credit for being PM of a Government that deserves to win well, but if he was unable to deliver that victory – and there was even suggestions that he might even lead them to a loss – why then they had to act.

Especially because they have put in someone better.

There’s a way to go – hell the Libs might even dump Abbott and put in Hockey – but I’ll put my money on Julia (and Hockey won’t change that). It may even take a week or two – people will feel a bit sorry for Kev and they may want to see Julia a bit before they change their vote. But the more they see of her, the more they will like her.

Back in 2006 I thought she was a handicap for the ALP, but through 2007 the more closely I watched QT, the more I realised she was a gun, and during the 2007 election she was actually better than Rudd. By election night, Kev might have been PM, but she was the favourite of the true believers.

After 11 years of Howard the voters may have needed a Howard-lite to help them vote for the ALP, but once they did, they remembered the reason they vote in ALP Governments is because they are different to Liberal Governments. I think once the put Rudd in power, they wanted a true believer. They thought Rudd was for two years (certainly was with the apology and the way he responded to the GFC – that was true ALP work), but post the ETS dumping they knew that is was a sham. He was Howard-lite – perhaps “Howard-less”. They didn’t want Howard – they kicked him out, they still wanted the true believer. And they were bloody annoyed – annoyed that he was making them even think about voting for Tony Abbott (and if that wouldn’t make you feel annoyed then I don’t know what would)

In Julia they have the person they want.

I’m locking in an increased majority.

I now wait for the polls, because, yes, nobody knows anything, but my gut tells me now that this was the smart play.

*fans of The Beatles will recognise the title of this piece is from their song on The White Album called (what else) “Julia”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the QT: Nothing like a dull news day.

If only politics were exciting…

What a day, a day which no one saw coming. No one. The entire media contingent in Parliament House missed it until 7pm when Chris Uhlman broke the story. Consider Denis Shanahan, who has been banging on and on for weeks about how Rudd was in danger of being challenged by Gillard. Here he was writing yesterday in The Oz:

PM's position is secure, party's is not

The battle, the tough time, the big challenges for Labor are all there but the school of thought that it would be suicide to engineer a leadership change has prevailed.

As well, Julia Gillard would not move against the Prime Minister.

Rudd seems safe to lead Labor through to the election, whether parliament resumes in August or not and whether the election is in September or October.

I write this not to have a go at Shanahan, because I wrote this on Monday:

I said a couple weeks back that “for Julia to seriously be considered, the ALP would need to be down around 44-45% in Newspoll”. They are a loooong way from that. The media really needs to settle down. r589994_3769348

So what the hell happened? Well internal polling was bad… yeah well so what, that often happens, and you hold your nerve. I think this was more about personality than polls. Rudd wasn’t liked by enough people in the Parliamentary Labor Party. The voted for him because he could defeat Howard, but they never viewed him as one of them. And he did not do anything to help himself either. His office pissed off the media, and pissed off the caucus. (And it is never good to piss off both – one you can get away with, but not both).

What seems to be clear is that this was not Julia Gillard’s doing, it was Bill Shorten, David Feeney and Mark Arbib who made the move. They decided to push her to act, but it does not appear to have been under her instructions that moves would be made.

But once it was clear it was on, she took control and took ownership.

And she won.

Now there are a couple things to consider. Firstly was this a good move by the ALP?

I honestly believe no one has any idea. The ALP hard heads may think they knew that Kevin Rudd was on the nose, but there is not a lot of evidence suggesting the public has been counting down the days for Julia Gillard to take over. Sure there may be many ALP supporters who love Julia and think she’ll be great (and I’m one of them), but those ALP supporters were going to vote for the ALP anyway. The key is the 15% of the Greens supporters. If we go by the fairly reasonable assumption that the Greens will end up getting 8-10% of the vote, that means there is 5-7% of the vote up for grabs; 5-7% who have gone to the Greens in the last 8 weeks due to Kevin Rudd.

Would they have come back in preferences? I think very likely they would have. Will they come back now in primary votes? Ah that is a bigger question. The hard heads of the ALP are betting they will. And if they do, that puts the ALP on around 40-42%, and that will definitely win them Government – and maybe even pick up some seats (especially if 1-2% of those more conservative swinging voters who had given up on Rudd but don’t like the Greens will come back from the Liberal Party – that is a harder task).

