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Tag Archives: Kevin Rudd

House of cards

HouseOfCards Dear Tony Abbott,

You probably get a lot of letters from both admirers and those seeking to criticise every facet of your existence. I am one of the latter. You might recall I’ve written to you before. Last time I wrote I told you about how concerned I was that you weren’t getting proper scrutiny in the mainstream media. Thankfully, since the recent change in ALP leadership, the media seem to have moved past their obsession with Julia Gillard. And in want of something else to write about, some of the more scrupulous journalists are taking some interest in your plans for the country and your behavior in trying to achieve your ambition to be the next blue-tie-wearing Prime Minister of Australia.

The introduction of the Guardian’s local edition has helped this happy scenario come about. Just in the last few days, Margo Kingston revealed your lies about using Comm cars for private travel while promoting your book Battlelines. I’ve also seen an article about your Direct Action policy by Lenore Taylor, Jonathan Swan from the SMH has taken an interest in the Ashbygate Trust and Chris Uhlmann asked you some direct questions about your ‘stop the boats’ policy on ABC’s 7:30. Did I say policy? Apologies, I meant slogan.

All of this scrutiny no doubt makes for an unhappy week for you, which I’m not ashamed to say makes for a very happy week for me. It’s clear you’re under a bit of pressure, what with your cowardly decision to turn down a debate with Kevin Rudd and this behavior in your pie stacking press conference was just, well, I don’t know what it was Tony?

But the reason for my letter is not to make your week any worse, although that would be a welcome side effect. No, I’m writing to you about your crumbling personal character and policy platform which is quite clearly a house of cards, built on quick-sand foundations. You see, the thing is Tony, when I stand back and look at what you spend 95% of your time in the media saying, it’s pretty clear to any objective outsider that you’ve set yourself up to fail. And it’s quite clear why you can’t possibly risk debating Kevin Rudd at this point in time, because you know as well as I do, if you’re really honest with yourself, that your house of cards could come crumbling down at any moment. Because it’s basis is a massive pile of dishonorable, weasel word, downright misleading and dishonest sloganeering and smear. This is what you have built Tony. And I think it’s time you realise just how dangerous a position you are in.

It’s all been so easy up to now. It’s no surprise that you’re suffering from the worse kind of complacency. The complacency of a man who hasn’t had to defend his own positions. Who hasn’t had to compete on a platform of ideas and intelligent debate about the merits of your alternative plans. All you’ve had to do for the last three years is to call Julia Gillard a ‘liar’ and your work for the day was done. How easy you must have thought life was. How weak your brain muscle must have got over all this time while you leisurely went about your business, doing stunt after stunt on your anti-Carbon-Price-Convoy-of-No-Charisma, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax-payers’ money on your never ending election campaign, while paying little or no attention to the policy success of your rivals in the government. And while paying little attention to the merits of what was coming out of your mouth.

Yes, I’m talking about the merits of what you have been talking about for the last three years. Because the fact is, while you’ve been using your Murdoch-inspired media pack to convince the Australian public that Julia Gillard can’t be trusted, the real truth has been that your entire policy platform, your whole view of the world, is so easily unpicked that you literally will not risk being asked any questions about it. It’s as flimsy as your claim to have ‘no specific knowledge’ about the Slipper/Ashbygate scandal. But know this. We can see right through you Tony. And right through your cheer squad of angry Abbott supporters who scream and yell on the radio, write misogynist blogs and troll #auspol.

If you were an emperor Tony, you wouldn’t be wearing any clothes. But you’re not an emperor. And your supporters have no logical argument for why they support you. Because the truth is, they have absolutely no reasonable way to defend your policy positions, except to admit the one thing they, and you, will never admit. And that is that your slogan policies aren’t based on intelligence, truth and respect. Let that settle for a second Tony. Intelligence. Truth. Respect. When you say ‘stop the boats’, you deny the complex problem of displaced, scared, desperate people looking for some way to save their lives. When you say Labor is all about debt and you spread economic doom and gloom around the economy, you deny the Global Financial Crisis and Labor’s success in steering the country away from recession. When you say ‘axe the tax’, you’re pretending the problem of climate change is not important enough to make sacrifices for. And you think short-term opportunism is more important than the lives of future generations of earth’s inhabitants. When was the last time you, or any of your LNP colleagues, showed intelligence, truth and respect? I can’ think of a single instance.

Because let’s be frank Tony. There’s a reason why weasel words are your only option. You’re only interested in helping a very small percentage of the Australian population. The minute anyone examines your slogan policies, this truth is revealed like budgie smugglers tearing open in the surf. The reality is, you’re the enemy of the working people you stand next to at your countless factory visits and anti-carbon tax rallies. You cosy up to them as if you’re backing them all the way, when really you would happily destroy their prosperity, their stability of employment, the infrastructure they need, their access to government services including health and education, if you thought there was a buck in it for your rich mates. Everything you say and do is designed to both fool people that this is not your true purpose, and to reassure those who know you are only supporting them that you will continue to do this. Please understand that when I say you only care about Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch, I’m not saying you literally only support two people. I’m talking about Rinehart, Murdoch and the people who are like them; those who aspire to be as selfish, ruthless and rich; those who fantasize about a world where the Rinehart/Murdoch philosophy is acceptable and success is measured by how like-them you are. It’s a disgusting aspiration Tony, and you should be embarrassed to be encouraging it.

As soon as this fact becomes more apparent to the electorate, as soon as they realise how abhorrent your world view is, you’re done Tony. Because I believe Australians are better than this. While you’ve been aiming for the lowest common denominator, you’ve been underestimating that Australia is a community. Not an economy. The economy serves the community, not the other way around. Your house of cards will come tumbling down as soon as this simple truth is more widely acknowledged. I just hope this happens before the election, and not after.


Is Kevin Rudd a winner? Is Tony Abbott a whiner?

A quick summary of the past three years:

“I’m Julia Gillard. and I’m your Prime Minister.”

“I’m not Julia Gillard, she wasn’t elected by the people but by the faceless men of the Labor Party, so vote for me.”

“I’m Julia Gillard. And I believe the following things.”

“I’m not Julia Gillard, so vote for me and I’ll stop the boats, abolish the carbon tax, reduce tax for everyone and get the budget back to surplus.”

“I’m Julia Gillard. I’ve accomplished the following things.”

“I’m not Julia Gillard. So vote for me.”

“I’m Julia Gillard. These are the things I want to do.”

“I’m not Julia Gillard, I’d die of shame if I were.”

“I’m Julia Gillard. AND YOU OFFEND ME!”

“I’m not Julia Gillard, so vote for me.”

