Wednesday, April 6, 2011

There’s no “team” in Rudd, but there sure as heck is an “I” in Kevin.

In my opinion one of the worst things about having a hung parliament is that Julia Gillard cannot kick Kevin Rudd’s hide all the way from Canberra to Brisbane and tell him to bugger off out of Cabinet and the Parliament if he is going to continue carry on like a sook.

On Monday night, Rudd in his usual planned-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life manner, decided to basically confirm what we all knew about Cabinet discussions on the CPRS from last year, and then he followed it up with his standard mea culpa line (on which Jack the Insider has an excellent piece) .

He did it in that old way of I’m not actually going to say it, because then you can’t say I actually said it:

TONY JONES: Well, what other factors were in play? I mean, were you driven in this direction by others?

KEVIN RUDD: I don't think it's a secret to all assembled here that there were a diversity of views within the Labor Party at the time and...

TONY JONES: And within the cabinet.

KEVIN RUDD: That wouldn't be stretching the truth too far

TONY JONES: Well, I mean, we're talking about history here and part of that history you spelt out yourself to the Labor Caucus. I mean we know from the leaked documents from the Labor Caucus that you were approached by Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan to drop the ETS or at least to shelve it. You're saying some people actually wanted to get rid of it altogether. Was it them?

KEVIN RUDD: There were a diversity of views and all I can say - look, I'm not going to go down to name names about who had what position where.

So he didn’t actually say Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan did it. And yeah I know, we know he said it in the caucus meeting because it was leaked last year, but at least he was playing it smart enough not to name names – because when a politician does that, they’re dead.

(He need not have bothered really, because tonight on the 730 Report Chris Uhlmann was telling Julia Gillard that on QANDA Rudd had actually said she had wanted to dump the CPRS. So I guess we’ve got to the point where implying something is now “said”. An interesting development that certainly makes it a hell of a lot easier for journalists when needing to get out a story. At best you could argue Uhlmann was referring to things said in Cabinet last year, but for mine, he was referring to Rudd on QANDA.)

As I predicted (well it wasn’t really a hard prediction since it had already happened) the media was all over the QANDA lines and was talking up a split in Cabinet and quasi-leadership challenges and Rudd going rogue.

To be honest I wasn’t too bothered by his QANDA “revelations”. It was Rudd being Rudd – wanting to be loved by the audience – doing the whole “I’m sorry” line and then making it clear that it really wasn’t his fault by suggesting others in Cabinet wanted him to do worse.

It went down with those who felt sorry for Rudd. But in reality it was a bit of a “oh that’s interesting” story, but nothing much more – as the Strewth column in The Oz pointed out today, the ABC got a bit excited and had headlines of:

Labor in damage control over Rudd revelations

when in fact no one from the ALP seemed to really be bothering to do much damage control at all.

So let’s give Rudd his pathetic little day of empathy, and then let him get back to being Foreign Minister (and doing a good job at it as well, I should add).

But today Rudd was again asked about his comments, and he said:

“As the former prime minister I will speak as appropriate to make sure the record is straight. In the period that I was prime minister, it's no secret that there was a diversity of views on this matter when we got to this period last year.

“I don't propose to elaborate on it. I will always act as appropriate to correct the record.”

imageAh the record… OK Kevin, let’s correct the record.

Everything that led to the loss of your Prime Ministership is your fault. Every single thing.

Factional thugs? Oh you mean the ones that got you your job in the first place? Sorry, but I don’t recall you decrying the factions when you rolled Beazley – or did that just happen because a majority of caucus decided to vote for you because they thought you were a nice guy and they just happened to vote in the blocks they did coincidentally?

Suck it up, Kevin.

You were the leader. Gillard told you to dump the CPRS? Big deal. You were leader, you made the call, live with it, own it and leave the Cabinet divisions for Paul Kelly for when he writes his book about the Rudd years sometime in 2019. (He’s usually 10 years behind with his books). Even the bringing it up in caucus after you resigned was pathetic – if he wanted to say that you should have said it just before you held a ballot on the leadership. Otherwise, shut up until you retire and you write your memoirs.

