Thank you Kevin Rudd.
That’s got to be the first time I’ve written that sentence since he sent me a thousand dollars while I was on holiday in Spain.
While Kevin Rudd’s re-ascendency to the Prime Ministry has comprehensively answered some questions, it has also immediately posed a series of others: When will the election be? Can Kevin really turn things around for Labor before then? And, if the Prime Ministry is held by a man now, does that make everyone who disagrees with him a misandrist?
I’m really not sure what I personally make of the whole showdown. Part of me is happy to see Kevin restored, almost as if it’s bringing some cosmological natural justice back into balance. But part of me also remembers the night he was axed in the first place.
Even as a right leaning hyper-conservative nutcase, I hadn’t minded seeing Rudd defeat Howard too much in 2007. It was definitely the right time for a Labor government to bring the Australia political pendulum back into balance. He was all charisma and smiles, and brought promises of a fresh new energy in Australian Politics.
It didn’t take long for the shine to wear off. By the time 2010 rolled around, Rudd’s polling was sinking to levels that the Labor party could not possibly carry into a federal election, largely because there was a perception that the Prime Minister, for all his charm and stage presence, could not be trusted to deliver on the promises he had made to the country. So with a federal election defeat looming, the knives came out and the leadership was up for grabs.
I remember being very annoyed that the press conference cut right into the middle of Hey Hey It’s Saturday, and then later that evening suffering confusion on an almost existential level as I went to bed hoping for success on Julia Gillard’s part. When I woke the next day, I was happy to discover we had our first female Prime Minster, but disappointed that the Socceroos, despite beating Serbia, had been knocked out of the World Cup finals.
And then came “Moving Forward,” the Real Julia and the Carbon Tax. And before we knew it, we’d swapped one credibility challenged Prime Minister for another. And that's a real shame because Gillard - despite the precariousness of the government’s hold on the House of Representatives - has done some pretty cool things. NDIS, NBN (sort of) and uniform education standards have all been there, right alongside the budget deficits, petrol watch schemes and pink batt debacles.
And now we’ve come full circle. Kevin Rudd is back in power, and the Socceroos are off to Brazil. But given that Gillard’s ousting of Rudd was largely responsible for a hung parliament and a minority government, the question of whether ousting Julia Gillard as leader will undo the damage that has been done to the Labor brand, or damage it even further will be the defining factor of the election, whenever it is held.
Oh yeah, and Tony Abbott will be there too.
Make of that what you will.
Garry with 2 Rs