“I’m Julia Gillard, and I’m going to introduce a disability insurance scheme and improve education..”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll do all that, and I have the added advantage – I’m not Julia Gillard.”

“Neither am I – I’m Kevin Rudd.”

“…Ah… Julia should be PM, you weren’t elected by the people.”

* * *

Ok, that’s probably left a few bits out, but I think I’ve covered all the significant things that Abbott has said over the past three years. Voting, for a lot of people, is about perception. Kevin Rudd may be annoying, and remind people of their school principal when he’d try to show the kids that he was a “good sport” and could speak their “lingo”, but, for many, that’s the sort of person who should be running the country.

Abbott, on the other hand, has been suggesting that we need to have a change of Government. That Gillard and Swan need to be removed. In a way, that’s happened in the past week! No, no, complains Abbott, that wasn’t the change I meant. Mm, think the mob, that man is never happy. Of course, some will be thinking that he couldn’t get rid of Julia, but Rudd did. Rudd wins, Abbott is ineffectual.

Now, I realise that these are not sophisticated ideas, but that’s the point. There’ll be thousands of voters who switch based on their impression. Not on what they’ve read. Not on the detail of news bulletin. They’ll vote on what they perceive to be happening. “We wanted change, now we’re happy.” That’s why the Liberals flyer in my letterbox was telling me that this is the same Labor Government. Anyone who follows politics will know that; anyone who doesn’t probably won’t even read the pamphlet.

People do like to follow crowds and jump on the winning side. Will the swing back to Labor in the latest poll create an even bigger one in the next election or will the honeymoon period only last a week? I suspect the former, because Kevin Rudd now looks like a winner. Tony Abbott, on the other hand, continues to complain that we need an election now. It’s a simple message, and his supporters will agree, but I suspect that, for many, it’s starting to sound monotonous. Rather than sound like he’s keen to be Prime Minister, it has the faint sound of desperation. Politically, it also seems strange. If an election had been held straight away, the Liberals would have undoubtedly been saying that Kevin Rudd was worried that the cracks in the Government would start to show. Abbott’s constant demand for an election makes that line of argument a little harder to prosecute. “We want an election now, but calling one shows that you’re scared.” Surely, the Liberals would expect the sooner Rudd calls the election, the less time for his so called “honeymoon” to wear off.

Whatever, I’ve only noticed one poll appearing in the news in the past week. I wonder how many we’ll get in the coming fortnight. And I wonder if they’ll ask the question I asked last week comparing Abbott and Turnbull.

Contrast the Liberals approach with Labor’s:

Faceless Men are at it again, says Liberal ad as Rudd returns


[polldaddy poll=7232128]

What was Kevin Rudd thinking?


There can only be one of two reasons behind Kevin Rudd’s decision to challenge for the ALP leadership. Some saw it as this: to salvage a few seats for the party facing obliteration in the September elections. That sounds admirable, but that doesn’t sound like Kevin Rudd. It’s too sacrificial. If that were the reason then he has clearly put the party ahead of his own aspirations and would be content with being prime minister for a few short months before leading a ravaged party from the opposition benches. Again, that’s not Kevin Rudd. I don’t think Kevin Rudd would welcome the prospect of an uncertain political future.

I subscribe to another reason he challenged for the leadership. He believes he can win the election.

He defeated a more politically astute opponent in John Howard in 2007 with one simple trick: he screwed with Howard’s head. Between now and the election he’ll do the same with Tony Abbott. He knows he can do this or he would not have made his eventual play for the leadership.

Leading up the the 2007 election Rudd was well ahead in the polls, but it wasn’t until his total carving up of Howard in the leadership debate that I felt confident he’d be moving to The Lodge. Howard, the master politician, was publicly humiliated. So much so, he even lost his own seat.

Tony Abbott doesn’t give me much confidence as a political opponent who could handle the same mind games that brought Howard undone. Rudd knows this. Rudd must surely have been planning for this. Rudd must surely be aware of Abbott’s weaknesses that until now have been given little currency. Calling someone a ‘misogynist’ does not necessarily resonate with the electorate. Witnessing a public unhinging does. Between now and the election Tony Abbott will find out soon enough that Kevin Rudd means business.

Rudd knows he can win the election. And Rudd knows that the only way of achieving this is, simply, by screwing with Abbott’s head. He certainly is vulnerable.

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Too little too late

mouse-on-wheel The switch has been flicked. Extraordinary. I have seen more reporting of government policy in mainstream press over the last week than I saw in the last three years. This is probably an exaggeration, but isn’t perception reality? All I remember seeing throughout 2010 to 2013 was yet another report about Gillard’s ‘unstable grip on the leadership of the Labor Party’.

Political journalists treat their readers like idiots by pretending that they got the Labor leadership call right. How dare they now pretend to be innocent bystanders and justify their newfound interest in political policy by saying it was all Gillard’s fault that they couldn’t report her policy success. Because when you’re saying something is going to happen for years and it eventually does happen, you still just look like an obsessive, one-track mind with a Murdoch narrative that no journalist had the courage to rise above. A broken clock is right twice a day; however in this case of course it’s worse than that. The mainstream media just kept picking away, kept writing article after article about Rudd’s campaign to destabilize Gillard’s leadership until they gave her no choice but to give in to the bullying. They made the story a reality.

The excuse that Rudd’s campaign was newsworthy, and therefore justifiably reportable is rubbish. We all know there is leadership tension in any party. Anyone keen to use Turnbull or Hockey as their unnamed source would find the same thing on the other side of the chamber. We all know there is plenty of news going on in Canberra and elsewhere all the time. It’s journalists’ decision, it’s their judgment call, to decide, with their limited column inches and word count, what news is important to report. When every political journalist in the country was writing the same article every week, they were declaring to readers that nothing else of importance was happening in this country. And isn’t this how the mainstream media have really failed? Because I can’t believe anyone could argue that Rudd’s blind ambition was a bigger story than any of the things they missed, namely:

Gillard’s Success

It’s amusing now to see so many political journalists writing glowing obituaries about Gillard’s career as the first female Prime Minister of Australia. Actually, it’s not funny. It’s pathetic. Where were these articles before Rudd challenged last week?

