Parliament On A Knife Edge Part VIII – Panic Stations And A Palace Coup

Punch and Judy

This has now gone so far beyond a joke that I hardly know where to start.

So much ink has been spilled by hoary press gallery veterans covering Labor’s leadership soap opera, that there is very little new that LibertyGibbert could possibly add. So I thought instead, I’d simply summarize the state of play for my (understandably bewildered) overseas readers. Feel free to switch off or scroll to the end if it becomes too tedious or repetitive—and believe me, folks, it does.

Kevin Rudd, you may recall, in December 2007 became Australia’s 26th Prime Minister, following a decade of John Howard’s conservative government that was widely considered to have grown stale. Rudd ran on a platform of minimal change under a Labor government, portraying himself as a kind of “Howard Lite”, together with the catchy Kevin ’07 campaign slogan.

So far so good. But Rudd, once in office, decided that circumstances (primarily, the ill-named “global financial crisis”) gave him license to ignore his pre-election promises of fiscal rectitude, and embarked on a wild spending program: $43 billion dollars on a so-called “stimulus package”. It mattered little what the money was spent on, provided that money was spent. A brand new hall for every school (built at up to twice the going rate—and never mind that most schools had perfectly good halls already, and begged the government to no avail to re-direct the funds into other, much-needed improvements); insulation in private home roof cavities (with no due diligence, fly-by-night contractors were given the work, resulting in four deaths and over one hundred house fires, overseen by a former rock singer with zero administrative experience), culminating in a completely superfluous “National Broadband Network” which now threatens to blow out to over $100 billion and bankrupt the nation. The $20 billion in national savings left behind by Howard and his Treasurer, Peter Costello, at a stroke was wiped out in a Keynesian orgy of largesse, the likes which our nation has never seen before, and hopefully never will again.

To pay for all this profligacy, Rudd proposed a federal tax to fleece the Australian mining industry, which at the time was enjoying record high commodity prices, being driven by Chinese demand. Now, in Australia, all mineral wealth is vested in the Crown—specifically, the province of the states, and not the Commonwealth. A regime of per-tonne or ad valorem royalties has evolved over time, which takes into account not only the reality of the exploration and mining cycle (during which decades can pass before significant income derives from a venture), but also the unpredictable fluctuation of international commodity prices. The “mining super profits tax” threatened to short-circuit this regime, the bottom line of which meant that tax income would be siphoned from the states to the Commonwealth. The states were ropeable, and mining companies responded by simply announcing they would be cancelling proposed ventures. It quickly became obvious that the mining tax was not going to come to Rudd’s aid, and that Australia would be saddled with a massive deficit for years to come. That, combined with such failures as Rudd’s massive junket to frozen Copenhagen for the 2009 Global Warming Summit (!), showed Labor rapidly falling behind the coalition in published opinion polls. The only winner appeared to be Rudd’s Education Minister and Deputy PM.

Coal Mine Axed

Which is just how it panned out. In June 2010, a few months prior to the scheduled federal election, Julia Gillard leaked internal polling showing Labor under Rudd were headed for defeat at the polls. On 23rd June, Rudd was told he no longer had the numbers in Caucus and Gillard called for a spill motion. Rudd resigned and Gillard was elected unopposed as Australia’s 27th Prime Minister.

What rot. Gillard claimed she only made the decision to challenge on the day of the coup; yet later evidence confirmed her office had been working on her victory speech over three weeks beforehand! The truth is, Rudd was knifed because he had no factional backing. Gillard, from the extreme end of the Victorian Left faction, was installed in a deal underwritten by the New South Wales Right faction (soon to face its own problems with multiple corruption charges) and the Australian Workers’ Union, whose legal affairs in the 1990s are currently the subject of a major ongoing criminal investigation by the Victoria Police Major Fraud Squad.

So, on to the 2010 election. Gillard failed to gain an outright majority in the House of Representatives (Labor and the Coalition winning 72 seats each in the 150-seat chamber) and after 17 days of negotiations, formed government with the support of Marxist scholar Adam Bandt (who won the Australian Greens’ first ever lower-house seat of Melbourne), independent Andrew Wilkie (who won the Hobart-based seat of Denison, and whom LibertyGibbert has visited previously), and former National Party members Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. These last two stuck in the craw particularly, as they represented the two most conservative electorates in the country (Labor polled 8% and 13% respectively) and had no mandate from the electors who sent them to Canberra to support a Labor government.

To gain this support, Gillard was obliged to more or less sell her soul. Firstly, to gain Bandt’s vote, she had to break this iron-clad pre-election promise:

Not that the Greens would have thrown their vote to the Coalition in any case, but no matter: the Carbon Tax was soon after written into law.

