Who would have thunk it?
There has been something rather sad and desperate about the way that the luvvies were taking great comfort in the short lived downturn in the polling for the coalition but this poll reversal must come as a very bitter blow to those who have been clinging to the vain hope that the Labor party can come back into contention without the reformation that it so dearly needs if it is ever to be credible enough to return to office.
I also think that their parliamentary tactics are backfiring badly. Simply put they are being obstructionist to the government legislative agenda in a rather shallow attempt to demonstrate that they still have parliamentary teeth. A sensible party would have waved through the repeal of the Carbon and Mining taxes but in an expression of political machismo Electricity Bill Shorten has just succeeded in shooting himself and keeping the very reasons that his party was thrown out front and centre in the minds of the voters.
The utter brilliance of the coalition’s proposed Royal commission into the Unions can not be underestimated every new revelation of thuggery or other nastiness will stain the reputation of the party that is the creature of the union movement and that means that things can only get worse for the ALP under the current leadership and the truly sad thing is that none of the alternatives are likely to do much better. Shorten had a chance to draw a line under the follies of the last government and move on to rebuilding the party’s fortunes but he chose (or was instructed by his union masters) to carry on in the usual Labor style. Frankly If he is still leader by Christmas I will be very surprised indeed.
He is still getting a laugh from the artist formally known as Brother Number One
We are beginning to see the strength of the government’s resolve to end the flow of illegal immigrants coming via Indonesia and I for one can’t help but applaud the effectiveness of the strategy. Naturally the Indonesian government are not happy but frankly they are just going to have to cop it sweet because quite laudably the Abbott Government are not going to be bullied the way that Labor was bullied and just tug our forelocks as we do as they wish.
Australia is under no obligation to accept undocumented economic migrants as these men so clearly are, What amazes me is that these men are all Bangladeshis, who in heavens name are they claiming to be oppressed by? This has to be a case of well done to the Royal Australian Navy, well done to the minister Scott Morrison, and well done to the Abbott government for keeping their promise to turn back the boats when it is safe to do so. Its interesting to read the comments attached to may source piece in the Fairfax press where they seem to me to be running very strongly in support of the government actions. The “open borders” shrills are increasingly pissing into the wind on this issue and the Australian people are quite rightly less than impressed by their blathering anymore.
As for Indonesia well what can they do? Whine and complain? For too long they have tried to shirk the responsibility that they have for the foreign nationals that they allow into their country in transit to illegal entry into our territory and they scream blue murder when we quite rightly jail their nationals for braking our laws. I think that they may well be tightening the visa-less entry for their fellow Muslim Bangladeshis in the near future just as they have for Iranians. What it boils down to is respect, Indonesia has for years failed to respect our right to control our borders and allowed all and sundry to transit their territory to facilitate the people smuggling trade, now they can’t get away with it.
There are times when I wonder about our friends of the Green persuasion because it seems to me that no matter what they miss the big picture in their endless pursuit of protesting about something, anything because no matter what the circumstance or what is going on they constantly miss the point.
Now I’m a life long and unrepentant atheist who thinks that any notion of a supernatural being it just utterly silly, none the less I do think that there is value in some religious rituals even a crotchety old unbeliever like me. I appreciates the sentiments of saying grace before a shared meal. In an uncertain world where so many go hungry what is not to like about being thankful for the food on the table and the fellowship with those who share the good fortune of sustenance? Like wise if you look beyond the content of the Lord’s prayer itself to the greater meaning of the affirmation at the beginning of each sitting of parliament, its to remind members and senators that they are servants of the people and that they should be humble and sincere in their deliberations. Frankly that strikes me as something that the political elite can so easily lose sight of as they play the game of politics. If a prayer to a non existent deity helps them retain their humility and desire to serve the people is that such a bad thing?
You have to hand it to Kevin Rudd, when it comes to ‘rat fucking” his party he is a true champion not only did he lie about serving the electorate of Griffith for the full term but he would not even give its current leader the courtesy of a forewarning of his intention to resign:
While I would expect a certain level of magnanimity from the current prime minister about the man that he so decisively defeated in September I frankly would have respected Electricity Bill just a bit more had he just stood up and said that the party will be better off now that it is fully free from the spectre of Rudd’s pernicious influence. No we did not get such candor from Electricity Bill instead we got the usual empty platitudes even though he was clearly NOT feeling the love at all. Sorry folks but to may mind that is precisely why Electricity Bill will never be PM of this country.