Gillard’s amazing legacy will be intact, and future analysis will only improve our understanding of the significance of the last three years of policy reform to the social fabric of our community. That is, on the assumption that Abbott doesn’t dismantle all Gillard’s good work. But no, this was never the story. The story was never on policy, was never on Gillard’s exceptional negotiation skills. It was never on her poise in the face of constant abuse from Tony Abbott, from his colleagues, from many in the media and all their foul mouthed foot-soldiers across social media and deep, ugly dark parts of the internet. Abbott changed this country the day he stood in front of the ‘Ditch the Witch’ sign (twice). He gave permission to the Grace Colliers, to the Larry Pickerings, the Alan Jones, to the Mal Broughs and his fundraising dinner, to children throwing sandwiches. Abbott’s message was that it’s fair game to personally denigrate your opponent for political gain, and to denigrate the position of Prime Minister in the process. He made it fair game to call Gillard a liar every day until it became part of her name. That is Abbott’s legacy. And this is what we saw in the press instead of hearing about Gillard’s amazing success while leading a minority government constantly referred to as ‘chaos’. Journalists should hang their heads in shame when the only way to get an accurate account of Gillard’s leadership is for the Victorian Women’s Trust to buy space in a newspaper.


I can already imagine the groans of mainstream journalists about this next topic. But this time, before you all start complaining, I’m not imploring you again to take interest in the campaign designed by Mal Brough to remove Peter Slipper from parliament, with the hope of bringing down the Labor Government. I’m not asking you to track down James Ashby and to find out exactly what went on. I’ve come to terms long ago with the realization that you’re just not up to investigating Australia’s own version of Watergate. But again, aren’t you shamed by the Ashbygate trust, which has raised over $50,000 from the public to dig into this story and to reveal the truth? While you complain you can’t afford to do any investigative reporting, we’re all donating funds to see this job done properly by someone else. Well played.

Policy, policy and policy

Is it not a huge embarrassment to the mainstream media that they are now trying to spend the few weeks before the election playing catch up in political policy areas far too complex to leave to sound bites? The electorate deserves better than this. We deserve to know about Abbott’s plans, and how they differ from the current Labor government. I could write fifty posts about all the policy areas that have been totally ignored for the last three years, replaced and wiped out by the unending narrative of ‘Labor leadership tensions’. Here’s a snapshot of a couple, and some questions I would like answered which should, in a decent mainstream media, have been asked years ago:

Climate Change – we saw Abbott on the news every night in his latest stunt, wearing yellow safety vests, stacking bananas and driving trucks. What exactly is his Direct Action Policy? How much will it cost? And how will it actually work? Did you not think when you went along on one of Abbott’s stunt trips it might have been worth asking about this? And to keep asking until you got an answer?

What about the effect of the Carbon Price which was meant to wipe Whyalla off the map? Have you held the Liberal National Coalition to account for all their easily disprovable propaganda and lies, designed to scare voters and to undermine action against climate change? If you bothered to check, the effect of the Carbon Price has been to reduce emissions and to increase investment in renewable energy which will further reduce emissions in the future. This is great news! Also, it’s slightly newsworthy that, even after Abbott spent all his tax-payer funded time and travel allowance on his anti-carbon-tax road trip, the majority of voters haven’t been fooled. Doesn’t this story warrant as much of your attention as a leaky Rudd? It’s just the health of the planet we live on at stake after all. Is the tenant in the Lodge really more important than that?

Paid Parental Leave – This is Abbott’s ‘signature policy’. He is offering to pay women a full time salary, capped up to $75,000 for six months maternity leave, presumably to help them pay their mortgages while they take leave from work. Apart from the fact that this is middle and upper-class welfare on steroids, I am quite concerned that many voters have very little information about the mechanics and cost of this scheme.

Abbott has said he will tax companies to fund this policy. However he hasn’t mentioned it much since business said they weren’t happy about it. I don’t need to imagine Gina Rinehart’s reaction to a tax increase. Can someone please follow up with Abbott about this? Is his policy a policy or not? We want to see another blood oath! One question, which still hasn’t been answered, is a fairly simple one – will a woman who already receives paid maternity leave as part of her employment contract receive Abbott’s paid leave as well? Or does it just top up the employer’s contribution to six months fully-paid leave? Or is it instead of the employer’s contribution? I would have thought this information is kind of important, no? Is anyone going to ask the question?

We could have seen three years of policy analysis, including plenty of comparison of Abbott’s broadband plan, his education funding versus Gillard’s Gonski plan. We could have heard how Abbott’s ‘Stop the Boats’ policy of turning back boats was not going to be accepted by Indonesia, and how it contravened the agreement Australia has made by signing the UN Refugee Convention.

But no. All we saw was sound bites about how Abbott wants to destroy the Labor government, how Rudd wanted to take over from Gillard and how Gillard’s government was always on the brink. We will surely look back at the last three years as a proud, successful time for the Labor Party with an amazing leader. And a time where trust in the mainstream media was eroded to the point of no return. Because journalists and their vested interests in the vested interests of their bosses have failed the electorate. We are now seeing too little too late and democracy is the loser. Shame on you all.


Black Swans and Narratives

Black Swan

Photo: Fairfax media

We’re natural story making machines. We like to give our universe a sense of order and reason, so when something happens, we like to create a plausible narrative on this. Of course, sometimes the narrative is just plain wrong, but if enough people repeat it, it seems to make sense.

For example, many people have talked about “that handshake” as being the defining moment in the 2004 election. Mark Latham’s aggressive handshake with John Howard made the electorate think of him as a bully and not controlled enough to be PM. Of course, this completely overlooks the fact that the handshake probably had little effect on the vast majority of the electorate. If a mistake by Howard or one of his front bench had led to a Latham victory, then commentators would be suggesting that the handshake was the moment where Latham defined himself as a younger, more appealing candidate and made Howard look old and past it.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, “The Black Swan” talks about the dangers of retrospective analysis. He argues “almost all consequential events in history come from the unexpected—yet humans later convince themselves that these events are explainable in hindsight.” That we, for example, respond as though the events leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Union were obvious and Reagan’s decisions were part of a brilliant strategy.

Apple’s resurgence under Steve Jobs is well documented. With Jobs’ death, Apple may continue to thrive or may be overtaken by a more creative company. Whatever, the narrative may have Jobs as the guru who was irreplaceable, as someone who imposed such a strong culture that Apple continues to thrive or even as someone whose importance was exaggerated. With hindsight, one of those will be an obvious narrative, but which will it be? That’s the interesting question.

And so with Labor’s leadership change. Will the media begin to speculate about a Turnbull challenge if the polls are poor?

A few people have suggested that Shorten has done himself no favours. Of course, that may well be the case. In five years time – if anyone cares – we may be writing that Shorten destroyed his chances of ever being PM when he publicly backed Rudd. But there are many potential narratives. If Rudd goes close or wins (amazing!), then Shorten will be able to paint his “difficult decision” as what saved the ALP from an electoral wipeout. Rather than be the pariah, he can be the “hero” of the narrative. His ambition is obvious, but whether his decision to back Rudd hinders or helps that decision only time will tell.

