What should Rudd do now?


'Rudd should ...', 'Gillard should ...' And so the national conversation drones on, constantly crossing the divide between moral imperatives and self-interested political plotting. Things are now so messy, you wonder whether there is any point in trying to sieve the short term political interests of the players from the moral imperatives of good policy and sound administration in the national interest.

It's not as if this level of intrigue, back-stabbing and character assassination is anything new in Australian tussles for the top job in politics. Think only of Hawke and Keating. They sealed a pact in November 1988 secretly agreeing to a seamless transfer of the leadership baton down the track. Their fellow ministers and caucus members were not privy to it; and we the public were completely oblivious.

Keating announced a challenge to Hawke in May 1991, having voiced his discontent with Hawke in December 1990 when he delivered a speech which Hawke described as 'treacherous'. In January 1991, Hawke and Keating had a three hour meeting seeking a way through the impasse. Each was immovable. The deal was off.

At the first ballot on 3 June 1991, Keating lost by 44 votes to 66 votes. He went to the back bench insisting that he had only one shot in the locker. No one believed him. He and his backers worked feverishly in the next six months, waiting for Hawke and his substitute treasurer to make mistakes. Keating was not there to help. He just waited in the wings. He then won his second challenge on 20 December 1991 by 56 votes to 51.

In the lead up, the media gave him a dream run. What's different about Gillard and Rudd? Gillard is more unpopular than Hawke ever was. Rudd is more popular than Keating was in the lead up to his first challenge. And Rudd's already had one go in the top job.

From day one, Keating wanted to knock off Hawke so that he could be prime minister. Rudd has not declared a challenge. Whether or not that is simply the result of personal calculations about caucus popularity does not matter. If he were to challenge, like Keating he would probably lose the first round and he would have no option but go to the backbench.

Then to do what? Spend the next six months undermining Gillard as Keating did Hawke? Rudd might not think that is a morally appropriate course of action. He might think it would cause long term damage to the Party. Or he might figure that he would never have the numbers in caucus no matter how terminal the Government's position in the polls.

The Labor Party is under siege from left and right.

The Greens are stealing their idealistic young voter base on issues as diverse as same sex marriage and a green future. The Liberals, despite depleted front bench talent since the Howard days, are promising economic management and development without the world's heftiest carbon tax which on its own will neither decrease global emissions nor provide greener technology. The tax obviously provides a disincentive for the manufacturing sector except in those instances where government subsidies are maintained.

If Rudd was not so popular and if Gillard was not so unpopular, the Gillard backers would have been more content to leave Rudd strutting the world stage. No doubt he, like many leaders before him, could be more of a team player. But how do you play in a team which belatedly admits that they conducted confidential polling unfavourable to the leader without telling him, and whose staffers saw fit to prepare a victory speech well before acknowledgement that the challenge was on?

Rudd is up against a team which is so well oiled in keeping the whiff of intrigue from its leader that Harry Jenkins can be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency and Peter Slipper bought off without the leader having to know anything until the deal is done.

It's in this context that one must view this week's unprecedented attack by Simon Crean on Rudd's integrity and fitness for Cabinet office. The mission this last week was to kill off Rudd.

Having resigned as Foreign Minister, Rudd should only challenge if he intends to do a Keating, retiring to the back bench with the firm resolve of coming back for a second challenge before the next election. If he does not desire that, there would be no point in his challenging. He should enjoy the Keating largesse of the back bench, waiting to see if he is drafted by a party which is on the way to electoral oblivion.

Though some of Rudd's colleagues called for his sacking this past week, Crean, a key Gillard backer, was the only minister who committed a sacking offence with his demonstrated public breach of cabinet solidarity.

If Rudd decides not to challenge, it may be because he thinks he will never have the numbers in caucus before any election. It might also be because he judges that six months disruption of the party with him on the back bench as a lightning rod conductor for public sympathy would be more than a party led by a desperately unpopular Gillard could bear, thereby paving the way for an Abbott Government, the annihilation of Labor and increased fortunes for the Greens.