To gain Wilkie’s vote, Gillard promised to implement his proposal to introduce mandatory pre-commitment limits in poker machines. She promised this, in the full knowledge that to honour it would be to commit electoral suicide; registered clubs, the centre of social life in many Labor heartland electorates, began a massive campaign against the proposal. Caught between a delegation of twenty Labor MPs who begged the PM to break her promise, and Wilkie’s threat to withdraw confidence should his proposals not be enshrined in law by the 2011 Federal Budget, Gillard pulled a three-card trick with the office of Speaker of the House, neutralized Wilkie’s vote and enabled her to break that promise too.

All of which had, by late 2011, led to a collapse in public support for the government. Opinion polls then showed Labor set to lose up to half their federal seats at the 2013 election. Some Labor MPs began to wonder whether knifing Rudd had in fact been a miscalculation. Rudd, handed the Foreign Ministry after 2010 (presumably to keep him out of the country as much as possible), smelled an opportunity. Holding a press conference from New York, Rudd resigned as Foreign Minister and announced his intention to challenge for the leadership.

It was doomed to fail. Rudd simply didn’t have the numbers in the party room. Former colleagues, convinced Rudd had been behind a number of damaging public leaks prior to the 2010 election, started backgrounding journalists, describing their former boss as “psychotic” with a “giant ego”, impossible to work with, given to ignoring his cabinet, terrorizing junior staff and ruling as a one-man autocracy. This out-take of Rudd rehearsing a policy announcement fortuitously hit YouTube at the same time and went viral:

Defeated 71-31 in the party-room spill, Rudd chose his words carefully: I can see no circumstances under which I would return to the leadership. A bit weaselly, true, but hey, he didn’t start it. It gave him some wiggle room, just in case things went so pear-shaped in the following year that his parliamentary colleagues just might give him another shot.

Surprise, surprise, they almost did. Gillard’s attempts to surpass even Rudd’s reckless spending abandon centred around two “big ideas”: The Gonski Report into school education, which argued (in the face of much published research) that the injection of billions of dollars of additional public money was necessary to improve educational outcomes for Australian schoolchildren; and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a concept which, though agreed to by the Opposition in principle as “aspirational”, remains grossly underfunded and is not scheduled to progress beyond the trial stage until 2019 at the earliest.

Meantime, the steady flow of arrival of illegal immigrants by boat (held down by the Howard government’s “Pacific Solution” of mandatory detention on Nauru, to 2 or 3 boats per year) had turned under Rudd and Gillard to a stampede: currently running at around 100 arrivals per day, and increasing. Unable to cope with the sheer volume of arrivals, Gillard simply allowed the immigrants, many brutalized by war and hailing from barbaric cultural backgrounds, into the general community, where they now pose serious health, social and criminal problems on the streets of Sydney and Melbourne.

The failure of the Gillard government to protect our nation’s borders, combined with the expected massive blowout in the 2013 Federal Budget (Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan had staked their reputations on delivering a budget surplus, which ended up as a $20 billion deficit) fuelled yet more media speculation of another Rudd challenge. Refusing to call a spill himself, it fell to party elder and former Opposition Leader Simon Crean to sacrifice his Cabinet position by calling on 21st March for a leadership spill; Rudd, realising he once again did not have the numbers, declined to stand, and Gillard was re-elected unopposed.

Kevin Rudd mobbed by fans while campaigning in Geelong last week. his huge popularity advantage over Gillard hase some nervous Labor MPs considering their options.

Kevin Rudd mobbed by fans while campaigning in Geelong last week. His huge popularity advantage over Gillard has some desperate Labor MPs considering their options.

But now, of course, we are at the pointy end of it all. Parliament’s last sitting before the election is scheduled to recess on Thursday (now extended to Friday, in an attempt to bulldoze through a raft of legislation while gagging debate), before Labor MPs return to their electorates to campaign in what at least half of them know is a doomed attempt to remain in Parliament. Faced with the imminent prospect of losing their seats, and in all likelihood their political careers, not a few of them are getting desperate enough to once again contemplate returning to a man they loathe, and have twice rejected. Polls show Rudd consistently at least 20 points higher than Gillard as preferred Prime Minister, and some number crunchers believe he could conceivably save at least some seats that would otherwise be lost under Gillard.

Incredibly, the polls continue to worsen for Labor; today’s Newspoll has Labor at 43-57 on a two-party-preferred basis; Essential Media has them at 45-55. What’s more, the swings are uniformly greater in Labor-held seats. Put in context, these numbers translate to maybe thirty Labor-held seats left in the House of Representatives come 15th September; more significantly, it is looking like Tony Abbott will command an absolute majority in the Senate, meaning he won’t have to negotiate with anyone in order to repeal the Carbon Tax and the Mining Tax, as well as reinstate Howard’s Pacific solution to deal with illegal arrivals; and the Australian Greens will be finished, as anything more than a noisy but impotent minority party.