So as Rudd retires on his 155k per year along with a car and security detail we poor long suffering voters will have to take comfort from the fact that thanks to the efforts of our Kevin it may well be longer than a decade before we again see a Labor PM in the Lodge, the sensible among us may well think that I am being too generous the the ALP in this prediction but I prefer to err on the side of caution…
My brother the computer tech spent most of yesterday afternoon/evening here and now I have two new PCs, my hard-drives were OK so all of my data was spared being fired with the computers. It looks to me that it is not our phone line that has been damaged but the phones themselves along with our data switch/router. the good old credit card will get a workout when I go shopping tomorrow , I do have insurance for the house but not its contents as we have reasoned that the cost of the premiums would far out weigh the benefits that we may have to claim in this sort of calamity. Even with replacing the fried appliances I expect that it won’t cost more than 1.5k at the very worst (probably around a grand ) and that is only two years premiums. Having lived here for more than fourteen years we are still ahead.
Enough of the domestic disaster stuff its time to enjoy the fact that Kevin Rudd has done precisely as I predicted and resigned from the parliament. I may be wrong here but I can’t help thinking that there was financial incentive for the former Brother Number one to sit at least once in the new Parliament before resigning. that little vanity will probably cost the taxpayers a great deal over the years of his retirement. I had to laugh though as I watched both members of the government and the opposition doing the “hail fellow well met” game on the TV last night. For all of that I think that history will be far from kind to Kevin, and will recall his failings far more than they will recall his successes in high office.
Despite his dreams of once again being a fine and handsome rooster he is very definitely a feather duster now! Which of course begs the question of necessary by-election for the seat of Griffith. Will it too fall to the coalition? This is just like the old Saturday morning serials, without the corny music track!
Cheers indeed Comrades
It usually takes years for members of a bad government to “fess up” to the failings and dysfunction within their administration and under the cover of the smokescreen of Labor’s new and wacky way of selecting their leader a few admissions have slipped under the radar things like Stephen Conroy admitting that their NBN roll out was an utter farce, with no ability to meet anywhere near the targets that were so loudly trumpeted. Its an admission that has largely gone unnoticed. However I very much doubt that the bucketing delivered by Nicola Roxon in the John Button lecture will be as invisible and as that is the topic for to day I will now provide some highlights for discussion:
1) Labor must always focus on the fact that good policy improves people’s lives and that is why the party exists.
If this is always at the front of our minds and the top priority in decision-making, we will be less easily diverted by polls, personalities and punch-ups.
This must be a constant focus. In government, a Labor party needs to choose a few big areas and focus on them, taking people with them.
A government needs to take time to explain the problem, work on a range of solutions, build coalitions to campaign for them, understand the opposing arguments so as to improve its own and measure their validity. It must allow enough time and sufficiently foreshadow the change so local MPs, branch members and citizens can be part of the campaign for change. And take time to get all the technical detail right.
2) Governments as a whole, and the prime minister in particular, need to keep their focus high level – spending time and energy on the things that really matter.
If you can’t describe what you are doing in general terms, and its purpose, then either the policy isn’t right, or you’ve descended into detail most people don’t need and probably don’t want to know.
The art as a minister should be to be across the detail and be sufficiently trusted by colleagues to manage and explain the policy detail when needed, but to allow the PM to focus only on the big picture. The Cabinet should be used to sign off only on purpose, direction and broad structure, but not excessive detail.
In our first term of Government we struggled with this. There were some contentious issues and policy problems that ran for months, in some cases years, without there seeming to be a way to bring contentious issues to a head. There was no avenue for ministers to bring genuinely difficult issues, where there were legitimately tricky calls to be made, to Cabinet for a real discussion. Health and climate change were the two longest running “non-discussions” for the first term of Government, with some other contentious policies getting only cursory cabinet approval at the last minute. There was a reticence by the Prime Minister for big strategic calls to be made by Cabinet, or sufficiently in advance to prepare properly.
3) Good leaders are good delegators.
If they don’t delegate, they and their governments ultimately drown in less important matters.
Having seen it up close, I have a huge amount of sympathy for just how much work a PM has to do. The sheer weight of government and the crushing level of personal demands are far more intense and all encompassing than most people can imagine. Kevin and Julia fully devoted themselves day and night to this task. For all their issues, no one could fault either of them for heroic work ethics and sheer determination to do everything humanly possible in the job.
But the prime minister is still only one person.
We can’t let the system slide, if it hasn’t already, to expect this person to have superhuman powers. Our increasingly presidential-style campaigning doesn’t help this. I hope any new Labor leader will not continue this pretence – it will ultimately be a great benefit to the Party and protection for them.
4) Labor needs to welcome debate, not fear it.
A progressive party needs to be able to argue over issues and not see it through the prism of internal politics.
Both internally and externally Labor, in the time I’ve been involved, has become more afraid of real debate. For a progressive party that prides itself on constantly renewing its social purpose, this is not good news.
Of course, a shallow and manipulative media can make debate or dissent difficult, sometimes nigh on impossible, but we need to push past that and learn to welcome a contest of ideas.
5) Be polite and be persuasive. Or I could call this “Keep yourself nice”.