Of course those caucus members and staffers who leak swearing videos of Rudd refuse to believe that he could act other than in his own self interest because that is all they ever do, wanting to cling to power and privilege at any cost. Whatever might be said of Rudd's motives against Gillard, consider what Peter Hartcher, who went on to become Keating's journalistic confidante, said of Keating on the eve of his first challenge in June 1991:

For Paul Keating, the point of today's leadership vote is not to win the prime ministership. It is to break the legs of Bob Hawke's administration. If the Labor Party can be persuaded that Mr Hawke is lame, then it becomes inevitable Mr Keating will eventually win in a second challenge. How many votes does Mr Keating need to cripple Mr Hawke?

Back then the received wisdom was that Keating needed 40 votes in a caucus of 110. In a caucus of 103, how many would Rudd need to declare 'Game on' from the back bench?

Everyone knows Gillard is lame. But like the Monty Python figure she will fight for as long as she has a torso, regardless of how many limbs she has lost. Some say, 'Rudd should challenge!' Others say he should retire gracefully to the back bench then leave parliament at the next election. There is not necessarily any 'should' to this assessment. It may be just a matter of his personal choice, ambition and political calculation.

Then again, Rudd may decide what he should do in the light of his party's long term interest and what he assesses as the national interest. It's this that make politics such a dirty business as well as a noble profession.


Frank BrennanFr Frank Brennan SJ is professor of law at the Public Policy Institute, Australian Catholic University and adjunct professor at the College of Law and the National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University.

Topic tags: Frank Brennan, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Labor leadership, spill



submit a comment

Existing comments

The treatment of Rudd over the last 20 months has been beyond deplorable. He was and is the most popular pollie this country has ever seen or had but the lazy trolls just wanted to tear him down. It's pathetic.

Marilyn Shepherd | 23 February 2012  

The real, over-riding question is not "What should Rudd do now?"but, rather, what the Australian voters at large should do, having been so contemptuously treated by their political representatives who treat high office as personal playthings. The voters will have that chance...or at least a sizeable proportion of them will..in the upcoming Queensland election..where premier Bligh is utterly dependent upon Rudd...and his local supporters to rescue her party from oblivion.Then again, the voters could use the opportunity to slap down Labor in a single message to Canberra. There's a striking parallel with the current global situation of the church where the head (read hierarchy), though disconnected from the Body believes it can still manage on its own. It's called self delusion.

Brian Haill - Melbourne | 23 February 2012  

Some good insights here, Frank , but I've never seen a "team" effort like the one led by Simon Crean this week.

Dally Messenger | 23 February 2012  

Rudd seemed like a noble politician and was very popular but will he be able to work with the independents who have the power? Is he a man who will work for the good of all and be prepared to compromise when necessary? Rudd must become a team player as well as a popular leader. This spill will not deliver immediate concensus. I feel Gillard has the people skills and with negotiation, collaboration,flexibilty, broad mindedness, along with common sense and courage she upholds decency,fairness and equality. As a woman she brings an alternative view to the politcal landscape, and has shown she can grasp the issues facing ordinary Australians and bring much needed change. She is not in this job because she enjoys the limelight; rather she is passionate about equality.

Catherine | 23 February 2012  

The Labor Party has a dilemma because Gillard is perceived as a good leader by the party and not by the electorate and Rudd is perceived as a poor leader by the party and not by the electorate. And we all know the electorate holds sway, power is the name of the game for politicians. I believe Rudd will challenge and, if he loses, remain on the backbench to ponder his next move. What a thick skin is needed for these political games.