Malcolm Farnsworth wrote an excellent piece for The Drum titled

Prime Minister, it's time to sack Kevin Rudd

Parliament maths don’t really allow that to happen (as Farnsworth acknowledges). If she sacks him, he could quit and given that would all go down like a bag of poo in Brisbane, the ALP would quite likely lose and bye bye Government. 

But just because Rudd has that advantage, doesn’t mean he needs to carry on like some wounded kitten. Here’s a news flash Kevin – you chose the life of politics. You were a machine man in QLD, you played the game as hard as any bastard has. If you didn’t realise people in politics can swap allegiances then you ain’t as smart as your ANU degree would let on.

Rudd needs to look in the mirror and admit he is to blame for the loss of his Prime Ministership. He needs to ask himself why when the factions started to get antsy there were no supporters who were there to slap them down? So unwilling was anyone in the ALP caucus to stand up for Rudd that the spill went from whisper to finished in a day.

That is pretty bloody damning of a leader.

And it ain’t the fault of his staff or his cabinet.

Sure Rudd was ably assisted in his demise in the polls by his Treasurer Wayne Swan – a man who couldn’t sell cold beer on a hot day to a roomful of alcoholics – but hey I’ll blame Rudd for that as well because back in 2007 he was so scared of Costello and Howard that he let them sucker him in to confirming that Swan would be Treasurer. Had Rudd shown some back bone back then, he could have had Tanner as Treasurer – a man who could sell cold beer at a meeting of the temperance movement.

Gillard didn’t fall for that trap last year when it came to naming her Finance Minister. The only fault she made was saying Rudd would be a member of Cabinet. But I guess she needed to say that just so Rudd would allow the cameras to come in and show the two of them together “discussing” strategy. But boy, remember the vision of that meeting? Gillard sitting there trying her best to look like a conversation was going on, and Rudd sitting there with a face like a slapped arse (as an old mate of mine used to say of grumpy customers when we worked in the Cairns Casino).

Being a leader means taking responsibility. And being a Cabinet member means shutting the hell up about discussions in cabinet. Especially the ones you lose, or the ones where you wish in retrospect you’d made a different decision.

So here’s a tip Kevin. If you think the record is ever wrong on your Prime Ministership, start your response to the journalists with this line:

Everything that went wrong during my Prime Ministership was my fault.

And then walk away. You may not like saying it. You may think it completely wrong. But it the price of admission for staying as Foreign Minister. Decide quickly whether you’re prepared to pay it, because the ALP can’t afford the cost of you carrying on like the world owes you something. 

You were Prime Minister. Show some dignity.


Agnes Mack said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!

If Rudd seriously thought he could do a Lazarus you have to wonder what sort of brain snap led to his his QandA performance & follow up. One thing for sure that self-serving vindictiveness killed the chance he didn't have anyway.

Damaging the Government in which he is Foreign Minister is an act of wanton self destruction. Should Labor lose the election, Rudd is unlikely to be offered a shadow ministerial position, no matter who is Opposition Leader.

It's hard to see what's in it for such an it's-all-about-me person.

Is it possible that he's had ever so subtle hints from the alternative government that should they come to power under the present leadership team, his talents could be recognised with an attractive diplomatic posting?

Andrew Elder said...

"So let’s give Rudd his pathetic little day of empathy, and then let him get back to being Foreign Minister (and doing a good job at it as well, I should add)."

Really? Based on what?

Are you really going to give him the no-fly zone in Libya? Really? 'Cause if you don't then there's not a lot to go on.

India, Indonesia, China: countries we should be having better relations with than we do. Rudd's contribution ...?

NZ's third-biggest city was flattened by a major disaster but he hasn't gone there because That Woman went there first. Papua New Guinea is in meltdown. Kiribati and Tuvalu are acutely impacted by "the greatest moral challenge of our time". Rudd's contribution ...?

Rudd and Smith set up talks with their ministerial counterparts from the UK. They got a photo op by Sydney Harbour out of it, Australia got ...?

Australia got bagged in Wikileaks for being lightweights over Zimbabwe. Rudd's contribution (either as PM or Minister) ...?

OK, enough of the big-picture stuff. You're a Canberra public servant. Ask your neighbours who work for DFAT if the winter of their discontent has been made glorious summer etc etc by their new minister. What do you mean, no?