At the moment, there is a lot of anger from Gillard supporters. Some feel that Rudd’s negativity and treachery shouldn’t be rewarded. I’ve heard more than one person declare that they’ll never vote Labor again. But when it comes to election day, how many will actually preference the Abbott led Liberals above the ALP? Abbott’s negativity or Rudd’s undermining? Mm, if the Greens don’t get a boost, they may as well give up politics and create a real “Direct Action” plan for the environment.

Rudd may not be the messiah. (“He’s just a naughty boy!”) Last night, Michael Kroger was saying that he was the “worst Prime Minister we’d ever had”! (Where have I heard that before?) He also said that Labor all hated each other. No-one asked him if he’d had lunch with Costello lately, or whether he’d like to provide a reference for Jeff Kennett to take over at Melbourne.

But apart from Kroger, the Liberal’s narrative is now looking more inconsistent than ever. “Rudd was replaced by the ‘faceless men’ – outrageous!” becomes “Rudd was restored by the ‘faceless men’ – outrageous!” Except that in recent ballot it was the actual party that voted for Rudd – no suggestion of external union interference. If anything, the unions backed Gillard.

Similarly, the ad that the Liberals have ready, using quotes from Gillard, Latham, Garrett, Emerson and others, doesn’t quite make sense. Aren’t these the people who the Liberals have told us aren’t worth listening to? But how can they work together? Aren’t these people leaving Parliament?

Even the idea that Julia lied about the Carbon tax and needs to be punished is being blunted by the media. Headlines like “Rudd’s Revenge” may actually help Labor. I know that they’re not intended to. But for some, it’ll be Rudd who got rid of “that woman”, after Abbott was too ineffectual to do it.

How it actually pans out is guesswork. I’m sure that some of the comments will tell me that they know that Labor are still heading for oblivion and that others will tell me that it’s all ok, now Kevin’s back in charge. And some people will be right, but beware the retrospective narrative. Beware the “Of course, Shorten had to do what he did – he saved them!” or “If only they’d stuck with Julia – it’d have be ok!” Some people have announced with certainty that Labor would be thrown out on September 14th and the Liberals had a countdown clock – neither, whichever way it goes, will be true. (Unless Rudd does hold it on September 14th, and loses badly!).

Gillard has done an extraordinary job, under impossible circumstances; history should be kinder to her than the media criticism over the past few years would suggest. But then no-one ever points out that Whitlam left almost no Government debt. Or that “Blue Poles” is now worth many, many more times what we paid for it.

History, someone once said, is written by the winners. Actually, it’s written by the writers. Let’s make sure that the “official” version is not the only voice being heard.

Kevin Rudd is NOT Prime Minister yet!

Image from dailytelegraph.com.au

Kevin Rudd (image from dailytelegraph.com.au)

The media keep announcing that Kevin Rudd is PM again. He’s not!

He’s just been elected leader of the Labor Party. Julia Gillard continues to be PM until the Governor-General withdraws her commission. Which will happen shortly.

Then, it’s highly likely that Bryce will appoint Rudd Prime Minister, but she may wait till tomorrow and ask Parliament to demonstrate confidence in Rudd.

There is a possibility – not a probability, mind you – that Abbott will be PM by tomorrow. If so, I hope that someone asks him about repealing the Carbon tax on his first day as PM.

But at the time of writing, there is no certainty that the Governor-General will make Rudd the Prime Minister without his support being tested by the Parliament.

So, the blaring headlines: “Rudd Prime Minister again!” at the time of writing are just wrong. He probably will be, but it’s far from a certainty.

If the role of the media isn’t to explain things like this rather than announce what they expect to happen as fact, then they really have just become entertainers! We can’t expect them to inform.


Just thought I’d get in first . . .


Image from theage.com.au

Labor’s leadership crisis took a turn for the worse today when Rudd replaced Gillard as leader. While Gillard has announced that she will quit politics at the next election, a source told me that someone plans to stand against Rudd in the near future. The source wasn’t clear on who, but they were very sure on when. It’s going to happen a week after the next election. Unless Rudd wins, in which case this person will wait until the honeymoon period is over, so two weeks.

When I pressed him as to who this mysterious challenger was, he assured me that it was someone in a suit. Then, he gave a wink. Followed by a nod. Followed by a gesture with his fingers. So I asked if he was cryptically suggesting that it was a type of bird. “No, a man – someone in a suit.” I tried to explain that meant Wayne Swan, but he went on: “I told you that Rudd would challenge, and I was the one who first predicted the Global Financial Crisis. I predicted it in 1989.”

Shorten, I suggested. At which point my source sunk lower into his seat. I shook my head. Bill, I said to him. No charge, he said, my advice is free. I tried to make myself clearer, Is the challenger Bill Shorten? He looked at me blankly, and said, “Bill Shorten? Isn’t he one of the faceless men? One of the backroom people who do everything behind closed doors? How could he be a challenger when nobody has ever seen him in public?”

When I pointed out that he is part of Labor’s front bench and regularly appears on the news, my source looked confused. “Then how come they keep saying he’s one of the faceless men?”

Clearly Bill Shorten wasn’t the potential challenger. But still I could probably have a regular column repeating the rumours until they become true.

And just remember, when Bill Shorten begins: “In the interest of the Labor Party, and the nation, I can no longer serve under Rudd…” you heard it here first.

Unless you heard it somewhere else, already.


The only poll that matters – seriously!


Just another poll

I was going to start with a little story but I read a column in “The Age” today. And I’m pleased to say that after last week with their column from Nicole Flint calling Abbott the “thinking woman’s candidate” and their editorial calling on Gillard to stand down, they’ve restored some balance: They have an article from an ex-Labor State MP… calling on Gillard to stand down. But they’ve balanced this by another opinion piece saying that Labor shouldn’t put their hopes in Rudd because he’s too flawed.

Of course, I’m all too aware of the irony of writing a blog about how we’re all sick of people talking about the topic of this blog, so I thought I’d start will a story that has nothing to do with politics.

Once upon a time, Keith and Leanne were a couple, but someone stole Leanne away. Keith was bitter and started saying things, behind their back. Eventually, Keith made an attempt to win Leanne back, but this was unsuccessful. At this point, he said that he wished them well, and that he was going to get on with his own life. About a year later, a friend to both Leanne and Keith said that it was obvious that Keith wasn’t getting on with his life and that Leanne’s current relationship wasn’t working out. So Simon arrange for Keith to meet with Leanne. Keith didn’t show. When asked why, he said that there were no circumstances under which he would be getting back with Leanne. A few months later, Keith starting to help organize Leanne’s engagement party. Some people said that this was Keith’s way of getting Leanne back. When asked about this Keith replied, I’m just helping out and I already said a few months ago that I didn’t believe there were any circumstances under which I’ll get Leanne back. The gossips who’d been repeating all the things that Keith had said, now started to say that there was a BIG difference between the two statements, and Keith’s denial was further proof that he was still after Leanne.