So for mine, the ALP has chosen to take a huge risk at a time when they didn’t need to, purely because a) they didn’t like the way Kevin Rudd operated (professionally and personally), and b) they are worried there would be coming a time when they would need to take a huge risk, so why wait.

The reality is once the decision was taken yesterday to make a move, there was no alternative but to dump him. There is no argument in favour of voting for Rudd over Julia in a spill; the argument is whether or not they should have gone down that path in the first place.

The one good thing is the way to was done. If you’re going to do it, do it quickly and do it as decisively as possible. The is absolutely ruthless in its efficiency.

The second thing to consider is where will Julia do well electorally? Well here’s her fourth sentence of her acceptance speech:

I grew up in the great state of South Australia.

I think Julia will certainly raise the ALP’s stocks in SA. Yes they did very well there last time round, but South Australians are to Australia like Australian are to the rest of the world. They will claim anyone as their own no matter how tenuous the link to SA. South Australia have never had a PM. Yeah Hawke was born at Bordertown, but he didn’t grow up in SA. Julia did. And yes she now lives in Victoria, but SA understands that  - its best footballers used to all head across the border to play. And ok, she supports the Bulldogs, but that doesn't matter – the key is she supports AFL. And she mentions with pride growing up in SA. That’s gold.

I think Adelaide voters will view her as their daughter and flood to her. The country areas? Not so much – like much of the rural areas, she’ll probably be seen as a communist (yes, I know). But in most of the electorates she’ll be the local girl done good – after all her parents still live in Adelaide, so that’s all that matters. She’s a Croweater. Chris Pyne, you should be worried. Boothby? Get someone in better than Nicole Cornes and it’s in serious play.

What about QLD? The problem there of course is the local boy has been deposed. The issue though is maybe the locals were getting embarrassed about the fact he was a local boy. Western Australia? Not sure. So long as she doesn’t demote Stephen Smith (which shouldn’t happen) it hard to say whether or not she is personally more or less preferred. And the way she is going about the RSPT talks is very, very smart. She forced the mining companies to dump their adverts – and they did straight away. A brilliant tactical move, and augers well for a compromise to be reached. I just hope the compromise remains good policy…

Victoria won’t see much change – the ALP was strongest there. Ditto Tasmania. NSW is interesting. Will the voters there see this coup as a bit too NSW Labor-like? There’s a big chance they will. The only thing in Julia’s favour is she has a very strong personal reputation and thus (regardless of the truth) she is seen as less a factional puppet as is Kristina Kenneally or was Nathan Rees.

The final thing to consider is Rudd versus Julia as PM. I, like many ALP supporters, have long thought she would be a much better PM. But does the way she has gained the leadership cruel her chances? Will she be ever able to assume legitimacy?

From her performance in parliament today I would say yes.  She dealt with Abbott with ease, and she fairly well destroyed Julie Bishop. Bishop asked her about the RSPT referring to “today’s unprecedented political assassination of the former Prime Minister” and asked if it was an example of “a new face, but same old Labor, same old tax”. Julia stood and responded by thanking “the same old Deputy Leader of the Opposition for her question and wish her well as she serves her third leader.'”

In debating the MPI against Abbott, she was supreme. After 2 years of Rudd’s “can I just say” and on the question of”, her speech was like a drink of cool water on a hot summer’s day.

The problem is most people don’t watch Parliament, and there are no more sitting days till mid-September, meaning she won’t get opportunities to get a 15 second grab on the 6 o’clock news showing her destroying the opposition.


And now to Rudd. I think he was a good PM, who ran a better Government than he was PM. I think it was great that he was a PM who loved policy and evidence, but it was bad that he was too interested in knowing all the policy and all the evidence (the good folk in the Department of PM and Cabinet will be cheering tonight, knowing that their brief will now be about 75% shorter in length).