(I know I’ll be accused of being “nanny Nicola” here, but it is an age-old rule that needs to be re-imposed.) If you don’t do this, you lose ground for no political purpose. You waste time apologizing and you lose arguments for no good reason.
And this is not a tip just for the sake of nice manners. It fundamentally affects political outcomes too.
When Kevin was flashed across the TVs icily ignoring Kristina Keneally in health reform negotiations, it cost us an awful lot to recover from and actually gave NSW the upper hand for the first time. Disparagingly calling her “Bambi” behind closed doors was pretty silly when she was whip-smart and went on to run rings around us at the final COAG negotiating table. As a result, Kevin conceded more to NSW in hospital beds at the expense of money set aside for mental health. As was predictable, mental health became a thorn in our side later on, and in the 2010 campaign was the major health issue that weakened our otherwise great story.
The Garden Island announcement during the 2013 campaign underscored that this lesson had not been learned and we lost a day or two of the campaign needlessly.
6)Always ask what you can do for the party (and the nation) not what it can do for you (with apologies to JFK).
If you don’t ask this question first, you’ve lost your focus and purpose and the public will mark you down fast.
There were plenty examples of people putting their individual interests ahead of the team’s, particularly in ministerial ballots and appointments. Reports of able MPs declining particular portfolios, perhaps because it didn’t suit their long term personal plans, is a sign of this going off the rails. The only correct answer if a PM calls and offers you a particular ministry is surely “Yes, Prime Minister”.
Of course it is natural to have ambitions, and to be disappointed if they are thwarted, but the focus must always be on the team.
7)Good governments run best with good diaries – so boring, but universally true.
This is not just about housekeeping, as it seems, but you actually can get better policy, get more done and protect against foreseeable problems if you plan a diary and run to plan. You can only get to an end game if you have planned where you want to go.
The machinery of Government is enormous. And it can be put to enormous good. But it is a slow moving beast – no matter how bold or impatient a government may be. If plans and projects are set, parameters identified and clear instructions given, with regular and consistent oversight, the work produced can be excellent. Thousands of people can work more effectively around you if direction is set early, timetables stuck to, and materials are read.
But if political direction chops and changes, if the questions being asked constantly move, if deadlines come and go without meaning, it is very inefficient, and ultimately dispiriting. It’s politically confused too.
Kevin had a terrible habit of attending meetings not having read detailed papers that he had commissioned at the last meeting – often very complex ones, at very short notice. For example, I remember a meeting only days before Christmas 2009 when a total rewrite of a health policy was demanded. Despite many, many hours of work into the night, I do not believe that paper was ever – even to do this day – read by the prime minister, let alone read over a Christmas holiday he had already ruined for others.
8) Choose good people – as leaders, as MPs and as staff.
In every walk of life, successful organisations need a pool of talented people, and politics is no different.
This seems pretty basic. And on this front, I have to say I am very optimistic about our future. We get this right more often than we get it wrong. Having a strong choice of two capable politicians in the recent leadership ballot is just one measure of this. And I reckon Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek are as close to “the dream team” as you can get.
9)Accept you are not always right, and cannot always fix everything. It’s easier with this as your starting point.
If the public is promised a messiah, they’re inevitably going to be disappointed.
Political messages do need to be clear. They don’t have cut-through if they are not. In the beginning, Kevin was brilliant at this. It’s why he was so successful at the 2007 election. He talked straight and people understood and liked him.
The curse, of course, is that the problems you are trying to solve and the policies needed to do so are often complex. So we came unstuck when the solutions were necessarily more subtle or convoluted than the cut-through message initially delivered.
“The buck stops with me”, “the biggest moral challenge of our time” are examples that made sense and garnered interest and support, but they come with big risks, as the realities of government can make this cut-through language a dead weight or burden. It’s always more convincing to say you’ll “fix” something, when “improve” is a more accurate statement.
In 2007, Kevin was great at cut-through, then struggled at follow through.
10) And lastly,never forget polling is only a snapshot, not a predictor.
Otherwise we resign ourselves to a static life – and a progressive party will never win without new ideas, and new ideas take time to be absorbed.
Over-analysed, published opinion polls are having a corrosive effect on Australian politics. Their meaning and value have been given enormous weight, way, way above their real value. This is perhaps exacerbated by the advent of online media as these polls, paid for by old print media, are often among the few exclusives they have – so they are inflated by the same media who commission them.
But apart from that, we have allowed the polls, and the way journalists interpret them, to have too much influence. Polls can tell us what the current state of play is, but not what might happen.
What a poll can never tell us is what the results may be after a six month concerted effort to turn an argument around. They are unable to show what might change with persistence.
So, perhaps there is one remaining question you may have about my perspective on this time in government. And it is a biggie.