Rudd himself is more guarded, though his position has been ever so slightly altered; it’s now I believe there are no circumstances under which I would return to the leadership. In other words, he has left the door slightly ajar to his colleagues. But he has privately set conditions for his return: he will not challenge for the leadership; Gillard must resign, and Rudd must be drafted by the entire party. Which won’t happen: there is simply too much enmity towards him, indeed, many ministers have stated publicly that they would refuse to serve in a Rudd cabinet. Nothing short of a party-room bloodbath would give him the Cabinet he wants, which will in all likelihood consist of rusted-on Ruddlings and neophytes; hardly the team he would want to expose to the likes of Abbott on the floor of the House prior to an election. And there are now just four days left in which to decide.

A Rudd coup on the last day of sitting would also precipitate a constitutional dilemma unprecedented in Australian history. The independents, Wilkie, Windsor and Oakeshott, have maintained that their guarantee of Supply and Confidence is with Gillard personally. Which means the Governor-General cannot swear Rudd in as Prime Minister unless she is sure he can command a majority on the floor of the House. There would be, however, no way of testing this without recalling the parliament. Only the Prime Minister can do that (well, technically, the Governor-General – but she can only do so on the PM’s advice). But—Catch 22—until Rudd is sworn in, Gillard remains PM. And she has every reason not to allow Rudd to test his support!

It gets worse. Bill Shorten, Gillard’s Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and former National Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, was a key mover in Rudd’s 2010 knifing; many Labor MPs are now looking to him at this eleventh hour to switch support to Rudd, for it is believed he controls a bloc of party-room votes large enough to swing the leadership in Rudd’s favour. However, if you aren’t already aware of this, Shorten has a very personal reason not to place the Governor-General in such a constitutional bind: he is married to Chloe Bryce, daughter of Michael and Quentin Bryce. That’s right: the G-G is Shorten’s mother-in-law! Really, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

My own view is that either a) Rudd is so intoxicated by the adulation he receives in shopping malls that he believes that Labor under his leadership could actually snatch the 2013 election, against all evidence to the contrary; or b) he ultimately has no intentions of challenging for the leadership—rather, he is so consumed with revenge against Gillard, Shorten and the rest of the 2010 plotters against him that he is happy to take them all down, even if it means Labor spends a generation out of office. I don’t know which is true. I am totally over it, and so is the rest of the country. Throw the bastards out and start again. Saturday, 14th September, can’t come quickly enough.

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85 Responses to Parliament On A Knife Edge Part VIII – Panic Stations And A Palace Coup

  1. Ozboy says:

    Right on cue – from the front page of this morning’s Sydney Daily Telegraph

    When my grandmother died many years ago, we donated her clothes, furniture and personal effects to charity. And I’ve just found out where they all ended up:

    Julia Knitting

    Now that’s desperation. C’mon, Kev, how are ya gonna top that?

  2. Ozboy says:

    I shouldn’t have asked – he tops it like this…

    Rudd finally spells out his leadership ambitions in plain English:

    Getting an interviewer to compare him to Deng Xiaoping was pretty brave, I thought. But when it comes to megalomania, if the shoe fits, I guess…

  3. Amanda says:

    Is that Judy or the Duchess with the pepper causing sneezes?

  4. Amanda says:

    She has nicer hair than he does. Other than that….

  5. Amanda says:

    Wow. It’s amazing, still, to see a Westerner, a politicians with many other things in the pot (i.e. not purely/merely/solely an academic) speaking fluent Chinese. Sorry: Mandarin.

  6. Amanda says:

    Whereas I still haven’t (apparently) mastered English ;^)

  7. Ozboy says:

    Well, well, well…

    Former Labor kingmaker Graham Richardson has told Sydney radio host Ben Fordham that he has inside information that Rudd will challenge on Thursday, and that he has the numbers to win.

    We’ll see.

  8. Ozboy says:

    Well the news today is that Rudd is not going to get the Prime Ministership the way he wanted – by acclamation. He is going to have to challenge Gillard. If he does, the press gallery are in agreement that this time, Rudd does have the numbers to win.

    But would he want to win what is probably no more than a poisoned chalice? Rudd is no Keating. He’d have to show a whole lot more, um, testicular fortitude than we’ve ever seen from him before 🙄

    Gillard’s response, according to insiders, is that she will break with tradition today and, rather than throw the leadership open for a spill (which would allow a secret ballot), she will ask for a vote on whether or not to have a spill (which would require a show of hands). this is important, because it means Rudd cannot finish today as PM without a lot of his backers publicly defying the unions that guaranteed their pre-selection, and will leave them open to reprisals later. That’s how low Australian politics has sunk.

  9. Amanda says:

    Blimey. A show of hands*. I believe in the secret ballot. Accountable government, but a secret ballot.

    *Reminds me of this:

  10. Ozboy says:

    …And more: Independent Tony Windsor has announced he will not give support to a Rudd government. The other “conservative independent”, Rob Oakeshott, announced this morning he is retiring at this election (at the ripe old age of 42, that is, before the electors get their chance for revenge) and will probably follow suit with Windsor.