When he was Shadow Foreign Minister, Rudd made Downer look thick, flippant and lazy. In his current role, he looks good in comparison with Julie Bishop. That, as far as I can tell, is Rudd's achievement in Foreign Affairs.

I commented in the Drum piece on why Gillard is in a stronger position than Farnsworth credits her with.

Lentern said...

Dunno grogs,when you talk about politics being tough, Rudd should be realistic enough to accept allegiances change...I think in the same breath we need to be under no delusions that someone who got the leverage Rudd has got by virtue of the hung parliament is bloody well gonna dangle it. This government may well not be elected, Rudd would be in his sixties before it was re-elected, this is his last spin at government, who the hell could be surprised if he's indulgent about it?

DaveB said...

I reckon you're being too tough on Rudd for his decision to put the scheme on hold.

On the one hand he was criticised for being a control freak and not giving his ministers any leash. I'm sure we all remember the much mocked 'kitchen cabinet'.

So if he was such a control freak then why did he try to plot a course through the two opinions sides of the cabinet. Surely he could have just said we try again next year or gone to the double dissolution election. Abbott's tax line was starting to catch hold a bit but it wasn't until after Rudd put the scheme on hold that the support really went into freefall.

Rudd made the call, but he made it on the advice of his cabinet. Some of them advised he drop it. Others said to keeep trying. He chose to put it on hold for two years. Sounds like the whole cabinet is responsible, not just Rudd.

Agnes Mack said...

Your observations on Swan's persuasive powers are spot on. Can never fathom why he gets so many Dixers in QT as his rants are totally counter productive.

Greg Jericho said...

Wow Andrew! You've got me actually. I have no response. It was a bit of an off the cuff, he's done well thing. But when you lay it all out there, the pickings ain't rich.

My comment was perhaps grounded in the insular - he;s beating Julie Bishop easily, which as you say is not the greatest achievement.

And on Rudd and wikileaks, you have to figure the last has not been said....

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Oh thank God, someone with a memory. Great post. This is incredibly refreshing.

Greg Jericho said...

DaveB You are right. It is collective responsibility - which means everyone after the decision has been made shuts up and says we all agreed to it.

But as leader if you start saying oh I only did it because someone else told me to. Well then you're dead as a leader.

Cabinet responsibility means you all abide by the decision - and all Cabinet decisions in the end are made by the PM.

Lennier said...

I must have a case of Cognitive Dissonance, because I agree with both Grog and Rudd. :)

Anonymous said...

I was reasonably supportive of Rudd even up to this week, but his antics have seriously pi**ed me off. He has been so self- indulgent at a time when his team (and the bloody voters who voted for them!) need him to get in line and attack the Opposition consistently - not go around being an asset for Abbott. Most of all though I am pi$$ed at the absolute squandering of that mandate he was given. He walked away from defending his Govt on the Batts issue, giving his stupid mea culpa, and did far too little on defending the BER and their response to the GFC. But the CPRS was special because he didn't explain the bloody thing!

Enough of the dewy eyed crap from the Ruddites. He wasn't the Left's best friend, he was as politically expedient as any other politician. Now though, he is throwing the whole party, and the fate of a raft of policy, to the lions just so he can have his fit of pique. I am well and truly over him.

troyski said...

Dear Grog,

It's sad to see you express so much reflexive anger at Rudd. I actually thought tonight you might focus on Uhlman's shocking performance on 7.30, in which he rudely interrupted the current PM and deliberately misrepresented the former PM and Foreign Minister's statements on QandA. That is unacceptable behaviour from a senior journalist at the national broadcaster and should be roundly condemned. Instead, you succumb to the same over-analysis of a minor incident as too many in the media.

The simple truth is that Gillard is a shocking PM leading a government in constant policy crisis and subsequent damage control. And this is coming from a life-long Labor voter. Abbott has brutally exposed the PM as untrustworthy and without substance, vision or consistency. As a result public support for the PM and her government are in free-fall.

Rudd's words would have mattered naught if PM Gillard had had any consistency at all on the topic of climate change. PM Gillard's election campaign was a strategic mess and she has governed since no better. Rudd is not to blame for this. Your anger and that of others is misdirected.