Ok, I’d like to deny that the above story is an allegory where Keith is Kevin Rudd and Leanne represents the leadership. Simon is, of course, a made up character. And…

Yes, that’s right. You don’t believe me. It’s clear that I’m not telling the truth. But let’s just look at the story as a story for a second, and asks ourselves the simple question, what if Keith is telling the truth? What if he has decided that he has no chance of getting back with Leanne?

I – like everyone else – think that Rudd would like to be given the opportunity to be PM again. And I think that if he had the numbers, he’d challenge. But let’s just consider the possibility that there is no challenge this week. Everything he has said publicly is consistent with him working toward a Labor victory. And we’re very much in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario here. If Rudd campaigns, he’s undermining Gillard. If he sits back and does nothing, he’s refusing to help.

Yes, we all KNOW what Rudd is thinking. The media tells us all the time. And yes, the polls say that he’s much more popular than Gillard. But will responding to bad polls so close to an election just make Labor looking poll driven and lacking in a clear vision.

Gillard may well lose. And maybe Simon Crean had the right idea a few months ago when there was time to give people the idea that Labor had “united” under Rudd. But it seems to me that Labor’s best hope is to be able to into the election saying these are things we’ve achieved, these are the things we hope to achieve and we’ve stuck to our principles against all attempts to divert us from what’s important.

The cliche “the only poll that matters” does have a certain truth. But I also think that elections are not just about winning. They’re sometimes about presenting a clear view of how you see the future. When the Liberals lost in ’93, several of them said it was a mistake to let the public in on what they intended to do. I disagree – if you get elected the public find out anyway. If you don’t, at least they know what you’re arguing for. But there’s one poll that I think is relevant now, and I’ve framed it so that Abbott should be a shoe-in.

[polldaddy poll=7199689]

Let’s do a poll!

Image from ichaps.org

Image from ichaps.org

One of the big problems with polls is that people have no idea what they mean. A few months ago, there was a poll showing that Howard was the most popular PM in the past twenty five years. He got a whopping 35%. Impressive? No, not when you consider that he was the only Liberal PM in the survey. It’d be like doing a survey and asking whether you’d prefer to see Gillard, Rudd, Dreyfus, Shorten or Abbott as PM. One would expect Abbott to win that one. Howard actually received a lower percentage than the Liberal Party did in 2007 election. So, in other words, many Liberals preferred one of the Labor leaders. Yet this was written up as Howard being the most popular PM in the past twenty five years.

The other problem with polls is that they don’t distinguish between the possible, the probable and the impossible.

Ok, let’s imagine I’m preparing a dinner for a hundred people and to give myself a guide for the menu, I use the following poll:

[polldaddy poll=7198307]

The vegetarian option is liable to be very accurate. Most people who identify themselves as vegetarians aren’t liable to change in between now and the dinner. If it’s particularly appealing, on the night, a few extra may order it, but I’m not likely to need less than the poll estimate. But when it comes to the other three options, there are all sorts of things which may make a difference. For example, news of an outbreak of food poisoning associated with chicken may mean that very few people order the chicken. Similarly, rumours of “mad cow” disease may reduce the number of beef eaters considerably.

These things may change what a person initially indicated. And that’s even before, when presented with the final menu, we discover that the beef comes with brussel sprouts because they’re good for you. (“Yuk, brussel sprouts – think I’ll get the seafood after all!”) Or before the anaphylactics discover that the chicken is covered with a peanut sauce.

When it comes to political polls, the media conveniently overlooks that most elections get decided by the people who only start to pay attention in the final few weeks. So when we start hearing about polls meaning this or that, we should be given more information about the circumstances of the poll. Was there an undecided element, and how large was it? How random was the poll? Did the sample include a range of ages and occupations? What state(s) was it taken in? Were there differences between the states? In determining the result of the Federal Election, these things will be more significant than the actual 2-3% fluctuations that the media obsesses over – even as they acknowledge that a 2% swing is in the potential margin of error, so it may not even exist. I’ve even heard, after an improvement of 1%, commentators hypothesise about the reason for the “improvement”.

Polls can create their own momentum. If everyone else thinks this Government is bad, who am I to disagree? But they can also create a backlash. “I’m not sure that I want to re-elect this Government, but I’m concerned that the Opposition will get too big a majority like in Queensland.” The question for the coming election is which of those is likely to happen.

In short, the poll doesn’t tell us who are the committed vegetarians and who will only be deciding after seeing the menu. We’re encouraged to believe that it’s all done and dusted, that the election campaign counts for nothing and that Julia Gillard should hand Tony the keys to the Lodge. (Barry Cassidy doesn’t believe that she’ll lead Labor to the election. Or was that last week?) But I’d still like to see a poll which asked whether the person was sure of their voting intentions, or whether they were still to make up their mind. Now, THAT might give us something interesting to discuss.


An Open Letter to Mike Carlton

InUnityIsStrength Dear Mike Carlton

As is often the case when I write letters to people, I am writing to you as a representative of a greater group. I think you can guess who this group might be. The Ruddites.

It would be inaccurate for me to say I always read your column in the SMH because I very often don’t. But sometimes I do and I usually find it quite amusing and clever and refreshingly nut-free unlike many other opinion columnists printed frequently in the mainstream press. But the column you published yesterday, on the same topic as The Age’s editorial, was, I’m sorry to say, a shocker. Have you ever heard the phrase: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result? Many of your readers might have forgotten that you wrote on this very same subject – asking the Prime Minister to resign for the good of the country – almost a year ago. Here it is again in case you’ve forgotten. I guess sometimes it’s hard to come up with a new idea for an article every single week. But of all the articles to repeat, this probably had to be the worst subject you could choose, if you wanted to keep your dignity in tact.

The reason I remembered your article from July 2012 was because I wrote about it at the time in my post called ‘The Mobius Strip of Leadership Tensions’. Even then I could never have dreamt that this unrelenting campaign by some Ruddites would still be gnawing away at the stability of Julia Gillard’s Prime Ministership, undermining her at every turn. With only 13 weeks to go until the election, I would have wrongly assumed that Ruddites, deep down, just wanted to beat Tony Abbott and would do nothing to damage Gillard’s chances of doing this, even if it meant having to grit their teeth and support a Prime Minister they obviously don’t like. But that’s the thing that really upsets me about your articles Mike – it’s the fact that you think your opinion of Julia Gillard is more important than saving this country from Tony Abbott.