Pam | 23 February 2012  

Pay attention to Bob Hogg’s remarks this week that Messrs Arbib, Bitar, Albanese & Co. will go down in the Labor hall of infamy for their actions in deposing Kevin Rudd as PM. What did they expect would happen next? Simon Crean’s criticism that Rudd is not a team player also has to be taken seriously, one only has to consider Rudd’s behaviour in Washington in the past 24 hours to see that personal motivations override the business of government in this instance. Julia Gillard is competent but does not click with most people, which remains a wonder when you consider that obviously clicks with most of her cabinet colleagues, or she wouldn’t be there. The outcome of this ballot is going to cause grief, whatever happens. Meanwhile we have an opposition who are cowed by their bullying leader Tony Abbott and look even more shifty and dubious than the government. The electorate returned a minority government because that is the government it wanted, which is the real comedy of this whole business. The Greens and Independents hold the balance of power because enough voters don’t like either of the major parties. It’s a mess.


A further thought.. One utterly delightful vision in the scenario of Kevin Rudd becoming a backbencher would be to see him rise at Question Time to direct non pre-scripted questions to the Prime Minister. One could “where, precisely, as you put it 20 months ago, did my government ‘lose its way’?”. Another would be to have her admit to urging him to dump his climate change policy and others which destroyed his integrity. A further question could ask if she approved the gross breaches of cabinet solidarity exhibited by her most senior ministers, including her deputy, Wayne Swan, in publicly savaging him as a fellow cabinet member in recent days. Imagine too, if other backbenchers were thus then emboldened to ask real questions of their own instead of those Dorothy Dixers written for them by faceless men and women behind the scenes. This would be real transparency, startling and frightening though it would be for some.

Brian Haill - Melbourne | 23 February 2012  

St Kevin rides again ! It seems to me that neither candidate has any claim to the moral high ground and certainly not Rudd as this article seems to suggest.

Ruth | 23 February 2012  

"What should Rudd do now?" I reckon he should retire from Federal politics and go back to Queensland.

john frawley | 23 February 2012  

We should really be looking at whether Australian politicians are really mature enough to handle running our country under the Westminster parliamentary system. Under this representative system, we don't vote for prime minister but our local member. It is only through convention that the concept of PM as voting ticket has come about - but this relies on good will and ethical conduct rather than any political rules or legalities. What surprises me is that this good will has stood the test so well given the nature of politics. It seems now that that our politicians are losing the plot.

AURELIUS | 23 February 2012  

In Australia we have a basically sound political system. But to maintain a healthy democracy it is essential that ordinary people take an interest an actively participate within the party of their choice. Then our democracy will not damaged by 'faceless' people, factions, or millionaires exerting influence for their own selfish aims. And those who smugly say that 'politics is a nasty business best left alone' should accept blame when there are political problems. 

Bob Corcoran | 23 February 2012  

Well Frank,it all sounds just a little bit like the fractious Vatican crew you represented so well for so long doesn't it? In-fighting, double dealing, lies, deceit, cover ups, stabbing Bishops in the back, sacking priests who challenge the status quo, demeaning women,gays, the list goes on, oh, nearly forgot, stealing children, abusing them and so on. Ah yes, the good old days, eh? The 'morality' of the church and its cowed followers. As for Rudd, "Rudd might not think that is a morally appropriate course of action" but I am not sure when I have seen Rudd display an understanding of 'moral' at all, which is possibly why he is loathed within the ALP caucus? But, the same could be said of Gillard and Swan, who were an integral part of the Rudd Dysfunction, backed him up without a word of criticism and failed to rein him in with their cabinet and caucus colleagues from the day he got in to the day they stabbed him.

Andy Fitzharry | 23 February 2012  

There is only one hope for Labor. The party urgently needs a comprehensive review - led by a panel of trusted senior figures. I nominate former Vic Premier Steve Bracks, Senator John Faulkner and former NSW Premier Bob Carr. The party then must accept all recommendations of the review. If it doesn't, the prospects are disastrous. Time is of the essence. The review must be done by October 2010.

Alan Austin | 23 February 2012  

What a hypocrite Rudd is. He demands support from others but fails miserably to do the same. His self-interest is complete. Had he behaved in a less dictatorial fashion as PM; had be bothered to act on the "greatest moral challenge"; had he bothered to take counsel etc. etc. He takes no responsibility for what occurred in '08 and it is obvious that he has learned nothing. He does not have a divine right to rule and he and his supporters are delusional if he thinks that we the voters have forgotten how he behaved as PM. How dare he work towards the election of Tony Abbott as PM... what a traitor to Labor he is.