    This means that, even if Rudd does win a ballot today, a no-confidence motion against his new government will pass in the House this afternoon. Governor-General Quentin Bryce would then be in the invidious position of swearing in either Tony Abbott as PM, or Kevin Rudd on a “caretaker” basis; that is, he immediately advises the G-G to issue writs for a House election, to be held within 33 days. The last practicable date in this window is Saturday, 27th July, that is, one week before the earliest possible date for the half-Senate election we were due to have on September 14th. In that event, the Greens would be faced with the option of either voting with Abbott to repeal their own Carbon Tax(!) or face annihilation at a double-dissolution election in a couple of months. Two elections in a year – urgghhh.

    That’s the constitutional mess we’re looking at today. And all because of the egos of two Martians who don’t give a stuff about the Australian people.

  11. Ozboy says:

    Tony Windsor just this minute held a news conference and announced he, too, is retiring at this election. So he and Oakeshott both now have nothing to lose. A constitutional crisis now looks certain, should Rudd prove successful today.

  12. Ozboy says:

    Now the only remaining genuine independent, Bob Katter, has just held a news conference to be his usual contrarian self. Bottom line, he will only vote confidence for a Rudd government. Not that his vote matters now that Oakeshott and Windsor have declared their hands. Katter and Rudd are both Queenslanders, are close personally and are both members of the christian fellowship, the Parliamentary Prayer Group. Katter claims he has not spoken to Rudd about his position on confidence.

    Bob Katter is a maverick pol from outback Queensland who has set up his own party to run candidates in both houses at the election. His emphasis is on reinstating Australia’s manufacturing base, ensuring food security and several pet regional development projects in his own neck of the woods.

  13. Ozboy says:

    Rudd’s supporters are now circulating among caucus a petition calling for a leadership spill. Under Labor Party rules, they need 35 signatures for this to occur. That way, it will be a secret ballot, which most commentators now believe Rudd would win. More as it comes to hand.

  14. Amanda says:

    Geez, this seems ever so complicated! Yes I’m a foreigner, but it seems to me that the ‘independents’ need to be careful about being ‘too clever by half’ (and also about being unprincipled, if they care — as any decent person should — about their democratic country).

  15. Ozboy says:

    A leadership ballot will take place at 0900 AEST tomorrow. Rudd has still to declare he will stand.

  16. Mark says:

    Pretty good summary, Oz.

    What a bloody mess. Thankfully it’ll all be over soon..80 days at most before an election. But if Rudd gets up then almost certainly he’ll go asap either because that’s his best chance or because he’ll be forced to, having failed to gain the confidence of the House. It seems that in that case, August 3 will be the date but its possible that it would be 27 July in which case it would not include the half-Senate election. Now that’d be a real mess and almost guarantee an double dissolution.

    I’m not all that enthralled by the notion that Labor will be out for a generation. Remember it only took 8 yrs to recover from the Whitlam debacle. Although its to be hoped Abbott will be a better PM than Fraser.

  17. Ozboy says:

    IT’S ON TONIGHT 19:00 AEST (2 hours from now)

    Gillard says she will leave politics if she loses.

    Kevin Rudd is about to hold a press conference – more shortly.

  18. myrightpenguin says:

    Thanks for a good read Ozboy. One thing I feel with all of the stuff going on is that people are so solidified in their distaste for Gillard and the Labour party that almost all attention is on removing them from office, and maybe less so on holding Abbott and the Liberal Party to account on what they will do when they assume power (pretty much certain now).

    There’s already been some slightly worrying wishy-washy stuff coming from Abbott recently on whether he will fully revoke Gillard’s plant food policies, but moreover long-term what you definitely do not want in Oz is a similar situation to the Common Purpose centrist Lib/Lab/Con mush in the U.K.. Maybe some of it is politics with Abbott, and that he doesn’t want eco-fascists going all guns blazing against him in the run up to the election.

    If some time prior to the general election you could outline what you envision from Abbott when he assumes power, that would definitely be another good read.

  19. Ozboy says:

    Rudd’s just finished his press conference, says he will contest the leadership tonight, he will not run again for parliament if he loses. He sounded supremely confident. More as it breaks.

  20. Ozboy says:

    By my calculations, if Rudd wins the leadership tonight (and I believe he will), he can count on 71 votes of confidence from Labor (including Craig Thomson, who is now an independent and facing 150 separate criminal charges), less Anna Burke, the Speaker. Then Adam Bandt (Greens) and Bob Katter (Independent) will also vote for Rudd. That makes 73. 71 Coalition Members, Peter Slipper (?), Tony Crook (WA Nationals Independent), Oakeshott and Windsor will vote against Rudd. That’s 75.

    It all comes down to Andrew Wilkie, who I’ve discussed earlier. There’s much policy ground where I differ with him, but I believe him to be incorruptible. I met him personally earlier this year, and the impression he gave me confirmed this view. He could very well become, for a day or so, the most powerful person in Australia.