I’m sorry that your favourite Kevin Rudd turned out to be such a lemon. I really am. I liked him too! He saved us from another term of Howard, and his success in protecting the economy from the GFC should always be applauded. I’m sorry that you were unnerved by a change to the natural order of things when, instead of a blue tie, we got a female Prime Minister, our very first one. I’m sorry you have such trouble coming to terms with life under a female Prime Minister – yes she doesn’t ‘do TV’ quite the same as Rudd used to but I really feel her policy achievements are more important than her voice, and I’m sorry you don’t too. These policy achievements have just kept coming, despite the media mis-representing this success with constant tales of ‘chaos’ in the minority government. If Gillard had achieved less than Rudd, or even just the same amount, I could understand that you might be disappointed with her performance. But the only performance you seem to care about is her performance in a sound bite – which quite frankly is a juvenile way to judge the success of a politician.

What upsets me the most about your Ruddite campaign is that you are the ones fulfilling the mainstream media’s prophecy that instability in the Labor party will be their ultimate downfall. The instability is caused by you. Sure, it might be trumped up and over-reported in the mainstream press, but you’re fueling this campaign with evidence of the instability, at the same time as you’re saying you’re trying to save the party! No one has ever been saved by this sort of stupidity.

What if you and your Ruddite mates, including Rudd himself, had just sucked it up three years ago and got behind Julia Gillard, instead of white-anting her at every opportunity? What if you’d realised that every time you publically showed disunity in the party, you were contributing to the terrible polls that you then blamed Gillard for as being all her fault? What if you shut up for long enough to understand that your public slaying of our Prime Minister is a stick for every media outlet in the country to beat her with, and all the ammunition the Liberals need as evidence of ‘Labor chaos’, diluting the real facts behind the Prime Minister’s success. What if the electorate sees people who want a progressive government, like you say you do, bad mouthing our progressive Prime Minister, and this is all they hear. Julia bad. Tony good.

Sadly, we will never know what might have been if the Ruddites had got behind the Prime Minister, had been loyal supporters of her progressive government, had championed her cause, had stopped the rumours, stopped the calls for her to resign, stopped the leadership challenges that came to nothing and had stopped being the sideshow that the media so wanted them to be. I don’t think the press would have suddenly become experts on policy, and I know they would never have accurately reported Gillard’s success to their readers. Their vested interests in an Abbott victory would never have allowed this. But I do know one thing. Your behaviour hasn’t helped. And now blaming Gillard for the position the party is in now, sounds to me, very much like bully boys blaming their victim.

I know if we do end up with Abbott as Prime Minister, I will sleep well knowing I didn’t contribute to this end. How about you Mike? How will you live with yourself?

The mainstream media has gone stark raving mad

It’s official. The mainstream media has gone stark raving mad.

This article was published in the Age today:

For the sake of the nation, Ms Gillard should stand aside

Let me preface this post by saying that I take great pride in writing a blog using my own name. I am Victoria Rollison and these are my opinions. For some people, writing under a pseudonym is their only option. I understand that. But what I don’t understand is why this piece of junk article has no byline on it. It implies it has been written by a newspaper. But we all know newspapers are just mechanisms for delivering words. They are where news articles are published. Newspapers can’t actually write, because newspapers don’t have a brain. Someone, or some people wrote this article and I don’t understand why they are not proud enough of their words to put their name to them. Perhaps they think it gives the piece more gravitas to sound like it’s been written by some higher force, some all knowing being which has more power than just some journalist, editor or media executive hack. I’m calling this out for the bullshit it is. There is no higher power and why the f*ck should there be in a democracy? This piece has nothing to do with the interests of Australia. It has everything to do with the interests of Fairfax media and their unrelenting campaign to bring down Julia Gillard, our first female Prime Minister. Emphasis on the word FEMALE. Also emphasis on the Prime Minister’s title which is, more often than not, left off Julia Gillard’s name in pieces throughout the mainstream media, including this one.

I would have thought this an obvious point to make, but it seems I have to make it anyway for the benefit of those people who decided to take it upon themselves to write this article: it’s not Fairfax’s role to decide who our Prime Minister is. Fairfax should be telling us the news. Not trying to make it. And since they’ve failed at telling us the news for many years now, who the f*ck do they think they are calling on the Prime Minister to resign as if it’s up to them decide? It reminds me of John Howard’s arrogant statement about asylum seekers:

‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.’

Fairfax are saying exactly the same thing to readers about our Prime Minister. They think it’s their job to decide. This failed media outlet with a failed business model think they are going to play king maker with Kevin Rudd. So it’s beholden to bloggers like me to remind Fairfax of one major flaw in their reasoning as to why they think the Prime Minister should stand down. After saying some complimentary things about Prime Minister Gillard’s performance over the past three years, they announce that her message just isn’t getting through and this is why they’ve decide it’s time for her to go. Excuse me if I just lie down for a moment because I’m overcome with the irony and ridiculousness of this concept.

Why is Gillard’s message not getting through Fairfax? Might it be because you’ve been on a campaign to cause a leadership spill for the past three years, which has completely obliterated any focus on Gillard’s policy successes and the amazing work she has done in reforming this country, and therefore you are saying that because you, and your mainstream media colleagues have ignored policy in favour or rumour and innuendo that undermines the Prime Minister, you have caused a situation where Gillard’s message isn’t getting through? If you don’t see how you’ve created this circular reference, the Mobius strip of leadership tension, then you don’t have the intellectual capacity to be commenting on this situation.

To make this article even more ridiculous, your campaign to undermine the Prime Minister is just making you look desperate. Not Julia Gillard. We know you have a week left to try to get Kevin Rudd back into the Lodge. There’s no news in the fact Kevin Rudd wants to get back into the Lodge. Despite this, and despite the one failed challenge where it was revealed Rudd didn’t even come close to having the support of his Labor Party colleagues and the second aborted attempt where Rudd didn’t even challenge because he already knew he didn’t have the support of his Labor Party colleagues, you still keep flogging this dead horse like a desperate dumped boyfriend who doesn’t get his calls returned.

Maybe if you provided a quality product – full of interesting facts, analysis and real journalism – your business model wouldn’t be in such a dire position. Perhaps if you had made some correct choices in your editorial narrative over the past three years, you wouldn’t need to now be disrespecting your audience to the point where you think you decide who leads this country, all in a quest to sell more papers.


Why are turkeys voting for Christmas?