Patricia | 23 February 2012  

Crikey, Andy Fitzharry! What fantasy fiction have you been reading? Sounds like a regular thriller - can you give us the reference. Or perhaps it is not a tragic drama you have been reading and studying but simply a "figment of the heat oppressed mind". Certainly good enough to compete with Shakespeare's Macbeth.

john frawley | 23 February 2012  

He should visit a surgeon and have the wedge removed that Abbott managed to stick in his backside.

Lyndall Edwards | 23 February 2012  

The elephants relaxing in the homes of millions of Australians are the $600 and $900 handouts that Kevin Rudd gifted to them during the Global Financial Crisis. As a Happy and Content Little Vegemite Prime Minister, why wouldn't Mr Rudd repeat that performance during the oncoming recession? If Mr Rudd's return to the top job were to increase Labor's share of the popular vote by 5%, which seems certain that it would, Labor will still lose the next election, but several sitting Labor members in the most marginal seats, would keep theirs. Those guys would elect a Drover's Dog to the leadership if they reckoned that that would allow them to hang on to their seats. In other words, Kevin Rudd will lead Labor into the next election.

Claude Rigney | 23 February 2012  

Well, BOB CORCORAN, some of us have day jobs and don't have time to get actively involved in the running of political parties to keep the bastards honest - that's why we vote for representatives, and that's why so many people are voting for the Greens. The Greens are the only party with any moral basis to their policies. Kevin Rudd claims to be asking advice from everyone left, right and centre on what to do next, but considering he's a church-going Anglican, I wonder if he plans to consult the vicar?

AURELIUS | 23 February 2012  

We don't know Rudd as well as his colleagues in the parliamentary Labor Party, and most of them think he is vile. Remember that he didn't lose the leadership in a ballot - he didn't stand because when he asked around he found he had absolutely no support. He has now declared that only he can 'save the country' - there is something seriously wrong with the man.

Russell | 23 February 2012  

It speaks well of your charity Frank that you can believe that Rudd will be concerned about morals except to the extent necessary to influence opinion in his favour. I am surprised that after hearing many confessions you are not aware of every human's capacity for self-deception, least of all politicians, when it comes to moral choices. If you look at how Rudd is seen by his underlings you would see the real man.

Jim Ingram | 23 February 2012  

Thanks Frank: Agree with Alan Austin. In the end what does (either) party stand for in the 21st century. ALP's HUGE resistance to real member involvement in key decisions, incredible, lost opportunity at last national conference. Extraordinary to see a party knifing each other in public, not much work being done in any ALPer's office: Shakespearian.

Jan Forrester | 23 February 2012  

It is all a conspiracy by Cricket Australia to divert our attention away from their mishandling of Ricky Ponting's retirement. The politics of sport are very difficult for sports administrators to handle because the media ask the hard questions. That's why the media strives to portray politics as a blood sport. If politics can then be reduced to a championship fight between two protagonists all the better. It doesn't matter if they don't even know the rules (written and unwritten) of the game of politics, as long as they can present blood on the canvas, or horseshoes in the gloves, or drugs in the system, they've got a story. None of this hifalutin analysis (but necessary, in my view) that Fr Frank and Prof John Warhurst (in another forum) go on with. More's the pity!

Uncle Pat | 23 February 2012  

Dear Frank, I think that before you expressed your assessment of Kevin & Julia's recent behaviour it was incumbent on you to declare/state your relationship with both of these people. From memory (& I hope it is correct) you have stated in these pages that you had had a number of discussions with Kevin about aboriginal rights & other national issues and intimated at least a favourable assessment of him & his positions. If I am right then such a declaratory statement would enable the reader to better weight your views which generally I believe are given great weight!