    Unless Labor have Slipper firmly in their pocket, with who knows what job offer or threat. In which case, it comes down to the Speaker’s tie-breaker, and Rudd survives.

    There’s another option, raised by former NSW Labor powerbroker Michael Costa on last Sunday’s Bolt Report. If Julia realizes she doesn’t have the numbers, she may not contest the leadership, and Bill Shorten could stand tonight (he was expected to become Labor leader after the election in any case). But the constitutional implications of PM-elect Shorten not surviving a no-confidence motion are monstrous. Some have speculated Quentin Bryce would have to leave the country immediately, leaving (as per the Constitution) the most senior state Governor (NSW’s Marie Bashir) as Administrator in her absence. The conflict of interest would be just too great.

    Buggered if I know how that lot will turn out – this is shaping up as a long night: stay tuned.

  21. meltemian says:

    Wow Oz’, it’s turning into a real ‘knicker-gripper’!!
    Keep us posted.

  22. Ozboy says:

    Well the nuclear option is off the table: Shorten has just held a news conference, declaring his support for Rudd. Keeping his powder dry – smart boy.

    It also means the ballot is a formality – Shorten will carry enough votes with him to get Rudd over the line easily.

  23. Ozboy says:

    Well caucus is meeting right now; in my experience these things don’t take too long – half an hour at the most. I’m watching TV (all the major TV networks here have suspended regular programming and are covering this live) and will post the result as soon as it is announced.

  24. meltemian says:

    According to Andrew McCrea on JoNova the SMS text from inside the room says “Rudd’s Home”
    Waiting for your confirmation.

  25. Ozboy says:

    This is taking a bit longer than usual. ABC Labor-supporters-in-all-but-name are twisting themselves in knots.


  26. Ozboy says:


    Kevin Rudd has rolled Julia Gillard by 57-45 in a caucus room spill. Kevin Rudd is now the Prime Minister-designate of Australia.

    He won’t become PM formally until he can demonstrate to the Governor-General’s satisfaction that he can command a majority on the floor of the House, and that is by no means certain.

    Stay tuned for more.

  27. Ozboy says:

    We’re still waiting for anyone to emerge from the Caucus. Announcements coming out that ministers like Swan and Conroy have resigned (no surprise, they both labelled Rudd as a megalomaniac/psychotic at the last spill).

    When will the victor emerge?

  28. Ozboy says:

    Andrew Wilkie has just announced he will give Rudd confidence. It’s done then: we’ll go to an election whenever Kevin Rudd says we will.

    And that may well not be September 14. He has such a monumental ego he may yet try to win the whole bloody thing; he can postpone the election till as late as November (I think – will research this). Stand by.

  29. Ozboy says:

    Part of the reason there’s been such a delay is that we have just learned that Treasurer Wayne Swan has resigned, along with Communications Minister Steven Conroy, Trade Minister (and former Gillard bedmate) Craig Emerson, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and Joe Ludwig (son of union puppet master Bill).

    Strewth. a long night indeed,

  30. Ozboy says:

    Reports are Anthony Albanese is Deputy PM, and Penny Wong replaces Conroy as Government Leader in the Senate.

  31. Ozboy says:

    Reports are that both Rudd and Gillard have left Parliament House and won’t be giving any press conferences tonight.

    F$%@ing cowards.

    Unless there are any new developments, that’s all from LibertyGibbert tonight. More tomorrow morning our time.

  32. Ozboy says:

    Hold it – no. Earlier reports appear to be incorrrect. Media conferences in 10 minutes. More soon.

  33. Pingback: Rudd defenestrates Gillard: Aussie politics makes Game of Thrones look tame – Telegraph Blogs

  34. Ozboy says:

    Julia has just came out and thanked everyone she’s ever worked with, blah, blah, blah.

    And then she walked out. Phew.

  35. Ozboy says:

    Wayne Swan is now talking in the media room. F$#%, what a windbag! He’s a busted flush – piss off, already!

  36. Luton Ian says:

    Boody ‘ell oz

    heard the news while chasing the flock

    she’s ooot!

    Busy week (kiwi shearers and a revolting employee to contend with – allong with smelly limpy, lumpy bagged, brokken gobbed sheep) will try to catch up on this stuff over a few evenings.

  37. Luton Ian says:


    left a few comments for you at the end of some of the previous threads

    Wendy McElroy dot com has some comments about skype spying – which makes sense – it always went slow if we were talking about anything contentious

    also I think Claire wolf has a list of alternatives to quizzling ware – including skype.

  38. herptile says:

    Thanks for all you’ve done Ozboy, you are much appreciated.
    Now all we need in the UK is for Boris to successfully challenge Dave, who then bows out from politics, and newly elected Nigel then becomes Deputy PM, (Following Nick’s resignation).
    This ‘grouping’ would certainly win in 2015, whereas the new (?) Rudd-lead administration might just save a few seats, but little else.