He made an amazing speech when he apologised to the Stolen Generations. A great speech. One to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. But he also introduced us to “programmatic specificity”. And in the end that is what killed him. He could not explain his policy decisions to the public. It wasn't just not being able to explain things like the RSPT; he couldn’t explain clearly why he was shelving the ETS. He just couldn’t sell things. He couldn't sell the debt and deficit, and so that became an issue. He couldn’t sell the insulation scheme, and so that became bungled” (remember the facts people – reduced risks of injury, reduced incidence of fires). He went on the 7:30 Report and acknowledged the negative; but he never could sell the positives.

And thus the polls went down, and so too his support in the party.

With Julia Gillard we have a communicator who turns every negative into a positive. Just compare how she has handled the bullshit story upon bullshit story to do with the BER to how Rudd has handled criticism. She is a communicator. He is not.

Unfortunately you need to be in this day and age (actually you pretty much always have had to be).

And as is always the case with dumped leaders, he made his best speech in ages when conceding. Just have a look at the speech:

It’s heartfelt and passionate. But look at the lines:

I’m proud of the fact that we kept Australia out of the global economic recession. I’m proud of the fact that had we not done so we would have had a half a million Australians out there out of work, because that’s what happened around the rest of the world.

I’m proud of the fact that we got rid of Workchoices and restored decency to the workplace.

I’m proud of the fact that we started to build the nation’s infrastructure including a National Broadband Network which I fundamentally believe will transform this economy in ways which we have yet to conceive, fundamentally transform our businesses and the way in which Governments operate, health services are delivered and the way in which education is delivered in our classrooms. The missing piece of 21st century kit for our country.

That’s great stuff – and what about this wonderful bit:

I’m proud of the fact that we are building 20 regional cancer centres right across our country. You know if you go out there and people are suffering from cancer, it does alter your priorities. Many of those folk have never had decent cancers services before, never, and I was always stunned by the fact that people out there are three times more likely to die in the first years of their diagnosis through the lack of services. We’ve done something to change that, and it’s big. It’s the biggest investment in cancer services our nation has ever seen.

I’m proud of the fact, and some people have probably never heard of this one, that we have a National Organ Transplant Authority. As somebody who borrowed someone else’s aortic valve I feel a particular responsibility for that. There’s nothing like having a bit of somebody else in you, it focuses the mind and in my case also focuses the heart. What I’m really pleased about in the last two months is the organ donation rates for the first time have started to rise. People now are getting transplants because we chose to make a difference.
That’s the funny thing about health isn’t it, has an effect on you.

936811-kevin-ruddThat’s Rudd at his best. But he really only did it once this year – the Health debate. He was brilliant during that – he talked to people, connected with them. And they loved him. But the problem is were the debate held now, no one would be listening. If anyone has ever seen him do his community cabinets you’d also have seen him in this mode – he loved chatting to people about things being done. He loved it. He loved holding the microphone and standing on the stage. And he could connect with people. But too often he also spewed out a load of verbal sludge that left people trying to work out which was the real Kevin – the community cabinet Kevin, or the programmatic specificity Kevin.  After he dumped the ETS (and more importantly the way he dumped it) they decided it was the latter version. And they didn’t like it.

That he decided not to force a vote shows that he is perhaps more a party man than the party hard heads gave him credit. His staying on in Griffith also I think shows that he is perhaps not as ego driven as people think. That he turned up to Question Time today showed that he is not as cowardly as people believe.

It was sad to see him go the way he did, but that’s the cruel game of politics – I was more sad to see Beazley go the way he did.


I was even sadder to see Lindsay Tanner go today. In fact his announcement931355-lindsay-tanner today that he would not stand at the next election ruined the day for me. He is leaving in order to spend more time with his family. That he did so ironically makes him exactly the type of person we need more of in Parliament.

He leaves a huge hole in the ALP ministry. He is incredibly intelligent on policy and politics. He is a brilliant speaker and media performer. And he is a tough political nut. His leaving pretty much ensures the Greens will win his seat. But this won’t matter anymore – the main reason the ALP truly did not want to lose Melbourne was because of Tanner. If it should ever come to it, the Greens will side with the ALP in the House, so that won’t affect the chances of the Government winning the election at all. Yes they’d  like to win it, but if you’re not losing a Tanner, then there is no real loss.