Graham Holmes | 23 February 2012  

Frank, I do not believe Rudd has any moral capacity to bring to this current situation: this is, for me, exemplified by the fact that he holds press conferences in front of a church – how’s that for a calculated political strategy. Many of us have had the misfortune to work (or live) in an environment where the management is completely two faced and destructive. That person – usually an attractive personality -- has techniques for being matey with selected people, very wary of perceived competition, is judgemental, divides and rules, talks about team playing but doesn’t effect it, doesn’t trust enough to delegate. Public interaction is full of smiles, wonderful aspirational statements – to the point where those who are suffering under their management are convinced people would not believe them if they told them the truth. I believe this was the situation when Gillard took over, that Rudd continued to behave in that unacceptable way during the election (I believe he is the source of leaking info) and has continued to do so. I believe that Rudd has and is depriving us of a good prime minister and a working parliament -- he will not regain the leadership and will have delivered, despite his sanctimonious verbiage, Tony Abbott.

Jane | 23 February 2012  

Who cares? Bob Brown will run and ruin Australia with Rudd, Gillard or Conroy. The tail (Bob Brown) is wagging the dog (Gillard etc.) Whoever came up with the rumour that Australia is a democratic country?

Beat Odermatt | 23 February 2012  

Those who are trying to restore Rudd need to realise that his behaviour continues to be a classic example of megalomania run riot,an alarming condition when it affects the country's leader.

Pearson | 23 February 2012  

I'm starting to realise what Marshall McLuhan said is correct - 'the medium IS the message'. After pondering Frank's summary of similar situations with past political leaders, it's becoming obvious that the recent 24-hour news channels, internet news etc - actually influences the outcome of political events. We no longer have time to mull slowly over things with the wisdom of hindsight before making a decision. The public found out about Gillard's option to sack Rudd at the same time Rudd himself found out! It's just like mis/using text messaging to solve interpersonal matters when in a relationship - the messages take on a meaning of their own and in the heat of the moment, the natural course of events deviates from the far better alternative - a cooling-off period where no action/communication occurs.

AURELIUS | 23 February 2012  

This leadership contest is a conundrum for the ALP parliamentary caucus. Kevin Rudd has been forced to resign as Foreign Minister and Julia Gillard has been forced into a caucus vote for leader because of the mischievous media coverage which was damaging to the Government. I hope that whoever is leader of the ALP can beat a Liberal/National coalition led by Tony Abbott at the next election. Abbott would be an absolute disaster as prime minister and an embarrassment for Australia. The choice between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd is a choice between a better manager of the cabinet and a more popular leader. Julia Gillard has done a reasonably good job as prime minister except for her handling of the rufugee/asylum seeker issue. She is unpopular because of an anti-feminist culture in Australia and particularly in the mainstream media organisations. Most of the media political commentators have treated her unfairly and have been patronising. Unfortunately, most of the gullible public believe these media commentators. Kevin Rudd also did a resonably good job as prime minister and was a better statesman, but he lost the confidence of the parliamentary caucus and the cabinet because he was a 'one man band' who did not listen to his cabinet colleagues. It is difficult to predict a winner and the challenge for Kevin Rudd is to convince his caucus colleagues that he can manage the cabinet in a more inclusive manner.

Mark Doyle | 23 February 2012  

My problem with Rudd is that he's prove to being a one-man band. That said, Gillard is nothing but a plastic mouthpiece for Party power-brokers. People reckon Rudd will at least save Bligh. The irony is, it was Rudd's man Garrett, who did the honest sensible thing and killed off Bligh's Traveston Crossing Dam proposal - a decision which forced a writedown of well over $500 million in Q state Treasury. If Rudd comes back, hopefully he'll get rid of Arbib, bring back Garrett to a portfolio where he does good work. If Rudd comes back, hopefully he'll have learned something - consult more, and get some sleep. However, I don't think it's going to happen.