  39. Ozboy says:

    Rudd and new Deputy PM Anthony Albanese expected to make a press conference at 2215 AEST (5 minutes time)

  40. Ozboy says:

    Rudd and his new deputy Albanese have fronted the media, more blah blah blah, but, significantly, no re-confirmation of the 14 September election date. Even worse, no questions from the press gallery on same; they’re either asleep at the wheel, or totally in Labor’s pocket.


  41. Ozboy says:

    That’s it, nothing else worth staying up for is going to happen tonight. I’ll be back in a few hours.


  42. tempestnut says:

    Good stuff Ozboy, I look forward to you updating us when you wake up. What we need in the UK is an opposition, the Conservatives and Labour along with the LibDim’s are all what you call liberal élites and have forgotten why they are in Parliament. But we have got a few good conservative left who are holding their powder dry, (Boris not being one of them) who would command the respect of the country and correct the ills of the past. But we may just need another dose of labour to finally convince the champagne socialist’s that the party is finally over before we get a real government.

  43. Phineas Fahrquar says:

    Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
    Really interesting background piece on yesterday’s Labor Party coup in Australia, which saw former PM (and noted earwax-eater) Kevin Rudd topple PM Julia Gillard, who herself had ousted him a couple of years ago. Australians are among the nicest people you meet, but, as James Delingpole wrote, their intra-party politics make Game of Thrones seem bland by comparison. Recommended for all politics and backstabbing geeks.

  44. 3x2 says:

    Thanks for that. Years of (Australian) political history condensed into a very readable narrative.

    Not since Bon Scott introduced me to Rye Whiskey in Manchester has any Australian (OK, perhaps one or two other freedom fighters!) made so much sense of the haze.

  45. Great read and fantastic running commentary. Surely this death throe flailing will be the final nail in Labour’s coffin?

  46. megsher says:


    Re spending. The U.S. now gives out free cell phone and texting minutes. I understand cars are next. We have been giving out billions to individuals who might have wanted to be farmers but didn’t get a loan. No proof needed that they wanted to be farmers or applied for a loan. They did have to be minority.

    When you are trying to wreck huge economies and you have been spending for years on ever more frivilous new entitlements, at some point it gets hard to think up new ones. Of course in finding the new unessential things, you do cut out some essential things. Example: young people can get free phones and texting minutes thanks to the federal taxpayer. I run errands for two elderly neighbors (not related or in the same household). Both need incontinency pads, which is very common among the elderly. And they get expensive. Medicare used to pay for those. Under Obama, it doesn’t. But the 30 year old does get his free cell phone and talking and texting minutes.

  47. mgsher says:

    I just misspelled my own ID. I am still mgsher.

  48. mgsher says:

    I just misspelled again. (Actually this time I have an excuse, my cat walked on the keys. ) I am still msher.

  49. Ozboy says:

    News Limited has just reported that Rudd intends to bring the election forward to August. Better and better.

    The Liberals are going to grind Rudd to mince – and all with his own colleagues’ words! Here’s how much Labor hate his guts:

  50. Ozboy says:

    One other thing: if the reports of an August election are true, that takes the constitutional dilemma off the table. Tony Abbott won’t move a no-confidence motion if Rudd is going so soon to the polls, and the likely voting intentions of the independents on such a motion are therefore moot. Governor-General Quentin Bryce will have no impediment to swearing in Rudd as PM if his confidence on the floor of the House is not in question. And that’s good for Australian democracy.

  51. Luton Ian says:

    Phew – I’ve caught up no

    Oz thanks for the summary and the updates from me too.

    Get a good nights sleep – there’s no point in letting governments keep you awake (they’ll do that a plenty when they catch up with you about your 3 a day)

  52. Ozboy says:

    I just watched live on TV Kevin Rudd at the Governor-General’s residence at Yarralumla, Canberra, being sworn in as Australia’s 28th Prime Minister (he was also the 26th). Left-wing Sydney MP Anthony Albanese was sworn in as Deputy PM and right-faction Chris Bowen as Treasurer.

    So now it’s all official.

  53. Bob says:

    The word is spelled “enmity”


    Do you know, I never knew that? I’ve always spelled and pronounced it “emnity”. And no-one has ever pulled me up on it before. You learn something every day.

    Duly amended; thanks for the tip – Oz

  54. Yat says:

    That was an exhausting read! Really. I am not certain I fully understand your politics but I found it oddly reassuring knowing that you folks have an equally corrupt and banal political class. A few names I recognize: Rudd, Howard, Gillard but, I did immediately appreciate the stimulus stupidity. I thought that was a uniquely American catastrophe

  55. manalive says:

    “The Liberals are going to grind Rudd to mince – and all with his own colleagues’ words! Here’s how much Labor hate his guts …”
    I’m not so confident; don’t underestimate the gullibility or stupidity of the twitter generation.