Julia now has the problem of having to fill his position with someone who will not be better.  She also has to fill her own positions as Minister for Education and Minister for Employment and Work Place Relations with two people who will not be better than she. This will seriously test the depth of the ALP. Bill Shorten will obviously get a promotion – and so he should. He is wasted where he is. Maxine McKew supported Kevin Rudd, but she too should be promoted.


It is an understatement to say this was an interesting time in politics. In some ways I think politics has become akin to the movie industry. 25 years ago, back in the 1980s films were still given time to build and audience, you could release small and then increase the number of screens as the word of mouth grew. Back then 15% of a films box office would come from the opening weekend. Now every film needs to open big; there’s no time to build an audience, and if you open small you’ll be pushed out by the next block-buster opening in the next weekend. Now the opening weekend accounts for 28-33% of the total box office gross of most films.

Twenty five years ago Rudd would not have been rolled. The party would have stood by him, stayed calmer and kept the faith that come the election the Government would survive. Now they dump him because of a 2 months dip in the polls, during which he remains the preferred PM! From 1983 to 1990 the Liberal Party changed leaders three times (Peacock to Howard to Peacock). Now the Liberal Party has three leaders in two years.

And so to those wondering what will happen next, and whether or not this will be good for the ALP or good for the Liberal Party, I say that we should steal the line from William Goldman when he wrote of what those in Hollywood knew about what it took to make a hit movie: “Nobody knows anything”.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On the QT: The ALP: How to completely screw it up

Today’s Question Time was as the same as all the ones this week: Kevin Rudd completely untroubled, the ALP front bench looking quite happy, sand the opposition punching away without any force or reason. The oppositions asked lame questions about the RSPT, and Rudd dealt with them easily (not as easily as a better performer could, but still easily). The Government was obviously not worried about the RPT too greatly because it asked a couple Dorothy Dixers on the issue, with a few other ones – such as health thrown in for good measure. It very much had the end of parliamentary sitting period fell about it. 

But its all irrelevant, because this evening it was reported that moves were underway to oust Kevin Rudd as PM and replace him with Julia Gillard. The word is that the Victoria and SA rightwing factions are behind the move, and the AWU: namely Stephen Conroy, Bill Shorten, David Feeney, Fitzgibbon (and throw in Mark Arbib from NSW). The only problem of course is that Julia Gillard doesn't want to challenge. This is because she is not an idiot.

2_By_4_Clue_StickBut that doesn’t matter, the story has taken hold, and Julia might as well take over now – what the hell, due to this, the election is pretty much gone now anyway, she might as well have 5 months as PM.

And those people behind it in the ALP should be taken out back and gently slapped around the head with a 4x2 plank of wood. And I volunteer to be the one wielding the first slap. 

What idiots. What utter brainless, dullards. The latest Newspoll shows the ALP up 52-48. As Possum pointed out, of the 24 polls since the start of May only 3 have had the ALP behind. No Government has lost an election when holding such a position this close to an election. There is no desire in the electorate to make Abbott the PM, and even with the decline in the ALP vote, very little of that has resulted in an increase in Liberal Party vote - in fact Rudd still leads as preferred PM! (so Rudd is doing better now than Howard did against Latham in 2004!!)

And yet they want to oust Rudd?

What complete fools. They might as well give Abbott the keys to the Lodge now – because they sure as hell will be giving the LNP a huge boost in the polls. The electorate hates party-infighting; just hates it. Yeah everyone says Hawke won after taking over on the day the ‘83 election was called, but Hayden wasn’t PM! And yes Rudd has nose dived in popularity, but Gillard is hardly trouncing him in the preferred PM stakes – the only national poll to recently ask the question (done by Essential Media) had Julia ahead 36% to Rudd’s 33%! Yep talk about a tidal wave of support.

Utter, utter fools.