David Arthur | 23 February 2012  

Have those bagging Rudd in such an atrocious way ever met him, talked to him, had a drink with him? Ever met Gillard? I have and I can tell you now that Rudd is a far more decent person than a woman who can tell a homosexual Iranian man to go home because his death by stoning did not constitute persecution. And giggled about turning away refugees, or tried to flog children and babies off to Malaysia with their only motive being that Malaysia could and would deport those we can't. Like Indonesia is currently forcibly deporting Iranians for us, and jailing babies and kids for us. Gillard has no moral compass, she will sell us all out to the billionaires without a back ward glance and allow problem gamblers to rot in the streets and prisons. Those who think she is a charming and nice woman are delusional, she is as charming and nice and her mentor Maggie. And she has one of the Blairites on her staff and that is a man who should be in prison for war crimes.

Marilyn Shepherd | 23 February 2012  

I am appalled by Kevin Rudd's hubris. His resignation announcement on foreign soil was a disgrace and sounded like a US presidential speech; in this country we do not elect a Prime Minister. And all this back stabbing of the Prime Minister Julia Gillard has gone on for far too long. Send Kevin to the back bench now!

Lynda | 23 February 2012  

I believe Gillard is not liked by a large number of Labor voters because she does not believe in God nor appear to value marriage. These are values that many of us hope to pass on to our children and grand-children. Keeping in mind,the working class origins of many Catholic families, I think Rudd should try for the leadership more than once in the expectation of attracting the votes of the traditional Labor voter back to the Party.

Alan - Sydney | 23 February 2012  

So Lynda, Rudd goes overseas in good faith and Gillard sends out Crean to claim he is a psychopath and you expect him to sit and take it still?

Marilyn Shepherd | 23 February 2012  

(a) what a remarkable roar of comment. Frank's piece just stimulated the most thorough and honest and unadulterated lesson in current Stralian politics I could possibly get here in the States. (b) I agree wholly with the statement that this is "all a conspiracy by Cricket Australia." I think that we should all take a close look at how the poobahs of cricket are manipulating politics for their own greater good. If the entire world game was not fixed, obviously Cricket USA would be the world champs.

Brian Doyle | 24 February 2012  

The reason Julie Gillard is unpopular is because she is a woman in a dominant patriarchal society. And there's not much solidarity from women either. I think she is doing a great job and we can see all the hard work and results from sincere Labour Ministers. Kevin Rudd should step down and go back to Queensland. We don't need a dysfunctional, hero, saviour-leader. Save us from what? Tony Abbott? He is just as unpopular. We will go to the next election, a country divided once again, but I'm hoping Gillard will lead us along with the Independents and the Greens.

Helen from Perth | 24 February 2012  

I was really disappointed at the views in this article. As far as I know, Brennan has no particular credentials in climate change, yet simply repeats Liberal Party views on the carbon tax. I took the time and effort to study a post-grad course on climate change (science, policy and politics) at Melb Uni last year, and I did a major study of the carbon tax package. Clearly Brennan hasn't looked at it in any detail. It is very much designed to promote green technology and to start changing the way we treat carbon pollution in Australia, which will encourage other countries to do likewise. Abbott's 'direct action' policy for climate change has been widelty discredited; why not a negative comment from Brennan on this? It is little wonder that I see Tony Abbott on TV q

Joan Wilkinson | 24 February 2012  

In answer to Graham Holmes’ query: Yes, I am a friend of Kevin Rudd. But my piece was not about promoting him for the top job, nor was it about his political virtues in comparison with those of Julia Gillard (nor with those of Tony Abbott). It was about walking the line between the pragmatism of the numbers and “whatever it takes” (as we’ve seen played out by the Cabinet assassins this last 48 hours) on the one hand, and the political morality of deciding what is in the party’s best interests, the government’s best interests, and the nation’s best interests. For example, now that Rudd has said he will challenge, what SHOULD he do if he loses, goes to the back bench, and watches while his party vote remains at a dismal 32%? It is one thing to say he SHOULD NOT work to mount another challenge. It is another to suggest that he SHOULD rule out being drafted by desperate colleagues in months to come. Unambiguously ruling out the draft might be a pragmatically good thing to do, and perhaps even a politically moral thing to do. Then again it might not. These are the realistic quandaries of those wanting to live public life conscientiously.