  56. blogagog says:

    Fantastic read. Australian politics are much more interesting than ours in the states. Also, I thought the word was ’emnity’ too!

  57. Amanda says:

    I never thought the word was ’emnity’. But then again, I also know that the correct word is ‘ponpom’, not ‘pompom’. But then again, I’m insufferable (– and, as Oz will eventually see — I still managed to let typos creep into my book (‘hoping to growing’ instead of ‘hoping to grow’ being the latest head-slapping discovery). :^[]

  58. Amanda says:

    The men in Oz’s Te Deum video look like writers. It makes you grow a beard, grow old, and get furrows between your brows. If I get looking (or swearing oaths) any more like Moses, I swear Mr Swanky will set up an igloo in the back garden for me. Or for him. (Just kidding: I’m a sweetie really.)

  59. Amanda says:

    Oops: This is not exactly a rave review, either of Gillard, Rudd, or of the Labor Party itself:

  60. Amanda says:

    Not to be superficial (I hope), but — she wears black nail polish![!!!!!]. Lordi. Has there been a woman leader anywhere to wear black nail polish (or something that looks very like it]?

    Well, it’s a look. But what is it saying?

    I’m going to sleep. And I do hope that Dog Darling will leave my legs some room tonight. ;^)

  61. farmerbraun says:

    From the article above-

    ” History will regard her as the worst prime minister since Kevin Rudd.”

  62. Kitler says:

    Well not a lot I can add but you seem to have gone from a choice of Morgan le Fay to Mao.

  63. Kitler says:

    “If at first you don’t destroy an economy, try try again”….Kevin Rudd .

  64. gregq says:

    Shouldn’t “Punch” be wearing a blue tie? 🙂

    Thanks for the history. I’ve been trying to follow Australian politics for a while, but there were clearly some things I didn’t understand (like all the issues behind the mining tax).

  65. Amanda says:

    Have just watched the Rudd out-take video above. If he keeps going like that, he’ll wake up one day and find he’s a Writer. Although he does a fantastic impression of one right now.

  66. Ozboy says:

    This is just too creepy for words…

  67. John Bolton says:

    Thank you for an excellent explanation of recent politics in Oz. On the face of it, it would seem likely that Abbott will form a new government in the near future. Any comment on him and his abilities? It seems the Oz economy is in deep mire. Is he up to the job? Please tell us he didn’t go to Eton!

    Eton: no. Oxford: yes – Oz

  68. Ozboy says:

    Seen this morning queued up outside a suburban branch of Centrelink (our government unemployment and dole office):

    Julia outside Centrelink

    (with a little help from these guys)

    Not everyone was quite so impressed 😆

  69. Mark says:

    So not the rool joolia then?

    Click the first link – Oz 😉

  70. Luton Ian says:

    The Toady’s self righteous indignation is even funnier than the picture.

    Where’s a spitting image puppet (or the rubber dog toys based on them) when you want an effigy to fool around with?

    I’ve forgotten which politician claimed that the only thing worse than your effigy appearing on spitting image – was not having it appear on spitting image.

  71. Ozboy says:

    Former Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has joined cabinet colleagues Julia Gillard, Stephen Smith, Nicola Roxon, Martin Ferguson, Robert McClelland, Peter Garrett, Chris Evans and Craig Emerson in quitting politics altogether in the wake of Rudd’s re-election as leader. Talk about a vote of no-confidence!

    Combet, like many of those listed, claims his resignation is for unspecified “personal reasons”. I wonder how that story will be, um, reported on ABC television news.

  72. farmerbraunf says:

    Oz , you know as well as I do , that the rumour that the above-named group are just “getting out” ahead of any strengthened police inquiry into all manner of things , is just that . . . a rumour .

    I’m not sure what rumour you’re referring to. The AWU investigation is no rumour, it’s very real and has been confirmed by Victoria Police. But those issues, which occurred in the 1990s, centre primarily around Gillard, and tangentially Shorten (who’s staying) and Roxon. I know of no investigation into any wrongdoing that involves everyone on that list.

    However: Tony Abbott has in recent months given clear indications that he will be looking to call a Royal Commission into corruption within registered associations (primarily, trade unions). But even then, I have not heard even a rumour of anything involving all the above; as I said, it’s a vote of no-confidence: either in Rudd personally, or a toxic culture within the ALP that would even countenance his return in the first place – Oz

    On the subject of rumours I never mention around here, there were many thousands (maybe millions) who witnessed Kevin Rudd’s swearing-in ceremony on live TV on Thursday. One of them happened to be an accomplished lip-reader, who caught this exchange between Rudd’s wife Thérèse Rein and new Deputy PM Anthony Albanese. Too good not to share (H/T Michael Smith) 😆

  73. Ozboy says:

    Oh yes, and a big rap from Ozboy for one politician in particular:

    You’ve heard me firing bullets at Rob Oakeshott, Member for Lyne. As I’ve said before, as the representative of Australia’s most conservative electorate (along with Tony Windsor from New England), he had no mandate whatsoever to support a Labor government. But in the evening following Gillard’s defeat, back in the House of Representatives chamber, I saw another side to Oakeshott. Everyone’s eyes were on Rudd, declaiming from the despatch box in all his triumphalism.