Anonymous said...

grog can you post on the Kev 07
your comment re team work.

, i feel there shouldn't even be an 07 face book, should change the name, that
was then this is now.

If mr rudd wants eventually to go to the UN would it not be best to be a team player and get the support of your colleagues

Jaeger said...

troyski - Chris is no Kerry, that's for sure; but why single out last night's performance? I don't know if he's naturally right-leaning, overcompensating for being married to Gai Brodtmann or if it's the ABC's warped version of "balance", but frankly I think he's damaged goods.

Nothing says "p0wned" like a journalist calling senior members of the opposition asking for permission to keep doing his job... May as well wear a sign saying "Kick me" with directions to the most vulnerable spots.

Anonymous said...

If I was religious I would say one thing on the need for Rudd to stop playing for sympathy he does not deserve or actually need: Amen!

As to the good foreign minister comment - well that depends on whether you include running the ministry as part of the job description. The only comment my friend in DFAT would make on the transition from Smith to Rudd was that now decisions being made are as rare as Tony Abbott's viewings of this blog.

Voxpop said...

I'm in agreement with Troyski

This is honestly the first time I've ever been disappointed in anything you've written Grog. I thought you had it right in the first post on this Q&A/Rudd appearance. But then the media does what you predict and you find blame only with Rudd. Well I welcome him setting the record straight and hope he does more of it. The Labor party have f*cked up too much over the last year and the main problem was they screwed over the PM instead of backing him - they deserve to have these wounds re-opened.

Oh and on wikileaks I'm waiting for the bounty on Howard.

DouginCanberra said...

Think the whole media frenzy over the Q&A is totally overdone. Kevin said little more than was already on the public record. A focus on the substantive policy issues would be nice - so why don't we move on.

Generally enjoy Grog's comments but am sensing a lack of perspective on this one.

Re Chris Uhlmann: he reached his level of achievement as breakfast presenter on ABC local radio in Canberra a few years ago - thought he did that job well. Never been impressed with his transmogrification into a "serious" political journalist.

Kate said...

Not sure what comment of Rudd's explains your complete turnabout Grog - if it's the one quoted I don't see the big deal. Sad that you succumbed to the groupthink that you earlier warned against.

Gordicans said...

Poor old Julia. She's between a rock and a hard place, especially with a rabid right wing media.

I'm not a big fan of Kev, but I liked the time when with microphones and cameras in attendance, Kev enthusiastically greeted Alan Jones with a "G'day Parrot". Big points for that one.

sam sunshine said...

Just a little of this topic but part of a loner and ongoing discussion

Ten said it was launching The Bolt Report, hosted by Andrew Bolt, on May 8. The program will be on Sundays at 10am. Meet the Press will be moved to 10.30am.

This will be to the disadvantage of the sports watching audience who I bet will turn off real fast.

psyclaw said...

I think you've got a bee in your bonnet about KR, Grog. I certainly didn't see what you saw in his Qanda appearance .... it was just a fair average quality performance in dealing with Tony Jones's overbearing attempts to score a gotcha.

KR didn't name names, and to admit a diversity of opinion in any cabinet discussions is unremarkable.

BTW, Mr Uhlmann was definitely referring to the (false)fact that KR named JG in Qanda .... he several times referred to KR's "performance this week".

Anonymous said...

This time you are wrong. He is allowed to defend himself against lies for christ sake.

Howard still gets to defend himself against the lies of WMD.

The media all need to take a cold frigging shower because to this day many times more people appreciate Rudd than they ever will Dillard.

So you suck it up.

Jesus weeping, Downer didn't even get the sack over the AWB scandal, Ruddock over the Pacific solution and so on but you want Rudd sacked for answering a fucking question?

Pathetic, it's really, really pathetic.

kazann said...

How can commonly known information be argued as setting the record straight when it doesn't shed any new light. Mr Rudd stopped being a leader long before he was ousted. Leaders take charge, make the difficult decisions and know when they do so the buck stops with them. He had choices and he was in the driver's seat. Because he made the choice not to drive is his fault and his fault alone.

Patricia WA said...

As usual, I agree with you, Greg. But then I agreed with you on Monday night when your said

Bravo, well said. But let’s not make it into more than it is (the media will do that job for us, nicely).