After all these tips for good and bad behavior for the future, do I believe we behaved properly in removing Kevin as PM in 2010?
While I think the Labor caucus made the right decision, we handled it very poorly.
I think we had all the right reasons to act, but I think we were clumsy and short sighted in the way we did it. We didn’t explain the dysfunctional decision-making and lack of strategy I’ve focused on a lot tonight. We didn’t talk about his rudeness, or contempt for staff and disrespect for public servants (a measure of this was public servants saving up briefs to send to the PM’s office as soon as Kevin went overseas because they got quicker and more thoughtful responses from Julia as acting PM).
Removing Kevin was an act of political bastardry, for sure. But this act of political bastardy was made possible only because Kevin had been such a bastard himself to so many people.
So I hope my take on events might be worth something to the next generation. I hope they will have learned from this period, and will not repeat its mistakes.
The new Labor team will need to lift itself above the personality politics, stop seeing things as “Kevin legacies” or “Julia legacies”, and just see them proudly as “Labor legacies”. This will better honour our forbears like John Button.
I really hope that readers have taken the time to read the whole speech , but even if you have not done so I hope that my highlights give you the gist of Roxon’s argument here,namely that the labor Government was very much a dysfunctional one that was in the thrall of Kevin Rudd, in its first term because of his inability to properly delegate and trust his ministers and his utter inability properly run the government and its instruments and after he had been removed for those sins he was then allowed to foment dissent and disloyalty that undermined his successor, who herself had many flaws. Its a far from pretty picture if you ask this humble scribe. and rather like the curates egg the last Labor government was “good in parts” according to Roxon . The judgement of the people was however that those good parts were considerably smaller than the unpalatable aspects of Labor’s six years in office. On balance when we look at Labor’s CV I find it very hard to see any reason to believe that they were ever “fit to Govern” on the whole they provided a perfect example of the promise far exceeding the delivery and had their lack of fitness to govern been less concealed by Rudd’s admittedly slick campaign in 2007 they would have never won office.
The Coalition have for some time been espousing the very reasonable adage that in government one should under promise and over deliver which is a very good starting point in any democracy and until Labor and its minions likewise realise that is the way to political nirvana they will not be in any way fit to govern again. You see in the real world good government is about 90% good governance and sound administration and 10% good ideas, by my reckoning Labor scored well below 50% over all….
- Roxon calls on “bastard” Rudd to quit (abc.net.au)
- Here’s The Dirtiest Of The Laundry That Nicola Roxon Aired In Her Speech On The Rudd-Gillard Years (businessinsider.com)
- Roxon slams ‘rude and dysfunctional’ Rudd (theage.com.au)
- Reign of Rudd: Rude and dysfunctional (smh.com.au)
- Ouch! Nicola Roxon calls Kevin Rudd a bastard (australiantimes.co.uk)
- Rudd deserved to be dumped: Roxon (heraldsun.com.au)
- Nicola Roxon calls on ‘bastard’ Kevin Rudd to quit Parliament in Joh (beaudreux.com)
(by Ray Dixon … the owner of two ‘pups’)
I’ve just watched Clive Palmer’s press conference in which he presented his three new Palmer United Party (PUP) Senator elects plus Motor Enthusiast Senator elect Ricky Muir, who has signed a memorandum of understanding that he will effectively join the PUP Senators as a voting bloc.
This means, in effect, that Clive’s party will hold the balance of power in the Upper House after July 1 next year and become an extremely important part of the political process.
No matter what you think of Palmer and his antics one thing is for sure:
He’s got power and he intends to use it. Watch out.
I have to admit though, that Clive came across as quite credible in the presser, as did his 3 (sorry, 4) Senators. Even Ricky knew his lines and made sense. And even the rough-sounding chick from Tassie handled herself pretty well, as did the meathead ex-rugby player.
I also watched Clive on Lateline last night and he was shooting nothing but pretty straight bullets.
Believe me, Clive Palmer is now a serious player and you will deride him at your peril.
I’m looking for a photo of the Tassie girl and I’ll put it up later but, meanwhile, any thoughts?
Joke away but Clive is no longer a joke. He’s arrived.
UPDATE: Here she is, ex-military policewoman and 42-year-old single mother of two boys, the Senator elect from Tassie Jacqui Lambie sounds ‘rough as guts’ and “won’t back down”:
And you’ve gotta love this quote of hers from the SMH:
“Tony Abbott will find out that, because of my military training, I don’t back down,” Ms Lambie said.
“I was a military policewoman, and so before I make a decision I want to see all the facts on the table.”
Her sights are currently set on policies such as the Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Ms Lambie said. “You’ve got pensioners around me living off dog food, and who can’t afford heating. It makes me wild.“
She’s ‘wild’ alright. I would not want to lock horns with ‘Wild Jacqui from Tassie’. Wow!