    Gillard, sitting apart and forlorn next to the cross bench, at the rear of the chamber, was a more tragic figure. Not even her wimminist cabinet colleagues like Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, could bring themselves to so much as sit with her in sisterly solidarity, never mind resign in protest, as six male ministers did. So much for principle.

    Over the other side of Parliament House, in the Senate chamber, Western Australian Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash was rubbing the sisterhood’s treachery in their faces (from 2:06 it becomes awe-inspiring):

    But one Member, at least, was willing to stand by his former Prime Minister, and acknowledge the support he gave her, even in her hour of defeat. Oakeshott gave a fine valedictory speech on the floor of the House, owning completely the decision he had made (wrong though many of us believe that decision was). Only about a minute or so of the speech, referring to Gillard, was broadcast on the news:

    You can read the full text from Hansard here.

    Thumbs up Rob Oakeshott. That was real class.

  74. Amanda says:

    This has been good entertainment. Giles Hardie’s condemnation is amusing: while I agree that one should not lie about real people, I’m also pretty certain that a waxwork museum’s stunts will be recognized quickly and seen for what they are. And my god, he could have made the point in two lines but takes article to do it (again, and again). The wind expelled in reading it aloud could be blown into a bagpipe for ‘Amazing Grace’.

    It’s the sanctimony – never mind the hypocrisy – that irks me. There were any number of similar (actually, far more vicious) jokes made at the expense of Howard and Costello in 2007. Where were Mister Hardie and his howls of outrage then? Or for that matter, when Rudd was knifed in 2010?

    Pathetic – Oz

  75. Amanda says:

    read: a whole article

  76. Amanda says:

    Yes indeed, Oz (chuckle). Maybe it’s the defend-the-lady instinct that kicked in.

  77. myrightpenguin says:

    Hi Ozboy, is there a good site for poll tracking?

    Newspoll comes out each Monday and is reported throughout News Limited media. Essential Media have the other most widely-followed poll. Others include Roy Morgan, Galaxy and Reachtel (an automated polling service). I’m not aware of any aggregator site that isn’t hidden behind a paywall – Oz

  78. Ozboy says:

    Paul Sheehan in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald with an excellent take on the myths with which Rudd has surrounded himself.

    Also, he canvasses the question we all want answered, the new election date.

    The election can’t be on September 7, because of the G20 summit in Moscow, which Rudd wants to attend. It can’t be September 14, because it is Julia Gillard’s election date. Oh, and it’s Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of Atonement (which prompted laughter in sections of Rudd’s own backbenches, when he mentioned it in Parliament). Can’t be September 28 (AFL grand final). Can’t be October 6 (NRL grand final).

    If there is a betting market, my horse is mid-October. Constitutionally, the Prime Minister has until November 30.

    Which answers my earlier question about how late an election can be held. I’m betting the Caucus outside his rusted-on fan club are pushing him to go in August, before the “honeymoon period” in the polls wears off. But as Sheehan says, Rudd’s ego will drive him to go later, as he believes he can actually swing national opinion to that extent.

  79. myrightpenguin says:

    Thanks for the poll info. Ozboy.

    Actually, I was just able to get into The Australian‘s poll site without hitting the paywall, but that’s only Newspoll. Wikipedia’s aggregation isn’t bad either – Oz

  80. Ozboy says:

    Simon Crean has announced he, too, is quitting politics at the next election. So that’s all the Labor politicians I personally respected have either been pushed out of the Cabinet and/or are resigning from the parliament. Chris Bowen isn’t too bad, but he’s still quite young and on a hiding to nothing as Treasurer.

    The fact that former gillard ministers Wayne Swan, Stephen Conroy and Joe Ludwig are staying on in parliament, after the most vicious public trashing of a parliamentary party colleague in living memory, suggests they know something about the fate of Rudd – win, lose or draw – after the election. It will be Prime Minister/Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, I’d lay odds.

  81. Ozboy says:

    Oh yes, and a big thank you to those who have promoted this thread, including James Delingpole, Joanne Nova and Ace of Spades, as well as my regular readers. The blog damn near melted down with hits on Wednesday night our time during and after the spill, and in fact broke the 24-hour record, set three years ago with The Dragon’s Dissent. Mucho graçias!

  82. Bill says:

    I was wondering – will you run the same “in depth analysis” when Malcolm Turnbull challengers Tony Abbott for the leadership, given Tony’s unpopularity with the voters ?

    Let’s see exactly how unpopular Abbott turns out to be, in the only poll that counts – Oz

  83. Ozboy says:

    And I think the last word should go to the Great One…

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