TurkeyVotingForChristmas Why are turkeys voting for Christmas? When I say voting, I mean revealing to Newspoll their intention to vote for Abbott. And when I say turkeys, I mean all those people who will be worse off under a Liberal National government, but who are still hell bent on punishing Gillard for god knows what. Why are they punishing Gillard? As Tad Tietze hypothesizes in this opinion piece, are they angry with Gillard because Kevin Rudd’s ego is destabilising the Labor government? Surely the turkeys aren’t that unwise? Surely they’re not turning their back on education funding for their children, a world-class National Broadband Network which more than 7 out of 10 of them want, an increase in superannuation savings, action against climate change which is actually working, a mining tax that shares wealth with everyone, a tax-break for low income earners, an economy the envy of the western world, the abolition of Work Choices and the party which brought them the National Disability Insurance scheme because they’re still angry at Gillard about Rudd? And why do the turkeys give a f*ck about Rudd? What’s he ever done for them that Gillard hasn’t? In fact, Gillard has done more for them than Rudd could ever dream of doing. Because she’s a doer. And more importantly, her government runs properly. Unlike Rudd’s because he wouldn’t let his Minister’s speak without his go ahead. Not that Gillard gets credit for anything she’s achieved.

But why do they hate her so much? Why are they so vile and nasty about her? Don’t you notice that comments about Gillard on social media and news websites are almost always mean and nasty? And they never include any detail about why people hate her so much. Why is that? When we ask the commenters for details we get silence. Or we just get more cruel and upsetting abuse. They tell us Gillard has let them down but never say how.

They say Gillard’s the worst Prime Minister ever, but never go on to explain why. They parrot slogans without expanding on their opinion. And their language is always so revolting. Mostly from men but sometimes from women too. Why do people have to always be so disgusting about Gillard? Including members of the Liberal National Coalition and the mainstream media. Menu-gate. Is Tim Gay-gate. Cleavage-gate. And that’s just in the last couple of weeks. Why? Please tell me it’s not because she’s a woman. But I’ve run out of other rational reasons. If Bill Shorten or Greg Combet had replaced Kevin Rudd, and one of them had achieved everything Gillard has as Prime Minister, would Labor be in the position they are in now? It makes me so sad to even think it let alone write it, but I can’t help coming to the conclusion that the answer is no.

This is about people’s opinion of Gillard. Are Labor’s problems really just people’s problems with Gillard? Are the turkeys the same people calling me a ‘mummy blogger’ when I write about politics and don’t even have children, just because my name is Victoria? Is Australia really that petty and perhaps sexist too? Is the country I love really such a backward and primitive place? Are the turkeys really so blind to what Abbott’s planning to do that they’ll vote for him just to get rid of our first female Prime Minister? And why do they say they will vote for Abbott when they don’t even like him? They can’t like what he is promising because so far he’s not promising to do anything expect say no and undo all the national building reform Labor has achieved. Maybe they don’t like what Labor has done? But this isn’t evident from their opinions as they never go into such detail, and polls tell us Labor policies are popular. So what do they expect Abbott to do? Do they want him to sack 12,000 public servants? Do they want an austerity budget spiraling the economy into double or triple-dip recession, to match the UK Conservative Party’s mess?

Do they look forward to Abbott trying to turn asylum seeker boats around, threatening the lives of society’s most desperate and vulnerable people? Is being evil popular now? Do they care that Indonesia won’t accept these people back? Do they just want human beings to drown? Is this about the Carbon Price? Do they not want action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change which could destroy the lives of future generations of their own family? Do they want some really expensive tree-planting instead which will be paid for by them instead of big polluters and which won’t actually reduce emissions? Is a small increase in their electricity bill for the good of our future really that upsetting? Or is it about Abbott’s ‘signature policy’ paid parental leave, which he refuses to even mention in the previous few months for fear that someone might actually expect him to implement this policy in government?

But Labor’s removal of the baby bonus was popular, so why would the turkeys want more sense-of-entitlement-inequitable-middle-class-welfare at the expense of social welfare which goes to those most in need? Or do they just believe everything Rupert Murdoch and his buddies in the mainstream media tells them, and believe everything Gina Rinehart’s vested interests want them to believe? Contrary to their own self-interests, why are they defending the interests of two multi-billionaires who don’t give a shit about them? I just really want to understand what the f*ck is going on here.

Why are people so hell bent on eating shit and why do they hate spinach so much? I know I’ve asked a lot of questions already but if someone could just give me a convincing answer to even one of these, I promise I’ll stop asking. Anyone?

Simple Choice

No Rudd challenge? That’s the news, apparently

Photo from theaustralian.com.au

Photo from theaustralian.com.au

“Labor’s crippling leadership stand-off is showing no signs of resolution with the former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, still refusing to challenge and Julia Gillard hardening her resolve to stay put.” The Age, 18th June, 2013

Of course, with someone else so clearly more popular, you’d think a Rudd challenge was inevitable, but no, it looks like the status quo will prevail until the election. No challenge. And this may be the reason for the lack of clearly stated policies, the use of a few motherhood statements and certain backbenchers breaking ranks. Whatever, the odds are that Abbott will lead the Liberals into the next election with Turnbull still refusing to challenge in spite of having a leader whose policy on climate change, gay marriage and the republic are so radically different from his own.

I could say that someone told me confidentially that Turnbull is counting the numbers, but not being one of the Canberra crowd, people may want to know who. They may even ask if my source had give me reliable information in the past. And I’d have to confess that they hadn’t.

But as I write this the Labor caucus is meeting. I guess that they’ll have a spill. I guess Rudd will stand this time. I guess he would have stood if he thought he’d be elected unopposed. I guess these things would sound more convincing if I used a phrase like, “the word is” or “I have it on good authority”, instead of “I guess”.

Ah well, my source says that Kevin will be the next ambassador to the US. Or the UN. but that’s only if one of the parties wins the election. He wasn’t sure which.


The future is a fiction

Image from theaustralian.com.au

The future is a fiction (image from theaustralian.com.au)

The future is a fiction. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a either a fool or a snake oil salesman. Yes, we need to make some predictions in order to make preparations, but there’s an inherent danger in behaving as though the past is the present.

“It’s ok, if I speed, because I’m a good driver,” a man is his forties, confidently told me.

“How do work that out?” I asked.

“Because I don’t have accidents,” he told me.

Strangely, many of you will predict how that story ends. Fortunately, not tragically, but you’re right. (The accident was, of course, the other driver’s fault!)