Voxpop said...

There's a good discussion going on over at LP

Chris Grealy said...

Wow, there's a lot of bile on display here. Most people I know think Kevvy got a raw deal, and has coped with it very well.
Yelling "shut up, I don't want to know about it" is not a very effective method of persuasion.

Anonymous said...

But then, Grog, there was no team in Bill Shorten, Mark Arbib, and the other Right-wingers who conspired to bring down a Prime Minister who had ended 12 years of Howard.
Loyalty to leaders was once an attribute of the Labor side of politics, even when in realpolitik it may have seemed misplaced. The good was remembered, such as Arthur Calwell's principled opposition to the Vietnam war.
I will always remember Rudd's apology to the Aborigines as one of the most moving occasions in Australian political history.
I also remember that it was his Government that increased pensions substantially.
And, despite uninformed criticisms to the contrary, the insulation program achieved a lot and the BER (admittedly administered by Gillard) is actually a success by any reasonable assessment.
Then, of course, there was his inspired appointment of Quentin Bryce as Governor-General.
No, I am not in a hurry to dismiss his too brief Prime Ministership as being of no account.
And, you will notice that until now I have not even mentioned getting Australia through the GFC better than most nations in the world.

Anonymous said...

Weak, Grog; don't blame Rudd for the media's failings. After all, the first thing he said on QandA was to the effect of "I was wrong on CPRS, it was my decision, and I made the wrong one. It was my fault." It was practically the first thing he said, and you can't lambast him with that, and then demand he basically open every statement with a paraphrase that's virtually identical! Which is it? Is he confessing too much, or not enough?

Frankly I found his honesty refreshing and it certainly contrasts sharply with the current ramblings from our PM cf Greens voters and real/fakes etc. Whether a PM can be anything but that is another question; Rudd certainly didn't exhibit a lot of it during his last year of office.

You ask where his support was, Conveniently ignoring Tanner's resignation, Faulkner's and Emerson's multiple statements that he supported the sitting prime minister (I see he's paid the price for it, too). No, Rudd didn't have a majority but to act like everyone in the party had the knives out is a bit much.

Futhermore, acting like the Labor party's and the people that rolled Rudd - the people that turned a record-breaking lead into a minority government at light speed - should be viewed as some kind of imprimatur or seal of wisdom is madness, and frankly pretty hypocritical coming from you.

I say all this as someone who critcised Rudd vehemently. But his mildly voiced opinions on QandA are certainly not to be pilloried - it was the best bloody episode I seen for yonks.

Just because the rest of Labor is to stupid, incompetent, or gagged to speak directly & express opinion in a straightforward manner, and the media are a pack of hysterical mongrels, is no reason to join the scrum, Grog.

Stick to the facts; I can get strident editorial anywhere.

Roger Lamb said...

Rudd says he made a wrong call, actually a great big wrong call. Oh, and that there was some disagreement in cabinet. Omigod, the sky is falling, he's gone rogue. Where's my Bex, I need a good lie down.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Rudd's earth-shattering, government-destroying, shocking relevation on Q and A was right up there with the time he had a 'complete melt-down' on the 7.30 Report.

Same as this, the media got their knickers in a twist. Sack Rudd, he's unstable, blah blah...

And all because Rudd said 'mate' and '7.30 Reportland'.

If this was another of Abbott's shit happens moments, the media would be all over themselves apologising. The media has it in for Rudd in a big way.

Greg Jericho said...

Anon (and others) my point is not the QANDA line - it is more the fact that he thinks he can speak out of school whenever he thinks any thing said during his time as PM.

Sorry, but if he wants to stay in Cabinet, he needs to abide by Cabinet solidarity like everyone else.

If he said his QANDA bit and left it at that, fine. But why on earth would he suggest that he'll keep "correcting the record"? You sure as hell know he'll correct it only when it is in his interest to do so...

Nicholas Gruen said...

Apologising for their failures isn't something any Aust PM has ever looked even remotely likely to do since - well John Gorton comes to mind. All the others never did a thing wrong.

Btw, in getting these words up here I have to write out 'undoess' to prove I'm not a computer. Sounds rather fetching - I could do with an undoess.