Frank Brennan SJ | 24 February 2012  

The Labor Party has treated its former leader badly. Many Labor MPs should thank Kevin Rudd for getting them into power against the formidable John Howard. The GFC then had to be dealt with and somehow under Rudd's leadership this was achieved. As time went on it seems he was unable to collaborate with his colleagues to their satisfaction. Anyway they booted him out.
Naturally a PM kicked out by his own party would one day fight back. Power is a drug not usually given up willingly.
All a wasted exercise.
Labor Party is gonski.(Parden the awful pun and apolgies to David)

David Fitzgerald | 24 February 2012  

It is inaccurate to say that "The Greens are stealing their idealistic young voter base on issues as diverse as same sex marriage and a green future." Younger and older voters may, of their own volition be supporting the Greens because they seem to be the only party that behaves in a manner apporaching decency. Labor and the Coalition have no God given rights of ownership owver voters.

Dominic Melano | 25 February 2012  

The fact the media are all ignoring is that Gillard and Abbott suffer the same problem, they are both visionless back stabbing people who peddle discrimination and hate against the less fortunate.

Marilyn Shepherd | 25 February 2012  

Kevin is an idea man,and a great orator (he can talk under wet cement)especially when promoting himself.He was an excellent Foreign Minister... however his ambition and mannerisms will be his undoing.. Julia has my vote, she has kept a steady keel and produced results under very difficult circumstances.

elizabeth kos | 26 February 2012  

Regardless of how people vote tomorrow, wouldn't our parliament be a better place, and a more worthy reflection of who we are as a nation, if there were more members of the ilk of Anthony Albanese reflecting the angst and the demands of a political morality which eschews the human cost of "whatever it takes"? Sure, vote for Gillard, but why publicly trash the reputation of Rudd in such a vindictive and ruthless way as have many of his colleagues who failed to stand up to him even once. If what they now say about him is true they should at least admit they were weak and self-seeking for a long time, placing the national interest a long way down their list of priorities.

Frank Brennan SJ | 26 February 2012  

The delusion that Gillard is operating under difficult circumstances has to be seen for the delusion it is.

She formed government based on a set platform with a group of independents. How can it be hard to pass laws already agreed?

And she did nothing much until the senate changed to 41 government votes.

Then she butchered all of Rudd's far sighted reforms, did dirty deals with the multinational mining companies who now get to keep an extra $8 million a year in super profits, can lay off staff at will and have been laughing all the way to the bank since.

Tony Burke had gone about destroying the environmental flows to the Murray Darling system through giving in to the very thugs that have been stealing the water for decades to grow cotton, rice and wine grapes.

Conroy's job is a dream and based on Rudd's vision for fast networks, it was Rudd who split Telstra and so on.

Gillard didn't want the ETS and bullied Rudd into dropping it, then claimed it was all his fault.

She didn't want the pension increases, Rudd got them through a hostile senate.

People need to see facts instead of lies.

Marilyn Shepherd | 26 February 2012  

Actually Julia Gillard created the difficult circumstances and then made a deal to get things across the line. Dealing with friends is a piece of cake compared to a hostile senate having enough of the enemy cross the floor to do the right thing on refugee reforms.

Marilyn Shepherd | 26 February 2012  

Well said Frank. Laurie Oakes even tried to make a big deal out of Rudd being at the Stag hotel in Adelaide as if it was some nasty strip club instead of a family run hotel. My father in law lived there for years. It's simply a good pub on the edge of the parks where they start the festival fringe.

Marilyn Shepherd | 27 February 2012  

A follow up interview on this article available at http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2012/02/rer_20120229_1737.mp3

Frank Brennan SJ | 29 February 2012  

Similar Articles

Alain de Botton's pastoral atheism

  • Patrick McCabe
  • 22 February 2012

Where Richard Dawkins could be described as a missionary intent on saving souls from religion, fellow atheist de Botton is more concerned with the spiritual needs of the existing flock. His latest book Religion for Atheists is likely to annoy believers and non-believers alike.



Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up