So, I want you to consider the future for a moment. Not predict, consider. And there’s a difference. We’ve had a range of political and economic predictions over the past few years. Most of them were wrong. Ridiculously wrong. But still, people keep making them, and justifying the fact they were wrong by using what happened as a reason that something else didn’t. (For example, “The predicted interest rate cut didn’t happen because because unemployment fell” was one economist’s justification of his own prediction. Not much better than saying the only reason that this horse didn’t win was because the other horses ran faster, which I didn’t expect.)

Barry Cassidy may well be right. Julia Gillard may not lead Labor to the next election. But instead of trying to decide whether the people who’ve told Barry this are right or wrong, let’s have a look at how the future might unfold.

First, we have Gonski to consider. The negotiations with the States may delay any move by Rudd backers till the end of the month. If Labor can get that through, it’ll be an electoral plus, which poses a dilemma for the Liberals. Do they encourage the States to hold out and kill it, which may also make them look hostile to education? Or do they try to States to sign up in the hope that it’ll boost Gillard’s credibility and reduce the chances of a Rudd takeover?

Barry Cassidy has assured us that Gillard will not lead Labor to the next election, so how could we imagine that happening? Gillard gets a tap on the shoulder in much the same way that Rudd did, and stands down. This, of course, would have the Liberals jumping up and down about Labor’s “faceless men”. (The history of the term “faceless men” refers to a time when the trade unions set the policy behind closed doors then gave it to the politicians to implement. Faceless men How members of Parliament can be considered “faceless” is anybody’s guess.) Much of Labor’s rhetoric on giving women fair treatment would be turned back on them by the Opposition. Hypocracy and politics have never been far apart.

So presuming we have a return to Rudd, what then? Well, the general consensus is that Labor would receive an immediate boost in the polls. The Liberals may still be able to make leadership changes an issue, but the initial response would be positive. Gillard supporters may be frustrated and turn off, but I doubt that many would actually vote for Abbott. Would Rudd feel bound by Gillard’s September election date? Probably not, but there’d be no compelling reason for him to rush to the polls. It could even play against him making Labor look like they’re afraid they can’t put together a functioning team under Rudd. On the other hand, the Liberals could be wrong-footed; after calling for an immediate election for three years, how can they start complaining that Rudd has called one early.

Which brings us back to the motion of no confidence that the Liberals promised us in May. (Sorry, it wasn’t a promise? I stand corrected.) The reason for not moving it in May was that the Independents wouldn’t support it, but it’s always been made clear that their deal was with Gillard, so all bets are off if Rudd is leader. Would the Liberals want to rush while Rudd is still in his (second?) honeymoon period or would they want to hold out and hope that the cracks in Labor start to show?

For most in the Labor party, I suspect that a return to Rudd is a concession of defeat and an attempt to minimise the damage. Many of the Gillard supporters may feel as though a win under Rudd would be a hollow victory, and that he was being rewarded for undermining the PM. Of course, the Rudd supporters would be able to say you get what you give, and look, we won didn’t we? Would this make for healthy government? Definitely not. But, of course, grown men and women should be able to put the past behind them and just look to the future. Unfortunately, we’re talking about politicians here, so I won’t hold my breath.

Perhaps, Cassidy is wrong and something – inertia or success with Gonski or a discovery about Tony Abbott streaking naked down Collins street – will mean that Gillard still leads Labor to the next election. Will Rudd continue to campaign? Will this have a positive effect or be a sideshow? At what point would speculation that he’ll takeover stop? During the election campaign? Two weeks before the election? Two days?

Whatever, the challenge for the Liberals will be how to play the next few weeks. Go too hard on Gillard and risk a return to Rudd? Go too soft and risk her being able to start to see like the “Jaws” character in that James Bond movie who just keep surviving everything? But the closer they get the more we start to see “countdown clocks”, and statements like “We won’t do this in our first term.” Hubris can be dangerous, particularly if they forget that the public haven’t really warmed to Abbott.

All things considered, the bookies will be offering long odds that Gillard will be there in October. Still, three years ago they offered long odds on Labor lasting the full term. Outsiders do sometimes get up. Not often, of course, that’s why they’re long odds, but sometimes!

[polldaddy poll=7180610]

The case for keeping Julia Gillard

“So why am I the last columnist to give them a fighting chance? Well, Julia Gillard has never been given a fair go” (Robert Macklin).

This post has been reproduced with the kind permission of journalist and author, Robert Macklin from his article The case for keeping Julia.

It seems I’m the only columnist left in Australia who thinks Julia Gillard and her excellent government have a reasonable chance of winning the September 14 election.

Call me quixotic if you like, but I just can’t believe that my fellow Australians would toss out a government that has done us such sterling service for an opposition led by Tony Abbott who threatens to undo so much of what we’ve achieved these last five years; and who wants to set us on a path to “austerity” that has done such appalling damage in Europe and the US.

Consider the Government’s achievements: it acted swiftly to save us from recession during the world’s financial and economic meltdown. But just as important, it resisted cutting the Budget to shreds when revenue fell, despite the immense political pressure to do so.

It transformed our schools and our schooling, thus setting us up for the future and giving our children the best possible start in life. It invested massively in tertiary education, including trades, to meet the needs of a growing and changing economy.

It created the National Disability Insurance Scheme from nothing. It raised the pension to a decent level. It introduced paid parental leave. It invested in roads, ports and other infrastructure that was holding us back because Howard ignored it. It improved relations with China while maintaining a strong US commitment. Indeed, in foreign affairs it didn’t put a foot wrong.

It fixed the Murray-Darling river system. It put a price on carbon that will lead to a transformation of our energy generation. It is building the NBN that will transform for the better the way we live and work.

And it did all this as a minority government in the face of obdurate resistance and schoolyard bullying from Tony Abbott. It tried desperately to stem the flow of boat people, but was blocked at every turn by an Opposition that revelled in the political mileage gained from it.

So why am I the last columnist to give them a fighting chance? Well, Julia Gillard has never been given a fair go. People still resent the way she made it to The Lodge after his party rejected Kevin Rudd. Had she been a man, it would have been a political coup and that’s that, but a woman couldn’t be forgiven.

The Murdoch press, and the miners, have vilified Labor for their own vested interests. Sadly, their campaign has set the tone for other media outlets. But that could only be effective in a political landscape where something fundamental has changed in the communication business.

That’s summed up this week in a memorable phrase from “New York Times” columnist Frank Bruni: “The sideshow swallows the substance”.

Policies are ignored. Instead, the “news” is all about fripperies, trivia and the seven-second grab. If you doubt it, aside from the gold-plated parental leave scheme – and slashing at least 12,000 public servant jobs – try to think of a single Abbott plan for Australia.

Oh, that’s right: “Stop the boats”.

Robert Macklin.