But remember as well, the Vic right, and Conroy in particular, are the people who decided to preference Steven Fielding over the Greens at the 2004 election was a smart thing to do – so no, we’re not exactly talking about the smartest guys in the room. Actually these guys would struggle to outwit the 4x2 plank of wood that I am currently hitting them with…

UPDATE: It all looks over for Rudd, and from Denis Shanahan’s story it may have started with Julia being pissed off with Rudd getting his Chief of Staff Alastair Jordan to do a ring around to see if everyone on the backbench was still loyal.

Prompted by reports that Mr Rudd had sent his chief-of-staff, Alister Jordan, to check MPs loyalty and whether there were moves to replace him with Ms Gillard, MPs angrily accused Mr Rudd of disloyalty himself.

Several MPs have told The Australian Ms Gillard has put every effort into killing leadership speculation surrounding Mr Rudd, but has effectively been undermined by the Prime Minister who had questioned her loyalty.

"She has stood by him through the toughest time. She has not sought to exploit his problems for her own gain and this is how he replays her?''

Whether or not she is behind the spill move, I think she now has to take ownership, to save looking like a puppet.

But geez what a balls-up.

UPDATE 2: It seems like Rudd is going to resign…press conference in 2 minutes…

UPDATE 3: Annabel Crabb has a different take on this. On twitter tonight she wrote:

If Julia Gillard becomes PM, the Libs can forget about it. Very hard luck for T Abbott. #spill

I asked her why she thought that. She replied:

Based on the theory of "changing the narrative". Very hard call for Abbott to win against a Gillard led Govt. In my opinion.

She may be right, and perhaps this is a genius move. My argument is it is a high stakes, high risk move that wasn’t needed. Perhaps they have internal polling that shows defeat is coming – and you’d bloody well hope they do, because otherwise you have to wonder why the hell they are doing this.

I agree there’s a chance Julia will get a bump in the polls – because she’s good and new and etc. But there is also the chance that this will make people think the federal ALP are just like the NSW ALP, and Julia is just a federal version of Kristina Keneally.

This view has nothing to do with my opinion of who would be a better leader (long time readers of this blog would know I am a huge Julia fan). My view is that given the polls (and the last Newspoll had the ALP up 52-48), this is a massive move done at a time that it didn’t need to be done.

UPDATE 4: Rudd not resigning, the spill is on tomorrow – Gillard approached him this evening asking to challenge, and Rudd refers to having lost the support of factional leaders. It’s a ballsy move by Rudd, and he is squarely making this about factions versus him. The problem is he’s going to lose and he’s handing Tony Abbott some easy lines.

This is horrible for the ALP. The best thing would have been for him to stand down. Though if Julia wins by a large amounts (and I think she will) maybe it won’t be too bad.

Rudd in the press conference talked about the ETS and asylum seekers – almost suggesting those behind the challenge against him want to go more hardline on the asylum seekers and to totally dump the EST – which is rather odd given Julia is from the left.

This is all very bizarre.

UPDATE 5: How bizarre is this? Well in what I’d say is a first ever, Kate Lundy on twitter has announced she will be supporting Julia Gillard:

I will be voting for Julia Gillard in the l'ship ballot. She will be an inspiring PM!poker-all-in

UPDATE 6: Paul Howes on Lateline makes it pretty clear the AWU swung behind Julia, and that the catalyst for the challenge was Rudd getting Alastair Jordan to check numbers of backbench MPs. That’s pretty bloody thin – the leaders’ office should always be keeping tabs on the numbers (that’s their bloody job!), but it may be the way it was done. I think it is more just highlights how much the MPs and Ministers have been pissed off with the PM’s office. The young guys have ballsed things up – shown a complete failure to sell the damn good achievements of this government. If there is one lesson from this, it is don’t let a 30 year old with no real experience run your office.

I think Julia Gillard will be an excellent PM, I have long wanted her to be PM. But I am not convinced that this move is a good one for the ALP in terms of wining the election.

It’s the ALP going “all-in” in the poker game of Australian politics. It is easily the biggest bet in Australian politics since 1975 – even Hawke taking over is not this big, as it was only as opposition leader. 

It’s all or nothing. I hope it’s “all”, I’ll stay awake tonight worrying that it’s “nothing”!

Wonder if The Oz is commissioning a special Newspoll for this weekend?